Mon Jan 6 8:51am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Cook has big game in return
The games this weekend were very exciting. All were decided by a touchdown or less, and two games went to overtime. It was quite the exciting week of playoff action. Fantasy production was not the best, though. There was not a team this weekend that scored in the 30s, and the highest scoring team of the weekend was the Vikings with 26 points. So fantasy scores were not too high this weekend. It was a pretty low scoring weekend from a fantasy perspective. We did have a few big-time performers, so hopefully you had some of those studs this first weekend of the playoffs.
Texans 22, Bills 19
Fantasy Stud: Devin Singletary. Singletary had a really good showing for the Bills. He produced on the ground and as a receiver. He ran 13 times for 58 yards, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He also led the Bills in receiving, catching six passes for 76 yards. He had 134 total yards in the game. His receiving yards were a season high. He did not top 50-receiving yards in a game before this showing. Singletary showed his huge fantasy potential as the lead back for the Bills gong forward. He could be an elite back next year.
Fantasy Dud: Cole Beasley. Beasley had a pretty quiet game despite a favorable matchup against a defense that has given up some big receiving games. Beasley caught four passes for 44 yards. He had a 100-yard game his last time out, so you had some high hopes for Beasley in playoff leagues. He did not come through for all his owners, though.
Game Notes: Deshaun Watson had a big second half, leading his team to victory. He led the team in rushing and passing. Watson was 20-of-247 yards and a touchdown without a turnover. He also ran 14 times for 55 yards and a score.
John Brown didn’t catch a touchdown pass, but threw one. He had four receptions for 50 yards and was 1-of-1 for a 16-yard touchdown pass.
Titans 20, Patriots 13
Fantasy Stud: Derrick Henry. Henry continued his red hot play, carrying the Titans offense to victory. He ran 34 times for 182 yards and a touchdown. He also had a 22-yard reception, giving him more than 200 total yards. Henry has 100-yard games six of his last seven games. He is having a monster finish to his season. He might not catch passes but his fantasy value remains high because of the scores and all the rushing yards.
Fantasy Dud: Tom Brady. Brady did not score a touchdown, having another down fantasy performance. He was 20-of-37 for 209 yards with an interception, which was returned for a Titans touchdown. Brady had one or no scores eight times this season. He did not have near the season of recent years. Brady indicated after the game he likely will play another year, but nothing is 100 percent certain at this point.
Game Notes: Ryan Tannehill didn’t even throw for 100 yards, going 8-of-15 for 72 yards with a touchdown and an interception. It was not a great showing for him, but he led his team to a win, which is all the really matters.
Julian Edelman had three receptions for 30 yards. He did run in a score, rushing two times for 12 yards and a score. Edelman was banged up down the stretch and it showed in his play, having fewer than 35-receiving yards three of his last four games.
Vikings 26, Saints 20
Fantasy Stud: Dalvin Cook. Cook returned from injury and looked great. He ran 28 times for 94 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 36 yards, giving him 130 total yards in the game. Cook’s shoulder injury didn’t seem to be an issue at all. He missed a couple games because of injury once again this year, but had a huge season when on the field, showing his big-time fantasy ability.
Fantasy Dud: Stefon Diggs. Diggs did very little, watching teammate Adam Thielen finally have a big game once again. Diggs had two receptions for 19 yards and carried the ball twice for eight yards. You just expect more from the Vikings No. 1 receiver in their playoff opener. Diggs has been a little up and down all year, though, so this game isn’t a complete shock from Diggs.
Game Notes: Taysom Hill did a little bit of everything in this game. He led the team in rushing, running four times for 50 yards. He also was 1-of-1 passing for 50 yards. He also caught two passes for 25 yards and a touchdown.
Adam Thielen had seven receptions for 129 yards. This was his second 100-yard game of the season and first since Week 5. Thielen had just 27 yards his last two games before this big showing.
Seahawks 17, Eagles 9
Fantasy Stud: D.K. Metcalf. Metcalf had another big showing, leading the way at receiver for the Seahawks. He had seven receptions for 160 yards and a touchdown. This was his second 100-yard game of the season. He has touchdowns three of four games. Metcalf also has 75 or more yards four of six games. He has emerged as the top target in this passing game.
Fantasy Dud: Travis Homer. Homer had the most carries for the Seahawks but couldn’t do much with all the work. He ran 11 times for just 12 yards, and caught a pass for five yards. It is hard to trust any Seahawks running back right now. Russell Wilson led the Seahawks in rushing in this game, running nine times for 45 yards.
Game Notes: Carson Wentz did not last long in this game. He suffered a concussion very early and was unable to return. He was 1-of-4 for three yards. Josh McCown played in relief and did pretty well, considering the circumstances. McCown was 18-of-24 for 174 yards without a touchdown or an interception.
Zach Ertz was active for the game and caught two passes for 44 yards. It was an impressive showing for Ertz, who played with a broken rib.
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.
