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- BREAKOUT WEEK 4: I Want Your Team
When we draft a Fantasy Football team, we don’t always pick our spot in the draft order, but we try to make the most of whatever draft picks we’ve been given. Despite having the ability to choose, we inevitably won’t get every player we want for our team. Unfortunately, other Fantasy managers will end up with someone that we desire to have. Then once the season gets going, particular players around the NFL get off to a hot start. Most likely many of those players are found on other Fantasy rosters and we start wishing we had them instead. It doesn’t matter whether our team is doing well or struggling, there are always players who are putting up huge performances that we long to have on our team. Oftentimes, what also happens is we take a look at our roster and don’t like what we see so we start pursuing the rosters of our league mates asking ourselves, what player do I want from his team? We always find ourselves wanting a player that someone else has. We do our best to send trade requests, hoping we can acquire them for ourselves. The other thing that happens throughout the season is certain Fantasy teams in our league become loaded with talent. When we pull up their roster or are matched up against them, we instantly envy their lineup. We can’t believe how stacked they are with good players. We start dreaming about how great our team would be if we just had one of their star running backs. We are jealous they have not one, but two dominant wide receivers. With their roster appearing so much better than ours, we end up coveting the team they put together and downplaying the guys we have. While wishing we had more impressive players like them, frustration, regret, and disappointment set in. Ultimately, we have to keep our eyes on our own team and make the best decisions we can with what we have in front of us. We can't worry so much about how well other Fantasy managers are doing...unless we want to genuinely compliment and encourage them, right!? When it comes to our own lives, every day we are tempted to believe that many people around us seem to have a “better team” than us. We look at their job title, house, car, spouse, and kids, and desire to have what they have. We find ourselves wanting “a player” on another “team” and we do our best to acquire it. We look at our own “team” and start wishing we had what someone else has instead. But, this isn’t the way God wants us to live. Yes, we can allow others to motivate or challenge us, but we are commanded not to covet what they have. One of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:17 (AMP) says, “You shall not covet [that is, selfishly desire and attempt to acquire] your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” It's probably not an ox for us, but whatever it is that catches our eye, we must be diligent about not allowing ourselves to covet. Instead, we must ask God to give us a heart of gratitude. The truth is, it doesn’t even really matter if things are going well or we’re struggling because it always seems like someone else’s life is better than ours and we long for our life to be more like theirs. When we allow ourselves to have this kind of mindset and attitude, we're filled with envy and can’t believe how “stacked” someone else’s “team” is. We start dreaming about how great our life would be if we just had one of their three vacation homes. We're jealous of their success and covet their careers...or envy the family they have while downplaying our own blessings. We wish our life looked more like theirs and then frustration, regret, and disappointment set in. The Bible describes how dangerous this is to our hearts, minds, and bodies in the following three scriptures: “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones" (Proverbs 14:30; NIV). “Surely resentment destroys the fool, and jealousy kills the simple" (Job 5:2; NLT). “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice" (James 3:16; (NIV). Ultimately, we have to keep our eyes on our “own team” and make the best decisions we can with what we’ve been given and not worry about how well other people are doing...unless we want to genuinely complement and encourage them, right?! Even more importantly, as followers of Jesus, our hearts and lives have been transformed thanks to His grace and love. We don’t deserve anything and every good thing comes from God. “For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things” (Psalm 107:9; ESV). Instead of thinking about what we don’t have, let’s be reminded that we have Jesus and He's the only One who truly satisfies. Our greatest desires should always be rooted in Him with our eyes fixed on Him. When that becomes our heart’s posture, the envy, covetousness, and jealousy go away and we end up looking at our lives with gratitude, peace, and awe because of everything we have in Christ. What players on other Fantasy teams do you covet the most? What manager’s roster are you most jealous of? What do you think when you look at your own roster? What player have you tried the hardest to acquire? In life, what do you find yourself coveting the most? In life, who are you jealous of? In life, what causes you to be envious? Why are envy, jealousy, and covetousness so dangerous? How do you combat those things and how has your faith in Jesus changed your perspective? "Instead of thinking about what we don’t have, let’s be reminded that we have Jesus and He's the only One who truly satisfies. Our greatest desires should always be rooted in Him with our eyes fixed on Him. " - Bryce Johnson, Founder of Fantasy Football Fellowship According to Rotoballer.com, “Aaron Rodgers' 2011 season still reigns supreme as the most Fantasy points per game ever scored by a quarterback.” (403.4 total points and 26.89 points per game.) His stats included 4,643 yards on 68.3% completion, 45 touchdowns, six interceptions (1.2% INT%), 9.2 air yards/attempt, 257 rushing yards, and three rush TDs.
