🏃 4 Rookies Primed For FAST Starts
The youth movement begins...
So about that ‘Elite TE’ thing…
In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by BetMGM:
4 Rookies ready to produce
Rankings and Tiers: Hello, Justin Herbert
Bad news for Cooper Kupp
Freedman’s Favorite: 5 gold-star plays
It’s 9/7. Take it away, Peter Overzet…
I love drafting rookies in fantasy. Not only is it fun, but year after year, we see rookies emerge as league winners down the stretch.
But “down the stretch” is often the operative phrase, though. Transitioning to the NFL comes with growing pains and earning trust from the coaches. It can often take weeks, if not months, for these rookies to blossom into fantasy point-generating machines.
Can I remind you what Amon-Ra St. Brown’s rookie year looked like before Week 13? He didn’t have a single TD and only two games over 50 yards receiving. Everyone remembers what he did from Weeks 13-18, though:
But one unique thing about 2023 is that I think we are going to get a handful of extremely fast starts from rookies.
Everyone expects Bijan Robinson to start hot, but here are four other rookies ready to surprise out of the gate…
⏩️ JSN is ready to rock
I’m honestly stunned this is happening, but Jaxon Smith-Njigba is on track to play in Week 1 (he practiced in full yesterday) just weeks after fracturing his wrist:
Seahawks’ HC Pete Carroll said he expects rookie first-round pick Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who underwent wrist surgery last month, to play Sunday’s opener vs. the Rams.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter)
Sep 6, 2023
This one is near and dear to my heart because JSN is my most drafted player on Underdog Fantasy this summer.
Over the past three weeks, we’ve roundtripped every emotion possible with JSN—from despair all the way back to being extremely bullish about his chances to immediately earn targets in a loaded Seahawks offense.
📕 Additional reading:
⏩️ Luke Musgrave & Jayden Reed: The only show in town?
The Packers’ top two receiving options—Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs—are looking shaky for Week 1 with hamstring injuries, and the quotes from head coach Matt LaFleur don’t inspire a ton of confidence:
Matt LaFleur on Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs not practicing today:
“We’ll give ‘em the whole week and we’ll see where they’re at.”
— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman)
Sep 6, 2023
This obviously isn’t great for the Packers prospects in Week 1 on the road in Chicago, but it does open the door for high-usage games from rookie TE Luke Musgrave and rookie WR Jayden Reed.
Both Musgrave and Reed got significant burn with the first-team offense throughout the preseason, so there’s no reason to be hesitant about their fantasy outlook if they get this big opportunity.
📕 Additional reading:
⏩️ Marvin Mims is ready for primetime
We’ve covered Mims extensively this offseason, but it’s worth reiterating how good this spot is for him in Week 1 vs. the Raiders:
Tim Patrick is out for the year
Jerry Jeudy is looking doubtful for Sunday with his hamstring injury
Mims has the talent and the opportunity to make an immediate impact
He was ruled down ...
But heckuva play by the rook, @marvindmims!
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos)
Aug 27, 2023
Oh, and if you are playing DFS this weekend, he’s the stone minimum ($3,000) on DraftKings.
📕 Additional reading:
Speaking of rookies, we have one we like to score a TD tonight…
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Speaking of first bets, Geoff Ulrich has you covered for tonight.
💰 Geoff is Betting: Sam LaPorta Anytime TD (+290)
"...Jared Goff threw 22 TD passes from inside the red zone last season (fifth-most in the league) and with the world focused on the Lions' dynamic new backfield, it’s not hard to see OC Ben Johnson implementing some play action or chicanery around the goal line that involves LaPorta.
The 9 TDs allowed to TEs by the Chiefs last year was fifth in the league and over the last three seasons under Steve Spagnuola’s high-pressure offense, they have ranked in the top 5 in TDs allowed to TEs twice..."
So, what're you waiting for?
🥇 Tier 1 – Justin Herbert
Herbert limped to a 17.3 points per game (PPG) finish last season thanks to multiple injuries and a receiving corps that featured Keenan Allen and Mike Williams together in only four full contests.
However, a lot has changed since the end of last season. Herbert is healthy along with Allen and Williams, plus the team added first-rounder Quentin Johnston. New play-caller Kellen Moore will look to keep the Chargers among the league leaders in passing attempts per game as Herbert bounces back to form.
The Chargers carry the second-highest team total on the slate in what should be one of the most explosive games of the weekend against the Dolphins.
Miami made offseason moves to shore up their secondary, but Jalen Ramsey is out until December (meniscus). Vic Fangio will try to take away the big plays, but Herbert has the weapons to take what the defense gives him.
Herbert is a SMASH play in a potential shootout against the Dolphins.
💪 Running Back
🥇 Tier 1 – Tony Pollard
Pollard averaged 18.6 points per game in contests where he reached 50% or more of the snaps in 2022. With Ezekiel Elliott now in New England, that could be his weekly floor, given the current depth chart in Dallas.
The 26-year-old backed up his lofty fantasy points with robust underlying efficiency data, eclipsing RB1-worthy thresholds in:
Missed tackles forced (+5%)
Average yards after contact (+0.9)
Explosive rush rate (+4%)
He was equally impressive in the passing game with 20% targets per route run (TPRR) and 1.51 yards per route run (YPRR), both RB1-worthy.
Pollard will look to start the 2023 season with a bang, facing last season's fourth-worst rush defense. The Giants allowed a whopping 146 yards and 1.1 rushing TDs per game in regulation play.
The Cowboys own the fifth-highest game total on the slate in what could be a competitive Sunday Night affair.
Pollard TO THE MOON in Week 1 as a SMASH play in all formats.
