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Matt Harmon's Binge, Stream and Skip: Fantasy football Week 1 viewer's guide

We only have so much attention to spare and time to commit to the content we consume in our streaming platform-dedicated world. No matter how much you may want to, you can’t watch it all. An NFL Sunday and your fantasy football decision-making unfolds much the same way.

Look, I am as true a football sicko as anyone. I can convince you there’s a fantasy football must-start to love and a storyline to follow in every single game on a slate because I really believe it.

But the reality is, you only have so much screen space on a Sunday and only so many starting spots in your lineup.

With that in mind, because the game environment is the foundational starting point in making decisions, I’m going to break down each game on the slate into three categories: Binge, Stream and Skip.

Games you want to “binge” are like the show you can’t miss; you’re watching as soon as it goes live and may just crush all the episodes in one weekend. These are the start-all-your-guys fantasy games and ones with season-defining storylines.

Games you want to “stream” are like the shows you certainly watch start to finish but perhaps you’re finishing it over the course of a few weeks. While these games may not feature a ton of “must-starts,” we can pick and choose our spots to find valuable plays and the teams are likely to matter in the grand scheme of the playoff picture come December.

Lastly, the games you want to “skip” are like the shows you’re leaning toward passing on but you might catch an episode here and there (or may just stick to reading the recaps online to stay up with the culture). There will be a non-obvious player or two who really does stand out in these games but overall, they aren’t the best environment for fantasy football and may only feature one, if any, true contender.

Let’s dive into my Week 1 Fantasy Football Viewer’s Guide.

BINGE

MIAMI DOLPHINS AT LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

A beefy 51-point projected total tells you all you need to know as to why this game finds itself in the “binge” category. These offenses feature a ton of players who were drafted to be stalwarts in your fantasy football lineup.

For the Chargers, Austin Ekeler was a consensus top-five selection and will be the figurehead of a revamped and more explosive run game. Justin Herbert leads what should be a more aggressive passing attack with (hopefully) two healthy receivers in Mike Williams and Keenan Allen. While I have my hesitations about Allen’s upside case, he should command a ton of looks to start the season. All these guys are set up well in Week 1.

On the Dolphins' side, the passing game was a dynamic unit whenever Tua Tagovailoa was on the field. He’s a top-10-ranked Week 1 quarterback in this game environment. The receiver duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle is one of the most dangerous in the NFL. These two players alone combined for 48.8% of Miami’s targets last season and no one was added to this depth chart to threaten that concentration.

Non-obvious players I like

  • Gerald Everett, TE, Los Angeles Chargers. In a bad spot at tight end? Everett ran a route on 57.7% of the dropbacks last season and play-caller Kellen Moore featured layers of creative tight end packages in Dallas.

  • Raheem Mostert, RB, Miami Dolphins. With Jeff Wilson on IR and rookie De’Von Achane expected to be inactive for Week 1 with a shoulder injury, Mostert has a path to 15-20 carries in this game. Mostert was fifth in rushing success rate on zone-scheme runs last year, per Fantasy Points Data. He’s a perfect scheme fit.

STAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The Chargers ranked 31st in yards before contact allowed and 30th in yards after contact allowed.

Brandon Staley’s defense is designed to concede the run game to stop the vertical pass game. They did more than just a little conceding last year. Perhaps they’ve shored that up with offseason moves like signing Eric Kendricks, but color me skeptical.

This is just another reason to play Mostert.

Don’t be surprised if: One or both offenses disappoint, taking this game under the total.

A twist! The Chargers were one of the few defenses to truly slow down Miami last season when everyone was healthy. They closed the middle of the field and didn’t fall for some of the RPO trickery. It’s gotten to the point where Mike McDaniel has begun to scoff at “the Brandon Staley plan” references in news conferences.

On the flip side, all the talk out of Los Angeles has been about Moore getting Herbert to push the ball down the field. But modern defenses off the Fangio coaching tree have been designed to eliminate downfield passing attacks. The Dolphins didn’t just hire some Walmart version from the tree, they hired Vic Fangio, the godfather himself.

