Wed Dec 4 9:54am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Parker continues to evolve
Well, this is the last week of the regular season in most leagues. It is make or break for a lot of teams, making lineup decisions so crucial for fantasy teams. At this time of the year, I offer the same advice as past seasons. Don’t get too cute. Go with the guys that got you to this point. I would rather go down with my proven players than taking a chance on a guy with a favorable matchup. It is fine to take chances but just be smart about them. With that said, here are my random thoughts for the week. . . . .
So Josh Allen, Ryan Tannehill, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Sam Darnold are top-10 in fantasy quarterback scoring their last three games. These guys are ahead of Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees, Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Tom Brady over that stretch. It just goes to show you how deep the quarterback position is once again and you can win with a host of options, especially if you play them in the right matchups.
It remains a surprise to me, but Austin Ekeler keeps scoring points even with Melvin Gordon around. Ekeler remains third overall in fantasy running back scoring. He has double-digit fantasy points all but one game this year. His value remains high because of his work in the passing game. He has four or more receptions three of four games. So even with Gordon around, Ekeler still has good value to fantasy teams. At this point, I can’t see the Chargers re-signing Gordon, making Ekeler the lead back for the team in 2020. He’ll have huge fantasy value in that role.
There have been a lot of bust this year, but I think my most disappointing fantasy player is Saquon Barkley. I really thought he was going to have a monster year. I know he has missed three games with injury, but he is just 18th overall in fantasy running back scoring. He does not have a 100-yard rushing game since Week 2 and just two rushing touchdowns all season. I just didn’t see this coming from Barkley. The Giants are a better team this year than last, but Barkley produced better last season. He can still finish strong with a favorable schedule but his down numbers likely did in most of his fantasy owners.
I could not be more impressed with the job head coach Brian Flores is doing in Miami. That team traded away a ton of talent, but continues to play hard on a weekly basis and win some games they probably shouldn’t. This team is loaded with draft picks the next few years, so good things are on the horizon for this team. Flores seems like the real deal as a head coach. He has sure coached up this team.
I think DeVante Parker has finally turned the corner. I don’t think his recent surge is a fluke. This guy has a load of talent but just never lived up to his ability. He is finally in an offense that suits him well and has a quarterback that looks his way often. He is getting his chances and gaining confidence on a weekly basis. He has made some tremendous catches in recent weeks. He can keep his strong play going forward.
One of my big surprises this year has been Kyle Rudolph. He is fantasy relevant once again. He has touchdowns four straight games and five of six. He also has at least four receptions three straight games. I thought the arrival of Irv Smith was the end of Rudolph, but he remains a big part of the game plan, especially in the red zone. He should be considered a low-end No. 1 fantasy tight end once again.
Chris Carson owners can’t be too happy right now with the emergence of Rashaad Penny. I know Carson rebounded last week and produced well, but Penny still got a lot of work. The two backs about evenly split the backfield last week with Carson playing 39 snaps compared to 35 for Penny. This is looking more like a timeshare going forward with the Seahawks likely using the hot hand approach if a back is playing well that game. This could make for some erratic play from both backs the rest of the season.
As always, don’t forget to check out my weekly rankings here: Week 14 rankings.
News and Notes: The Patriots released Kai Forbath on Monday. He is expected to be replaced by Nick Folk, who should be healthy enough to play this week after missing last week’s game. . . . .The Panthers fired head coach Ron Rivera on Tuesday. He will be replaced by secondary coach Perry Fewell for the rest of this season. . . . .The Dolphins claimed running back Zach Zenner on waivers Tuesday. Zenner gives the Dolphins some much needed depth at running back after placing Kalen Ballage on Injured Reserve. . . . .The Chiefs signed running back Spencer Ware on Tuesday. Ware gives the team some depth at the position. Kansas City is dealing with a few injuries at the running back spot right now.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings. Cousins is playing at a very high level right now. He has multiple touchdowns four straight games and six of seven. He also has 275-plus passing yards five of seven games. He is up to ninth overall in fantasy quarterback scoring. Cousins is getting it done on a weekly basis, becoming almost a must start for fantasy teams. He plays the Lions this week, a team that allows the seventh most fantasy points to quarterbacks and rank 30th overall against the pass.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers. Gordon has warmed up after a slow start to his season. He has 90 or more total yards four straight games. He also has touchdowns three of five games. He has become a solid fantasy play on a weekly basis once again. Expect more of the same this week from Gordon against the Jaguars. Jacksonville is 28th against the run, allowing 137-rushing yards per game.
