Wed Nov 30 10:13am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Lawrence is playing at high level
It is crunch time for a lot of fantasy owners. We are nearing the end of the regular season in many formats, so all these upcoming games are so crucial to a lot of fantasy owners. Hopefully, your roster is in good shape and ready to make a run in the playoffs. It should be a fun finish to the season.
Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . .
To me, it really looks like the light has come on for Trevor Lawrence. He had maybe his best game as a pro last week, leading his team to an exciting victory with time running out. Confidence goes a long way and it sure seems Lawrence is brimming with that right now. And if you look at this schedule, Lawrence fantasy owners should be brimming with confidence as well. He has games against the Lions, Titans the next two and championship week has him against the Texans. Lawrence could be a difference maker in this year’s fantasy playoffs.
It is never too early to start planning ahead. So if you stream defenses or kickers, start looking at the teams with the best playoff schedules and plan accordingly. You might have extra room on your roster to start stashing players/teams with good schedules for the playoffs. A proactive owners is a winning owner.
The tight end position seems like a dart throw every week outside of Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews. This position has been a tough one this year. Some guys have played well at times, but the consistency has not been there. I’m going to be anxious to see the numbers after the season of championship teams that owned Kelce. I have a feeling it is going to be pretty high with the season he is having and the huge disparity between him and the rest of the tight ends.
Austin Ekeler is first overall in fantasy running back scoring and has run for just 554 yards. He has fewer than seven carries two of his last three games. That doesn’t mean a whole lot when you are posting reception numbers better than nearly every player in the league, including receivers. Ekeler has 80 catches on the year, including three games with double-digit receptions. He is so consistent because of his reception totals. Plus, he finds the end zone often on a team that puts up a lot of points. Ekeler might be the perfect fantasy back because of the way he accumulates his points. He is so safe for fantasy teams.
I know I have spoken about him before, but I can’t get over the season Geno Smith is having. This really came out of nowhere. It is crazy to think how good he has been this year. He is sixth overall in fantasy quarterback scoring. He has multiple touchdowns five straight games and all but two this year. He had his third 300-yard game last week. And he has 20-plus fantasy points four straight. Smit has been so consistent all season, which is all you can ask for as a fantasy owner. I didn’t know if he could sustain his play all year, but I’m a believer. He is a legit QB1 and top-10 fantasy quarterback.
Smith has been a huge surprise in a good way at the quarterback spot, but Matt Ryan is the exact opposite. I had high hopes for him this year in Indy, but he looks awful right now. Ryan seems to be bracing for a hit every time he drops back to pass. And he rarely attempts a pass more than 10 yards. I didn’t think he would fall this far so quickly. I expected him to be a good stopgap for the Colts and play near the Philip Rivers level for the team. Well, that hasn’t been the case at all. Ryan has been a huge disappointment for me.
News and Notes: The Chiefs signed running back Melvin Gordon to their practice squad. Gordon has the potential to eventually earn some playing time with his new team. . . . .The Bears signed safety Adrian Colbert on Tuesday. The veteran gives the team some much needed depth at the position after the injury to starter Eddie Jackson.
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jaguars. Lawrence is playing the best football of his career right now. He is fifth in fantasy quarterback scoring his last three and ninth overall. He has 20-plus fantasy points three straight and five of six games. He scored a season-high 29.2 fantasy points last week, throwing for 321 yards and three scores. He can keep his hot ways this week against the Lions. Detroit allows the most fantasy points to quarterbacks and rank 29th overall against the pass.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders. Jacobs is now second overall in fantasy running back scoring after his huge game last week. He topped 300 total yards and had maybe the best game of the entire season for any running back. Jacobs is a set it and forget it fantasy play. He has four games with 30-plus fantasy points. Jacobs could have another one of his huge games this week against a bad Chargers run defense. Los Angeles aloes the fifth most fantasy points to running backs and 28th overall against the run.
Treylon Burks, WR, Titans. Burks is quickly emerging as an elite receiver. He is growing on a weekly basis and has 70-plus yards each of his last two games. He has 17-plus fantasy points each of those games. Burks is almost a low-end WR1 with Ryan Tannehill back in the lineup and throwing him passes. He gets a tough matchup this week against the Eagles, but remains a good play for fantasy teams. The Titans are going to need to score some points and could be playing from behind, so look for Burks to get plenty of work in this one. Don’t be scared to use him because of the tough matchup.
