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In the world of fantasy football, where fans transform into virtual team managers, every week feels just like a recurring day in the life of Phil Connors from the classic film “Groundhog Day.”  As Phil relives the same day over and over again, fantasy football managers (myself included) eagerly anticipate the return of our beloved game week after week. 

With each new week, we embark on a journey filled with strategic decisions, player statistics, and the thrill of competition.  But much like Phil’s quest for personal growth and enlightenment, fantasy football offers us the chance to learn, adapt and hopefully conquer the ever-changing landscape of the NFL. 

Akin to Phil Connors and his reporting of “the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather,” I am here once again to share my “Five Things to Know” for the upcoming fantasy football schedule.  I kid, of course!  We all know the probability of a “large squirrel” predicting the end of winter is much more reliable than any of us fantasy football prognosticators will ever be.  Yet, here I am again, throwing my thoughts onto virtual paper to (hopefully) provide some good insight and information for your use.     

Last week, I suggested you not give up on Justin Fields yet, and he rewarded with 35.3 fantasy points.  I suggested you park the Gus Bus against the vaunted Cleveland Defensive (6.9 PPR points).  I also suggested you consider Nico Collins (35.8 PPR) and DJ Chark (4.8 PPR).  Upon further reflection, I believe I simply spelled “DJ Moore” wrong on that last one.  But you get the picture…

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Excerpt from Groundhog Day:

Phil: I’m a god.

Rita: You’re God?

Phil: I’m “a” god.  I’m not “the” God…I don’t think. 

No, I don’t think I’m “a” or “the” God of fantasy football. I just seek to get a few right once in a while.  So, without further ado, here are my attempts to “get a few right” for this week:     

1.

Starting off at QB, one of the biggest dilemmas we continue to hear these days is starting Joe Burrow.  If you’re in that, or a similar, situation this week, here’s a QB play that is now probably considered under the radar due to the struggles of his team’s offense. 

What if I tell you this “running” QB is facing a defense that just allowed 320 yards and 4 TDs passing and 1 TD rushing?  The week prior, the same defense allowed 306 yards and 1 TD…to another “struggling QB” this season.  Over the season, that defense has given up over 1,000 passing yards and 7 passing TDs.  On top of that, the defense has already given up 525 rushing yards and 3 rushing TDs.  That results in an average of 19.6 fantasy points per game. 

All this data suggests the opposing QB is a strong play this week.  Now the reveal…the defense is the Miami Dolphins, and the opposing QB is Daniel Jones

Other than Week 2 in Arizona, where he scored a robust 36 points, Jones’ season has been a dud.  I don’t blame you if you decide to move on right here.  I really don’t.  However, I’m not here to make the easy calls, and this one qualifies as such. 

At the time of this writing, Saquon Barkley remains questionable and is 50:50 to play.  Should he play, the Dolphins pass rush will not be able to tee off on Jones, like we saw the Seahawks do on MNF.  The Seahawks sacked Jones 10 times.  By contrast, the Cardinals “only” sacked Jones 3 times in Week 3, the game in which Jones threw for 321 and 2 TDs, plus 1 rushing TD. 

So, very similar to the recommendations in this spot last week (remember the Justin Fields call?), I’m here to say run with Daniel Jones one more week.  If he tanks again, you have my permission to cut the strings.           

2.

Last week, I suggested you sit Joe Mixon against the Titans, and that proved to be the right call.  Mixon finished with 14-67-0 for his lowest fantasy output of 8.6 (PPR).  Whiplash!  This week, he’s a start against the Cardinals, who allow the 3rd most fantasy points to RBs.  This includes allowing the opposing RB1 to score at least 13.6 or more fantasy points in each of the first four games.  That’s big news for the struggling Bengals offense. 

Alexander Mattison is also a good RB play against the Chiefs.  After a shaky Week 2 in Phily, Mattison has run of back-to-back double-digit point (PPR) games.  On paper, the matchup versus the Chiefs may not look appetizing, but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that the Chiefs have allowed the 9th highest yards per attempt so far. 

