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NFL Playoffs League - FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Lineup Prep: Championship Weekend

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By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Drew Brees setup for success


And then there were four. Yes, we are down to just four teams in the playoffs. And the four teams are the top two seeds in each conference. It normally doesn't play out this way in the NFL, but it has fallen this way this season. This should make for a highly entertaining Sunday of games. Well, it shows that way on paper. We know things haven't been great the first two week of the playoffs, but here is to hoping this week's games are top notch viewing. I know I'm excited. Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .

It will be interesting to see what the Chiefs do at running back next season. Damien Williams is sure making it a hard decision for them. He just keeps getting it done as a starter and producing big in that role. He is a dual threat with great moves in the open field. Williams just seems a great fit for the offense. I wouldn't be surprised if they keep Williams as the starter and draft a back in the middle rounds to become the eventual starter. We'll see.

It is amazing to see what good coaches can do with that extra week to prepare for a game. This was on full display last weekend, especially in New England and Kansas City. Those two offenses put on a clinic against their opponents. And both those defenses were much maligned throughout the season, but did a great job last week. It was quite the impressive display of game planning. You can underestimate the value of having a great coach in the NFL.

I like the hiring of Adam Gase for the Jets. I think he'll be good for the development of Sam Darnold and that offense. Gase did do a few peculiar things in Miami while head coach, but he knows offense and has done well developing quarterbacks in the past. Darnold should continue to grow with Gase at the helm.

One hire I'm not so sure about is Kliff Kingsbury going to the Cardinals. This seems a really risky hire for the Cardinals. Kingsbury had a losing record as a head coach in college and has no NFL coaching experience. He had some top offenses at Texas Tech, which is why the Cardinals went this direction. He is going to need to surround himself with some proven coaches on his staff if this is going to work. I really think this hire was a swing and a miss for Arizona, but I have been wrong before. We'll see.

Another hire I wanted to mention, but didn't involve a head coach, was the hiring of Mike Munchak by the Broncos to be their offensive line coach. Munchak is considered the best offensive line coach in the game and done a great job with the Steelers the past few seasons. He gets a chance to coach up the Broncos unit and improve a running game that already was decent last year. This could really help the value of the entire offense of the Broncos going forward. And on the flipside, the Steelers lose a great coach, which could adversely impact that team's offense.

So Kyler Murray declared for the NFL draft. It will be interesting to see where he gets picked. He obviously has a ton of talent, but his size (5-9) is going to hurt his stock. That is really small for an NFL quarterback. Plus, he was a top-10 pick in the MLB draft and could end up playing baseball instead. There is going to be a lot of talk swirling around Murray in the coming months. It should be fun to watch.

News and Notes: The Eagles stated in their season-ending press conference Tuesday that Carson Wentz is the team's starting quarterback going forward. . . . .The status of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is a bit up in the air. The team stated they aren't sure if he will need surgery on his shoulder or what a possible time recovery might be if he has surgery or doesn't have surgery. There were even reports Newton has a chance to sit out all of next year.

HOT PLAYS

Drew Brees, QB, Saints. Brees did miss on some throws last week but had a solid game overall, throwing for 301 yards and two touchdowns in the Saints playoff opener. He has two straight 300-yard games. Brees is setup for big things this week, playing the Rams. He threw for 346 yards and four touchdowns against this same Rams team in Week 9. The Rams have been middle of the pack against the pass much of the season. Los Angeles allowed 31-passing touchdowns during the regular season.

Sony Michel, RB, Patriots. Michel had a career high 129-rushing yards and three touchdowns last week. He has 100-yard games two of his last three. He also has at least 50-rushing yards seven straight games. The Patriots could have a similar game plan against the Chiefs this week, rushing the ball and using a short-passing attack. This bodes well for Michel, playing a rush defense that allowed the third most fantasy points to running backs during the regular season.

Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs. Hill has three touchdowns his last two games and at least four receptions five straight games. He continues to get a workout on a weekly basis as the top receiver in the Chiefs potent passing game. Hill had his only three-touchdown game of the season against the Patriots in Week 6. You can expect him to get plenty of chances to make big plays in this one. He should do well against the Patriots, a team that was just 22nd against the pass during the regular season.

COLD PLAYS

Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots. Hogan was targeted five times last week but caught just three passes for 13 yards. If there is a positive for Hogan, it is he has 16 targets his last two games. He is getting more chances to make plays. The bad news is Hogan isn't making many plays with those chances. At this point, Phillip Dorsett is easier to trust than Hogan despite Hogan having a better track record overall.

