Sat Jan 28 8:07pm ET
By JOHN WAWROW
AP Sports Writer
A Buffalo Bills fan holds up a sign in support of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) prior to an NFL wild-card playoff football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)
Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin reacts after a play during the first half of the team's NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 9, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. Hamlin released a video on Saturday, Jan. 28, in which hes thankful for the outpouring of support and vows to pay it back, in what are the safetys first public comments since he went went into cardiac arrest and needed to be resuscitated on the field in Cincinnati on Jan. 2. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File)
A mural by artist Adam Zyglis of Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin, who is recovering after going into cardiac arrest during a game Jan. 2, covers the outside of a building in Buffalo, N.Y., on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson)
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Damar Hamlin released a video Saturday in which he says he's thankful for the outpouring of support and vows to pay it back, marking the first time the Buffalo Bills safety has spoken publicly since he went into cardiac arrest and needed to be resuscitated on the field in Cincinnati on Jan. 2.
Hamlin said now was ''the right time'' to speak after the Bills' season ended and because he needed time to recover and gather his thoughts.
''It was just a lot to process within my own self - mentally, physically, even spiritually. It's just been a lot to process,'' he said. ''But I can't tell you how appreciative I am of all the love, all the support and everything that's just been coming in my way.''
Hamlin then said he has come to peace with what happened on the field when he collapsed after making what appeared to be a routine tackle of Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, who struck Hamlin squarely in the chest.
''What happened to me on `Monday Night Football,' I feel is a direct example of God using me as a vessel to share my passion and my love directly from my heart with the entire world,'' he said in a 5 1/2-minute video posted on his Instagram account.
''And now I'm able to give to kids and communities all across the world who need it the most. And that's always been my dream,'' he added. ''That's always been what I stood for and what I will continue to stand for. ''
Titled ''Thank You: A message from Damar Hamlin,'' the video opens with Hamlin walking into view, placing down a jacket and taking a seat in a dimly lit room with the word `Bills' prominently displayed behind him. Hamlin shows no after-effects of the injury while wearing a white T-shirt with the name of his charitable foundation, Chasing Millions, printed on the front and with a gold chain with the initials ''DM'' hanging around his neck.
Hamlin also thanked his teammates, training staff, and the medical staff at both the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and Buffalo General Medical Center, where he split his recovery. He also thanked those who donated more than $9 million to his charity over the past four weeks.
''While I'm so thankful to everybody, I know that it isn't enough just to be thankful. This is just the beginning of the impact that I wanted to have on the world,'' Hamlin said in closing the video by making a heart sign with his hands.
''I couldn't do this without any of this support and the love,'' he continued. ''And I can't wait to continue to take y'all on this journey with me.''
Championship Round Preview
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Quez Watkins hasn't seen much involvement over the last few weeks. In fact, Watkins has three receptions on 10 targets for 33 yards over the last four games. The 24-year-old didn't do anything against the New York Giants in last week's playoff matchup. That being said, fantasy managers shouldn't have much faith in Watkins right now. There should be more trustworthy flex options than Watkins available for this weekend's slate.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jauan Jennings has not been heavily involved over the last few weeks. Last week, Jennings hauled both of his targets for 26 yards in the Divisional Round win over the Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers have so many weapons on offense that often times Jennings gets lost in the shuffle. That being said, Jennings should be considered a low-end flex option for the upcoming NFC Championship Game versus the Philadelphia Eagles.
