🤝 Two WR Trade Targets

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The Raiders should throw a parade if they win. Just keep the good vibes going.

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Constant Contact:

  • Go get these two WRs before kickoff tomorrow

  • Rankings Roundtable: Wheels up for Jahan Dotson

  • DFS Stacks: Eagles gliding in for a win

  • Bears’ QB1 gets back to practice

  • QUICK HITTER: Injury updates (Stafford: Thumb down)

  • The Walkthrough: Pat Kerrane gives us hope for a Saints WR

  • It’s 11/4. Take it away, Chris…

I get the excitement for Sunday’s games. Marquee contests litter the slate, with Dolphins-Chiefs and Bills-Bengals serving as bookends. You couldn’t ask for more.

Well, actually, after looking at some WR matchups, I’d like a redo of the schedule.

A.J. Brown faces a Cowboys’ secondary that’s allowed one (1) WR to eclipse 15 PPR points in the last six weeks. Keenan Allen heads to Jersey to face the Jets, and it’s the same setup. Brown’s Week 6 outing against Robert Saleh’s defense was the only top-12 performance they gave up throughout all of October.

And with Brett Rypien and Jaren Hall likely taking over for their offenses, the outlook for Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua, and Jordan Addison couldn’t be darker. However, if you can sneak in a last-minute trade, see if you can pry these two away before Sunday morning.

🐅 Tee Higgins, Bengals

Bengals bias aside, I agree with Joe. There was a lot going on here.

But, most notably, it was Tee Higgins on the other end of this 1-of-1 conversion from Joe Burrow. Tee finished with a pedestrian 6-69-0 statline, giving the appearance of another down week for Cincinnati’s WR2. But his peripherals paint a much brighter picture.

Sunday was the first time since Week 1 that both Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase took over 30.0% of the team’s air yards. And, critically, Higgins was able to not only win at the catch point but also create afterward. Coming into Week 8, he ranked 72nd out of 85 qualifying WRs averaging 0.94 YPRR.

But with his (and Burrow’s) injury behind him, the passing game can get back to how it was designed: to feature Higgins alongside Chase.

⚜ Chris Olave, Saints

We’re supposed to look for WRs who’ve hit low points in their on-field production. Well, after the out-of-bounds-pass debacle from Week 7, Chris Olave had yet another rough moment last Sunday.

New Orleans’ WR1 hasn’t crested 100 yards in a single game since Week 3. And the Saints’ WR1 has been touchdown-less over the last month.

Oh, you’re wondering why I’m calling him a WR1? Because he is. At least statistically.

Since Derek Carr injured his shoulder in Week 3, he’s averaged 39 attempts per game (2nd amongst all QBs) and 340.6 air yards (2nd). And over that five-game sample, Olave has:

  • led the WRs in air-yard share in four of five games

  • been first in target share in three of five

  • had the most or tied for the most red-zone targets in three of five

The opportunity is there. Carr and Olave just need to get on the same page. And against the Bears, who gave up big performances to downfield threats like Mike Evans (29.1 PTS) and Romeo Doubs (18.6), regression may catch up to Olave in a positive way in Week 9.

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W9 Roundtable

Debating between two guys on your roster? Need someone to break the tie for you? Matthew Freedman, Dwain McFarland, and Ian Hartitiz dove deep into their rankings to find a few players they’re willing to push into their starting lineup for Week 9.

This weekend feels like the extreme oppposite of what we experienced last week.

In Week 8, we were overloaded with players on a slate with no byes. But the matchups looked rough across the board.

This week? We’re back to having teams taking their in-season break and blockbuster contests in every window on Sunday. The only commonality is multiple games with a projected total under 40.

And that’s where things get difficult.

We’ve got multiple squads starting backup QBs or high-end assets facing tough defenses. Few every-week starters look safe, and even fewer on our benches look viable. But don’t worry, we got your back.

The crew got together again to find a few players they were higher or lower on relative to consensus. So, if you’re having questions about setting your lineup for Week 9, check out their notes before kickoff.

🦅 RB – D’Andre Swift (Eagles) vs. Cowboys

As I’m writing this (Friday 8 am ET), I have Swift at No. 13 in our 0.5-PPR flex rankings, which is five spots higher than the consensus (18) and six spots higher than any of the other rankers have him (19).

I almost included Swift in my Week 9 Freedman’s Favorites article, but he didn’t quite make the cut because I didn’t want to include too many “obvious” guys — and I do think that Swift is obvious.

The Eagles are home favorites, and Swift has 703 yards and four TDs on 116 carries and 31 targets in seven games since becoming the team’s clear No. 1 RB in Week 2. As such, he has had at least 18 opportunities in every game, and I expect him to see a similar workload this week against a Cowboys defense that is No. 30 in rush success rate (45.5%, per RBs Don’t Matter). 

