Studs and Duds: Wild Card Weekend

Mon Jan 11 9:21am ET
Sr Fantasy Writer

Smith-Schuster has huge game

For the most part, the games this weekend were entertaining. Most of them were fairly close, coming down to the end. And there were plenty of big fantasy performances throughout the weekend. We did have a few top players do little, which was disappointing, but that is fantasy football. There are uneven performances throughout the season. The good news is there were some monster games as well, especially in the Browns/Steelers game. Hopefully, you had some players from those rosters in your fantasy lineups.

Bills 27, Colts 24

Fantasy Stud: Josh Allen. Allen continued his red hot play in this playoff opener, going 26-of-35 for 324 yards and two touchdowns without a turnover. He also led the team in rushing, running 11 times for 54 yards and a score. He had three touchdowns in the game, giving him 35.6 fantasy points. Allen has 35-plus fantasy points three of four games.

Fantasy Dud: T.Y. Hilton. Hilton struggled to do much, catching two passes for 32 yards. Hilton had touchdowns four of six games before this showing. His 5.2 fantasy points was his lowest total since Week 8 of the fantasy season.

Game Notes: Zack Moss left the game with a leg injury. He had seven carries for 21 yards and caught four passes for 26 yards. Moss was getting most of the work at running back before the injury. He seems to have avoided something too serious, but still could miss some time.

Stefon Diggs hit the 100-yard mark once again, fishing with six receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown. Diggs has 100-yard games four of his last five.

Rams 30, Seahawks 20

Fantasy Stud: Cam Akers. Akers got a huge workload once again and made the most of it with a great performance. He ran 28 times for 131 yards and a touchdown. He also had two catches for 45 yards, giving him 176 total yards. Akers has 20-plus carries four of his last five games. He is clearly the top back for the Rams and should be their franchise back for years to come.

Fantasy Dud: Tyler Lockett. Lockett had just two receptions for 43 yards after a 12-reception performance his previous time out. Lockett scored just 6.3 fantasy points, his lowest total since Week 12 of the season. It was a fitting end to his season, though, because Lockett was a little up and down all year.

Game Notes: Cooper Kupp suffered a knee contusion and had to leave the game. The injury is believed to be fairly minor, though, and the Rams are optimistic he will be fine going forward. Kupp had four receptions for 78 yards in the game.

D.K. Metcalf had five receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns. This was his third two-touchdown game of the season. He was targeted 11 times in the game.

Bucs 31, Washington 23

Fantasy Stud: Taylor Heinicke. Heinicke was the surprise starter and played very well against a good Bucs defense. He made a ton of big plays, going 26-of-44 for 306 yards and a touchdown with an interception. He had six rush attempts for 46 yards and a touchdown, giving him 28.9 fantasy points. It was a really impressive showing for Heinicke, who likely earned himself an NFL job next season with this great game.

Fantasy Dud: Antonio Gibson. Gibson was really held in check despite a good amount of work. He ran 14 times for just 31 yards and caught two passes for four yards. It was a really disappointing showing for Washington’s star rookie back. Gibson has a really bright future, though, and should be a fixture in this offense for years to come.

Game Notes: Mike Evans looked just fine on his knee injury. He had six receptions for 119 yards. Evans has 100-yard games three of his last four.

Ronald Jones injured his quad in pregame warmups and did not play a snap in the game. Leonard Fournette got most of the work at running back and played well. Fournette ran 19 times for 93 yards and a touchdown. He also had four receptions for 39 yards, giving him 132 total yards. This injury for Jones is something to watch because he could be out some time after missing this game.

Ravens 20, Titans 13

Fantasy Stud: A.J. Brown. Brown was one of the few bright spots for the Titans offense. He had six receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown. Brown topped 20 fantasy points in the game, giving  him 20-plus fantasy points three of his last five games. Brown had a breakout season and will continue to be a huge part of this passing game for years to come. 

Fantasy Dud: Derrick Henry. Henry did next to nothing for once. He had 18 carries but only 40 yards. He did catch three passes for 11 yards, giving him a few fantasy points on the day. But overall, it was really a disappointing game for Henry. The Ravens did a great job of bottling up Henry throughout the game. Henry still had a monster year, though, and will be a top fantasy pick in 2021.

