Take my eyes, but not Aaron Rodgers’ Achilles…
In today’s Fantasy Life newsletter presented by Mojo Fantasy:
MNF Takeaways and Week 1 Sheesh Report
Huge loss for the Browns’ O-line
Week 2 Utilization Report: Kenneth Gainwell and more
QUICK HITTER: Our Utilization Hub is LIVE!
Week 2 Waiver Wire Report: Puka Nacua? In this economy?
It’s 9/12. Take it away, Ian Hartitz…
An absolutely electric MetLife Stadium atmosphere was quickly quieted early in the first quarter when Aaron Rodgers suffered what was initially called an ankle injury and had to be helped off the field.
Sadly, it’s looking like this is a dreaded Achilles injury.
Jets’ HC Robert Saleh told reporters that he believes Aaron Rodgers suffered an Achilles injury and “it’s not good.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter)
Sep 12, 2023
You don’t need me to tell you that everything about the 2023 Jets will go radically south should the team be forced to rely on Zach Wilson under center the rest of the way. We all saw a sneak preview of this potential fantasy reality down the stretch last night despite the thrilling walk-off punt return win.
Here’s to hoping God turns off injuries and/or Rodgers receives unexpected good news.
In the meantime: Two-key usage revelations from Monday night football:
🤝 Committee Backfields Galore
The Jets decided to roll with a three-back committee with both Breece Hall (knee) and Dalvin Cook (shoulder) playing in their first games since their respective surgeries:
Cook: 27 snaps, 13 routes, 14 carries, 2 targets
Hall: 18 snaps, 6 routes, 10 carries, 2 targets
Michael Carter: 11 snaps, 8 routes, 1 carry, 2 targets
Of course, Hall made the absolute most out of his opportunities, racking up an absurd 109 rushing yards on just his first two carries of the game — in style. Look for the stud second-year back to get more and more opportunities as he gets closer and closer to 100%.
And then there’s the Bills, who featured James Cook to a very solid extent:
James Cook Wee 1
- 60% of the snaps
-12 of 15 RB carries for 46 yards
- 6 targets, 4 carries, 17 yards
Dominated the volume. Had some nice runs, but struggled at times against that stout Jets line. Better days coming, starting next week against the Raiders
— Michael F. Florio (@MichaelFFlorio)
Sep 12, 2023
Beggars can’t be choosers in fantasy land: Cook profiles as a rock-solid PPR-friendly RB2 with upside for more if/when he manages to create some explosive gains.
This is a GREAT start to the second-year RB’s season in terms of pure usage.
✨ Tight End Epiphanies
Much was made about the Bills’ TE rotation considering:
They signed Dawson Knox to a four-year, $52 million contract extension last year
Traded up in the first round to select Dalton Kincaid in the 2023 NFL Draft.
At least for one week, the Bills showed that they fully intend on keeping both parties heavily involved.
Knox: 57 snaps, 39 routes (78%), 4 targets
Kincaid: 54 snaps, 38 routes (76%), 4 targets
Ideally, our fantasy TEs post a route rate of at least 80%, but in the pass-happy Bills offense: This will do just fine.
Don’t expect Josh Allen to put forward too many more 236 yards-1 TD-3 INT-esque passing lines; Kincaid and (to a lesser extent) Knox will be on the borderline fantasy TE1 radar as long as the position continues to deal with so many injuries.
It was a fun night of football, but a grim reminder of just how quickly the tides can turn for any team out there. Here’s to hoping for a more injury-free Week 2 and beyond.
Week 1 has come and gone. 16 NFL games brought joy, laughs and tears to football fans and, of course, fantasy football faithful. Today, Ian focuses on the latter sadness and breaks down just how close some came to achieving fantasy football glory.
Presenting: The Sheesh Report, recapping all the near misses, close calls and general fantasy heartbreak from the last week of action. Starting with the top two “Sheesh” players from Week 1…
🧈 Chiefs WR Kadarius Toney
This one was particularly “sheeshful” due to the reality that everyone was tuning in for the opening kickoff of the 2023 season.
Something bad seemed to happen pretty much every time the Chiefs tried to get Toney involved:
A trick play shovel pass to Toney produced his only reception of the evening; too bad he was stopped just short of scoring at the one-yard line.
Patrick Mahomes looked Toney’s way on a 3rd and 6 from the 46-yard line on a short crosser…only to watch as the ball bounced directly off the hands of the ex-Giants receiver and into the lap of Lions DB Brian Branch, who managed to take the gift all the way to the house.
Another big third down (to be fair, all third downs are big third downs), another incomplete pass off Toney’s hands. This one was a bit more defensible given that Richie James crossed directly in front of his teammate right before the ball arrived.
Last but not least: Mahomes lofted what should have been an easy 15-plus yard completion to wide-open Toney in the middle of the field … dropped. Sheesh.
The performance earned PFF’s worst single-game grade given to a WR since 2018.
His -2.19 expected points added per target basically means the other team scored a TD for every three times that the Chiefs targeted Toney.
Toney has had better days – literally, his previous game in the Super Bowl was one of them – but last Thursday night was certainly one to forget.
