Lineup Prep: Championship Round

Wed Jan 15 9:38am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Smith is a top red-zone target



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Well, the games last week weren’t nearly as exciting as the previous week. They weren’t nearly as close. Hopefully, the two games are better this weekend. It sure seems setup for a great week of football with some great matchups. As last week showed, it doesn’t always play out that way, but we can hope, right? 

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

I wasn’t sure how the 49ers would react in their first big playoff game in several seasons, but they sure showed up in a big way. The stage did not seem too big for the young team, dominating the Vikings. I think this really bodes well for another victory this weekend, especially since they are at home. San Francisco continues to impress me on a weekly basis, playing great football on both sides of the ball. This team is a very complete team.

I am starting work on our Draft Guide for the 2020 season and already ran into at least one eye opening stat. So Matthew Stafford was on pace for about 5,000 yards and 38 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions before suffering his back injury. That is a monster season. Remember, he was an elite quarterback just a few seasons back, so don’t forget about him come draft day next year. I know his back injury is a concern going forward, but if he gets a clean bill of healthy, Stafford could be a good get for fantasy teams. I’m sure many will overlook him because of the injury and not finishing out the season. 

Derrick Henry is on some kind of run right now. He is absolutely carrying the offense. The opposition knows he is getting the ball, but still can’t stop him. His fantasy stock is going way up with this late season surge. You still would like to see him catch the ball more but as long as he keeps piling up the rushing yards and touchdowns, his fantasy value is solid. And with the Titans likely parting ways with Dion Lewis this offseason, maybe Henry gets a few more chances to catch the ball in 2020. That could give his fantasy value another boost. 

I think LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is going to be a heck of a pro. He just looks the part of a top NFL quarterback. I love his accuracy, especially on the deep ball. Plus, he is a great athlete that can make plays with his legs. He also has that swagger you want in a franchise quarterback. I really think his future is bright and the Bengals are going to get a real good one with their first overall pick. Burrow had quite the showing all year and especially in the National Championship game. 

The Packers don’t do it often, but I really think they need to make a splash this offseason to finally get a legit No. 2 option in the passing game opposite Davante Adams. The youngsters have not panned out, and Jimmy Graham is past his prime at tight end. They need to really get a legit option outside of Adams. This offense could really take a step forward with a dependable option outside of Adams. Let’s hope they get it done this offseason. 

My two favorite coaching hires from a fantasy perspective are Matt Rhule in Carolina and Mike Mike McCarthy in Dallas. I know McCarthy had his issues with Aaron Rodgers, but you can’t ignore the production that offense had for years with McCarthy at the helm. I think his hire is a positive for all the Cowboys offensive players going forward. And Rhule should be a good fit in Carolina and keep the Christian McCaffrey train going. He will find ways to get his playmakers involved in Carolina and re-energize that team. There was a reason so many teams were after Rhule to hire him as their head coach. I think he is the real deal. 

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

HOT PLAYS

Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs. Kelce wasn’t even 100 percent healthy last week, but that didn’t slow him one bit. He had a monster game, catching 10 passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns. He has double-digit receptions two of four games and two 100-yard games during that stretch. Kelce continues to be the top target in the passing game for the Chiefs and should get a ton of targets this weekend. The Titans really struggled to stop the tight end during the regular season, allowing the fifth most fantasy points to tight ends. 

Raheem Mostert, RB, 49ers. Mostert took a backseat to Tevin Coleman last week, seeing Coleman produce big numbers with a heavy workload. Mostert still had 12 carries for 58 yards, though, so he wasn’t awful. He even averaged the same yards per carry as Coleman. The issue was Coleman had about twice the work. Mostert still seems the safest back to use in San Francisco. He has been so consistent down the stretch, having touchdowns six straight games before last week. We think he get a heavy workload this week against the Packers, a team that allowed the eight most fantasy points to running backs during the regular season. 

Derrick Henry, RB, Titans. Henry is on some sort of hot streak. He has absolutely carried the Titans offense recently. He has 30-plus carries three straight games and 180-plus rushing yards all three of those games. He has been a monster for the Titans, seeming to get stronger late in the year. It should be more of the same for Henry this week against the Chiefs. Kansas City allowed the fifth most fantasy points to running backs during the fantasy season. 

