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Studs and Duds: Championship Round

Mon Jan 20 11:38am ET
Sr Fantasy Writer

Mostert scores four touchdowns

The games weren’t too exciting this weekend unless you were a Chiefs or 49ers fan. The Chiefs made a nice comeback once again but then took control on the second half, pulling away to a big victory. The 49ers put a hurt on the Packers, displaying their power on both sides of the ball. It was a very impressive showing for both the Chiefs and 49ers. And for fantasy purposes, there were some huge games from players in both these games. There were a couple huge difference makers, making for some big fantasy totals. Hopefully, you were on the right sides of things this week. 

Chiefs 35, Titans 24

Fantasy Stud: Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes had a huge game, scoring four touchdowns. He was 23-of-35 for 294 yards and three touchdowns without a turnover. He also led the team in rushing, running eight times for 53 yards and a touchdown. He has run the ball more during the playoffs, having 53-rushing yards each of two playoffs games. Mahomes has nine total touchdowns in the playoffs.   

Fantasy Dud: Travis Kelce. The Chiefs rolled up some yards and scored some points, but Kelce was not a part of much of the action. He had three receptions for 30 yards. It was an unexpected showing after his huge game last week and great play down the stretch. Plus, the Titans struggled to stop the tight end this year. The Chiefs took what the Titans defense gave them, though, and made the right decisions much of the game with Kelce getting few looks.

Game Notes: Sammy Watkins had a surprising game, leading the way at receiver for the Chiefs. He had seven receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown. It was his first 100-yard game since Week 1 and the first time he found the end zone since that first game.

Tyreek Hill had his third multiple touchdown game of the season. He had five receptions for 67 yards and two scores. Hill has fewer than 70-receiving yards three straight games, though, and less than 70 yards six of seven. 

Derrick Henry found the end zone once again, giving him scores three of four games and eight of 10. He ran 19 times for 69 yards and a touchdown. He also had two receptions in the game. 

49ers 37, Packers 20

Fantasy Stud: Raheem Mostert. Mostert picked a good time to have a career game, breaking some playoff records along the way. He ran 29 times for 220 yards and four touchdowns. He also caught two passes for six yards. Mostert got most of the work at running back this week with Tevin Coleman going down with a shoulder injury early in the game. Mostert has been the best back for the 49ers down the stretch, having touchdowns seven of his last eight games. He also has double-digit carries all eight of those games.

Fantasy Dud: Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo was not called on to do much with the 49ers having huge success running the ball. He attempted just eight passes, going 6-of-8 for 77 yards without a touchdown or an interception. You thought he might produce a little better even if the 49ers went run heavy in the game. His yardage total was a season low. He has been quiet in the playoffs, though, going 17-of-27 for 208 yards and a touchdown in two games. 

Game Notes: Aaron Jones found the end zone two more times. He ran 12 times for 56 yards and a touchdown. He also caught five passes for 27 yards and a core, giving him 83 total yards and two touchdowns.

Davante Adams had nine receptions for 138 yards. Adams has two straight 100-yard games and hit that mark four of his last five games.

Aaron Rodgers had his third straight multiple touchdown game. He was 31-of-39 for 326 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. He had 300-yard games two of his last three to end the season.

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 Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
Deshaun Watson May 30 4:30pm ET

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, a first-rounder in 2017, is under contract through 2021 after the Texans picked up his fifth-year option, but he expects to reach a long-term extension with the team that will keep him around for a while. He's not stressing about a timeline, but Watson is optimistic that something will get done in due time. The former Clemson star is already a two-time Pro Bowler and two-time AFC South champion, throwing for 10,586 yards, 75 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. His dual-threat abilities as a runner and passer make him a surefire QB1, but the loss of stud wideout DeAndre Hopkins this offseason has slightly lowered his ceiling in the fantasy realm. RotoBaller has Watson listed as the No. 6 fantasy QB target heading into the 2020 season.

From RotoBaller

George Kittle May 30 4:20pm ET

The San Francisco 49ers and tight end George Kittle are far apart in negotiations on a contract extension, and Kittle's agent said that a "tight end deal" is a non-starter in talks. Kittle has 3,016 career receiving yards, including the playoffs, which is the most by a tight end in his first three seasons in NFL history. Not only is Kittle one of the best receiving tight ends in the game right now, but he's also one of the best blocking tight ends, which makes him a unique talent that should easily reset the tight end market to lofty heights whenever he does get paid. He's entering the final year of his four-year rookie deal and is set to make roughly $2.13 million in 2020, 35th at the position behind MyCole Pruitt and Marcedes Lewis. Kittle is an elite fantasy tight end that could come off the board as early as Round 2.