- BREAKOUT WEEK 3: Are You In Or Out?
As we know, the sport of football is physical, violent, and dangerous to the body of every player who steps onto the field. This results in countless injuries all season long which is problematic for the actual players, but also challenging for us as Fantasy managers. While we're safely sitting on our comfortable couches watching games on TV, injuries to players across the NFL greatly contribute to the success or lack of success of our Fantasy team each week. It’s brutal when our top players go down with season-ending injuries or get put on the injured reserve list for four weeks or more. Yet, as hard as it is on our Fantasy team when a player is declared “out,” we're able to move on from them because it’s clear they won’t be available anymore. We know we can’t count on them and we shift our attention toward another player. What might be even more frustrating for Fantasy managers is dealing with what are considered minor injuries. Every week some guys are deemed “questionable” with a sprained ankle, tweaked hamstring, sore groin, or bruised ribs. The reports go back and forth all week on where players stand with their health, and we are led to believe that questionable players have a good chance to play. This confuses us though because we don’t know for sure if the player will be available for our Fantasy lineup or whether or not the team will still commit to his normal workload if he's on the field. It comes down to the wire as to whether or not the players who are “game-time decisions” will be ruled active for the game. Trying to decide what to do with them right before kickoff is very stressful for us as managers, especially when ultimately they are declared inactive. On the other hand, we love having players on our Fantasy team who are reliable, healthy, and committed to play, and we know we can rely on them to be out on the field. Of course, they too can get injured at any time, but it's clear there's a difference between them and the players who are consistently designated as questionable. When looking at the players with a “Q” next to their name on our roster, it makes it tough to trust them and count on them to start in our Fantasy lineup. Ultimately, what we want to know about our players is, are you in or out? When it comes to our own lives, are we the type of people who are always “questionable” or are we reliable, committed, and available for others? Are people able to count on us to show up, deliver, be there for them when they need us, and come through when we say we will? Or, do we lead people on all week long and then back out and let them down at the last minute? More importantly, when it comes to our commitment to Jesus, are we in or out? Jesus says in Matthew 12:30 (NLT), “Anyone who isn’t with Me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with Me is actually working against me.” Are we going to be active in our faith or are we going to be inactive? Is our character questionable or consistent? Do we leave people wondering where we stand regarding our faith? Are people confused about what we believe and there seems to always be a “Q” next to our name? Are we committed to going to church or are we regularly a "game-time" decision? Are we clearly following Jesus and serving Him or are we going back and forth all week? In the Old Testament, Joshua talks to the tribes of Isreal about who people will choose to serve: “So fear the Lord and serve Him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15; NLT). None of us are perfect, but if we want to truly follow Jesus, we need to be committed to Him and available to be used by Him. Instead of being indecisive, wishy-washy, or sitting on the fence, we need to declare without any questions, that "As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord." Let's stand firm in our faith and be someone who can definitively be counted on to "be there for the team." This happens when we truly love God and are fully devoted to Him as described in the following verses: “Therefore, your hearts are to be wholly devoted to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as [you are doing] today” (1 Kings 8:61; AMP). “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5; ESV). “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38; ESV). Let's drop the "questionable tag" in our lives and commit to being available and all-in for God and others. What players on your team so far this season have caused you issues because they've been questionable? Who are some players that always seem to be questionable, every week, every year? Who are some players that you can really count on because they are reliable? How do you handle people in your life who aren't willing to commit and how important is commitment to you? Do you think you are a reliable person? What "injuries" or attitudes and behaviors are causing you to be "questionable" in your faith? If you have committed yourself to following Jesus, how has your life changed? What areas of your life would you like to demonstrate more commitment instead of being questionable? "Are we going to be active in our faith or are we going to be inactive? Is our character questionable or consistent? Do we leave people wondering where we stand regarding our faith? Are people confused about what we believe and there seems to always be a “Q” next to our name? Are we clearly following Jesus and serving Him or are we going back and forth all week?" - Bryce Johnson, Fantasy Football Fellowship In 2022, the four most common players found on championship rosters in ESPN leagues were Christian McCaffrey (22.8% of teams), Patrick Mahomes (22.2%), Austin Ekeler (22%), and Travis Kelce (21.4%). - ESPN.com
- BREAKOUT WEEK 2: Patience Is Needed
