The Mundies: Rewarding the Buddy System & Fantasy Football
The first thing I think of when I hear the term “buddy system” is children holding hands on a school field trip, like the museum scene in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” The strategy behind the buddy system is simple and logical: Keep each other safe and have each other’s back. No one is alone.
In this very literal version of the buddy system, the roles are assigned, predetermined. Prior to venturing out into the great unknown (museum, aquarium, etc.), the roles are known, the expectations are vocalized and the system is intentionally implemented. It is preemptive and planned. In a way, it is a necessary and effective delegation of supervision, but in a form that can be easily handled by young humans. It is an extra layer of defense in support of a basic instinct of most adults, to protect children.
This same system can be present far beyond childhood field trips, albeit in a much more informal and unplanned manner, but just as important.
To once again quote the hip-hop artist NF in his song “Lost,”
“But look at the data, it’s obvious that humans are fragile/We tend to get mad at the ones that call us out/But the fact is we need someone that’ll be honest when we fly off the handle.”
The Adulting Buddy System
This partial verse very succinctly sums up the “adulting” version of the buddy system. In this version, roles are not officially assigned and not always desired, but the basic principles are the same. Keep each other safe. Have each other’s back. No one is alone. But instead of the danger being a kid getting lost in a museum, the dangers we all face are often intangible, oftentimes unknown until they are upon us.
Immediately outside of each person on this planet is a worlding world – a relentless, never-ending, yet indiscernible spinning of our planet. Humans complicated the crap out of things a long time ago. If animals, fungi, plants, etc., could speak human languages, I imagine they have been saying, for quite some time, “What the hell are you weirdos doing? Don’t you see how this thing works?”
However, alongside external forces, the cause of the problems and issues many humans endure stares back at them every morning when they look in the mirror. “I am my own worst enemy” is a cliché for a reason. And this is where the adulting buddy system becomes so crucial. Sadly, not everyone is fortunate enough to be part of one of these systems. Like NF says, “We need someone.” He does not say, “We all have someone.” I completely agree with this.
We all need someone who will be honest with us when we fly off the handle. “Flying off the handle” can mean many different things, not only limited to full-on meltdowns in the vein of Andy Bernard punching a hole through drywall. Basically, it’s someone to call us on our bullshit, tell us when we are being an asshole, calm us down when we are enraged, pump us up when we are ready to curl up in a ball forever. All of it. And, ideally, we for them.
What complicates this process with humans is the second line of this verse, “We tend to get mad at the ones that call us out.” Quite the understatement.
I see it on Twitter all the time. People going from zero to ticked in half a second in the face of constructive criticism or a call for a return to reasonableness. Ego, fear, narcissism, stubbornness, pick your poison. I am just as guilty of this as anyone else, if not more so. Not really here in this community, but in my life outside this community, my knee-jerk instinct to the “someone being honest” and calling me out is commonly defensive and/or anger.
As I get older and stumble through these situations over and over again, I am finding improvement. First step? Simply listen. Remember, this is the adulting buddy system. I’ve written previously about self-awareness and my progress with it. Progress. Improvement. Not perfection.
I, like everyone else, can still be blind to what I am doing. So, take a few minutes and try a new angle. When someone is making you feel icky by calling you out on something, take a few minutes and just listen. Don’t interrupt. You don’t need to get your word in yet. Really listen. Don’t distract yourself or your attention to what’s being expressed by formulating your response during the honesty. LISTEN! If someone is being hurtful or belittling then by all means, “bye Felicia.” But that’s not what I am talking about, and deep down you know that you know the difference.
I am a recovering drug addict. “We know already, sheesh” is what I can hear you saying. But in this context, it is relevant because addiction and addictive behavior is not limited to the ingesting of mind-altering substances.
Over the years my addiction has materialized in many different forms, and whatever it is, I can easily lose touch with the reality of how my actions, choices and behaviors are affecting me and those around me. This happened very recently with my endeavors in this fantasy football space. I gradually got lost in the research, the spreadsheets, the articles, the streams/pods, the interactions, the startups and on and on. That, combined with essentially living on Twitter, with a wife, two kids and a full-time job in a pandemic, left unchecked, inevitably progressed to my “addict place.”
Also, very recently, my wife called me on it. My first instinct was of course defensive (“at least I’m not loaded”), but I did not say this. I listened. She talked, and I listened. And you know what? She was right. I was spending all of my free time (and some of my not-free time) either on Twitter or buried in research.
And when I was with my wife and kids, my phone was constantly in hand (but what if a Twitter notification came through in the last 15 seconds?). I was constantly distracted. I was there but not really there. This is my “addict place.” My wife told me as much. And she was right. I was not able to see it even though it is so obvious to me now.
I listened. Then I concurred with her. As someone who has relapsed multiple times, I know by now there are no “I’m sorry it’ll never happen again” quick fixes in these situations. The only way to make things better is to make things better. So, I’m moderating. I am working at something that has always been extremely difficult for me: balance.
The point with all of this?
If you have someone or people in your life that are part of your adulting buddy system, take a second and find some gratitude, and no matter how uncomfortable it is or how non-confrontational you may be (like me), return the favor when you can. Having people like that in your life is a blessing. It is likely that person or those people did not officially sign up for the role.
I believe that the basic instinct to protect children extends more generally to protect people who need it. The current state of things certainly does not support this belief, but I do think most people have a natural predilection to help people who need help. Maybe I’m naïve. If so, this particular naivety is not going anywhere for me. Maybe someday I’ll be that person who is skeptical of every single thing, every single second of every single day. But I’ll hold out as long as I can because that sounds truly awful.
