In the age of instant gratification, where WiFi being down for a few minutes qualifies as a DEFCON-1 level catastrophe, patience has all but evaporated in sports. Gone are the days when Aaron Rodgers could spend three years glued to the Packers’ bench before ever seeing the field.
Thanks to the NFL’s rookie-wage scale, everything is accelerated. In a previous generation, Josh Rosen would have gotten four years to prove himself, not one. Growing pains used to come with the territory for newcomers like Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts, young quarterbacks who have spent their whole careers playing under a microscope.
It’s hard to give your best when you’re constantly looking over your shoulder, afraid to make a mistake knowing full well your replacement is only a phone call away. Admitting defeat on a failed prospect is one thing (ever heard of the Sunk Cost Fallacy?), but too often players are counted out, shunned as “draft busts” for the crime of not being an immediate difference-maker. Which is why it’s so gratifying when a player like Rashaad Penny, a first-round reach (by no fault of his own) who has spent the bulk of his career either injured or confined to afterthought status in a deep Seahawks backfield, finally arrives.
Penny’s 137-yard, two-touchdown explosion in Week 14 could very well prove to be an outlier, a fleeting moment of brilliance in an otherwise pedestrian career. But for one glorious Sunday, Penny was king, looking every bit like the prodigy that tore through college football as a consensus All-American in 2017. It took a biblical wave of injuries (neither Chris Carson or Travis Homer were in uniform Sunday) and a juicy matchup against one of football’s worst teams, but don’t let that take away from Penny’s breakthrough performance, a triumph four years in the making.
It’s Week 15—the first round of the fantasy playoffs in most leagues—and there’s plenty to discuss. Chris Emma, Jordan Cohn and I got together to explore the waiver scene, identify streaming options (is it Justin Fields’ time to shine?) and, of course, tout our favorite “stealth” starts on this week’s episode of the Audacy Sports Fantasy Football Show. Good luck everyone, not that you need it!