In this series, I’ll be combining two of my favorite things: fantasy football (specifically Dynasty) and popular(-ish) music. In the first installment, we’ll use indie pop goddess Phoebe Bridgers’ classic “Motion Sickness” from her debut studio album Stranger in the Alps to talk about some players that are giving me emotional motion sickness in the Dynasty realm.
“Motion Sickness” Phoebe Bridgers
“I have emotional motion sickness, somebody roll the windows down.”
“I hate you for what you did / And I miss you like a little kid.” – Kyle Pitts & Drake London
Aficionados of this amazing piece of music will point to the opening line as the highlight of the song. Let’s start there. The “hate you” part here is obviously directed not at the players. Instead, we focus on the Falcons organization and head coach Arthur Smith. Despite drafting two elite talent pass catchers in the top 10 of consecutive drafts, the organization has been derelict in supporting them. “Year-too-late” Matt Ryan, Marcus Mariota, and Desmond Ridder have provided arguably the worst quarterback play in the league over the last two-plus seasons while either or both Pitts and Ridder have occupied the roster. Perhaps emboldened by the lack of QB competency, Arthur Smith has called one of the most run-heavy offenses in the league. “Glorified run blocker” is no way to treat an elite talent receiver.
At this point, my affection and reliance on Pitts and London can only be described as childlike. Pitts’ 1000-yard rookie season and London’s elite rookie season target share aren’t scoring me fantasy points. On a rational level, I know not one but two significant things need to change for these two to be elite fantasy producers and not elite figments of my imagination. Gravity and inertia are real, and they are hard to overcome. But, in Magical Fantasy Christmas-land, every game is an opportunity for the Falcons to get in a shootout. Or for Arthur Smith to realize he really can’t do any worse by trying Taylor Heinicke. Or for Pitts to go 3/25/1 and be the TE3 for the week.
“I can hardly feel anything, I hardly feel anything at all.” – Terrace Marshall
Let’s be clear: Terrace Marshall is a proxy here. A proxy for every draft prospect I thought was going to be a stud, but never did anything at the NFL level to justify my enthusiasm. We all have biases, and that’s OK. As long as we recognize them and understand when they’re limiting us. This preseason, I started actively doing things to address my specific biases and better align my rosters with reality. Terrace Marshall was dead weight. Whatever I may have spent to acquire him previously was a sunk cost.
When the running backs I acquired for those opened roster spots were inactive to start the season, I hardly felt anything. Then, when Marshall got 18 empty targets in the past two weeks, I hardly felt anything. Finally, when he started getting scooped up on the waiver wires, I hardly felt anything. Hardly.
“You gave me fifteen hundred to see your hypnotherapist / I only went one time, you let it slide.” – Justin Fields
When the Bears drafted Justin Fields, I thought he would be an excellent fantasy quarterback but a terrible (OK, sub-par) real-life one. I say that with no intent to “toot my own horn.” I most certainly wasn’t the only one to hold that opinion. The problem is I didn’t follow through with my own advice. I expected his limitations would cause a shortened NFL lifespan. However, I was willing to keep pushing the envelope on his fantasy value. The Bears have done nothing to support any development that may have been available to him. Knowing this, knowing a messy player-coaching staff divorce was an increasingly likely proposition, I should have cashed out in the preseason when his fantasy value was likely at its peak. I chose another ride on the roller coaster. I hate roller coasters.
Whenever a player gets preseason “sleeper MVP candidate” buzz despite never doing anything tangible to deserve it, we should probably be on notice to cash out on the hype. FOMO, though, like gravity and inertia, is real and difficult to overcome.
“Fell on hard times a year ago / Was hoping you would let it go and you did.” – Darren Waller
Sometimes, when the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, it’s because the dog is doing its business there when you’re not looking. Darren Waller was an aging asset who had missed several games due to injury over the last two seasons. Still, when the Raiders traded him to the Giants, we were staring at a target vacuum on the field at Met Life. We let ourselves think he could recreate his one (emphasis on one) elite season there.
I didn’t necessarily buy-in, but I didn’t cash out either. That’s unacceptable. I pride myself on and credit much of my fantasy success to my ability to take advantage of improperly valued markets. To not leverage this one to the utmost was an abject failure and wasted opportunity.
“You’re throwin’ rocks around your room / And while you’re bleeding on your back in the glass.” – Deshaun Watson
Occam’s Razor suggests the simplest explanation is usually correct. We need not burden ourselves with coming up with more elaborate theories. The simplest explanation for Deshaun Watson’s on-field struggles is that he’s so mentally taxed by his legal troubles that he can no longer be the elite player we saw in Houston.
There’s been enough time to shake the rust off from his official suspension and pseudo-suspension. He’s had enough time to integrate into the offense and work with his teammates. Unfortunately, he’s not an elite-level quarterback anymore. Sometimes, buying low on a distressed asset only leaves you with an inadequately filled hole and a bill for the haul away.
“I’ll be glad that I made it out / And sorry that it all went down like it did.” – Jameson Williams
Full disclosure: I thought Jameson Williams was the best big school (i.e., non-Christian Watson) wide receiver prospect in the 2022 draft class. I gladly made excuses for him when the college analytics bros said he couldn’t get on the field at Ohio State when he was behind Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. I let myself believe him when he said he was ahead of schedule on his ACL rehab before he should have even had a realistic rehab schedule.
And then, he played. At least, theoretically, he played. One catch on nine targets is enough to make anyone question their apparent version of reality. “Was I in the Matrix for a few weeks?” The gambling suspension only adds another blanket to the bed he’s buried himself in. I moved almost all my shares before the season. I have no interest in buying back in, even now that the league has reduced his suspension.
The two quarterbacks I wanted nothing to do with this preseason. Mainly because I expected them both to lose their starting jobs since they weren’t good. To my chagrin, they’ve both been productive fantasy QBs. I can’t argue with the fantasy production. I also won’t stop yelling that neither is good. Between them, they’ve played one game against a good defense. That was when Howell’s Commanders put up a whole 3-spot against Buffalo. Small samples! The downturns are coming! Jacoby Brissett and Jarrett Stidham will still get starts!
Bridgers, Vore (2017). Motion Sickness [Recorded by Phoebe Bridgers]. Retrieved from https://open.spotify.com/track/5xo8RrjJ9CVNrtRg2S3B1R