You remember the times where you get butterflies in your stomach. The feeling you get when someone you like at school holds your hands when you reach out, your first kiss, the moment you say “I do,” the first time you hold your child, and the feeling you get with a player get you that #FootclanTitle. It’s a feeling that lands somewhere between “Can I buy you a cold beverage” and “Let me introduce you to my youngest daughter.” Not sure what I mean?

Think of the players that came out of nowhere to help you get into the playoffs like Baker Mayfield, C.J. Anderson, Davante Adams, and Jared Cook (each link goes to a charity they support). You get the feels right?! You love them, we love them, and we tell everyone we know about them. Players like JuJu Smith-Schuster, who promised he would be play championship week after getting injured in practice and had 11 targets for over 100 yards. Or maybe you were desperate and threw in Nick Foles for the Championship. OK, you might not have played Foles, but you Todd Gurley owners that plugged in C.J. Anderson know that loving feeling…cough-cough Jason MooreBrooks Carmean, maybe not so much with Anderson.

We probably won’t get a chance to buy these guys a cold beverage or introduce them to our daughters, but we do have a chance to do something. These players do a lot of work behind the scenes working with various charities. I can’t speak for these players, but I’m sure a gesture a simple as a small donation to a charity they support would be a nice show of appreciation.  Here are some players and performances to consider:

Regular Season MVPs

QB-Patrick Mahomes

Team Luke Hope for Minds

Mahomes did things week in and week out that made veteran QBs drool. Bombs to Tyreek Hill put on a dime, crazy scrambles that ended with a precision pass to the end zone, and no look passes. He threw four or more TDs seven times this year! He even kept it rolling in the playoff weeks for you.

Patrick sits on a board and wore cleats supporting an organization called ‘Team Luke Hope for Young Minds.’ Team Luke Hope for Minds is named after Luke Siegel who suffered a life-altering brain injury in 2015. Team Luke seeks to help families pay for items not covered or partially covered by insurance, providing advocacy and education, and building supportive communities for children that have suffered traumatic brain injuries.

RB-Todd Gurley

First Book
Shriners Hospital for Kids
Tarboro Community Outreach Homeless Shelter and Pantry

I know he didn’t help you much in the playoffs, but he was brilliant during the regular season and probably got you into the playoffs. You should have also played C.J. Anderson Championship week who put up a Todd-Gurley-esque performance for you anyways. How good was Gurley this year? In Weeks 1-15, Gurley accumulated 1,251 yards rushing and an astounding 17 TDs. If that wasn’t enough he added 59 receptions for 580 yards and another 4 TDs. That’s 22.84 Baller-Preferred fantasy points per week.

Todd was one of the first players to sort of accidentally start this fantasy giving to charitable causes. He sent a tweet last year basically asking to be left alone after tearing through the playoffs. He followed his Grinch tweet with a tweet that suggested fantasy winners should donate to Shriners Hospital for Children. Shriners ended up raising over $10,000, but that’s not all he does.

Getty Images / Stephen Brashear

Todd is involved with several charitable activities. He runs a football camp in his hometown for youth athletes held on the football field at Tarboro High School called M.A.D.E. The M.A.D.E. acronym (make a difference every day) comes from an idea Gurley’s childhood friend and Tarboro football teammate Jameon Willis had as a way to encourage kids to make a positive impact each and every day according to Rocky Mount Telegram.

Todd also promoted ‘First Book‘ during My Cleats and My Cause. First Book seeks to create equal access to quality education by making everything from high-quality books and educational resources to sports equipment, winter coats, and food available to children in need. Here are the links:

WR-Tyreek Hill

Cheetah Foundation

I have a confession to make. I thought Tyreek Hill was good, but I was generally targeting WRs ahead of him. One of, if not the biggest regret was not drafting Hill once. Maybe I can make up for it here.

