Wed Oct 21 9:02am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Jones is a must start Week 7
The only good thing about the pandemic we are in right now and how it is impacting the NFL season is there are games being played at times we aren’t accustomed. I love getting double headers on Monday. There was a game on a Tuesday last week. I mean more football is great. I wish there were games every day of the week. How awesome would that be? That is really the only positive I get out of all the craziness in the world right now. Hopefully, you are getting by alright and staying safe. Now for my random thoughts. . . . .
It is time for the Lions to end the Adrian Peterson era as starter. This team isn’t going anywhere and D’Andre Swift is starting to show his huge potential as a lead back in the NFL. Why keep running Peterson out there at this stage of the game? Swift is the future and a valuable piece of this franchise for years to come. The Lions need to see what they have with him. It doesn’t make sense to keep giving Peterson most of the carries at running back. Let’s see what Swift can do.
Kyler Murray is scoring big for fantasy teams, but his numbers could be even better if he were throwing the ball a little better. He missed on a good number of throws that could have gone for big plays last week and still scored more than 30 fantasy points. Remember, Murray is just in year two and still has plenty to learn. His fantasy future is super bright. He is second overall in fantasy quarterback scoring and struggling some throwing the ball in recent weeks.
I’m anxious to see how the Chiefs use their backfield this week. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is coming off arguably his best game of the season, getting a ton of work last week and producing with his chances. Le’Veon Bell will be here this week, though, and will get carries. It will be interesting to see how this plays out with both backs in the mix. I think Edwards-Helaire still gets more work at this point with Bell getting around double-digit touches and most of the goal-line work. We’ll see. . . . .
The Dolphins are making a switch at quarterback, going Tua Tagovailoa when they come out of their bye this week. The rookie will take over as the starting quarterback going forward. This is a bit of a surprise, considering Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing well as the starter and the Dolphins are in the hunt for a playoff spot. Fitzpatrick is ninth overall in fantasy quarterback scoring. Tagovailoa has fantasy potential as the starter for the Dolphins. He is a bit of a dual threat and gets a chance to start in an offense that likes to throw the ball. He might have some growing pains but could be worth some spot starts the rest of the way. Miami must really like what they are seeing with Tagovailoa in practice to make the change right now.
The tight end position is shaping up to be super top heavy this year. There is a big drop off after the first three or four tight ends right now, meaning if you have one of those guys you have an advantage over the rest of your league. The expected breakout seasons of guys like Tyler Higbee, Noah Fant and Hunter Henry are causing some weekly headaches for fantasy owners. It has been a tough start to the year for the tight end position.
Normally, if you want a good kicker, you get a player from a good team. Kickers on bad teams usually don’t post big fantasy numbers. This year has been a little different when it comes to that. There are some kickers near the top of the rankings after six games that are on bad teams. In fact, three of the first five kickers in scoring are on losing teams (Brandon McManus, Randy Bullock and Younghoe Koo). It will be interesting to see if this trend continues for the rest of the year.
It was good to see Lamar Jackson look more like the Lamar Jackson of last year. He hit the 100-yard rushing mark and scoring his second rushing touchdown of the season. It was his second game with 30-plus fantasy points. This was a welcome sight for fantasy owners after seeing him have three games with fewer than 20 fantasy points. Hopefully, this is a trend going forward for Jackson. We knew it was going to be tough for him to repeat last year, but his start to this season has caused headaches for all the fantasy owners that used a draft pick on him this year. He still has time to get it going, though, and can make those fantasy owners look good if he has a great run the rest of the year. Last week was certainly a step in the right direction for Jackson.
News and Notes: The Dolphins have named Tua Tagovailoa as their starting quarterback going forward, taking over for Ryan Fitzpatrick. It is a little bit of a surprise, considering Fitzpatrick is playing well and the Dolphins are winning games. . . . .The Rams signed kicker Kai Forbath on Tuesday. Forbath gives current starter Sam Sloman some competition going forward. Forbath could take over the kicking duties before long. . . . .The Jets traded defensive tackle Steve McLendon and a 2023 seventh-round draft pick to Tampa Bay for a 2022 sixth-round draft pick. McLendon will try to replace the injured Vita Vea for the Bucs along the defensive line.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons. It is amazing what healthy Julio Jones can do for the passing game. Ryan was terrible his last three games but rebounded in a huge way last week with Jones looking near full strength. Ryan had his best game of the season, topping 35 fantasy points. He had his second four-touchdown game of the season and threw for 371 yards. He has a chance to keep up his good ways this week against the Lions. Detroit allows the ninth most fantasy points to quarterbacks and 10-passing touchdowns.
