Trash Talk: Starting Over
“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 talks about new beginnings in life and for NFL rookies.
“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald
I came across this quote a few weeks ago while looking up fall puns for my day job and set it aside for my next column. The beginning of fall always feels like a new beginning for me, between the return of my favorite season, the start of football and the school year (although I’m many years out). However, despite my bookmarked quote, I just wasn’t feeling the newness this year and the hope that comes with it.
In fact, as September began and barreled on, I was feeling worse than ever in many ways. Even with some exciting new things going for me, personally and in the fantasy football space, I felt stuck. I was unfulfilled and uninspired during my days and unable to accomplish everything I wanted during my free time. It wasn’t an unfamiliar feeling; I’d felt it for weeks, months, even years. Knowing that I needed to do something yet unable to figure out what that something was, trapped in the “freeze” part of “flight, fight or freeze.”
Then one mid-September afternoon, I had that literal life-altering realization. And I felt myself unfreeze, like a river in spring flowing again for the first time after a near-interminable winter.
A Half-Baked Dream
I decided to quit my job abruptly on a Friday afternoon. By 10 a.m. Monday, I’d given my two weeks’ notice. While that may sound rash, especially for a job that I’d been in for three and a half years and did generally enjoy, my determination to take on this new venture has only grown.
In many ways, quitting was a long time coming, and I’d been stuck in inaction and a not-great work situation for far too long. In other ways, quitting to pursue some (literally) half-baked dream on a hope and my meager savings is probably not the most responsible decision.
But since the instant that thought came into my brain, it just felt right.
That being said, it wasn’t necessarily an easy decision. For the last few years, I’ve worked at a small community non-profit, essentially marketing a town. This is the town that I live, work(ed) and play in. It’s the place where I have made my home in every sense of the word. I want the town to thrive, and I’ve been so grateful to help it flourish through my work.
Over time, though, the love I feel for my town as my home became disconnected from any love I once had for my work. As one might imagine in a small town where your job is at the epicenter of the community, the boundaries between a work-life balance are almost non-existent. Nearly any interaction with a neighbor could immediately turn into a work conversation. My creative spark has dimmed. I’ve exhausted every way to say, “come drink our beer and hike our mountains!” I continuously struggled with a boss whose supervisory style was simultaneously hands-off and micromanagerial.
Naturally, that and the many other personal challenges I’ve had in the last few years absolutely tanked my mental health. During the week leading up to my decision, I cried three mornings before work, two days at work and screamed most days after. Clearly the epitome of well-being and stability.
The Talk of the Town Rumor Mill
Despite this, I had a huge mental block around leaving. I’ve been directionless career-wise for a while (read: forever), and I felt like I would just be unhappy in any other job, so I might as well stay. In addition, it seemed like quitting a job that was so enmeshed with the rest of my life would be a Whole Big Thing.
And I wasn’t entirely wrong! I know that my departure has been swirling around the town rumor mill. Even just out buying groceries or walking the dog, I keep running into friends, neighbors and acquaintances who heard through the grapevine and want to know what I’m doing next (let me pause for a second and acknowledge how weird this is).
The response to my fragmented plans has varied but overwhelmingly been supportive. Both from my local community and online connections, countless people reached out about how they could support me or collaborate with me. It ranged from tangible things to the vague “I don’t know how I can help, but I’m here.” I’ve gotten at least a dozen job offers from businesses around town, including five on Tuesday alone. Some people, particularly from generations that are more accustomed to a traditional career trajectory, are a little confused about the how and why of what I’m doing but have given words of encouragement nonetheless.
Through nearly all those conversations, around town and virtually, I continued to feel incredibly validated in my choice and that I have become part of some amazing communities.
Living the Dream
So what am I doing next? I don’t know!
