🏥 Thursday Night Football Injury Fallout

Will God turn off injuries already...

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Death, taxes: Gus Edwards scoring touchdowns…

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Webex:

  • The Ravens take down the Bengals 34-20 in an injury-riddled TNF

  • Week 11 Fantasy Questions: Is the Passtronaut a legit fantasy QB1?

  • Matchup of the Week: C.J. Stroud vs. Kyler Murray

  • De’Von Achane injury update (smile, fantasy managers)

  • Best bets: In Mike Vrabel we trust

  • TAIL or FADE: Patrick Mahomes getting less than a FG??

  • It’s 11/17. Take it away, Ian Hartitz…

The Ravens’ 14-point victory over the Bengals on Thursday night was sadly more defined by injuries to Joe Burrow (right wrist) and Mark Andrews (ankle) than the much-anticipated on-field product.

On the Bengals QB: Head coach Zac Taylor said they believe Burrow is dealing with a sprained right wrist. You don’t need us to tell you that all parties involved in this Bengals offense will be far worse off should rookie UDFA Jake Browning be forced to take over under center for any extended length of time.

As for Andrews: Ugh.

The sixth-year veteran was enjoying plenty of success during the first half of 2023, as demonstrated by his 81-984-11 receiving pace going into Thursday night.

Andrews is the only TE not named Travis Kelce to capture the overall fantasy TE1 crown since 2015. This sucks: Prayers and good vibes go out to the three-time Pro Bowler on a quick and successful recovery.

Second-year Ravens TE Isaiah Likely is the next man up and certainly flashed plenty of upside as a rookie on his way to posting 6-77-1, 1-24-1 and 8-103-0 receiving lines in his only three games with a snap rate north of 50%.

Still, he managed just one reception for four-scoreless yards in Week 1 with Andrews sidelined, and last night’s goose-egg effort doesn’t add much confidence to his potential second-half upside.

It’s likely that Likely (sorry) serves as more of a boom-or-bust TE2 inside of a Todd Monken-led offense that is clearly more comfortable featuring its WRs in the passing game vs. what we saw in 2022.

On brighter notes: Shoutout to Gus Edwards (12-62-2) for scoring his ninth and 10th TDs of the still relatively young season, and to Odell Beckham Jr. (4-116-0) for turning back the clock on more than a few nice snags; here's to hoping his late-game shoulder injury isn't a long-term problem.

Oh yeah, one more thing Zay Flowers got robbed of a 68-yard house call on a SOFT holding call. Sheesh!

Sadly, fantasy managers can’t control injuries or underwhelming Thursday night matchups that looked perfect on paper. But you know what we can do? Make badass start/sit decisions that lead our squads to victory.

Let’s focus on that. Cool? Cool.

Fantasy Qs

Do you realize there are only 44 days between now and Fantasy Championship Sunday? Until that one shot? That one moment? To seize everything you’ve ever wanted? Will you capture it? Or just let it slip?

Regardless, yeah: Week 11 is here, baby! What follows are Ian’s biggest questions ahead of this week’s action. As always: It’s a great day to be great.

🧑‍🚀 Is the Joshua Dobbs elite QB1 experience for real?

The Passtronaut has emerged as one of 2023's best stories.

From shocking the undefeated Cowboys in Week 3, to generally leading the inept Cardinals to far more competitive contests than expected, and most recently keeping the Vikings’ win streak going with back-to-back GREAT performances: It’s Dobbs’ world, and we’re just living in it.

Right? Has he really been that good?

In fantasy land: Yes, thanks in large part to his rather deadly rushing ability. Consider: Only Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson are averaging more fantasy points per game from purely production on the ground this season:

  • Jalen Hurts (8.2)

  • Lamar Jackson (7.8)

  • Dobbs (6.68)

  • Josh Allen (6.66)

  • Justin Fields (5)

Dobbs has also gotten the good times rolling through the air with the Vikings after brutally averaging under five adjusted yards per attempt in four consecutive games to end his tenure with the Cardinals.

As a whole this season: Dobbs has been pretty bad at throwing the football.

  • EPA per dropback: -0.02 (No. 23)

  • Completion percentage over expected: -1.2% (No. 26)

  • PFF pass grade: 58.0 (No. 27 among 33 QBs with 150-plus dropbacks this season)

  • Passer rating: 85.1 (No. 20)

  • Yards per attempt: 6 (No. 30)

That said, consecutive solid performances against fairly stiff tests in the Saints and Falcons lend credence to the idea that Dobbs can more consistently move the ball through the air in this rather loaded Vikings attack that should get All-Pro WR Justin Jefferson (hamstring, IR) back sooner rather than later.

Also helping matters is the schedule. Not all layups, but things could certainly be worse than finishing the fantasy season with the Broncos (23rd in fantasy points per game allowed to QBs), Bears (29th), Raiders (9th), Bengals (16th), Lions (22nd) and Packers (4th).

