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Elephants on the Field: Week 2

Elephants

Winning at fantasy means making predictions and acting on them prior to other players. To do that, you don't always have the privileges of hindsight and deduction. You will need foresight and inference. I hope to offer a some good if not somewhat inferential arguments for why some early moves on this weekly (if I have time) post.
Fantasy thinking is often over-obsessed with statistical correlations at the expense of firm causal understanding of what is happening on the field. The forest is often lost for the trees. A combination of understanding the game of football, recognizing interconnected changes that will influence teams, and eye testing the games themselves is the best antidote to the groupthink, herd-mentality of fantasy football expertism which, time and again, proves spotty at best in anticipating changes.
Last week I posted this as "Eye-tested Takes" but I realized that's not what I was aiming for. A variety of posters and services watch the whole game and give you maximally thorough takes on every snap. I won't offer much of an opinion on players/teams I don't watch. I'll always watch enough. However, a lot of what I'll make as the case for picking up (or dropping) a player will be based on obvious things that are happening that rankings-myosis may miss.
There's always an elephant in the room that no one want's to acknowledge. This post gives fantasy advice that accounts for the elephants on the field.

Things I'm right about (so far):

1. Rivers Noodle Arm = Colts Lean into Jonathon Taylor:
With the quality of that offensive line, Mack going down, and Rivers looking like shit, Jonathon Taylor may end-up being a top-5 back this year. TY Hilton and Parris Campbell are going to disappoint you.
A bunch of commenters disagreed, insisting Hines was the guy to get and Taylor as a top-5 was nuts. This is an instance of the eye-test making people too smart. Yes, Taylor netted 22 yards on 9 carries week 1. Who cares, he was great in college (larger sample size) and more importantly, Rivers looks SOOO spent that Taylor is the only obvious bell-cow RB for what is probably the best O-line in the league. You want that. Rivers threw it 25 times in week two (down from 44). Taylor had 26 carries, 2 receptions, 110 yards, and 1 touchdown. It was obvious what had to happen in Indy but fantasy groupthink herded everyone toward Hines.
If you had the audacity to ignore me on this (/s), the good news is there's still time. His trade value has skyrocketed on most charts but he's not quite valued as a top back yet. If you get the feel someone is under-valuing him, don't wait longer because his first 2 TD game is going to make him inaccessible in a trade. The Colts defense is also looking good enough to maintain a lead throughout a game, opening-up more run play calls. (Rivers sucking is going to do that all the time anyway).
And if you still don't believe me, watch his highlights from this week and you'll see why he could be such a focal point. He does a lot of things that coaches like to lean-into: great ball security, adds 2-3 yards to the end of runs, explosive speed when he has big holes.
2.Browns Offense is fine:
Don't panic about the Browns offense. Baker Mayfield looked like trash but the running offense actually looked pretty good at times...Stefanski is the guy you need to believe in... The biggest takeway from the game isn't the Browns offense is bad, its that the Ravens defense is great.
Both Browns running back scored multiple TD's and registered more than 150 yards each week 2. Baker continued to suck and it didn't matter. Stefanski's offense is good and his coaching career is a testament to his talent. All-Ivy-League Football Player. First coaching job was in the NFL. They wouldn't let him leave for 14 years because they knew he was a talent.
So don't run from Chubb or Hunt yet. And if you have them both, start them both and don't feel bad (unless you have a clearly better option like Zeke too...then probably favor starting Kareem Hunt the larger your ppr value, but its a tough call). The Browns are a perfect storm that make both startable: (a) Both Chubb and Hunt have top-5 rb talent and it comes across when you watch them on the field. With good combinations of strength and speed, each one is TD risk on every snap. (b) Sefanski divides snaps very well. Both are getting touches-a-plenty. They just signed they're "back-up" RB to a new contract (I mean, how often does that happen in the modern NFL?). KS also divides snaps by drive, unless a drive gets very long, so even if Chubb is doing well, he's going to give Kareem Hunt a whole drive. (c) starting both is fading Baker which is smart. The Browns are going to increasingly realize that their offense is more effective with Baker doing less. They may even move to Case Keenum (their back-up, legit didn't know that last week) and that's fine for Chubb/Hunt.
I wouldn't run from OBJ or Jarvis Landry yet either, though Baker's ineptitude has got to make you worry. Think about what Minnesota offenses did over the years with Diggs, Theilen, etc. Both OBJ and Landry are going to be solid bets for big-play TD's (like OBJ's last Thursday) here and there but likely not breaking the top-10. Still, the talent ceiling is high with both so a buy-low scenario where you get them in a trade could pay-off if you bet on Stefanski more than Mayfield.
3. Deandre Hopkins is the WR1
Deandre Hopkins will be the #1 fantasy receiver this year... And most importantly, the offensive situation in Arizona is the perfect storm for his fantasy situation. Kyler Murray is good, but he's not working his way through progressions yet.
Hopkins nabbed a TD but only had 9 targets this week. I'll admit that I only watched Kyler Murray's highlights so forgive me if its there and I didn't see it, buuuuut...He's not completing passes to 2nd and 3rd reads. Its one read then run. That's great for Hopkins' stats because the further into the season they get, the MORE Hopkins is going to be involved on plays designed to chuck it to him, no matter what. Hopkins is one of those guys that's always open, and Kyler is a smart player who knows that AND knows he's not good enough yet to start looking for someone else if Hopkins is "covered". That may hurt the Cardinals at some point. But Hopkins is getting fed this season.
And obviously, a rash of injuries at WR has made this look to be a better prediction. Hopkins is already a stud in that offense and he's still learning it. His stock is only going up from here.
Its true the WR's new offenses typically do poorly. A couple of reasons why that's not true of Hopkins: (a) he's physically the most gifted receiver in the league. Randy Moss kicked ass his first year with the Patriots. Some players are talented enough that it doesn't take time, as long as they're smart as hell like Randy Moss or (b) Hopkins is an intelligent dude. He negotiated his own contract and didn't fuck it up. He wants to be G.M. Big brained guy, he'll pick up quickly. You can see that on the field, he's constantly looking back at Kyler to make sure he did the right thing on each play. (c) HOF'er in the WR room: Fitz will get him up to speed fast.
Quick note about Kyler Murray: He's tearing it up. One encouraging thing that you might not see how little he's allowing himself to be tackled. As a fantasy owner, that's encouraging because it suggests he can sustain a high running floor and not get injured. And there's an added assurance that he's putting those slides for zero yards (for example) on tape because the coaches see that too and are more willing to call more of those plays down the stretch. Still, I wouldn't compare him to Lamar Jackson last season yet. Lamar Jackson was throwing TD's to his 4th and 5th read in week 1 against the Dolphins last season. Murray may hit a scheme ceiling where defenses, especially good ones, start to take away his 1 and 2 and contain his run game (though it is strong and he has good vision).

Things I was totally wrong about: zero things!

HA! Next section!

Things I'm not right about yet but pretty soon I will be:

1. Joe Burrow AJ Green is going to be good.
If you watch the game, you see Joe Burrow fitting the ball into tight windows in clutch situations. In fact, he wasn't finding a lot of open receivers, he was throwing the ball well/correctly into great coverage and making lemonade. Also, AJ Green is looking fully healthy and like his old self.
Well, AJ Green was targeted 13 times and caught...3 of those passes for 29 yards. So clearly, the chemistry between them was oversold by me last week. Still, 13 targets is encouraging and so is the Bengals inability to run the ball. No matter how much they try, they're wretched run-blocking always leaves them down late in games and in 3rd-and-forever situations. They just let a rookie throw it 61 times.
Another consideration is that Denzel Ward was covering Green all night:
A.J. Green has had an up-and-down career vs. the Browns. Thursday’s game was on the down side, and it had mostly to do with Denzel Ward.
Green had three catches for 29 yards. Overall, Ward broke up three passes against the Bengals. And according to Next Gen Stats, Ward was making life difficult for Joe Burrow all night, forcing eight tight window passes in 11 targets as the nearest defender.
Green is still pretty low on trade value charts but stands to have a huge upside as Burrow's primary target.
2. Rodgers is back.
...are there really any physical traits that are important to his game that would fade significantly at 36 year's old? I didn't see any missing zip off of his throws. I did see fucking darts getting tossed all over the field into tiny windows.
Aaron Jones is the #1 fantasy RB right now so obviously saying Rodgers is fully back is pre-mature. However, he is impressing with some very, very pretty darts.
Also, the elephant on the field for the Packers is that Aaron Rodgers is a player driven by ego. Not a knock on him, he's just a guy who needs mojo to play at his finest. Maybe it required the stimulation of an insulting draft pick to prod him back into his HOF form. I'm not saying Rodgers can be a top 3 QB this year with Jackson and Murray running so well, but 4 or 5 doesn't seem out of reach.
Rodgers is pff top-graded QB right now btw.

Fresh takes:

1.The Ravens are the best defense in the NFL.
The loss of Earl Thomas is doesn't matter as much as what has been gained with Patrick Queen and L.J. Fort. Queen is incredibly fast and explosive underneath, getting into the backfield and making big plays. And L.J. Fort (top rated pff lb right now) combine to give them rangey-coverage, tackling, and pass break-up ability over the middle they didn't have before which has further weaponized they're depth at CB (Humphrey, Peters, Smith). Peters specifically is a ball hawk that's found a great home in Baltimore; he couldn't scheme well anywhere else but Harbaugh has found a way to give him the freedom to ball hawk. Over the long haul, Harbaugh has maintained a great defense, regardless of departures/changes, for years and years. When he has this much talent, his defenses are typically dominant.
Be warry of starting iffy players against them at any position.
They're worth trading for, I think the turnovedef TD potential makes them worth it.
2. J.K. Dobbins will break-out out as the preferred option in the Ravens backfield.
Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards have both proven to be reliable RB's for the Raven offense. But Ingram is 30 with over 200 carries in 3 of the last 4 seasons. Edwards has been reliable, a home-grown UDFA. But at 238lbs and without elite speed, he's leaving many big runs on the table.
Dobbins didn't attend the combine. But ran a 4.44 40...in high school:
Dobbins posted a 4.44s 40-yard dash, 4.09s short shuttle and a 43.1-inch vertical jump as a high school senior at the event. There are also many reports that Dobbins squatted over 700 pounds.
He has power running balance and break-out speed that NONE of the other backs in Baltimore have. 4th rounder Justice Hill was their attempt of to develop that speed last year but didn't break out.
A couple of elephants make this one a good bet:
(a) Lamar's durability -- right now, he's taking a bunch of carries because he's the only one in their backfield that has the speed to break huge runs. If Dobbins can fill that role, Lamar Jackson can afford to take fewer chances and John Harbaugh can opt to only drop him back to pass 7 times in the second half when they're winning, like what happened in week 2.
(b) that defense -- Baltimore's defense is going to be great enough this year to take over games, making steady doses of run plays inevitable as they'll spend a lot of games up by 2 scores. Yes, they were up like that a lot last year but their only homerun hitter in the backfield was Lamar (see above, Justice Hill wasn't getting it done).
Here's an example: this is a shot from Gus Edwards' 22 yard scamper last week:

https://preview.redd.it/mhhhpzmkrxo51.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=3cdf46ac4bcce3e503729f909c0e787f85459eb9
The Ravens offensive line is good at opening holes like this. While it didn't prove important in this game (BAL was up 30-16 at the time), each run like this where a more explosive player could scored is an opportunity cost for the people calling plays. And its not just points left behind, its points scored while Lamar is watching like a fan. Its points that could allow more aggressive defensive play calling. If you're a coach for Baltimore, you don't necessarily want Lamar to have a gaudy stat-line every week if you're winning. If he can throw 16 passes in a game and then sit-out the 4th quarter, that's ideal from the franchise's perspective (though not so much for Fantasy managers). Each Ingram/Edwards run that coulda been a touchdown means there's more time on the field for Lamar, larger portion of the game where they're not playing a dominant lead, and higher chance that they'll lose because points were left on the field. They need someone else hitting home runs in the running game.
Am I fading Lamar because of all of this? Not yet. Eye test = that guy is a singular talent. His throwing motion is smooth like Vick's, just a gifted, effortless release. He's also great at mostly avoiding contact (though all contact is bad contact if you're his coaches). Great decision maker too. Makes multiple reads on plays. Can't say enough about how great of player he is. Still, Baltimore is well put-together enough that they may be able to functionally win without him. So don't be surprised if, especially approaching the playoffs, Baltimore starts calling plays that don't involve as much Lamar. What's scary is that they may be a complete football team without him and he's the reigning MVP.
Finally, Dobbins had two carries last week. One was for a 44 yard gain where the blocking was good but not nearly as good as the image above. Even if the transition to him isn't fast, he could force the issue like Chubb did his rookie year, gaining 100 yards on 3 carries in a game.
No matter what, the Ravens will run by committee but there will come a point where the player to start out of the trio is Dobbins without a doubt.
3. Minshew is the truth and his team situation makes him a great fantasy player.
Minshew isn't the most talented QB in the league. But above all things, he is competitive and scrappy. The Jags are good but not great so he's going need a lot of that scrappy-iness (lol, just say that sentence out loud, you'll hear it). James Robinson is very good and they're going to lean on him a lot. But when the time for much needed yards and points, it seems like the Jags tag Gardner Minshew II's Id in at offensive coordinator. Minshew isn't likely going to be top-5 qb but he might make the top 10 and is likely easier to get than other top targets.
Part of the reason DJ Chark isn't getting the production folks hoped is because Minshew is effectively spreading the ball around. Good for the jags, bad for fantasy owners. I wouldn't panic.
One of his targets I picked-up to stash is Laviska Shenault Jr. He's getting a legit number of carries each week and averaging over 10 yards per reception. He's an interesting pick-up because he doubles as handcuffs for Robinson. Seems like his carry count could go up to 10ish no problem if the Jags lost Robinson. So pay attention to what position he's listed in your league, scoring rules about how carries count in ppr, etc. But he passes the eye test, very shifty and fast on the field.
4. Teams that are quickly turning into dumpster fires that you should across-the-board fade:
Jets
Gase is the worst. Never underestimate the ability of a shitty boss to ruin a workspace and make everyone fucking hate themselves, even though they're well compensated to play a game for a living. Listen, I know there's always gems on bad teams. But I have high blood pressure. So tuning into games with players I need to play well and watching the offense go 3-and-out 5 times in a row...I'm literally too old for that shit now so I try to stray-away from dumpster fire teams.
Vikings
Kubiak has got some big Stefanski shoes to fill and he's doing a bad job so far. I wouldn't panic about Dalvin Cook yet but another bad couple of weeks and I'd start shopping him. See the Browns thing above: Stefanski may have made the Vikings offense look better than it actually was for a decade. Combine that with the defense whose secondary would be better if they were scare crows and you're looking at a team that can't plan to run the ball for more than a quarter or 2.
Teams to be worried about:
Broncos
Whew, the injuries. They're basically just starting with new team. We'll see how things go.
Detroit
Matt Patricia may have lost this team. And coaches like him don't recover team faith/confidence well in a loss-spiral.
Texans
BoB is going to crash that plane into a mountain while we all watch. Poor Watson, just watching Deandre Hopkins ball-out. One thing you can still bet on for awhile out of the Texans offense; Bill O'Brien is ego- and career-invested in David Johnson doing great things. He'll role with him when he shouldn't to prove to everyone that he was right to trade Nuk. Its dumb. But he's dumb.

