Guest of the League
One and Done - FFL: Week 2 | NFL: Divisional

Packers activate Za'Darius Smith, Whitney Mercilus from IR

Fri Jan 21 4:31pm ET

Related photo caption below

FILE- In this Dec. 13, 2020, file photo, Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith (55) plays against the Detroit Lions during the first half of an NFL football game in Detroit. Smith is practicing again and could return for the playoffs after missing nearly the entire regular season. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The Green Bay Packers have boosted their pass rush for the postseason by activating outside linebackers Za'Darius Smith and Whitney Mercilus from injured reserve.

These moves clear the way for Smith to play his first game in over four months and Mercilus to suit up for the first time since mid-November when the top-seeded Packers (13-4) host the San Francisco 49ers (11-7) in an NFC divisional playoff game Saturday night.

Green Bay made room for them on the roster by releasing defensive lineman Jack Heflin and cornerback Isaac Yiadom.

Smith, 29, had a combined 26 sacks for the Packers from 2019-20 but hasn't played since a 38-3 season-opening loss to the New Orleans Saints due to a back injury that also sidelined him for virtually the entire preseason. Smith reached the Pro Bowl in 2019 and 2020. He also was a second-team All-Pro selection in 2020.

Mercilus, 31, joined the Packers on Oct. 21 after the Houston Texans released him. He had one sack - the 58th of his career - in four games with Green Bay before a Nov. 14 biceps injury sidelined him for the rest of the season.

Smith and Mercilus should provide reinforcements at a position where the Packers have relied heavily on Rashan Gary and Preston Smith this season.

Gary, a 2019 first-round draft pick from Michigan, has 9 + sacks this season after totaling seven in his first two NFL campaigns. Preston Smith, who isn't related to Za'Darius, improved his sacks total from four in 2020 to nine this season.

Top Headlines
The Paur Report

Divisional Round Playoff Preview

Player Notes
Aaron Rodgers Jan 21 5:20pm ET
Aaron Rodgers

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa has cleared the league's concussion protocol and doesn't carry an injury designation into Saturday's game against the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round. Bosa was trending this way after getting in a full practice on Thursday, but it's now official after he was initially listed as questionable on the final injury report. The 49ers will need Bosa to be at the top of his game if they hope to slow down Aaron Rodgers and Company on the road at Lambeau Field. Even with the 24-year-old All-Pro pass-rusher active, it's hard to recommend the 49ers defense/special teams as anything more than a contrarian DFS pick this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Braxton Berrios Jan 21 5:20pm ET
Braxton Berrios

New York Jets impending free-agent wide receiver/kick returner Braxton Berrios confirmed on the "Pardon My Take" podcast this week that he has had discussions with the team about a contract extension. Berrios said that head coach Robert Saleh is a "phenomenal coach" but that he's "indifferent" in regards to where he might end up in free agency. The 26-year-old had career-highs in catches (46), targets (65) and receiving yards (431) while scoring two touchdowns in 16 games, but he saw a bigger role down the stretch mostly due to injuries to Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder and rookie Elijah Moore. Berrios also had seven carries for 40 yards and two more touchdowns. He's unlikely to have a prominent role in an offense no matter where he lands in the offseason, so he shouldn't be on anyone's fantasy radar this fall.

From RotoBaller

Cyril Grayson Jan 21 5:00pm ET
Cyril Grayson

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Cyril Grayson Jr. (hamstring) is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round. Grayson missed the first two days of practice before he was limited on Friday, which gives him a chance to play on Sunday. There is some opportunity for Tampa's pass-catchers behind No. 1 wideout Mike Evans now that Breshad Perriman (abdomen, hip) has been ruled out. Grayson caught six of eight targets for 81 yards and a touchdown in Week 17, but he was injured in the Week 18 regular season finale and didn't play in last week's wild-card win over the Philadelphia Eagles. If Grayson plays, he'll be a low-cost DFS sleeper at his $4,100 price tag at DraftKings.