D.J. Moore, WR, Panthers. Moore is second overall in fantasy receiver scoring his last three games. He has been red hot lately, having scores two straight and 75 or more yards five straight. He also has at least five receptions eight straight games. Moore has 100-yard games three of five. He has been getting a ton of weekly targets as the top target in this offense. Moore plays the Falcons this week, a team he had eight receptions for 95 yards against in Week 11. Atlanta allows the eighth most fantasy points to receivers and rank 26th overall against the pass.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons. Freeman returned to the lineup last week and had 64 total yards on 21 touches. He got quite the workload and looked healthy during the game. Freeman isn’t having quite the season most expected, but remains capable of the big game any given week, mainly because of his work in the passing game. Freeman has yet to score a rushing touchdown this season but that could change this week against the Panthers. Carolina has allowed a league high 22-rushing touchdowns and rank 29th overall against the run. Freeman is setup for maybe his best game of the season in this matchup.
DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins. Parker is as hot as any receiver in the league right now. He is first overall in fantasy receiver scoring his last three games. He has 100-yard games two of three and 90-plus yards all of those games. He is getting a ton of weekly looks, having double-digit targets four straight games. He should get a lot of volume again this week against the Jets, a team that allows the ninth most fantasy points to receivers. Parker is a must start right now.
Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals. Murray is having a great rookie season. He is seventh overall in fantasy quarterback scoring. Murray has multiple touchdowns six of 12 games. He has cooled some in recent weeks throwing the ball, though. He has fewer than 170-passing yards two straight games. He also is battling a hamstring injury, which is a concern when it comes to his rushing totals. He had 28-rushing yards last week with the injury. Murray plays the Steelers this week, a team that allows the ninth fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Murray could have another down showing in this one.
Devin Singletary, RB, Bills. Singletary has topped 100 total yards two straight games. He has emerged as the lead back for the Bills, getting more work than Frank Gore. He is producing with his chances. We might temper our expectations for him this week, though, playing the 49ers. San Francisco allows the second fewest fantasy points to running backs. The 49ers have allowed just six rushing touchdowns all season. Singletary could have a mediocre performance in this one.
Any Patriots receiver not named Julian Edelman. Edelman is the only Patriots receiver you can trust right now. He gets most of the targets on a weekly basis. New England has a host of options after Edelman but not one player has really emerged as a dependable target, so it is best to just stay away from them, especially this week against the Chiefs. Kansas City allows the second fewest fantasy points to receivers and have been much better defensively the last few weeks. Just stay away from this situation right now.
Marlon Mack, RB, Colts. It looks like Mack has a good chance to return this week from his hand injury. He had been playing well before the injury, having 80-plus total yards four straight games. He is having a very solid season as the starter for the Colts. But even if he returns this week, you might want to leave Mack on your bench. He plays a Bucs team that can’t stop the pass but done very well against the run this year. Tampa allows the third fewest fantasy points to running backs and are second overall against the rush. The Bucs have allowed just 106-rushing yards their last two games. This front four has been very good against the run all year.
Marquise Brown, WR, Ravens. Brown had just a catch last week on two targets. He was coming off a two-touchdown game, so you expected better from the Ravens top pass catcher. But Brown has been a boom or bust play much of the year. He has become a bit of a touchdown dependent player because he doesn’t get a lot of weekly targets. Brown has double-digit targets just once all year. He could be a bust again this week, likely getting matched with Bills shutdown corner Tre'Davious White. Buffalo allows the ninth fewest fantasy points to receivers. Go with better options in Week 14.
Vance McDonald, TE, Steelers. McDonald is not having much of a season, failing to top 50 yards in any game. He has struggled much of the year, mainly because the team has been without Ben Roethlisberger. But the good news is McDonald is getting some weekly targets. He has three or more receptions five of six games, so he has some potential. If he is ever going to have a big week, this is it against the Cardinals. Arizona has been a disaster against tight ends this year, allowing the most fantasy points to tight ends. Tyler Higbee torched this defense last week, which should tell you something. McDonald is setup for his best game of the season in Week 14.
Kareem Hunt, RB, Browns. Hunt found the end zone for the second straight game last week. He had five receptions in the game, giving him five or more receptions three of four games. He isn’t getting a ton of work rushing the ball, but his work in the passing game makes him a fantasy asset. He is getting double-digit touches on a weekly basis and producing double-digit fantasy points because of his work. It should be more of the same for Hunt this week against the Bengals. Cincinnati allows the seventh most fantasy points to running backs and are dead last against the rush.