COLD PLAYS  

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers. The 49ers won last week but did so offensively because of a strong ground attack. Garoppolo didn’t even throw for 150 yards in the game. The 49ers have been more run heavy down the stretch, though, giving Garoppolo fewer than 30 pass attempts three straight games. The game plan likely will be the same this week against the Packers. Green Bay allowed the fifth fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks during the regular season. 

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, 49ers. Sanders got off to a great start with the 49ers once he joined the team, but has been pretty quiet most weeks. He has fewer than 30 yards there of four games. He was targeted just two times last week. Sanders is a hard player to trust for the 49ers right now. He also hast just three touchdowns compared to six for Kendrick Bourne, who is below him on the depth chart. The Packers also allow the eighth fewest fantasy points to receivers. 

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers. Rodgers had a good game last week, going 16-of-27 for 243 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. He still didn’t have that huge game you have come to expect from him. Rodgers has been really mediocre most of the year. He has fewer than 17 fantasy points six of nine games. He goes on the road this week against the 49ers, a team that was first overall against the pass during the regular season. 

SLEEPERS  

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans. Tannehill has done very little in the playoffs with the Titans running often. But that game plan could change this weekend if the Chiefs get up on the Titans. Tannehill should get more chances to air it out. Remember, he had multiple touchdowns every start this season. He had 20-plus fantasy points eight of 10 starts. Tannehill is capable of the big game with the way he is playing. It would not be a surprise if he has one of those big games this week against the Chiefs. 

Kendrick Bourne, WR, 49ers. Bourne had three receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown last week. He has six touchdowns this season and been a top red-zone target for the 49ers. Bourne is clearly a touchdown dependent player, failing to top 50 yards in any game this year. He gets some catches, though, having three or more receptions six times. He is worth a look for fantasy teams this week because of his ability to find the end zone. It could happen again against the Packers.  

Jonnu Smith, TE, Titans. Smith had just two catches last week but one of those was an acrobatic touchdown reception, showing his big-time athletic ability. Smith has touchdowns three of six games. He also has 60 or more yards two of those games. Smith can be a little boom or bust, but certainly seems setup for a good game in this one. Kansas City has struggled to stop tight ends this year, allowing the sixth 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: Titans/Chiefs.

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
Indianapolis Colts Sep 21 2:50pm ET

Indianapolis Colts safety Malik Hooker (Achilles) suffered a torn Achilles in the Week 2 win over the Vikings and will miss the rest of the season, according to a source. The first-round pick in 2017 has been injury prone in his career, which is why the team didn't pick up his fifth-year option. Hooker will finish the season with seven tackles (five solo) in two games. His absence for the rest of the season will surely weaken the Colts secondary, but their defense is still worth a play in Week 3 against a Jets offense that is among the worst in the league through two weeks.

From RotoBaller

Chris Godwin Sep 21 2:50pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said that wide receiver Chris Godwin (head) has cleared the league's concussion protocol and will play in Week 3 against the Broncos. Godwin will return to action after missing the Week 2 win over the Panthers. The 24-year-old got off to a good start in Week 1 with six catches on seven targets for 79 yards in the loss to the Saints. Against a Denver secondary that will be missing cornerback A.J. Bouye, Godwin has clear WR1 potential in his return to the field. His return will make Scotty Miller a much less interesting flex option in deeper leagues, especially after he had only two receptions for 11 yards with Godwin inactive in Week 2.

From RotoBaller

San Francisco 49ers Sep 21 2:40pm ET

The San Francisco 49ers are meeting with free-agent pass-rusher Ziggy Ansah with the expectation that they will sign him after he goes through COVID-19 testing. Ansah has visited with the team twice, but the sides never agreed to a deal. With pass-rushers Nick Bosa (knee) and Solomon Thomas (knee) both suffering serious injuries in Week 2, the Niners are looking for reinforcements on the defensive line. The 31-year-old former first-round pick of the Lions in 2013 had 2.5 sacks in 11 games (one start) with the Seahawks last year and has had trouble staying on the field in his seven-year career. He could provide some much-needed depth, but Ansah won't be on the IDP radar. San Fran's defense is still worth starting in fantasy, but they'll lose some of that high-end potential with Bosa injured.

