❓2 Big Question Marks For TNF
The backfields are tricky...
Interesting that Travis Kelce felt better after syncing up with Taylor Swift…
In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Underdog Fantasy:
Deciphering the backfields for TNF
Freedman’s Best Bets: A Bills Bounce-back?
QUICK HITTER: Is this QB1 primed for a massive Week 2?
A rookie QB with a juicy Week 2 matchup
Freedman’s Favorites: 5 gold-star plays
It’s 9/14. Take it away, Peter Overzet…
Our long, national nightmare of going two days without NFL football is finally over.
We have a legitimately intriguing matchup on tap tonight with the Eagles hosting the Vikings in a game with a juicy 49-point total:
Both of these teams are loaded with pass-catching talent—Justin Jefferson-Jordan Addison-T.J. Hockenson vs. A.J. Brown-DeVonta Smith-Dallas Goedert is a pretty great spiderman meme dot gif square-off—but the backfields are far less straightforward.
Let’s break it down…
❓ Is it finally D’Andre Swift szn?
Gainwell’s bellcow-level usage vs. the Patriots on Sunday was one of the biggest surprises of the week, so his absence opens up the door for one of Swift, Rashaad Penny, or Boston Scott to see significantly more touches than they did in Week 1.
I think the most likely outcome is Swift and Scott absorb most of the Gainwell work (Swift more so in the passing game; Scott between the tackles) and Penny (who was inactive Week 1) gets a few carries.
But then again? Fantasy is a fickle beast…
Rashaad Penny was the third-most dropped RB in fantasy this week.
Going off for 120 and 2 TDs in Week 2 with Kenneth Gainwell out.
While most added WR -- Puka Nacua -- finishes Week 2 with 3 grabs for 30 yards.
I don't make the rules. It's just how fantasy works.
— Dwain McFarland (@dwainmcfarland)
Sep 13, 2023
Jokes aside, I’d feel comfortable starting Swift where I have him.
D'Andre Swift on Nick Sirianni's comment about how they never want Swift to have only two touches: "That's my first time hearing (that he said that). But it's good to know that. Definitely good to know that."
— Zach Berman (@ZBerm)
Sep 13, 2023
❓ Can you trust Alexander Mattison?
Alexander Mattison had a clear usage advantage on Ty Chandler in Week 1, but struggled to convert his rushing opportunities (11-34) into a big stat line vs. a weak Tampa Bay Bucs team:
And now the outlook is even murkier for tonight:
Mattison is purely a projectable volume play here, though it’s hard to know how much volume will be available in a negative game script.
I’d prefer to turn to other RB2s in better spots like David Montgomery, James Cook, and Javonte Williams.
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Introductions are for people who have time. But you and I (Matthew Freedman, of course) -- degenerate sports bettors who pretend to be busy -- we don’t have time. So no introduction, let’s get to the best bets of Week 2.
As a reminder, here’s what you should expect from this article each week.
My projected spreads for each game (as of Wednesday morning).
A list of my favorite spread bets for the week (as of writing).
Some brief notes on my favorite bets (no more than a paragraph on each bet).
Even briefer notes (hopefully) on other games that have my eye (for whatever reason).
The five games I’m most thinking about using in picks contests (as of writing).
Here are my favorite bets, which you can find (along with lots of other bets) in our 100% FREE bet tracker.
Falcons +1 vs. Packers
Bills -9.5 vs. Raiders
Bears +3 at Buccaneers
🎯 Falcons +1 vs. Packers (-110, BetMGM)
They might be even better this year with the addition of RB Bijan Robinson.
Meanwhile, the Packers last year were No. 31 in defensive rush DVOA (10.1%), EPA (0.044), and SR (46.6%). This line feels like it’s giving the Packers too much credit for their Week 1 performance.
Personal Projection: Falcons -2
Official Projection: Falcons -0.2
🎯 Bills -9.5 vs. Raiders (-110, BetMGM)
The Bills last year were No. 1 in overall team DVOA (38.9%). The delta between them and the Raiders is more than what’s reflected in this spread, which I think is an overreaction to the fact that the Raiders won in Week 1 and the Bills lost on Monday Night Football.
With rookie TE Dalton Kincaid, the Bills used two-TE personnel packages at a league-high 63.2% rate (per SumerSports).
The Raiders don’t have the linebackers or secondary (both bottom-four groups in our Fantasy Life Unit Rankings) to match up with the Bills in heavy sets, especially since the Raiders could be without S Tre’von Moehrig (thumb).
Personal Projection: Bills -12.25
Official Projection: Bills -9.6
Cutoff: Bills -9.5
🎯 Bears +3 at Buccaneers (-110, BetMGM)
I still have the Bears rated as +1.5 points better than the Buccaneers on a neutral field, so this number looks like an unjustified response to Week 1, when the Bears lost as favorites and the Buccaneers won as underdogs.
Over the past 20 years, Week 2 underdogs to lose as favorites in Week 1 are 32-21-2 ATS (16.5% ROI, per Action Network).
Personal Projection: Bears +2.0
Official Projection: Bears -0.25
Cutoff: Bears +3
You can tail all three of my favorite bets on BetMGM, where you can get up to $1,500 paid back in bonus bets if your first bet does not win!
🙏 The Top TE returns to practice. Praise be.