Without exception, there are instant reactions and overreactions to how NFL players performed during their first week of the season. As Fantasy managers, we have our first glance at our team, and some of our players didn't do what we hoped they would. Our first-round draft picks were total letdowns, some wide receivers weren't involved in the passing game, a few quarterbacks didn’t throw any touchdowns, and many top running backs weren’t able to gain over 100 yards rushing. It’s always fun to see our players do awesome in week 1 and justify why we drafted them, but unfortunately, there are NFL teams whose offenses didn't look as high-powered as anticipated, and many players on our Fantasy rosters who underperformed and disappointed us. Of course, some managers saw their players dominate right away and enjoyed jumping out to an early lead in the standings. However, the bottom line is, that all of us have certain players who didn't emerge as instant Fantasy stars and give us the results we wanted. So what do we do? We have to be patient and trust that they will get things going eventually and will demonstrate why we put our faith in them on draft day. It’s especially true for rookies who often don’t start contributing in big ways until later in the season, so we must be patient and trust that their talent will ultimately shine through. Expecting everything to go our way in week 1 and every player on our roster to have a huge performance is unrealistic. So instead of getting frustrated or making drastic changes to our teams, we must choose to trust the key players we drafted and remain patient with them. When we do, we'll reap the rewards of sticking with our guys through the early season when there's a lack of scoring and a delay in putting up big points. They will show us why they were worth waiting on. Patience is needed in Fantasy Football and is required even more so in life. The challenge is, that we want instant results, we don’t like to wait for anything, and we want things to go our way right away. We want to immediately experience huge blessings after praying for something and expect no delays! When the “high-scoring performances” aren’t happening in life, are we likely to get frustrated, discouraged, give up quickly, and become impatient, resulting in drastic moves and poor decisions? Or do we choose to be patient and trust that God is working, His timing is best, and He'll come through in the right way according to His will? It’s hard to be patient, especially if we try to do so in our own strength. Thankfully, as followers of Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit living within us and when we yield to Him, He empowers us with patience. Galatians 5:22-23 (AMP) tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” I love the definition of patience in the Amplified translation: “Not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting.” So how do we normally act while waiting for God to answer prayers? Are we calmly and confidently surrendered to Him as we wait for things to click and become clear? Is our hope in Him, His character, and His power regardless of the results? Do we stand firm during delays and trust that He’ll reveal His faithfulness and goodness and remind us why we put our faith in Him? Romans 12:12 (ESV) implores us to “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 8:25 (ESV) explains, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Instead of acting hastily or getting anxious and responding poorly when things take longer than we thought, we must continue to trust that God is moving and He's worth waiting on. In the meantime, we keep doing the right things as we seek, pray, and obey. Galatians 6:9 (ESV) says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.” Psalm 27:14 (NLT) encourages us to “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” Of course, as Fantasy managers, we want to win right away. But, it's a long season and some of our best players require us to wait on them, so let's be patient. Likewise, of course, we want our prayers answered right away, but some of our best blessings require us to wait on them, so let's be patient. What player is already testing your patience? What player did you know going into the season you’d have to be patient with? What mistakes happen in Fantasy Football when you allow impatience to take over? What area of your life is testing your patience? In what ways have you seen God come through, but it required a season of waiting? What are the benefits of being patient instead of being anxious, impatient, and frustrated? "Of course, as Fantasy managers, we want to win right away. But, it's a long season and some of our best players require us to wait on them, so let's be patient. Likewise, of course, we want our prayers answered right away, but some of our best blessings require us to wait on them, so let's be patient." - Bryce Johnson, Fantasy Football Fellowship The original Fantasy Football scoring system included fullbacks, return specialists, and individual defensive players. (NFL.com)
- Three Things I'm Convinced Of
