Acceptance is necessary to heal. Let's all accept that Elijah Moore is ready to ball out...
In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Bartesian:
- What to expect in San Francisco.
- Utilization Report. Nick Chubb playing pass downs!?!?
- Premiere Matchup. An NFC East clash.
- Regression Session. Time to Cook.
- A superstar rookie RB returning?
- It's 12/14. Take it away, Dwain McFarland...
We will be without the services of Deebo Samuel for the next three weeks, according to Kyle Shanahan. However, some data suggests it might be the NFL playoffs before we see him again, given the nature of his injuries.
Historically, in games without Samuel, we have seen George Kittle played in five games without Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk had eight such opportunities
Kittle averaged 15.6 PPR fantasy points, and Aiyuk averaged 14.1 across the sample of games. Interestingly, Jordan Reed filled in for Kittle in several games (103 routes) and saw an inflated TPRR of 28% vs. 21% with Samuel.
Of course, this was all before the arrival of a target-magnet RB named Christian McCaffrey. Unfortunately, we don't have much to go on with CMC, but in one game without Samuel in Week 8 (20 routes), he demanded a whopping 45% TPRR. The two were battling for targets underneath, as evidenced by their low ADOTS, with Samuel at 4.7 and CMC at 3.0.
There are still too many mouths to feed in a run-first offense with QB questions, but everyone gets an upgrade while Samuel is out, and it could come in handy during the fantasy playoffs.
🔎 McCaffrey will likely pick up the most value and has a great shot at finishing as the RB1 overall over the next three weeks.
🔎 Kittle gets the second-biggest boost given how good TEs have faired in this offense without Samuel. He is a mid-range TE1 with high-end TE1 upside.
🔎 Aiyuk gets the smallest bump. He is the man-beater and deep target, which won't change much. However, there are a few more targets to go around, and the third-year WR is playing well. He is a low-end WR2 until Samuel returns.
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Volume is king in fantasy football and sports betting, and this report will help you understand which players are due more or less according to their roles. Each week, Dwain dives deep into the data, so you don't have to.
📈 RB – Nick Chubb
You are probably wondering how in the world Chubb is an upgrade after RB24, RB8, RB37, and RB26 performances. And to be honest, I questioned myself about putting him here as well.
However, this type of analysis is the essence of the Utilization Report. The focus is on the player’s role more than his fantasy performances. Something very significant has taken place in Chubb’s utilization over the last four games. For the first time in his career, he is playing significant snaps in the two-minute offense.
Over the last four games, Chubb accounted for 47% of the two-minute offense and eclipsed 40% route participation twice. Additionally, he bested 60% of the rushing attempts in three of four games.
Chubb’s recent struggles have been more to do with his efficiency than his utilization. So, unless we believe he suddenly isn’t a good RB anymore, we should expect big days ahead for the fifth-year back.
Chubb is a mid-range RB1 with RB1 overall upside the rest of the way.
📈 WR – Keenan Allen
Allen is on a tear since rejoining the Chargers' starting lineup in Week 11. He has a 25% target share – averaging 10.5 points per game – and a 1.82 YPRR.
The veteran is Justin Herbert’s most-trusted option in critical situations, with a 50% target share on 3rd and 4th downs, plus a 55% share of endzone looks.
The Chargers throw the ball above the NFL average in every type of game script.
- Trailing by four-plus points: 79% (+11)
- Within three points: 68% (+8)
- Leading by four-plus points: 59% (+10)
The 30-year-old slot WR is a high-end WR2 moving forward.
📈 WR – JuJu Smith-Schuster
Smith-Schuster isn’t an elite target earner (19% TPRR), but he doesn’t have to be in the Chiefs’ offense. The veteran WR plays with an elite QB, and Kansas City throws the ball well above the NFL average in all situations.
- Leading by four-plus points: 73% (+5)
- Within three points: 71% (+11)
- Leading by four-plus points: 61% (+12)
Travis Kelce is the No. 1 option in the passing attack, but no one else is challenging for opportunities. The next-closest challenger behind Smith-Schuster is Marquez Valdes-Scantling and his lowly 12% target share.
Smith-Schuster averages 14.3 points per game in contests with a 60%-plus route participation. Using that same threshold, he has a top-eight finish in four of his last five games, averaging 19.1 points.
Smith-Schuster is a mid-range WR2 with WR1 upside.
📈 WR – Elijah Moore
Moore registered a 74% route participation in Week 13, which was his highest since requesting a trade. He followed that up with an even stronger performance in Week 14, surging to 92% with Corey Davis knocked out of the game with a head injury.
Moore led the Jets with a 22% target share and has now hit that mark in two of the last four games.
His season-long TPRR (13%) and YPRR (0.96) are reasons to doubt a resurgence, but the 2021 second-round draft pick flashed elite upside last season, with marks of 24% and 1.75. He delivered WR36, WR26, WR1, WR27, WR3, WR42, and WR8 performances from Week 7 to Week 13 before injuries ended his season.
With Mike White or Joe Flacco under center, the Jets opt to pass on 63% of plays in neutral game scripts – above the NFL average of 60%. There is plenty of room for another fantasy-relevant WR in New York’s passing attack as long as Zach Wilson remains on the sidelines. Davis registered a whopping nine targets in Week 13 with White under center.
The second-year WR has a demonstrated upside and a path to earning a larger role in an offense that is willing to throw the ball. Many will snooze on Moore, but this is exactly the kind of profile we want to take a swing on.
Moore has WR2 upside and is available in over 70% of fantasy leagues.
🥇 There won't be another one like him. RIP, Coach Leach.
🚑 A season-ending ACL injury for Kyler Murray. Could he be ready for Week 1?
👀 Kenneth Walker fully practicing. He could be ready by Thursday.
