Tue Jan 28 12:31pm ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Kittle should see more targets
It is hard to believe but the last game of the season is here. The Super Bowl is this weekend, ending the football season. It is sad to see another season come to an end, but the 2020 fantasy season will be here before you know it.
Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .
First off, enjoy the game this weekend. Super Bowl Sunday is always a great day of the year, so enjoy it. I know I’m looking forward to it, spending time with family, friends while eating some good food. Hopefully, the game is a good one, making things even better.
Here is my prediction for the big game. I really think it is a tossup with the way both teams are playing right now. But for me, I think the Chiefs win the game 31-27. I just think the Chiefs offense is too much right now even against a very good 49ers defense. Kansas City is just clicking on all cylinders right now. I think the speed at receiver for the Chiefs might be the difference in this game, making some big plays. Plus, the Chiefs defense has made big strides since the start of the year, making big plays at crucial times. This should be a great matchup, but in the end, I think the Chiefs will prevail and win the Super Bowl.
I think Gary Kubiak taking over as the offensive coordinator for the Vikings is a solid move for that offense. Kubiak should employ a similar approach to this past year, getting the most out of Dalvin Cook and Kirk Cousins. I don’t expect much of a drop off in production - if any - with Kubiak calling plays. He knows what he is doing and has produced some big offenses as the primary play caller.
This should be a very interesting offseason for quarterbacks. Several big-name quarterbacks are free agents this year. This might be the most movement at the quarterback spot we have ever seen in the NFL during an offseason. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Jameis Winston, Dak Prescott, Ryan Tannehill and Teddy Bridgewater are the headliner quarterback free agents. Now some of these players are expected to re-sign or get tagged by their current team, but many could be moving on to other teams this offseason. It is going to be interesting to watch. These guys moving around will really impact the fantasy world.
Kareem Hunt had another off the field incident. He was pulled over for speeding but the officer also found marijuana in the car. He was not charged with anything but speeding, though. The NFL is likely going to look into this incident, which is not great news for Hunt. Remember, he was suspended the first half of this past season. This is a situation to monitor if you have hopes of Hunt being fantasy relevant this coming season.
So I’m not proud to admit this, but I’m a little intrigued by the XFL. My city (St. Louis) has a team and some buzz has being going around town a little. The last time the XFL was around there was some excitement with the league before it went belly up. The rules are kind of interesting and the faster paced game could make for some good entertainment. We’ll see. It will be hard to have staying power with the NFL being so strong, but you never know.
As always, don’t forget to check out my weekly rankings here: Super Bowl Rankings.
George Kittle, TE, 49ers. With the 49ers having huge success running the ball during the playoffs, Kittle has gotten little usage. He has four receptions for 35 yards in two playoff games. We think he can get back to his old ways this week with the 49ers trying to keep up with the Chiefs high-powered offense. Remember, Kittle had at least five receptions five of his last six regular season games. He also has a favorable matchup against a Chiefs defines that allowed the sixth most fantasy points to tight ends during the regular season.
Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs. Hill had multiple touchdowns his last time out, catching five passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns. This was his third multiple touchdown game of the season. Hill has a chance to break off some big plays against a 49ers secondary that lacks a little top-end speed. It would not surprise to see Hill find the end zone again and get a few big plays in this game.
Damien Williams, RB, Chiefs. Williams has touchdowns each of the Chiefs playoff games, but failed to top 50-rushing yards in either of those games. He will get some catches even if he doesn’t pile up the rushing yards, but Williams has never topped 50-receiving yards in a game this year. Williams is going to be a touchdown dependent player, making him a risky fantasy play. The 49ers allowed just 10-rushing touchdowns all season and gave up the second fewest fantasy points to running backs.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, 49ers. Sanders has two receptions for 33 yards in the 49ers two playoffs games. He didn't even catch a pass his last game and has been targeted just three times the entire playoffs. Sanders has fewer than 50 yards eight of 10 games. The Chiefs also are a tough opponent for Sanders, allowing the second fewest fantasy points to receivers during the regular season. Sanders isn’t wroth the risk.
