Wed Feb 3 8:59am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Hill could be Super Bowl MVP
We made it. That is the best news of the entire year. It is hard to believe that the NFL was able to navigate the COVID season so well. But we made it. It can only get better from here, right? Enjoy the Super Bowl and celebrate the crazy season we just endured. It is a year and NFL season we won’t forget.
Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .
So as for the game this week, I’m going with the Bucs. I know the Chiefs are rolling and seem destined to repeat, but I have a hard time betting against Tom Brady. The Bucs offense is playing as well as it has all season and that defense has really picked it up. Plus, Tampa is playing in their home stadium, which I think is an advantage for the team. It isn’t a huge advantage, but it helps to be familiar with your surroundings. Don’t overlook that. My final score: Bucs 35, Chiefs 31.
I already wrote a column about it, so check it out. But I think the trade of Matthew Stafford is a huge boost to his fantasy value. I think he can be a top-10 fantasy quarterback next season in that offense. The Rams have great playmakers and an offensive scheme that can really help a quarterback. This is great news for Stafford’s fantasy value.
You have to wonder what Deshaun Watson will fetch in a trade after seeing all the picks Stafford got his team. Watson could really bring in a haul for the Texans. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Houston obviously wants to keep Watson, but he isn’t budging on his demand to be traded. The Texans recent history of trades isn’t very good. Hopefully, for their fans, they don’t screw this one up. A trade of Watson could really set up the franchise for years to come with a ton of picks.
If you thought the quarterback position was deep this past year, wait until next season. I have already started working on our draft guide for next season, examining the position. I really think there are at least nine quarterbacks that are capable of finishing first overall in fantasy quarterback scoring. And there are more players that are capable of emerging to be No. 1 fantasy quarterbacks. Much like this past season, I’m waiting on the position come draft day in 2021. This quarterback spot is super deep right now.
Rookie receivers were really good this past season. Several players emerged as top players and should be great for years to come. And the speculation this year is the draft class of receivers is just as deep. There are several players that are NFL ready and set to make an impact in 2021. It is an interesting time at the position, a bit of a changing of the guard. So come draft day next year, don’t hesitate to pick a rookie receiver. Remember, we had a rookie (Justin Jefferson) finish sixth overall in fantasy receiver scoring.
News and Notes: Packers head coach Matt LaFleur stated that quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be with the team a long time. There was speculation Rodgers could be moving on after his post-game statements, but it seems that isn’t going to happen, especially with Jordan Love looking to be a long way from being NFL ready. . . . .The Rams traded for quarterback Matthew Stafford, sending Jared Goff and multiple picks to the Lions to complete the trade. Stafford takes over as the starter for the Rams and looks to provide more consistency at quarterback. Goff will take over as the starter for the Lions until his successor (whoever that might be) is ready to play.
Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs. Hill had a monster year and has continued to play well in the playoffs. He has two straight 100-yard games and has 17 receptions in this two playoff games. Hill actually had his best game of the season against the Bucs in Week 12. He scored a whopping 57.9 fantasy points in that game, catching 13 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns. The Bucs defense is playing much, much better this year, but this game has to be a concern for the Tampa. Hill has a good chance to produce big once again.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Bucs. Fournette is playing his best football during the playoffs for the Bucs. He has scores three straight and at least 18 fantasy points all three of the playoff games. Ronald Jones is healthy and playing, but Fournette is leading the backfield right now for the Bucs. Don’t expect that to change against the Chiefs. It would make sense for the Bucs to try to run a little more often to keep the Chiefs explosive offense off the field. Look for Fournette to keep his strong play going in the Super Bowl.
