💥 The Top Moments of 2023

Let's go out with a bang...

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Honest question, does being a non-unanimous MVP make you less of an MVP?

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by CTRL:

  • The Best of 2023. What a ride it was…

  • Underdog Pick’Em Plays: All eyes (and bets) on the KC backfield

  • The Chiefs’ final injury report is out. More problems for Mahomes.

  • DFS Stacks: CMC CPT SZN? YLTSI

  • It’s 2/10. Take it away, Chris Allen…

Well, here we are.

There’s just one more day until the final game of the ‘23 season. And honestly, I think it’s time to relax.

The boys and I tackled some of the tough questions for SB 58. Pete dug deep for hidden gems to target in DFS. Plus, our betting crew has been scouring the books for the best props since the conference championships ended. We’ve broken down this contest from every angle.

Come Monday, our collective minds will turn to the 2024 season. Actually, Dwain is already there. But the fantasy season isn’t over yet. And while the last two weeks have been about the Chiefs and 49ers (rightfully so), players from every team have been part of moments we’ll never forget.

They’re too numerous to count, and maybe I’m biased. But with the time we’ve got left, let’s look at some of the top moments from the regular season.

😬 The Dolphins Drop 70 on Denver

Before Week 3, De’Von Achane had earned two (2) touches. The Dolphins were 2-0, and Raheem Mostert had asserted himself as the lead back in an offense that had created 22 explosive plays in just two games. And then, they played the Broncos.

Achane ran for 133 yards (totaled 233 all-purpose) on just three plays, and Tua Tagovailoa dished out a nasty no-look shovel pass for a TD earlier in the same game. Even Robbie Chosen got into the mix.

Hilariously, Achane’s performance and Tua’s swag garnered so much media attention that Tyreek Hill going for 157 yards was a footnote in a historic performance for Miami. Sean Payton’s past comments may have given them some bulletin board material, but fantasy managers were forever chasing Achane’s big boxscore result after that game.

😲 Tee Higgins Windmill TD

While Tee didn’t live up to his ADP, he could still put on a show at the right time. After dealing with injuries early in the season, he (and Joe Burrow) started to show signs of life around midseason.

Of course, we all know how things ended for No. 9. And Higgins continued to pop in and out of the lineup. But in Week 15, with Ja’Marr Chase out and Cincinnati’s playoff chances on the line, Higgins kept hope alive with an absurd catch-and-score sequence.

Simply put, if Justin Jefferson has to tell you you’re crazy for something you just did on the field, it’s probably pretty good.

My shoulder hurts rewatching it now.

Regardless, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more memorable catch from this season and any prior. As a Bengals fan, I hope to see him in black and orange come August. Either way, wherever he goes, we’ll all be waiting for another moment like what we saw against the Vikings.

🎒 Drew Lock Comes Through

And to close out that same week, Drew Lock gave us an all-timer.

The Eagles were already on a two-game slide after brutal losses to the 49ers and the Cowboys. Playing against Seattle was supposed to be Philly’s bounce-back opportunity.

Plus they were going up against the Seahawks’ backup QB? Pencil in a W for the Eagles.

However, with Geno Smith in your corner (and a solid trio of WRs), anything’s possible.

Of course, there are other instances throughout the season to highlight. From Zack Moss becoming an RB1 during Jonathan Taylor’s absence to the ‘Tommy Cutlets’ Craze to D.J. Moore reminding us he’s QB-proof, the twists and turns have been nonstop.

They’re why we watch. They’re why we play.

So, salute to the players for another wild ride through the regular season. Let’s do it again in six months.

Now, bring on the Super Bowl!

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SB UD Pick'em

Don’t feel like building a DFS roster but still want to get in on the action for the Super Bowl? C’mon now. You know we got you.

Underdog’s Pick’em plays are a fun way to see how each player does while putting some money down on the outcome. Geoff breaks down how it works AND gives you the best targets for Sunday’s big game. What more could ya ask for?

🦶 Harrison Butker HIGHER than 1.5 Field Goals 

I like leaning on the Chiefs' special teams in this spot. Harrison Butker is 7/7 on FG attempts in the playoffs thus far, and since 2020, is 24/27 on FG tries in the postseason. He’s one of the premier kickers in the league, if not the best kicker, and will certainly have his coach's confidence if the Chiefs stall out and are left with a decision to go for it or attempt a longer FG. 

This is important because two weeks ago, we saw the Lions – who had moved the ball efficiently all game – twice give up the chance to go for longer FG attempts (one of which would have put them up three scores). Andy Reid isn’t likely to pass on a chance to allow Butker to put up points (unless the score/clock dictates it), and with the 49ers’ defense suddenly giving up more and more big plays, the opportunities for Butker to get us to the HIGHER this week figure to be there.

