All this “Buy the dip” talk is making me hungry…
In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Epic Seats:
Big news on Raiders RB Josh Jacobs and Colts RB Jonathan Taylor
Bijan Robinson is still listed as Falcons RB3 (lol)
Drafting from 1.04: Strategy and targets
Late-Round TEs: Gerald Everett and more
It’s 8/22. Take it away, Ian Hartitz…
One of the key remaining RB dominoes appeared to topple on Monday. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
"Josh Jacobs is expected to report to the Raiders before their season opener in three weeks, multiple league sources have indicated. … Josh McDaniels did not have an update on the situation, but he did say Sunday that he believes Jacobs could stand to get some practice time under his belt."
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport added that he “hasn’t got any indication that Jacobs is going to miss any games.”
These reports match the writing that was already on the wall. Jacobs’ two choices in this unfortunate scenario are:
Accept the franchise tag and play football this season for $10.1 million.
Hold out for the entire season and make zero dollars.
With most of the remaining doubt gone at this point: Jacobs once again profiles as an upside workhorse RB1 who would be priced as a high-end first-round fantasy pick in past years.
Nobody had more total yards (2,053) or touches (393) than the rising fifth-year veteran in 2022 – and he did so in style.
There’s not much substance to the idea that RBs burn out after receiving a heavy workload the year before, and Jacobs’ 1,072 career NFL carries are still quite a bit below the 1,500 threshold that signifies when fantasy managers should begin to expect a decline in rushing yards over expectation.
Be careful about passing up the opportunity to draft one of the NFL’s rare remaining true every-down backs at the Round 2-3 turn now that most of the situation’s uncertainty seems to have been resolved.
And then there’s Colts RB Jonathan Taylor, who seemingly might just get his trade request wish after all.
Colts have given All-Pro RB Jonathan Taylor permission to seek a trade, per league sources. Other teams now are weighing whether to make an offer to the Colts and what would be fair value.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter)
Aug 21, 2023
There seems to be very real Kevin Nash-wheelchair-gif potential to Taylor’s ongoing ankle injury, meaning one of the game’s best young RBs could be on the move sooner rather than later — although the reported cost of a first-round pick could certainly complicate matters.
A few potential contenders that could feasibly vie for the services of the 2021 First-Team All-Pro RB:
Eagles. Howie going to Howie, after all. But seriously: Reported pre-draft interest in Derrick Henry and ample salary cap space make this fit awfully alluring. Imagine JT running behind PFF’s No. 1 offensive line entering 2023.
Bills. While this would be terrible news for James Cook truthers, it’d undoubtedly be a scary real-life upgrade for an offense with their lone missing piece arguably being the absence of a stud early-down bruiser (especially with Damien Harris banged up).
There could honestly be any number of teams that vie for Taylor’s services.
The outcomes vary, but at the end of the day: It’s hard to believe anyone would trade for Taylor with the intention of doing anything other than feeding him a workhorse role. I’m drafting JT in Round 2 of fantasy drafts of all shapes and sizes at the moment.
As for the remaining Colts backfield: Sheesh. I’d be very careful about targeting any RBs currently on the roster with guys like Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette still available in free agency; the biggest winner on the Colts from this potential trade is easily QB Anthony Richardson.
Another off-season Monday filled with RB madness. THIS LEAGUE.
We don’t always get to decide the order of everything in our lives — especially fantasy football draft order. But fear not, the Fantasy Life staff has you covered with an ongoing series covering strategy from every spot in the first round. Today’s draft position: The 1.04 with Geoff.
With WRs going so early, choosing from the four-spot this season is a great position to have fall in your lap.
We’re early enough to get a crack at one of the tier 1 names and also in a great spot to take advantage of any slip-ups or mistakes by the first couple of drafters.
Plus, we get preference over 1.01-1.03 spots in the later rounds which gives us more control over the rest of our roster.
Let’s start this draft journey by debating which elite name gets to be chosen at 1.04 and anchor our lineups in 2023.
