Guest of the League
Abundant Life League '16 Est. 2016
FFL: Offseason | NFL: Offseason

Lineup Prep: Championship Weekend

Thu Jan 17 8:35 am
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Drew Brees setup for success


And then there were four. Yes, we are down to just four teams in the playoffs. And the four teams are the top two seeds in each conference. It normally doesn't play out this way in the NFL, but it has fallen this way this season. This should make for a highly entertaining Sunday of games. Well, it shows that way on paper. We know things haven't been great the first two week of the playoffs, but here is to hoping this week's games are top notch viewing. I know I'm excited. Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .

It will be interesting to see what the Chiefs do at running back next season. Damien Williams is sure making it a hard decision for them. He just keeps getting it done as a starter and producing big in that role. He is a dual threat with great moves in the open field. Williams just seems a great fit for the offense. I wouldn't be surprised if they keep Williams as the starter and draft a back in the middle rounds to become the eventual starter. We'll see.

It is amazing to see what good coaches can do with that extra week to prepare for a game. This was on full display last weekend, especially in New England and Kansas City. Those two offenses put on a clinic against their opponents. And both those defenses were much maligned throughout the season, but did a great job last week. It was quite the impressive display of game planning. You can underestimate the value of having a great coach in the NFL.

I like the hiring of Adam Gase for the Jets. I think he'll be good for the development of Sam Darnold and that offense. Gase did do a few peculiar things in Miami while head coach, but he knows offense and has done well developing quarterbacks in the past. Darnold should continue to grow with Gase at the helm.

One hire I'm not so sure about is Kliff Kingsbury going to the Cardinals. This seems a really risky hire for the Cardinals. Kingsbury had a losing record as a head coach in college and has no NFL coaching experience. He had some top offenses at Texas Tech, which is why the Cardinals went this direction. He is going to need to surround himself with some proven coaches on his staff if this is going to work. I really think this hire was a swing and a miss for Arizona, but I have been wrong before. We'll see.

Another hire I wanted to mention, but didn't involve a head coach, was the hiring of Mike Munchak by the Broncos to be their offensive line coach. Munchak is considered the best offensive line coach in the game and done a great job with the Steelers the past few seasons. He gets a chance to coach up the Broncos unit and improve a running game that already was decent last year. This could really help the value of the entire offense of the Broncos going forward. And on the flipside, the Steelers lose a great coach, which could adversely impact that team's offense.

So Kyler Murray declared for the NFL draft. It will be interesting to see where he gets picked. He obviously has a ton of talent, but his size (5-9) is going to hurt his stock. That is really small for an NFL quarterback. Plus, he was a top-10 pick in the MLB draft and could end up playing baseball instead. There is going to be a lot of talk swirling around Murray in the coming months. It should be fun to watch.

News and Notes: The Eagles stated in their season-ending press conference Tuesday that Carson Wentz is the team's starting quarterback going forward. . . . .The status of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is a bit up in the air. The team stated they aren't sure if he will need surgery on his shoulder or what a possible time recovery might be if he has surgery or doesn't have surgery. There were even reports Newton has a chance to sit out all of next year.

HOT PLAYS

Drew Brees, QB, Saints. Brees did miss on some throws last week but had a solid game overall, throwing for 301 yards and two touchdowns in the Saints playoff opener. He has two straight 300-yard games. Brees is setup for big things this week, playing the Rams. He threw for 346 yards and four touchdowns against this same Rams team in Week 9. The Rams have been middle of the pack against the pass much of the season. Los Angeles allowed 31-passing touchdowns during the regular season.

Sony Michel, RB, Patriots. Michel had a career high 129-rushing yards and three touchdowns last week. He has 100-yard games two of his last three. He also has at least 50-rushing yards seven straight games. The Patriots could have a similar game plan against the Chiefs this week, rushing the ball and using a short-passing attack. This bodes well for Michel, playing a rush defense that allowed the third most fantasy points to running backs during the regular season.

Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs. Hill has three touchdowns his last two games and at least four receptions five straight games. He continues to get a workout on a weekly basis as the top receiver in the Chiefs potent passing game. Hill had his only three-touchdown game of the season against the Patriots in Week 6. You can expect him to get plenty of chances to make big plays in this one. He should do well against the Patriots, a team that was just 22nd against the pass during the regular season.

COLD PLAYS

Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots. Hogan was targeted five times last week but caught just three passes for 13 yards. If there is a positive for Hogan, it is he has 16 targets his last two games. He is getting more chances to make plays. The bad news is Hogan isn't making many plays with those chances. At this point, Phillip Dorsett is easier to trust than Hogan despite Hogan having a better track record overall.

