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.
Chicago Bears RB Jordan Howard still has a role with the Bears, but he could still be traded nonetheless, according to head coach Matt Nagy.
Fantasy Spin: Trade talk involving Howard has waned recently, but he's seemingly not as valuable to Chicago's offense as his counterpart Tarik Cohen. It's not that Howard has necessarily under performed. He's scored 25 total times and averaged over 1,312 yards in his first three seasons. He's a solid standard RB2 assuming he stays in Chicago.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (knee) is expected to be ready late in the preseason as he continues to recover from ligament damage, according to head coach Doug Marrone.
Fantasy Spin: Lee has the ability to be the most reliable wide receiver on the Jaguars when he's at full health. That receiving corps is somewhat of a crapshoot, but Lee owns a WR3 ceiling.
Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff's potential contract extension isn't a top priority currently, according to head coach Sean McVay. 'Whether it happens this year, next year, those are things we haven't really gotten into in depth about yet,' McVay said.
Fantasy Spin: Goff had one of the worst Super Bowl performances in recent memory, but his regular season was stellar. Another season of over 4,600 yards and 30+ touchdowns should get him that extension. He's comfortably in QB1 territory heading into his fourth season.
Free-agent QB Sean Mannion (Rams) has a visit scheduled with the Minnesota Vikings later this week, according to a source.
Free-agent WR Damiere Byrd (Panthers) signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals Tuesday, March 26. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The Arizona Cardinals signed free-agent wide receiver Damiere Byrd to an undisclosed one-year deal on Tuesday. He spent the last four years with the Panthers and played in 17 games over the last three years while spending his rookie year on the practice squad. Byrd caught 12 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns with Carolina and also worked as a kickoff and punt returner. He's mainly receiver depth for Arizona and will likely make his biggest impact on special teams.
The Buffalo Bills plan to release running back Chris Ivory after signing veteran Frank Gore this offseason, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Releasing Ivory will save the team $2.15 million against the salary cap and will cost $750,000 in dead cap money. The veteran averaged just 3.3 yards per carry on 115 attempts in 2018 and hasn't averaged more than 3.8 YPC since 2016. The 31-year-old won't have a robust market in free agency.
Free-agent TE Antonio Gates (Chargers) could still be re-signed by the Los Angeles Chargers, according to head coach Anthony Lynn.
Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said the return of veteran tight end Antonio Gates is "absolutely" a possibility for the 2019 season. Gates has very little left and would likely be third on the tight end depth chart behind Hunter Henry and Virgil Green if he returned as a free agent. He had just 28 catches for 333 yards and two touchdowns in a full season in 2018. Gates is no longer fantasy relevant if he returns for another season.
Buffalo Bills RB Chris Ivory is being released Tuesday, March 26, according to a source.
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (shoulder) has encouraged head coach Ron Rivera by the progress he has made in his recovery from shoulder surgery in January. 'I look forward to seeing him soon,' Rivera said, 'but just very happy that things are trending in the right direction.' The Panthers are confident that Newton will be ready for training camp.
Fantasy Spin: It was an off year for Newton as he missed two games and finished outside of QB1 territory. Assuming he does make a full recovery from the shoulder issue then it would be a surprise not to see him back among No. 1 fantasy quarterbacks in 2019.
Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford was the target of an attempted trade by the Miami Dolphins during the 2018 offseason, according to multiple league sources.
Fantasy Spin: A year later, Ryan Tannehill is gone, Ryan Fitzpatrick is in but the Dolphins are still searching for their franchise QB. Expect Miami to strike in the first round of the draft.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that tight end Will Dissly (knee) has been working out and is doing well in his rehab, but it won't be until training camp that he is back on the field. Dissly played in four games (eight catches, 156 yards, two touchdowns) before tearing the patellar tendon in his knee. With Nick Vannett and Ed Dickson also options at the position in 2019, there's no guarantee Dissly will develop a fantasy relevant role for Seattle coming off this injury.
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said that the team will give tight end Darren Waller "a chance of a lifetime" in 2019 now that Jared Cook moved on in free agency. Lee Smith is currently listed atop Oakland's tight end depth chart, so Waller will be given a chance. However, the Raiders are also expected to address the position in next month's draft. Waller has 18 receptions for 178 yards and two touchdowns in his three NFL seasons and will be a very deep sleeper in fantasy if he's the team's top pass-catching tight end.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson isn't ruling out the return of running back Darren Sproles, who has yet to make a decision on whether he will retire. Sproles is ready to retire, but he's played in nine games the last two seasons and wants to go out on a good note. He ran the ball 29 times for 120 yards and a score while adding 15 receptions for 160 yards and two more touchdowns in his six regular season games in 2018. Even if Sproles returns, his fantasy upside is all but diminished at this point in his career.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that wide receiver Doug Baldwin will undergo sports hernia surgery on April 4. There is no real timetable for when Baldwin will be healthy heading into next season. The 30-year-old receiver dealt with multiple injuries in a disappointing 2018 season and is no lock to be ready for Week 1 at this point. He caught only 50 passes for 618 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games last year. It's safe to say his fantasy value is dropping quickly.
The Chicago Bears could explore trade offers for running back Jordan Howard this offseason, according to head coach Matt Nagy. Despite scoring nine touchdowns in back-to-back seasons, Howard saw a career-low 250 rushing attempts for 935 yards in his third season in Chicago and first under Nagy. The 2016 fifth-round pick isn't as good of a fit in Nagy's offense and has become more touchdown-dependent for fantasy owners with the Bears. A trade could boost his fantasy stock back up.
The Baltimore Ravens didn't address their wide receiver position in free agency, meaning Willie Snead and Chris Moore, who combined for two touchdowns last year, are currently at the top of the receiver depth chart. Jordan Lasley (inactive all year), Jaleel Scott (coming off Injured Reserve) and Quincy Adeboyejo (coming off IR) round out the group. General manager Eric DeCosta is preaching patience and also expects the team to address the position through the draft. It also speaks to the direction Baltimore is going now that Lamar Jackson is their franchise quarterback. Ravens receivers combined for an NFL-low 45 catches for 520 yards and three touchdowns after Jackson took over for Joe Flacco in Week 11. Mississippi's D.K. Metcalf, Ohio State's Parris Campbell, Iowa State's Hakeem Butler and Oklahoma's Marquise Brown have been linked to Baltimore at No. 22 in the first round.
Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta all but affirmed that veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith will remain with the team in 2019. "One of the greatest strengths of our team right now is our secondary. I think it would be foolish for us to make a strength a weakness for no reason," DeCosta said. Smith is entering his age-31 season and hasn't played more than 12 games since 2015, but he brings a veteran presence to Baltimore's secondary. The Ravens also added All-Pro safety Earl Thomas in free agency.
New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan is still letting teams know that the No. 3 overall pick in the draft is for sale. The Jets traded up to the third pick last year from No. 6 to take Sam Darnold. Several teams could be interested in moving up to No. 3 this year in order to take a quarterback. Because of the draft-day trade to land Darnold, the Jets don't have a current second-round pick.