Game Notes: Lamar Jackson didn’t have a passing touchdown but produced well for fantasy teams, hitting the 100-yard rushing mark for the third time this season. Jackson ran 16 times fro 136 yards and a touchdown, scoring 27.6 fantasy points.

Marquise Brown hit the 100-yard mark for the first time since Week 1. He had seven receptions for 109 yards. Brown has really been great down the stretch, having 12-plus fantasy points seven straight games.

Saints 21, Bears 9

Fantasy Stud: Michael Thomas. Thomas returned to action and had one of his best games of the season, looking healthy once again. He caught five passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. Thomas scored his first touchdown of the entire season. It doesn’t help all the fantasy owners that used a first-round pick on him this year, but it was good to at least see Thomas find the end zone.

Fantasy Dud: David Montgomery. Montgomery was a huge bust after a great second half to his fantasy season. He had his worst game in a long time, rushing 12 times for just 31 yards and didn’t catch a pass. His 3.1 fantasy points was a season low for Montgomery. The Saints did a great job of taking away the Bears hottest player.

Game Notes: Deonte Harris was a surprise top performer for the Saints at receiver, catching seven passes for 83 yards. His reception and yardage totals were season highs for Harris. He did not have a reception since Week 11.

Alvin Kamara had a season-high 23 carries, rushing for 99 yards and a touchdown. He also had two receptions for 17 yards, giving him 116 total yards. Kamara has 17-plus fantasy points five straight games.

Browns 48, Steelers 37

Fantasy Stud: JuJu Smith-Schuster. His team might have lost, but Smith-Schuster had a monster game. He got a ton of work with the Steelers playing from behind, catching 13 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown. He scored a season high 34.7 fantasy points in the game. Smith-Schuster ends his season scoring touchdowns three straight and seven of his last 10 games.

Fantasy Dud: Rashard Higgins. Higgins might have been the only player on either team to have a down offensive performance. There were a ton of points and yards in this one, but Higgins was really quiet compared to everyone else. Higgins had two receptions for 28 yards. Higgins had 55 or more yards four straight games before this showing.

Game Notes: Ben Roethlisberger had a rough start but posted huge numbers for his fantasy teams in the end, getting a chance to air it out often. He was 47-of-68 for 501 yards and four touchdowns with four interceptions. He scored 39.1 fantasy points, which was a season high.

Jarvis Landry continued his hot way, finishing with five receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown. Landry has five or more receptions six straight games.

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 Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

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Player Notes
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense was shredded by Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill in the first quarter of their Week 12 matchup, as Hill went off for 203 yards on seven catches and two touchdowns. Cornerback Carlton Davis was left on an island with Hill, and it didn't yield pretty results. "We'll help a little bit more than we did in that ballgame," Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said. Tampa's D allowed 462 yards passing to quarterback Patrick Mahomes and three touchdowns. Hill finished with 269 yards and three touchdowns on 13 catches (only 59 yards in the second half). Tight end Travis Kelce had eight catches for 82 yards. With offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz out, Bucs pass-rushers Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul must get pressure on Mahomes to have a chance at getting last year's Super Bowl MVP out of his rhythm.

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Cole Beasley Jan 25 4:20pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (leg) suffered a broken fibula in the Week 16 game against the New England Patriots. Beasley sat out the regular season finale in Week 17 before catching 14 passes for 145 yards in three postseason games against the Colts, Ravens and Chiefs. "It was bad the first game I played but after that, you take a few meds and suck it up," Beasley said with a chuckle. The injury wasn't a full break, but Beasley said it was painful in the wild-card win over the Colts. The 31-year-old veteran hauled in seven of his nine targets for 88 yards in the AFC Championship loss to the Chiefs on Sunday. Beasley set career-highs in catches (82), targets (107), receiving yards (967) and yards per catch (11.8) while visiting the end zone four times in 15 regular season games in 2020. He'll be back as Josh Allen's most trusted third-down weapon in 2021 and will be more expensive in PPR leagues as a result of his career-best season.

