One thing I have tried to emphasize in this column is the importance of talent in fantasy football. The one prerequisite of being a fantasy star is not having a great situation — although it certainly helps, as we have discussed with the high-scoring passing offenses. The one thing all fantasy stars have in common is not that they get the most volume, although that is also helpful.
At the end of the day, the trait shared by all fantasy stars is talent. Talent separates the great from the good. Talent earns you more playing time. Talent leads to scoring more fantasy points. Fortunately, many in the fantasy community have not fully understood this concept, which allows us to have a slight edge over other teams in our league.
The analytics support this emphasis on talent. In recent years, fantasy analytics companies like RotoViz have developed statistics such as Expected Points, which measures how many fantasy points a player is expected to get based on the play and the opportunity they provide. While this is a new and advanced metric that will need further modifications to improve the model, the Expected Points model has shown that players who record more points than expected are more likely to receive higher volume and produce better fantasy point totals.
This leads us to the AJ Dillon situation. Here we have an immensely talented player, putting up more points than expected in nearly every game, and yet the Packers refused to use him in goal-line situations. Aaron Jones is probably a top-3 RB, so this is not to say Aaron Jones should not get all of his work, but the Packers would frequently run terrible pass plays on short-yardage situations instead of handing off to Dillon. Fantasy owners grew frustrated, and many dropped Dillon or sold him low.
While no one could have predicted the Aaron Jones injury, AJ Dillon is not expected to dominate for at least the last two weeks because he is in such a good situation for the short term. Rather, he is expected to dominate because of his immense level of talent.
Buying talent low is a winning strategy for fantasy football. Let the situation play out while you hold good players. More often than not, that will translate to fantasy points and give you the kind of league-winning upside that stars like AJ Dillon can provide.
Starts of the Week
I only hit on two starts last week, as Elijah Moore continued his late-season breakout while Carr, Freeman and Freiermuth all disappointed. I am now just 29-of-56 on my starts this year, but hoping for a late-season surge as the playoffs approach.
QB: Tua Tagovailoa vs. Jets — Rolling Tua back out as my start of the week again. He has dominated in every good matchup this season and struggled in every bad matchup. Sunday, Tua will get the chance to start against the Jets, who are 31st overall in pass yards allowed per game. I have several leagues where I missed out on a top-8 QB, and I am starting Tua in those leagues with confidence.
RB: AJ Dillon vs. Vikings — As I discussed earlier, we’ve been waiting all year for AJ Dillon to get his chance and now he gets it. While an injury to Aaron Jones was unfortunate, and we hope he can recover quickly, this opens up the backfield for AJ Dillon to be a bell cow every-down, workhorse. Dillon is a physical runner who legitimately looks like a cartoon character with his extreme physical proportions. He should be expected to dominate the Vikings’ defense on Sunday.
WR: Mike Williams vs. Steelers — I have heard some people say things like “Is Mike Williams droppable?” or “The time to sell high on Williams is over.” In reality, the Mike Williams panic has created a golden opportunity to buy low on Williams right now. Williams was the No. 2 overall receiver through the first five weeks of the season but has since not scored over 6 points in half PPR. Although he only had 4 catches for 33 yards on Sunday, he was tackled at the 1-yard line and had a drop in the end zone. He could have easily had 2 TDs, but most fantasy players aren’t aware of that. Buy low on Mike Williams while you still can, as this offense has some massive passing days ahead.
TE: Dan Arnold vs. 49ers — Dan Arnold has had over seven targets in every game since week seven. While I talked earlier about buying talent, Arnold is an exception because tight ends have been bad all year outside of Kelce. Waller has disappointed, Kittle has been out and Andrews and Pitts have had bad games. While I wouldn’t start Dan Arnold over any of those guys, his targets mean he has a high floor, which is more than you can ask for from your tight-end position outside of those top guys. He is once again a safe play this week.
D/ST: Panthers D/ST vs. Washington
K: Matt Prater vs. Seahawks
Daniel Scrugham is a junior at UT this year studying business analytics. Shoot him your fantasy questions at email@example.com.
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