Trash Talk: A Wild & Wonderful Year
“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 reflects on her journey to get her and shares some prop bets for the NFL Divisional Round.
A Wild & Wonderful Year
If you told me a year and a half ago that I would be wrapping up my first season of writing for In-Between Media (IBT), I would have questioned it. And if you went back another year and a half, there’s no way I would have believed you.
Maybe it’s cliché, but it’s true.
I spent last season transitioning from a true casual fan to what would only be considered casual by fantasy football Twitter standards (I think merely having a presence in the fantasy football Twittersphere bumps you out of the casual fan level in the eyes of outsiders).
The seeds were planted the year before when my home league transitioned from redraft to dynasty, and I slowly found my way here. Prior to that, I was the most casual of casual fans – a free home league, a little work pick’em pool and watching maybe one game a week.
So, as I find myself on the eve of the NFL Divisional Round, writing the last “Trash Talk” of the year, with the season finale of my YouTube series, “Pulp Fantasy” released last week and a job in the industry editing at Fantasy Life, it’s a bit of an understatement to say that this has been a wild and wonderful year.
A Year of Yes
Maybe it’s corny to spend this time reflecting, but I’m a corny person. The past year has easily been the most monumental in my growth. I’m just a couple weeks away from a milestone birthday (the big 30).
So corny be damned, I’m reflecting!
It’s been a year of saying “yes” and a year of saying “no.”
It started by saying “yes” when our fearless IBT leader Seth Woolcock asked if I’d ever considered writing fantasy football content. Well, technically, I said that I hadn’t considered it, but yes, I was interested. I said “yes” to countless podcasts (huge thank you to everyone who had me on!), videos and a job in the industry.
I said “yes” to driving 1,500 miles across the country to meet my fantasy football friends. It was a decision I questioned on almost every one of the 750 miles out and absolutely none of the 750 miles back.
I’ve tried to take every opportunity offered, even when it scared me, and I couldn’t be happier with where I ended up.
A Sincere Thank You
Of course, the other side of this was a lot of saying “no” and setting boundaries. And honestly, that was so much scarier than going on any podcast or doing exactly what you shouldn’t and meeting strangers from the internet.
I prioritized my mental health, leaving a stable job with no real plans for the future. I ended a 10-year friendship (frankly, about 10 years too late) after countless times when they crossed my boundaries. Ultimately, I learned a whole lot about what I don’t want in relationships and found hope on the horizon.
I’ve felt a massive shift, like I’m finally healing and returning to myself. Years of struggling with my mental health and trauma had left me feeling muted, like less of me. I’m happy with where I am, and I’m optimistic about the future, two things that hadn’t been true for a while.
And so I end with a simple thank you. I sincerely appreciate everyone who has read my columns or followed me on this journey. Everyone who’s shown me support and kindness as I find my way. All the friends with whom I’ve shared a silly joke or a heartfelt conversation. I truly mean it when I say I wouldn’t be here without all of you.
Reflections & An NFL Divisional Round Parlay
I know I’m not alone in wondering how the season flew by so quickly. It feels like hardly any time has elapsed, and yet we’ve watched 19 weeks of football.
Fantasy football is over (although dynasty never sleeps), and I was very pleased with my performance this year. I made it to three championships and won one. I had a solid run in the Scott Fish Bowl (SFB), which ended in the semifinal round. A few takes from before and during the season hit (welcome to the next level, Justin Fields!) and others that didn’t quite pan out (we were all so wrong on the Broncos).
I’ve learned a ton, improved my process and found some success and fun in weekly prop bets. For the NFL Divisional Round, I’ve come up with a three-leg parlay on Underdog Fantasy for the Sunday games to tail.
Joe Burrow Under 277.5 Passing Yards
While I usually prefer to bet overs because it allows you some hope until the very end (read: you could get the fun of sweating it out for at least 60 full minutes of football), the under vibes are strong on this one. Joe Burrow has averaged 275.5 passing yards this season, including the Wild Card game. That number goes down to only 263 yards when you take out his outrageous 481-yard game against the Falcons. And yet, the line has climbed up since even yesterday, when it was at 273.5 yards.
Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills have allowed an average of 213.1 passing yards per game. Their defense has been on a hot streak, only allowing 184 passing yards over the last three games. Almost all of Burrow’s games where he went over 277.5 yards came against bottom-half teams by this metric. I expect him to struggle against a stout Buffalo defense in the NFL Divisional Round.
CeeDee Lamb Over 79.5 Receiving Yards
The Cowboys are in for a tough matchup against the 49ers’ defense, which has been strong this year. They’re a top-10 defense against three out of the four skill positions but bottom-five against the fourth. As you probably guessed, that weakness is against wide receivers, making this a great matchup to exploit.
The 49ers allowed an average of 170.7 yards per game this year to wide receivers, the 28th most in the league. In particular, they’ve struggled against the slot, where CeeDee Lamb spends a lot of his time. Lamb has averaged over 82 yards per game this year, and that number creeps up to almost 85 yards since Dak Prescott’s return in Week 7. With the 49ers’ defense likely limiting most of the Cowboys’ other weapons, they’ll need to lean on their passing game, and Lamb should be the biggest beneficiary.
Brandon Aiyuk Over 55.5 Receiving Yards
On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys are equally as bad against wide receivers. They’ve allowed the most fantasy points per game and an average of 190.8 yards to the position over that span. The Cowboys’ defense is middle-of-the-pack against quarterbacks, but it’s in the top five for fewest points allowed to running backs and tight ends. Much like their opponent’s, the offense will likely be funneled through the receiving corps for in this NFL Divisional Round matchup.
While both Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel have prop lines of 55.5 receiving yards, I think Aiyuk has the edge here. He’s averaged just shy of 60.5 yards per game, compared to Samuel’s 55.5 yards. Samuel has been the more boom-bust of the two, with two 115-plus-yard games inflating the average.
Looking at the median to better offset the outliers, Samuel averaged only 43.5 yards per game. Meanwhile, Aiyuk’s more consistent production has kept his median just half a yard away from his average, with 61 yards. Aiyuk went over this line in 12 of his 18 games played. That, coupled with a need for the 49ers to rely on the receivers, means I like this over’s odds.
As I wrap up my first season of fantasy football writing, I wanted to reiterate my thank you to everyone who has come along this journey with me. I’ve had a lot of fun writing, researching and connecting with all of you. I hope that we finish with a win and that all of you enjoy the end of the football season!