🥶 A Buzzkill For 2 Trendy Picks

Time to reset expectations...


Trey Lance gets a new lease on life…

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by NFFC:

  • 2 buzzy Bills get a heat check

  • OverReaction Monday: Smashes and fades

  • The Niners make a trade

  • Lessons from Preseason Week 3: A QB and WR take off…

  • Legendary RB Profiles: In Bijan we trust…

  • It’s 8/28. Take it away, Peter Overzet

If there’s one thing the preseason does extremely well, it’s reminding us fantasy players exactly how messy player usage can actually be.

When we see highlights of these players from camp or project young players for breakouts, it’s easy to fall in love with the most idealized outcome:

“Second-year RB James Cook turns into a full-blown bellcow back on the best team in football and finishes as a Top 12 back!”

“Rookie TE Dalton Kincaid blossoms into the No. 2 weapon on an explosive offense while delivering a Top 5 season at the position!”

Unfortunately, coaches don’t care about our fantasy teams. There are very few bellcow backs and alpha pass catchers across the entire league, which results in plenty of messy situations for us to evaluate for our drafts.

And that’s exactly what is currently unfolding with the Buffalo Bills after two veterans played spoiler to our fun…

🦅 Damien Harris, the vulture

Cook has rightfully been one of the buzziest players of the entire preseason and vaulted his ADP into the seventh round of drafts ahead of more proven commodities like David Montgomery and James Conner:

ADP Grid

But this weekend reminded us that the Bills clearly plan to utilize other backs at the goal line after Damien Harris returned to action after missing the first two preseason games:

This isn’t to say Cook isn’t a good pick—he still dominated the snaps and rushing attempts as Dwain notes here—but rather a reminder to set realistic expectations on what we can expect from Cook this year.

As Pat Kerrane describes below, a RB needs a path to 2+ touches inside the 10 per game for a chance to achieve a legendary season. That’s simply not in the cards for Cook, but he remains an RB2 with upside if he can break off a few long runs over the course of the season.

Continue to draft Cook down the homestretch—especially if he slips a bit thanks to the Harris vulturing—just be realistic about what you are getting when you select him.

🏰 Dawson Knox ain’t going anywhere

Similar to Cook, Kincaid has enjoyed plenty of buzz this offseason. But Saturday reminded us that the veteran, Dawson Knox, still figures prominently in the team’s plans:

Knox finished with nine snaps and four routes run with the starters, while Kincaid finished with seven snaps and five routes run—which was a downgrade from Week 2 of the preseason when Knox didn’t play.

Similar to the dynamic in Denver with Greg Dulcich (Denver Kincaid) and Adam Trautman (Denver Knox), this is a painful reminder that Kincaid will need to be ultra-efficient with his targets to sniff a Top-10 TE season while losing so many snaps to the blocking TE.

I don’t mind taking Kincaid on teams where I’ve selected Josh Allen, but otherwise, his price is far too high for his role. There are better cost-adjusted plays multiple rounds later (including arbitrage rookie selections like Sam LaPorta or Luke Musgrave) or even the aforementioned Dulcich:


💰 It's Time To Up The Ante

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overreaction monday summer

We're humans who play fantasy football, which means we are prone to overreact. Today, Kendall overreacts to the preseason with players she’s fading and smashing in drafts...

Week 3 of the NFL preseason is in the books and that means we are THAT much closer to the start of the regular season! With 10 days left until the Chiefs take on the Lions, I went back through some preseason games and moments to round up smashes (we are all-in) and fades (cautious moving forward) heading into the 2023 season.

Overreaction Monday

🔨 Smash: The Rodgers-Wilson connection will be electric

How many shares of Aaron Rodgers and Garrett Wilson were you able to snag this offseason? If you watched them on Saturday, then you got a glimpse of what we hope will be a dynamic duo for our fantasy football teams.

Could Wilson be Rodgers’ Davante Adams? Alright, let’s not get too carried away.

Dwain McFarland does have Wilson at the top of his potential wide receiver breakout candidates for 2023. He was the overall fantasy WR21 last season with an average of 12.8 PPR points per game, and his 85.9 PFF receiving grade was also the fifth-highest by a rookie since 2011.

