Wed Dec 1 9:47am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Mitchell can continue great play
We are in crunch time in fantasy land. It is do or die for a lot of teams. Just remember, go with the guys that got you to this point. Don’t get too cute with those lineup decisions. This can burn you in the end. Just keep this in mind when making your lineups this week and going forward.
Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .
I don’t know who will be the starting quarterback for the Steelers next season, but I’m sure looking forward to it because the Steelers have so many top weapons offensively. You would have to think anyone will be an upgrade over Ben Roethlisberger at this points. And that upgrade will be a positive for all those players offensively, improving their fantasy values. I think guys like Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool can be big-time fantasy stars. They just need a better guy throwing them passes. Hopefully, that comes next year. This Steelers offense could be really scary.
Saquon Barkley still doesn’t look quite like himself. He has struggled since his return from an ankle injury, rushing 19 times for 65 yards in two games. Barkley is a huge talent capable of great things, but don’t get enamored with that talent right now. He isn’t that player. Plus, the Giants are a mess offensively, which doesn’t help matters for Barkley. I know it is hard to bench him, but I would consider it if you have some decent options on your bench.
It took a little time but Antonio Gibson is finally living up to his preseason hype. He has been off the charts in recent weeks, getting a huge workload. Washington is almost making Gibson the focal point of the offense. He has a chance for a huge finish to his season. And remember, this guy played mostly receiver in college, so he is still learning the position. Gibson can get better.
Jaylen Waddle is going to be a huge star in the NFL. He is having a big rookie season and just scratching the surface. He is making most of his plays on shorter routes. He is going to start getting more chances down the field, an area he can excel. I love his ceiling going forward. He is currently ranked 15th overall in fantasy receiver scoring and is going to get better.
Mike Williams has to be one of the most frustrating fantasy players this season. He is 14th overall in fantasy receiver scoring despite having six games with fewer than eight fantasy points. He has been the ultimate boom or bust player. You can’t bench him because of his huge weekly ceiling, so you are going to have to live with the stinker games along the way. Not fun.
So Kyle Pitts is not having the season most expected, but even with that said, he is still sixth overall in fantasy tight end scoring. He is on the field every week and gets his targets. The big games just haven’t been there as frequently. I still have high hopes for Pitts. He will be better once his team gets better around him. Things could be worse for Pitts.
Well, I guess the Cam Newton story was good for a week. He sure came back down to earth last week, crashing on the way down. He was a mess, having issues with accuracy and decision making. I know his fantasy floor is usually pretty high because of his rushing ability, but he is going to be a tough player to use going forward. This probably was his last chance to be a starter in the NFL. I would steer clear of him on my fantasy team.
Adam Thielen deserves a lot more fantasy love. This guy is seventh overall in fantasy receiver scoring. He has touchdowns all but three games. But he just isn’t a touchdown dependent player. He has at least five receptions eight of 11 games. His yards might not be off the charts, but he gets his catches and touchdowns. The numbers don’t lie. This guy is a top-10 fantasy receiver.
News and Notes: Washington signed kicker Brian Johnson on Tuesday. He is expected to take over the kicking duties for Washington with Joey Slye injured. . . . .The Saints still haven't officially named a starter at quarterback for this week, but expectations are Taysom Hill will be the starter. Hill has taken the first-team reps at practice most of the week and Trevor Siemian has struggled in recent weeks.
Hunter Renfrow, WR, Raiders. Renfrow is 14th overall in fantasy receiver scoring his last three games. He had his first 100-yard game of the season last week ands touchdowns two of four games. Renfrow also has at least seven receptions four of five games. He has been very consistent and the top target in this offense on a weekly basis. Expect him to get plenty of chances once again this week against Washington, a team that allows the fourth most fantasy points to receivers.
Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys. Prescott got back to his big ways last week, throwing for 375 yards and two touchdowns. He has 28-plus fantasy points five games this season, posting some big numbers throughout the year. Prescott is capable of posting some big numbers down the stretch, especially considering his favorable schedule. And it starts this week against the Saints, a team showing struggles against the pass this year. New Orleans allows the fifth most fantasy points to quarterbacks and rank 23rd overall against the pass.
Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington. Gibson is getting quite the workout in recent weeks for Washington as the team makes it a point to get him touches. He has at least 19 carries three straight and 26-plus touches two of three games. He had his first 100-yard rushing game of the season last week. If Gibson gets that much work again this week, he can have another huge game. He gets a Raiders team that allows the fourth most fantasy points to running backs and are 25th overall against the run.
Elijah Mitchell, RB, 49ers. It is clear that Mitchell is the go-to back for the 49ers. He has 27 carries each of his last two games. He has 100-yard games three of five games. And what is very encouraging for fantasy owners is an increase in work in the passing game, having five receptions two of three games. Mitchell has become a must-start for fantasy teams, especially this week against the Seahawks. Seattle allows the second most fantasy points to running backs.
Darnell Mooney, WR, Bears. Mooney is sixth overall in fantasy receiver scoring his last three games. He has become a force for fantasy teams, having two straight 100-yard games and scores two of three. Mooney gets consistent work on a weekly basis and his ceiling is very high. He really is a must start right now no matter the matchup. He gets a tough Cardinals defense but his team could be playing from behind, so expect him to get plenty of volume. Keep him in your lineup and expect good things once again.