W9 Roundtable

📈 WR – Jahan Dotson (Commanders) vs. Patriots

A season-high 10 targets helped Dotson post his biggest game of the season in Week 8 – as did Curtis Samuel (toe/foot) missing time – but the truly intriguing part here was that Dotson looked good on his way to catching eight of his 10 targets for 108 yards and a TD, demonstrating sure hands and an ability to create separation while lined up both outside as well as in the slot. 

Of course, Terry McLaurin (5-63-1) and Jamison Crowder (7-95-1) also enjoyed big games, with Sam Howell throwing for 397 yards and not one, not two, not three, but four TDs against the Eagles. There was more than enough meat on the bone to go around … at least for last week.

It’s probably not reasonable to expect Howell to only take one sack in many more games, although on the other hand: This league’s 31st-ranked scoring defense looks to only be getting worse after dealing pass rushers Chase Young and Montez Sweat at the deadline. This profiles as the sort of offense that will have no choice but to throw the ball deep into games in an effort to feign competitiveness.

A quick look at the team’s leading target earners on the season demonstrates the reality that removing even one of the team’s big-four pieces for a short period of time (possibly Samuel) could really open things up for the complementary options.

  • McLaurin: 24.3% target share

  • Dotson: 15.9%

  • Samuel: 15.8%

  • Logan Thomas: 14.8%

In short: Week 8 could be the start of bigger things to come in Dotson’s fantasy production, with Samuel (ruled out) still missing time. Don’t be surprised if Howell has more success than most young QBs against a 2023 Bill Belichick-led defense that ranks just 26th in scoring and dead ass last in Havoc rate.

🐬 WR – Jaylen Waddle (Dolphins) vs. Chiefs

The start of the 2023 season was a slow one for Waddle. He picked up an abdominal strain late in the preseason and then suffered a concussion in Week 2 that kept him out in Week 3. Over his first three games, he averaged a paltry 18% targets per route run (TPRR) and 11 fantasy points.

But over the last four games, the former first-round NFL draft pick has been on fire. He is averaging a 33% TPRR and 17.5 points per contest. He missed part of Week 7 due to a lower back issue but still boasts a gaudy 29% target share. In Week 8, he scored a season-high 25 fantasy points.

Waddle UR

While Tyreek Hill is an absolute alpha, when healthy, Waddle can push for 30% target shares in a highly condensed offense in Miami. On most plays, Hill or Waddle are the primary read because a) they are badass and b) the tertiary target competition is low. 

The Dolphins use three-WR sets at the third-least rate in the NFL (42%), meaning these two superstars are competing for looks with one of the backs, Durham Smythe (TE) or Alec Ingold (FB). Miami is one of the few offenses in the NFL where we can reasonably expect two receiving options to account for 60 to 70% of targets – and that is what we have seen over the last four games.

Dolphins WR Comp

The Dolphins face the Chiefs in Germany in a game with the best total on the slate at 50.5 points. On a week where starting QB injuries could torpedo multiple superstars like Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua and Davante Adams, Waddle deserves more love across industry ranks, given the game environment, his historical fantasy value, and recent performances.

Waddle is a SMASH play and ranks as my No. 13 player out of all RBs, WRs and TEs in Week 9, eight spots ahead of consensus.

W9 Stacks

Finding the right player stacks can be the key to building a profitable roster in DFS. If you want to get the jump on this weekend, James McCool from Paydirt DFS has the data to guide you for Week 9.

🥇 Popular option: Philadelphia Eagles

📝 Facts:

  • The Eagles are averaging 28 points per game and scoring on 46% of their drives, both top 5 marks in the league, although their FG rate is higher than other high-powered offenses at 2.57 per game.

  • Even with a strong career, Jalen Hurts is achieving career-high marks in 2023, with per-game marks of 24 completions and a 68% competition rate on top of nearly 10 rush attempts per game.

  • Receivers A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith are combining for 78% of the air yards on the team, with Brown making up 47% of it, which gives him a stellar air yards per route run of 3.60 (3rd best in the league).

📊 Stack info (DraftKings)

W9 Stacks

💰 Salary and projections:

  • Combo 1 (Hurts/Brown/Smith): The most expensive option at $23,700, it showcases a Median score of 52.2.

  • Combo 2 (Hurts/Brown/Goedert): Priced at $21,400, it offers a Median score of 50.7.

  • Combo 3 (Hurts/Smith/Goedert): The least expensive of the trio at $19,900, it has a considerably lower median than Combos 1 and 2 at 42.3.

The big piece to build around here is A.J. Brown, who carries the medians and high-end upside of the stack. If you choose to play DeVonta Smith instead, only do it in larger fields to introduce more volatility.

