Wed Jan 8 8:54am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Mostert has scores six straight
Well, that was a fun start to the playoffs. All the games were close and entertaining. Unfortunately, the fantasy performances were not off the charts. It was a pretty mediocre showing from most. The good news is the games were fun to watch. Let’s hope we can get a mix of both good games and big-time fantasy performances this week.
Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .
The big question after last week is will Tom Brady return next season? It is a great question. I really have no idea what he will do. It would be really strange to see Brady play for another team, so I have a hard time believing he would return for a team other than the Patriots. For me, if he returns, it will be as the starter for New England. I also think that a likely return is a little stronger after his finish to this season. I can't see him ending his illustrious career with a pick six. Either way, his fantasy value is way down. Brady was 13th in fantasy quarterback scoring each of his last two seasons.
Derrick Henry is a tough fantasy back to value. He has been amazing the second half of the season and produced the best numbers of any fantasy back on the ground during that stretch. The issue is he doesn’t catch passes. So he really is dependent on rushing yards and touchdowns, which were career highs this year. Can he repeat that in 2020? I think there is a good possibility of that but I have a hard time making him a top-five fantasy back because of his lack of receptions. If he got his receptions up just a little, he would be a surefire top-five fantasy back and pick. Let’s hope the Titans involve him a little more in the passing game next season to take his fantasy numbers to an even higher level.
I was shocked the Saints lost last week. I really thought they had a legit chance to win it all. This team was very talented on both sides of the ball and playing great football late in the year. The offense could not find it’s rhythm against the Vikings, though. You have to give Minnesota a ton of credit for containing the red hot Saints. The Vikings have a very talented team, so don’t discount them to go on the road and win again this week in San Francisco. Minnesota already shocked us one week, so why not do it again.
Josh Allen showed he still has a little ways to go to be an elite quarterback in the NFL. He really looked shaky in the Bills playoff game last week. He made some really poor decisions late in that game, showing he might not be quite ready for the big stage. Allen still has a ton of talent and can learn from last week, though, so don’t count him out to be a big-time star in this league. He made big strides this year.
I was really saddened to see Carson Wentz suffer a concussion early in his playoff game. He really carried that offense late in the year and willed this team to a playoff spot. He was the main reason the Eagles made the playoffs but suffered an injury once again. He has really been snake bitten by injuries throughout his career. It would be great to see him play a full season and get a chance to lead his team in the playoffs. I thought Wentz showed a lot this past year with his play.
I’m really intrigued by several playoff games this weekend. I know the lines are kind of high for several of them, but I think we are in store for a lot of close, well-fought games similar to this past week. Remember, Houston went into Kansas City earlier this year and won. The Vikings just upset the Saints on the road, so don’t overlook them to give San Francisco a real fight. And while Baltimore is rolling, Tennessee has been as hot as any team in the NFL the second half of the season. Lastly, I think the Seahawks and Packers game is the biggest game up for grabs. I could see this one going either way, depending on which offense shows for Green Bay this week.
As always, don’t forget to check out my weekly rankings here: Divisional Round Rankings.
Raheem Mostert, RB, 49ers. Mostert is as hot as any back in the game right now. He has touchdowns six straight games. He has double-digit fantasy points all of those games and three games with 20-plus fantasy points. He keeps getting it done as the lead back for the 49ers. Mostert is the back to use in this offense. Expect more of the same this week against the Vikings, a team middle of the pack against the run. Minnesota has allowed 150-plus rushing yards two of their past three games.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs. Mahomes has been a little quiet down the stretch, having fewer than 20 fantasy points three of his last six games. He has been a little more inconsistent than fantasy owners have become accustomed. Expect him to return to his big ways this week against the Texans, though. He threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns against this same Texans team in Week 6. Houston allowed the third most fantasy points to quarterbacks during the regular season.
