Wed Sep 15 11:08am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Swift can produce big this week
Well, that was a great first week of action. We had it all with some great games, big fantasy performances and disappointing showings. Just remember, it is a really long season that can change in a hurry. Again, don’t ignore what happened but don’t jump the gun with conclusions based on a week of action. With that said, here are my random thoughts for the week. . . . .
The running back situations in San Francisco and Baltimore are tough ones right now. For me, I like Elijah Mitchell the best out of the 49ers options. I do think he carries risk in an offense that likes to rotate backs but his ceiling is really high if he can grab hold of that starter’s job. So while he might be a boom or bust pickup this week, I think his ceiling is high enough that he is worth going big on when trying to acquire him.
Now Ty’son Williams is in a similar situation, but I worry about his competition a tad more, especially after seeing Latavius Murray getting so much work after just getting signed. Again, I think Williams is the back with the most upside, but he isn’t a sure thing by any means. It would not surprise me to see more of a timeshare in Baltimore. The good news is both of these backs play in very good run offenses, giving them nice weekly potential even if they aren’t getting as many carries as a true starter.
I think one of the big takeaways from Week 1 is that Dak Prescott is healthy and ready to have a huge season in this offense. Remember, he was posting monster numbers before his injury last year, so his ceiling is so high with all of these top weapons to work with in the passing game. Plus, he plays in an offense that has a history of producing good fantasy numbers for quarterbacks.
I would not worry too much about Aaron Rodgers just yet. He will figure it out and get going. He is too talented and has too much pride to repeat a performance like last week. Remember, he missed most of the offseason workouts with the team. Those workouts are really valuable to get everyone on the same page - even for a veteran like Rodgers. This team is too talented to keep playing at that level. Don’t panic just yet.
So I am concerned about Brandon Aiyuk. I always say don’t overreact to a game but his start to the season was concerning, especially if you hear what his coach had to say about the reason for his lack of playing time. Aiyuk has talent and time to turn it around, but it was not good to see him on the sidelines so much. I would keep him on my bench until he starts getting targets and weekly production.
Kyler Murray and that Cardinals offense sure looked great. There are a lot of elite fantasy quarterbacks, but Murray has a real chance to finish first overall in fantasy quarterback scoring this year. He seems to have taken his game to a new level and his assortment of weapons gives you hope for big-time production on a weekly basis.
I am excited to bring you the first RTSports Weekly livestream this Wednesday at 2 PM EST. This stream is going to be dedicated to the community at RealTime Fantasy Sports. I feel like the community here at RTSports is what separates us from other sites. And this stream is going to be focused on talking about the players on our site, including performances from the past week. There is going to be some strategy talk as well and I will take some questions if you have them. Please tune in this week. I’m looking forward to the stream. And I’m open to suggestions if you have them. You can watch it here: www.twitch.tv/jpaur18.
News and Notes: The 49ers signed cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick on Monday. He helps provide some depth in a secondary that has been hit by injury. . . . .Tampa Bay named running back Ronald Jones the starter for this week’s game. Jones played little of the bench for the Bucs last week, getting benched for losing a fumble. . . . .The Titans released kicker Michael Badgley on Monday, a day after he missed his only field-goal attempt and an extra-point try. The team has Randy Bullock on the practice squad, so he could get his chance to kick this week. . . . .The Panthers cut kicker Ryan Santoso on Tuesday. Carolina signed kicker Zane Gonzalez to take over the starting duties for the team. . . . .The NFL Players Association has determined that wide receiver Josh Gordon has successfully completed his NFL-monitored treatment program and has recommended to the league that he be reinstated.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Lions. Swift didn’t start last week but led the Lions in playing time at running back. He played 63 snaps compared to 32 for Jamaal Williams. Swift was targeted 11 times in the game and finished with 104 total yards and a touchdown. His playing time should just increase going forward as he gets healthier. He plays a Packers team last week that was a disaster, allowing the third most rushing yards in the league (171). Swift can come up big again this week for fantasy teams.
