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.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (calf), who missed practice on Thursday, will return to practice on Friday, according to head coach Joe Judge. Engram apparently suffered a setback on Thursday, but it doesn't appear to be too serious, and he should have a decent chance at playing on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. The 27-year-old has only 14 catches on 21 targets for 127 yards and no touchdowns through four games this year, but he could be one of the top targets against Carolina with wide receivers Kenny Golladay (knee) and Kadarius Toney (ankle) likely out and with Sterling Shepard (hamstring) suffering a setback on Thursday. With bye weeks hitting fantasy managers hard in Week 8, Engram has low-end TE1 appeal as a streamer if he's active.
New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson has seen an increased role in the offense over the last two weeks. The loss of James White (hip) has opened up more chances for Stevenson. Sadly, he hasn't seen much success on the ground with only 23 yards in each of the last two games. Luckily for Stevenson, he'll get a favorable matchup against the New York Jets in Week 7. A defense that has struggled to stop any back all season long. There isn't much upside here because Damien Harris is healthy and should get a bulk of the carries. Stevenson should be viewed as a deep league desperation option here.
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has only produced two multi-touchdown games through the first six games of the season. The rookie quarterback has not exceeded 275 passing yards in a single game since the season opener. Despite that, Jones will get an excellent matchup against the New York Jets in Week 7. A defense that ranks 23rd in pass DVOA so far in 2021. There isn't a ton of fantasy value here, but Jones could have some streaming appeal for QB needy fantasy managers in Week 7.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (illness) said on his Twitter account that his body continues to reject any food he eats as he tries to get past a bout of food poisoning that had him questionable to play last Monday night in Week 6. Brown didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday and could draw another questionable tag in Week 7 against the Kansas City Chiefs. It's been a rough week for the 24-year-old, and he looked to be under the weather in the first half of Monday's game before exploding for seven catches on nine targets for 91 yards in the second half. We ultimately expect him to play this Sunday in an excellent matchup against the Chiefs. As long as Brown is active, he needs to remain in all fantasy lineups.
New England Patriots running back Damien Harris is coming off his best rushing performance of the season. Last week, Harris rushed for 101 yards on 18 carries and found the end zone for the second straight week. The hope is that he'll be able to carry that momentum into the Week 7 matchup with the New York Jets. A defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to running backs this season. Fantasy managers should feel comfortable with Harris as a RB2 for this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (ankle) didn't appear to be practicing Friday during the portion open to the media. Brown, who has been dealing with a sprained ankle, wasn't able to practice Wednesday and Thursday- and appears to be trending towards another absence to close out the week. Brown should be considered doubtful for Sunday's game against the Bears at this point. If officially ruled out, fellow wideouts Chris Godwin and Mike Evans could see more targets headed their way.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (hamstring) was downgraded from a full to limited participant Thursday, and he has reportedly endured a setback with his hamstring issue. Giants beat writer Ralph Vacchiano noted that head coach Joe Judge didn't seem so sure about Shepard's practice status for Friday's session after expressing optimism about fellow pass-catchers Evan Engram (calf) and Darius Slayton (hamstring). Of course, nothing is official until the Giants release their practice report later, but it sure sounds like Shepard could find himself on the wrong side of questionable heading into the game against the Panthers. With Saquon Barkley (ankle), Kenny Golladay (knee), and Kadarius Toney (ankle) all heading towards absences, the Giants' entire offense could be an easy fade for fantasy purposes. However, Engram and Slayton could both see increased volume in Week 7.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert (illness) appeared to be practicing during the portion available to media viewing at Friday's session. Goedert didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday but was activated off of the reserve/COVID-19 list, suggesting that he would be on track for Sunday if he could return to practice in some capacity. That appears to be the case regardless of the designation heading into a favorable matchup against a Raiders defense that has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends. Goedert could be headed for elite-level usage sans Zach Ertz and look like a strong play in Week 7.
