The Mundies: The Change We Make
I am currently sitting on a plane, Seat 28D (aisle seat for the win), on my way to The Fantasy Football Expo in Canton, Ohio. Hopping on a plane by myself to go to a large social event with people I’ve never met in person was not something I likely would have done even a few years ago.
But things change.
Much like time, change is an inevitable force in our world. Change is unavoidable. Change is the basis of the process of evolution. In my view, the concept of change falls into two connected categories: The change that happens around us and the change that we either create or directly influence.
The change we make and the change we have to accept. I will be discussing the change we can make in this column.
In late January 2017, our family flew to the island of Oahu, Hawaii, with some of our extended family. This was the third such destination of a family reunion-style trip of the decade. There was also something else significant going on the day we boarded the plane. Donald Trump had just been elected and then inaugurated as President, and the day we flew coincided with the historic Women’s March of 2017.
My wife and I could not participate, so we decided to create T-shirts with messages of hope and positivity. My shirt: “Be The Change You Want to See,” a quote by Mahatma Gandhi.
I was nervous about donning this shirt and walking through the airport, the same airport I walked through five and a half years later, only an hour before writing this column. On this particular trip, I was also only about three weeks clean from my most recent relapse, so my headspace was a bit of a warzone. I am extremely non-confrontational and have spent most of my life opting not to take anything resembling a stance on anything controversial. I am now well aware that this ability to safely ignore the worlding world at my leisure and stay enveloped in my comfort bubble is steeped in privilege. Regardless, that is how I have operated most of my life.
I also realize I simply wore a T-shirt, only a few steps above “thoughts and prayers” as far as actually meaning anything. Since then, my general increase in awareness as a human now in my 40s has coincided with a particularly challenging stretch of history.
It seems the older I get, the more I learn about the world, the stronger the feeling of “what can I possibly do about any of this?” And I don’t think it’s that hyperbolic. A lot of how the world functions (especially in the U.S.) are messed up. An equitable society with fair treatment across race and gender identities seems like a pipe dream most of the time.
But I am also raising two young and impressionable girls, and constantly exuding hopelessness is not an option for my wife and me. My daughters will have their own societal challenges when they get older; my generation and those before mine have made sure of that. So, I do my best to quash this notion that there is nothing I can do as a single individual to create change.
Why You Trying to Get Crazy with Me? Don’t You Know I’m Local
OK, that play on the Cypress Hill lyric might be a bit of a stretch, but in case I haven’t mentioned it, the majority of these goofy one-liners and dad joke-ish things I write are borne of “the first thought that comes into my head,” similar to playing speed pool.
“Being the change you want to see” can be very daunting. At one time, I thought the only option was to become committed and 100 percent dedicated to social activism and fight the very long fight that may or may not lead to significant changes. However, I’ve realized it depends on what you are willing to define as change.
We moved to a suburb of Seattle called Highland Park in 2012. It was our first home purchase after scraping and clawing through our time as renters. We decided this was not only a commitment to this house, but we also wanted to commit ourselves to the area as we plan to be in this house for the long haul.
During this adjustment, I learned (mostly through my wife) that a much more realistic way to be part of positive change is at the local level. Part of the overwhelming nature of broader activism is the amount of time one can spend without any tangible results.
Now, I need to clearly stress that I am not talking down about social activism. There are countless heroes out there, both then and now, in those trenches every day. And there are also countless positive changes in our world that have resulted from that heroic work. I am simply saying that route is not for everyone. It is not for me (at least not right now), and that is just me being realistic. The more critical notion is to point out that there are other ways to influence positive changes in the world to help quell that feeling of hopelessness that I assume I am not alone in feeling from time to time.
Put the School In Schooly D
Again, reaching, but I may be pot committed to this subheadline theme at this point.
Upon moving to a new neighborhood, we immediately ensured our girls would attend the local public elementary school. Kids going to school is a regular occurrence, but both my wife and I have been proponents of teachers and supporting public education our whole lives. Both of my parents were public school teachers, my dad mostly high school science and opting for early retirement. My mom, predominantly Kindergarten, dedicated 44 years of her life to that endeavor. So yeah, if you want to increase my blood pressure, just talk some trash about public school teachers.
It became a natural next step for us to find an arena where we could become committed to trying to make positive change. At the neighborhood level, at the school our girls would be attending for the next decade (they were not of school age yet at the time we moved). We became involved in the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA), my wife more than I, as she was a stay-at-home mom until just recently (speaking of completely unsung heroes).
We volunteered, helped fundraise, met and made connections with other parents in the area, developing relationships with the school’s teachers and staff. It became all about supporting the school and the families sending their kids to Highland Park Elementary School.
We helped put on a heavily-attended school auction in 2019, raised a record amount of money and provided an enjoyable evening for parents and teachers together. Early hints were also evidence of the changes I was going through with self-consciousness and confidence.
The auction was “Alice in Wonderland” themed, and yours truly put on a thrift store blue dress and blond wig to attend as Alice (pictures are available for a hefty price). We also spent most nights for multiple months leading up to the event making paper flowers for the event decoration based on my wife’s excellent crafting skills. Neighbors and other parents joined us periodically to help, as we watched dumb comedies every night while we crafted a “ludicrous speed” amount of paper flowers (shout-out “Spaceballs,” which we definitely watched).
This is a very fond memory for me and when I realized the importance and benefit of this type of commitment on a local level.
Happy Birthday, Ms. PTA President
My wife ultimately became PTA president just in time for the COVID-19 Pandemic, which was a logistical nightmare to say the least.
