Trash Talk: A Thanksgiving To Remember
“Trash Talk” is a monthly column about life, the lessons learned along the way and some goofy connections between that and fantasy football. Entering her first season of fantasy football writing, Trash Sandwiches shares her most memorable Thanksgiving and some fantasy pickups and drops moving towards the end of the season.
Don’t Read & Eat Your Thanksgiving Leftovers
I’m somewhat of a Grinch when it comes to holidays.
Not just “the holidays,” the homogenized time from Thanksgiving through New Year’s that’s basically just extended Christmas. And not just because I don’t celebrate Christmas or Easter or any other Christian holiday that corporate America makes ever-present and seemingly universal.
For just about every holiday, I have a reason for my dislike. Some holidays I loathe, through and through, every facet, and others I just think are overrated or annoying. Some are for bigger, more profound reasons, traumatic experiences or bad memories.
For some holidays, like Thanksgiving, the reason is… less serious.
Disclaimer: You might not want to continue reading this article while eating your Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches.
A Gross, Gooey Mess
Before I delve in, I want to acknowledge that the history of Thanksgiving is problematic, to say the least. That might factor a little bit into my feelings on the holiday, but not much. And I do appreciate the tradition of giving thanks for our friends, families, food and whatever else you said during the obligatory ‘round the table.
I’ll also say up-front that I don’t like most Thanksgiving foods. And I don’t want to hear any nonsense about “you just haven’t had good turkey!” After 30+ Thanksgivings cooked by countless different people and places, I can confidently say that I just don’t like it. Frankly, I wouldn’t say I like any roasted poultry. Stuffing is soggy and weird. Apple pies are a gross, gooey mess of sickeningly sweet fruit. There are some side dishes I enjoy, but I can also eat those year-round with any other main dish or even as the main dish.
But as you probably guessed, my Thanksgiving Joker moment came from something much deeper than problematic beginnings and below-average food.
It was the worst Thanksgiving I ever had, but weirdly also one of the best. Either way, it was definitely the most memorable.
Humor You Can’t Share With Great Aunt Phyllis
The where or with whom of my family’s Thanksgivings has changed over time. For this particular one, my older sister was spending the semester abroad and my parents didn’t want to cook an entire meal for themselves and a turkey-hating fifteen-year-old (me).
So we got together with some longtime friends: my non-related aunt and uncle (the hosts) and a family with three teens around my age. The hosts go overboard cooking for any gathering, so even I happily filled up on sides, rolls and desserts.
More importantly, the company was unbeatable. As you can imagine when spending a holiday with good friends you’ve known for years (or all our lives, in the case of us teens), there was a lot of joking and fun and the kind of humor you probably can’t share when Great Aunt Phyllis is around.
An Eruption like Mount Vesuvius
One such topic of ribbing was the “are they or aren’t they” maybe-girlfriend of John, the middle child of the other family. Maybe it’s a symptom of small-town life, or maybe we just have nosy parents, but somehow all the adults knew about the relationship rumors. In particular, the men were absolutely ruthless in their teasing, although it was all in good nature.
John, as any seventeen-year-old guy with a maybe-girlfriend would, was laughing and denying anything (even though we all saw them looking cozy at that party last weekend). He was also shoving his face with more and more food to avoid questioning. And that’s on top of the already-horrifying amount of food that teen boys consume, not to mention the extra during a holiday specifically focused around eating.
The situation came to a head after we had all finished dessert and while still sitting around the table. Unable to stop giggling as the men continued to mock, the copious amounts of food that John consumed abruptly reappeared in a fashion that I can only imagine was not entirely unlike Mount Vesuvius.
Yes, John puked all over everything. The table, himself, any nearby neighbors (which just so happened to be the “kids table” end), the remaining desserts, everything. As you may have noticed during your own holiday meals, Thanksgiving plates are particularly beige in color, with the turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls, gravy and even the apple pie. The return trip was no exception and in fact, somehow seemed even more beige.
Immediately, everyone sprang into motion. Us victims went to get ourselves cleaned up – washing vomit out of our hair and changing into borrowed shirts. The women began cleaning the table and salvaging any of the leftover food that was at the opposite end. And the men, denying their involvement and claiming squeamishness, went outside with their beers and tequila.
