Lineup Prep: Super Bowl

Tue Jan 28 12:31pm ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Kittle should see more targets



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It is hard to believe but the last game of the season is here. The Super Bowl is this weekend, ending the football season. It is sad to see another season come to an end, but the 2020 fantasy season will be here before you know it. 

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

First off, enjoy the game this weekend. Super Bowl Sunday is always a great day of the year, so enjoy it. I know I’m looking forward to it, spending time with family, friends while eating some good food. Hopefully, the game is a good one, making things even better.

Here is my prediction for the big game. I really think it is a tossup with the way both teams are playing right now. But for me, I think the Chiefs win the game 31-27. I just think the Chiefs offense is too much right now even against a very good 49ers defense. Kansas City is just clicking on all cylinders right now. I think the speed at receiver for the Chiefs might be the difference in this game, making some big plays. Plus, the Chiefs defense has made big strides since the start of the year, making big plays at crucial times. This should be a great matchup, but in the end, I think the Chiefs will prevail and win the Super Bowl.

I think Gary Kubiak taking over as the offensive coordinator for the Vikings is a solid move for that offense. Kubiak should employ a similar approach to this past year, getting the most out of Dalvin Cook and Kirk Cousins. I don’t expect much of a drop off in production - if any - with Kubiak calling plays. He knows what he is doing and has produced some big offenses as the primary play caller. 

This should be a very interesting offseason for quarterbacks. Several big-name quarterbacks are free agents this year. This might be the most movement at the quarterback spot we have ever seen in the NFL during an offseason. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Jameis Winston, Dak Prescott, Ryan Tannehill and Teddy Bridgewater are the headliner quarterback free agents. Now some of these players are expected to re-sign or get tagged by their current team, but many could be moving on to other teams this offseason. It is going to be interesting to watch. These guys moving around will really impact the fantasy world. 

Kareem Hunt had another off the field incident. He was pulled over for speeding but the officer also found marijuana in the car. He was not charged with anything but speeding, though. The NFL is likely going to look into this incident, which is not great news for Hunt. Remember, he was suspended the first half of this past season. This is a situation to monitor if you have hopes of Hunt being fantasy relevant this coming season. 

So I’m not proud to admit this, but I’m a little intrigued by the XFL. My city (St. Louis) has a team and some buzz has being going around town a little. The last time the XFL was around there was some excitement with the league before it went belly up. The rules are kind of interesting and the faster paced game could make for some good entertainment. We’ll see. It will be hard to have staying power with the NFL being so strong, but you never know. 

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

HOT PLAYS

George Kittle, TE, 49ers. With the 49ers having huge success running the ball during the playoffs, Kittle has gotten little usage. He has four receptions for 35 yards in two playoff games. We think he can get back to his old ways this week with the 49ers trying to keep up with the Chiefs high-powered offense. Remember, Kittle had at least five receptions five of his last six regular season games. He also has a favorable matchup against a Chiefs defines that allowed the sixth most fantasy points to tight ends during the regular season. 

Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs. Hill had multiple touchdowns his last time out, catching five passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns. This was his third multiple touchdown game of the season. Hill has a chance to break off some big plays against a 49ers secondary that lacks a little top-end speed. It would not surprise to see Hill find the end zone again and get a few big plays in this game. 

COLD PLAYS  

Damien Williams, RB, Chiefs. Williams has touchdowns each of the Chiefs playoff games, but failed to top 50-rushing yards in either of those games. He will get some catches even if he doesn’t pile up the rushing yards, but Williams has never topped 50-receiving yards in a game this year. Williams is going to be a touchdown dependent player, making him a risky fantasy play. The 49ers allowed just 10-rushing touchdowns all season and gave up the second fewest fantasy points to running backs.

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, 49ers. Sanders has two receptions for 33 yards in the 49ers two playoffs games. He didn't even catch a pass his last game and has been targeted just three times the entire playoffs. Sanders has fewer than 50 yards eight of 10 games. The Chiefs also are a tough opponent for Sanders, allowing the second fewest fantasy points to receivers during the regular season. Sanders isn’t wroth the risk. 