With the 2023 NFL season officially starting up tonight, here are three things I am convinced of for the upcoming campaign. 1. Justin Fields Will Be A Top Four QB - Last year, Fields was the QB6, even thought he attempted only 21 passes per game. That just tells you how dynamic he is with his legs, apart from what should be improved abilities in the passing game. The Bears would not have brought in D.J. Moore and passed on Bryce Young in the draft unless they planned to build the offense around Fields. He completed 60.4% of his passing attempts in his second year, and he now has improved weapons at receiver. Jalen hurts was at 61%, but went up to 66% when he got A.J. Brown. Josh Allen was at 59%, but went up to 69% when he got Stephon Diggs. I think we will see something similar with Fields. 2. Mike Williams Will Be A Top 20 Receiver - For whatever reason, the Chargers simply did not throw the ball down the field in 2022, with Justin Herbert averaging a mere 6.8 yards per attempt. But with Kellen Moore coming to Los Angeles as the new offensive coordinator, we can expect the Chargers to be more aggressive in the passing attack this season. Many people are expecting Herbert and the Chargers offense to be great this year. Considering the fact that Keenan Allen has never been a big touchdown guy, those scoring tosses are going to have to go elsewhere. It seems to me like Williams is the most likely candidate. 3. Nick Chubb Will Finish As The RB 1 - Chubb was the RB1 for the first ten weeks of the season last year, before his production dropped off slightly in November and December. With some of the Browns' offseason changes, Chubb will now have an increased receiving roll in the offense. It is not crazy to think that he could lead the league in rushing, score 15 total touchdowns, and have 40 receptions. If he is able to do that, I don't see another running back in the league who would be able to put up better fantasy production that him.
- BREAKOUT WEEK 1: It's All About Decision-Making
As we begin this Fantasy Football season, we set out to be the champion at the end of the year. So, what leads to having a successful season? It all comes down to decision-making. The first decision each of us makes (and it’s a good one) is to accept the invitation to join a league and say "yes" to the life of Fantasy Football! Each step of the season is filled with a series of choices and ultimately the best decision-makers are the best Fantasy managers. They are the ones who do the right things with what they can control while playing Fantasy and are the most likely to remain standing until the end of the season. Yes, many factors will contribute to how our Fantasy season turns out - including surprising injuries to our best players and situations we never saw coming with some NFL teams. Still, the decisions we make and how we respond to each challenge and opportunity will determine how our season turns out. Regardless of the results each week, we must choose to keep playing and do what we can to help our team get better. Before we even decide what players to draft, we begin making decisions during the preparation for our Fantasy drafts. We decide what experts we’re going to listen to and which ones we aren’t. We determine how much reading we want to do. Finally, we consider the potential outcomes for each Fantasy player and decide who we want to target in drafts. Then, during the draft, every time we're on the clock we're responsible for deciding who we want to pick and what direction to take with our roster construction. We decide whether it’s more important to draft a quarterback early or wait on one. We choose between loading up on wide receivers early and often or making sure we snag a workhorse running back. We go through our options each time it’s our turn to draft and are forced to decide between the players still on the board. Do we choose the upside player and potential breakout star or do we lean toward the safe pick and the player with a strong floor? After all of these decisions we make during the draft, we begin our season and face even more choices. We must choose our team name and every week make lineup decisions to determine our starters and bench warmers. Then after each week, we choose whether or not we want to add a player from the waivers and simultaneously decide if there is a player we’re willing to cut from our current roster. As the season goes along, we will face opportunities to make trades. Sometimes another manager will send a trade proposal and other times we’ll send one to them. Each time, we choose whether or not to pull the trigger and make the trade. Every decision we make during the Fantasy season matters and one decision leads to another. If we want to make the most of the year and experience winning along the way, we must do our best to choose rightly and avoid the consequences of foolish choices. When it comes to our own lives, it's also all about decision-making every day, as life is a series of choices. Every decision we make matters and one decision leads to another. We acknowledge that so much is out of our control and many factors will contribute to how our life turns out, such as surprising “injuries” and situations we never saw coming. But ultimately, we are responsible for making countless decisions each step of the way on our journey. So how do we choose rightly and make decisions that lead to a successful or rather a meaningful and fruitful life? The most important decision each of us must make is allowing Jesus to be our Lord and Savior. We must decide whether or not we believe Jesus is the Son of God, lived a perfect life, died on the cross to pay the punishment for sin, and was resurrected. John 3:36 (ESV) declares, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” We must choose to accept Jesus' invitation to "join His league" and say "yes" to the life of faith as a follower of His. God sent His Son, Jesus, to be our Savior, so we must decide to accept His “trade offer,” which was His life for ours. Jesus willingly laid down His life on the cross for me and you, and by the power of God He was raised to life. Because of our sinful nature, we deserve death, but because of God’s grace and Jesus’ willingness to take our place on the cross, we can be forgiven and receive eternal life. Romans 6:23 (AMP) says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God [that is, His remarkable, overwhelming gift of grace to believers] is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." 