By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
White looks for repeat showing
Time sure flies, right? It is hard to believe this is the last week of the season. Hopefully, the season ends on a high note and we get to see a great Super Bowl. On paper, it would seem the game should be a good one but nothing is ever certain when it comes to this stuff. We will find out soon enough. Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .
Alright, here is my prediction for the game. I'm going with the Patriots, winning 28-24. I think it will be a close game but the Patriots are just too much for the Eagles, especially with Carson Wentz out of the lineup. If Wentz were in there, I think I pick the Eagles to win it all. He is too big of a difference maker for the offense to overcome. I know Nick Foles looked great his last time out but I have a hard time seeing him match that production in the Super Bowl. Tom Brady just wins big games and I think he will win another one this weekend.
I think my fifth-grade son was the only person on the planet excited about the Pro Bowl last weekend. He was glued to the television, watching the game and the festivities leading up to it. So kudos to the NFL for at least getting one fan interested in the Pro Bowl. I'm not sure if anyone watched it besides him.
I'm really anxious to see how all the quarterback needy teams address the position this offseason. There is going to be a lot of movement on this front in both free agency and through the draft. And I'm not convinced there is a quarterback that can step right in and be an impact player next season - like Deshaun Watson from this past year. All the top quarterbacks have some growing to do at the position.
I like the hire of Matt LaFleur as offensive coordinator in Tennessee. I think this could be a great thing for Marcus Mariota. LaFleur has learned from some of the best the last few seasons and should provide a boost to a pretty stagnant offense from this past season. Don't give up on Mariota just yet to be a fantasy superstar. He can still get it going, especially with LaFleur now calling plays.
It isn't official yet but the Colts are going to hire Josh McDaniels after the Super Bowl to be their head coach. Needless to say, this is great news for Andrew Luck if he comes back healthy. McDaniels should be a great get for this offense from a fantasy perspective, especially if Luck is playing. Luck could be a monster in this offensive scheme.
So Alex Smith heads to the Redskins. We get our first big trade and it isn't even officially the offseason yet. Smith should be a good fit for the Redskins. I doubt he repeats his huge numbers from this past season with the Chiefs, but he is going to get his chances to air it out in this offense. The Redskins are a pass-first offense, which is good news for Smith's fantasy value. Smith could be a low-end No. 1 for the '18 season. He could have some big games - similar to Kirk Cousins. As for Cousins, he is going to land a huge contract with some quarterback-needy team this offseason. It will be interesting to see where he lands.
Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots. Amendola has been the go-to target for the Patriots in the playoffs. He has 18 receptions for 202 yards and two scores in two games. He has been targeted 22 times in two games. We would expect his workload to be heavy once again this week against the Eagles. Amendola is a tough cover out of the slot - even for a good Eagles pass defense.
Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles. Ertz was a little quiet in the Eagles playoff opener but was a force in their last game, catching eight passes for 93 yards. He should be targeted heavily in the Super Bowl. Ertz is the top playmaker in the passing game for the Eagles. The Patriots have improved against the pass throughout the season but still ranked 30th overall against the pass for the year. Ertz can have a lot of success in this matchup.
Jay Ajayi, RB, Eagles. Ajayi is getting the most work in the Eagles backfield but that doesn't mean he is producing huge numbers in that role. He has not scored in the playoffs and had just two scores all season. He is getting some yards but still hasn't topped 75-rushing yards in a game since Week 11. He has been pretty mediocre most weeks. Expect similar production this week from Ajayi.
Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots. Hogan had a great start to his season but injury keep him out of hotel lineup nearly the entire second half of the year. And he has done little since his return. He did score a touchdown in the Patriots playoff opener but has just three receptions for 24 yards in the two playoff games. He is a hard guy to trust right now, producing very little since returning to the lineup.
Nick Foles, QB, Eagles. Foles had a game to remember his last time out, playing near flawless football against a very good Vikings pass defense. He was 26-of-33 for 352 yards and three touchdowns without a turnover. He has a lot more pressure on him this week, but also a much easier matchup. We wouldn't be surprised if he posts big numbers once again this week. The Patriots allowed the seven most fantasy points to quarterbacks during the regular season.
James White, RB, Patriots. Remember last year's Super Bowl? Well, he is a refresher. White had a career game, finishing with three touchdowns, including the game-winning score. He also had 14 receptions for 110 yards in the game. White has touchdowns in each of the two playoff games this year, so he is coming into the playoffs hot. He could have another big game in the Super Bowl.
