- Fantasy Life Newsletter
- 🍗 Thanksgiving Leftovers Plus HOU-JAX Breakdown
🍗 Thanksgiving Leftovers Plus HOU-JAX Breakdown
Pumpkin pie > starting George Kittle...
Did anyone else’s family argue about whether or not fantasy football leagues should include kickers?
In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Hugo Boss:
Thanksgiving Day fallout: Jordan Love balls out, Dak throws 4 TDs, CMC does CMC things
Fantasy Questions: Is Tank Dell WR1 szn here to stay?
Matchup of the Week: Texans vs. Jaguars
QUICK HITTER: Are you tailing or fading Mr. Unlimited?
Report: No De’Von Achane (knee) today
The Walkthrough: A.J. Brown. To. The. Moon.
It’s 11/24. Take it away Ian Hartitz…
The Thanksgiving Day football Gods chose not to supply everyone with overly competitive affairs yesterday, but that didn’t mean the ball was all bad.
Specifically speaking on the victors since winners write the history books:
Packers QB Jordan Love turned in ANOTHER more than solid performance on his way to throwing for 268 yards and a trio of scores while leading Green Bay to a 29-22 W over the Lions. Christian Watson (5-94-1) easily had his best game of the year, while Jayden Reedeebo Samuel totaled 50 total yards and found the end zone himself.
Dak Prescott continued to look a lot like one of the best QBs in football on his way to throwing for 331 yards and a quartet of scores in this 45-10 blowout. While no individual receiver managed to reach even 75 yards, Tony Pollard totaled 103 total yards (his most since Week 6) and scored his second TD in as many weeks.
The 49ers held the Seahawks without an offensive score and dominated 31-13. The TD efforts were (as usual) led by Christian McCaffrey (139 total yards, 2 TDs), but Deebo Samuel (94 total yards, 1 TD) and Brandon Aiyuk (2-50-1) also found their ways into the end zone amidst another efficient performance by Brock Purdy.
You don’t need me to tell you to continue to feel GREAT about all key parties involved in the Cowboys, 49ers and Lions offenses, but there were a few more key usage-based takeaways from Thursday’s action.
🔔🐄 Newfound bell-cow RBs in Green Bay and Seattle
Packers RB A.J. Dillon played 52% of the offense's snaps while commanding 17 of the backfield's 21 total touches. While backup RB Patrick Taylor (48% route rate to Dillon's 27% mark) was more involved than expected on passing downs, this marks the fifth time in six games that Dillon has seen at least 15 touches with Aaron Jones (knee) sidelined. This usage warrants volume-based RB3 treatment at the worst, even if fantasy-friendly goal-line opportunities haven’t been overly plentiful in Green Bay.
And then there’s Seahawks rookie RB Zach Charbonnet, who dominated usage (as expected) despite not showing up too big in the box score.
That's high-end RB1 utilization right there. Tough end-of-season matchups against the Cowboys, 49ers, Eagles, Titans and Steelers could make Charbonnet more of a weekly upside RB2 despite this b-e-a-utiful usage, but he's still someone fantasy managers should have locked into starting lineups for as long as Kenneth Walker (oblique) remains sidelined.
👀 Complementary pass-catchers to target
Packers rookie TE Tucker Kraft hasn’t gotten much love this season while working behind Luke Musgrave (abdomen, IR), but he’s made the most out of his additional opportunities over the past two weeks by catching all four of his targets for 47 yards and 1 TD (almost two). Kraft's 88% route rate in Week 12 was beyond elite – he’s immediately in the mid-tier TE2 conversation and could even join the top-12 discussion during bye-heavy weeks inside of this ascending Packers passing game.
Cowboys WR Brandin Cooks (85% routes in Week 12) continues to work well ahead of anyone not named CeeDee Lamb (94%). The ex-Saints/Rams/Patriots/Texans veteran has scored at least 14 PPR points in four of his last six games. Cooks has emerged as a worthy boom-or-bust WR3 who has done a lot more of the former than the latter recently inside of this lethal Cowboys passing attack.
Second-year Lions WR Jameson Williams has seen his routes eclipse 50% in each of the past three weeks, although Thursday's 62% mark was still behind Josh Reynolds (68%) and was a slight decrease from Williams' career-best 66% mark in Week 11. There will be some big plays inside of this ever-productive Lions passing game, but there probably isn’t enough consistent volume around for Jamo to emerge as anything more than a boom-or-bust WR4 at best down the stretch.
The rest of Week 12’s matchups might not include the same battle against food, but the implications remain sky-high in our fifth-to-last Sunday before it’s time to decide those fantasy championships. Time to get back to business.