Deebo Samuel, WR, 49ers. Samuel was the clear No. 1 receiver for the 49ers last week, finishing with nine receptions for 189 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets. Many thought Brandon Aiyuk was going to be the guy in San Francisco, but that is not the case right now. Samuel led all 49ers in snaps, having 46 in the game. He played 19 more than the next 49ers receiver. Samuel is going to rack up the targets on a weekly basis in this offense. He should keep it going this week against the Eagles. Philadelphia did well in limiting the Falcons passing game last week, but this team is susceptible through the air.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks. Wilson got off to a great start last week, missing on just five passes while throwing for 254 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. And he did this against a good Colts defense on the road. Things will get easier for him this week against the Titans at home. Tennessee was torched by the Cardinals passing game in the opener. The Titans allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks in Week 1.
David Montgomery, RB, Bears. Montgomery was a big bright spot for the Bears last week. He topped the 100-yard rushing mark against a team that didn’t allow a 100-yard rusher all last season. Montgomery ran 16 times for 108 yards and a touchdown against the Rams. He had a tough matchup last week and produced, but gets a much easier test this week. Montgomery plays the Bengals, a team that allowed the seventh most fantasy points to running backs in Week 1.
Mike Williams, WR, Chargers. Williams looked great in the Chargers new offense last week, being a great fit for his spot in the passing attack. He had eight receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets against a very good Washington defense. Williams might be able to build on that this week against the Cowboys, a team that has big issues against the pass. Dallas allowed the sixth most fantasy points to receivers in the opener.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders. Jacobs ran hard and scored two touchdowns last week, but was really held in check. He ran 10 times for just 34 yards and looked hobbled throughout the game. He faces a similar tough test this week against the Steelers. Pittsburgh has one of the best defenses in football and allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to running backs in Week 1. It is tough to sit Jacobs but just temper your expectations for him in this one.
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, 49ers. Aiyuk was a huge bust last week. Most thought he would be the top target this year for the 49ers but he played sparingly, playing behind Trent Sherfield. Aiyuk played just 26 snaps while Sherfield played 27. And comments from head coach Kyle Shanahan were a little concerning, saying Sherfield deserved to play before him. He might be trying to send a message to Aiyuk, but for now, Aiyuk belongs on fantasy benches until he does something on the field.
Sam Darnold, QB, Panthers. Darnold had an impressive opener, throwing for 279 yards and a touchdown without a turnover. He did this against a pretty mediocre Jets defense, though. He has a much tougher test this week against the Saints. New Orleans just made Aaron Rodgers look silly. Darnold is not on the same level as Rodgers, so expect him to come back down to earth in this matchup.
Mark Ingram, RB, Texans. Ingram led the Texans in rushes, getting 26 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown. He got a lot of work with the Texans getting a big lead in the game. This won’t be the case every week. The Texans really did split up the work at running back in Week 1. Ingram had 35 snaps while David Johnson played 22 and Phillip Lindsay got 20 snaps. This was a pretty even split between the three backs but game flow could dictate Ingram’s playing time. If the Texans have to throw, Ingram won’t be on the field. Ingram plays the Browns this week, a team that just took the Chiefs toe to toe. Cleveland might win this one going away, meaning Ingram won’t be on the field nearly as much.
Russell Gage, WR, Falcons. Gage did not catch a pass on two targets last week. He got playing time, playing 48 of 71 snaps, but didn’t get the work. He could be up and down in this offense all season, especially with Kyle Pitts now a big part of this passing attack. Gage is going to be a matchup play on a weekly basis. And this week isn’t one to use him, playing the Bucs. Sure, Tampa was torched by the Cowboys passing game last week but Atlanta doesn’t have near the firepower of the Cowboys. Look for the Bucs to put the clamps on this offense in Week 2.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Broncos. The Broncos looked like they made the right decision on their quarterback after a week. Bridgewater looked great in the opener, going 28-of-36 for 264 yards and two touchdowns without a turnover. He moved the offense and got their top playmakers involved in the passing game. He is not going to be an every-week starter by any means but a good spot play. He can produce the big game for the Broncos. Bridgewater has a prime matchup for success this week, playing the Jaguars. Jacksonville couldn’t stop the Texans last week, which is great news for Bridgewater and the Broncos.
