Lineup Prep: Divisional Round

Wed Jan 8 8:54am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Mostert has scores six straight



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Well, that was a fun start to the playoffs. All the games were close and entertaining. Unfortunately, the fantasy performances were not off the charts. It was a pretty mediocre showing from most. The good news is the games were fun to watch. Let’s hope we can get a mix of both good games and big-time fantasy performances this week. 

Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . . 

The big question after last week is will Tom Brady return next season? It is a great question. I really have no idea what he will do. It would be really strange to see Brady play for another team, so I have a hard time believing he would return for a team other than the Patriots. For me, if he returns, it will be as the starter for New England. I also think that a likely return is a little stronger after his finish to this season. I can't see him ending his illustrious career with a pick six. Either way, his fantasy value is way down. Brady was 13th in fantasy quarterback scoring each of his last two seasons. 

Derrick Henry is a tough fantasy back to value. He has been amazing the second half of the season and produced the best numbers of any fantasy back on the ground during that stretch. The issue is he doesn’t catch passes. So he really is dependent on rushing yards and touchdowns, which were career highs this year. Can he repeat that in 2020? I think there is a good possibility of that but I have a hard time making him a top-five fantasy back because of his lack of receptions. If he got his receptions up just a little, he would be a surefire top-five fantasy back and pick. Let’s hope the Titans involve him a little more in the passing game next season to take his fantasy numbers to an even higher level. 

I was shocked the Saints lost last week. I really thought they had a legit chance to win it all. This team was very talented on both sides of the ball and playing great football late in the year. The offense could not find it’s rhythm against the Vikings, though. You have to give Minnesota a ton of credit for containing the red hot Saints. The Vikings have a very talented team, so don’t discount them to go on the road and win again this week in San Francisco. Minnesota already shocked us one week, so why not do it again. 

Josh Allen showed he still has a little ways to go to be an elite quarterback in the NFL. He really looked shaky in the Bills playoff game last week. He made some really poor decisions late in that game, showing he might not be quite ready for the big stage. Allen still has a ton of talent and can learn from last week, though, so don’t count him out to be a big-time star in this league. He made big strides this year.

I was really saddened to see Carson Wentz suffer a concussion early in his playoff game. He really carried that offense late in the year and willed this team to a playoff spot. He was the main reason the Eagles made the playoffs but suffered an injury once again. He has really been snake bitten by injuries throughout his career. It would be great to see him play a full season and get a chance to lead his team in the playoffs. I thought Wentz showed a lot this past year with his play. 

I’m really intrigued by several playoff games this weekend. I know the lines are kind of high for several of them, but I think we are in store for a lot of close, well-fought games similar to this past week. Remember, Houston went into Kansas City earlier this year and won. The Vikings just upset the Saints on the road, so don’t overlook them to give San Francisco a real fight. And while Baltimore is rolling, Tennessee has been as hot as any team in the NFL the second half of the season. Lastly, I think the Seahawks and Packers game is the biggest game up for grabs. I could see this one going either way, depending on which offense shows for Green Bay this week. 

As always, don’t forget to check out my weekly rankings here: Divisional Round Rankings

HOT PLAYS

Raheem Mostert, RB, 49ers. Mostert is as hot as any back in the game right now. He has touchdowns six straight games. He has double-digit fantasy points all of those games and three games with 20-plus fantasy points. He keeps getting it done as the lead back for the 49ers. Mostert is the back to use in this offense. Expect more of the same this week against the Vikings, a team middle of the pack against the run. Minnesota has allowed 150-plus rushing yards two of their past three games.

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs. Mahomes has been a little quiet down the stretch, having fewer than 20 fantasy points three of his last six games. He has been a little more inconsistent than fantasy owners have become accustomed. Expect him to return to his big ways this week against the Texans, though. He threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns against this same Texans team in Week 6. Houston allowed the third most fantasy points to quarterbacks during the regular season. 

Davante Adams, WR, Packers. Adams had another big season as the lead receiver for the Packers. He played his best football late in the year. He had at least seven receptions three straight to end his season and scores four of his last six games. Adams had double-digit targets seven of his last eight games. Adams should get his usual workout this week against the Seahawks. Seattle was 27th against the pass during the regular season, allowing 264-passing yards per game.

