🧐 Two Offenses To Watch In Week 1
Kickoff is almost here...
A Saturday newsletter? Football is definitely back now!
In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Rival Fantasy:
A look back on the ‘23 offseason
Ian’s favorite picks in high-stake drafts
A Tampa Bay WR might be on the move
LaMarca Drafts from the 1.09
It’s 9/2. Take it away, Chris Allen…
Ladies and gentlemen, we made it.
It’s the final Saturday before the regular season starts, and interest in fantasy football has kicked into high gear.
I can tell because I’m getting texts from friends and family for advice. If you’re reading this newsletter, you’re already set to dominate your draft.
So when redraft time came, our mock drafts were less about players and more about how to build championship squads. But of course, our ADP Grid has your back if you need to cram before your league gets together.
Regardless, you’re ready.
So, with five days left before we plunge into the season, I wanted to take a look back on a couple of offseason storylines. They feel like blips on our radars now, but make the regular season all the more intriguing.
💰 Lamar Gets His Deal
When the Ravens used the non-exclusive tag on Lamar Jackson, it felt like both sides had reached the point of no return. Despite bringing in Todd Monken and signing Odell Beckham Jr., Jackson’s return to Baltimore didn’t feel like a foregone conclusion.
But since Jackson secured his new contract, you’d think this group had been together for a while.
Can’t wait to talk about this tomorrow… Ravens by 1000
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow)
Aug 31, 2023
The vibes? Immaculate.
Baltimore’s coaching staff has stressed a faster offensive pace and featuring their offensive weapons. Since Jackson took over as the starter, the offense ranks 25th in neutral passing rate and relied on the former MVP to create explosives. But this offseason has looked different than the last few years.
With Mark Andrews checking all the boxes for a legendary season, it’s hard not to want to reach for any of the Ravens’ passing game at cost.
The early offseason drama feels like something that happened to another team. With how this group looks, championship fantasy rosters will likely have at least one Baltimore player on them.
💞 Rodgers Traded And No Love Lost
Two franchises caught in the middle.
The Aaron Rodgers trade saga had so many twists and turns that it was hard to tell if he’d wind up on the Jets or retire. But now, he looks happy with the outcome.
.@AaronRodgers12 said there would be some good trash talk in Hard Knocks.
He was right.
— New York Jets (@nyjets)
Aug 30, 2023
This is a team that looks like they’re pushing their chips all in and, coincidentally, Vegas has the Jets with the 11th-highest projected points per game this season.
As a result, starting drafts with Wilson (ADP: 18.5) or taking Hall as an RB2 have their merit.
But it’s not like the Packers haven’t been generating their own buzz in the post-Rodgers era.
this is kinda wild
— Ross Uglem (@RossUglem)
Aug 27, 2023
Jordan Love looks in command of Green Bay’s offense and he’s got the pass-game options to keep them in contention for the NFC North title.
Christian Watson has been a mainstay of the early rounds and his teammates all have appeal at their ADPs.
Jayden Reed has been one of our favorite late-round options, but both RBs have contingent value with the Packers’ passing rate likely taking a step back.
Regardless, Green Bay’s offense isn’t one to shy away from with the season right around the corner.
And just think. A few months ago we wouldn’t have thought the same way about any of these teams.
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If you’re hopping into the high-stakes streets this weekend, we’ve got you covered. Ian has been drafting over at the National Fantasy Football League Championship (NFFC) and found his favorite picks at ADP for you to target.
The National Fantasy Football League Championship (NFFC) is a pretty, pretty, pretty fun time.
Sure, all fantasy football drafts are fun, but some of the unique factors in NFFC land are objectively awesome:
6-point passing TD: Tired of dual-threat QBs being way better in fantasy than in real life? This helps mightily.
Third-round reversal: Picking from the first few spots of the first round no longer leads to such an advantage at the two-three turn; instead draft order reverses after the first two rounds are complete.
Team kickers: Nameless, faceless fantasy football assets that help prevent managers from having to overly worry about the least “football” position in all of football.
Oh yeah: Having the opportunity to turn a $350 squad into $250,000 isn’t too shabby either.
The Fantasy Life squad is THRILLED to have NFFC as our high-stakes fantasy partner this season and has had a great time streaming multiple drafts already.
Every draft room is different – this one in particular was wild – but at the end of the day: Any fantasy draft still comes down to trying to get better players than your opponents (wild concept, I know).
What follows are my favorite high-stakes picks in NFFC-specific drafts.
💪 Deshaun Watson, QB - Browns
Watson is my single favorite QB target in fantasy football if fading the true early-round options.
He presents the same sort of alien-level dual-threat upside as guys like Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen and Jackson – re-finding pre-2021 form could quickly enter the ex-Texans QB into the Round 3 conversation this time next year.
After all, Watson is one of just five QBs to ever average at least 20 fantasy points per game even when including last year’s dumpster fire.
So why is Watson this cheap? Most likely because:
He was horrendous last season. He literally tied Zach Wilson in EPA per dropback (-0.09).
Some drafters understandably don’t want to take Watson given all of his off-the-field issues.
The Browns have added newfound pass-game weaponry and reportedly are willing to turn Kevin Stefanski’s typically run-first offense into the Watson show.