From RotoBaller

Ronald Jones II Jan 21 4:50pm ET
Ronald Jones II

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ruled out running back Ronald Jones II (ankle) for the Divisional Round game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. Jones tweaked his ankle in Week 17 and hasn't played since. Leonard Fournette (hamstring) remains on Injured Reserve, but there's a chance that he's activated on Saturday and plays on Sunday against the Rams. If Fournette is activated, he's likely to be the team's backfield leader this weekend. But if he misses yet another game, expect another timeshare between Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard against Los Angeles. Bernard is the better DFS pick in PPR setups. Fournette comes in as DraftKings' No. 6 RB in terms of price at a $5,700 for the Divisional Round.

From RotoBaller

Breshad Perriman Jan 21 4:50pm ET
Breshad Perriman

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Breshad Perriman (abdomen, hip) missed practice all week and has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round. Cyril Grayson Jr. (hamstring) is questionable, so quarterback Tom Brady could be down to Mike Evans, Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller in three-wide sets against a tough Rams defense. Expect Evans and tight end Rob Gronkowski to see plenty of targets in this one. If Grayson misses another game, Johnson ($3,700 at DraftKings) and Miller ($3,300) might be worth a look as low-cost sleeper options in DFS contests. Brady threw for a season-high 432 yards and a touchdown against the Rams in a Week 3 loss, but that was a long time ago, when he also had Chris Godwin available.

From RotoBaller

Matt Ryan Jan 21 4:40pm ET
Matt Ryan

The Athletic's Jeff Schultz and Josh Kendall believe the most likely scenario with Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is that he won't be traded this offseason. If they were to trade him, it would likely come as a post-June trade that splits the dead salary cap money across two years ($24.9 million in 2022 and $15.6 million in 2023). The Falcons have the No. 8 overall pick in this year's draft, but in a weak class for quarterbacks, sticking with Ryan for another year or two might be best for the team's short-term outlook. The 36-year-old signal-caller wasn't terrible in 2021 -- he threw for 3,968 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions -- but the weapons around him were lacking, especially with No. 1 receiver Calvin Ridley leaving the team for personal reasons in Week 7. There's a good chance that Ridley will be traded this offseason, so it could be more of the same if Ryan sticks around in Atlanta in 2022.

From RotoBaller

Derrick Henry Jan 21 4:20pm ET
Derrick Henry

The Tennessee Titans officially activated running back Derrick Henry (foot) from Injured Reserve on Friday, and he is expected to start on Saturday against the Cincinnati Bengals in the Divisional Round. The 28-year-old hasn't played since Week 8, but he looked fine in practice this week and is one of the NFL's best RBs, if not the best, when he's completely healthy. It's why DraftKings has Henry listed as the most expensive running back at a $7,500 salary despite his long layoff. There's inherent risk at that lofty price tag, especially against a Bengals defense that was pretty strong against the run this year, but Henry is a different beast entirely when he's at full speed. D'Onta Foreman, who took over lead-back duties with Henry hurt this year, will now become the change-of-pace back in the Titans run-first offense.

From RotoBaller

Clyde Edwards-Helaire Jan 21 4:10pm ET
Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder) is not on the final injury report for the Divisional Round and will play on Sunday night against the Buffalo Bills. Edwards-Helaire was able to practice in full this week and will make his return after he was injured in Week 16. The second-year running back was KC's primary RB when he was healthy, but Darrel Williams' emergence put a dent in CEH's overall fantasy upside in the Chiefs high-octane offense. In 10 games played in 2021, Edwards-Helaire had 119 carries for 517 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and four touchdowns, adding 19 catches for 129 yards and two more TDs on 23 targets. At a modest price of $5,500 at DraftKings for this weekend, Edwards-Helaire could be a potential DFS value if he doesn't lose too many touches to Jerick McKinnon or Williams (toe), if he plays.