David Montgomery, RB, Bears. Montgomery has played well since getting the bulk of the carries with Khalil Herbert out of the lineup. He has 100-plus total yards each of his last two games. And he has topped 14 fantasy points each of those games. He is a low-end No. 1 fantasy back in his current role. Montgomery plays the Packers, a team he had his only 100-yard rushing performance against this year in Week 2. The Packers are just 31st against the run, allowing 154.8-rushing yards per game.
George Pickens, WR, Steelers. Pickens is another young receiver coming into his own. He has been rock solid with Kenny Pickett as his starting quarterback. He has double-digit fantasy points three straight and four of five games. He has a knack for the acrobatic catch every week, showing his big-tie ability. He can hit double-digit fantasy points once again this week against the Falcons, a team that allows the third most fantasy points to receivers and are 28th overall against the pass.
Demarcus Robinson, WR, Ravens. Robinson has showing flashes of big things lately, having 12-plus fantasy points two of four games. He also has disappeared at times, catching just a pass for 17 yards last week. He is a hit or miss fantasy play. Look for a miss this week. Robinson has a really tough matchup against a very good Broncos defense. Denver allows the second fewest fantasy points to receivers and are third overall against the pass.
Michael Pittman, WR, Colts. Pittman has produced despite getting poor quarterback play. He has double-digit fantasy points three straight games. He was targeted 11 times last week, giving him double-digit targets three games. He has put up a few stinkers, though, having fewer than 6.5 fantasy points two games. He is a tough player to bench but this might be a week to consider it. Pittman plays the Cowboys, a team that is first overall against the pass. Dallas allows just 177.7-passing yards per game.
Mac Jones, QB, Patriots. Jones played his best game of the season last week, throwing for 382 yards and two touchdowns. That was against a really bad Vikings secondary, though. Remember, Jones had fewer than 15 fantasy points three straight games before last week. He has some potential going forward, but is likely a matchup play. Jones gets the Bills in Week 13, a team that allows the eighth fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. The Bills have allowed just 14-passing touchdowns and have 13 interceptions, which leads the league. This is not a week to use Jones.
Jeff Wilson, RB, Dolphins. Wilson had his worst game as a Dolphin last week, rushing 13 times for just 39 yards. He did find the end zone, which saved his fantasy day. It would not surprise to see him struggle this week, though. Wilson gets his old team, the 49ers. San Francisco allows the second fewest fantasy points to running backs and the fewest rushing yards in football. Wilson might be a player to consider benching despite his strong play since joining the Dolphins.
Devin Singletary, RB, Bills. Singletary played well last week but didn’t hit double-digit fantasy points despite rushing 14 times for 72 yards. He continues to get little work in the passing game, having just four catches his last three games. His lack of work in the passing game really hurts his fantasy ceiling. He might not find much room to run this week, which is a concern for his fantasy value. He has a tough matchup, playing the Patriots. New England allows the fewest fantasy points to running backs.
Kyren Williams, RB, Rams. Williams is emerging in the Rams backfield and could be the starter the rest of the way. He played a season high 70 percent of the snaps last week. He had 14 touches for 60 yards. The Rams are a mess right now, but Williams still has fantasy value. He can help fantasy teams as a flex play, especially this week against the Seahawks. Seattle allows the third most fantasy points to running backs and are 29th overall against the run.
Olamide Zaccheaus, WR, Falcons. Zaccheaus had his best game of the season last week, catching five passes for 91 yards on eight targets. This wasn’t his first good fantasy game, though, having three games with double-digit fantasy points. He has produced at times. And his chances could be rising now with Kyle Pitts out of the lineup. Zaccheaus could be worth a flier this week against the Steelers, a team that allows the most fantasy points to receivers on the season.
Juwan Johnson, TE, Saints. Johnson was a bust last week, failing to catch a pass on just two targets. He was playing great before that, though, having at least 12 fantasy points three straight games. He has become a big part of the passing game despite last week. Look for a rebound game this week against the Bucs. Tampa allows the fifth most fantasy points to tight ends. And earlier this year, Johnson tied a season high with seven targets against the Bucs in Week 2.
