Tue Jan 28 12:31pm ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Kittle should see more targets
It is hard to believe but the last game of the season is here. The Super Bowl is this weekend, ending the football season. It is sad to see another season come to an end, but the 2020 fantasy season will be here before you know it.
Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .
First off, enjoy the game this weekend. Super Bowl Sunday is always a great day of the year, so enjoy it. I know I’m looking forward to it, spending time with family, friends while eating some good food. Hopefully, the game is a good one, making things even better.
Here is my prediction for the big game. I really think it is a tossup with the way both teams are playing right now. But for me, I think the Chiefs win the game 31-27. I just think the Chiefs offense is too much right now even against a very good 49ers defense. Kansas City is just clicking on all cylinders right now. I think the speed at receiver for the Chiefs might be the difference in this game, making some big plays. Plus, the Chiefs defense has made big strides since the start of the year, making big plays at crucial times. This should be a great matchup, but in the end, I think the Chiefs will prevail and win the Super Bowl.
I think Gary Kubiak taking over as the offensive coordinator for the Vikings is a solid move for that offense. Kubiak should employ a similar approach to this past year, getting the most out of Dalvin Cook and Kirk Cousins. I don’t expect much of a drop off in production - if any - with Kubiak calling plays. He knows what he is doing and has produced some big offenses as the primary play caller.
This should be a very interesting offseason for quarterbacks. Several big-name quarterbacks are free agents this year. This might be the most movement at the quarterback spot we have ever seen in the NFL during an offseason. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Jameis Winston, Dak Prescott, Ryan Tannehill and Teddy Bridgewater are the headliner quarterback free agents. Now some of these players are expected to re-sign or get tagged by their current team, but many could be moving on to other teams this offseason. It is going to be interesting to watch. These guys moving around will really impact the fantasy world.
Kareem Hunt had another off the field incident. He was pulled over for speeding but the officer also found marijuana in the car. He was not charged with anything but speeding, though. The NFL is likely going to look into this incident, which is not great news for Hunt. Remember, he was suspended the first half of this past season. This is a situation to monitor if you have hopes of Hunt being fantasy relevant this coming season.
So I’m not proud to admit this, but I’m a little intrigued by the XFL. My city (St. Louis) has a team and some buzz has being going around town a little. The last time the XFL was around there was some excitement with the league before it went belly up. The rules are kind of interesting and the faster paced game could make for some good entertainment. We’ll see. It will be hard to have staying power with the NFL being so strong, but you never know.
As always, don’t forget to check out my weekly rankings here: Super Bowl Rankings.
George Kittle, TE, 49ers. With the 49ers having huge success running the ball during the playoffs, Kittle has gotten little usage. He has four receptions for 35 yards in two playoff games. We think he can get back to his old ways this week with the 49ers trying to keep up with the Chiefs high-powered offense. Remember, Kittle had at least five receptions five of his last six regular season games. He also has a favorable matchup against a Chiefs defines that allowed the sixth most fantasy points to tight ends during the regular season.
Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs. Hill had multiple touchdowns his last time out, catching five passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns. This was his third multiple touchdown game of the season. Hill has a chance to break off some big plays against a 49ers secondary that lacks a little top-end speed. It would not surprise to see Hill find the end zone again and get a few big plays in this game.
Damien Williams, RB, Chiefs. Williams has touchdowns each of the Chiefs playoff games, but failed to top 50-rushing yards in either of those games. He will get some catches even if he doesn’t pile up the rushing yards, but Williams has never topped 50-receiving yards in a game this year. Williams is going to be a touchdown dependent player, making him a risky fantasy play. The 49ers allowed just 10-rushing touchdowns all season and gave up the second fewest fantasy points to running backs.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, 49ers. Sanders has two receptions for 33 yards in the 49ers two playoffs games. He didn't even catch a pass his last game and has been targeted just three times the entire playoffs. Sanders has fewer than 50 yards eight of 10 games. The Chiefs also are a tough opponent for Sanders, allowing the second fewest fantasy points to receivers during the regular season. Sanders isn’t wroth the risk.