Fortune Favors The Bold (FFTB) Predictions

WARNING: What you're about to read is not necessarily good fantasy advice, but things for me to say "told you so" about a week from now. I take no responsibility for any money you lose (and all responsibility for the money you win). Still, Alexander the Great said, Fortune Favors the Bold.
  1. JK Dobbins scores more fantasy points than CEH this week. (This prediction is backed-up by the time-honored tradition of spitting in one's hand and shaking on it so this shit is serious. Its also painful because I'm a Chiefs fan.)
  2. Laviska Shenault scores a running and a receiving touchdown tonight.
  3. Jonathon Taylor is the RB1 this week and its not close.
  4. Danny Dimes throws 3 TD's this week against the 49ers.
I'm probably wrong about most of this shit but FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD!


Thanks for reading! If I continue to be kind mostly right and people find it a good read, I'll keep posting these each week. Good luck!

EDIT: Thanks for the awards and upvotes strangers! I'll bring the column back next week. Appreciate the comments too, thanks for the banter, shit-talk, and criticism. I'll be spittin in palms again soon.
EDIT AGAIN: Thanks again for the feedback. This is fun and I'm going to enjoy doing it again next week. Some of the comments have suggested that the post doesn't really go out on many limbs. I'll do that more in the future. I've also added an extra section with a few "FFTB predictions" for this week.
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Hawk And The Billboard-Sized ID Card

Hawk is like a box of of Meals Ready to Eat (MRE); you never know what you are going to get, but you are pretty confident it will make you shit your pants. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself." Kudos to Mrs. Roosevelt for that well articulated adage. She clearly never met Hawk though, because that fucker said, "Hold my beer!"
We are about to embark on another journey with Hawk. The typical paths for mankind are either the straight and narrow or wide and crooked. This does not apply to Hawk though; Hawk is a trailblazer. Hawk came to that proverbial fork in the road, and instead of taking the clearly marked routes, Hawk decided to break brush, butt naked, through thorny vines and poison ivy. Some of you have arrived here and are likely wondering, "What the fuck is OP talking about?" I could tell you to go back and read the Hawk prequels, but I don't think you will. Therefore, I might as well briefly explain Hawk.
Imaging three Service Members are conducting a mounted patrol through Death Valley. They are hours into their trip through Satan's grundle-region, but the vehicle breaks down. They have to abandoned the vehicle and continue on foot. They are exhausted and understand the desert sun is going to rape their souls. They each decided to take one item to assist with surviving the blistering heat. The breakdown is below.
  1. Marine: Water
  2. Sailor: Food
  3. Hawk: Car Door
The three men travel for hours before deciding to take a much needed break; it's Death Valley people! The break was the first opportunity they had to discuss the item each person brought, and elaborate on why they chose said item.
  1. Marine: I brought water in the event we get thirsty.
  2. Sailor: I brought food in the event we needed energy.
  3. Hawk: I brought the car door. We can roll down the windows when it gets hot outside.
Hey OP, did this really happen? No. I repurposed a Polish joke. I don't mean to be rude, but my intent was not to make you laugh. I am merely doing my best to explain how unbelievably oblivious Hawk is to commonsense or a rational thought process. It may have been a joke, but shit like this is perfectly feasible for Hawk. Still not convinced? I will assume the majority of us have played at least one video game in our life in which were able to create a character. The game is irrelevant. Imagine you have a total of 100 points to allocate between Attack, Speed, Confidence, Power, and Stupidity. Now imagine allocating all 100 points to Stupidity. Trust me when I say the character you created is at least 100 points smarter than Hawk on an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) test. Still don't believe me? Read the other stories. If you don't believe me after that, I simply want to say I am sorry. I am sorry you now know I am posting about you on Reddit Hawk.
The setting is Iraq. I was a leader at war with the terrorist that inhabited Iraq, and the nearly constant stupidity Hawk continually displayed. Hawk has just informed me that he had lost his Identification card (ID). Nobody that has lost and ID enjoys it, but please understand that the process is different between civilians and Soldiers. I have never lost one, so I am not entirely certain, but I know they are different. I had to counsel (wrist-slap/discussion) Hawk regarding his lost ID. I needed the Company Commander to counsel Hawk, and sign documentation in order for Hawk to receive a new ID card. We can't simply go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and replace it. The military process requires a couple wrist-slaps and a fuck-ton of paperwork.
The fact that we were deployed made this process more difficult. We did not have the ability to reissue ID cards within our Battalion. We had to venture to a larger Forward Operating Base (FOB) that had an ID card facility. The process was not complicated, but it was certainly a pain in the ass. Our particular Operations Tempo (OPTEMP) did not allow me to send an underpaid babysitter; Hawk was going solo. This would not be a problem with any other Soldier, but this is Hawk. I would feel more comfortable sending my preteen to Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch for a sleepover than I do sending Hawk anywhere without adult supervision. I was forced to allow Hawk to spread his wings, and pray he didn't fly into a fucking window.
OP: Hawk. You are manifested to leave with Battalion Headquarters (HQ) tomorrow. You will be departing at 1000 hours, but need to report to Battalion HQ tomorrow at 0930. Any questions?
Hawk: No.
It was fucking cut-and-dry. There was no room for subjective mental retardation on behalf of Hawk. I was not requesting a dissertation in thermonuclear astrophysics. I just needed Hawk to exit the rear of the barracks, walk 50 feet, and stand there before 0930. Still, that doesn't mean Hawk wont fuck it up. Hawk was a football-bat in a soccer game. Hawk fucked it up. Hawk mentally computed, "Go to the chow hall at 0900 and eat. Then go to port-a-john at make an underwater sculpture, and then report to the wrong side of the battalion headquarters building around 1000. Cool. Hawk did not maliciously miss the trip, but his potato-brain outwitted himself. I had a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) escort Hawk back over to Battalion an manifest him for a for the dinner trip.
This time I had a Team Leader ensure Hawk was properly nestled inside a departing vehicle. All Hawk needed to do was report to the ID card facility and get a new ID card. Too easy. Right? Hawk made it though. I called the ID card facility to ensure Hawk received a new ID card. He did! I was happy, but my confidence in Hawk was short lived. Any confidence in Hawk has an incredibly short shelf-life. The 30-minute trip between Hawk getting a new ID card and arriving back to our FOB was too much.
Hawk enters Team Room
OP: Hawk! Great to have you back brother. Show me your new ID card.
Hawk: Okay Sergeant.
Hawk is rifling through his wallet. No worries. He must have misplaced his new ID card. It's brand-fucking-new. He must have accidentally stowed it in a different spot in his wallet. We waited, and then we waited some more for Hawk to produce a less than one-hour old ID card. No dice though! Hawk lost it. Again.
Hawk: I am going to run back to the vehicles Sergeant. It must have fell out.
I knew better though. I was fairly certain it didn't fall out. I didn't know where it was, but I was fairly certain the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had better odds of finding the boogieman, than Hawk had of finding his ID car. The race was on! I don't know how the FBI fared, but Hawk failed. I wasn't even mad anymore. Hawk was now just living up to my very low expectations. Still, what the fuck was I going to do as a leader to rectify this situation? We have to repeat the counseling process, and have the Company Commander sign more documents in order to get another ID card. I know it was not purposely lost, but I still have to punish the kid.
I decided to walk in the footsteps of those before me. Hawk was going to make a new ID card. It was not going to be as precise as a real Army ID card, but it would suffice for me. Hawk was going to make his own ID card. The template for his design was going to be the side of an MRE box. His ID card was about to be at least eight inches wide and sixteen inches long. I placed the materials on Hawks bed and instructed him to make a new ID card, loop 550 cord (cordage) through it, and wear it around his neck.
Hawk looked like an idiot walking around the FOB with a billboard sized ID card. It was working though. The door-checker at the chow hall thought it was funny, and Hawk didn't leave his new ID card at the phone-tent or internet-tent either. He went a full two-days until there was an issue. The Regimental Command Sergeant Major (CSM) was at our FOB that day. He wanted to greet the Soldiers and get a general sense of our morale levels. He was not happy when he seen Hawk wearing his giant ID card in the chow hall. I typically spend my days providing very, very detailed guidance to Hawk, and typically expect him to fuck it up anyways. It was a giant kick in the nuts when Hawk pulled a reverse card and gave me instructions.
Hawk: Sergeant OP.
OP: Yes Hawk?
Hawk: I have some guidance for you.
OP: (This is going to be good.) Really? You're going to give me guidance?!? Hit me with it then!
Hawk: The Regimental CSM wants to see you tonight at 2000 hours in the Battalion CSM's office.
OP: Why? (Fuck my tits! I didn't think I did anything wrong, but I was going to find out.)
Hawk: He was mad about my ID card and...
OP: (Cool. We agree on something!) Me too. Seeing how you can't keep track of something that was less than an hour old.
Hawk: The Regimental CSM said my punishment was demeaning and humiliating.
OP: Roger. Thanks for the information.
What the fuck? I understood where the Regimental CSM was coming from, but he was wrong. Hawk is too stupid to be humiliated. Hawk lacks the mental wherewithal to understand he was actively being humiliated. I understand this sounds rude as fuck, but Hawk is just too oblivious to understand when he is the butt of a joke. He is a goldfish brain trapped inside a human body. Making matters worse, Uncle Sam, issued this troglodyte an assault rifle outfitted with a grenade launcher. Fuck. The more I think about it, the more I believe I should be mad at the Regimental CSM for humiliating me by assigning me Hawk, type one each! However, informing the Regimental CSM of this would have gone over like a fart in church.
I immediately informed First Sergeant to ensure he was aware of the situation. First Sergeant had a smile on his face and told me, "I can't wait to go to Battalion with you and see how this plays out." I walked over to Battalion at 1950, and just waited outside the CSM's door. I could hear my Battalion and Regimental CSM bullshitting back-and-forth. It was better than overhearing angry-talk. I knocked on the door at 2000, and was told to come in. First Sergeant accompanied me inside the office as well. I was "on the carpet" in front of "the man" and I was about to have a sizeable chunk of my ass chewed-off without any anesthetic.
OP: Sergeants Majors. How are you doing this evening?
RCSM: Well, I was good until I seen one my Soldiers wearing THE SIDE OF A MRE BOX AS AN ID CARD. That's just humiliating and uncalled for. What made you think this was an acceptable recourse?
OP: He lost his ID card Sergeant Major.
RCSM: (Now a bit more irritated.) Then why didn't you just get him a new ID card then? WHY DID YOU FIND IT ACCEPTABLE TO EMBARRASS HIM?
OP: I did Sergeant Major. He went a couple days ago to get a new card. He had it for less than an hour and lost that one as well. That's why he is walking around with the MRE box ID card.
RCSM: Oh!
BCSM: Hawk is a little different Sergeant Major. (Said with a big grin and a chuckle.)
First Sergeant: That is an understatement Sergeant Major!
RCSM: What do you mean?
BCSM: Why don't you elaborate OP NICKNAME.
OP: He is an idiot Sergeant Major!
BCSM: (Laughing.) I said elaborate. Why don't you tell him what you told me at the Promotion Board!
OP: Okay Sergeant Major. Please be cognizant that I a merely trying to explain Hawk the best way I know how. Sergeant Major, picture a room with no windows and only one door. Hawk is in that room, with one cat and one dog. I give Hawk very explicit and simple instructions. "Hawk, I will be back in five minutes. Make sure the dog doesn't eat the cat". Sergeant Major, you could go back in that room 30 seconds later and there would be no cat, no dog, a dead fucking elephant and Hawk is clueless about how the fuck it happened. That is Hawk Sergeant Major.
Now 75% of the occupants in the room are laughing hysterically. Guess who is not happy with that analogy? Wrong. The Regimental CSM is laughing. OP. OP is not laughing. The analogy is no longer funny to me at this point. It is a said reality of my life. Hawk is my Soldier. I deal with this heavy mouth-breathing Simple Jack human every single day. I was deployed and there was no reprieve from Hawk.
This is the shit I deal with on a nearly daily basis:
OP: Hawk. Why are you wearing DIFFERENT SOLDIER NAME uniform top?
Hawk: The laundry place fucked up.
OP: What?
Hawk: The laundry facility accidentally gave me DIFFERENT SOLDIERS clothes.
OP: So, rather than take it back and get your shit (LONG "I AM FUCKING DUMBFOUNDED" PAUSE) you decided to just wear another persons clothes?
)YES! Yes, these are the type answers I get in return.)
Hawk: I am not wearing his underwear Sergeant OP. (Hawk smile. The "I am mentally deficient" smile) I am free-balling Sergeant.
OP: Goddamn it Hawk. I bet DIFFERENT SOLDIER will be happy to hear that your dick-meat is funking up his uniform bottoms. Take off his uniform and put on YOUR PT (Physical Training) shorts. Then take his fucking clothes back to the laundry facility and get your shit.
Shit like this is a constant. He fucks up Promotion Boards. He can't keep track of newly printed ID cards for more than an hour. He is now wearing another Soldiers uniform. My god, I have accidentally interrupted him milking his snake while on guard duty. Scratched that, interrupted would imply he stopped. He didn't he continued without missing a stroke. THIS. THIS IS WHY I WAS NOT AMUSED OR LAUGHING!
RCSM: Is it he really that bad Sergeant OP?
OP: Oh No! Sometimes it's worse. We take our dose of Hawk one day at a time Sergeant Major.
BCSM: (Phone Call.) SSG OPERATIONS NCO. Call over to OP's Operations Center (OPCEN). Tell them to send Specialist Hawk over to my office.
The Operations NCO calls back and informs the Battalion CSM that Hawk has arrived at Battalion. The Battalion CSM instructs the Operations NCO to, "send him to my office."
The door to the office is still closed. We can hear the shuffling of feet in the hallway. We are all waiting for Hawk to knock on the door. Who knows, he might even be wearing his own uniform. We wait, and then we wait some more. We finally hear knocking. The knocking was not on Sergeant Majors door though. The knocking echoed from an office down the hall. I am about to excuse myself and go retrieve my "special" Soldier, but the phone rings. It was the Battalion Commander. He is wondering why someone knocked on his door and let himself into his office while he was on a conference call with the Regimental Commander and other Battalion Commanders. It was Hawk! The door sign that said "Command Sergeant Major NAME" must have confused him.
I can see the Regimental CSM now coming to the slow realization that the dead elephant analogy was not intended to be funny at all. It truly, and accurately, described what 5'9 and 150 pounds of stupidity looks like. We again hear the shuffle of feet down the hall, and finally there is a knock at the correct door.
BCSM: Enter!
Hawk just walks in. Then he sees the amount of rank in the room and pauses. He opened his mouth as if he was about to utter something ridiculous stupid, but his brain was smart enough to know better. I personally think he needed to let the abundance of drool escape his mouth.
RCSM: Hawk good to see you again. Glad you are not wearing the largest ID card I have ever seen. Hawk! I have had a conversation with your leadership, and I see why they are irritated with your lack of situational awareness. Son, you need to get your shit together or I will find you a job I am certain you won't like. You understand where I am coming from?
I heard it. He heard it. The Regimental CSM gave a pretty simple warning. "Stop fucking up or else!" All Hawk had to say was "Roger" or "Understood Sergeant Major." Something the Regimental Sergeant Major said must have peaked his interest though. I was about to gently rest my face inside the palm of my hand and wonder what I did in life to deserve this creature. What poor choices led me to this moment in time in which I am truly wondering, "What the fuck are you doing with your life OP?"
Hawk: What's the other job Sergeant Major? (Goddamn it Hawk. Fuck my tits. Why? Fucking why Hawk?)
RCSM: I was implying that you would not want the "other" job. It was a threat Hawk. I will have you sweeping the Regimental headquarters building and pulling Kitchen Patrol (KP) duty for the remainder of the deployment. Get your shit together Hawk. You tracking?
OP BRAIN: Please. Please only utter one word or the name Roger. PLEASE. I beg you.
Hawk: Yes Sergeant Major. (YES. It was a small victory in an otherwise long day.)
RCSM: Hawk. I am going to personally take you over to LARGE FOB tomorrow to get an ID card, and then return you, WITH THE ID CARD, to Sergeant OP.
Hawk: Roger Sergeant Major.
RCSM: Hawk. What happened to the MRE box ID card?
I look at Hawk and I think I see a little turd-nugget exit his wrinkle-grommet (asshole) and tumble down the leg of his trousers and come to rest above his boot. It was either that or his peanut size brain had finally managed to dislodge itself and roll down his neck-hole. It was probably the brain.
Hawk: (Drum roll. The anticipation in the air was as thick as a surgically enhanced Kardashian butt.) Um. Ah. I think I lost it Sergeant Major. I set it on my bed, and when I came back it was gone.
Well, would you look at that. Hawk managed to lose an ID card that was larger than an eight-by-ten sheet of paper. Wow. Just fucking wow.
We were eventually dismissed from the meeting, and returned to the Team Room. I needed to ensure Hawk was prepared to get another ID card while the Regimental CSM babysit. On-the-other-hand, I prayed Hawk acted Hawk-like. I wanted the Regimental CSM to return Hawk back to me, scratching his head, and apologizing for verbally reprimanding me.
Regarding the billboard-sized ID card; Hawk lost it. He said he set it on his bed before walking over to Battalion, and taking a pit-stop in the Battalion Commanders office. I suspect he threw it in the trash and forgot. Maybe the Regimental CSM took it, or trashed it while in the chow hall? Maybe aliens stole it? I don't know. I just know it was never found again. I was not mad though. I just laughed it off. Nothing, and I mean nothing, surprised me if Hawk was involved.
UPDATE: Hawk is still dumb. Hawk will forever be a brainless shell of a human. He is a genuinely a kind and caring person though. He will give you the shirt of his back if you need it. However, you will need to provide step-by-step instructions, and have a bucket-load of patience in order for him to put it back on, inside-out and backwards. Even that would be a small victory though.
Some of you may be happy to know that I reached out to a handful of people I am still in contact with. I currently have 17 stories on-deck. They are not all about Hawk, but he does make retarded cameos in some of the stories. I also have not-funny stories, like my first Improvised Explosive Device (IED) encounter or the time I took a fair amount of mortar shrapnel to the face. Fear not though. I have my own unique way of conveying stories and I assure you there will be at least one chuckle hidden within.
I appreciate all the kind comments, and really enjoy the back-and-forth conversations and story-sharing with you, the Reader. I hope you got a laugh. Be safe, drink beer, take a knee, and face out!
I will continue to spread-out the Hawk stories weekly. The title may change, but there at least three on deck!
07 SEP 20: Hawk's Hot Tub Excursion
14 SEP 20: Hawk Walks Home, IN IRAQ
21 SEP 20: Hawk Drives; We Shoot