The very first day of the Pandemic shut down in 2020 was so abrupt (and on a Thursday) that the free meals program many families relied on was cancelled for the next morning. We, along with other parents in the neighborhood, threw together a massive Costco run, spent much of the night assembling the individual meals and ensured sure the free meals were there for families the next day while the district figured their s*** out.
I also recently joined a bunch of other parent volunteers to help build a new playground at the school (Kaboom It!). Our neighborhood is very diverse with many different nationalities represented at the school. It’s also a relatively lower-income area compared to many other schools in the Seattle Public School District. In 2012 there was barely any playground to speak of at the school.
Now that the additions that have been made, largely through local commitment, it rivals nearby parks. This might seem a little braggy. Maybe it is. We are very proud of the progress that has been made at the school. My goal is to convey that if you adjust your view from the 10,000-foot level – for which we have little control, and focus more on your immediate surroundings – there are many ways you can make a positive difference in this world.
And now, The Mundie Awards.
THE “NOT THAT BIG OF A CHANGE” AWARD
Davante Adams (WR, Las Vegas Raiders)
One of the biggest offseason splashes in 2022 was the trade of Davante Adams from the Green Bay Packers to the Las Vegas Raiders. This move was significant due to the caliber of player involved, but not a surprising destination with the Fresno State connection between Adams and Raiders QB Derek Carr.
The obvious questions followed the move as Adams moved away from a team where he has been far and away the top target the last two seasons, to the tune of a 30 percent+ target share both seasons. He joins a team with multiple 100-target candidates in WR Hunter Renfrow and TE Darren Waller.
Will this relatively “more crowded” pass-catching group automatically cut into Adupper-tier tier volume that has led to finishes as the overall WR1 in 2020 and WR2 in 2021 (points per game)? On the surface, it would seem that the answer is yes. Yet, looking a bit deeper, there is a realistic chance Adams can maintain the same level of opportunity he earned in Green Bay.
I do not think Adams will be able to earn a 30 percent+ target share in Las Vegas. But I don’t think he needs to hit that mark to reach the 159 targets he has averaged the last two seasons because the team pass volume will likely be higher.
Over the last three seasons, the Packers have averaged 583 pass attempts per season, while the Raiders have averaged 567. But, in 2021, the Raiders passed 626 times to the Packers’ 593. 600+ pass attempts are a reasonable expectation again this year for Derek Carr.
I looked at the range of outcomes for Adams from the angle of team target share to WRs and TEs over the last three seasons:
• Percentage of targets to WRs: 53 percent
• Percentage of targets to TEs: 23 percent
With the addition of a talent like Adams and a healthy Waller, I think the RB target share will go down, WR will tick up to 55 percent and TE will increase to 25 percent.
At 600+ (likely) pass attempts, Adams can reasonably reach 160 targets again with the thinking that the Raiders WR targets share will be 55 percent in 2022. That would put Adams at a 26 percent target share, leaving 29 percent to be split up between Renfrow, Keelan Cole, Demarcus Robinson and the combination of the fill-in WRs on the team. This still allows Waller to potentially reach 130 targets and a 22 percent+ target share, with Foster Moreau and fill-in TEs likely not getting to five percent if Waller is healthy.
So, with 160 targets at a 26 percent target share and looking at Adams’ 75 percent catch rate and 12.3 Yards Per Reception (YPR) averaged over the last two seasons, that still puts him at around 1,400 receiving yards.
Regarding the change in QB, Carr had the second highest completion percentage in 2021 (69.2 percent) behind Joe Burrow, while Aaron Rodgers was fourth at 68.6 percent. This is splitting hairs between Carr and Rodgers, but the point is that Adams’ catch rate should at least stay the same as there is no downgrade in QB accuracy. The downgrade with Carr and the hardest aspect to predict (as with any position group) is TDs.
Here is the comparison in QB TD rate (passing TDs per pass attempt) between Carr and Rodgers the last two seasons:
2021 TD rate: 3.6 percent (26th)
2020 TD rate: 5.2 percent (15th)
2021 TD rate: 6.8 percent (first)
2020 TD rate: 8.8 percent (first)
The passing TD downgrade is real. Adams had 18 receiving TDs in his overall WR1 2021 season for a TD rate (TDs per target) of 12.1 percent. In 2021 his TD rate plummeted to 6.5 percent (11 TDs), and yet he still finished as the overall WR2 in points-per-game behind only the historic season of Cooper Kupp.
A double-digit TD rate is not very likely with Carr, but Adams doesn’t need a high TD rate to finish top five and will always have No. 1 overall upside. Here is how Adams has scored his fantasy points the last two years:
• Fantasy points from receptions: 31.9 percent
• Fantasy points from receiving yards: 38.9 percent
• Fantasy points from TDs: 29.8 percent
• Fantasy points from receptions: 35.2 percent
• Fantasy points from receiving yards: 45.0 percent
• Fantasy points from TDs: 19.8 percent
You can see that Adams relies heavily on receptions and yards, even in his 18-TD season. Adams can be in the overall WR1 conversation in multiple ways, whether his TD total spikes or is closer to the league average. I am still ranking Kupp, Justin Jefferson and Chase ahead of Adams in redraft formats, but the only other WR I would put ahead of Adams is Stefon Diggs.
As I have moved toward more analytics-based fantasy football content, my goal is to provide that content in a manner that is as easy as possible to digest. Advanced analytics are beneficial, and I think they can be explained simply and logically. Please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter to explain more about any of the analytical concepts I present in these columns. My Direct Messages (DM)s are always open.