XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 3 closes out with two extremely surprising teams as the shockingly capable Rams visit the bad and now injured Bengals. Cincinnati is favored here but only by about 2 points depending on what book you’re looking at, which before the season nobody would believe. The Rams have exceeded expectations offensively while the Bengals have looked awful and now Joe Burrow is hurt with an aggravation of his preseason calf strain. Obviously, Burrow is a huge factor here. The latest news we have is that he took first-team snaps in Sunday’s walkthrough, but keep in mind this is just a walkthrough and not a full practice. I think he’s more likely to play than not, but it’s up in the air.
On the Rams side, Cam Akers has been traded (lol), leaving Kyren Williams as the primary running back. Williams played 95% of the snaps in Week 2 and handled 24 running back opportunities (14 carries and a massive 10 targets), while backup Ronnie Rivers played 5% of the snaps and saw a single, solitary opportunity. It’s always tough to trust Rams backfields, but this one appears to belong to Kyren. The matchup here is fine against a not-imposing Bengals defense, and Kyren’s role appears completely game-script proof with his massive target volume last week. It feels weird to say that Kyren Williams at $9k looks underpriced, but frankly he does given his stranglehold on the backfield and his immense passing game role.
Ownership updates automatically
Okay, the passing game. Apparently, Puka Nacua is the next coming of Cooper Kupp. Through two games Puka has 15 and 20 targets, with 25 receptions for 266 yards. He’s near the top of the league in receiving yards and air yards, and he leads the league in targets . . . holy cow this guy is a monster. His price in Showdown has also gone $3,400 → $8,000 → $10,000, and so we’re left to think “what the heck do we do with this guy, he’s priced like a top-10 NFL WR just two games into his career!” He’s also questionable with an oblique injury but is expected to play. I am going to mostly avoid Puka in this game. Given his massive workload that is an absolutely terrifying stance to take, but I’m going to bet that A) he isn’t going to see NFL record-setting levels of targets for the rest of the season, and B) he’s talented but isn’t one of the top 10-15 WRs in the league, and C) that soft-tissue injuries are at high risk of mid-game aggravation. It would not at all surprise me if he totally burns me, and I’m NOT recommending everyone fade him but I think (pending seeing where ownership lands), that’s the stance I’m going to take. If Puka comes in at 40%+ ownership, I’ll largely avoid, and that’s the big stand I’m going to take on this game. But, look, there’s clearly a big-time bull case for Puka too. Matt Stafford has a long history of elevating WRs, as well as focusing on one key guy. 35 targets isn’t an accident, and while I VERY much doubt he averages 17.5 targets per game the rest of the season, it would not shock me to see him average 10-12 targets per game at least until Kupp returns. On paper, he’s a great play if we expect the role he’s had so far this season to continue. He’s a major decision point. You could fade him, you could go way overweight, or you could just be even with the expected ownership of the field and decide you don’t want to take a big stand on him and that you’ll differentiate elsewhere.
“I am a single entry/3max player but used bink machine last week and had biggest week in two years.” – Nirelleo19
Okay, that was a ton about Puka. Who else is on the Rams? Tutu Atwell has also been off to a fantastic start that has been somewhat overshadowed by the Pukamania, but Atwell has a line of 13/196/0 so far on 17 targets . . . not shabby at all. He’s also in that mid-price range that often gets overlooked in the stars/scrubs constructions that are so common in Showdown so you can guess that if I’m taking a stand on fading Puka, I’m going to make sure I’m overweight on Atwell. And then we have Van Jefferson. Jefferson is leading the wide receivers in snaps played, but he only has 9 targets on the year and 33 receiving yards . . . is it possible he’s just not good? That is entirely possible, and of course, Puka and Atwell vacuuming up targets doesn’t leave much for Van but at $4,400 it’s hard for me to ignore a guy who’s on the field almost every offensive snap with a good quarterback in a good matchup. Clearly, Van is not the WR1 in this offense, but given how the Rams operate out of 11 personnel on almost every snap, he’s extremely likely to see some positive regression at some point. At his incredibly cheap price, that’s a bet I want to make. Ben Skowronek and DeMarcus Robinson will eat up the (very few) remaining WR snaps, but this team plays their primary guys a LOT, so there isn’t much left there. At tight end, it’s Tyler Higbee on the field for almost every snap in a reasonable floor, low upside role. He’s around a ton but he’s in a very short area role in this offense so without a lot of volume and/or a touchdown, he’s not likely to be able to pay off his $6,200 salary. And with the emergence of other weapons for the Rams, the likelihood of a volume spike is pretty low. I’m very comfortable going underweight here and just hoping he doesn’t run into a fluky 2 TD game.