🏟️ Get ready for a big grass vs. turf debate. It’s happening.
🎯 Successful fantasy managers stay one step ahead. Two buy-low players you NEED to target.
🎥 The NFL script writers spoil the ending. Don’t click if you want to be surprised.
💎 A showdown slate with loads of upside. Your guide to dominating DFS tonight.
🤢 A disgusting Steelers stat. A change might be needed…
🚀 Anthony Richardson has a juicy matchup this week. The Texans are depleted.
☠️ Is the deep ball dead? It might be.
👀 The fastest ball carriers in the league so far. I’d say Breece Hall is back.
Every week, Matthew Freedman publishes a piece highlighting some of his favorite fantasy plays. Naturally, this piece is called “Freedman’s Favorites,”. We told him to get more creative after Week 1, to which he answered with a resounding “No”. Anyway, here are his favorites for Week 2…
🌟 QB - Brock Purdy (49ers) at Rams
Team Total: 26.5
In his seven full games last year — from Week 14 to the Divisional Round — Purdy went 7-0 as a starter and operated the offense with Jimmy Garoppolo-like efficiency, ranking No. 1 in EPA + CPOE (0.161). Applied to the regular season, Purdy’s seven-game mark would’ve been No. 2, behind only Mahomes (0.178).
The Rams have the No. 32 secondary in our unit rankings, and 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan has dominated Rams HC Sean McVay in their head-to-head matchups, going 10-3 ATS (46.5% ROI) and 9-4 ML (46.1% ROI) against his former assistant (per Action Network).
In Week 1, Purdy picked up where he left off last year with 220-2-0 passing on a 65.5% completion rate with 9.0 AY/A and 3-20-0 rushing.
👀 Look at the efficiency gap between Purdy, everyone else...
EPA/play outside of garbage time:
1. Brock Purdy, 49ers: 1.01
2. Matthew Stafford, Rams: 0.55
3. Jordan Love, Packers: 0.53
4. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins: 0.44
5. Jimmy Garoppolo, Raiders: 0.41
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself)
Sep 13, 2023
🌟 RB - Tyler Allgeier (Falcons) vs. Packers
Team Total: 19.5
As noted earlier, Allgeier out-touched (18 vs. 16) and outproduced (94 yards, two TDs vs. 83 yards, one TD) Robinson in Week 1, and with a run-based feast as large as the one the Falcons offense provides, there’s room at the table for two mouths.
With bulldozing size (5-11 and 224 lbs) and a straight-ahead running style, Allgeier played incredibly well last year as a fifth-round rookie (210-1,035-3 rushing, 16-139-1 receiving on 17 targets), and I expect that he’ll continue to get opportunities this year.
Packers were No. 31 in defensive rush EPA (0.044) and SR (46.6%) last year.
🌟 WR - Calvin Ridley (Jaguars) vs. Chiefs
Team Total: 24
Ridley missed all of 2022 (suspension) and most of 2021 (mental health break), but in 2020 — while playing on a broken foot — he had 90-1,374-9 receiving on 143 targets in 15 games for the Falcons.
And then last week, he studded it up with 8-101-1 receiving on 11 targets: Like John Wick, he’s back. He’s an alpha No. 1 WR with his utilization.
The Chiefs have a three-day advantage for rest and prep, but last year, they were No. 1 in most fantasy points allowed to WRs (26.1 FPPG).
Calvin Ridley looking like a damn ALPHA in Week 1 with the Jaguars.
97% routes (elite)
35% target share (elite)
49% air yards share (elite)
50% end zone targets (lmao)
Have a damn day, King.
We might have a top-six WR on our hands.
— Dwain McFarland (@dwainmcfarland)
Sep 11, 2023
🌟 WR - Zay Flowers (Ravens) at Bengals
Team Total: 21.5
The Ravens will be without No. 1 RB J.K. Dobbins (Achilles) and could be without No. 1 TE Mark Andrews (quad, out Week 1), which means that they could lean more on the passing game — especially as road underdogs — and more targets could be available for the WRs.
A first-round rookie with inside/outside versatility, Flowers handily led the Ravens with 9-78-0 receiving on 10 targets and pitched in with 2-9-0 rushing last week in his NFL debut.
🌟 TE - Cole Kmet (Bears) at Buccaneers
Team Total: 19.25
I feel dirty even mentioning Kmet, but he led the Bears with a nice (sort of) 69 targets last year, and in Week 1, he tied for the team lead with seven targets.
Here be some disgustingly cheap volume, and the Buccaneers last year were No. 4 in most fantasy points allowed to TEs (9.8 FPPG).
TE Week One Expected Points Leaders🤮
Kmet 18.6 (-9.2 vs expectation)
Jake Ferguson 17.6 (-14.5)
Ertz 15.9 (-7.8)
Hockenson 14 (-2.5)
Hunter Henry 13.2 (+3.4)
Hurst 12.5 (+2.6)
Logan Thomas 11.7 (-3.4)
Durham Smythe 10.4 (-3)
Donald Parham 9.2 (+1.9)
— Davis Mattek (@DavisMattek)
Sep 12, 2023
“How’d waiting on QB go for you?”
“Oh, I got Mac and Kyler Murray!”
— Joey Wright (@thejoeywright)
Sep 13, 2023