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.
The Miami Dolphins agreed to a two-year, $11 million deal with free-agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday, a source informed of the situation told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The 36-year-old journeyman will be joining his eighth NFL team and his third in the AFC East. Barring a draft-day selection, Fitzpatrick is in line to start over Jake Rudock and Luke Falk, who have a combined five passing attempts in four seasons. Fitzpatrick spent the last two years with the Buccaneers and started 10 games. He threw for over 400 yards per game and 11 touchdowns in the first three games of 2018 with Jameis Winston suspended. Fitzpatrick is capable of putting up big games, but the consistency won't be there and his weapons in Miami are less appealing than they were in Tampa.
The Carolina Panthers are expected to sign free-agent defensive end Bruce Irvin to an undisclosed deal on Tuesday, a source told NFL Network's Tiffany Blackmon. The 31-year-old spent time with the Raiders and Falcons in 2018 and had 6.5 sacks in eight games with each squad. The veteran pass rusher will help fill the void left by Julius Peppers, who announced his retirement in February. Irvin should start across from Mario Addison in Carolina.
The Minnesota Vikings re-signed kicker Dan Bailey to a one-year, $1 million contract on Tuesday, a source informed of the deal told NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. The deal is worth a maximum of $2 million with incentives, and Bailey is guaranteed a base salary of $250,000. The 31-year-old joined Minnesota midseason last year and made 21 of his 28 field-goal tries (long of 52 yards) and 30 of his 31 extra points in 14 games. Bailey has struggled in recent years, but he still owns an 86.6 career conversion rate, which is fifth all time in the NFL. While his stock is a bit down, he's still kicking for a good team in a dome. Bailey should be in play at least as a low-end kicking option.
The Dallas Cowboys are in trade talks for Miami Dolphins defensive end Robert Quinn, and NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported on Tuesday that Quinn was spotted on his way to visit with the Cowboys. The 28-year-old pass rusher would help with Randy Gregory suspended and David Irving moving on. Quinn had a career-high 19 sacks with the Rams in 2013 and recorded 6.5 quarterback takedowns in 2018 with the Dolphins.
The Los Angeles Rams signed free-agent quarterback Blake Bortles to an undisclosed one-year deal on Monday. The former long-time Jaguars starter, Bortles will now serve as the backup to Jared Goff and won't have any fantasy value. The third overall pick in the 2014 draft impressed in 2017 but regressed big time last season and was benched midseason.
The Minnesota Vikings re-signed running back Ameer Abdullah to an undisclosed deal on Monday. Minnesota picked Abdullah up on waiver last year, and he ended the season the team's primary kick returner after flaming out in four seasons with the Lions. In 10 games with the Lions and Vikes last year, Abdullah had just one carry. He had 165 totes for 552 yards (3.3 yards per carry) and four touchdowns in 2017 in 14 games. Abdullah will provide depth behind Dalvin Cook and Michael Boone in 2019.
The Kansas City Chiefs are signing free-agent cornerback Bashaud Breeland to a one-year, incentive-laden deal with a max value of $5.5 million on Monday, a source told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The sixth-year defensive back was inconsistent in 2019 after he had his contract rescinded by the Panthers due to a failed physical. He appeared in only seven games for the Packers and missed time with hamstring and groin ailments. Breeland had 20 tackles, two interceptions and four passes defensed. He could be in line for a starting role with his new team.
Long-time defensive lineman Haloti Ngata announced his retirement on Instagram on Monday. The 35-year-old played for the Eagles in 2018 after three years with the Lions. He'll mostly be remembered for his days on a dominant Baltimore Ravens defense. Ngata was a first-round pick in 2006 and was named to five Pro Bowls, two first-team All-Pro teams and two second-team All-Pro squads in nine seasons with the Ravens.
New York Giants general manager David Gettleman said that quarterback Eli Manning, who will make a base salary of $11.5 million in 2019, isn't going anywhere. The veteran quarterback is due a $5 million roster bonus on Monday. "This narrative Eli is overpaid and can't play is a crock," Gettleman told reporters Monday during a teleconference. The 38-year-old will count $23.2 million against the salary cap this year and is coming off a season where he was sacked a career-high 47 times behind a bad offensive line. Manning and the offensive line looked better down the stretch, as he threw 13 touchdowns and five interceptions in an eight-game span. Still, Manning is showing his age with diminished arm strength and lost his best aerial weapon when the Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns last week. Manning will be a low-upside, mediocre QB2 in 2019.
The Cincinnati Bengals released linebacker Vontaze Burfict on Monday, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. The Bengals tried to trade Burfict before cutting him. The hard-hitting linebacker has plenty of talent but dealt with injuries and suspensions in his tenure with Cincy. He hasn't appeared in more than 11 games in any season since 2013 due to both suspensions and injury. Burfict was suspended to start a season the last three years and also battled hip and concussion issues that limited him to only seven games in 2018. Cutting Burfict saves the Bengals $5.69 million in salary cap space.