Cheers!
submitted by SloppyEyeScream to MilitaryStories [link] [comments]

I process undeliverable mail for the USPS. The dead letters are starting to creep me out

I work for the U.S. postal service. Every morning for about a week, there’s been an open letter on my desk.
This isn't unusual. One of my duties is handling undeliverable mail – so-called dead letters. A lot of times, they’re undeliverable because they’re damaged, open, or suspicious.
But these letters aren’t normal.
They all have commonalities. No return address, for one. And they have the same damage pattern, like someone held a lighter to the back of the envelope.
And they’re all creepy as hell.
I shouldn't post the letters. It’s a huge no-no in my line of work.) But I’m at a loss, and I guess hoping for theories or maybe even information.
Anyway, here’s the letter that was on my desk this morning:
Dear Danny,
I was looking at our wedding pictures last night. I don’t have them anymore, I got rid of them. Not because I hate you, just because it hurt to have them. But Mrs. Hernandez – you know, Kayla’s mom – has them on her Facebook. Our wedding photos, on her Facebook, buried under 3,000 other photos. I’d have never even seen them except she was sharing pictures of Kayla. As I’m sure you know, Kayla’s in our wedding pictures. She looks as happy as we do. I wonder if she was already using by then. I guess I’ll never know. Not that there’d be any point in knowing.
Here’s something you never knew: the whole day of our wedding, I was crying. Not because I didn’t want to marry you – I did, more than you probably know – but because I was so sad my dad wasn’t there. It was like this endless merry-go-round of emotion; on one hand, I was profoundly grateful that he’d known you. The two most important people in my life were important to each other, too, which was precious. Not as precious as having him there, though. Not nearly.
It just hurt so bad, Danny. Our wedding was the first milestone my dad didn’t see. The first of many. I guess you understand how that feels now, but you didn’t back then. Kayla did, though. So when I sat in her room, crying my eyes out because crying is the only way to keep grief from building up until it splits you open, Kayla sat with me and let me cry. That’s why, when four o’clock rolled around, I was able to put on my wedding dress and walk up the purple carpet Mrs. Hernandez rolled out across her backyard – she sprinkled it with sunflower petals, remember? From Kayla’s sunflower patch – and smile. Not because I wasn’t sad – I was – but because I could sense the joy growing underneath my sorrow. Sensing it made it stronger, allowed it to rise and coat everything, even the grief, with happiness. All because Kayla sat with me and just let me cry.
I’m sorry you never did that for me, and I’m sorry I never did that for you.
Our wedding photos are so beautiful, Danny. When I saw them, I remembered every second. It was August and the day was stifling, but a cool wind came down the mountain during the ceremony. It messed up my hair and yours. Mrs. Hernandez has a picture of us laughing in front of the makeshift altar, trying to keep each other’s hair back before we kissed. That’s the best picture, but not my favorite. My favorite is the one where we’re sitting at the splintery old picnic table. The sun had already set, but the clouds caught the light and blazed rosy and gold. The air itself glowed pink, even after twilight turned everything else blue. We look like we’re glowing, too. We’re leaning into each other, shoulder to shoulder, face to face. We aren’t smiling in that picture, but we look so content. Like we belong. Like we’re one.
I don’t even remember what we were talking about, and that makes me so sad I can barely breathe.
I remember what came after the wedding, though. It was four in the morning at the Holiday Inn in San Pedro, and I woke up crying. It was horrific. Like I was being crushed. I didn’t want to wake you and make you suffer with me, so I got out of bed, grabbed my duffel bag, and took it into the bathroom. I riffled through it looking for my dad’s letter. You know the one. He wrote it just before he died, when I was tied up in that fucking job in Seattle. The one that wouldn’t give me any time off to see him. (The one that made you break up with me – not that it matters now, or ever really did.)
That letter meant everything to me. I brought it everywhere I went and I was sure I’d packed it but I couldn’t find it. I started to panic. I used my phone light to search the hotel room until I finally found it under the bed. The relief was so overwhelming I had to sit for a few minutes in the dark, willing myself to get up so I could go back to the bathroom and read it.
I crept back to that cold shiny bathroom and read my letter for the thousandth time. I had it memorized by then. But it was less about reading the letter than about seeing it. Knowing that I was touching something Dad had written was both heartbreaking and soothing. It did nothing for the weight crushing my lungs, but it took the pain out of the pressure. This is what the letter said:
Dear Lucy,
Phone calls are always good. I love hearing your voice. But letters are always good, too. You can pull out a letter anytime and read it, which is helpful when you’re feeling sad. (I have firsthand experience because I still read all of yours, even the ones you wrote when you were at summer camp a million years ago). So I wrote you this letter. Sorry I’m not a good writer.
Nothing much has changed. I’m just keeping busy. I went to a football game last night. It was fun, but sad without you. I spent half the game talking to another guy whose son just left for college. I won’t bore you with the details of our conversation, but let’s just say we were both pretty soggy by the third quarter.
Work’s a mess (but you know all about that). It doesn’t matter how sick you are, things still have to get done. On one hand, I don’t like it. It makes me tired. On the other hand, I think it helps. Having a purpose, even if it’s exhausting, is important. The doctor is exhausting but important too. Same old news as always, I won’t bore you with what you already know.
It’s pretty cold here. I know, I know, it’s wintertime. But it’s different. Maybe because the winds have been so bad this year, but today you couldn’t even go outside without feeling like you’d never be warm again. Maybe that’s just me, though. I guess the world feels pretty cold for both of us right now. But it won’t stay that way. That’s the great thing about seasons. They always change.
I bet it’s pretty cold up there, too. Rainy all the time, pretty gray. So I was thinking we could brighten it up a little. Your apartment has some good, strong windowsills. I want to make a flowerbox for you. You could plant orange poppies. If you keep them inside and harvest the seeds, you could have poppies all year round. Your place would always look bright and happy, which will help you feel a little better even when things are grayest. I know you don’t have a lot of time, but if you take measurements for the length, width, depth, and distance to the window, I’ll build that flowerbox and bring it when I come to see you. It sounds pretty silly, but those flowers have a good effect on the soul. When I’m feeling sad, I go out to my garden and look at them. They always make me feel peaceful, and they remind me that nothing, not even sadness, is forever. I bet they’ll do the same for you. I harvested some of the seeds myself last summer. I’ll bring some to you. That way, next year, we can grow the same poppies together even though we’re far apart.
Speaking of which, I’ll be going to Midnight Mass on the 24th. I’m going to sit in the tenth pew on the left side, in the second-to-last seat on the left (because I know you like to sit on the end – I don’t blame you.) I was thinking you could go to Midnight Mass there in Seattle, and sit on the tenth pew on the left side in the very last seat on the left. So even though we won’t see each other, we’ll be together.
Try not to be too sad. Things will get better. They always do. Remember, seasons change. We just have to hold on and be as patient as we can.
Don’t worry about coming down here to see me. I’ll be visiting you soon, so you don’t have to worry about getting in trouble at work.
I love you so much and miss you every day. Don’t be too sad. We’ll be OK until the seasons change.
All my love,
Dad
I sat in that bathroom and read it again and again for hours, until you came to check on me. When you saw me crying, you started to cry, too. It was so sweet, and I loved you for it. Still do. But I’m sorry, too, because I know how helpless it made you feel.
I never took the measurements for that flowerbox. I went to Midnight Mass, though. Left-most seat in the tenth pew on the left side of the chapel, just like Dad said. I almost missed the service because work ran so late. I didn’t even get to call him, that’s how shitty work was that day. But I made it to church just in time. Even though the church was full to bursting, that seat was empty. So I sat there, and it was wonderful. I did feel like I was there with my dad. Like if I turned my head I’d see him sitting next to me. Like we were really ringing in Christmas together.
Which is a fucking joke, because he’d died the night before.
Even though it wasn’t rational, I felt like my job, my apartment, and that whole fucking city were responsible for his death. I couldn’t drive to work, answer the phone, go to the movies, or even grab a pizza without remembering that I’d never see him again. That he was dead, and no amount of love or depth of heartbreak or power of hell or scheme of man would ever bring him back. That’s why I came back home. It’s not why we got back together, though. We got back together because you felt sorry for me. Which was fine. I needed you and besides, I couldn’t stand the idea of being with anyone my dad would never even meet. That wasn’t the only reason I was with you, though. I promise. I really did love you more than I can ever say. That’s why it was so hard to see our photos. Not just because of Kayla, even though that was hard, too. But because when you see those pictures of us – dancing, talking, laughing, just being with each other – you can feel how much love there is. Like the love itself is alive. I think that’s the greatest tragedy in the world: that love as strong as that still isn’t strong enough to save itself.
You were strong for me, though. Too strong, sometimes. You tried to make me strong, too, which was a mistake. It didn’t make me stronger or less sad. It just pissed me off.
But when your mom died a couple of years later, I tried. I really tried to give you a safe place to be sad. But you wouldn’t give it to yourself. You thought you were being stoic, but you were just being angry. You got mean. I understood. I didn’t blame you for it. But I do blame you for what happened on December 23rd of that year.
I was reading my Dad’s letter again. You came in after work and saw me. You turned to stone. Hard and cold, which would have been okay. Except you started to burn. I could feel it: Rage, building up until it came out of you in waves, the way love comes out of our wedding pictures.
Finally you snatched the letter out of my hand and threw it down. You screamed, “Grow the fuck up. Parents die. Mine did. But you won’t ever see me moping every goddamn year. You won’t see me crying in the bathroom every week. You won’t see me talking about my mom every goddamn day or whining about imaginary flowerboxes every goddamn Saturday, because I’m a goddamn adult. You are too, so will you please grow the fuck up.”
I get it. You weren’t even completely wrong. But it was the anniversary of the day he died, Danny. Fuck.
Seriously…fuck.
After you’d stormed out of the house, I found the letter tucked halfway under the bed, a few feet from where you’d dropped it, and started to read.
At first I thought I was dreaming. You know how when you read things in dreams, it’s kind of correct but terribly wrong? World-bending, upside-down, heart-poundingly wrong? That’s what it felt like, and that’s because the letter had changed.
Dear Lucy,
Phone calls are always good. I love hearing your voice, but I can’t hear you where I am, so letters will have to do. I miss you so much, and I wish you were here. But that’s not a productive line of thinking. Just makes us both too sad.
I’m not sure how to say this, but Danny’s in a bad place. He had problems with his mom, and what he just did wasn’t him. Not really. But it doesn’t excuse what he did. I don’t even know if I should be giving you advice, because between you and me, I just want to kick his ass. But I know you love him. So maybe give him a day or two, til he’s less soggy. Maybe wait till after Christmas. Christmas always brought out the worst in your grandpa.
About the flowerbox—
I folded the letter up along its creases, which were so deep they were wearing into holes. My hands were shaking badly, and I dropped it not once, but twice. I finally got a good grip on it and flipped it back under the bed.
I didn’t look at that letter again for three years.
For your part, you didn’t bring up your mom except when you got drunk. You’d cry…and then you’d get angry. Usually at yourself for being a stupid baby who cried for his druggie mommy, and always at me for telling you it was okay to be sad. Occasionally you’d just get mad at me straightaway and yell at me for living in the past and being a child, even though I didn’t read letters or cry at all anymore.
You didn’t get drunk often, though. So it was okay. And I knew just how sad you were. I always felt too sad to breathe, which was awful. But you? You were too sad to even let yourself feel sad.
So between us, I guess was the lucky one.
Your refusal to feel things only extended to sadness, thank God. When I got pregnant, you were over the moon. To be honest, I thought you’d be angry. When I saw how happy you were, it made me cry. Good tears, though. You could tell, and it made you even happier.
We stayed up all night talking about the baby. If it was a boy, we were going to name it after my dad. If it was a girl, we were going to name it Lacie after your mom. You didn’t care either way, but I prayed for a girl. For one thing, I was scared that I’d never be able to say our son’s name – my dad’s name – without hurting, and I knew what that would do to you. For another, I thought a baby girl with your mom’s name would help you.
And when our baby turned out to be a girl, you cried. I’d been right; a daughter was the best thing for both of us.
Everything was perfect, until it went to hell.
I’m sorry I lost my mind when she was born. A heart defect. What a stupid reason to die, and an even stupider reason to have never gotten to live. When you think about it, we all have heart defects, and we all have to live with them. Our baby should have been allowed to live with hers.
I know it killed you inside to see me fight and scream and hold onto her. I didn’t do it to be difficult. I did it because somewhere in my hysteria, I really thought I could bring her back if I held her long enough. It wasn’t hope, it wasn’t wishful thinking, it was something I knew. The way you know that deep cuts need stitches. But imagine that one day, out of nowhere, nobody else knew that. You’re sitting there bleeding out from a massive cut, but the doctor, the nurses, your family, literally everyone keeps saying that stitches won’t work. You’re dying, Danny, and everyone around you is telling you that the one thing you know will save your life just won’t work. That’s what it felt like. In my heart, my mind, my soul, my bones, I knew that our baby would breathe again if they’d just let me hold her for a while. But everyone – including you – was trying to take her away and keep her dead.
When the sedative wore off, the first thing I saw was you. You were holding her, crying so much your face was barely recognizable. When you noticed I was awake – noticed I was watching – you froze. And then you turned to stone. I passed out again.
When I came to, she was gone, and you were still stone.
You never turned back.
When they released me to go home, you took care of me. But there was no warmth. Only duty. Which was understandable. I know how hard I made it for you. And you know me, so you could probably tell that I was wishing my dad was there instead of you.
On your first day back at work, Kayla came to stay with me. I’d been waiting for this, for you to be gone for a little while. As soon as your car pulled out of the driveway, I asked Kayla to get my letter out from under the bed. I could have done it. I wasn’t crippled. But I was scared.
So Kayla dug it out for me, all covered in dust and loose hairs, and gave it to me. I felt sick when I opened it, and sicker when I read it.
Dear Lucy,
Phone calls are always good. I love hearing your voice. I heard your voice for a little while when Lacie was born. You sounded so sad. I told you not to be so sad, but you couldn’t hear my voice. You still can’t. So letters will have to do.
Lacie’s with me. She’s so little. I’m so sad she didn’t make it, but I can see why. She’s too little for the world. She’s perfect, though. Looks just like you did. It would have been such a joy to see her grow up. But it’s a joy to have her here, too.
I know your life is gray, honey. Gray everywhere, grayer than that last Christmas in Seattle. What you need is brightness. How you get it is up to you, but if you still want that flowerbox we talked about, I can help you. I can’t build it for you any more than I can talk to you, but I can write out the instructions for you. It shouldn’t take you long to build, an hour or two at most. When it’s done, you can put it on the sill in Lacie’s bedroom. It’ll make things bright again. Not warm. That only comes with time. A lot of time. But if it looks bright enough, you’ll at least remember what it feels like to be warm, which will remind you that you will feel warm again someday.
I wish I could hear your voice. I wish you could hear mine. But this will do in the meantime.
I love you, and miss you so much.
All my love,
Dad
I didn’t believe in ghosts. Still don’t. That made the letter both scarier and sweeter. It had to be my dad, I thought. Maybe God was giving me a break. Letting him through to comfort me when I needed it most. So I folded the letter and tucked it under the lamp so you wouldn’t see it. I knew you wouldn’t want to see it.
What I didn’t know was that you no longer wanted to see me.
When Lacie died, it was like I killed your mom all over again. Maybe it was because I’d made the stillbirth even more traumatic. Maybe it was because I saw you cry. Maybe you were just tired. Too tired to feel anything for yourself, or for me.
Whatever the reason, we were done. No love between us except long ago, trapped in photos from a distant season.
You moved out the week I went back to work. Right in with Jen. It destroyed me, but I get it. She was twenty-one, more beautiful than I was on my best day, and happy. Happy to be at work, happy to be at home, happy to be with you, happy just to be. Whenever someone posts pictures of you two together, I see the love between you. And I see the relief in your face.
Sometimes I wish it was impossible to fall out of love, that you and I had stayed together until the end of time. Sometimes I wish we’d never fallen in love at all. And every single day I wish you hadn’t felt so sorry for me when I came back from Seattle. If you’d felt just a little less sorry for me, we would never have gotten married.
And today, I’d hurt a little less.
