Did you know that Rudy Gamble spent a full year at BBQ joints across the south and midwest studying to prepare the Pigskinonator? That’s dedication! Ultimately, pit bosses got wise to his tricks when he kept complaining about the “small sample size” of pulled pork he was getting. After his sojourn, Rudy returned to the nacho-cheese coated interior of Razzball Headquarters and developed the most advanced imaginary football management player performance predictor in existence: The Pigskinonator. Ultimately we had to get a restaurant permit because it turned out that Rudy really did roast a whole hog every time he ran the numbers. He said offers of roasted pork shoulder really appeased the fantasy football gods. Anywho. You should take a gander at the premium football offerings that Rudy provides because they’re legitimately the best way to think about whether you want to start Boston Scott or Nyheim Hines this week. Starting at $1 a week, you’re getting Rudy’s constantly updated weekly rankings, which account for, well, everything. If you’re into daily fantasy, check out the DFS option, which gives you an awesome lineup optimization tool that will make setting a competitive DFS lineup a breeze. On Rudy’s #1 projected lineup for the Thurs-Monday slate on DraftKings last week, I made nearly 300% return on investment. Whether it be your office league or DFS, all fantasy sports is about stacking the odds, and it’s good to have a tool in your belt that can help out in a pinch.
September 14-20, 2020
The lesson of week 1 is straight out of Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy: Don’t Panic. First, week 1 is not always representative of the rest of the year game plan or snap shares. Josh Allen won’t always have 46 attempts; his previous career high was 41. Mitch Trubisky won’t always throw for 3 touchdowns; he’s thrown less than 3TDs in 85% of his career games. Gardner Minshew won’t always have a 95% completion percentage; his career average is a paltry 60%. So, small sample size does not a fantasy season make. A ton of successful fantasy seasons will be lost this week when a manager second-guesses their team and drops a solid player for a dud.
Because quarterback is the highest scoring position on your roster — and often the most easily replaceable — it is fine to upgrade your dud QB as soon as possible.
News and Notes
Cam Newton — I’m saying that the biggest news of Week 1 was the return of Cam Newton to the playing field. Newton missed most of 2019 with foot issues after having a nagging shoulder injury that bothered him throughout 2018. Reportedly healthy now, Newton signed a contract with the New England Patriots to replace Tom Brady in the 2020 off-season. In his first game back, Newton passed for 155 yards and rushed for another 75 yards and 2TDs. Due to those rushing TDs, Newton set the fantasy world on fire with dreams of massive draft value. With receivers like Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, and James White, Newton should have potential for downfield explosiveness. However, tamper expectations about Newton’s rushing. That 75 yards in Week 1? It was the 10th best rushing performance of his nearly ten year career. Cam averages 38 yards per game rushing, and with 126 career games as evidence, we have ample evidence that we shouldn’t expect 75 yards per week from Newton in every game. Because Newton had one of the lowest Intended Air Yards per attempt and the lowest yardage of any starting QB, I’m keeping Newton in the 20s on the list. I will be happy to have Newton prove me wrong, but with so many capable fantasy QBs available in most leagues, Newton’s fantasy value may not be usable in most office leagues.
Baker Mayfield — At a certain point, one should realize that they have won only 40% of their career games, and that they’re getting about $8 million a year, and maybe they should stop taking commercials and start working on their craft. Another year, another rough start for Baker. As I talked about in the pre-season, Mayfield is a notoriously slow starter, but he’s at the point where his slow starts may cost him his job. In 2019, Mayfield threw the third most interceptions in a season in the past decade behind Deshone Kizer and Jameis Winston, each of whom lost their starting jobs. New Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski is a run-first offensive mind, and he brought one of his favorite QBs, Case Keenum, to Cleveland as a backup, and possibly as a replacement. Surrounded by what could be the most talented offensive squad in football — Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper, David Njoku, Kareem Hunt, and Nick Chubb — Mayfield put up the second worst completion percentage of the week, behind Dwayne Haskins and ahead of Tyrod Taylor. Almost all of Mayfield’s yards were through the air, giving his receivers only 18(!) yards after the catch, which put him last among Week 1 starters by nearly a factor of three. Can you imagine having Hunt, Beckham, and Landry and getting 18 YAC? The takeaway of my pre-season article is that Mayfield has great second halves after he familiarizes himself with the playbook. However, Mayfield is not Stefanski’s quarterback; Stefanski’s quarterback stepped in on game 3 of the 2017 season and went 11-3 for the Vikings surrounded by Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, Jerrick McKinnon, and Latavius Murray. Coincidence? Case Keenum has a better career winning percentage than Mayfield, higher career completion percentage, higher career QB rating, and a 50% better interception rate. Regardless of whether you think I’m crazy for talking up Case Keenum, don’t those stats comparisons make you feel a bit shaky about Mayfield? Mayfield has some middling matchups against the Bengals and Washington in the next few weeks, so he’s got his chance to make up lost ground. Start with Mayfield with caution.
