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 email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
New Orleans Saints quarterback/tight end Taysom Hill (ribs) had a limited training camp practice on Monday and mostly did individual drills. It's all part of head coach Dennis Allen's ramp-up process for Hill, who suffered rib injuries early in training camp. The 31-year-old is making the transition from full-time quarterback to tight end this year, so the lost repetitions isn't ideal. Hill will continue to take some snaps under center, but his main contributions will be at tight end, where he's in a crowded room with Adam Trautman, Juwan Johnson, Nick Vannett and Chris Herndon. Unless quarterback Jameis Winston misses time with another injury, Hill is off the fantasy radar to begin the 2022 season.
Houston Texans tight end Pharaoh Brown lost 18 pounds this offseason after watching film of himself and deciding that he looked slow and unathletic. "He's listed as a tight end, but he can play in line, he can move out," head coach Lovie Smith said. "It's a tough matchup because he has big wide receiver skills. Just another weapon that we have to be able to use." Brown is looking to put up big numbers in a contract year after posting a career-high 23 catches for 171 yards and no touchdowns on 34 targets over 15 games (12 starts) in Houston in 2021. The 28-year-old could be a matchup nightmare when lined up against cornerbacks, but with Brevin Jordan also at the position, Brown can be avoided in most fantasy drafts to begin the season.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson (Achilles) is taking snaps with the first-team offense at training camp practice on Monday for the first time all summer, which seems pretty significant, according to SI.com's John Shipley. Robinson is attempting to come back from a torn Achilles suffered last year, and most of the offseason hype has gone to Travis Etienne Jr., who missed all of his rookie season with a foot injury. Robinson, 23, seems to be recovering nicely and has a chance to be ready for Week 1, but it remains to be seen how Robinson and Etienne will co-exist in head coach Doug Pederson's offense. At the very minimum, Etienne will take a significant amount of pass-game work, but Robinson shouldn't be overlooked as an RB3/flex in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.
The Baltimore Ravens reached agreement on a four-year contract extension with kicker Justin Tucker on Monday, which is expected to make him the NFL's highest-paid kicker. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but the Pittsburgh Steelers recently signed Chris Boswell for four years and $20 million, so it should be north of that figure. Tucker is the best kicker in the NFL, racking up five Pro Bowl appearances and five All-Pro nods for Baltimore in his 10 seasons. In 2021, he had a league-high 94.6 field-goal percentage, making 35 of his 37 attempts, including a 66-yarder. The 32-year-old didn't miss a single one of his 32 extra-point tries. Tucker should once again be the first fantasy kicker off the board in drafts.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers won't play in the team's preseason opener on Friday against the San Francisco 49ers. Head coach Matt LaFleur said that Jordan Love will get the start. It's not a big surprise that the 38-year-old future Hall of Famer will be rested in the team's first preseason game, especially after he didn't play at all in the preseason last fall. The Packers are considering giving Rodgers some repetitions in the final preseason game on Aug. 25 against the Kansas City Chiefs this year. With All-Pro receiver Davante Adams gone, Rodgers' fantasy stock has fallen quite a bit to the low-end QB1/high-end QB2 range for the 2022 season.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield has the inside track on the starting job over Sam Darnold to open the 2022 regular season. Mayfield and Darnold opened training camp in an open competition and have been splitting first-team repetitions pretty much down the middle. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport says it's clear that it's Mayfield's job to lose. Darnold might be the more steady and safe option, but Mayfield has more ability and more "wow" plays. Mayfield should only gain more of an edge as he gets a better grasp of the team's playbook as well. The best-case scenario for the Panthers is if Mayfield wins the job outright. In the end, Carolina will be a defense-first team, and whoever wins the QB competition will be just a low-end QB2 for fantasy purposes.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Christian Kirk limped off the field at training camp practice on Monday with a trainer with an undisclosed injury. We'll get you more details when we know what is ailing Kirk. The 25-year-old didn't suit up for the Hall of Fame game last Thursday against the Las Vegas Raiders, and it remains to be seen if he'll play in the team's second preseason game this Friday against the Cleveland Browns. The Jags spent big on Kirk in the offseason to give second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence some more firepower. Consistency might be a problem for Kirk and the rest of Jacksonville's pass-catchers, though, even if Lawrence takes a step forward with new head coach Doug Pederson.
Philadelphia Eagles OT Le'Raven Clark (hamstring), DL Javon Hargrave (groin), CB Jimmy Moreland (ankle), SS Jaquiski Tartt (personal) and CB Kary Vincent Jr. (groin) were added to the injury report and did not practice Sunday, Aug. 7.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt was spotted doing 11-on-11 work during Sunday's practice. The veteran didn't participate in team drills over the last few days and recently requested a trade. However, with the Browns denying the demand, it appears Hunt has already raised the white flag. Although the 27-year-old is listed behind Nick Chubb on the depth chart, a spot he's very familiar with, he has historically been a relatively reliable PPR option due to his pass-catching ability. Still, he's dealt with injuries and off-the-field issues over the years, which remain concerns for fantasy managers heading into the 2022-23 campaign.
