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.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan has made a favorable impression on his new teammates since being acquired from the Falcons this offseason. While the veteran certainly has a lot of positive attributes, his leadership ability has made him stand out the most, which was missing when Carson Wentz was under center last season. The 37-year-old finished 2021-22 by throwing for 3,968 yards, failing to amass at least 4,000 yards in a season since 2010. However, with a change of scenery and confidence from his squadmates, Ryan has an excellent opportunity to turn things around, especially with the amount of talent on the offensive end in Indy. He likely won't be in the league much longer. But managers shouldn't look past him when searching for a fantasy backup. He is also a solid option for those in Superflex formats.
Dynasty | Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely was chosen by ESPN's NFL Nation as their surprise off-season standout. Dynasty Analysis: Likely is garnering a lot of publicity this off-season as this isn't the first time we've seen his name mentioned in an off-season highlight piece. There is a long road to fantasy relevance with Likely as Mark Andrews is clearly going to be the centerpiece of the Baltimore passing attack. Still, there's some real intrigue brewing here in regards to the fourth round pick and he's starting to climb up the rookie draft rankings, coming in as our overall rookie #50.
Dynasty | Lions wide receiver Trinity Benson was chosen by ESPN's NFL Nation as their surprise off-season standout. Dynasty Analysis: While the wide receiver depth chart in Detroit has clearly been overhauled, there could still be room here for a sleeper. DJ Chark, Josh Reynolds and Jameson Williams are all likely at the top of the heap, but Benson is trying to make a move to get some meaningful snaps. While he has just ten career catches, there's some intrigue here as his talent and opportunity could meet up this Summer. Keep an eye on the news in Detroit as Benson could find himself on the radar soon.
Dynasty | Bills wide receiver Jamison Crowder was chosen by ESPN's NFL Nation as their surprise off-season standout. Dynasty Analysis: Crowder is at a turning point in his career as the seen year veteran will be battling Isaiah McKenzie for the slot receiver left vacated by Cole Beasley. This will be a position battle to watch as the Bills boast one of the league's most explosive offenses. Crowder is currently our WR89, which puts him on the fringe of roster worthiness. However, keep a close eye on this battle all Summer as the winner will have clear in-season value.
Dynasty | Patriots wide receiver Tre Nixon was chosen by ESPN's NFL Nation as their surprise off-season standout. Dynasty Analysis: Nixon was a seventh round pick of New England last year and most of the past-catching attention in dynasty leagues has been on their surprise second round pick from this year, Tyquan Thornton. However, Nixon made some waves in off-season workouts and seemingly has a legitimate shot at making the Patriots roster and avoiding another trip to the practice squad. Nixon is a name to file away on watch lists.
Dynasty | The Commanders signed receiver Terry McLaurin to a three-year extension placing him among the top-five receivers in the NFL Dynasty Analysis: The Commanders absolutely needed to secure the services of McLaurin beyond 2022 and this gets the job done. Saying he's "humbled and ecstatic" he also went on to say that he's motivated to "work even harder." In his age-27 season, McLaurin has quietly produced two back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns, though has only scored nine touchdowns over the two seasons. It's hard to predict what type of season 'Scary Terry' can muster with new quarterback Carson Wentz under-center, but there's no question he'll remain the WR1 and garner plenty of targets. He's listed as DLF's WR16.
Dynasty | In a recent roster ranking article, the Texans were ranked last. Dynasty Analysis: It's no surprise though there are multiple teams vying for the less-than-ideal 'honor.' Sophomore quarterback Davis Mills showed that he may have NFL upside after looking like a starter late in 2021. That said, with a strong 2023 draft class, most notably at quarterback, the team will be hard pressed to keep Mills under-center unless he has a standout 2022 campaign. Similar to 10th-overall selection Josh Rosen in 2018 by the Cardinals before their selection of Kyler Murray, another coaching change or a high draft selection would likely end Mills' time as a starter as the team looks for a marquee name as its new face of the franchise. Mills controls his own destiny and should consider 2022 a resume-building season. He's found as DLF's QB30 showing that he's acknowledged as a very tenuous starter.
