The Memory of Smoke: Week 2 Lights Up the Scoreboard and Offers Buy and Trade Options Galore
Image Credit: Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Terry McLaurin.

Shawn Siegele breaks down the weekly plan, broaches the important questions in the podcast preview, and explains how subscribers can use the RotoViz tools to capitalize again in Week 3.

“We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.”
― Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

We actually got scoring in Week 2 and fantasy shootouts to go with it. Is there some chance that we’ve crossed this absolutely brutal and disgusting bridge? Maybe some offenses will have answers after all. Win or lose this week, I think you’ve got to be excited that fantasy might actually be fun again in 2023.

What to Look for This Week

What a week of football and what a week of content from the RotoViz scribes. Not every week will look the same, as our content constantly evolves to take best advantage of the skills and availability of our writers, but having participated in this project for 11 years now, I can confidently say that few weeks matched the most recent.

Win the Waiver Wire – Bjorn Yang-Vaernet
Blood Is Compulsory – Shawn Siegele
5 Things That Mattered (and 5 That Didn’t) – Mat Irby
TE Streaming – Neil Dutton
The Dynasty Command Center – Curtis Patrick
The Zero RB Dynasty Watch – David Phillippi
Best Ball Mania IV Advance Rate Model – Jake Boes
Streaming Defense – Ross Durham
The Buy Low Report: Advanced WR Metrics – Ryan Ramsarran
The Passing Game Matchup Report: WR/CB Battles – Dave Caban
NFL Pace Report: Shootout Options – Mat Irby
Zero RB Universe – Shawn Siegele
Wrong Read: Every Key Matchup Note from the Advance Team Stat Explorer – Blair Andrews
How to Think About Small-Field DFS Tournaments (DK) – Michael Hitchcock
Beating the Week 2 FanDuel DFS Slate – Justin Herrera
The NFL Weather Report – Mat Irby

RotoViz has almost 40 tools to help you beat your fantasy leagues, and many of them are in-season tools powered by the advanced charting data from Sports Info Solutions. These tools update on the SIS tempo throughout the week, and the writers did a fantastic job of helping you understand how to access and exploit that information ahead of Week 2. I’m biased, of course, but I’m really looking forward to what they have in store for Week 3.

The RotoViz Radio network also brings you a wide range of content each week. We’ve got a wealth of content for you ahead of Week 3, including multiple Monday episodes already released.

Stealing Bananas

Ben and I had as much fun last night as we’ve had on almost any of our instant reaction pods. Here’s a guide for what to look for on the show (with insights from the Monday Review tool):

Commanders vs. Broncos

  • After trailing 21-3 early and struggling with the Broncos pass rush, Sam Howell played almost flawless football and led the Commanders on a 32-3 scoring run. No quarterback with at least 200 air yards had a higher passing air conversion than Howell, who completed 27 of 39 for 299 and two scores. Where do we rate his 30-yard TD strike to Terry McLaurin, and has Howell firmly joined the ranks of startable fantasy QBs?
  • You have to love bench points when they indicate a future where you’re obliterating opponents during the bye weeks. But sometimes even a 20-point game raises more questions than answers. Marvin Mims is probably the best talent in Denver – or at least the most exciting vertical option – and he caught both of his deep targets for 113 yards and a score. But he barely played otherwise. (You can’t play him and you can’t trade for him.) Will Sean Payton stop doing his best Nathaniel Hackett impersonation in the second half?

Packers vs. Falcons

  • The full offseason thesis for Desmond Ridder was in effect in this one. He threw the ball 32 times, including seven targets to Drake London, and rushed 10 times for 39 yards and a score. Will this be more the norm after he flashed this type of upside during the final month of last season?

  • Bijan Robinson carried 10 times for 124 yards and caught four passes for 48 more. Despite sharing 16 carries with Tyler Allgeier and not scoring a TD, he’s maintaining his 20 PPG pace and sports a target share above 23%. After arguing that the most-forward looking teams in football are actually prioritizing the RB position, how are we looking at Atlanta’s decision to use a top-10 reality pick on Robinson?
  • What does Jonnu Smith’s involvement mean for Kyle Pitts?

49ers vs. Rams

  • We bid an average of 850 FAAB in four FFPC Main Events last week, winning Puka Nacua in each and hoping the mid-week injury designation was a camouflage. That turned out to be an understand, as is everything said and written about Nacua right now.
  • Why Kyren Williams is such a great fit for the Rams offense, plus future RB moves to stay one step ahead of L.A.’s evolution.
  • Deebo Samuel did Deebo Samuel things, including two carries over 10 yards, one of which was peak 2021 – a highlight reel run for the ages. We contrast his performance to that of Brandon Aiyuk, who spent much of this game limited by injury, and note that Brock Purdy missed both of his star WRs open deep.

Chiefs vs. Jaguars

  • L’Jarius Sneed completely locked down Calvin Ridley, while Christian Kirk ran wild with 14 targets. Want a sense of how the Passing Matchup Rater saw this game playing out? (It’s not going to work quite like this every time, but the superficially shocking Jacksonville results help explain why the PMR is such an indispensable start/sit and DFS weapon.)

  • Skyy Moore lives! Could he finally be catching on? Moore’s volume peripherals are still underwhelming in an offense that targeted 12 different players, but his mix of 57 air yards and 33 yards after the catch could create the occasional strong score.

