Thu Jan 17 8:35 am
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Michel posts huge numbers
Well, the games this past weekend weren't the best once again. Two were blowouts and the two other were competitive but not all that compelling. This has been a theme in the playoffs after two weeks. And the fantasy output in these games has not been of the charts. There were some bigger performances this weekend, though. A few players really carried fantasy teams to victories.
Chiefs 31, Colts 13
Fantasy Stud: Damien Williams. Williams continued his great play as the lead back for the Chiefs. He ran 25 times for 129 yards and a touchdown. He also caught five passes for 25 yards, giving him 154 total yards and s score. Williams has 100-yard games two of his last three and touchdowns five straight. Williams could be playing himself into a prominent role with the team going forward. He has been great in a starting role for the Chiefs.
Fantasy Dud: Andrew Luck. Luck seemed primed for a big game against a defense that struggled much of the year. Well, it didn't play out that way with Luck struggling much of the game until finding the end zone late with the game out of hand. Luck was 19-of-36 for 203 yards and a touchdowns without an interception. Luck still had a great rebound season and seems back to his old self, which is really encouraging going forward.
Game Notes: Tyreek Hill had his usual big showing. He had eight receptions for 72 yards and ran once for a 36-yard score. He had 108 total yards and a score in the game.
Travis Kelce hit the 100-yard mark for the sixth time this season. He caught seven passes for 108 yards on 10 targets.
Rams 30, Cowboys 22
Fantasy Stud: C.J. Anderson. Despite Todd Gurley back and healthy, Anderson led the way for the Rams rushing attack. He had 23 carries for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Anderson had three straight 100-yard games and is clearly a big part of this offense even with Gurley back. Anderson is going to get his chances as long as the Rams keep dominating running the ball.
Fantasy Dud: Jared Goff. With the Rams having so much success running the ball, Goff didn't have to do much in this one. He was a bust for fantasy teams, going 15-of-28 for 186 yards without a touchdown or an interception. Goff has cooled some down the stretch, though, having one or no scores four of his last six games. He also has fewer than 200-passing yards three of those games.
Game Notes: Todd Gurley returned from his knee injury and looked near full strength. He ran 16 times for 115 yards and a touchdown, averaging 7.2 yards per carry.
Michael Gallup had six receptions for 119 yards. This was the first time in his career he hit the 100-yard mark. Gallup scored touchdowns two of the last four games.
Patriots 41, Chargers 28
Fantasy Stud: Sony Michel. Michel dominated carries for the Patriots and ran all over the Chargers with his big workload. He ran 24 times for 129 yards and three touchdowns. This was his first three-touchdown game of his career. It was the fifth time he hit the 100-yard mark, though. Michel gets few catches but continues to have big rushing yardage and touchdown potential in this offense.
Fantasy Dud: Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots had a ton of success offensively, but Gronk wasn't part of the fun. He had just a catch in the game, finishing with a catch for 25 yards. This game shouldn't come as a huge shock, though, because his production has been and up and down this year. Gronk has just four games all season with more than 60 yards. He has not been the Rob Gronkowski of past seasons.
Game Notes: James White did not have a carry in the game, but led the team in receptions. He got a workout in the passing game, catching 15 passes for 97 yards. This was his third double-digit reception game of the season.
Hunter Henry made his season debut, returning from a torn ACL, but was held without a catch. He was targeted just once in the game. Antonio Gates got much of the work at tight end, catching five passes for 41 yards and a touchdown in what might have been his last game.
Saints 20, Eagles 14
Fantasy Stud: Michael Thomas. Thomas had another one of his monster games, catching 12 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown. He was the focal point of the passing game and produced huge numbers once again. This was the seventh time this season he had double-digit receptions. Thomas is proving he is one of the elite receivers in all of football.
Fantasy Dud: Nick Foles. Foles was pretty quiet in what seemed a favorable matchup for him. He was 18-of-31 for 201 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. Foles had multiple touchdowns three straight games before this dud. He has put himself in prime position to land another starter's job going forward, though, because of his strong play down the stretch. Expect Foles to be starting for some team in 2019.
Game Notes: Ted Ginn had three receptions for 44 yards on seven targets. In two games since returning from injury, Ginn has eight receptions for 118 yards on 15 targets.