SLEEPERS  

Mecole Hardman, WR, Chiefs. There always seems to be a player that surprises in the big game, so put Hardman on your radar. His speed could be a tough matchup for the 49ers secondary. Hardman found the end zone six times during the season, proving he is capable of the big play in this offense. The Chiefs could find ways to get this playmaker the ball, especially if the 49ers key on other Chiefs players in the game.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers. Garoppolo has done next to nothing in the playoffs because the 49ers have been so run heavy. He has not been needed to air it out. That could change in the Super Bowl. It would not surprise to see the 49ers having to play catchup against a high-powered Chiefs offense. He should get more chances to throw the ball. He had plenty of big games during the regular season, so Garoppolo is more than capable of producing for fantasy teams. He probably needs to have a big showing if he 49ers hope to win this game. 

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: Chiefs/49ers.

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
Ryan Shazier Feb 16 2:30pm ET

There remains no timetable for a potential return for Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier (back) as he rehabs from spinal stabilization surgery. Shazier has not played for the last two seasons, and it remains to be seen if he'll ever play again. His contract from the 2019 season will not toll over to 2020, but the Steelers continue to support his comeback efforts. If Shazier's contract expires, he will become a free agent when the new league year begins on March 18. The 27-year-old was a force in the middle of the field for the Steelers in the four seasons before his injury. We wouldn't bet against Shazier making a comeback, but it might not be for the Steelers.

From RotoBaller

Ty Johnson Feb 15 11:10pm ET

Detroit Lions running back Ty Johnson won't be a guarantee to make the team's roster going into training camp, in the opinion of The Athletic's Chris Burke. Johnson, a sixth-round pick in 2019, ended his rookie season with 63 carries for 273 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and no touchdowns on the ground. The Lions notably didn't give him a very big workload when Kerryon Johnson was hurt last year either, and he'll have to compete with Bo Scarbrough, J.D. McKissic, Tra Carson and Wes Hills for depth behind Kerryon Johnson this summer. Even if he makes the roster out of camp, Johnson won't be guaranteed many touches as the second or third running back.

From RotoBaller

Jameis Winston Feb 15 11:00pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said that the team remains undecided on whether to keep quarterback Jameis Winston or move on from the former first overall draft pick. Arians said they probably won't know what direction they are headed until the start of the three-day legal free-agent tampering period from March 16-18. If Tampa uses a franchise tag on Winston, he'll be guaranteed around $27 million on a one-year deal. The fact that the Buccaneers are waiting to see which quarterbacks become available doesn't really inspire much confidence that they want to retain him. Winston led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards and set a franchise record with 33 touchdown passes, but he also tossed a league-high 30 interceptions and lost five fumbles. With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin at receiver, Winston will have his highest fantasy value as a strong QB1 if he remains in Tampa, but that won't be up to him.

From RotoBaller

Robby Anderson Feb 15 11:00pm ET

The New York Jets are highly unlikely to re-sign impending free-agent wide receiver Robby Anderson, according to league sources. Anderson is expected to receiver $13 to $15 million annually on a multi-year deal on the open market, but Gang Green would like to sign him for just $10 million annually. Because the 26-year-old will be one of the better receivers on the open market, his price will be driven up despite the fact that he had just 779 yards on 52 catches for five touchdowns. Anderson also has yet to produce a 1,000-yard season in four years in the NFL, but he will get paid, and it's unlikely to come from the Jets. The Temple alum could be a fantasy sleeper if he lands in the right situation next month.

From RotoBaller

Rashaad Penny Feb 15 11:00pm ET

Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny (knee), whose 2019 season ended in early December when he suffered a torn ACL, said he got back on an exercise bike earlier this week. The 24-year-old second-year back is ahead of schedule in his recovery, but he still might be a question mark to be ready for Week 1 in 2020. The former first-round pick could be a candidate for the Physically Unable to Perform list if he's not ready, which would keep him out the first six weeks. In 10 games for Seattle last year, Penny had 65 carries for 370 yards and three scores. If he can stay healthy for a full season, Penny has the skills to be relevant in all point-per-reception leagues. Monitor his progress this spring and through the summer.

From RotoBaller

A.J. Bouye Feb 15 10:50pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye could be released this offseason to clear $11.4 million in salary cap space. Bouye has two interceptions the last two years, while Tre Herndon, who started opposite of Bouye when Jalen Ramsey was traded to the Rams, had three interceptions last season and will make $660,000 in 2020. Jacksonville could look to the draft in April to try and address their need for a new cornerback. Once one of the top secondaries in the NFL just several seasons ago, it has now become a weakness for the Jags.

