Fool me once, shame on you, miss four extra points, shame on you...
In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Sirius XM:
- The Bucs flop
- Buy/Sell/Hold: Bandwagon fans
- Drama in Baltimore
- Fantasy Fixers: The Cardinals
- Don't Forget About Me: Cooper Kupp
- Divisional playoff best ball strategy: How to attack the AFC
- It's 1/17. Take it away, Peter Overzet...
Of all the games this Super Wild Card Weekend, the Bucs-Cowboys game seemed to have the widest range of the outcomes.
Would the Cowboys find their midseason form after a gross loss to Sam Howell and the Commanders?
Could Tom Brady wind the clock back for one more improbable run?
Well, we got a resounding answer last night as the Cowboys absolutely dominated the Bucs.
Hilariously, the biggest subplot of the game was Dallas kicker Brett Maher setting records by missing four straight extra points. Fortunately, Mike McCarthy gave him one more crack at it and Twitter went wild.
Brett Maher's extra point percentage coming into this game was 94.3%.
The odds of him missing four in a row are 0.0011%.
— Chris Raybon (@ChrisRaybon)
Jan 17, 2023
The Cowboys notched their first road playoff win in three decades on the heels of a massive game from Dak Prescott (305 passing yards and 4 TDs) and Dalton Schultz (7-95-2). They will now head to San Francisco to face arguably the hottest team in football.
As for the Bucs, it's hard to know where they can go from here. They pushed their chips all in with a veteran super team and won their Super Bowl, but now they face a long rebuild.
🎧 The Playoffs are 'hear.' Who do you listen to?
Bengals, Chiefs, 49ers... seems like everyone has an opinion on how this electric post-season will end.
So what's your go-to source for playoff talk? Your college group chat? Reddit threads? Do these people even WATCH football?
Bench the peanut gallery and trust the experts: Fantasy Life is LIVE on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio five days a week. Educate yourself with hosts Kendall Valenzuela and Peter Overzet as they deep-dive every crucial angle of the NFL Playoffs.
And the best part? You can access the show for FREE with a three-month trial of SiriusXM when you sign up today.
...so, what are you waiting for?
With the fantasy championships behind us, all we can do is look forward. Let’s talk about fantasy lessons learned from a buy, sell perspective. Take it away, Cooterdoodle…
👿 Bandwagon fans are unloyal
There’s truth to the idea that fan loyalty is something to be admired. Whether your team is getting shut out, on a losing streak, or flat out embarrassing, I respect any fan that can stand by their team’s side through thick and thin. (👋Hi, Broncos fans.)
However, there comes a time when our ride or die fandom must shift for the greater good. There comes a time when loyalty runs its course and no longer serves its purpose. There comes a time when we have to jump ship and become the sinister *whispers* bandwagon fan.
With 24 NFL teams eliminated, that time is now.
If your team has packed its bags and headed home, I hereby give you permission to pick a new team for the remainder of the postseason. But this decision does not come without consequence. There are three rules governing such an act if you are to accomplish it with dignity. Below, I will outline the rules of bandwagon etiquette. Do not take them lightly:
- Team rivalries are still active. You shall not, under any circumstances, root for a rival. “Out of sight, out of mind” does not apply to post-season football. If your team has been eliminated, you must still respect the rivalry. #RespectTheRivalry
- Think for yourself. You shall not pick a favored team purely based upon their popularity. If you decide to pull for the Chiefs, you must look within yourself and find an honorable reason. “They’re going to win it all,” isn’t good enough. Don’t be boring.
- Decisions are final. One you declare your bandwagon fandom, you shall not switch sides. I don’t care how out of hand a game gets. You are assuming an important role as a new fan and anything less than your full support is dishonorable.
Simple enough, right? Some of you may think I’m being harsh, but the reality is that bandwagon fans get a bad name from those who stray from proper etiquette. To prove my own adherence to the rules, I will claim my team now for all to witness. Witness me:
I, Cooterdoodle, a sworn Saints fan, first of my name, hereby declare to embark upon the 49ers bandwagon for the remainder of the season.
Brock Purdy Super Bowl or we riot
— cooterdoodle (@cooterdoodle)
Jan 15, 2023
I shall be loyal. I shall not stray. Brock Purdy earned my respect and my love as soon as he beat Tom Brady in his NFL starting debut.
Plus, the narrative is just too good to ignore. I’m packing up my whodats until next year. Now, GO NINERS!
😂 Tom Brady has the best social media team!!! Love this!
