With the release of Matrix 4 on Wednesday, let’s take a venture into the unknown. In my opinion, one of the most intriguing philosophical theories that has been presented “recently” is the possibility that we are living within a simulation. Rather than digging into all of the details, just check out the documentary A Glitch in the Matrix on Hulu. I’m an open-minded individual. When satisfactory evidence is presented in support of a theory and I am unable to refute it, my only course of action is to admit it to be a possibility. And, when some of the top IQs in the world (Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Neil deGrasse Tyson (video below), Mark Zuckerberg, etc.) all come to the exact same conclusion, we, ladies and gentlemen, may be entering some very scary territory.
The odds that the reality we comprehend, per Musk, holds either a billion to one chance that it is a simulation — an insanely frightening thought — or, from deGrasse Tyson’s view, a far more consumable 50:50. As Musk breaks it down: “either we are going to create simulations that are indistinguishable from reality (or) civilization will cease to exist.” To put that another way, our technological advances have progressed so quickly that the only thing that could stand in the way of creating such simulations is literally our own destruction. It all boils down to what’s referred to as the “base reality.” Earth, December, Year 2021 can be one of three things:
- Base Reality
- A simulation within the base reality that has already continued in the creation of another simulation indistinguishable from reality
- A simulation within the base reality that has yet to advance technologically to the point of creating another simulation indistinguishable from reality
According to deGrasse Tyson’s research, he believes we might be able to eliminate the second option. Such an elimination would cut the billion to one odds down to one to one – either Option 1 (or) Option 3:
If you have the stomach for it, forcing some extremely deep thinking, Hawking’s posthumous explanation reinforces the theory. The scariest reality concerning Hawking is that, no matter how unbelievable his theories might have been at first perceived, none have ever been disproven.
Detractors of Zuckerberg sit around every corner. But he undoubtedly possesses one of the preeminent intellects in this Age of Information. And his contributions to simulation theory are quite unique. Zuckerberg has taken a lot of heat in the past for capturing Facebook user tendencies for use in his own ventures. And, as the article suggests, Zuckerberg plans to “to get inside your brain and access your thoughts directly” within the next 50 years. I’ll stand aside to allow the reader to discover the parallels between simulation theory and those future expectations.
Before we go any further, allow me to be clear, as a man of faith in a higher power, I view this theory as no more blasphemous than the theory of evolution. We all have a choice to make in deciding where we invest our beliefs.
However, you might be asking yourself, how does all of this information have anything to do with fantasy football or DFS?
If we do live within a simulated reality – I am not suggesting that I believe we do, only admitting to it being a possibility – the trends we are able to mine from the historical data take on a new life. We’ll never be able to fully encompass all of the infinite in-game variables into an absolute DFS formula for everything. But we have begun the process toward coming as close to reaching that endgame as possible. And I do believe in every numerical ounce of my football IQ that it’s in complete loyalty toward following the process that will take us closer to discovering the result we all strive to achieve.
As always, the following chart provides the full names for the acronyms and a reference point of comparison for the defensive coverage numbers for each position group through Week 15:
To magnify their importance toward processing the matchup data, familiarity with these abbreviations are key. The full names of the data points in the headers of the data table above will not be written out in full within the specific matchups. You’ll find the following acronyms frequently used whenever referencing defensive coverage statistics:
Yards Allowed Per Coverage Snap = YPCS
Fantasy Points Allowed Per Coverage Snap = FP/CS
Air Yards Allowed Per Coverage Snap = AY/CS
Targeted Passer Rating (i.e., Passer Rating on Targets into Coverage) = TPR
Offensive abbreviations used when referring to the performance of QBs/RBs/WRs/TEs:
FPs/Dropback = FP/Db
FPs/Route = FP/Rt
FPs/Touch = FP/Tch
Yards/Route Run = YPRR
Air Yards/Attempt = AY/Att
Air Yards/Target = AY/Tgt
Yards/Target = YPT