RotoViz Overtime

Colm and I recorded our first episode of the week this morning, and focused on what to do with some of the most difficult players in fantasy.

Ravens vs Bengals

  • Tee Higgins looked unstoppable in Week 2 and validated our priority grade for at least one week. Despite the goose egg in Week 1, Higgins ranks No. 1 at the position in air share and No. 3 in air yards with 276. As Joe Burrow (hopefully) recovers – he may have reaggravated the calf injury – and begins to play better, Higgins’ miniscule RACR (0.32) should rise toward his career numbers even as his aDOT falls slightly.

  • What should the Bengals – and fantasy managers – do about Ja’Marr Chase? The superstar failed to hold onto a difficult end zone target as he was thrown to the turf in this one. He desperately needed it to save another bad day. Over his first two seasons, Chase averaged 9.0 targets and more than 85 yards per game. He’s been a demon with the ball in his hands, ranking No. 6 overall with 1,087 YAC in that span. So far in 2023 he’s mixed a 7.4 aDOT (down from 10.8) with a 59% catch rate to produce only 44 yards after the catch. We make some recommendations on how to fix everything that’s going wrong.
  • Even with Odell Beckham leaving early and Zay Flowers drawing a reasonable five targets, Rashod Bateman falls below Nelson Agholor (5-63-1) and Devin Duvernay (six opps) in the pecking order.

Patriots vs Dolphins

  • Mac Jones again leads a spirited comeback that falls short. He leads the NFL with 96 attempts through two games, and with an aDOT of 8.1, also leads with 781 air yards. In both cases, he edges Matthew Stafford, but he holds the 4-1 TD lead over the veteran. He also demonstrated an undervalued athleticism against the Dolphins, getting out on the edge to uncork downfield passes. (He added 25 rushing yards.) One of our favorite deep SF startup targets, is Jones taking the next step that former Alabama teammates Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa made once they got acclimated to the league?
  • Kendrick Bourne added nine more targets but got some competition from a returned DeVante Parker and delivered only 29 yards to managers who picked him up on waivers. Is he an immediate re-cut? The answer appears to be a resounding no. As I detailed last week, he’s been extremely efficient in stretches, and this week actually led all WRs with 184 air yards.

Seahawks vs. Lions

  • D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett both looked good in Week 2 after a poor start against the Rams. Can they hold off Jaxon Smith-Njigba or should they worry that the rookie is sticking close in targets despite running fewer routes?
  • Jared Goff is blending a good completion percentage (71%) with a solid aDOT (7.5) to trail only Tagovailoa in yards per attempt (8.2). He looked fantastic in Week 2, again pushing Amon-Ra St. Brown into triple digits, while supporting both rookies. Jahmyr Gibbs led the Lions in targets (9), and Sam LaPorta now trails only Evan Engram in yards after the catch (55). Just how high a price should LaPorta currently fetch in dynasty?

How the Tools Provide Insight

Blair nailed the Chargers/Titans matchup in The Wrong Read.

Only two teams have more total dropbacks than the Chargers since the start of 2022 (including playoff games), largely because only one team is faster in seconds per snap since 2021. The Titans meanwhile have been friendly to pass-happy teams, with low marks in EPA per passing play allowed (No. 27) and success rate allowed (No. 23). . . The Chargers are worse than all but one team at stopping big passing plays. It wouldn’t be the craziest thing to see one of Tennessee’s receivers score a long touchdown.

Keenan Allen went off for 110 yards and two TDs – good for overall WR1 status on the week – while Treylon Burks got loose behind the Chargers secondary for a 70-yard reception. Dave referred to Allen as “absolutely set to smash” and broke down the likely culprits in coverage.

Right now I’m feeling good about our guidance to heavily target Allen and Samuel at the 3/4 turn, but we obviously have a long way to go.

Game Level Similarity Projections Nail the Nico Collins Breakout

In Part 2 of his WR/CB Matchup article, Dave references the GLSP enthusiasm for Collins.

In recent games, the Colts have allowed opposing WRs to score 111% of expected points. Nico Collins and Robert Woods will spend most of the game covered by Dallis Flowers and Darrell Baker Jr. As a duo, the pair has allowed 16.5 points per game (PPG) on direct targets since Week 14 of 2022. Kenny Moore II, who has allowed 6.7 PPG on direct targets, will be on Collins and Woods at points in the game.

The GLSP also paints a favorable picture for Collins as 70% of his matches scored 10.0 or more points.

This is one of the few games I haven’t yet had a chance to watch from Week 2, but I was extremely impressed with C.J. Stroud’s decision-making, quick release, and ability to spin the ball in his debut (even though the results weren’t there).

After a terrific college career at Ohio State, Stroud was a big focus of Dave’s research for the RotoViz Rookie Guide and our recommendations for how to play the QB position.

Of course, Anthony Richardson’s ridiculous athleticism played a huge part in this game before an unfortunate concussion erased the potential for a week-breaking score.

If Demeco Ryans’ defense continues to disappoint but his offense battles behind its young signal caller, the Texans could provide multiple-league winners (or at least league-alterers) in a bonanza of garbage-time scoring.

Be sure to catch Blair and Hasan on last night’s RotoViz Report, and stay with us throughout the week. Good luck tonight on your MNF double header!

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Shawn Siegele

Author of the original Zero RB article and 2013 NFFC Primetime Grand Champion. 11-time main event league winner. 2015, 2017, 2018 titles in MFL10 of Death.

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