🤓 Cooper Kupp > Tyreek Hill
Let’s assume you are drafting with normal people who are using the free Fantasy Life projections and ADP rankings to guide them. Those people won’t let you have Chase or Jefferson at 1.04 so, in reality, picking from the 1.04 becomes a three-man race.
Christian McCaffrey’s usage upon arriving in San Francisco was elite with him ranking first in team target share and targets per route run among all RBs. A full year in the Shanahan offense gives him scary upside.
That said, I would still be OK passing on McCaffrey even if he falls to the four spot.
That’s because Cooper Kupp exists.
It’s a small sample, but over the first five weeks of 2022, Kupp produced four weeks where he finished as a top-five WR in fantasy and just one where he was worse than the WR20.
Tyreek Hill only produced three-top five weeks in that span and ranked outside that top-20 mark twice. Hill also only had one top-five WR finish in his final eight games of 2022 – slightly concerning.
When we look at team makeup, nothing has changed for the Rams: Kupp is the man.
In fact, the situation in 2023 may be even better for Kupp’s upside given the state of the Rams’ reigning 18th-ranked defense in DVOA that figures to be even worse this year.
🛥️ The 2-3/4-5 Turns. Load the boat at WR and nab an elite QB
Tony Pollard would be the one exception to this plan. If he falls to us at 21.0 then grabbing him in this landing spot is a great bargain and gives you a more balanced start.
However, if Pollard doesn’t make it back, taking one of Chris Olave or DeVonta Smith is a great consolation prize. Olave and Smith both had breakout campaigns in 2022, with Smith, in particular, finishing as the WR9 in full PPR scoring.
After going WR-WR to start we have a great base to work off but obviously need to be more positionally focused with our next few picks.
My main goal after starting like this would be to leave rounds 3-5 with:
A top-eight QB
Our first RB
Another WR (preferably in Round 5)
Rhamondre Stevenson would be ideal at pick 28 in the third round as the WR crew that hangs out in that ADP range is strong, but there is also similar upside available in round five in the form of Brandon Aiyiuk, Diontae Johnson and Chris Godwin.
If Stevenson is gone, I don’t mind firing another WR bullet on Christian Watson or DJ Moore and then taking another stab at RBs like Breece Hall or Travis Etienne in round four.
If we do get Stevenson, then the goal would be Justin Fields in round four and one of the previously mentioned value WRs in round five.
If we have to wait on QB till round five then we hope and pray Justin Herbert is still there or we’re fixated on a two QB approach that likely involves Anthony Richardson – which is not a bad emergency plan.
⏰ The NFL Season Is Almost Here
Time is running out to lock down the games you want to attend...
Even though the NFL season is merely weeks away, you can still lock down tickets to your favorite games thanks to Fantasy Life's official ticketing partner, Epic Seats.
As of this morning, you can get tickets for exciting games and don't even have to break the bank, including...
Lamar Jackson's 2023 debut in Week 1 against the Texans for as little as $69 per ticket!
A battle between two young QBs in Anthony Richardson and Trevor Lawrence in Week 6 for as little as $40 per ticket!
An offensive shootout between the Lions and Chargers in Week 9 for as little as $44 per ticket!
Epic Seats offers the most competitive prices, less hassle, and the best customer service in the industry.
Time is running out to get your tickets before the season starts, so begin your epic adventure TODAY with Epic Seats!
👓 Hot Rod is an underrated movie. Bad day for the kicker, though.
🎤 Bill Belichick gives his two cents on Taylor Swift. He’s not wrong!
🤣 Bijan Robinson is still listed as the Falcons’ RB3. Make sure to alert your friends!
🙂 Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said Joe Burrow looks GOOD. What exactly do you mean by that?
🏥 Injury update on a promising rookie RB. Could be worse.
😕 College football is technically back this weekend. Is it illegal to schedule good games in Week 0?
📈 HOT utilization from the Packers’ rookies. Adjust the ranks.
