Taylor Swift fantasy football guide: Songs for NFL players


OK, I don’t actually have free Taylor Swift tickets.

Or do I?

You’ll have to keep reading to find out.

(I don’t … but please keep reading anyway.)

Here’s the thing: Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re at least aware of the existence of Taylor Alison Swift.

The absurdly talented singer/songwriter has become an institution in recent years, with her recent Eras Tour evolving into a cultural phenomenon as it has made its way through NFL stadiums across the country.

This got me thinking: Taylor is an institution. Fantasy football is an institution! Taylor is an Eagles fan. I’m an Eagles fan! Taylor grew up in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. I grew up and went to college near Wyomissing, Pennsylvania! Taylor spent childhood vacations in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. I still spend family vacations in Stone Harbor, New Jersey! Taylor is an immensely talented and famous superstar. I am … OK, actually, let’s stop there …

Taylor’s songs are famous for their deep meanings, connections to her life and references to other people (often celebrities), so I thought it might be fun to compare them to people (often celebrities) who have a deep connection to my/our lives: fantasy football players!

Am I the world’s foremost expert on America’s Sweetheart? No, I am not! In fact, I recently attended Taylor Swift trivia locally here in Connecticut and, while I got a bunch right, let’s just say… I was not close to winning.

So bear with me — and keep an eye out for Easter eggs — as I compare a few of her dozens of hits to fantasy football players we’ll be considering on draft day in 2023.

“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

“I mean, this is exhausting, you know, like we are never getting back together. Like, ever.”

We’re coming out of the gates firing with Taylor’s announcement that she’s permanently done with Jake “Donnie Darko” Gyllenhaal. 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, 12 seconds. That is when the world will end … and also roughly how long Akers was away from the Rams during the 2022 regular season. Akers had all the makings of a breakout player (I was all-in) but fell out of favor with Sean McVay prior to Week 1 and was a nonfactor for most of the season. That was until he called us back up and said “I still love you” prior to Week 13 and went on to post the sixth-most fantasy points among RBs during the final six weeks of the season. Akers appears to be locked in as the Rams’ feature back, but I can’t risk that pain again. Cellar door.

“Bad Blood”

“‘Cause, baby, now we got bad blood. You know it used to be mad love.”

“Bad Blood” is about betrayal. Taylor was betrayed by Katy Perry (or so that’s the story), whereas our betrayal came courtesy of Aaron Rodgers. The future Hall of Famer finished 13th or better in fantasy PPG during each of his first 14 seasons as an NFL starter (ninth or better in 13 of those campaigns) prior to plummeting to 25th in 2022. Even without BFF Davante Adams, Rodgers’ résumé suggested his floor was backend QB1 production. Instead, he failed to reach 20 fantasy points in a single game. Rodgers is now 39 years old and no longer adds value with his legs, so while the trade to the Jets could allow for a better season, Band-Aids don’t fix bullet holes. Swish swish.

“Shake It Off”

“I’m just gonna shake. I shake it off, I shake it off.”

Like Rodgers, Jonathan Taylor was a major disappointment last season. Unlike with Rodgers, Taylor’s underperformance was primarily related to injury (not to mention a horrific supporting cast for most of the season). I don’t know about you lot, but I’m ready to shake this one off and prepare for a big rebound campaign in 2023. During his breakout 2021 season, Taylor never missed a beat and was lightning on his feet (I’m starting to get the hang of this), clearing 2,000 yards, scoring 20 TDs and leading all RBs in fantasy points. Despite similar per-game usage, his efficiency and production plummeted last season (1,004 yards and four TDs with six missed games). Taylor is an elite runner, only 24 years old and should be the centerpiece of an offense led by new coach Shane Steichen and rookie QB Anthony Richardson. It’s like I got this music in my mind saying it’s gonna be all right for Kyle Pitts as well.

“Everything Has Changed”

“I just wanna know you better, know you better, know you better now.”

A new relationship? Love at first sight? Wanting to know a new love better? You can interpret this song a few ways, but each of those interpretations applies to the most hyped-up rookie in fantasy football history. The No. 8 pick in April’s draft, Robinson is positioned as the run-heavy Falcons’ lead back and will cost you a first-round pick in 2023 fantasy drafts. Is that too rich for a player we just met? History says no: All six RBs drafted in the top 10 in the NFL draft since 2011 have finished their rookie season in the top 15 in fantasy PPG (three finished in the top five). So dust off your highest hopes and hop on the Robinson hype train … or, should I say, hype trampoline.

“You Belong With Me”

“Can’t you see that I’m the one … Been here all along. So, why can’t you see?”

This one is pretty straightforward if you’ve seen any coming-of-age rom-coms: The girl next door is unnoticed by the boy she likes, who is dating the popular girl. Can we think of an underrated and/or overlooked player being slept on while everyone is distracted by and infatuated with a similar player? How about a rookie RB selected 12th overall (Gibbs) who can be had in fantasy drafts roughly 30 or so picks after a fellow rookie RB selected eighth overall (Robinson)? Don’t get me wrong — I’m on board with the Robinson hype (see “Everything Has Changed” above), but Gibbs could prove to be an even better value. The Alabama product is superfast (Parker Kligerman would be jealous) and set up for a substantial role in a Lions backfield that led the league in RB fantasy points (501) in 2022. Even Kanye would agree Gibbs is a legit fantasy rookie of the year candidate.

“I Knew You Were Trouble”

“‘Cause I knew you were trouble when you walked in. So, shame on me now.”

