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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Lineup Prep: Super Bowl

Wed Feb 7 8:43am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Related photo caption below

Pacheco is playing at high level


Not sure about you, but there is not a better weekend in sports than Super Bowl weekend. It is as good as it gets. Just everything involved with it is so much fun. I am so looking forward to it all this weekend. Let’s hope it is a good game and lives up to the hype. Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . .

I will give you my pick for the game right off the bat. I think it will be a close game, but look for the Chiefs to squeak it out. I think the experience factor plays a difference here in the end, especially when it comes to the quarterback position. Patrick Mahomes has been outstanding during the playoffs and think he has a huge advantage over Brock Purdy. Plus, the Chiefs defense has been outstanding lately, completely shutting down the opponent. I don’t see them shutting down the 49ers high-powered offense, but think they will cause Purdy problems. I’m going with a Chiefs 31-27 victory.

If you still don’t have any fantasy teams alive in the playoffs, consider playing our fun pickem contests. We have tons of options available to play with for the Super Bowl. I wanted to give you a few of my favorite pickem plays for the big game. Give me Travis Kelce more than 70.5-receiving yards. Kelce has 71-plus yards all three of his playoff games and is coming off arguably his best game of the season. And the 49ers struggled to stop the tight end last week, seeing Sam LaPorta rack up the receptions and yards. I also like Brandon Aiyuk less than 61.5-receiving yards. Aiyuk has failed to hit that mark two of three games and has just three catches each of his last three games. Lastly, I like Deebo Samuel more than 79.5-rushing and receiving yards. Samuel had 11 touches his last game and was a huge part of the offense. I look for the 49ers to get him involved early and often, giving him good potential to rack up some total yards.

I’m not sure how I feel about the Commanders hiring of Kliff Kingsbury. His offenses were fine in Arizona, but not as explosive as many thought and he struggled some using Caleb Williams last year at USC. I think the Commanders would have been better served keeping Eric Bieniemy as their offensive coordinator. I thought he did a great job with the offense last year in Washington all things considered. I’m not convinced Kingsbury is going to be an upgrade.

On a different subject, can we stop teasing and showing parts of the Super Bowl commercials before the game? I mean part of the fun of the game is the commercials. They are always entertaining and a part of the event. But now, you see parts of the commercials before the game, ruining the surprise. C’mon people. Let’s stop this tradition right now.

We had our first TFC draft of the 2024 season last night. And in a surprise move, the first pick of the draft was Breece Hall. And we also saw Sam LaPorta get picked before Travis Kelce. It is always interesting to see how these early drafts shake out. A lot is going to change between now and the start of next season, but trends are starting now. In this draft, four running backs were picked in the first round compared to eight receivers. And the quarterback position looks as deep as ever with guys like Jordan Love getting picked in Round 11. Brock Purdy and Kirk Cousins also went very late.

News and Notes: The Chargers hired Greg Roman as their new offensive coordinator. Roman tends to be more run heavy when it comes to play calling. . . . .Former Texans and Patriots running back Rex Burkhead announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday. 

HOT PLAYS

Isiah Pacheco, RB, Chiefs. Pacheco has taken his game to new heights during the Chiefs playoff run. He has at least 15 fantasy points four straight games and found the end zone seven consecutive games. He even has 20-plus carries two of three games, getting a big workload in the Chiefs offense. Expect more of the same this week from Pacheco. The 49ers allowed 182-rushing yards to the Lions their last game and allowed 135-plus rushing yards each of their two playoff games.

Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs. Kelce has looked like a different player during these playoffs than the regular season. He had 11 receptions his last game and at least five catches all three playoff games. He has 14-plus fantasy points all three games. He has really elevated his game after a ho-hum second half of the season. Look for him to be the focal point of the Chiefs passing game once again this week. And San Francisco couldn’t contain Sam LaPorta in the Championship game, allowing him to get nine receptions for 97 yards. The Packers tight ends had six receptions and a touchdown in the 49ers other playoff game.

COLD PLAYS 

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, 49ers. Aiyuk did score a touchdown his last game, which was a big positive, but he had just three receptions. He has just three cathodes three straight games. He has were than 40 yards two of three. And with the Chiefs secondary clamping down on receivers right not, it could be more of the same for Aiyuk this week. He could be held in check once again.