Even if you think we’ve already seen the best of Rodgers, he is still a solid high-end QB2 in drafts. I’m all in on the Jets hype train. Let’s hope it works out…

👋 Fade: Carolina Panthers WRs

This hurts me a little because I love new quarterback Bryce Young with this squad. But, after looking at my exposure, I am fading this team in 2023.

This isn’t a huge stance considering all their wide receivers have an ADP of 150+, but even if there is a world where Adam Thielen starts the season hot, I’ll be okay not walking away with him.

The only receiver here I have drafted is rookie Jonathan Mingo because of the upside he provides, but if he fails to perform during the start of the season? Move on and monitor him on the wire. I will admit, I won’t be shocked if I regret this decision towards the middle of the season, but I am betting on the breakout to come next season.

🔨 Smash: Buying the RB dip

Seriously, we talked about this on SiriusXM all offseason and we hope you were listening!

Let’s start with Josh Jacobs, who just agreed to terms on a new one-year contract over the weekend.

Gone are the days of getting Jacobs in the third round of drafts, but hopefully you took advantage and snagged one of the biggest bargains this offseason.

No one had more total yards (2,053) or touches (393) than the rising fifth-year veteran in 2022 — he is the epitome of an upside workhorse RB1 whose price will be on the move now.

Jonathan Taylor’s saga with the Indianapolis Colts will be coming to an end (we think) on Tuesday after the team gave him a deadline to find a suitable trade offer. Whether Taylor is on the move or stays put, we have to imagine that any team he is on will feed him a workhorse role.

Drafting Taylor in Round 2 of drafts feels like it should be illegal, but I’ve been doing it most of the offseason. Honestly, we all deserve a big Taylor season. Here’s hoping that buying into Taylor’s ADP dip pays off.

Around the Watercooler

✈️ The Niners trade away Trey Lance! Should Dak be worried?!

🔒️ The Raiders lock up Josh Jacobs. Where are you taking him in drafts now?

⏳ Time is running out to draft your Weekly Winners teams. Make it easy with Hayden’s strategy guide.

🤝 The Patriots trade a sleeper RB to Cleveland. Jerome Ford is still banged up.

🔮 Who will be the odd man out in the Eagles backfield? It’s coming into focus.

📺 Don’t let your leaguemates see this. Dwain’s favorite draft STEALS are here.

👴 Would the Dolphins actually trade for Jonathan Taylor? Seems out of character.

😎 The Chargers RB2 is very clear. That should end the debate.

🖐️ What an insane catch by the Tampa rookie. He should be on watch lists everywhere.

🤔 Is Tom Brady plotting a return to the NFL? Look who he is hanging out with…

🤣 NFL players and their fictional character look-a-likes. That Darnold one lmao.

Lessons from the Preseason

Week 3 of the preseason is in the books, and we have more real on-field information to sink our teeth into. Take it away, LaMarca

The final dress rehearsal is in the books. Week 3 of the preseason has come and gone, so all that’s left to do is wait the excruciating 10 days for the first regular season game of the year.

We saw teams employ a few different philosophies in their final tune-up contest. Some teams opted to play their starters significant snaps, while others gave them the day off entirely. Some teams only needed to see their starting unit for a drive or two before ultimately giving way to the backups.

Overall, it was probably the most informative week we’ve had so far this preseason.

Let’s dive into some of the top takeaways from the final set of exhibitions.

preseason week 3

👨‍🍳 Brock Purdy is Ready to Roll

The quarterback position in San Francisco was one of the biggest question marks heading into the offseason.

  • Would Purdy be healthy enough to start right out of the gates?

  • Should Trey Lance get another shot?

  • And why sign Sam Darnold?

We started to get some answers after Purdy was cleared for practice in late July, and things have officially solidified after the third week of the preseason.

The news got started before kickoff when it was announced that Darnold would open the season as Purdy’s backup. That left Lance as the odd man out, and the 49ers promptly traded him to the Cowboys.

His path to playing time isn’t any clearer in Dallas than it was in San Francisco, but he needed a change of scenery.

That left Purdy as the unquestioned starter, and he answered any doubts about his effectiveness in the final preseason contest.