Davante Adams, WR, Packers. Adams had another big season as the lead receiver for the Packers. He played his best football late in the year. He had at least seven receptions three straight to end his season and scores four of his last six games. Adams had double-digit targets seven of his last eight games. Adams should get his usual workout this week against the Seahawks. Seattle was 27th against the pass during the regular season, allowing 264-passing yards per game.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks. Lynch has touchdowns each of his two games this year but you can’t ignore his production on the ground. He has 18 carries for 41 yards, averaging 2.3 yards per carry. He is clearly a touchdown dependent player, making him a hard player to trust for fantasy teams. He isn’t worth the risk because his ceiling is not very high right now.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans. Tannehill led his team to a win last week but wasn’t much of a fantasy factor against a good Patriots defense. He didn’t even throw for 100 yards and failed to reach doubt-digit fantasy points. He had been red hot, having multiple touchdowns all 10 of his starts before last week. He has a similar tough matchup this week on the road against the Ravens. Baltimore allowed the third fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks during the regular season and ranked seventh overall against the pass. It could be another down showing for Tannehill this week.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings. Rudolph scored a touchdown last week but had just four catches for 31 yards. He has fewer than 50 yards four yards four straight games. He is really a touchdown dependent player because his reception and yardage totals won’t be great. We aren't sure he finds the end zone this week against the 49ers, a team that has limited the tight end this season. The 49ers allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to tight ends during the regular season.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Chiefs. Watkins has really been a disappointment much of the year. He has 50 or fewer yards seven straight games. He also hasn’t scored a touchdown since the first week of the season. But even with that said, he is capable of the big game in this explosive offense. And with the Texans likely doing all they can to limit Tyreek Hill, Watkins could get a few more targets than usual this week. Houston was just 30th overall against the pass during the regular season. And in last week’s game, secondary option Duke Williams had a solid showing for the Bills. This bodes well for Watkins to have some success in this one.
Darren Fells, TE, Texans. Fells has emerged as the top target at tight end for the Texans. He had four receptions for 37 yards on five targets last week. It wasn’t a great showing but decent enough. He is capable of the big game in this offense. Fells actually had his best reception and yardage game of the season against the Chiefs in Week 6. He had six receptions for 69 yards in that game against the Chiefs. It could be more of the same for Fells this week, making him an option to consider using if you don’t have one of the big tight ends in your lineup.
David Moore, WR, Seahawks. Moore had a solid game in the Seahawks playoff opener last week, catching two passes for 57 yards. He is a big-play threat in this offense, averaging nearly 18 yards per reception. The Seahawks are likely going to need some big plays in this game if they hope to win, so look for Moore to get some chances to stretch the field. He could have a similar showing to last week and might even find the end zone. The Packers were just 18th against the pas during the regular season.
Duke Johnson, RB, Texans. Johnson has not been off the charts this year but pretty consistent as the pass-catching back for the Texans. He had a decent showing last week, finishing with 68 total yards on six touches. He has at least three receptions four of six games. He plays a Chiefs team this week that he had 54 total yards and a touchdown against in Week 6. This could be a high scoring game with a lot of fantasy points to be had, so getting some secondary options in your lineup like Johnson could be a good move 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: Texans/Chiefs, Seahawks/Packers.
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.
The Buffalo Bills have talked with free-agent cornerback Josh Norman, according to general manager Brandon Beane, but nothing is imminent. Norman was recently released from the Redskins and has ties to both Beane and head coach Sean McDermott from their time together with the Panthers. Norman was drafted with Beane in the Carolina front office, and he was an All-Pro with McDermott as his defensive coordinator, so a match makes sense on paper. But the former fifth-round pick in 2012 is a shell of his former Pro Bowl self and was benched late in the year in Washington in 2019. Norman played in just 12 games and recorded 40 tackles (33 solo), one sack, one forced fumble and one interception.
While the San Francisco 49ers think wide receiver Marquise Goodwin is too valuable to straight up cut, they are open to trading him, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan. Goodwin has two years left on his current deal and is scheduled to make $3.95 million in base salary in 2020 while counting $4.906 million against the salary cap. The 29-year-old played in just nine games in 2019 because of injury and had 12 catches for 186 yards and a touchdown. If he returns, he'd be competing with Jalen Hurd, Dante Pettis and Trent Taylor for a role behind Deebo Samuel in the passing attack. The 29-year-old has game-changing speed but has never played a full season in his seven years in the NFL and hasn't scored more than four TDs in a single season. He could benefit from a change of scenery but will have to rehab his fantasy value and stay healthy.
The Dallas Cowboys and Todd France, the agent for quarterback Dak Prescott, had discussions on Wednesday regarding a long-term contract extension for the first time since September of last year. The meeting didn't last long, but the Cowboys are hoping to get a long-term deal done before needing to use the franchise tag on Prescott. If Dallas can get Prescott locked up soon, they could save the franchise or transition tag for impending free-agent wide receiver Amari Cooper. Prescott put up great numbers under center in 2019 despite the Cowboys underwhelming as a whole and finishing outside of the playoff picture. One way or another he's staying put, making him a high-end QB1 entering the 2020 season for fantasy owners.