Anthony Miller, WR, Bears. Miller is yet to score a touchdown this year but that doesn’t mean he isn’t helping fantasy teams. He had season highs last week, catching nine passes for 140 yards on 13 targets. He has six or more receptions three straight games. He has emerged as a top target in this passing game and is taking advantage of his chances. Miller plays the Cowboys this week, a team struggling defensively in recent weeks. Dallas has allowed 26 or more points three of four games.
Rashaad Penny, RB, Seahawks. Penny has finally arrived and is pushing Chris Carson for carries in the Seahawks offense. He has double-digit carries two straight games and 236 total yards with three touchdowns in those games. He is going to continue to get work and could take over for Carson as the lead back before the season is out. Penny plays the Rams this week, a team that allowed 285-rushing yards to the Ravens two weeks back. Seattle could focus on pounding the ball on the ground this week, using their top two backs similar to how the Ravens attacked this defense.
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: Panthers/Falcons, Dolphins/Jets, Chiefs/Patriots, Seahawks/Rams.
Low Scoring Games: Chargers/Jaguars.
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.
Green Bay Packers TE Jimmy Graham is expected to be released during the offseason, in the opinion of The Green Bay Press-Gazette's Pete Dougherty, who called the prospective move a 'given.' Graham has one year remaining on his deal. Releasing him would free up $8 million in cap room.
Fantasy Spin: Graham posted a 38-447-3 line in his age-33 season, and despite playing well in the playoffs he has been a disappointment since signing with the Packers. Wherever he plays (if he does) in 2020, Graham's days as a TE1 seem far in the rear view.
Green Bay Packers S Adrian Amos (pectoral) is unlikely to require surgery on his injured pec, according to head coach Matt LaFleur. Amos suffered the injury during the NFC Championship Game.
Updating a previous report, impending free-agent Austin Hooper (Falcons) is expected to receive overtures from the Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins if he is allowed to reach the open market, according to sources via Pro Football Network's Tony Pauline.
Impending free-agent DE Robert Quinn (Cowboys) would prefer to remain with the Dallas Cowboys, and sources have told Pro Football Network's Tony Pauline that team owner/general manager Jerry Jones has been 'aggressive' in letting Quinn know he wants him to return.
Atlanta Falcons TE Austin Hooper is not close to a contract extension with the team, according to general manager Thomas Dimitroff Tuesday, Jan. 21. 'The reality right now is that we are trudging along,' Dimitroff said. 'Once we get back from the Super Bowl, after the Super Bowl week we'll continue to look and see how we are moving forward. But at this point there are no updates on Austin.'
Fantasy Spin: Hooper is coming off a career year in which he caught 75 passes for 787 yards and six touchdowns. He's an excellent third option behind WRs Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley in Atlanta, but his play this year may have priced him out of the Falcons' budget for 2020 and beyond. His potential free-agent destination would have a big impact on his 2020 draft stock.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Josh McCown spoke with head coach Doug Pederson about a potential role on the coaching staff, but McCown isn't ready to retire just yet. The veteran QB came out of retirement last August to sign a one-year deal with the Eagles. He's currently recovering from a torn hamstring that he suffered in the wild-card loss to the Seahawks. McCown threw only five passes during the regular season and served as a de facto player/coach as Carson Wentz's backup. He has some potential as a future offensive coordinator, but it's unlikely he would immediately be considered as Mike Groh's successor in Philly. Wherever McCown is playing in 2020, he'll strictly be a backup and won't have any fantasy value.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) had an arrest warrant on a felony charge of burglary and battery issued against him Wednesday, Jan. 22, by Hollywood, Fla. police. A moving truck driver claimed he was assaulted by Brown and his trainer. Brown also was charged with one count of burglary of an occupied conveyance and one count of criminal mischief.
Fantasy Spin: Dynasty owners should be preparing to move on from Brown before finalizing their rosters ahead of 2020 drafts.
Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. will sit down with new head coach Kevin Stefanski Thursday, Jan. 23, to discuss Stefanski's plan for personal conduct. 'I'm looking forward to sitting down with Odell face to face,' Stefanski said. 'I haven't had the chance to do that yet and I get the chance to do that (Thursday). And at that point, that's when I can start laying out my expectations for Odell and all of our players.' Beckham was caught on video at the College Football Playoff Championship Game earlier this month appearing to hand out cash to LSU Tigers players, as well as appearing to slap a security officer on the butt in the locker room. Charges had been filed against Beckham for the latter incident, but they were later dropped.
