The Fantasy Hipsters are back for the 2017 season with their weekly guide to how to approach fantasy football a little bit off the beaten path. In this space, Matt Harmon and Matt Franciscovich (Franchise) will give you a mix players to add, overlooked weekly plays, and in-depth stats all layered with the type of unique off-the-mainstream tone you can only expect from these two well-groomed hipsters. Since the communal approach to creating a living space is the only way to exist in harmony, the duo will split the work. Here's this week's division of labor.
Most ironic stats
Pour over your lineup
Sustainability is all about preparing for the future. From discovering and developing new sources of energy like wind and solar to crop rotation and water conservation, we all have to do our part to mitigate our impact on the environment. A small investment now goes a long way down the road. And when it comes to fantasy football, a major key to building sustainable depth from waiver wire adds means finding players that you can rely on for the long term without wasting resources. So in this section, the Fantasy Hipsters will get ahead of the curve and offer up one player to add for depth who should pay off dividends in the future. Hey man, turn that light off in the other room. It's not hard, okay?
Before Week 1 is underway, you're going to want to pick up this kid from the Seattle Seahawks backfield named Chris Carson. If you don't make this move now, you'll be swimming in a sea of mainstream sheep to claim him on the waiver wire ahead of Week 2. Take my word for it, I'm only wrong about 59 percent of the time.
Seriously though fam, the Seahawks selected Carson in the seventh round of the NFL Draft because the coffee up there in Washington is straight fire and had the Seattle scouts laser-focused on an up-and-coming superstar. Sure, Carson's college numbers aren't much to write home about. I mean, besides his savage 10.5 percent touchdown rate. Yeah, 10 total touchdowns on 95 touches is low-key savage. Word on the street is he changed his running style from a finesse approach to a power-runner in the second half of his senior year. At 5-foot-11 and 220 lbs, it was obvious AF.
In Seattle's third preseason game, Carson was featured heavily with the first team offense. Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise were both sidelined with injuries and the rookie took advantage. The rookie threw some shade at his veteran teammates with a few huge gains in the first quarter; an impressive 37-yard reception on which he showcased his ability to adjust his position with the ball in the air and came back for a ball thrown short and hauled it in with a defender's arm in his chest. He also had two 15-yard gains on the ground, hitting his holes with aggression, breaking arm tackles for extra yardage and displaying his agility and dragging defenders along on his way to the ground.
The kid isn't going to burn anyone in a drag race, speed isn't his strength. But he'll absolutely flatten any defenders who have beef with him. And at the goal-line? Forget about it:
The writing is on the wall, kiddos. Eddie Lacy has not shown well with a 3.2 yards per carry preseason average. Thomas Rawls already is dealing with a high-ankle sprain. And C.J. Prosise, he's locked into a low-volume third-down role when healthy. Sustainability on the waiver wire is tough to come by, but Carson is the perfect target. Tell 'em the Fantasy Hipsters sent you. - Franchise
Typical football fans get way too obsessed with micro-trends and chasing the next big thing. The people who really know fashion know some of the true best threads are found at consignment and thrift stores. Vintage pieces are in. You get a stellar addition to your closet at a discount and you don't look the same as everyone else. It's the same with veteran players. So often they go overlooked in favor of the latest "hip" name on the scene.
That sound you hear is all the sheep herding this way to bring up Joe Mixon. Pretty much everyone assumed that the rookie from Oklahoma was just going to take the starting job in Cincinnati right from the start of his career because he's talented. I mean, having talent is nice but does anyone know what it means? Sounds like a major existential quandary, let's stick with the Bengals backfield for now. Tune into my one-act play at the local community center for answers to the other part.
Here's what we do know: NFL coaches don't decide playing time because you like a player's YouTube clips from their college games. They often defer to veterans because of their experience and for, well, who knows why coaches do what they do? But they do it.
All indications are that Jeremy Hill will open the season as the Bengals starting back, it's been that way every step of the offseason. He's atop the depth, chart opened every preseason game on the first drive and plunged in a goal line touchdown in the third game. Mixon and Giovani Bernard will factor into the committee, especially as pass-catchers, but if a Bengals back is going to crack 15 carries in Week 1, Hill is the favorite.
You might not think he's good and it's not a particularly good matchup against a Ravens rushing defense that gave up just 3.7 yards per carry last season. The hipster take: none of that matters. The Bengals are at home and with this set to be the first we've seen Joe Flacco coming off a back injury, they should control the game script of this contest. If Hill is going to get 15 carries and there's a strong chance he gets a couple inside the 10-yard line, you have the minimalist ingredients for a Week 1 RB2 recipe. - Harmon
Most Ironic Stats of the Week
Every week, there are some pretty crazy stats floating around that you might be able to apply to making decisions in your fantasy lineups. There are also stats that really don't mean anything at all. Like home/road splits. Let's get over that. I mean seriously, the Patriots lost at home to the Chiefs in the season opener on Thursday night. So, just for kicks (actually I need a new pair of vintage Converse), here are the most ironic stats of Week 1. Enjoy. Or don't ... it's more ironic that way.