W9 Stacks

🧮 Finish percentiles

  • Combo 1 (Hurts/Brown/Smith): It leads the pack with a 22.6% Top Finish, a promising 54.7% Top-5 Finish, a 71.2% Top-10 Finish, and an impressive 27.4% chance to exceed the 60+ Fantasy Points.

  • Combo 2 (Hurts/Brown/Goedert):  Combo 2 is next with a 19.4% Top Finish, 52.0% Top-5 Finish, 68.6% Top-10 Finish, and a 25.0% chance to exceed the 60+ Fantasy Points.

  • Combo 3 (Hurts/Smith/Goedert): With a 3.3% Top Finish, 21.0% Top-5 Finish, 39.0% Top-10 Finish, and a 4.8% chance to surpass the 60+ Fantasy Points, Combo 3 is valuable but risky.

🔥 Combo 1: High Performance at a Premium

This combination is a premium choice with the highest potential for top-end finishes. The balance of salary, projection, and potential returns makes it a strong contender.

🤷‍♂️ Combo 2: Value Play with Good Potential

Offering a blend of value and upside, this combo provides savings while maintaining competitive odds for high finishes. Its value proposition for 2x and 3x salary returns is particularly appealing.

👎 Combo 3: Budget-Friendly Option

As the budget option, it's considerably riskier in terms of potential upside. While it offers significant savings, the drop in projection and finish odds needs to be factored in. It could be a strategic choice in larger portfolios where diversifying risk is essential.

The data suggests that A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith together fetch the best results. However, if you're trying to save on the budget, opting for Dallas Goedert over Brown might be the way to go, although it does present a bit of a risk in terms of potential points. Aim to diversify your approach based on your risk appetite and the specific contest you're entering.

W9 Injury Roundup
Watercooler

📝 Notes on the backup QBs. WRs with easy schedules. Trade away the Gus Bus? All the notes you need for Week 9 are right here.

⚡ Quentin Johnston, it’s your time. Josh Palmer closes out the week with a DNP.

🚀 Remember when we said regression is coming for Chris Olave? It’s coming for 3 others, too.

🐻 Tyson Bagent gets in a final practice before Sund-wait, that’s Justin Fields!

😲 Adjust the ranks. Texans' lead rusher to miss Week 9.

🙌 Amari Cooper and Elijah Moore managers rejoice. The Browns get their QB1 back. 

🤕 Falcons' theoretical WR1 out for Week 9. Maybe more work for Kyle Pitts?

🏃‍♂️ Miami's offense might be even more dynamic after the bye. It's just not fair. 

W9 Walkthrough

An all-encompassing Week 9 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 9…

Derek Carr is coming off his best game of the season. Against the Colts, Carr threw for 310 yards and two TDs, finishing as the QB6 in EPA and success rate.

Carr now faces a Bears’ defense that ranks 31st in EPA allowed per dropback and 28th in dropback success rate. Their secondary is weak, ranking 27th in PFF’s coverage grades, and they don’t have a pass rush, ranking 31st in quick pressure rate.

Even the addition of Montez Sweat is unlikely to help a ton. Sweat has not been an especially impressive pass rusher this season, ranking 56th in PFF’s pass rush grades among EDGE players. He’s been an elite run defender, ranking third in run grade. But his underlying pass-rushing metrics aren’t great.

Although the Saints have a great passing matchup on tap, they’re unlikely to completely lean into a pass-heavy game plan. New Orleans has been a balanced team, with a -1% pass rate over expected and a 0% PROE on 1st down.

W9 Walkthrough

Even against a run-funnel Colts’ defense, the Saints didn’t play overly conservatively. Their balanced philosophy should lead to a solid passing-volume floor, even if they don’t go nuts.

And as long as the Saints drop back at a decent rate, Chris Olave is set up for his best game of the season.

Olave has an elite 22% first-read target rate and is showing an ability to earn targets beyond first-read looks. That’s usually a good sign for a player’s route-running ability. And sure enough, Olave ranks WR19 in ESPN’s open score, just ahead of DK Metcalf and Justin Jefferson.

Olave’s role in the Saint’s offense is frustrating. He’s dependent on deep targets, with a 14.2 aDOT. But Olave’s targets tend to be deep and along the sideline. He ranks just 23rd percentile in splash zone target rate. But… the Bears have been susceptible to deep sideline targets.

The Bears rank 14th in preventing 15+ yard passing plays. But only the Commanders and Lions have allowed more 15+ yard passes on downfield targets along the side of the field. Olave’s role makes him less reliable week-to-week, but this matchup sets him up to remind the fantasy world of his elite deep-threat ability.

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