💥 Wide Receiver
🥈 Tier 2 – Chris Olave
Olave delivered a WR3-worthy 13.4 PPG in his rookie season, BUT his underlying talent profile suggests there is much more to come.
Based on target share, yards per route run and PFF receiving grade using data back to 2012, his rookie comps were out of this world:
Odell Beckham Jr.
With Derek Carr in the fold, Olave has a QB that supported a top-12 WR or top-6 TE in five consecutive seasons. Before that, Carr had two top-36 WRs in three straight seasons.
In Week 1, the newly-formed duo will have an opportunity to kickstart their season with a juicy matchup against the worst pass defense from 2022. The Titans allowed 290 yards receiving per game and the third-most receiving TDs (1.7).
Given three out of four starters in Tennessee’s secondary grade 56th or lower per PFF grades, they could hemorrhage yards and points via the air again in 2023.
Olave is a high-end WR2 with WR1 upside.
🚀 A must-start RB in Week 1. Fins up.
📺 Marcas & Dwain debut a NEW podcast (kind of?). 4 situations to monitor in Week 1.
🚑️ Uh oh, this sounds ominous for Cooper Kupp. Time to pray.
🙏 Great news for the Commanders. Could he play vs. the Cardinals?
💰 DFS Showdown season starts TONIGHT. Everything you need for DET @ KC.
🧐 These four players have had buzzy offseasons. Here’s to a better (or worse) 2023.
🎙️ A third host for the ManningCast?? Check out the auditions.
🔥 Jason Kelce gives Travis advice for his injury. He’s been there.
🤣 We’re all handling this Kelce injury wonderfully. It’s fine!
🤑 Nick Bosa gets paid. That’s a lot of money.
⌚️ Anthony Richardson is putting in the time. You love to see it.
Every week, Matthew Freedman publishes a piece highlighting some of his favorite fantasy plays. Naturally, this piece is called “Freedman’s Favorites,” because he is lazy and didn't want to think of a more original name. Here are five of his Week 1 favorites…
🌟 Justin Herbert (Chargers) vs. Dolphins
Chargers: -3 (-110, BetMGM)
Team Total: 27
Herbert, in 2020, had maybe the best passing campaign ever for a first-year QB (4,336 yards, 31 TDs) on his way to winning Offensive Rookie of the Year, and then in 2021-22, he was No. 3 with 9,753 yards passing.
Pro Bowl LT Rashawn Slater will return to stabilize the offensive line after missing most of last year with a biceps injury, and the offense could be more explosive with the additions of proven OC Kellen Moore and first-round WR Quentin Johnston.
The Dolphins were No. 2 last year in most fantasy points allowed to QBs (17.2) and are without No. 1 CB Jalen Ramsey (knee).
🌟 Alexander Mattison (Vikings) vs. Buccaneers
Vikings: -6 (-110, BetMGM)
Team Total: 26.5
Mattison has amassed 693 yards and five TDs on 19.5 carries and 4.5 targets per game in his six contests without former No. 1 RB Dalvin Cook, whom the team released this offseason.
Still just 25 years old, Mattison is in his prime, and last year he was the No. 4 with 31% missed tackles forced per attempt.
He has a tough matchup against the Buccaneers, but his two-year contract (almost fully guaranteed) suggests that he’ll inherit as much of Cook’s 2022 workload as he can handle, including Cook’s top-five mark of 15 carries inside the five-yard line.
My answer to your start/sit question is "Alexander Mattison."
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle)
Sep 26, 2021
🌟 DK Metcalf (Seahawks) vs. Rams
Seahawks: -5.5 (-110, BetMGM)
Team Total: 26.5
Metcalf is an alpha beast with Calvin Johnson-like athleticism (4.33-second 40-yard dash at 6-3 and 228 pounds) and 306-4,218-35 receiving in his first four seasons with the Seahawks.
In his five most recent games against the division rival Rams, he has 27-413-5 receiving on 44 targets.
Without All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey (traded this offseason), the Rams don’t have a perimeter cover man capable of outmuscling Metcalf, who was No. 1 in the league last year with a 40% red-zone target share.
DK Metcalf fell from 12 TDs in 2021 to 6 TDs in 2022 but still ranked 2nd among WRs with 28 red zone targets last season. Expect a big TD bounce-back in 2023.
— Scott Spratt (@Scott_Spratt)
Aug 28, 2023
🌟 Rashid Shaheed (Saints) vs. Titans
Saints: -3 (-115, BetMGM)
Team Total: 22.5
Shaheed balled out last year as an undrafted rookie with an electric 14.4 yards per target and 14.3 yards per carry, which he leveraged into 545 yards and three TDs from scrimmage.
He’s unpolished as a receiver and bound to regress, but his big-play ability is undoubted: Last year, he was No. 2 with a 138.4 QB rating when targeted.
He could see exceptionally soft coverage playing alongside WRs Chris Olave and Michael Thomas.
🌟 Tyler Higbee (Rams) at Seahawks
Rams: +5.5 (-110, BetMGM)
Team Total: 21.5
Higbee has never lived up to the promise he exhibited at the end of 2019 (43-522-2 receiving on 56 targets in five games), but last year he had a career-high 108 targets and 72 receptions, and he could see extra targets with No. 1 WR Cooper Kupp (hamstring) uncertain/unlikely to play.
The Seahawks last year were No. 5 in most fantasy points allowed to TEs (9.8 FPPG) and will be without SS Jamal Adams (quad).
what do my fantasy rosters and dating history have in common? just a lot of questionable men
— Linda™ (@Lindellions)
Sep 6, 2023