Targeted Passer Rating (i.e., QB Passer Rating When Targeting Receiver) = TPR
If you’d like to learn more about/refresh yourself with each of the defensive coverage shells and other relevant schematic details mentioned throughout this series, utilize the following resources:
Fantasy Shells: Coverage Glossary
Fantasy Shells: Cover 1
Fantasy Shells: Cover 2
Fantasy Shells: Cover 3
*79-77 (51%); 10-6 in Week 15
San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans (-3.5)
Cleveland Browns (+7.0) at Green Bay Packers
Indianapolis Colts (+1.0) at Arizona Cardinals
Detroit Lions (+5.5) at Atlanta Falcons
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-10.5) at Carolina Panthers
Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5) vs. Baltimore Ravens
Los Angeles Chargers (-9.0) at Houston Texans
Los Angeles Rams (-3.0) at Minnesota Vikings
New England Patriots (-2.5) vs. Buffalo Bills
New York Jets (-2.5) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
New York Giants (+10.0) at Philadelphia Eagles
Seattle Seahawks (-6.5) vs. Chicago Bears
Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Denver Broncos (+1.5) at Las Vegas Raiders
Washington Football Team (+10.5) at Dallas Cowboys
Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints (+3.0)
*73-60 (55%); 9-7 in Week 15
San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans (Over 44.5)
Cleveland Browns at Green Bay Packers (Over 44.0)
Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals (Under 50.0)
Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons (Under 42.5)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers (Over 44.0)
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (Over 44.5)
Los Angeles Chargers at Houston Texans (Over 46.0)
Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings (Under 49.0)
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (Under 43.5)
Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets (Over 41.0)
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (Under 42.0)
Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks (Under 44.0)
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (Under 44.0)
Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders (Over 41.5)
Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys (Under 47.5)
Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints (Under 38.5)
*99-53 (65%); 11-5 in Week 15
San Francisco 49ers (-180) at Tennessee Titans
Green Bay Packers (-310) vs. Cleveland Browns
Indianapolis Colts (+100) at Arizona Cardinals
Atlanta Falcons (-250) vs. Detroit Lions
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-510) at Carolina Panthers
Cincinnati Bengals (-140) vs. Baltimore Ravens
Los Angeles Chargers (-400) at Houston Texans
Los Angeles Rams (-145) at Minnesota Vikings
New England Patriots (-135) vs. Buffalo Bills
New York Jets (-135) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Philadelphia Eagles (-450) vs. New York Giants
Seattle Seahawks (-310) vs. Chicago Bears
Kansas City Chiefs vs. (-365) Pittsburgh Steelers
Denver Broncos (+100) at Las Vegas Raiders
Dallas Cowboys (-475) vs. Washington Football Team
Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints (+150)
Matchups to Target
D’Onta Foreman, TEN ($5.4K DK | $5.9K FD) vs. 49ers’ Cover 3 | 4
Some may not remember that D’Onta Foreman ran for 2,016 yards and scored 15 TDs for the Texas Longhorns in 2017. He eclipsed 100 rushing yards in all 11 games, posted over 150 in seven, 200-plus in three, and erupted for 340 yards against Texas Tech. Houston selected Foreman in the third round, viewing him as the long-term replacement for Lamar Miller. And Foreman did not disappoint. Quickly chipping away at Miller’s hold of the backfield, D’Onta ran for a 10/65/2 line against the Cardinals in Week 11 that season. But he ruptured his Achilles while collecting that second TD. Two years later, the Texans released him.
Prior to the recent run with the Titans that’s seen him average 103 total yards over the last three games, Foreman had signed a total of five contracts, reverted to a practice squad four times, and dealt with being waived on four occasions. After dealing with that adversity, even when Derrick Henry returns from IR, Foreman has earned a role in this offense. The bruising playstyle he displayed with the Longhorns has returned. His 3.07 yards after contact average is only slightly below King Henry’s elite mark (3.23). Only 2.6% of his carries have resulted in negative-or-zero yardage (second-lowest rate). And his 2.84 YPRR would also rank as the second-most among RBs, if qualified. Even after stuffing the Atlanta run game last week (62 yards), the 49ers have permitted the 11th-most FPG (23.1), second-most red zone touches/game (6.75), and the most goal-to-go carries (3.25) to RBs over the last four weeks.
