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Draft Masters - FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Studs and Duds: Championship Games

Mon Jan 29 8:39am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Related photo caption below

McCaffrey comes up big again


That was a fun weekend of games. Both came down to the wire, making for some great entertainment. The Chiefs/Ravens game didn’t have many big fantasy performances, though, which was a bit of a downer. Now the NFC game had a lot more offensive fireworks. That game had plenty of fantasy production, helping make up for the first one. Hopefully, you scored a lot of fantasy points this week and are looking good to win your league.

Chiefs 17, Ravens 10

Fantasy Stud: Travis Kelce. He might not have enjoyed his best regular season but Kelce is coming up huge in the playoffs. He was vintage Kelce in this one. Kelce has 11 receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown. This was his third game of the season with double-digit receptions

Fantasy Dud: Both Ravens running backs. Gus Edwards had just three carries for 20 yards while Justice Hill ran three times for three yard. And neither did much in the passing game. Hill had four receptions for 34 yards, and Edwards caught a pass for 16 yards. It was a disappointing showing for both backs, especially if you consider how well the Ravens ran the ball all season.

Game Notes: Mark Andrews returned from his broken leg and had two receptions for 15 yards. Andrews didn’t do much in this game, but was able to play and played a good number of snaps in his first game back. He’ll be just fine for 2024.

Zay Flowers had good numbers but made a couple crucial mistakes, including losing a fumble at the goal line. He did have five receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown despite the mistakes.

Isiah Pacheco found the end zone for the seventh straight game he has played. He ran 24 times for 68 yards and a touchdown.

49ers 34, Lions 31

Fantasy Stud: Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey didn’t have one of his huge yardage games, but scored two more touchdowns and still produced good total yardage numbers. McCaffrey ran 20 times for 90 yards and two touchdowns. He also had four receptions for 42 yards, giving him 132 total yards and two scores

Fantasy Dud: George Kittle. Kittle was really held in checking, finishing with two receptions for 27 yards. It was a poor showing in a game that had a lot of offense. You just expected better from the elite fantasy tight end.

Game Notes: Deebo Samuel was able to play with his shoulder injury and led the 49ers in receiving. He had eight receptions for 89 yards and didn’t seem slowed by the injury at all.

The Lions had big rushing totals. David Montgomery led the way, rushing 15 times for 93 yards and a touchdown. Jahmyr Gibbs ran 12 times for 45 yards and a touchdown. Gibbs did lose a key fumble in the game, though.

Jameson Williams had three touches but two went for touchdowns. Williams had a carry for a 42-yard touchdown. And he also had two receptions for 25 yards and another touchdown.

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 jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

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Player Notes
Eric Gray May 30 3:50pm ET
Eric Gray

New York Giants running back Eric Gray saw a lot of run with the first-team offense during organized team activities on Thursday, leading the New York Daily News' Pat Leonard to put Gray as the team's RB2 behind starter Devin Singletary. In addition, the Giants waived/injured Gary Brightwell, a sixth-round pick in 2021 by the previous regime, on Thursday. The G-Men are facing life without Saquon Barkley in 2024. Singletary is likely to lead this backfield, but he's never been a workhorse back in the NFL and will certainly cede backfield touches in his first year in the Big Apple. Gray was a fifth-rounder in 2023 and had only 23 touches for 70 yards on 65 offensive snaps a year ago. Given the lack of competition behind Gray, he's a good bet to see a significant boost in touches in Year 2. He'll be a handcuff option for Singletary owners in deeper fantasy leagues.

From RotoBaller

Tim Boyle May 30 3:50pm ET
Tim Boyle

Houston Texans quarterback Tim Boyle (finger) was back on the practice field at organized team activities on Thursday after missing time last week after getting stitches for a finger cut while taking a snap. Boyle will be competing for a roster spot this offseason and in training camp this summer. He's currently listed as the No. 4 QB on the Texans' depth chart behind C.J. Stroud, Davis Mills and veteran Case Keenum. It will be an uphill battle for the 29-year-old former undrafted free agent. Boyle has already served as a backup option for five different teams since entering the NFL with the Green Bay Packers in 2019. In his five years in the league, Boyle has completed only 62.3% of his 183 pass attempts for 934 yards, four touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 20 games (five starts). He's not anywhere near the fantasy radar in any format.