1 John 2:2 (AMP) explains, "And He [that same Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins [the atoning sacrifice that holds back the wrath of God that would otherwise be directed at us because of our sinful nature—our worldliness, our lifestyle]; and not for ours alone, but also for [the sins of all believers throughout] the whole world." Now, as followers of Jesus, we surrender our lives to Him and every day we can choose to live in a way that honors and glorifies God. We do this by choosing His way instead of our selfish ways and deciding to do the right thing as we make wise choices according to His Word and guidance. Matthew 5:16 (ESV) encourages us to "...let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." In Psalm 32:8 (NLT), the Lord promises, “'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.'" Every day we are "on the clock" and must choose which direction to go. Every day we face "lineup decisions" and determine who we are going to trust. Thankfully, God is with us each step of the way and worthy to be trusted. We will experience challenges and opportunities and how we choose to respond will also determine how our life turns out. We have to choose to keep persevering and enduring even after a "loss" as we choose to seek God with all of our hearts. Yes, all of us have made foolish decisions in the past, but by God's grace and strength, we can make wise choices moving forward. We just have to rely on His help and ask for the wisdom that He provides. James 1:5 (NLT) tells us, "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking." As we move forward throughout the rest of our lives, let's remember that every decision matters. Let's make wise decisions that align with God's Word and through prayer ask God to empower us to make the choices that lead to a winning/purposeful life. Because of Jesus, we'll remain standing in the end! 1. What were the toughest decisions you faced during the Fantasy draft? 2. What have been the most difficult Fantasy lineup decisions so far? 3. What decisions in your life have had the greatest impact? 4. How do you describe your decision to believe or not believe in Jesus, and receive Him as your Lord and Savior? 5. What holds you back, or challenges you the most, when it comes to choosing God's way each day? 6. What "lineup decisions" in life are you facing this week, and in what ways are you asking God for wisdom? "We must choose to accept Jesus' invitation to "join His league" and say "yes" to the life of faith as a follower of His. God sent His Son, Jesus, to be our Savior, so we must decide to accept His “trade offer,” which was His life for ours." - Bryce Johnson, Fantasy Football Fellowship "The Grandstand Sports Services launched the first nationally available Fantasy Football leagues online in 1985." - Rotowire.com
- Favorite Late-Round Steals
It's always important to head into the draft with names of players you want to target with your last couple of picks. It's crucial to take high-upside guys and Bryce loves to select backup running backs who have a chance to shine at some point during the season. Bryce's Targets Tyjae Spears-Titans Running Back Sean Tucker-Bucs Running Back Joshua Kelley-Chargers Running Back Juwan Johnson-Saints Tight End Marvin Mims Jr.-Broncos Wide Receiver Harrison's Targets Romeo Doubs-Packers Wide Receiver Van Jefferson-Rams Wide Receiver Gus Edwards-Ravens Running Back Other Possible Targets to Consider Rashee Rice-Chiefs Wide Receiver Luke Musgrave-Packers Tight End Zamir White-Raiders Running Back
- Players Worth the Risk
Every player we draft carries a risk, but as Fantasy managers we must take wise risks when we are presented with opportunities to draft certain players. Below are the risky players I'm willing to select this season. Nick Chubb The Risk: He's 27 years old and in recent years hasn't caught many passes out of the backfield which limits his upside as a first-round Fantasy pick. There are also lots of questions about the Browns this year. Why you should take the risk: He's going to be a workhorse back and be on the field for three downs. His volume and opportunity and talent will equal a monster fantasy season. With Kareem Hunt gone, he will now catch a ton of passes. He is worth taking in the mid-first round. Tony Pollard The Risk: He's never been the Cowboys' full-time featured back, so can he handle being the starter? Why you should take the risk: He is an electric runner and pass-catcher and the Cowboys are committed to his role within the offense. He has demonstrated how successful he can be with limited opportunity and I believe he will excel now that he's the guy. He's worth taking in the late first round/early second round. Other Risky Players Worth Drafting Javonte Williams Darren Waller Lamar Jackson Calvin Ridley Adam Thielen
- Draft Strategies and Philosophies
I'm heading into my 20th season of playing Fantasy Football and over the years I've developed certain philosophies and strategies to help me win. Here are a few I'd like to share with you: 1. Diversify your roster with players from different NFL teams. 2. Don't handcuff your own star RB, but instead grab another manager's handcuff. 3. Don't worry about BYE weeks. 4. Draft more running backs than any other position. 5. Draft a combination of young players and veteran players, but be very careful drafting rookies too early. 6. Take chronic injuries very seriously like hamstrings, groins, and feet even though they appear to be minor. 7. Don't worry about a player's NFL schedule. 8. Be careful not to get sucked into a "positional run" but rather go with a different position when that happens. 9. Do consider the character of the players you are drafting. 10. Draft players who provide good value, but sometimes a player drops for a reason so be cautious.
