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FFL: Playoff Week 8 | NFL: Superbowl

A plus for Saints, minus for Bengals at WR ahead of matchup

Wed Nov 7 10:15 pm

The New Orleans Saints added a receiver and the Cincinnati Bengals apparently will be forced to subtract one before the teams meet Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.

The Saints strengthened their offense for their playoff push by agreeing to terms on a one-year contract with former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant on Wednesday. Bryant was to a sign a contract and join the team Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Bengals were preparing to play without A.J. Green, who was dealing with a foot injury sustained in the 37-34 win two weeks ago over Tampa Bay.

Bryant has not played since Dallas terminated his contract in the offseason, but he impressed the Saints coaches enough in a workout Tuesday for them to add him to the roster of a team that was doing fine without him.

New Orleans is 7-1 after winning seven straight with Drew Brees at quarterback. Brees could be positioned for a huge game against the Bengals, who rank last in the NFL in pass defense.

The Saints' most productive receiver by far is Michael Thomas with 70 catches. Running back Alvin Kamara has 51 receptions and tight end Ben Watson is next with 26. Wide receivers Tre'Quan Smith and Ten Ginn Jr. have combined for only 12 catches and Ginn is on injured reserve.

"We already had one of the best offenses in the league, if not the best," Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore said. "This gives us another key component."

The acquisition of Bryant comes two weeks after the Saints made a trade with the New York Giants to acquire cornerback Eli Apple, who immediately became a starter.

"Just adding weapons helps any team and I think that's going to help our receiver corps, help our offense," Saints linebacker A.J. Klein said. "Eli has come in and helped our defense. Any time (the Saints upgrade the roster) it gets us fired up, but we're ready to get back to work and focus on this game."

It's too early to tell how much Bryant will play or even if he'll play. Apple arrived on a Wednesday and played virtually the entire game four days later, but wide receiver requires more mental preparation than cornerback does.

The signing of Bryant did raise some eyebrows because of his volatile personality. He was immersed in controversy throughout his career and took some parting shots at the Cowboys' organization after being released.

New Orleans has cultivated a tight-knit team that has been controversy free.

"I don't know Dez personally," Saints tight end Benjamin Watson said. "Obviously I've watched him over the years like you have and I've seen the tremendous athlete and receiver and the passion for the game.

"Early in my career, I was told that the job of the general manager and the head coach is to make the team as good as it can be. As a player, I trust the front office and the coaches and I'm confident he wouldn't be coming in if the powers that be weren't convinced that he can contribute and help us win games."

The New Orleans defense likely won't have to contend with Cincinnati's best wide receiver and so it will be focused on containing running back Joe Mixon (123 yards rushing, two touchdowns vs. Tampa Bay) and forcing quarterback Andy Dalton to lean on his short-handed receivers.

While the Bengals (5-3) prepared to face the Saints after a bye week, Green received an second opinion on the injured foot from highly regarded foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson, who said Green doesn't need surgery.

But that does not mean Green will play Sunday. It appears that the Bengals will look at contingency plans for their top receiver for at least this week and next week's visit to Baltimore.

The Bengals are hoping that wide receiver Tyler Boyd and oft-injured John Ross step up to help fill the void left by Green's absence to provide targets for Dalton.

"Obviously, it puts a lot of pressure on us as individuals because we know what he brings to the table," Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah said. "I mean, he's A.J. Green. A.J. Dream is what we call him -- it's a dream to have him on the team."

Green is Cincinnati's top wideout with 687 yards and six touchdown catches. Boyd has 49 catches for 620 yards and five touchdowns this season.

Ross sat out the game at Tampa Bay with a groin injury but returned to practice this week. In five games this season, the 2017 No. 9 overall pick has seven catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns.

Cincinnati is 3-6-1 in games without Green, who has missed some time in three of the last five seasons.

"Well, you know, again, we just got to get ready to play New Orleans," Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said.