Given the way these defenses match up with their counterparts from a structural perspective, this game has the potential to set narratives in place for both offenses coming out of Week 1.

DALLAS COWBOYS AT NEW YORK GIANTS

An early NFC East clash brings together a pair of top-10 offenses in 2022 EPA per play. After offseason tweaks, both units will look to reach new heights this season.

The Cowboys bid farewell to Kellen Moore and will have Mike McCarthy take over play-calling duties. Don’t believe any of his bluster about them running the ball more often. McCarthy always says this but his actions have routinely been that of a pass-first coach. With the receiver talent around Dak Prescott, that should remain the case.

The Giants got great seasons out of Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley in Brian Daboll’s first season. Jones was rewarded with a massive multiyear deal and Barkley was given a slight raise while on the franchise tag.

The players around Jones will look different this season. Tight end Darren Waller was the target hog in the preseason and should be good enough to be matchup-proof against a Cowboys defense that allowed just one touchdown to the position last year. That is if he's healthy enough to play of course — he's questionable with a hamstring ailment, but reports suggest he will be active. I’ll probably shy away from playing any of the New York wideouts as sleepers until we get clarity on the rotation.

Non-obvious players I like

  • Brandin Cooks, WR, Dallas Cowboys. Cooks was brought in to be the speed-based flanker receiver this team sorely lacked. The Giants played a ton of man coverage and blitzed more than anyone else last season. Cooks could get loose against single coverage downfield. I like Michael Gallup for these same reasons as a vertical X-receiver, but I expect Cooks to run more routes in Week 1.

  • Jake Ferguson, TE, Dallas Cowboys. Ran a route on 62% of the preseason snaps with the first team and is the clear starter. He’s a Week 1 sleeper.

STAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Tony Pollard ranked second among backs with at least 100 carries with 43.7% of his rushing yards coming on explosive runs (15-plus yard carries). The Giants ranked 30th in rushing EPA allowed last year. You can argue Pollard is a top-three back on the week.

Don’t be surprised if: Daniel Jones goes over his 33.5 rushing yard prop. Jones had 33 scrambles for 249 yards (7.5 ypc) out of 11 personnel last year. The remade pass-catcher room means the Giants will have even more faith in their three-receiver sets. I’ll likely rank Jones outside my top-12 quarterbacks this week going against a fierce Dallas defense but this gives me faith he can access his floor if you need him in Superflex.

BUFFALO BILLS AT NEW YORK JETS

The bangers continue with a huge AFC East matchup on Monday night. We’ll get the big reveal of the Aaron Rodgers-led Jets and a Bills team that’s hoping a few tweaks take this thing to the next level.

The Rodgers acquisition for the Jets was always about creating an efficiency boost and raising the floor of the team, not creating a high-flying offense. As such, there is a pretty clear plan of attack with this offense. The passing target tree will revolve around Garrett Wilson and the rest of the guys are role players. Even the running backs aren’t necessarily lineup locks to me. You likely drafted Breece Hall in the fourth or fifth round, but his usage is tough to read. If you have a Raheem Mostert-type alternative, I’d play them over Hall this week.

The Bills offense ranked second in EPA per play last year and you can make an argument they got better this offseason. The only “must starts” are Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, but the overall unit has more options to throw at opposing defenses.

Non-obvious players I like

  • James Cook, RB, Buffalo Bills. By all accounts, he won the right to be the clear lead back for the Bills. The Jets were solid (17th), not great, in rushing EPA allowed and ceded 85 catches to running backs last year despite being a strong overall unit. Cook is a nice RB2 option.

STAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Garrett Wilson ranked 10th in the NFL in first read target share with 33.1%, right behind Justin Jefferson and DeAndre Hopkins, per Fantasy Points Data. This guy is going to the moon this year. His release package off the line and over-the-middle route-running are perfect fits with Rodgers’ game.

Don’t be surprised if: This game goes under the projected total. Even if we like some of the high-end names in both offenses, these are two quality stop units.

