By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Michel setup for more success
It is hard to believe but this is the last weekend with football for a while. Boo! It had to happen, though. Hopefully, the game lives up to the hype. The Super Bowl is certainly setup to be a good one. We'll see. Now for my random thoughts. . . . .
For my thoughts on the game, I am not happy with the matchup. I am a St. Louis native, so rooting for the Rams is not going to happen. I have a huge disdain for the owner (Stan Kroenke) and how he left our town. I can't root for that man to hold up a Super Bowl trophy. I can't watch it.
And on the other side is the Patriots, a team that is in the Super Bowl almost every season. New England is a team you have to respect because they just keep winning, but I am not a fan. I still have a sour taste in my mouth over their video taping ways early in this great run for them. I don't think the league handled the punishment correctly, letting the Patriots off way to easy for their crimes. So for me, this is going to be a hard one to watch. I'm just hoping for some good, entertaining football. . . . .and great commercials.
As for the game, I think the Patriots will win, winning 31-21. I just think the Patriots will game plan well against this offense, an offense that hasn't been quite as explosive down the stretch. New England has been there before and won plenty, so I think the experience will help. So as much as it pains me to say this, I look for the Patriots to take home the title once again.
I think Cam Newton will be a big question mark next season, having major shoulder surgery recently. This is a major injury to return from, especially for a quarterback. He'll be a tough quarterback to gauge going forward. You will want to watch his progress closely this offseason. I do know that you can never count Newton out, so don't be surprised if he returns to play at a high level next season. You can't rule out that scenario, either.
I'm already starting my research for next year and started looking into David Johnson. He is an intriguing fantasy player for me in 2019. Most considered last year a bust for him and he was ninth in fantasy running back scoring. He had nearly 1,400 total yards, 50 receptions and 10 touchdowns for a brutal offensive team. I'm am truly excited to see what he can do in a new offense. Johnson could be a great buy-low candidate for fantasy teams.
Baker Mayfield is another player I'm really excited about for next season. This guy showed me a ton down the stretch, playing at a very high level as a rookie and with a somewhat suspect receiving corps. If the Browns add the right pieces around him this offseason, I think Mayfield can be a legit fantasy starter and a top-10 option. He really has a high ceiling in my view.
Sony Michel, RB, Patriots. The Patriots have made it a point to get Michel heavily involved offensively in the playoffs. He had a season-high 29 carries in their last game. Michel has 100-yard games in each playoff game and multiple scores each of those games. He has 100-yard games three of four. Michel should get a workout again this week as the Patriots try to keep the Rams potent offense off the field. Michel is setup for a strong showing in the Super Bowl.
Robert Woods, WR, Rams. Woods doesn't have the big yardage totals in the playoffs but six receptions in each of the two playoff games. He has at least six receptions five of six games. He is getting consistent work in the Rams offense and should see his chances again this week. The Patriots are just 22nd against the pass, allowing 246.4-passing yards per game during the regular seasons. Woods could have a much better yardage game in this matchup.
C.J. Anderson, RB, Rams. Anderson has been a huge surprise for the Rams, having 100-yard games three of four. He actually had more carries than Todd Gurley in the Rams last game and outproduced the star back. The bad news is Anderson ran 16 times for just 44 yards in that game. Gurley is an elite talent that has an extra week off to get healthy, so expect the Rams to lean on him heavily in the Super Bowl. We would be surprised if Anderson led the team in carries again.
Jared Goff, QB, Rams. Goff has played fine during the playoffs but his fantasy numbers haven't been great. He has just one touchdown in two games and failed to throw for at least 200 yards in one of those games. Goff is playing in his first Super Bowl this weekend. The Patriots have a week to prepare for him, which is usually bad news for a young quarterback. It would not be a surprise to see Goff struggle in this one.
Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots. Hogan is gradually getting more involved in the Patriots offense. He did not top 50 yards his last game but caught five passes. He has at least five receptions two of three games. Hogan had six receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown in last year's Super Bowl. He is no stranger to coming up big in the big game. This could be another week Hogan steps up big for the Patriots.
Josh Reynolds, WR, Rams. The Patriots usually try to take away a player or two in the offense, leaving some secondary options opportunities to make plays. So Reynolds could get his chances this week against a team that was 22nd against the pass. Reynolds had four receptions for 74 yards on seven targets his last game and has at least four receptions three of five games. He is capable of the big game and could be the surprise player in the Super Bowl for the Rams.
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: Rams/Patriots.
Low Scoring Games: None.
The Detroit Lions signed free-agent cornerback Rashaan Melvin to a one-year, $3.5 million deal on Friday, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Melvin played for the Patriots in 2015 when head coach Matt Patricia was the defensive coordinator. The 29-year-old has been mostly a starter the last three seasons with the Colts and Raiders and had a career-high three interceptions with the Colts in 2017. He could be the replacement for Nevin Lawson, who signed with the Raiders earlier this week.
The Oakland Raiders signed free-agent quarterback Mike Glennon to a one-year, $2 million deal on Friday, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The 29-year-old will be with his fourth different team in the last four seasons and will serve as Derek Carr's backup in silver and black. Glennon has played in 27 games (22 starts) and is 6-16 as a starter in his five seasons in the NFL. He has 35 touchdown passes, 20 interceptions and an 84.0 quarterback rating. Glennon won't be fantasy relevant.
The Pittsburgh Steelers informed safety Morgan Burnett that they will release him by April 1 per the player's request, according to his agent, Kevin Conner. Both parties discussed trade possibilities before the release, according to a source. Pittsburgh signed the safety to a three-year, $14.25 million contract last season that included a $4.25 million signing bonus. Burnett missed four of the first six games of 2018 due to injury and recorded 30 tackles and six pass deflections in a sub-package role in 11 games. The 30-year-old had previously played eight seasons with the Packers.
The Los Angeles Rams are matching the Detroit Lions offer sheet for restricted free-agent running back Malcolm Brown on Friday. Brown's deal with the Rams is for two years with a $3.3 million base salary, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. He'll receive $2.1 million in practice guarantees ($1 million base guaranteed and a $1.1 million roster bonus to be issued April 15). Brown landed on Injured Reserve in Week 13 with a clavicle injury. He played just 15 percent of the offensive snaps and had 264 yards from scrimmage and one receiving touchdown. He's merely depth behind Todd Gurley.
The New York Giants re-signed wide receiver Cody Latimer to an undisclosed deal on Friday. Latimer played in the first three games and the last two games of the 2018 season but just one of the 11 games in between in his first season in New York because of injuries. He battled a knee injury and also spent two months on Injured Reserve with a pulled hamstring. Latimer finished with only 11 receptions for 190 yards and one touchdown and also averaged 24.6 yards on five kickoff returns. He might have more opportunities to make noise in 2019 with Odell Beckham Jr. out of the picture, but Latimer still doesn't have much fantasy upside.
The New York Jets agreed to terms with free-agent quarterback Trevor Siemian on a one-year, $2 million deal on Wednesday, a source told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Siemian can make up to $3 million in incentives. The 27-year-old former Bronco didn't play at all with the Vikings last year while backing up Kirk Cousins. He was the starter in Denver in 2016 and 2017, completing 59.3 percent of his passes for 30 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. New York's addition of Siemian likely means that veteran Josh McCown, a 40-year-old journeyman quarterback, will leave in free agency or retire. Siemian won't have any fantasy appeal in his new digs while backing up Sam Darnold.
The New Orleans Saints are expected to sign free-agent tight end Jared Cook, sources told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Cook, who turns 32 next month, had a career year with the Raiders in 2018, catching 68 passes for 896 yards and six touchdowns. The veteran can stretch opposing defenses down the seam and should open up more space for star receiver Michael Thomas on the outside. While it would be foolish to expect Cook to put up better numbers than he did in Oakland, he should remain a strong TE1 option in the high-flying offense of the Saints.
