Wed Jan 26 10:40am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Samuel should get plenty of work
Wow, wow, wow. That is about all you can say about last week’s game. That might have been the greatest playoff weekend ever. Needless to say, this week has a lot to live up to. Hopefully, we can at least near those games. We’ll see. Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .
Josh Allen is so special. He had a game for the ages last week and lost. He had nine touchdowns without a turnover in the Bills two playoff games, showing he can come up big in the big game. Allen is a special, special player. At this point, I’m raking him first overall in my quarterback rankings for 2022. One thing that gets overlooked with Allen is his ability to make plays with his legs, rushing for 763 yard this season. This guy is as consistent it gets at the quarterback spot and is going to be a superstar for lots of years to come.
One player that is going to be intriguing next year is Gabriel Davis. He had one of the best games ever for a receiver in the playoffs, catching eight passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns. His stock is rising in a hurry, especially with Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley possibly gone next year. Davis should start opposite Stefon Diggs in the Bills explosive passing game. I’m not sure he is going to be a consistent play but expect plenty of big games. Plus, he is a great red-zone target because of his size and strength.
I think Tom Brady returns for one more season. He had a fantastic year once again and showed few signs of slowing down - if any. The Bucs were depleted at receiver by season’s end, so I think they reload there and give Brady one more shot to win it all. A healthy Chris Godwin and a new No. 3 to replace Antonio Brown would give Brady a big-time boost.
How do the Bucs let Cooper Kupp get behind him in the waning seconds of a tie game? I could not believe that one. I know Kupp is one of the best, so you can’t ignore that. But if I’m the Bucs, I do everything in my power to keep him in front of me to prevent a big play. I could not believe the end to that game. As for Kupp, he has 100-yard games six of his last eight games. He had one of the all-time great seasons for a receiver, so it was kind of a fitting end to this game for him.
And speaking of crazy finishes. You could second guess a lot with the end to that Bills/Chiefs, seeing a ton of points scored in a short time to send that game to overtime. The big one for me is seeing the Bills kick the ball into the end zone after they gook the lead with just 13 seconds left. I make the Chiefs run it back to run some time off the clock. I think they did them a favor by kicking it deep, giving Patrick Mahomes more time to do his thing. That was my big beef with how that played out. But even with that said, it was sure exciting to watch. Wow. That was probably the best football game I ever watched.
I had a hard time picking the games last week and am feeling the same way this week. These aren’t easy decisions. I have a hard time picking against the Chiefs right now, though. I never thought they would make three straight Super Bowls, but just can’t see the Bengals going on the road and winning that one. The Chiefs are playing their best football at the right time. And over in the NFC, I am going with the 49ers. They beat the Rams twice during the regular season and think they will make it a third time. San Francisco just seems a team of destiny. Their defense is playing great and I expect the offense, mainly the running game, to play much better this week. The Rams impressed last week, but I still don’t have total faith in Matthew Stafford. Maybe he showed me last week, but I don’t think the Rams run the ball well this week and Stafford will be forced to carry the offense against a very good 49ers defense.
Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs. Kelce is red hot right now, having touchdowns five straight games. He also has 100-yard games two of those weeks. Kelce has 23-plus fantasy points two straight and three of five. He is setup to find the end zone again this week against the Bengals. Cincinnati struggles to stop the tight end, allowing the sixth most fantasy points to tight ends during the regular season.
Deebo Samuel, WR, 49ers. Samuel just keeps getting it done on a weekly basis. He has touchdowns three of four games. He has 20-plus fantasy points nine times this season. His rushing numbers make him a force at the receiver spot, producing as a dual threat for all his fantasy owners. Samuel had huge success in two games against the Rams this season. Samuel had 300 total yards and three touchdowns, catching nine passes. He should be heavily involved in the 49ers game plan.
Cam Akers, RB, Rams. Akers is back and looks to be the clear lead back for the Rams. He ran the ball 24 times last week and has 41 carries in the Rams two playoff games. Unfortunately, the Rams running game isn’t opening many holes for him right now. Akers has 41 carries for just 103 yards in those two games. And things won’t get much easier for him this week against the 49ers. The 49ers held the Rams to 116-rushing yards in two games this year. Ie might be more of the same for Akers.
Elijah Mitchell, RB, 49ers. Mitchell had a breakout season, emerging as the lead back for the 49ers and having much success in that role. His lack of work in the passing game holds him back little, though, especially in games against a team that does well in holding down the run. He faces one of those teams this week, the Rams. Los Angeles held Mitchell to fewer than double-digit fantasy points in each of their games this year. Mitchell got 20-plus carries in each game but couldn’t crack double-digit points despite the work. He might be tough sledding for him again this week.
Byron Pringle, WR, Chiefs. Pringle has really emerged as a consistent threat in the Chiefs passing game. He has five receptions three straight games. And he has at least five catches four of five games. He also has three touchdowns in two playoff games this year. Patrick Mahomes has more trust in him and is looking his way a lot more often. He could be a good play again this week in a game that could be very high scoring once again.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals. Boyd can disappear at times in this offense with two top weapons to compete with for targets this year. But he has still produced some big games this year. He is more than capable. He has touchdowns four of five games. He also has three games with 20-plus fantasy points. The Chiefs allowed Cole Beasley to have six receptions for 60 yards last week. Beasley plays a similar position to Boyd, so that bodes well for Boyd to have some success in this matchup.
