💥 No JT Trade! Now What??

Let's dissect it...


Jim Irsay should have his keys taken away…and his NFL franchise…

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by BetMGM:

  • Fallout from the JT saga

  • Going Mental: Mini mind games

  • Some surprising cuts

  • Preseason Utilization Report: 2 Jags ready for primetime

  • It’s 8/30. Take it away, Peter Overzet…

If you were hoping for a clean resolution to the Jonathan Taylor saga, I got bad news for you…

Not only did the Colts not trade Taylor yesterday, but the team kept him on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list which means he will be missing at least the first four games of the season (JAX, @HOU, @BAL, LAR).

It’s essentially the worst possible outcome from a fantasy perspective and brings his availability for the entire season into serious doubt.

The Colts claim they didn’t receive an offer that they felt was “fair value” for Taylor, despite some rumblings that the Dolphins were willing to play ball at the right price.

The team could still theoretically trade Taylor before the NFL’s trade deadline on October 31, but at least one thing would need to change between now and then:

  1. A contending team suffers an RB injury and gets desperate

  2. The Colts lower their compensation demands

  3. Taylor makes some concessions on his contract extension wishes

None of those things seem particularly likely to happen, which means a lost season is fully in play—especially since he hasn’t practiced or played at all this preseason after undergoing ankle surgery on January 25 and has no incentive to play through injuries.

🤔 So where does that leave us for fantasy?

All of our rankers have dropped Taylor outside of the Top 20 RBs, which means you shouldn’t consider clicking him until at least the 6th round:

Jonathan Taylor ADP

I have yet to see any analysts keep him in their Top 50, which illustrates how dire this situation is for the back who went 1.01 in the majority of 2022 drafts.

🐬 Wheels up (fins up?) for the Dolphins backs

The big winner here is the Dolphins RB trio—De’Von Achane, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson—who have now successfully dodged both Dalvin Cook and Taylor.

Their ADPs have been held in check all offseason because of the aforementioned specters, but all of them are mispriced in light of today’s news:

Dolphins RBs

I can make strong cases for all of them anywhere in the vicinity of their current ADPs. They are all priority targets until the masses catch up.

Mostert and Wilson provide us with bankable early-season production, while Achane has a clear runway to see his role expand over the course of the season and/or benefit from any injuries ahead of him.

Whether you are drafting in best ball or managed leagues, this isn’t a situation to ignore.

There is league-winning potential in this backfield that demands attention at these prices. Take stabs and see where the chips fall.

🐴 What about the Colts RBs?

This is a royal mess…

  • Taylor is on the PUP list

  • Zack Moss is still recovering from breaking his forearm

  • Deon Jackson and rookie Evan Hull are the only healthy backs

  • The team recently worked out FA Kareem Hunt, and seems likely to add a back regardless

If you’re looking to capitalize on Taylor’s absence, I don’t mind tossing some late darts at Jackson (played with the starters in the preseason and had a 10-catch game last year against the Jags) or Hull (mystery box rookie).

Here’s what Matthew Freedman wrote about the two in his Colts betting preview:

Evan Hull is a fifth-round rookie with a great physical profile (4.47-second 40-yard dash, 6.90-second three-cone at 5-foot-10 and 209 pounds) and a three-down skill set (417-1,922-12 rushing, 88-810-4 receiving in final two seasons).

Deon Jackson is a 2021 UDFA who underwhelms as a runner (3.3 yards per carry for career) but last year impressed as a pass catcher (30-209-1 receiving on 34 targets) and contributed on special teams.

💰 Week 1 is HERE (Kind of...)

There are only eight days until the 2023 NFL regular season kicks off...

And the only thing standing between you and betting on Week 1 NFL football is...nothing?

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Stay tuned over the next week for our favorite Week 1 betting picks at Fantasy Life, but until then...

Going Mental

Each week, Cooterdoodle will walk us through the internal mind of a fantasy football player. For better or for worse, let’s get inside those mushy little brains and figure out how to use our minds to our advantage. Let’s go mental!

🧠 Mini Mind Games

Warning: Mind games are intended to be used with caution.

Don’t become the guy who abuses any tactics. We’re aiming for mental prowess here, not annoyance. Alright, let’s get into it:

Going Mental

🗄️ League Lore

Hopefully, you’ve been filing away all the wonderful mistakes that have occurred in your league over the years:

📂 Drafting patterns
📂 Terrible trades
📂 Waiver wire blunders
📂 Major f*ck ups

League lore is important. And you should stockpile every little bit of that information for future use.

We all have that one dude who overbids early in the season and blows all of their FAAB, right? Or that one guy who drafts way too many players from their favorite NFL team.

Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that some guy named Steven from your home league drafted Michael Thomas, Derek Carr, and Taysom Hill last weekend. That’s some juicy league lore!

Are you going to let him get away with that unscathed? It’s time to start the ‘homer’ chants and remind him that the Saints went 7-10 in one of the easiest divisions last year.

If it were me, I would probably even write about it in a fantasy football newsletter. Really shame that Steven guy.

Saints Players

Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Like folklore, league lore deserves to be passed down year after year. It’s the only tradition guaranteed to increase camaraderie while simultaneously decreasing morale.

⏪ The Blockbuster

Be kind and rewind.

Send out a fair trade offer, but immediately withdraw the proposal.

Your leaguemate will get a notification of the trade details only to find out that they have no option to accept or deny.

