Trevor Lawrence Fantasy

The Mundies: “The Nutcracker” & My Wandering Mind

“The Mundies” is a bi-weekly column by Scott Rinear, awarding life and fantasy football. Now in its second year of publishing, this column presents an optimistic outlook on life and an analytical approach to the game. Read forward as Scott analyzes wandering minds, Trevor Lawrence, fantasy football week 15 winner and the other highs/lows.


Hey, everybody.

Welcome to the 30th installment of “The Mundies,” a column series I have had the pleasure of writing since the 2021 offseason. A column series that has meandered through my brain, my past and some of the memorable experiences I have had along the way. 

This edition will be no different. 

How I arrive at my topic for the “life” portion of this in-season bi-weekly column is somewhat sporadic. I do not create a list of topics to cover in advance. With a Monday publishing date, I typically choose my topic and begin writing over the weekend. For one, I have to allow that week’s games to happen to choose my award winners for the fantasy football section. Secondly, as cheesy as it sounds, I usually let my topic come to me. Not quite a “first thought” scenario, but in that ballpark. 

For this 30th edition, the idea came to me as I sat down with my family at McCaw Hall, Seattle’s renowned theater and opera house. Our annual trip into the city (at least the part with the buildings) to see “The Nutcracker,” a family tradition leading up to Christmas, is going on five-plus years. 

We added a twist in 2022. Instead of driving to the theater, watching the performance and driving home, we transformed the tradition into a staycation, with “The Nutcracker” as both the impetus for the idea and the opening act of the experience.

Staycation

Our family does not make it up into the city as much these days, especially after the COVID-19 Pandemic hit. The Seattle Aquarium, Pacific Science Center and Seattle Art Museum (SAM) are a few of the hometown attractions that we used to frequent more often. In fact, the last pre-pandemic picture in my photo library was at the Seattle Art Museum. 

Trevor Lawrence Fantasy
The final photo in my camera roll before COVID-19.

Life, work, kids and the typical business is one reason. The older I get and the more stuff that gets added to my routine, the more difficult it becomes to sacrifice the lazy rest time for active adventures. This is not to say we never leave the house. We camp throughout the summer and do different things with our friends and their kids. It has just become less frequent.

It was my wonderful wife who had the idea to make a weekend out of our ballet adventure this year. We booked a hotel near Seattle Center, located near the theater and many other attractions. These include the Space Needle, the amazing Chihuly Glass Museum and the NHL hockey arena with the cheesiest name in the history of the universe, Climate Pledge Arena. The idea was to check into the hotel (and, just as importantly, park in the hotel’s garage). Then walk over to Seattle Center for “The Nutcracker” on Saturday, and then hit the Chihuly Glass Museum and Space Needle on Sunday morning. 

The Nutcracker

Back to when I chose the topic for the column. 

Dressed to the nines (at least our version of the nines), we made our way up the stairs of the theater lobby, grabbing comfy seat cushions for my daughters and locating our seats in the upper balcony section. The “nose bleeds” of the theater experience, as it were. 

While we keep it pretty casual for the most part (I’m a hoody sweatshirt guy for life), it’s fun to get dressed up every now and then. My wife wore a gorgeous green dress she had bought for the occasion.  And there is not much out there that makes my heart melt as much as seeing my girls dressed up and joyful about it. 

My wife, who is typically far away from the “princess culture” end of the spectrum, told me that, “sometimes she just wants to look and feel like a princess.” 

I won’t pretend to understand fully, but I do get it. 

So there we were in our seats, getting comfortable and waiting for the ballet to begin. Me frantically checking the phone that I would soon turn off. My girls, looking around in awe at the beautiful theater. (Keep in mind that, for the whole weekend, I knew in the back of my mind I needed to figure out what to write this week’s column about. 

But it wasn’t until the lights dimmed to blackness and the performance began that I decided on the idea. 

The first act of “The Nutcracker” is a little slower than the second. It’s still great, but there is a relatively long section where the entire family in the story is getting ready for Christmas. My mind typically wanders during this opening, and this year was no exception. 