CINCINNATI BENGALS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS

The Bengals come into Week 1 fresh off a Joe Burrow contract extension. Cincinnati’s offense is electric and primarily flows through Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Joe Mixon. The Browns offense is similarly straightforward.

Amari Cooper is a bit of an inconsistent player — that’s just who he is and it coincidently makes itself apparent in home/road splits — but should be in line for a solid day. Nick Chubb is one of the best backs in the league and a top-level player who could enjoy a career year.

Non-obvious players I like

  • None. This is very much a “start your guys” game with everyone else in wait-and-see territory. David Njoku is fine as a low-end TE1.

STAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Deshaun Watson ranked 35th in EPA per play last year. He was truly that bad, there’s no way around it. I personally need a prove-it week from Watson before diving into the non-Cooper and Chubb tier of this offense.

Don’t be surprised if: Ja’Marr Chase leads the NFL in touchdowns this year. Mark that down as one of my season-long predictions.

STREAM

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS

The Vikings welcome the Bucs to town and are 4.5-point home favorites. By the end of this summer, I had become pretty “Kirk-pilled,” and believe that despite a drop in efficiency metrics, he enjoyed one of his best seasons overall with more put on his plate in Kevin O’Connell’s compared to his game manager work in the Mike Zimmer years.

Cousins and Justin Jefferson can get off to a hot start in 2023 with a matchup against a Bucs team that’s been a pass-funnel unit the last few years.

STAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The Bucs led the NFL in dropback rate while “trailing big” with a whopping 89.6% per Fantasy Life Data. There is just no shot the Bucs play this way without Tom Brady in the house. We aren’t ready for the structural changes this offense will undergo with Baker Mayfield taking over a team that will fully have Todd Bowles' fingerprints on it. I didn’t draft many Bucs players in 2023.

Non-obvious players I like

  • Alexander Mattison, RB, Minnesota Vikings. There were wars fought in the fantasy streets over Mattison’s draft rankings. Week 1 will be a good test case for his upside. He should assume the bulk of the backfield work as a heavy home favorite.

Don’t be surprised if: Jordan Addison goes over his receiving yard prop (38.5 per BetMGM) in Game 1. Adam Thielen ran the second-most routes in the NFL last year, trailing only Jefferson. Addison, a pro-level route runner in college, looks ready to jump right into that role. He’s a fine WR3 start this week, too.

TENNESSEE TITANS AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Here we have two teams that play slow and run the ball at a high clip facing off against what should be strong defensive units. This game could be over in 2½ hours.

The Saints passing game has a new face in quarterback Derek Carr. We mostly are interested in Carr being the type of guy to raise the ceiling on Chris Olave’s performance.

That’ll be put to the test in Week 1 against a Titans defense that allowed the most air yards in the NFL last season. He could be a 30% target share type of player in Year 2 given his route running and the gap to the second-best pass catcher on the Saints.

The Titans are pretty straightforward on offense and the only non-Derrick Henry option I’d consider is DeAndre Hopkins. His targets per route run mark ranked seventh among all pass-catchers with 50-plus targets last year and even with Treylon Burks expected to play in Week 1, I could see Nuk pushing for a total like that once again.

STAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The Titans allowed the lowest yards per carry in the NFL last year and ranked first in rushing success rate allowed. Despite that, Jamaal Williams is going to project for too much volume to bench in fantasy. If rookie Kendre Miller was healthy, this might be a different take but for now, you can’t really consider going away from a guy who is likely to run into 15 touches at a bare minimum.

Non-obvious players I like

  • None. Try to avoid this game if possible.

Don’t be surprised if: Chig Okonkwo gets rage-dropped by someone in your league after Sunday. The Saints allowed the fewest yards to tight ends last year and closing the middle of the field has always been a strength for Dennis Allen’s defenses. If someone overreacts to a slow Week 1 for Okonkwo, take advantage.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS

I will love both of these offenses throughout this season — to varying degrees — but this could provide a bumpy start for both. The 49ers were the No. 1 defense in EPA per play allowed last year and Pittsburgh has every right to believe they’ll be a top-10 unit with a fully healthy T.J. Watt season.

