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FFL: Offseason | NFL: Offseason

Lineup Prep: Championship Round

Wed Jan 15 9:38am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Smith is a top red-zone target


Well, the games last week weren’t nearly as exciting as the previous week. They weren’t nearly as close. Hopefully, the two games are better this weekend. It sure seems setup for a great week of football with some great matchups. As last week showed, it doesn’t always play out that way, but we can hope, right? 

Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . . 

I wasn’t sure how the 49ers would react in their first big playoff game in several seasons, but they sure showed up in a big way. The stage did not seem too big for the young team, dominating the Vikings. I think this really bodes well for another victory this weekend, especially since they are at home. San Francisco continues to impress me on a weekly basis, playing great football on both sides of the ball. This team is a very complete team.

I am starting work on our Draft Guide for the 2020 season and already ran into at least one eye opening stat. So Matthew Stafford was on pace for about 5,000 yards and 38 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions before suffering his back injury. That is a monster season. Remember, he was an elite quarterback just a few seasons back, so don’t forget about him come draft day next year. I know his back injury is a concern going forward, but if he gets a clean bill of healthy, Stafford could be a good get for fantasy teams. I’m sure many will overlook him because of the injury and not finishing out the season. 

Derrick Henry is on some kind of run right now. He is absolutely carrying the offense. The opposition knows he is getting the ball, but still can’t stop him. His fantasy stock is going way up with this late season surge. You still would like to see him catch the ball more but as long as he keeps piling up the rushing yards and touchdowns, his fantasy value is solid. And with the Titans likely parting ways with Dion Lewis this offseason, maybe Henry gets a few more chances to catch the ball in 2020. That could give his fantasy value another boost. 

I think LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is going to be a heck of a pro. He just looks the part of a top NFL quarterback. I love his accuracy, especially on the deep ball. Plus, he is a great athlete that can make plays with his legs. He also has that swagger you want in a franchise quarterback. I really think his future is bright and the Bengals are going to get a real good one with their first overall pick. Burrow had quite the showing all year and especially in the National Championship game. 

The Packers don’t do it often, but I really think they need to make a splash this offseason to finally get a legit No. 2 option in the passing game opposite Davante Adams. The youngsters have not panned out, and Jimmy Graham is past his prime at tight end. They need to really get a legit option outside of Adams. This offense could really take a step forward with a dependable option outside of Adams. Let’s hope they get it done this offseason. 

My two favorite coaching hires from a fantasy perspective are Matt Rhule in Carolina and Mike Mike McCarthy in Dallas. I know McCarthy had his issues with Aaron Rodgers, but you can’t ignore the production that offense had for years with McCarthy at the helm. I think his hire is a positive for all the Cowboys offensive players going forward. And Rhule should be a good fit in Carolina and keep the Christian McCaffrey train going. He will find ways to get his playmakers involved in Carolina and re-energize that team. There was a reason so many teams were after Rhule to hire him as their head coach. I think he is the real deal. 

As always, don’t forget to check out my weekly rankings here: Championship Round Rankings

HOT PLAYS

Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs. Kelce wasn’t even 100 percent healthy last week, but that didn’t slow him one bit. He had a monster game, catching 10 passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns. He has double-digit receptions two of four games and two 100-yard games during that stretch. Kelce continues to be the top target in the passing game for the Chiefs and should get a ton of targets this weekend. The Titans really struggled to stop the tight end during the regular season, allowing the fifth most fantasy points to tight ends. 

Raheem Mostert, RB, 49ers. Mostert took a backseat to Tevin Coleman last week, seeing Coleman produce big numbers with a heavy workload. Mostert still had 12 carries for 58 yards, though, so he wasn’t awful. He even averaged the same yards per carry as Coleman. The issue was Coleman had about twice the work. Mostert still seems the safest back to use in San Francisco. He has been so consistent down the stretch, having touchdowns six straight games before last week. We think he get a heavy workload this week against the Packers, a team that allowed the eight most fantasy points to running backs during the regular season. 

Derrick Henry, RB, Titans. Henry is on some sort of hot streak. He has absolutely carried the Titans offense recently. He has 30-plus carries three straight games and 180-plus rushing yards all three of those games. He has been a monster for the Titans, seeming to get stronger late in the year. It should be more of the same for Henry this week against the Chiefs. Kansas City allowed the fifth most fantasy points to running backs during the fantasy season. 

COLD PLAYS  

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers. The 49ers won last week but did so offensively because of a strong ground attack. Garoppolo didn’t even throw for 150 yards in the game. The 49ers have been more run heavy down the stretch, though, giving Garoppolo fewer than 30 pass attempts three straight games. The game plan likely will be the same this week against the Packers. Green Bay allowed the fifth fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks during the regular season. 