The Wandering Mind

I realized something, not a new or unique realization, but one that typically only surfaces when I am in it. 

“Boy, does my mind wander when I don’t have access to my phone. With my phone now off, it begins as a relaxing environment, sitting there in the comfortable darkness, listening to live orchestra music and only half paying attention to the aforementioned portion of the ballet. 

I regularly attempt to distract myself; to minimize the time I am alone with my thoughts. It has been this way for a few decades now. It is why my wife and I still fall asleep to reruns of our favorite television comedies. My wife and I were simultaneously struggling (significantly) in the early days of our relationship, which is when the sleep routine started. Neither of us wanted to lay our heads on the pillow in a dark and silent room. 

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss would have been an appropriate title for my mental state at that time. And it stuck to the point of becoming an ingrained habit.

Nowadays, my mind’s mapless journey isn’t as painful, but it still goes to some places. As the ballet progressed, I heard some commotion behind us. My mind, absent the distraction of my phone, wandering away from the ballet, thought, “what if an active shooter made their way into this theater? There isn’t much in the way of security to get in – No pat-downs, no metal detectors. What’s to stop someone?” 

Then I started playing out scenarios. How would I react? I literally glanced at the amount of space under the seats to see if I could get the girls under them and lay on top of them. I pictured myself attacking the perpetrator; it would be easier in the dark. Would other people join in and help me subdue them?

This probably seems crazy, but it’s where my mind went briefly. That rabbit hole lasted all of two minutes before I snapped back to reality and refocused on the performance. I struggle with staying in the moment. Ironically, my wandering mind brought me back into the moment. 

Once I snapped out of my doomsday thinking, I could acknowledge my actual surroundings (the commotion was just some late arrivals talking to the usher), and gratitude flooded in. I thought, “how lucky am I?” I have two beautiful children, an awesome wife and we were sitting there in the midst of what has become a family tradition. 

And that was the moment I decided to write about it. 

The Second Act

I can’t leave “The Nutcracker” hanging. Then came the second act. No more wandering mind. The color, set design and live orchestration were immaculate, as was the ballet. 

I’d be lying if I said I’m a huge fan of ballet in general. But I have a great appreciation of the art form. I understand enough to enjoy myself, but I am not in the “moved to tears” crowd. Having never done it, I will likely never understand how the dancers balance on the tips of their toes for so long or how they can spin that many times without getting dizzy. My wife, a very good ballet dancer at a younger age, has tried to explain the technique for avoiding dizziness. And truth be told, I’ve tried it in our kitchen, spinning around like a fool.

But I still don’t get it. 

And now, The Mundie Awards.

This column was written before the NFL Week 15 “Monday Night Football” game.

THE NFL WEEK 15 MUNDIE AWARD

The Mundie will be awarded to a player or players who were winners during the previous week(s), whether directly by scoring a lot of fantasy points or from a volume/opportunity standpoint that puts them in a position to score a lot of fantasy points moving forward.

Trevor Lawrence (QB, Jacksonville Jaguars)

The winner of this edition’s “Mundie Award” goes to Jagaurs’ QB Trevor Lawrence, who has officially arrived as a top-level QB in the NFL. On last Tuesday’s episode of “The In-Between Fantasy Football Podcast,” we discussed the fantasy playoff outlook for Lawrence, specifically regarding his gauntlet of brutal QB opponents. Coming into Week 15, Lawerence’s fantasy playoff schedule included the Cowboys and road games at the Jets and Texans. Based on the season-long adjusted fantasy points allowed (per game) numbers I have been calculating and tracking all season, those are the second-toughest, fifth-toughest and toughest QB opponents. 

Trevor Lawrence Fantasy
Trevor Lawrence is the fantasy QB6 on the season.