Alshon Jeffery led the Eagles in receiving, catching five passes for 63 yards, but had a costly drop late in the game with the Eagles driving for a possible game-winning score. The ball went right through his hands and to a Saint for an interception. Jeffery finished the season with at least five receptions five of his last six games.
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.
Pittsburgh Steelers impending free-agent running back Le'Veon Bell's trainer responded to "ridiculous" speculation about Bell's shape by pointing out that he is feeling better in February than guys who played in 2018. "Hes going to be the same Le'Veon Bell only better, quicker and faster," Bell's trainer said. Bell sat out all of the 2018 season while refusing to sign his franchise tender, but some teams might still be wary of that fact that he's already run the ball 1,229 times in five seasons in the league. Bell is still young, though, and he's one of the most versatile running backs in the game. He should remain firmly in the high-end RB1 picture no matter where he signs.
Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said he supports quarterback Ben Roethlisberger 100 percent as the team's unquestioned leader amid criticism from disgruntled receiver Antonio Brown. "I have no problem with him. He can call me out and thats fine. What he does I totally respect because Ive seen him too many times win games for us and come through in situations," Colbert said. Owner Art Rooney also said last month that they plan to sign Big Ben, 37, to a contract extension. Roethlisberger led the NFL in yards (5,129) and had a career-high 34 touchdowns, so he wasn't as washed up as most fantasy owners thought before the season. He'll still be in play as a QB1 next season, but losing Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown -- two of the best playmakers in football -- will surely hurt his overall ceiling.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Carlos Hyde is likely to be cut this offseason, as Hays Carlyon projects there's an 80 percent chance of that happening. The Jags would save $4.75 million if they were to release him. Hyde didn't do much at all after the team gave up a fifth-round pick for him in the middle of last season to serve as insurance for the injured Leonard Fournette. The 28-year-old ran 58 times for 189 yards (3.3 yards per carry) and no touchdowns in eight games. He could land a job on the open market, but Hyde is unlikely to receive a prominent role anywhere else.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway had his marijuana charge dropped on Thursday, according to his lawyer Kevin Spellacy. Callaway pleaded guilty to speeding on Oct. 14 in a hearing on Jan. 25. He paid $911 in fines and court costs and received one year of monitored probation for driving with a suspended license. The team's fourth-round pick last year must be on his best behavior to avoid a suspension from the league, however. The 22-year-old caught 43 passes for 586 yards and led the team with five touchdowns in his first year. If he can stay out of further trouble, Callaway should take the next step as the team's deep threat in an offense that is only getting better.
The Detroit Lions are not expected to re-sign impending unrestricted free-agent running back LeGarrette Blount this offseason. Tight ends Levine Toilolo and Luke Willson and defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois are also expected to hit the open market. The 32-year-old Blount had 154 carries for only 418 yards (career-low 2.7 yards per carry) and five touchdowns in his only season in Detroit. He had a whopping 18 touchdowns with the Patriots in 2016, but that was an outlier season for the former Oregon Duck, as he never topped six scores in any other year. He doesn't have much left at this point in his career and is strictly a short-yardage, goal-line back.
Arizona Cardinals LB Thurston Armbrister was waived Wednesday, Feb. 20.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst (foot), who was the 25th overall pick in last year's draft, said an X-ray showed he is now 100 percent after he had a screw removed from his foot. Hurst went down with a stress fracture in August and played in 12 games in his rookie season, catching only 13 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown. Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams will be free agents, so Hurst and 2018 third-round pick Mark Andrews could compete for playing time in 2019. Hurst is only 25 and has pass-catching upside, but he's still probably only an asset in dynasty/keeper leagues to begin next season. He could become a waiver wire pickup if he sees considerable playing time and proves he's healthy.
There is word on the street that Pittsburgh Steelers impending free-agent running back Le'Veon Bell is up to around 260 pounds after holding out for all of 2018. His playing weight is listed as 225 pounds. Bell may have lost a lot of that extra baggage now, but the Jets and other teams may be concerned about what kind of shape he's in. There's also concern about how much the 27-year-old has left in the tank after his 1,635 touches in five seasons. Bell is believed to be looking for a deal that nets him $48 million in the first three years of his next deal. He is arguably the best dual-threat running back in the last decade and should still be an RB1 in his new home.