Mecole Hardman, WR, Chiefs. There always seems to be a player that surprises in the big game, so put Hardman on your radar. His speed could be a tough matchup for the 49ers secondary. Hardman found the end zone six times during the season, proving he is capable of the big play in this offense. The Chiefs could find ways to get this playmaker the ball, especially if the 49ers key on other Chiefs players in the game.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers. Garoppolo has done next to nothing in the playoffs because the 49ers have been so run heavy. He has not been needed to air it out. That could change in the Super Bowl. It would not surprise to see the 49ers having to play catchup against a high-powered Chiefs offense. He should get more chances to throw the ball. He had plenty of big games during the regular season, so Garoppolo is more than capable of producing for fantasy teams. He probably needs to have a big showing if he 49ers hope to win this 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 email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Houston Texans safety Justin Reid said he has spoken to head coach Bill O'Brien about his brother, free-agent Eric Reid. O'Brien was positive about Eric Reid, but it's unclear if the Texans will actually sign him. The 28-year-old was the 18th overall pick of the 49ers in the 2013 draft and made the Pro Bowl in his rookie season. He spent the last two years in Carolina, recording a career-high 130 tackles (97 solo), seven tackles for loss, five QB hits, six passes defensed, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in 16 games. Reid has 11 career interceptions in his seven seasons in the NFL. Houston needs as much help as they can get in the secondary.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk, the former second-round pick out of Texas A&M in 2018, knows that the addition of stud wideout DeAndre Hopkins will mean that opposing defenses will focus less on him. Kirk missed the final three games of 2019 due to injury and finished with 68 catches for 709 yards and three touchdowns. He should see a lot more single coverage, but the fact remains that he'll see fewer consistent targets with both Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald demanding looks from quarterback Kyler Murray. The 23-year-old could have some big games if teams focus all their attention on Nuk, but Kirk's fantasy stock is down entering the 2020 season.
Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace said that quarterbacks Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles will be in an open competition in training camp this summer. The Bears were expected to bring in someone to compete with Trubisky under center, so they decided to acquire Foles from the Jaguars. Foles has experience working with all of Chicago's offensive coaches, so it seems like it could be his job to lose after Trubisky regressed in 2019. The Bears also remain non-committal on whether they'll pick up Trubisky's 2021 option. Neither QB will be much more than a midrange QB2 if they win the job, but Foles, a former Super Bowl MVP, would be a little more intriguing for wide receiver Allen Robinson.
The Kansas City Chiefs and wide receiver Sammy Watkins agreed to a restructured contract that will keep him with the team for at least another season. It will lower his salary cap number and he can earn a maximum of $16 million in 2020, according to a source. The one-year deal has a base salary of $9 million, and the move creates $5 million in cap space for the Chiefs. Watkins had 52 catches for 673 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games in the regular season, but he came on once again in the postseason on the way to a Super Bowl championship. The 26-year-old has just one 1,000-yard receiving season in his six years in the league after being the fourth overall pick of the Bills in 2014. Watkins can have some big games in KC's offense, but they'll be few and far between.
The Las Vegas Raiders signed safety Damarious Randall to a one-year deal worth up to $3.25 million, according to a source. It comes just after a deal for cornerback Eli Apple fell apart. Randall, a first-round pick by the Packers in 2015, had the first 2.5 sacks of his career for the Browns in 11 games last year, also recording 61 tackles (45 solo) and three QB hits. The 2019 season was the only one in his five years that he didn't record an interception, as Randall has 14 career picks in 65 games (56 starts). He'll help shore up the secondary alongside Johnathan Abram in Las Vegas.
According to a source, there's "not a chance in hell" that the New England Patriots trade wide receiver Julian Edelman. Edelman does carry a salary cap hit of $9.6 million in 2020, but he's too important to the team's passing game, especially given their lack of depth and with quarterback Tom Brady no longer in town. The veteran receiver was targeted 153 times in 2019 and caught 100 passes for the second time in his career. With Brady gone -- he'll likely have Jarrett Stidham under center this season -- Edelman's fantasy appeal certainly won't be as strong, and he'll also be 34 next month. But he'll still be useful in PPR leagues and could even come at a nice value. However, he won't be as much of a PPR lock as he's been in the past as Brady's favorite aerial weapon.
The Las Vegas Raiders and cornerback Eli Apple were unable to finalize a contract, according to sources. Apple will remain a free agent and will go back on the open market. The former 10th overall pick by the Giants in the 2016 draft hasn't lived up to his draft pedigree in his four years in the league with New York and New Orleans, but another team will likely be willing to take a chance on him at a low cost. The 24-year-old has just three interceptions in his career and totaled 58 tackles (53 solo), four passes defensed and one forced fumble in 15 games for the Saints in 2019.
The New York Jets are interested in free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney now that his asking price has dropped a bit on the open market. Clowney has found a cold market for his services, likely because of the lack of physicals due to the coronavirus and his extensive injury history, but at this point he's in no rush to pick a team. He's willing to wait until he gets the deal that he's seeking as the best pass-rusher available in free agency this late in the game. The Seahawks are interested in bringing him back at the right price, and the Titans have also shown interest. Clowney has never had a double-digit sack season in his career and is an injury risk, but there's no denying that he still has an impact in defending both the run and the pass when he's healthy. This one could drag on.
