Wed Jan 13 9:39am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Mayfield is playing at high level
The first round matchups weren’t too bad last week. Let’s hope the games this week are even better, though. The potential is there for some really exciting games, so here is to hoping it plays out that way. Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .
The Seahawks really slipped offensively as the season progressed this year. The offense was really unimaginative and teams picked up on that, shutting down the unit. It made sense for the Seahawks to fire Brian Schottenheimer this week. It was time for a change offensively. Hopefully, the team can find a good fit for Russell Wilson and the rest of the top weapons the Seahawks have on offense. This unit can be special if all goes well for them
I’m really looking forward to two games this weekend. The Ravens/Bills and Bucs/Saints should be great matchups. I think they are real tossups that could go either way. The Ravens/Bills should be an explosive game offensively. I think a lot of fantasy points will be scored in this one. The Bucs/Saints game won’t be quite as high scoring but should be a really close one. I love the way the Bucs are playing right now, so I would not be surprised if they won this road matchup. Tampa is really clicking on both sides of the ball. Two of the best quarterbacks of all time will duke it out for a chance to advance to the NFC Championship.
Quietly, Calvin Ridley really had a great fantasy season. His strong finish to the year propelled him to fifth overall in fantasy receiver scoring. He had 100-yard games four of his last five and found the end zone three of six. Ridley gets a ton of volume in this pass-first offense and should continue to be a fantasy star for years to come. He is going to be a top-five fantasy receiver in my rankings for 2021.
Could you imagine how good of a fantasy player Nick Chubb would be without Kareem Hunt around? He is still a stud now even with Hunt taking work from him. Chubb was 11th overall in fantasy running back scoring despite missing four games because of injury. He had a 145 total yards and a score last week in the Browns playoff victory. Chubb found the end zone six straight games to end his season. Chubb is just hitting his stride and should be a consistent fantasy factor the next several seasons. He is a legit top-10 fantasy back and could even be top five if all goes well for him.
Baker Mayfield has really picked up his game this second half of the season. And what impresses me the most is he is doing this without arguably his top receiver, Odell Beckham. Mayfield is producing at a top level with Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins and Austin Hooper. Sure, these guys are fine players but they aren’t superstars by any means. If Mayfield can get a little more talent around him, I think his ceiling can be really high. He is playing with confidence and producing in an offensive scheme that fits him very well.
News and Notes: The Eagles fired head coach Doug Pederson on Monday. Pederson likely would have kept the job if not for a Week 17 decision to pull starting quarterback Jalen Hurts with the team still in the game. . . . .The Bills signed running back Devonta Freeman to the practice squad Tuesday. He gives the team some insurance at running back with Zack Moss out the rest of the playoffs.
Mark Andrews, TE, Ravens. Andrews had four receptions for 41 yards on six targets last week. He has been a much bigger factor in the passing game down the stretch, having at least four receptions seven straight games. He has 12-plus fantasy points five of seven games. Andrews should be setup for another good showing this week against the Bills. Buffalo struggles to stop the tight end, allowing the fifth most fantasy points to tight ends.
Cam Akers, RB, Rams. Akers has been getting big workloads down the stretch for the Rams, emerging as the clear lead back for the team. He has 21-plus carries four of five games. He had 30 touches for 176 total yards and a score last week, scoring 25.6 fantasy points. Akers is the centerpiece of the offense right now with the quarterback situation hurting. Expect him to get 25-plus touches again this week. The Packers allow the fifth most fantasy points to running backs and have allowed some big games to running backs this season.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs. This isn’t really going out on a limb but you have to love Mahomes this week in a matchup against a team that just gave up 500-plus passing yards. Mahomes could have a huge game in this one, playing a Brown team that allows the eighth most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Cleveland has allowed 300-yard passing games three of six games. Mahomes has seven games with 30-plus fantasy points and could make it eight in this playoff matchup.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Bucs. A lot of people might be on Fournette this week because he could get the start once against with Ronald Jones hurting. Fournette had a good showing last week, scoring 23.2 fantasy points against Washington. He had 132 total yards and a touchdown, his best game of the season. But we worry about a really tough matchup against the Saints. New Orleans allows the fewest fantasy points to running backs. The Saints held the Bucs to just 94-rushing yards in two games this year.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Saints. Sanders had his worst game in a long time last week, catching just two passes for three yards on three targets. The return of Michael Thomas was not a good thing for Sanders’ production He is a hard player to trust with Thomas back in the lineup. It would not surprise to see him struggle again this week against the Bucs. He did score two touchdowns against the Bucs this year but had just seven receptions for 53 yards in two games. He’ll be a hard to trust touchdown dependent play in this matchup.
