🔑 3 KEY Takeaways From TNF

Football! Football! Football!

CBS Sports NFL Eagles at Patriots Sunday Streaming on Paramount Plus try it free also watch on CBS

Well, that was fun…

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Paramount+:

  • 3 key fantasy takeaways from Thursday Night Football

  • Joe Burrow becomes the highest-paid player in NFL history

  • 34 fantasy questions ahead of Week 1

  • Paramount+ Matchup of the Week: Chargers vs. Dolphins

  • Best Bets of Week 1: Diontae Johnson and more

  • It’s 9/8. Take it away, Ian Hartitz…

The Lions’ 21-20 victory over the Chiefs didn’t come without obstacles, but Dan Campbell and Kadarius Toney company were able to pull out the victory.

Of course, the real madness that occurred on Thursday night featured all sorts of fantasy-relevant usage information that we simply didn’t have 24 hours ago.

Let’s break down three actionable takeaways from the first NFL action of the 2023 season.

🦁 David Montgomery Lions RB1

While the Lions kept both of their RBs involved, Montgomery got the lion’s share of the backfield’s touches and snaps:

The performance highlighted the reality that the ADP gap between Montgomery and Gibbs was far too wide throughout the summer.

That said: Don’t freak out Jahmyr Gibbs’ fantasy managers.

The rookie looked AWESOME with his opportunities and will clearly be a major part of this offensive attack moving forward.

An average of 1.9 offenses have produced multiple top-24 RBs in PPR points per game in the same season over the past decade — including the 2022 Lions.

Don’t be surprised if Gibbs and Montgomery find themselves qualifying by the time the 2023 season is all said and done, particularly with the 2023 NFL Draft’s 12th overall pick clearly being the backfield’s preferred receiving option.

🙃 The Chiefs are happy to spread the ball around

This was true in pretty much all facets of the game (snap data via PFF):

  • 11 different Chiefs caught a pass, but nobody earned more than five targets.

  • Isiah Pacheco led Chiefs RBs in snaps (47%), carries (8) and targets (4), but Jerick McKinnon (31%, 0, 2) and starter (lol) Clyde Edwards-Helaire (23%, 6, 1) also stayed plenty involved.

  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling (33 routes) and Skyy Moore (29) led the way at WR, although each of Richie James (18), Justin Watson (16), Kadarius Toney (11) and Justyn Ross (5) rotated in as well.

  • Popular streaming TE Noah Gray (37 routes, 5 targets) easily worked ahead of “The Belldozer” Blake Bell (11, 3), although the latter TE wound up on the receiving end of one of Patrick Mahomes’ two short TDs. I’m not bitter at all.

The passing game will improve — Patrick f*cking Mahomes remains the QB after all — but an absolutely dreadful, drop-filled performance from Toney combined with a goose-egg receiving performance from Moore could shake up this depth chart sooner rather than later.

Don’t panic drop potential full-time assets inside of what still figures to be one of the NFL’s most productive passing attacks; just realize it’ll be awfully difficult to start any of these WRs or TEs (not named Travis Kelce) with any sort of confidence in Week 2.

👏 Lions rookie TE Sam LaPorta has arrived

Overall, LaPorta posted an elite 81% snap rate and a solid 72% route rate. The latter number could stand to improve a bit (we want 80%+), but it’d make sense if he earns more playing time after posting an (impressive) 5-39-0 receiving line.

Reminder: The man is just a rookie, and per PFF’s Nathan Jahnke, LaPorta’s five receptions were the most for a first-year TE in Week 1 since 2019 when T.J. Hockenson had six (Spiderman meme).

The performance doesn’t secure LaPorta as an immediate upside fantasy TE1, but he’s certainly going to remain in the top-12 conversation — particularly ahead of a potential shootout against the Seahawks in Week 2.

Phew, that was fun. What’s that? There are still 15 games to go this week? INJECT IT INTO MY VEINS.

Moving on!

Fantasy Qs

Our first full NFL Sunday is BACK after eight long, cold, heartless months.

Ian’s goal today: Break down Week 1 by asking – and attempting to answer – the most meaningful fantasy-related questions possible.

And maybe even have some fun too. Because, you know, why not?

As always: It’s a great day to be great.

🐏 Will Sean McVay save this Cooper Kupp-less (hamstring) Rams offense?

Maybe, maybe not, but you know who should ball out either way?

TE Tyler Higbee, who has returned multiple stretches of elite fantasy production during his career when the Rams have had minimal places to go with the football.

Fantasy Qs

There aren’t many players at the position out there with Higbee’s best-case target ceiling:

Most games with 8+ targets among all TEs in 2022:

  • Travis Kelce (13)

  • T.J. Hockenson (8)

  • Tyler Higbee (7)

  • Mark Andrews (6)

Higbee deserves legit TE1 treatment for as long as Kupp (hamstring) remains sidelined – and even once he returns, it shouldn’t be too surprising if the 30-year-old veteran continues to look a lot like one of fantasy’s best late-round values at the position.