Dynasty | Giants receiver Kenny Golladay was listed as the team's most over-valued player Dynasty Analysis: The team gave Golladay a four-year $72M contract in 2021 and he responded with a 37/521/0 stat line. It was a brutal campaign for the 28-year-old, who was clearly a shadow of his former-self. While with the Lions, Golladay combined for 135 receptions, 2,253 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2018 and 2019 before injury limited his 2020 campaign to only five games. Bolting for the Giants and a big payday, the dynamic target was supposed to play a large role in the restoration of the struggling team's passing attack with Daniel Jones under center. That hasn't panned out and, while still clearly a starter, Golladay has one more year to find the expected production. If fully healthy and with Daniel Jones now in his own make-or-break season, Golladay, DLF's WR64, has all the potential to be a fine later-round sleeper at receiver but headwinds are blowing.
Dynasty | Saints receiver Michael Thomas was seen running routes in an Instagram video Dynasty Analysis: Hampered by an ankle injury suffered back in 2020, Thomas has seen his dynasty value plummet over the past two years and it's a good sign that it appears he's finally healthy again based upon the video. That said, now 29, Thomas is found as DLF's WR46 and is now squarely best utilized for competing dynasty teams willing to acquire the risk-on asset. If healthy, setback free and if he and new quarterback Jameis Winston can establish chemistry, Thomas should easily find himself the WR1 once again for the Saints and possess upside potential for the next two or three seasons.
Dynasty | It appears as though Jets tight end Tyler Conklin may be separating himself on the depth chart to be the starter come week one. Dynasty Analysis: Training camp has yet to start and it's a guess based upon the unavailability of C.J. Uzomah but it would be no surprise if Conklin factors heavily as a starter. Fresh off a 61/593/3 stat line while with the Vikings in 2021, Conklin has upside in 2022, his age 27 season if he can win the job outright. But newcomer C.J. Uzomah also had an upside 2021 campaign with a 49/493/5 line and is a "move" tight end possessing a similar skill set. Neither player carries much dynasty value with Conklin appearing as DLF's TE37 and Uzomah unranked. Both figure to possess late round sleeper value until one emerges as the starter.
Dynasty | Jets sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson was listed as a "Faller" in a recent OTA report Dynasty Analysis: It's obviously very early still and the pads have yet to go on but, nonetheless, it's not the trend we have been looking for. Citing issues with accuracy, ball placement and decision-making, labeled as "questionable at best," interceptions have been frequent. There also have been positive plays but the warning flag is up with training camp getting underway later this month. Wilson is a tenuous QB18 on DLF's quarterback ranking.
Dynasty | Steelers rookie receiver George Pickens isn't going to be asked to do much in his first season Dynasty Analysis: The Steelers have one of the best scouting departments when it comes to receivers and Pickens will have time to pick up the offense over time. That said, the team also has little experience or proven production behind starters Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool so it's not out of the question that Pickens could elevate himself, and his role, with a standout training camp. All eyes continue to be on the development of Claypool who had an underwhelming 2021 as well. It's not out of the question the team adds a veteran receiver in short order. As for Pickens, DLF's WR43, he continues to be a late first round selection in dynasty rookie drafts and seems to have a clear runway for an increasing role over the next year.
Dynasty | Colts receiver Parris Campbell was a standout in OTAs and was running with the first team. Dynasty Analysis: So we're doing this again are we? Dynasty leaguers have been burned for three seasons running on the hype and impressive camp performance(s) of Campbell, who turns 25 later this month. There's clearly upside for the fourth-year player who could be considered the WR2 behind Michael Pittman. The Colts are also high on 2022 rookie Alec Pierce but, as a rookie, nothing can be guaranteed until we see the starting lineup come week one. As for Campbell, there's no questioning the receiver's upside if he's able to remain healthy through training camp and open the season as a starter, but now sparsely ranked as DLF"s WR113, it's obvious that there's little expectation for either.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson has high expectations heading into the season. With the Vikings hiring former Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell to serve as its head coach, the wideout believes he will benefit, similar to how Cooper Kupp thrived in the same system. The 23-year-old finished the 2022-23 campaign by posting spectacular numbers, accumulating 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns off 108 receptions, all while averaging an impressive 15.0 yards per catch. Although having Kirk Cousins under center is a step down from Matthew Stafford, there's still no reason why Jefferson can't finish as the league's top fantasy receiver.
Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers reported he's 100% after tearing his Achilles last season. While getting back on the field from such an injury is a feat in itself, the 23-year-old wasn't satisfied with his play upon returning. "I wasn't happy with my postseason performance. I just felt like I left a lot on the field. There was more out there to be had," Akers said before adding he's committed to working hard this offseason in hopes of becoming a top-three option at the position in 2022-23. Nevertheless, despite Akers' production during the playoffs being somewhat discouraging, he seems determined to turn things around. Managers shouldn't forget about him during fantasy drafts, especially after all of the elite options have come off the board. Still, nobody should be reaching too far for him, either.
Sue L. Robinson, the NFL/Players Association disciplinary officer, has told each side in Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson's case to submit a brief due the week of July 11, according to a source. Robinson will make her ruling on Watson after that. Watson's disciplinary hearing concluded on Thursday after three days. He has been accused in civil lawsuits by 25 women of actions ranging from sexual assault to inappropriate behavior during massage sessions. The NFL has been pushing for a suspension of at least a year, but both sides have engaged in multiple attempts to reach a settlement while the hearing was taking place, which was unsuccessful. If you have Watson rostered in a keeper/dynasty league or have already drafted for the 2022 season, hopefully you have an insurance policy in place in case Watson is hit with a year-long suspension.
Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Tyus Bowser (Achilles) tore his Achilles in the Jan. 9 regular season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but head coach John Harbaugh thinks he'll be back for training camp next month. "I think Tyus will be back for the start of the season. I think Tyus will be back for training camp. That's my prediction. That's my timeline, so I'm going to stick with that," Harbaugh said back on Jan. 31. Bowser showed up for the start of the offseason program without a boot on his foot or an obvious limp, but he's still only about 5 1/2 months removed from surgery, and the timetable for Achilles returns has been anywhere from nine to 12 months. But other players have returned much earlier, and Bowser has a chance to be ready by Week 1. It would be huge for Baltimore's D, as Bowser is one of the best athletes on the team.
Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins (knee), who tore the ACL in his left knee in the final preseason game last fall, is highly unlikely to play in the preseason this year. There have been reports that Dobbins also sustained LCL damage to his knee, although the Ravens have only confirmed the torn ACL. The 23-year-old was mostly a bystander during organized team activities, although he did catch some balls from the Jugs machine. There has been outside pessimism about Dobbins' availability and effectiveness in 2022, but the Ravens say he's on track and expect him to be a factor. The most logical expectation is for him to start training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Dobbins will be an extremely risky RB2/3 selection for fantasy managers coming off his serious knee injury.
Baltimore Ravens three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters (knee) tore his ACL in a Sept. 9 practice and missed the entire 2021 season, but as long as he continues to progress, he should be back at some point over the summer, which would give him a chance to play in Week 1. Peters' focus isn't on being on the field for the start of training camp at the end of July, and the Ravens won't be rushing him back after the first major injury of his career. The goal will be to have Peters on the field in September. The 29-year-old has been working hard in his rehab and spent considerable time rehabbing at the team's facility in recent weeks. Getting Peters back on the field will be a huge boost to a Ravens secondary that was decimated by injuries in 2021.
Even though the Buffalo Bills drafted rookie running back James Cook as a pass-catching threat out of the backfield, the coaching staff remains firmly behind Devin Singletary as an important piece of the backfield puzzle. Singletary ended last year as the team's every-down starter, yielding minimal snaps to Zack Moss as the backup. The Bills aren't going to cut Singletary out of the offense just because of Cook, and for now, The Athletic's Joe Buscaglia expects Singletary to remain the lead back by playing time, but Cook will have a role. Cook will likely mix in on obvious passing situations and when the team feels comfortable enough to use two-RB sets and split him out wide. Singletary's fantasy ceiling is definitely lowered with Cook now in the fold, but he could still end up as a top-30 fantasy back.