- Taking Risks
I previously wrote about how sometimes during Fantasy Drafts certain players may be the boring pick, but because of how consistent and reliable they are, they’re the right pick. We shouldn’t reluctantly take these players, but be excited about picking them. I believe that to be true, but there are other opportunities during a Fantasy Draft where we must be willing to exercise boldness and confidence to take a risk on specific players. We don’t want to be foolish by taking risks too early in a draft or draft players that have major injury or character concerns that can totally derail our season. However, there are rounds later in the draft that present us with choices to pick risky players who have huge potential to break out and overachieve based on where they are selected. Instead of playing it safe, and to reap the benefits, we must be willing to take a step of faith. We understand how risky it is to draft a rookie tight end or a wide receiver buried on the depth chart, but when we sense it’s time to take a chance and go for a certain player, as Fantasy managers we must be willing to do it. We don’t do so recklessly or without serious consideration, but with Fantasy wisdom and faith, we choose to take the proper risk at the right time. As followers of Jesus, we know His way is always the right way, but sometimes what He asks us to do isn’t “safe” or comfortable and requires us to take a big step of faith. There are times when we’ll sense the Holy Spirit leading us to take a chance and after prayerful consideration and with wisdom, we must choose to take the proper risk. This requires us to have boldness and confidence in Jesus as we trust Him with every decision we make as we live by faith. 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV) tells us, “For we live by faith, not by sight.” 1 Corinthians 2:5 (ESV) says, “So that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” As we walk closely with God, there are key moments in our lives when we must exercise our bold faith and make choices that outsiders may view as “risky,” or “taking a gamble.” In these moments, we demonstrate our faith in our Almighty God by obeying what He’s clearly leading us to do. We don’t act recklessly, irrational, or unwise, but in faith, we boldly and confidently go for it. One of the most important things we boldly do as followers of Jesus is proclaiming the Gospel and declaring where we place our trust. 2 Corinthians 3:12 (ESV) reminds us, “…since we have such a hope, we are very bold…” The apostle Paul is a great example of boldness and faith as he went “preaching and proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness and boldness, unhindered and unrestrained” (Acts 28:31; AMP). When we step out in faith, we reveal that our trust and confidence are in an all-knowing, loving, and powerful God. Instead of playing it safe out of fear, we need to take a faithful risk forward, as we trust God with unhindered and unrestrained faith. We have the conversation…we make the move…we confess…we forgive…we pray…we obey…and we don’t hesitate. Today, when we’re led to take a faithful risk forward let’s be encouraged by this wonderful blessing found in Hebrews 13:21 (NLT): “…may He equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All glory to Him forever and ever! Amen.” I’m Bryce Johnson, and you can UNPACK that! PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I ask that You give me a big faith. Help me have the boldness and confidence to go for it when I feel You leading me to move in a clear direction. I pray I wouldn’t let fear get in the way of taking faithful risks. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen. Discussion Questions for PACKS: Describe a time in your life when you took a faithful risk and God gave you the boldness and confidence you needed. What situation do you face right now that fear is holding you back from doing what you know you’re supposed to do?