From RotoBaller

Darrel Williams Jan 21 4:10pm ET
Darrel Williams

Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams (toe) is listed as questionable for Sunday night's Divisional Round game against the Buffalo Bills. Williams missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday, but he returned to a limited session on Friday, giving him a chance to play this weekend. Not only did Williams put himself in the doghouse with the Chiefs coaching staff in the wild-card win over the Pittsburgh Steelers due to a lost fumble that was returned for a touchdown, but Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder) is returning this weekend. So if Williams is active on Sunday night, he could be the No. 3 behind Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon, who stepped up last week to the tune of 142 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. If Williams is active, you'll want to avoid him in DFS.

From RotoBaller

Mike Williams Jan 21 4:00pm ET
Mike Williams

The Athletic's Daniel Popper expects the Los Angeles Chargers to re-sign impending free-agent wide receiver Mike Williams in the offseason, and slapping the franchise tag on him might be the easiest path to retaining him. It would be a one-year deal worth $19.13 million, and the Chargers could delay a long-term extension decision until 2023. The 27-year-old has posted 1,000-yards seasons in two of the last three years, and he set career-highs in catches (76), targets (129) and receiving yards (1,146) in 16 games this year, while also scoring nine touchdowns. Williams was one of the best receivers in the NFL for the first five weeks, but despite his fall at midseason, he still put up a career year. Paired with impressive young quarterback Justin Herbert, Williams will be more attractive in fantasy if he stays with the Bolts.

From RotoBaller

Sam Darnold Jan 21 3:40pm ET
Sam Darnold

The Carolina Panthers are expected to hire former New York Giants head coach and ex-Packers offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo as their next offensive coordinator, according to sources. McAdoo will be replacing Joe Brady, who was fired with five games remaining in the 2021 season. Senior offensive assistant Jeff Nixon took over the offensive coordinator duties to close out the season. McAdoo will inherit an offense with quarterback questions surrounding Sam Darnold and an All-Pro running back in Christian McCaffrey, who hasn't been able to stay healthy the last two years. The Panthers offense ranked third-worst in yards per game (298.9), fourth-worst in passing yards per game (190.5) and fourth-worst in points per game (17.9) during the 2021 season.

From RotoBaller

Darrell Henderson Jan 21 3:20pm ET
Darrell Henderson

Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson Jr. (knee) returned to practice on Friday, opening his 21-day window to return from Injured Reserve. Henderson served as the Rams lead back for the majority of the regular season after Cam Akers tore his Achilles over the summer, but Henderson was injured in Week 16 and hasn't played since. It's good news that he is back at practice, but he's still a long shot to be activated from IR to play this Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Divisional Round. Even if Henderson were active, he'd probably be the No. 3 back behind Akers and Sony Michel in a tough matchup against Tampa. In 12 games in 2021, Henderson carried the ball 149 times for 688 yards and five touchdowns while adding 29 receptions for 176 yards and three more TDs on 40 targets.

From RotoBaller

Matthew Stafford Jan 21 3:20pm ET
Matthew Stafford

Los Angeles Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth (knee) and safety Taylor Rapp (concussion) have been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Divisional Round, according to head coach Sean McVay. The 40-year-old Whitworth was injured in the wild-card win over the Arizona Cardinals and may have played in his final NFL game. Joe Noteboom will likely protect quarterback Matthew Stafford's blind side against a strong Buccaneers defensive line. Rapp will miss his second straight game, so the Rams secondary will be vulnerable again, as Jordan Fuller (ankle) is out for the rest of the season as well. Expect quarterback Tom Brady to test a Rams secondary that asked safety Eric Weddle to come out of retirement for the playoffs.

From RotoBaller

Jaire Alexander Jan 21 1:10pm ET
Jaire Alexander

Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander (shoulder) and left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) are both listed as questionable to play on Saturday against the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round. Alexander was limited in practice all week, while Bakhtiari missed the first and last practices of the week with a limited session on Wednesday. Alexander was activated from Injured Reserve before Week 17, but he didn't play in either of the final two regular season games. Bakhtiari was available in the Week 18 regular season finale after missing the first 17 weeks of the season. It remains to be seen how much Alexander or Bakhtiari will play on Saturday if they are active.