It should come as no surprise, but the day you moved out, I tore through the house for my Dad’s letter. I couldn’t find it. Not under the lamp, under the dresser, in the closet, the bedroom, or anywhere else. I called you even though you were at Jen’s apartment, and screamed at you for destroying my letter. You tried to be sweet, God bless you. You were so kind during that phone call, so gentle. So gentle I thought you might feel sorry for me again. Sorry enough to come back to me. So I hung up.
Then I ran outside. I ran and ran and ran and ran and ran, until everything hurt and I could barely breathe. I stopped at the park by our old elementary school. I found the bench we were sitting on the first time you asked me out, curled up, and slept.
When I went home, my dad’s letter was on the floor by the bed. This is what it said:
Dear Lucy,
Phone calls are always good. I love hearing your voice. But letters are always good, too. You know what isn’t good? Danny. Danny can go to hell. There are no voices in hell. No letters, either. There are no voices here, but there are letters. So letters will have to do.
You can’t help people who don’t want to be helped. You can’t make people grow up if they don’t want to grow up. Danny doesn’t want to grow up, because growing up means you have to handle your own hurt. He never figured out how to handle his own hurt, let alone anyone else’s. Until he does, he’s going to ruin every last one of his relationships until he ruins himself. Just don’t let him ruin you. I know you’re hurting right now, but this hurt? It’s just a season of your life, and seasons always change.
Nothing’s changed where I am, though. Lacie is as small as ever. Where I am, babies don’t grow up or change unless their parents are with them, too. So you won’t miss anything. Think of it like this - she’s on hold till you get here. I hope that brings you some joy, knowing your baby and your dopey old dad can’t wait to see and hear you again.
Now, about that flowerbox. It kills me that I never got to build one for you. You need some brightness, especially now. Here’s what you’re going to need:
4 lengths of wood
1 length of wood cut to fit the bottom
Wood primer
Drill and screws
Paint – any color you want, but I’d pick blue – that’s Lacie’s favorite
Nails
Sandpaper – medium grit
Wood filler
Here’s what you do…
He had a full-bore tutorial, right down to how to use sandpaper. I read it again and again, memorizing it in case the letter changed again. Once I could recite it to myself without a hitch, I went to the hardware store. It took me a couple of days to build the flowerbox, but soon enough it was finished and the paint – a nice robin’s egg blue—had dried. It was pretty. The orange poppies complemented the blue perfectly.
That night, when I came out of the shower, I found the letter on the floor, half-tucked under the bed. It made me shiver. I still kept the letter under the lamp, never on the floor. It’s too dangerous on the floor. Exposed to cats and dogs and, well, you.
I picked it up. Every hair on my body stood on end – no mean feat when it’s all sopping wet. I was scared. Full of dread, a deer in headlights, because I didn’t feel alone, Danny. The room looked empty, but I felt eyes. More than eyes. A presence. Not a good one.
I unfolded the letter – soft and wrinkled by now, coming apart at the folds – and read:
Dear Lucy,
Phone calls are always good. I love hearing your voice. But letters are always good, too. You can pull out a letter anytime and read it. I wish you could write me letters. I wrote you this letter. Sorry I’m not a good writer.
You’re a good handy(wo)man, though! You did a great job with that box. You know what else is good? You picked Lacie’s very favorite shade of blue. How’d you know? Mother’s intuition, I guess.
It’s selfish of me but I wish I could hear your voice again. So does Lacie. She misses you so much. So do I. Every day, she looks at me and I feel her question: When’s my mommy coming? Later, I tell her. When she’s ready.
I’m glad you have so many seasons ahead of you. But I miss you so much and I wish you were ready now. Where I am, it’s grey without you. And hard to remember what it felt like to be warm. There’s no warmth without you, but you’d understand that since you’ve lost Lacie. At least we’ll all be warm when we’re together again.
I love you so much, and can’t wait to hear you again, Lucy. Until then, you’re in my heart.
All my love,
Dad
It was wonderful, magical, and heartbreaking all at once. My baby had a favorite color. If she had a favorite color, she was real. She was alive. Dad too. They were together, keeping each other happy while they waited for me to join them. Even when I felt cold and gray, even when I felt alone, I wasn’t. Not really. Because wherever they were, they loved me.
I read and reread and reread the letter until I fell asleep.
When I woke up, it was back on the floor, halfway under the bed.
Dear Lucy,
Phone calls are always good. I love hearing your voice. But letters are always good, too. You can pull a letter off the floor and read it any time. I wish you’d write me a letter. I wish you’d talk to me. But that can’t happen where I am now, so me writing you will have to do. Sorry I’m not a good writer.
I just want to say good morning. Don’t be too sad. Seasons change. Not always for the better, but at least they change.
I miss you so much, and love you even more.
All my love,
Dad
It was like reality exploded. Everything got bright, happy, and warm. It reminded me of when our baby was stillborn, except inverted: joyous instead of dreadful. Because I was sure, absolutely, one hundred thousand percent sure, that my dad was under the bed.
I slid to the edge of the mattress, heart pounding with euphoria, and dropped down so I could look underneath. My heart swelled, Danny. So big, so fast, so happy, I thought it was going to kill me…and I didn’t even mind, because it would have been a beautiful way to die.
I so fully expected to see my dad under there that I couldn’t immediately comprehend that he wasn’t. Only dust and darkness.
I slid all the way down to the floor and cried again.
I didn’t go into work that day. I stayed home, on the couch, and vacillated between rereading the letter and looking through all the pictures on my computer. I printed a few. Mostly of my dad, when he was young and I was little. That’s how I remember him most of the time: how he looked when I was five years old.
I don’t even know what I’d give to be five years old again, riding his shoulders at the zoo. Probably exactly what you’ve give to be five years old and doing just about anything with your mom before her drug problem.
You were so militant about drugs because of that. I thought I understood – I’m kind of a teetotaler myself. I don’t even drink. But I didn’t actually understand. Because even though I never used them, I didn’t care if anyone else did. But you…hell, Danny. I never told you, but I will now because you’re never going to read this: I think the way you talked about people who use drugs is why Kayla never told me she was in trouble. And she made the right decision. You’d have gone on the warpath if you knew my best friend was on heroin, and fuck the reasons why. You wouldn’t have cared. You wouldn’t have let yourself care. I wouldn’t have let myself care just to keep you from melting down on me.
Sometimes I think that if I’d never married you, she would have felt safe enough to tell me, which might have been enough to save her. And here’s the truth, Danny. I loved the hell out of you. But part of me will hate myself forever for marrying you – a man who ran off with a college kid two months after our baby died—because if I hadn’t, Kayla might still be alive.
I know that’s not fair, though. I’m sorry.
So, I printed the photos of my dad and a few of Kayla and me. I looked at them most of the day, crying like a child—just the way you didn’t like. I hadn’t realized until then just how close I’d come to exploding from the pressure of my grief. It made me wonder about you, though. How you keep it all in without exploding. I wish I could be more like you, at least in that way. But if wishes were horses…well…who cares.
When I finally dragged myself to bed, the letter – which I’d had in my hand the entire day, Danny, the entire day – was on the floor, halfway under the bed. The relief I felt was exquisite. This was exactly what I needed. Just the thing to let the pressure off, live another day, and make it one step closer to the changing of the seasons.
Dear Lucy,
Phone calls are always good. I love hearing your voice. I heard it today, but it wasn’t happy. It was sad. I know you’re sad. My letters don’t make you less sad. (Makes me wonder why I’m writing them.) I think I’ll start writing you at night. No more morning letters. At least if you feel sad at night, you don’t have to try and do anything else. I hate that they make you feel sad. I think if I stopped writing them, you’d be even sadder. I know what would make you happy, though – hearing my voice. But you can’t hear my voice where you are. We need to be together for that.
I’m sorry everything’s making you sad. Even the happy pictures. Nothing feels happy to you now, I know. I wish I could change that, but I can’t – at least not while we’re apart.
Be strong. Things change. Not always for the better, but at least they change. Change will come for you too. You just have to be patient. You just have to hold on.
I miss you so much, and I’m counting the days until I see you again.
All my love,
Dad
I went into work the next morning. Knowing that I’d come home to a letter from my dad made life tolerable again. And there was always a new letter; no matter where I’d placed it the night before, I’d always find it halfway under my bed.
The letter was always different. Sometimes it was short. Sometimes it was very long. Most of the time, it was strange. Always, it told me how much I was missed, and how happy I’d be when I was reunited with Dad and Lacie. It was bittersweet at best. But it helped. Even as it hurt, it helped.
Like drugs, in a way.
December came again. The seasons had changed four times since you left me, but it didn’t feel like it. It was the same season in my heart, unchanged and endless. Grey, cold, and hopelessly dark.
The only light in that spirit-winter were Dad’s letters. Tiny flames in a vast and frozen darkness.
But right when I needed them most, they changed.
Dear Lucy,
Phone calls are always good. I love hearing your voice. Why won’t you let me hear your voice? Letters are always good, but they aren’t enough. You know what it’s like to be away from Lacie. Imagine how I feel being away from you, when you’re so sad and soggy. So cold. It doesn’t have to be that way. Seasons change, but not always for the better. What if the next season isn’t better? What will I do? My letters aren’t enough as it is. If things change, if they get worse, what will you do? You need to hear me. See me. But you can’t. Not where you are. Sorry I’m not a good writer.
It’s not just me. Lacie cries whenever you get sad now, too. When is my mommy coming? she always asks. I don’t know, I tell her. She’s far away, waiting for the season to change, but what if it doesn’t? What if it gets worse? What if you keep getting sadder and sadder and grayer and grayer and colder and colder until you’ll never be warm again, even if you’re with us? What if you get so sad that you make us sad, too? Maybe you should stop waiting for the seasons to change. Just give up on them and take the change in your own hands. Come to where we are, so we can all be warm and bright.
I miss you so much, Lucy, and I’m so scared for you. It kills me, knowing how you’re hurting. Letters can be good, but they’re not enough. You need to hear my voice, but you can’t do that where you are. You can only do that where I am.
I love you more than anything. Please let me hear your voice.
All my love,
Dad
The letter got worse from there. Always asking me to hear his voice. To let him hear mine. To give up on the seasons. To come to him and Lacie, so I could be warm and happy again.
Finally, I just stopped reading. Every night I’d see the letter tucked halfway under my bed. Every night I’d want to read it…but every night I didn’t. Not even when Kayla died. Not ever.
Until one of our mutuals shared the picture of you and Jen with your new baby in the hospital. A girl you’d named Lacie.
I thought of you crying over my baby. Crying so hard your face was barely recognizable. How, when you saw me looking, you turned to stone and never turned back.
At that moment I hated everything. Every fucking thing. I hated Jen, I hated you, I hated your new Lacie most of all. It was too much to feel. Too much to process. I wished I could be like you and shove it away under six feet of mental dirt and go on with my life. But I couldn’t. I can’t.
So I went to my bedroom and found the letter tucked halfway under the bed and picked it up.
Dear Lucy,
Phone calls are always good. I love hearing your voice. But hearing each other is even better. Letters aren’t any good at all. You can pick them up off the floor, but you shouldn’t bother because they’re nothing. They’re the worst. Written words are conduits for pain. Sorry I’m not a good writer.
The season changed, honey. It changed on you, but it got worse, and it’s only going to get worse. You think you have nothing now, but what you have now will feel like a fortune in ten years’ time. And what you have in ten years’ time will feel like a fortune compared to what you will have in twenty years’ time. And on and on, grayer and colder, until you die, gray and cold once and for all. There is nothing, Lucy. Nothing but decades of cold and gray, no matter if you’re patient, no matter how many poppy boxes you make to light the day. It’s gray and cold where I am too, but it won’t be when you’re where I am. Come to where I am, Lucy. Come to see me and hear my voice. Come to hear Lacie. Don’t wait for the season to turn darker. Take charge and change it yourself.
I miss you so much, and I love you more than you know. I would do anything to take away your pain and make the world bright for you but I can’t, no matter how patient you are. But I can make it better where I am. Come where I am. Where we are.
Please Lucy
All my love,
Dad
I knew the whole thing was wrong from the beginning, Danny. I really did. But I didn’t want to know. And right then, I wanted to know less than ever.
That’s why I folded the letter and put it on the floor by the bed. Then I found a pen and tore an endsheet from a book. I wrote,
Dear Dad,
I have to know for sure it’s you.
Love, Lucy
I placed it on top of my dad’s letter, on the floor by the bed. Then I went to the other side of the room because even though I was excited, I was afraid too. I turned off the light, and waited.
And waited.
And waited.
The room was so dark. But after a while, a little bit of light filtered through the spaces between the curtains, and it was enough to see that there was nothing. So I waited some more.
And more.
And more.
I was heartbroken and scared and so, so, so tired. I started to drift off…
And then under the bed, I saw something move.
Solid darkness, overlaid with the dimmest light I’ve ever seen, so dim it might not even have been light. It slid out, slow and calm like oil, and took my letter.
I held my breath and waited yet again, but not for long.
Under the bed, it shifted weirdly and took form. Even though it was still dimmer than dim, I recognized it immediately: my dad. But my dad as he’d been in the pictures I printed: twenty years younger than when he died, unmoving smile pasted on his flickering face, eyes dark and smeary because the photo resolution was so poor. An old photo expanded to human size, pasted on a monster of solid darkness.
It crawled forward until that frozen, smeary, dimmer-than-dim face seemed about to emerge from under the bed. Then it reached for me, and reached and reached and reached, solid-shadow arm with its dim glimmering coat of my dad stretching all the way across the room to where I sat in the corner, right by the light switch.
I turned it on.
The arm retracted, rolling back like a New Year’s party favor. Underneath the frozen, shimmering mask of my father, its real face dipped and curled into an inhuman and nearly incomprehensible grimace. I understood that expression, somehow: It was hungry. So hungry, and so, so furious that it would not get to eat.
The dim glimmer-mask shifted, twisting and stretching into something hideous, and then it was gone.
But the letter remained.
I stood up and went. Out of the room, out of the house, out of the neighborhood, out of the town.
I waited two days, then called Mrs. Hernandez, who came and took me home. When I checked, the letter was on the floor, half-tucked under the bed. Even with sunlight spilling through the windows, even with Mrs. Hernandez beside me, I was so scared I cried. But I still picked it up.
I don’t know what I was hoping for, but it wasn’t what I got:
Dear Lucy,
Phone calls are always good. I love hearing your voice. But letters are always good, too. You can pull out a letter anytime and read it. So I wrote you this letter. Sorry I’m not a good writer.
Even when things change, they don’t. Seasons change, but no matter how patient you are they will make you sad. You have no good seasons left. No brightness will change this, because any brightness you find will be gray and cold. You will forget how it feels to be warm, even at Midnight Mass in the tenth pew in the last seat on the left and even in the summer with your flower boxes and your poppies to make things seem bright. People change, but they stay the same in the important ways and the bad ways and they never get better, they just better at hurting you because they don’t really want to change. You will never change because you don’t have anything and you don’t know how to have anything that isn’t nothing. By the end of the third quarter we’re all pretty soggy but you’re barely out of the first and so soggy you already fell apart. This letter will change, but it will never change because you are you.
There are no letters in hell and no voices where I am there is nothing where I am but cold and gray. This is where you are coming. This is where I am. This is where you already are so come where I can always hear your voice.
All my love,
Dad
I knew I needed to burn that letter. But I couldn’t because once upon a time, my dad had written it for me, and it was the only thing on earth that made me feel loved. So I asked Mrs. Hernandez to take it for me. I guess I thought getting it out of the house would decontaminate it. Change it back to what it had been. To what I needed it to be.
Mrs. Hernandez agreed.
Three days later, she texted me: Why did you keep this from me?
I asked what she meant.
I’m so hurt right now, Lucy. Kayla wrote this letter to me. It’s for me. Why did you keep it?
I understood then. And for the first time in an eon, I felt like I could breathe.
I answered, I’m so sorry. I just miss her so much.
That was three weeks ago. Last night, Mrs. Hernandez shared all of Kayla’s pictures again. She’s moving faster than I thought she would. And somehow, I don’t think she’ll ask that thing for proof like I did.
There’s a diseased relief in knowing that I lost my dad’s real letter years ago, probably before our wedding. Because whatever I found in the hotel room—whatever I passed on to Mrs. Hernandez—wasn’t Dad’s letter.
Which means it was never mine.
Sometimes, that makes me feel at peace. But mostly, it makes me want to die.
It’s been such a long winter. I hope the season changes soon. I’ve been so patient, and I’m holding on.
But barely, Danny.
Just barely.
Dear Elinor
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My First 6 Months in IT - What to expect in YOUR Journey - Featuring advice on CVs/Resumes, Interviews, Certificates and training, and how to handle being laid off.