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton said wide receiver Cameron Meredith (knee) could see some action in minicamp. It's a great indication that Meredith will be all systems go for training camp this summer after he missed all of 2017 with a serious knee injury. The 25-year-old caught 66 balls for 888 yards and four scores with Chicago in 2016 and will bring more depth to the Saints passing attack behind Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn. If he's fully healthy heading into the season, Meredith could be a worthwhile late-round flier.
The Miami Dolphins picked up wide receiver DeVante Parker's fifth-year option for the 2019 season on Tuesday, according to a league source. Although Parker had a career-high 57 catches in 2017, he still disappointed with drops and finished with 670 yards (career-low 11.8 yards per reception) and career-low one touchdown. He should be quarterback Ryan Tannehill's No. 1 option in the passing game with Jarvis Landry gone, but Parker's inconsistency makes him more of a low-end WR2.
New York Jets quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (knee) won't be a lock for a roster spot with the team expected to draft a quarterback with the third overall pick on Thursday. Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty are trade/release candidates, but Bridgewater must prove he's healthy in order to stick around. New York isn't so sure Bridgewater can come back from his knee injury, as they gave him very few guarantees in his deal. Even if Bridgewater is healthy, he could easily be third on the depth chart behind veteran Josh McCown and whoever the team selects as their future franchise signal caller.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (knee) should be a full participant in training camp in late July. He tore his ACL in his left knee in Week 4 last October in his rookie season, but he has been doing some on-field work during offseason workouts. "Really, Dalvin's knocked the rehab out of the park," athletic trainer Eric Sugarman said. "He's done a great job. He's been here every day since the injury occurred post-surgery. … He'll participate in (organized team activities and minicamp) on a limited basis. … Then the plan is for him, hopefully when he gets to training camp … he'll be a participant just like everybody else." It's a great sign that Cook is already working out on the field, and he should be 100 percent by late summer, barring any setbacks. Cook was on his way to being an RB1 value for fantasy owners in his rookie season, and he'll be drafted as such as the focal point of the backfield in 2018.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said he will return for the 2018 season after contemplating retirement. "I met with coach [Bill Belichick] today and informed him I will be back for the 2018 season with the Pats," Gronkowski wrote on his Instagram account. "I have been working out, staying in shape and feel great." Because he's dealt with a number of serious injuries in his career, the soon-to-be 29-year-old was considering hanging up his cleats. Gronk will return, but he'll sit out of offseason workouts in order to rest his body. He's extremely injury-prone, which makes him a high-risk, high-reward fantasy tight end. When he's healthy and producing, he's an elite option at the position.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (shoulder) is not throwing at the team's veteran mini-camp, per George Bremer of CNHI Sports. This should hardly come as a surprise given general manager Chris Ballard's statements from four days ago, but Luck wasn't even out there playing catch with his fellow veterans according to Bremer. Luck hasn't thrown a live pass since January 1 of 2017, which has to raise some concerns for fantasy owners about his ability to remain durable even if he does return for the upcoming season. It's likely that there won't be any definitive information about Luck's status until the beginning of training camp, and even then its a bit of a gamble.
New York Giants running back Paul Perkins (pectoral) injured his pectoral while training in the offseason, and his arm is in a sling during the team's workouts this week. It's unclear how long Perkins will be out, so stay tuned for more information on his injury. He was disappointing in 2017, rushing just 41 times for 90 yards in 11 games for the G-Men. New York already signed veteran Jonathan Stewart in free agency and are fully expected to draft Penn State stud running back Saquon Barkley second overall on Thursday, so Perkins might be on the outside looking in heading into training camp anyway. There's also Wayne Gallman to worry about.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made it clear on Tuesday that the team is planning on moving forward without Dez Bryant. The Bryant market has been a bit quieter than expected, but that doesn't mean the Cowboys should be expected to jump in. Bryant has drawn interest from a few teams, with the New York Giants rumors getting the most legs of late, but he has yet to schedule any visits. He and his agent are both likely waiting until after the draft to see where Bryant best fits going forward.
The Los Angeles Rams picked up the fifth-year options on running back Todd Gurley and cornerback Marcus Peters on Tuesday, according to sources. In head coach Sean McVay's offense in 2017, Gurley excelled, setting career highs in carries (279), yards (1,305), rushing scores (13), receptions (64), receiving yards (788) and receiving touchdowns (six). He will once again be the focal point of a rising offense and is worth a high first-round selection in drafts. Peters was acquired in a trade with KC this offseason and will immediately upgrade the team's secondary as one of the best young cornerbacks in the game.
Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said the team is discussing re-signing quarterback Derek Anderson, but Hurney is also considering drafting another quarterback. If Anderson returns to the Panthers, he could compete for the backup job to Cam Newton with another signal caller that the team drafts. Anderson is not fantasy relevant.
New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will "absolutely" be a part of the team in 2018. Beckham isn't ready to physically take part in the team's voluntary minicamp, but it's a great sign that he's even present as the two sides try to work out a long-term contract extension. After playing in just four games last year due to a season-ending ankle injury, OBJ should be back to full strength this year and should once again be an elite WR1 option for fantasy owners.
The New Orleans Saints aren't matching restricted free-agent wide receiver Willie Snead's offer sheet with the Baltimore Ravens, meaning he will sign with the Ravens, according to a source. It's an under-the-radar signing after Snead fell off a cliff in his final season with the Saints. However, he did have 72 receptions for 895 yards and four touchdowns in 2016, so he could be a late-round sleeper in deeper leagues if he secures Baltimore's slot receiving role in 2018. However, in a run-first offense with Joe Flacco at the helm, Snead doesn't figure to have a very high ceiling in his new digs.
Despite some big signings in free agency, the Green Bay Packers still have some very significant holes to fill on their roster. With a league-high 12 draft picks in the 2018 draft, there has been some chatter that Green Bay may use some of that draft capital to move up from No. 14 to grab a player who can contribute right away. In particular, they would likely try and grab a defensive back. After losing their best cornerback in Damarius Randall as well as long-time starter Morgan Burnett, Green Bay badly needs some young blood in the secondary. So if they move up, you can expect them to grab either Ohio State's Denzel Ward or the versatile Minkah Fitzpatrick from Alabama. Green Bay also has some holes on the offensive end, namely at wide receiver, but it is expected that they will look to address the position in later rounds.
Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor (neck) will undergo a neck scan in late June or early July, and the team should know more about his future at that time, according to general manager John Schneider. Chancellor has been the heart and soul of Seattle's tough defense for years, but he also hasn't played a full season since 2013. In a career-low nine games in 2017, Chancellor had only 49 tackles and no interceptions. At this point it's unclear if he'll be able to contribute much heading into his age-30 season.
ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted on Tuesday that the Cleveland Browns are "definitely" considering Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick in Thursday's NFL draft. The inclusion of Mayfield means the Browns have been strongly linked to Wyoming's Josh Allen, USC's Sam Darnold and Mayfield in the past few weeks. At this point, it is anyone's guess who exactly the Browns are targeting with the first overall pick, although it will almost certainly be a quarterback. General manager John Dorsey has been extremely tight-lipped about his plans for the draft and the addition of Mayfield's name to the pool just adds more drama and intrigue to the draft. However, whoever they choose is expected to sit behind Tyrod Taylor, so the rookie won't have any redraft value in fantasy leagues.
The Buffalo Bills are unlikely to use their stockpile of draft picks to trade up to No. 2 overall (Giants pick) to select a quarterback, according to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport. "From what I understand, it's not going to be one of those things where they just sell out and (trade) all the way to No. 2 with the Giants," Rapoport said. "I would be at this moment surprised if that happens." Instead, Buffalo is more likely to make a move to trade up if a quarterback they like slips to the fifth or sixth overall pick. As of right now, A.J. McCarron is Buffalo's starting quarterback, so they will surely address the position early in the first round on Thursday. Whoever they select has a real chance to carve out some redraft value in his rookie year.
Updating an ongoing story, New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) will absolutely be part of the team in 2018, according to head coach Pat Shurmur.
Los Angeles Chargers general manager Tom Telesco announced Monday that the team plans to pick up running back Melvin Gordon's fifth-year option on his rookie deal. It is a no-brainer after Gordon had his best season as a pro last year, going over 1,000 yards on the ground for the first time in his three years in the league. He also played a full season for the first time while scoring 12 total touchdowns. His 1,581 yards from scrimmage ranked fifth in the NFL. Gordon is scheduled to make $1.9 million in 2018. He will once again be a target at the end of the first round in fantasy drafts as a clear RB1.
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) was present at the team's voluntary minicamp on Tuesday, but he is still not 100 percent from his ankle surgery last year, according to a team source. OBJ won't take part in all of practice, but it's a good sign he's even there while he continues to negotiate a long-term extension with the team. With a trade now unlikely, it appears as though Beckham won't be going anywhere. He played in just four games because of a season-ending ankle injury in 2017, but he should bounce back and be an elite wide receiver for fantasy owners in 2018.
Cleveland Browns CB Jamar Taylor could wind up on the trade block if the Browns take a cornerback high in the NFL draft.