🤝 Another Coaching Job Filled

How we feeling Commanders fans?

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What if Bill Belichick and Nick Saban start “Bar Rescue” but for football teams?

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Hugo Boss:

  • The Commanders hire a Head Coach

  • The Other Guys: Breaking down the Super Bowl’s less-heralded ballers

  • EARLY 2024 mock draft trends

  • Super Bowl Best Bets: Isiah Pacheco out-producing CMC?!

  • It’s 2/2. Take it away, Ian Hartitz…

The NFL head coaching carousel has come to an end barring some TRUE madness going down during the rest of the offseason.

Congrats, Washington Commanders fans! Wait, is that the right word for it?

While public approval surrounding Quinn certainly dwindled after the Cowboys ended their season with an embarrassing 48-32 loss to the Packers, his overall track record of success leading Micah Parsons and company speaks for itself:

  • 2023: No. 5 in scoring, No. 12 in takeaways, No. 4 in EPA allowed per play

  • 2022: No. 5 in scoring, No. 1 in takeaways, No. 2 in EPA allowed per play

  • 2021: No. 7 in scoring, No. 1 in takeaways, No. 3 in EPA allowed per play

It would have been a lot cooler for fantasy purposes if the Commanders had tied their (likely) new incoming franchise QB with more of an upstart offensive mind, but perhaps Quinn can pull a rabbit out of his head with his eventual offensive coordinator partner (current rumors seem to favor UCLA head coach Chip Kelly).

Regardless: This marks the eighth (and seemingly final) head coach change since the beginning of the offseason. The 2024-25 NFL season will look quite different when it comes to who will be roaming which sidelines.

  • New England Patriots: Jerod Mayo

  • Los Angeles Chargers: Jim Harbaugh

  • Tennessee Titans: Brian Callahan

  • Las Vegas Raiders: Antonio Pierce

  • Carolina Panthers: Dave Canales

  • Atlanta Falcons: Raheem Morris

  • Seattle Seahawks: Mike Macdonald

  • Washington Commanders: Dan Quinn

Modern-day media coverage necessitates that we develop bullet-proof instant conclusions surrounding each and every off-season move, but in reality, it will be quite some time until anyone can confidently deem any of these hires as overly good or bad.

Of course, the early results will be approached with far more skepticism due to some huge names ultimately not getting a new lead gig. Specifically, studs like Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll and Mike Vrabel remain free agents, while hot-shot offensive coordinators Bobby Slowik and Ben Johnson wound up staying home despite seemingly garnering plenty of interest on the open market.

It’s unclear if these names were ever given serious offers to begin with, although the reality that only the Chargers boasted a true franchise QB perhaps played a role in each coach’s respective decision. February of 2024 is far too early to be overly confident about 2025 job openings, but it’s not far-fetched to believe teams a bit more locked and loaded at the QB position, such as the Bills, Jaguars, Eagles and Cowboys, could present far more enticing job openings this time next year should they fail to meet expectations again this season.

Every off-season move is a good one while no football is actively being played; here’s to hoping every NFL team finds the right men to lead the charge – football is simply more fun with as many competent organizations as possible, after all.

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Fantasy Life: The Other Guys

The MVP of the Super Bowl will in all likelihood go to a star player who we are already all too familiar with.

Just take a look at the history of winners by position in 57 editions of the game:

  • QB: 32 (56%)

  • WR: 8 (14%)

  • RB: 7 (12%)

  • LB: 4 (7%)

  • S: 2 (4%)

  • DL: 2 (4%)

  • CB: 1 (2%)

  • KR: 1 (2%)

As Santana Moss once said: Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games. It’s very unlikely the game’s most valuable player will catch us by too much surprise.

Of course, football is a team sport – there’s also a better-than-good chance plenty of the game’s biggest plays are swung by some of the game’s less-heralded assets.

Fantasy Life and every other media outlet out there certainly has plenty of preview information on the rock stars ahead of Super Bowl LVIII, but today’s goal is different: Ian is here to highlight the other guys involved.

💪 49ers FB Kyle Juszczyk

How important is Juszczyk to the 49ers offense? Well, they have averaged a whopping +0.148 EPA per play when he’s been on the field this season – a mark that tops every other offense in the NFL.

Part of the allure here is the FB’s ability to accomplish just about anything on a football field. Juszczyk has truly been head coach Kyle Shanahan’s queen chess piece; the man lines up EVERYWHERE.

  • Backfield: 187 snaps (33.3%)

  • Inline: 183 (32.6%)

  • Slot: 112 (20%)

  • Wide: 78 (14%)

Hell, in Week 8, Juszczyk even took a snap under center at QB and converted a tush push for the first down. The husband of the year also made waves with his unrelenting support of his wife’s objectively dope jackets; Kristin has since landed a licensing deal with the NFL.