My Experience in IT after 6 months, What Can You Expect?
Hi all, I recently read a on r\ITCareerQuestions about being frustrated with all of the posts asking for help. This in part, is a response to that.
Fair warning – this is going to be a long one (slightly over 5000 words), strap yourself in or get out while you can, you have been warned! I have tried to break it up into sections, so feel free to skip to parts that interest you. I will happily answer all questions, PLEASE feel free to DM me. I will help anyone with resources that I used, and advice on best career pathways.
Who is this post for?
I think this post is going to be for you if you fit into any of the following categories. If you are looking to break in to IT and you haven’t even taken your first step, if you have been studying for certificates and you want to know if it is all going to be worth it (is there a light at the end of this tunnel). Maybe you want to know what your first 6 months in IT are going to be like. Maybe you want realistic salary expectations and you don’t want to ask a salesman or the guy driving an expensive car. Maybe you have been a lurker on this thread and you’ve seen all the conflicting advice. Perhaps you have sent out 400 job applications and had no bites. Maybe you have had 20 interviews and no one has given you a chance. My point being there are many steps you need to take to take your “first step” or to get your foot in the door. If you are someone who is taking any one of those steps, I do recommend reading this.
My Journey, two jobs, one lay-off, sleepless nights, a global pandemic and an incredible wife.
When I was 28, I decided I wanted a stable and steady career. Something I didn’t have to fight 30 other younger and hungrier people for. To put this into context I once applied for an entry level market research position and I don’t mind telling you that interview experience was something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I hadn’t applied myself at university, I studied Biology, something I had no passion for and the competition in scientific research was something that you would never survive without passion.
I was always exceptional at exams/learning/studying, to that end I was first in my year at university for exam results. And for that great honour I was awarded a £1000 cash scholarship prize. And being an irresponsible student I spent the entire thing (and some student overdraft) on my very first PC.
I spent hundreds of hours watching Linus tech tips, and Jays2cents and how to build a PC. I was hooked, I built that PC, booted her up, and realised…. I still want to watch build videos. I genuinely found out that I loved learning about hardware. I didn’t know that about myself. I know I see a lot of backstory posts asking for help that all say “I am tech savvy, I am the techy one in the family” etc etc.
So, I think these people know what I mean. By the way if you are worried that being the “techy one” isn’t valuable then you are dead wrong. It means you can learn technologies quickly and interact with user interfaces with ease. These are going be all you do for a long time in IT. You will have many user interfaces thrown at you that are custom to your company, but more on that later.
Well, unfortunately, years pass me by while I take a job in biology I have no passion for, I didn’t hate my job, I got to work at a university helping students with disabilities cope with every day life. But I didn’t feel excited or driven.
And then one day I was watching the UK version of the apprentice, absolute trashy TV at its finest for those that don’t know what it is. It is a competition in which people present a business plan to a billionaire and that billionaire decides if the business plan has legs.
So I am watching this guy with perfect quaffed hair and teeth that would blind you, (you know the type, he works is sales and thinks the world would collapse without him) and he is pitching a Cyber security recruitment company. And he has the leading experts in the country critiquing him, and I heard the same thing over and over. IT is desperate for people, for every 10 roles in IT security, there are only 1 or 2 qualified people.
I have to admit I got a little excited, nervous excited. I did something that changed my life. I googled it and made a phone call. That’s right, I spent all of 2 minutes before I was on the phone to a salesman. Let me tell you, if I could go back in time a slap myself for buying in to this pitch I would.
“The average person in IT security in the UK earns £72,000”, Booom, I am hooked. You are telling me I can earn £72K and they will be desperate to have me? I won’t have to compete? It won’t be a dog fight… Where the hell do I sign up? Well spoilers for what is to come later, but no, I didn’t end up as CIO of a small company making silly money in year one.
So, what were they offering me and what did it cost me? I signed up for a course that included a Microsoft Technical associate (MTA) in server fundamentals and an MTA in security fundamentals. I signed up for a Comptia certificate in Network+ and in Security+ and finally an EC council certificate in ethical hacking, called CEH. All for the price of around £3000. “Not bad” I told myself for a £72K/year job. “Not bad” I told my wife (who supported me through every single step).
So, when did I first begin to have doubts? That is easy, I remember it like it was yesterday. I had this awful procrastination habit (I bet almost ALL of you do it too) I would google jobs for whatever certificate I was going to study. For me, this was the CEH. A simple “CEH Jobs” search was almost all I ever googled back then. And there were hundreds of them, decent pay too. And then one day I saw it “we are looking for real candidates, no offense to those with a CEH”. It was like a punch to the gut, but worse as my heart raced with fear. What the hell did they mean?!
It was at this point I realised I might be in trouble. I am sure a lot of you feel that way now. Have I just been swindled by a Nigerian prince who just needed my bank details so he can transfer me my millions? Well yes and no. Yes I had been swindled by the promise of £72K, and yes I had been swindled by the CEH, it is one of the most expensive certificates you can get and it does make you look like an idiot to anyone in field. But no, I had not been swindled out of a career just yet.
I kept my head down and I nailed my first ever certificate and I have to admit, it was the hardest things I ever studied. I would say that knowing hardware helped a bit with the server fundamentals certificate, but only for about 5-10% of the learning objectives that were focussed on hardware. The rest was like information overload. I had to learn about how servers worked and communicated. I had to learn Microsoft’s branding too, which is a feat of its own. But I did it, I finally got an IT certificate.
I powered through my security MTA full steam ahead knowing I could achieve it with hard work and consistency. And that is when things got interesting. I began studying for my network+, and let me tell you, I fell in love. I began feeling like the curtains were being drawn on the way the world worked. I understood how if I sent an email, that email was carried across the country to my friends and family.
However, the instructor kept saying the same thing over and over. “And if you take a CISCO course you will learn all about it”. I mean if I had a £ for every time she said it….
Well, I did it again ladies and gentleman. I went back to the same person who sold me my snake oil. And I asked if they did CCNA courses. Of course they did, for the cool price of £800. What the hell I thought, the CCNA is a “real” certificate finally. Finally, I won’t feel worry and despair at the thought of this all being in vane, because I, Jacob Smith will be a network engineer.
The course was mediocre, and I found myself frustrated, so I did the unthinkable. That is right, I spend £10 on an Udemy course. I mean obviously it was going to be terrible. You would have to be an idiot to think a £10 course could be better than an £800 one. Well Neil Anderson spared no time showing me the error of my ways. His course was phenomenal. I bought the course for the first half of the CCNA, then I bought the course for the second half, and then I thought why the hell not, its only £10, I will buy the course that comes as whole package just to support him.
This is the lesson I learned that day. A person can sell their 20 hour course for £10 if they know it is good enough. And then they can make more money than the predator who sells their course to desperate people for thousands.
Let’s skip forward a few months. It is the last hour of the last day in which I can sit the CCNA before they retire it and change it completely. The exam went amazingly, and for those interested I used Neil Anderson’s course, and Boson netsim and boson exsim for the tools.
I am done. I have finally sat the last certificate I am going to sit before I start applying for Jobs. I no longer want the CEH as I know it will just make me look bad and I don’t want to commit the hours required to learn something that will hurt me.
Advice on Resumes/CVs
I fire up google again and waste no time typing “professional CV templates”. Wow, CVs look incredible these days, look how pretty I can make my application. I have dedicated sections for skills, work experience, school etc.
Here is lesson number two, and more important than you realise. Do NOT use these templates ever. Every recruiter that you send your CV to has some sort of CV filter on it. These CV templates are terrible for a number of reasons. Firstly, the format cannot be read by the CV filter, it doesn’t know what it’s looking at so it just bins it. If you are using one and you have sent hundreds of applications and had no bites, then I strongly recommend you read this part and do what I did.
Secondly, these templates are designed for people with work experience and skills. Unfortunately that wasn’t me, I was breaking in to IT. This meant that the focus of my CV HAD to be biology, there was no way to change this. My CCNA was at the bottom of my second page under “other”. So if by some divine intervention my CV did get through to a recruiter, there was no way they would ever read I had 5 certificates.
I had some of the worst and most sleepless nights of my life for the next 2 weeks. I applied to 20-40 jobs a day and heard nothing. Not a peep. It is at this point my beautiful wife lets slip that her sister is in IT recruitment. Mixed emotions is an understatement, I bounced between desperate joyous relief and utter disbelief that at no point did she think to mention this.
Here is what I learned. You are not applying for a social media job, you are not applying for a graphic designer job. A recruiter reads a hundred of these a day and there is nothing that annoys them more for IT people than a fancy looking CV. Put this CV in black and white, have literally nothing but words. Don’t even break the page up with horizontal lines. Put everything IT related at the top, have a strong and promising professional statement. Focus on your certificates, focus on your lab experience. And cram that CV full of skills that you know about. You want something like this in there.
DHCP, DNS, IPv4, IPv6, AD, NTFS, Switching, Routing, Wireless, STP, RIP, OSPF, EIGRP. Hyper-V, VMWare.
Windows 7/8/8.1/10, Windows Server 2008/R2, 2012/R2, 2016, 2019.
iOS, MacOS, Android.
This along with your certificates, your goals and your passion. Along with (briefly) anything transferable from other non-IT related jobs, I am talking about customer service, high stress jobs and time sensitive roles. These skills will be valuable but they should be secondary and again I cannot stress this enough, make it brief. Your education, and non-IT related jobs should make up a small portion of the CV that follows at the end. A recruiter is going to pick your CV up and see your skills, see your certificates and personal statement and then just put it down and give you a call. I doubt they ever get to the part where you describe what working at Pizza hut was like.
Round 2 of applying for jobs
Once I rewrote that CV (annoyingly I had already applied to a lot of the jobs in my area with my poor CV) I sent it out. The difference was life changing. I got a call back the next day actually I got three call backs the next day. Over the next 2 weeks I got roughly 12 recruiter calls, I got three interview offers. I did 2 interviews and got offered to the next stage. The first was with a large corporate company with 1000s of employees. They IQ tested me and they told me that I would be drug tested at my interview. This was a huge red flag to me. I have never done drugs and nor would I want to. But if these people are going to greet me at the door with a mouth swab, then I hate to think what working for them would be like. I turned down their offer for a second interview.
Instead I went to interview at a nearby (well not nearby 90 mile round trip commute) MSP. This was mid-March and I have never enjoyed an interview experience more in my life. The culture was very much this is a place where we have a laugh and you will love working for us. I didn’t have any red flags at the time, I just was so pleased this was all finally happening for me. We joked about football, we talked about hobbies, some IT related questions, typical interview stuff. He even joked we had a bromance going on and said, and I quote “F**k me, you know an interview is going well when its been over and hour and you haven’t noticed”.