Dyami Brown, WR, Washington. Brown didn’t produce on the field last week but had the second most snaps (51) of the receivers in Washington. He caught just a pass but was targeted four times in the game. Brown got a ton of playing time and showed he is going to be a big part of this passing game going forward. Brown is setup to have some big games this year and one could come this week against the Giants. New York allowed 255-passing yards in Week 1 against a mediocre Broncos passing game.
JaMycal Hasty, RB, 49ers. Hasty didn’t play much in the opener but was on the field for 16 plays. Elijah Mitchell got most of the work (35 snaps) with Raheem Mostert out, but Hasty was out there some despite not getting many touches. He is going to get his work while Mostert is out. The 49ers like to rotate backs and get several backs involved in the game plan. It would not surprise to see Hasty get double-digit touches in this game. Remember, he played well this preseason, which is why he was ahead of rookie Trey Sermon on the depth chart to start his season.
Zach Pascal, WR, Colts. Pascal had four receptions for 43 yards and two touchdowns on five targets in Week 1. He led the Colts receivers in targets, getting a chance to start opposite Michael Pittman. Pascal is going to keep starting as long as TY Hilton is out. Pascal has a tough matchup this week against the Rams, but Jalen Ramsey likely shadows Michael Pittman in the game, leaving Pascal with more favorable coverages. He might lead the Colts receivers in targets once again. The Rams might get up big in this one after an impressive opener, meaning the Colts have to play catch up.
Jared Cook, TE, Chargers. Cook had a solid first game with the Chargers, catching five receptions for 56 yards on eight targets. He looked to be a big part of the Chargers passing game and could be a fine fantasy play throughout the season. Cook can build on his first game in Week 2, playing the Cowboys. Dallas was burnt by Rob Gronkowski in Week 1, having all sorts of trouble stoping the tight end.
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: 49ers/Eagles, Vikings/Cardinals, Falcons/Bucs, Cowboys/Chargers, Titans/Seahawks, Chiefs/Ravens.
Low Scoring Games: Giants/Washington, Bengals/Bears.
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 email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Carolina Panthers tight end Ian Thomas and tight end Tommy Tremble will take on the Giants in Week 7. Both players split the playing time relatively evenly last week, as Thomas played 54 percent of the snaps compared to Tremble's 51 percent. The Giants have allowed four touchdowns to the position, so one of these two could find the end zone in Week 7. Given that the Panthers have shown some creativity with Tremble at the goal-line, he looks like the slightly better bet of the two to produce a decent line.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell (foot) underwent foot surgery on Friday and could miss the rest of the season. The 24-year-old exited Monday's win over the Texans early with a foot injury. He was placed on injured reserve earlier this week. Campbell caught 10-of-17 targets for 162 yards and the one touchdown in five games this year. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Campbell underwent surgery on Friday, potentially ending his season. While Campbell is sidelined, T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, and Michael Pittman should see an uptick in targets.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones continues to produce for fantasy managers. He rushed 13 times for 76 yards and caught all four targets for 34 yards and a touchdown in the Packers' 24-14 win over the Chicago Bears in Week 6. The 26-year-old has found the end zone six times over his last six games this season. Jones has made the most out of his receptions out of the backfield, averaging 8.9 YAC per reception, seventh among all running backs. Washington is ranked 28th in rush DVOA and allows 20 fantasy points per game to opposing team's running backs. Jones should be busy on Sunday and is set up to have a massive performance in a plus matchup against Washington in Week 7.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson has struggled this season heading into a favorable matchup against the Giants. Anderson has caught just 15 of 40 targets for 190 yards and two touchdowns, posting a career-worst 37.5 percent catch rate. However, 29 of those 40 targets have come in the past three weeks, as the speedy wideout has seen his involvement in the offense skyrocket with Christian McCaffrey (hamstring) sidelined. Anderson should remain heavily involved with fellow receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. (head) trending in the wrong direction for Sunday's game. With a potentially elite target share incoming and a matchup against a Giants defense that has allowed the eighth-most touchdowns to wideouts on tap- Anderson could be poised for his best game of the year.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers could have another massive fantasy day in Week 7 against the Washington Football Team. Washington has been unable to stop the pass and has given up the most yards through the air. The future Hall of Famer has been terrific in 2021, throwing for 1,436 yards and a 12:3 TD: INT ratio along with 27 rushing yards and two scores over six games in 2021. Rodgers is a surefire QB1 and is set to finish as a top-5 fantasy QB in a plus matchup against Washington.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore has morphed into an elite receiver this season. Moore ranks among the top-seven wideouts in targets, receptions, and receiving yards while on pace to smash his previous career-high of four touchdowns- he currently has three. The former 2018 first-round pick draws a potentially tricky one-on-one matchup this week against Giants corner James Bradberry, though New York's defense as a whole has struggled to contain the passing game. Moore has proven he can win any matchup and should be started as an elite WR1 this week.
