Wed Jan 26 10:40am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Samuel should get plenty of work
Wow, wow, wow. That is about all you can say about last week’s game. That might have been the greatest playoff weekend ever. Needless to say, this week has a lot to live up to. Hopefully, we can at least near those games. We’ll see. Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .
Josh Allen is so special. He had a game for the ages last week and lost. He had nine touchdowns without a turnover in the Bills two playoff games, showing he can come up big in the big game. Allen is a special, special player. At this point, I’m raking him first overall in my quarterback rankings for 2022. One thing that gets overlooked with Allen is his ability to make plays with his legs, rushing for 763 yard this season. This guy is as consistent it gets at the quarterback spot and is going to be a superstar for lots of years to come.
One player that is going to be intriguing next year is Gabriel Davis. He had one of the best games ever for a receiver in the playoffs, catching eight passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns. His stock is rising in a hurry, especially with Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley possibly gone next year. Davis should start opposite Stefon Diggs in the Bills explosive passing game. I’m not sure he is going to be a consistent play but expect plenty of big games. Plus, he is a great red-zone target because of his size and strength.
I think Tom Brady returns for one more season. He had a fantastic year once again and showed few signs of slowing down - if any. The Bucs were depleted at receiver by season’s end, so I think they reload there and give Brady one more shot to win it all. A healthy Chris Godwin and a new No. 3 to replace Antonio Brown would give Brady a big-time boost.
How do the Bucs let Cooper Kupp get behind him in the waning seconds of a tie game? I could not believe that one. I know Kupp is one of the best, so you can’t ignore that. But if I’m the Bucs, I do everything in my power to keep him in front of me to prevent a big play. I could not believe the end to that game. As for Kupp, he has 100-yard games six of his last eight games. He had one of the all-time great seasons for a receiver, so it was kind of a fitting end to this game for him.
And speaking of crazy finishes. You could second guess a lot with the end to that Bills/Chiefs, seeing a ton of points scored in a short time to send that game to overtime. The big one for me is seeing the Bills kick the ball into the end zone after they gook the lead with just 13 seconds left. I make the Chiefs run it back to run some time off the clock. I think they did them a favor by kicking it deep, giving Patrick Mahomes more time to do his thing. That was my big beef with how that played out. But even with that said, it was sure exciting to watch. Wow. That was probably the best football game I ever watched.
I had a hard time picking the games last week and am feeling the same way this week. These aren’t easy decisions. I have a hard time picking against the Chiefs right now, though. I never thought they would make three straight Super Bowls, but just can’t see the Bengals going on the road and winning that one. The Chiefs are playing their best football at the right time. And over in the NFC, I am going with the 49ers. They beat the Rams twice during the regular season and think they will make it a third time. San Francisco just seems a team of destiny. Their defense is playing great and I expect the offense, mainly the running game, to play much better this week. The Rams impressed last week, but I still don’t have total faith in Matthew Stafford. Maybe he showed me last week, but I don’t think the Rams run the ball well this week and Stafford will be forced to carry the offense against a very good 49ers defense.
Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs. Kelce is red hot right now, having touchdowns five straight games. He also has 100-yard games two of those weeks. Kelce has 23-plus fantasy points two straight and three of five. He is setup to find the end zone again this week against the Bengals. Cincinnati struggles to stop the tight end, allowing the sixth most fantasy points to tight ends during the regular season.
Deebo Samuel, WR, 49ers. Samuel just keeps getting it done on a weekly basis. He has touchdowns three of four games. He has 20-plus fantasy points nine times this season. His rushing numbers make him a force at the receiver spot, producing as a dual threat for all his fantasy owners. Samuel had huge success in two games against the Rams this season. Samuel had 300 total yards and three touchdowns, catching nine passes. He should be heavily involved in the 49ers game plan.