Hill ended the year as one of the most explosive WRs in all of football made more dangerous by the cannon-armed Mahomes. As a receiver, he had four multi-TD games including a Week 11 performance with 10 receptions that were good for 215 yards and 2 TDs. Incredibly that fantasy performance was eclipsed in Week 1 where he had 7 receptions for 169 yards and two TDs plus a PR TD. He was a bit boom and bust all year, but his big weeks were league winners and huge if you played him in DFS.

Tyreek has his own foundation called the Tyreek Hill Foundation that seeks to ‘Empower the youth and disadvantaged for a brighter future.’ Maybe more appropriately named, you can find Tyreek’s foundation at https://www.cheetahfoundation.com/. For more information on how to make monthly, and or annual contributions please contact, [email protected]

TE-George Kittle

USO
Pat Tillman Foundation

George Kittle ended up being one of the bright spots for an SF team that was decimated by injuries throughout the entire year at multiple positions. Kittle wound up as fantasy’s third-highest scoring TE right behind Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz. The thing that makes Kittle just a bit more valuable is his low ADP. He was drafted as a roster fill-in somewhere around the 11th Round in most drafts. Good luck finding a late-round TE capable of putting up over 200 yards as he did in Week 14 against Denver.

George has been consistent in his support for the military that extends beyond platitudes and includes multiple charitable organizations that support the military. George donated his cleats for an auction that benefited the United Service Organization (USO). The USO’s goals are to strengthen America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation. George has also supported the Pat Tillman Foundation. The Pat Tillman foundation’s mission is to unite and empower remarkable military veterans and spouses as the next generation of public and private sector leaders committed to service beyond self.

As a personal aside, I want a Pat Tillman jersey so bad because I want to explain to my kids why I have a jersey of someone that played on a team I’m normally don’t root for. I don’t have many heroes, but Corporal Pat Tillman is definitely one of them. If you see a Pat Tillman jersey on Pristine Auction, let me know so I can get one.

Fantasy Playoffs

QB-Deshaun Watson

Jessie Rees Foundation
Habitat for Humanity

Watson had a nice year, but he saved the best for last. He had 18.18 points in Week 14, 22.36 points in Week 15, and saved the best for last with 36.46 points for Championship Week.

Deshaun has done so much including giving away entire game checks that it’s hard to list all the charities he’s been involved in. Monroe Free who is the executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Greenville may have said it best when he said “He’s a kid that you say, ‘I hope our kids grow up like that.'”

Deshaun supported the Jessie Rees Foundation during ‘My Cause, My Cleats’ this year. The Jessie Rees Foundation seeks to “Help every kid fighting cancer to Never Ever Give Up!” They do this by offering a network for support and encouragement to the children that are fighting cancer and their family. Deshaun is also involved with Habitat for Humanity that provided a home for him and his family when he was a child.

RB-Derrick Henry

Special Olympics

Henry became an afterthought in a lost year where he split time with Dion Lewis, but to say he came on strong for the playoffs would be a gross understatement. Most people had them on the bench for Week 14’s matchup against Jacksonville, but a lucky few snuck him into lineups mostly out of desperation. He destroyed Jacksonville on his way to 238 yards and 4 TDs; good for 47.8 fantasy points. It wasn’t a fluke week. He came back in Weeks 15 and 16 with 29.74 and 15.70 fantasy points. With all the injuries and game-time decisions affecting so many of the star RBs in the rest of the league, Henry easily outproduced any of the other RBs during the playoffs.

Derrick represented the Special Olympics for ‘My Cause, My Cleats.’ The Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and competition in Olympic-type sports for children and adults with disabilities.

Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

WR-DeAndre Hopkins

ADVA
S.M.O.O.T.H.

Hopkins is simply a beast and he kept it up during the playoffs. He scored double-digit points in all three playoff weeks including a 34 point game in Week 15. He turned 23 receptions into 310 reception yards and 3 TDs during Weeks 14-16. Always nice to see a First Round fantasy draft pick live up to the hype.