WHAT! Now their curiosity is piqued…

Why was the trade withdrawn? Why so quickly? Was it too lopsided?

If only they had opened the app sooner to accept. Don’t worry, they’ll be ready next time you send one their way!

👻 Trade Purgatory

You know the guy that sends multiple trades out every week? The one who just wants to get a deal done so they can feel something? (I can relate)

Leave the trade proposal on read.

I know it sounds mean, but I’m serious. Don’t touch it. Don’t comment on it. Let this one marinate for a bit.

If they send a follow-up text, hit them with a quick: “I’ll look later.” That will really get their blood boiling.

Trust me. I’ve been on the receiving end of a trade left in purgatory one too many times. And it stings.

⏳ The Insta-Accept

For this one to truly work out in your favor, you have to be educated enough to make a quick decision independently.

So the next time that someone sends you a trade offer that feels fair enough - ACCEPT IT INSTANTLY.

No wheelin’ and dealin’ and negotiatin’. It needs to be an instant trade to truly mess with their heads.

They’ll be left with a flurry of questions like: Why did they accept the trade so quickly? Was it lopsided? DID I JUST LOSE THAT TRADE?? 

Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. But either way, you’re in their head now…

Around the Watercooler (August 2022)

🧠 The Eagles pull off another trade for a discarded talent. They are so good at this.

✂️ The Vikings cut one of their draft picks. There’s now a must-draft RB in Minny.

🚀 3 rookie QBs set to start Week 1. You love to see it.

🚑️ Jerry Jeudy avoids IR. Sounds like the hammy isn’t too bad.

🙏 Guess who made the Bills 53-man roster? Incredible news.

🧼 The Cowboys backfield is cleared up behind Pollard. Start drafting these two.

😆 Richard Sherman vs. Michael Irvin. I hope CeeDee Lamb is getting his advice elsewhere…

Preseason Utilization Report

If you didn’t catch the preseason action live, don’t worry! Dwain McFarland parsed through all of the relevant data in the preseason version of the Utilization Report to give you all the info you need.

Preseason football can be tricky to decipher, but we now have two weeks of utilization data to go along with a full offseason, including training camp. While we don’t want to overreact, we also don’t want to underreact.

Last season we determined Dameon Pierce, David Njoku and Evan Engram were in for increased roles by analyzing this final piece of intel.

1️⃣ Travis Etienne’s preseason utilization screams RB1.

The concerns about Tank Bigsby taking over high-leverage touches inside the five-yard line haven’t come to fruition this preseason. Etienne handled 67% of the short-down-distance (SDD) work and punched in a rushing TD with the starters in the game.

Jags UR

The third-year back hasn’t lived up to his prolific collegiate receiving profile, which has followed him into 2023. The Jaguars are loaded at WR and TE, so the RBs might not see many targets, but Etienne’s 63% route participation this preseason is notable.

Even if he is a subpar target earner (14% targets per route run), that is enough if history is any indicator. Since 2012, RBs with at least 60% of rushing attempts, 60% or greater route participation and a TPRR of 15% or less have faired well. You might recognize the names:

  • 2012: Arian Foster – RB3

  • 2013: LeSean McCoy – RB3

  • 2013: Chris Johnson – RB12

  • 2019: Ezekiel Elliott – RB5

Outlook: A top-six finish is in the range of outcomes for Etienne. He can be drafted in Round 4.

Preseason Week 3 UR

2️⃣ Calvin Ridley should be a mid-to-late Round 2 fantasy pick.

The last time we saw Ridley healthy in a full NFL season, he finished as the WR4 overall with 18.8 PPR points per game. However, the skeptics were concerned about his time away from the game after missing 1.5 seasons.

Ridley erased all doubts this preseason by dominating the Jaguars passing attack in five drives with Trevor Lawrence.

Jags WR Utilization

The Jaguars have plenty of weapons, but none of them profile as highly as Ridley in the target-earning and playmaking departments – including Christian Kirk.

Fade any narratives about Ridley being rusty due to the layoff. He is ready to win fantasy championships.

Outlook: Ridley should be a mid-to-late Round 2 pick. He is a steal in Rounds 3 and 4 on most fantasy sites like ESPN, Yahoo! and Sleeper. Enjoy.

3️⃣ Diontae Johnson has top-12 WR upside.

Diontae Johnson is just out here doing Diontae Johnson things this preseason by handily leading the Steelers with a 29% target share on drives with Kenny Pickett.

Steelers Utilization

This man is a WR1-level target earner, and nothing has changed despite more competition from up-and-comers like George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth.

While the target share isn’t surprising, his 14.0 aDOT is well above his career average (9.4) and has my attention. We don’t typically see WRs dramatically improve their aDOT – but last season, we saw Johnson register a career-high (10.7) in his first season with Pickett at QB.

If this surge in aDOT is somehow attributed to Pickett's growth and a scheme adjustment, Johnson could unlock additional upside. Since 2012, WRs that accounted for 23% or more of their team’s targets with an aDOT between 11 and 12 finished as the WR13 on average.

This data point, paired with Johnson’s WR8 finish in 2021, points to positive regression for the young wideout. Fade the zero-TD 2022 season and partake in the fruits of drafting Johnson in Round 5 or later.

Outlook: If you are into drafting WR2s with WR1 upside at WR3 prices, Johnson might be your jam.

Cooterdoodle's Favorite Tweets (Aug 2022)