Our NFL Premium Package is Now Available for the 2022 season! Get full access to our best bets, given out early in the week, in real time: sides, totals, player props, and more, through the end of the Super Bowl.
Evaluating the Christian McCaffrey trade after two weeks
The 49ers head into their bye week coming off their most impressive win of the season, a 31-14 shellacking of the Rams at SoFi Stadium. Kyle Shanahan’s new toy on offense, RB Christian McCaffrey, was fully unleashed to the tune of 81% of the offensive snaps, 18 out of 23 of the team’s rushing attempts, eight receptions on a team-high nine targets and he even threw a touchdown pass. Admittedly, Deebo Samuel was inactive for San Francisco, but McCaffrey looks every bit the part of the bell cow he was when healthy in Carolina. Not that any of this should come as a surprise given his wide array of skills, but his fantasy managers in all season-long formats should be thrilled by his near immediate ascent to the centerpiece for the 49ers. It’s clearly a much better situation for a player whose talent was never in doubt.
Chris Dell's actionable takeaway: It's probably too late to even "buy high" via trade in your fantasy football league, but it's a fine time to "pay up to be contrarian" next week when CMC and the 49ers return from their bye week. With many wanting to pay up for elite WR's in today's landscape of DFS roster construction, few and far between will find the salary cap relief to put CMC in their tournament lineups despite his elite ceiling. Correlating CMC with an opponent WR or QB could be the high-ceiling, low-owned leverage play and mini-stack you need to conquer your field in Week 10 and beyond. Spend up on CMC.
Is D'Onta Foreman the "new CMC" in Carolina?
Meanwhile in Charlotte, the “running backs don’t matter!” crowd might not be victory lapping given how much of an impact McCaffrey could end up making for San Francisco, but they’ve certainly got some ammo after a pair of good games from D’Onta Foreman for the Panthers. The Texas product has bounced around with many of the southern NFL teams since being drafted by Houston in 2017, but he's playing like a guy that wants to carve out a more permanent role on a roster for himself. Foreman had 118 rushing yards in each of his first two games for the Panthers after the McCaffrey trade. With Chubba Hubbard sidelined in Week 8 due to an ankle injury, Foreman played 68% of Carolina’s RB snaps and 86% of the red zone snaps while cashing in on those snaps with three touchdowns and crossing the goal line on a two-point conversion attempt as well. Don’t expect Foreman to be heavily involved in the passing game - and his rushing volume may decrease when Hubbard returns, which could be as early as Week 9 - but he should get the bulk of the early-down work with tasty matchups upcoming vs. Cincinnati and again vs. Atlanta
Chris Dell's actionable takeaway: Foreman is certainly a capable starter for the next two weeks, so if you need to hold him and start him, then by all means, hold him and start him. HOWEVER, it would be wise to "sell high" between now and Week 11, when Carolina will have back-to-back matchups against two of the league's tougher run defenses in the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens. By that Hubbard could be more involved and healthier as well, and Foreman's new workload could lead to some possible injury problems for himself, especially for someone with his history of having an achilles tear and closing in on age 27. The matchups are mediocre in Weeks 13-14 and Foreman gets a juicy matchup with the Lions in Week 15, but there's no need to hold a player if you don't need to for a matchup on paper that's still more than 6 weeks away. The price tag on Foreman might never be higher. These are the times when it's smart to cash in, or at least try. A package of Foreman + one of your WR3's, in exchange for a bonafide RB1 or WR1, would be an ideal package to target if you're feeling good about your current playoff chances.
What to make of the Jets offense post-Breece Hall
While we’re taking a wait-and-see approach on the Jets’ backfield, WR Garrett Wilson’s Week 8 performance is what grabbed our attention. Wilson had a strong Week 2 outing for the Jets, but until last Sunday, he wasn’t factoring in much from a yardage or target/volume standpoint. The Jets became more of a ball-control offense centered around Hall and were having success winning low-scoring games. In the Jets' first full game without Hall, however, Wilson caught six out of seven targets for 115 yards. He ran a route on 42 of Zach Wilson’s 43 drop backs and leads the Jets in target share through eight weeks. At a certain point, the Jets are going to have to open up their offense more, especially as they trail more and struggle to run efficiently sans Hall. You don’t draft Zach Wilson second overall in 2021 and Garrett Wilson 10th overall in 2022 to have Zach be a game manager and Garrett be a decoy. The Wilson-to-Wilson connection might be poised for a takeoff in the second half of the season, especially with WR Elijah Moore and the Jets still at odds. It’s also worth noting that a likely negative game script for the Jets on Sunday against the Bills should have them throwing a lot too. He's a buy-low trade target and DFS value.
Chris Dell's actionable takeaway: Greg said it best. The Jets won't be able to sustain the run-first approach that was winning them games with Breece Hall as the offensive centerpiece. New York's upcoming schedule will see possible negative/passing game scripts against not just the Bills in Week 9, but also the Patriots in Week 10, then an improved Bears offense in Week 11, and consecutive contests against the Vikings, Bills (again), Lions, Jaguars and Seahawks. Buy Garrett Wilson now, whether it's in dynasty or season-long circles. His price certainly increased a bit following Week 8, but it will only get higher the longer we wait. Pairing Wilson with a Bills/Josh Allen stack in DFS will be an area I'll certainly be looking to attack this weekend as well, as Corey Davis is still hurt and Elijah Moore is still in the dog house.