- Perception vs. Reality
Fantasy Football drafts are taking place over the coming weeks and Fantasy managers are filled with thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and perspectives on different players. Oftentimes, we as Fantasy managers, don’t want to draft a certain player because we have a bad feeling or impression of them. It’s not always based on truth though, but rather a wrong perception. Our judgment of a player isn’t based on stats or numbers, but instead, we buy into a false narrative that’s out there or our lack of knowledge skews our understanding of reality. We overlook how valuable and productive a player truly is. For example, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has a reputation that he can’t win the big game or beat the Packers. Because of that perception, he’s often undervalued when it comes to Fantasy managers targeting him in drafts. However, the reality is, he’s always healthy, he has an incredible weapon at wide receiver with Justin Jefferson, and he has an offensive-minded head coach in Kevin O’Connell. Historically he's been viewed the wrong way and the Fantasy community’s perception of him needs to change. Other players that come to mind that managers seem to have the wrong perception about include Mike Williams, Miles Sanders, Dameon Pierce, and Aaron Jones. We must understand the truth about each player and not just go with the false narratives attached to them. Unfortunately, in life, this also plays out as our perception doesn’t always line up with truth when it comes to how we view people, ourselves, and God. All too often we judge someone wrongly based on a false narrative we believe about them. Our perception is they are doing something bad, or they aren’t someone we’d like to know, or our impression is they don’t like us. However, the truth of the matter is usually very different than our unfair perception. The words of Jesus in John 7:24 (AMP) should help us with these kinds of situations as He says, “Do not judge by appearance [superficially and arrogantly], but judge fairly and righteously.” The other struggle we encounter is with keeping the right perception of ourselves. Sometimes we view ourselves with too much pride and arrogance, but we must seek to understand the reality as Paul points out in Romans 12:3 (NLT): “Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” At the same time, we have the temptation to believe lies that we are worthless or a failure. The truth is, as followers of Jesus, we are loved and forgiven by God as He calls us redeemed, friends, and adopted sons and daughters. With humility, we must realize we are valuable, not because of our own greatness, but because of who we are in Christ. Lastly, too many people buy the wrong narratives about God or have the wrong perception of who He really is. They believe things that aren’t true and those misguided feelings about Him lead them to avoid Him and undervalue how amazing and loving He is. To help others and ourselves think rightly and understand the truth, we can pray what Paul prays in Ephesians 1:17-19 (AMP): “ [I always pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may grant you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation [that gives you a deep and personal and intimate insight] into the true knowledge of Him [for we know the Father through the Son]. And [I pray] that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit], so that you will know and cherish the hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints (God’s people), and [so that you will begin to know] what the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His [active, spiritual] power is in us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of His mighty strength…” Today, let’s move past the perceptions that aren’t grounded in reality when it comes to Fantasy Football, but more importantly with our beliefs and thoughts about others, ourselves, and God. I’m Bryce Johnson, and you can UNPACK that! PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I pray for a spirit of wisdom and discernment to understand the truth and have my eyes opened to the reality of who You are and who I am in Christ. I pray I wouldn’t judge others based on appearances, but fairly seek to understand what’s really going on. Thank you for redeeming me. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen. Discussion Questions for FFF Leagues: In what ways do your wrong perceptions need to be aligned with reality? What is an example of when you misjudged someone based on appearance or a false narrative?
- Three ADP Standouts
As fantasy managers, average draft position (ADP) is one of the most useful tools that we have when preparing for drafts, ADP can help us to better plan in order to hopefully find great value later in the draft. Here are three players that currently have great ADPs that might end up being a ateal for you in your draft. 1. Tyler Higbee - Higbee is currently going as the TE16 in round 12. Many people seem to forget, though, that he was fourth in tight end targets in 2022, and is fifth in the league over the past two years. Is he going to be a top 5 tight end? Probably not. But barring injury, he is going to get 100+ targets and finish well ahead of his current ADP. 2. Keenan Allen - From 2017 to 2021, Allen had five straight season of 95 receptions and 6+ touchdowns. He simply does not bust. Last year, that streak ended because he was injured for the first half of the season. But in the final eight games, he was a top 10 fantasy receiver and was on pace for 130 receptions, 1,400 yards and eight scores. He is a No. 1 receiver who will get 95 receptions in a top ten NFL offense. The only other guys who can say that are Jamar Chase, A.J. Brown, Stefon Diggs, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and CeeDee Lamb. Those guys go as top ten receivers, yet Allen is WR22, for some reason. 3. Terry McLaurin - McLaurin’s current ADP is WR24. Last season was his worst finish of his career, and he was still the WR14. What are we doing? There is no way Sam Howell is worse than Taylor Heinicke last year. I get that it isn’t an exciting pick, but in what world does McLaurin finish lower than WR24? People are seriously taking Christian Watson, Drake London, and Jerry Jeudy ahead of him, even though they also have bad quarterback situations.