Philip Rivers — In ten years we’ll all be in the gulag using trading cards as currency, and some guy wearing coke-bottle glasses with a Joy Division t-shirt will be hoarding Philip Rivers cards as the hipster currency. When historians look back at this era of football, Rivers will be that guy who inhabits the Hall of Very Good, but maybe not the Hall of Fame. He didn’t have the Super Bowl runs of Tom Brady, or the gaudy stat sheet of Drew Brees, or the personality of Peyton Manning, or celebrity wife of Russell Wilson, or, or, or. At the age of 39, Rivers just keeps racking up yards and throwing some INTs and making fantasy teams go to the playoffs. Completing nearly 80% of his passes in Week 1, Rivers threw for 363 yards while managing a meager 1 TD and throwing 2 picks in his first game out of a Chargers uniform. Rivers spread the ball around, targeting 9 different receivers with at least two targets. Now that Marlon Mack will miss the rest of the reason, Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines will be more involved in the passing game. Rookie receiver Michael Pittman and second-year receiver Parris Campbell will grow with Rivers. Now, I’m not advocating for a complete buy-in to Rivers; he barely finished in the top 20 QBs last year and even after his first week in a Colts uniform, he’s still far outside of the top 12 that standard leagues would use. However, his next two games are against the Vikings and the Jets. The Vikings just gave up the most single-game points in Mike Zimmer’s tenure as a head coach along with some other undesirable top-5 worst passing yardage categories. The Vikings lost their premier pass rusher Danielle Hunter to injury, and their inexperienced cornerback group won’t be able to compete with Rivers’ ability to spread the ball. If you’re looking for an upside play at week 2 QB, Rivers might be your answer.
Mitch Trubisky — The way people were talking about Trubisky on Twitter on Sunday, you would have thought he really should have been drafted before Mahomes. And then, 17 point come back! So, if you’re new to fantasy football, you might not know that Trubisky barely held on to his starting job in training camp, and, well, he’s not that good. Sure, he threw for 3TDs in the Bears’ comeback win over the Lions, but by the end of the game, the Lions secondary had three healthy cornerbacks period. Everybody else was out with injuries, either pre-game or incurred during the game. To take advantage of the injured Lions secondary, Trubisky targeted his running backs 40% less than usual, relying on Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, and Jimmy Graham to move the ball down the field. Trubisky has some pretty mediocre matchups coming up, so don’t be surprised if he you see a lot of 200 yard 2 TD games. Late update: Bears’ star wide receiver Allen Robinson has asked for a trade if the Bears don’t agree to a contract extension. If Robinson leaves the Windy City, Trubisky will have a nightmare scenario where his #1 WR is Anthony Miller and Tarik Cohen or Jimmy Graham would become next in line for targets. Yeesh.
If you follow me over on Razzball baseball, you know that I’m a big fan of empowering fantasy players to make their own decisions. It’s your roster, it’s your money, and it’s your brain, right? I’m happy to educate, guide, and provide advice. To help in that goal, I provide a lot of advanced metrics, and let me know if you have any questions down in the comments. Because it’s Week 1, I’m keeping things pretty simple, and the terms below should be easy to understand for anybody familiar with fantasy football:
- Yards/Game: Passing yards per game
- Rushing yards/Game
- Total TDs: Passing TDs + Rushing TDs
- Bad%: The percentage of poor throws per pass attempt by a QB, not including spikes/throwaways.
Again, it’s Week 1, and the “chalk” at the top hasn’t really changed since the pre-season, and the 12-25 QBs are basically streamers for most fantasy leagues anyway. Unless you’re in a 12-team superflex league, there’s no need to worry yourself about Ryan Fitzpatrick or Drew Lock.
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Aye, you made it this far, didn’t ya. EverywhereBlair is, well, located at home right now. He’s a historian and lover of prog-metal. He enjoys a good sipping rum. When he’s not churning data and making fan fiction about Grey and Donkey Teeth, you can find him dreaming of shirtless pictures of Lance Lynn on Twitter @Everywhereblair.