By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Michel setup for more success
It is hard to believe but this is the last weekend with football for a while. Boo! It had to happen, though. Hopefully, the game lives up to the hype. The Super Bowl is certainly setup to be a good one. We'll see. Now for my random thoughts. . . . .
For my thoughts on the game, I am not happy with the matchup. I am a St. Louis native, so rooting for the Rams is not going to happen. I have a huge disdain for the owner (Stan Kroenke) and how he left our town. I can't root for that man to hold up a Super Bowl trophy. I can't watch it.
And on the other side is the Patriots, a team that is in the Super Bowl almost every season. New England is a team you have to respect because they just keep winning, but I am not a fan. I still have a sour taste in my mouth over their video taping ways early in this great run for them. I don't think the league handled the punishment correctly, letting the Patriots off way to easy for their crimes. So for me, this is going to be a hard one to watch. I'm just hoping for some good, entertaining football. . . . .and great commercials.
As for the game, I think the Patriots will win, winning 31-21. I just think the Patriots will game plan well against this offense, an offense that hasn't been quite as explosive down the stretch. New England has been there before and won plenty, so I think the experience will help. So as much as it pains me to say this, I look for the Patriots to take home the title once again.
I think Cam Newton will be a big question mark next season, having major shoulder surgery recently. This is a major injury to return from, especially for a quarterback. He'll be a tough quarterback to gauge going forward. You will want to watch his progress closely this offseason. I do know that you can never count Newton out, so don't be surprised if he returns to play at a high level next season. You can't rule out that scenario, either.
I'm already starting my research for next year and started looking into David Johnson. He is an intriguing fantasy player for me in 2019. Most considered last year a bust for him and he was ninth in fantasy running back scoring. He had nearly 1,400 total yards, 50 receptions and 10 touchdowns for a brutal offensive team. I'm am truly excited to see what he can do in a new offense. Johnson could be a great buy-low candidate for fantasy teams.
Baker Mayfield is another player I'm really excited about for next season. This guy showed me a ton down the stretch, playing at a very high level as a rookie and with a somewhat suspect receiving corps. If the Browns add the right pieces around him this offseason, I think Mayfield can be a legit fantasy starter and a top-10 option. He really has a high ceiling in my view.
Sony Michel, RB, Patriots. The Patriots have made it a point to get Michel heavily involved offensively in the playoffs. He had a season-high 29 carries in their last game. Michel has 100-yard games in each playoff game and multiple scores each of those games. He has 100-yard games three of four. Michel should get a workout again this week as the Patriots try to keep the Rams potent offense off the field. Michel is setup for a strong showing in the Super Bowl.
Robert Woods, WR, Rams. Woods doesn't have the big yardage totals in the playoffs but six receptions in each of the two playoff games. He has at least six receptions five of six games. He is getting consistent work in the Rams offense and should see his chances again this week. The Patriots are just 22nd against the pass, allowing 246.4-passing yards per game during the regular seasons. Woods could have a much better yardage game in this matchup.
C.J. Anderson, RB, Rams. Anderson has been a huge surprise for the Rams, having 100-yard games three of four. He actually had more carries than Todd Gurley in the Rams last game and outproduced the star back. The bad news is Anderson ran 16 times for just 44 yards in that game. Gurley is an elite talent that has an extra week off to get healthy, so expect the Rams to lean on him heavily in the Super Bowl. We would be surprised if Anderson led the team in carries again.
Jared Goff, QB, Rams. Goff has played fine during the playoffs but his fantasy numbers haven't been great. He has just one touchdown in two games and failed to throw for at least 200 yards in one of those games. Goff is playing in his first Super Bowl this weekend. The Patriots have a week to prepare for him, which is usually bad news for a young quarterback. It would not be a surprise to see Goff struggle in this one.
Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots. Hogan is gradually getting more involved in the Patriots offense. He did not top 50 yards his last game but caught five passes. He has at least five receptions two of three games. Hogan had six receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown in last year's Super Bowl. He is no stranger to coming up big in the big game. This could be another week Hogan steps up big for the Patriots.
Josh Reynolds, WR, Rams. The Patriots usually try to take away a player or two in the offense, leaving some secondary options opportunities to make plays. So Reynolds could get his chances this week against a team that was 22nd against the pass. Reynolds had four receptions for 74 yards on seven targets his last game and has at least four receptions three of five games. He is capable of the big game and could be the surprise player in the Super Bowl for the Rams.
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: Rams/Patriots.
Low Scoring Games: None.
Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise Brown is in the mix to be the first receiver selected in next week's draft, and his draft stock hasn't been hurt by a Lisfranc foot injury that kept him from performing at the combine. D.K. Metcalf, another player viewed as a first-round talent, is no longer a lock to be taken in the first round.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jordan Lasley spent the offseason training with quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson's quarterbacks coach, Josh Harris, had nothing but good things to say about Lasley. The 22-year-old wasn't active for a single game in his rookie season, but with Baltimore's receiver depth chart barren as it stands right now, he'll have plenty of opportunity to carve out a role in 2019. Consider him a deep sleeper heading into the summer.
Atlanta Falcons SS Keanu Neal (knee) has been able to lift weight during voluntary workouts as he recovers from a knee injury.