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Chiefs. McKinnon is expected to make his long-awaited return this week, returning from a groin injury. He has not played since Week 15. Just remember he has not reached double-digit touches in a single game this year. Pacheco is the lead back in this offense and will get most of the work at running back. McKinnon played great during the Chiefs playoff run last season, but this is a new year. Plus, McKinnon has not played in several weeks, so you have to wonder how much he is even on the field. He will be a big risk to use for fantasy owners.

SLEEPERS

Jauan Jennings, WR, 49ers. There are always surprise players in the Super Bowl, so why not Jennings. He could draw the most favorable matchups in coverage for the 49ers receiver options. And he has looked good in the playoffs, having six receptions for 69 yards in two games. He played 42 percent of the snaps last week - even with Deebo Samuel back in the lineup. Jennings might get a big play or two in this one, making him an intriguing fantasy play. 

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Chiefs. Valdes-Scantling had the game-clinching reception in the Championship game, making a sliding catch on third down to clinch the game. He finished with two receptions for 38 yards. But he played a season-high 83 percent of the snaps in that game, which is encouraging. If he is on the field that much again this week, his reception and yardage totals could rise in what might be a high-scoring game.

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/49ers.

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 jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

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Player Notes
Breece Hall Jun 22 8:10pm ET
Breece Hall

New York Jets running back Breece Hall is eager to show what he can do this season. As such, he wants to play up to the level of San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey. "It's on me," Hall said in an interview with the New York Post. "To me, he sets the standard. I've gotten better this offseason. I'm a lot leaner, I feel a lot healthier. My knee feels a lot better. I just feel like I'm back to my old self." The 23-year-old was solid as a rookie before going down seven games into the season because of a knee injury. He finished last season by running for nearly 1,000 yards and totaling nine touchdowns. With that said, Hall will get a chance to showcase his talent immediately, with the Jets meeting the 49ers in Week 1 for Monday Night Football. If the 2022 No. 36 overall pick stays healthy, he may be on tap to have his best season yet.

From RotoBaller

Ndamukong Suh Jun 22 1:40pm ET
Ndamukong Suh

The Athletic's Dan Pompei thinks Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea could have a career year in 2024. The seven-year veteran is entering the prime of his career at 29 years old after losing a significant amount of weight in the offseason while working out with former teammate Ndamukong Suh. Vea has been listed at 347 points but probably weighed closer to 367 pounds. The Buccaneers have wanted him to slim down for a while. Over the last three seasons, he has missed games with toe, groin, pectoral, calf, foot and knee injuries. In addition to being quicker and more explosive, Vea could also be healthier in 2024. The 29-year-old inside pass-rusher is hoping to play increased snaps on defense now that he's lighter after recording a career-high 43 tackles (28 solo) last year while picking up 5.5 sacks, one shy of his career-high.

From RotoBaller

Jaleel McLaughlin Jun 21 7:40pm ET
Jaleel McLaughlin

Denver Broncos running back Jaleel McLaughlin has reportedly looked more explosive during offseason workouts and mandatory minicamp. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has praised McLaughlin for his speed and explosiveness. It certainly appears that McLaughlin could earn himself a bigger role next season. However, he still has to compete in a crowded backfield with Javonte Williams, Samaje Perine, and rookie fifth-rounder Audric Estime. McLaughlin might be able to earn more snaps, but it probably won't be anything that will raise his draft stock by much.

From RotoBaller

Demario Douglas Jun 21 7:30pm ET
Demario Douglas

New England Patriots wide receiver Demario Douglas has reportedly looked like the best and most explosive playmaker this spring. The former sixth-round pick was impressive during his rookie season with the Pats last season. He finished with 49 receptions and lead the team with 561 receiving yards in 14 games. The Pats failed to add much depth this offseason, which means Douglas should have a similar role once again. The hope is that the Pats offense is better under head coach Jerod Mayo and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt. Douglas is worth a look in the later rounds of PPR fantasy drafts.

