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 Hot Plays: Week 12
Atlanta Falcons wide receivers Julio Jones (hamstring) and Calvin Ridley (foot) were limited in practice on Thursday. The Falcons announced earlier this week that Jones would be a game-time decision in Week 12 against the Raiders, but the good news is that he's been limited in two practices this week. However, he played only 22 snaps in Week 11 as he continues to play through nagging injuries. We'd say he's on the right side of questionable, but the 31-year-old All-Pro receiver should be viewed as a shaky WR2/3 if he continues to be limited. Ridley should be fine to play and has clear WR1 upside if Jones is limited again or out entirely against Las Vegas. The Raiders have allowed five receivers to go over 100 yards receiving this year, setting up Ridley as a must-start this weekend.
The Buffalo Bills did not practice Thursday, Nov. 26, and the following participation reports are estimations. WR John Brown (ankle) did not participate. OG Cody Ford (ankle) and QB Jake Fromm (non-injury) were limited. DE A.J. Epenesa (concussion), DE Jerry Hughes (back), RB Taiwan Jones (hamstring), TE Dawson Knox (hamstring) and CB Josh Norman (illness) were full participants.
Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said that backup quarterback Jeff Driskel will be put on the team's Reserve/COVID-19 list. It's unclear if Driskel actually tested positive for the virus, but either way, he's unlikely to be active as a backup in Week 12 against the Saints. Even if Driskel were active on Sunday, he'd likely be the third QB behind starter Drew Lock and Brett Rypien. Driskel made one start for the injured Lock earlier this year in Week 3 against the Buccaneers, going just 17-for-30 for 176 yards with a touchdown and an interception. If Lock were to miss any more time in 2020 with an injury, it would likely be Rypien getting the start over Driskel under center for Denver.
The Denver Broncos Defense played a huge part in the Week 11 upset win over the Dolphins, sacking rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa six times and recording an interception to hold Miami to 13 points. They'll face a Saints team this weekend without future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, but that might actually be a bad thing. New Orleans' offense still remains plenty explosive, and Taysom Hill and his versatility under center will present headaches for this undermanned Denver defense. Opposing defenses have scored the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game against the Saints this year. The Broncos D ranks 19th in the league in overall fantasy points and have allowed 30-plus points in four of the last five games. Don't expect them to surprise fantasy managers for two straight weeks.
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus ranks ninth in the NFL with a 95.2 percent field-goal percentage in 10 games this year, missing just one of his 21 field-goal attempts. He's also missed just one of his 19 extra-point attempts. McManus hasn't missed a kick since missing an extra point in Week 7 against the Chiefs. The only field goal he missed was from 50-plus yards. But the 29-year-old with a big leg has been just a fringe fantasy starter because of Denver's inconsistent offense. It helps that he'll be kicking in the high altitude of Denver again in Week 12 against the Saints, but New Orleans' defense has allowed 19 field-goal tries this year, which is tied for 16th in the NFL. The Broncos most likely won't be able to settle for field goals against the Saints offense.
Denver Broncos QB Jeff Driskel on Thursday, Nov. 26, will be placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver K.J. Hamler has 26 targets in the last three games, which he has turned into 14 catches for 160 yards. Hamler has seen his role increase in the last three weeks, but he has only one touchdown in his rookie season and 25 receptions for 275 yards in eight total games. The 21-year-old from Penn State has seen more production out of the slot and has big-play upside, but Denver is using him as more of a chain-mover than a deep threat. In this inconsistent offense as the third wideout behind rookie Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick, it's hard to put much faith in Hamler in single-year fantasy leagues. He'll be a WR4/flex in deeper leagues against New Orleans this Sunday.
The Houston Texans have declared OT Charlie Heck, WR Kenny Stills, WR Isaiah Coulter, RB Cullen Gillaspia, LB Nate Orchard and QB Josh McCown inactive for Week 12.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Week 12 against the Patriots, according to sources. It's a bad time for this to happen, since Fitzgerald had at least 54 yards in three of his last four games and led the Cardinals with 10 targets in Week 11's loss to the Seahawks. DeAndre Hopkins will still have a tough test against All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore on Sunday, but Fitz's absence should open up more targets for Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella and others. Kirk should see the biggest boost from Fitzgerald's absence against a Patriots Defense that hasn't been nearly as strong as in years past. Kirk will have WR2 upside this weekend.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick had his third 100-yard game of the season in last week's win over the Dolphins, and he's been incredibly efficient considering quarterback Drew Lock's struggles in his first full season as the starter. The Saints Defense, Denver's Week 12 opponent, has been more vulnerable through the air than on the ground this year, but their overall defense ranks third in the league. The Broncos should be forced to pass more than they'd like in this one, which is good news for Patrick and the Denver wideouts. The 27-year-old has impressed in 2020, but he's still more of a WR4/flex in this inconsistent offense while going up against strong cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Marshon Lattimore.
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (illness) tested positive for COVID-19 and is out for Week 12.