On the flip side, I’m suggesting we continue to heed the warnings for RBs going up against the Titans.  For this week, that means you, Zack Moss.  Moss faced a top 6 defense (vs. RB) last week in the road tilt against the Rams and delivered a mild 7.0 fantasy points, punctuated by a 0-reception game.  The Colts are on the road again, this time in NashVegas.  If you’re like me and are forced to start him, temper those expectations going in and hope he gets a goal-line carry at some point.  If you can avoid it, that’s a good call.   

Moving on…

If you’re new to @RazzballNFL, I suggest you spend some time with our free tools to help break down WRs and TEs.  We call them the “Defensive Slot vs. Wide PPG Allowed” tool, the “Slot vs. Wide Rest of Season Strength of Schedules” tool, the “Wide Receiver Fantasy Points Scored Slot vs. Wide” tool, and the “Player Usage Data” tool.  Like last week, I’ll be pulling primarily from these tools for the next few discussion recommendations.   

3.

In the table below, I list the 5 most “accommodating” defenses allowing points to slot receivers (based on the total percentage of WR points scored).  I also list the players most likely to benefit and share their overall routes run and, of that, the percentage from the slot.  Basically, I’m trying to provide an easy table to connect the dots to give the highest probability of a slot WR taking advantage of the prime matchup.  Judge for yourself. 

Some names that stick out to me:

  • Rondale Moore and Michael Wilson. Which one?  I don’t know.  But I do know Michael Wilson is getting double-digit % Tgt (% of times targeted per routes run) numbers every game, and Rondale Moore isn’t.
  • For the Texans, all 3 WRs look to be good plays. Nico is an every-week starter in my book now.  Dell and Woods are decent Flex options. 
  • Is this the week we finally see Juju Smith-Schuster reintroduce himself to the league? He’s been dreadful so far.  However, the last time he lined up against the Saints, he went for 11-115 (22.5 PPR points).  Ok, ok…that was in 2018.  I’m not playing him anywhere, but I’m just saying “IF” you’re in a pinch or want a cheap DFS play, he may be an under-the-radar name to consider. 
  • We need to assume Adam Thielen will continue to do Adam Thielen things until he remembers he’s Adam Thielen!  

4.

Same thing, but for wideouts this time: 

Some names that stick out to me:

  • You don’t need me to tell you to start Amon-Ra St. Brown, despite what looks like a less-than-prime matchup. However, I do like Josh Reynolds as a Flex option and expect Jameson Williams to get some run in what should be a lopsided affair. 
  • Zach Wilson showed some flashes of confidence and now faces the defense that allowed Josh Fields to show flashes of confidence last week. Garrett Wilson is a must-start, and Allen Lazard should be a Flex consideration.
  • Michael Thomas (pretty sure I spelled his name right) is a good start. He’s getting targets.  He’s making receptions.  It’s just a matter of time before it all comes together for a big fantasy week.  I really think this might be that week. 
  • Titans WRs? I’m really not excited about this group, but if you have to…expect Hopkins to give you a floor of 8-10 PPR.  The problem is, the floor has generally been his ceiling here. 
  • Zay Flowers. Say it with me, “Zay Flowers.”  One more time, with feeling…”ZAY FLOWERS.”   

5.

To finish out my 5 things to know, I’ll revisit the wasteland that has enveloped the TE position. 

Carolina has been pretty good versus TEs.  Over four games, they’re holding TEs to an average of 4 receptions for < 50 yards and have yet to allow a TD. 

The Lions have a very good young TE, Sam LaPorta, who is averaging 5.5 receptions for 60.5 yards.  Plus, the game is in Detroit, where QB Jared Goff has a 2:1 TD ratio in Home vs Away starts.  He’s also throwing for an additional 50 yards per game at home. 

A number of other TEs have what look to be favorable matchups to exploit:  Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz, George Kittle, and even Mark Andrews.   

I’m starting LaPorta over all of these names and suggest you do the same.    

And that provides a great segue….

If you have Start/Sit questions leading up to kickoff, don’t forget to subscribe and tune into the one-and-only @RazzballNFL Start/Sit show on Sunday mornings.  Right up to game time, @BobbyLamarco anchors our field of RazzballNFL experts in answering all your fantasy football questions as you prepare for the start of your Championship season.  Don’t miss it.   

Look for my articles right here each week, and be sure to follow me on Twitter/X @Derek_Favret.  I’m now on Bluesky as well (@dfavret.bsky.social).

Until next time, my friends.