You can still break ties in favor of starting established, highly drafted players in this matchup. But don’t be surprised if you need to wait for a different game down the line to see the ceiling case for these units.

STAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Brandon Aiyuk has 0.3 targets per route run vs. man coverage compared to 0.16 for Deebo Samuel. As Scott Barrett notes, the Steelers played a ton of man coverage last year and signed aging Patrick Peterson to start outside. Aiyuk is an upside-chasing play this week.

Non-obvious players I like

  • Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers. He has earned targets at a wildly high clip the last three seasons and there’s no reason to assume that won’t continue.

Even better, we saw his average depth of target jump to 14.0 in the preseason. If Kenny Pickett takes the Year 2 leap, you won’t want to bench Johnson any week.

Don’t be surprised if: George Pickens hauls in a couple of deep receptions. This type of game perfectly describes his volatility, but it’s worth noting the great 49ers defense was stung by outside X-receivers late last season. DK Metcalf put an exclamation on that when he went for 10 catches, 136 yards and two scores in the wild-card round.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Full disclosure: I almost put this game into the “skip” bucket before realizing how many solid fantasy starts were in this contest. Trevor Lawrence is locked in. Calvin Ridley is a WR1 for me this season and has a tantalizing matchup with outside corners Darrell Baker and Dallis Flowers. Travis Etienne is a top-10 back on the slate. Evan Engram is good to go at tight end and even Christian Kirk is worth a WR3 dart throw.

The Colts are unlikely to hold up their end of the bargain in Anthony Richardson’s first start but Jacksonville keeps this game in the “stream” section. There are just too many can’t-miss players.

STAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Travis Etienne had the fourth-most rushing yards per game when the Jaguars were favorites last year (94.6).

I have a feeling all the preseason Tank Bigsby fretting is going to look silly in Week 1. The Jaguars could blow out the Colts, who lost big names at every level of their defense. Etienne is going to carry the rock a ton.

Non-obvious players I like

  • I just want to use this section to tell you not to play a Colts running back. Please, don’t get cute here, but I will offer one Colt to consider …

Don’t be surprised if: Michael Pittman sees 10-plus targets in this game. I just can’t promise what will come from those looks. Pittman ranked 14th in first-read target share last season and that continued in the preseason with a 29% target share. Because he’s a volume monster and, in my opinion, very good at the game, he’s in consideration as a WR3.

HOUSTON TEXANS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS

It’s a brutal Week 1 runout for C.J. Stroud’s Houston Texans. The rookie will be on the road in Baltimore as a 9.5-point underdog. I think Mike Macdonald’s Ravens defense gelled more as time went on last season and this will prove to be a hostile environment. I have faith in young players like Nico Collins and Dameon Pierce in Houston but this is not the week to chase their ceilings.

STAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Lamar Jackson had an 80.4% adjusted completion percentage out of 11 personnel last year, despite having a 10.9% deep-throw rate. We have evidence that Jackson can be an effective passer when his team spreads the field. We’ll get our first look at that in Todd Monken’s offense from start to finish, even though it appears the Ravens won't have Mark Andrews in Week 1.

Non-obvious players I like

  • Odell Beckham, WR, Baltimore Ravens. Ideally, I’d rather not play any Ravens receivers in this matchup. Beckham would be the exception because, if he’s healthy, he is the only one I expect to play a full complement of snaps ahead of rookie Zay Flowers and the still-working-his-way-back-to-football-speed Rashod Bateman … for now.

Don’t be surprised if: JK Dobbins is the highest-scoring running back on the slate. We love heavy home-favorite running backs who are tethered to efficient run games. Dobbins was one of the most efficient runners in the NFL last season with 3.53 yards after contact per attempt and a wild 62.5% zone rushing success rate, per Fantasy Points Data.

And that was despite not being healthy.

The Texans' pass defense can take a step with young players on the line and in the secondary but their run defense looks like a trouble spot.

LOS ANGELES RAMS AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

The Rams enter Week 1 already down bad with Cooper Kupp out for this game. His absence will loom large over a unit that just has little to no proven high-end talent for Matthew Stafford to work with. The Seahawks could make a statement with a major home win over their division rivals. They are doing almost all the heavy lifting to keep this game out of “skip.”

STAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf combined for 47.6% of the team targets in 12 personnel last year — 25.2% for Lockett, 22.3% for Metcalf.

With Jaxon Smith-Njigba working his way back from a preseason injury, he may be a part-time player in Week 1. That will put the 11-personnel dreams of the Seahawks on hold. Lockett and Metcalf can dominate targets in multi tight-end sets.

Non-obvious players I like

  • Tyler Higbee, TE, Los Angeles Rams. He’s the only player on the Rams roster with more than 90 targets in a single season. I’m interested to see the wide receiver roles without Kupp, but Higbee is the only one I’d consider playing off the jump.

Don’t be surprised if: Geno Smith tosses three-plus touchdowns. The Rams' secondary is one of the most unfamiliar units in the NFL. Even diehard fans can’t name-check most of their starters. I like Smith ahead of many quarterbacks he was drafted behind in fantasy for Week 1.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

This game was a tough one to categorize overall considering these two offenses were at the polar opposite ends of the spectrum last season. There’s not a ton of reason to expect the Eagles offense to regress. Jalen Hurts took massive steps forward and is aligned with a great tight end and perhaps the best wide receiver duo in the league. Their highly concentrated passing game makes every one of these guys top starts on a weekly basis.

The Patriots are much more difficult to read. Bill O’Brien takes over to bring an “adult in the room” factor as offensive coordinator. I feel like the skill position players are a collection of solid role players who fit in their assigned spots but carry little star power — outside of Rhamondre Stevenson.

Stevenson ranked eighth among all running backs in expected fantasy points when his team was an underdog in 2022 (the Eagles are 3.5-point road favorites in Week 1). He should be in line for a boatload of touches, even as he battles an illness, with Ezekiel Elliott still getting up to speed, and don’t forget the Eagles had to sign hulking veterans to solve their run defense issues midseason last year.

Those guys are now gone.

Non-obvious players I like

  • I’d try to avoid any fringey players in this matchup. The total has been bet down since it opened at 46.5. I’ll highlight two interesting flex candidates in the next two sections, however.

STAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Miles Sanders ranked eighth in zone-run success rate (56% of his carries) and fourth in man/gap run success rate (44%) of his carries, among 48 RBs with 90+ carries last year, per Fantasy Points Data.

Conversely, D’Andre Swift ranked 32nd and 29th.

The immediate retort will note Sanders was playing in a great rushing ecosystem. Well, the Lions were not a slouch in that department and featured a strong offensive line, too. Solving this backfield mystery is crucial but it’s possible Philadelphia just straight downgraded in this department. I am expecting them to try and make Swift the guy so I’ll rank him highest among these backs in Week 1.

Don’t be surprised if: JuJu Smith-Schuster catches six-plus passes, especially with DeVante Parker not expected to play because of a knee injury. JuJu has gone from being one of the most overrated receivers in the NFL circa 2018 to being pretty underrated. He’s a limited player but can get open short and intermediate when working the middle of the field. Interestingly enough, that lines up quite well with Mac Jones’ accuracy strengths. I see Jones avoiding the teeth of the Eagles' defense in the outside corners and peppering JuJu out of the slot.

SKIP

CAROLINA PANTHERS AT ATLANTA FALCONS

As a self-proclaimed football sicko, I am quite intrigued to watch the Falcons offense in this spot. Bijan Robinson has the chance to get off to a strong start if the Falcons can control this game at home.

Drake London should be in your lineups. His targets per route run ranked inside the top five last year and he played extremely well in isolation as the X-receiver. I see a top-15 upside for him this week against a Panthers secondary that’s a bit volatile.

And I know I’m not alone in my extreme fascination to see Kyle Pitts' role.

STAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Bryce Young had a 5.4 YPA in the preseason. I can’t construct a case for that to increase much in the first real game. His top receiver was veteran slot man Adam Thielen and though he's expected to play, he missed multiple days of practice this week.