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Marvin Mims May 30 3:40pm ET
Marvin Mims

The Denver Broncos are expecting to see growth from wide receiver Marvin Mims Jr. as he heads into his second year in the league. "You're going to see a lot of growth from Year 1 to Year 2," head coach Sean Payton said. Mims, the team's second-round pick (63rd overall) in 2023 out of Oklahoma, averaged a healthy 17.1 yards per catch in his first NFL season last year but caught just 22 passes on 33 targets for 377 yards and only one touchdown in 16 games (seven starts). The 22-year-old didn't get all that many opportunities to get into a rhythm in his rookie campaign but showed potential as a deep threat down the field from time to time. His fantasy stock immediately got a boost when the team traded Jerry Jeudy to the Browns in the offseason, but he'll still have to show improvement in Year 2 in order to see playing time alongside Josh Reynolds, Tim Patrick and rookie Troy Franklin.

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Darnell Washington May 30 3:30pm ET
Darnell Washington

Pittsburgh Steelers second-year tight end Darnell Washington got put into a box as a blocking tight end as a rookie in 2023 and rarely had opportunities to showcase his potential as a pass-catching mismatch, catching just seven of 10 targets for 61 yards. But 6-foot-7, 265-pound monster of a tight end said there's a "strong possibility" he'll become more of a receiving threat in new offensive coordinator's tight end-friendly system. The 22-year-old is an intriguing mismatch if sent out on routes, but as long as Pat Freiermuth remains healthy as the team's top pass-catching TE, it's going to be hard for Washington to stand out in fantasy.

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Josh Reynolds May 30 3:20pm ET
Josh Reynolds

Denver Broncos wide receiver Josh Reynolds could find himself in a substantial role in the Broncos' offense in his first year with the team after signing a two-year, $9 million deal in March. Reynolds comes from Detroit, where head coach Dan Campbell previously worked under current Broncos head coach Sean Payton in New Orleans. Payton is seeking more production all across the offense in 2024 and is embracing the idea that it could come from anywhere. "He's long; he has strong hands. Another veteran receiver," Payton said of Reynolds. Courtland Sutton is the unquestioned top wideout in Denver, but Reynolds will be competing for a starting role with the rehabbing Tim Patrick, Marvin Mims Jr. and rookie fourth-rounder Troy Franklin. With questions at QB, though, Reynolds will most likely go undrafted in standard 12-team fantasy leagues this fall.

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Trey Lance May 30 3:20pm ET
Trey Lance

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy reiterated on Thursday at organized team activities that he's "definitely" seen significant progress from backup quarterback Trey Lance. "Now starting to get the timing with the routes. He's close to being a master of the system. He has a really high understanding. He just needs as many reps as he can," McCarthy said. Despite the Cowboys unsurprisingly declining Lance's fifth-year option this offseason, they have liked what they've seen from the former first-round pick (third overall) heading into his second season with the team. The 24-year-old signal-caller has lost most of his dynasty/keeper appeal at this point after not playing a single snap for Dallas in 2023 while sitting behind Dak Prescott. Unless Prescott misses time with an injury that forces Lance into the fold in 2024, he'll be off the redraft radar.

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Rome Odunze May 30 3:10pm ET
Rome Odunze

Chicago Bears rookie first-round wide receiver Rome Odunze (hamstring) was seen on the field taking part in organized team activities on Thursday, and he showed off his contested-catch abilities. The Bears took precaution in holding Odunze out of previous OTA sessions last week, but the 21-year-old Washington Husky alumni is now back on the field as he prepares for his first season in the NFL. The ninth overall pick in last month's NFL draft has a bright future ahead of him and can pretty much do anything on the football field as a receiver, but fantasy managers in single-year redraft leagues may want to pump the brakes on his value in 2024 as long as both DJ Moore and Keenan Allen stay healthy in front of him in Chicago's receiver pecking order. But in the long term, Odunze may have the highest ceiling of any rookie wideout while being paired with QB Caleb Williams, the first overall pick.