While the eight-time Pro Bowler and 2023 first-team All-Pro has only received 22 touches this season, his blocking has remained an integral piece of Shanahan’s ever-efficient rushing attack. Throw in some legit smoothness as a receiver both on the sideline and downfield – and you have one pretty, pretty, pretty important cog inside of the league’s third-ranked scoring offense.

Fantasy Life: The Other Guys

💀 49ers WR Jauan Jennings

Jennings has only caught 25 total passes this season, but that’s mostly because Brock Purdy generally has a ton of other avenues to go with the football.

As the third-year receiver has demonstrated in the playoffs: Jennings (5-61-0 vs. the Packers) is capable of making some big plays as a pass-catcher when forced into a bigger role. His remarkable one-handed snag against the Lions last week added credence to this AND reinforced his rather awesome “3rd and Jauan” nickname.

Only two WRs received a run-blocking grade of at least 80.0 in 2023 from PFF: Puka Nacua (80.4) and Jennings (80.1). Whether it’s leading up into the teeth of the defense or putting in all the effort in the world to get that one last key block: Jennings is a big reason why the 49ers ranked first and fourth in explosive pass and run play rate this season.

Around the Watercooler (August 2022)

🚀 2024 way-too-early fantasy football ranks? 2024 way-too-early fantasy football ranks.

🍿 Matthew Berry has THOUGHTS on the Commanders’ new coach. Get your popcorn ready.

💰 10 Super Bowl bets locked in and counting. All for FREE.

⭐️ Were you an upstanding member of society yesterday? Mark Andrews sure was.

😉 You can leverage the basics to your advantage in betting. Let us ‘handle’ it…

✍️ More defensive coordinator news trickled in. The Ravens hire from within, while the Panthers got a HUGE W.

🔥 Tua, Creed, and Hey Arnold in the same Super Bowl commercial. This is electric stuff.

😮 This plugged-in legend would be “stunned” if the Patriots don’t take a QB with the third overall pick. But what about Washington?

👀 The fine folks over at Underdog Fantasy are hiring! Sounds like a cool gig.

Fantasy Life Best Bets

For this week, Geoff has focused mainly on looking at some less popular player prop markets that he believes represent solid betting opportunities. With a lot of lines likely to move (as we get closer to the game) jumping on any perceived edges could get us some good closing line value by kick-off.

The first round of Super Bowl LVIII best bets are below. As always: It’s a great day to be great.

  • 50+ receiving yards (+290, BetMGM)

  • Most receiving yards in the game (+2600, BetMGM)

I didn’t necessarily enter this week wanting to bet Marquez Valdes-Scantling (MVS) overs. In fact, if anything, I initially thought this might be a good time to short him after his heavily replayed end-of-game catch against Baltimore. 

However, as we look more into this matchup, I do like the chances for Valdes-Scantling to come down with one or more big plays. 

First, let’s look at MVS’ recent usage. While he had just a 56% route rate against Buffalo, he also saw four targets and came down with two catches of 30+ yards in that game. 

Last week, MVS only saw two targets but saw his route rate jump to a season-high 96%. He rewarded the Chiefs’ trust in him again by coming down with the game-clinching pass. 

While I’m not betting this because of his history vs San Francisco, certainly, it’s not out of place at this point to mention that MVS DOES have a history of torching the 49ers. He went for 108 yards against them as a rookie back and put up a 3-111-0 line against them in 2022. 

It’s safe to say that I like betting the over on his longest reception prop this week (he’s gone over the 13.5 mark in 10 of 18 games played this season), but if you’re looking for a big single play to shoot for the +2600 odds for him to land the most receiving yards stuck out to me as well. He nearly accomplished this feat against Buffalo, where he ended the game trailing only Travis Kelce in yards.

Fantasy Life Best Bets
  • Play to +140

  • Projection: (18.6 carries vs 17.2 | 90.0 yards vs 75.1)

While the Chiefs rush defense isn’t necessarily a bad matchup for McCaffrey it’s the 49ers defense that has looked like the worse unit of late. They allowed 6.2 yards per carry to David Montgomery and yielded 5.3 yards per carry to opposing RBs in the playoffs. 

The 49ers’ inability to stop the run of late has also hindered McCaffrey. He was held to just 17 totes against Green Bay and did manage 20 against Detroit, but still was outrushed by his opponent in Montgomery (who took five fewer carries). Given how well the Chiefs offense has operated the last two weeks, it’s certainly possible a similar scenario plays out this week. 

Further, while both RBs have technically been on the injury report (or in the news with injury issues) it feels like Pacheco is the one simply resting some general soreness, while McCaffrey (shoulder) may be the one more at risk of aggravating something, in-game. 

With the +150 odds in play (40% implied probability), and the way these teams have trended in the playoffs, I like taking Pacheco to outrush his primary counterpart in this spot – something he’s easily accomplished in all three of the Chiefs playoff starts this season.

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