😮 How many fantasy points for Nick Chubb?! You got to see this projection.
Sports Business Journal has some thoughts on Fantasy Life. Thanks, dudes!
What’s the only thing cooler than drafting a great TE in fantasy football? Drafting a great LATE-ROUND TE in fantasy football. Lucky for you: Chris is on the case.
I usually don’t quote myself, but my thoughts on the early rounds when drafting are a solid lead into today’s topic:
“The onesie positions are my biggest temptation in the early rounds. I’ve written about late-round QBs and streaming strategies, and I love telling myself a story about how drafting Irv Smith will be fine.
And then Travis Kelce dunks on me every year.”
Late-round TEs can feel like too much work. They’re volatile, and their weak projections can cause us to make bad roster changes. However, as always, I’ve got a profile for you to target with a few players worth stashing as we head into the 2023 season.
✍️ Process Notes
Like, late-round WRs, let’s define late-round TEs.
Subjectively, my mind goes to the guys you have to think about before starting them. When you see their name, you become Alonzo Mourning contemplating how things went wrong. But, of course, there’s an objective method to get us started.
This group (minus the rookie and Taysom Hill) couldn’t crack a target share of 15.0% last season.
They lived on an average of 4.4 targets per game. While Chigoziem Okonkwo sits at TE11 in our consensus ranks, you won’t find Gerald Everett until TE16, which gives us a reasonable cutoff. So, let’s find a useful profile.
I sampled the last two seasons of data to see what had the most influence on TE scoring. Unsurprisingly, getting the ball helps out a lot.
Earning targets at a high rate is one of the most significant indicators of a fantasy TE.
Over the last two seasons, the top-12 scorers averaged a 20.0% share of their team’s looks. For reference, Tee Higgins had a 20.6% target rate in ’22.
But we know TEs (and every other skill position) need volume, and that’ll be hard to find if we’re dumpster diving in the late rounds.
As I said, last year’s late-rounders averaged 4.4 attempts per game. So let’s take a slight step back and focus on another metric that can help us find options deep into drafts: routes per team dropback.
Even if a TE is on the field, the dual nature of their position might require them to play in-line and block. We need receivers.
Top-12 tight ends averaged 73.0% of their team’s dropbacks over the last two years. But again, they’re the gold standard. The late-round options (TE16 to TE27) averaged 54.8% routes per dropback rate, giving us an initial threshold.
Offensive situations (pass rate over expected, EPA per play) and individual athletic skills (yards per route run, YAC, etc.) can change our confidence levels in any players available late.
Regardless, with this profile in mind, I’ve got three options I’d be willing to start in the right matchup.
⚡ Gerald Everett, Chargers
Gerald Everett flies under the radar because of his teammates.
With three receiving options coming off the board before the sixth round, Everett running a route on 57.0% of Justin Herbert’s dropbacks last season shouldn’t be a surprise. However, Everett still flashed at times and finished as the TE13.
The 29-year-old vet’s 22.1% targets per route run (TPRR) ranked 12th amongst all TEs in ’22, but Quentin Johnston is working his way into the pecking order. We should also see more of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, as both missed time with injuries.
Despite the uncertainty, Everett still has a path to beat his ADP.
Everett’s 19.4% red-zone target share ranked 12th last season. Plus, the Chargers were 9th in red-zone PROE, but I can sense your skepticism.
Having Allen and Williams out for multiple games would lend itself to more targets for Everett. So, their absence could be inflating Everett’s results. But the whole crew was on the field from Weeks 14-17, and Everett was still a factor:
Allen - 7 RZ targets
Austin Ekeler – 5
Everett – 4
Williams – 2
The Chargers came out of 2022 4th in PROE and 16th in EPA per play, and they’re projected for the fifth-most points per game this season.
With the squad back healthy, taking a swing on the cheapest piece is easy for me.
The Eagles have the chance to form the Taylor Swift backfield 👁
— NBA Slime (@TerryFranconia)
Aug 21, 2023