2020. Week 2. Monday morning.
The sky outside my window was a hazy shade of gray. As the sun fought the gloom to make its daily arrival known, I filled the teapot, ignited the stove, and waited for the water to boil. Before long, thin wisps of steam rose from the kettle. I poured a bowl of granola with strawberries and contemplated the days ahead.
What had I done right? What had I done wrong? What was my destiny? How might improving my flex spot change what otherwise might be a fate worse than mediocrity? And who would be the men to aid in my quest?
Colts running back Nyheim Hines was the first answer that sprung to mind. His prowess as a pass-catching option was always destined to be of intrigue. Missives from the Midwest suggested that a 10-reception game could be on the horizon. It appears the horizon is nearer than we imagined. With the Colts losing Marlon Mack early in their dumbfounding defeat to the Jaguars, Hines collected eight targets and spent more time on the field than prized rookie Jonathan Taylor. I sipped my tea and wondered if the 1.3 percent of NFL.com players who already had Hines rostered realize their good fortune.
The first jolt of yerba mate hits like Chargers running Joshua Kelley against an opposing defender near the goal line. The rookie came to bury Melvin Gordon, not to praise Austin Ekeler. Kelley’s work near the painted area reminded some of the former Bolt-turned-Bronc and earned huzzahs from his head coach. Could it be that the newcomer will do to the incumbent what incumbent once did to his predecessor? Seasons change and time marches on.
Malcolm Brown and the rest of his Rams running back cohort of the fleeting permanence that marks life in Los Angeles. Todd Gurley took a midnight train to Georgia and in his stead, Brown took center stage Week 1 – albeit to an empty house. Brown’s starring turn was remarkable, but like many things in Tinseltown, it might be short-lived. Understudy Cam Akers stands behind the curtain, waiting his chance. I step out onto the balcony, greeted by plants and flowers singing to the morning.
I take a deep breath, trying to put good thoughts into the universe. Bears receiver Anthony Miller materializes in the mind’s eye. As the team’s designated slot receiver, Miller and Mitchell Trubisky should achieve occasional moments of zen. Concentrate works better for passing games than for juice and the aerial attack in Chicago – while unintimidating – should be narrow.
Somewhere between Zoom meetings while scarfing down a hastily made sandwich and making a note to add peanut butter to the grocery list, there’s a moment of calm. It’s fleeting but imminently recognizable. For just that moment, the world stops. I peer into the future and one word appears.
In the Before Times, seasons were certain time markers. In the Now Times, days melt into weeks melt into months. Fall being a continued season of renewal in Duval County offers some respite. Rookie receiver Laviska Shenault and James Robinson are the Jaguars’ newest temporal markers. We call Shenault by the name “receiver” but he may be more chimera than man, aligning himself in multiple places across the offensive formation. Consistent weekly passing volume in Jacksonville might be hard to come by but if opportunity is the lifeblood of fantasy success, Shenault should receive regular infusions.
Robinson continues the theme of new blood flowing through Jaguar veins. Undrafted free agent rookies weren’t supposed to thrive in our Strange New World. Add that to the growing list of things on which 2020 has deceived us. Sharing wasn’t one of Robinson’s concerns in Week 1 since he was the only Jaguars running back to get a carry in the game. He might need to be more magnanimous when Devine Ozigbo returns from the COVID list. Or he might force Jacksonville to decide that everyone else on the roster is eating leftovers. Most nights, I am a Jaguars running back.
Jalen Reagor is threatening to take food off the plates of his fellow Eagles receivers. In Week 1, the rookie just had one bite at the apple. But a mighty bite it was with one catch for 55 yards. Nonetheless, Reagor has earned a seat at the table – he played more snaps and ran more routes than any Philly receiver. The youth are hungry. They must be fed in order to grow.
Growth is the operative word with Marquez Valdes-Scantling and any Packers receiver not named Davante Adams. His six targets were tied for the second-most of any green-and-gold’er … though it was light years behind Adams’ 17 opportunities. Alas, one shouldn’t study the dental work of gifted equine. MVS made the most of his chances, conjuring them into 96 yards and a touchdown. Chips on shoulders don’t last but an “angry” Aaron Rodgers could power a hybrid vehicle for several weeks.
A hackneyed horsepower joke leads to an easy pivot to Colts receiver Parris Campbell. Philip Rivers is still trying to tightrope the line between “aggressive and stupid” but if he’s going to land on the wrong side of said line, it would be encouraging if those throws went in Campbell’s direction. In challenging times, the challenged can rise above.
I’m awakened by the sound of a stuffed dog singing the Alphabet Song. The boy child is awake and the day begins. Reflexively, I grab my phone and tap several times to see the results of my waiver wire claiming dreams.
Time to find help where it’s available.
The Falcons’ Russell Gage and Panthers’ Robby Anderson were unsung heroes in Week 1, offering available targets to quarterbacks seeking big plays. Their target shares may be inconsistent on weekly basis but styles make fights and roles make sleepers. The Dirty (NFC) South presents opportunities.
There is no greater drug than nostalgia. Seductive, yet dangerous, a pair of familiar names returned to our lives in Week 1. Adrian Peterson rumbled in the Motor City while Frank Gore lives again in the Big Apple. Like sepia-toned memories, their opportunities may soon fade. But in the now, they offer casual warmth.
Marcas Grant is a fantasy analyst for NFL.com and a man who wonders if it’s normal to have this many searches for earthworms in your internet history. Send him your invertebrate inquiries or fantasy football questions on Twitter @MarcasG or Instagram at MarcasG.