Ronald Jones, RB, Bucs. Jones is the top back in the Bucs offense and should continue to keep that job going forward. He has been red hot, having three straight 100-yard games. He has double-digit fantasy points all but a game this year. There was a lot of concern with Leonard Fournette added to the mix, but Jones has emerged as the back in Tampa. He can make it four straight 100-yard games this week against the Raiders. Las Vegas allows the second most fantasy points to running backs and 127-rushing yards per game.
Tee Higgins, WR, Bengals. Higgins has really played well in recent weeks. He had his first 100-yard game of the season last week and has double-digit fantasy points four straight games. He has at least four receptions all four of those games as well. He is getting consistent work and making big plays. Higgins can keep up his great play this week against the Browns, a team that allows the sixth most fantasy points to receivers. He should be considered a low-end No. 2 fantasy receiver in this tasty matchup.
David Johnson, RB, Texans. Johnson had a season high 19 carries last week, rushing for 57 yards and a score. His numbers weren’t great but he got the work and produced for fantasy teams. Johnson has double-digit fantasy points all but a game this year. He gets the weekly work and posts consistent numbers. He isn’t off the charts but solid. Johnson might have that big game this week against the Packers, though. Green Bay has been dreadful against the run, allowing the most fantasy points to running backs. The Packers allowed 158-rushing yards last week and 120-plus rushing yards three of five games.
Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington. McLaurin had his first down game of the season in Week 5 but quickly put that to rest, cashing seven passes for 74 yards on 12 targets last week. McLaurin has been super consistent all season as the clear top targets in Washington’s passing game. He has double-digit fantasy points all but a game and double-digit targets three of six. He gets a ton of weekly looks and should once again this week against the Cowboys. Dallas has been awful defensively this year. The Cowboys allow the fifth most fantasy points to receivers and given up 14-passing touchdowns.
Jared Goff, QB, Rams. Goff did not have a great showing last week, struggling on the road against the 49ers. He finished with fewer than 18 fantasy points, failing to hit the 200-yard mark throwing for the first time this year. His passing numbers have been hit or miss this year, having fewer than 20 fantasy points three of six games. It could be another down game for him this week against the Bears. Chicago allows the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and rank 10th overall against the pass.
David Montgomery, RB, Bears. Montgomery gets his weekly work but isn’t doing a whole lot with those chances. He has fewer than 65-rushing yards all but a game despite having double-digit carries every game this season. He is producing a little for fantasy teams but his numbers haven’t been off the charts by any means. He has been really mediocre much of the year. Look for another ho hum game for him against the Rams this week. Los Angeles is 11th overall against the run, allowing 109-rushing yards per game.
Michael Gallup, WR, Cowboys. Gallup had two receptions for 23 yards on six targets last week, his first game with Andy Dalton as his starting quarterback. Gallup has fewer than 30 yards two of three games. He is becoming a clear boom or bust play for fantasy teams. He isn’t getting the consistent targets to be a plug and play fantasy receiver. He is probably best to avoid this week against Washington, a team that allows the fewest fantasy points to receivers. Washington is second overall against the pass, allowing 207-passing yards per game.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, 49ers. McKinnon heads back to the starting lineup this week, starting for an injured Raheem Mostert. McKinnon has produced pretty well in a starting role this season but isn’t a sure thing by any means, especially with the way the 49ers rotate backs. He is a bit of a scary play this week against a very good Patriots rush defense. New England has allowed just one rushing touchdown this season and give up the fifth fewest fantasy points to running backs.