Grab some leftover turkey and hunker down because there remains all sorts of NFL action going on this weekend – and Ian has got some questions that simply need answers.
What follows are his biggest questions ahead of this week’s action. As always: It’s a great day to be great.
🤔 Is Tank Dell a weekly fantasy WR1 at this point?
That’s what he’s been over the last three weeks!
Week 9: 6 receptions-114 yards-2 TD (11 targets), PPR WR2
Week 10: 6-56-1 (14), WR13
Week 11: 8-149-1 (10), WR3
You don’t have to be a Joshua Dobbs rocket scientist to figure out that Dell is good at football and benefiting from being the No. 1 target of one of the best rookie QBs … ever.
Still, it is worth wondering if Dell’s production is just a bit inflated at the moment relative to his actual real-life standing to his WR peers. Again: The rookie is obviously already really good, but seeing not one, not two, but three Texans WRs ranking among the position’s top-12 most-efficient options in yards per route run is absolutely wild:
Noah Brown (2.87, tied for third)
Nico Collins (2.54, ninth)
Dell (2.4, 12th)
C.J. Stroud hasn’t just been good for a rookie: The Ohio State product now ranks among the league’s top-10 signal-callers in yards per attempt (8.3, third), EPA per dropback (+0.15, seventh) and PFF passing grade (80.9, 10th).
The continued absence of Brown (knee) would keep this down to a three-man rotation – but even then: I’ll be answering the vast majority of close start/sit questions featuring Dell or Collins with them as long as the Texans continue to look like one of the game’s single-most lethal passing attacks. Stroud is literally on pace to throw for 5,035 yards this season. Madness.
👑 “Why be a king, when you can be a God?” - Jaylen Warren
There’s really been nothing wrong with Najee Harris this season. His average of 3.9 yards per carry is the same as guys like Austin Ekeler, Javonte Williams and Joe Mixon. Harris’ marks in yards after contact per attempt (2.9, 23rd) and missed tackles forced per carry (0.21, 12th) are legit good. Credit to the former first-round pick for also converting two of his three rushing attempts inside the five-yard line into scores.
Here’s the thing: Warren has been … the best RB in the league at making defenders miss and creating explosive plays on the ground.
“Gen-Z Austin Ekeler” has ripped off PPR RB15, RB8 and RB2 finishes over the past three weeks with touch totals of 14, 17 and 12. Not exactly the sort of usage one might expect for one of the game’s most efficient rushers, but perhaps this changes in the post-Matt Canada era.
Overall, Warren is the consensus Fantasy Life RB24 this week ahead of guys like Jerome Ford, Gus Edwards and James Cook. The matchup certainly doesn’t hurt: Only the Broncos (2) have allowed more rushing yards before contact per carry than the Bengals (1.8).
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Two of the game’s likely heroes of tomorrow at the QB position inside of offenses littered with high-end fantasy assets facing off in a late-season showdown that will single-handedly swing the power of balance in the AFC South — are you ready to run through a brick wall yet?
Well good, because resident Fantasy Life baller Chris Allen is back once again to get you ready for Sunday’s premiere contest. Presenting, the Fantasy Life matchup of Week 12: The Jacksonville Jaguars at the Houston Texans.
My case for this game as the Matchup of the Week was simple.
It’ll decide who wins the division. Well, it likely will.
A win for Jacksonville would put them at 4-1 in the division, and projections have them favored in four of their remaining six games. Trevor Lawrence still has an uphill battle in the “he’s overrated” debate, but we saw enough of his talent last week to keep believing if they get a win on Sunday.
But if the Texans win? Just give C.J. Stroud the MVP award right then (I’m kinda kidding).
Houston would have the same overall record (7-4) and a half-game back on the Jaguars in the division standings. Plus, they’d be giving points in the rest of their regular-season contests. We’d see the Texans in the playoffs for the first time since 2019. But let’s get through this matchup first before we start talking about January football.
🐆 Jaguars Week 12 Outlook
Lawrence played his best game in Week 11. And I’m not being hyperbolic. His 0.49 EPA per play was a career-high mark. The team averaged 1.9 EPA per drive, a franchise-high since Jacksonville drafted Lawrence. And, before you ask, their 47.8 yards per drive ranks the fourth-most over the last five seasons.
So, yes, Lawrence played his best game. But from a high level, it doesn’t look much different than the others.
Regardless, the big question will be about Calvin Ridley and his seemingly pop-up performance last week. As I mentioned before, Lawrence didn’t attempt more passes, but the lack of pressure allowed him to look downfield. Plus, his 26.3% play-action rate was the highest it had been since Week 6. So OC Press Taylor had Lawrence on the move more often. The same was the case for Ridley.
