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This week’s Battle Royale is shaping up to be a “stars and scrubs” style contest and it’s largely because of the QB position. There are eight! Yes, eight! QBs on the slate who either didn’t start the year as their team’s QB1 or have been replaced and now re-entered as their team’s QB1. Meaning 40% of the QB pool this week is, theoretically, replacement-level talent. Now couple that with the premium QB talent (Mahomes, Hurts, Herbert, etc) having the largest implied team totals and not a single game environment having a total over 50 and the field is all being drawn to the same handful offenses (KC, PHI, DAL,LAC) over and over again.
Without a game that jumps off the page like MIN@DET did last week and only 4 of 10 games having a total over 45 we’re going to have to get creative and dive into some uncomfortable game environments if we want to separate from the field. Not sure we have to go as far as chasing the likes of Brett Rypien or Jeff Driskle but if the slate plays to the spreads, we could see backups in for multiple premium offenses in the second half and the leverage you need to win the contest is a game environment where two teams are pushing one another deep into the 2nd half. So when trying to differentiate from the field this week, we’re looking to attack teams who have “something to play for” in terms of playoff berths yet the field isn’t as heavily on. TB, DET, NYJ, NE, ATL, JAX and CAR, albeit not nearly as attractive as the previously mentioned, could push competitive game environments enough to be the lower owned separator you need to climb the leaderboard.
Best Picks at ADP: Hurts, Herbert, Fields.
Favorite Undrafted: Goff, Brady, Dalton, Ridder. - Ridder is a fun one-off or backend stack with Drake London as a “chase the ceiling of the great unknown” play. It likely wouldn’t end well, and Dalton is probably the better play in that game, but we’ve seen stranger things happen.
Best Picks at ADP: Henry, Jacobs, Mixon, Conner.
Favorite Undrafted: N. Harris, D. Harris, Murray, Fournette. - Conner’s usage is late-out elite, nearing the level of true bell cow, and we’ve already seen McCoy able to move this offense this year so lean into the ADP discount
Best Picks at ADP: Adams, M. Williams, Hopkins, Godwin.
Favorite Undrafted: Higgins, Marquise Brown, Dionate Johnson, Chris Moore - Mike Williams might be the best play on the slate at his current ADP but he doesn’t offer much leverage at 100% ownership. Perhaps a shift from Pickett to Trubisky is what Dionate Johnson needs to finally convert all his empty targets into touching pay dirt.
Best Picks at ADP: Kelce, Okonkwo, Everett.
Favorite Undrafted: Goedert, Waller - The bet on Goedert and Waller is effectively the same; elite talent with a returning for injury discount. The main caveat being PHI has no reason to rush Goedert back or overextend him in a game they should easily handle, whereas Waller would be a very welcomed addition on a LV team with few auxiliary offensive weapons and in a “win-or-go-home” situation.
Favorite Game: Titans @ Chargers - This game ticks all the previously mentioned boxes. Competitive game environment with two playoff contenders both with team totals over 21.5, plus premium talent in great matchups. The only knock on this game is ADP has the players appropriately priced-up, so we’re not sneaking it by the field and it will be heavily owned. TEN is awful vs the pass, particularly the deep pass, and LAC’s aerial onslaught has come alive in recent weeks now that their WR corp is entirely healthy. On the flipside, LAC has been giving up chunk yardage on the ground and TEN is prone to establishing it. It is DeHenber after all.
Favorite Expensive Stack: AJ Brown + Jalen Hurts - Pause if you’ve heard us say this before but if it ain’t broke, why fix it? We continue to go back to this well week after week but it just makes too much sense, so why get cute? CHI can’t stop a nosebleed right now and PHI looks all sorts of special, dare I say, Superbowl bound. The only knock here is there is blown out risk and PHI’s offense isn’t as condensed as we’d like from a fantasy standpoint. It’s extremely conceivable that they score 35 points and this isn’t the combo you need, but it’s the safest bet.