A.J. Brown, TEN ($4.1K DK | $5.5K FD) vs. Ambry Thomas, SF
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine was originally listed in this space. And a ghost has been spotted roaming the locker room, sideline, and field for the Titans. Some have stated that it resembles Julio Jones. With Quintorris Lopez Jones Jr. questionable — I consider him to be doubtful/untrustworthy even if he plays — the Tennessee brass tripped over themselves to open the window for A.J. Brown’s return from what has only been described as a chest injury. We shouldn’t dance around the fact that the Titans are desperate for production at WR. And the franchise that nearly chose “Pioneers” as their nickname are fortunate to be one of only five-or-six in the league with a wideout of AJBs caliber on their roster.
Brown is one of the most physical WRs in the game. Since his injury was of the upper-body variety, he should be integrated right away as the focal point of the attack. From Weeks 5 through 9 – a stretch where we know he played at 100% health, Brown collected 35% of the target share. And the wheels have recently fallen off for San Francisco in defense of outside receivers after Emmanuel Moseley joined Jason Verrett on the sideline three games back. The defense featuring the ninth-highest rate of Cover 3 and sixth-highest of Cover 4 has handed opposing wideouts 1.79 red zone touches/game all season (ninth-most), and 42.3 FPG over the last four weeks (second-most).
During his career, AJB has generated 0.53 FP/Rt (eighth-most), 2.81 YPRR (fifth-most), and 11.5 YPT (eighth-most) against Cover 3. When he’s worked against Cover 4, it’s resulted in 0.55 FP/Rt (second-most), 3.41 YPRR (the most), and 13.8 YPT (third-most) during his Nashville tenure. Unless they make a lineup change – who else do they have? – we’ll see Brown working across from 2021 third-rounder Ambry Thomas on two-thirds of his routes. If Thomas’ coverage metrics qualified, he’d be surrendering the most YPCS (2.78!), the most FP/CS (0.56!), the most AY/CS (0.57!), and the TPR into his coverage is 158.3! – yup, a number that can’t go any higher. As long as we can stomach rostering a wideout in his first action off IR, we can have shares in Brown at WR20/WR22 pricing. Just keep those ears peeled for updates on his availability.
George Kittle, SF ($7.4K DK | $7.5K FD) vs. Titans’ Cover 1 | 4
Kyle Shanahan’s offense, by choice, lives and dies on the shoulders of their ground game. They are running the ball at the second-highest rate (45.8%) and averaging the seventh-most rushing YPG (126.6). Jeff Wilson Jr. did well for himself with a 21/110/1 rushing line last week. But he did it against the Falcons. If the ‘9ers can reach a point where they are riding Wilson into the second half, a victory should be headed their way. However, SF hasn’t faced a run defense like Tennessee’s this season. The Titans are limiting opponents to only 86.9 rushing YPG (second-fewest), 3.9 YPC (seventh-fewest), and 0.97% rate of 20-plus yard runs (eighth-lowest). Knock a couple TD runs off their tab and Tennessee’s ground defense is in the same room as the Buccaneers and Saints’ elite units.
George Kittle “disappointed” with a 6/93/0 line on six targets last week. For a guy that assembled 79.7 FPs during his previous two games, the expectations were/are in the stratosphere. Kittle will do his most work this week across from Zach Cunningham and Elijah Molden. Tennessee has done well to limit opposing TEs to 8.8 FPG (sixth-fewest), but they’ve faced a slew of vanilla TEs to pad those numbers. Cunningham has been the second-most targeted LB, handing out the 19th-most YPCS among 75 qualified (1.19), 18th-most FP/CS (0.29), and fourth-most AY/CS (0.09) to his coverage. Molden has authorized 1.26 YPCS (15th-most), 0.28 FP/CS (11th-most), and a 108.3 TPR (sixth-highest). Nobody should need to be sold on Kittle. Just to prove that point, here are his FP/Rt coverage ranks from the last three years:
Cover 1 = Second-most (Rob Gronkowski)
Cover 2 = The most
Cover 3 = The most
Cover 4 = The most
Cover 6 = The most
Final notes on San Francisco
The Titans are giving up a ton of FPG through the air this season. During their last two games without Jackrabbit Jenkins, the Titans greatly cut down on their Cover 1 rate in favor of a Cover 3 increase. On the year, they are combining a rotation of the 13th-highest rate of Cover 1, 13th-highest of Cover 2, and eighth-highest of Cover 4. Jenkins is back at practice, so I am expecting that Cover 1 rate to rebound. I really want to get behind Jimmy Garoppolo ($5.5K/$6.9K), nudged by the belief that the ground game may not see a ton of success. I’m already fully in support of Jimmy G as the starting QB for San Francisco. Provided his health, if he continues to play with this level of efficiency… brace yourself, Trey Lance may need to be dealt away before he’ll see anything outside of token appearances.