He played two drives and led the offense to 127 total yards. Their first drive ended with a fumble inside the opponent’s five-yard line, but the team was able to finish the job with a TD in their second. Purdy took matters into his own hands, punching in a five-yard rushing score.

Purdy likely isn’t going to warrant starting consideration in fantasy leagues outside of two-QB and super deep formats. That said, his effectiveness is still extremely important.

Christian McCaffrey is coming off the board as the No. 1 running back, while Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are top 27 receivers on Underdog. Add in a top-five tight end in George Kittle, and that’s a lot of mouths waiting to be fed by Purdy.

If his final showing is any indication, Chef Purdy is ready to serve.

🌤️ The sky is the Limit for Garrett Wilson

There’s a clear-cut top group of receivers this season. Justin Jefferson leads the way, followed closely by Ja’Marr Chase, Cooper Kupp, and Tyreek Hill. It would not be surprising if they were the first four players off the board in your fantasy football draft.

After that? Things get a bit more complicated.

Davante Adams is still really good, but he’s getting up there in years. Stefon Diggs and A.J. Brown have plenty of competition for touches. CeeDee Lamb plays for a team that was 25th in Pass Rate Over Expectation last year.

You know who has none of those issues? Wilson.

He and Aaron Rodgers got their first taste of preseason action on Saturday, and the two players seemed like they’d been playing together for years. Wilson saw three of Rodgers’ eight targets, and that doesn’t include a play where Wilson drew a flag.

They hooked up for three catches and 30 yards, including a touchdown:

Rodgers has been driving the Wilson hype train all offseason, and it seems like he could be poised for a monster season. In his final four seasons with Green Bay, Adams averaged 183 targets, 129 receptions, 1,584 yards, and 14 touchdowns per 17 games. I’m not saying that Wilson is as good as Adams, but he did turn in a better rookie season.

The ceiling for Wilson is the No. 1 receiver in fantasy. I’m not sure you can draft him too early.

Legendary RB Scenarios

To help us select RBs who will deliver on the huge opportunity cost of a 1st or 2nd-round pick, Pat Kerrane from Legendary Upside is here to take his annual summer trip into the future to forecast a legendary scenario for these RBs…

🏆 Legendary Scenario - Bijan Robinson

In 2023, the Falcons double down on their run-based identity, but the results are much more fun.

Tyler Allgeier frequently spells Bijan Robinson...but only because there's only so much work a rookie RB can reasonably handle.

Robinson handles 55% of team attempts, the 10th-highest rate in the NFL, but the Falcons run the ball so frequently that Robinson immediately sees massive rushing volume.

Since 2020, only Derrick Henry (378 and 349), Josh Jacobs (340), and Jonathan Taylor (332) have logged more carries than Robinson (330) does in 2023.

As they did in 2022, the Falcons pair rushing volume with rushing efficiency, leading Robinson to live up to lofty expectations as a rusher, delivering 4.9 YPC and 1,617 rushing yards. Behind one of the league's best offensive lines – and one constructed specifically to run the ball – Robinson's 14 rushing TDs tie him with Nick Chubb on the 2023 leaderboard.

Legendary RB Upside

And while the Falcons' offense continues to run through the backfield, their passing game takes a step forward. Desmond Ridder has an up-and-down sophomore campaign, but he's still a big upgrade on Marcus Mariota. And critically, Ridder's play is good enough for the Falcons to drop back at a reasonable rate.

After attempting just 415 passes in 2023, the Falcons hit 515 with Ridder under center, in line with their pace to close the 2022 season and Arthur Smith's 2020 pace with the Titans (30.3 attempts per game).

The Falcons remain a run-heavy team, but their willingness to occasionally lean on the passing game allows Robinson to rack up 65 catches on a 15% target share.

He falls well short of the 91 receptions Saquon Barkley posted in his 16-game legendary rookie season, but Robinson's receiving ability still impresses. As his prospect profile suggested he would be, Robinson is an efficient pass catcher, posting 1.73 YPRR, 583 receiving yards, and four receiving TDs.

His position-leading 23.1 PPR points per game, available in the back half of the 1st round, power fantasy teams to the championship game.

In Week 17, his spinning one-handed catch becomes the stuff of legend after he gathers himself and sideline dashes 66 yards for a fantasy-championship-sealing TD.

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