Jared Goff, QB, Rams. Goff has not played bad by any means down the stretch, but he hasn't been called on to do as much. He has fewer than 30-pass attempts three straight games. He also has fewer than 200-passing yards three of five. He is always capable of the big game in this offense, but you have to worry about him on the road in such a big game for the first time in his career. We wouldn't be surprised if he has some struggles this week, especially with the Saints defense playing much better than earlier in the year.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Rams. Cooks is getting some decent reception totals lately, but his yardage numbers have been pretty poor down the stretch. He has 65 or fewer yards six straight games. The big game has been nonexistent for Cooks, which is normally his calling card. We aren't sure he suddenly emerges this week despite a favorable matchup. He could draw Marcus Lattimore in coverage, which wouldn't be a good thing for Cooks.

SLEEPERS

Ted Ginn, WR, Saints. Ginn was on Injured Reserve much of the season because of a knee injury but returned late in the year. He has been a big part of the offense since his return, having eight receptions for 118 yards in two games. Ginn also has been targeted 15 times those two games, which is very encouraging. He might have the best matchup of the Saints receivers this week, getting the Rams No. 2 or 3 cornerback, so don't be surprised if the Saints exploit this favorable matchup.

C.J. Anderson, RB, Rams. Unfortunately, we had Anderson on our cold list last week. He proved us wrong, continuing to get plenty of chances in the Rams suddenly run-heavy offense. It really looks like this is the formula for the Rams offense right now, dominating the line of scrimmage with a powerful running back. Anderson should get his chances even in a backup role. He has three straight 100-yard games and four touchdowns during that stretch. Remember, he led the Rams in rushing last week, producing better than starter Todd Gurley.

Phillip Dorsett, WR, Patriots. Dorsett did little much of the season but is getting more chances this days, especially with Josh Gordon gone. He has touchdowns two straight and nine receptions in those two games. He is a good fit for the slot and can make plays with the ball in his hands. Dorsett is never a sure thing in this offense, but with Rob Gronkowski doing little right now, Dorsett could benefit with more targets. He is worth a flier for fantasy teams.

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: Saints/Rams, Patriots/Chiefs.

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 jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
Dawson Knox Jul 23 7:50pm ET

Buffalo Bills rookie tight end Dawson Knox showed some promising potential at spring practices and could be in line for some serious playing time to open the season. Knox was a third round pick by the Bills out of Ole Miss. His path towards playing time this year became a lot more clear when Tyler Kroft broke his foot in May. Knox caught just 15 passes his junior year at Ole Miss in 2018, but averaged an impressive 18.9 yards-per-catch. Kroft opened camp on the PUP list and will likely miss time to start the season. Knox, meanwhile, will be competing with Jason Croom, Lee Smith and fellow rookie Tommy Sweeney for the top tight end spot on the team.

From RotoBaller

Tevin Coleman Jul 23 7:30pm ET

The Athletics Matt Barrows expects San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman to lead the charge in 2019. Having formerly worked with head coach Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta, Colemans incumbent role shouldnt be a surprise after his signing this offseason. The dual-threat Coleman tallied 1,076 scrimmage yards and nine touchdowns in 199 touches last season but was a relative disappointment when handed the opportunity to be the lead dog. In San Francisco, hell compete with Jerick McKinnon (knee) returning from a torn ACL and Matt Breida, amongst others for snaps. Based on his history and the personnel, its conceivable Coleman wont work as a typical lead back as each players skillset is optimized. Considering the clogged playing situation, the Niners running backs are fairly bunched in RotoBallers rankings at 29th (Coleman), 32nd (McKinnon) and 40th (Breida).

From RotoBaller

Frank Gore Jul 23 7:00pm ET

The Buffalo Bills placed running back Frank Gore on the Non-Football Injury list to start training camp. The injury is considered to be minor and the team doesn't expect him to miss much time. Gore is 36 years old so the last thing you want to hear coupled with his name is the word "injury" at this point as even something minor could really hamper him going forward. With a crowded Bills' backfield led by LeSean McCoy and also including T.J. Yeldon and rookie Devin Singletary, Gore doesn't present much fantasy intrigue at this point.

From RotoBaller

Byron Jones Jul 23 4:20pm ET

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones (hip) and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (shoulder) were both placed on the Active/PUP list. Neither player is expected to do much if anything during Cowboys training camp, but as of right now both players are fully expected to be ready for Week 1 against the New York Giants. Both are key pieces of the Dallas defense, and Jones is entering his contract year.

From RotoBaller

Dak Prescott Jul 23 4:10pm ET

Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick will not need to be placed on the Active/PUP list to begin training camp. Frederick missed all of the 2018 season because of Guillain-Barre Syndrome but is now "ready to go" according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The Dallas offensive line took a noticeable step back without Frederick anchoring the middle of it, so his presence should be a boost for the entire Cowboys offense, but especially for running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott.

From RotoBaller

Travis Kelce Jul 23 4:10pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (ankle) didn't participate in the team's offseason team activities, but Kelce is expected to be a full go for training camp. Kelce has three-straight 1000 yard receiving seasons to his name and caught 10 touchdowns last year in Kansas City's prolific offense. He's set to be the first tight end off the board in all fantasy drafts this year, and for now it appears that the ankle injury shouldn't factor into any fantasy decisions that you make.