From RotoBaller

Cedric Tillman Jun 21 5:00pm ET
Cedric Tillman

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Cedric Tillman had a quiet rookie campaign after being selected in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft out of Tennessee. He ran just 343 routes (74th) and hauled in 21 of his 44 targets for 244 yards and no touchdowns. However, Zac Jackson of the Athletic suggests he will get more opportunities in Year 2, despite the additions of Jerry Jeudy and rookie Jamari Thrash. "It's my belief that the Browns plan to open the season with Jeudy in the slot and [Amari] Cooper and Cedric Tillman out wide. Jeudy can play outside, too, and Elijah Moore will also see snaps inside and outside." Although Tillman could have limited upside if Deshaun Watson fails to bounce back to form from his time with the Houston Texans, this is an encouraging report for dynasty managers holding onto him. Tillman is usually available well into the late 200s in fantasy drafts, so he could be an underpriced sleeper candidate.

From RotoBaller

Elijah Moore Jun 21 5:00pm ET
Elijah Moore

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Elijah Moore showed flashes of upside in his 2021 rookie season, but over the last two years, he has failed to make a significant impact. In his last 33 games with the Jets and Browns, he's hauled in 96 receptions for 1,086 yards and three touchdowns. Amari Cooper and Jerry Jeudy are likely locked into the WR1 and WR2 roles for quarterback Deshaun Watson, and Zac Jackson of the Athletic suggested Cedric Tillman will occupy the WR3 role. "It's my belief that the Browns plan to open the season with Jeudy in the slot and Cooper and Cedric Tillman out wide," Jackson wrote. "Jeudy can play outside, too, and Elijah Moore will also see snaps inside and outside." Moore is going well ahead of Tillman in 2024 fantasy drafts, and that might be a mistake based on offseason reports. Moore was once a potential top-24 dynasty wide receiver, but he is now trending toward fantasy irrelevance.

From RotoBaller

Tim Patrick Jun 21 4:50pm ET
Tim Patrick

Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick (Achilles) has had an unfortunate run of injury luck. He suffered a torn ACL during the 2022 offseason before a devastating Achilles tear leading up to the 2023 campaign. However, the 30-year-old said he's feeling back to full strength this year. "I felt like myself," Patrick said after practice "I felt twitchy. I felt like I was running [full speed]. Honestly, I think I'm right there where I was three years ago, right now." Patrick was a decent fantasy football contributor in his last full season (2021), as he racked up 53 receptions for 734 yards and five touchdowns. He posted a WR42 finish in PPR leagues. The last time he was on the field for a regular season game, Teddy Bridgewater was his quarterback. A lot has changed since then, and it will be interesting to see if he has any ability left after two major injuries. All that said, Denver has one of the weakest wide receiver groups in the NFL, so he could make at least a small impact in 2024. He should be left on waivers in traditional fantasy leagues, but fantasy managers in ultra-deep leagues can get him in the late rounds of drafts, as he's being selected outside the top 130 wide receivers.

From RotoBaller

CeeDee Lamb Jun 21 4:30pm ET
CeeDee Lamb

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb did not report to mandatory minicamp this month, and there's a chance he will hold out from all team activities until he reaches a new deal. However, Saad Yousuf of the Athletic believes Lamb could be extended before training camp. "Of the three contracts in question for the Cowboys, Lamb's is the most likely to get done before training camp," Yousuf wrote. "There are the least amount of questions with Lamb. There could be some discussion about a wide receiver's value if there's uncertainty for the future at quarterback, but Lamb will be an asset for years to come, whether it's for Prescott or his successor." This offseason, Justin Jefferson ($35 million APY), A.J. Brown ($32 million) Amon-Ra St. Brown ($30 million), and Jaylen Waddle ($28.25 million) all signed lucrative deals, and Lamb will likely be close to Jefferson's deal when the dust settles. The former first-round pick posted 135 receptions for 1,749 yards, and 12 touchdowns in 2023 and is one of the best pass-catchers in the league. He is the popular pick to be the first wide receiver drafted in 2024 fantasy football.

From RotoBaller

Jacob Copeland Jun 21 4:20pm ET
Jacob Copeland

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed free-agent wide receiver Jacob Copeland to a one-year deal, according to NFL.com. Copeland went undrafted in 2023 and has spent time with the Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings, and Kansas City Chiefs, but he did not appear in a game during his rookie year. He was a member of Pittsburgh's practice squad for nearly two months last year, so he has some familiarity with the organization. The former top-100 recruit in the class of 2018 began his college career at Florida before transferring to Maryland. Overall, he racked up 112 receptions for 1,742 yards and 11 touchdowns in 51 games before entering the NFL. While he's a longshot to make the Steelers' 53-man roster, the team has a glaring need at wideout behind 2023 breakout George Pickens.

