Thu Jan 10 8:38 am
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Kelce looking good this week
The games last weekend weren't too exciting. Hopefully, the action this weekend is a little more compelling. It sure looks like on paper that the games should be good ones. There are some great matchups. Here is to hoping for a little more excitement this weekend. Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . . .
I think the hire of Matt LaFleur is a good one from a fantasy perspective for the Packers. His offense wasn't anything special in Tennessee this year, but he dealt with injuries to their starting quarterback and didn't have much to work with compared to other teams. He has a track record of success, working with top offenses like the Rams and Falcons. He should bring life to that offense and provide a boost to Aaron Rodgers after a down year this past season.
I'm wondering how the tight end position might play out next year. It was as top heavy as ever this year. The top options were great but they sure dropped off in a hurry. I was always a proponent of waiting on a tight end, getting two guys to platoon later in the draft. But after this past year, I might revisit that strategy. It really might be worth getting a guy like Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz in the third round. These guys produce similar to an elite No. 1 receiver. The options after the elite guys are a huge drop off right now.
It is looking more and more like Antonio Brown might be on his way out of Pittsburgh. This leaves JuJu Smith-Schuster as the No. 1 receiver for the Steelers. Smith-Schuster was eighth overall in fantasy scoring this year. He could be a top-five receiver in the lead receiver role for the Steelers next season. The sky is the limit for Smith-Schuster, especially if Brown is gone. His stock is going way up in my view.
I'm anxious to see what happens with Jordan Howard next year. He had an up and down season with the Bears this year, but finished the season well. He had scores three straight games to end the year and 100-yard showings two of those games. I still think Howard has some talent as a lead back and can produce well in that role. A change of scenery might be a good thing for Howard. I'm not sure he reaches his fantasy potential as long as Tarik Cohen is around in Chicago.
Keke Coutee is on my radar for next season. He had an injury plagued year but showed flashes of big things in this offense. He led the way at receiving for the Texans last week in their playoff game, catching 11 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. This was his second game with double-digit receptions and second with 100-plus yards. He also had three other games with five or more receptions. He is a great fit for the slot in this pass-first offense. As long as he can stay healthy, Coutee has good reception potential.
News and Notes: The Packers hired Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur as their head coach. LaFleur is considered a top, young offensive mind, having worked with the Rams and Falcons in recent seasons. . . . . The Bucs hired former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians as their next head coach. Arians is a great hire for the offense, having some past history with quarterback Jameis Winston and a track record of a lot of success. . . . .The Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury to be their next head coach. Kingsbury was just hired by USC to take over their program, but leaves after a month. He is another bright, young offensive mind but doesn't have much experience, especially at the pro level.
Marlon Mack, RB, Colts. Mack had his second straight 100-yard game last week and has 100-yard games three of four. He has topped 20 fantasy points in those three games as well. He has touchdowns five straight games. Mack is getting it done on a weekly basis and should be leaned on again this week against the Chiefs. Kansas City allows the third most fantasy points to running backs and rank 27th overall against the run.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles. Jeffery had another big game as the top target for Nick Foles last week, catching six passes for 82 yards on nine targets. He has at least five receptions four of five games. He also has 80-plus yards three of four. Jeffery should get his work again this week against the Saints, a team that allowed the most fantasy points to receivers during the regular season. Jeffery is a top fantasy option in this matchup.
Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs. Kelce had a career season, topping 100 receptions while finishing with 1,336 yards and 10 touchdowns. He had at least five receptions all but the first game of the season. He is a top fantasy force in tis explosive offense. Kelce might the focal point of the passing game this week. The Colts have a much improved defense but struggled to stop the tight end during the regular season. Indy allowed the second most fantasy points to tight ends, which bodes well for Kelce to produce big in this one.