Mike White, QB, Jets. White was tremendous in his first start of the year, going 22-of-28 for 315 yards and three touchdowns against a pretty good Bears pass defense. He made good decisions and was decisive with the football. He has shown a knack for the big game throughout his career when getting a chance to start. He might have another good showing this week against the Vikings. Minnesota has struggled against the pass much of the year and allow the fifth most fantasy points to quarterbacks. If you are looking for a streaming option in Week 13, White is worth consideration.
Kendall Hinton, WR, Broncos. Hinton has at least three catches three straight games and at least 8.7 fantasy points each of those games. His numbers aren’t off the charts, but he is getting the looks and producing some. He also is on the field a ton, which is encouraging. He has played at least 88 percent of the snaps three straight games. We think he can hit double-digit fantasy points this week against a bad Ravens secondary. Baltimore allows the sixth most fantasy points to receivers and are 27th overall against the pass.
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: Jaguars/Lions, Dolphins/49ers, Chiefs/Bengals, Chargers/Raiders.
Low Scoring Games: Packers/Bears, Commanders/Giants, Broncos/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.
Interview with TFC Winner
The Denver Broncos are allowing Ejiro Evero out of his contract, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. In simpler terms, the two sides are parting ways. On one hand, this move comes as a surprise considering the Broncos want to form a mega-staff under Sean Payton and Evero, who received several head coaching interviews, is viewed as a defensive mastermind. On the other hand, Evero was a member of Nathaniel Hackett's coaching staff and turned down Denver's interim head coaching job after Hackett was fired. As a result, it became clear that Evero did not see himself remaining with the Broncos long-term. Rapoport notes that the Vikings, who have a vacancy at defensive coordinator, are viewed as a possible landing spot for Evero. The same goes for the Panthers, who interviewed Evero for their head coaching job before hiring Frank Reich.
The Dallas Cowboys have hired Brian Schottenheimer as their offensive coordinator, according to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. The team needed to fill the vacancy after firing Kellen Moore. Schottenheimer most recently served as a Cowboys consultant in 2022 but does have experience as an offensive coordinator, filling that same role for the Seahawks from 2018 to 2020. Interestingly, although Schottenheimer will be in charge of the offense, head coach Mike McCarthy intends to call plays next season.
Las Vegas Raiders impending free agent running back Josh Jacobs "wants to be back but won't settle," according to Tashan Reed of The Athletic. There is mutual interest in keeping Jacobs in Las Vegas long-term, but the reigning rushing champion won't come cheap. Jacobs timed everything just right, compiling impressive stats in a contract year. The 24-year-old ultimately finished 2022 with 1,653 rushing yards, 400 receiving yards, and 12 touchdowns, all of which are career-highs. Jacobs' outlook for next season is contingent on where he signs, but if he does return to Vegas, we can consider him a strong RB1 option heading into fantasy football drafts.
Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero has been a hot commodity in this year's coaching carousel, interviewing for head-coach openings with the Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Houston Texans. Now that the Panthers have hired Frank Reich, they have requested to interview Evero again, but this time for the team's vacant defensive coordinator position. The Minnesota Vikings would also like to interview Evero for their defensive coordinator job, but Denver has not yet granted either team permission. The 42-year-old Evero remains firmly in the mix as a candidate for Arizona and Indianapolis, but because he is still under contract with the Broncos, it seems that the organization would be reluctant to let him go should he not be hired elsewhere as a head coach.
University of Texas running back Bijan Robinson is widely considered to be the best prospect at his position in the 2023 NFL Draft class. Although a running back has not been selected higher than pick 24 since Saquon Barkley in 2018, ESPN's Mel Kiper stated that he believes Robinson will be drafted in the first round. Kiper went on to describe Robinson as "top-10 caliber" in this year's draft. The 21-year-old possesses an elite three-down skillset, posting 3,410 rushing yards, 60 receptions, 805 receiving yards, and 41 total touchdowns in his three collegiate seasons. Robinson figures to make an immediate impact on any team willing to spend up to get him on April 27th.
