🧨 3 Sneaky Offenses To Target
Preseason film is a helluva drug
Imagine Patrick Mahomes under center, with Jonathan Taylor in the backfield…
In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by the Fantasy Life Discord:
Three offenses looking good in the preseason
Using technology to build strong rosters: Let’s draft!
Seattle loses a WR: Don’t worry. He’ll be back soon…
Preseason Utilization Report: All the nuggets you need to know
It’s 8/23. Take it away, Chris Allen…
We’re three-quarters of the way through the preseason, and the hype for Week 1 grows every day.
That said, drafters have still been reluctant to target multiple offenses due to uncertainty at their QB spot.
We’ve got 12 signal callers who are either rookies or heading into their first full season as a starter on their team, and after sifting through camp news and preseason clips, I’m more excited about three of these passing attacks heading into 2023.
💥 Washington Commanders
The idea of Sam Howell made sense to me earlier in the summer. In theory, Washington has a strong receiving corps capable of lifting any young QB.
WRs: Terry McLaurin maintained top-20 marks in first downs per target and yards per route run (YPRR); Jahan Dotson finished second amongst the rookie WRs in YAC per reception after returning from injury; Curtis Samuel had the highest receiving rate on deep attempts on the team.
RBs: Brian Robinson was eighth in total forced missed tackles after starting in Week 6; Antonio Gibson was 11th in YPRR amongst all RBs.
TE: Logan Thomas earned the third-highest end-zone target share of any TE last time he was healthy (2020).
As long as Howell could show baseline talent from the pocket, the offense would be functional. But the Commanders have looked a bit better than that so far.
Sam Howell ➡️ Antonio Gibson!
📺: #BALvsWAS on ESPN
📱: Stream on #NFLPlusbit.ly/45zanAb
— NFL (@NFL)
Aug 22, 2023
Of course, things will change once the regular season starts, but one part of his game keeps him palatable for fantasy purposes.
The sophomore slinger has scrambled on 9.1% of his dropbacks through two games, racking up 25 yards. Assuming new OC Eric Bienemy dials up more passing plays, we may have a dynamic offense in Washington with a cheap QB worth streaming throughout the season.
🔥 Pittsburgh Steelers
As a Bengals fan, this one scares me a bit, but I have to be objective.
Kenny Pickett looks poised to take the necessary step forward as the Steelers’ starting QB.
Beautiful throw from Kenny Pickett down the seam to Freiermuth. Pitt's first team has been on fire in preseason
— Billy M (@BillyM_91)
Aug 19, 2023
Although, maybe we already knew this was going to happen. Or at least we expected it to. By ADP, most of Pittsburgh’s skill players have had early to mid-round draft costs throughout the offseason.
Regardless, a little confirmation bias isn’t a bad thing.
Of course, we’ll take as many highlights to George Pickens as we can get, but Pickett’s been able to build on his mechanics to get his receivers into more advantageous spots to create. Plus, with Allen Robinson manning the slot, we may have a fourth option worth stashing on our rosters.
Pickett’s lack of rushing in the preseason after having a 6.3% scramble rate in ‘22 is noteworthy. However, with a diverse passing tree, he can deliver on his late-round ADP.
💣 Green Bay Packers
The Packers-Vikings Week 17 matchup has been on my radar since May, but not just because of Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson.
Christian Watson is already an early-round target and Green Bay’s added two rookies they’ll feature immediately. So it’s on Jordan Love, the former first-rounder with less than 100 attempts to his name, to reclaim the NFC North for the Pack. And there’s some hope for the kid so far.
Jordan Love had some throws last night that were pretty much indefensible
3rd down conversion to Romeo Doubs and TD pass to Jaydeen Reed were perfect throws away from coverage, and his deep shot was a moonball that even Doubs seemed to misjudge
— Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39)
Aug 21, 2023
Love had a 7.8-yard aDOT in his lone start against the Chiefs during the ‘21 season. After an offseason to work with the starting offense, his aDOT has jumped to 9.7, and he’s still taken off with his legs (5.3% scramble rate).