The San Francisco 49ers agreed to terms on a three-year, $8.7 million deal with running back Raheem Mostert on Saturday, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The deal will include $3 million guaranteed. Mostert spent the last two years with San Fran, compiling 40 rushing attempts, 291 yards and a touchdown in 20 games. He'll be buried on the depth chart behind Jerick McKinnon, Matt Breida and newly-signed Tevin Coleman, so Mostert is unlikely to have any fantasy value.
The Tennessee Titans released quarterback Blaine Gabbert after they traded for Ryan Tannehill on Friday. Gabbert's only season in Tennessee in 2018 saw him make three starts while filling in for an injured Marcus Mariota. Gabbert spent 2017 with the Cardinals, three in San Francisco before that and three years in Jacksonville after being drafted 10th overall in 2010. He'll only attract backup work on the open market.
The Jacksonville Jaguars signed free-agent wide receiver Chris Conley to an undisclosed deal on Saturday, according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo. The team also signed offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi and linebacker Jake Ryan. Conley spent the first four years of his career with the Chiefs and started 34 of 53 games while catching 104 passes for 1,238 yards and six touchdowns. The 26-year-old will likely compete for a role with the Jags and won't be fantasy relevant.
The Atlanta Falcons agreed to terms on an undisclosed one-year deal with free-agent tight end Logan Paulsen on Saturday. Paulsen returns to Atlanta, where he had only nine catches for 91 yards and one touchdown in 15 games in his first season with the Falcons last year. He should not be on anyone's fantasy radar as mostly a blocking tight end behind pass-catcher Austin Hooper and Luke Stocker.
The Cincinnati Bengals re-signed tight end Tyler Eifert to an undisclosed one-year deal on Saturday, a source told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The 28-year-old former first-rounder has been hurt by injuries over the course of his six-year career in the NFL and has played in more than eight games in just two seasons. He missed the final 12 games in 2018 with a broken ankle, although he's expected to be ready for organized team activities this spring. Eifert played in only 14 games since his Pro Bowl season in 2015, and fantasy owners are now staying away from him altogether most likely. With C.J. Uzomah also re-signing, Eifert will have to prove to both the Bengals and fantasy owners that he can stay on the field.
The Washington Redskins are expected to sign free-agent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to an undisclosed deal, a source informed of the situation told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. DRC announced his retirement just five months ago but has decided to give it another go. He'll be reunited with former Giants teammate Landon Collins, so signed a six-year deal this week. Rodgers-Cromartie will turn 33 on April 7, and it's fair to wonder how much he has left physically. He has plenty of experience and is expected to offer cornerback depth on a team that also has Josh Norman.
The Oakland Raiders signed free-agent wide receiver J.J. Nelson to an undisclosed deal on Friday. Nelson spent the last four seasons with the Cardinals and caught 81 passes for 1,439 yards in 56 career games. The former fifth-rounder had his worst season in 2018, though, catching just seven passes for 64 yards and no scores in 14 games in Arizona's inept offense. The speedster does boast 17.8 yards per catch in his career and will provide another deep threat in Oakland alongside Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams after the team released veteran Jordy Nelson.
The Tennessee Titans acquired quarterback Ryan Tannehill from the Miami Dolphins on Friday and signed him to a one-year deal worth $7 million guaranteed and worth up to $12 million with incentives. The Dolphins will receive a seventh-round pick in this year's draft and a 2020 fourth-round pick in exchange. Tennessee will also get a 2019 sixth-rounder. Tannehill, a former eighth overall pick in 2012, never lived up to his draft status while going 42-46 over six seasons in Miami. He has a career 62.8 completion percentage and an 87 passer rating and will have zero fantasy appeal as Marcus Mariota's backup in his new digs. The rebuilding Dolphins are likely to look to the draft for their next signal-caller, especially after Teddy Bridgewater elected to re-sign with the Saints this week.
The Denver Broncos re-signed tight end Jeff Heuerman to a two-year deal worth up to $9 million on Friday, a source told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The former third-round pick in 2015 played in just 11 games due to injury last year and caught a career-high 31 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns in his third NFL season. Unless the Broncos add to the position in the draft or free agency, Heuerman will likely be the starter at the position. New quarterback Joe Flacco has targeted tight ends often in his career, so Heuerman could be a TE2 deep sleeper this year.
The Cincinnati Bengals signed free-agent offensive guard John Miller to a three-year, $16.5 million deal on Friday, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Miller started 47 games the last four years at right guard with the Bills and will likely be viewed as an upgrade over Alex Redmond at the spot in 2019. Cincy also re-signed right tackle Brian Hart to a three-year deal earlier in the week to shore up their offensive line. Quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Jeff Driskel were sacked a combined 37 times last year.