Mecole Hardman, WR, Chiefs. There always seems to be a player that surprises in the big game, so put Hardman on your radar. His speed could be a tough matchup for the 49ers secondary. Hardman found the end zone six times during the season, proving he is capable of the big play in this offense. The Chiefs could find ways to get this playmaker the ball, especially if the 49ers key on other Chiefs players in the game.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers. Garoppolo has done next to nothing in the playoffs because the 49ers have been so run heavy. He has not been needed to air it out. That could change in the Super Bowl. It would not surprise to see the 49ers having to play catchup against a high-powered Chiefs offense. He should get more chances to throw the ball. He had plenty of big games during the regular season, so Garoppolo is more than capable of producing for fantasy teams. He probably needs to have a big showing if he 49ers hope to win this game.
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: Chiefs/49ers.
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.
June 28th: Champions Draft
Philadelphia Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson said he does not expect the Eagles offensive line to "miss a beat" in the 2020 season. The Eagles were expecting to bring back four of their five starting linemen from last season, but right guard Brandon Brooks suffered a torn Achilles a few weeks ago and will miss the full season. Johnson said, "Obviously you can't replace a Brandon Brooks, who's the best guard in the league, so losing him was definitely a big blow for us but ultimately we still need him in the room as far as directing the young guys, pushing these guys forward." The Eagles offensive line has keeping Carson Wentz healthy as their most critical job in 2020. To keep their Super Bowl aspirations alive, the Eagles will need to keep Carson Wentz on his feet. Pro Football Focus ranked the Eagles offensive line as the best in the league in 2019, and they should be somewhere among the top ranks again despite the loss of Brooks.
San Francisco 49ers defensive back D.J. Reed (pectoral) suffered a torn pectoral muscle during a recent offseason workout, according to a league source. It's unknown how much time Reed will miss with his injury, but he's likely to be questionable to start the season on time unless it's delayed due to COVID-19. Linebacker Kwon Alexander suffered the same injury on Oct. 31 last year and returned to practice two months later. Reed is a valuable backup for the Niners because of his versatility to play corner, nickel back and safety. He can also contribute on special teams as a returner, but he has no significance to fantasy owners in IDP leagues. Reed was a fifth-round pick by San Fran in 2018 out of Kansas State. He appeared in all 16 games last year and had 13 tackles and scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery.
Carolina Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson, a former first-round pick, is hoping to fill the void left in the middle of the defense when Luke Kuechly retired after last season. "But I gotta step up as the last linebacker [of that] trio that we had with Thomas Davis and Luke. So I gotta step up and fill that role and be that leader," Thompson said on NFL Network's Total Access. He had a great season in 2019, compiling a career-high 109 tackles, including 11 tackles for loss, three sacks and three passes defensed. With Thomas Davis gone last year, Thompson saw 903 defensive snaps after never seeing more than 609 in any of his previous seasons. The 26-year-old is definitely in play as a low-end starting linebacker in IDP leagues.
Many quarterbacks around the league are enamored with the idea of throwing to free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown, and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is one of them. The two actually worked out together on Wednesday. According to a source, Brown would love to play for the Seahawks. If they make a move on him, though, it would likely take some time. It sounds like a team will sign Brown despite all of his off-the-field troubles, but they will likely wait to see how the NFL handles him. Brown is expected to receive a lengthy suspension of at least eight games, but even then, QBs would love a chance to throw to him in the second half of the season. Because Brown probably won't play anywhere close to a full season in 2020, he's unlikely to be much of a redraft target to begin the season.
Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tavon Young (neck), who missed all of last season after having neck surgery, is healthy and ready to return to one of the best secondaries in the league in 2020. "He says he's healthy. He's ready to go. Tavon is ready to go, and if he tells me he's ready to go, I believe in him 100 percent. And he'll be ready to go, so I'm excited about that," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. Young was the highest-paid slot corner when he signed a three-year extension worth an average of $8 million last offseason. He had 36 tackles, two interceptions, two sacks and returned two fumbles for touchdowns in 2018. Young is extremely versatile but won't be on the IDP radar. His return will allow the Ravens to move Marlon Humphrey back outside after he was the team's primary slot corner last year with Young out.
