Tuesday - Oct 20, 2020

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Keeping Ahead: Napkin Notes

We all have a process, right? Cooking, cleaning, writing, working….it all gets completed through a series of steps, order of events, and sequence that we have either: a) perfected; or b) are working hard to perfect. For me, fantasy football, and this column in particular, has always forced me to examine this process, look at the reasoning behind the decisions I make, and question afterwards whether what I did made any sense in the first place.

Each week, I watch as many games as possible from Thursday to Monday, sometimes with the assistance of NFL RedZone or a local bar, and take notes throughout the games. These notes are organized in a horribly inefficient manner, usually as scribbles on a cocktail napkin, or a few words and phrases entered into my iPhone’s Notes app. I then, on Tuesday morning sit down to pen this column, beginning with the unenviable task of making sense of my own NFL chicken scratch. It’s about as graceful of a system as using a coffee-maker to cook potato soup.

But, in two years, I haven’t come up with anything better, so I continue on. Most of these thoughts, observations, and random nonsense ends up in this column, usually as a player recommendation, fun fact, or keeper strategy of note. Other times, I simply dismiss the whole darn thing, deeming it uninteresting, unintelligible, or purely illegible. Today, I am pulling the curtain back and sharing these unused notes with you all from throughout the season. Wanna see what it’s like watching a game with MJ at the bar? Pull up a stool; let’s get weird.

On player appearances:

  • Who has the more uncomfortably large head: Matt Ryan or Philip Rivers?
  • I wonder if DeAngelo Williams wears a pink cup, too.
  • Odell Beckham’s hair looks like someone grafted a tumbleweed to his scalp.
  • Do girls watch football for the uniforms like men watch volleyball?
  • If I see Chuck Pagano pick his nose and eat the findings one more time….
  • I want to watch a Civil War reenactment with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Andrew Luck’s neckbeards as the stars. Make it happen Michael Bay.
  • Greg Olsen looked like somebody took Michael C. Hall on a camping trip and forgot to show him how to get back to civilization and he has now become used to a diet of mice and branches.

On people:

  • I swear if this guy doesn’t stop smacking his lips after every bite of chicken wing…
  • …and licking his fingers clean too. I mean, c’mon dude. It’s 2015. Napkins.
  • You can’t get that upset dude; you root for the Browns. That’s like me getting frustrated at seeing pigeons in New York.
  • Yes, please Ms. Bartender, carry my drink to me with your entire hand around the top of the bottle. It’s not like you deal with money and dirty plates. I’ll leave your tip in the urinal.
  • I don’t care if it’s team pride; a foam wedge of cheese on the head of a grown man looks ridiculous.
  • You don’t have to yell at Darius Slay to “cover that guy” – pretty sure they went over that in the team meeting before the game.
  • You just shoved your way to the front of the line to buy a Detroit Lions Reggie Bush jersey. Feel good about yourself and your choices in life?
  • I know it’s your job, aisle usher, but when we are in overtime, and the seats are cleared out in front of us, you really won’t let me move down a few rows? What potentially could go wrong?
  • It’s 40 degrees, rainy, and windy for the game in the middle of the day in San Francisco. Why are you dressed as if you are going to a nightclub?

On players I hate:

On players I love:

  • David Johnson is an easy, top-5 back in both standard and PPR formats for the next four years at minimum. And I get to keep him in the 9th round next year. DJ31 in 2016.
  • I don’t know how much more it will take for Jay Gruden to realize that Matt Jones is the most talented running back in Washington. You can make a call on Kirk Cousins but not see that Alfred Morris is out of gas? I swear this isn’t just because I can keep him in the 10th round next year. MJ31 in 2016? Make it happen Jay.
  • Russell Wilson could be the every year starter for my “Fantasy Life” team. Pair him up with a Larry Fitzgerald, Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson, and Arian Foster and I’d have the best “winning at life” team ever assembled.
  • Let’s be honest: I’d put Russell Wilson on every fantasy team of mine I could if allowed. Can I start him in fantasy basketball? Fantasy baseball? Fantasy dissertation writing?
  • Alshon Jeffery, I know you can’t stay healthy, but there is no one else in the league that plays into my “you can’t teach huge” mentality better than you. I will draft you no matter what team you go to next year. I know that you care.

On sentiments:

  • Albert Haynesworth is one of my top-ten favorite players of all time. Incredible example of how to learn lessons, humility, and self-reflection through the trials of life. Texting you throughout the season has been one of the unexpectedly awesome joys of 2015 for me.
  • Cousin Missy, it was a blast guiding you through your first year of fantasy football as your “secret consultant.” Finishing top three in scoring in a 12-team league is no small feat. Proud of ya.
  • I’ve mentioned them all before, but here I go again, giving a shout out to the most loyal of my fanbase. Cam, Dana, Dan, Jeff, and Tomas, you are all incredible and it’s been a pleasure getting your emails week after week and living vicariously through your seasons. That I even have a “fanbase” is beyond my wildest imaginations – but you five make it worth the effort each and every week. Thank you and I owe you each a beer.
  • Jim Bukowski, my Fantasy Sharks editor, thanks for putting up with me. And Tony Holm, thanks for believing in me. Hope I’ve done you both proud this year. [Editor’s Comment: Yes, MJ, you have. It’s been a pleasure to edit/read your articles. But really, you have a fanbase!?]
  • Chris and Evan, my Daily Bite podcast co-hosts. How cool is this, right??
  • Dad, keep fighting. We’ll get back on the golf course someday, I promise.
  • Mom and Beth. Two of my most loyal readers are also the two most loyal and loving people I have ever known. Love you both and couldn’t do this without you.

About MJ Brown

MJ Brown has been an avid fantasy football keeper league enthusiast and player for over a decade. A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, MJ delivers weekly content on multiple platforms, bringing a combination of advice, humor, and tips to keep your team at the top of your league.