A New Lease on Life for Jeff Wilson Jr.?
The top casualty in fantasy football as a result of the McCaffrey trade to San Francisco was RB Jeff Wilson Jr., at least in Week 8 - Wilson got just seven carries in the first game McCaffrey played with the 49ers in Week 7 and then saw that number dwindle to four carries in Week 8. With the pending return of Elijah Mitchell, who was San Francisco’s leading rusher in 2021 and should do just fine in a backup role to McCaffrey, Wilson profiled as a prime trade candidate this week. Tuesday’s deadline saw Wilson shipped across the country from San Francisco to the Miami Dolphins. South Florida is an interesting landing spot for Wilson for a couple of reasons. One of the pieces exiting Miami and going back to Denver in the Bradley Chubb trade was RB Chase Edmonds. Here are the splits between Edmonds and starting RB Raheem Mostert in Miami during the first half of the season:
Mostert rushing: 101 carries/452 yards/1 touchdown
Mostert receiving: 20 targets/13 receptions/97 yards/1 touchdown
Edmonds rushing: 42 carries/120 yards/2 touchdowns
Edmonds receiving: 17 targets/10 receptions/96 yards/1 touchdown
It’s not a shock that neither back was super involved in the passing game, given how versatile WRs Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill are and both are speedy enough to be used in the short-area passing game where other teams might use running backs. However, the bigger reason Miami is an intriguing landing spot for Wilson is that he’s reunited with Mike McDaniel, who was on the San Francisco coaching staff for five seasons prior to taking the Miami head-coaching gig. The 49ers were mostly a running back by committee club when McDaniel was on the offensive staff there, and by trading away Edmonds and bringing in Wilson, this suggests McDaniel didn’t want to overload Mostert and wanted more out of his No. 2 running back. In 2020, Mostert and Wilson shared time in the San Francisco backfield and here’s how it turned out:
Mostert rushing: 8 games/8 starts/104 carries/521 yards/2 touchdowns
Wilson rushing: 12 games/3 starts/126 carries/600 yards/7 touchdowns
With both backs on the roster in McDaniel’s offense again, look for a similar split moving forward. Wilson is also three years younger than Mostert, and Mostert has had injury concerns in the past. Wilson is a good stash in all fantasy formats and could forge a path to a nice role even with Mostert healthy.
Chris Dell's actionable takeaway: Not only is Wilson younger, but Mostert through eight weeks is already on the verge of surpassing his career high in rushing attempts. It's clear Miami wants to manage his workload, although I still believe both backs here can be viable flex plays in the right matchup. if you're RB needy or need some RB depth for the play stretch, I'd suggest buying low on Wilson right now, or even moreso AFTER Week 9, as there's more of a chance he's limited in his first game with the Dolphins. On the flipside, Mostert could indeed be a sell-high candidate for teams needing RB bye week replacements. If you can flip Mostert and a second player for a solid WR2 or injured star (i.e. Ja'Marr Chase or Deebo Samuel), jump on the opportunity. Miami is a pass-first offense and will soon have a truly split RB committee. Cash in on the borderline elite workload Mostert has seen over these past two months.
Pendulum Swinging in New England Backfield
For most of his coaching tenure with the Patriots, Bill Belichick has used a committee approach in the backfield. We probably need to see a few more games before acknowledging a true longterm shift in usage, but it certainly seems like things are trending in Rhamondre Stevenson’s favor. Damien Harris is primarily known for his early-down rushing ability (he's never caught more than 18 passes in a season), and in a game in which the Patriots trailed by no more than seven points and led for almost the entire second half, Stevenson still out-snapped Harris 49-32 and 13-4 in the first quarter. Stevenson had 71 rushing yards on 16 carries and was also the leading receiver at RB for the Patriots against the Jets by hauling in seven out of eight targets for 72 yards. He also averaged 4.4 yards per carry to Harris’s 3.4. It certainly seems like Stevenson’s backfield at the moment, and in Week 9 the Patriots get an Indianapolis Colts team that’s struggling to score and recently changed both quarterbacks and offensive coordinators.
Chris Dell's actionable takeaway: It should be another good game script for Stevenson in Week 9, although he's essentially game-script-proof at this point. Rhamondre has the explosiveness to make big plays in both the running and receiving game, and the Colts rank bottom 10 in the league in DVOA receiving vs. opposing RB's. Stevenson could carry a modest ownership tag in Week 9 in DFS as well, keeping him firmly in my player pool and a candidate to easily surpass his overs in the prop market.
By Greg Frank
Want to have direct access to our network of Betting Predators handicappers? Sign up for our FREE Discord channel to get 24/7 direct access to our handicapping team, as well as our community of sharp bettors
Want an easy to find all of our Betting Predators content in one place? Sign up for our free newsletter, Substack and receive a weekly roundup on everything we've published (FREE + PREMIUM), and all that we're up to throughout the week. We promise we'll never give your email address out for advertising purposes.