Seattle Seahawks running back DeeJay Dallas has been playing sparingly through his first season and a half, but he could see some major snaps in Week 7 against the New Orleans Saints. Chris Carson (neck) and Alex Collins (groin) are both dealing with injuries. Carson was placed on Injured Reserve, and Collins failed to practice on Thursday. Dallas played 34 percent of the snaps in the team's Week 6 game, and his nine total touches, including five receptions, were second only to Collins. The matchup against the Saints isn't the best, as they've allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this year, but he could still see solid value in PPR formats due to his work in the receiving game if Collins is unable to play.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett has been a volatile asset in fantasy with an extremely high ceiling thanks to his connection with quarterback Russell Wilson, but he doesn't have that same outlook in Week 7 against the New Orleans Saints. With Geno Smith under center in Week 6, Lockett caught two of his seven targets for 21 yards, and he just wasn't getting those deep shots that he would often get with Russ. The offense is going to be funnelled to teammate D.K. Metcalf and the running backs, which will leave Lockett's fantasy managers hoping that he breaks one big play down the field. He has flex value with the rest of the stars that are on bye weeks or the injured list, but don't count on a big week out of him.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf was the team's top target last week, and he figures to maintain that spot in Week 7 against the New Orleans Saints. Metcalf caught six of his seven targets a week ago, and he was turned into somewhat of a possession receiver rather than a downfield threat with Geno Smith at quarterback. With his size and athleticism, he can fill that role, and he'll have a size advantage over all of the Saints defensive backs. With the Seattle running backs dealing with injuries, we could see a heavier emphasis on passing the ball, which would lead to more opportunities for Metcalf. He's not quite in the WR1 category this week, but he's still a solid WR2 or flex option for your fantasy lineups.
Seattle Seahawks kicker Jason Myers was a top-10 kicker a season ago, but he's trending in the wrong direction heading into Week 7 against the New Orleans Saints. Myers is the No. 22 kicker in fantasy heading into Week 7, and his offense is struggling to maintain their productivity due to injuries. With a beaten up running game, quarterback Geno Smith will be forced to throw the ball more, and that just doesn't seem to be the way the Seahawks want to win games. The Saints have yet to allow an opponent to score 30 or more points this year, but this Seattle unit without Russell Wilson(finger) is unlikely to change that. There are several fantasy viable kickers on byes this week, but Myers doesn't seem like a viable fill-in option.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith was serviceable against a tough Pittsburgh Steelers defense last week, and his matchup isn't much easier in Week 7 against the New Orleans Saints. Through five games, the Saints have allowed just five passing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks, and they've given up the 11th-fewest passing yards. In his first start in four years, Smith threw for only 209 yards in a losing effort, and he was rarely pushing the ball down the field. His offensive line should have a decent chance of keeping him upright, as the Saints are second-to-last in sacks with eight, but he needs to do a better job of keeping the offense on schedule. This is not one of the weeks to be starting Smith unless you have no other options.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (ribs) wasn't practicing during the portion of Friday's session open to the media. Gronkowski, who hasn't practiced yet this week, seems trending towards another absence this Sunday against Chicago. With O.J. Howard (ankle) back on the practice field- it's looking like he and Cameron Brate will handle the tight end duties once again. Howard seems to be building some chemistry with Tom Brady, as he is coming off a game where he hauled in six passes for 49 yards and a touchdown.
Head coach Brian Flores spoke to reporters Friday morning, expressing confidence in Tua Tagovailoa as his starting signal-caller amid trade rumors that have swirled this week. Tagovailoa was involved in some reports suggesting a three-team deal involving the Texans and star quarterback Deshaun Watson, who has been on the trade block. Flores seemed to dismiss those reports, stating that the team is pleased with their current quarterback situation. Tagovailoa had his best game of the year last week, completing 33 of 47 passes for 329 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, adding 22 yards on the ground. The vote of confidence from the organization could serve him well heading into a favorable matchup against a poor Falcons defense.
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.