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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard could have an increased role in his fourth season, as the team has made it known that they would like to get their dynamic playmaker more involved. The 25-year-old has been working in the offseason as a slot receiver, which would mean that he and Ezekiel Elliott could be on the field at the same time, something that we have not seen much of during his first three years with the team. With the Cowboy's wide receiver room more shallow than last season, it may be a necessity that Pollard takes on a bigger role in the passing game. "In the offseason, during the season, it's not going unnoticed. Guys are noticing the things that I can do with the ball to help the team, just knowing that I can contribute more and more to the team." As one of the most explosive weapons on the Dallas offense, a significant role as a receiver would mean some standalone value for Pollard as an RB3/ FLEX option. If his running mate misses any time, his fantasy value would skyrocket.
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones and the rest of the first-team offense are not expected to play in Thursday's preseason opener against the New York Giants, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN. Brian Hoyer and rookie Bailey Zappe will get some playing time with Jones not suiting up, so the two will need to battle to earn the backup job behind the former Alabama collegiate star. Zappe has been impressive during his first training camp with the team and has a good opportunity to show what he can do in a game situation. The fourth-round pick out of Western Kentucky is likely the best option for any preseason DFS tournaments
Chicago Bears wide receiver N'Keal Harry (ankle) will undergo tightrope surgery on Thursday after suffering a high ankle sprain and is expected to be held out of action for eight weeks. The 24-year-old was looking for a fresh start in Chicago after being acquired from New England, as the former first-round pick couldn't live up to expectations with his former team. Harry played three seasons with the Patriots, racking up just 57 receptions for 598 yards and four touchdowns. With a thin wide receiver room in Chicago, Harry likely could have earned some playing time as the depth chart seems to be wide open behind Darnell Mooney locked in as the No. 1 option. When he returns to action, the newly-acquired wideout will be competing with Byron Pringle, Velus Jones Jr., and Equanimeous St. Brown for targets, which will keep him off the fantasy radar for now.
Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff said that wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is his go-to receiver. "I'm looking for him when things break down, and I'm looking for him when we need a play. Right now, he's that guy," Goff said. In his rookie year in 2021, St. Brown emerged as the Lions best receiver, catching 90 of his 119 targets for 912 yards and five touchdowns in 17 games (nine starts). The 22-year-old should remain a big part of Detroit's offense this year, but there will be some more competition for targets, namely DJ Chark, who has looked good in training camp. Rookie first-rounder Jameson Williams (knee), might not be ready for the start of the year, but he'll eventually have a role as well. St. Brown should still have big games, but he might not be the target hog he was in 2021. Target him as a WR3 in fantasy football drafts.
Dynasty | There have been no substantial talks between the Vikings and Alexander Mattison in terms of a contract extension. Dynasty Analysis: Mattison has always fared very well as the backup to Dalvin Cook, but it seems Minnesota is unwilling to pay two different running backs big contracts. While Mattison wouldn't cost nearly as much as Cook, it would be easy to argue he'd be a better value. Regardless, it looks like Mattison may end up as a free agent at the end of the season and he'd be in line for a nice value increase should that come to fruition.
Dynasty | Damien Harris could be traded ahead of roster cuts, according to Sports Illustrated. Dynasty Analysis: Any ticket out of New England would be good for Harris, who is stuck in Patriot purgatory, sharing a backfield with the likes of Rhamondre Stevenson, James White, Ty Montgomery, Pierre Strong, JJ Taylor, and Kevin Harris. There's simply no way the Pats can keep everyone in this group and it appears they've soured on Harris, our RB32. If Harris stays, expect his value to dip even further. Dynasty managers should be hoping for a deal.
Free-agent cornerback Deandre Baker worked out for the Cardinals on Wednesday. Baker was selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Giants and finished his rookie year with 61 total tackles (48 solo) and eight passes defensed. However, after he was charged with four counts of armed robbery in May 2020, New York opted to part ways with him. The charges were eventually dropped, and he went on to appear in 10 games for the Chiefs over the last two seasons before being released in August of 2022. Nonetheless, Baker has proven he has more than enough to play at the professional level. Yet, even if he ends up signing with the Cardinals, he may not receive enough playing time to become a viable IDP fantasy option.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Julio Jones has already established a rapport with Tom Brady. During Wednesday's joint practice session with the Miami Dolphins, the duo continued to look in sync, with Brady connecting with Jones on a well-placed deep ball. Fantasy managers were undoubtedly let down by the veteran wideout over the last few years. However, with arguably the greatest signal-caller ever targeting Jones throughout the season, he should have more than enough chances to get back on track, despite guys like Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Leonard Fournette looking to stay involved.
New England Patriots running back Damien Harris is rumored to be on the block. The Pats are reportedly taking calls, and it comes after the 25-year-old finished the 2021-22 campaign with 929 yards and 15 touchdowns off 202 attempts. If Harris does remain in New England, he's expected to share touches with Rhamondre Stevenson, which won't do his fantasy outlook any favors. However, if the Alabama alum gets traded, Stevenson's fantasy value should increase significantly, especially with James White (hip) still on the shelf.
Free-agent wide receiver Chris Lacy inked a deal with the Raiders on Wednesday. Lacy was introduced to the NFL after the Patriots signed him in 2018. After being waived, he went on to suit up for the Lions, where he appeared in eight unproductive games over two seasons. Since then, he has made stops in Dallas and Chicago. Nonetheless, it's unknown if the 26-year-old will be on the roster come Week 1. However, even if he is, he isn't expected to do much to benefit fantasy managers.