From RotoBaller

Leonard Fournette Feb 15 10:40pm ET

The Jacksonville Jaguars must decide this offseason if they will pick up running back Leonard Fournette's $10.1 million fifth-year option for 2021. It's an interesting decision because they are limited for salary cap space, so they could decline the option and wait to see how he performs in 2020 before considering a contract extension. The 25-year-old had 265 carries for a career-high 1,152 yards, but he rushed for only three touchdowns in 15 games. It's Fournette's second 1,000-yard season in his three seasons. Despite the lack of TDs in 2019, he should be seen as an RB1 in a run-first offense next season. He has yet to play in a full season, though, so he's a bit risky as an RB1.

From RotoBaller

Nick Foles Feb 15 10:40pm ET

The Jacksonville Jaguars need to continue searching for a franchise quarterback. Rookie Gardner Minshew showed flashes in 2019, but he'll need to prove he's more than just a game manager in a larger sample size. The team could also seek to find a trade partner for Nick Foles, who flopped as a big free-agent acquisition in 2019. Because of the presence of Minshew on the roster, Foles likely doesn't have much of a future in Jacksonville, and his lack of mobility limits his production with Jacksonville's offensive line a work in progress. Foles broke his collarbone in the season opener and played in just four games while being benched after he returned from injury. Even if he wins the starting job heading into next season, he'll be a midrange QB2, at best.

From RotoBaller

Kwon Alexander Feb 14 5:40pm ET

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander (biceps), who had surgery on his pectoral muscle last season, was also dealing with a biceps injury and is undergoing surgery on Friday, according to sources. Alexander should be fully recovered in time for the 2020 season. The 25-year-old played in just eight games in 2019 in his first season with San Fran because of his pectoral injury. In those eight contests, Alexander had 34 tackles (22 solo), half a sack, a forced fumble and an interception. He's played in just 14 games the last two seasons and will need to stay on the field if he wants to remain with the 49ers past the 2020 season.

From RotoBaller

Paul Richardson Feb 14 5:30pm ET

The Washington Redskins released wide receiver Paul Richardson and cornerback Josh Norman on Friday. Richardson, 27, was due to make $6.5 million this year, but he caught just 48 passes in 17 games in his two seasons and made almost $17 million in that span. Norman, 32, played just 53 percent of the defensive snaps last season and fell down the depth chart late in the year for his poor play. He was scheduled to make $12 million in 2020. Norman didn't make one Pro Bowl in his four seasons in D.C. and had seven interceptions. Richardson could latch on elsewhere as a deep threat and bounce back, but he will need to stay healthy.

From RotoBaller

Kenyan Drake Feb 14 5:20pm ET

The Arizona Cardinals want to retain running back Kenyan Drake, who will be a free agent in March, and placing the franchise tag on him is a possibility if they don't sign him to a long-term deal. Drake took over the starting gig from the injured David Johnson after the trade from Miami, and Johnson would likely play second fiddle to Drake in the backfield if the Cardinals don't trade him. In eight games last year, Drake ran the ball 123 times for 643 yards (5.2 yards per carry) with a career-high eight touchdowns. He fits the Cardinals much better from a fantasy perspective than he did in Miami, despite Arizona's shaky offensive line. If Johnson is on another team come next season, Drake will have RB1 upside.

From RotoBaller

Patrick Peterson Feb 14 11:10am ET

Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said that the team has had initial contract-extension talks with cornerback Patrick Peterson, who is heading into the final year of his contract. Peterson, a fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft, has been one of the best cover corners in his nine seasons in the NFL. He missed the first six games of last season due to suspension and finished 2019 with 53 total tackles (46 solo), one sack, one forced fumble and two interceptions. He had a falling out with Arizona recently, but he has gone back on trade demands and is willing to remain in the desert.

From RotoBaller

David Johnson Feb 14 11:00am ET

Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said that cutting running back David Johnson "is not an option." Keim also added that "you can't just have one back," and Kenyan Drake, who took over the starting role in the second half last year, is scheduled to be a free agent in March. Johnson ran the ball just 94 times for 345 yards (3.7 yards per carry) and two rushing touchdowns in 13 games last season. He battled nagging injuries that slowed him down and caused him to lose the starting job to Drake. The 28-year-old looked like a shell of his former self, one that ran for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2016. Even if DJ returns in 2020, it seems unlikely that he'll be a bell-cow back with all of his injury concerns.

