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.
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.