Fire up Higbee as a top-10 option at the position vs. a Seahawks defense that allowed the second-most PPR points per game to opposing TEs last season.

👶 Will Russell Wilson stop kissing babies already?

Sean Payton wants answers!

❓ Should Raheem Mostert be started in fantasy leagues of most shapes and sizes?

You bet. Similar to Jamaal Williams, Mostert is a big-time early-season beneficiary of his team’s banged-up RB room:

  • Jeff Wilson (midsection/finger, IR) will miss at least the first four games of the season.

  • Devon Achane (shoulder) returned to practice recently, but might not be healthy enough to threaten much of Mostert’s early-down work.

This leaves Mostert and Salvon Ahmed to do most of the heavy lifting. Perhaps the latter back is more involved than expected, although the former RB held solid leads in snaps (11 vs. 3) and routes (6 vs. 0) with the starters during Week 3 of the preseason.

While the Dolphins’ offense figures to continue to flow heavily through Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, Mostert is in play as an upside RB2 this week against a Chargers defense that simply didn’t have many answers for opposing rushing attacks in 2022:

Chargers defensive ranks in 2022

  • EPA allowed per carry: +0.09 (No. 32)

  • Yards per carry: 5.3 (No. 32)

  • Yards before contact allowed per carry: 1.9 (No. 29)

  • Explosive run-play rate: 11.7% (No. 24)

  • PPR points per game allowed to RBs: 27.5 (No. 27)

I would start Mostert ahead of guys like Cam Akers and Rachaad White, who could have similar roles in far worse overall offenses – this matchup is just too tasty to ignore.

👀 The Road to Las Vegas Begins on Paramount+

Live games from Week 1 all the way through Super Bowl LVIII!

Paramount+ is your home to stream local, national and postseason NFL games on CBS live, all the way through Super Bowl LVIII.

Sign up for Paramount+ now to catch CBS games all season long including your local Week 1 matchups:

1:00 pm ET Kick-Off

  • Cincinnati at Cleveland

  • Tampa Bay at Minnesota

  • Tennessee at New Orleans

  • Houston at Baltimore

CBS Sports NFL Eagles at Patriots Sunday Streaming on Paramount Plus try it free also watch on CBS

4:25 pm ET Kick-Off

  • Miami at LA Chargers

  • Las Vegas at Denver

  • Philadelphia at New England (National Double-header Game)

Make it the best season yet and follow the road to Las Vegas with Paramount+.

Fantasy Life Matchup of the week presented by Paramount +

Every Friday, Fantasy Life will highlight our matchup of the week, presented by Paramount+. This week’s pick features a pair of lethal passing games accompanied by some true blue-chip talents on the defensive side of the ball. Chris is here to help you get that popcorn ready…

🤩 Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers

I can’t even try to hide the amount of fantasy goodness between the Dolphins and Chargers to start the 2023 season.

Look at the projected total.

Vegas has two games in Week 1 with projected totals over 50 points: one features Patrick Mahomes, and we’re talking about the other here. But fantasy gamers probably already knew this would be a game to watch on Sunday.

By ADP, you won’t leave the early rounds without seeing six names from this game come off the board. And I might’ve had some things to say about a late-round TE you’ll see running around in SoFi Stadium that day.

Regardless, drafters heavily invested in both squads, so let’s break it down starting on the Miami side.

🐬 Miami Dolphins Week 1 Outlook

If the preseason is any indication, the Dolphins’ passing attack will pick up where it left off in 2022. When Tua Tagovailoa was under center, Miami had a +5.3% pass rate over expected (PROE). And with his receiving options, it’s easy to see why.

Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle accounted for 67.4% of Tua’s yards. They were both top 10 in total YAC. And, their ability to turn a big gain into six points puts them at an advantage. The Chargers allowed the third-highest explosive pass rate last season (9.9%). But I’m betting on Hill to lead off the season with a big game.

The Chargers are rotating their defensive personnel. CB Asante Samuel played 86.3% of his snaps on the perimeter last season. But now, he’s taking over the slot, with his starting role only recently solidified. So with some inexperience on the interior, Miami’s top slot option has my interest.

In Tua’s 12 healthy games last year, Tyreek Hill’s 43.9% slot rate dwarfed Jaylen Waddle’s (22.5%). And Hill’s role didn’t change this year, with half of his snaps from the inside through the preseason. There’s no question that with Waddle back practicing, the two will resume their hoarding of Tua’s targets. But the Chargers’ defensive adjustments favor the former Chiefs’ speedster.

Fantasy Life Matchup of the week presented by Paramount +

⚡️ Los Angeles Chargers Week 1 Outlook

Meanwhile, the Chargers are probably happy to have a healthy starting offense.

Justin Herbert spent most of the season nursing fractured rib cartilage, and he was without at least one of his primary WRs for 11 games. But it didn’t stop LA from throwing the ball.

Despite the injuries, the Chargers were among the six teams in the top 10 for overall PROE and red-zone PROE. But Herbert’s 7.0 aDOT ranked just ahead of Matt Ryan. However, with Herbert back healthy and the Dolphins’ secondary already ailing, we might be in for some fireworks from the Bolts. And Mike Williams may be the cause of the explosive plays.