“It’s just preseason.”
I know, but it’s also fair to say Watson was looking a bit more like his old self in Arrowhead last weekend compared to last year.
every Deshaun Watson dropback vs KC
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball)
Aug 28, 2023
If you ask yourself, “What can I get in this round that I can’t get later?”, the answer in Round 9 is usually Watson.
⚜ Saints DST
Having a ridiculously easy schedule to start the season allows drafters to keep the Saints defense until a Week 7 matchup against the Jaguars:
Week 1: vs. Titans (19.25 implied points)
Week 2: at Panthers (21)
Week 3: at Packers (21.75)
Week 4: vs. Buccaneers (17.75)
Week 5: at Patriots (22)
Week 6: at Texans (19)
Hell, even that game is in the Superdome – and then the team gets two more theoretically great matchups against the Colts and Bears before having a tough road trip to Minnesota and a Week 11 bye.
The league’s reigning ninth-ranked scoring defense managed to perform rather great in 2022 despite inconsistent offensive performance and injuries to high-priced secondary starters CB Marshon Lattimore (7 games played) and S Marcus Maye (10).
It’s not guaranteed the group simply keeps on keeping on after losing defensive linemen Marcus Davenport, David Onyemata, Shy Tuttle and Kentavius Street in free agency, but the schedule Gods have done the Saints some SERIOUS early-season favors.
The Saints deserve to be the first DST off the board after the 49ers and Eagles.
⏰ Mike Evans gives Tampa a deadline for a new contract. Where do you think he will land?
🎶 The best-ball bros say goodbye to the 2023 offseason. Can’t wait for the lobbies to open next year.
📺 Looking to draft the PERFECT fantasy football team? Dwain has your answer key.
🤣 An accurate rendition of Miami talking to the Colts about JT. This video gets me every time.
😴 Jonathan Gannon…elite motivational speaker? Almost fell asleep watching this.
🚂 Thinking about drafting Puka Nacua based on the Kupp news? Dwain McFarland slows down the hype train.
📞 The Patriots’ first conference call with Tom Brady. And the rest was history…
🎥 College football just getting underway and we’ve got highlights! Daniel Jackson might be a name to watch.
If you get stuck with the 1.09 in drafts, don’t worry. Matt LaMarca walked through his draft strategy including his approach to the first round and overall path to build a strong roster.
The 1.09 spot is probably not going to get you very excited at your fantasy draft.
All of the elite receivers are going to be off the board, and you’ll likely miss out on Christian McCaffrey, Travis Kelce, and Austin Ekeler as well.
Does that mean the 1.09 is a bad draft spot? Absolutely not.
Drafting from the 1.09 allows you to go in a few different directions with your first two picks, which means you can accomplish a bunch of different draft strategies from that slot.
With an earlier selection, you might feel “forced” to draft a certain player, but we’re not locked into anything at No. 9. We can simply take whatever the draft hands us, giving our squads plenty of flexibility.
Let’s dive into one of my favorite approaches from the No. 9 slot.
🎉 Party Like It’s 1999
In our first eight draft slot previews, we’ve seen the following players come off the board: Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, McCaffrey, Cooper Kupp, Tyreek Hill, Kelce, Ekeler, and Stefon Diggs.
That leaves us with a choice between the remaining second-tier receivers and running backs.
Drafting RBs in the first round doesn’t feel sexy. It’s not going to get you invited to the cool kids table in the fantasy football cafeteria. But getting a legendary season from a running back is still one of the easiest ways to build a championship-caliber squad.
I think Bijan Robinson has the path for a legendary season to start his NFL career.
Robinson will take over as the lead back for a team that loved to run the football last year. They were 31st in pass rate over expectation, with Cordarrelle Patterson, Tyler Allgeier, and Caleb Huntley combining for 430 carries.
You don’t spend the No. 8 pick in the NFL Draft on a running back and not feature him, so expect Robinson to get the bulk of the opportunities this year.
The Falcons have also invested heavily in their offensive line, spending the second-most cap space in the league on that unit. Overall, they have the potential to boast an outstanding ground attack in 2023.
That leaves us with a few different options in the second round (via the ADP Grid Tool):
If Garrett Wilson falls to me in the second, I’m not hesitating to grab him.
Aaron Rodgers has talked him up all offseason, and Wilson had three targets, three catches, 30 yards, and a touchdown in their two preseason drives together. We know how good Rodgers’ No. 1 receivers have done in the past, so I don’t think you can take him too early.
That said, the most likely scenario is he’s off the board at that point.
If that’s the case, I’m happy to pivot to an RB-RB start and secure Tony Pollard.
Pollard was the No. 8 running back in PPR scoring last season, and he was ninth in PPR points per game. That was in spite of Ezekiel Elliott siphoning off 231 carries, 23 targets, and 12 touchdowns.
With Zeke out of the picture, Pollard should assume a solid chunk of that workload.
Ultimately, pairing him with Robinson gives us two chances to land a legendary season at the position. It also allows us to avoid the dreaded “RB dead zone” in the middle rounds and focus instead of loading up on pass-catchers.
you won't believe this one thing @cooterdoodle wants you to know
— pete overzet (@peteroverzet)
Sep 2, 2023