Washington Redskins impending free-agent quarterback Case Keenum is on the Cleveland Browns' radar, according to a league source. Cleveland is looking to bring in a veteran backup to Baker Mayfield that can help him grow and develop after a disappointing 2019 campaign. Drew Stanton missed all of last season with a knee injury and will be a free agent himself next month. Keenum, 32, worked with head coach Kevin Stefanski with the Vikings in 2017 when he led the team to an 11-3 record. He's thrown for 14,368 yards, 75 touchdowns and 47 interceptions for a career passer rating of 85.3, but he'd just be holding the clipboard for Mayfield in Cleveland.
Denver Broncos defensive end Bradley Chubb (knee) will not take part in organized team activities this spring, but he will be ready for training camp. Chubb, the fifth overall pick in 2018, is recovering from a torn ACL that cost him 12 games in his sophomore season. The 23-year-old wasted no time doing damage in his rookie season with 60 total tackles and 12 sacks, so he should return to being a force across from Von Miller in 2020 if he avoids the injury bug. Denver's D will likely go undrafted in standard-sized formats this year, but they could easily wind up being owned in the majority of leagues by the end of the year in head coach Vic Fangio's second season.
The Cleveland Browns are expected to pursue Chicago Bears impending free-agent quarterback Chase Daniel when free agency begins. The Browns need a strong veteran backup behind Baker Mayfield next season. Cleveland's backup last year was Drew Stanton, but he's set to be a free agent next month as well. Behind him was Garrett Gilbert. Daniel played in parts of eight games for the Bears in the last two seasons, throwing six touchdowns and four interceptions. He'd only be in the mix as a low-end QB2 if he were to sign with the Browns and Mayfield were to get hurt in 2020 and miss some time.
Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said the team would like to keep impending free-agent wide receivers Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb. Cooper is the bigger priority as the team's No. 1 receiver, but things are complicated this offseason, as the Cowboys' biggest priority is getting franchise quarterback Dak Prescott signed to a long-term extension. Cooper battled through nagging injuries in 2019 but managed to play a full season and caught 79 passes for a career-high 1,189 yards and eight touchdowns. Cobb would be more of a luxury to keep around after he had 55 receptions for 828 yards and three scores in his first year in Dallas. Cooper finished as a top-10 fantasy wideout in 2019 and would be firmly in the WR1 conversation if he remains in Dallas.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee is expected to return to the team in 2020. Lee played in a full season for the first time of his career and saw considerable playing time in the second half of the season with Leighton Vander Esch (neck) injured, recording 86 tackles (55 solo), one sack and one interception. Lee will be more of a backup with the Cowboys if Vander Esch is fully healthy next season, but he'd provide valuable veteran depth in the middle of the field if he comes back. The 33-year-old will only had IDP appeal in deep leagues if LVE misses more time with injury.
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa received overwhelmingly positive reports on his dislocated hip from teams who examined him following two days of medical testing, according to sources. The MRIs were clean, his fractured hip is healed and there is no loss in blood flow. One source said Tagovailoa "looked great." It's great news for Tua's draft stock heading into April's draft. There might still be some concerns about his long-term health and ability to stay healthy at the next level given his size (6-foot-1, 218 pounds). Regardless, he'll be an early selection in the first round, possibly as high as No. 5 to the Dolphins. Or a team could trade up at No. 4 with the Giants to take him. Depending on where he lands, Tagovailoa will mostly be a dynasty asset in his first year in the NFL.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, who put on some weight last year to bulk up, plans to be slimmer and faster this year with an emphasis on being in better shape. The extra weight that Mayfield carried with him last year caused him to lose some overall quickness. Cleveland had sky-high expectations going into last season, and both the team and Mayfield failed to live up to them. The second-year quarterback completed only 59.4 percent of his passes for 3,827 yards, 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in 16 games. He'll be learning a new offense this spring and summer, but Mayfield has plenty of weapons around him to bounce back. Fantasy owners won't be so bold on him and will likely take him as more of a QB2 with upside.
Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry, who was vice president of player personnel in 2017 when the team drafted tight end David Njoku in the first round, envisions a role for Njoku moving forward despite his down season in 2019. Berry implied that the team will pick up the fifth-year options on both Njoku and defensive end Myles Garrett, the first overall pick of 2017. Njoku, 23, played 16 games each in his first two seasons and had a career year in 2018 with 56 catches, 639 yards and four touchdowns. He was held to just five catches for 41 yards and a score in four games in 2019 due to injury and headbutting with former head coach Freddie Kitchens. You can get Njoku on the cheap as a TE2 with upside in 2020 drafts.
