Daniel Dopp, Liz Loza and DJ Gallo talk life, fantasy football, pop culture and everything in between in a new weekly “fantasy improv” column, which runs every Friday throughout the NFL season. Joe Kaiser serves as the moderator and attempts to keep things on track.
Liz: I have experienced the tequila and eggs at Saddle Ranch (West Hollywood). So believe me when I tell you that the City of Angels can deliver a devil of a hangover. The Rams played like they were out of Liquid IV and someone stole their Advil. Cam Akers and Sean McVay gave off big Ross and Rachel vibes. Clearly those two are on a break. Meanwhile, Darrell Henderson Jr. (and his 18 touches) played the role of Chloe, who remains far from a fan favorite. I’m all about picking up Henderson and I do think Akers will get his shot … but his lack of touches leads me to believe he is not yet healthy enough to carry a full load. If he can’t get touches versus Atlanta in Week 2, then I’ll start sounding the alarm bells.
DJ: Allen Robinson II ‘s no-show is the most concerning thing to me from Thursday night. Matthew Stafford put it up 41 times and only twice targeted Robinson. So for all the leagues who couldn’t get their stuff together in time, and are drafting on Friday or Saturday, you have a chance to avoid over-valuing Robinson. Procrastination wins again.
Daniel: Just as we all expected, after Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis the other players with 5+ targets for the Bills were Zack Moss, and that’s it. While Isaiah McKenzie scored and Jameson Crowder made some nice plays to move the chains, this fantasy offense is streamlined for three players: Josh Allen, Diggs and Davis. Everyone else is simply going to be a high upside dart throw on a weekly basis.
I’m in no mood for shenanigans after watching Stafford get throttled Week 1.
Kaiser: Yeah, that game was something, but it was just one game, Overall, how are you feeling after your drafts and which waiver wire pickups look the most enticing?
Daniel: I always have strong feelings about my teams when the draft is over. I’m either kicking myself about reaching for a player, bummed about passing on someone or wondering how I got stuck with someone who was atop my queue while I was being so indecisive. I can’t be the only one, right? (Editor’s note: No, no you’re not).
Play the No. 1 Fantasy Game
Ready for kickoff? Sign up now to play with friends and family. Get started >>
But nothing beats the feeling when I get to look at the squad I’ve assembled for the season. The rush of knowing I crushed the draft, stayed patient and landed some steals is like acing a midterm … only in this case the semester’s not over. You don’t just sit back and play out the season without making any moves. You actively manage your IR position, you hit the waiver wire, you spark up some trade discussions to help your good team become a dominant team.
One of the ways you can do that is by finding post-draft sleepers on the waiver wire like Bills WR Isaiah McKenzie, who hauled in a touchdown against the Rams in Thursday night’s season opener and is available in over 83% of ESPN leagues. He could develop stand-alone value as the No. 3 pass-catcher in a Josh Allen-led offense, and if [Stefon] Diggs or [Gabe] Davis miss anytime, he’ll be the next man up — he needs to be rostered. Did you draft someone who has the OUT or PUP designation? Move them to your IR spot and grab McKenzie now! Liz & DJ, who are some of your favorite post-draft waiver targets heading into Week 1?
DJ: I realize Odell Beckham Jr. is no longer Odell Beckham Jr.: fantasy superstar, lord of the one-handed grab. I realize he’s not even on an NFL team as of this writing. I realize he tore his ACL in the Super Bowl. I get it. But … he was WR22 in fantasy last year during his seven full games with the Rams. And he looked like his old self at times in the playoffs. That’s a ton of upside. Yet he’s available in more than 88% of leagues. If/when Beckham signs somewhere, he’ll instantly become the big waiver wire add of the week. (Unless he’s not on waivers in your league at that time, because you wisely added him right after reading this paragraph.)
Kaiser: Ha, I see what you did there.
Liz: The fact there exist real options on the waiver wire is a testament to the league’s depth of talent. I’m intrigued by plenty of players that are avail in over 50% of ESPN leagues: Marvin Jones Jr. is just a year removed from back-to-back nine TD efforts, DeVante Parker opens the season in a sneaky revenge spot and Gerald Everett could beast on Sunday vs. a Raiders squad that gave up double-digit scores to tight ends in 2021.
Still, I am legit mad that only 43% of drafters scooped Henderson. That’ll certainly change after he took most of the snaps at running back against the Bills. And, as anyone who watched the Fantasy Football Marathon knows, Henderson produced (minimally) RB2 numbers in seven of the eight games last year in which he recorded over 12 totes. If nothing else, he’s awesome trade bait for the nervous Cam Akers investor.
Kaiser: Some good names to consider … speaking of names, which ones are the hardest for you to rank/forecast in Week 1?
Daniel: I think I’m struggling the most with Antonio Gibson. What’s he going to look like in Week 1 after basically being told he’s being demoted to a committee role? I get the matchup is nice and this is a winnable game for the Commanders, which helps, but I still don’t know how confident I feel having as my RB18 heading into the week. Hopefully, he comes out of the gate strong!
DJ: I don’t have much to add here. As a non-ranker, the toughest part of my week is deciding which ranker to blame if my team underperforms. I’m currently leaning toward Mike Clay, but I’ll make a final decision on Sunday night. Stay tuned.
Daniel: I co-sign on blaming Mike Clay. When unsure, he’s the problem.