From RotoBaller

Will Levis Jun 21 4:10pm ET
Will Levis

Tennessee Titans quarterback Will Levis is likely headed toward a make-or-break season in 2024. The Kentucky product was not a first-round pick, and head coach Brian Callahan was not a part of the staff when he was selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. So far, the soon-to-be 25-year-old has made improvements this offseason. "Levis changed things with his base, tweaking his footwork. He's trying to get the ball out better, and cleaner, with improved technique," Titans beat reporter Jim Wyatt wrote. "He's getting on the same page with his new receivers. In the six practices open to media, Levis was charted at completing 37 of his 57 attempts (64.9%) in 7-on-7 periods. He had some good days this offseason and others that served more as learning experiences." Levis should have an improved offensive line in Year 2 after the team drafted Alabama tackle JC Latham with the No. 7 overall pick and signed former Broncos center Lloyd Cushenberry III. He'll also have Calvin Ridley and Tyler Boyd to throw to along with DeAndre Hopkins, so the organization is trying to put the pieces together for him to be successful.

From RotoBaller

Michael Penix Jr. Jun 21 4:00pm ET
Michael Penix Jr.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has agreed to terms on a four-year, $22.88 million deal that includes a $13.46 million signing bonus, according to Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report. If things play out the way the Falcons hope, the 24-year-old will see limited action for at least the next two seasons while Kirk Cousins leads the offense. The No. 8 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft is coming off two monster collegiate seasons that included over 9,000 passing yards and 67 passing touchdowns. He should at least be one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL right away, and he is worth stashing in dynasty leagues and Superflex formats in 2024.

From RotoBaller

Ricky Pearsall Jun 21 3:00pm ET
Ricky Pearsall

The San Francisco 49ers announced on Friday that they signed first-round wide receiver Ricky Pearsall to his four-year rookie deal. The 49ers now have all eight of their 2024 draft picks under contract before the start of training camp at the end of July. San Fran surprisingly selected Pearsall at the tail end of this year's NFL draft despite not training Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk leading up to the draft. While the 23-year-old is an intriguing option for fantasy managers in dynasty/keeper formats in head coach Kyle Shanahan's system, his playing time in his rookie year in 2024 is probably going to be limited as long as Samuel and Aiyuk stay healthy. The Florida alum would immediately become fantasy relevant in redraft leagues if Samuel or Aiyuk are injured or traded this season.

From RotoBaller

Geno Smith Jun 21 2:40pm ET
Geno Smith

Seattle Seahawks new offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb said the offense won't be as pass-happy as his offense was with the University of Washington, and he also plans to use fewer pre-snap motions and shifts, but Grubb wants to put a lot of responsibility on quarterback Geno Smith. The 33-year-old veteran signal-caller has welcomed more responsibility, but the results have so far been mixed in offseason workouts. Head coach Mike Macdonald has been impressed with Smith's plan, and the offense will have an extra opportunity to test itself during the preseason in joint practices with the Tennessee Titans. Smith had a career year in 2022 and was the QB5 in fantasy, but he predictably fell to QB15 in 2023. Nobody is saying Smith is a QB1 in fantasy, but a bounce-back is entirely plausible in what could be a more dynamic offense. Target him as a low-end QB2 in superflex formats.

From RotoBaller

Roman Wilson Jun 21 2:30pm ET
Roman Wilson

The Athletic's Mark Kaboly writes that the biggest surprise of the Pittsburgh Steelers' offseason is that they seem perfectly satisfied watching how the WR2 position plays out in training camp among middle-of-the-road receivers Van Jefferson, Quez Watkins, Calvin Austin III, Scotty Miller, Marquez Callaway and Dez Fitzpatrick behind George Pickens. Whether they address the position before the season could hinge on the play of rookie Roman Wilson, but the entire group has been underwhelming enough that a big swing seems imminent. Receiver depth is severely lacking in Pittsburgh after they traded away Diontae Johnson this offseason. Austin, a fourth-rounder in 2022, could be the most intriguing option for an increased role in deeper fantasy leagues if the Steelers don't make a splash addition at the position. Training camp will give us a better idea of how the receiver depth chart will shake out.