C.J. Anderson, RB, Rams. Anderson was a huge surprise for the Rams and fantasy teams late in the year, having two straight games with 130-plus rushing yards to end his season. He also scored touchdowns in each of those games. He proved he can still help NFL and fantasy teams, serving as a lead back. Todd Gurley is expected to return this week and assume the No. 1 running back duties. The Rams claim Anderson could still be involved this week even with Gurley back, but we wouldn't count on it. Gurley is the focal point of this offense as long as he is healthy. Expect Anderson to get just a handful of touches against the Cowboys, a team that allows the ninth fewest fantasy points to running backs.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots. It is hard to bet against Brady because of his track record and huge amount of success, but he hasn't looked quite like the Brady of past seasons this year. He has just one touchdown pass three of five games. He finished with 31 total touchdowns, which isn't bad, but that numbers was padded by his four-touchdown performance the last week of the season. Brady has been pretty mediocre most weeks. And we think this could be another mediocre showing against the Chargers. Los Angeles has been great defensively the second half of the season and allow the sixth fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. The Chargers completely shutdown the Ravens passing attack last week.
Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs. Hill is another player that is tough to bet against, being matchup proof much of the season. He has endured a few down games, though, having fewer than 50 yards two of his last five games. Hill has a tough matchup this week against the Colts. Indy has been great against receivers this year, allowing the third fewest fantasy points to receivers. The Colts could hold Hill in check in this one.
Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys. Prescott had a solid showing last week against a good Seahawks defense. He had two touchdowns and threw for 226 yards. He has multiple touchdowns three straight games. Prescott also has more than 30 fantasy points three of his last seven games. He might be counted on to carry the offense this week against a Rams team that allowed 31-passing touchdowns this season. Los Angeles is likely to make the Cowboys throw the ball to beat them, making Prescott a sneaky play for fantasy teams.
Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles. Sproles didn't have a great game last week but led the Eagles in carries, rushing 13 times. He also caught two passes for 14 yards. He has multiple receptions five straight games. Sproles is being leaned on a lot more down the stretch by the Eagles, which should continue this week. And with the Saints being a team that struggles to stop the pass, Sproles could be setup for a big game in this matchup.
Dontrelle Inman, WR, Colts. Inman has become a legit option in the Colts passing game. He caught four passes for 53 yards and a touchdown last week. He has touchdowns three straight games and at least four receptions all of those games. The game could be a shootout this week, making Inman an option for fantasy teams. He can get his work in this offense this week.
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: Colts/Chiefs, Eagles/Saints.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (Achilles) said that he wouldn't restructure his current deal. "It aint happening. No way Jose," Sanders tweeted. The 31-year-old tore his Achilles in practice on Dec. 5 and is schedule to count $12.94 million against the salary cap in 2019. If Denver exercises his 2019 salary before March 12, he'd be guaranteed $1.5 million. The Broncos would save $10.25 million by cutting Sanders, leaving only $2.687 million in dead money. Before the injury, Sanders was the team's best receiver, catching 71 passes for 868 yards and four touchdowns while also throwing a TD and running one in. It remains to be seen if Sanders will even be ready for the start of next season, although his production has been fine when healthy. If the Broncos move on, Courtland Sutton would be the unquestioned No. 1 receiver going into his second year.
Jacksonville Jaguars PK Kai Forbath was released Tuesday, Feb. 19.
Baltimore Ravens TE Hayden Hurst (foot) is fully healthy again after a screw was recently removed from the foot he fractured last August. Hurst was able to play in 12 games in his rookie year.
New York Jets impending free-agent FS Terrence Brooks will not have his 2019 option picked up, according to a source.
Dallas Cowboys impending free-agent DE DeMarcus Lawrence will not sign the franchise tag if the Cowboys were to use that on him this offseason. Lawrence signed the franchise tag last year and is waiting for a long-term deal. The last day for franchise tags to be used is March 5.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said his client will likely make a decision on his playing future "in the next couple of weeks." While Gronk looked somewhat rejuvenated late in the team's Super Bowl run, the 29-year-old has been worn down by injuries throughout his career and has clearly lost a step. He hasn't played a full season since 2011 and had 47 catches for only 682 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games last year. He'd still be in the TE1 conversation if he returns for another season, but Gronkowski is no longer what we'd call an elite TE1.
New York Jets DT Mike Pennel's option for the final two years of his contract was declined Tuesday, Feb. 19, by the team, per source, making Pennel a free agent heading into the new league year.
Miami Dolphins WR Albert Wilson is one of the best bets to remain with the team out of a wide receiver contingent that appears headed for upheaval, and new position coach Karl Dorrell has quickly become a fan. 'He was pretty dynamic wasn't he?' Dorrell said recently of Wilson. 'He's a very unique player. I'm really excited about him. .... I hear he's doing a really good job with the recovery process but you could tell when he was on the field, he had a number of ways to affect the defense and to make the defense really pay attention to where he is and things like that.'
