By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Michel setup for more success
It is hard to believe but this is the last weekend with football for a while. Boo! It had to happen, though. Hopefully, the game lives up to the hype. The Super Bowl is certainly setup to be a good one. We'll see. Now for my random thoughts. . . . .
For my thoughts on the game, I am not happy with the matchup. I am a St. Louis native, so rooting for the Rams is not going to happen. I have a huge disdain for the owner (Stan Kroenke) and how he left our town. I can't root for that man to hold up a Super Bowl trophy. I can't watch it.
And on the other side is the Patriots, a team that is in the Super Bowl almost every season. New England is a team you have to respect because they just keep winning, but I am not a fan. I still have a sour taste in my mouth over their video taping ways early in this great run for them. I don't think the league handled the punishment correctly, letting the Patriots off way to easy for their crimes. So for me, this is going to be a hard one to watch. I'm just hoping for some good, entertaining football. . . . .and great commercials.
As for the game, I think the Patriots will win, winning 31-21. I just think the Patriots will game plan well against this offense, an offense that hasn't been quite as explosive down the stretch. New England has been there before and won plenty, so I think the experience will help. So as much as it pains me to say this, I look for the Patriots to take home the title once again.
I think Cam Newton will be a big question mark next season, having major shoulder surgery recently. This is a major injury to return from, especially for a quarterback. He'll be a tough quarterback to gauge going forward. You will want to watch his progress closely this offseason. I do know that you can never count Newton out, so don't be surprised if he returns to play at a high level next season. You can't rule out that scenario, either.
I'm already starting my research for next year and started looking into David Johnson. He is an intriguing fantasy player for me in 2019. Most considered last year a bust for him and he was ninth in fantasy running back scoring. He had nearly 1,400 total yards, 50 receptions and 10 touchdowns for a brutal offensive team. I'm am truly excited to see what he can do in a new offense. Johnson could be a great buy-low candidate for fantasy teams.
Baker Mayfield is another player I'm really excited about for next season. This guy showed me a ton down the stretch, playing at a very high level as a rookie and with a somewhat suspect receiving corps. If the Browns add the right pieces around him this offseason, I think Mayfield can be a legit fantasy starter and a top-10 option. He really has a high ceiling in my view.
Sony Michel, RB, Patriots. The Patriots have made it a point to get Michel heavily involved offensively in the playoffs. He had a season-high 29 carries in their last game. Michel has 100-yard games in each playoff game and multiple scores each of those games. He has 100-yard games three of four. Michel should get a workout again this week as the Patriots try to keep the Rams potent offense off the field. Michel is setup for a strong showing in the Super Bowl.
Robert Woods, WR, Rams. Woods doesn't have the big yardage totals in the playoffs but six receptions in each of the two playoff games. He has at least six receptions five of six games. He is getting consistent work in the Rams offense and should see his chances again this week. The Patriots are just 22nd against the pass, allowing 246.4-passing yards per game during the regular seasons. Woods could have a much better yardage game in this matchup.
C.J. Anderson, RB, Rams. Anderson has been a huge surprise for the Rams, having 100-yard games three of four. He actually had more carries than Todd Gurley in the Rams last game and outproduced the star back. The bad news is Anderson ran 16 times for just 44 yards in that game. Gurley is an elite talent that has an extra week off to get healthy, so expect the Rams to lean on him heavily in the Super Bowl. We would be surprised if Anderson led the team in carries again.
Jared Goff, QB, Rams. Goff has played fine during the playoffs but his fantasy numbers haven't been great. He has just one touchdown in two games and failed to throw for at least 200 yards in one of those games. Goff is playing in his first Super Bowl this weekend. The Patriots have a week to prepare for him, which is usually bad news for a young quarterback. It would not be a surprise to see Goff struggle in this one.
Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots. Hogan is gradually getting more involved in the Patriots offense. He did not top 50 yards his last game but caught five passes. He has at least five receptions two of three games. Hogan had six receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown in last year's Super Bowl. He is no stranger to coming up big in the big game. This could be another week Hogan steps up big for the Patriots.