Do we need to bank on Garoppolo throwing for multiple TDs to be of interest in Week 16? Deebo Samuel ($8.3K/$8.8K) hasn’t caught a TD pass since Week 10. That’s simply because he’s turned 33 handoffs into six rushing TDs during those five games. Five of those carries have gone for an average of 24 yards. He is, without a doubt, one of the top-six WRs under the age of 27. But, prior to taking on his backfield role in Week 10, Samuel collected a 32% target share during his first eight games. He obliterated floor value in half of those games, when he averaged 31.4 FPG. After scoring a 27% profit in the first game where he was handed featured backfield shares (Week 10 vs. the Rams), Deebo’s salaries have continued to climb, resulting in the failure to cover his floor in four straight. Samuel’s target share has plummeted by 57% over his last five games, down to only 14%.
In every game this season when San Francisco has scored 30-or-more points, Garoppolo has completed less than 20 passes. The data suggests that we should take the likelihood of the 49ers’ offense scoring 30 points into the equation when we are eying their options. Let’s take a look:
When the San Francisco offense scores less than 30 points:
Garoppolo – 17.7 FPG in six healthy games
Brandon Aiyuk ($5.8K/$5.8K) – 9.1 FPG in eight games
Kittle – 22.4 FPG in six games
Mitchell – 13.1 FPG in five games
Samuel – 18.6 FPG in seven games
When the San Francisco offense scores more than 30 points:
Garoppolo – 17.7 FPG in six games
Aiyuk – 9.1 FPG in six games
Kittle – 11.8 FPG in five games (47% decrease)
Mitchell – 20.5 FPG in four games (36% increase)
Samuel – 24.7 FPG in six games (25% increase)
While I am expecting the return of AJB to boost the scoring of the Titans toward assisting in pushing the total over 44.5 points, Tennessee is only supplying 22.1 PPG to opponents this season. Over their last 12 games, only three teams have scored at least 30 points (25%), and only one-of-six has accomplished that output in Nashville (17%). The factor that pushes me fully in favor of the Titans holding the 49ers to under 30 points is their elite run defense. I will not be targeting either Mitchell, Wilson, or Samuel this week. Another 17.7 FPs would dig into profit levels for Jimmy G, so he is squarely in play this week. He is obviously joined by Kittle in that category, making for an excellent GPP stack. Aiyuk will work across from Tennessee’s top cover corner, Kristian Fulton, on over half of his reps. Hard fade.
Final notes on Tennessee
I am willing to roll the GPP dice on Brown returning to his featured role, running a very high percentage of his routes across from a rookie corner. Be that as it may, I’m not quite ready to stack him with Ryan Tannehill ($5.7K/$7.1K). An AJB runback with Jimmy G and Kittle makes a lot more sense. Dontrell Hilliard ($4.7K/$5.3K) has held onto a 23-to-17 opportunity lead in two games since Jeremy McNichols ($4.4K/$5.2K) returned from IR. They are completely nullifying each other’s upside.
If Julio Jones ($5.4K/$5.7K) is ruled out, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine ($4.1K/$5.5K) will trade a very poor matchup against K'Waun Williams with one at the same level, but on the positive end of the spectrum across from Josh Norman on Thursday Night Football. Norman is approving 1.30 YPCS (17th-most among 76 qualified perimeter CBs), 0.30 FP/CS (10th-most), 0.16 AY/CS (20th-most), and a 121.8 TPR (third-highest). I’m completely out on Julio no matter what he does. Those hamstrings will likely cut his career short at some point.
The remaining list of depth options at receiver for the Titans should be avoided:
Chester Rogers ($3.6K/$5.2K)
Cody Hollister ($3.0K/$4.6K)
Racey McMath ($3.0K/$4.6K)
Anthony Firkser ($2.7K/$4.6K)
Geoff Swaim ($2.8K/$4.5K)
MyCole Pruitt ($2.5K/$4.5K)