San Francisco 49ers left tackle Joe Staley (leg) is expected to return for the final year of his contract in 2020 after there was speculation that he would retire from the game after a Super Bowl run in 2019. The 13-year veteran missed nine games last season due to a broken leg, but he was solid as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's blind-side protector when he was on the field. Staley allowed just seven QB pressures in 240 pass-blocking snaps last year for a pressure rate of 2.9 percent, which trailed just Ronnie Stanley and Taylor Lewan among left tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. Staley's return would be great news for Jimmy G.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that he wants wide receiver Dante Pettis to go on an offseason "mission" after taking a huge step back in his second season in 2019. After catching 27 passes for 467 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games in his rookie season, Pettis had just 11 grabs for 109 yards and two scores in 11 games in 2019 and was in Shanahan's dog house for the majority of the season for multiple reasons. But with Emmanuel Sanders a free agent and the Niners looking for someone to step up behind Deebo Samuel, Pettis could get another chance this spring and summer to prove he belongs. Still, it'll take a lot of convincing for fantasy owners to invest in Pettis off the waiver wire to begin the year.
Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead said that there is "no timeline" on a long-term contract extension for cornerback Jalen Ramsey. The Rams acquired Ramsey from the Jaguars in the middle of last season for two first-round picks. The 25-year-old played in just 12 total games last year (nine with the Rams), and he had 33 tackles (31 solo), one forced fumble and an interception in his time in Los Angeles. The former fifth overall pick in the 2016 draft has made three straight Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro back in 2017 when Jacksonville made an AFC Championship appearance. Ramsey will be expensive, but he'd be a huge asset for the Rams secondary for years to come if he sticks around.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll thinks highly of tight end Jacob Hollister and the team wants to bring him back as a restricted free agent. Will Dissly is coming off a torn Achilles last year and has two major lower-body injuries in the last two seasons, but the Seahawks also recently signed veteran Greg Olsen at the position. There's no guarantee that either of Olsen or Dissly will stay healthy for a full season, though, so perhaps Seattle wants to keep Hollister around for depth. The 26-year-old had a career-high 41 catches for 349 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games in 2019. He might have some low-end TE1 fantasy appeal if he were to land with another team as their starter.
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone and general manager David Caldwell said that the team will let quarterbacks Gardner Minshew and Nick Foles compete for the starting job in 2020. Joshua Dobbs will also be a part of the competition, which will begin as soon as organized team activities kick off this spring. Marrone suggested that the Jaguars won't select their starter until the preseason. Caldwell may have a soft spot for Minshew, but the Jags also signed Foles to a four-year, $88 million deal ($45 million in guarantees) in March of last year. Foles broke his collarbone in Week 1 and was benched upon his return. Minshew, a rookie in 2019, showed flashes but was mostly a game manager in this run-first offense. Whoever is under center to start next season will be a middling QB2 option.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that he expects running back Rashaad Penny (knee) to begin training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Penny needed reconstructive knee surgery after injuring himself in early December against the Rams. If he were to start the season on the PUP, Penny would have to sit out the first six games. The former first-round pick started riding a stationary bike on Feb. 12, but he has a long ways to go in his rehab. With the oft-injured C.J. Prosise hitting free agency, Travis Homer could be the direct backup to Chris Carson to open the 2020 season if Penny isn't ready to go.
Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said that he will hand play-calling duties over to offensive coordinator Tim Kelly in 2020. O'Brien had been calling the offensive plays in Houston since he took over from former offensive coordinator George Godsey in 2016. Kelly will be in his second season as the OC and has worked with O'Brien since he was a graduate assistant at Penn State. The Texans finished 13th in the NFL in 2019 in yards per game (362). Kelly will also work closely with quarterback Deshaun Watson, and this news could actually raise the ceiling of Houston's entire offense next year. "Deshaun and [Kelly] have a great relationship," O'Brien said. "... Deshaun has great trust in Timmy and the work that Timmy puts in, what Tim brings to the meeting room and on the field. Tim is an excellent coach."
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that running back Chris Carson (hip) is making progress but can't do much yet in his rehab. However, the Seahawks expect Carson to be ready for the 2020 season. The 25-year-old missed just one game in 2019 and handled 278 carries for 1,230 yards and seven rushing touchdowns for Seattle in his third year in the league. It was Carson's second straight 1,000-yard rushing season, and he also added a career-high 37 receptions for 266 yards and two scores through the air. He has yet to play in a full season but has missed just three games in the last two seasons. With Rashaad Penny (knee) doubtful to be ready for Week 1, Carson should handle the bulk of the load heading into the regular season and will be a strong RB1 in this run-first offense if he's fully healthy.
Impending free-agent LB Joe Schobert (Browns) is expected to meet with Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry at the NFL Combine, but Berry acknowledged the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot that Schobert has 'earned the right to test the market if he deems that appropriate.'