🚀 QB Prices Are Sky High!!!

Don't worry, we have a plan...

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Nothing like doing some cardio while drafting best ball teams…

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by props.cash:

  • Upside QBs to target later in drafts.

  • What now? Size doesn’t matter. Hmm.

  • This ADP might be out of hand

  • Team Preview SZN: Fins Up!!!

  • It's 5/17. Take it away, Dwain McFarland…

One of the most fun things about fantasy football is adapting our draft strategies when new trends emerge. Based on early best ball drafts, there is a new fad we must be prepared for in 2023 – QBs are going much earlier.

By comparing 2022 and 2023 Underdog ADP data, we can quickly get a picture of just how much and where things are changing:

  • The top-eight QBs are up 22 spots (almost two rounds)

  • There is a sweet spot from QB9 to QB12, where ADPs are flat

  • The QB14 to QB27 group is up 14 spots (over one round)

If you want to snag an alpha like Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, or Jalen Hurts, you better be ready to dish out your Round 2 pick. They are slightly cheaper in season-long redraft formats, but even there, they are gone by Round 3.

Each of the top-three options reached the 24-point-per-game threshold in 2022, and while they have the right ingredients to repeat, it won’t be easy.

There is a chance we are just chasing last year’s point totals – since 2007, we have only had three QBs reach that level one other time (2020).

This doesn’t mean we should avoid these QBs altogether, but having criteria that help us decide when to jam the draft button is a good idea. When those criteria aren’t met, we need options in the later rounds that provide us with the upside to offset the early-round studs.

With this approach, we have an adaptable plan to navigate the 2023 QB inflation crisis.

🎯 When to target the Round 2 QBs

We want exposure to the Round 2 QBs, but I am picking my spots using the following criteria:

  • If drafting Travis Kelce in Round 1, Mahomes is a priority in Round 2 because it is the toughest Round 1/Round 2 stack to make. Feel free to take it when it is there because it won’t always work out.

  • When selecting Stefon Diggs or A.J. Brown in Round 1, be willing to stack Allen and Hurts, but don’t force it – those are easier to complete. Remember, these won’t be unique starts, but there is plenty of time to differentiate in the next 16 rounds. Grabbing values that fall beyond ADP is one way to differentiate.

  • If Hurts slides to the end of Round 2, swing away if DeVonta Smith is also still on the board – give yourself a chance to complete the stack coming back in Round 3.

  • If any of Allen, Mahomes, or Hurts fall to Round 3, snag them to gain exposure at a discount. They each still have stackable options remaining.

If you spend Round 2 or Round 3 capital on a QB, don’t force another signal caller into your build until much later in the draft. Instead, focus on rounding out the rest of your roster first and let the stud QB live up to that early-round capital.

🔎 Identifying upside options in later rounds

We won’t land the Round 2 QBs using the above-mentioned criteria very often. That means we need a backup plan to offset their 24-point per-game upside.

Of course, Lamar Jackson and Justin Fields offer dual-threat upside with upgraded weapons and are in play in Round 3. Additionally, Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence are set to operate in pass-friendly loaded offenses, making them viable selections in Rounds 5 and 6.

However, despite the overall surge in QB prices, a handful of archetypes price very similarly to 2022 ADPs once investigated more closely.

  • Round 7: Anthony Richardson will be hard-pressed to finish outside of the top-12 given his rushing upside – even if he is terrible as a passer. If he improves, we could be getting Fields at a discount. Last year Trey Lance missed but was the same archetype with unknowns, and he went in the same round.

  • Round 7: Deshaun Watson had a terrible year last season. However, he averaged 25.0, 21.7, 22.0, and 23.8 points per game in the four years before. The Browns are rumored to be leaning towards a pass-heavy approach and added Elijah Moore and Cedric Tillman. When Watson is right, he has Mahomes-type upside.

  • Round 8: Tua Tagovailoa averaged 297 passing yards in games where he didn’t leave due to injury. That was No. 2 behind Mahomes, and he has Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle back. The fourth-year signal caller comes with risk due to concussions, but the upside is there, and Tua goes in the same range as upside pocket passers were in 2022.

  • Round 10: Aaron Rodgers delivered 24.5 and 21.0 fantasy points per game in 2020 and 2021. He didn’t have a loaded offense in those years – it was all about Davante Adams. If Garrett Wilson is a star, Rodgers represents another upside pocket passer.

  • Round 10: Geno Smith already had a high-end WR duo in D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in his comeback season. Now the Seahawks added the best WR in the draft in Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Smith still has plus wheels, making him a potential arbitrage option on Herbert and Lawrence.

If you don’t take your first QB until Round 7, pairing two of these names can also help overcome the early-round options. Stacking them with a teammate or three can make things even more interesting.

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What Now Banner

Welcome, degenerates. We don’t unplug just because the NFL does. You’re reading this newsletter because you’re here for the long haul. “What now, Cooter?” Each week I’ll break down ways to survive the off-season.

Survival Tip #10: Size Doesn’t Matter Unless It Does

You heard me, boys. Tell your wives.

Recently the memes have started cycling around again. Small hands this. Tiny man, that. But the best part about all of the Little Giants call backs is that none of it really even matters. Seriously.

Let’s look at recent rumblings:

📏 Panthers QB Bryce Young

  • Weight: 194 lbs

  • Height: 5’ 10”

  • Twitter Assessment: tiny boi

Sure, there’s a youthful joke baked right into his name, but the giggles won’t get you far come draft day. (Okay, fine, they are still fun.)