From RotoBaller

Jake Butt May 30 3:30pm ET

Denver Broncos tight end Jake Butt (knee) said he is back to 100 percent health heading into the 2020 season. Butt was drafted in the fifth round in 2017 out of Michigan, but he's played in just three games (all in 2018) and has had four pretty serious knee surgeries since 2014. As he heads into his age-25 campaign, Butt is desperately trying to prove that he can stay on the field, but it is probably too late. Denver drafted pass-catching tight end Noah Fant in the first round last year and spent more draft capital on rookie Albert Okwuegbunam a month ago. The Broncos also have Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett on the roster, so even if Butt manages to stay healthy in 2020, he's highly unlikely to see much playing time.

From RotoBaller

Cam Newton May 30 3:20pm ET

With free-agent quarterback Cam Newton's market cooling over the last month, according to sources, he is expected to take his time before joining a team. Newton could wait until teams resume regular activity following the coronavirus shutdown. It would give teams a chance to check on Newton's health and meet with him in person. But sources around the league are unsure if he'll settle for a backup job. Sources believe Newton and the Patriots talked early during his free agency, but nothing materialized. The 31-year-old was released by the Panthers on March 24. He missed 14 games last year with a Lisfranc foot injury that required surgery and the final two games of 2018 with a shoulder injury that required surgery, so teams are justifiably skeptical about his ability to continue being a dual-threat QB at this stage of his career. But he apparently passed a physical on March 23, with both his shoulder and foot "checking out well," according to a source. Unless an injury pops up for a current starter during training camp, Newton may have to settle for a backup job in 2020.

From RotoBaller

Teddy Bridgewater May 30 1:00am ET

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule had great things to say about quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's character and influence on Around The NFL on Friday. Rhule has been able to familiarize himself with and strengthen his bond with Bridgewater during the virtual offseason program. "The best players in the world bring out the best in their teammates and I can tell you, since free agency started, the amount of the guys that want to come and play with Teddy has nothing to do with me or anybody else," Rhule said. The head coach has always admired Bridgewater since coaching against him in college. The 27-year-old is finally getting another chance to start in the NFL and has his head coach fully behind him. Bridgewater doesn't have the strongest arm and may not run as much as he did early in his career, but he has a strong supporting cast and could be playing from behind often in a tough division. He's not a QB1 target or even a high-end QB2, but Bridgewater could surprise some as a fantasy backup and occasional streamer.

From RotoBaller

Josh Allen May 29 4:40pm ET

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs have gathered in Florida this week to work out together. Allen and backup Matt Barkley threw to rookies Isaiah Hodgins, Gabriel Davis and Zack Moss in California earlier this month. It's the first time that Allen and Diggs have met since the Bills acquired Diggs from the Vikings in March. Others present in Florida include quarterback Jake Fromm, receivers John Brown, Robert Foster, Cole Beasley, Isaiah McKenzie and Nick Easley, running back Devin Singletary and tight ends Dawson Knox, Tommy Sweeney, Nate Becker and Jason Croom. Allen has the weapons around him to take another leap in 2020 if he develops as a passer, giving him top-five QB upside. Diggs' ceiling depends on how much Allen improves with deep-ball accuracy, making him a midrange WR2.

From RotoBaller

Aldon Smith May 29 3:30pm ET

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith reportedly "feels great" despite not appearing in an NFL game since November 10, 2015. Smith said, "I still feel young. I still can move well. I still have a great knowledge of the game, if not better knowledge of the game." Smith is still just 30 and has the record for most sacks in the first two seasons of an NFL career, with 33.5. With his personal life perhaps finally under control, Smith could still be a difference maker for the Cowboys Defense in 2020.

