😬 Early Injury Scares From OTAs

Should we panic?

Fantasy Life presented by Masterworks

You don’t need to tell your family the NFL might move to 18 games (yet)…

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Masterworks:

  • 3 injury scares from OTAs

  • Watercooler: 18-game season?

  • Team Preview: Eagles 2024 outlook

  • It’s 5/23. Take it away, Peter Overzet…

Offseason training sessions have officially kicked off for most NFL teams, which means we have a steady stream of “highlights,” reports of players in the “best shape of their life,” and, unfortunately, injury scares.

🚨 Xavier Worthy tweaked his hamstring

News: Worthy is not practicing at OTAs after tweaking his hamstring.

Panic level: 3 out of 10

Early offseason injuries are far more concerning for rookies than they are for veterans. We want these rookies getting as many reps as possible and earning the trust of the coaches so they can start the season fast.

There’s mild concern here if this lingers, but Worthy’s runway to early fantasy relevance remains clear, especially with the lingering Rashee Rice situation.

🚨 Michael Pittman Jr. left practice with a knee injury

News: Pittman Jr. left the field limping after bumping knees with a teammate.

Panic level: 1 out of 10

Head Coach Shane Steichen later said that he “should be fine.” I don’t love Pittman’s ADP in Round 3 for other reasons, but he shouldn’t be docked for this.

🚨 Kyren Williams will miss OTAs with a “foot issue”

News: Williams will miss the entire spring program with a foot issue.

Panic level: 4 out of 10

This is a tricky one.

Sean McVay has already said this is “nothing to worry about" and that he’ll be ready to go for training camp. There isn’t any reason not to believe him, but the red flags are starting to add up for last year’s surprise league winner.

He’s now had three ankle/foot injuries in the past two years, and the Rams selected Blake Corum in the third round. Both McVay and the front office are already on the record with not wanting to run him into the ground this year, so we shouldn’t be expecting 90+% snap shares like we got in 2023.

He is a fade for me in Round 2, but I don’t mind taking a swing at the upside if this pushes him into Round 3.

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📈 A QB to UPGRADE thanks to his schedule? Way to avoid Mother Nature…

🎯 Dynasty trade targets. Four veterans to acquire this offseason. 

👀 Can a rookie QB help turn things around? Washington Commanders fantasy football outlook for 2024.

🧀 The NFL Draft locations for 2025 & 2026 are set. Will the Steelers be drafting a new QB by then??

🔮 Is an 18-game NFL schedule on the horizon. Sounds like it.

🥖 Predicting what 16 NFL international games could look like. Paris would be dope.

😡 The Raiders players hated Josh McDaniels. Oof.

📺️ Caleb Williams to DJ Moore. Your daily dose of slo-mo camp highlights.

📉 Don’t count on Keaton Mitchell anytime soon. Bummer.

Eagles Team Preview

The Eagles made a big move at RB this offseason. Ian Hartitz breaks down the relevant skill players at each position for the Eagles along with his prediction for their 2024 season.

🦅 Running Back

  • RB1: Saquon Barkley (RB6)

  • RB2: Will Shipley (RB59)

  • RB3: Kenneth Gainwell (RB75)

Yes, peak Saquon Barkley was among the most electric playmakers in the NFL, regardless of position.

Also, yes, we haven't seen that version of him in quite some time.

A sprained ankle in Week 2 hardly helped Barkley attack 2023 with full health; sadly, the former No. 2 overall pick has missed at least three games in four of his last five seasons.

Barkley metrics

However, it'd sure make a lot of sense if the Eagles' badass offensive line and Jalen Hurts' dual-threat prowess make life quite a bit easier when it comes to picking up yards efficiently on the ground. After all, only the Ravens (1.9) and Bills (1.8) have been as good as the Eagles (1.8) when it comes to rushing yards before contact per carry over the past three seasons.

Then again, this Eagles offensive environment hasn't been all that conducive to high-end fantasy success for RBs due to Hurts' tendencies to:

  1. Scramble instead of checking down: Hurts has fed Eagles RBs just 246 total targets since taking over the starting job in 2021 — the eighth-lowest mark in the NFL.

  2. Take control of the offense at the opponent's goal line: Eagles RBs rank 30th in carries from the one-yard line (10) over the past three seasons.

Overall, the Eagles have offered a bottom-five offensive environment in terms of expected RB PPR points per game over the past two seasons despite functioning as the NFL's fourth-ranked scoring offense during the same span. Opportunity rules all for RBs in fantasy land, and Philly simply hasn't gone out of their way to make life all that easy for their lead backs in Miles Sanders (RB37, RB21) and D'Andre Swift (RB24).

Intriguingly, Eagles RBs do, in fact, rank first in rush attempts from their opponent's 2- to 5-yard lines during this span; Barkley should get at least one opportunity to score when the Eagles get around the goal line — he just better take advantage of it.

Ultimately, Barkley does profile as the team's every-down workhorse back; it'd be surprising if he doesn't finish with around 300 combined carries and targets with a little help from the injury gods. This makes him worthy of mid-tier RB1 treatment alongside guys like Jonathan Taylor and Kyren Williams, who also aren't expected to carry that large of a fantasy-friendly pass-down role.

Clemson RB Will Shipley would likely split time with Gainwell should Barkley be forced out of action. Failure for either to seize full control of the RB2 job would leave them as fairly low-upside handcuff options considering each would have the same fantasy-friendly volume problems as Saquon. Neither is a priority at the end of drafts, although Shipley's demonstrated pass-catching ability in college earns him the slight nod.

✍️ Bottom Line

Barkley's raw touch projection and assumption for at least decent efficiency make him tough to dispute as a mid-tier RB1, even if I've preferred drafting ascending young WRs like Garrett Wilson, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Drake London in that range of drafts.

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