Favorite Cheap Stack: Trevor Lawrence + Christian Kirk/Zay Jones - This one is a leverage play off the TE3 on the week, Evan Engram. After going undrafted and being in the winning lineups back-to-back weeks, the market has drastically trusted him up draft boards. Kirk and Jones are now going drastically overlooked, while Engram is being drafted in nearly 100% of drafts. Tacking on a mini stack of Lawrence and one of the two WRs in the 5th and 6th seems like an easy way to leverage a chalky TE who's on the same team.
Favorite Player at ADP: Justin Fields - Admittedly, this is a “broscience taek.” Not a ton is going to set up favorably on paper for CHI this week. Almost every metric suggests they’ll get torched, 31st in DVOA against the pass and 29th against the run, but give me Fields with the ball in his hands chasing points in garbage time at an ADP of 25+. Fields has had over 60 yards rushing in every game since Week 6 and scored multiple TDs in all but two, including two slates which he single-handedly broke. The dude is a flatout baller and he’s going to try and prove it in a head-to-head matchup with the league’s frontrunner for MVP. It might not be optimal, but I don’t care, I’m drafting him a lot.
Favorite Late-Round One-off: Tee Higgins - I know he burned everyone last week, myself included, with a somewhat “smoke and mirrors” practice report followed by a weird “maybe he did or didn’t” reaggravate the injury pregame narrative, but he’s logged practices all week including a full one on Friday and a 34.7 ADP is flatout theft for a player of talent. Especially versus a defense that just made Brock Purdy look like Joe Montana. Granted they may get Winfield and Murphy-Bunting back this week but I’m still buying the dip, hard.
Player to Fade at ADP: Evan Engram - Engram has flashed the last two weeks and been the piece you needed at TE to take down the contest. It’s great to see him turn into the player so many of us thought he was going to be when first arriving in NY. Talent, intelligent usage and the evolution of Trevor Lawrence have all led to this point but now we have to pay the premium price tag with no ownership leverage, and given the volatility of TE scoring, Lawrence’s Q-tag and the prevalence of DAL pass-rush, I’m looking elsewhere.
1) Dak + Gallup - Leverage off every other DAL skill position player who are getting drafted at nearly a 100% frequency. 6+ targets in 3 straight and only a week removed from a 2 TD game.
2) Brady + anyone - It’s weird to see the lowest Bucs ADP at 29.9 (Godwin). “That game” has to eventually come for this offense, they’re far too talented.
3) Higgins + TB RB - If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m attacking this game environment. It’s free and in the 5th/6th round.
4) Derek Carr - Adams and Jacobs go in the 1st two rounds of every draft, yet Carr is rarely drafted. Instant leverage on Adams by simply pairing him with his QB. This game doesn’t always have to be complicated.
5) Hill + Kamara/Olave - It’s extremely thin but this is how you break a slate - TE Taysom throwing a TD and double dipping the rewards. It also acts as leverage off single Taysom teams on a slate where he is TE4.
Bonus - Hurts + Watkins - Quez is expected to be a full-go and represents leverage off AJB, DeVonta and Sanders stacks. He has the top-end speed to break a big play plus is more apt to play garbage time minutes if the game gets out of hand early.
1) Gerald Everett (ADP 34.1) off of Derrick Henry instead of Ekeler, Allen or Williams.
2) Travis Etienne (ADP 35.5) off of any DAL player instead of Engram or Kirk.
3) Leonard Fournette or Rachaad White (ADP 36) off of Chase + Burrow instead of Godwin
4) Damien Harris (ADP 36) off of Jacobs or Adams instead of no one. Harris without Rhamondre could return to 20 touches. It’s a less than ideal matchup but worth a shot at current price.
5) Drake London (ADP 35.5) off of Kamara or Olave. We’re seeing this game largely drafted as one-offs, mixing in some mini-stack bring-backs instantly makes Olave/Kamara ownership unique.