Wed Feb 3 8:59am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Hill could be Super Bowl MVP
We made it. That is the best news of the entire year. It is hard to believe that the NFL was able to navigate the COVID season so well. But we made it. It can only get better from here, right? Enjoy the Super Bowl and celebrate the crazy season we just endured. It is a year and NFL season we won’t forget.
Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .
So as for the game this week, I’m going with the Bucs. I know the Chiefs are rolling and seem destined to repeat, but I have a hard time betting against Tom Brady. The Bucs offense is playing as well as it has all season and that defense has really picked it up. Plus, Tampa is playing in their home stadium, which I think is an advantage for the team. It isn’t a huge advantage, but it helps to be familiar with your surroundings. Don’t overlook that. My final score: Bucs 35, Chiefs 31.
I already wrote a column about it, so check it out. But I think the trade of Matthew Stafford is a huge boost to his fantasy value. I think he can be a top-10 fantasy quarterback next season in that offense. The Rams have great playmakers and an offensive scheme that can really help a quarterback. This is great news for Stafford’s fantasy value.
You have to wonder what Deshaun Watson will fetch in a trade after seeing all the picks Stafford got his team. Watson could really bring in a haul for the Texans. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Houston obviously wants to keep Watson, but he isn’t budging on his demand to be traded. The Texans recent history of trades isn’t very good. Hopefully, for their fans, they don’t screw this one up. A trade of Watson could really set up the franchise for years to come with a ton of picks.
If you thought the quarterback position was deep this past year, wait until next season. I have already started working on our draft guide for next season, examining the position. I really think there are at least nine quarterbacks that are capable of finishing first overall in fantasy quarterback scoring. And there are more players that are capable of emerging to be No. 1 fantasy quarterbacks. Much like this past season, I’m waiting on the position come draft day in 2021. This quarterback spot is super deep right now.
Rookie receivers were really good this past season. Several players emerged as top players and should be great for years to come. And the speculation this year is the draft class of receivers is just as deep. There are several players that are NFL ready and set to make an impact in 2021. It is an interesting time at the position, a bit of a changing of the guard. So come draft day next year, don’t hesitate to pick a rookie receiver. Remember, we had a rookie (Justin Jefferson) finish sixth overall in fantasy receiver scoring.
News and Notes: Packers head coach Matt LaFleur stated that quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be with the team a long time. There was speculation Rodgers could be moving on after his post-game statements, but it seems that isn’t going to happen, especially with Jordan Love looking to be a long way from being NFL ready. . . . .The Rams traded for quarterback Matthew Stafford, sending Jared Goff and multiple picks to the Lions to complete the trade. Stafford takes over as the starter for the Rams and looks to provide more consistency at quarterback. Goff will take over as the starter for the Lions until his successor (whoever that might be) is ready to play.
Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs. Hill had a monster year and has continued to play well in the playoffs. He has two straight 100-yard games and has 17 receptions in this two playoff games. Hill actually had his best game of the season against the Bucs in Week 12. He scored a whopping 57.9 fantasy points in that game, catching 13 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns. The Bucs defense is playing much, much better this year, but this game has to be a concern for the Tampa. Hill has a good chance to produce big once again.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Bucs. Fournette is playing his best football during the playoffs for the Bucs. He has scores three straight and at least 18 fantasy points all three of the playoff games. Ronald Jones is healthy and playing, but Fournette is leading the backfield right now for the Bucs. Don’t expect that to change against the Chiefs. It would make sense for the Bucs to try to run a little more often to keep the Chiefs explosive offense off the field. Look for Fournette to keep his strong play going in the Super Bowl.