Carolina Panthers running back Chuba Hubbard gets a great matchup in Week 7 against the Giants. New York ranks 27th in rush DVOA- and has allowed an average of 29.13 fantasy points per game to running backs, the fifth-most in the league. Hubbard has been a workhorse over the last two weeks, as he has played at least 65 percent of the snaps while averaging 23 touches per contest. In another potential boost to the rookie's value, head coach Matt Rhule spoke this week about making the Panthers a more run-first team moving forward. With RB1-level volume, Hubbard looks poised for a top-15 finish in Week 7.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold could be poised to bounce back in Week 7 against the Giants. After a hot start, Darnold has fallen back down to earth, as he has thrown just four touchdowns while tossing six interceptions in his last three games played. To make matters worse, head coach Matt Rhule has spoken this week about running the ball more- or essentially taking the ball out of Darnold's hands to limit mistakes. Even on potentially fewer passing attempts, the USC product is perfectly capable of delivering a solid fantasy line against a Giants defense that has surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Darnold is a sleeper option in Week 7.
Cleveland Browns kicker Chase McLaughlin made one of his two field goals in a 17-14 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 7. Kicking in windy conditions, McLaughlin made a 52-yard field goal at the end of the first quarter and had a field goal blocked by Denver near the end of the second. McLaughlin also chipped in two extra points in the win. The veteran has been an excellent find for Cleveland this season, going 10-for-11 on his field-goal tries and making all 17 of his extra points. He will take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 8.
The Cleveland Browns defense played well in a 17-14 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 7's Thursday night game. Cleveland held the Broncos to 223 yards of total offense while picking up two sacks and an interception in the win. The Browns were led by Myles Garrett, who posted 1.5 sacks, with Jadeveon Clowney chipping in on the second sack. It wasn't all good news, however, as the team lost top cornerback Denzel Ward to a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter. Ward is headed for an MRI on Friday. Cleveland now has 10 days to rest up before an important divisional game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 8.
Cleveland Browns tight end Austin Hooper led his team in receiving in a 17-14 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 7's Thursday night game. Hooper wound up catching two of three targets for 42 yards in the win on a windy evening in Cleveland. The veteran tight end did most of his damage on a 34-yard reception on Cleveland's second play of the game, a drive that ended in a D'Ernest Johnson touchdown. Hooper broke a streak of three straight games with less than 20 receiving yards in the win. The veteran tight end will look to build upon his performance in Week 8 when he takes on the Pittsburgh Steelers in a divisional clash.
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku caught both of his targets for 18 yards in a 17-14 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 7's Thursday Night Football game. Njoku showed his athleticism on a short screen pass on a third-and-nine in which he exploded up the field for a first down on a 12-yard gain, but he was mostly quiet after that. The veteran tight end hasn't done much since going off for 149 yards and a touchdown in Week 5, having corralled just three balls in the two games since. He will look for another big outing in Week 8's important divisional clash against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones (groin) and cornerback Denzel Ward (hamstring) are headed for MRIs on Friday after both got injured on Thursday night. Peoples-Jones pulled his groin during pre-game warmups and was held out of his team's 17-14 win over the Denver Broncos. Ward left during the fourth quarter of the win with a hamstring injury and did not return. The team, and fantasy gamers, will know more about the status of both players after their respective MRIs on Friday.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry caught five of eight targets for 37 yards in a 17-14 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 7. Landry was making his first appearance since Week 2 when he sprained his knee and instantly stepped in to lead the team in targets in the Thursday night win. The veteran wideout did provide a scare late in the game as he had to limp off of the field following his final catch of the game. He appeared to be in significant pain while being attended to by trainers on the sidelines but he eventually was able to return to action. Head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters after the game that Landry was shaken up on the play and that he will be okay. Landry now has 10 days to rest before Cleveland takes on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 8.