The discussion we had on the podcast was regarding our confidence in Lawerence for fantasy lineups with that schedule. We agreed that Lawerence is a must-start QB, regardless of opponent. Furthermore, we agreed that the next three weeks would also tell us a lot about Lawerence as both an NFL and fantasy QB, starting with the Cowboys.

At home against the Cowboys, who have given up the second-fewest fantasy points per game this season to QBs, Lawerence put together another gutsy performance bringing the Jaguars back from a 14-point halftime deficit to defeat the Cowboys in overtime. Lawrence threw for 318 yards and four TDs, three going to Zay Jones. To put that in perspective, the Cowboys had given up an average of 206.2 passing yards and 1.2 passing TDs per game before Sunday. Only once have they allowed a 300-yard passing game (Rams in Week 5) or more than two passing TDs (three by Aaron Rodgers in Week 10). 

Week 9 is when Lawrence caught my attention. Before that, Lawerence was averaging 230 passing yards and 1.3 passing TDs per game, with a 62.5 completion percentage. 

Lawrence brings with him some rushing chops, although he was only at 12.4 rushing yards per game during that time. Since then, those numbers are up to 280 passing yards and 2.3 passing TDs per game, with a 70.4 percent completion rate and 23.3 rushing yards per game. I may be eating these words on a short-term basis with two tough road matchups left for Lawerence in the fantasy playoffs. But you can’t sit him, especially with the current QB landscape. 

THE NFL WEEK 15 BUFFALO BRANCH AWARD

No relation to the Bills. The Buffalo Branch Award will be handed out to a player or players who were “not great Bob” during the previous week(s) and is representative of the trend rather than the exception for that player.

Mac Jones (QB, New England Patriots)

I posted a statistic during the Patriots-Raiders game about Mac Jones with the “Not Great Bob” Graphics Interchange Format (GIF), so I feel it’s necessary to award Jones the “Buffalo Branch Award.” There have been multiple times during the 2022 NFL season when Jones has been worthy of this award, to the point it feels a little strange singling him out now. But he is not getting past his Week 15 performance without this fake hardware.

Mac Jones Fantasy
Mac Jones has eclipsed 20 fantasy points just once this season.

Starting with the bad, Jones was the QB32 in points per game entering Week 15 (minimum seven games played). I used seven games as the cutoff because if you use six games, you would have to include Carson Wentz (5.3 points per game ahead of Jones), and Jones would be QB33. Jones is one spot behind Baker Mayfield. He is one of the worst starting QBs in the NFL and arguably the worst fantasy QB. 

Week 15 should have been an opportunity for at least some redemption. No one will argue that the Patriots have a dangerous passing attack. Yet, with both Jakobi Meyers and Rhamondre Stevenson active, Jones had close to a full arsenal. Back in Week 12, Jones had his best game as a professional, completing 28 of 39 passes for 382 yards, two TDs and zero interceptions. This was against the Vikings, a top-five fantasy-friendly matchup for QBs. 

Continuing with the worse, in Week 15, Jones got another top-five QB matchup versus the Raiders. Jones completed 13 passes on 31 attempts (41.9 completion percentage) and threw zero TDs. That’s a Total Quarterback Rating (QBR) of 12.2. Those numbers are beyond abysmal against a team like the Raiders. 

Meyers lead the team with 47 receiving yards and the receptions leader on the day was Pierre Strong Jr. with three. Without Rhamondre Stevenson, the Patriots get blown out in this game. 

And no, the ridiculous game-winning fumble recovery TD by the Raiders’ Chandler Jones at the end of regulation was not Mac Jones’ fault. But you have to find a way to get Chandler Jones to the ground in that situation.


Thank you so much for reading my analysis on the NFL Week 15 winner, Trevor Lawrence, and loser, Mac Jones. 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 to digest as possible.

Advanced analytics are very useful, and I think can be explained simply and logically. Please feel free to reach out to me to explain more about the analytical concepts I present in these columns. My Direct Messages (DMs) are always open.

And as always, find me on Twitter, talking fantasy football, joking around, posting GIFs and lending my support where it’s needed @MunderDifflinFF.