👎 Wait, is Staley not going to get fired? An update.
💭 Drama in Baltimore. Lamar's IG posts have people dreaming.
🏅 A top prospect declares for the draft. How early will he go?
🚀 Highest passer rating when targeted among WRs. One of these will surprise you.
🌟 TD rates from remaining QBs. The top guy will definitely surprise you.
The NFL offseason will be in full swing before we know it, with coaching changes, free agency and the NFL draft reshaping the 2023 fantasy football landscape. With that in mind, the Fantasy Life squad is breaking down every NFL team to determine what went wrong in 2022 and identify paths to improvement. LaMarca is here to take on our next project, the Cardinals...
It’s safe to say that things didn’t exactly go right for the Cardinals in 2022-23. They won just four games, putting them in last place in the NFC West, and their former head coach is now on sabbatical in Thailand. They were such a disappointment that Kliff Kingsbury literally had to flee the country.
That said, the cupboard in Arizona isn’t exactly bare. They have a potential franchise quarterback in Kyler Murray, and he has plenty of supporting talent around him. They won 11 games just one year ago, and after a 7-0 start, they were considered among the best teams in football. It’s not crazy to think they can turn things around quickly.
How can the Cardinals make that happen? Let’s dive in.
🚧 Fantasy Fixer Recommendations
1. Get the Old Kyler Murray Back
This is the No. 1 priority for the Cardinals this offseason, and nothing else is even remotely close. Having a franchise quarterback covers up a lot of flaws, and prior to this season, the Cardinals appeared to have one with Murray.
He was arguably the best player in the NFL during the first seven weeks of the 2021-22 season.
He led the team to a perfect record, and he ranked fourth among quarterbacks in Expected Points Added per play (EPA/play). He averaged 286 passing yards per game with 17 passing touchdowns, and he added another three scores with his legs. The Cardinals’ offense scored at least 31 points in six of those contests, and everything appeared to be looking up in Arizona.
Unfortunately, Murray suffered an injury in Week 8, and he was not the same once he returned to the lineup. He still managed to get the team into the playoffs, but after he came back to the lineup in Week 13, he dipped to just 18th in EPA/play.
Injuries have been a big part of the diminutive quarterback’s career, and he suffered a torn ACL near the end of the 2022-23 season. He’s on-track to return to the lineup before the start of the regular season, but for the first time since his rookie season, health isn’t the only question mark that Murray is facing.
The team rewarded Murray with a contract extension last offseason, and nothing has gone right since then. It all started with a clause in his contract that required the quarterback to study film during the week. If you think that sounds like the type of thing that shouldn’t need to be told to an NFL quarterback, you’re 100% right.
The clause ended up getting removed from Murray’s contract, but questions about the quarterback’s work ethic remain. Former teammate Patrick Peterson made headlines this season with some harsh criticism for Murray:
"Kyler Murray don't care about nobody but Kyler Murray"
Patrick Peterson comments on what's going on with his former team the Cardinals, since they are always in the news.
Full discussion 👇
— All Things Covered (@ATCoveredPod)
Nov 30, 2022
Peterson wasn’t alone, with an anonymous teammate recently telling Bally Sports’ Michael Silver that giving Murray an extension “created a monster.” He added that Murray felt less pressure to study the gameplan after getting paid, and that the Cardinals’ collapse “felt predictable.”
Not everyone is going to have a Kobe Bryant-esque worth ethic, but the quarterback needs to be a leader in the NFL. If he’s not putting in 100%, it is a major problem. Hopefully, this season served as a wakeup call for Kyler. If he’s not ready to put the work in next season, the Cardinals’ outlook suddenly looks very bleak.
We have TWO more Fantasy Fixer Recommendations for the Cardinals:
- 1) Retain DeAndre Hopkins
- 2) Draft Will Anderson Jr.
Fantasy managers are quick to forget and are even quicker to move on. Sam Wallace looks at players dynasty managers should not forget about as we head into the fantasy football offseason.
💌 Cooper Kupp
Oh, what could have been.
A season after being crowned Super Bowl Champions, the Los Angeles Rams put together one of the worst encore performances in recent history. They struggled to a 3-3 record at their bye week, went on to lose six straight, and ultimately finished 5-12.
One year after finishing as the overall WR1 while averaging an absurd 25.8 points per game, WR Cooper Kupp enters the offseason after appearing in just nine games. He suffered a high-ankle sprain that required surgery and ultimately landed on injured reserve.