Fantasy Spin: Beckham totaled 1,035 receiving yards and four touchdowns in his first season in Cleveland. Bigger things were expected, and the hiring of Stefanski should help lead to improvements for 2020. He remains a top-end WR1.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (knee) was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. Kelce will be just fine to suit up on Feb. 2 against the 49ers in the Super Bowl. He was the top fantasy tight end in 2019 and hasn't slowed down in the postseason, catching 13 of 16 targets for 164 yards and three touchdowns against the Texans and Titans. Most of that production came in the Divisional Round when he had 10 grabs for 134 yards and three scores, but Kelce can go off at any time and could be the X-factor in the Super Bowl in two weeks.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman (shoulder) was unable to practice on Wednesday, but the team remains hopeful that he will be available for the Super Bowl against the Chiefs. The team didn't practice on Wednesday, but they were required to submit an estimated practice report. Coleman dislocated his right shoulder in the first half of the NFC Championship against the Packers and played just eight snaps. If he's active for the Super Bowl, Coleman will split snaps with Raheem Mostert, who ran for over 200 yards and four touchdowns against the Packers. Matt Breida will be the No. 3 back.
Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (shoulder) indicated that he will be ready for the start of offseason workouts. Cook is entering the final year of his contract and is a candidate for an extension this offseason.
Fantasy Spin: Cook was one of the top running backs in the NFL this season with 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns during the regular season. He will continue to be a focal point on offense for the Vikings next season and will be an early round pick in fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers LB Kwon Alexander (pectoral), DE Dee Ford (hamstring, quadriceps) and S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) were limited during practice Wednesday, Jan. 22. LB Dre Greenlaw (ankle) fully participated in practice. The 49ers did not hold a practice Wednesday, so the injury report is an estimation.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Jan. 22. The 49ers did not hold a practice Wednesday, so this is an estimation.
Fantasy Spin: The 49ers are optimistic about Coleman's status for Super Bowl LIV, but he may be a game-time decision. He will share snaps with Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida if he plays and could be a flex option in fantasy leagues.
New Orleans Saints impending free-agent QB Drew Brees is a player that the Saints want to keep as long as he wants to keep playing, according to general manager Mickey Loomis.
Fantasy Spin: Brees will be a free agent this offseason, but the Saints will try to re-sign him. He finished with 2,979 yards and 27 touchdowns in the regular season and can be considered a No. 1 quarterback in most fantasy leagues in 2020.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (hip), who had a career-high 1,174 receiving yards and six touchdowns on his way to his fifth Pro Bowl selection in six years, said he played the entire 2019 season with a hip injury. "I'm good. I'm good," Landry said. "Just in this recovery process, this rehab process to make sure I can get back to my 100 percent self." The good news is that Landry won't require surgery on his hip in the offseason, and he should be fully healthy in 2020 under new head coach Kevin Stefanski. Cleveland's offense struggled to find consistency last season, but Landry was a consistent bright spot next to Odell Beckham Jr. He should once again be a rock-solid WR2 for owners in PPR leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee) was limited during practice Wednesday, Jan. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Kelce probably will be limited over the next two weeks but will be ready to play in Super Bowl LIV. He is a must-start fantasy option in all leagues as long as he is healthy.
Kansas City Chiefs DT Chris D. Jones (calf) was limited during practice Wednesday, Jan. 22. WR Mecole Hardman (back), CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder), DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (hand) and C Austin Reiter (wrist) fully participated in practice.
Cincinnati Bengals impending free-agent WR A.J. Green is a player the Bengals plan to have on their roster next season, according to director of player personnel Duke Tobin.
Fantasy Spin: Green did not play during the 2019 season because of an ankle injury but could still receive the franchise tag this offseason. Green is a weekly starting option when healthy, but fantasy players should monitor his situation during the offseason.
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will hold a news conference on Friday to announce his retirement, according to sources. The writing has been on the wall for Manning after the Giants replaced him with rookie Daniel Jones during the 2019 season. The 39-year-old former first overall pick played in just four games for the G-Men in his 16th and final NFL season. Manning will finish his career with a 60.3 completion percentage, 57,023 passing yards, 366 touchdowns and 244 interceptions. He'll best be known for besting Tom Brady and the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl. Manning's best season came in 2011 when he threw for 4,933 yards, 29 TDs and 16 picks.
Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton's future with the Bengals is uncertain at this time, according to director of player personnel Duke Tobin. The Bengals would save $17.7 million in salary cap space if they trade or release Dalton.
Fantasy Spin: The Bengals have the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and appear likely to take a quarterback with the pick, so Dalton could be let go this offseason. Dalton may have a chance to find a starting job in free agency but can be avoided in most fantasy leagues.