😮 You NEED to add this TE
At least the sun came up, Davante Adams managers...
“It’s about damn time. - LeBron James” -Jahmyr Gibbs fantasy managers…
In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by GameBlazers:
The Lions dispatched the Raiders 26 to 14
Sheesh Report: Might want to sit down, Dameon Pierce managers
Utilization Report: Trey McBride TE1 szn?
QUICK HITTER: A new overall RB1 in town
Trade updates on some of the league’s biggest names
Week 9 Waiver Wire: Give this first-round rookie WR another chance
It’s 10/31. Take it away, Ian Hartitz…
The Lions covered the seven-point spread with ease and improved to 6-2 on Monday night.
The 26 to 14 score was honestly not all that indicative of how dominant the showing was: Jared Goff and company won the yardage battle 486 to 157, as three turnovers and just one red zone TD in five chances prevented the NFC North leaders from REALLY making this one ugly.
Three key fantasy takeaways from the contest:
Free Davante Adams. The stud WR’s 1-11-0 receiving line fails to reveal that Jimmy Garoppolo badly missed him on what should have been 98- and 60-yard TDs. Things didn't go any better for Jakobi Meyers (1-19-0) or Michael Mayer (1-19-0).
Jahmyr Gibbs RB1 szn is a helluva drug. Hopefully, RB David Montgomery (ribs) is healthy enough to return following the team’s Week 9 bye, but it’d make sense if things are a LOT more split moving forward after Gibbs flashed all over the place as both a rusher (26-152-1) and receiver (5-37-0).
All hail the Sun God. Mr. Ride or Die himself caught six of nine targets for 108 yards while battling through an illness. Shoutout to rookie TE Sam LaPorta (8-57-1) on another great performance, but make no mistake about it: Amon-Ra St. Brown is the heart and soul of this ever-lethal Lions passing attack.
As Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “Bad Monday Night Football is better than no Monday Night Football.” We’re on to Week 9!
Resident Sheesh-pert — we tried to tell him that’s not a real thing — Ian Hartitz has grinded the film and is here to share all of Week 8’s near misses in an effort to provide managers with the full story of their fantasy heartbreak.
Sounds kind of sick and demented when you put it that way tbh, but let’s roll with it.
As a wise man once said: It’s a great day to be great.
👑 Our one true unrealized air yard king: Saints WR Chris Olave
Air yards measure the distance that any given pass travels (wait for it) in the air. Subtracting yards after the catch from every player’s receiving yards total before taking the difference with total air yards helps us pinpoint exactly how much opportunity through the air a player failed to come down with for one reason or another.
Sometimes unrealized air yards are more akin to “prayer yards” because the pass wasn’t overly catchable in the first place, so grinding the ole film helps with identifying those sorts of situations.
Saints WR Chris Olave certainly hasn’t been a stranger to “prayer yards” this season, but on Sunday there was nobody to blame other than the man in the mirror on this missed 39-yard score.
Chris Olave sheesh
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz)
Oct 30, 2023
Olave has now racked up an NFL-high 750 unrealized air yards on the year. Cardinals WR Marquise Brown (521) is the next-closest player. Sheesh.
Including Olave, nine players racked up at least 80 unrealized air yards in Week 8 specifically:
Saints WR Chris Olave (118)
Packers WR Christian Watson (117)
Seahawks WR D.K. Metcalf (116)
Raiders WR Davante Adams (116)
Steelers WR Diontae Johnson (113)
Steelers WR George Pickens (107)
Packers WR Romeo Doubs (94)
Commanders WR Terry McLaurin (90)
Jets WR Garrett Wilson (84)
🤏 Dameon Pierce was so close, yet so far away from a huge day
Getting all the way to the one-yard line but failing to score a TD is objectively a sheeshy feeling – particularly when fantasy managers are forced to watch someone else vulture away the score that was SO CLOSE to belonging to them.
Texans RB Dameon Pierce was sadly the victim of this phenomenon not once but twice in Week 8, as he was vultured by FB Andrew Beck and QB C.J. Stroud upon coming up just short of the end zone. Note that these occurred on separate drives, meaning Pierce was fewer than six feet away from doubling his 2023 TD total on Sunday. Sheesh.