People ran to the Twitter comments to call Young “adorable” at minicamp. While the size difference is evident to anyone using their eyeballs, it’s nothing new. In fact, Kyler Murray and Young share eerily similar NFL combine stats.

While it may be fun to joke around, don’t let size narratives sway your opinions on proven talent. The off-season and pre-season whispers are relentless, and they’ll come for all of your favorite players.

We do this every year and regret it, remember? Time is one helluva drug. Let’s take a look at some previous size narratives and how those played out.

What Now

Rumblings of years past:

🐯 Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase

Remember when we convinced ourselves that Ja’Marr Chase couldn’t catch a ball in the big leagues because of a couple of dropped passes during the preseason? If you faded him, I bet you feel silly now. Injuries aside, Chase has already logged 2,501 yards and 22 TDs in just his first two seasons alone. Seems like he overcame his NFL ball scare to me. Phew.

⚖️ Eagles WR DeVonta Smith

  • Weight: 170 lbs

  • Twitter Assessment: BMI BMI 🤓

    The Eagles were reminded time and time again that they drafted the “lightest first-round receiver ever.” Tale as old as time. It would be a cool story if it mattered.

    Now, Smith is holding his own on the field next to A.J. Brown on an offense that everyone wants a piece of. And I have to say, for someone who is so light, I have been drafting DeVonta very heavily.

    Seriously. I’ve drafted him in five out of six FCE eliminator leagues just this week. What is ‘diversifying’? GULP.

✋ Bengals QB Joe Burrow

If you google which NFL QB has the smallest hands in the league, you’ll see Taysom Hill pop up with his 8 and ¾ inch meat hooks. But if you google which NFL QB that isn’t a TE has the smallest hands, you’ll see Joe Shiesty right at the top of the list. But let’s check in now that we’ve got the data: 3 years. 11,774 yards. 82 TDs. Need I say more?

I will say more.

You know who has bigger arm feet? Zach Wilson.

🛏 NFL Sleep disparity? Yikes, these are some alarming numbers.

👁 A star WR not seeing eye-to-eye with his team. Can’t blame him, tbh.

🔮 Vikings’ social team breaking news? We could have a new starter.

📻 This ADP is getting a bit much. It’s QB Madness, man!

📊 How zero-RB has fared in best ball. Don’t get too sure of yourself…

🤣 You can always be a greeter at Walmart. They have connections.

Dolphins team preview

Fantasy Life senior analyst Ian Hartitz is breaking down all 32 NFL teams over the next two months. Let’s take a look at the Dolphins, who added ANOTHER explosive weapon to the backfield…

Dolphins Team Preview

🚀 Running Backs

  • Devon Achane (Ian’s RB36)

  • Jeff Wilson (RB48)

  • Raheem Mostert (RB54)

Whoever winds up working as Miami’s lead back will certainly carry plenty of fantasy upside simply by existing in the league’s reigning 11th-ranked scoring offense, although no team was less willing to give their RBs 20-plus touches than the Dolphins last season.

Good thing the team’s third-round rookie is fast fast. Seriously: Achane’s straight-line speed is rather terrifying; the Texas A&M product made a habit of splitting defenders who seemingly had angles on him in college.

The Dolphins will objectively have the league’s fastest RB1, WR1 and WR2 combination in terms of combined 40-yard dash times should Achane win the starting job.

The key question: Do the Dolphins consider Achane (5’9, 188 pounds) big enough to handle something close to an every-down role?

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler wrote the following summary on the rookie in his always excellent pre-draft Beast:

“A one-year starter at Texas A&M, Achane shared carries with Isaiah Spiller in 2021 and became the featured back in 2022 in former offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey’s inside zone scheme.

The 16th player in school history to surpass 1,000 rushing yards in a season, he was the only Power 5 player to score as a rusher, receiver and kick returner in 2022 and earned first team All-SEC honors as both a running back and all-purpose back. He was also an All-American track athlete for the Aggies (Achane: “I’m a football player who just happens to also run track.”).

An explosive player with the ball in his hands, Achane makes quick reads, collects his feet and accelerates out of his cuts with sprinting speed (at his best on counter plays).

He isn’t getting much bigger, and each NFL team will feel differently about his projected workload and role. Overall, Achane’s undersized build understandably creates doubt about him as an every-down NFL back, but his vision and rare acceleration allow him to access run paths most backs can’t.

With his added value as a receiver (a few NFL scouts project him best as a receiver) and returner, he has high-upside potential, similar in ways to Jahvid Best as a prospect.”

Dane Brugler

Greg Cosell is a noted believer in Achane’s ability to be more than a satellite back; at a minimum, it seems that a true starting role is firmly within the rookie’s range of outcomes.

Of course, Mostert and Wilson re-signed with the Dolphins for a reason.

While Wilson did rack up 15-plus combined carries and targets on four separate occasions last season, that stretch coincided with Mostert working through knee and thumb issues.

The only game that both played in that seemingly featured Mostert at 100% health saw the backs engage in a 49%/47% snap split, and neither managed to reach double-digit carries.

Ultimately, McDaniel’s willingness to feature Chase Edmonds (63% snaps, 16 touches) as the team’s Week 1 starter last season has me buying into the idea that Achane is the back to target in Miami.

Currently being drafted past the top 50 WRs and sitting as the RB35 overall, Achane is one of my favorite mid-round RB targets at the moment and someone with the potential to rocket up draft boards with some quality preseason usage/training camp news.

We have A LOT more to cover in South Beach!

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