Mike Evans, WR, Bucs. Evans remains a bit of a touchdown dependent player. He has scores two straight games, which is a positive, but has just four catches for 54 yards in those games. He has fewer than double-digit fantasy points three of seven games. He scored twice against the Chiefs earlier this year but had just 50 yards. The Chiefs defense is playing at a different level right now, especially the pass defense. Kansas City has allowed fewer than 235-passing yards each of their playoffs games, including their last game out against a top Bills pass offense. Evans could disappear in this one.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Chiefs. Edwards-Helaire might be back and starting once again for the Chiefs, but that doesn’t mean he belongs in fantasy lineups. He scored a touchdown his last game out but ran six times for just seven yards. He has fewer than double-digit fantasy points three of his last four games. He could have another disappearing act this week against a good Bucs rush defense. Tampa was first overall against the run in the regular season and allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to running backs.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Bucs. Gronkowski has been kind of the forgotten man in the playoffs for the Bucs, having two catches for 43 yards in three games. He has been targeted just seven times. He has a great rapport with Tom Brady, though, and it would not surprise if Brady looked his way more in the big game. Plus, Gronkowski had his only 100-yard receiving game all season against the Bucs in Week 12, catching six passes for 106 yards.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Chiefs. It is hard to depend on Watkins in his first game back from injury, but he has some upside for the Super Bowl. Watkins is a big-game player, having five receptions for 98 yards in last year’s Super Bowl. He had at least 76 yards all three playoff games for the Chiefs last year. He might be a player to take a chance on this week. He has a high ceiling when getting the looks in this explosive offense.
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/Bucs.
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.
Tennessee Titans impending free-agent TE Jonnu Smith ranks fourth among tight ends with an average of 7.1 yards after catch over the last three seasons.
Fantasy Spin: Smith has the athleticism to be a matchup problem for opposing defenses, but he has never been in a high-volume role. He has TE1 upside depending on where he plays in 2021.
The Baltimore Ravens have agreed to re-sign DT Justin Ellis to a one-year deal worth $1.2 million with $400,000 guaranteed, according to a source.
Miami Dolphins impending free-agent DT Davon Godchaux would like to re-sign with the Dolphins this offseason, but agent Drew Rosenhaus said he is not sure if the Dolphins will be to offer what Godchaux will be looking for in free agency.
Seattle Seahawks WR Josh Gordon was released Thursday, March 4.
Denver Broncos general manager George Paton said the team plans to tender impending free-agent running back Phillip Lindsay a contract, but they aren't sure at what capacity yet. An original-round tender for Lindsay would allow the Broncos to match any offer he receives, but it wouldn't bring anything in return. A second-round tender, estimated at $3.4 million, could scare interested teams away or give Denver a high pick in return if Lindsay signs elsewhere. The 26-year-old was a surprise Pro Bowler in his rookie season after going undrafted and he managed 1,000 yards rushing in his first two years, but he took a major step back in 2020. Not only was Lindsay playing second fiddle to Melvin Gordon III, but he dealt with nagging injuries all season that limited him to 11 games. If he stays in Denver, he'll be a weak RB3/flex as a Gordon handcuff.
Updating a previous report, free-agent DE Stephen Weatherly (Panthers) agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings Thursday, March 4, worth $2.5 million. The deal can be worth as much as $3 million with incentives.
Denver Broncos impending free-agent DT Shelby Harris will be a priority for the Broncos this offseason, according to general manager George Paton.
Denver Broncos impending free-agent S Justin Simmons' agent has had contract talks with the Broncos, and general manager George Paton said the goal is to sign Simmons to a long-term contract this offseason.
Updating a previous report, Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger signed a restructured contract Thursday, March 4. He agreed to reduce his pay to $14 million from $19 million in the final year of his contract and spread the cash payment through 2022, per source. The moves lowered his cap hit to $15 million in 2021, giving the team more flexibility.
The Pittsburgh Steelers officially signed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a new contract for the 2021 season on Thursday. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Roethlisberger willingly reduced his pay to $14 million from $19 million in the final year of his deal, spreading his cash payment through 2022, according to a source. The move lowered Pittsburgh's salary cap hit by over $15 million, allowing them to make other moves to remain as competitive as possible. Big Ben was initially set for an exorbitant cap hit of $41.25 million. The 39-year-old will have one more shot at a championship and will likely retire after the 2021 season. Pittsburgh's offense could lose wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster this offseason and Roethlisberger is pretty injury prone, so he'll mostly be targeted as a fantasy backup as he heads into what will likely be his final NFL season.
