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How To Use Key NFL Storylines To Your Advantage In Fantasy Football Drafts

Tua Tagovailoa - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

A number of years ago, I listened to an amazing podcast series from Freakonomics Radio, “What makes a successful CEO?”

The unique answer that they arrived at has truly resonated with me. They concluded (through data and research) that such an accomplishment is a byproduct of repetitive, compounded risk-taking. The top CEOs take huge risks over and over again, with most falling out throughout the process. But the few that succeed time and time again make it to the top.

The key point I’m trying to make is that without taking risks and compounding those risks, your chances of winning fantasy football leagues are small, if not nonexistent. Here we are going to apply this conclusion to fantasy football. 

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How to Take Risk and Compound That Risk: Buying into Storylines and Stacking

Buying in or out of a Storyline - There are tons of storylines in the NFL this year. Taking risks related to these changes means picking narratives that you are going to believe in vs. those you won’t and drafting players accordingly.

Stacking - To put it simply, if you buy into a storyline, compound the risk by drafting 2+ players on that team.


Brett’s Most Influential NFL Storylines of 2023

Quarterback Changes

Deshaun Watson: Will Deshaun Watson return to being a top-five QB? He didn’t look great last year upon his return, but he has had a full year now to learn the system and move on from his suspension and associated situation. Nick Chubb, Amari Cooper, David Njoku, and Elijah Moore aren’t bad weapons either. However, will he psychologically be able to return to prominence? Should you buy into this storyline? It won’t cost you very much. Drafting 2-3 of these players besides Chubb won’t cost you a ton for what could be a huge payout. 

Aaron Rodgers: Will this be MVP Aaron Rodgers who supports multiple WRs and RBs? Buying in is pretty cheap outside of Garrett Wilson.

Tua Tagovailoa: Tua Tagovailoa suffered multiple concussions in 2022 and contemplated retiring. He was either the first or second-most accurate passer in the league when playing healthy (Geno Smith) and ended the season with 25 TDs and eight INTs. A healthy season could see massive numbers for Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle and MVP-caliber numbers for Tagovailoa. But……he is possibly one concussion away from retirement. Are you daring enough to jump in? Tagovailoa won’t cost you much, but the WR duo will hurt the pocket.

Justin Fields: 1,143 yards rushing in 12 games started for Justin Fields is straight-up incredible. If he continues that pace, he will blow away Lamar Jackson’s 2019 campaign and put together an absolutely ridiculous floor for a fantasy QB. If he slows down the pace and throws more? Then maybe we get the dual threat many believe he is and finish QB1 overall. There just aren’t many QBs with this type of upside, which makes it a very risky buy-in. If you do, go in for Justin Fields, D.J. Moore, and Khalil Herbert.

Rookie/Sophomore QBs

Anthony Richardson, C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Desmond Ridder, Kenny Pickett, Sam Howell, and Brock Purdy. There’s a lot to like in the rookie class and a lot of opportunity for these second-year fellas. Buy in? Play Russian Roulette and take one or two of these guys and stack with their top WR……or even more. Kenny Pickett and George Pickens sound nice. Sam Howell + Jahan Dotson + Antonio Gibson? Anthony Richardson and Michael Pittman Jr.? Desmond Ridder + Bijan Robinson + Drake London + Kyle Pitts! Who knows which NBA Jam team will hit but what I do feel confident in is that some of these guys are going to have a major impact on championship teams this year.


Coaching Changes

Denver Broncos, Sean Payton and Joe Lombardi: Can these two return coaches Russell Wilson to prominence? Their resume from New Orleans says yes. Maybe not a yes to turning Russell Wilson into Drew Brees, but a yes to improvement over last year’s disaster. Buy in and draft Russell Wilson, Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Javonte Williams, Greg Dulcich, and/or Samaje Perine.

Dallas Cowboys + Mike McCarthy - minus Kellen Moore: Which storyline are we buying? Dak Prescott’s thumb is no longer broken, and he’s armed with an unleashed Tony Pollard, CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, and Michael Gallup? Or…….Mike McCarthy is looking to slow down the play and the Cowboys will go from being one of the fastest-paced offenses to 100+ less plays in 2023? If you buy into the former, Pollard and Lamb are going to cost you, but you could mitigate with Dak Prescott and Brandin Cooks.

Baltimore Ravens - Todd Monken: I keep hearing that the new Ravens are going to throw the ball a ton. Monken’s last two years in Tampa yielded high-octane passing offenses. There’s no shortage of talent and draftable players on this roster from Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews to J.K. Dobbins, Rashod Bateman, Odell Beckham Jr., and Zay Flowers. Buy in and you could possibly get Lamar and Dobbins for significantly less than in previous and future years.  

Los Angeles Chargers - Kellen Moore: I left this one for last because it’s a storyline I’m finding trouble not buying into. Justin Herbert had busted up ribs all of last season. He got hurt in the fourth quarter of the second game of the season. In the two games prior to the injury, he threw for 613 yards, six TDs, and one INT. Add in Kellen Moore, who runs one of the fastest-paced offenses in the league, and a shiny new 6’3” rookie in Quentin Johnston, and we have lift-off. Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Quentin Johnston are very reasonably priced to offset the first-round pick on Austin Ekeler.


Which Risks Are You Willing To Take?

Now that you’ve read the biggest storylines that will affect fantasy football in 2023, the question is, “Just how much risk are you willing to take?” Are you willing to take 3-4 players from one of these teams? 2-3 players from two of these teams?

There are two things that are almost certain: 1) If you pick right, the compounded impact is bound to propel your team beyond teams that merely picked player by player and 2) If you opt out of risk, there is still a high chance that you don’t win your league. The bottom line is that winning is extremely challenging in fantasy football and fortune favors the bold.

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