New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll reported he expects everyone healthy to suit up for Thursday's preseason opener against the Patriots. Daboll hopes to expose his players to as many live reps as possible, allowing everyone to become familiar with the new coaching staff. Although it's unknown how much work guys like Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor, and Saquon Barkley, among others, will receive versus New England, it will offer a small glimpse of what's to come for fantasy managers heading into the regular season.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson has been featured in different parts of the field throughout training camp. In an attempt to exploit opposing defenses this year, head coach Kevin O'Connell, who served as the Rams offensive coordinator last season, plans on utilizing Jefferson the same way Cooper Kupp was showcased in 2021-22. The 23-year-old has been a fantastic addition to fantasy rosters, accumulating 3,016 yards and 17 touchdowns off 196 catches since being drafted in 2020. Although Kupp should continue to be a reliable asset for managers in all formats, Jefferson's skill set could allow him to finish as the year's top fantasy wideout.
Miami Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin isn't a lock to be the No. 1 option on the depth chart. With the Dolphins having a crowded backfield consisting of Salvon Ahmed, Sony Michel, Chase Edmonds, and Raheem Mostert, it's anyone's guess who has the edge during training camp, especially with head coach Mike McDaniel remaining non-committal to reporters. While Gaskin may end up as McDaniel's preferred runner, it's unlikely he'll be a week-to-week fantasy option this season. As a result, fantasy managers may want to avoid this situation altogether, although Gaskin, Edmonds, Mostert, and Michel could have some potent showings in 2022-23.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs isn't on the trade block, at least for now. After the 24-year-old was on the field for multiple series throughout the exhibition bout against the Jaguars, rumblings began to swirl about a potential move. However, head coach Josh McDaniels was quick to squash any rumors, indicating his preference to subject his players to "live hits" during the preseason, which can't be replicated at practice. Jacobs, whose fifth-year option was declined this offseason, had a down year running the ball in 2021, finishing with only 872 yards and nine touchdowns off 217 carries. Yet, he compiled a career-high 54 catches for 348 yards. While some fantasy managers expect the Alabama alum to bounce back this season, doing so may prove difficult with Kenyan Drake and Zamir White forecasted to also receive touches out of the backfield.
Seattle Seahawks CB Sidney Jones (concussion) remained sidelined at practice on Sunday, Aug. 7, due to a concussion.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt shocked many when he decided to request a trade from the organization. He started skipping team drills in camp while he seeks a new contract. The organization has responded by fining Hunt and declining his request for a trade. This ultimately might backfire on Hunt since the Browns do have depth at the running back position. Nick Chubb is a stud and D'Ernest Johnson has proven himself to be a capable option. The Browns would likely move Hunt if the team received real assets in return. However, it seems unlikely that the Browns are going to move Hunt just because he requested a new deal.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been on the trade block all offseason long. Despite that, there doesn't appear to be a clear trade partner for the veteran quarterback. At this point, it sounds like the team is fine with waiting until cutdown day to make a final decision on Garoppolo. There isn't much of a market for Garoppolo, so the team is waiting to see if another quarterback suffers an injury in camp. It's also worth noting that Garoppolo is working his way back from injury, so that could be part of the reason his trade market is slow. Regardless, fantasy managers shouldn't expect this situation to be resolved anytime soon.
Free-agent DBs Darryl Roberts (Commanders), Daryl Worley (Ravens) and Ken Crawley (Saints) worked out for the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Aug. 7.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. could very well move up the depth chart quickly during training camp. The rookie wideout has reportedly hit the ground running in Chicago. The Bears took Jones in the third round, so clearly they believe in his ability on the field. It's also worth noting that Byron Pringle (quad) and N'Keal Harry (ankle) are sidelined right now. The Bears have little reliable depth, so they might be forced to use Jones to begin the season. He'll be a possible late-round target on draft day.
Chicago Bears wide receiver N'Keal Harry (ankle) was forced to exit Saturday's practice due to an ankle injury. It has now been revealed that Harry suffered a high-ankle sprain, which is not good news. The former first round pick was already having to compete for a spot on the 53-man roster. There is a good chance he misses a few weeks from this injury. The loss of Harry should mean more snaps for players such as Velus Jones Jr. and Dazz Newsome. This is a tough blow to a player who has struggled to make a name for himself in the league. Hopefully, Harry won't miss too much time, but it'll likely mean more looks for some younger players.
Dynasty | With no bell-cow running backs on the roster, there's fierce competition between all of them for the Dolphins starting role. Dynasty Analysis: The Dolphins currently roster Myles Gaskin, Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, Sony Michel and Salvon Ahmed so there's no shortage of noteworthy backs competing for the top spot. Gaskin and Ahmed have history with the team and are likely on the outside looking in due to prior experience. Newcomer Chase Edmonds is/was the favorite to receive the bulk of the regular-season work but fellow new back Raheem Mostert is said to be looking explosive in camp. It's anyone's guess who will emerge on top early in September but our money remains on a combination of Edmonds and Mostert leading the way in a rotation. Edmonds is found as DLF's RB35 while Mostert comes in at RB65.