My dad still denies his role to this day, claiming, “I didn’t stick my finger down his throat!” when I mentioned that I was sharing this story.
A Great Time, Puke & All
As I said, this was the worst Thanksgiving I’ve ever experienced. It certainly didn’t help my anti-turkey stance. I actually think I didn’t eat any for a few years following this incident, and I still avoid it if possible.
But it was also one of the best and really the only one that stands out in my mind.
The holidays can be a stressful time. It often feels like there’s pressure for everything to be perfect, whether that’s coming from your family, social media or whatever else.
Weirdly, that year embodied what the holidays are really about: enjoying time together, whether with your family by blood, found family or a little of both. And even though we got puked on, we still had a great time sharing laughter and – I will begrudgingly admit – good food (statement does not apply to turkey).
Fantasy Pickups & Puke
The playoffs are growing nearer each day, and fantasy football pickups and drops become all the more important as you ready your team for a final push. Now is the time to churn your benches in search of the players that can take you all the way and cut some dead weight that won’t help you win.
The Importance of Sides
James Cook (RB, Buffalo Bills)
As I said, the side dishes are as important to me as the main in a Thanksgiving meal, if not more so. And while we all would like to find a main dish for a tasty fantasy pickup off the waivers, it’s more likely that you can find a side dish with a little main appeal. James Cook is one of those players, currently sitting at under 28 percent rostership in ESPN leagues.
While some managers may have panicked after the Buffalo Bills added Nyheim Hines in Week 9, the past few weeks have shown that there was no cause for concern. Cook is still behind Devin Singletary, but he’s proving himself to be the clear second back and Hines has been a non-factor. Both rushed for 86 yards in Week 11, but Cook did it on 11 attempts, as compared to Singletary’s 18. That equates to 7.8 Yards Per Carry (YPC) for Cook this week and 4.8 YPC for Singletary. The efficiency differential has actually been the trend all season, as Cook had a higher YPC in seven out of the 10 weeks during which both played. On the season, Cook is averaging 4.9 YPC, and Singletary has 4.3 YPC.
He’s tied with Breece Hall for the 13th-most YPC on the season, at 5.8 yards, and somehow has the fifth most Yards Per Reception (YPR) among running backs, with 13.7 yards. I say “somehow” because he’s been a pretty small part of the Bills’ passing game, but that’s probably more of a reflection on their plethora of other weapons than a knock on Cook’s abilities.
Singletary has been the pass-catching back between the two of them thus far, but Cook’s rookie profile shows he also has receiving abilities. While Cook may be more of a side dish in Buffalo at the moment, having his competition reduced to only Singletary is a good sign and his career-high five targets tallied yesterday was the gravy on top.
For late-season fantasy pickups, you could certainly do worse and he’s also appealing as a dynasty stash.
The Thanksgiving Puke
Marcus Mariota (QB, Atlanta Falcons)
Calling Marcus Mariota a Thanksgiving puke is admittedly a bit mean. A kinder term might be fool’s gold, since statistically, I can see a bit of a case for him. But even though he’s ninth in points on the season among quarterbacks and the QB15 in points per game, watching him play is a little like the beige goo.
If you look at the stats, he’s doing OK. His 7.5 Yards Per Attempt (YPA) is respectable. Mariota’s rushing ability is typically his saving grace for fantasy production and he’s currently tied with Daniel Jones for the fourth-most QB rush attempts (76). He has the eighth-most QB rush yards (372), and while that may be the most yards he’s put up in a season, he’s been inefficient. His 4.9 YPC this year is significantly lower than his career average of 5.7 YPC. He has an unpleasant 62 percent completion rate and he’s fumbled eight times, putting him on pace for a career-high 12 fumbles
And while he will probably still finish in high-QB2 territory, the Falcons’ current situation is not a desirable one for a quarterback. Getting Cordarrelle Patterson back is nice, but losing (the underutilized) Kyle Pitts hurts and the team doesn’t have much depth after a couple of standout players. As bad as I feel to make this comparison, having Mariota on your team if you’re planning a playoff push is a little like someone puking on your Thanksgiving table. There are almost definitely better fantasy pickups out there.