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: The best part of TNF was watching Khalil Herbert evade tackles and Brian Robinson break 'em. Robinson, who scored Washington's lone TD, is still available in over 52% of ESPN fantasy leagues. Otherwise, it was four quarters of eye rolls.
Kaiser: Other than the quality of the past two 'Thursday Night Football' games, so much changes from week to week, I know it can be frustrating for fantasy managers. Is there anyone at any position who is a matchup-proof sure thing in the NFL in 2022?
Liz: No position is safe. Not even the kickers. Just ask Robbie Gould (Dustin Hopkins, Jake Elliott, Matt Prater, and Harrison Butker). Travis Kelce recorded four spikes. Darren Waller delivered a bagel. In the same game. Najee Harris caught fewer balls (3) than Deon Jackson (4). Dyami Brown managed more than twice as many receiving yards (105) as Tyreek Hill (47). Geno Smith is averaging more fantasy points per week (19.6) than Tom Brady (15.9), Aaron Rodgers (13.8) or Matt Stafford (10.8). Injuries are, obviously, equal parts unfortunate and unpredictable.
The above mentions, however, highlight the overarching week-to-week variance of our beloved hobby. And, as you mention, it's not just the positions we're used to streaming that have contributed to this season's wild ups and downs. Surprises are occurring at even the deepest position. (I'm sure Tee Higgins' investors would agree.) Usage trees aren't as narrow as they used to be. In an effort to keep defenses guessing, the ball is getting spread around, and speciality receivers are being deployed in unique ways. This is evolution, folks. Be grateful for the DK Metcalfs and Tyler Locketts (both inside the top 15 in receptions per game) on your rosters.
Daniel: Yeah, it feels like everyone has been up and down this season, but if I had to pick someone, it still has to be Cooper Kupp, right? The dude is still getting volume and it doesn't make a difference if his QB is any good. The Rams' running game is nonexistent; it just feels like Kupp is still the most match-up proof player in the NFL.
DJ: The only consistency that I've seen this season is that Najee Harris consistently does nothing. I also must remind everyone that I wrote in this forum before the season started that the numbers suggested Harris simply isn't a good NFL back. I bring this up because I think it might be the only accurate thing I've written here all season and therefore I must cling to it. I mean, two weeks ago, I wrote that Josh Jacobs was essentially useless in fantasy ... and since then he has back-to-back 30-plus-fantasy-point weeks. So really, the only person more consistently awful than Najee Harris this season is me.
Kaiser: It was a rough week for the teams we root for, wasn't it? Also, remember when the Jags were good? Things change fast in the NFL -- for better or worse.
DJ: Oh, yeah, that reminds me ... last week I also wrote that Jared Goff and Amon-Ra St. Brown of Daniel's Lions were my two best picks of the season. Then they both went out and put up fewer than 10 fantasy points and now they're on a bye. Thanks a lot, Daniel!
Liz: Joe, you're totally right. It's a good reminder that fantasy (and fandom) is truly a week-to-week proposition. And that we can be both right and wrong about a player in the same season. I try, for my own sanity, to focus on what's directly in front of me ... but it's definitely hard not to spiral. For example, I've gotten a ton of questions about Jaylen Waddle and whether it's time to freak out. Ultimately, though, what does freaking out do? Are you really going to drop (or even bench) a guy who averaged 114 yards and scored three TDs over the first three weeks of the season before his QB was sidelined in historical fashion? I guess it depends on the options available that particular week.
Kaiser: We mentioned Kupp above as maybe the one matchup-proof player. Would Kelce be No. 2 on the list?
DJ: He has to be. And he has been for years. The craziest thing about his four-TD game on MNF is that he also got just 25 yards. Fanduel had a promo Monday night offering +100 odds if Kelce and Davante Adams both got 50-plus receiving yards. They combined for 10 receptions, 149 yards and six touchdowns in the game ... and yet the bet didn't hit.
Kaiser: That's wild. I just think about my friend Luke Lapinski, who made sure to get Kelce in our home salary cap league. He's dominating the league and largely because of that one decision. And like we've all talked about in previous weeks, if you managed to go Kupp/Kelce/Josh Allen in your first three rounds, it may have seemed aggressive to use a third-rounder on a QB on draft day, but that would be about as good of a three-headed monster as you could have in fantasy football this season. Could have gone RB in third round and still got Allen in the fourth round in some leagues, too.
Liz: What about those third-round (or later) RBs? I bet there were a lot of drafters who felt backed into scooping Josh Jacobs or even Breece Hall (as the Michael Carter drumbeat started to quicken). Guessing their emotions have shifted from reluctance to regret to relief.
Daniel: DJ, we've been over this. I'm only responsible for the Lions' success. Not failures! And Liz makes a great point about Josh Jacobs truthers and Breliebers. If they were your RB2 target in a hero RB build, you are feeling really good about your chances right now. By the way, it's hard to suggest selling high on any RB right now with how bad the position has been, in case there were any thoughts about that with Jacobs or Hall. I'm hanging tight and being thankful for the volume every single Sunday.
Kaiser: Credit to Mike Clay and his rankings of Josh Jacobs. Almost everyone who autodrafted ended up with Jacobs because he was ranked higher than the public consensus.
DJ: So as not to give Mike Clay credit for anything, this is my Josh Jacobs bounce-back season theory: In January, the Raiders hire Dave Ziegler as their new GM. On Aug. 22, after many fantasy drafts, Ziegler surprisingly releases Kenyan Drake, a player signed by the previous regime and the back who took a lot of touches away from Jacobs. It's all so clear: Ziegler has Jacobs on a dynasty team! So no credit to Mike.
Kaiser: You wouldn't credit Clay if your name was Rafael Nadal.
Kaiser: So looking to the week ahead, what are you looking forward to watching most? (Daniel, this is especially a question for you with the Lions on a bye).
Daniel: I'm looking forward to erasing my Darnell Mooney anytime TD bet out of my recent memory (he was soooooo close) so I can focus on Eagles-Cowboys. This is a huge game for Jalen Hurts and the Eagles' offense against the stiffest defense they've faced. Really stoked for this one!
DJ: Outside of Kenny Pickett taking on Tom Brady and supplanting him as the greatest quarterback of all time -- or at least throwing his first NFL touchdown pass -- it will be hard for anything to match Chiefs-Bills. You know Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen will try to put on a show. In fact, if you are facing anyone in fantasy this week who has Mahomes or Allen as their QB, just take the loss now, rest your starters and give it another shot again in Week 7.
Liz: I'm with DJ. There is hardly a more marquee matchup than Bills @ Chiefs. (But we're being treated to Russell Wilson on prime time ... again?) The last time these two teams met in the divisional round of the playoffs, both QBs recorded four TDs and cleared 325 passing yards a piece. Someone is going to have a hero game, especially with so many points expected (current O/U = 54). I'd love that player to be relatively unknown. And also for his name to be James Cook.
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.