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald could return for an 18th season with the team, but head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Thursday, March 4, that the wide receiver's status remains a mystery. 'I don't know anything,' Kingsbury said in a news conference, adding it's been honor to work with Fitzgerald and hopes he plays five more years.
Fantasy Spin: Once an annual locked-in WR2, Fitz hit career season lows across the board last season at age 37 with 54 grabs for 409 yards and one TD and is off the fantasy radar outside of deeper leagues if he does play in 2021.
Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is not being 'shopped,' according to a source Thursday, March 4, but calls from other teams interested in trading for Wilson have been answered.
Fantasy Spin: Translation: The Seahawks have every intention of sticking with Wilson unless they're absolutely blown away by an offer. Then it would be a matter of Wilson approving the deal as well. It remains an ongoing offseason hot topic, but it's most likely Wilson and his QB1 talents remain in the Pacific Northwest.
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger on Thursday, March 4, signed a restructured contract with the team and will return for an 18th season. Terms of the new deal were not immediately available. 'We are excited we were able to come to an agreement with Ben Roethlisberger on a new contract for him to return to the Steelers in 2021,' general manager Kevin Colbert said in a story posted on the team's website. 'We know that Ben can still play at a high level and do special things for this team. Our goal remains the same - to put together a roster that will compete for another championship. We are happy that Ben will be one of our leaders to help us accomplish that goal.'
Fantasy Spin: Roethlisberger's return boosts the fantasy value of the team's pass-catchers, but Big Ben's own fantasy value at age 39 is now in the mid-QB2 range.
Detroit Lions CB Desmond Trufant on Thursday, March 4, was informed by the team that he will be released at the start of the new league year later this month, per a source.
Chicago Bears WR Allen Robinson has totaled 131 receptions resulting in first downs since the start of the 2019 season, third most in the league according to Pro Football Focus data.
Fantasy Spin: Robinson's 12.4 yards-per-catch average in Chicago (three seasons) has dipped from his 14.1 average from his four seasons in Jacksonville, but he's caught 53 more passes in one fewer season with the Bears. The bottom line is that Robinson possesses one of the league's strongest all-around WR skill-sets and is a legit fantasy WR1 if he can finally get better QB play.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce leads the league with 145 receptions resulting in first downs since 2019, according to Pro Football Focus data.
Fantasy Spin: Kelce is fantasy gold. He has been a top-two fantasy tight end in each of the last five seasons and shows no signs of slowing down. He's a legit top-25 pick as the first non-RB or WR off the board in drafts.
Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who shares the same agent as Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, said on the Huddle and Flow podcast that, "I highly doubt (Deshaun Watson) will suit up in a Texans uniform again. He's extremely serious." The Texans and Watson are in a standoff, with Houston saying they will not trade the 25-year-old signal-caller. But Watson remains steadfast in his trade demands and wants out of Houston. Eventually, something has to give. If this continues to play out, the Texans may have no choice but to find the best available offer for the star quarterback. Watson was still a top-five fantasy QB without All-Pro wideout DeAndre Hopkins in 2020, so he should be drafted as an elite quarterback again in 2021. A trade out of Houston could make him even more attractive.
The New Orleans Saints restructured kicker Wil Lutz's contract on Thursday to create $1.74 million in salary cap space, according to a source. New Orleans continues to maneuver around the lowered 2021 salary cap, but they still have plenty of work left to do as the new league year approaches on March 17. The 26-year-old kicker made 23 of his 28 field-goal tries in 2020 and also was successful on 57 of his 58 extra points last season. The Saints offense should be pretty solid under either Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston in 2021, which should at least make Lutz a low-end fantasy kicking option. Lutz finished as the No. 9 fantasy kicker in most leagues in 2020.
Free-agent DE Stephen Weatherly (Panthers) agreed to an undisclosed deal with the Minnesota Vikings Thursday, March 4.
Free-agent LB Thomas Davis (Football Team) will sign a one-day contract with the Carolina Panthers March 11 to retire with the team.