Non-obvious players I like

  • Thielen is a target-chasing WR4. Otherwise, keep it moving.

Don’t be surprised if: Miles Sanders catches five-plus passes in Week 1. So much was made of Sanders’ lack of passing game résumé coming over from the Eagles. If you were Jalen Hurts, you’d throw it to A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith over checking down to your running back, too. Young will have no such options to consider on the Panthers, particularly with Thielen banged up and DJ Chark ruled out, and this coaching staff has consistently said they view Sanders as a three-down player.

GREEN BAY PACKERS AT CHICAGO BEARS

Initially, I had this game in “stream” but Christian Watson’s dubious practice absences made me reconsider. He's now been ruled out. These are two heavy ground-game operations that won’t try to push the rock much.

There will be brighter days ahead for the DJ Moore and Justin Fields connection but don’t chase it this week against a Packers defense that has historically been much better defending the pass than the run.

STAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Khalil Herbert ranked third in missed tackles forced per attempt among backs with 100+ carries. It looks like Herbert will get the first crack at RB1 duties for the Bears. As mentioned, Green Bay had strong highlights as a pass defense last year but ranked 31st in rushing success rate allowed.

Non-obvious players I like

  • Luke Musgrave, TE, Green Bay Packers. If you’re still sweating what to do in the wake of losing Travis Kelce, consider this rookie. He was an every-down player for the Packers in preseason and drew immense praise from the coaching staff.

Don’t be surprised if: Rookie wide receiver Jayden Reed is a hot pickup heading into Week 2. Again, I’m not expecting big passing numbers here. With Watson sitting, however, Reed will start the opener and I believe he’s the best route runner on the team. He’ll get the Falcons in Week 2.

ARIZONA CARDINALS AT WASHINGTON COMMANDERS

A new sense of optimism rages through Washington with the dawn of the first season in years without the cloud of Dan Snyder. The offense is one of the most fascinating units across the league. The wide receiver trio stacks up with some of the best in the game (if you know ball) but Eric Bieniemy and Co. are turning to a Day 3 second-year player in Sam Howell. The UNC product has flashed as a passer and a runner. He’s a fun option as a QB2 in Superflex formats going against a cupcake Cardinals defense.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, have no such optimism heading into this year. This team is likely to start Josh Dobbs, whom they traded for just a couple of weeks ago.

STAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The Washington Commanders allowed the fewest yards after the catch in the NFL last year. It’s not just that Arizona lacks offensive talent, they’re running into one of the most underrated defenses in Week 1, even with Chase Young out. Avoid any Cardinals players in fantasy.

Non-obvious players I like

  • Jahan Dotson, WR, Washington Commanders. One of “my guys” this year, Dotson had a dynamic rookie season where he showed he could beat press coverage and win downfield. Terry McLaurin should play in this game but Dotson is still a confident start.

Don’t be surprised if: Brian Robinson has 18 carries. Robinson led the team in carries when they were playing with a lead last year. They should be in plenty of positive game scripts against the Cardinals.

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS AT DENVER BRONCOS

Both of these AFC West underwhelmers from last year will look to get off to a better start in 2023. I wish them well, but I still don’t think this is an appealing game for fantasy. There are a few obvious starts on the Raiders side, but the Broncos overall feel like an avoid to me. A murky running back room and a middling receiver room for Denver both feel like stayaways until we get more clarity.

STAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Josh Jacobs had the second-most carries go into six-man boxes last year. This was a huge factor in why Jacobs was so awesome last year as teams dedicated deep safeties and bracket coverage to Davante Adams. I think the notoriously limited Jimmy Garoppolo has to show he’s capable of pushing the ball a bit to keep those safeties out of the box.

Non-obvious players I like

  • I got nothing for you here. Samaje Perine would be the closest I could recommend because the matchup is right but he’s only going to lead a muddled committee in touches, if that.

Don’t be surprised if: Marvin Mims Jr. is the Broncos' leading receiver. I think playing Mims in Week 1 is pretty thin, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he has a big game against a weak Vegas secondary.

I know who Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton are. The upside of the unknown with Mims has me intrigued.