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Broncos. Jeudy hasn’t exactly lit it up this year. He his yet to top 65 yards in a game. He also has fewer than 15 fantasy points every game. HIs game last week was his worst of the year, catching two passes for 32 yards on five targets. Jeudy is a really talented player but until he starts producing on the field, leave him on your bench. Plus, he plays the Chiefs this week, a team that is third overall against the pass and the fifth fewest fantasy points to receivers.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Panthers. Bridgewater had his first really down fantasy game of the season last week, scoring just over 13 fantasy points. He was 16-of-29 for 216 yards without a touchdown. He had two straight multiple touchdowns games before last week, though, and has 22-plus fantasy points three of six games. He has produced well this season in an offense with a lot of weapons to work with offensively. Look for Bridgewater to rebound this week against his old team, the Saints. New Orleans allows the fourth most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.
Latavius Murray, RB, Saints. Murray is getting his weekly work in the Saints offense as the top backup to Alvin Kamara. Murray has double-digit touches all but a game. He has more than 50 total yards three straight games and had a season high in fantasy points Week 4. He could do some damage this week against the Panthers if he gets his usual workload. The Panthers allow the fourth most fantasy points to running backs and 122-rushing yards per game.
James Washington, WR, Steelers. Washington had his best game of the season last week, catching four passes for 68 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. He has been getting some weekly work in the offense, though, having at least three receptions all but a game. But with Diontae Johnson out, Washington’s role increases even more. He can help as a spot starter for fantasy teams, especially this week against the Titans. Tennessee allows the third most fantasy points to receivers.
Justin Jackson, RB, Chargers. Jackson was the better back of the two in Los Angeles after the Austin Ekeler injury. He had 94 total yards on 20 touches in Week 5. He should split work with Joshua Kelley but likely gets a few more touches. Jackson can do well with his work this week against the Jaguars. Jacksonville allows the fifth most fantasy points to running backs and are 28th overall against the run.
Dalton Schultz, TE, Cowboys. Schultz had four receptions for 35 yards on five targets in his first game with Andy Dalton as his starting quarterback. It was an encouraging first game for Schultz, getting a good amount of looks from his new quarterback. Schultz has at least four receptions four of five games. He has a good matchup for success this week against Washington, a team that allows the fifth 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: Lions/Falcons, Steelers/Titans, Panthers/Saints, Packers/Texans, Seahawks/Cardinals.
Low Scoring Games: Bears/Rams.
Bye Weeks: Colts, Dolphins, Vikings, Ravens.
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 email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Five Fantasy Takeaways from Week 11
New York Jets QB Mike White was released Monday, Nov. 23. TE Ross Travis was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and returned to the practice squad.
The Las Vegas Raiders signed former Falcons and Titans outside linebacker Vic Beasley to their practice squad on Monday. Beasley didn't work out for the Titans this year and was released three weeks ago after recording only three combined tackles and one forced fumble in five games in 2020. Beasley was the eighth overall pick by the Falcons in the 2015 draft out of Clemson, and he excelled as an inside linebacker with Atlanta in 2016. Beasley recorded a league-high six forced fumbles (one for a touchdown) and 15.5 sacks that year on his way to being named a Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro. Since then, though, the 28-year-old has 18 sacks in four seasons. He'll provide intriguing pass-rushing depth for Las Vegas.
Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Monday, Nov. 23.
Fantasy Spin: It's unclear at this point whether or not Thielen tested positive or was deemed a close contact - the distinction being that the former would rule him out for Week 12 while the latter would give him a chance to play against the Carolina Panthers. Stay tuned. If Thielen can't go, Justin Jefferson would step up into the lead role. Olabisi Johnson would likely start opposite him, but he'd be a desperation play at best. Irv Smith might stand to benefit the most from a fantasy perspective.
The Minnesota Vikings placed wide receiver Adam Thielen on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. It's not immediately clear whether Thielen actually tested positive for the virus or if he's just a high-risk close contact of another individual on the team or otherwise that tested positive for COVID-19. If Thielen is just a high-risk close contact, he has a shot at playing in Week 12 against the Panthers if he continues to test negative while quarantining all week. But this news will put his availability in question for this weekend. Thielen has 123 yards receiving in Week 11 and has four touchdowns in the last two weeks, so losing him would be big for fantasy managers and the Vikings. Rookie Justin Jefferson would become the team's top wideout, with OlaBisi Johnson and Tajae Sharpe or Chad Beebe likely joining him in three-wide sets.