Dynasty | Zach Wilson will likely remain with the Jets organization in hopes that he can develop in a backup role Dynasty Analysis: The article plainly points out that the Jets have exactly two choices: 1) Release him or, 2) Keep him; Wilson has no trade value. With a very palatable $3.8M expense for 2023, there's little reason for the team to move on and Wilson, for his part, appears determine to get better. There's a big difference between NFL reality and fantasy reality. A veteran backup would also exceed the cost of Wilson. He's been so bad under-center and without blue skies on the horizon, he's a difficult hold in dynasty. Amazingly, Wilson still possesses a QB25 ranking but is in steep decline and he'll likely fall as the quarterback situation in New York becomes more clear. At this juncture, Zach Wilson is a fading dynasty asset and, arguably, may only be a roster candidate in deeper dynasty leagues.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith is fresh off a career-best season and is now in pursuit of a long-term contract as a pending free agent. It has been reported for a few weeks that the Seahawks are expected to bring the 32-year-old back, and the two sides have begun negotiations since falling to the San Francisco 49ers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. "It's looking very good," Smith said of his contract discussions with Seattle on Pro Bowl Live on SiriusXM NFL Radio. Smith also stated that he has a great relationship with the organization and loves the city. Assuming talks continue trending in a positive direction, a deal is likely to get done before March 15th, when free agency officially begins.
The Baltimore Ravens interviewed Georgia offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Todd Monken for a second time on Friday for their offensive coordinator opening, according to sources. Monken is one of a handful of candidates that have received a second interview with the Ravens, and he also interviewed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' open offensive coordinator position. Other candidates that the Ravens have been considering include Eric Bieniemy, Dave Canales, Doug Nussmeier, Zac Robinson, Justin Outten, Chad O'Shea, James Urban and George Godsey. Monkey previously served as an offensive coordinator for the Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns. Baltimore's next OC will get to work with one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the league in Lamar Jackson.
The Denver Broncos officially signed new head coach Sean Payton to a five-year deal on Friday, tying him to the team through the 2027 season, according to sources. In order to pry Payton away from the New Orleans Saints, who he was still under contract with, the Broncos had to fork over a 2023 first-rounder and a 2024 second-rounder to the Saints. Denver fired first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett midway through the 2022 season after a disappointing start that saw quarterback Russell Wilson have the worst season of his career. While the Broncos still have some interesting weapons on offense and a solid unit on defense, Payton will have plenty of work to do to get Wilson back on track in 2023 and beyond.
The Athletic's Matt Barrows writes that he'd be very surprised if the San Francisco 49ers trade wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk this offseason. The Niners are light on receivers, and Danny Gray didn't light up the stat sheet in 2022. If the team picks up Aiyuk's fifth-year option in May, he'll be under contract for two more years. Barrows thinks the 49ers will hold tight in 2023 and start considering a contract extension in 2024. The 24-year-old posted career-highs in catches (78), targets (114), receiving yards (1,015) and touchdowns (eight) in 17 regular season starts in his third NFL season while working with quarterbacks Trey Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo and Brock Purdy. With more stability under center potentially in 2023, Aiyuk could be just as good, if not better, for fantasy managers.
The Las Vegas Raiders have already granted quarterback Derek Carr permission to speak with other teams interested in trading for him that have also agreed to compensation with the Raiders, according to sources. It's the same arrangement the Houston Texans had with quarterback Deshaun Watson last offseason before he was dealt to the Cleveland Browns. Carr said on Thursday at the Pro Bowl that he wouldn't be extending the Feb. 15 deadline for $40.4 million in guarantees, so the Raiders would have to outright release him if they can't find a trade partner by that date. Either way, the 31-year-old veteran will draw plenty of interest from a handful of teams seeking upgrades under center heading into 2023. Carr's fantasy value next season will all depend on where he winds up.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (ankle, leg) said that he wouldn't be focusing on his throwing mechanics early in the offseason. "I feel like I'm in a really good spot," Lance said. He plans to remain in Santa Clara, Calif., for around the next three weeks to finish up his rehab before working on some other things. "I feel like I've got a much better plan this offseason. I said the same things last year. But even more (this year). As the years go on they get better just in knowing what they want from me and where I feel I'm at my best." Jimmy Garoppolo is a free agent and won't be returning, and Brock Purdy (elbow) may not be full go by training camp after tearing his UCL in the NFC Championship game. Lance, who is the former first-rounder, feels like the early favorite this offseason to open 2023 as San Fran's starting QB, if he's healthy.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman (pelvis) didn't practice all week and is listed as doubtful to play in the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 12, against the Philadelphia Eagles. Hardman really wants to play in the big game and has been seeking second opinions after aggravating a core injury in the AFC Championship win over the Cincinnati Bengals last weekend. The AFC Championship contest was Hardman's first game action since initially suffering a core injury in Week 9. All signs are pointing toward him missing the big game next Sunday, but that could change if he's able to return to practice at some point next week. The Chiefs are banged up at the position with JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and Kadarius Toney (ankle, hamstring) also questionable to play against the Eagles.