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, 49ers. Sanders got off to a great start with the 49ers once he joined the team, but has been pretty quiet most weeks. He has fewer than 30 yards there of four games. He was targeted just two times last week. Sanders is a hard player to trust for the 49ers right now. He also hast just three touchdowns compared to six for Kendrick Bourne, who is below him on the depth chart. The Packers also allow the eighth fewest fantasy points to receivers. 

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers. Rodgers had a good game last week, going 16-of-27 for 243 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. He still didn’t have that huge game you have come to expect from him. Rodgers has been really mediocre most of the year. He has fewer than 17 fantasy points six of nine games. He goes on the road this week against the 49ers, a team that was first overall against the pass during the regular season. 

SLEEPERS  

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans. Tannehill has done very little in the playoffs with the Titans running often. But that game plan could change this weekend if the Chiefs get up on the Titans. Tannehill should get more chances to air it out. Remember, he had multiple touchdowns every start this season. He had 20-plus fantasy points eight of 10 starts. Tannehill is capable of the big game with the way he is playing. It would not be a surprise if he has one of those big games this week against the Chiefs. 

Kendrick Bourne, WR, 49ers. Bourne had three receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown last week. He has six touchdowns this season and been a top red-zone target for the 49ers. Bourne is clearly a touchdown dependent player, failing to top 50 yards in any game this year. He gets some catches, though, having three or more receptions six times. He is worth a look for fantasy teams this week because of his ability to find the end zone. It could happen again against the Packers.  

Jonnu Smith, TE, Titans. Smith had just two catches last week but one of those was an acrobatic touchdown reception, showing his big-time athletic ability. Smith has touchdowns three of six games. He also has 60 or more yards two of those games. Smith can be a little boom or bust, but certainly seems setup for a good game in this one. Kansas City has struggled to stop tight ends this year, allowing the sixth most fantasy points to tight ends. 

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: Titans/Chiefs.

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 jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
Everson Griffen Feb 20 6:03pm ET

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen met two figures that voided the final three years of his contract by securing six or more sacks and playing 57 percent or more of the defensive snaps in 2019. As such, Griffen has exercised his right to opt out of his deal, according to a source. That will free up roughly $13 million in salary cap space for the Vikings, with $800,000 in dead money. The 32-year-old was already at risk of being cut with a $13.9 million cap hit in 2020. The Vikings might try to keep him around at a reduced price, as Griffen had eight sacks and 24 QB knockdowns last season. He's been a great complement to Danielle Hunter on the other side of the line, so losing Griffen would be a blow to the Vikes pass rush.

Odell Beckham Jr. Feb 20 5:13pm ET

Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. (core) should be completely recovered from his core muscle surgery in about a month, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: It appears like Beckham should be ready of offseason workouts as long as he does not suffer a setback. He will be working under a new offensive scheme next season but is still one of the top receivers in the NFL. He will be a weekly starting option in fantasy leagues in 2020.

From TheHuddle

Jordan Reed Feb 20 5:03pm ET

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed was released Thursday, Feb. 20, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: Reed wants to play next season, so fantasy players can keep an eye on the situation. He probably will receive interest from teams but is a risky option because of his injury history. Reed could be a No. 2 tight end in fantasy leagues if he starts for a team.

From TheHuddle

Antonio Brown Feb 20 4:33pm ET

Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) is scheduled to have his grievance against the Oakland Raiders heard by an arbitrator in May, according to a source.

From TheHuddle

Derek Carr Feb 20 1:43pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr recently posted an photo on Instagram of himself talking with Chicago Bears DL Khalil Mack following a game last season, and the post is part of speculation that Carr could be traded to the Bears this offseason and reunited with Mack.

Fantasy Spin: The Bears have said they expect Mitchell Trubisky to be their 2020 starter, but they also said he could have competition in the QB room, and Carr would certainly provide as much. Stay tuned ...

From TheHuddle

Quinton Dunbar Feb 20 1:20pm ET

Washington Redskins cornerback Quinton Dunbar said that he reached out to the team to discuss a reasonable contract restructure, but the team declined to have conversations, according to sources close to Dunbar. Despite denying that he requested a trade, Dunbar remains adamant in his desire to be traded or released. The 27-year-old was one of the better cover corners in the league last season, but it's looking like the new regime in Washington isn't falling for his contract demands. There's a good chance that they'll look to trade Dunbar this offseason if they can't work something out with him. He had 37 tackles (31 solo) and a career-high four interceptions in 11 games played in 2019.

From RotoBaller

Quinton Dunbar Feb 20 1:03pm ET

Washington Redskins CB Quinton Dunbar recently reached out to the team to discuss a possible contract restructure, but the club declined to engage in a conversation, according to sources, and he remains 'resolute' in his desire to be released or traded.