The Seattle Seahawks placed tight end Greg Olsen (foot) on Injured Reserve on Monday. The 35-year-old veteran suffered a ruptured plantar fascia in his foot in the Thursday night win over the Cardinals, most likely ending his season and possibly his career. Olsen has been in the league for 14 years and considered retirement previously after dealing with foot injuries while at the end of his tenure with the Panthers. He wasn't very fantasy relevant in 10 games this year with Seattle, catching 23 of his 35 targets for 224 yards and one touchdown. With Olsen out for most likely the rest of the year, Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister should split pass-catching duties at tight end, making it hard to predict which player will be more productive on a weekly basis.
Detroit Lions WR Danny Amendola (hip), CB Mike Ford (concussion), DL Da'Shawn Hand (groin), CB Jeff Okudah (shoulder) and RB D'Andre Swift (concussion) did not participate in practice Monday, Nov. 23. DE Austin Bryant (thigh), LB Jarrad Davis (knee), WR Kenny Golladay (hip), WR Marvin Hall (toe), S Will Harris (groin), TE T.J. Hockenson (shoulder), OG Jonah Jackson (knee), LB Christian Jones (knee), LB Reggie Ragland (ankle), QB Matthew Stafford (thumb) and OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai (foot) were limited. The Lions did not practice on Monday, so the report is an estimation.
Chicago Bears S Eddie Jackson was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Monday, Nov. 23.
Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule considers running back Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) week-to-week with his injury, but McCaffrey is considered unlikely to play in Week 12 against the Vikings, according to a source. All fantasy managers can do now is hope that the Pro Bowl running back can return during the fantasy playoffs, which run from Weeks 14-16 in most leagues. Backup Mike Davis had 19 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes for 15 yards in the Week 11 shutout win over the Lions. He'll remain Carolina's featured back with RB1 upside for as long as McCaffrey continues to be sidelined. Keep an eye on McCaffrey's practice status later in the week but have other plans ready in case he misses another game.
Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said that he expects quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (knee) to practice on Wednesday. Bridgewater is dealing with an MCL sprain in his right knee and was inactive in the Week 11 shutout win over the Lions. Backup QB P.J. Walker went 24-for-34 for 258 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the start with Bridgewater sidelined. He'd have some low-end QB2 upside against Minnesota's defense if he were to make another start for Bridgewater. Fantasy manager would like to see Bridgewater get in a full practice at some point this week in order to feel comfortable rolling with him as a QB2 if he were return to action on Sunday.
Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Uchenna Nwosu (shoulder) is expected to miss around three weeks with a Grade 2 AC joint sprain in his shoulder after getting injured in the Week 11 win over the Jets. Nwosu will seek a second opinion but will be a candidate for Injured Reserve. A second-round pick out of USC in 2018, the 23-year-old has contributed 23 tackles (15 solo), eight QB hits, two passes defensed and 3.5 sacks in 10 games so far this season. The Chargers Defense will be a little bit short-handed in the middle of the field for at least the next three weeks. They'll be more of a back-end starting fantasy unit against a high-powered Bills offense coming off their bye in Week 12.
The Chicago Bears placed star safety Eddie Jackson on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. If Jackson was deemed a high-risk close contact of someone else that tested positive for the virus, he'll have a good chance of playing in Week 12 against the division-rival Packers if he continues to test negative. Losing him against Green Bay, though, could become a big issue for one of the stronger defensive units in the NFL. Jackson has also been IDP relevant as a playmaker in the secondary in 2020, ranking 14th in fantasy points at his position. The former fourth-round pick in 2017 has 58 tackles (46 solo), three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown this year.