Honestly, I think my older age was an advantage here, I was 30 at this point and I am at a stage in life where I am able to hold a conversation well without being nervous or self-conscious. There are obviously going to be downsides to being 30 and starting out too, but I was happy this worked in my favour.
I got a full day and a half of training (sitting behind a guy and watching him work), okay some red flags cropped up at this point. The people here didn’t seem to care very much, nor did they know a huge amount. The way the cases distribution worked was everything went to 2nd line, and they trickled down anything they didn’t want to 1st line and they pushed up what they needed to, to 3rd line. So, I got all the “my webcam isn’t working” calls, which was fair enough, I was grateful to have the job. But I had nothing in my queue that I thought “omg I have no idea what this is”. That might sound like a good thing, but it is the worst thing that can happen to your career. How are you supposed to learn how to install SSL certificates if you never have a case for it?
Well I doubt it is any shock to any of you crazy enough to still be reading, but I after a mindblowing 14 days, I was put on furlough (not sure if Americans have this, but it means temporarily laid off). It seriously makes you question why they hired someone that they laid off 14 days later, but that follows with the “everything is a laugh” attitude I suppose.
I spent the first half of April not knowing (but having a bad feeling) what was going to happen next. And then our prime minister announced the first extension of the lockdown. And when I woke up the next morning I had been completely locked out of all my accounts and I had a “whatsapp” message waiting for me. You read that correctly, Mr fun and games decided it was appropriate to give me bad news over whatsapp. He told me he really liked me and to look out for a message from him when this all blows over, as I will be the first person they call. But he had to let a lot of staff go permanently.
I spent all off April preparing for this, but it still didn’t help me through what this felt like. Try and imagine working your ass off for 18 months to begin a life you never once dreamed was possible, to have it given to you and then taken away in the space of a month.
I was let go on a Friday and I didn’t sleep a wink that whole weekend. I did get a phone call from my recruiter which I thought was nice. But it turns out they were only calling me because the company that let me go were claiming it was because of poor performance. They didn’t want to pay the recruitment fee, and they were willing to damage my reputation and relationship with the recruiter. However, it turned out to be the best thing that happened to me. Them refusing to pay the recruitment fee, drove my recruiter to immediately look for a job for me. It is Sunday afternoon that same weekend and I get a call saying “I have an interview lined up for you tomorrow, can you make it?”. I could not believe what I was hearing. I have an interview lined up and I may not even miss a pay day? I felt like crying. But what was that he said? I must have misheard, did he say it was for tomorrow? That’s right, after having no sleep and being in a state of emotional and physical exhaustion I now had less than 24 hours to prepare for a job I had no idea about.
How to prep for an interview
I worked my arse off. I learned everything I could about the company, I read their testimonials, I studied their customers, I looked at the solutions they provided. I like to have all my certificates with me, along with copies of my resume. I like to have prepared questions to ask the interviewer. I like to have a separate document that I can pass to them with all of my documentation from my labs. (this obviously means you have to document all your labs). I dressed as smartly as I could and gave it everything I could. I watched youtube videos of typical helpdesk questions, I learned the tricks to the questions they ask, e.g. The owner of your company says his printer is broken at the same time you get a call from a customer saying all 200 staff have lost connection to the internet. What do you do? The trick is to communicate with your team, with a team you can do both at the same time. These videos are an amazing tool to prep with and they give you really good answers that you don’t have to think too hard about. They also take away some of the nerves.
So how did it go? Well of course I just didn’t sleep. I mean who would have been able to sleep after what I had been through. I thought about postponing it but I still went for it. I can’t begin to describe the difference in management style. This man was a manager, he was an IT professional with 25 years experience, and he had owned, ran and sold his own successful MSP.
It was both refreshing and worrying. He expected nothing of me, he didn’t really care about my technical knowledge. I didn’t know this at the time, but it was because everyone at this company was driven and knew their stuff. Everyone held 10+ certs and had years and years of experience. This was a different company, with serious people and incredible opportunities to learn.
I thought I had bombed, I was tired and a little defeated. But I got a second interview, and with sleep was able to completely turn it around. I turned my weaknesses in knowledge into opportunities to ask my manager to showcase his knowledge. I was far more engaged and I was offered the job at this far more serious role for the same money I was originally on and I cut my commute in half (well technically I am work from home).
What to expect from a serious MSP?
At my new company, cases come in to 1st line and you are expected to work on everything, and only after you have exhausted your ability can it go up to second line. It is also worth noting the main difference between the two companies is that the first one only provided services for their customers and they had monthly rolling contracts. My current company is a cloud provider and they host all of their customers infrastructures and endpoints, as well as having 1-3 year contracts (much harder to pull out of during a pandemic) it didn’t hurt that a lot of their customers are hospital related.
I have been at my new company now for 4.5 months and learned more there than I could have ever learned at the first company.
I put my money where my mouth is. It wasn’t long before my first manager called me and offered me my old job back. This time with a 33% pay increase. I flat out told him no (respectfully of course) but firmly. It was a lot more money than I am on now but that wasn’t the point. I would not want to stymy my career by working at such a poorly managed company. In the UK, they could have just left me furloughed (it wouldn’t have cost them anything) and I would have received 80% of my salary. But they terminated me and then expected me to come back? I wasn’t going to repay my new manager’s act of saving me from that hell with disloyalty (I know loyalty can be looked down upon in this sub, but that is how I was raised).
What can you expect in your first 6 months?
Enough about me, let’s look at you. Let’s look at what you can expect.
You can expect that certificates can take between 2-6 months each depending on how much time you dedicate to them.
You can expect your first job to pay a little more than minimum wage. However, most places now pay for your training, pay for your exams and give extra time to study during work. You can more than likely expect your first job to be helpdesk.
You can expect to have to apply to hundreds of jobs to get your first one. However, if you follow my previous advice you should be getting call backs from recruiters at a minimum. If not, then it will be your CV that needs to change.
If you want to be successful you will have to sacrifice. I get up 3 hours before my shift and I study. Every single day, and I work longer on weekends. I offer every single time someone needs to stay late or come in early. I often stay late after work finishes to tidy up cases and prepare for the next day. I work through every single lunch. The reason for this is because I take twice as many cases as the other person that started 3 months before me, lets call this person “anon”, anon is my direct competition and he drives me to be the best I can be.
The results of my hard work are that I am sitting my exam in half the time that Anon will take (honestly I doubt he will take it when he says). I have closed more cases than him and he has been at the company for 7.5 months vs my 4.5 months. I was asked to go to site to setup a switch for a customer (twice) over anon. I have been “selected” by my manager to work directly with on a fileserver project. It looks like he has taken me under his wing (which I highly recommend, if you can get someone to teach you that is half as smart as my manager then do it).
I have had multiple people tell me they notice how engaged I am during meetings, and how well they think I am doing. I have had a number of times a 2nd line ask me if I want to be shown something that typically only goes to 2nd Line.
I have learned that hard work, determination and a willingness to learn does not go unnoticed.
What are some of the negatives to expect?
But it isn’t all fairytails, there are downsides too. I don’t spend as much time with my wife or doing the things I like. I feel guilty if I watch a film instead of study. If you take twice as many cases you are going to make at least twice as many mistakes. Making mistakes is normal, and you have to learn from them, but if you take them to heart like me, then you are going beat yourself up twice as often.
Ultimately, the sky is the limit, how hard you work will depend on you and what drives you. I have my foot in the door and I have no intention of taking my foot of the gas anytime soon. If you think that once you get your foot in the door that the hard part is over, then that simply isn’t the case I am afraid.
How to give yourself the best opportunity in your career (tips no one tells you).
I push myself out of my comfort zone many times a day. I do this so that these things become my comfort zone. I notice how often my manager trusts me to do something that he wouldn’t normally let a 1st line support engineer do.
You can expect to have a highly stressful working environment. You are going to have many fires to put out at the same time, and you need to organise yourself so it doesn’t overwhelm you. I think something that no certificate teaches you, or that I have yet to see, and it is easily the most important thing I have learned, is to have a to do list. First thing in the morning, before you do anything, fire up notepad or onenote and write down everything you have to do in that day. It doesn’t have to be in order, just get writing. And then anytime you complete a task look at notepad and start working on the next thing. Also, if anyone asks you to do anything ever, fire up notepad, and write it down. You can be albert Einstein himself, and you are going to forget to do a good chunk of that stuff if you write it down. And remember, you are going to make a lot of mistakes, but forgetting to do stuff is a terrible mistake to make and can be easily avoided.
If you have to stop someone mid flow because you realise they are telling you to do a multistep thing, then stop them and fire it up and ask them to start again. Annoying but better than having to call them later and ask them to say it all again, or worse just forget it.
You can expect a relatively thankless job. There will always be those people who remember to thank you and make you feel like you are appreciated, but more often than not you will get someone who the second the thing works, they want off the phone. Get used to goodbyes being a tad rushed/awkward.
You can expect that you will need a lot of help. But try to be smart and kind about it. Try speaking to those people about things in which you don’t ask for help and ask them about themselves. Develop relationships that are meaningful. Also, try and vary the people you ask for help from, don’t take advantage of someone because they are polite and never let you know that inside they are frustrated because they too have a big to do list. Spread your help out and try and make up for the fact you are going to be a big inconvenience by offering to help in other ways. Make the coffees, make the teas, offer to take dogsh*t menial tasks that need doing. These sorts of things are good way to pay it back to someone that you won’t be able to help technically.
Advice to avoid serious mistakes.
Always think about what you are doing. Always. Is this something you should be doing? Is this something that needs approval? is this something you should check with someone first?
Checking with someone is not the same as asking for help and it has saved my ass more times than I can count. Don’t be the person that causes a service outage because you didn’t check if something is right. It may feel obvious, it may make you look dumb. But if I was to be shown 100 tasks and asked what my gut tells me is the “proper protocol” for each one, I would get most wrong. Don’t try and guess what is best for the customer or company policy.
This is what I like to call good old-fashioned Arse-covering. It covers yours and your employers.
Those £72K jobs exist. And people do them. You could be one of them, but it will take years of dedication and sacrifice. If that sounds like you, if you can be driven, passionate and determined then nothing will stop you.
Thank you for reading.
If you are crazy enough to still be reading this, then thank you. I wish you all the luck in the world.
TLDR: Hard work and self-belief pays off. Nothing is going to stop you except YOU.
submitted by jacobsmith14433 to ITCareerQuestions [link] [comments]