When healthy, the Clemson product’s 19.6% target share was the most on the Chargers’ offense. Admittedly, players like Donovan Peoples-Jones (20.0%) and Curtis Samuel (20.2%) earned more looks within their respective squads over the same span. However, neither had the same potential for an explosive game.

Williams’ 36.8% air yard share was eighth-best among all WRs. And, when he could, Herbert would look for Williams downfield. Coincidentally, the deep ball is where Miami struggled last season.

The Dolphins allowed the fifth-most completions of passes thrown downfield (32). Jalen Ramsey is on IR, and Eli Apple, Miami’s latest addition to the secondary, is no stranger to seeing the back of his opponent’s jersey. Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler are the safe, simple options for this game. However, if there’s a third with top-12 potential, it’s a healthy Williams.

Around the Watercooler (August 2022)

🌞 The first TD of the NFL season goes to our one true Sun God. RIDE OR DIE BABY.

💰 Looking for an edge in Week 1 betting? How about best bets from a pro?

🤑 Bengals QB Joe Burrow becomes the NFL’s highest-paid player EVER. That’s a lot of zeroes.

📺 Everything you need to know for Week 1. Matthew Berry assembled The Avengers (again?!)

🤠 The Cowboys created … an AI-driven hologram of Jerry Jones. I’m a little confused by their tactics.

👀 You may be done with Best Ball drafts…but Underdog Pick’em has some screaming values to play.

👍 Tough scene for all the Travis Kelce fantasy managers last night. Here’s some good news to make you feel better.

🤣 Please stop DM’ing players about fantasy football. At least Tee Higgins is a good sport.

😬 Back-to-back DNPs for this rising second-year stud WR. Friday scaries are in full effect.

😎 Coolest kicker ever? Bravo, John Daly.

🏈 Don’t wait until Sunday for more football. Our best bets for College Football Week 2.

Week 1 Best Bets

You like betting on football, we like betting on football: Everyone likes betting on football. Especially ace resident Fantasy Life betting analyst Geoff, who has some Week 1 best bets to get off his chest.

💸 Week 1 - Best Bets

🗽 Spread: New York Giants +3.0 vs. Dallas Cowboys (-105, BetMGM)

New York ranked ninth in EPA per play (0.034) on offense last season, which placed them one spot above Dallas. The addition of Darren Waller – who has averaged over 12.0 yards per reception the last two seasons – and Jalin Hyatt helps diversify them on that side of the ball even more.

The Cowboys are supremely talented on defense, ranking second in EPA per play allowed (-.087) in 2022, but the Giants’ defensive unit figures to show improvement this season too.

New York added LB Bobby Okereke, a big upgrade in the middle, and may have hit it out of the park in the secondary by drafting Deonte Banks and sixth-round pick Tre Hawkins – who played himself into a starting position in training camp.

Home underdogs are 11-6 ATS over the last two seasons in week 1 and the Cowboys under Mike McCarthy have started slower than a season of True Detective, going 0-3 straight up in week 1 since joining Dallas.

🔒 Total: Minnesota Vikings vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers over 45.5 points (-110, BetMGM)

This game has pretty much everything we want in an over bet. It’s in a dome, has two defenses with major holes, multiple game-breaking receivers, and the Vikings.

Baker Mayfield may not instill you with confidence, but he’s coming off a fantastic preseason and has been praised by new OC Dave Canales, who helped revitalize Geno Smith last season.

The Buccaneers may not play at the same light-speed pace they did with Tom Brady, but they showcased up-tempo play in the preseason and were reportedly using plenty of no-back sets in camp.

Week 1 best Bets

Tampa may even come out with a pass-heavy game plan early on or simply get pushed there because the Vikings offense lights up their aging defense with a few big plays of their own. pass-heavy

New Vikings DC Brian Flores will blitz a ton, but his cornerback room is thinner than the waiver wire in your 18-team league.

The Buccaneers also have a solid pass-catching back in Rachaad White and one of the league’s best slot receivers in Chris Godwin to counteract said pressure.

Overall, the Vikings should once again be a great team to target to the over in 2023. They have the same offensive-minded head coach, went 8-1 to the over as home favorites in 2022, and have a 23-12 overall record towards the over since 2021.

📈 Prop: Diontae Johnson over 52.5 receiving yards (-120, BetMGM)

Despite his TD-less 2022, Johnson remains an elite route runner who is fantastic at getting open – exemplified best by his elite team target share from preseason.

He’s also the perfect kind of player to use over and over again on screens and slants to counteract pressure from a vaunted 49ers pass rush. While we’ve seen Kenny Pickett’s passing total rise significantly since player props have dropped, Johnson’s has barely budged since open.

He’s a good over target and someone we have projected for over 55.0 yards in Week 1.

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CBS Sports NFL Eagles at Patriots Sunday Streaming on Paramount Plus try it free also watch on CBS