Here’s the full list of Week 8’s players who managed to get the football within three feet of the goal line, but not quite across the plane, and ultimately didn’t score later on the same drive:
Eagles QB Jalen Hurts (lost fumble)
Panthers QB Bryce Young
Texans RB Dameon Pierce (x2, separate drives)
Packers RB A.J. Dillon (x2, same drive)
Saints RB Alvin Kamara
Rams RB Darrell Henderson
Bills RB Latavius Murray
Panthers RB Chuba Hubbard
Texans RB Devin Singletary
Bears RB Darrynton Evans
Bills TE Dalton Kincaid
Dolphins TE Durham Smythe
Texans FB/TE Andrew Beck
“Congrats” to Dillon and Murray for now racking up an NFL-high four instances of this sheeshy event in 2023, while Austin Ekeler, Brian Robinson, D’Andre Swift, Joe Mixon and Kamara are the only other players with three such sheeshes.
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Fantasy Life Director of Analytics and all-around baller Dwain “The Rock” McFarland is here to give you the MOST important utilization takeaways from the past week of action in order to get those rosters into as good of shape as possible at the season’s midway point.
Well, what are you waiting for? GO!
📈 1. Trey McBride’s breakout game wasn’t a fluke.
With Zach Ertz placed on IR, McBride stepped into a full-time role in Week 8 and delivered a 26-point eruption performance – including a sweet team-effort TD. The second-year TE registered an 88% route participation rate and led the Cardinals with a 40% target share.
While the big bump in playing time pushed McBride to new heights, he already earned more playing time and targets from Week 5 to Week 7.
McBride was the Cardinals’ second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft after a stellar senior campaign at Colorado State. That year, he caught 90 balls for 1,121 yards, notching a 2.83 yards per team pass attempt (YPTPA).
Adjusting production for the team environment with metrics like YPTPA helps us compare players across different offenses, and McBride’s best season ranked in the 95th percentile for TE prospects since 2017.
McBride graded out in the 78th percentile of the Fantasy Life Supermodel as a collegiate prospect. Historically, almost half of prospects at that range deliver a top-12 finish in their first three seasons. We have also seen 11% of those prospects notch a top-three season.
While we don’t have a massive sample for McBride in 2023 (127 routes), he ranks second in TPRR at the TE position (27%), behind only Travis Kelce.
In case you are wondering, McBride had a 30% TPRR as a senior and a 23% TPRR for his career.
It’s unclear who will be under center for the Cardinals in Week 9, but we could see Kyler Murray back on the field in Week 10 if he isn’t moved at the trade deadline. The Cardinals aren’t a high-end passing unit, but Murray’s return would boost the overall accuracy of their attack and make 300-yard passing games a weekly possibility.
Expecting McBride to finish as a top-three TE is unrealistic, but dismissing his Week 8 point total as a fluke would also be unwise. For more on McBride, continue reading for the Waiver Wire Report.
FAAB recommendation: 30-40%
Outlook: McBride UPGRADES to low-end TE1 status and might have mid-range TE1 potential with Murray at QB.
🤠 2. Tony Pollard doesn’t look right and Dallas isn’t feeding him.
Pollard was one of the more explosive backs in the NFL over the last few seasons, but he has been anything but in 2023. Out of 52 RBs with at least 35 carries, Pollard ranks 39th in 10-plus yard attempts at 6.5% – well below the three-year NFL average of 9.5%.
Pollard is lagging in other efficiency metrics as well.
Missed tackles forced per attempt: 7.4% (50th)
Average yards after contact: 2.6 (36th)
Per Next Gen Stats, only 28% of Pollard’s carries go for more yards than expected – the fifth-worst mark in the league. That puts him in the same company as Dalvin Cook, Latavius Murray, Cam Akers and Miles Sanders. Ewwwwwww.
While the Cowboys' offensive line isn’t as dominant as it once was, the team still ranks 12th in PFF run block grade. There is a chance Pollard still isn’t himself after offseason ankle surgery, but most timelines indicated a three-month time to heal. If Pollard isn’t well after eight weeks coming off of a bye, should we really expect a change in 2023?
While Pollard's snaps have remained fairly steady, his overall touches have declined over the past four games. Over that stretch, he averages 11.5 attempts and four targets.
Per PFF, he ranks third-worst in expected points per game at -3.3 in that span. If those numbers stick, this is bad news for Pollard managers. Since 2011, similar profile backs have averaged 13.6 points with an RB20 finish.
While that isn’t terrible, it isn’t the high-end RB1 upside fantasy managers thought they were getting when they drafted Pollard in Round 2. Things can always turn around, but we must temper expectations until we see either a) improvement in Pollard’s game and/or b) an increase in utilization.
Outlook: Pollard DOWNGRADES to mid-range RB2 status.
It’s Tuesday, which means it’s officially Week 9. To welcome in the new week of Fantasy Football, Matthew Freedman was up at the crack of dawn to make sure his rankings were ready for you before your morning coffee. Check out his full Week 9 rankings set here!