Brazilian Serie A: 13th Round - PREVIEW

From Saturday 3rd to Sunday 4th will happen the 13th round of the 2020 Campeonato Brasileiro. All times below are Brazil-set (GMT -3)
Saturday 3rd, 5pm, Arena do Grêmio
Grêmio (15th) vs. Internacional (2nd): the biggest Brazilian derby, the GreNal will take place after their first meeting in the history of the Copa Libertadores. As a typical fierce derby, the tensions should be high, but the lack of interest from Grêmio in the national league can severely downplay the hype of the match. Keep an eye in Pepê (Grêmio), the new Everton Cebolinha, and in Galhardo (Internacional), the league topscorer.
Saturday 3rd, 7pm, Allianz Parque
Palmeiras (4th) vs. Ceará (12th): Only undefeated team in both Brazilian (4W-7D) and Libertadores (4W-1D) League, Palmeiras will receive an average-to-good Ceará team at home. Palmeiras is a defense-oriented team, but can change their mindset if they score first.
Saturday 3rd, 9pm, Nabi Abi Chedid
Red Bull Bragantino (18th) vs. Corinthians (14th): a match without favorites between two weak and limited teams, struggling to survive in a deficient league, even if disposing of a expensive team - Corinthians have the 4th league market value, Bragantino the 10th.
Sunday 4th, 11am, Nilton Santos
Botafogo (19th) vs. Fluminense (7th): this Rio derby will put up the team that ties (Botafogo, 8 ties in the league) against a Fluminense side with good players (Fred, Nenê, Ganso) that can't always find good performances.
Sunday 4th, 4pm, Maracanã
Flamengo (6th) vs. Athletico (11th): a preview of the Copa do Brasil round of 16 and also a rematch of the 2019 Copa final. Athletico has significantly decayed since then, though doing well in the Copa Libertadores, meanwhile Flamengo has been through ups and downs - their instability, along with Covid-19 cases, can be a problem. However, the U20 Covid-19 Flamengo substitutes have done well, so we'll see if they can keep it up.
Sunday 4th, 4pm, Couto Pereira
Coritiba (17th) vs. São Paulo (3rd): the delusional São Paulo of coach Diniz will travel to play against a weak Coritiba side. It could be a good match for them to find the good form again, notably the post-Daniel Alves injury one. However, the team is also frustrated with the Copa Libertadores group stage elimination, so we'll see how they will deal with that. Daniel Alves has already returned to the team.
Sunday 4th, 6:15pm, Pituaçu
Bahia (16th) vs. Sport (8th): this Northeastern Clássico will put an underachiever Bahia against an overachiever Sport - the bets on these teams at the start of the league were the opposite of their current positions.
Sunday 4th, 6:15pm, Castelão
Fortaleza (10th) vs. Atlético Goianiense (13th): Four matches undefeated Fortaleza will try to make a nice jump by beating Atlético Goianiense - a not very strong team either, but that have surprisingly eaten some good Rio de Janeiro teams in both the League and the Copa.
Sunday 4th, 6:15pm, Serrinha
Goiás (20th) vs. Santos (9th): Santos will visit a dangerous Goiás, who is three matches undefeated, and even beat Internacional recently - they are in the 20th place, but with 3 fewer matches than other teams. Santos will keep betting in right-winger Marinho, the best league player, who is carrying the team by himself.
Sunday 4th, 8:30pm, Mineirão
Atlético Mineiro (1st) vs. Vasco (5th): this black-and-white collision have Atlético Mineiro as frank favorites - their ultrapressure and offensive style imposed by Sampaoli has put them in a confort league leadership (72.7% rate against second best 58.3%), with the best league attack (21 goals). However, they concede too many goals, and Cano (Vasco forward with 7 goals) may explore that weakness.
You can watch these matches from abroad at the paid service Fanatiz (7.99 USD/month).
Actual Brazilian Serie A league table: https://globoesporte.globo.com/futebol/brasileirao-serie-a/
Brazilian Football sub on reddit: futebol
submitted by majinmattossj2 to soccer [link] [comments]

Confrontation

Confrontation
Confrontation: Coronavirus VS Gambling business
For many years, the authorities of almost all countries of the world have been fighting a nervous battle with the gambling business. Underground casinos are opening everywhere and the authorities are again throwing all their forces into the fight against betting.
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But then it appears: Super Coronovirus! This whole situation is like a fairy tale about a Golden egg, which everyone tried to break, but only the mouse did it. In a few months, the Coronavirus infection managed to do what the Supreme rulers of humanity took decades to do – it "killed" the gambling business!
But is this really the case? Are there no more places in the world where you can drink a glass of whiskey and bet a couple of bucks on zero?
https://preview.redd.it/79emqy92bhr51.jpg?width=1000&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=7ac545a98144399601003c8f746ff04c0fcd46e0
The editorial of MetaCasino.pt has prepared an analytical material for you, about which branches of the gambling business were most affected by the Coronavirus.
Land-based casinos
The first and most powerful impact of the Coronavirus was on land-based stationary casinos.
In the face of an epidemiological threat, people tried to leave their homes and stay in public places as little as possible.
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USA
The famous Las Vegas, which worked smoothly during the first and Second world war, turned into a Ghost town in a matter of months. Its casinos closed for the first time since 1963, the year President Kennedy was assassinated. According to the latest statistics, the total losses of Las Vegas casinos amounted to more than 5.5 billion dollars.
Czech Republic
Although the Czech Republic had the fewest cases of Coronavirus infection, King's Casino, which is a venue for major international poker events, had to cancel all tournaments and close for a period of quarantine. According to official data, the casino's losses amounted to about 5.5 million dollars.
Austria
The famous Concord Card Casino, which was supposed to be 25 years old this year, was closed due to the inability to pay taxes to the state. The main specialty of this casino was poker, but in early March, the institution declared bankruptcy. The main reason is the lack of clients due to the Coronavirus epidemic.
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Owners of land-based casinos are recommended to start developing the online component of their gambling houses as soon as possible so that the Coronovirus does not completely sink their business.
Online casino against Coronavirus
But the online casino, on the contrary, is experiencing its best times. In a situation when almost the entire world was in prison, many of the boredom began to "spend" honestly earned coins in the casino. In this regard, our editorial staff has prepared for you the TOP 3 online casinos that not only earned money during the epidemic, but also managed to bring their brand to the world level.
Rox Casino
A casino that everyone already knew about, but they learned even better during the Coronavirus period. According to unofficial data (after all, who will tell us the truth) on the excitement of their customers, Rox managed to earn about 4 million dollars. And this is almost 13% more than the casino's income before the Coronavirus epidemic.
https://preview.redd.it/7fj1oyg5bhr51.jpg?width=2000&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=9567d544c0b60efeef1d120e4bada83dee2bd507
All British Casino
The most famous British online casino, with which, according to rumors, Prince Harry liked to spend his free time during the pandemic, managed to increase its revenue by up to 24%. And this is despite the fact that gambling is illegal and the UK government has introduced strict regulatory measures regarding online gambling and betting. The high attendance of this platform has brought All British Casino to a new level and attracted customers from all over the world.
BoVegas
And while real Las Vegas endures its worst times, virtual Vegas is on top of the glory. In the face of fierce competition and in order to attract the maximum number of new customers and keep the old ones, a welcome bonus of 5000$ was introduced. Either a gift from the company, or boredom, but the number of players for the period from January to may increased by 40%. And where new players - there is profit!
Sports reference: offline or online?
The sphere of sports betting has suffered the most. The fact is that the absence of Grand sporting events such as the world Cup, the UEFA Champions League, the League of Europe, the Wimbledon tennis tournament and many other competitions were either canceled or postponed indefinitely.
According to the analytical company Standard & Poor's, the betting market fell by almost 37%. This has never happened before!
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For example, in the UK, the demand among both beginners and professional bettors for betting shops that specialize in sports has decreased by 41%, and this is despite the fact that the demand for online casinos is growing on the contrary.
In addition, during the quarantine period, offices are prohibited from using topics such as Coronavirus and self-isolation for advertising purposes.
"And if there is no sport, then there is no point in betting" - you might think. But it wasn't there! Global companies such as 1xBet began offering their clients an alternative-Belarusian football. As you know, there is no Coronavirus in the Republic of Belarus – so the President of the country said. This means that there are no reasons for changes in the gambling services market. In this regard, many ratting corporations offer their clients to bet on the Top League and the football championship in Belarus. This is certainly not the European Cup, but in the context of a pandemic, you do not have to choose very much.
The second birth of e-Sports
E-Sport has become an excellent alternative to standard sports betting.
According to the latest analytical data, e-Sports betting activity looks something like this:
● 73% - FIFA cyber football
● 21% - Counter-Strike
● 5% - Dota2;
● 1% - Other games;
And as for the world e-Sports Championships, no one canceled them. This means that e-Sport is one of the few industries where avid players carry their money in the hope of getting an adrenaline rush and earning a couple of hundred dollars. For example, the FIFA cyber football world Cup and the NBA 2K20 cyberbasketball tournament are waiting for us. Thus, e-sports, whose popularity has grown rapidly in recent years, as well as betting on e-sports have received an additional impetus to even greater development.
Alternative betting
However, bookmakers are well aware that you can not deprive their customers of the pleasure of gambling and offer alternative ways of betting.
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So, for example, you can bet not only on
local social events in your country, such as when the football season resumes, or the League of Europe. However, the most popular bet was on Coronovirus. Betters around the world are betting on when the pandemic will end, whether the borders of States will open, and whether there will be a second wave of the epidemic.
Conclusion
Thus, it is safe to say that no sphere of life, no economic or social sector could resist the Coronovirus. But as far as gambling business is concerned, everything is ambiguous. Actually, everything is like in betting: someone wins, such as online casinos, and someone suffers losses, such as sport ratting. But we believe that sport betting will return as the Phoenix bird as soon as all sporting events resume.
submitted by hawertin to u/hawertin [link] [comments]

The Rookie Report: Buy or Sell?

Rookie Report Special: Rookie buy or sell

Welcome back to the Rookie Report! The season is almost upon us. The NFL season kicks off Thursday, but if you’re like me you’ve likely put off most of your redraft fantasy drafts as long as possible in these uncertain COVID times. I’m guessing a large portion of fantasy leagues will be drafting over the long holiday weekend or early next week, and I wanted to give you some last minute tips on some rookies that you may not be as familiar with. The lists below are by no means a straight ranking of the rookies, rather it’s a look at which guys I am willing to reach for, which guys are a little too rich for my blood, and which guys I think are priced just about right based on FantasyPros average draft position. Let’s dive in…

Guys I’m buying:

QB Tua Tagovailoa, MIA (Average Draft Postion: QB28): Recent camp headlines have made it clear that Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to be starting for Miami week 1, but it’s only a matter of time before Tua takes over under center. If you’re in superflex or 2-quarterback leagues, Tua is a guy you can draft as a QB3 at a deep discount who has a chance to smash once he gets onto the field. He’s an efficient and accurate passer in the mold of a young Drew Brees, and he’s currently being drafted later than Derek Carr, Gardner Minshew and Teddy Bridgewater. When you’re drafting that far down, I want the upside of the rookie over the known limitations of the other options.
RB Cam Akers, LAR (ADP: RB 26): An injury to Darrell Henderson is making it clear that Akers is the Rams’ back that you want for fantasy. He’s been a star in camp so far, and the Sean McVay offense is a good one for running back production. Todd Gurley was obviously an elite talent at the position, but he finished RB1, RB1, and RB12 in his 3 years under McVay and was clearly just a shell of himself in year 3. In his 3 years as Washington’s offensive coordinator McVay also got a top-15 season out of Alfred Morris and a top-25 season out of Robert Kelley. Akers should be better than either of those players. If he takes the job and runs with it, he has true RB1 upside that you can draft outside of the top-50 overall picks.
RB JK Dobbins, BAL (ADP: RB32): Clyde Edwards-Helaire has gotten a lot of press for falling into the absolute best scheme fit possible for him, but people have been ignoring that basically the same thing happened to Dobbins. Yes Mark Ingram is still in Baltimore for this season and Dobbins true upside may be a year away, but Gus Edwards carried the ball 133 times last season and the talent gap between Ingram and Dobbins isn’t as big as the gap between Ingram and Edwards. Dobbins is going to be a factor this season. I view him as someone who is likely to finish as a top-30 back and would have borderline RB1 upside this year if anything happens to Ingram. I’d much rather leave a draft with Dobbins than the guys going right in front of him – Jordan Howard, Kareem Hunt, Ronald Jones (this was written before the Fournette news).
RB Zack Moss, BUF (ADP: RB41): It appears Moss’s master plan of greasing up every football that Devin Singletary uses in practice is working, as Singletary’s summer fumbling woes have given Moss a leg-up over the incumbent for early-down and goal line work. The Bills still project to be a run-first football team despite the addition of Stefon Diggs, and there should be ample goal-line opportunities for Moss if he can cash them in. Frank Gore carried the ball 10 times from the 3-yard line or closer last season, but totaled zero yards and scored just 2 touchdowns on those attempts. Moss should play a similar role to the one Gore did last season, and if the Bills’ offense takes a step forward double-digit scores are not out of the question for him. You should be targeting Moss as an RB3 with upside for more, especially in half- and non-PPR formats.
RB Antonio Gibson, WAS (ADP: RB50): Washington surprisingly moved on from Adrian Peterson just a week before the season kicks off, and that can’t be anything but good news for Gibson. Peyton Barber is still a threat to handle the early-down work, but Barber isn’t anything special and given Gibson’s pass-catching skills he will probably finish the year as the top fantasy running back on the team. JD McKissic has shown himself to be a capable 3rd down back, and Bryce Love was explosive in college, but all signs in camp pointed to Gibson being ahead of them both on the depth chart. New head coach Ron Rivera and new offensive coordinator Scott Turner were both in Carolina last year, and they’ve compared Gibson’s dual-threat capabilities to those of Christian McCaffrey. That’s obvious hyperbole, but I think Gibson will get every opportunity to be the lead back in this offense, and is likely to finish as a top-30 running back that you can get quite a bit later than that. Be warned though: the Peterson news is going to move that ADP up in the coming days.
RB Josh Kelley, LAC (ADP: RB68): I honestly don’t know how to explain why Josh Kelley is being drafted later than AJ Dillon and Ke’Shawn Vaughn in redraft leagues. The Chargers lost Melvin Gordon in free agency this offseason, and all reports out of camp are that Kelley is going to be the guy who picks up most of the work that he left behind. Austin Ekeler is obviously a fantasy stud who will be worth the draft capital it costs to draft him, but he shouldn’t be a 20-touch per game kind of back, and the Chargers realize that. His efficiency as a runner last year was underwhelming as he averaged more than 4 yards per carry in just 5 out of 16 games (and fewer than 3 yards per carry 7 times). Ekeler’s value comes from his work in the passing game. I expect Kelley will open the year splitting early down work with Ekeler and growing into a bigger role as the season goes on. The rookie is an above average athlete (68th percentile SPARQ-x score) who posted over 1,000 yards in both of his college seasons at UCLA. To give you a little context on just how low RB68 is, Justin Jackson finished last season with 222 scrimmage yards and zero touchdowns and was the RB71 in non-PPR scoring. Kelley is a slam dunk to outproduce his ADP, and I expect he’ll do it by a lot. You should be looking to draft him as an RB4 and reaping the rewards as his role grows.
WR Denzel Mims, NYJ (ADP: WR67): Mims had the unfortunate luck of pulling a hamstring the day before training camp started, but he returned to practice this week and expects to be healthy enough to suit up week one. It’ll likely take him a few weeks to work his way into the starting lineup after missing so much practice time, but there is almost NO wide receiver talent ahead of him on the depth chart outside of slot maven Jamison Crowder. The rest of the options to play on the outside consist of Breshad Perriman who currently is dealing with a knee injury that could keep him out a bit, journeymen Chris Hogan & Donte Moncrief, and a trio of replacement-level players who may not even make the roster (Josh Malone, Vyncint Smith and Jehu Chesson). Mims is big, fast, and has excellent hands and body control. He improved his game throughout his college career and landed on a team that projects to be throwing a ton. He’s a natural fit as a deep threat who should complement Crowder’s short game well. He’ll be a great best-ball option and is a guy you should be targeting late in drafts, especially ones that are not full PPR leagues.
WR Bryan Edwards, LVR (ADP: WR72): Edwards’ college stats don’t jump off the page at you, never reaching 900 yards in any season, but South Carolina only reached 3,000 passing yards once in his 4 seasons there. As a freshman, Edwards had 21% of the team’s receiving yards in an offense that also featured Deebo Samuel and Hayden Hurst, and in the 10 games he played last year he totaled a whopping 35% of the team receiving yards. The former Gamecock should start right away in Las Vegas and will be a better option in the intermediate part of the field than Henry Ruggs or Hunter Renfrow. He’s already drawn rave reviews from his new QB Derek Carr, who has compared Edwards to his college teammate Davante Adams and former pro teammate James Jones. Edwards has a chance to be a total package alpha receiver in his career, and although he walks into a crowded group of pass catchers (Ruggs, Renfrow, Darren Waller, Jason Witten, Jalen Richard, etc.) he should get a chance to showcase his potential this year. There is a real chance that he finishes as the top fantasy WR on the Raiders this season, and you can get him in the late rounds of your draft.
WR Laviska Shenault, JAX (ADP: WR73): Shenault was long considered to be among the best wide receiver prospects in this class and a potential top-20 overall draft pick entering the 2019 season, but lackluster production in 2019 and injury woes drove his stock down a bit. He landed on what should be a miserably bad team, but that should afford him plenty of opportunities to play. He’s built like a running back but stands 6’2” and is dangerous with the ball in the open field. He was used in a lot of different ways in college (he had 9 more college rushing attempts than Antonio Gibson), and that versatility should make him a valuable part of a Jaguars’ offense that will be desperately looking for playmakers outside of DJ Chark. He should be available in the last couple rounds in most redraft leagues and is likely to have a big role as a rookie.

