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 email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed first-round outside linebacker Joe Tryon to his four-year rookie contract on Tuesday. Tryon was taken 32nd overall in the first round of this year's NFL draft out of the University of Washington. He opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns around COVID-19, but he managed to record eight sacks in college in 2019. Depending on how ready Tryon is for the NFL after taking a year off, he's an exciting pass-rusher off the edge that could become an impact player right away for an improving Buccaneers defense. He has the size and strength to be a full-time pass-rusher, but he also has the technique to drop into coverage if asked to do so. If not for the fact that he didn't play at all in 2020, he might've been long gone at pick No. 32.
Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan has been impressed with rookie running back Chris Evans so far this offseason. "He's got the most natural hands for a running back that I've ever been around," Callahan said. Evans was selected with the 202nd overall pick in this year's NFL draft out of Michigan. While the 23-year-old has the physical skills, he doesn't have a ton of experience. He probably won't be anything more than a late-round flier in much deeper fantasy leagues, but he could be dangerous in this offense eventually, especially in point-per-reception formats. Evans is obviously a much more attractive dynasty/keeper piece, but if Joe Mixon misses extended time with injury, there's definitely a path for Evans to find some relevant single-year appeal in a rising Bengals offense.
Free-agent wide receiver Golden Tate remains available on the open market after being released by the New York Giants following two disappointing seasons. The 32-year-old hasn't received much interest, but he wants to continue playing and mentioned the Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Rams as three teams he'd be interested in joining. Tate wouldn't mind reuniting with quarterback Matthew Stafford in LA after enjoying three 1,000-yard seasons with Stafford in Detroit. The veteran wideout caught just 35 of 53 targets for 388 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games (four starts) for New York in 2020. He was benched at one point and dealt with a calf injury, so Tate will have to prove he's worth a spot on fantasy rosters again if he signs with a new team.
Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark was arrested in Los Angeles on Sunday after police saw a submachine gun in his car. Officers noticed a bag with an Uzi sticking out in plain sight in the car, and Clark was then arrested on suspicion of having a concealed firearm in a vehicle. He was booked into an LA county jail and released Monday on $35,000 bond. "We are aware of the matter, which will be reviewed under the NFL's personal conduct policy," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. The 28-year-old pass-rusher spent the first four seasons of his career with the Seattle Seahawks before being traded to the Chiefs in 2019. Clark has been a Pro Bowler each of the last two years with KC, so any suspension would be bad news for the Chiefs defense. He has 49 sacks in 91 career games, including 14 total in the last two seasons.
Minnesota Vikings rookie defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman was shot four times on Monday while visiting an aunt in Washington D.C. "Wrong place, wrong time," said his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. "In talking to him today, he's going to be OK - that's all that matters. We're thankful he's OK. He will make a full recovery." The 21-year-old suffered superficial exit wounds and will not need to have surgery. The Vikings selected Twyman with the 199th overall pick back in May. He was the first interior defensive lineman to lead Pittsburgh in sacks when he had 10.5 in 2019 since Aaron Donald achieved the feat six years earlier. Twyman opted out of the 2020 season in college due to concerns over COVID-19.
Kansas City Chiefs DE Frank Clark was reportedly arrested for felony possession of a concealed firearm in a vehicle Sunday, June 20. He was released on bond Monday, June 21.
Arizona Cardinals rookie linebacker Zaven Collins, who was the No. 16 overall pick in this year's NFL draft, was arrested on Sunday for excessive speed and reckless driving, according to the Scottsdale Police Department. The 22-year-old was observed going 76 mph in a 35-mph zone in Scottsdale, Ariz. Collins signed his fully guaranteed four-year rookie deal with Arizona on June 8 and is expected to start right away in 2021. The All-American from Tulsa is a big and physical presence in the middle of the field. Despite his size, he moves smoothly and is great in zone coverage. Although he shouldn't be considered a sideline-to-sideline linebacker, Collins has excellent closing speed and change-of-direction ability. It's not a great start to his rookie campaign, but Collins should pair nicely with last year's first-rounder, Isaiah Simmons.
Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Tyron Smith (neck), Zack Martin (calf, concussion) and La'el Collins (hip) didn't do much on-field work during spring practices, but all three are expected to be full participants when training camp begins at the end of July. The trio combined to miss 36 games in a lost 2020 season. The Cowboys were forced to use 13 different offensive line combinations a year ago without Smith, Martin and Collins. Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick also retired. Smith hasn't played a full season since 2015, but he said his injury is no longer something he's worried about. Collins said he's dropped around 10 pounds and is moving around fine. With these three linemen back healthy, Dallas' offensive line has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL, which is obviously great news for running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, the league's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2020, said the team's new offense under coordinator Joe Lombardi puts a lot more on his plate. "It's pretty similar. I think there are just more personnel [groups], more formations and a lot more put on the quarterback with going up to the line of scrimmage," Herbert said. The sky is the limit for Herbert, but it's not easy for a young signal-caller to have to learn a whole new offense in just his second season. It might be a lot to expect Herbert to make another big jump in Year 2 after throwing 31 touchdowns in 2020. The 23-year-old is one of the best young QBs to own in dynasty/keeper leagues, but he should be more of a low-end QB1 target in single-year leagues in 2021.
Baltimore Ravens WR Sammy Watkins was the best receiver at the team's minicamp as he made several contested grabs. QB Lamar Jackson said it's fun to throw to Watkins.
Fantasy Spin: Watkins hasn't been able to stay healthy and has one 1,000-yard season in his seven-year career. He could still be worth a WR4/5 flyer, but the upside isn't there for much more.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay couldn't be more happy with the team's new quarterback, Matthew Stafford. "Bro, this dude's a bad MF-er," McVay said, laughing. "Whatever people say about him, as good as it can be, he's even better than advertised. It makes sense to him. The guy's ability to see the game, his ability to draw on his experiences, the feel that he has, it's pretty special and unique. And man, his feel for people, his authentic way of connecting with his teammates, his coaches, this guy, it's great being around him." The 33-year-old was often undervalued while with the Detroit Lions, but now he has higher expectations with a much better supporting cast around him. Health is a concern, but Stafford is an excellent selection as a QB1 with upside after the bigger names at the position come off the board.
New York Jets LB C.J. Mosley, who opted out last season and played two partial games in 2019 due to injury, has looked slimmer and quicker in practices this offseason.
New York Jets WR Keelan Cole 'will be in the wide receiver rotation' following an impressive minicamp, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Jamal Agnew will likely handle both kick and punt return duties this season, according to Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com.
Free-agent RB Todd Gurley (Falcons) would be the No. 3 running back if he signs with the Detroit Lions behind RBs D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, according to the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett
Cleveland Browns WR Rashard Higgins (undisclosed) missed the last two days of minicamp because of a undisclosed injury. The injury is considered minor.
New Orleans Saints WR Tre'Quan Smith has been working out with QB Jameis Winston on a regular basis this offseason.
Fantasy Spin: Smith is in line for a bigger role this season and likely will be one of the starting receivers for the Saints. He has played well at times over the last few years and can be a deep threat option in the passing game. Fantasy players can consider him a No. 4 or No. 5 receiver.
Chicago Bears WR Allen Robinson said he is open to playing on the one-year franchise tag this season. He said there is no news regarding a long-term contract with the Bears.
Fantasy Spin: Robinson has been one of the top receivers in the NFL over the last few seasons and will continue to be the main focus in the passing game for Chicago. He is a weekly must-start option in all fantasy leagues.
Free-agent PK Stephen Gostkowski (Titans) is interested in continuing his career.