From RotoBaller

Bobby Wagner Jul 23 4:03pm ET

Seattle Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner is expected to show up for training camp on time Wednesday, July 24, but he may not put himself 'in harm's way' until a contract extension gets done, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

From TheHuddle

Ronald Darby Jul 23 4:00pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Ronald Darby was officially placed on the Active/PUP list. Darby playing in Week 1 still seems like a "legit possibility" according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, but it's far from a sure thing at this point. Darby has looked like a difference maker in the secondary when he's been on the field, his issue has been how rarely he is actually on the field. He's appeared in just 17 games over the past two seasons, and hasn't played since Week 10 last year. He'll be a boost to the Philly defense if he can stay healthy.

From RotoBaller

Travis Kelce Jul 23 3:53pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (ankle) reported to camp Tuesday, July 23, after he was held out of organized team activities and minicamp following offseason ankle surgery. Kelce is in camp three days early so he can get some extra work in before the rest of the team reports on Friday, July 26.

From TheHuddle

Todd Gurley Jul 23 3:43pm ET

Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley (knee) wants to play the 2019 season at 218 pounds after playing most of his career around 224 pounds, according to NFL.com's Steve Wyche.

Fantasy Spin: The drop in weight - even though it is only six pounds - figures to be good for his ailing left knee. The narrative about Gurley's career being somewhat in jeopardy appears to be changing a bit as the offseason progresses, as the Rams continue to preach confidence and optimism in Gurley's health. Even though he comes with substantial risk and may be a surprise inactive from time to time, he is shaping up to be an extreme value pick for any owner lucky enough to get him in the second round of fantasy drafts.

From TheHuddle

Kevin King Jul 23 3:13pm ET

Green Bay Packers CB Kevin King (shoulder) is expected to be active and healthy to begin training camp, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

From TheHuddle

Ronald Darby Jul 23 3:13pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles CB Ronald Darby (knee) is expected to start training camp on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list as he continues to recover from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. However, there is still a 'legit possibility' he will be active Week 1, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

From TheHuddle

Russell Wilson Jul 23 2:33pm ET

Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson compiled a passer rating of 113.6 against the blitz in 2018 - the third-best mark in the league for a quarterback with at least 50 pass attempts - according to Pro Football Focus.

From TheHuddle

Drew Brees Jul 23 2:33pm ET

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees compiled a passer rating of 120.0 against the blitz in 2018 - the second-best mark in the league for a quarterback with at least 50 pass attempts - according to Pro Football Focus.

From TheHuddle

Patrick Mahomes Jul 23 2:23pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes compiled a league-best passer rating of 124.6 - minimum 50 attempts - against the blitz in 2018, per Pro Football Focus.

From TheHuddle

DeShawn Shead Jul 23 1:43pm ET

Free-agent CB DeShawn Shead (Lions) worked out for the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday, July 23.

From TheHuddle

Allen Hurns Jul 23 1:43pm ET

Updating previous reports, free-agent WR Allen Hurns (Cowboys) was asked by the Dallas Cowboys to take a $4 million pay cut in 2019 before he declined the offer and was released Tuesday, July 23. Hurns was scheduled to make $6 million in 2019, including a $4 million base salary and $2 million in incentives, but the Cowboys wanted a restructured deal worth $2 million total with Hurns coming back from his fractured fibula/ankle suffered in the postseason.

From TheHuddle

De'Angelo Henderson Jul 23 1:30pm ET

The New York Jets have waived running back De'Angelo Henderson. After adding Le'Veon Bell and Ty Montgomery in the offseason, Henderson was always a long shot to make the team's final roster, so cutting him now allows him time to latch on somewhere else. The problem is that while Henderson was a popular dynasty sleeper pick two years ago, he's now had just 11 total touches through two seasons with two different teams. Henderson doesn't look like a guy who'll be able to earn significant snaps on a team in 2019.

From RotoBaller

Allen Hurns Jul 23 1:10pm ET

The Dallas Cowboys have released wide receiver Allen Hurns, who broke his fibula in a playoff game last season. It's unclear if Hurns was going to be ready to go for the Cowboys when training camp began, but he was expected to play this season. He'll have a chance to latch on somewhere else, but it would be a stretch to expect Hurns to be a fantasy relevant player in 2019. His departure from Dallas might help Tavon Austin see the field more, but Hurns wasn't a threat to compete for snaps with Dallas' top three wideouts.

From RotoBaller

Mark Sanchez Jul 23 1:10pm ET

Despite starting a game for the Washington Redskins in 2018, quarterback Mark Sanchez has retired from the NFL and will move into a broadcasting role with ESPN. While Sanchez was never an elite quarterback, he did lead the Jets on some long playoff runs early in his career. He's likely still rostered in some dynasty leagues, but it's now safe to drop Sanchez in all formats.

From RotoBaller