The Saints released running back Malcolm Brown on Wednesday, only a few weeks after inking a contract with the team. The 29-year-old played his first six years in the league with the Rams, finishing with 11 touchdowns during that span. However, after signing a one-year deal with Miami last offseason, he went on to play just seven games for the Dolphins before landing on injured reserve. Brown is a capable runner, so he may draw interest from other teams throughout the NFL. Still, even if he signs with another club this season, he's not expected to receive enough touches to make any noise on the fantasy end.
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson isn't expected to play during the preseason opener versus Dallas. "I don't think so," responded head coach Nathaniel Hackett when asked if the multi-time Pro Bowler would suit up on Saturday. Considering Wilson has been in the league since 2012, Broncos fans may not see him on the field until Week 1 for the Monday Night Football showdown against his former team, the Seattle Seahawks. Josh Johnson and Brett Rypien are currently listed behind Wilson on the depth chart, so they'll likely get more than enough work to warrant DFS consideration.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan will start during Saturday's preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills. The veteran, who was traded by the Atlanta Falcons in March, could see up to a quarter of action, according to head coach Frank Reich, giving him more than enough upside in DFS formats. It will also offer fantasy managers a glimpse at how Ryan captains the Colts' offense.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said the plan is for quarterback Jalen Hurts and the starters to play one or two offensive series in the preseason opener on Friday night against the New York Jets. The Eagles will be without left tackles Jason Kelce (elbow) and Jordan Mailata (concussion), but Hurts will play anyway. Second-year receiver DeVonta Smith (groin) is unlikely to play after missing his fifth straight training camp practice on Wednesday. There remain concerns about whether Hurts can improve as a passer, but the Eagles are expected to pass more with No. 1 wideout A.J. Brown now in town, and Hurts has top-five fantasy upside at the position after finishing the 2021 season as the QB10.
The Philadelphia Eagles signed former North Texas running back Deandre Torrey after his workout on Wednesday, according to a source. Torrey will be added to a running back room in training camp that already includes Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott, Jason Huntley and rookie Kennedy Brooks. In his final season in college, Torrey had 1,329 scrimmage yards and 14 total touchdowns, but his size (5-foot-7, 195 pounds) likely led to him being passed up in this year's NFL draft. He'll simply hope to impress the rest of camp in order to win a spot on the team's practice squad entering the regular season.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor confirmed on Wednesday that quarterback Joe Burrow (appendix) won't play in the team's preseason opener on Friday against the Arizona Cardinals. Burrow remains without a timetable to return to training camp after undergoing an appendectomy on July 26. However, he was seen making some light throws at practice on Monday. It wouldn't be a surprise if the 25-year-old didn't suit up at all in the preseason, but he is fully expected to be ready for Week 1 of the regular season. After leading a talented Bengals offense all the way to the Super Bowl in just his second NFL season, Burrow will be a strong QB1 target in fantasy football.
Indianapolis Colts offensive tackles Matt Pryor and Bernhard Raimann are battling for the starting left tackle job this summer after the team moved on from veteran Eric Fisher. Neither player is an ideal candidate for the left tackle spot, as Pryor has never been a full-time left tackle and Raimann is a rookie. Pryor is getting the first-team repetitions and has held up fine, while Raimann is off to a slow start in training camp. Pror isn't as agile as Raimann, but at 6-foot-7, 332 pounds, he has power. The offensive line has been a strength of the Colts in recent years, but the left tackle spot could be an issue for this offense and quarterback Matt Ryan.
Green Bay Packers rookie second-round wide receiver Christian Watson (knee) continues to be sidelined at training camp as he recovers from offseason knee surgery. With Watson sidelined, rookie fourth-rounder Romeo Doubs has really stepped up in practices and has impressed quarterback Aaron Rodgers will consistent "wow" plays. The Packers are hoping to get Watson back on the field next week, but he's missing crucial repetitions to gain chemistry with Rodgers, who is notorious for being hard on rookie pass-catchers. The 23-year-old still has time to get ready before the start of the regular season, but all the time missed so far makes it more likely that he won't be a consistent producer early in the 2022 season.
The Chicago Bears removed linebacker Roquan Smith from the Physically Unable to Perform list on Wednesday. Smith has requested a trade and is holding in during training camp due to contractual issues, and he's not expected to begin practicing despite coming off the PUP list. It remains to be seen if the Bears trade him or give him a long-term contract extension before the 2022 regular season. Either way, the 25-year-old will be in play as the first linebacker off the board in IDP fantasy drafts. In 17 games for the Bears last year, he had a career-high 163 tackles (95 solo), three sacks, 12 tackles for loss, four QB hits, an interception returned for a touchdown and three passes defensed to finish as the No. 4 fantasy linebacker.
New England Patriots second-year quarterback Mac Jones and the offense continue to struggle in training camp this summer. The defense has far outplayed the offense so far in camp, and The Athletic's Chad Graff thinks it's fair to be worried about the offense heading into the 2022 season. ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss thinks it wouldn't be a surprise if Jones doesn't play in the preseason opener on Thursday night against the New York Giants based on practices this week. The Patriots are replacing offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who held the position for the last decade. It's still early, but neither the running game nor the passing game has gotten going. It's not great news for the fantasy stock of anyone in this offense, including Jones, who should be viewed as a low-end QB2 in 2022.