COLD PLAYS  

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks. Lynch has touchdowns each of his two games this year but you can’t ignore his production on the ground. He has 18 carries for 41 yards, averaging 2.3 yards per carry. He is clearly a touchdown dependent player, making him a hard player to trust for fantasy teams. He isn’t worth the risk because his ceiling is not very high right now. 

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans. Tannehill led his team to a win last week but wasn’t much of a fantasy factor against a good Patriots defense. He didn’t even throw for 100 yards and failed to reach doubt-digit fantasy points. He had been red hot, having multiple touchdowns all 10 of his starts before last week. He has a similar tough matchup this week on the road against the Ravens. Baltimore allowed the third fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks during the regular season and ranked seventh overall against the pass. It could be another down showing for Tannehill this week.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings. Rudolph scored a touchdown last week but had just four catches for 31 yards. He has fewer than 50 yards four yards four straight games. He is really a touchdown dependent player because his reception and yardage totals won’t be great. We aren't sure he finds the end zone this week against the 49ers, a team that has limited the tight end this season. The 49ers allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to tight ends during the regular season.  

SLEEPERS  

Sammy Watkins, WR, Chiefs. Watkins has really been a disappointment much of the year. He has 50 or fewer yards seven straight games. He also hasn’t scored a touchdown since the first week of the season. But even with that said, he is capable of the big game in this explosive offense. And with the Texans likely doing all they can to limit Tyreek Hill, Watkins could get a few more targets than usual this week. Houston was just 30th overall against the pass during the regular season. And in last week’s game, secondary option Duke Williams had a solid showing for the Bills. This bodes well for Watkins to have some success in this one. 

Darren Fells, TE, Texans. Fells has emerged as the top target at tight end for the Texans. He had four receptions for 37 yards on five targets last week. It wasn’t a great showing but decent enough. He is capable of the big game in this offense. Fells actually had his best reception and yardage game of the season against the Chiefs in Week 6. He had six receptions for 69 yards in that game against the Chiefs. It could be more of the same for Fells this week, making him an option to consider using if you don’t have one of the big tight ends in your lineup. 

David Moore, WR, Seahawks. Moore had a solid game in the Seahawks playoff opener last week, catching two passes for 57 yards. He is a big-play threat in this offense, averaging nearly 18 yards per reception. The Seahawks are likely going to need some big plays in this game if they hope to win, so look for Moore to get some chances to stretch the field. He could have a similar showing to last week and might even find the end zone. The Packers were just 18th against the pas during the regular season. 

Duke Johnson, RB, Texans. Johnson has not been off the charts this year but pretty consistent as the pass-catching back for the Texans. He had a decent showing last week, finishing with 68 total yards on six touches. He has at least three receptions four of six games. He plays a Chiefs team this week that he had 54 total yards and a touchdown against in Week 6. This could be a high scoring game with a lot of fantasy points to be had, so getting some secondary options in your lineup like Johnson could be a good move for fantasy teams. 

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: Texans/Chiefs, Seahawks/Packers.

Low Scoring Games: None.

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 jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
Anthony Harris Mar 31 10:00pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Phillip Lindsay Mar 31 9:50pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

David Fales Mar 31 5:40pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Dwayne Haskins Mar 31 4:30pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Desmond King Mar 31 4:30pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Adam Vinatieri Mar 31 4:20pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

DeAndre Hopkins Mar 31 4:20pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Ed Dickson Mar 31 4:10pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Jadeveon Clowney Mar 31 4:10pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Deshaun Watson Mar 31 1:00pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Dre Kirkpatrick Mar 31 1:00pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Everson Griffen Mar 31 12:50pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Yannick Ngakoue Mar 31 12:40pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Tyrod Taylor Mar 31 12:30pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Tom Brady Mar 31 12:20pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

James Conner Mar 31 12:20pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Dre Kirkpatrick Mar 31 9:53am ET

Cincinnati Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick was released Tuesday, March 31.

From TheHuddle

Yannick Ngakoue Mar 31 9:33am ET

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.

From TheHuddle

Russell Wilson Mar 31 12:03am ET

Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was blitzed 221 times - second-most in the league - and hurried an NFL-high 71 times in 2019.

From TheHuddle

Isaiah McKenzie Mar 30 10:33pm ET

Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills WR Isaiah McKenzie officially signed an undisclosed contract with the team Monday, March 30.

From TheHuddle