Cam Akers, RB, Rams. Akers is back and looks to be the clear lead back for the Rams. He ran the ball 24 times last week and has 41 carries in the Rams two playoff games. Unfortunately, the Rams running game isn’t opening many holes for him right now. Akers has 41 carries for just 103 yards in those two games. And things won’t get much easier for him this week against the 49ers. The 49ers held the Rams to 116-rushing yards in two games this year. Ie might be more of the same for Akers.
Elijah Mitchell, RB, 49ers. Mitchell had a breakout season, emerging as the lead back for the 49ers and having much success in that role. His lack of work in the passing game holds him back little, though, especially in games against a team that does well in holding down the run. He faces one of those teams this week, the Rams. Los Angeles held Mitchell to fewer than double-digit fantasy points in each of their games this year. Mitchell got 20-plus carries in each game but couldn’t crack double-digit points despite the work. He might be tough sledding for him again this week.
Byron Pringle, WR, Chiefs. Pringle has really emerged as a consistent threat in the Chiefs passing game. He has five receptions three straight games. And he has at least five catches four of five games. He also has three touchdowns in two playoff games this year. Patrick Mahomes has more trust in him and is looking his way a lot more often. He could be a good play again this week in a game that could be very high scoring once again.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals. Boyd can disappear at times in this offense with two top weapons to compete with for targets this year. But he has still produced some big games this year. He is more than capable. He has touchdowns four of five games. He also has three games with 20-plus fantasy points. The Chiefs allowed Cole Beasley to have six receptions for 60 yards last week. Beasley plays a similar position to Boyd, so that bodes well for Boyd to have some success in this matchup.
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: Bengals/Chiefs, 49ers/Rams.
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.
Buccaneers' second-year quarterback Kyle Trask looked solid in Saturday's 26-24 preseason loss to the Dolphins. He completed 25 of his 33 passes for 258 yards, adding one touchdown and one interception. Trask even led the Bucs on a potential game-winning drive that unfortunately ended in a missed field goal. With Tom Brady returning for yet another season, Trask will not be an option in 2022 redraft leagues, but he is worth a stash in dynasty formats as the prospective future starter in Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Rachaad White turned seven carries into 32 yards and added two receptions for 13 yards during the preseason bout against Miami. He was also involved on special teams, returning two kicks for 43 yards. Although he ran behind Giovani Bernard and Ke'Shawn Vaughn, he was the most efficient of the three. The rookie profiles as a skilled receiving back and has been a standout in training camp, where he has been getting some reps with the first-team offense. He could see the field in 2022 if he continues to impress and may be worth a late-round flier in redraft fantasy leagues.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn handled 10 carries for 19 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's preseason loss to the Dolphins. He also added two receptions for 22 yards. Vaughn led the team in carries but failed to make an impact on the ground outside of the one-yard score. Leonard Fournette should continue to be a three-down back this season, but the Bucs also added Rachaad White in the third round of the 2022 draft, and pass-catching specialist Giovani Bernard is still on the roster. In this crowded backfield, it's hard to imagine Vaughn becoming fantasy-relevant at any point this season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers veteran quarterback Blaine Gabbert got the start in the team's preseason opener against the Dolphins. He completed all five of his passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. Gabbert and second-year player Kyle Trask will continue to compete for the QB2 job behind Tom Brady. Trask shined on Saturday as well, but it's plausible that the Bucs rely on Gabbert's 11 years of experience if Brady were to miss any time this season. Brady has not missed a single game due to injury since 2008, however, so neither Gabbert nor Trask is expected to make a fantasy impact this season.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones had a rough go finding success during Sunday's practice, per observers. The signal caller is reported to have gone 6-for-20 through the air, including tossing an interception. While Kadarius Toney (leg, knee) was unavailable, Jones still struggled to get the ball out to his playmakers. The 25-year-old kicked off his preseason with a 6-for-10 passing performance in a win over New England, having thrown for 69 yards, while incurring a sack. The upcoming year is likely an inflection point for Jones and the Giants, after the first-round pick threw for just 10 passing touchdowns across 11 games last season. He is likely on the outside-looking of being a QB1 in the vast majority of fantasy formats.