Free-agent RB Le'Veon Bell (Steelers) reportedly weighed around 260 pounds during his year off from football. The Jets are fairly concerned about the shape Bell is in after he played at 225 pounds in 2017. New York is considered to be one of the front-runners to sign Bell this offseason. Despite the weight issue, the Jets will add him for the right price. The Jets currently boast the second largest salary cap heading into the offseason behind the Indianapolis Colts.
Fantasy Spin: Running back will be even more of a need if Isaiah Crowell is not retained. Bell would make a nice fit in green and white but is an RB1 candidate wherever he lands, assuming the weight won't be a big issue.
Carolina Panthers LB David Mayo (hernia) recently underwent surgery for a sports hernia, according to The Athletic's Joe Person. Mayo is rehabilitating and is expected to make a full recovery.
New York Giants impending free-agent SS Landon Collins is expected to be pursued by the Indianapolis Colts in free agency, according to The Herald Bulletin's George Bremer.
The Chicago Bears are expected to release tight end Dion Sims, according to a source. He was due $6 million in 2019, so he'll become a salary cap casualty. The 28-year-old played in just 22 games in his two years in Chicago and caught only 17 passes for 189 yards and one touchdown over that span. Sims is mainly a blocking tight end and won't have a huge market for his services this offseason.
Chicago Bears impending free-agent TE Dion Sims is expected to be released, according to a source. Cutting Sims saves the Bears $6 million in salary cap space.
New York Giants impending free-agent SS Landon Collins cleared out his locker and said goodbye to teammates Wednesday, Feb. 20, indicating he does not expect to return to the Giants this year.
Free-agent WR Jaelen Strong (Jaguars) was signed to an undisclosed deal by the Cleveland Browns Wednesday, Feb. 20.
Updating an ongoing saga, Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell will not be the recipient of the transition tag, according to general manager Kevin Colbert, Wednesday, Feb. 20. Bell will hit the open market in March.
Fantasy Spin: This isn't a big surprise. Gamers will have to wait to see where he ends up to get a true valuation, but Bell will remain in the RB1 ranks, albeit with risk, for 2019.
Los Angeles Rams running back C.J. Anderson said Todd Gurley's knee injury was worse than the team originally thought when they signed Anderson to take over for Gurley for the final two regular season games. "Yeah, he'd never really tell me. It was tough. I would say sprained knee," Anderson said. "Obviously, it's the same knee injury he's had before in his career." Head coach Sean McVay and the Rams were calling it knee inflammation. Gurley has taken a pounding and no player in the league has had more touches than him since the start of 2017. He had just 14 carries in the conference championship and Super Bowl combined, so something was clearly not right with the star back. Gurley has gone over 1,000 yards on the ground in three of his four seasons and had 21 total touchdowns in 2018, making him the league's premiere running back. Despite ending the year hobbled in the playoffs, Gurley is a no-brainer first overall fantasy selection in 2019.
Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said the team will attempt to trade wide receiver Antonio Brown this offseason, but they will not give him away. If the trade doesn't benefit the Steelers, they will not trade him. Both sides are ready to move on, but the Steelers are unlikely to get a ton for the star wideout. Brown has rubbed many in the organization the wrong way despite putting up six straight seasons of 1,000 yards and 100-plus catches. While he's still the cream of the receiving crop, Brown is heading into his age-31 season and will likely do so in a whole new offense. He'll remain a high-end WR1, but Brown will come with more risk than ever before.
Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said the team will not place the franchise or transition tag on running back Le'Veon Bell. "LeVeon is still a great player. We cant afford to use any other type of tags. LeVeon will be an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year," Colbert said. Bell held out for the entire 2018 season after the Steelers placed the franchise tag on him. He'll be free to sign any other club next month and is not expected back in Pittsburgh. The versatile back has 1,000-yard seasons in three of his five years in the NFL and is also one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league. He's likely to remain a strong RB1 wherever he goes next, but his upside will depend on the offense that he's in.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen's agent, Blake Baratz, thinks his client and two-time Pro Bowler could reach an extension with the team this offseason. Thielen signed a four-year deal worth $19.246 million in 2017 that will pay him around $8 million in 2019. He has outplayed his contract after setting career highs in catches (113), yards (1,373) and touchdowns (nine). Thielen just keeps improving season after season and has become a strong WR2 in point-per-reception leagues. It helps that he'll be working with quarterback Kirk Cousins again in 2019.