Fire up Dobbs as a top-15 option at the position this week with Jefferson back in the lineup; he’ll be just a bit less enticing without one of the game’s best WRs against a Denver defense that – to their credit – has allowed the third-fewest points per game (16.75) over their past four games despite facing Patrick Mahomes (twice) and Josh Allen (Jordan Love too, but, you know).

Fantasy Qs

🐬 What DST is ideal to have over the next five weeks?

That would be the Dolphins. This suddenly healthy DST is poised to ball out against quite the stretch of overmatched QBs:

  • Week 11 vs. Raiders

  • Week 12 at Jets

  • Week 13 at Commanders

  • Week 14 vs. Titans

  • Week 15 vs. Jets

Two dates with Zach Wilson alongside matchups with Aidan O’Connell and Will Levis? Hell, even the Sam Howell showdown isn’t exactly scary from a fantasy perspective, given all the sacks that he takes. Don’t be surprised if Jalen Ramsey and company make life easier than ever for their offense and fantasy managers alike during this stretch.

😮 Who has been Fantasy’s most productive B. Robinson?

Answer: Brian Robinson. Give the second-year RB credit for really expanding his game as a receiver, posting a 20-256-3 receiving line just one year removed from his pedestrian 9-60-1 performance as a rookie. Surprisingly, both Antonio Gibson and B-Rob are among the league’s top-five most-productive RBs in PPR fantasy points from purely receiving numbers:

  1. Christian McCaffrey (95.9)

  2. Alvin Kamara (86.5)

  3. Rachaad White (73.6)

  4. Antonio Gibson (68.9)

  5. Brian Robinson (63.6)

Washington hasn’t had a bye, so these numbers are a little inflated. However, both Gibson (RB7) and Robinson (RB10) remain top-10 RBs in PPR points from purely receiving production even when going on a per-game basis. Kudos to Sam Howell – currently pacing for 4,731 pass yards and 29 TDs – for truly raising the fantasy floor for pretty much everyone involved this season.

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Fantasy Life Matchup of the week

What if we told you there was a matchup featuring one fantasy-relevant player after another inside of suddenly ascending offenses featuring high-end QBs that look more than capable of taking advantage of their respective winnable defensive matchups?

That’s right: Cardinals-Texans looks a lot like the best game on Sunday’s slate and boasts the week’s higher over/under (48.5). Make sure to stop by your local grocery store before Sunday so you can have your popcorn ready for this 1:00 pm ET kickoff…in the meantime, Chris Allen is here to break it down…

The idea of a game between the Cardinals and Texans being appointment viewing wouldn’t have made sense back in August.

Heck, it wouldn’t have made sense about a month ago.

In fact, as of two weeks ago, we might have seen this matchup as Clayton Tune going up against a rising star in C.J. Stroud. Luckily, the football gods are on our side for Week 11.

Kyler Murray made his 2023 debut on Sunday and met the hype of his comeback video posted just days beforehand. And for Stroud, we’re past the discussion of him as the Offensive Rookie of the Year. It’s time to talk about his legitimacy as the MVP. But with both showing out, there’s bound to be some fantasy value when the two collide. So, let’s see who’s worth a roster spot (or spot start) for Week 11.

✍️ Cardinals Week 11 Outlook

For Arizona, it’s best to start with how Jonathan Gannon and OC Drew Petzing adjusted the offense with Murray back on the field.

Cardinals Utilization Offense Scheme

I’m ignoring Week 9 since Gannon subjecting Tune to the Browns’ defense is an OSHA violation. Regardless, the Cardinals’ dropback over expectation (DBOE) rate did pick up when compared to Josh Dobbs’ final three starts. However, he’s still knocking off the rust.

Regardless, the Cardinals’ offense will need more than just an efficient passing game. Since their bye, the Texans are fifth in average yards (37.9) and EPA (0.6) per drive. Arizona will need another element of their offense to keep pace, and, luckily, their best rusher also returned in Week 10.

Fantasy Life Matchup of the week

After working through a knee injury that kept him out for the previous month, James Conner took 16 of the 19 RB totes on Sunday. He played 38 snaps, while Keaontay Ingram and Tony Jones combined for half that amount. Undoubtedly, this is Conner’s backfield. But something was missing from his workload.

Conner averaged 4.0 targets per game with Kyler last season. Murray targeted the position at a league-average rate (19.3%), but it boosted Conner’s touch floor. Regardless, Murray didn’t look Conner’s way at all last Sunday.

  • Route Rate: 47.1% (Weeks 1-4), 38.9% (Week 10)

  • Target Share: 8.3%, 0.0%

  • TPRR: 15.6%, 0.0%

A potential explanation: The team didn’t want Conner exposed to additional contact. It was his first game back, plus Rondale Moore and Trey McBride operate in the same area. And it’s not like Conner had any competition for targets from his peers.