Mike Evans, WR, Bucs. Evans remains a bit of a touchdown dependent player. He has scores two straight games, which is a positive, but has just four catches for 54 yards in those games. He has fewer than double-digit fantasy points three of seven games. He scored twice against the Chiefs earlier this year but had just 50 yards. The Chiefs defense is playing at a different level right now, especially the pass defense. Kansas City has allowed fewer than 235-passing yards each of their playoffs games, including their last game out against a top Bills pass offense. Evans could disappear in this one.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Chiefs. Edwards-Helaire might be back and starting once again for the Chiefs, but that doesn’t mean he belongs in fantasy lineups. He scored a touchdown his last game out but ran six times for just seven yards. He has fewer than double-digit fantasy points three of his last four games. He could have another disappearing act this week against a good Bucs rush defense. Tampa was first overall against the run in the regular season and allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to running backs.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Bucs. Gronkowski has been kind of the forgotten man in the playoffs for the Bucs, having two catches for 43 yards in three games. He has been targeted just seven times. He has a great rapport with Tom Brady, though, and it would not surprise if Brady looked his way more in the big game. Plus, Gronkowski had his only 100-yard receiving game all season against the Bucs in Week 12, catching six passes for 106 yards.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Chiefs. It is hard to depend on Watkins in his first game back from injury, but he has some upside for the Super Bowl. Watkins is a big-game player, having five receptions for 98 yards in last year’s Super Bowl. He had at least 76 yards all three playoff games for the Chiefs last year. He might be a player to take a chance on this week. He has a high ceiling when getting the looks in this explosive offense.
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: Chiefs/Bucs.
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 email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Jacksonville Jaguars rookie running back Travis Etienne took repetitions from the wide receiver position during the team's three-day rookie minicamp over the weekend. "At the worst-case scenario, you have a running back with the skillset of a wide receiver," head coach Urban Meyer explained. "Best-case scenario you'll have a hybrid player who does both and that's what we're hoping to develop out of Travis." The Jags took Etienne at No. 25 overall in the first round of the draft. He had 48 catches for 588 yards and two touchdowns in his senior season at Clemson and had 7.2 yards per carry in his four years. Jacksonville already has James Robinson in the backfield, but Etienne could be a Swiss Army Knife for this offense alongside pass-catchers D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault Jr. and Marvin Jones.
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer said that quarterback Trevor Lawrence (shoulder), the first overall pick of the draft, "looked great" during rookie minicamp over the weekend. Lawrence was on a 30- to 40-throw "pitch count" after February surgery on his non-throwing shoulder. The Jags are being cautious with their franchise signal-caller, but Meyer expects Lawrence to be "pretty close to full go" before the end of organized team activities and mandatory minicamp, which are scheduled to begin May 24 and go through June 17. The team is keeping him away from handoffs and direct snaps under center to avoid falling and getting his arm jammed. Lawrence's shoulder no longer bothers him and is healed, and he's currently getting accustomed to a coordinator calling plays into his helmet. He'll be the Week 1 starter in his rookie season and could have some QB1 streaming value in the right matchups if he makes a seamless transition to the NFL.
Detroit Lions rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has a large chip on his shoulder after 16 receivers came off the board before him in this year's NFL draft. St. Brown was the 112th overall selection in the fourth round after catching 178 passes in his three-year career at USC. He lined up both outside and at slot receiver during practice on Sunday, and head coach Dan Campbell said it's too early to define St. Brown's role for the upcoming season. "I'm excited to be here," St. Brown said. "I'm excited to work and I'm ready to take someone's job." Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman are the team's top starters, but neither one of them have proven much yet in the NFL, so St. Brown could carve out a pretty big role in this offense in his rookie season.
The New York Giants signed former first-round wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin following a tryout at rookie minicamp last weekend. Benjamin, who hasn't been on an NFL roster since the end of the 2018 season, will play tight end. The 6-foot-5, 245-pounder will be reunited with general manager Dave Gettleman, who drafted Benjamin with the Carolina Panthers in 2014. Benjamin caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns in his rookie season, but that has been the high point of his career after he tore his ACL the next season. While he has the necessary size at tight end, he'll join a crowded room in New York, headed by Evan Engram and former Pro Bowler Kyle Rudolph. The Giants also have Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo as backups, so Benjamin will be a long shot at this new position. New York also signed running back Corey Clement on Sunday.
Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller (ankle) is back at the team's facilities on Monday for Phase 2 of the offseason program. Miller was looking really good in training camp a year ago before he suffered a season-ending ankle injury just before the start of the regular season. There will be a lot of eyes on the All-Pro pass-rusher in the final year of his contract in 2021. The Super Bowl 50 MVP will be motivated to prove that he's still one of the best pass-rushers in the league at age 32. If Miller looks as good as he did last summer and stays healthy, the Broncos defense could be very good this year. The eight-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro had a disappointing eight sacks back in 2019, only the second time in his career that he hasn't reached double-digit sacks.