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (knee) is set to have surgery on his partially torn meniscus Tuesday, per Jets head coach Robert Saleh. Wilson sustained the injury -- along with a bone bruise -- during the team's preseason opener against the Eagles. The expectation within New York is that the signal caller avoided a serious long-term injury. While Wilson has initially received a two-to-four week recovery diagnosis, it's always possible that could change coming out of surgery. For now, the Jets appear content to move forward with Joe Flacco as their starting quarterback, which would set up a Week 1 rematch with the organization that the veteran took to the Super Bowl a decade ago. Wilson was likely already facing a muddled path to fantasy consideration in most fantasy formats, but managers will want to check back post-surgery to get a clearer picture of his anticipated return.
Third-year receiver Tyler Johnson put on a show in Tampa Bay's preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins, turning seven targets into six receptions for 73 yards. Johnson made a few excellent catches, and this performance validates the positive reports on him out of training camp. The wide receiver room in Tampa Bay is undeniably loaded, but injuries loom over the team's projected top three targets. Chris Godwin's (knee) timetable is still uncertain following an ACL tear, Mike Evans (hamstring) is nursing a minor hamstring injury, and Russell Gage (leg) suffered an injury of his own recently. The Buccaneers brought in a healthy Julio Jones, but a hamstring injury has plagued him in each of his past two seasons. Johnson, who has previously flashed in limited opportunities, is not currently worth a look in 2022 fantasy drafts. However, he could be a name to monitor if any of the Bucs' receivers miss time to start the season.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (appendectomy) is back in action at practice Sunday for the first time since undergoing an appendectomy in July. Despite continuously not having a timetable for his return, it appears the Bengals will have their signal caller back with ample time to ramp up before Week 1 of the regular season against Pittsburgh. Presumed backup Brandon Allen went 3-for-3 during Cincinnati's preseason opener vs. the Cardinals, with Jake Browning and Drew Plitt garnering significant snaps in Burrow's absence as well. On the heels of a breakout 2021 campaign that saw the 25-year-old Burrow both lead the league in completion percentage (70.4%) and take his team to the Super Bowl, the offensive weapons that the Bengals have assembled figure to make the young quarterback a popular choice among top fantasy targets.
Philadelphia Eagles running backs Miles Sanders (leg) and Boston Scott (concussion) were held out of practice Sunday due to respective ailments. The move seems precautionary in Sanders' case, as the team's expected lead back hauled in two receptions for 20 yards during Friday's preseason opener against the Jets. Scott has been dealing with a concussion for over a week. Kenneth Gainwell likely would step into a larger role if both players are sidelined for any period of time, although Jason Huntley led Philly with 16 carries in Week 1 of the preseason. Sanders amassed 754 yards on the ground last season, but he did not manage to find the end zone. Scott, conversely, was the red zone bell cow, racking up seven rushing scores despite receiving just 87 rushing attempts all year.
It's not usually a good sign for a player's regular season value if they're playing a lot in the first preseason game. Houston Texans running back Royce Freeman is the latest example of that, as he touched the football 15 times in Sunday's win over the Saints. He finished with 25 rushing yards and 19 receiving yards. Seeing Freeman on the field as much as he was suggests that he's the No. 4 running back at best for the Texans and therefore shouldn't be on anyone's fantasy radar at this point.
Houston Texans starting quarterback Davis Mills led two drives for the Texans in Saturday's preseason opener against the Saints. Both drives were three-and-outs. Mills completed all three of his pass attempts, but only for 14 yards. It wasn't a particularly encouraging first showing of the season for Mills, but he's still set to be Houston's starter this year and shouldn't face any pressure from Jeff Driskel, who threw three interceptions on Saturday. As far as fantasy goes, Mills projects to be a low-end QB2 at best based on the makeup of this offense.
