In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Monkey Knife Fight, we check out recent news, look at air yards and expected play charts for Week 17, and get some college football action down.
There’s no game tonight, but there’s still plenty going on across the league as we prepare to win some fantasy football championships.
* Lamar Jackson returned to practice yesterday, but he was walking with a noticeable limp on his right ankle.
* The other big QB question mark this weekend is Jimmy Garoppolo, who didn’t practice yesterday due to his thumb injury yet insists he’ll play this weekend.
* D’Andre Swift practiced in full yesterday and is on track to start this weekend...James Conner (heel) was at practice today and is likely a GTD vs. the Cowboys…Adam Thielen was placed on IR with an ankle injury. His season is over.
* As we near the end of the season, motivation becomes a factor. Here are a couple to keep tabs on:
* Week 17 rushing matchups via Hayden Winks:
No Thursday Night Football this week which is even more of a reason to check out one of Monkey Knife Fight’s College Football Playoff contests involving the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide and #4 Cincinnati Bearcats.
Here’s one for you in which you pick MORE or LESS on the passing yards of the two QBs:
‘Bama’s Heisman winner, Bryce Young, is rolling (pun intended) into this matchup averaging 432 yards over his last three games. His projection on Monkey Knife Fight sits at 320.5 passing yards.
Desmond Ridder and the underdog Cincinnati Bearcats might be chasing Alabama in this game, and Monkey Knife Fight has his projection at 238.5 passing yards, a number he has exceeded in 4 of his last 5 outings.
Check out this semifinal matchup and win real cash at no risk to you: Monkey Knife Fight is giving new users a FREE $5 contest just for signing up - simply pick MORE or LESS on Bryce Young and Desmond Ridder’s passing yards, get both correct, and collect $18 cash!
While you’re at it, for a limited time they’re offering a 100% instant deposit match up to $100 using promo code BIGPAYOUTS.
*Free game for new users only. First deposit match in MKF Dollars. See site for details.
📊CHARTS ON CHARTS
Sam Hoppen—an analyst and web developer wizard for 4for4 Football and Ship Chasing—shares an “Air Yards Distribution” chart for four teams and a chart displaying the number of plays teams are running per game to help us make better lineup decisions. Take it away, Sam...
The chart below displays the distribution of how far downfield (or how far away from the line of scrimmage) a player is targeted. Where the player's bubble is higher indicates where more of his targets are concentrated. We would expect players with higher bubbles further to the right to be downfield, big-play threats while we would expect players with higher bubbles further left to be more consistent, higher-target players.
* If it weren’t for Ja’Marr Chase’s early-season breakout, we’d be talking about Jaylen Waddle as the best rookie WR this year. Waddle has earned double-digit targets in six of his last nine games, a truly outstanding mark for a rookie. He looks like the next Jarvis Landry, with even more explosiveness.
* With three straight games of at least 13 PPR points, Stefon Diggs is starting to get back on the good side of fantasy managers but he’s still struggling with consistency. Despite missed games from both Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley over the past couple of weeks, Diggs has recorded 7, 13, 7, and 13 targets over his last four games. Regardless, in a plus matchup against the Falcons this week, Diggs offers a ceiling that few wide receivers can.
* Odell Beckham Jr. and Van Jefferson are still battling it out for the WR2 spot in Los Angeles. Over the team’s last five games, Beckham Jr. is averaging one more target per game than Jefferson, but Jefferson is running a route on 96% of routes (compared to 87% for Beckham Jr.). Despite a favorable matchup against the Ravens this week, neither can be trusted as more than a flex option.
In this next chart, the team's bar shows the number of plays per game that team has averaged. Then the teams that play each other in the upcoming week are combined to show the total average between that week's matchup. With more plays come more opportunities for fantasy points, so use teams at the top of this chart as a tie-breaker when making your start/sit decision.
* This week features two matchups of high-octane offenses as the Bengals host the Chiefs and the Cowboys host the Cardinals. All four of these teams rank in the top half of the league in neutral-script seconds per play over the last five weeks. You should confidently roll out any players on these teams in your championship matchup.
* I’m warning you: do whatever you can to avoid starting players in the Giants and Bears matchup. This game involves two teams vying for draft position because of how lackluster their offenses have been. In addition to being a game that has the fourth-fewest combined games per play, these teams are averaging a combined 30.7 points per game over their last six games.
* The last time the Packers and Vikings played in Week 11, Minnesota won a very narrow match 34 to 31 and the teams combined for an outrageous 875 yards of offense. Even though Minnesota will be without Adam Thielen, they’re expected to get Dalvin Cook back. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers is playing at an MVP level and continues to boost ancillary pieces like Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who is also expected back this week.
For more of Sam’s great work, follow him on Twitter, read his terrifically titled “Hoppen to Conclusions” pieces on 4for4, and watch him break down the most relevant fantasy data and charts on Stat Chasing.
I’ll be doing a Q&A on the Fantasy Life app tonight at 6:15pm ET if you want to swing by and pepper me with questions.