📊 Is the Bills' offense changing? Things have been different recently.
🐶 He loves his QB. Enough to switch from DB to WR.
🎈 Happy belated b-day!!! We are sure your parents are very proud.
🤯 The truth can be hard to believe. He is playing great.
⏰ The difference between male and female time travelers. Lmao.
🔥 This QB is on fire. Can he keep it up?
Each week we'll feature a premiere matchup on the slate and break it down from all angles. Today, new Fantasy Life contributor Chris Allen tackles the tilt between the Giants and Commanders.
I’m putting this energy out into the universe now. We won’t have another tie.
As funny as it would be, one of these teams will emerge victorious and shake up the playoff picture. The Giants have lost three of their last four as injuries continue to pile up, and a couple more skill players bowed up early on Sunday. Let’s start with the personnel concerns for New York.
Usually, I’d be worried about a nine-touch, 31% snap rate day for Saquon Barkley. But he entered the game with a neck injury, and Brian Daboll admitted to having a plan for the veteran RB. Likely, his idea was not to get his most-talented player beat up in a blowout loss with another divisional game on tap. Regardless, at least we don’t have to worry about Barkley's status heading into Week 15.
Chase Young should be making his season debut and bringing much-needed help to the Commanders’ defense. Heading into their bye, Washington was 17th in rushing EPA allowed over their last four games after being second to start the season. Barkley required a few explosive plays to boost his yardage total, but his 16.1% target share kept his fantasy value afloat. Aside from last week, he’s run the third-most routes and has the second-most targets. He’s healthy and should resume his normal workload leaving Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell as emergency options only. But we’ve got other options in the passing game.
After his Week 14 performance, most folks may want to turn to Richie James. He hit a season-high in snaps and targets against the Eagles. However, seven of his nine targets came in the second half when the Giants were down three scores. He’s also in the concussion protocol, so Jones will likely turn back to Isaiah Hodgins on the perimeter. Regardless, it’s good to know Daniel Jones has another option outside of Darius Slayton, with Daniel Bellinger potentially out again with a rib injury.
And speaking of Slayton, since taking on a full-time role in Week 10, his 2.29 YPRR ranks 14th among wide receivers. And Barkley (8) and Slayton (7) are first and second in targets when Jones gets pressured, per SportsInfoSolutions. Slayton is yet to record a red-zone target in his new role, but his overall target share (20.1%) locks him into a mid-range WR2 role for the playoffs.
At the same time, I don’t have the same questions about who to start for the Commanders. There’s no help coming for the Giants’ defense to change their outlook. If anything, it got worse with another injury. But Washington should know how Wink Martindale will deploy his blitz-happy defense against Taylor Heinicke.
The good news is Scott Turner has an answer for Heinicke to deal with pressure. They tried a similar approach in their previous meetup. Heinicke had a time to throw of less than 2.5 seconds on 48.9% of his attempts in Week 13, per PFF. He turned six of those throws into first downs. It’s ideal to see him comfortable with the adjustment. And with Jahan Dotson re-integrated into the offense, Heinicke’s viability as a streaming quarterback candidate starts to increase.
However, Washington’s passing rate continues to be a concern. Luckily, it hasn’t affected Terry McLaurin. He’s fourth in target share among all WRs since Heinicke took over. Their pass rate over expected did increase in Week 13 (to -10.0%), so Dotson works his way into flex territory for fantasy managers dealing with injuries. But let’s not forget about Brian Robinson. The big man with the big hat holds a commanding 65.2% of the backfield touches over the last two weeks and has matched Antonio Gibson in high-value touches from inside the 10-yard line. With Robinson’s targets picking up over the last two weeks, Robinson is a must-start in Week 15.
When it comes to regression, it pays to be ahead of the curve. Each week on Regression Session, Jonathan will give you actionable insights on trends that are unlikely to continue so you can act before your leaguemates.
📈 Positive Regression - Dalvin Cook
The Vikings’ star RB is still top-10 in half PPR scoring for the season, but he has finished as the RB20 or worse in three of his last four games. This modest production has come in spite of the fact that his role is as strong as ever, with nearly 19 touches per game over that stretch. Per PFF, Cook has been the RB5 in expected half PPR points per game over those four games but has only delivered RB26 production.
As we enter the fantasy playoffs, managers should be optimistic that Cook’s role will pay off in high-level fantasy production again soon. The Vikings' next three matchups come against teams ranked 21st, 22nd, and 28th against opposing RBs on the season.
We have every reason to believe Cook will remain heavily involved in the offense, and the Vikings have consistently put up points and yards this season. This combination of heavy workload and favorable matchups should result in some big performances in the fantasy playoffs.
📉 Negative Regression - Miles Sanders
Anytime a player’s production is heavily reliant on touchdowns, we should be concerned about negative regression. Over the past three weeks, Miles Sanders has been on an absolute tear with two finishes as a top-3 RB. This has come on the back of five touchdowns during that stretch, which is an unsustainable pace for any back.
Sanders also had two of his most efficient YPC (yards per carry) games on the season during that stretch while playing against the Packers and Giants' soft run defenses. Looking at his schedule during the fantasy playoffs, there is a good chance he can keep that hot streak going against the Bears in Week 15. After that, however, he has matchups with the Cowboys and Saints, who are ranked 7th and 6th against opposing RBs.
The Eagles have done a good job this season of game planning to exploit their opponent’s weaknesses, so with tough matchups for the running game in Weeks 16 and 17, it looks less likely that Sanders is going to carry you to a fantasy championship. If you are still alive in your fantasy league this late in the season, you may have the talent on your roster to seriously consider benching Sanders in either or both of those weeks. Be sure to utilize the Fantasy Life Start/Sit tool ahead of your matchup to get our recommendation for your specific situation.