Cincinnati Bengals kicker Evan McPherson looked strong last week against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Divisional Round. The second-year kicker knocked down both of his field goal attempts. Also, McPherson made all three of his extra point attempts last week against the Bills. He has performed much better in the second half of the season. The expectation is that this game will be a high-scoring affair. That means, McPherson should have more chances to kick. Fantasy managers should be safe with him as their kicker for this weekend.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Samaje Perine saw work as both a receiver and rusher last week. He finished with 33 rushing yards on seven carries, while hauling in five receptions for 31 yards through the air. However, Joe Mixon remains the lead back and should see roughly 20 carries this weekend against the Kansas City Chiefs. That being said, Perine is likely going to need to have success in the receiving game in order to have value in the NFC Championship Game. Fantasy managers should consider Perine a punt play in DFS contests.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman has been elevated from the practice squad ahead of Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. This move adds insurance to the backfield in case Elijah Mitchell (groin) is unable to play this weekend. Mitchell missed three days of practice this week. His absence would likely mean that Coleman would be the primary backup to Christian McCaffrey. Fantasy managers will have to check back to see if Mitchell ends up sitting out this game.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd didn't have the best year of his career, finishing with 58 catches for 762 yards and five touchdowns. Without a doubt, the presence of Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins has caused Boyd's production to fall over the last few seasons. He also hasn't been much of a producer in his two postseason appearances in 2022-23, amassing just four receptions for 49 yards. With that said, Boyd has been known to put together some potent DFS performances from time to time, so he at least commands attention as a flex option against the Chiefs on Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins will try to turn things around on Sunday against the Chiefs. The 24-year-old has been a non-factor throughout the postseason thus far, combining for only seven receptions for 65 yards. Undoubtedly, Ja'Marr Chase is the preferred option for Joe Burrow. However, Higgins has as high of a ceiling as the other potent wideouts playing on Sunday, so he deserves some attention from DFS participants.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase has been on a roll. The former LSU Tiger has scored a touchdown in five of his last six games, dating back to the Week 14 win over Cleveland. Chase also had double digit targets in the five games heading into the divisional matchup against Buffalo. While he had only eight looks from Joe Burrow versus the Bills, he still had a solid showing. With an AFC rematch with the Chiefs on tap, Chase will look to keep his stellar play going against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship. The wideout has three touchdowns in two meetings with Kansas City throughout his career. However, DFS managers know just how lethal Chase can be whenever he steps on the field, so there's no need to remind anyone he's a good option on Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon began his postseason by amassing just 39 yards off 11 carries in the wild-card matchup with the Ravens. However, he turned things around in the divisional round on a snowy day in Buffalo, logging 20 touches for 105 yards and a touchdown. The former Sooner will look to keep his momentum going during an AFC Championship rematch versus the Chiefs. Mixon has faced off with the Chiefs three times in his career, averaging 61.3 rushing yards and 22.7 receiving yards. Unfortunately, he didn't find the end zone in any of those games. Nevertheless, DFS managers shouldn't expect Mixon to have the same type of performance he had against the Bills. But there's no denying his upside is extremely high, so he's worth considering in DFS contests on Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker drilled all three of his extra-point attempts and both of his field goal tries last week and will hope to stay steady in Sunday's AFC Championship matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. This contest is expected to be relatively high-scoring with the Chiefs favored at home, so Butker could be busy once again. He's not the most appealing DFS player on a showdown slate, but the 27-year-old offers a reliable floor as a pay-down option.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will look to lead his squad to a second straight Super Bowl appearance. To do this, the Bengals must take down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the AFC Championship. These teams were in the same situation last year, with Cincy defeating Kansas City in overtime to win the AFC Championship. Burrow had a respectable showing in that one, ending his day with 250 yards and two touchdowns (one interception) off 23-for-38 passing. Cincinnati's offensive line also held the Chiefs defense to only one sack. The 2020 No. 1 overall pick has owned Kansas City over the last few seasons, with the signal-caller throwing eight total touchdowns while averaging 327 passing yards per game (three meetings). Without a doubt, Burrow has a massive upside for DFS participants on Sunday, although he'll likely be a popular option for those looking to play the contrarian role.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Noah Gray finished the 2022-2023 regular season with just 28 receptions for 299 yards and one touchdown, but could see additional opportunities in the team's AFC Championship showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals. Although Travis Kelce (back) practiced in full on Friday, he is currently listed as questionable on Kansas City's injury report. It's hard to imagine Kelce missing a contest of this magnitude, but if he is limited in any capacity, it could clear a path for Gray to earn more touches, especially near the goal line. He's far from reliable, but Gray could be worth a dart throw in DFS lineups as his cheap salary can allow players to pay up at other positions.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling found the end zone in last week's Divisional Round, but it was his only reception of the contest on just two targets. With Mecole Hardman (pelvis) and Justin Watson (illness) both listed as questionable for Sunday's matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, Valdes-Scantling could see an uptick in opportunities if the two wideouts are ruled out. Although Hardman has been sidelined since Week 9, Watson has been playing on a surprising amount of Kansas City's offensive snaps. Still, Valdes-Scantling has not posted more than 28 receiving yards in a game since Week 13 and projects as an uninspiring DFS option this week.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones recently finished what was arguably the best season of his career thus far, totaling 3,913 yards, 22 touchdowns, and just five interceptions while leading the team to its first playoff appearance since 2016. Jones will enter unrestricted free agency this offseason, and reportedly could command up to $40 million per season on a new deal. The Giants are likely to pursue a long-term contract with the 25-year-old signal-caller but could choose to use the franchise tag on him for $32.5 million if an agreement is not reached. That said, Jones stated earlier this week that he loves New York and wants to remain a Giant.