SB UD Pick'em

😤 Isiah Pacheco HIGHER than 69.5 rushing yards 

I don’t think we need to get overly cute with our Chiefs plays. Isiah Pacheco should be in for a solid workload this week, and he’ll be facing a 49ers rush defense that has cratered as the season has progressed.

From Week 12 on, they were just 22nd in EPA per rush and 24th in success rate. Aaron Jones bullied them for 6.0 yards per carry in the Divisional Round, and David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs averaged 5.1 yards per carry in the Conference Championship.

Pacheco’s usage certainly shouldn’t be a concern, either. Even if his snap rate comes down a bit, he’s still going to have a stranglehold on the carries (85% carry rate last week).

Further, Arizona and Cleveland’s backs still had stellar rushing days against the 49ers, despite their teams trailing for much of the day, and Pacheco (12 carries - 70 yards against Jacksonville, 15 carries - 97 yards against Buffalo) has shown he’s capable of solid yardage on low volume, making a HIGHER bet on him an easy sell.

💪 George Karlaftis over 3.0 tackles + assists

  • Play to: 3.0 

I rarely venture into the scary “defensive picks,” but it’s the Super Bowl, and we need to explore all our pick’em options this week with just one game to build around. “Furious” George Karlaftis has seen his snap count rise (81% against Buffalo, 83% against Baltimore) in the playoffs for the Chiefs. 

While he’s a defensive end who primarily specializes in pass rushing, his versatility has been shining through of late as he’s posted 4.0 or more tackles + assists in each of his last four games. With a run-heavy team like the 49ers as his opponent on tap, I like taking the HIGHER for a player who has seen his usage and performance rise over the Chief's playoff run.

Watercooler

🧠 Don’t go into Sunday without all the news and notes about the game. Kendall and co do a deep dive on the epic showdown.

🤕 Chiefs will be without a critical piece to their offense. How will they adjust?

📈 Don’t avoid Drake London in drafts for 2024. His usage in ‘23 tells a better story.

😅 Everybody was out on Radio Row yesterday, including Coach Reid! Wait, is that really him?

💲 Everyone’s on the under, but we’ve seen a few wagers on the over. Matt details what the sharps are doing.

🤝 Jerod Mayo adds a Patriots legend to his staff. Can’t wait to draft New England’s defense next year.

💰 Betting on KC’s RB2 has more upside than you might think. Geoff shows you how to do it.

🧐 Seattle hires their defensive coordinator. Meanwhile, the brain drain continues for the Dallas Cowboys.

👀 No biggie. Just Matthew Berry talking fantasy with CJ2K. Look at the squad he drafted!

🤔 The Falcons coaching staff is set for 2024. But Bijan Robinson thought he was getting a different head coach...

Showdown Breakdown SB

A one-game slate changes our focus from traditional DFS contests to the showdown format. The rosters are smaller, forcing tougher decisions. Plus, with ownership to consider, you may have to get a little weird to find a unique build.

But don’t worry. James McCool from Paydirt DFS has the data to help select the right CPT and build a winning lineup.

Showdown Breakdown SB

📝 Showdown SZN Breakdown

These results are from a contest simulation model based on large field contests for DFS on DraftKings. The “Proj Own” is the projected ownership for the player in the CPT or FLEX position, while the “Exposure” is the percentage of times a player should be up in a lineup that won the simulated contest. The “Edge” is the difference between the exposure and projected ownership and can be used as a proxy for how over or undervalued a player is.

📊 CPT Rostership Distributions

Showdown Breakdown SB

When considering a captain for the matchup, your best bet is to go with one of four players: Isiah Pacheco, George Kittle, Brock Purdy, or Christian McCaffrey.

All four have a strong edge over the projected ownership at the position and have ceilings that can win you a contest. The players that you should be more wary of are both kickers (Jake Moody and Harrison Butker), along with Patrick Mahomes and Brandon Aiyuk.

It’s worth noting that a negative edge doesn’t mean you cannot use a player, just that you should make sure you are canceling it out with a positive edge elsewhere!

🧮 FLEX Rostership Distributions

Showdown Breakdown SB

Looking at the distributions at the FLEX position, we see some pretty clear edges to exploit at the top: CMC, Pacheco, and Purdy.

All three were consistently in the positive edge range in a handful of simulations. The main options that appear to be overvalued are Moody and Kittle.

It’s clear, based on the simulation results, that focusing on both RBs and leaning toward Purdy over Mahomes is the right move in large-field contests.

💰 CPT and FLEX Notes:

  • It makes a lot of sense to focus on the 49ers side here, on the one hand, because they are favorites, and teams that score more points typically produce more fantasy points, but also because guys like Purdy will go underowned relative to their upside.

  • Both of these defenses are very strong, so using just one QB instead of two (most people will play for a shootout) can give you some easy differentiation from the field.

  • Every build should start with McCaffrey in either the captain or flex. He’s a lock on most showdown slates, especially one with a lot of uncertainty at other spend-ups.

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