However, despite the Rams' atrocious season, Kupp still averaged 22.6 points per game. That was good enough to finish as the WR1, narrowly edging out WR Justin Jefferson (22.57).
Kupp also graded out as the WR7 and finished at WR8 in yards per route run this season per PFF.
He did see a slight dip in receiving yards but, overall, his per game numbers remained strong despite the shortened season.
Let’s not forget; Kupp is still elite.
QB Matthew Stafford (4-years / $160 million) and Kupp (3-years / $80.1 million) both signed significant contracts last spring which indicates the team still has big plans for them. A few weeks ago, Stafford appeared on his wife’s podcast and stated his plan to return next season despite missing eight games with both a concussion and neck injury.
Not long after, head coach Sean McVay also announced his decision to return next season. With the “Big Three” of McVay, Stafford, and Kupp all under contract for the next several seasons, there’s little reason to doubt the fantasy upside. The Rams lack of playmakers (and draft capital) will force Kupp to remain the focal point of this offense.
The only downside (in dynasty) could be age. Kupp will be 30-years old next season but that doesn’t concern me. He doesn’t win with sheer athleticism; he’s a precise route-runner who can play any position.
Dynasty managers want to get younger while chasing the next big prospect. The influx of talented WRs over the last few years has made that even more apparent, but an elder statesmen like Kupp still offers significant value.
If his dynasty startup ADP dips, take advantage and secure an elite, high-floor/high-ceiling asset for your team.
The season-long fantasy season is in the rear view, but Playoff best ball is HEATING up on Underdog Fantasy! One of our resident best ball bros is here to discuss the finer points of playoff strategy. Take it away, Jonathan...
Underdog released a new set of Playoff Best Ball contests that begin with the Divisional Round. Six person drafts, 10 rounds. No bye weeks to worry about.
These contests are all about picking which teams you think will make the Super Bowl, and which players will put up the big performances that take them there. However, like any large field tournament, it also pays to be unique. Let’s take a look at each conference and think through which teams and player combinations can take down a big prize.
🍖 Kansas City
Patrick Mahomes is a top-three pick in nearly every draft and it is difficult to stack him with Travis Kelce. Given how spread out this offense is, there are a number of viable combinations for you to stack.
Jerick McKinnon and Isiah Pacheco both have weekly upside, while JuJu Smith-Schuster and Kadarius Toney are mid-round receivers who could get hot for the stretch run. If you need late-round options, both Mecole Hardman and Skyy Moore are available at the end of drafts to round out a stack.
The Chiefs are not cheap to stack so you will have to be strategic about which NFC teams you pair them with. However, as the Super Bowl favorites it is a good idea to have a number of Chiefs teams in your portfolio.
Similar to the Chiefs, it is difficult to get the premium Bills stack of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, so I expect a ton of teams to have the Allen to Gabe Davis and Dawson Knox stack instead.
If I am building a Bills-heavy lineup, I at least want to make sure I have a differentiating piece like Cole Beasley or Khalil Shakir. I have also experimented with rosters where I take both Buffalo RBs as a way to add a low-owned combination from a team likely to make a Super Bowl run.
Although I don’t generally like taking players from teams facing each other in the Divisional Round, this game is the one exception due to the likelihood it is a shootout. I have drafted a few lineups with Bills and Bengals opposite an NFC stack with the assumption that the winner of this game goes on to the Super Bowl.
The Bengals survived a real test from the Ravens on Sunday night and now they have to go to Orchard Park to take on the Bills. While the road is tough and their ADPs are expensive, Cincinnati has the upside to put up massive scores every week they play.
If you are drafting from the five or six slot, stacking Joe Burrow with Ja’Marr Chase is always a good option.
You can then usually draft as many Bengals as you want, but it comes at the cost of getting elite players from other teams with a realistic chance at a Super Bowl run.
If you pass up Tee Higgins and Joe Mixon in the early rounds then I like both Samaje Perine and Hayden Hurst as late-round options.
After pulling off a stunning come from behind victory over the Chargers last week, the Jaguars are by far the longest odds to reach the Super Bowl from the AFC. They have to go to Kansas City next, and are more than a touchdown underdog in that game.
They are the lowest cost team to stack in the conference and can be a good option to grab one or two players with the goal of advancing from Round 1. If you want to play for a Jags cinderella run, you can build some fun teams with elite NFC pieces early and then a Jacksonville stack in the middle and late rounds.
Travis Etienne and Christian Kirk are the most expensive players while Zay Jones and Evan Engram provide cheaper alternatives with a high ceiling.