Josh Reynolds, WR, Rams. The Patriots usually try to take away a player or two in the offense, leaving some secondary options opportunities to make plays. So Reynolds could get his chances this week against a team that was 22nd against the pass. Reynolds had four receptions for 74 yards on seven targets his last game and has at least four receptions three of five games. He is capable of the big game and could be the surprise player in the Super Bowl for the Rams.
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: Rams/Patriots.
Low Scoring Games: None.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers claimed wide receiver Emanuel Hall off of waivers earlier this week. Hall had been with the Bears earlier but could not make it through camp. The Buccaneers present a solid opportunity given their lack of depth beyond starters Mike Evans and Chris Godwin along with Hall's fit in their new offense. Although Hall is unlikely to make much of an impact in 2019, he could be a solid project for head coach Bruce Arians to groom.
It appears Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown has not gotten over his ongoing helmet issue as hes left the teams training camp once again. General manager Mike Mayock showed his frustration Sunday by saying it's time for him to be all-in or all-out." Brown submitted his old helmet in for testing, which it failed, and hes now left the team with no information on when, or if, hell return. The Raiders believe his frostbitten feet issues are behind him and hes healthy enough to practice, but they can only hope the seven-time Pro Bowler suits up for Week 1. Browns red flags make him a player to fade in the second round despite his immense talent.
Oakland Raiders WR Antonio Brown wasn't at practice Sunday, Aug. 18, because he's upset about his ongoing helmet issue with the NFL. General manager Mike Mayock said the team has 'exhausted all avenues' and it's time for Brown to be 'all in or all out.'
Fantasy Spin: And we're right back to square one with AB. While he's indisputably one of the best receivers in fantasy football, there's once again a legitimate chance he sits out the entire season, or more. He's far too risky to draft in the first round.
The Philadelphia Eagles released veteran LB Paul Worrilow Sunday, Aug. 18.
New England Patriots WR Josh Gordon was placed on the Non-Football Injury list Sunday, Aug. 18, upon his conditional reinstatement.
Fantasy Spin: It's largely a procedural move for the Patriots while Gordon is brought up to speed. He remains one of the most tantalizing fantasy prospects at wide receiver, but his off-field issues continue to carry immense risk when drafting him.
The New England Patriots granted WR Dontrelle Inman's request to be released Sunday, Aug. 18.
The Buffalo Bills released CB E.J. Gaines (groin) from injured reserve with an injury settlement Sunday, Aug. 18. Gaines will be free to sign with another team.
New York Giants WR Sterling Shepard (thumb) said Sunday, Aug. 18, his thumb has healed pretty fast and he is 'feeling good.'
Fantasy Spin: Shepard's injury was a near disaster for the Giants' offense with WR Golden Tate suspended to begin the season. Shepard is in line for a huge target share and has top-end WR3 upside with the Giants' poor passing attack holding him back.
Green Bay Packers TE Jimmy Graham (finger) ran off the field Sunday, Aug. 18, after appearing to dislocate his finger, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.
Fantasy Spin: The injury shouldn't affect Graham's draft stock, as he's unlikely to miss any regular-season action. He remains a fringe TE1 target, but he has upside based on his past resume.
Indianapolis Colts RB Jonathan Williams (chest) was diagnosed with a broken rib Sunday, Aug 18. The injury isn't believed to be a long-term issue.
Fantasy Spin: Williams is near the bottom of a depth chart led by RB Marlon Mack and also featuring Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins and D'Onta Foreman. The injury further hurts his chances of making the final roster.
Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant looks to separate himself from his teammate tight ends on the roster for the Broncos, as the team drafted him with high expectations this spring. Offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello has spoken highly of Fant's preseason, as the rookie looks to follow-up a prolific career at the University of Iowa with similar results in the NFL. Fant's main competition is returning tight end Jeff Heuerman, who has been battling injury this preseason after a sub-par 2018 campaign.
Washington Redskins QB Case Keenum is on track to the be the Week 1 starter under center, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter Sunday, Aug. 18. Head coach Jay Gruden said Colt McCoy (leg) may not be ready to return from a broken leg until 'two or three weeks into the season.'