From TheHuddle

Jameis Winston Feb 20 12:43pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jameis Winston, a pending free agent, could be offered a two-year deal by the Buccaneers with the first year guaranteed and the second year being a team option, according to sources. The first year would pay Winston roughly the same as a franchise tag ($27 million).

Fantasy Spin: Winston threw for a career-high 5,109 yards, 33 TDs last season -- and yes, 30 interceptions -- to finish as a top-five fantasy QB for the first time in five seasons. A return to the Bucs would definitely keep him in the QB1 conversation, but a move to another team would necessitate a full re-evaluation of his fantasy status.

From TheHuddle

Jarvis Landry Feb 20 10:40am ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry had surgery on his hip on February 4, according to a post from his personal Instagram account. The surgery comes as somewhat of a surprise as Landry had previously stated that he would not need surgery on his hip, which bothered him throughout the 2019 season. Landry is expected to make a full recovery and should return to the team at some point in training camp, which begins in late July. According to reports, Landry had visited with multiple hip specialists since the end of the season and eventually decided that surgery was the proper route to take. He will remain a solid WR2 for fantasy in 2020.

From RotoBaller

Everson Griffen Feb 20 10:23am ET

Minnesota Vikings DE Everson Griffen met two milestones with six sacks and playing 57 percent of the snaps that voided the final three years of his deal. The move freed up $13 million in salary cap space.

From TheHuddle

Jarvis Landry Feb 20 8:43am ET

Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry (hip) changed his mind and underwent hip surgery this week. He's expected to be back at some time in training camp.

Fantasy Spin: Landry's 83-1174-6 showing was one of the better showings of his career, and his 14.1 yards per catch was a career high. He's a low-end WR2 or a high-end WR3 in PPR leagues.

From TheHuddle

Feb 20 12:43am ET

Impending free-agent S Nate Ebner (Patriots) is one of 19 New England Patriots set to hit free agency this spring, but he is hopeful the two sides will be able to come together on a contract that will keep him with the team that drafted him in the sixth round of the 2012 draft.

From TheHuddle

Stefon Diggs Feb 19 9:43pm ET

Minnesota Vikings WR Stefon Diggs may be the subject of some trade calls this offseason, but he faces 'plenty long' odds of getting traded, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Diggs recently prompted discussion about potential unhappiness with his situation when he removed Vikings photos from his social media accounts.

From TheHuddle

Demetrius Harris Feb 19 9:00pm ET

The Chicago Bears agreed to terms on a one-year deal with tight end Demetrius Harris on Wednesday, according to sources. Harris was cut by the Browns recently and spent time with head coach Matt Nagy when they were both with the Chiefs. The 28-year-old caught just 15 passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns in 2019 despite David Njoku missing most of the year with an injury in Cleveland. Chicago was looking to upgrade their tight end room after both Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen missed large chunks of last season due to injuries. Harris will have an opportunity with his new team, but it's still unlikely he has a huge pass-catching role is Burton and Shaheen are on the field.

From RotoBaller

Demetrius Harris Feb 19 5:43pm ET

Free-agent TE Demetrius Harris (Browns) agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears Wednesday, Feb. 19, according to sources. Financial terms were not disclosed.

From TheHuddle

Nigel Bradham Feb 19 4:53pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles LB Nigel Bradham was officially released Wednesday, Feb. 19.

From TheHuddle

Jihad Ward Feb 19 4:23pm ET

Baltimore Ravens impending free-agent DT Jihad Ward is one of the players the Ravens want to re-sign this offseason, and the two sides have had discussions this week.

From TheHuddle

Jordan Reed Feb 19 3:33pm ET

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (concussion) has cleared the concussion protocol and plans to play in 2020, according to sources. The Redskins are expected to release Reed this offseason.

Fantasy Spin: Reed has dealt with multiple injuries during his career, so it is not known if he would receive a lot of interest in free agency. He has posted decent numbers when he has been healthy but probably can be considered a No. 2 fantasy tight end if he is able to find a starting job.

From TheHuddle

Michael Roberts Feb 19 3:23pm ET

Free-agent TE Michael Roberts (Packers) agreed to terms with the Miami Dolphins Wednesday, Feb. 19, according to a source. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

From TheHuddle

Jordan Reed Feb 19 3:10pm ET

Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed (concussion) has cleared the league's concussion protocol and intends to continue his playing career in 2020, according to sources. Reed suffered a reported seventh concussion of his career in the preseason and didn't play at all in 2019. He expects to be released by the Redskins in the coming days, but he wants to continue playing. Washington would save $8.5 million against the salary cap if they release Reed by June 1, and he would count $10.3 million toward the cap if he stays. Only 29 years old, it remains to be seen if he has anything left if he keeps playing after the 'Skins inevitably release him. It will depend on where he lands, but Reed probably won't even be touched as a TE2 in fall drafts.

From RotoBaller