While I spent my entire childhood living in apartments, the complex where my mom and I lived from ages 11-18 was part of an idyllic neighborhood. On the high end, the housing could have passed for the setting for John Hughes' movies about suburban white kids in high school. On the low end of the range, they were a decent replica of the kids' neighborhoods in Stranger Things.
It's to say that while I didn't come from the means of most of my classmates and friends, I wasn't deprived in that respect. I never had any delusions that I was. Hell, I began college at the University of Miami, a school where a lot of kids who were raised in the high-end of the John Hughes lifestyle went there to continue the party.
Don't get me wrong; this wasn't the case for all. It wasn't the case for me. Miami had (and still has) some top-notch programs, but it was still on the tail end of its reputation as a party school when I enrolled. For a significant portion of the alumni, a degree seemed secondary.
I cared about getting a degree even if I ultimately learned the journey for knowledge was worth a lot more than the paper symbolizing a less meaningful destination. There were students who seemed to understand this better than others, and many of them were my classmates in the studio music and jazz performance program. One of them was my friend, Aldo, who taught me the value of dumpster diving.
Aldo was a friendly, funny, and optimistic guy from Colombia who also happened to be an excellent percussionist. I thought he was a little crazy, but I spend my childhood learning how to please and complete tasks rather than to think independently and create. I was better at the latter, but I spent a lot of emotional and intellectual bandwidth checking those impulses at every turn with the ferocity of Scott Stevens on the boards.
By the time I got to Miami, I had already spent one summer of high school emptying the trash I collected from the apartment complex into dumpsters for a paycheck. I never considered there was value in the trash. People didn't throw away things of value. If they did, how would it look if people knew I might covet what was there much less root around for it?
The "What would people think?" was strong on me. Like a well-meaning protection mechanism implanted into me that grew out of control like a secret government experiment gone awry.
Aldo didn't care about any of that. America is a country filled with riches, he was a student on his own dime, and money was tight. Walking back from a rehearsal, he suggested we drop by the Burger King across from my dorm. I was thinking we were going inside. Aldo had other ideas.
He made his way directly to the blue dumpster parked behind the drive-thru menu and climbed in. Three minutes later, he emerged with several boxes of food.
"You're taking home half-eaten food?" I asked with my ignorant presumptions rooted in my John Hughes childhood.
"Nah, man, they throw away cooked food it didn't serve or that wasn't prepared correctly for the customer's order," Aldo said, opening a couple of boxes to show me perfectly intact Whoppers, BK Jr.s, and Fish Filets. "They have perfectly cooked food thrown away at the end of shifts that's only been sitting in this dumpster for maybe an hour. They can't sell it, but it's wasted in the trash."
"So you do this a lot?"
"Yeah, at a few places. I hit their dumpsters every 3-4 days, I practically eat for free. Grocery stores are the best if they don't lock the dumpster"
While I never had to dumpster dive for food, I had gotten to know Aldo well enough to realize how my background and standard of living biased my perspective of what could be a logical resource of value.
Fast-forward to today. As a content producer of one of the most comprehensive analyses of rookie prospects in the industry, I see a lot of perfectly talented values prematurely thrown in the fantasy industry dumpster. While finding consumable value for your team isn't as easy as it is behind the grocery store within an hour of its closing, I have no stigma about dumpster diving for fantasy values, and neither should you.
Here is a list of 20 players at the ends of rosters I'm monitoring. They may not have fantasy value today, but they are worth monitoring during the next 2-3 years. Many of them will bounce around the league until they find a foothold and an opportunity. Raheem Mostert is a great example. Richie James has been a capable value as well.
Zonovan Knight and Jordan Mason were two dumpster-dive rookie specials I noted this summer, and Mason and James once again at the beginning of the year.
I've listed them in reverse order of how I value them (lowest to highest).
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