Liz: It was Miles Sanders for me. But now — thanks to a question on social — I’m debating Rashod Bateman at the New York Jets or JuJu Smith-Schuster at the Arizona Cardinals. Both have solid matchups but the Kansas City at Arizona game figures to be full of fantasy fireworks (O/U of 52.5). Lots of question marks for both players making debuts in roles/spots. I think I’m leaning toward ranking JuJu slightly higher for the week because … volume.
Kaiser: This is just the very start of a long season. How do you keep your eyes on the prize and think big picture during the ups and downs of the season?
Liz: Anything can be a grind … getting in a workout. Cooking dinner. Binging “WandaVision.” But it doesn’t have to be. Not if you take it one step at a time. The same goes for fantasy. I like to think of it as a weekly proposition, rather than a fourth month long slog. And if you win those H2H matchups early, the momentum can keep your team and your mindset in championship mode.
Fantasy Football Insights
Need a boom-or-bust candidate for your critical fantasy football matchup? Here are some suggestions:
Jalen Hurts leads all QBs this week with a 23-point projection and he still has a 26% chance to boom and approach 27 fantasy points in Detroit.
Rookie Breece Hall‘s role is up in the air, but his boom potential (29%) far outweighs the odds of him busting (17%), making him a decent gamble against the Ravens.
Ja’Marr Chase‘s downside needs to be considered: he has a 26% chance to bust and score 14.1 or fewer points, something he did 10 times as a rookie.
JuJu Smith-Schuster makes his Kansas City debut this weekend, but keep your expectations measured. His 27% bust chance is only slightly lower than that of Joshua Palmer (29%), but it comes without much of a ceiling (8% boom, Palmer 29%).
Kyle Pitts reached double-figure fantasy points seven times as a rookie, including three straight weeks down the stretch, and he has a 25% chance to get there on Sunday vs. New Orleans.
That’s part of the reason Week 1 is so exciting. We’re exiting possibility and running full speed ahead into reality.
Will Allen Lazard emerge as Aaron Rodgers‘ most-efficient weapon or will Patrick Peterson prove he’s not washed yet? Can Kyle Pitts “break the game” (shouts to Mike Clay for that gem) or will he struggle versus a Saints squad that allowed just three touchdowns to the position last year. Oh — and here’s the one want to hear from Daniel Dopp on because it is giving me fits — will Miles Sanders prove to be a wild value when he travels to Detroit to take on the Lions’ ultra-generous run defense or will Jalen Hurts reserve all of the goal line glory for himself? Coming off of a hamstring issue and given the muddiness of Philly’s backfield, I’m bearish on Sanders. However, the matchup is tasty … so I’ve decided to rank Sanders as a low-end RB2, just inside of my top-25 players at the position.
Daniel: You know what Liz, I don’t like the implication that the Eagles will have multiple successful drives resulting in goal line TDs! However, since it’s a fairly likely scenario, I’m going to stick with Jalen Hurts for two similar but different reasons. One, he led QBs with 19 goal-to-goal rushes even though he only played in 15 games, and two, he was T-11th amongst all positions in G2G carries per game ahead of Chubb, Javonte, Gordon, Zeke, Najee, Dillon, Swift and Gibson. I have Sanders at RB27 at this point in the week.
Latest Fantasy Football Content
Ideally, you’re winning a lot so the season doesn’t feel like a grind, but if you’re more the Mike Clay type that has to scrap and claw their way to a championship, there are still ways to stay engaged. (All jokes aside, I love Mike. We’re best friends). Whenever team management begins to feel like a chore, I immediately start trying to wheel and deal and see what kind of interest I can drum up on the trade market. If my team isn’t fun, I likely only have one or two star players that are carrying me. I don’t mind moving big names if my team sucks. Holding onto a losing bet because you were afraid of getting ripped off is still losing. Trading is a skill and you’ll never get better if you don’t practice.
DJ: Honestly, at this point of the fantasy season, I’m not thinking of the grind aspect of it at all. Because heading into Week 1, I’m fully confident that I nailed all of my drafts and will easily coast to the playoffs (and a championship) in all seven of my leagues. In fact, I drafted so well I may not even have to adjust my lineups week to week. This is my Week 1 mindset. Every year. Because I will never ever learn.
Kaiser: Alright, the world wants to know … Daniel, what do you expect to see out of your Lions in the opener?
Daniel: Normally, I’d bet against my Lions on opening day, but “Hard Knocks” has me believing this year is going to be different. Detroit +4 at home against Philly. What about you, DJ? Are the Steelers going to come through?
DJ: I’m going to pick the Bengals (-6.5) to cover, but I don’t really want to pickett. Oh, gosh. Did I just accidentally write pickett instead of pick it? It’s almost like I subconsciously implied that the Steelers would cover — and win — if Kenny Pickett was starting instead of Mitch Trubisky. Weird!
Kaiser: Pickett is the QB equivalent to Walk or Balfour as a pitcher’s last name in baseball, right?
DJ: Homer Bailey would like a word. But I definitely prefer Pickett to the name of former Pitt kicker Chris Blewitt.
Kaiser: Oh, the life of a kicker. … What about you, Liz? How are you feeling about your Bears?
Daniel: Fields’ preseason has me hyped to see them lose by less than 7, which is meant to be a compliment. I’ll back Liz and take the Bears to cover.
Follow Liz Loza (@LizLoza_FF), Daniel Dopp (@DanielDopp) and DJ Gallo (@DJGalloETC) on Twitter. Liz Loza and Daniel Dopp’s fantasy football rankings appear every week during the season.
This content was originally published here.