Jared Goff, QB, Rams. Goff has not played bad by any means down the stretch, but he hasn't been called on to do as much. He has fewer than 30-pass attempts three straight games. He also has fewer than 200-passing yards three of five. He is always capable of the big game in this offense, but you have to worry about him on the road in such a big game for the first time in his career. We wouldn't be surprised if he has some struggles this week, especially with the Saints defense playing much better than earlier in the year.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Rams. Cooks is getting some decent reception totals lately, but his yardage numbers have been pretty poor down the stretch. He has 65 or fewer yards six straight games. The big game has been nonexistent for Cooks, which is normally his calling card. We aren't sure he suddenly emerges this week despite a favorable matchup. He could draw Marcus Lattimore in coverage, which wouldn't be a good thing for Cooks.

SLEEPERS

Ted Ginn, WR, Saints. Ginn was on Injured Reserve much of the season because of a knee injury but returned late in the year. He has been a big part of the offense since his return, having eight receptions for 118 yards in two games. Ginn also has been targeted 15 times those two games, which is very encouraging. He might have the best matchup of the Saints receivers this week, getting the Rams No. 2 or 3 cornerback, so don't be surprised if the Saints exploit this favorable matchup.

C.J. Anderson, RB, Rams. Unfortunately, we had Anderson on our cold list last week. He proved us wrong, continuing to get plenty of chances in the Rams suddenly run-heavy offense. It really looks like this is the formula for the Rams offense right now, dominating the line of scrimmage with a powerful running back. Anderson should get his chances even in a backup role. He has three straight 100-yard games and four touchdowns during that stretch. Remember, he led the Rams in rushing last week, producing better than starter Todd Gurley.

Phillip Dorsett, WR, Patriots. Dorsett did little much of the season but is getting more chances this days, especially with Josh Gordon gone. He has touchdowns two straight and nine receptions in those two games. He is a good fit for the slot and can make plays with the ball in his hands. Dorsett is never a sure thing in this offense, but with Rob Gronkowski doing little right now, Dorsett could benefit with more targets. He is worth a flier for fantasy teams.

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: Saints/Rams, Patriots/Chiefs.

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

Player Notes
Jimmy Garoppolo Feb 18 11:00pm ET

The San Francisco Giants gave the sense that they'd be interested in trading for New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. as the season ended, and that sense still persists halfway into February. They've had real interest in OBJ for almost a year, but the question is whether the Giants would actually consider trading him after signing him to a big extension last fall. San Fran holds the second and 36th overall picks of this year's draft. The Niners are looking to bolster their receiving corps after Marquise Goodwin failed to live up to expectations as the No. 1 wideout in 2018. The Steelers' Antonio Brown could be a target, too, but he comes with a lot of baggage and the 49ers might prefer Beckham. OBJ is younger and has just as much talent as Brown, and a move to the bay area with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and head coach Kyle Shanahan would make Beckham even more appealing as an elite WR1.

From RotoBaller

Terrance Williams Feb 18 4:40pm ET

The Dallas Cowboys declined the option on wide receiver Terrance Williams for the 2019 season on Monday, making him an unrestricted free agent in March, according to sources. Williams, 29, played in just three games in 2018 due to injury and a suspension and had two catches for 18 yards. He was never much of a contributor in Dallas' offense and hasn't scored a touchdown since 2016. Even if Williams latches on with another team, he's unlikely to be on the fantasy radar.

From RotoBaller

Robbie Gould Feb 18 4:00pm ET

The San Francisco 49ers are expected to use the franchise tag on kicker Robbie Gould if they are unable to work out a multi-year contract extension. San Fran hasn't used the tag since 2012 with safety Dashon Goldson. The franchise tag for a kicker is expected to be around $5 million for one season. In the last two years with the Niners, Gould has made 72 of 75 field-goal tries and ranks as the second most accurate kicker in NFL history (87.745 percent) in his 14 years. Levi's Stadium isn't the easiest place to kick due to frequent wind, but Gould has plenty of experience kicking in bad conditions from his days in Chicago. With San Francisco's offense expected to improve with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Jerick McKinnon back healthy, Gould could be a fantasy sleeper at the position.

From RotoBaller

Odell Beckham Jr. Feb 18 2:03pm ET

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. was sought after by the New England Patriots ahead of the last season's trade deadline, according to NBC's Chris Simms, who reported New England was the team 'most aggressively pursuing' Beckham at that point of time.

Fantasy Spin: The Patriots obviously settled on Josh Gordon, but his status is such that Beckham could easily be a target of theirs again in 2019. While Gordon may be able to return again at some point in 2019, New England knows it can't count on him for any length of time. The Patriots' biggest need may be an outside receiver, and the prospect of playing the next two to three years with Tom Brady could be too tantalizing for the team to pass up if they are willing to pay the price to get Beckham.