At least the 24-year-old talent isn’t shying away from his ongoing feud with Giants fans.
😡 Titans QB Ryan Tannehill
Tannehill’s Sunday afternoon performance was somehow even worse than the box score indicated, and believe me: The box score is already bad.
However, we’re here for what Tannehill did that can’t quite be captured with numbers alone.
First, the veteran QB failed to take advantage of a beautifully designed trick play and sailed a pass long to a wide-open Chigoziem Okonkwo.
It sure looked like this should have been a 47-yard TD.
Chiggy Okonkwo should still be running sheesh
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz)
Sep 11, 2023
Next, Tannehill missed out on a potential 65-yard score to RB Tyjae Spears, who had broken wide open down the left sideline courtesy of a busted coverage.
While Tannehill was rolling to his left, he had time – didn’t take a hit – and still proceeded to not even give the rookie RB a chance to come down with the ball inbounds, let alone make a game-changing house call.
The artist known as TanneThrill posted top-10 efficiency numbers in a myriad of advanced metrics from 2019 to 2022; don’t completely give up on the man for one bad week at the office.
That said: Sheesh.
Player usage might just be one piece of the fantasy football puzzle, but make no mistake about it: Utilization is the biggest piece out there.
Luckily for you, Fantasy Life Director of Analytics and all-around baller Dwain McFarland has you covered with the absolute biggest usage takeaways from Week 1.
🤯 1. Bijan Robinson is in a committee – DON’T PANIC!!!
Robinson led the Falcons’ backfield with a 65% target share and an eye-popping 82% route participation.
Unfortunately, Tyler Allgeier bested him in rushing attempts 58% to 38% and stole all three carries inside the five-yard line – two of which went for TDs.
Robinson held the lead with nine attempts versus six after three quarters, but Allgeier took over as the closer with nine carries to one in the final frame. The Falcons led by four-plus points on nine of 15 snaps in the fourth quarter.
If you are a Robinson manager, the 20.3 fantasy points feel great, but part of you knows he could have had a monster day without Allgeier in the fold. While the Falcons’ -20% dropback rate over expectation (DBOE) means the run-heavy attack could support a dual backfield, with Allgeier as the closer, it could limit the upside.
All that said, Robinson looked fantastic, and the 38% target share was elite. There is a good chance the Falcons figure out ways to get Robinson his 14 to 16 touches every week, and if he ever pushes for more, he has RB1 overall upside.
Outlook: Low-end RB1 with RB1 overall upside in more competitive game scripts.
🐶 2. Elijah Moore is a great BUY-LOW target.
Moore delivered a ho-hum 9.2 fantasy points in his first outing as a Brown. However, his underlying utilization was substantial.
The Bengals didn’t put up much of a fight, allowing Cleveland to rest most of their skill position starters in the fourth quarter outside Deshaun Watson. Once we remove the final quarter of play, Moore’s numbers look even more potent.
87% route participation
27% target share
7% rush attempts
This is a small sample, but those are WR1-worthy numbers, and we have seen Moore flash big-time ability before. Over his final seven games as a rookie, he was a WR1.
Thanks to his subpar Week 1 fantasy points, Moore is the quintessential buy-low candidate. He has strong underlying Week 1 data and a resume that includes high-end fantasy outputs. Over his final seven games as a rookie in 2021, he finished as the WR36, WR26, WR1, WR27, WR3, WR40 and WR8.
Outlook: Mid-range WR3 with WR2 upside.
🦅 3. Surprise! Kenneth Gainwell is the Eagles' RB1.
Despite a depth chart listing every Philadelphia resident as co-starters, Gainwell bogarted most of the workload in Week 1 against the Patriots.
The third-year back accounted for 62% of snaps, 61% of rushing attempts and delivered a 14% target share on 42% route participation. Despite playing with a scrambling QB in Jalen Hurts, his targets per route run (TPRR) was stellar at 25%.
Rashaad Penny was a healthy scratch, leaving Gainwell to battle D’Andre Swift and Boston Scott for touches. Swift handled 28% of the snaps but only 4% of the rushing attempts.
Gainwell is currently available in 53% of Yahoo! leagues and is a high-priority add.
While this could be a fluid situation, we can’t afford to be shy about an RB with his profile in a quality offense like the Eagles. He could sneak into the RB1 conversation if this utilization sticks.
Don’t be afraid to push over 50% of your FAAB dollars into the pot if Gainwell is available in your league. He could be the top fantasy free-agent addition of the 2023 season.
Yes, I can already hear you high-stakes bros laughing and barking, “Not in my league, McFarland.” Well, you got me. But if you have Gainwell, enjoy. Great pick on your part!
Outlook: Mid-range RB2.
You can now visualize ALL of this utilization data in one place, thanks to our NEW Utilization Hub.
From game logs and historical stats to team trends, we’ve put the power of utilization data in your hands…
🤝 Turning Sportsbook Odds into Fantasy Contests
When two worlds that we love...collide...
There are thousands of NFL and MLB player props. So much so that it can become overwhelming to track them all separately.
Thanks to Mojo Fantasy, you don't have to.