Fantasy Spin: A hip injury cost Wilson all but seven games in 2018 but he still led the team with his 15-yard-per-reception average and finished third on the squad with his four receiving TDs. Wilson is a definite fantasy WR sleeper to keep an eye on this summer.
The New York Jets should pursue a trade for disgruntled Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown if they're serious about winning, a veteran team reporter wrote Tuesday, Feb. 19.
Fantasy Spin: QB Sam Darnold had Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa to work with in his rookie campaign, but Brown would be an obvious upgrade for just about any offense in the league and especially so for a young, up-and-coming QB. And with new head coach Adam Gase taking over, it would be the perfect time to add a new weapon.
Free-agent TE Charles Clay (Bills) signed a one-year contract Tuesday, Feb. 19, with the Arizona Cardinals.
Fantasy Spin: Clay's target, reception and fantasy-point totals have been declined in each of the last two seasons, and now he's going one from shaky offense to another. And although the Cards are in dire need of a pass-catching weapon like Clay, don't expect much more than a TE2 season.
The Arizona Cardinals are signing free-agent tight end Charles Clay to a one-year deal worth up to $3.25 million on Tuesday, according to a source. The deal includes a $350,000 signing bonus. Clay was an afterthought in Buffalo's offense the last couple years and had only 21 catches for 184 yards and no scores in 13 games last season. He's unlikely to produce much more in Arizona with Ricky Seals-Jones and veteran Jermaine Gresham also in the fold with a young quarterback still learning the speed of the NFL. Clay won't even be worth drafting in most fantasy leagues.
The Jacksonville Jaguars exercised the 2019 options for defensive end Calais Campbell, defensive end Lerentee McCray and safety Cody Davis. Campbell has been a Pro Bowl selection the last two years with the Jaguars and has accumulated 25 sacks in that time frame. He'll enter his 12th season in 2019 and had a franchise-record 14.5 sacks in 2017. He became the first player in team history to have back-to-back double-digit sacks when he registered 10.5 quarterback takedowns last season. Campbell is a four-time Pro Bowler and is certainly an IDP force.
The Jacksonville Jaguars declined the 2019 option for tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins on Tuesday, making him a free agent. He started the first five games of the season and caught 11 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown before missing the final 11 games with a core muscle injury. His best year came in 2017 with the Jets when he had 50 catches for 357 yards and three touchdowns. Between injuries and off-field issues, teams are unlikely to be knocking the door down to sign ASF this offseason.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, met with Steelers owner Art Rooney, general manager Kevin Colbert and executive Omar Kahn Tuesday, Feb. 19, and all left with the understanding that a trade will be the best route, according to sources.
Fantasy Spin: Brown will be a stud WR1 anywhere he goes, but he may slide a little in a different offense while learning new personnel.
Updating an earlier report, Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown has received word that the team will attempt to trade him, but he has not received permission to speak to other teams.
Former Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers was hired by the Jacksonville Jaguars Tuesday, Feb. 19, as a defensive assistant.
New York Giants impending free-agent SS Landon Collins isn't in active contract discussions with the Giants, according to sources.
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will not be asked to run a dramatically different offense than the one he has operated for most of his career, according to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. 'When you take a guy like Aaron Rodgers, who is a very good football player, I mean, he's kind of one of those guys where you can kind of pretty much do a lot of everything. I think a lot of it is going to carry over. I think some of the language will be different but it's going to be a lot of the same premises for him,' Hackett told PackersNews.com.
Fantasy Spin: Rodgers is unlikely to be the overall QB1 in drafts this summer following the emergence of Patrick Mahomes, but he'll come off the board shortly thereafter as the QB2 or QB3. It will also be interesting to see how receptive the 35-year-old will be to the schemes of new head coach Matt LaFleur and Hackett, although it's hard to imagine he'll drop off considering how vanilla Mike McCarthy had become with his play-calling in recent years.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell is unlikely to receive a franchise or transition tag from the team, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.
Impending free-agent LB C.J. Mosley and the Baltimore Ravens are reportedly optimistic they will agree to a long-term contract before the March 5 deadline for franchise tags, according to ESPN's Jamison Hensley.