Treat others how you want to be treated – another well-known expression that I think fixes almost everything if people just genuinely adhered to it. The adulting buddy system is an opportunity to walk that walk. After all, can you really argue with the goal:
Keep each other safe. Have each other’s back. No one is alone.
And now, the Mundie Awards.
THE BUDDY SYSTEM AWARD
Chris Godwin (WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Chris Godwin, wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is the recipient of the first-ever “Buddy System” Mundie Award. Godwin will be entering his fifth year in the NFL in 2021, but it is one specific stat from 2020 that merits his receipt of this award.
Conversations abound in both the NFL and the fantasy football world about the best QB-WR duos. Aaron Rodgers/Davante Adams (for now), Josh Allen/Stefon Diggs, Patrick Mahomes/Tyreek Hill, Tyrod Taylor/Keke Coutee (just seeing if you are paying attention). There are multiple statistics and metrics that can be applied to make the case for your favorite duo.
For instance, in 2020, Rodgers’ Total Quarterback Rating (QBR) when targeting Adams was 136.0, comfortably the top in the league. The Rodgers-to-Adams TD extravaganza (18 touchdowns) also dominated that particular combo by a wide margin.
That’s all well and good (for now). For this award, I looked at overall QB completion percentage compared to their completion percentage when targeting a specific WR. Tom Brady’s completion percentage was 11.7 percent higher when targeting Chris Godwin than his overall number. This is the highest difference in the league in 2020, and only one of three situations where this difference was above 10 percent (minimum 50 targets). JuJu Smith-Schuster/Ben Roethlisberger was the next highest (+10.2 percent), more on that next.
Counterpoint one: Easy targets?
Maybe a bunch of Godwin’s targets were short, easier throws? Nope. You cannot blame the Average Depth of Target (aDOT) for this positive increase. Shorter, higher success rate targets could drive this number up.
Smith-Schuster’s impact on completion percentage is second on this list at a 10.2 percent positive increase for Roethlisberger when throwing in Smith-Schuster’s direction. However, his aDOT was a paltry 5.5 yards. Low-risk, high-percentage targets had a big impact on Roethlisberger’s increased success when targeting Smith-Schuster, and so this duo has no business being awarded something as prestigious and life-changing as a Mundie Award from some random dude who watches “The Office” a lot.
Godwin’s aDOT was 10.2, actually higher than the aforementioned Davante Adams (which surprised me). So, this real-life NFL buddy system was not skewed by easier targets.
Counterpoint Two: Tom Motherf*%*ing Brady!
Yes, Tom Brady is Tom Brady, so of course right? Looking at this same metric, Brady’s completion percentage actually decreased by 1.5 percent compared to his overall number when targeting Mike Evans. Evans’ aDOT was slightly higher than Godwin’s (12.1) but not enough to account for that drop in Brady’s completion percentage by 13.2 percent when targeting Evans versus Godwin. Godwin is Brady’s buddy. Please just let me have this one.
As I discussed prior to the awards, the adulting buddy system works best as a two-way street, and this NFL example is no exception. Almost 90 percent (89.3) of Godwin’s targets from Brady were deemed catchable, also the highest in the league. A very symbiotic buddy system indeed.
What does this mean for fantasy football? In redraft I have Godwin as WR15, ahead of Mike Evans, and this might be too low. For me, that type of chemistry in his first year with Tom Brady counteracts some of my concern with Godwin’s relatively lower target share compared to most of the top-15 receivers.
And if some random dude who watches “The Office” a lot found this literal QB-WR chemistry spelled out in relatively simple statistics, you can bet your ass Tom Brady is aware of it, too. I’d be happy to land Godwin and his top-12 upside at WR15.
THE “WHOOPSIES” AWARD
Shannon Sharpe (former Denver Broncos TE)
The first (but definitely not last) “Whoopsies” Mundie Award goes to former Denver Bronco and current FOX Sports TV personality Shannon Sharpe.
Last Monday, during the live broadcast of Fox Sports 1’s “Undisputed,” Sharpe, sitting next to cohost and senior member of the California Raisins Skip Bayless, decided it was a good idea to give Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones a call. Live. On air.
This is huge: Shannon Sharpe called Julio Jones live on @undisputed: Julio said he's "out of there" when asked if he wants to stay in Atlanta. He also said he doesn't want to go to the Cowboys. "I want to win."
Holy cow. I don't think he knew he was live. pic.twitter.com/5D8cXjclQt
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) May 24, 2021
A little backstory, Jones has been the subject of trade speculation since the 2020 NFL season ended. As with most offseason trade rumors, the speculation ramped up leading up to the NFL Draft, but they hit an interesting apex during that live call.
When asked by Sharpe about his future in Atlanta, Jones said “I’m outta there.”
So what? Well, immediately during and after this moment, the question basically hit anyone who was paying attention right in the face. Did Jones know he was live on TV when he answered that question?
My opinion? No, I don’t think he did. I don’t think there’s any way he says that on a live TV show. And I’m just some random dude who watches “The Office” a lot.
On Friday, during his radio show by the same name, Pat McAfee claimed that per his sources, Jones did not know he was live. FOX did not know the cell phone call was going to be made during the show. Based on some legal stuff I’m not going to get into, Sharpe and FOX could be in some hot water over this due to not having gotten Jones’ consent for the context of the call. Some even see it possibly jeopardizing the massively lucrative deal between FOX and the NFL. Whoopsies. More to come.
Writing new and different editions of “The Mundies” is a lot of fun, but I’d love some help. If you have ideas, hit me up, and I’ll include a shout-out for any suggestions used.
And as always, find me on Twitter, talking fantasy football, joking around, posting GIFs and lending my support where it’s needed @MunderDifflinFF.