Pick as many props as you want, build a portfolio, try to beat the crowd, and the better your portfolio performs, the more cash you win.
Buy and sell LIVE, all game long
Make moves AFTER the game starts, so you’re not stuck with a bad pick
Cash in on a hot start, or just hang on, and let ‘em ride.
Make picks, make moves, make money.
Download NOW on the Apple App Store for a 100% Deposit Match up to $100 for your first-time deposit with promo code “FantasyLife”.
😬 This is one of the worst fantasy football losses you’ll ever see. Lmao.
🐐 Football Twitter was quick to suggest new QBs for the Jets. This just makes too much sense.
🌙 Vibes are high in Jacksonville after Week 1. Calvin Ridley to the MOON.
🏥 Your favorite fantasy RB’s favorite fantasy RB is dealing with an ankle injury. Please get better, king.
📽️ Men lie, women lie, numbers lie: But film doesn’t lie. Tough look for the 2023 NFL Draft’s No. 32 overall pick.
🤣 Borderline PG-13 Zach Wilson joke? Borderline PG-13 Zach Wilson joke.
😮 Garrett Wilson already might have made the catch of the year. This is seriously NSFW.
💸 The Chiefs FINALLY figure things out with one of the best defenders in the game. Would’ve been a lot cooler if this got done last week.
🍑 Josh Allen had a rough evening at the office on Monday night. Mark Sanchez from the top rope!
🏀 Basketball on the football field? Myles Garrett is too good, man.
Of course, fantasy managers should react to what they saw over the weekend. We got clarity on some situations, saw multiple highlight reels, and will want to click on the hot option. But there are months of action ahead of us. A one-week sample shouldn’t dictate our season.
So, keep in mind who you’re dropping to churn your roster. And be sure to listen to Chris who will provide as much context as possible to guide your decisions. Now, let’s dig into the potential adds for this week.
🔔🐄 Running Back
💪 Justice Hill or Gus Edwards, Ravens (at Bengals)
Here’s where reacting, but not overreacting, may decide your season. J.K. Dobbins’ injury opens up opportunities for the rest of the backfield. But we only got about a quarter and a half to see how the Ravens would handle the fallout.
Justice Hill got the first carry after the injury (scored the touchdown), but Gus Edwards got the two-point conversion. Ultimately, Edwards outcarried Hill (8 to 7), and the two ran a pair of routes, per TruMedia. However, Hill got the only two red-zone carries. Plus, there are issues to consider:
Baltimore had a two-score lead for most of the second half
Lamar Jackson’s PROE went from +1% in the first half to -5% with a lead; basically, we don’t know how often the team will use the WRs in a tighter game
The Ravens signed Melvin Gordon, cut him, and he’s sitting on the practice squad
Prioritizing Hill and Edwards should be a no-brainer. At least for Week 2, we should expect double-digit touches for each against a Cincinnati team that just allowed 4.0 and 4.2 yards after contact per attempt to Nick Chubb and Jerome Ford. I’m comfortable with 7-10% FAAB bids, but let’s see how the team addresses the position with some time to breath.
Budget: 7-10% FAAB
Be sure to check out our Waiver Wire tool for FAAB recommendations, league availability, and more!
👀 Tyler Allgeier, Falcons (vs. Packers)
The sophomore RB forced a 40-60 split with Bijan Robinson and showed us why the Falcons were right to use him as a starter down the stretch in ’22.
EPA per rush: 0.21 (Allgeier) to -0.15 (Robinson)
Yards after contact per attempt: 3.7 to 3.1
Explosive run rate: 20.0% to 10.0%
Atlanta ended 2022 with a -14.1% pass rate over expectation (PROE) and opened the ’23 season at -12.5%. With volume in line for both RBs, Allgeier should be on everyone’s roster
Budget: 5-7% FAAB
🏈 Wide Receiver
🐏 Puka Nacua, Rams (vs. 49ers)
Like Joshua Kelley’s usage, I didn’t expect a Puka Nacua explosion in Week 1. If anything, I was on Tutu Atwell coming into the week. Don’t get me wrong, it was still awesome to see Atwell with a 9-119-0 receiving line, but Nacua’s production may be more repeatable after looking at his Week 1.
The Rams’ rookie WR ran 35 routes in Week 1. That’s on par with Deebo Samuel (34), Calvin Ridley (34), and Ja’Marr Chase (34). But his 15 targets puts his targets per route run (0.43) in the same conversation as Tyreek Hill (0.43) and DeAndre Hopkins (0.35). His 42.9% air yard share matched Hill’s for first among all WRs.
And Nacua didn’t do it through high-percentage looks from the slot.
Only Chris Olave (4.4), Hill (5.3), and (surprisingly) Josh Reynolds (6.2) posted higher marks in yards per route run (YPRR) than Nacau (3.9) from the perimeter in Week 1. If he’s flashing the ability to win on the outside this early (and Matthew Stafford continues to be aggressive through the air), Nacua will be a viable flex play moving forward.
Budget: 10-15% FAAB
I know this was Zach Wilson when Aaron Rodgers went down
— Truc (@Doctor_Duong)
Sep 12, 2023