Jim Irsay is the guy who sends you a trade offer with 6 random players for CMC…
In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by RosterWatch:
The injury discounts are evaporating on JSN & Breece Hall
Takeaways from the 2023 Preseason: A must-draft QB
A hilarious JT trade request
Drafting from the 1.08: A WR stands out
It’s 8/31. Take it away, Peter Overzet
There have been lots of injury discounts available in drafts over the past week, but the buying window is about to slam shut on two superstar players.
Let’s check in on two mega talents who are in the process of shoving injury worrywarts into lockers…
📈 Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s speedy recovery
Just one week ago, we were encouraging caution around JSN, who underwent surgery to repair a fracture in his wrist.
Pete Carroll—who is notoriously over-optimistic about injury return timelines— said it could be a month before he was ready to see the field again.
Well, if anything, Carroll was overly pessimistic, because JSN returned to practice on Tuesday and hardly looks like a guy dealing with a bum wrist:
Jaxon Smith-Njigba back at practice today.
— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta)
Aug 29, 2023
Not only will JSN avoid starting the season on IR, but it also looks like he could be back very soon. Here’s what Carroll recently said:
You can build some truly nasty (yes, I said nasty) teams until it does, like this one I drafted on stream on Monday where I got JSN in the 8th round:
📈 Breece Hall is ready to rock
One of the popular narratives surrounding the Jets RB room since the Dalvin Cook signing is that Cook would be the lead guy to start the season until Breece Hall, who is coming off a torn ACL, is fully ready to go.
It’s a perfectly logical conclusion (and one I’ve tended to agree with), but I’m not so sure that’s the case anymore.
Lost in that comfy narrative is the fact that Cook is also coming back from injury (he had shoulder surgery in February) and hadn’t seen the practice field until Tuesday.
On the flip side, Hall has been practicing for the last two weeks, and there are reports of him clocking 21-mph speeds on the practice field.
Check out this latest update from The Athletic:
If you were fading Hall because you are spooked about historical hit rates for players returning from ACL injuries, carry on (I’m not going to yell at you for drafting scared).
But if you are fading Hall because he’s not ready and Cook is fully healthy, it’s time to adjust those priors.
Hall, who would have been a top-5 RB selection had he not gotten hurt last year, is still consistently available in the 4th round of drafts.
Enjoy those discounted prices now, because next year he’ll cost you a first-round pick.
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The preseason has come and gone. We laughed, and we probably didn’t cry: But we are DEFINITELY ready for some real football action that will be here oh so soon. But before we go, Ian is sharing his takeaways from the action…
Today’s goal is to look at some potentially deeper schematic trends that might just give us a leg up on identifying Week 1 mismatches.
Special thanks to Fantasy Life data partners Tru Media and PFF for the referenced advanced stats.
🎥 1. The Anthony Richardson show
It didn’t take long for Richardson to seize the QB1 job from journeyman Gardner Minshew. The 2023 NFL Draft’s No. 4 overall pick remains relatively low on overall QB experience and will now get every opportunity to learn through inevitable early-career growing pains.
Two key metrics from the preseason help support the idea that Richardson could provide some truly great fantasy football goodness while struggling on the real-life scene: Nobody utilized run-pass-options (RPOs) or the no-huddle more frequently than the Colts in August.
28.4% RPO rate (next-closest team: WSH, 24.5%)
13.7% no-huddle rate (next-closest team: SEA, 13.2%)
One of my bold calls for 2023 is Richardson will set the NFL record for most carries by a QB in a single season – something that seems more possible than ever with disgruntled RB Jonathan Taylor (ankle/contract, PUP) unavailable for at least the first four games of the season.
Maybe just maybe, this schematic trend helps lead to a fantasy boom as early as Week 1: The Jaguars were a bottom-five defense in yards per play (5.4) and EPA against (+0.11) vs. RPOs last season.
Don’t discount the possibility that new Colts Head Coach Shane Steichen manages to coax some fantasy football greatness out of his young QB early in the season.
Far less talented passers and rushers like Taysom Hill and Tim Tebow became recommended QB1 options in fantasy land thanks to essentially nothing more than that sweet, sweet rushing upside – I’ll be firing up objectively the most-athletic QB the position has ever seen as a top-10 fantasy option in Week 1 and beyond.