-- Despite averaging a league-worst 3.2 yards per carry, Todd Gurley led NFL running backs with 66.3 percent of his yards coming after contact. It's the definition of a talented running back in a terrible situation. Fantasy noir, man.
-- Dak Prescott sported a 0.0 passer rating when targeting Dez Bryant against the Giants last season. Yet Dallas continues to put these guys on the field together. That's v contrarian of them.
-- Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota both broke a leg in Week 16 last year. Now they face each other in the 2017 season opener. Whoever made the schedule is one ironic dude.
-- Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson own the two highest passer ratings in NFL history. They'll face each other in Week 1, but in a savage twist of fate, one of them will lose. Unless, you know, they tie.
-- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the only team without a 50-yard play last season. Since 2008, DeSean Jackson has collected 21 receiving touchdowns of 50-plus yards. He plays for Tampa Bay now, in case you haven't heard. They're not playing in Week 1, so this is about as ironic as it gets. - Franchise
When we're building lineups for the week, we're always looking for a bargain. The thing is, those of us who don't want to live cookie-cutter lives aren't chasing for some boring old fill-in; we're still after something fresh. Just like a good barrel-aged craft beer that's off the beaten path of dull domestic brews, we want a different kind of bargain brought on by a unique spin on an outcome of a game that the public just hasn't considered yet.
Maybe it's not for your palette because it's a little outside the groupthink bubble, but I'll be ordering up several tall glasses of Sterling Shepard in Week 1.
All the talk headed into the first Sunday night game surrounds Odell Beckham Jr.'s status heading into Sunday night. And even when we're done wringing our collective hands over the star receiver plays, you're sure to hear the calls for a big game from Brandon Marshall, as a result. Yea. We've heard of him.
For the value, give me second-year slot receiver Sterling Shepard as a beneficiary this week. Conventional wisdom holds that Marshall's arrival and the drafting of Evan Engram spells trouble for the stock of Shepard in the Giants rotation. Color me skeptical. I mean, not too bright of a color, maybe more of a faded green, but definitely skeptical. Shepard drew over 100 targets as a rookie and scored eight touchdowns. Not a bad start to an NFL career, if you ask me. The Giants aren't going to just cast aside this player for a 33-year old wide receiver just because you actually know his name.
The Cowboys also profile as a good matchup for Shepard. Injuries hit their linebacking corps in the preseason, which could expose some holes in their zone coverage in the middle of the field against slot receivers. Shepard should own that area of the field and caught 75 percent of his targets in both games against Dallas last year. If Beckham isn't at full strength, the second-year receiver could at least see eight to 10 targets in Week 1. Last thought, you saw the Giants offensive line in preseason, yes? With that group's issues in protection, Eli Manning will keep an eye on his short-area weapons, namely Shepard and his low average depth of target routes. - Harmon
Pour over your lineup
Every week we'll put a call out from @FantasyHipsters for you to send us in your weekly lineups. The hipsters will take a pour over approach to examining your squad, a careful, patient and fresh taste on the best players for you to deploy.
The 49ers defense last year was pretty much like that one pair of skinny jeans I wear all the time -- you know, the one with all the holes in it. - Franchise
Yeah, I mean, after all those conditioning concerns, Benjamin seems like he's on a diet of kale chips and organic chicken. That's the key to fantasy success. - Franchise
So, you don't think it's too aggressive to play all of Cam, McCaffrey, Olsen and Benjamin. Kind of feels like you're limiting your overall ceiling, unless Carolina drops 50 points on the 49ers in a shootout? Like we're supposed to be operating a pour-over here; a delicate careful approach. Four players from the same squad seems like we're just brewing a big pot of mainstream office coffee. - Harmon
They don't call us the Fantasy Hipsters for nothing. I don't think it's out of the question for Cam to sling three touchdown passes, one each to his best weapons. I guess the main concern is Newton's shoulder. If they just pound the rock with Stewart, all that scalding hot water spilled on the table is going to really burn. But would you really feel comfortable with Cousins or Pryor in there against a stout Eagles defense? Washington didn't look so hot in preseason. More like a bottled cold brew with artificial flavoring, gross. - Franchise
Fair point, go with the upside he needs to since Brandin Cooks kind of whiffed last night. Well we're going aggressive here with an all-in approach to the Panthers situation, so what should we do about the Odell Beckham situation? Have our woke follower sit him for Pryor straight up or do you have a good fill-in or two from the Sunday or Monday night games? - Harmon