Josh Rosen Feb 18 12:30pm ET

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen was "OK" after being involved in a minor car accident in Los Angeles on Saturday, and no injuries were reported. In one of the worst offenses in football in his rookie year, Rosen looked pretty bad in his 14 games played. He completed 55.2 percent of his passes for 2,278 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. His terrible offensive line didn't make it easier on him, and he dealt with a lack of weapons around him. Arizona should look to bolster their playmakers around him this season, but Rosen probably won't improve drastically overnight. Until further notice he'll be a weak QB2 with upside.

From RotoBaller

Jadeveon Clowney Feb 18 9:53am ET

Houston Texans impending free-agent LB Jadeveon Clowney is unlikely to receive a long-term deal, in the opinion of MMQB's Peter King, because he's not the worker bee that some others are on defense. He's likely to receive the franchise tag.

Dontrelle Inman Feb 17 11:03pm ET

Indianapolis Colts impending free-agent WR Dontrelle Inman could be a fit for the Minnesota Vikings, according to Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com, and Barnwell believes Inman's size would add a different element to Minnesota's passing attack.

Muhammad Wilkerson Feb 17 10:13pm ET

Green Bay Packers impending free-agent DL Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle) could receive another 'prove-it deal' to remain with the team, according to Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com.

Demaryius Thomas Feb 17 9:50pm ET

Free-agent wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was involved in a car crash near downtown Denver early Saturday, according to Denver police. Thomas' vehicle rolled over after he lost control. He and a male passenger suffered minor injuries and were taken to the hospital, while a female passenger sustained possible serious injuries that weren't life-threatening. The cause of the crash is being investigated, but it doesn't appear that drugs or alcohol played a role. Thomas was released by the Texans last Tuesday after his season ended prematurely due to a torn left Achilles. The 31-year-old had 59 catches for 677 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games with the Broncos and Texans in 2018. He's in danger of missing the start of the regular season and won't have a hot free-agent market for his services. As of now, it's looking like Thomas won't be one to draft in standard-sized leagues in 2019.

From RotoBaller

Rob Gronkowski Feb 17 9:40pm ET

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski remains non-committal about his playing future, but he has shown up to Gillette Stadium multiple times over the last couple of weeks. Gronk might just be receiving treatment for his thigh, but ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss views it as the tight end being in a good place with how the season ended. Gronkowski will be 30 if he plays in 2019, and he remains a big injury risk that looked much slower in 2018. He'd still be a TE1 if he returns for another season, but Gronk is no longer elite at a very weak position.

From RotoBaller

Alex Smith Feb 17 6:53pm ET

Washington Redskins senior vice president of football operations Doug Williams said QB Alex Smith (leg) hopefully will be able to play at some point in 2019.

Fantasy Spin: Smith suffered a serious leg injury and there is still not definite timetable for his return. The Redskins likely will add at least one more quarterback this season, but owners in all fantasy leagues probably should avoid the Redskins quarterback situation next season.

Raheem Mostert Feb 17 6:13pm ET

San Francisco 49ers restricted free-agent RB Raheem Mostert likely will receive a tender offer this offseason and could even receive a multi-year extension from the team.

Alfred Morris Feb 17 6:13pm ET

San Francisco 49ers impending free-agent Alfred Morris is not expected to re-sign with the 49ers this offseason.

Zay Jones Feb 17 5:03pm ET

Buffalo Bills WR Zay Jones has the ability to be a slot receiver and played the position during his college career, in the opinion of BuffaloBills.com's Chris Brown.

Fantasy Spin: Jones is coming off a decent season with 652 yards and seven touchdowns. He likely will be a top-three receiver for the Bills next season and could be a late-round option in fantasy leagues.

Dwayne Allen Feb 17 4:13pm ET

New England Patriots impending free-agent TE Dwayne Allen could re-sign with the Patriots this offseason, but he would likely have to accept a pay cut, in the opinion of ESPN.com's Mike Reiss. Several people in the Patriots organization like Allen's professional approach, and he has been around Gillette Stadium over the last few weeks.

Buster Skrine Feb 17 4:03pm ET

New York Jets impending free-agent CB Buster Skrine appears unlikely to re-sign with the Jets this offseason since the team has CB Parry Nickerson ready to replace him at cornerback, in the opinion of the New York Post's Brian Costello.

Steve McLendon Feb 17 4:03pm ET

New York Jets impending free-agent DT Steve McLendon appears unlikely to re-sign with the Jets this offseason, in the opinion of the New York Post's Brian Costello.

Ndamukong Suh Feb 17 3:53pm ET

Los Angeles Rams impending free-agent DE Dante Fowler, DT Ndamukong Suh and S Lamarcus Joyner likely will not receive the franchise tag this offseason, in the opinion of ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio.

Robbie Gould Feb 17 3:43pm ET

San Francisco 49ers impending free-agent PK Robbie Gould could be an option for the franchise tag this offseason, in the opinion of ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio.

Jordan Phillips Feb 17 3:33pm ET

Buffalo Bills impending free-agent DT Jordan Phillips said he is having contract talks with the Bills.