Well, that’s not entirely true. For as long as I can remember, I’ve joked that my dream job would be a professional crafter. But I didn’t have any idea of how to actually do that. Crafting, in a variety of mediums, has always been that thing that just makes everything better. My happiest days are when I let my creativity run rampant and allow myself the time and space to explore whatever comes to me. The ideas are like intrusive thoughts. I’ll get a vision of a project, and it almost consumes me until I set it free and bring it to life (words are the same way). Sometimes the ideas work, and sometimes they don’t, but even just trying fulfills me in a way that nothing else can or does.
I have the general what and some ideas of the how, along with the know-how needed behind it. I’m hoping I can make this hobby into something more, but at the very least, I’m trying. This gives myself the time and capacity to pursue my dreams. I’m prioritizing myself and my mental health in a massive way. And I’m starting all over again this fall.
New Beginnings & NFL Rookies
Something something, new beginnings, new careers, NFL rookies.
Wait, let me try again.
With any new career or even any new beginning, there’s a level of uncertainty. Will it work out? Will it be a massive failure? I’m leaving a stable job of several years for a new life of “funemployment” and professional crafting, whatever that means.
Similarly, football is a physically demanding and occasionally dangerous sport, and statistically, it’s more likely that NFL rookies will bust rather than find success. As their careers pan out, only a small percentage of players end up in the “great” to “elite” categories of athletes that we, as fantasy managers, so desperately want on our teams and in our lineups.
And while we may only be three weeks into the season, there are a few NFL rookies who I feel will keep up their hot start to a professional career and quickly find themselves among that top tier.
Breece Hall (RB, New York Jets)
One of those players destined for greatness is Breece Hall, who has racked up 112 rushing yards on 21 attempts. He’s also added 101 receiving yards on 21 targets and 13 receptions and one touchdown through the air. Hall currently has the fourth-most targets among rookies and the fifth-most receptions, data points that are all the more impressive when you remember that he’s a running back.
Even by his own positional metrics against his rookie cohort, Hall has the second-most rushing yards and second-highest Yards Per Carry (YPC), behind only Dameon Pierce.
Hall may be behind fellow running back Michael Carter on his own team in some metrics for now, with seven fewer rush attempts and 10 fewer receiving yards, but Hall has a better YPC (5.3 versus 4.4 yards). With his oh-so-valuable dual threat profile, Hall unsurprisingly has more yards per route run and targets per route run than Carter and is currently tied with Elijah Moore for the third-most targets on the team (22 targets, just behind Tyler Conklin’s 24 and Garrett Wilson’s 32). \
Hall has averaged a healthy 12.8 Points Per Reception (PPR) points per game through three weeks. That feels like a safe floor for this uber-athletic player who’s already in the upper echelons of NFL rookies and, over time, should be considered among the great players.
Drake London (WR, Atlanta Falcons)
In the words of the great Taylor Swift, “you know I love a London boy.” Sure, she was talking about Joe Alwyn, and I’m talking about Drake London, but the premise stands. With 25 targets, 16 receptions and 214 yards, it’s easy to see why the love. London is top three among rookies in all those metrics and has the highest target share with a whopping 32.9 percent. He also has the most yards per route run and second-most targets per route run (behind only Hall).
Now, where does he fit into an Atlanta offense that’s considered one of the worst in the NFL? Unquestionably at the top. Kyle Pitts is their second receiving weapon, and through three weeks, there’s a decent-sized gap between London’s numbers and Pitts’ nine receptions on 18 targets and 125 yards.
Let me clarify that the disparity between London and Pitts is likely to even out, especially with them running nearly the same number of routes (78 versus 74, respectively). But you should mind the gap between those two and Atlanta’s other receiving options, like Olamide Zaccheaus and KhaDarel Hodge. And with two out of the team’s three receiving touchdowns and an average of 17.1 PPR points per game, London is a receiver you want on your fantasy teams, both today and in the long run.
With fall approaching at full steam, these NFL rookies and I are beginning anew and aiming for greatness. Hopefully, you’ll join us all along our journeys!