Houston Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil said on NFL Live that he wants to become the league's highest-paid offensive lineman. "Im not going to talk numbers, as Im going to keep that between me and the club. I am looking to be the highest-paid lineman, of course. I worked my butt off to be in that position and hopefully we can make that happen," Tunsil said. The 25-year-old first-round pick of the Dolphins in 2016 was acquired from Miami along with receiver Kenny Stills last year for two first-round picks and a second-rounder. He's an elite left tackle that should easily wind up making around $20 million per season on a long-term deal with the Texans. His presence on the blind side for years to come will be excellent news for quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron (ankle) said he's still not fully recovered from an ankle injury that held him to just 11 games in 2019. Ebron had to have his ankle examined and "cleaned out" by an independent doctor near his home in Houston because of league restrictions keeping players from visiting other organizations during the coronavirus pandemic. The 26-year-old has yet to be examined by the Steelers medical personnel. "If the season started today, I dont think Id be able to 100% perform. But we dont play today," Ebron said. He was a disappointment last year as a TE1 after setting career highs in catches (66), yards (750) and touchdowns (13) in 2018. The 10th overall pick by the Lions in 2014 must get healthy first, but he'll also be competing for targets with Vance McDonald, which will hurt his overall fantasy ceiling in his new home.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-signed quarterback Blaine Gabbert to an undisclosed one-year deal on Thursday, according to a source. Gabbert will serve as the backup to Tom Brady in 2020. The 30-year-old former 10th overall pick of the Jaguars in 2011 will help Brady learn head coach Bruce Arians' system. He didn't see the field at all in 2019, but Gabbert has played in 56 games (48 starts) in his eight years in the NFL with stops in Jacksonville, San Francisco, Arizona and Tennessee. You can obviously ignore Gabbert in all fantasy leagues, and he'd merely be a low-end QB2 option in Tampa if Brady were to get hurt and miss any time.
Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said that offensive tackle Jack Conklin will stay at right tackle in Cleveland. The Browns added Conklin in free agency as they look to improve a dreadful offensive line from a season ago. The eighth overall pick by the Titans in the 2016 draft was a first-team All-Pro in his rookie season and has been one of the better right tackles in the league in his four seasons. The 25-year-old has started all 57 games he's played in and has played in a full 16-game season in three of his four years in the league. Conklin will help bring stability to the right side of the Browns line, but they'll need help elsewhere.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry signed his $10.2 million franchise tender on Thursday, but the two sides are still committed to working on a long-term contract extension before the deadline on July 15. Henry led the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards on 303 carries last season, and he was tied for the league lead with Aaron Jones with 16 rushing scores. His 25 receptions left a lot to be desired in PPR leagues, but there's no denying that Henry is the bell-cow running back in one of the most run-heavy offenses in the league. It makes the 26-year-old one of the most desirable RB1 picks for fantasy owners early in drafts.
Free-agent linebacker Markus Golden is the only player on the open market that had double-digit sacks in 2019. Golden recorded 10 sacks in 16 games last year and was sixth in the league with 27 quarterback hits while being tied for 14th with 13 tackles for a loss. He was believed to be asking for $10 million per season, according to a source, but he won't be getting that now. It's unlikely that New York will re-sign Golden after already adding Kyle Fackrell for one year and $4.6 million. The Giants are likely to add a low-priced veteran later on as they look to boost their pass rush. Golden earned $3.75 million last year and made another $1 million for reaching 10 sacks. The 29-year-old had a good season in 2019, but fantasy owners in IDP leagues shouldn't be expecting a repeat necessarily.
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton said that the uniqueness of quarterback Taysom Hill's role requires the team to have a third quarterback active on game days, and that won't change in 2020 with Teddy Bridgewater now in Carolina. The Saints are likely to look for the best quarterback (rookie or a veteran) that is available to be the No. 3 behind Drew Brees and Hill. New Orleans thinks highly of Hill as the heir apparent to Brees, but he's attempted just 13 passes the last two seasons, including just six attempts despite Brees missing extended time in 2019 with a finger injury. The 29-year-old gadget player won't have any lasting fantasy significance in redraft leagues unless Brees gets injured again or retires.
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (hip) said on Wednesday that his surgically repaired hip is fully healed and that he could play in a game at full strength right now. I feel 100 percent, Tagovailoa said in an exclusive interview with NFL Network. I feel like if there was a game today, I'd be able to go out and perform the same way I was able to perform in previous years. I feel as mobile as possible. I feel 100 percent. His agent, Chris Cabott, said that Tagovailoa's doctors have cleared him without restrictions. Tagovailoa is expected to be one of the top picks in this year's draft and the second QB selected after LSU's Joe Burrow, who is expected to go first overall. Tua hasn't said which teams he's met with virtually. The left-handed thrower has some injury risks, but he's extremely accurate and athletic and could be starting games in 2020 for whichever team selects him.
Free-agent LB Markus Golden is unlikely to return to the New York Giants because he's asking for too much money, according to a source. Golden is believed to be asking for north of $10 million per year.
Fantasy Spin: If Golden is classified as a defensive lineman, he rates as a midrange DL1 option in IDP leagues. He had 72 total tackles and 9.5 sacks last year. He's a flex option at linebacker wherever he lands.
Updating previous reports, Dallas Cowboys LB Aldon Smith will have a $2 million base salary and can earn $2 million more in sack incentives.
Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz was hurried 67 times in 2019 - tied with Derek Carr for the second-highest total in the league.