From RotoBaller

Patrick Mahomes Jun 21 2:20pm ET
Patrick Mahomes

Entering training camp this summer, The Athletic's Nate Taylor writes that quarterback Patrick Mahomes appears to have a lot more viable passing options than he did in 2023. Last year, the Chiefs started the season with Kadarius Toney as their No. 1. But this year, Toney will likely be fourth or fifth on the wideout depth chart. Mahomes showed promising chemistry with new pass-catcher Marquise Brown in OTAs and minicamp, and rookie Xavier Worthy should give the team a strong deep passing attack. Rookie tight end Jared Wiley has shown strong receiving skills behind Travis Kelce. Even if Rashee Rice is suspended as expected, Mahomes should have plenty of receivers that he trusts enter the regular season opener against the Baltimore Ravens. As the Chiefs seek an unprecedented third straight championship, Mahomes is an easy top-four fantasy QB.

From RotoBaller

Bryce Young Jun 21 2:10pm ET
Bryce Young

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Adam Thielen said on The Rich Eisen Show that it's been an awesome offseason for the team, and second-year quarterback Bryce Young just looks "more comfortable." Thielen went on to explain that Young is just more immersed in the offense heading into his second season in the NFL and that the two have gained valuable chemistry on and off the field. It was a whirlwind for Young leading up to his first NFL campaign, which couldn't have gone much worse. The 22-year-old former Alabama product is already on his second head coach in two seasons, but there's nowhere for him to go but up in 2024. The Panthers added receiver Diontae Johnson to give Young some help in the passing game. Not many fantasy football managers are going to want anything to do with Young after what they saw in 2023, but he's not a bad low-end QB2 target in superflex leagues with upside.

From RotoBaller

Adam Thielen Jun 21 12:23pm ET
Adam Thielen

Carolina Panthers QB Bryce Young is getting more comfortable entering his second NFL season, according to WR Adam Thielen. ''You can tell, Bryce's demeanor in the building -- he's just more comfortable, right? And you don't realize it when you start getting to be a veteran guy, just because you forget about those times,' said Thielen.

Fantasy Spin: Young is coming off a pretty rough rookie season, but the Panthers have done a solid job adding protection and weapons around him. Even so, he's a QB2 option until he proves he has more upside.

From TheHuddle

Greg Dortch Jun 20 11:30pm ET
Greg Dortch

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Greg Dortch is expected to have an expanded role in 2024, according to Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic. Dortch has been a steady, reliable contributor to Arizona's wide receiver corps over his two seasons with the team. Now, even though Marvin Harrison Jr. will be the focal point of the offense, Dortch is expected to get plenty of looks. He'll operate ahead of Zay Jones and Chris Moore, instead mixing in with the likes of Harrison, Michael Wilson, and Trey McBride. The now-26-year-old had 23 catches for 278 yards over his final seven games last season, and he figures to rank as a high-end WR5 heading into fantasy football drafts this year.

From RotoBaller

Malachi Corley Jun 20 11:10pm ET
Malachi Corley

New York Jets wide receiver Malachi Corley is still adjusting to NFL speed and the team's offense, according to Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic. Specifically, Rosenblatt cautions against automatically viewing Corley as the Jets' No. 3 receiver over Xavier Gipson, who has made several players while taking a significant leap this offseason. As of now, it appears Gipson and Corley are the two candidates vying for the No. 3 receiver role, and it's possible that the former actually has a slight advantage. Of course, Rosenblatt also notes that Corley drew plenty of hype following the draft and "has a lot of talent and made some plays," even if his position on the depth chart is still in flux.

From RotoBaller

Xavier Gipson Jun 20 11:10pm ET
Xavier Gipson

New York Jets wide receiver Xavier Gipson "made plays throughout OTAs and minicamp and seems to have taken a leap forward after a year of NFL experience," according to Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic. Rosenblatt even suggested that Gipson might have a leg up on the No. 3 receiver role over Malachi Corley, the fast-rising rookie who has turned some heads during camp but is still adjusting to NFL speed. If Gipson does open 2024 ahead of Corley on the depth chart, he'll still fall behind Garrett Wilson and Mike Williams in the pecking order. As a result, the second-year receiver is merely a bench option in deeper redraft leagues.

From RotoBaller