Taylor knew Harry Styles was trouble, and there’s a lesson to be learned here about ignoring red flags in fantasy football. Jacobs was a player perceived to have a giant red flag last season (speculation that Josh McDaniels would institute a committee backfield), but McDaniels’ arrival actually proved to be a green flag (Jacobs led the NFL in touches and yards). That heavy usage, which included a league-high 340 carries, was good for 2022 but is a big concern moving forward. I won’t get too into the data here (I will do that in a future column), but here’s the point in nutshell: Of the past 20 RBs to carry the ball 300 times and play the following season, only eight finished top 12 in fantasy points that following year (four were top five). Jacobs’ early-round ADP could be trouble, trouble, trouble.


“It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me.”

This song is about all the things we don’t like about ourselves and need to overcome. As a fantasy community, we just love us some Kadarius Toney and absolutely cannot quit him. The 2021 first-round pick struggled to stay on the field for a season and a half with the Giants before barely seeing the field after being traded to the Chiefs last season. The man has reached 14 fantasy points in two — two! — career games. So why all the hype? Toney has looked electric when called on and has a path to the No. 1 wideout gig in the Chiefs’ pass-heavy, high-scoring offense. The ceiling is massive, but the floor is laughing up at us from hell. I’m a guilty party here — I turned down so many aggressive trade offers in dynasty — and it’s clear I should not be left to my own devices.

“Should’ve Said No”

“You should’ve said, ‘No.’ You should’ve gone home. You should’ve thought twice ‘fore you let it all go.”

Many believe that Taylor wrote this song about a cheating ex-boyfriend for her debut album back in 2006, but I’m here to debunk that theory. The truth is that she can time travel and wrote it at a Christmas tree farm in December 2023 while thinking about fantasy managers who drafted Michael Pittman Jr. The fourth-year vet is a good receiver, but he failed to a produce a top-20 fantasy campaign despite massive volume last season. That volume figures to dip (perhaps considerably) this season in a new offense and with a scramble-heavy rookie QB under center. Taylor wrote this song in 20 minutes, and you will derail your fantasy season in 20 seconds if you spend a valuable early-round pick on Pittman this summer.

“Love Story”

“Don’t be afraid, we’ll make it out of this mess. It’s a love story, baby, just say, ‘Yes.'”

Sometimes the scary decision is the right decision and you just have to be fearless and hit that “draft” button. It might make you a bit queasy picking a player who just set the NFL record for the most receptions in a single season (85) without a single touchdown last season, but I’m here to tell you to “just say yes” to Diontae Johnson this season. Pittsburgh’s top wideout wasn’t short on TDs earlier in his career (20 in his first three seasons), is one of the league’s best route runners, sees plenty of targets, and his QB (Kenny Pickett) is a candidate for a big leap in his second season. Joe Jonas used his phone to say “no” to Taylor, but you can use yours (shameless ESPN Fantasy app plug) to say “yes” to a league title this season. And, unlike him, you can do it in under 27 seconds (oh, hey, another “time” joke).


“Tonight we’ll stand, get off our knees. Fight for what we’ve worked for all these years. And the battle was long, it’s the fight of our lives. But we’ll stand up champions tonight.”

This is a song about Taylor’s perseverance through escaping her first label (alternative song title suggestion: “Rage Against the (Big) Machine”), but for us, it’s an effort to manifest perseverance for Hall (and Javonte Williams … and Zach Ertz … and Kyler Murray et al) as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered last season. Hall was lights-out prior to the injury, sitting sixth among RBs in fantasy points and having reeled off five straight top-15 performances. We need to worry about a short-term dip in effectiveness, but Hall’s recovery is on track, he’s only 22 years old and 2022 seemed to indicate that — much like Taylor — he’s the real deal. It’s looking more and more each day like he’ll be on the field in Week 1. And we’ll sing hallelujah.

Surprise Songs

This is getting pretty lengthy, but we obviously need to get this list to 13 — Taylor’s lucky number — so here are a few surprise songs to round out our list:

Track 11: “All Too Well” — Clyde Edwards-Helaire
“Maybe I asked for too much, but maybe this thing was a masterpiece ’til you tore it all up.”

Track 12: “The 1” — Zack Moss
“It would’ve been fun if you would’ve been the one.”

Track 13: “Death by a Thousand Cuts” — Courtland Sutton
“Now I’m searching for signs in a haunted club.”

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A Guide to Using Taylor Swift Songs for Fantasy Football: Match Your NFL Players with the Perfect Tracks

ESPN writer Mike Clay has compared Taylor Swift songs to fantasy football players in his latest column. Clay compares Jonathan Taylor to Swift’s “Shake It Off” with regards to injury-related underperformance and potential for a big rebound campaign in 2023. Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s situation is compared to Swift’s “Bad Blood” in terms of betrayal, Akers is compared to “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” on the basis of potential disappointment, and A.J. Dillon is compared to “Everything Has Changed” in terms of his hype potential.

#MikeClay #ESPNWriter #FantasyFootball #NFLAnalyst #ProFootballFocus #FSTAawardwinner #TaylorSwiftTickets #OffseasonHeatingUp #CustomizeYourLeague #ErasTour #FootballPlayersAsSongs #JakeGyllenhaal #CamAkers #AaronRodgers #JonathanTaylor #KylePitts #JavonteRobinson #DeAndreSwift #KadariusToney #JacobsFades #RBWorkloads

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