Conner ran the most routes (Ingram – 7, Jones – 3), and neither of the other RBs got an attempt thrown their way. But against Houston, we should see Murray get back to using Conner as a receiver.

The Texans rank eighth in EPA per rush and rushing success rate allowed. They’re yet to give up a 100-yard game to a rusher in a single contest but rank 21st in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to RBs. And just looking at the top four performers against Houston, Conner’s path to an RB1 finish becomes clear.

  • Rachaad White: 27.9 (PPR Points), 20 (carries), 4 (targets)

  • Zack Moss: 20.7, 18, 4

  • Travis Etienne: 17.8, 18, 5

  • Alvin Kamara: 17.4, 18, 8

Conner already commands the short-yardage and inside-the-five carries based on his usage last week. All we need is for his receiving work to return, and he’ll outkick his mid-range RB2 ranking in Week 11.

Love Hate

#LOVEHATE is upon us, and Matthew Berry is here to take you through the Week 11 NFL slate!

Around the Watercooler (August 2022)

🔥 The ceiling games are coming. Four HUGE mismatches for Week 11.

🤠 Exactly what Tony Pollard fantasy managers did NOT want to hear. Available in 85% of Yahoo! leagues!

🙃 David Montgomery had something to do with Jahmyr Gibbs’ newfound goal-line role. Not exactly the attitude fantasy managers are looking for!

📺 You’ve got Week 11 questions, we’ve got answers. With an assist from a very special guest.

🤔 One of the game’s best WRs “never really said anything about being unhappy.” Drama in the Diggs family.

✍️ The Cardinals will be a popular DFS stack. Get different within the same game.

📈 Justin Jefferson with some words on his near-term availability. So he’s saying there’s a chance.

🤝 The Cowboys were well aware of CeeDee Lamb’s historic streak last Sunday. People helping people.

🐬 One of the game’s most explosive young talents will reportedly return this week. Great day to be great.

💀 What is with NFL coaches always hating on fantasy football? We weren’t even mad at you bro!

Best Bets

There’s just something about the thrill of lining up your bets ahead of Sunday. All the possibility in the world is in your hands, who wouldn’t be excited and want to make the absolute most out of this opportunity?

Lucky for you, a scholar, Fantasy Life betting aficionado Geoff Ulrich is here to spread the good word on his BEST bets ahead of a loaded Week 11 slate.

👀 Spread: Titans +7.0

  • Play to: +7.0 (-120)

Part of liking the Titans in this spot is just the general feeling that Jacksonville remains somewhat overrated. The Jaguars come in ranked fourth in Luck Rating and also got completely exposed by the 49ers last week, allowing 10.5 yards per attempt to Brock Purdy (296-3). This week, they’ll face another young gunslinger and unknown quantity at QB in Will Levis.

While the Titans’ O-Line remains a huge concern, the Jaguars’ theoretically good on-paper pass rush has totaled the fifth-fewest sacks in the league. Tennessee has also taken some steps to rectify the beatings that Levis has taken of late. They claimed former Panther’s guard Calvin Throckmorton off waivers this week – who has allowed zero sacks on 508 snaps played this year. 

The trends also remain solidly in favor of a Titans cover. Mike Vrabel is a terrific coach to back as a big underdog and comes in 25-14-1 ATS for his career when his teams are +3 or higher on the spread.

As for the Jaguars, Trevor Lawrence often plays down to his competition. He’s 4-11 ATS vs. teams under .500 SU and comes into this game ranked just 17th in EPA per play among all QBs – and with one TD pass or less in seven of his last eight starts.

Sad but true: Bears QB Justin Fields — who has missed the last 4.5 weeks due to injury — still has more passing TDs than Lawrence (11 vs. 9).

The Titans may fall short of the playoffs this year, but, for Week 11, they do look like a solid back at +7.0 or higher – on a spread that feels like it has moved too far in favor of a very publicly bet Jaguars squad

Best Bets

Jordan Love has certainly made some poor decisions in the red zone of late, but in the meaty portion of the field, he’s been extremely efficient, and his rate of spectacular throws has been increasing.

The Chargers are also a fantastic matchup and one where we should expect to see more of the above from Love.

Los Angeles has given up the 29th most yards per play and ranks 31st in yards per pass attempt allowed. Every single QB that has faced the Chargers this season has thrown for 230+ yards, and that list includes luminaries such as Aiden O’Connell (238 yards in Week 4 – his first NFL start) and Tyson Bagent (232 yards in Week 8 – his second career start). 

I like taking the over on his regular passing prop this week, but, if you want a little more degeneracy in your life (who doesn’t), I also cooked up a same game parlay this week using his alternate passing total (and pairing him with alternate totals on Christian Watson and Luke Musgrave). 

Whichever way you slice it, with the Chargers in town, it’s a good time to be bullish on Love and the Packers’ young receivers.

Tail or Fade

Chiefs (-2.5) vs. Eagles

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