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Each week, Cooterdoodle will walk us through the internal mind of a fantasy football player. For better or for worse, let’s get inside those mushy little brains and figure out how to use our minds to our advantage. Let’s go mental!
👵 Automation Bias: Don’t be a Granny
About 10 years ago, my grandmother bought her very first iPad. And for the first time in her life, she started to send emails to all of her friends. She couldn’t wait to reconnect! But…she never received a single response.
It took three weeks of empty inboxes before she realized that she had been sending all of those emails to herself, and not to her friends. She had unfortunately fallen victim to technology.
Technology is innovative and helpful, but it can be disappointing if we don’t fully understand how it works.
While this was a tough lesson for Granny to learn, we could all benefit from the same caution.
❓ What does this mean for fantasy football?
Thankfully, we no longer have to calculate fantasy scores on pencil and paper.
Technology continues to make the world of fantasy simpler and easier. I would even argue that if you want to increase your quality of life, technology is necessary in the world of fantasy football. But, with more power comes more responsibility.
And as we all know, automation isn’t perfect.
Unfortunately, humans often over-rely on the automated systems embedded into everything that we use. We trust machines and computers. We assume the algorithm knows all.
So here is your final warning: Don’t over-rely on technology. Beware of Automation Bias.
If you want to win your fantasy leagues… don’t be a granny. Let’s talk about how we can use technology to help us, not hinder us:
📈 Average Draft Position
As you know, there are many options for drafting software these days. And each of these platforms provides an automated list of players during your draft that are presented in descending order according to their ADP.
While this does make drafting easier, it is crucial to understand that these automated lists are generated from the drafts completed through their site.
Different drafting applications come with different types of drafters. Because of this, they vary in the kind data they collect. And yep, you guessed it… their in-app player ADP varies, too.
In other words, the ADP is in the eye of the app holder:
This type of technology can work for you or against you. It’s all about being educated.
While automated player pool rankings are helpful, they aren’t infallible. So don’t put all of your trust into the order of players generated during your draft.
Use different sources to find that sweet spot. Reference your in-app ADP. Keep an eye on rankings from analysts you trust. And remember that it’s totally fine to trust your gut and reach a little if you think there’s an ADP mismatch.
🧮 Trade Calculators
Remember when I said you should reference multiple sources? Trade calculators can get the job done, but they can’t do all of the work for you.
Trade calculators feed us vacuum-sealed results. No matter how good they are (and some of them are realllllly good), they can’t fully take into account the context of your trade.
A trade analyzer is one piece of the puzzle.
The depth of your bench is relevant. The holes in your roster are relevant. Your likelihood of making the playoffs is relevant. How much you believe in the success of a player or team is absolutely relevant. The list goes on…
So don’t take your head out of the equation.
You know what your team needs.
Use technology to your advantage by gobbling up everything you can. But don’t over-rely on it. Just because something is automated doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Technology is beneficial as long as we allow it to assist us and not control us.
🏥 The rookie WR1 is slated to have surgery on his wrist. Will be ready for Week 1?
😬 Jonathan Taylor is back at training camp. Doesn’t look awkward at all…
🦶 Terry McLaurin with a toe injury after Monday’s preseason game. He may be back for Week 1, but will he be BACK?
🐏 The 2022 Super Bowl Champs get their WR1 back. Are they poised to bounce back?
👨🍳 The Buccaneers name their starting QB. It’s time to Bake!
🐐 Guess who showed up to Broncos practice? Just a Hall of Fame coach talkin’ shop with a Hall of Fame QB.
😂 Browns’ teammates with a slight difference in size. I thought the pic was photoshopped.
✈ Brandin Cooks doesn’t just fly when he’s on the field. Jerry Jones had some thoughts.
If you didn’t catch the preseason action live, don’t worry! Dwain McFarland parsed through all of the relevant data in the preseason version of the Utilization Report to give you all the info you need.