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox (toe) was held out of practice on Friday as a precaution, and the expectation is that he will be ready to play in Super Bowl LVII against the Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday, according to a league source. Maddox was seen with a walking boot on his left foot after missing more than a month late in the year with a toe injury. The 26-year-old played only 19 defensive snaps in the NFC Championship win over the San Francisco 49ers last weekend, but it sounds as though he'll be available to play in the big game. Still, even if Maddox is active for the Eagles secondary, Josiah Scott could see more slot duties if Maddox isn't 100 percent.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and Kadarius Toney (ankle, hamstring) both missed practice all week and are listed as questionable for the Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles on Feb. 12. Smith-Schuster and Toney were both forced out of the AFC Championship early with injuries, but the Chiefs remain optimistic that they will both be available for the Super Bowl after another week to rest up. Mecole Hardman (pelvis) also missed practice all week and is doubtful to play in the big game, so if Smith-Schuster and/or Toney are limited or out for the Super Bowl, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, rookie Skyy Moore and Justin Watson would be asked to step up in the passing game.
Dynasty | According to The Athletic, the belief is that the Rams would like to "build off" what Cam Akers was able to accomplish late in the 2022 season Dynasty Analysis: It's music to the ears of dynasty coaches rostering Akers. Following a tumultuous year in which the back appeared to be on the way out, he returned to the team, the Rams summarily released Darrell Henderson, and Akers performed as most fantasy players expected he would to start the season. The 23-year-old runner scored six touchdowns over his final six games and finished the season with three 100-yard performances, while also chipping in with six receptions. Listed as DLF's RB31, it's obvious dynasty coaches remain stung by the mid-season drama, but enterprising coaches who took advantage of plummeting risk-on opportunity may be rewarded with a young upside runner who could turn in RB1 production in 2023. The fact remains that Sean McVay remains one of the NFL's most mercurial coaches and when it comes to running backs, any back in the team's room is risk-on.
Dynasty | Aaron Rodgers is still in play for the Raiders Dynasty Analysis: The story reads more as possibility than probability while connecting the dots should Rodgers choose to depart Green Bay. The belief is the Raiders, instead, will select a rookie thrower in the first two rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft to be groomed behind a short-term veteran starter. The cost to acquire Rodgers, now 39, will be sky high and the team may wish to simply do a full reboot at the position. Rodgers, DLF's QB14 has yet to indicate whether he plans on staying, going or retiring.
New York Giants defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale is considered a a front-runner for the Indianapolis Colts' head-coaching job, according to a source. The Colts are considering a rare third round of interviews with a select few finalist following an extensive second round of interviews that includes nine candidates. The Colts fired Frank Reich in the middle of the 2022 season, and interim head coach Jeff Saturday remains in play for the full-time job despite going 1-7 down the stretch. If the Giants lose Martindale, they could take a look at Lou Anarumo, Steve Wilks, Sean Desai or Jerome Henderson for their defensive coordinator position.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said earlier this week that the team will be starting over at kicker in 2023, meaning they will move on from kicker Brett Maher. The 33-year-old will become a free agent next month, but the Cowboys won't be re-signing him after he famously missed six of his final seven extra-point attempts in the team's final three games. It was a tough way to close out his season after he made 29 of his 32 field-goal tries during the regular season, which was timed for third in the NFL. Maher should get another shot with another team in 2023, but it won't guarantee that he'll be fantasy relevant like he was with the Cowboys before he got the yips to close out the year.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (hernia) underwent sports-hernia surgery earlier this week, he announced on his official Instagram page. Robinson will become an unrestricted free agent next month, but the injury shouldn't limit him much, if at all, for offseason workouts. The 28-year-old was needed to step up for the Ravens in 2022 due to a season-ending injury to No. 1 receiver Rashod Bateman (foot). In 17 regular season games for Baltimore, Robinson recorded a career-high 48 receptions on a career-high 75 targets for 458 yards and two touchdowns. He became fantasy relevant for managers hurting at the receiver position, but Robinson will be more of a long shot for more playing time in 2023, depending on where he lands in free agency.