DeAndre witnessed a horrible domestic violence situation in his own home. His mother suffered an acid attack that left her blind and permanently scarred. He has become an advocate of multiple charities that focus on domestic violence including S.M.O.O.T.H during ‘My Cause, My Cleats.’ S.M.O.O.T.H. focuses on raising awareness about the effects of domestic violence. Hopkins is also an advocate for a Houston based organization called AVDA (Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse) which has operated in Houston for over 30 years.

TE-Travis Kelce

87 and Running
Operation Breakthrough

Kelce wasn’t spectacular during the playoffs, but he was consistent during all three weeks and, you know, he finished as the overall TE1 so you could probably thank him for helping your team to the playoffs. Kelce totaled 142 yards and added a TD on 19 receptions through the playoffs. His worst game was 5 receptions for 54 yards, which was still good for 7.9 points during a year where the TE position was fickle outside of Kelce, Zach Ertz, and George Kittle.

Travis started a foundation called 87 and Running because he “felt obligated to provide opportunities to disadvantaged youth and to help them aspire beyond their current situations.” Travis partnered with Operation Breakthrough to build a robotics lab that serves students in the Kansas City area.

Championship Week Heroes

QB-Aaron Rodgers

MACC

Rodgers had a good fantasy year, but maybe not the one we were all looking for. Luckily for Rodgers owners, he saved the best for last. His 442 yards passing and 2 TDs would have been a useful fantasy week, but he added a pair of rushing TDs to reward fantasy owners with 42.88 fantasy points.

You might call him the GOAT or a future Hall of Famer for his work on the field, but you can call him Doctor for his work with charities. I mean that literally. He was given an honorary doctorate of humanities from the Medical College of Wisconsin for his work helping children with cancer through the college and the MACC (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer) Fund. MACC’s goal is to “fight childhood cancer and related blood disorders by providing critical funding for research of cures and treatments.”

RB-Jamaal Williams

Young Life
Salvation Army

Seven RBs finished within 3.1 fantasy points of each other, but it was Jamaal Williams who edged out Alvin Kamara for the top spot. He did this as a playoff waiver wire add following the injury to Aaron Jones.

Jamaal participated in a softball game to benefit Young Life and another event to benefit the Salvation Army. Young Life is an organization that pairs adults with middle, high school and college students and focuses on the things that kids relate to like fun, adventure, sports, and friendship. The efforts of the Salvation Army are well known, but they continue to benefit communities through food distribution, disaster relief, rehabilitation centers, anti-human trafficking efforts, and a wealth of children’s programs.

WR-Robert Woods

Make a Wish
American Cancer Society

Woods has been a middle-round gem this year. He’s WR10 overall and had an awesome Championship game to cap the fantasy year. He had a good day through the air with 6 receptions, 89 yards, and a TD but he also added a rushing TD giving him 25.4 fantasy points. Not too bad for a guy that was drafted in the Eighth Round.

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Robert lost his sister to cancer, but her memory and lessons continue to resonate with him. He supports the Make a Wish Foundation who provided a special day for his sister during her battle with cancer and the American Cancer Society.

TE-Zach Ertz

Ertz Family Foundation

Ertz struggled through the first couple weeks of the playoffs but exploded in Week 16. He scored 29.0 fantasy points on 12 receptions for 110 yards and 2 TDs. The 29.0 fantasy points were his second biggest total during a year where he finished as the second highest scoring TE behind only Travis Kelce.

Zach and his wife Julie created the Ertz Family Foundation to create sports opportunities for those who lack them, provide educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth, and restore hope and opportunity for families who need it most.

Other Charitable Organizations Supported by Players

This was probably my favorite article I have ever written. The work these players are doing in their communities is simply awe-inspiring and I barely scratched the surface of all the good work and worthy charities players in the NFL are supporting. Here are a few more resources if there’s a player you would like to support for winning you a championship or you just plan enjoyed watching this year:

My Cause, My Cleats Stories
My Cause, My Cleats Players and Charities
Twitter: @ChampionCauses
Generous NFL Players
Players Give Back

If all else fails, do a search for your favorite player and charity. It’s humbling seeing what these players are doing in their community.

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