Fantasy WRs

Trash Talk: Kid in a Candy Store

Real Talk

Kid in a Candy Store

For a glorious decade, I lived every child’s fantasy. I was a kid in a candy store. OK, technically, I was a teenager in an ice cream shop. But the premise remains the same – unlimited access to all the ice cream, candy and sugary sweets I could ever want.

How did I get to live the dream? My parents have been small business owners since before I was born, although the exact iteration has changed many times over the years. And the summer before I started middle school, they opened an old-fashioned ice cream shop. It had the whole nine yards, dozens of flavors, a soda fountain and jars of every candy imaginable.

Sweet, Sugary Heaven

I don’t know if I can overstate how exciting this was. I LOVE sugar. Even just the process of opening the shop was fun. We took road trips to go and sample ice cream brands for market research and ordered giant bags of every kind of candy for taste testing: hard, gummy, sour, licorice, you name it.

Chocolate is the most popular ice cream flavor in the world.

And it got even better once it opened. I could make, take or order anything I wanted. A death by chocolate sundae topped with hot fudge, maple syrup, oreos, nuts and sprinkles? Yes! A custom-mixed Sprite-orange soda float with lemon sorbet, which probably exceeded the recommended sugar intake for a week? You got it. Two milkshakes, one with malt and one without, so I could do a comparison? (I still don’t understand malt)? In the name of science, of course.  A bag of mixed candy with no less than half a dozen varieties of sour gummies? Why not?

I’ve always had a massive sweet tooth (it should come as no shock that everyone in my family does), and my parents only set the most basic of ground rules. For example, we had one of those massive ice cream freezers at the house every summer, one of at least six, and the only limit was that we couldn’t dig into too many flavors at once.

Naturally, I was not one to squander this opportunity. A quick trip was the norm. Biking downtown on a boring summer afternoon for a smoothie and nap on the beloved porch glider or stopping by on the way home from school for a quick scoop. I was in sweet, sugary heaven.

Moderation, the Sugar-Crashed Hard Way

The average American eats eight pounds of candy each year.

I’ve often been asked if unfettered sweets made me sick of them, and the answer is unquestionably no. But I learned a strange sense of moderation; the sugar-crashed, curled-up-in-a-ball, never-want-to-think-about-sugar-again hard way, of course.

And surprisingly, or perhaps not very surprisingly, I became a candy hoarder. Maybe I like the comfort of having endless options of sweets at my disposal, or maybe I just accumulate it faster than I eat it.

Truly, there is no good reason why I have nine kinds of chocolate, five pints of Ben & Jerry’s and at least half a dozen boxes of Girl Scout cookies in the house at this very moment.

Maybe I’m just living the sugary equivalent of the Mark Twain quote, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.” But whatever the reason, I’m still living like a kid in a candy shop, even if I have to buy my own candy now.

Fantasy Talk

Ice Cream Football Sundaes

I won’t claim that you can read someone’s ice cream preferences like tea leaves and see deep into their soul (at least not out loud). Yet, as someone who knows ice cream very well, I feel qualified to make some comparisons! Without further ado, here are a couple of flavors and the corresponding players that I think will provide some sweet returns on the season.

 Panda Paws: Mike Williams (WR, Chargers)

One of the most common questions at the ice cream shop was always, “What’s Panda Paws?” Many ice cream makers call this flavor moose tracks, but if that still doesn’t ring a bell, I think I could still rattle off the description in my sleep: a vanilla-based ice cream with peanut cups and a fudge ripple.

“Big” Mike Williams is probably being drafted close to his vanilla-based, WR17 floor in Points Per Reception (PPR) leagues. Williams started off the 2021 season on a hot streak as the WR2 through the first five weeks. He finished the season as the WR12, just behind teammate Keenan Allen (WR10), despite Allen getting 1.4 times the receptions as Williams (106 versus 76). But Big Mike’s nose for the deep balls earned him 1,146 receiving yards (eight more than Allen’s 1,138 yards) and equated to a nice 15.1 Yards Per Reception (YPR), as compared to 10.7 for Allen.

Mike Williams had the seventh-most 20+ yard receptions in the NFL in 2021.

However, 2021 proved that Williams is more than just a deep threat. He ended the season with an Average Depth of Target (aDOT) of 10.7 yards, much lower than his previous three-year average aDOT of 15.9 yards. Now, normally that decrease might be a little off-putting for a player who makes his hay going long, but he had career-highs in basically all other metrics in 2021. Rather, the lower aDOT indicates that the Chargers are working him in more for shorter passes, a boon, especially in PPR leagues. 

To put it in ice cream terms, think of his deep catches like the peanut butter cups and the rest of his receiving work like a nice fudge ripple.

Sure, his boom-or-bust tendencies could leave you with the occasionally vanilla-only bite on a down week, but with a Justin Herbert-cherry leading the offense, I’m happy to take a big scoop of Williams!

Maple Walnut: Allen Robinson (WR, Rams)

With a big enough sample size, some trends become clear. One of those is ice creams that are flavor-plus-chunk are kind of old-person flavors: butter pecan, rum raisin, maple walnut. You get the pattern. Absolutely no shade to these flavors, though! In fact, Maple Walnut is one of my all-time favorites (a Vermonter who loves maple, who could have predicted this?). 

Allen Robinson has made 71 contested catches since 2018, the most among WRs in the NFL.

Allen Robinson is Maple Walnut. At age 29, he’s not yet past the “wide receiver prime,” but he is getting up there. And I don’t need to remind anyone what a down year he had in 2021, racking up only 410 yards on 38 receptions and 66 targets through 12 games played. But that was his worst season by far, even worse than his paltry rookie season. If you exclude that season and 2017, where he tore his ACL in Week 1, he averaged 906 yards on 68 receptions and 117 targets. He had over 150 targets in five of those six years. That’s more like the Robinson that we should see in 2022.

His average stats over those years actually aren’t too far off from the combined production of Robert Woods and Odell Beckham Jr. (OBJ) in 2021. Yes, vacated targets are kind of a myth, but the Rams didn’t get Robinson to sit on the bench, and they don’t have a ton of depth behind him and Kupp. They’re likely to be a pass-heavy offense again in 2022, and Robinson should return to form. While he may not be his near-perennial WR1-self competing with Cooper Kupp for targets, he should at least be top 24 with maple-syrup-sweet upside, outperforming his current ESPN Average Draft Position (ADP) as WR30 in PPR leagues.

With preseason nearly behind us and the first week of the NFL a lick away, we are all about to be kids in a candy store with games, fantasy stats and all the sweetness of the football season!


Thanks for reading! If you like my kind of trash, you can find more on Twitter @trashsandwiches.