Dynasty | Rob Gronkowski hasn't ruled out a potential return in 2023. Dynasty Analysis: It's not a stretch to assume this also means that for Gronk to return, it would also mean Tom Brady returns. The few signs we have related to Brady suggest there's a greater likelihood of the GOAT seeking a starting gig outside of Tampa Bay in 2023, though it's purely guesswork until we hear more. A return for Gronk would provide a catalyst for rostering the tight end who turns 34 in May. Unranked on DLF, he's a potential single-season stash for competitive dynasty teams with a roster spot to burn.
Dynasty | Calvin Ridley can apply for reinstatement on Feb. 15. Dynasty Analysis: Ridley turns 29 late in 2023 (Dec) and hasn't played a snap since late October, 2021. His dynasty value saw an uptick when it was learned the Jaguars acquired the suspended receiver from Atlanta earlier in 2022. All expectations are that Ridley will be reinstated early in 2023 with every chance of rebooting his NFL career. Rankings vary widely on DLF as evidenced by his range of WR28 to WR48. Without recent game history, he's an extreme 2023 risk-on asset but with a high ceiling as well.
Dynasty | Tua Tagovailoa is still in concussion protocol but there remains "no doubt" he returns in 2023. Dynasty Analysis: To say Tagovailoa suffered a scary sequence of events in 2022 would be an understatement but the quarterback has received votes of confidence for return from all involved including his family. The bigger question for Tagovailoa and his dynasty coaches is whether 2023 plays out with a similar script and the upside quarterback suffers another concussion, potentially threatening his career. With player health and safety clearly in focus, all hope is for an uneventful injury log in 2023 with Tagovailoa's concussion history a single-year anomaly and not a pattern. Listed as DLF's QB12, the 24-year-old has seen a material dip in ADP in recent mock drafts but can resume his ascent with a healthy 2023.
Dynasty | Rashod Bateman's dynasty value tumbled in 2022 Dynasty Analysis: Bateman's dynasty ADP reached a peak (32) in October as the sophomore receiver scored two touchdowns in his first two games of the 2022 season. What followed was a collapse in productivity and yet another injury that ended his season late in October, finishing with 15 receptions, 285 yards, and those same two touchdowns. As the regular season came to a close, Bateman's ADP had fallen to 78 but has since begun to rebound. Still only 23, the third-year receiver is mired in the league's 28th-ranked passing attack and start quarterback Lamar Jackson's contract status remains in limbo for the time being. Enterprising risk-on dynasty coaches have begun accumulating Bateman with the hope he remains healthy in 2023 and Jackson is, once again, under center. Rashod Bateman is found as DLF's WR33.
Dynasty | Jerry Jeudy's dynasty ranking continues to rise Dynasty Analysis: Late in the 2022 season, dynasty coaches seemingly had enough of the oft-injured, third-year receiver. Jeudy did manage to appear in 15 games in 2022, just missing (972) his first 1,000-yard campaign while notching a career-high 67 receptions and six touchdowns. Denver's trade for Russell Wilson was expected to pay immediate dividends and Jeudy's dynasty ranking spiked accordingly, only to slowly decline throughout the year, ending a career-low (75) ADP in December. But as his value reached a bottom, Jeudy's production saw a late-season rise, producing two 100-yard games over his final three. Turning 24 in April,, a full off-season of Russell Wilson could pay dividends for DLF's WR25, though it's hard to imagine a significant rise from his current ranking until he proves he can remain on the field for a full season.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster will be a risky DFS option on Sunday against the Bengals based on how he's played recently. The former Steelers wideout has had three or fewer receptions in four consecutive games, including just two catches for 29 yards in last week's win over the Jaguars. Factor in that quarterback Patrick Mahomes is dealing with an ankle issue that will likely limit the team's passing attack some, and there's not much appeal to Smith-Schuster in cash DFS games, though he's intriguing as a contrarian play in tournaments.