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: Bengals/Chiefs, 49ers/Rams.
Low Scoring Games: None.
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 email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Dynasty | Tyler Huntley completed 16-of-18 passes for 109 yards with one touchdown in the Ravens preseason opener. Dynasty Analysis: Of all the backup quarterbacks in the league, few are as exciting from a dynasty perspective as Huntley, who consistently shows well when given chances. Huntley has the perfect skill set to match the offense led by Lamar Jackson and would be an immediate option should Jackson ever miss time in the future. While it's hard to handcuff a quarterback in most dynasty leagues, there's some real intrigue here. Huntley remains outside our top 40, but that may change should his solid start continue throughout the preseason.
Dynasty | Tyquan Thornton had two catches for nine yards and a touchdown in the New England preseason opener. Dynasty Analysis: Despite being a second round pick in the NFL Draft this off-season, Thornton has been largely ignored by the dynasty community and is currently our 25th ranked rookie. While still a shocking selection, a few more touchdowns this preseason will make Thornton a fast riser in the dynasty community. At this point, he looks like a third round pick, but he clearly looked good in his debut.
Dynasty | Titans undrafted rookie Julius Chestnut started the Titans preseason opener. Dynasty Analysis: He showed well, rushing for 44 yards on seven carries. The Titans are going to keep Derrick Henry in plastic wrap the entire preseason, so the battle for the backup job behind him will be fun to watch. The story here is the fact Chestnut started over Hasaan Haskins and played better as well as Haskins could only muster 19 yards on six carries. You can't read too much into this, but it's clear Chestnut has made an impression early in camp.
Baltimore Ravens running back Mike Davis had five carries for 22 yards during the preseason win over the Tennessee Titans. He also scored a touchdown off a four-yard carry in the first quarter. With J.K. Dobbins (knee) and Gus Edwards (knee) both without a definitive return date, Davis may handle a majority of the snaps out of the backfield until either is ready to take the field. Tyler Badie, Corey Clement, and Justice Hill are also currently on the roster and could get some work. However, Davis has the highest upside for fantasy managers if he finds himself starting at any point in 2022-23.
Baltimore Ravens running back Tyler Badie had a team-high six carries during the preseason win over Tennessee on Thursday evening. However, he didn't do much with the opportunities he was afforded, as the rookie finished with only 19 yards. J.K. Dobbins (knee) and Gus Edwards (knee) don't have a clear return date. As a result, Badie could get some work immediately this season, although Mike Davis is predicted to handle the majority of the backfield duties until Edwards or Dobbins can suit up.
Baltimore Ravens running back Nate McCrary finished with five carries for a team-high 31 rushing yards during the preseason win over Tennessee. Despite the promising performance on Thursday evening, the 23-year-old still has a way to go before he earns meaningful work in 2022-23. However, if he continues to play well throughout the preseason, he has a chance to make a regular season appearance if J.K. Dobbins (knee) and Gus Edwards (knee) aren't available. Still, with Mike Davis, Tyler Badie, and Justice Hill on the roster and currently ahead on the depth chart, McCrary isn't expected to see the field enough at any point this season to warrant fantasy consideration in any format.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley looked good during the preseason win over Tennessee, finishing with 109 yards and a touchdown off an accurate 16-for-18 passing. He also added three carries for 17 yards. The 24-year-old served as the team's starter last season for four games after Lamar Jackson was sidelined due to injury. While he mostly struggled, he showed promise, especially on the run. Still, Huntley probably won't see much interest from fantasy managers in 2022-23 as long as Jackson remains healthy. However, if Jackson misses time, the Utah alum is expected to move back under center to handle things as the primary signal-caller, giving him some streaming potential throughout the year.
Dynasty | Treylon Burks was held without a catch on one target in his NFL debut. Dynasty Analysis: Yikes. Burks played as the fifth receiver on the night as the Titans rested Robert Woods and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, then started Dez Fitpatrick and Racey McMath over both rookies Kyle Philips and Burks, who played with the third and fourth string offense. While the night was forgettable, it does show a level of concern for the young wideout, who has clearly not made a solid first impression in camp. While no opinions can be made after one night, Burks may start to slip just a touch in the rookie rankings, where he currently sits at #4 overall.
Dynasty | Malik Willis completed 6-of-11 passes for 107 yards and rushed for another 38 yards and a touchdown in the Titans preseason opener. Dynasty Analysis: While posing no legitimate threat to Ryan Tannehill right now, Willis still took advantage of the opportunity by showing off both his elite arm strength and rushing ability. Willis is a very intriguing roster stash as a quarterback who could get an opportunity at some point in the next couple of seasons. At this point, he's our 29th ranked rookie and a pretty solid pick in the third round of conventional rookie drafts and a fringe first rounder in superflex leagues.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Anthony Brown finished with 117 yards off 10-for-15 passing during the preseason win over the Tennessee Titans. He also added two carries for 14 yards. The undrafted rookie out of Oregon had an acceptable showing on Thursday night. However, he seemingly has a way to go before surpassing Brett Hundley and Tyler Huntley on the depth chart. Even if the 24-year-old makes the regular season roster, he's not expected to see any action. As a result, Brown has no value in any fantasy format, including dynasty leagues heading into the 2022-23 campaign.
Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins (knee) still isn't a lock for the regular season opener against the Jets. Head coach John Harbaugh recently shed some light on the topic during a SiriusXM interview, commenting the next two weeks will "tell the story" regarding Dobbins' Week 1 potential. The former Ohio State Buckeye will need to show progress surrounding his surgically repaired knee, specifically its range of motion, quickness, and how it extends during strides. With Dobbins and Gus Edwards (knee) uncertain to be active to start the year, Mike Davis, Tyler Badie, and Justice Hill could see more snaps versus New York and potentially beyond.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Hayden Hurst has already earned the respect of his new teammates. He's also been continuously touted by head coach Zac Taylor. "He's been a great matchup for us in the pass game," Taylor said of the 2018 first-round pick while speaking with ESPN's Dan Graziano, "That's something we feel like we can lean on this year." Hurst signed a one-year contract with the Bengals in March after playing four semi-unproductive seasons with the Ravens and Falcons. While Drew Sample is in the picture, Hurst has an opportunity to thrive this season by catching passes from the ultra-talented Joe Burrow. He's someone for fantasy managers to consider after guys like Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, Mark Andrews, and George Kittle are off the board during drafts heading into the 2022-23 campaign.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Benny Snell Jr. (knee) didn't take the field during Thursday's practice. Snell was seen with a wrap around his knee on Wednesday. It sounds like the 24-year-old is dealing with a minor knee issue. He is currently battling for the backup role behind Najee Harris. The Steelers recently mentioned that they want to limit Harris this upcoming season. That means, whoever wins the backup spot on the team could get a decent amount of carries. Fantasy managers should expect Snell to be back on the field within the next few days.
The Houston Texans have issued a failed physical designation to tight end Adam Shaheen. He was recently acquired with a seventh-round pick in exchange for a sixth-round pick from the Miami Dolphins. That trade has now been voided and Shaheen will head back to the Dolphins roster. After this, it would be surprising to see Shaheen actually make the Dolphins final roster. Possibly, Shaheen can bounce back elsewhere, but he can remain off the fantasy radar for now.
Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III is expected to see a ton of snaps as a rookie. Head coach Pete Carroll mentioned the team would feel comfortable with Walker as a three-down back. The second-round rookie is currently competing with Rashaad Penny for the No. 1 role in Seattle. It sounds like Penny is ahead of Walker right now, but that could quickly change before the beginning of the season. Regardless, Walker is likely to make a significant impact during his rookie campaign.
New York Giants wide receiver Kadarius Toney (knee) won't suit up for the preseason opener. The young wideout is currently dealing with a knee injury that has kept him out of practice. This doesn't sound like a serious injury, but the Giants are going to play it safe. Toney should be fine within a week, but fantasy managers should continue to monitor this situation. He could have some WR3 appeal, but it depends on if the Giants can actually get him the ball.
Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny (groin) is unlikely to suit up for the preseason opener. He is feeling some minor groin tightness, so the organization is going to be cautious with him. This doesn't sound like a serious issue, but any soft-tissue injury is noteworthy. Kenneth Walker III will see more snaps without Penny available, but hopefully Penny won't miss significant time. Walker appears to be behind Penny on the depth chart, but there is still time for that to change.
Dynasty | Patriots running back James White has retired after eight seasons. Dynasty Analysis: One of the most underrated weapons in fantasy football, White is choosing to walk away after battling injuries over the past couple of seasons. While his career total of 1,278 rushing yards isn't exactly eye-popping, he was a PPR monster with 381 career catches for 3,278 yards and scored a total of 36 career touchdowns. His retirement could open the door for Ty Montgomery, but the Patriots backfield is always a quagmire.
Dynasty | Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams won't be ready for the season opener. Dynasty Analysis: This was pretty much expected after Williams tore his ACL in the National Championship game. Dynasty managers are going to need to be patient, though they should also be happy the Lions aren't pushing his recovery. Williams will likely miss at least the first month of the season, but he should be available to help dynasty teams towards the end of the year. He remains our overall 6th ranked rookie and that could actually prove to be a bargain.
The Cleveland Browns could look to trade for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo if Deshaun Watson's six-game suspension is to be increased after the NFL appealed the initial ruling. The 30-year-old is on the trade block after the 49ers handed the keys to their 2021 third overall pick Trey Lance, but there hasn't been a ton of interest in the veteran. With Jacoby Brissett currently in line to start in Watson's absence, Garoppolo would be an upgrade for the Cleveland offense, which in itself is a good reason to consider a trade. After posting 3,810 passing yards and 20 touchdowns in 2021, Garoppolo can be valued as a QB2 option with a limited ceiling for fantasy managers if he is to be acquired by Cleveland.