Fantasy Spin: The New England Patriots are a midrange matchup. Christian Kirk has been boom or bust, but he has caught 18 balls over the last four games. With Fitz out, he could be in line for more. He's an elite WR3 or possibly a low-end WR2 in PPR.
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay and the team's running game showed some much-needed life in the surprising Week 11 win over the Dolphins. Lindsay saw 16 carries (one more than teammate Melvin Gordon) and ran for 82 yards. In Week 10, he had just four rushing attempts for a measly two yards against the Raiders. The 26-year-old is still averaging a healthy 5.4 yards per carry on 73 attempts this year, but he's splitting the offensive snaps nearly evenly with Gordon, limiting his opportunities. And on top of it, he's facing a Saints Defense on Sunday that has been the stingiest against RBs in fantasy all year. Considering that the Broncos will likely be trailing in this one and that Lindsay has just eight targets (two catches) all year, he's an uninspiring RB4 that should be left on benches in 12-team leagues.
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III got back into the good graces of his fantasy managers in Week 11 by rushing 15 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Dolphins. But those expecting back-to-back solid performances in fantasy might be disappointed. He'll be facing a Saints Defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs in 2020. On top of that, Gordon saw just 50 percent of the offensive snaps last week, meaning that he'll have to continue to capitalize on his opportunities against a much stouter run defense in New Orleans. Gordon does contribute more through the air, but the Saints have allowed a league-low five total TDs to RBs this year. Gordon's ceiling should be lowered this week as more of an RB3/flex.
The Detroit Lions have declared WR Kenny Golladay, DE Austin Bryant, CB Jeff Okudah, RB D'Andre Swift, DE Da'Shawn Hand, CB Mike Ford and WR Danny Amendola inactive for Week 12.
Detroit Lions rookie running back D'Andre Swift (concussion) has officially been ruled out for Thursday's Thanksgiving game against the Texans. It'll be the rookie's second straight missed game and will leave Detroit's backfield to veteran Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson. Peterson started last week against the Panthers and then split touches with Johnson. They weren't effective at all in the shutout loss, though, with Detroit rushing for 40 yards total in the game. Houston's defense has allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to running backs, so the duo should be more effective, but they are both low-ceiling RB4/flex plays in deeper leagues while they share the workload minus Swift.
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said he's not worried about the injury that rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (hand) suffered in practice on Wednesday. "He got banged up a little bit. He's a tough kid. He's going to do everything he can from a treatment standpoint. We'll see. I don't think this is something we're too worried about. ... He's better today. We'll see how it goes," Flores said. Tagovailoa was benched late in the Week 11 loss to the Broncos and hasn't attempted more than 28 passes in his four starts yet. He also hasn't thrown for 250 yards and hasn't thrown for more than two touchdowns. The rookie from Alabama remains the starter and has an excellent matchup with the winless Jets this Sunday, but he should still be considered a low-end QB2 until we see more.
Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera and his staff want quarterback Alex Smith back for the 2021 season, according to sources. Smith made an incredible comeback from a broken fibula and tibia and 17 surgeries due to an infection that left him barely able to walk. The veteran QB hasn't said whether he wants to play next season, but he is under contract through 2022. He's set to make $19 million next year as a bridge to Dwayne Haskins Jr., Kyle Allen or someone else acquired in a trade or through the draft. Smith has gone 55-for-80 for 556 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the last two games. Smith should win Comeback Player of the Year easily, but he remains a low-end QB2 for fantasy purposes, even against Dallas' suspect defense on Thanksgiving Day.
Detroit Lions rookie running back D'Andre Swift (concussion), who was listed as questionable for the Thanksgiving game on Thursday against the Texans, is unlikely to play, according to sources. Swift is set to miss his second straight game with the head injury. Fantasy managers need to remove Swift from their starting lineups for the early Thursday game. Veteran Adrian Peterson started in the backfield last week with Swift out and then split carries with Kerryon Johnson. Peterson is probably the better back of the two for fantasy purposes against, but the Texans Defense has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Peterson and Johnson should be considered RB4/flex options with a low ceiling in deeper leagues.
Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin (ankle) and kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin) are expected to play on Thursday in the Thanksgiving game against the division-rival Cowboys. McLaurin was listed as questionable but practiced in full on Wednesday. Hopkins didn't practice all week, but the team didn't elevate a kicker from the practice squad, indicating that he'll go. McLaurin is the team's leading receiver with 62 catches for 871 yards and three touchdowns and has become a must-start WR1. He put up seven catches for 90 yards in a score against Dallas back in Week 7. Hopkins is off the fantasy radar, however, especially playing through an injury. The 30-year-old made his first field goal beyond 50 yards this season in Week 11.
Washington Football Team PK Dustin Hopkins (groin) is likely to play Thursday, Nov. 26, after the team didn't elevate another kicker
Fantasy Spin: Hopkins is a low-end option, but he's not the safest one with a groin injury that he could aggravate during the game.