😲 One of the game’s best RBs was VERY close to being dealt. Man, this would have been fun.
🏥 The most annoying injury update to parse through in sports: This stud QB is “day-to-day.”
😕 QB shuffle in Arizona. Wait, they might go with THAT guy?
📈 Stock up, stock down. These players’ value is shifting and you need to act fast.
🤔 The Giants reportedly had no desire to trade their star RB. I’m a little confused by their tactics.
👍 The Seahawks add a HUGE piece to their defensive line (literally). Not a bad haul for the Giants, though.
😭 The Vikings’ worst fears have been realized. Officially official.
🏈 Will Desmond Ridder still be the Falcons’ starting QB if healthy? You won’t believe this, but Arthur Smith’s answer wasn’t overly clear.
🏆 The Bills decided to add a big-name RB to their backfield. Sorry, James Cook managers.
If you’re reading this, there’s a better-than-good chance your fantasy football team is dealing with at least one injury or bye ahead of Week 9. Fear not: Fantasy Life analyst Chris “The Cincy Stormchaser” Allen is here to impart his waiver wire wisdom in an effort to give YOU, a scholar, all the info you need.
On the bright side, the NFL didn’t disappoint on Sunday.
The early slate featured eight games with a projected total under 43 points. Half of them hit the over, the Jets-Giants had to go to OT, and two other matches exceeded their Vegas prediction. But, of course, the reality of the game kept our excitement in check.
We saw five backup QBs take the field on Sunday after injuries to their team’s starters. Plus, we’ve got four squads on bye at the season’s halfway mark. So, let’s dive into the usage trends from last week and see who we can pull off the waiver wire to fill some gaps for Week 9.
Looking for recommended FAAB budgeting and even more Waiver Wire analysis? Head to our Waiver Hub to get all of that and more, for FREE!
🐦 Trey McBride, TE - Cardinals
It made sense that Zach Ertz’s departure would lead to more work for Trey McBride. But I didn’t expect this:
Target Share: 38.9%, 1st (amongst all TEs in Week 8)
Air Yard Share: 40.8%, 1st
TPRR: 38.9%, 1st
YPRR: 2.64, 4th
Ertz’s highest target share in a single game was 33.3%. He hit marks of +30.0% air yards but never over 40.0%. McBride went above and beyond. While Clayton Tune is expected to start in Week 9, signs point to Kyler Murray returning sooner rather than later. If that comes to fruition in Week 10, you’ll be glad you picked him up beforehand.
💪 Derek Carr, QB - Saints
Every offense to face the Bears has come away with at least one passing TD. Passers like Jordan Love and Russell Wilson had dropped three TDs on Chicago. And after watching Rashid Shaheed catch two bombs on Sunday, Derek Carr would be the top streaming option.
But then there’s the Taysom Hill of it all.
Over the last three weeks, Carr has 24 red-zone attempts, which have netted the Saints two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Hill has 12 touches for three trips into the paint. Hill’s 63.6% snap rate to Carr’s 80.0% keeps Carr out of the high-end tier of guys you can grab off the wire. But the Saints are still running the second-most plays per game (70.0), and, like Carr said, Shaheed will be down there somewhere.
👀 Will Levis, QB - Titans
Want to know an easy way for a QB to get into a waiver column? Throw four touchdowns.
Will Levis put up four scores against a formidable Falcons’ defense with a short turnaround to play against the Steelers (likely) without Minkah Fitzpatrick. Pittsburgh was already 19th in adjusted fantasy points allowed to QBs, and Levis was tenth in EPA per dropback despite facing pressure at the 13th-highest rate on Sunday.
Levis’ lack of down-to-down efficiency (35.5% success rate) is a concern. However, he did have six designed runs to keep the offense moving. Regardless, if you’re scrambling to replace a starter for Week 9, Levis has a viable floor, given the matchup.
⚡ Quentin Johnston, WR - Chargers
Stop me if you’ve heard this story before. The Chargers were dealing with an injury to one of their WRs and turned to rookie Quentin Johnston to step up.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. He failed. Couldn’t come through. But we saw growth on Sunday night.
Earning 25.5% of the team’s air yards isn’t that notable. LA billed Johnston as an intermediate threat, so this makes sense. But his 1.85 YPRR was greater than Keenan Allen’s (1.73). The freshman generated the second-most first downs.
After (much-deserved) criticism, Johnston’s showing us (and, more importantly, Justin Herbert) that he can help the offense. He’s a speculative add for W9 with a tough matchup against the Jets on deck.