Robert Woods, WR, Rams. Woods found the end zone last week but had just four receptions for 48 yards. The quarterback injury issues for the Rams is a real concern for Woods. He has fear than 50 yards four of five games. He has really cooled late in the year. He could struggle again this week for much of the same quarterback concerns. Plus, he plays the Packers, a team that allows the fifth fewest fantasy points to receivers but struggle to stop the running back (allow the fifth most fantasy points to running backs).
Sammy Watkins, WR, Chiefs. Watkins had a quiet season, battling injury while doing little while on the field. He remains a starter in this high-powered offense, though. And he produced some big games in the Chiefs playoff run last year. Watkins had 75-plus yards in all three playoff games last year. And he topped that mark just once all last year, so his big performance in the playoffs was a bit of a surprise. He could be setup for similar success this year, especially this week against a Browns defense that has struggled to stop the pass much of the year. Cleveland allowed more than 500-passing yards last week and ranked 22nd against the pass during the regular season.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns. Mayfield has been red hot, having just one interception since Week 7. He has 20-plus fantasy points five of seven games. He had a three-touchdown performance last week against a very good Steelers defense on the road. He has another tough matchup this week against the Chiefs, but it is hard to bet against him to perform at this point. He is playing with a lot of confidence and could be getting more chances to air it out in a game the Browns could be playing from behind. Mayfield seems a good bet to top 20 fantasy points once again.
Gabriel Davis, WR, Bills. Davis just keeps making big plays. He did it again last week, catching four passes for 85 yards. He made some great catches at key times for the Bills. He also has been a top red-zone threat for the team, having scores four of seven games. The Bills will need him to come up big again this week if they hope to win. The Ravens likely will focus on shutting down the Bills top two targets, Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley, so Davis might get some favorable coverages. He could produce well again in this one.
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: Ravens/Bills, Browns/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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
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.
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.
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.
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.
New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi is expected to become the new offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Chargers, according to sources. New head coach Brandon Staley played under Lombardi for one year at Mercyhurst University in 2005 when Lombardi was the offensive coordinator. Lombardi is the grandson of Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi and was the offensive coordinator for the Lions in 2014-15, but he was fired after a 1-6 start in his second year. He started his NFL career as a defensive assistant with the Falcons in 2006 before being hired by the Saints as an offensive assistant in 2007. Lombardi spent 12 seasons working with head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees in New Orleans and has also tutored QBs Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston in recent seasons. He'll be tasked with working with Justin Herbert, who became the youngest QB in history to throw 30 touchdowns in his rookie season.
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.
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.
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.
Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen completed 28 of his 48 passes for 287 yards, two touchdowns and an interception and rushed seven times for 88 yards in a 38-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 24. RB Devin Singletary was bottled up, rushing for 17 yards and six carries and gaining nine yards on two catches. WR Cole Beasley had seven grabs for 88 yards, WR Stefon Diggs had six receptions on 11 targets for 77 yards, and TE Dawson Knox caught six balls for 42 yards and a touchdown. WR Isaiah McKenzie caught a six-yard touchdown pass on his only reception, and RB T.J. Yeldon had seven touches for 56 total yards. S Jordan Poyer led the defense with eight tackles, including six solo stops.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill put together another strong performance on Sunday versus the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. Hill caught nine of his 11 targets for a team high 172 yards against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. Hill wasn't able to get a touchdown in this contest, but he was dominant nonetheless. Hill has had a phenomenal season and he will look to keep that going versus a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense in Super Bowl 55. He remains one of the best at his position and will be a top option for those participating in DFS.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes completed 29 of his 38 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-24 win over the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 24. WR Tyreek Hill had nine catches for 172 yards, and TE Travis Kelce had 13 receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns. WR Mecole Hardman had two catches for four yards and a score to go along with a 50-yard run and a lost fumble on special teams. RB Darrel Williams rushed 13 times for 52 yards and a touchdown and added one catch for nine yards. Clyde Edwards-Helaire had six carries for seven yards and a score. LB Frank Clark recorded a pair of sacks, and S Juan Thornhill broke up four passes.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire scored a touchdown in his return to action versus the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. The rookie player a minor role on Sunday with Darrel Williams being the featured back and Le'Veon Bell (knee) inactive. CEH picked up just seven yards on six carries and caught one of his two targets for zero yards, but it was good to see him return to action for the first time since injuring his ankle and hip in Week 15. Edwards-Helaire will now have two weeks to rest up before facing a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense in the Super Bowl and he should be avoided in DFS for that contest.
Kansas City Chiefs running Darrel Williams rushed the ball 13 times for 52 yards and a touchdown versus the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. Williams has performed well with Clyde Edwards-Helaire sidelined, but the rookie returned on Sunday and figures to play a bigger role in the future. Williams will also have to compete with Le'Veon Bell (knee) who was inactive on Sunday and could return for the Super Bowl. The Chiefs are a pass heavy team and will face a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense Super Bowl 55. That will make Williams a risky option in DFS.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes helped lead his two to their second consecutive Super Bowl with a victory against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. Mahomes was his usual self and completed 29 of his 38 pass attempts for 325 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed the ball five times for five yards. Mahomes is now the only player in NFL history to reach three straight championship games before the age of 26 and will now go to his second straight Super Bowl. Mahomes is putting up legendary numbers in his young career and he will square off against Tom Brady and a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense for the chance to win his second Super Bowl ring in two weeks.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end had a monster night versus the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. Kelce has been setting all kinds of records this season and he has now jumped Rob Gronkowski for the most receiving yards in a season that includes the postseason for a tight end. Kelce had 13 catches on 15 targets for 118 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Kelce remains the top option with wide receiver Tyreek Hill for the Chiefs and he should be expected to play a big role in the Super Bowl versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kelce remains the top tight end option in the league and he will be one of the safer options in DFS.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman had himself a day versus the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. Hardman had a rough start to the contest by dropping a punt that would lead to a Bills touchdown, but salvaged his day by catching two of his three targets for a 3-Yard touchdown and four total yards on the evening. He also picked up 50 yards on his lone carry. Hardman is an exciting player, but remains a shaky play for managers with the Chiefs having so many options on offense. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf) also sat out this contest and his return would factor into Hardman's snap count. Hardman is always capable of breaking a big play and he will look to do that versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl 55.
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.
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.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski caught just one pass for 29 yards in his team's 31-26 win over the Packers. Gronkowski went catch-less through three quarters before picking up 29 yards on a screen pass in the fourth quarter, setting up Tampa Bay for a field goal. The former Patriot has nearly been an every-down player for the Buccaneers in the playoffs but has done little as a pass-catcher, as he's taken a backseat to fellow tight end Cameron Brate. No stranger to the big game, Gronkowski will get a chance to redeem himself in the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate played a key role in another playoff victory for his team. Brate produced just 19 total yards, though he caught a third-quarter touchdown that helped extend the Buccaneers' lead to 28-10. The Harvard product exceeded 50 yards just once in the regular season but has accomplished the feat twice in Tampa Bay's three playoff wins. Tom Brady clearly has a trust for Brate as a pass-catcher, something that appears likely to continue as Tampa Bay prepares to be the first team to host and play in the Super Bowl.