Houston Texans rookie running back Dameon Pierce ran the ball five times in the team's preseason win over the Saints, finishing with 49 yards. Preseason is obviously tough to judge, but seeing Pierce average 9.8 yards per carry while Marlon Mack averaged just 2.0 seems like a good sign for Pierce in the race to be Houston's No. 1 running back. While running backs on teams like the Texans tend to be fairly boom-or-bust because of how often the team is playing from behind, Pierce is looking like an intriguing fantasy sleeper right now.
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus went 2-for-2 on extra points during Saturday's preseason victory over the Dallas Cowboys. He also converted his lone field goal attempt. The 31-year-old has been one of the NFL's more reliable kickers, so it comes as no surprise that the Broncos did not entertain any competition for McManus this offseason. He finished as the K17 last year, connecting on 26 of 31 field goals and 33 of 34 extra points. He is generally reliable and plays half his games in the high altitude of Denver, so he's worth rostering in most leagues.
Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz completed 10-of-13 passes for 74 yards with no turnovers in Saturday's loss to the Carolina Panthers. The newly acquired quarterback kept most passes close to the line of scrimmage while spreading targets around to multiple receivers. Before his substitution, Wentz led a 14-play, 82-yard drive to give the Commanders their first touchdown. While decision-making has been an issue for the former No.2 overall pick as of late, this performance provides some hope for what he has to offer in his seventh NFL season. Wentz is a borderline QB2 and is mainly an option in superflex league formats.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Kendall Hinton hauled in three of four targets for 53 yards during Saturday's preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys. His best play was a gorgeous 24-yard touchdown reception in which Josh Johnson placed the football perfectly and Hinton tracked it well before catching it in the end zone. The 25-year-old Wake Forest product is expected to make the roster in 2022, filling a special teams role while offering depth at wide receiver in the wake of Tim Patrick's ACL tear. Last year, he hauled in 15 passes for 175 yards and one touchdown.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Seth Williams turned four targets into four catches for 29 yards and a touchdown during Saturday's preseason victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Williams spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad, though he did appear in two games, hauling in his lone target for a 34-yard catch. He is competing for a roster spot as training camp continues and hopes to offer depth to a unit that recently lost Tim Patrick (ACL).
Los Angeles Rams quarterbackBryce Perkinscompleted 10-of-17 passes for 133 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions in the Rams' 29-22 preseason win over the Los Angeles Chargers. He added 39 yards on the ground on eight rush attempts for one touchdown. Perkins, who is third on the depth chart behind John Wolford and Matthew Stafford, started and played the whole game. In 2021, Perkins also played the entirety of the final two preseason games. The Rams signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2020 after setting the career University of Virginia record for total offense. While he spent most of 2020 and 2021 on the practice squad, Perkins will suit up as the backup if Stafford's shoulder injury causes him to miss games.
Denver Broncos quarterback Josh Johnson completed 16 of 23 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns during Saturday's preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys. He also rushed for three yards. Johnson is competing to be the Broncos' backup quarterback and has now played for 15 NFL teams in 13 years, not to mention his time in the UFL, AAF, and XFL. The 36-year-old appeared in four games for the Ravens last season, completing 67.1 percent of his passes for 639 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. Even if he wins a roster spot, he has no fantasy relevance.
Denver Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien completed just eight of 18 pass attempts for 113 yards during Saturday's preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Josh Johnson played the first half while Rypien handled the second half. The 26-year-old hasn't seen meaningful snaps since 2020, when he completed 27 of 40 passes for 295 yards, two touchdowns, and four interceptions.
Los Angeles Rams running backJake Funkrushed for 16 yards on six carries in Saturday's 29-22 preseason victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. He also caught one pass for ten yards on two targets. Funk, who is third on the depth chart, was the starter at running back and left the game after two drives. He finished with fewer carries and yards than fellow running backsRaymond Calaisand A.J. Rose but more thanTrey Ragas. With Rams head coach Sean McVay typically keeping his starters off the field during preseason, Funk will have more opportunities in the next two preseason games against the Texans and Bengals.