From RotoBaller

DeForest Buckner May 29 2:30pm ET

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Dee Ford (knee) had "a pretty extensive cleanup" on his knee a couple weeks after the season and said that he feels great. Ford was limited during the 2019 season because of knee tendinitis and missed five games with a hamstring injury as well. The 29-year-old played just 22 percent of the defensive snaps in the regular season, according to Next Gen Stats, but saw that number increase to 53.2 percent in the playoffs. The pass-rusher had 6.5 sacks and 14 tackles during the regular season and added a sack and three tackles in the postseason. The former Chief has struggled with injuries in his career, but when healthy he can be a pass-rushing force. The Niners need him to be that in 2020 to help make up for DeForest Buckner's absence.

From RotoBaller

Patrick Peterson May 29 1:30pm ET

Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes during the 2014 season, and living with diabetes could force him to decide whether or not to play should the NFL return this year during the coronavirus pandemic. Peterson said he'll be comfortable playing if the proper protocols are followed by the league. The 29-year-old doesn't have an increased chance of acquiring the virus, but he has a greater risk of serious complications arising from the virus. However, his risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 is lower if his diabetes is well-managed. We'd bet on Peterson playing this year if the season starts on time, but it's not a guarantee. He'll be looking to bounce back after a trying 2019 season that saw him miss six games due to suspension.

From RotoBaller

Deshaun Watson May 29 1:20pm ET

The Houston Texans and right guard Zach Fulton agreed to a reworked contract on Friday, according to a source. Fulton was due $14 million over the next two years with no guarantees, but now he'll be due $5 million guaranteed in 2020 and $3 million non-guaranteed in 2021. The Texans will also get some salary cap relief with the move. The 28-year-old just finished his second season in Houston and will help bring more continuity to an offensive line that must remain solid in front of quarterback Deshaun Watson and new running back David Johnson. Fulton was a sixth-round draft pick of the Chiefs in 2014 and spent the first four years of his career in Kansas City.

From RotoBaller

Lamar Jackson May 28 11:00pm ET

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said that quarterback Lamar Jackson must make defenses pay if they stack the box against the Ravens offense in 2020. "Those corners are going to be one-on-one and those safeties are going to be one-on-one against receivers, especially on some downfield throws, and we got to make them pay for it. We absolutely have to make them pay," Harbaugh said. Jackson led the league with 36 touchdown passes in the NFL's highest-scoring offense in 2019, also setting an NFL record for rushing yards for a QB with 1,206 on his way to MVP honors. At age 22, he was the youngest QB to win the award. But on throws that traveled at least 15 yards, Jackson ranked 27th in completions (35) and 22nd in completion rate (43.8 percent). He certainly has the arm to make teams pay, and it would be good news for second-year wideouts Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin if Jackson takes the next step as a deep thrower. Even if Jackson runs less than he did a year ago, he should be either the first or second QB selected in fantasy drafts.

From RotoBaller

Chris Jones May 28 9:50pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones hasn't had much traction with the team on a contract extension, but both sides still have until July 15 to work something out. Jones has yet to sign his franchise tender, but he's kept in touch with the Chiefs during the virtual offseason program, according to sources. The market for high-end defensive tackles like Jones is $20-plus-million per season. The 25-year-old former second-round selection in 2016 has racked up 33 sacks in his four seasons with the Chiefs, including 14.5 the last two years. He was a Pro Bowler in 2019 for the first time in his career and should be considered a top-20 defensive lineman in IDP formats.

From RotoBaller

Matt Judon May 28 8:00pm ET

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Matt Judon signed his one-year franchise tender on Thursday, according to a source. The one-year deal will carry a value of $16.27 million in 2020. The Ravens and Judon still have until July 15 to work out a long-term extension, but that's unlikely to happen considering the Ravens initially tagged Judon with the possibility of trading him. The former fifth-round pick in 2016 has 135 solo tackles, 45 tackles for loss, 82 QB hits, 28.5 sacks, eight passes defensed and seven forced fumbles in his four seasons. Judon was a Pro Bowler in 2019 when he had a career-high 9.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss and 33 QB hits. He'll be entering his age-28 season in 2020.

From RotoBaller

Joe Flacco May 28 7:00pm ET

New York Jets quarterback Joe Flacco (neck) says that he is embracing his new role as the backup quarterback to Sam Darnold. He says that his job is to help the team get better and to help a young quarterback see things as clearly as possible. Flacco started the first eight games for the Denver Broncos before suffering a season-ending neck injury. He still believes he can be a starting quarterback in the league, but understands his new role with the Jets.