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that tight end Vance McDonald has been cleared to come off the COVID-19 list and will return to practice on Tuesday. Meanwhile, tight end Zach Gentry (knee) is dealing with a significant knee injury and will not play on Thursday night against the division-rival Ravens. McDonald hasn't played since the Week 9 win over the Cowboys, but it looks like they'll have him this week against Baltimore. As long as Eric Ebron remains healthy, McDonald just isn't fantasy relevant with all of the offensive weapons around him. The veteran tight end has only nine receptions on 11 targets for 61 scoreless yards in eight games this season.
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said that rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa remains the team's starting quarterback despite being benched in the fourth quarter in the Week 11 loss to the Broncos. "He's a talented player. He's a young player," Flores said. "He's a developing player. We have a lot of confidence in him. That's why he's the starter. He's got my full support. He's got the support of the coaching staff and the locker room." Tagovailoa was 11-for-20 for 83 yards with one touchdown and six sacks. He looked lost for long stretches, struggled with pressure and looked panicked in the pocket. The rookie from Alabama looked good at times in his previous three starts, but he hasn't been more than a low-end QB2 option in single-year formats to this point. Tagovailoa will have some more upside in Week 12, though, as he faces the winless Jets.
Carolina Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater (knee) reportedly felt good and got through his pregame warmup without issue in Week 11, but head coach Matt Rhule opted to go with backup P.J. Walker anyway. Rhule told reporters Monday, Nov. 23, that he expects Bridgewater to return to a full practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.
Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) was deemed 'week-to-week' by head coach Matt Rhule on Monday, Nov. 23.
Fantasy Spin: McCaffrey has already missed two games with his shoulder. Taken at face value, Rhule's comments make it sound like he is pessimistic that the stud running back will be ready to play in Week 12 against the Minnesota Vikings, although it would make some sense with Carolina eyeing a bye in Week 13. At least for now, it appears Mike Davis is set up to make at least one more start.
The Denver Broncos Defense was pretty much left for dead after allowing 30-plus points four weeks in a row, but they turned things around to help pull out the 20-13 win over the Dolphins in Week 11. In most leagues, the Denver D finished as a top-five fantasy unit. They were able to confuse rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and saddle him with his first NFL loss while also recording six sacks. A defense that has failed to turn the ball over much in 2020 also had an interception from standout safety Justin Simmons. They held Tagovailoa to 83 passing yards and one touchdown before he was benched and didn't allow a running back to go over 43 yards. It was a nice bounce-back performance from the unit, but we still wouldn't recommend them as a starting fantasy unit with the Saints coming to town in Week 12.
Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hamstring) could be a game-time decision for Week 12 against the Las Vegas Raiders, according to comments made by interim head coach Raheem Morris.
Fantasy Spin: Jones logged just over 20 snaps in Week 11, so fantasy owners should be relatively happy they were able to get the two catches and 39 yards from him. Olamide Zaccheaus has stepped up in a couple of spots this season and would seem to be the best target for fantasy owners looking for a direct replacement for Jones if he can't go. If Jones does try to go, he's an obvious risk for an in-game setback.
Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver K.J. Hamler contributed four catches for 35 yards on six targets in the 20-13 Week 11 win over the Dolphins on Sunday. Hamler continues to have a role in the Broncos offense, but they relied mostly on a successful ground attack in this upset victory over Miami. The 21-year-old rookie out of Penn State does have 26 targets for 14 receptions and 160 yards over the last three games, but he has just one touchdown on the season in eight games so far. The quick and explosive slot weapon can break big plays at any time and has become a WR4/5 in deeper leagues as he sees an increased role in the offense. Hamler could be a surprise performer in a Week 12 matchup against the Saints, but fantasy managers in 12-team leagues should still have better flex options.
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus made both of his field-goal attempts and both of his extra points in the 20-13 win over the Dolphins in Week 11. McManus has made exactly two field goals in each of the last three weeks and has made all nine of his extra points and all seven of his field goals since missing an extra point in Week 7 against the Chiefs. He's only missed one of his 21 field-goal tries (95.2 percent) in 2020 as well. McManus has been money all year in the accuracy department, but he's tied for 12th in the league with his 21 attempts through 11 weeks. He's also boosted when he plays in the altitude in Denver at home. He'll be there again in Week 12, but McManus will be more of a low-end kicking option in a game in which the Broncos won't be afforded the luxury of settling for field goals.