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Lamar Jackson Jan 25 4:10pm ET

Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said that the team could reach a long-term contract extension with quarterback Lamar Jackson this offseason, and the GM plans to speak to the reigning NFL MVP in the next 10 days. Jackson just finished his third season and will command at least $40 million per season on an extension. He's scheduled to make $1.77 million in 2021 on the final year of his rookie deal, which currently ranks 25th among QBs in base salary. "[He] certainly deserves a contract," DeCosta said. Jackson has won more games (30) than any other QB since he took over as the team's starter in 2018 and became the fastest QB in history to reach 30 regular season wins (37 games). Jackson is also the first in NFL history to produce 5,000 yards passing and 2,500 yards rushing in his first three seasons. The young signal-caller has been more effective with his legs than his arm and has won just one playoff game, but Jackson should be locked up long term in Baltimore and will be a top-five fantasy QB yet again in 2021.

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Justin Herbert Jan 25 12:10pm ET

The Philadelphia Eagles agreed to terms with former Los Angeles Chargers offensive coordinator Shane Steichen on Monday as their new offensive coordinator, according to a source. Steichen was key in the development of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert in 2020. New head coach Nick Sirianni and Steichen worked together with the Chargers for four years until Sirianni left for the Colts in 2018. Steichen started coaching in the NFL in Cleveland in 2013 as a quality control coach. He left for San Diego the following season and was their quality control coach for 2014-15. The 35-year-old took over the Chargers offense last season and helped nurture Herbert to a record-setting rookie season. Steichen will try and help Carson Wentz rebuild after the worst season of his career.

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Aaron Rodgers Jan 25 11:50am ET

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was uncertain about his future after the team's 31-26 loss to the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship on Sunday. The 37-year-old is expected to win the MVP this year and is under contract through the 2023 season via the $134 million extension he signed in 2018. But the Packers also drafted Jordan Love, Rodgers' possible replacement, in the first round last year. Rodgers threw 48 touchdowns and only five interceptions in the regular season in 2020, but he also became the first QB in NFL history to lose four straight appearances in a conference championship. If Green Bay were to move on from Rodgers this offseason, they'd save just $4.76 million on the salary cap and would have $31.556 million in dead money. Rodgers may be contemplating retirement, but the Packers want him back and he'd be a high-end QB1 if he does return after going 33-for-48 for 346 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the loss to Tampa to end the season.

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Joey Bosa Jan 25 11:50am ET

The Los Angeles Chargers are hiring Denver Broncos defensive backs coach Renaldo Hill as their new defensive coordinator on Monday, according to sources. Hill worked with head coach Brandon Staley in Denver in 2019 and played in the league for a decade. Staley said last week that he will be making the defensive play calls in his first season as head coach in LA. Hill will be replacing Gus Bradley, who left to become the defensive coordinator for the Las Vegas Raiders. Hill will help oversee a defense that ranked 10th in the NFL last year and features three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Joey Bosa, rookie linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. and standout safety Derwin James, who missed all of 2020 with a knee injury.

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Lamar Jackson Jan 25 10:23am ET

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson could sign an extension this offseason, according to general manager Eric DeCosta, who will begin talks with Jackson in 10 days.

Fantasy Spin: Jackson ended up the QB10 in traditional leagues as he missed a game due to COVID-19. With the emergence of Josh Allen, Justin Herbert and others, the position has become pretty loaded. Dak Prescott (leg) is expected back to join the flux of QB1s. A midrange QB1 is probably where Jackson is supposed to be considering the plights he faces through the air. Don't overdraft him for the rushing numbers next season because the gap has narrowed.

From TheHuddle

Josh Allen Jan 24 10:33pm ET

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Tyreek Hill Jan 24 10:30pm ET

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Darrel Williams Jan 24 10:20pm ET

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Mecole Hardman Jan 24 10:20pm ET

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Travis Kelce Jan 24 8:53pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce went over 100 receiving yards in the third quarter of the AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills. He became the first tight end in NFL history with five postseason games of 100 or more receiving yards.

From TheHuddle

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jan 24 7:50pm ET

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense played another strong game in a 31-26 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game. Tampa Bay sacked Aaron Rodgers five times, forcing one interception and a fumble in the huge win. The Buccaneers' pass rush was fueled by two players- linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who had three sacks and four quarterback hits, and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who had two sacks. Rising star Devin White led the team in tackles with 15, as he was a thorn in the side of the Packers' offensive plans all game long. Tampa Bay's defense will have its hands full in the Super Bowl against either Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen, though this unit is playing some excellent football at the right time.

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Rob Gronkowski Jan 24 7:40pm ET

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