🔥 Marquee Matchups Announced for 2024

Who's ready for some football?!?

Fantasy Life sponsored by Underdog

By 2040, the schedule release will be a month-long event with non-stop coverage.

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Underdog:

  • Two huge primetime matchups to start the 2024 regular season

  • Watercooler: Sauce Gardner has no chill, bro

  • Dynasty Startup Value Picks: Solid AFC targets from Sam

  • It's 5/15. Take it away, Chris Allen…

Even in mid-May, the league continues to keep us excited about Week 1.

The best ball streets have been packed with drafters ready to snatch up as much ADP value before prices change. For the true grinders, videos and analysis from voluntary workouts are the nuggets of info, giving them an edge on which players to target (well, theoretically).

However, the biggest missing piece to the offseason discourse? The schedule.

Releasing later today, each team’s lineup of opponents sets the stage for the regular-season rollercoaster, with Ravens at Chiefs already announced as the opener. Plus, in contests like Best Ball Mania V, fantasy gamers vying for a piece of the prize pool will know how to correlate their rosters with Weeks 16 and 17 in mind.

Of course, good ol’ Mr. Goodell has given us a slow drip of matchup announcements to have the hype train at full speed beforehand, with two massive primetime games at the start of the regular season.

😤 Jets at 49ers

The storylines alone make the Week 1 nightcap worthy of a primetime spot.

San Francisco can reset their sights on another Super Bowl run after coming up short in ‘23. Jets’ HC Robert Saleh worked as Kyle Shanahan’s DC for multiple years. And certainly, Aaron Rodgers's return to the field will be discussed before, during, and after the game.

In single-game fantasy contests, most might look to stack Brock Purdy with any of his pass-catchers (live a little and throw Ricky Pearsall in there, too). But the Jets’ offense should draw considerable attention.

  • Plays per Game (after Week 4): 34.3 (10th )

  • Pass Rate Over Expectation: -0.8% (12th )

  • Average Time of Possession: 30:09 (15th )

A Week 5 starting point looks arbitrary, but Breece Hall played more than 50.0% of the team’s snaps from then to the end of the season. If New York’s offense was still running more plays and passing (albeit with depressing results) with Zach Wilson, Trevor Siemian, and Tim Boyle under center, Rodgers’s debut with Garrett Wilson and Mike Williams in tow should turn MNF into a compelling contest.

 🥵 Bills at Dolphins

The last time Buffalo faced Miami at Hard Rock Stadium early in the season, the Bills’ offense played 92 snaps in the 90-plus-degree heat while frantically trying to mount a comeback. Tua Tagovailoa had to give Josh Allen a hug afterward.

Regardless, Allen has been able to come through for fantasy managers despite the divisional matchup:

  • 2023, Week 18: 23.1 (FPTS), QB2 (weekly rank)

  • 2023, Week 4: 36.5, QB1

  • 2022, Week 15: 35.9, QB1

  • 2022, Week 3: 26.7, QB4

But the vibes in Buffalo are different without Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis. And we don’t know what the trio of Keon Coleman (WR40 on Underdog), Curtis Samuel (WR49), and Khalil Shakir (WR55) can do. Their uncertainty makes Dalton Kincaid (TE4) or James Cook (RB13) all the more appealing.

However, De’Von Achane could start off the season making his case to be fantasy’s RB1. Or Jaylen Waddle (finally healthy) and Tyreek Hill (also finally healthy) continue to create havoc downfield. Either way, a back-and-forth matchup would lend credence to having any piece of Buffalo’s offense in your lineup to start off the 2024 fantasy season.

Speaking of building strong lineups…

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📊 Why are elite QBs falling down draft boards? The top 4 best ball trends in 2024.

⛳️ It’s a big week for golf fans, too. We’ve got you covered for the PGA Championship.

😆 Traveling in the snow may be a challenge for Keon Coleman. He’s got a point, though!

☠ Sauce Gardner recommends a former teammate to a fan. Just wild.

😏 A full season of Anthony Richardson with Shane Steichen? Yes, please.

🚀 Joe Burrow. Jermaine Burton. They’re going to be a problem.

Former Steelers’ WR headed to WAS for a workout. Jahan Dotson fans, watch out.

Dynasty Startup Value Picks: Top Values From The AFC by Sam Wallace

Outside of a true "high-stakes" fantasy league, there are few greater feelings than what a dynasty manager experiences during their startup draft. The excitement of laying the foundation for your own team can be equal parts thrilling and (sometimes) stressful. It's always helpful to have a few players on a short list that you can snag if you find yourself in a bind. Looking across the AFC, here are four players you can draft at a value.

📝 Dynasty Startup Values

🏃‍♂️ AFC North - Jermaine Burton, WR - Bengals

Understanding team environments, contract situations, and draft capital can all help a savvy dynasty manager make more informed decisions throughout the year. For the Cincinnati Bengals, the major offseason storyline has been the potential trade of veteran wideout Tee Higgins.

Regardless of what happens this offseason, it does feel like 2024 will be Higgins' last in Cincinnati. Joe Burrow is already under contract and superstar teammate Ja'Marr Chase will soon get his bag.

So, to future-proof their offense, the team went out and drafted Jermaine Burton in Round 3 (80th overall). The loss of Tyler Boyd only increased their need to have another viable weapon both now and moving forward.

Burton spent two years at Georgia and two more at Alabama. His program quality index jumps off the page as he spent his entire career at two of the most dominant schools in the country. However, he's an older prospect who fell to Round 3. He wound up sliding in at WR12 in the Rookie WR Model.

In his prospect profile, Chris Allen noted the following:

Over half (51.4%) of Burton’s receiving yards came on pass attempts of 20 yards or more, which is the highest mark for any WR in this 2024 rookie class. At the same time, his average Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade on those routes is sixth-best amongst his peers.

Allen goes on to highlight that Burton isn't just a deep threat; he's a versatile route runner who can work in the short-intermediate area as well.

Clearly, Burton can work against coverage on shorter route concepts. Meanwhile, his aDOT skews our perception. However, by isolating his target shares on a per-depth basis, Burton’s utility as an intermediate option becomes clearer.

  • Deep: 29.9% target rate, 94.6 PFF grade

  • Intermediate: 37.7% target rate, 93.2 PFF grade

He was similarly efficient on those intermediate looks, which suggests that Burton can be more than just a deep threat at the pro level unlike what his highlight reel might suggest.

All I need to know is the Bengals drafted a talented, above-average athlete from a high-end program and he'll get to play alongside Burrow & Chase for the foreseeable future. Sometimes, we don't have to make fantasy football any harder than it needs to be, and at WR58 price, he's a near must-draft for me in dynasty startups.

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