Preseason football can be tricky to decipher, but we now have two weeks of utilization data to go along with a full offseason, including training camp.
While we don’t want to overreact, we also don’t want to underreact.
Last season we determined Dameon Pierce, David Njoku and Evan Engram were in for increased roles by analyzing this final piece of intel.
🥇 Bijan Robinson is worth a Round 1 pick in fantasy
The eighth pick overall from the 2023 NFL draft saw his first preseason action in Week 2 and dominated work with the first-team offense.
Robinson bogarted 80% of the rushing attempts and posted a sizzling 60% route participation.
While Arthur Smith understandably gives fantasy managers the heebie-jeebies with some of his puzzling player usage, we have also seen the FedEx kid saddle up one back with all the mail in Tennessee.
After being a part-time back in previous seasons, Derrick Henry feasted under Smith, accounting for 74% and 76% of the team’s rushing attempts in 2020 and 2021.
The Falcons can still work Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson into the game plan while getting Bijan to 65% of the attempts and 60% route participation.
Since 2012, RBs that reached those thresholds have averaged 20.8 points per game. That is within reach, and if Bijan goes full Henry, he will finish as the RB1 overall in 2023.
Oh yeah, top-12 NFL draft selections also have a pretty good track record since 2012.
RBs taken in the top 12 of the NFL Draft have been immediate fantasy studs.
Rookie season points per game since 2012:
Saquon Barkley: RB2
Leonard Fournette: RB8
Ezekiel Elliott: RB3
Todd Gurley: RB5
Trent Richardson: RB7
Christian McCaffrey: RB13
— Dwain McFarland (@dwainmcfarland)
Aug 19, 2023
Robinson is a top-10 pick in most fantasy formats, giving some fantasy managers anxiety. That is reasonable when you could take safer options like Stefon Diggs. However, Diggs doesn’t have a 400-point season in his range of outcomes like Robinson, who could break fantasy leagues.
Outlook: High-end RB1 with RB1 overall upside.
🥈 James Cook is THE STEAL of drafts
The second-year RB posted elite utilization numbers in three drives with Josh Allen in Week 2.
Damien Harris didn’t play due to injury and will likely carve out a larger role than Murray did in this small sample, BUT this is a reminder that Cook could have a much more significant role than we believe. The Bills did not invest heavily in Harris or Murray and have been searching for a passing game mismatch for years.
The best part is Cook can pay off his current ADP on route participation alone in the Bills’ pass-first offense. I only have him projected for 38% of the rushing attempts with a 50% route participation, which comes to 13.6 points per game. If the former Georgia Bulldog gets to 50% and 65%, that skyrockets to 18.3.
All of these data points have led me and Ian Hartitz to rank Cook ahead of ADP.
Outlook: RB3 floor with RB1 ceiling.
🥉 Dameon Pierce is getting LEAD DOG treatment in Houston.
Small sample sizes be damned, the Texans are making it hard not to believe Pierce hasn’t put some distance between his role and Devin Singletary.
Pierce rested with the starters in Week 1 while Singletary played, and in Week 2, Pierce held a clear advantage over the free-agent addition, hogging 67% of snaps and rushing attempts.
Perhaps the most important data point here is Pierce’s 58% route participation. Historically, 65% is considered rare air, where we only find the best-receiving backs in the NFL.
Pierce was a solid passing down option in college but was stuck with two passing down specialists in Houston last year with Rex Burkhead and Dare Ogunbowale. Singletary has been a subpar passing-down back for most of his career.
Pierce ranked as the No. 1 running back in missed tackles forced rate, No. 9 in yards after contact and finished as the No. 9 graded PFF runner.
The biggest challenge is the potential low-scoring nature of the Texans' offense, which is what makes the passing-downs role so important for trailing game scripts.
If he can carve out 60% of the passing downs, the talented back offers RB1 upside.
Outlook: RB2 with RB1 upside.
when i punted QB2 in a superflex draft but now i waited too long and i have to take baker mayfield
— Linda™ (@Lindellions)
Aug 21, 2023