Cooper Kupp has more targets than Justin Fields has pass attempts...
In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by PFF:
- The environment matters, man.
- The Utilization Report. Your fantasy cheat code
- Premiere Matchup: Falcons & Seahawks
- Bets from the group chat. A very low total.
- Zero-RB drafters are looking good.
- It's 9/21. Take it away, Dwain McFarland...
We are turning the page from Week 2 to Week 3 of our fantasy football season. Today we have loads of actionable player and matchup analysis to help you dominate in our quest for a championship together.
But on a day like hump day, sometimes we need to take a step back. Zoom out. See the forest for the trees. Imagine your favorite cliche on gaining perspective.
So before getting down to the nitty-gritty (not to be confused with The Griddy), let's take a moment to reflect on some of the team environments impacting our beloved fantasy football rosters.
🐰 Washington Commanders
The Commanders rank sixth in plays-per-minute and ninth in time of possession, pushing their plays in regulation to 71 per game — the fourth most in the NFL.
Per PFF data, they throw the football more than the NFL average in every game script. Even when they lead, they keep their foot on the accelerator with a 63% pass rate (NFL average = 51%).
🐢 Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks ran 195 fewer plays than the Bills in regulation play in 2021 — the equivalent of 3.1 games worth of plays. That is a tremendous disadvantage for players residing on the Seahawks. Stefon Diggs gets to play three more games than D.K. Metcalf!?!?!
Unfortunately, we are off to a similar start in 2022. However, Pete Carroll says the zebra is going to change its stripes moving forward. The problem isn't just pace — they rank 15th in plays per minute (2.2). They have possessed the ball for only 41% of the time (31st).
So while Carroll might promise big changes, we should remain skeptical until we see evidence, which makes all Seahawk players hard to depend on for big fantasy points.
🤕 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The WR injuries in Tampa Bay are impacting their pass rate over expectation in a big way.
However, unlike Seattle, we have a two-year history of a pass-heavy offense with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. In 2021, they ranked sixth in plays per minute (2.3) and dropped back to pass more than the NFL average in every game script, according to PFF data.
You might want to keep Brady away from your starting lineups for the next few games until the receiving corps is back together. Afterward, we should see a return to a high-flying Buccaneers offense which will boost everyone's value, including the running backs, who will have more scoring opportunities.
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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.
All Data is from PFF
⚠️ WR – Amari Cooper
Cooper erupted with a 37% target share and 25.1 fantasy points in Week 2. Historically, he has never been able to get over the 20-21% target-share hurdle for a season.
The Browns are QB-challenged and run-heavy, creating a difficult path for Cooper to be more than a low-end to mid-range WR3. It’s a great day to sell.
📊 RB – Dalvin Cook
Cook handled 80% of the snaps and registered a 73% route participation before the final drive of Monday night when the game was out of hand.
Only a handful of backs see that type of utilization, but RB20 and RB38 finishes might have your local manager contemplating his value. It’s time to swoop.
🌟 WR – Elijah Moore
Moore has two finishes outside the top-48 receivers. However, he leads the team with a 91% route participation.
As a rookie, he rattled off six top-36 finishes – including three top-10 marks – over seven weeks. His 1.75 YPRR mirrored Jaylen Waddle. Pounce on the young talent while you can.
💥 TE – Kyle Pitts
Pitts isn’t performing up to his lofty fantasy draft status, but his 91% route participation in Week 2 is a step in the right direction.
As a rookie, Pitts posted a juicy 81.6 PFF receiving grade — the fourth-best since 2011 (minimum 200 routes). In addition, he ranked third in target share (19%) and fifth in YPRR (2.02) in 2021. Talent isn’t an issue. BUY. LOW.
🤩 WR – Drake London
London moves into high-end WR3 status after 12.4 and 22.6 point performances. He leads the Falcons in target share (32%) and air yards (38%).
He is a must-start in most formats and could be on his way to WR2-territory soon.
🎇 WR – Garrett Wilson
Wilson exploded with 30 points on the back of a 34% target share in Week 2. He improved his route participation from 56% to 72% and should push Corey Davis for the No. 2 role. He has a 2.17 YPRR, and is the Jets leader in targets (24%), air yards (35%), and end zone targets (71%). He is an upside WR3 moving forward.
🚀 WR – Chris Olave
Olave barely missed a massive fantasy score in Week 2. He led the Saints in targets (33%) and air yards with a mind-numbing 320 yards (63%). He was on the field for more routes (84%) than Jarvis Landry and was Jameis Winston’s favorite target on third downs (56%).
He moves into upside WR4 range.
🚧 WR – Darnell Mooney
Mooney is the WR126 after two weeks. The Bears’ offense has dealt with some inclement weather, but 20 dropbacks per game are absolutely horrifying under any circumstance. Even when trailing by four or more points, Chicago has opted to pass 24 percentage points below the NFL average.
Mooney is a low-end WR4 the rest of the way.
For the full Fantasy Life Utilization Report, click here to read the rest.
For the full PFF Utilization Report, with all data and charts, sign up for PFF+
🎉 Drake London and Garrett Wilson are poppin. This rookie WR might be next.
🚫 The team is running a 1920s offense. Don't start the WRs and TEs.
🥵️ They can't keep up with Josh Allen. Ian Hartitz explains just how good he is.