From RotoBaller

Sterling Shepard Sep 21 2:40pm ET

New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (toe) is believed to be dealing with turf toe after getting injured in the Week 2 loss to the Bears, according to a source. Shepard will undergo an MRI exam on Monday, but this is an injury that typically requires a wide receiver to miss some time. With running back Saquon Barkley (knee) done for the year with an ACL tear, the G-Men lost two of their best offensive weapons in the same game. Fantasy managers of Shepard should be planning on him missing multiple weeks. Darius Slayton, Golden Tate and tight end Evan Engram will be the team's top three receiving options for quarterback Daniel Jones if Shepard misses time.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Garoppolo Sep 21 2:30pm ET

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) suffered a high ankle sprain in the Week 2 win over the Jets, and he didn't play at all in the second half. The injury will keep Garoppolo off the field for at least one game and probably more. He was 14-for-16 in the game with 131 yards passing and two touchdowns before the injury, so it ruined what could have been a really good game for him. Already a low-ceiling QB2 in a run-first offense, Jimmy G can obviously be avoided for a few weeks in superflex leagues. Nick Mullens replaced Garoppolo in the second half on Sunday and should get the starts moving forward, but he doesn't have much fantasy appeal as more of a game manager under center.

From RotoBaller

Gardner Minshew II Sep 21 2:20pm ET

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said that safety Byron Jones (groin) would "have to heal pretty quickly" in order to play on Thursday night against the Jaguars. At this point, Jones is a long shot to play in Week 3, which will leave Miami's secondary a bit more vulnerable against quarterback Gardner Minshew II and company. It's good news for Jacksonville wide receivers DJ Chark Jr. and rookie Laviska Shenault Jr. Jones had one tackle in Week 2 and has four total tackles through two weeks with his new team. You should be ignoring the Dolphins Defense in fantasy.

From RotoBaller

Tyrod Taylor Sep 21 2:10pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor (chest) was released from the hospital late Sunday night after dealing with chest pain. His chest issue will be evaluated throughout the week, and head coach Anthony Lynn said that Taylor will remain the team's starter if he's fully healthy. The Chargers probably won't rush Taylor back after rookie Justin Herbert looked very solid in his NFL debut in the overtime loss to the Chiefs in Week 2. Lynn has been very loyal to Taylor, but even though Herbert had some rookie mistakes on Sunday, he probably presents the team with more upside right now. Keep a close eye on Taylor's status this week. If Taylor can't go for Week 3, the rookie signal-caller would become an attractive QB2 in superflex leagues in a great matchup with Carolina.

From RotoBaller

Zach Pascal Sep 21 2:00pm ET

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal caught three balls for 19 yards and a touchdown in a win against the Vikings. Pascal has just seven targets over the first two weeks. The Colts are much higher on young receiversParris Campbell and Michael Pittman Jr. Campbell was injured in Week 2, so this may open the door for Pascal to see more targets with Campbell out indefinitely. With this being said, Pascal has just two games in his career where he has over 100 yards. History suggests that even with more opportunity, Pascal does not hold much value in any fantasy lineup. He will match up against the Jets next week and is worth considering as a waiver pickup in deeper leagues if you're hurting at the position.

From RotoBaller

Kenny Golladay Sep 21 2:00pm ET

Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hamstring), who has missed the first two weeks of the season, is expected to return in Week 3 against the Cardinals, according to a league source. Golladay was close to playing in Week 2, but the Lions didn't want to risk aggravating the injury. The 26-year-old led the league with 11 touchdowns in 2019 and finished seventh in the league with 1,190 receiving yards, which was his second straight season with over 1,000 yards receiving. You still need to keep an eye on Golladay's practice status this week, but it looks like you can insert him back into starting lineups against Arizona, where he'll have WR1 upside if he's at full strength.

From RotoBaller

Seattle Seahawks Sep 21 1:50pm ET

The Seattle Seahawks Defense got a takeaway in Week 2, but they struggled to slow down the New England Patriots all game long. They ran up 30 points on them and nearly lost the game late before a goal-line stand against quarterback Cam Newton. Cornerback Quinton Dunbar snagged an interception, but that was about the only positive this defense had, with only one sack on the night. Based on what we've seen through two weeks, it looks like this defense should be faded when you're looking for streaming options after allowing 55 points through two games.