Initially, I liked the idea of Zay Jones being back as a reason for Ridley getting back in our good graces. Less defensive attention and more intermediate routes for the WR1. Subjectively, this made sense. But I’ll pose an even simpler idea: finding creative ways to get him the ball independent of who’s on the field. (OK, maybe it’s not that simple.)
Next Gen Stats lays it out for us. While we were happy in Week 5 (with Zay on the field), the game plan for Ridley was “please win for us.” He played from the slot on 8.6% of his snaps and worked out of bunched/stacked formations on 11 of his 70 plays. Luckily, that changed against the Titans.
Slot Rate: 13.6% (Weeks 1-10), 25.5% (Week 11)
Stacked/Bunched Set Rate: 22.5%, 43.6%
Taylor deployed his WR1…like a WR1. His 25.5% slot rate was a season-high, with his closest being 18.4% the week prior. And luckily, we’ve seen WR1s from the interior find their way into the end zone against Houston. Zay or nay Zay, proper scheming can get the best out of the best. And Jacksonville will need the best out of Ridley to keep their hold on the AFC South.
Broncos (-1.5) vs. Browns
Are you TAILING or FADING?
😬 Coaches lost jobs after the Commanders’ blowout loss to the Cowboys. Sheesh.
🤔 START or SIT Garrett Wilson against Miami? Matthew Berry has your answer.
🤣 Fantasy football analysis has come a long way over the years. Too true lol.
📈 He’s burned you all season…but this WR is primed to bounce back.
🐬 De’Von Achane (knee) isn’t expected to play this afternoon. Check those lineups before 3:00 pm ET!
🦃 Turkey simply tastes better when you get to share it with people. Bravo, George Kittle.
👀 It’s the last weekend before Bowl szn. The best College Football bets for Week 13.
😮 Probably the single-best play from Thursday. J-S-N.
🐏 Good injury updates in the Rams WR room. So you’re telling us there’s a chance.
🏈 The Saints make a key removal from their injury report. The Jameis experience sure would be a lot cooler.
An all-encompassing Week 12 preview breaking down EVERY game with an array of advanced analytics as well as devoted film analysis from a champion expert in the field who just so happens to also be a rather great writer — is that something you might be interested in?
Well, good, because Legendary Upside founder and Fantasy Life partner Pat Kerrane is here to spread the good word ahead of Week 12 with a preview of one of our favorite WR1s from his upcoming breakdown…
Generally, volume has been the biggest issue for the Eagles passing game. Philadelphia frequently plays from ahead; when doing so, they are usually conservative. Their 57% expected pass rate is the second-lowest in the league—only the 49ers are lower. And like the 49ers and Ravens, the Eagles are dictating the run to their opponents.
In that sense, they’re a run-heavy team. But would they be run-heavy if the environment changed? That seems pretty unlikely.
The Eagles have a 10% pass rate over expected on 1st down, second to only the Commanders (11%). This is a clear indication that they view their passing attack as the driving force of their offense. And we’ve seen them take to the air on several occasions, hitting a 66%+ pass rate in 4-of-10 games.
Philadelphia now gets a Bills defense that looks overmatched in its current condition. Through the first four weeks of the season, the Bills defense looked elite. They ranked second in EPA allowed per dropback and seventh in dropback success rate.
But in a span of less than four quarters, they lost CB Tre’Davious White, LB Matt Milano, and DT DaQuon Jones.
Starting in Week 6, their first game without all three players, the Bills rank 20th in EPA allowed per dropback and 17th in dropback success rate. They are far more vulnerable on the backend than they were to start the season.
The Bills still have a strong pass rush. Since Week 6, they rank third in quick pressure rate, and they rank second in pass rush win rate this season. The Eagles’ offensive line will be put to the test.
And although the Eagles rank fourth in pass block win rate, they’ve been letting up quick pressure at a decent rate. Hurts is likely to be impacted by this pass rush to an extent.
But when Jalen Hurts is well protected… things are going to be fun. The Bills have allowed explosive plays at a high rate all season, which is amazing news for A.J. Brown. Brown has 26 15+ yard receptions this season, trailing only Tyreek Hill (37… !), CeeDee Lamb (32), and Brandon Aiyuk (29).
And even after last week’s one-catch eight-yard performance, Brown is as clear a No. 1 option as there is in the NFL. Brown’s 25% first-read target rate leads all receivers. Last season – with Brown in more of a deep-threat role – this matchup would have created some risk. But this year, the Eagles are calling plays with Brown as their clear go-to weapon. He’ll be the engine of the offense regardless of what form the passing game takes.
Christian McCaffrey is a robot I knew it
— Andrew Cooper (@CoopAFiasco)
Nov 24, 2023