Former Washington Football Team defensive end Ryan Kerrigan announced on his Instagram that he's signing an undisclosed deal with the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday. After spending 10 seasons with Washington, the four-time Pro Bowler will remain in the NFC East and join the division-rival Eagles. The 32-year-old veteran has racked up 454 tackles (119 for loss), 147 QB hits, three interceptions (all for touchdowns), 25 passes defensed, 26 forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and 95.5 sacks in 156 career games (141 starts) after he was the 16th overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. For an Eagles team lacking a ton of depth on the defensive front, Kerrigan represents a very nice pickup.
Former Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots wide receiver Marqise Lee is signing an undisclosed deal with the San Francisco 49ers on Monday, according to a source. Lee spent the first five seasons of his NFL career with Jacksonville after they selected him in the second round out of USC in 2014. The 29-year-old opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, so he never actually played a game with the Patriots. Lee hasn't played in a full season since 2017, but he'll have a real chance to make the Niners roster this summer if he can stay healthy. He dealt with injuries in 2018 and 2019 and played a combined six games those two years. In 59 career games (30 starts) with Jacksonville, Lee had 174 catches for 2,184 yards and eight touchdowns. He'll be hoping to provide some depth behind Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk and will compete with the likes of Mohamed Sanu, Richie James, Trent Sherfield and Jalen Hurd.
The Cincinnati Bengals signed former San Francisco 49ers slot receiver and punt returner Trent Taylor to an undisclosed deal on Monday, according to a source. Taylor is a good fit with Cincinnati, who lost slot receiver/punt returner Alex Erickson in free agency this offseason. Taylor, 27, caught 10 of his 21 targets for 86 yards and no touchdowns in 12 games (one start) for the 49ers last season. The fifth-round pick out of Louisiana Tech in 2017 by the 49ers caught 79 passes on 122 targets for 731 yards and three touchdowns in his three seasons with the team over 41 games (two starts). With Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, Auden Tate and rookie Ja'Marr Chase in the fold, Taylor will be providing receiving depth, so don't expect much in terms of fantasy value.
Free-agent DE Ryan Kerrigan (Football Team) agreed to an undisclosed deal with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, May 17.
Free-agent WR Trent Taylor (49ers) agreed to an undisclosed deal with the Cincinnati Bengals Monday, May 17.
Chicago Bears QB Andy Dalton will work with the first-team offense when offseason workouts begin even through QB Justin Fields performed well during the rookie minicamp, according to head coach Matt Nagy.
Fantasy Spin: It appears like Dalton will enter training camp as the leading candidate for the starting job, but Fields likely will push for the job. Dalton may begin the season as the starter but probably will lose it to Fields at some point during the season. Fantasy players in most leagues should consider the starting Chicago quarterback as a No. 2 fantasy quarterback.
Free-agent DE Kendall Donnerson (Bengals) signed with the Carolina Panthers Sunday, May 16. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team also waived PK Matt Ammendola, LB Daniel Bituli and DT PJ Johnson.
Free-agent S Lano Hill (Seahawks) agreed to terms with the Carolina Panthers Sunday, May 16, according to a source. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Free-agent RB Troymaine Pope (Chargers), TE Jerell Adams (Lions), CB Antonio Hamilton (Chiefs) and S Curtis Riley (Vikings) agreed to terms with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, May 16. Terms of the contracts were not disclosed.
Free-agent OG Alex Redmond (Bengals) and CB Dre Kirkpatrick (Cardinals) recently worked out for the New England Patriots, but neither is close to a contract with the Patriots.
Free-agent WR/TE Kelvin Benjamin (Chiefs) signed with the New York Giants Sunday, May 16. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers SS Jordan Whitehead (shoulder) reportedly looks good but may be held out of the team's minicamp in June, according to head coach Bruce Arians. He is recovering from a torn labrum sustained in last season's NFC Championship Game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard (Achilles) is expected to attend mandatory minicamp in early June, according to comments from head coach Bruce Arians. 'Yeah, he's really close now. He looks fantastic working out every day,' Arians said.
Free-agent RB Corey Clement (Eagles) signed an undisclosed contract with the New York Giants Saturday, May 15.