Denver Broncos TE Jake Butt (knee) still doesn't have a timetable for when he may be able to return, according to head coach Vic Fangio.
Atlanta Falcons FS Ricardo Allen (Achilles) has been been in the weight room during voluntary workouts.
New York Giants QB Kyle Lauletta is barely mentioned when the team discusses potential quarterback options, according to Ryan Dunleavy of NJ Advance Media, and Dunleavy believes Lauletta could be left off the roster all together in 2019.
The New York Giants don't appear to be very interested in trading for Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen if the Cardinals select Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick. The Giants are currently focused on players in this year's draft class, including a group of quarterbacks they could select with the No. 6 or No. 17 picks in the first round. However, it seems unlikely they'll take a QB at sixth overall. Rosen wasn't even the highest ranked QB on New York's draft board last year, and they are concerned with how his personality would fit in New York, according to a team source. The Giants also have no interest in trading either one of their first-round picks for Rosen, and they also aren't inclined to give up their second-round pick (37th overall). The Giants are looking for Eli Manning's successor under center despite countlessly backing Manning's abilities, but they don't feel pressured to take on Rosen if the price isn't to their liking. No matter what happens, it's unlikely that Rosen will have much redraft fantasy value in 2019.
New York Giants RB Paul Perkins will have to beat out either RB Wayne Gallman or RB Robert Martin in order to make the roster in 2019, in the opinion of Ryan Dunleavy of NJ Advance Media.
Atlanta Falcons TE Austin Hooper said he likes the passing attack for 2019 and is excited to work with tight ends coach Mike Mularkey.
Fantasy Spin: Hooper is never going to be an elite fantasy tight end, but he does have a steady role at a position that lacks much depth. He is a safe, lower-end TE1.
Houston Texans WR Keke Coutee said his main goal for the 2019 season is to be able to play all 16 games.
Fantasy Spin: Coutee battled a hamstring injury last year, but he had some solid outings when healthy, including his 11-catch performance in the playoffs. Even with DeAndre Hopkins headlining the passing attack, Coutee is worth a look as a WR4 in PPR formats.
Washington Redskins WR Paul Richardson (shoulder) said the shoulder injury that ended his 2018 season prematurely involved multiple fractures to his clavicle and required a metal plate to be inserted during surgery.
Free-agent DE Geneo Grissom (Colts) recently worked out for the Detroit Lions.
Miami Dolphins running back Kalen Ballage, second on the depth chart behind Kenyan Drake, has an opportunity for a much bigger role in 2019. He said he "absolutely" is trying to grab the starting job and "it doesn't really matter who had the most playing time in the past. I'm ready to do my thing." Ballage only had 36 rookie carries, but he averaged 5.3 yards per tote. Drake averaged 4.5 yards on 120 carries in 2018 and caught 53 passes for 477 yards. He should remain the top back, but Ballage should have a bigger role, depending on who Miami takes in the draft. While Ballage will likely be the No. 2, he might have standalone fantasy value in deeper leagues depending on how the Dolphins use him.
Denver Broncos cornerback Kareem Jackson has seen most of his time at voluntary workouts this week at safety. "For the reason that theres more to learn at safety than there is at corner," said Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. "Hes played much more corner in his career, so I wanted him to get more work in this camp all of his work at the safety position, to feel comfortable there." The 31-year-old had a career-high 87 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, two interceptions and 17 passes defensed in his final season in Houston and should help improve Denver's secondary alongside Chris Harris Jr.
Cleveland Browns RB Duke Johnson has not been present for offseason workouts this week, and general manager John Dorsey said he is not sure if Johnson will participate in the minicamp next week.
Fantasy Spin: Johnson has asked for a trade, but it appears like he will remain with the Browns. He likely will serve as the No. 2 running back for the Browns while Kareem Hunt is suspended and can be a solid receiver out of the backfield. He probably can be a No. 4 running back in point-per-reception leagues.
Philadelphia Eagles FS Rodney McLeod (knee) does not expect to participate in any of the offseason workouts but hopes to be ready for the start of training camp.
Oklahoma WR Marquise Brown said he would love to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers even though he is the cousin of Oakland Raiders WR Antonio Brown.
Miami Dolphins RB Kalen Ballage said he hopes to compete with RB Kenyan Drake for the starting job during training camp.
Fantasy Spin: Ballage rushed for 191 yards and one touchdown on 36 carries last season but should have a bigger role in 2019. He should see a decent amount of carries even if he does not win the starting job and could be a No. 4 running back in fantasy leagues.
Miami Dolphins CB Cordrea Tankersley (knee) is still walking with a limp and does not appear to have full extension in his right leg after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee last November, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.
Houston Texans RB D'Onta Foreman (Achilles) returned to the team in good shape, according to general manager Brian Gaine.
Fantasy Spin: Although the Texans are expected to add a pass-catching back in the draft, Foreman's recovery from his 2017 Achilles injury may be enough to convince Houston to do so on the third day instead of using a premium pick at the position. Although Lamar Miller had a solid year in 2018, a healthy Foreman would be able to push him and possibly forge a committee. At the very least, Foreman should be able to take over goal-line duties. Assuming no setbacks, he should be a solid late-round flier this summer.