The Minnesota Vikings have been actively discussing a possible long-term contract extension with safety Anthony Harris, according to sources. There has been speculation that the Vikings were looking to trade Harris after putting the franchise tag on him, but they may wind up keeping him after all. There is an increasing belief that the 28-year-old, the NFL's top safety in 2019 per Pro Football Focus, will play for the Vikings in 2020, whether it's on the franchise tag of $11.441 million or on a new long-term deal. Harris' preference is to stay in Minnesota. He wants a deal that would put him among the highest paid safeties in the league, which could be an average of around $14 million per year. The combination of Harris and Harrison Smith give Minnesota one of the best safety combinations in the game. That is, if Harris remains with the Vikes. They'll need a strong safety duo after losing four cornerbacks during free agency.
Denver Broncos general manager John Elway was non-committal on whether the Broncos would entertain signing running back Phillip Lindsay to a long-term contract extension. Lindsay has been playing for a bargain rate the last two seasons after going undrafted, but not the Broncos had Melvin Gordon III in the backfield as well after they landed him in free agency. In comparison, Gordon is the sixth-highest paid running back in the league. Lindsay, 26 in July, came out of nowhere in his rookie season and made the Pro Bowl, and he's rushed for over 1,000 yards in both of his two seasons. But with Gordon now in tow, Lindsay won't see as many touches, especially in the passing game. It's clear the Broncos don't see him as a three-down back in this league, but they could still keep him around long-term if they can agree on something that compensates him fairly. Fantasy-wise, Lindsay will likely become a low-ceiling RB3/flex in standard-scoring formats while sharing touches with Gordon and Royce Freeman.
The New York Jets re-signed backup quarterback David Fales to an undisclosed one-year deal on Tuesday, according to a source. Fales was Sam Darnold's backup for most of last season and will continue to fill that role after playing for head coach Adam Gase and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains in both Chicago and Miami. Since being drafted in the sixth round of the 2014 draft by the Bears, the 29-year-old has played in parts of just five games and has never started a game. He'll continue to hold the clipboard for Darnold in New York and will have zero fantasy appeal.
Washington Redskins three-time Pro Bowl offensive guard Brandon Scherff is signing his $15-plus million franchise tender on Tuesday, according to a source. If there is a training camp, he will be required to be there. Scherff, 28, has missed most of the past two seasons due to injuries -- 19 games played over that span -- but he is one of the better offensive guards in the NFL when he's on the field. Locking him up long-term is next on the agenda for Washington, and his services will be needed on the offensive line with young quarterback Dwayne Haskins under center.
Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said that general manager Tom Telesco, head coach Anthony Lynn and defensive backs coach Ron Milus told him that he will be playing the slot in 2020. "That was the main thing that they brought to me," Harris said. The 30-year-old was asked to cover the opponent's best receiver in his final year in Denver, and he notably struggled after making the Pro Bowl four times (All-Pro in 2016) since 2014. There's no denying that Harris is the most comfortable in the slot, and he could rebound in an all-around sold Chargers Defense in his first season with the Bolts. How Harris' presence affects Desmond King remains to be seen, but this secondary might be one of the best in the NFL on paper.
The future of kicker Adam Vinatieri remains unknown, according to Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich. Vinatieri has not made a decision on whether he wants to return to kick for a 25th season in the NFL. The 47-year-old future Hall of Famer has been rehabbing his knee following season-ending surgery last year, and the Colts are waiting for his rehab to progress before making a decision on whether they want to re-sign him. The Colts already have Chase McLaughlin on roster, so it will be a tough decision if Vinatieri wants to come back and kick, especially since he wasn't performing up to his standards before he was placed on Injured Reserve. He missed 14 kicks -- eight field goals and six extra points. If Vinatieri returns to the Colts or another team, he won't be worth drafting in most standard fantasy leagues.
Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwell said that general manager Steve Keim has had talks with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins about his contract. Hopkins was unhappy with his contract in Houston, which is one of the reasons he was dealt to Arizona for pennies on the dollar. The All-Pro wideout will be a bargain at his current salaries for the next three seasons, but the two sides might negotiate something and reach a middle ground eventually. Money aside, the Cardinals got one of the best receivers in the game, and he should make quarterback Kyler Murray even more desirable in fantasy in 2020 and beyond. Hopkins makes a case to be the first receiver off the board in fantasy drafts.
The Seattle Seahawks released tight end Ed Dickson on Tuesday, according to a source. Dickson was due $3 million in 2020, and the Seahawks will save most of that money with his release. The 32-year-old veteran played in just 10 games (one start) in his only season in Seattle, catching 12 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns. He has had trouble staying healthy in recent seasons and will be, at best, a depth option for another team on the open market. Dickson's release was expected after the team signed Greg Olsen in free agency. They also have Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister returning.