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Darius Slayton May 30 3:10pm ET
Darius Slayton

New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton was back at organized team activities on Thursday after saying that the team added incentives to his contract to appease him. Slayton was staying away from voluntary OTAs this offseason as he angled for a new contract extension from the team, but the 27-year-old former fifth-round pick in 2019 out of Auburn is now back with the team. Despite the addition of rookie pass-catcher Malik Nabers in the first round of this year's NFL draft, Slayton still figures to be in line for a starting role in New York's offense in 2024 after recording a career-high 770 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 50 receptions in 17 games (13 starts) a year ago. However, Slayton's fantasy ceiling and floor will be volatile, especially since both Jalin Hyatt and Wan'Dale Robinson figure to be asked to take on more in 2024.

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Jaylen Waddle May 30 10:20am ET
Jaylen Waddle

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle is signing a three-year contract extension worth up to $84.75 million that includes $76 million guaranteed, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The $28.25 million average salary ranks fourth among NFL wideouts, trailing only A.J. Brown, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Tyreek Hill. Since entering the league as a first-round pick in 2021 out of Alabama, Waddle has hauled in 251 of his 361 targets for 3,385 yards and 18 touchdowns. He's caught at least 72 passes and racked up 1,000-plus yards in each of his first three campaigns. Although he is the clear No. 2 wide receiver in Miami behind Hill, he remains a strong fantasy football asset with WR1 upside in an explosive passing offense. Last season marked his first year without a WR1 finish, but he should bounce back after setting career lows on catches, yards, and touchdowns. He's a screaming value at his low-end WR2 price tag in early fantasy drafts.

From RotoBaller

Jaleel McLaughlin May 30 2:20am ET
Jaleel McLaughlin

Denver Broncos running back Jaleel McLaughlin (head) was photographed participating in OTAs on Thursday, according to the Marietta Daily Journal. The pass-catching back came on strong late in his rookie campaign last year, but he's still expected to face firm competition in the form of Javonte Williams and Audric Estime, to name a couple. Adding extra faces to this backfield complicates the matter and drops McLaughlin to a depth role, making him a reasonable target at his ADP of 163. Fantasy managers will find extra solace in the fact that he's healthy and ready to go for the season.

From RotoBaller

Josh Jacobs May 30 2:20am ET
Josh Jacobs

Green Bay Packers running back Josh Jacobs (hamstring) continues to make progress and could return to the field for contact and action next week. "Hopefully next week we'll get him out there when we go full speed," head coach Matt LaFleur explained to the media. The former Raiders star inked a deal with Green Bay over the offseason, and his extreme versatility makes him an appealing pick. As long as he gets healthy once again, he could push to be a low-end RB1 in fantasy leagues. Regardless of his exact finish, he should have several opportunities to feast within a competent Jordan Love-run team.

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Tank Bigsby May 30 2:10am ET
Tank Bigsby

The Jacksonville Jaguars intend to get running back Tank Bigsby more involved next season, according to Demetrius Harvey of the Jacksonville Florida Times-Union. Bigsby was a rookie last year, and while he did earn some opportunities, he was clearly the backup option to Travis Etienne Jr. Sure, Etienne will remain the Jaguars' undeniable top back in 2024, but the expectation is that Bigsby will be more involved. "We've talked about this too as a staff and myself, making sure Tank [Bigsby] gets opportunities to get out there and take some of the pounding off of Travis," explained head coach Doug Pederson. While this new report might not be enough to put Bigsby on the radar in typical 12-team redraft leagues, he's still worth monitoring as the season gets underway. A slow start or injury from Etienne could put Bigsby in a favorable role.

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Samaje Perine May 30 2:10am ET
Samaje Perine

Denver Broncos running back Samaje Perine could be one of the players released or traded by the team this offseason, according to Nick Kosmider of The Athletic. Kosmider notes that "it wouldn't be a huge surprise if the Broncos moved on from Perine" given that releasing him would create roughly $3 million in cap space. That's a very reasonable outcome for Denver as they look for extra money and find ways to win with younger players. Perine, 28, broke free for 238 rushing and 455 receiving yards in 2023. He should be rostered as a decent RB4 option in most fantasy leagues.

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Yannick Ngakoue May 29 7:53pm ET
Yannick Ngakoue

Free-agent DE Yannick Ngakoue (Bears) said he has talked with a few teams this offseason and is looking for the right opportunity. He said he wants to show that he is still one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.