Player Notes
Albert Wilson Jan 23 8:10pm ET

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson (hip) has progressed in his rehab without setbacks since suffering a hip injury in October, according to a league source. Doctors have ruled out surgery once and for all for Wilson and has raised hope that he will be able to get back on the field this spring. The belief is that Wilson will be ready for the start of the offseason program in April. Wilson ranked third on the team in touchdowns (four receiving and one passing) despite missing nine games, and his yards-per-catch average (15.0) led the team. Although Miami's quarterback situation is up in the air, Wilson should have a prominent place in the team's offense next year regardless.

From RotoBaller

Sam Darnold Jan 23 8:10pm ET

The New York Jets officially hired Dowell Loggains as their next offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach on Wednesday. Loggains has worked under head coach Adam Gase in both Chicago and Miami. With Gase likely running the show on offense, Loggains' main task will be to continue the development of quarterback Sam Darnold, who was very up and down in his rookie season. The Jets ranked 29th in yards per game (299.2), 25th in passing yards (197.8), 26th in rushing yards (101.4) and 23rd in the league in points per game (20.8) in 2018.

From RotoBaller

Larry Fitzgerald Jan 23 12:10pm ET

The Arizona Cardinals signed veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald to a one-year deal on Wednesday so that he can return for a 16th season. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. Fitzgerald will turn 36 at the end of August but will remain the No. 1 wideout on the team because of his experience. His numbers took a hit in one of the worst offenses in the NFL in 2018, but he still led the team in receptions (69), receiving yards (734) and touchdowns (six). While Fitz can still make an impact on the field, he'll be returning to his third head coach in three years, but the addition of Kliff Kingsbury could improve the offense moving forward. We won't say for sure that Fitzgerald will return to the 1,000-yard mark, but he should be a serviceable WR3 at the very least.

From RotoBaller

Greg Schiano Jan 23 10:53am ET

Former Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano is expected to land with the New England Patriots in a top defensive role when linebackers coach Brian Flores heading to the Miami Dolphins.

Steve Spagnuolo Jan 23 10:43am ET

Former New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has emerged as the favorite to be hired as Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator, according to sources.

Larry Fitzgerald Jan 23 9:43am ET

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald announced Wednesday, Jan. 23, that he'll return for the 2019 season.

Fantasy Spin: Fitz had a 69-734-6 season, which was well below the 100-catch, 1,000-yard seasons the three years previously. The rookie quarterback was part of the problem, but he doesn't have much more upside next season. He's still a PPR asset, but he'll be a mid-round option as a WR3.

Larry Fitzgerald Jan 23 9:43am ET

Updating an earlier report, Arizona Cardinals impending free-agent WR Larry Fitzgerald re-signed with the Cardinals on a one-year deal. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Albert Wilson Jan 23 2:13am ET

Miami Dolphins WR Albert Wilson (hip) is on schedule with his recovery from an October hip injury that landed him on IR and could be at full speed when the team's offseason workout program begins in April.

Fantasy Spin: After four largely nondescript seasons in Kansas City, Wilson flashed some playmaking ability before getting injured against the Lions. There are far too many variables in Miami for an accurate read on Wilson's fantasy prospects for 2019, but he did enough last year to warrant your attention.

Nick Foles Jan 23 1:53am ET

Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles would be eligible to be franchise or transition tagged and then traded if the team decides not to pick up his option, which ESPN's Chris Mortensen believes is a possibility as doing so would allow the Eagles to influence Foles' destination.

Fantasy Spin: Mortensen indicates such a move would prevent Foles from going to a division rival, but it's all speculation at this point. While it's far from a sure thing, Foles could have some fantasy value in the right situation.

Daryl Worley Jan 23 1:03am ET

Oakland Raiders CB Daryl Worley (shoulder) had successful surgery on his ailing shoulder last week, according to head coach Jon Gruden.

Michael Crabtree Jan 22 11:53pm ET

Baltimore Ravens WR Michael Crabtree is likely to be released in the offseason, according to The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec.

Cole Beasley Jan 22 5:23pm ET

Dallas Cowboys impending free-agent WR Cole Beasley claimed Tuesday, Jan. 22, that the Dallas front office encourages the coaching staff to get the football to certain players. 'I haven't been a huge priority in that regard. Maybe that will change but I'm not sure,' Beasley said.