🤑 Amon-Ra St. Brown is winning fantasy leagues. Everyone is talking about it.
🎱 Is this the year for Zero-RB drafters? Signs point to yes.
😑 Is the axe coming in San Francisco? This doesn't seem like a good idea.
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 Falcons and Seahwaks.
Our favorite fantasy stars have fueled my premiere matchup column so far. From A.J. Dillon’s quads to Miami’s dynamic receiver duo, my real and fantasy football interests have aligned. But this week, it’s all about vibes.
Geno Smith dropped a couple of dimes and the hottest bar of the season in Week 1. Marcus Mariota tried to engineer a comeback against the Rams on Sunday and (literally) fell short. Despite the lack of curiosity towards either team during draft season, they’ve sometimes captured our attention. I don’t know how to characterize either squad, but I’ll start with Atlanta.
At first glance, the Falcons’ offense looks boring. They rank 29th in pass rate over expectation (PROE) and 19th in neutral pace. We didn’t expect much from Mariota in his first real start since 2019. But there was some hope. And somehow, he and Arthur Smith ruined our favorite draft target on the team.
Most tilting player through two weeks undoubtedly Kyle Pitts. Through two weeks:
* 120-of-136 snaps (88%)
* 40 in-line, 38 slot, 38 wide, 2 backfield, 2 OL
* 57 routes on 69 Mariota dropbacks
* Earned just six targets for a pathetic 10% share
* 4-38-0 result
— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan)
Sep 19, 2022
It might not be about fantasy football to Smith, but let’s be rational here. Kyle Pitts’ 2021 YPRR (2.02) ranked 13th amongst all skill players. He had a greater YAC per reception than Justin Jefferson and Tyreek Hill. However, it's not all bad in Atlanta, even with Pitts on pace for a solid 323 receiving yards.
The Falcons sit at the league average for total offensive plays run (127) but are top-10 in attempts from within their opponent’s red zone. They’re averaging 33 yards per drive (YDP). For reference, the Buccaneers are at 28.9 YPD. And, as I mentioned, we’re yet to see Pitts as a primary option. But, Mariota has been serviceable in the meantime.
The former second-overall pick is 10th in EPA per play, and his 75.0% designed-rush rate was on par with Jalen Hurts’. Mariota’s six red-zone rushing attempts are more than Lamar Jackson’s. If any matchup were to unlock this offense, it would be against Seattle, given just how poor their defense has started the 2022 season.
Tacking onto this, the Seahawks are also the only team in the league that have not yet forced a 3 and out possession on defense.
They have allowed 50.9 yards per drive, the most in the league.
— Rich Hribar (@LordReebs)
Sep 19, 2022
Reebs, as always, gives the perfect context. Seattle’s pass rush is average at best, and their secondary is dead last in dropback EPA allowed. But we don’t need just a weak defense to create a fantasy-friendly environment for Atlanta. The Seahawks’ offense also has to have a counterpunch to keep the fight going.
In a similar setting during Week 1, Seattle came out firing. They were third in PROE on the week, with Smith ranking seventh in EPA per play. His ‘Roethlisberger-like’ 5.0 aDOT was concerning, but Denver kept him under duress on 35.5% of his dropbacks. Atlanta’s managed a 14.1% pressure rate through two weeks.
The game sets up especially well for Tyler Lockett. Cooper Kupp put on another show (14-108-2), but his 3.79 YPRR from the slot was the fourth-highest on the week. Jarvis Landry did something similar in Week 1 (2.85 YPRR, 11th). With Lockett having the highest target utilization from this area (28.0% TPRR), expect him and the rest of the passing game to have a strong outing against Atlanta.
Our resident betting sharps at Fantasy Life have a group chat. Lucky for you, they are leaking the alpha. Here's what they came up with for Week 3...
👽 Steelers @ Browns under 38.5 via BetMGM
Coming off a short week after a relatively heartbreaking loss to the Jets, the Browns are set for a divisional clash against the Steelers in a game where they are 4.5-point favorites, with the game total set at a lowly 38.5 points.
TLDR: This game is looking pretty ugly.
To make matters worse, the Browns run the 6th-most plays per game at 69.5 while running the 22nd-most plays per minute at 2.1, and to top it off, they average the 2nd most rushing attempts per game at 34.5. (Per PFF)
Basically, the Browns love to run the ball, and they've shown an ability to have sustained offensive production doing just that, with a commanding 59% time of possession which is the 3rd highest in the league.
On the other side, the Steelers run the 30th fewest plays per game at 52, while running the 7th most plays per minute at 2.3; combine that with a disappointing 41% time of possession, which is good for 30th in the NFL, and you have a team that is incompetent on the offensive side of the ball.
Admittedly, I think a lot of this has to do with Mitch Trubisky, I think his tenure has gone on for 2 weeks too long, but I am desperately hoping that the Steelers don’t come to that realization tomorrow night.
38.5 is a really low total, but this is a really ugly game, with one offense that loves to run the ball and another offense that would gladly welcome any offensive success that they can get.
The Browns aren’t going to change their stripes (or solids, I guess); they will be running the ball, and they will be running the ball often. I expect that, in combination with the Steelers’ offensive woes, to lead to an under in Cleveland. As of writing, the markets seem to agree, with 92% of the total cash and 65% of the total tickets coming in on the under.