📈 2. The Browns really might be ready to spread things out
Let’s check back in on one of Matthew Berry’s 23 things he learned at the NFL Combine:
Well, after three preseason games: No offense utilized more empty than the Browns (14.5% - only six offenses were even in double-digits). The 2023 preseason offense also ranked seventh (65.3%) in raw pass play percentage, a mark nearly 10% higher than their 24th-place regular season finish last year (55.6%).
Could this simply be because the Browns were without their top two RBs in Nick Chubb (rest) and Jerome Ford (hamstring)? Or maybe it’s just the f*cking preseason, and Head Coach Kevin Stefanski felt like passing a little more?
Absolutely, but maybe it’s also the early result of something that was already being talked about plenty in training camp circles.
I will continue to draft all key parties involved inside of an offense with an absolutely HUGE best-case upside should Deshaun Watson’s performance more closely resemble his four years in Houston as opposed to his six games at the end of 2022.
🕵️ Could Kyler Murray miss the entire season? A close source weighs in.
📊 The Week 1 betting edge is alive and well. Four key numbers to pay attention to.
😆 Jim Irsay wanted who from the Dolphins? Lmao.
🚀 The RB who could explode in 2023. A pass-catching role would be massive.
⛈️ The vibes around JT are bad. Matthew explains.
🚑️ A Patriots WR opens up the year on IR. I drafted way too much of him early, woof.
🤣 Zay Flowers got how much?! The Ravens lost it when they heard his signing bonus.
🦚 Our fantasy friend on Hard Knocks. Nice work, Denny.
🏃 Only 8 QBs project for 80+ rushing attempts. And three of them go after pick 100.
🥊 The Vikings pick up another back. He’ll battle Ty Chandler.
We don’t always get to decide the order of everything in our lives — especially fantasy football draft order. But fear not, the Fantasy Life staff has you covered with an ongoing series covering strategy from every spot in the first round. Today’s draft position: The 1.08 with Geoff...
The 1.08 is the red-headed stepchild of drafting slots for 2023. We rarely get to draft one of the top four WRs, are never getting a crack at Christian McCaffery, and once in a blue moon, may have Travis Kelce fall to us.
That leaves us pigeonholed into an RB start or having to semi-reach on a second-tier WR.
It’s a tricky position and one that takes time to navigate. Luckily, the totally free resources on Fantasy Life are always available to help us work through all these complexities.
Let’s take a look and dive in.
🤔 Roll with the rookie RB or grab an established WR?
As we can see when we bring up the Fantasy Life ADP grid tool, more times than not, at 1.08, we’re going to be left with a choice between either Bijan Robinson or one of the WR options that exist outside of the top four names (Justin Jefferson, Cooper Kupp, Ja’Marr Chase and Tyreek Hill).
Going with a WR at 1.08 isn’t sexy, but it provides the safest base to work off.
Bijan Robinson is a tough pass, but there are similar upside plays at his position that could drop to us in round two – players who don’t have well-rounded RBs like Tyler Allegeier and Cordarrelle Patterson to compete with for touches.
In terms of which WR to take at 1.08, Stefon Diggs provides the safest blend of upside and usage. He had a slightly lower team target share than A.J. Brown but averaged over 1.0 targets per game more than Brown (9.6 vs. 8.6) in 2022 while outscoring Brown by 1.8 fantasy points per game in PPR scoring.
Diggs also gives us good exposure to Josh Allen’s upside and a top-five offense in Buffalo, who was second in dropback rate in leading game scripts last season – and has a very low bust rate for 2023.
🤔 What to do in rounds 2-3?
The Fantasy Life ADP grid does a good job of showcasing why the 1.08 hole can be so frustrating.
When you start at 1.08, your second-round selection means either settling for whoever got bypassed from that collective group at 10.0 to 17.0 or reaching for a player with a higher ADP.
Realistically, if Tony Pollard (16.5 ADP) falls to us at 17.0, we’re taking him more times than not. Pollard took 193 carries and saw 55 targets last season but figures to top both those marks by a wide margin in 2023.
If Pollard isn’t there – and he won’t be a lot of the time – then I’d rather defer to a WR-WR start and target a rising star like Chris Olave, who has a realistic shot at ending the year as a top-five WR for fantasy.
Going Pollard at 17.0 opens up a wider range of possibilities for rounds three and four, but Olave – who has an ADP hovering around 19.0 at the moment – is a player who will always be there for us and provides an amazing base to work off at WR.
No offense but if you don't stare at the fantasy team you drafted for at least a couple hours a day, you're kinda a sociopath 🚩🚩🚩
— Jeff (@TheFantasyEng)
Aug 30, 2023