Guys I’m selling:

RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, KC (ADP: RB8): I understand the love for CEH. He landed in what seems like a dream spot, playing in the most explosive offense in the NFL that seems tailor-made for his skill set, and to top it off the returning starter at his position opted out of the 2020 season. “RB1!” “Take him in the first round!” Not so fast, I say. CEH posted just 1 productive college season and doesn’t have the freakish athletic profile of top backs like Saquon, Christian McCaffrey or Derrick Henry. He’ll certainly play right away in Kansas City, but he’s being drafted as though he’ll be an automatic workhorse back when it still remains to be seen if that’s the case. I do believe that Edwards-Helaire should be going in the top-20 picks in most drafts, but to get him in most leagues you’ll have to reach into the first round to do it. That’s a price I’m not willing to pay at this point. I’d rather take a top WR and get a player like Miles Sanders or Kenyan Drake in the 2nd or Austin Ekeler in the 3rd who can put up similar production at a lower cost.
RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn, TB (ADP: RB46): Vaughn was widely expected to compete with Ronald Jones for the starting job in Tampa this season, but that outlook has changed drastically in recent weeks with the signings of LeSean McCoy and Leonard Fournette. The Fournette signing just happened, so I would expect Vaughn’s ADP to take a significant tumble in the next few days. He’ll likely be limited to special teams for much of his rookie season barring injuries ahead of him.
RB AJ Dillon, GB (ADP: RB52): Dillon has been a popular name this summer after photos surfaced showing off his ridiculous tree trunk thighs in camp (basically the opposite of the kind of camp photos we were used to with Eddie Lacy). Despite how he looks in shorts, Dillon will be hard-pressed to make a huge impact for fantasy purposes this year. He’s likely going to eat into Jamaal Williams workload, but I don’t expect Williams to go away entirely. Aaron Jones is the Green Bay back you want, and I’d expect Dillon’s presence to make both Williams and Dillon bad bets to finish as productive fantasy backs. Williams has never finished higher than RB29 without Dillon to compete with. I’d steer clear of both.
WR Jerry Jeudy, DEN (ADP: WR41): Jeudy is an outstanding talent, but he goes to an offense that ranked 27th in passing attempts last season and is likely to lean on the run game again after adding Melvin Gordon to their backfield mix. Courtland Sutton is essentially a lock for 120+ targets, and Noah Fant should see a nice bump in volume as well. I’d expect Jeudy to wind up somewhere around 80 targets assuming health. 67 players had more than 80 targets last season, and we still aren’t certain whether or not Drew Lock is any good. I’m not too keen on drafting Jeudy at his current ADP.
WR Henry Ruggs, LVR (ADP: WR47): Ruggs was the first wide receiver taken in the NFL draft this year, but he isn’t the best one taken in the first round. He’s just the fastest. The Raiders will certainly get him involved in the offense after drafting him so high, and he is projected to open the season as a starter after Tyrell Williams had season-ending labrum surgery. The problem for Ruggs is that Derek Carr is notorious for not throwing the ball deep, and the deep ball is going to be the best opportunity for Ruggs to pile up fantasy points. Bryan Edwards is a more well-rounded wide receiver, and Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller are better possession options in the short part of the field. Unless Carr changes his approach and starts throwing deep, or Gruden finds creative ways to scheme the ball to Ruggs, it’ll be hard for him to live up to the draft capital you’d have to spend on him.
TE Cole Kmet, CHI (ADP: TE29): Kmet is the only rookie tight end being drafted in the top-30 at the position, but I would be surprised if he finishes as the top scoring rookie tight end this year. Old man Jimmy Graham has been raved about as the best player at Bears’ camp and is likely going to be the starting tight end, and there are plenty of other tight ends on the roster who could factor in as well including Demetrius Harris and Adam Shaheen. I just don’t see an obvious path to a lot of early playing time for Kmet. The Bears should still be in win-now mode (despite the QB situation) and a rookie tight end playing a bunch doesn’t make sense with so many capable vets on the roster.

Guys that are priced correctly:

These are players that are certainly worth drafting at their current ADP and may have upside for more, but also carry enough risk that I would be hesitant to reach too far for them. If you really like a player in this group, I wouldn’t fault you for reaching a bit for them to make sure you get them.

QB Joe Burrow, CIN (ADP: QB18): In two quarterback leagues, Burrow is a good player to target as a second QB that you can get a little later who still gives you the upside you get from the QBs that would be going in the 12-15 range. He’s assuredly going to start week 1, and the Bengals do have enough weapons around him for him to succeed. There is always risk with a rookie QB, but Burrow is a gunslinger who will have a long leash and the Bengals will be throwing a lot.
RB Jonathan Taylor, IND (ADP: RB19): You don’t need me to tell you that Jonathan Taylor is good. In his *worst* college season he ran for 1,977 yards and 13 TDs. He was a monster at Wisconsin. Defenses knew he was getting the ball and still couldn’t stop him. He has monster upside in the NFL as well, but I’m going to throw a little bit of a wet blanket on that upside for this season. The Colts aren’t going to stop using Nyheim Hines on 3rd downs, so if you’re counting on much receiving production from Taylor you’re hanging your hat on Philip Rivers’ habit of heavily targeting his backs and hoping he catches a lot on early downs. Hines had 64% of the running back targets that Indy backs saw last season. A more likely scenario for Taylor is a dominant rushing season a la Derrick Henry. Derrick Henry finished last season as the RB5, but he also was the unquestioned starter from day one and handled 80% of the Titans’ non-QB rushing attempts. He was also the only top-10 back in PPR scoring that had fewer than 49 targets. Taylor will enter the year splitting the early down work with Marlon Mack, so it’s hard to envision him coming close to what Henry did last year. If you’re a big Taylor fan, I wouldn’t fault you for reaching into the mid-2nd round to make sure you get him, but know that he most likely won’t be producing what you paid for until the middle of the season.
RB D’Andre Swift, DET (ADP: RB29): Like Jonathan Taylor, Swift lands on a team that already has an established starting running back that has been solid, but not great. Kerryon Johnson’s injury history means that there is a solid chance that Swift will have some weeks as the starter, but if KJ stays healthy Swift will most likely work in tandem with him. I like Swift as a player, but Detroit hasn’t had a running back finish in the top-20 fantasy backs since Reggie Bush back in 2013, and I don’t like Swift’s chances of breaking that streak. In the last 4 seasons, 73% of Detroit’s offensive touchdowns have been scored through the air (league average is typically in the low to mid 60s). I’d rather draft Swift than Kerryon Johnson – he’s the more talented back, but I’d prefer a safer option if we’re talking about your #2 running back or a high end RB3.
WR CeeDee Lamb, DAL (ADP: WR38): Lamb is without a doubt the best wide receiver in this rookie class, but the pass-catching group in Dallas is crowded. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup are both WR1 types who should command 120 or so targets apiece. Blake Jarwin and Zeke Elliot should combine for another 150. That still leaves room for Lamb to establish himself on the pass-happy Cowboys, but I’m not sure his breakout starts week 1. I think the best plan of attack with Lamb is to let someone else reach for him and then make a deal for him a few weeks into the season if the person who drafted him gets impatient.
WR Justin Jefferson, MIN (ADP: WR50): Jefferson was a first round draft pick in the NFL draft, but he finds himself opening the season as the WR3 behind Adam Thielen and Bisi Johnson in an offense that had more than 2 receivers on the field on just 25% of their snaps last season. No other team was below 40%. They also ranked 30th in the league in pass attempts. Offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski bolted for Cleveland, and there should be a little bit of regression to the mean when it comes to their passing volume, but the run-heavy game plan is part of who Mike Zimmer wants this team to be. Jefferson should eventually overtake Bisi Johnson for the starting role opposite Thielen, but how high do you want to reach for a guy who likely won’t be producing like a top-40 WR until the back half of the season?
WR Jalen Reagor, PHI (ADP: WR52): I would be talking about Reagor as a player to target in your drafts, but one of the biggest factors working in his favor was the expected early season absence of Alshon Jeffery giving him the opportunity to establish himself in the offense. Instead, Reagor will miss the start of the season with an injury of his own and it’ll be JJ Arcega-Whiteside and John Hightower who should see the increased early opportunity instead. This passing game is still going to run through Zach Ertz, but Reagor was picked in the first round and brings game-breaking speed that the Eagles’ offense was desperate for last season. They’re going to get him on the field when he’s healthy. Three receiver sets should be made up of Jeffery, Reagor and DeSean Jackson for much of the season, and given the health history of the other two Jalen should have plenty of chances to produce. Reagor’s ADP isn’t crazy high, and the upside that he’ll bring in the back half of the season will make him worth the price tag even if he misses the first few games.
WR Brandon Aiyuk, SF (ADP: WR65): WR65 probably feels low given Aiyuk’s likely starting role and the injuries to Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, but it’s sounding more and more like Samuel will be back by week 2 at the latest and this offense doesn’t run through the wide receivers. The 49ers had the 4th-fewest pass attempts in the league and the 5th-lowest wide receiver target share in the league (51%) last season. George Kittle and the running backs should remain very involved in this low-volume passing attack. Aiyuk has forged a nice rapport with Jimmy Garoppolo in camp and has a similar skill set to Deebo’s, but he figures to be the WR2 behind him for much of the season. In this offense, that makes him more of a WR5 for your fantasy team.

Deep League Flyers:

These guys are basically going undrafted in most leagues but may be worth a flyer in really deep leagues or are at least worth monitoring in the early weeks of the season to see what kind of role they have.

RB James Robinson, JAX: Jacksonville dumping Leonard Fournette just days before the season kicks off was a bit of surprise, but it opens the door for several young backs on their roster to get a chance. Reports out of camp suggest that Devine Ozigbo may have the inside track on the early down work, but Ryquell Armstead and Robinson should factor in as well. Armstead was the backup to Fournette last season, but he was placed on the league’s COVID reserve list on Friday opening the door further for the rookie. Robinson went undrafted after running just a 4.64 40-yard dash at the Combine, but he dominated the FCS level with 1,899 rushing yards and 18 TDs last season. He’s worth a late flyer in really deep leagues and worth monitoring early in the year in shallower formats. It’s not impossible that he beats out Ozigbo for the starting job.
WR John Hightower, PHI: Injuries will leave the Eagles’ WR depth chart wide open in the early part of the season with Alshon Jeffery and Jalen Reagor each sidelined for at least the first few weeks. The rest of the depth chart includes DeSean Jackson (33 years old and played just 3 games last year), JJ Arcega-Whiteside (had an extremely disappointing rookie season in 2019), and Greg Ward (AAF star who was serviceable when the team was depleted last year). The Eagles draft strategy at the WR position was clear after they struggled mightily to stretch the field last season. They wanted to add speed, and Hightower brings that. He averaged 18.3 yards per catch at Boise State last year and ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the Combine. He should see the field early in the year, and if he flashes, he may keep seeing the field.
WR Van Jefferson, LAR: I admittedly wasn’t very high on Jefferson coming out of the draft despite the Rams taking him in the 2nd round. He’s old for a prospect at 24-years old entering his rookie season. He isn’t a supreme athlete, and he wasn’t overly productive in college (despite playing at an advanced age). He seems like a player best suited to the slot, but that’s also where Cooper Kupp does his best work. This all added up to Van looking like a long shot to see the field much as a rookie but reports out of camp are that he is going to beat out Josh Reynolds for the WR3 role in the offense. He’s the son of former standout NFL WR Shawn Jefferson, and he has the route-running acumen and natural feel for the game of someone who grew up around it. It’s possible the Rams play more 2-tight end sets given the departure of Brandin Cooks and the breakout of Tyler Higbee last season, but only the Bengals spent more snaps in 11 personnel (3-WR) than the Rams last season. Monitor the Rams offense early in the season. If they continue to play a lot of 3-WR sets, Jefferson is going to have some value in most leagues.
TE Devin Asiasi, NE: Rookie tight ends are notoriously poor fantasy producers, and there are a plethora of upside options to target this season among the veteran tight ends, but there might not be another rookie better positioned to produce in year 1 than Asiasi. He was considered mostly a pass-catching tight end when drafted, but his blocking has also drawn raves in camp and the only thing standing between him and a starting role is Matt LaCosse. The Patriots’ offense is light on receiving weapons, and Cam Newton has always liked throwing to his tight ends. Asiasi is no Greg Olsen, but he has a legitimate chance to be a top-20 tight end as a rookie.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll be back next week with a quick look at some week one rookie matchups, but feel free to hit me up on twitter (@Shawn_Foss) if you have any questions or anything you want to yell at me about that’s written above. If you’ve already done your draft, you can use this info to help you target early season trade or waiver wire candidates if another person in your league gets impatient with a slow start. If you haven’t drafted yet, good luck in your drafts and enjoy the holiday weekend. As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game. Original article from drinkfive.com
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