- Reluctant Or Excited?
Every year as we prepare for our Fantasy Football drafts, we remember there are particular players like the veteran wide receiver and the steady tight end who we can almost always count on to produce. When on the clock to draft and staring at the available players, we know the right one to pick based on how reliable and consistent he is. However, for some odd reason, we’re hesitant to draft him. He seems like a boring pick and almost too obvious of a selection, so we try to talk ourselves out of it. But even though it isn’t a player we’re excited about, in the end, we still choose to draft him. Yet, shouldn’t we be passionate about someone reliable and consistent? Maybe we’re not because the Fantasy community has overlooked him and hasn’t hyped him up. Or, maybe he isn’t a “high-ceiling guy” or someone new. Instead, he’s just a steady player who has always delivered throughout his career. Sometimes we end up passing on this type of guy because we get enticed by the rookie running back or enthralled with the player everyone is talking about. However, there are often consequences for drafting him. Even though we’re excited on draft day when we snag the hyped-up player, we know deep down that we can’t really count on him because he carries risks. So, what if we willingly and confidently drafted the player who has shown the most reliability and consistency instead of reluctantly drafting him, and considering him the boring choice? When it comes to our own lives, do we view doing the right thing and making wise choices as boring, but still reluctantly do what we’re supposed to do? When it comes to following Jesus, are we truly passionate about living our lives with Him and for Him…or are we just going through the motions and reluctantly reading the Bible and going to church? Are we cheerful givers or do we give reluctantly or under compulsion? 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 NIV tells us, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” When it comes to serving and obeying God, where has our enthusiasm gone? Why aren’t we excited to follow Jesus who is always faithful, reliable, and steady, and never fails to deliver on His promises? Hebrews 13:8 (ESV) reminds us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV) explains, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Has the culture moved our eyes off of God and enticed us by hyping up other things for us to chase after? Are we more excited about the newest TV show or technology…or dare I say, the upcoming Fantasy season? Has our passion for God diminished and do we love what the world offers us more than we love Him? 1 John 2:15 (AMP) warns, “Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” The truth is, we may be enthralled with that new hyped “thing” everyone is talking about, but there are often consequences for pursuing it and it doesn’t satisfy like we thought it would. Even though we’re initially excited, we know deep down that we can’t count on the things of this world because they carry many risks with them. God on the other hand is always reliable and consistent and we can’t buy the lie that life with Him is boring. Just like in Fantasy, winning is never boring, and finding our victory in Christ and truly following Him isn’t boring! 2 Corinthians 2:14 (AMP) says, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us spreads and makes evident everywhere the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” So, instead of reluctantly doing the right thing and choosing Jesus’ way, we need a heart and perspective change. We can pray Psalm 51:10 (NLT), “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.” Let’s embrace the wonderful life God has for us and recognize all He’s done for us by not taking it for granted, as we also stop looking for someone else or something else to provide what only He can. He is always the right choice, so today, let’s seek Him and serve Him with no hesitation, but rather with confidence, passion, and excitement. I’m Bryce Johnson, and you can UNPACK that! PRAYER: Heavenly Father, forgive me for getting caught up in what the world offers as temporary satisfaction. I know You are always worthy to be trusted and continue to be faithful in my life. Please help me choose Your ways and not give in to what the culture tries to entice me with. Create in me a clean heart and help my eyes remain fixed on You. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen. Discussion Questions for FFF Leagues: In what ways have you been reluctantly going through the motions instead of passionately following Jesus? In what ways has culture and the world enticed you with the latest “hyped” thing?