From TheHuddle

George Kittle May 29 6:03pm ET
George Kittle

San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle (core) is recovering from offseason surgery but said he expects to be ready for the start of training camp.

Fantasy Spin: Kittle should continue to be a big part of the passing game for the 49ers this upcoming season and will be a weekly starting option in all fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Tyler Conklin May 29 5:10pm ET
Tyler Conklin

New York Jets tight end Tyler Conklin caught 61 passes for 621 yards last season while primarily catching passes from Zach Wilson. All things considered, it was a decent year, but the New York offense was one of the worst units in the league, and Conklin failed to catch a touchdown. Jets reporter Connor Hughes believes the 28-year-old could be a riser heading into 2024 with the return of quarterback Aaron Rodgers (Achilles). Conklin reportedly developed great chemistry with Rodgers last offseason, and the pair is picking up where they left off in OTAs this year. Wide receiver Garrett Wilson is the unquestioned No. 1 option in the passing game, but Conklin could be at least the No. 3 option. Mike Williams is coming off a torn ACL, while Malachi Corley is a rookie and could take time to develop. Conklin was the overall TE18 in PPR leagues last year without a single end-zone trip, so an uptick in scoring could lead to him being firmly on the fantasy radar.

From RotoBaller

Braelon Allen May 29 5:00pm ET
Braelon Allen

New York Jets rookie running back Braelon Allen is the early favorite to be Breece Hall's primary backup in 2024, according to Zack Rosenblatt of the Athletic. "He's known for his ability in pass protection but also flashed as a receiver on Wednesday, getting open against linebackers in coverage." Rosenblatt wrote. "He showed some shiftiness after the catch too." Allen was once viewed as a potential contender for the RB1 in the class of 2024, but he regressed following his freshman season. The 6-foot-1, 235-pound Wisconsin product posted 1,307 yards from scrimmage and 12 total touchdowns while averaging 6.8 yards per attempt as a 17-year-old freshman, but he fell to a 5.4 yards-per-carry clip in his junior season and fell short of 1,200 yards from scrimmage. This likely led to him falling to the fourth round of the 2024 NFL Draft. Either way, he looks to be the leader for the RB2 job, making him worth stashing as Hall's "handcuff" in 2024. If New York's offense turns things around with a healthy Aaron Rodgers, Allen could have a few spike weeks in his rookie campaign.

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Matt Milano May 29 4:53pm ET
Matt Milano

Buffalo Bills LB Matt Milano (leg) was able to do some stretching and light jogging on a side field during the voluntary workout Tuesday, May 28.

From TheHuddle

Tyjae Spears May 29 4:50pm ET
Tyjae Spears

Tennessee Titans running backs Tony Pollard and Tyjae Spears figure to share the backfield in 2024 under new head coach Brian Callahan, and the Titans are high on both players as receiving threats. "Anytime we can find ways to match those guys up in the passing game on linebackers is a huge benefit to us. They are hard to cover. They can run routes like receivers, which is unique," Callahan said. "I have not seen guys like them very often and we have two of them...they catch naturally which is exciting." Pollard, who spent the last five seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, was often used as a receiver out of the backfield as a change-of-pace complement to Ezekiel Elliott. Meanwhile, Spears played 52.9% of Tennessee's offensive snaps last year -- primarily on passing downs. It's going to be a challenge to project each back's workload in the new-look Titans' offense, but given the predicted identity shift to a pass-first approach, both could have flex value in PPR formats. Pollard is being drafted as a low-end RB2 in early fantasy drafts, while Spears is going off the board around the low-end RB3 range.

From RotoBaller

Jalen McMillan May 29 4:30pm ET
Jalen McMillan

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Jalen McMillan signed his rookie contract on Wednesday, according to NFL.com. The Washington alum was selected in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft and is set to compete with 2023 sixth-round pick Trey Palmer for the No. 3 WR role behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. While sharing a field with Rome Odunze and Ja'Lynn Polk, McMillan caught 124 passes for 1,657 yards and 14 touchdowns over his final two collegiate seasons. He outproduced Polk in 2022 but regressed and became the No. 3 receiver in 2023. Regardless, the 22-year-old flashed upside and earned Day 2 draft capital, so he could be a fantasy football sleeper at some point in his career. For now, he has limited upside in a crowded wide receiver group.

From RotoBaller