Updating previous reports, Los Angeles Rams LB Clay Matthews' two-year deal has a $9.25 million base value with $5.5 million guaranteed.
Pittsburgh Steelers FS Morgan Burnett will be released by April 1, per the player's request, according to his agent, Kevin Conner.
Free-agent QB Robert Griffin III (Ravens) re-signed with the Baltimore Ravens Friday, March 22, on a two-year deal. Financial terms weren't disclosed, and the deal is pending a physical.
The New Orleans Saints signed long-time Minnesota Vikings punt returner Marcus Sherels to an undisclosed one-year deal on Thursday, according to a source. The 31-year-old was the Vikings primary punt returner for the last eight years and averaged 12.0 yards per punt return in 2018 to finish in the league's top five for the third time in the last six seasons. He was also used occasionally as a kickoff returner and was a backup cornerback. New Orleans ranked in the league's bottom 10 teams in punt return yardage the last two years. Sherels won't be an option in most fantasy leagues with his move to the Saints.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard (ankle) spent time running routes and catching passes from Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes Thursday, March 21.
Fantasy Spin: Howard was having a TE1 campaign in 2018 before an injury ended his season early, but he should be back at full strength well before the start of next season. He is a big-play weapon from the tight end spot and could finish as a top-five fantasy option at his position.
The Baltimore Ravens re-signed backup quarterback Robert Griffin III on Thursday to an undisclosed two-year deal. The 29-year-old will continue to back up starter Lamar Jackson in 2019. The former first-round pick can be an invaluable source for Jackson as he matures heading into his second season, but RG3 will continue to have no fantasy value.
Chicago Bears RB Jordan Howard is unlikely to have a role in the offense if he remains with the team in 2019, in the opinion of Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
Fantasy Spin: Howard has always struggled to make an impact in the passing game, and after regressing as a between-the-tackles runner last year, the Bears don't have much incentive to feature him in the offense. Feel free to take a flier on him in the final rounds of drafts, but don't count on him to be a contributor for your fantasy squad.
The Indianapolis Colts signed free-agent outside linebacker Justin Houston to a two-year deal worth $24 million on Thursday, a source told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Houston had nine sacks for the Chiefs last year, but he was cut with the team trying to get younger and defense while transitioning from a 3-4 base defense to a 4-3 scheme. The Colts also run a 4-3, but they project to use him as a defensive end for the first time in his career. The 30-year-old has dealt with a nagging knee injury in recent years but still has 18.5 sacks in the last two years. The veteran will certainly help boost a weak Indy pass rush from a season ago.
Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (toe) has been working out with teammates this offseason, according to RB Adrian Peterson.
Fantasy Spin: Reed managed to play in 13 games last season, but it didn't translate into much production on the field. Between constant health issues and slipping per-game numbers, Reed is no more than a late-round lottery ticket heading into 2019.
Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp (knee) said his recovery is where it is 'supposed to be' at this point in the process.
Fantasy Spin: Kupp is expected to be ready for the start of the 2019 season. He was Jared Goff's go-to target on third downs and in the red zone prior to the injury, and Kupp should be able to deliver WR2 numbers, especially in PPR formats.
Los Angeles Chargers TE Hunter Henry (knee) is expected to be ready for the start of OTAs, according to general manager Tom Telesco.
Fantasy Spin: Assuming he doesn't suffer any setbacks, Henry should open the year as the starting tight end for the Chargers and a low-end TE1 candidate for fantasy owners.
Free-agent PK Stephen Gostkowski (Patriots) is making progress in contract talks with the New England Patriots. Gostkowski has also received interest from other teams.
Fantasy Spin: Gostkowski struggled at times this past season but still can be a weekly starting option in all fantasy leagues.
Free-agent DT Al Woods (Colts) met with the Detroit Lions Thursday, March 21.