New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton is back in the NFL after signing a deal that guarantees him $500,000 in 2020. It include a $1.05 million base salary with $700,000 in per-game roster bonuses that could cap at $7.5 million. There is $5.75 million worth of incentives in this contract. This deal is truly a low-risk 'prove it' deal for Newton who has been injured each of the last two seasons. Head coach Bill Belichick has not named Newton the starter, but he is expected to beat out Jarrett Stidham for the starting role. Newton's fantasy value will solely depend on his health. The Pats offense is not stacked, but Newton could have decent fantasy value, assuming he's back to the player he was a few years ago.
Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Shaq Thompson told NFL Network's Colleen Wolfe on Wednesday's NFL Total Access that quarterback Teddy Bridgewater "is back" to the talent that made him a Pro Bowler when he was with the Vikings. "I think Teddy's definitely going to come in and change the offense. He has great weapons," Thompson said. Bridgewater went 5-0 in relief of an injured Drew Brees for the Saints last year and has plenty of weapons at his disposal in his first year in Carolina. While the 27-year-old signal-caller isn't known as a QB that pushes the ball down the field consistently, he could surprise in 2020 under new head coach Matt Rhule. Bridgewater will be a QB2 target with upside for fantasy owners.
The Athletic's Matt Barrows believes that San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Trent Taylor is the favorite to finish third in receptions in 2020 behind tight end George Kittle and receiver Deebo Samuel. Taylor missed the entire 2019 campaign with a Jones fracture in his foot, which is the same injury that Samuel is recovering from right now. The 26-year-old has 69 receptions for 645 yards and three touchdowns in 29 games over his two seasons in San Francisco, but he'll have the opportunity to carve out a starting role this year, especially if Samuel isn't ready for Week 1. The 49ers apparently expect Taylor to be a big part of the offense, too, but fantasy owners will want to see it before they believe it. Rookie Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne, Jalen Hurd, Dante Pettis and Richie James will also be fighting for playing time.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (foot) is dealing with a classic Jones fracture and could be ready to return in 10 to 12 weeks rather than the 12 to 16 weeks that was originally reported. Samuel could still be pushing it to be ready for the start of the regular season, and the risk of him starting the year on the Physically Unable to Perform list has caused him to fall down draft boards. The 24-year-old was one of the team's best pass-catchers as a rookie, hauling in 57 receptions for 802 yards and three touchdowns. With his injury, rookie Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne and Trent Taylor become more attractive, at least early in the year. Samuel can be targeted as a WR4 with upside in fantasy drafts.
The New York Jets are still talking to free-agent wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. The 32-year-old former Denver Bronco doesn't have much left in the tank at this point in his career, catching only 36 passes (58 targets) for 433 yards and one touchdown in his 11 games for the Jets last year. It's a far cry from when he compiled five straight 1,000-yard campaigns from 2012 to 2016 with the Broncos. New York's receiving corps isn't all that strong with Breshad Perriman, Jamison Crowder and rookie Denzel Mims as the top three wideouts, but DT would likely battle for the fourth-receiver gig with the likes of Josh Doctson and Vyncint Smith. Thomas won't be relevant in New York unless injuries open up a more prominent role for him.
Free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown posted a picture on his Instagram account on Wednesday showing him working out with Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Russell Wilson. Brown is trying to work his way back into the league after countless off-field incidents. While he's likely to receive at least an eight-game suspension in 2020, it's looking more and more likely that another team will give him another shot based purely on his talent on a football field. The Seahawks were already one of the teams considering adding Brown or Josh Gordon, and Wilson working out with AB only furthers that narrative. Adding Brown to Seattle's mix would certainly be intriguing, but the controversial wideout won't have much redraft value with a lengthy suspension coming his way if he's reinstated.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook recently made NFL Network Analytics Expert Cynthia Frelund's list of 10 players who deserve a new deal. The 24-year-old is currently searching for a new contract and stated that he plans to hold out if he doesn't get paid heading into the 2020 campaign. Cook ran for 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns on 250 attempts in 2019. He also added 53 catches for 519 yards and was one of the most prolific runners inside the red zone. While there are a few months to go before the start of the regular season, fantasy managers should be prepared in the event Cook doesn't report to training camp at the end of July, while also targeting Alexander Mattison and Mike Boone as adequate handcuff options.