From RotoBaller

Mo Alie-Cox Sep 21 1:50pm ET

Indianapolis Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox took advantage of his opportunity, grabbing five balls for a game-high 111 receiving yards in Week 2 against the Vikings. Alie-Cox was inserted in the starting lineup due to an injury to starting tight end Jack Doyle. This was just the fourth start of his three-year career, and it is the first time where he had over two catches in a game. It was a nice performance, but this is more of a statistical anomaly than something we can expect to see going forward. He will have a good matchup next week against the Jets, but do not expect to see the same performance, especially if Doyle returns to the fold.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Lockett Sep 21 1:40pm ET

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett wasn't quite perfect in Week 2, but he was pretty close to it. He caught seven of his eight targets for 67 yards and a touchdown. Lockett is quickly becoming one of the best fantasy wide receivers to roster, and with the connection he has with quarterback Russell Wilson, he's a threat to finish as a WR1 on a weekly basis. Just like Wilson, you should have no doubts about starting him every week, regardless of his matchup.

From RotoBaller

D.K. Metcalf Sep 21 1:40pm ET

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf went long again in Week 2 and he turned in another solid fantasy outing. He caught four of his six targets for 92 yards and a touchdown. This is the second week in a row that Metcalf has averaged over 20 yards per reception, and it's clear that this offense is content to allow quarterback Russell Wilson to stretch the field more and more. As long as Wilson is airing it out, Metcalf is going to have WR2 upside on a weekly basis thanks to his big-play ability. His performance on Sunday night was even more impressive, considering the fact that he was being covered by Patriots All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Metcalf is the real deal, folks.

From RotoBaller

David Moore Sep 21 1:40pm ET

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver David Moore had the most improbable touchdown of the season on Sunday night, but it counts just the same. He caught all three of his targets for 48 yards and the score. Due to wide receiver Phillip Dorsett's (foot) injury, the third wide receiver role in Seattle is up for grabs. He's shown a connection with quarterback Russell Wilson so far in his career, and as long as Dorsett remains out, Moore is going to present WR4/5 value on a weekly basis in deeper leagues.

From RotoBaller

Freddie Swain Sep 21 1:40pm ET

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Freddie Swain seized the day in Week 2. Thanks to a nifty route design, he was wide open to catch his only target en route to a 21-yard touchdown. It was clear that Swain was the fourth receiving option among pass-catchers when you don't include the running backs. Moving forward, he's going to be nothing more than a flyer in extremely deep leagues, but you could be doing much worse than getting a talented pass-catcher in one of the league's best offenses.

From RotoBaller

Jason Myers Sep 21 1:40pm ET

Seattle Seahawks kicker Jason Myers was perfect in Week 2, but he was unable to get any field-goal opportunities due to his efficient offense. He went 5-for-5 on his extra points, and it was nice to get a solid outing from him. It's unlikely that this offense is going to score touchdowns exclusively moving forward, and you should get safe production out of him every week. If you're looking for a kicker that's going to get you points every week because of Seattle's high-scoring offense, Myers should be on your radar.

From RotoBaller

Russell Wilson Sep 21 1:30pm ET

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson finished another phenomenal night in Week 2 with a thrilling win over the New England Patriots. He finished the night 21 of 28 for 288 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. He also added five carries for 39 yards on the ground. His impressive performance nearly wasn't enough, but his defense was able to hold on for a win. Wilson looks like the early favorite for the MVP award, and he's going to be winning a lot of fantasy MVPs if he keeps playing at this level. Fire him up every week with no doubts.

From RotoBaller

Chris Carson Sep 21 1:30pm ET

Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson continues to be a valuable fantasy asset with a solid performance in Week 2. Carson finished with 17 carries for 72 yards to go with three catches for 36 yards and a touchdown that came late in the game. Carson is firmly in the RB2 conversation, and he has RB1 upside on a weekly basis thanks to his work in the passing game in this explosive offense. While he may not finish every game with a bloated stat line, he tends to come up with a solid performance by the time it's all said and done. Keep him in your lineups moving forward.

From RotoBaller

Chris Godwin Sep 21 12:53pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (concussion) has cleared the concussion protocol and is good to go for Week 3 against the Denver Broncos.

Fantasy Spin: The Broncos were bitten hard by the injury bug, and Godwin should be a low-end WR1 play next week.

From TheHuddle

Christian McCaffrey Sep 21 12:53pm ET

Updating previous reports, Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (ankle) will miss four to six weeks with a high ankle sprain, according to sources.

Fantasy Spin: Mike Davis could be the featured back if the team doesn't go outside the organization for help. He should be owned everywhere as a flex option. Curtis Samuel had four rushes in Week 2, and he could continue to see a small workload in the backfield, but it doesn't move the needle much for fantasy purposes.

From TheHuddle