Fantasy Spin: Beasley's frustrations are evident and understandable, although Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott and Michael Gallup are all bigger, more talented threats with the ball. Beasley does have a role to play and put together his second best season from a statistical standpoint. That being said, he's only a mid- to late-round PPR flier if he stays in Dallas.

Alex Smith Jan 22 4:50pm ET

Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen said the team is "optimistic" that quarterback Alex Smith (leg) will be ready for the start of the 2019 season, but he also said "we'll see." In his first year with Washington, Smith was a disappointment, throwing for 2,108 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions with an 85.7 QB rating in 10 games before his gruesome leg injury. He'll be heading into his age-35 season and is unlikely to be ready for training camp or the regular season, so he's one to avoid for fantasy purposes. The 'Skins are in dire need of a long-term quarterback.

From RotoBaller

Chris Jones Jan 22 4:30pm ET

The Kansas City Chiefs relieved defensive coordinator Bob Sutton of his duties on Tuesday. Sutton was head coach Andy Reid's defensive coordinator for all six of his years in KC, but the Chiefs defense continued to trend downward in 2018 and was their Achilles heel in the AFC Championship loss to the Patriots last weekend. Defensive end Chris Jones -- third in the NFL with 15.5 sacks in 2018 -- and linebacker Dee Ford are the linchpins of this defense, but they must improve their talent in the secondary. The Chiefs ranked 31st in yards allowed per game (405.5), 31st in passing yards allowed (273.4), 27th in rushing yards allowed (132.1), 24th in points allowed (26.3) and tied for eighth in takeaways (27) in 2018.

From RotoBaller

Jared Cook Jan 22 2:13pm ET

Oakland Raiders impending free-agent TE Jared Cook will be re-signed if head coach Jon Gruden has his way, but Gruden admitted that Cook will be a popular name on the free-agent market.

Fantasy Spin: Cook was one of the few bright spots for the Raiders this season, and maybe the lone bright spot. He's a top-five fantasy tight end candidate now after finishing 2018 as the TE5.

Julio Jones Jan 22 2:03pm ET

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones led all receivers with 24 receptions for first downs on 30 third-down targets this past season.

Fantasy Spin: Despite a slow start in the TD department (none in his first seven games) Jones also wound up leading the league in receiving yards (1,677) for the second time in the last four seasons. And even with Jones turning 30 this offseason (on Super Bowl Sunday), he remains an elite WR1 in all fantasy formats.

Marshawn Lynch Jan 22 2:00pm ET

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said the team is unsure if impending free-agent running back Marshawn Lynch plans to play in 2019. Gruden said "we'd love to have him back" if he decides to play another season. Beast Mode will turn 33 in April and is coming off a season in which he played in just six games due to injury. Lynch ran 90 times for 376 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and three scores. Even if Lynch returns, he'd be more of a low-upside, injury-risk RB2 for Oakland that is more attractive in standard-scoring leagues.

From RotoBaller

Jared Cook Jan 22 2:00pm ET

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said the team would like to re-sign impending free-agent tight end Jared Cook, but he knows the market for his services will be competitive. He'll be in high demand after he set career highs across the board in catches (68), targets (101), yards (896) and touchdowns (six) for the Raiders. Given the sad state of the tight end position in fantasy, Cook was a strong TE1 this year and will likely be drafted as one again this year, depending on where he lands. Staying in Oakland might be the best for his value.

From RotoBaller

Andy Dalton Jan 22 1:50pm ET

The Cincinnati Bengals are hiring former Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan as their next offensive coordinator. Callahan has never been an offensive coordinator in the NFL but has been a QBs coach since 2015. He'll oversee an offense that could easily bounce back after serious injuries to quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green derailed them in 2018. Cincinnati finished 26th in yards per game (310.8), 24th in passing yards per game (205.6), 21st in rushing yards per game (105.1) and 17th in points per game (23.0) in 2018.

From RotoBaller

Marshawn Lynch Jan 22 1:43pm ET

Oakland Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch, an impending free agent this offseason, hasn't announced whether he plans on playing in 2019, but if he does, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said Tuesday, Jan. 22, that 'we'd love to have him back.'

Fantasy Spin: Lynch will be 33 by the time next season rolls around, but he'd still be a fantasy RB2 consideration if were to be projected to be the primary RB in Oakland.