The San Francisco 49ers have discussed a long-term contract extension with wide receiver Kendrick Bourne. The 24-year-old caught 30 passes for 358 yards and five touchdowns last year and has 88 career receptions for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns (all in the last two years) in his three seasons in the league. Bourne isn't a household name, but he has two things going for him heading into the 2020 season: a potentially bigger role with Deebo Samuel (foot) a candidate to miss the start of the season, and a valuable red-zone connection with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Others in the Niners passing game could step up -- Jalen Hurd, Dante Pettis, Trent Taylor, Richie James -- but Bourne now has some late-round flier appeal in deeper leagues in an offense that values yards after the catch.
New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell has been "training like a mad man" this offseason. After holding out for all of 2018, Bell signed with the Jets and had the worst full season of his career, rushing for 789 yards and three touchdowns on 245 carries (career-low 3.2 yards per carry). He also added 66 receptions for 461 yards and another touchdown. Gang Green's putrid offensive line didn't do him any favors, but is the 28-year-old no longer an RB1? It doesn't help that head coach Adam Gase isn't a big fan of Bell, and veteran Frank Gore and rookie Lamical Perine could take away some touches. His production in the passing game helps his cause and the offensive line is upgraded, but Bell should be considered a low-end RB2 in this offense.
Buffalo Bills WR John Brown's production will be helped and not hurt by the addition of WR Stefon Diggs, according to QB Josh Allen. 'I think this is going to give him an opportunity to have more chances to catch the ball,' Allen said. 'Man-to-man, he's extremely tough to cover.'
Fantasy Spin: While the addition of Diggs is going to cut into his targets, less attention from opposing defenses could mean more big-play opportunities for Brown. Still, he will likely drop from the WR2 ranks to more of a boom-or-bust WR3.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster may be lined up in the slot more often this upcoming season because of the addition of WR Chase Claypool, in the opinion of ESPN.com's Brooke Pryor.
Fantasy Spin: Smith-Schuster had a disappointing 2019 season because of injuries and playing with backup quarterbacks. He should have more success with Ben Roethlisberger healthy and would have better matchups if he lines up as a slot receiver. He has a chance to be a No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues.
The Green Bay Packers signed first-round quarterback Jordan Love on Wednesday to a fully guaranteed four-year, $12.383 million deal, according to sources. Love will receive a $6.566 million signing bonus. It's the first time that the No. 26 pick in the draft has received a fully guaranteed deal under the current rookie contract system. The Packers shocked everyone and took Love, the heir apparent to Aaron Rodgers, in the first round in April. While the Utah State alum has some promising physical traits as a dual-threat QB, he was very inconsistent in college and isn't a sure thing at the next level. Rodgers is under contract through the 2023 season as well, so Love is strictly a dynasty/keeper stash and hold.
Detroit Lions WR Kenny Golladay posted five touchdowns of at least 25 yards last season, which was tied for most in the NFL.
Fantasy Spin: Golladay has taken over the No. 1 receiver job for the Lions and will be the focal point in the passing game. He should be a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues and will be a weekly starting option.
Detroit Lions DTs Danny Shelton, Nick Williams, Da'Shawn Hand, John Atkins, Kevin Strong and Olive Sagapolu are joined by rookies John Penisini and Jashon Cornell at the interior of the Lions' defensive line in 2020. Defensive coordinator Cory Undlin likes the overall talent of the group. 'We have a really nice depth chart there at that position and we'll just kind of mix and match,' Undlin said. 'We'll watch (Shelton and Williams) work and find out where they're most comfortable, what the best combination is and then we'll settle on that once we get closer to the start of the season.'