Fantasy Spin: Keenum has much more fantasy appeal than McCoy and boosts the potential of the rest of the Redskins' offense, as well. He'll be a low-end QB2, but he offers more hope for the likes of WRs Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson, Trey Quinn and Terry McLaurin as late-round fliers.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton sees an opening for the number one receiver spot on the roster entering his sophomore season. The SMU product has a new-look offense, with quarterback Joe Flacco at the helm, and colleague Emmanuel Sanders aging and coming off an injury in 2018. Sutton looks to take the next step in his career, and he has looked the part with an impressive preseason.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders anticipates that he will be able to play week one, as the Broncos take on the Raiders in Oakland. Sanders season ended early last year due to an Achilles injury, but he has eased his way into practice this offseason and seems to be ready to go for 2019. The veteran receiver will have to be on his A-game to keep his role as the primary receiver in Denver, as the young guns alongside him fight for his job.
Buffalo Bills TE Tyler Kroft (foot) is 'moving in the right direction' in his recovery from foot surgery, according to head coach Sean McDermott Sunday, Aug. 18. McDermott didn't provide a timeline for Kroft's return to the field but added he has been working on his own behind the scenes.
Fantasy Spin: Kroft was a candidate to be a late-round fantasy pick for those punting the tight end position, buy fantasy roster managers will now likely be able to wait to see how he starts the season before picking him up off of the waiver wire.
Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten said he experienced some jitters Saturday, Aug. 17, as he made his return to live action for the first time since ending his one-year retirement. Witten caught one pass for 10 yards in the Cowboys' preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams. 'A year away from the game, all the work to get back here since March, getting in shape, getting your body ready, having an opportunity, I know I've got a lot to prove,' Witten said. 'It wasn't perfect. I thought we're on schedule with the things I want to work on. Able to get a third-down conversion. Dak showed he had the confidence on that. Some of the other things in the passing game, running game, I felt good with. It's always tricky when you're coming back out here ... so the jitters were real. A lot of work to get back to here, but it felt good.'
Fantasy Spin: Witten's return to the Cowboys will mean a lot more in reality than fantasy, where he isn't a consideration outside of super-deep and tight end-premium leagues.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Marcell Ateman is fighting for a roster spot in his second season in the NFL. He's currently listed behind Tyrell Williams on the WR2 depth chart, but he's been outplayed throughout most of the preseason by his teammates. With two catches for 33 yards in two preseason contests, Ateman hasn't seen as many looks or gotten as much praise as other receivers so far in camp. He appears to be on the outside looking in as of now, but there is still time for the roster to shake out. Even if Ateman does crack the roster, he won't hold any fantasy relevance in 2019.
Oakland Raiders tight end Foster Moreau is having a strong preseason, but likely won't find much success in the passing game this year. Rookie tight ends are notorious for starting slow offensively, and Moreau will likely follow this trend. With standout Darren Waller thriving as a pass-catcher so far in camp, the Raiders can afford to ease their fourth-round selection into the passing offense. The good news is Moreau has already surpassed veterans Derek Carrier and Luke Willson on the depth chart, but he remains a stash in dynasty formats for now.
Washington Redskins QB Colt McCoy (leg) said Sunday, Aug. 18, that he has visited a foot specialist to have his injured right leg examined as he's had trouble getting a full push off the leg when passing. McCoy said there has been no setback, but there's still no timetable when he'll be 100 percent.
New York Jets RB Le'Veon Bell hasn't played in the team's first two preseason games, and head coach Adam Gase is noncommital about Bell playing in the third. 'We'll kind of see how next week goes,' Gase said Friday, Aug. 16. 'He's played a lot of football. And I like where he's at right now. I love how he's working. If I feel like there's a need to play him next week, we will. If he has a good week of practice and it's not worth it for us to get him out there, then we won't.' If Bell doesn't play in Week 3 of the preseason, then there's little chance of him playing in Week 4 when starters typically rest.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy GMs and Jets fans are anxious to get a glimpse of Bell in a N.Y. uniform, but it likely will have to wait until the regular-season opener against the Buffalo Bills. In the meantime, he remains steady as a solid RB1 fantasy pick.