By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
RealTime Fantasy Sports
Well, those first round games were a bit of a dud. Hopefully, this week is better viewing for all of us. I'm not so sure about the AFC but maybe they will surprise me. I think both the Patriots and Steelers are looking strong to advance. It is a different story in the NFC, though. Both those road teams can win this week. I really feel that. So on paper, I would expect the NFC games to be better to watch this weekend as they should be closely contested games. We'll see. Now for my random thoughts. . . . .
The Jaguars need to address their quarterback position this offseason. Blake Bortles is a mess and has really regressed in recent weeks. He seemed to turn the corner some about midway through the season but all that has gone out the window in recent weeks. The Jaguars have a really good team but are lacking a passing game. An upgrade at that position makes them really dangerous going forward. I think they have to address this during the offseason.
Many have speculated this already but I would be shocked if Alex Smith was back in Kansas City. He had a great year but fizzled out down the stretch and lost in the first round of the playoffs. It is time for Patrick Mahomes to take over for the Chiefs. He will be an electric player for fantasy teams next year. I think he could be the next big thing in fantasy circles. Exciting times.
I like the upside of Corey Davis going forward. Injuries derailed his season but he was the top target at receiver this year while playing for the Titans. Davis has a legit No.1 receiver skill set. He was the top targeted receiver for the Titans last week and I think this will be a trend going forward. Don't overlook him come draft day because of injuries this past season. He has big-time potential.
And speaking of the Titans, I still don't know what to think of Derrick Henry. He looks like one of the best backs in the league one week and then disappears the next. I do think he'll get his shot next year as the lead back for the Titans, but I'm not penciling him as an elite fantasy back just yet. He needs to show me more, especially in the consistency department.
I'm anxious to see how both Nick Foles and Case Keenum do on the big stage for each of their respective teams. I have more faith in Keenum because of his play throughout the year. He has shown the ability to make the big play when needed and guided this team to a great record when starting. Foles has some past success but shown poorly in recent weeks, which is a huge concern. Either way, both these backups have a lot of pressure on them with both their teams expecting to go to the Super Bowl.
The Raiders made a big move, making Jon Gruden their head coach for the foreseeable future. From a fantasy perspective, this is good news for the offense, especially Derek Carr. Gruden is a top offensive mind and should get this offense going in the right direction once again. The Raiders were a hot fantasy team before this past season, but didn't pan out. The pieces are there for success, especially from Carr. Things are looking up for the Raiders once again with Gruden back on board.
Julio Jones, WR, Falcons. Jones had a big playoff opener, catching nine passes for 94 yards and a touchdown against a good Rams pass defense. Jones is battling some injuries but it isn't showing in his play. He continues to get it done on a weekly basis and should get a big workload this week against the Eagles. The Eagles allowed the eighth most fantasy points to receivers this season and were 17th against the pass.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars. Fournette wasn't great last week but managed 78 total yards against a good Bills defense. He got his touches and was a big part of offense once again for the Jaguars. Fournette should get a workout again this week against the Steelers. The Jaguars are going to feed him often to help keep the Steelers high-powered offense off the field. Plus, Pittsburgh allows the most fantasy points to running backs out of the remaining playoff teams. The Steelers also allowed 14-rushing touchdowns, which bodes well for Fournette.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots. Some are a little down on Brady because of his late-season play and the recent article on ESPN about the state of the Patriots. It is hard to bet against Brady, though. He seems to play his best when adversity hits. And we wouldn't bet against him this week against the Titans at home. Tennessee is just 25th against the pass and allowed the 13th most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers. Roethlisberger normally performs very well at home but he is a concern for this week. He gets the best pass defense in football this week. The Jaguars allowed the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and ranked first overall against the pass. Antonio Brown is expected to return this week but his health is a concern. You have to wonder how healthy he'll actually be for this big game, which is another knock on Roethlisberger's value.
Mark Ingram, RB, Saints. Ingram has cooled some in recent weeks. He was shut down by the Panthers last week, rushing nine times for just 22 yards. He has fewer than 50-rushing yards three straight games and four of five. It likely isn't going to be any easier for him this week against the Vikings. Minnesota allows the fewest fantasy points to running backs and are second overall against the rush, allowing just 83.6-rushing yards per game.
Keenan Cole, WR, Jaguars. The return of Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee was a bad thing for Cole. He didn't catch a pass last week and was targeted just once. Cole remains a big part of the passing game but the Jaguars have more quality options to throw, which could lead to less work for Cole. Plus, Cole has a tough matchup against the Steelers, a team that allowed the eighth fewest fantasy points to receivers this season.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Eagles. Blount has cooled since the arrival of Jay Ajayi, getting less playing time. He has fewer than 40-rushing yards five straight games. He is a back that normally excels at playoff time, though. Blount is a big back that can carry the load and run out the clock with a lead. This could happen this week for Blount, playing at home against the Falcons. He is worth a look as a flex play for fantasy teams.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans. Mariota proved us wrong last week, leading his team to an impressive road victory. He was a big part of the win, finishing with 205 yards and two touchdowns. It was an impressive showing for Mariota and showed his ability to be a big-time NFL quarterback. His challenge is even tougher this week against the Patriots but if you are going to beat New England, it is through the air. The Patriots allowed the seventh most fantasy points to quarterbacks during the regular season and ranked just 30th overall against the pass. Mariota could score some points in this one.
Corey Davis, WR, Titans. Davis was the top receiver for the Titans last week, catching four passes for 35 yards. He normally gets the most looks at receiver for the Titans these days, which is good news for him this week against the Patriots. The Titans could be playing from behind, meaning more pass attempts. It wouldn't surprise to see Davis have one of his best games of the season in this matchup. New England is just 30th against the pass and allowed the third most fantasy points to receivers.
High/Low Scoring Games
Each week we will take a look at some of the high and low scoring games for the coming week. In high scoring affairs, get your marginal players on those teams in your lineup to take advantage of the possible points barrage. And in the low scoring games, keep those marginal players on the bench and make sure to have your defenses involved in those contests.
High Scoring Games: Falcons/Eagles, Titans/Patriots, Saints/Vikings.
Low Scoring Games: Jaguars/Steelers.
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @email@example.com