🤔 So, Now What for the Super Bowl Teams?

This offseason is going to be wild

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With all of the prospect content already out, I’m an expert on this year’s class…

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Hugo Boss:

  • Chiefs, 49ers: How Do They Get Back to the SB

  • The Cincinnati Conundrum: Tee’ing up the Higgins FA Battle

  • Who are the Best FA RBs? Dwain lets you know and what to expect

  • It’s 2/14. Take it away, Chris Allen…

The Super Bowl is over, and the dust has (mostly) settled.

I mean, sure, the debate over whether Kyle Shanahan should’ve told his guys to defer in OT will rage into next year’s preseason. And it looks like a couple of 49ers’ teammates have some fences to mend. But all in all, we’re on to 2024. However, for the fanbases of both the teams we just watched on Sunday, the essential question remains:

So, now what?

The 30 other franchises started answering that question already. Some started laying out their path to next year’s Super Bowl just a couple of weeks ago.

Others, maaaybe a bit earlier in the season (sorry, Carolina fans). But with the Scouting Combine weeks away and the start of free agency in a month, thinking through how the top two squads from 2023 approach 2024 will help us set expectations for our drafts.

👑 The Chiefs Need Another WR

Travis Kelce isn’t retiring, and Rashee Rice and Isiah Pacheco are on rookie deals. So their offensive core will remain intact. But Kansas City has a few role players slated to hit free agency:

  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire

  • Jerick McKinnon

  • Richie James

  • Mecole Hardman

Collectively, these four totaled 1,036 scrimmage yards over the entire ‘23 season (playoffs included). They averaged 3.3 PPR PPG. But while their lack of presence gave Rice the runway to ascend to a 25.0% target share in the playoffs, it also highlighted an area he needs to develop.

Rice primarily operated in the short area of the field. His highest single-game air yards per target was 7.6 (Week 1), and his lowest snap rate from the slot was 30.8%. Patrick Mahomes only targeted the SMU product on deep shots just seven times. As a result, the three-time SB MVP’s passing aDOT of 6.9 was a career-low.

It’s not to say Rice can’t develop. His ability to earn targets and create after the catch has Dwain comparing him to other great WRs. However, the Chiefs have seemingly struck out with the other receivers still on the roster. And with 90 regular-season targets potentially up for grabs, Rice’s current ADP in drafts hinges on how KC gets their passing game ready for 2024. If it’s a big swing at the position (Tee Higgins, Brandon Aiyuk, Jerry Jeudy, etc.), there’ll be chaos in the market.

🤔 San Francisco’s Offense Could Use…

…a QB that ranked Top 10 in EPA per play and CPOE?

…an All-Pro RB?

…an All-Pro TE?

…not one, but two WRs with top-12 marks in YPRR (min. 75 targets)?

…a playcaller revered as one of the best of all time?

Wait a minute. The 49ers already had all of those things.

It’s part of why they’re so hard to diagnose. And part of why their loss is all the more excruciating. This is the same team that traded three first-round draft picks to draft Trey Lance and made back-to-back NFC Championships (and an SB)…without Trey Lance as their starter. Sunday was their shot.

But how do you improve a squad that looks like the Monstars? Well, we can take a look at their free agents as a start:

  • Jauan Jennings

  • Ray-Ray McCloud

Unsurprisingly, SF has few needs to make a deep playoff run. Brandon Aiyuk will play out his fifth-year option, and their major contributors (Brock Purdy, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Christian McCaffrey) are signed through 2025. With the 49ers passing less than expected (-2.0% dropback over expectation rate), any change at WR won’t have an impact, with Aiyuk, Samuel, and Kittle hogging the targets. So, we’ll have to look to the backfield for value.

CMC battled multiple injuries throughout the season, from oblique to hip flexor. But he has Elijah Mitchell (8 carries, 1 TD in the playoffs) and Jordan Mason to carry the load. Few RBs offer the same usage as the future 28-year-old runner, and it’s why I agree with Dwain having him at the 1.01 in his Top 150. But you’ll likely see folks like myself touting Mitchell and Mason as mid and late-round values come summertime (if not earlier).

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Watercooler

👀 All eyes are on Cincinnati as they try and keep one of their top WRs. The ripple effects will be league-wide.

📝 Watch your feet. Pete's dropping best-ball knowledge. Check out all his lessons learned from 2023 before heading to the draft lobbies.

📺 Bounce-back season incoming? An early look at 2024 rankings.

📈 The Seahawks’ passing game might take a step forward in ‘24. Their new OC must like fantasy football.

⛳️ Football is over, so it’s time to hit the links. Best bets for the Genesis Invitational.

😱 The live call as the Chiefs made history. Hearing it and seeing the play again gives me chills.

🧠 For RBs switching teams, what stats matter for fantasy? Dwain breaks it down.

🤑 Vegas hosting the Super Bowl breaks an all-time record. It’s only going to get bigger from here.

🎊 Want some Super Bowl memorabilia? Chiefs’ beat writer does his part to support a good cause.

Top FA RBs

With the NFL offseason quickly approaching, it is time to dive into available free agents. Using a data-driven approach, Dwain analyzes the top free agents from a fantasy football lens.

🔥 Saquon Barkley

It remains to be seen whether the Giants will use the franchise tag again on the No. 2 overall selection from the 2018 NFL Draft. But it wouldn’t be surprising. Barkley will only be 27 when the 2024 season starts, which is still within the prime range for heavy-workload RBs.

Multiple coaching staffs have now trusted the seventh-year RB with an every-down role. Barkley has eclipsed the RB1 marks for rush share and route participation (RR/DB) in four of five seasons where he played at least eight games. 

Top FA RBs

The veteran was also a strong target earner with a 19% TPRR. When you have strong TPRR and route participation numbers, a good target share typically follows. That was the case with Barkley, who posted a 16% target share with 4.1 looks per game – both RB1-worthy numbers.

Top FA RBs

Barkley’s rushing performance peripherals were subpar, outside his 11% explosive rush rate in 2023. The Giants' offensive line didn’t offer much help, grading out as PFF’s third-worst run-blocking unit with a 41.1 grade. However, his 2023 marks were all on par with his three-year average in YCO (2.8), MTF (13%), EXP (9%) and PFF Rush Grade (72.5). So, we shouldn’t expect a sudden renaissance efficiency season from Barkley – all of his career-high marks came before his 2020 ACL injury.

🔎 2024 Fantasy Outlook

If Barkley lands on a team with a clear runway for snaps, he offers mid-range RB1 upside with a mid-range RB2 floor. He needs the passing-down reps to reach his potential, given his lackluster rushing performance peripherals since the ACL injury. 

Barkley is coming off the board as the RB8 in early fantasy drafts at the end of Round 2 – slightly behind where he landed in my way-too-early Top 150 rankings. He likely plummets into Round 3 with a lousy landing spot but could climb back to the middle of Round 2 on an ascending offense like the Texans.

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