Former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen has interest in joining the Seattle Seahawks, according to a source close to Griffen. The Seahawks could also be interested in Griffen if they don't re-sign Jadeveon Clowney, who is asking for close to $20 million a season. Clowney will likely have to sign with another team before Griffen signs, so it might be a while. The 32-year-old Griffen is on the wrong side of 30, but he has had at least eight sacks in five of the last six seasons with the Vikings and has been to the Pro Bowl four times since 2015. He'd be a great fallback option for Seattle if they don't want to meet Clowney's asking price. Griffen is older, but he's also shown more durability than Clowney.
The Houston Texans are in active contract talks with Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly. Houston has offered Tunsil $18.5 million per season, but Tunsil's counter-offer is "significantly higher." After the Texans traded two first-round picks and a second-rounder for Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills last year, Tunsil is fully expected to become the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL. He's under contract for $10.35 million in 2020 and is seeking a deal that averages more than $20 million per season. The good news is the Texans have around $35 million in salary cap space, which is the second-most in the league behind the Browns. Having Tunsil around long-term will be great news for quarterback Deshaun Watson.
The Cincinnati Bengals released cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick on Tuesday. The Bengals went all out to improve their defense in free agency, so Kirkpatrick is being shown the door. The 17th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Kirkpatrick should still see significant interest late in free agency now that he's available. The 30-year-old hasn't played in a full season since 2015 and started just six games in 2019 due to injuries. He recorded one sack, 33 tackles (27 solo), four passes defensed and one fumble recovery. In the right situation, Kirkpatrick could be an effective veteran presence for another team's secondary.
The Cleveland Browns are likely to have free-agent defensive end Everson Griffen on their radar given his connection with the Browns coaches from their time together in Minnesota. Griffen is 32 years old but had 13, 5.5 and eight sacks in the last three seasons with the Vikings and can still be effective on the wrong side of 30. If the Browns sign him for one or two years, they could cut defensive end Olivier Vernon and save $5 million against the salary cap. Griffen would be a nice complement to Myles Garrett on the defensive line as the Browns look to boost their pass rush heading into the 2020 season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have heard from multiple interested teams about a potential trade for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who is turning 25 years old on Tuesday. The Jaguars place a lot of value in the pass-rusher and won't just give him away for a little return. But the former third-round pick in 2016 was unhappy with receiving the franchise tag and isn't interested in a long-term extension with the team. He'll be a prime IDP target no matter where he's playing in 2020 after recording 37.5 sacks in his four seasons in the NFL. Last year he had eight sacks, 41 tackles (36 solo), 13 tackles for loss, 15 QB hits, an interception returned for a touchdown, six passes defensed, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in 15 games.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who is training this offseason with free-agent quarterback Cam Newton, thinks he can make a lot of noise with the Bolts if he's given the chance to be the team's starter under center. Things could change, but as of now, Taylor is at the top of LA's QB depth chart. The 30-year-old former sixth-round pick of the Ravens in 2011 has one year left on his deal and will make a base salary of $5 million in 2020. The Chargers are moving forward with Taylor, but they haven't given him any assurances of a starting job, and they could very likely take a QB with the sixth overall pick in the draft. Taylor has a strong arm and is mobile, so he could do some damage with the weapons the Chargers have around him, but he'll primarily be a QB2 for fantasy owners with upside for more if he's handed the starting gig.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said that the team doesn't think quarterback Tom Brady's skills have diminished or that he'll have any trouble playing in head coach Bruce Arians' vertical passing scheme. "Well, the tape to us showed that he had plenty of arm," Licht said. "We felt that he had the ideal arm for Bruce and his system. He can still throw it deep." The GM also said that they think Brady could play for them for over two years. No. 12 had one of the worst statistical seasons of his career in 2019, but in all fairness to him, he didn't have much to work with in the passing game outside of Julian Edelman. With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as his new top receivers, Brady has a real chance to bounce back, even at his age. However, don't just assume he'll return to his glory days either. He'll be a great fantasy backup with the chance for some nice QB1 games along the way.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to draft a running back this year with James Conner headed into his contract season. The Athletic's Ed Bouchette doesn't think that the Steelers will give Conner a new deal before the start of the 2020 season, so he'll have to prove his worth and stay healthy to remain with the organization beyond the upcoming season. The 24-year-old has RB1 potential when he's on the field, but he just hasn't been able to stay healthy consistently since he took over the lead-back role from Le'Veon Bell. Conner played in just 10 games in 2019, rushing 116 times for 464 yards (career-low 4.0 yards per carry) and four touchdowns. He could bounce back with better health and a full season with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger under center, but fantasy owners will take more caution when drafting Conner as more of an RB2 this year.
Cincinnati Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick was released Tuesday, March 31.
Jacksonville Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue has had several teams inquire about landing him, but the team values him and won't give him away.
Fantasy Spin: Ngakoue had a "down" season with 41 total tackles and eight sacks. However, his six passes defended, one pick, four forced fumbles and one recovery kept him as a midrange DL1. He should be drafted as such in 2020 regardless of where he plays.
Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was blitzed 221 times - second-most in the league - and hurried an NFL-high 71 times in 2019.
Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills WR Isaiah McKenzie officially signed an undisclosed contract with the team Monday, March 30.