From RotoBaller

DeAndre Hopkins May 28 6:50pm ET

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins expects to put up numbers in the team's pass-happy offense under head coach Kliff Kingsbury in his first season in 2020. "So myself, being a receiver, of course I see my stats going up. ... But I definitely see myself having one of my more productive seasons," Hopkins said. He also said he hasn't met up with quarterback Kyler Murray yet, but he plans on getting together with him and the other receivers "soon." Arizona has plenty of aerial weapons in an attack that will feature a lot of four-wide sets, but Nuk will be the No. 1 option for a young QB with a ton of potential. He's consistently one of the most efficient fantasy wideouts on a yearly basis and is a no-doubt top-five fantasy receiver for drafts this fall.

From RotoBaller

Eli Apple May 28 6:40pm ET

The Carolina Panthers agreed to terms on an undisclosed one-year deal with cornerback Eli Apple on Thursday. Apple agreed with the Raiders earlier in free agency, but the Raiders backed out of the deal and put Apple back on the open market. The 10th overall pick in 2016 by the Giants, Apple failed to live up to his draft billing in two-plus seasons in the Big Apple, and he was underwhelming in 15 games for the Saints last year (53 solo tackles, no interceptions, four passes defensed). But with Donte Jackson and Corn Elder currently set as the two starting corners on the outside, Apple should see plenty of playing time for a Carolina secondary with plenty of questions.

From RotoBaller

Justice Hill May 28 5:10pm ET

Baltimore Ravens running back Justice Hill played sparingly during his rookie season last year. Hill finished the year with just 66 touches after getting stuck behind Mark Ingram II and Gus Edwards. The Ravens added to their crowded running back room in the 2020 NFL draft when they used a second-round pick on J.K. Dobbins. That leaves an unclear role for Hill in 2020. Head coach John Harbaugh is still high on Hill, however, stating that he expects the sophomore runner to make a big jump. He also went on to tell reporters that there is a role for all four runners in Baltimore. Hill remains a deep dynasty stash but he may not be fantasy relevant until 2021 when Ingram is presumably out of the picture.

From RotoBaller

Nick O'Leary May 28 4:40pm ET

The Las Vegas Raiders re-signed tight end Paul Butler to an undisclosed deal on Thursday. In a corresponding move, tight end Nick O'Leary (undisclosed) was placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list. Butler hasn't appeared in a regular season game in two years in the NFL with the Raiders and Lions. O'Leary was signed as a free agent after catching 13 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown in 12 games (five starts) with the Jaguars and Dolphins in 2019. He was buried on the tight end depth chart to begin with, behind Darren Waller, Jason Witten and Foster Moreau. Las Vegas also has Derek Carrier and rookie Nick Bowers at the position.

From RotoBaller

Gardner Minshew II May 28 4:30pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II has impressed new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden with his work during the virtual offseason program. Gruden likes how Minshew has taken charge and seems to have a good grasp of the offense. "He has shown a skill set where he can sit in a pocket, step up, make things happen outside the pocket. He's accurate, he's tough and obviously he's a great leader, so he's got the intangibles you want in a quarterback," Gruden said. The sixth-round pick went 6-6 as a starter in his rookie season and had the highest passer rating and fewest interceptions among rookie QBs in 2019. The 24-year-old took the league by storm last year out of nowhere and has the ability to make things happen outside the pocket and with his legs, as he rushed for 344 yards in 2019. All things considered, though, Minshew is a low-end QB2 that will likely see more inconsistency in his second season.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Rodgers May 28 4:10pm ET

Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur is looking for his offense to find more explosive plays under quarterback Aaron Rodgers in 2020, the coach admitted on ESPN Wisconsin's Wilde & Tausch. The Packers ranked 19th in explosive-play rate in 2019, according to Sharp Football Stats. However, other than free-agent addition Devin Funchess in the passing game, the Packers didn't really give Rodgers any added help outside of receiver Davante Adams and running back Aaron Jones. It will be on LaFleur to scheme up more explosive situations this year, but it definitely helps to have Rodgers throwing the passes, even if he's getting older. What's certain is that the Packers will need someone besides Adams and Jones to step up for Rodgers to hold off the naysayers.

From RotoBaller