Los Angeles Rams running back Sony Michel (shoulder) was a limited participant at Thursday's practice. He missed Wednesday's practice with a shoulder issue and was spotted in a red non-contact jersey on Thursday. The former New England Patriot has rushed for 205 rushing yards and a touchdown while hauling in four passes for 20 yards in his six games in 2021. Michel is the clear backup to Darrell Henderson Jr. and is a borderline flex play at best in Week 7 against the Detroit Lions. Fantasy managers should check Friday's injury report for Michel's official status as the 26-year-old is considered questionable for Week 7.
Cleveland Browns running back Demetric Felton carried the ball twice for 13 yards and added three receptions for 21 yards in a 17-14 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 7's Thursday Night Football contest. Felton showed explosiveness on his limited touches but mostly stood by and watched as teammate D'Ernest Johnson operated as the team's lead back in the win. The carries were the first of Felton's NFL career while he now has 11 receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown through six games. Considering his usage on Thursday night, Felton is unlikely to see a very large role in Week 8 when the Browns take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. caught two of six targets for 23 yards in a Week 7 win over the Denver Broncos on Thursday night. Beckham, who was originally not expected to play through a shoulder injury, seemed to be affected by the issue as he committed a drop and slipped on another incompletion that most likely would have been caught had he remained on his feet. Beckham also aggravated his shoulder injury trying to make a diving catch and appeared to be in considerable pain, although he was able to return to the contest after halftime. Trending in the wrong direction, Beckham will be a shaky flex option in Week 8 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but at least he gets 10 days to heal up now.
Cleveland Browns running back D'Ernest Johnson turned in an excellent performance in a 17-14 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 7's Thursday night game. Johnson carried the ball 22 times for 146 yards and a touchdown while adding 22 yards on two catches in the win. The veteran back found the end zone on a four-yard run to cap off his team's first drive of the game. Johnson showed nice burst, agility, and power while running around and through attempted tackles in the win on Thursday evening. The Browns could be getting Nick Chubb (calf) back ahead of their Week 8 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers but Johnson should remain in the mix with Kareem Hunt (calf) still on the injured reserve list. Either way, Johnson needs to be rostered in all leagues moving forward.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Case Keenum completed 21 of 33 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown in a 17-14 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 7's Thursday Night Football game. Keenum, who drew the start with Baker Mayfield reportedly dealing with a fracture and a torn labrum in his left shoulder, mostly played well for Cleveland. His lone touchdown pass was a one-yard toss to fullback Johnny Stanton. He did dodge a bullet when the Browns recovered his fumble into the Denver end zone on a rushing attempt. With news coming out that Mayfield's shoulder injury is worse than initially reported, it wouldn't be a big surprise to see Keenum back out there in Week 8 when the Browns face the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Denver Broncos defense had promise heading into a Week 7 Thursday night matchup against a Cleveland Browns offense missing quarterback Baker Mayfield (shoulder) and running backs Nick Chubb (calf) and Kareem Hunt (calf). Cleveland's No. 1 rushing offense didn't miss a beat, as No. 3 back D'Ernest Johnson rushed for 146 yards and a score on 22 carries. The Browns rushed for a total of 184 yards in the 17-14 win. Denver's D allowed only 17 points, but they failed to record a turnover and managed just one sack on backup quarterback Case Keenum. The Broncos defense has created only one turnover during their four-game losing streak. The silver lining from Thursday is that top pass-rusher Von Miller (ankle) isn't expected to miss time after suffering an ugly looking ankle injury in the first half. Still, even if Miller plays in Week 8 against the Washington Football Team, this defense has become unreliable.