From RotoBaller

Tyrod Taylor Feb 13 10:00pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said that quarterback Tyrod Taylor, last year's backup to Philip Rivers, could have an opportunity to win the starting job in 2020. "Tyrod Taylor is a heck of a quarterback," Lynn told AM 570 LA Sports. "We couldn't have a better backup right now, and now he has an opportunity to maybe step up into a starting role." Taking care of the football is a top priority for Lynn after Philip Rivers turned the ball over 23 times in 2019. In his last full season as a starter, Taylor turned the ball over just six times in 2017 while leading the Bills to the playoffs. Taylor can also add an element with his legs on the ground as a mobile quarterback. With the weapons around him if he's the starter, Taylor will have QB1 upside, but he'll be better off taken as a QB2 with upside in fantasy.

From RotoBaller

Diontae Johnson Feb 13 9:40pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (hernia) recently underwent sports hernia surgery. A third-round pick in 2019, Johnson caught 59 passes on 92 targets for 680 yards and five touchdowns in a full season in his rookie year with Pittsburgh. He saw more opportunities during the year with JuJu Smith-Schuster banged up, but he was also hurt by poor quarterback play from Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. If Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) returns healthy in 2020, Johnson could make quite the leap in his second season as the potential No. 2 receiver behind Smith-Schuster. He should be recovered in plenty of time to be ready for training camp this summer.

From RotoBaller

Philip Rivers Feb 13 3:50pm ET

The Los Angeles Chargers agreed to a one-year contract extension with head coach Anthony Lynn that puts him with the team through the 2021 season. The Chargers are entering a transition now that they have officially moved on from veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, and they're expected to let running back Melvin Gordon walk in free agency as well. Tyrod Taylor could be under center for the Bolts, at least to start the 2020 season, but the Chargers could also upgrade the position through free agency, the draft or a trade. Lynn, 51, led the Chargers to a disappointing 5-11 last-place finish in the AFC West. He's 26-22 in his three years with LA.

From RotoBaller

Ben Roethlisberger Feb 13 2:20pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said that "all signs are good to this point" with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (elbow), who will have a medical checkup on Feb. 21. The team's medical staff has constantly been working with Big Ben, and Colbert said Roethlisberger could be better than he was a year ago. The 37-year-old (38 in March) played in just two games in 2019 before requiring right elbow surgery. It will be tough for him to be better than he was in 2018 (5,129 yards, 34 touchdowns), but Big Ben could still have QB1 upside in 2020. The smart play is to take him as a QB2 with some upside in fantasy drafts, though. A healthy Big Ben will be great news for JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was a huge bust in 2019.

From RotoBaller

Anthony Firkser Feb 13 2:20pm ET

The Tennessee Titans agreed on a one-year contract extension with tight end Anthony Firkser on Thursday. Firkser was on track to become an exclusive-rights free agent in March. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed. The Harvard alum had two big touchdown catches in the playoffs and hauled in 14 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown in 15 games during the regular season. Firkser caught three passes for 45 yards and the two scores in the postseason. Tennessee might be moving on from veteran Delanie Walker this offseason, but even so, Firkser will likely back up Jonnu Smith in 2020, making him a fantasy afterthought.

From RotoBaller

Matthew Stafford Feb 13 12:20pm ET

Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn refuted a Wednesday night report that the team is in talks to trade quarterback Matthew Stafford. "100% False!!" Quinn wrote in a text message to the Free Press. Stafford is entering his 12th season in the NFL and threw for 2,499 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions while setting a career-high passer rating in just eight games before suffering a back injury that caused him to miss the rest of the season. Detroit has the No. 3 pick in the draft, prompting speculation that they could move on from Stafford and select another QB. Stafford gives the Lions the best chance to win in 2020, and the team would incur a $32 million salary cap hit if they trade him.

From RotoBaller

Matthew Stafford Feb 13 10:23am ET

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford is the subject of trade rumors, but general manager Bob Quinn stated the rumors are '100 percent false.'

Fantasy Spin: Stafford was third in fantasy points per game at the position, but he missed half of the season. He'll be a midrange QB1 with some injury risk next season.

From TheHuddle