From RotoBaller

Nick Bosa Jan 21 12:30pm ET
Nick Bosa

San Francisco 49ers star pass-rusher Nick Bosa (concussion) was able to put in a full practice on Thursday, but he is listed as questionable for the Divisional Round matchup against the Green Bay Packers on Saturday. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said things are looking good for Bosa to clear the concussion protocol and play on Saturday, as long as he doesn't suffer any setbacks. The 49ers defense isn't going to be a popular DFS play even if Bosa is active, but the Niners D will need Bosa available if they are going to have any chance of upsetting the Packers on the road. The 24-year-old is one of the best pass-rushers in the league and had a league-high 21 tackles for loss, 32 QB hits, four forced fumbles and a career-high 15.5 sacks in 17 regular season games.

From RotoBaller

Derrick Henry Jan 21 12:30pm ET
Derrick Henry

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said that defensive end Trey Hendrickson (concussion) has cleared the league's concussion protocol and will play in the Divisional Round against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday. Hendrickson suffered a concussion in the wild-card win over the Las Vegas Raiders, but he was able to practice in full on Wednesday and Thursday. The Bengals defense/special teams won't be a very popular DFS play this weekend against the top-seeded Titans, especially with running back Derrick Henry (foot) expected to play, but having Hendrickson available is great news for Cincy's defense. The 27-year-old was named to his first Pro Bowl this year and recorded a career-high 14 sacks, 12 tackles for loss and 27 QB hits in 16 regular season games.

From RotoBaller

Derrick Henry Jan 21 12:20pm ET
Derrick Henry

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (foot) is expected to be activated from Injured Reserve and play in the Divisional Round against the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday. Henry is fully healthy 11 weeks after surgery to fix a broken fifth metatarsal in his foot. He got through the week of practice just fine while taking contact and should be activated from IR on Friday. The 28-year-old had 937 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 219 carries in just eight games before his injury, and he also added 18 receptions for 154 yards on 20 targets. Henry is arguably the best and most dominant running back when healthy. It remains to be seen if he'll be limited at all after the long layoff, but we'd venture to guess that Henry will be the clear lead back against Cincinnati on Saturday. With Henry's return, D'Onta Foreman's fantasy value is all but lost.

From RotoBaller

Marquez Valdes-Scantling Jan 21 12:20pm ET
Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said that wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (back) is doubtful to play on Saturday against the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round. Valdes-Scantling was limited in Tuesday's practice, but he was a spectator on Wednesday and Thursday, making it unlikely that he plays this weekend after injuring his back in the Week 18 regular season finale. The good news for the Packers is that they are getting Randall Cobb (abdominal) back from Injured Reserve, and he's expected to play on Saturday. Cobb has nice chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and will be a useful reinforcement for the receiving corps, but Allen Lazard should operate as the No. 2 behind Davante Adams against San Francisco.

From RotoBaller

Elijah Mitchell Jan 20 9:00pm ET
Elijah Mitchell

San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell (knee) has been removed from the injury report heading into the playoff matchup against the Green Bay Packers. The knee issue appears to be behind him as Mitchell has fully practiced each of the last two days. That being said, Mitchell should have a full workload against Green Bay this weekend. He has seen 20-plus carries in each of the last six games. He'll be the offensive focal point and an excellent DFS option for this weekend's slate.

From RotoBaller

Randall Cobb Jan 20 9:00pm ET
Randall Cobb

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (abdominal) has been activated off the injured reserve. This is good news for the Packers who could use the reinforcements. Although, Cobb isn't expected to generated a ton of targets against the San Francisco 49ers this weekend. The last time Cobb played was Week 12 against the Los Angeles Rams. He finished with four receptions, 95 receiving yards, and one touchdown in that contest. Possibly, it's a sign that Cobb is better than he looks, but DFS players shouldn't trust him. He'll be a touchdown-dependent option for this playoff matchup with the 49ers.

From RotoBaller