Damien Harris, RB, Patriots. Harris found the end zone once against last week, but his rushing totals were pretty ho hum once again. He has fewer than 60-rushing yards three straight games. Rookie Rhamondre Stevenson has emerged and is taking carries from Harris. He is no longer a surefire start for fantasy teams, especially in tough matchups. And a game this week against the Bills is not a good one for Harris. Buffalo is great against the run, allowing the fourth fewest fantasy points to running backs while ranking sixth overall against the run.
Joe Burrow, QB, Bengals. Burrow played a good game last week, helping blow out the Steelers. But he threw for just 190 yards on 24 pass attempts. He has fewer than 20 fantasy points three straight games. The Bengals might be playing well and Burrow is helping the offense, but he is not helping fantasy teams. You can’t ignore the production on the field. Things won’t get any easier for him this week against the Chargers, a team with one of the best secondaries in football. Los Angeles allows the fifth fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and rank fifth overall against the pass
Elijah Moore, WR, Jets. The return of Zach Wilson to the starting lineup was not a good thing for Moore. He did have eight targets in the game, but caught just four passes for 46 yards. HIs production was down from the last few weeks when Wilson was on the sideline. Moore is going to be a hard player to trust as long as the erratic Wilson is starting for the Jets. Plus, Moore gets the Eagles this week, a team that allows the third fewest fantasy points to receivers.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks. We aren’t sure if it is the finger or something else, but Wilson clearly doesn’t look right at the moment. He has really struggled in recent weeks, having two touchdowns his last three games. His overall numbers for the year are down, too, though. He has multiple touchdowns just four games. He is a hard fantasy player to trust at this crucial point of the season. He plays the 49ers team this week, a team that has been playing some great football the last few weeks. San Francisco has allowed fewer than 19 fantasy points four straight games.
Najee Harris, RB, Steelers. You can’t bench Harris. He has too much potential on a weekly basis but his recent play is a little concerning. He has fewer than 40-rushing yards two straight and less than 65-rush yards three of four games. He is might be tiring a bit after getting so much work early in the year. Plus, opposing defenses are looking to shutdown Harris, making Ben Roethlisberger the player to beat them. Harris could have more trouble this week against the Ravens, a team that has allowed fewer than 10 fantasy points to running backs each of their last three games.
Russell Gage, WR, Falcons. Gage scored his second touchdown of the season last week. He has at least five receptions three of four games. He is a pretty dependable receiver in the Falcons offense, serving as their top target. Gage is a good streaming play, especially in a favorable matchup. And a game this week against the Bucs might be a good time to use him. The Falcons defense is not going to be able to stop the Bucs, so the offense is going to have to play catch up. Expect plenty of targets for Gage, giving him the potential for maybe his best game of the year.
Mac Jones, QB, Patriots. Jones is 11th overall in fantasy quarterback scoring his last three games and had his second 300-yard game of the season last week. Jones is playing great football as a rookie and seems to make strides every week. Jones hasn’t been asked to carry the offense many weeks, but might get that chance this week in a game against the Bills. This game could be one that Jones is asked to do more, so it will be interesting to see how he reacts. We would not bet against him based on his play this year. With some top quarterbacks on a bye, Jones could be worth a streaming play for fantasy teams.
Ronald Jones, RB, Bucs. Jones is finally showing a few signs of life. He has touchdowns two straight and 15 carries those last two games. He isn’t getting a ton of work with Leonard Fournette playing so well, but he is nearly double-digit touches per week. The Bucs play the Falcons this week and could get up big, leading to a little more work for Jones. With some top running backs on a bye, Jones might be worth a look for those teams. Plus, Atlanta allows the fifth most fantasy points to running backs on the season.
Tre’Quan Smith, WR, Saints. Smith is not flashy but consistent. He has at least four receptions three straight and double-digit fantasy points three of five games. He is another good streaming play for fantasy teams. The Saints get an explosive Cowboys offense this week, so New Orleans might need to throw more to keep up. This is good news for Smith, playing a Cowboys defense that has allowed the ninth most fantasy points to receivers.
Boston Scott, RB, Eagles. Scott led the backfield in playing time last week, playing 51 percent of the snaps. He got more work with Miles Sanders dinged up in the game and Jordan Howard injured. It could be more of the same for Scott this week, leading the way in the backfield. Scott has double-digit carries four of five games and double-digit fantasy points three of those games, so he is more than capable of helping fantasy teams. He plays the Jets in Week 13, a team that allows the most fantasy points to running backs.
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: Cowboys/Saints, Bucs/Falcons, Chargers/Bengals.
Low Scoring Games: Giants/Dolphins, Ravens/Steelers.
Bye Weeks: Panthers, Browns, Packers, Titans.
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.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes finished 33-for-44 for 378 yards and three touchdowns versus the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Divisional Round. Mahomes also ran for a team-high 69 yards and another score. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed for 60 yards on seven carries and caught one of two targets for another nine yards. RB Jerick McKinnon ran 10 times for 24 yards and hauled in five of seven targets for 54 yards. WR Tyreek Hill caught 11 of 13 targets for 150 yards and a touchdown. WR Byron Pringle hauled in five of seven targets for 29 yards. WR Mecole Hardman ran for 31 yards on two carries and hauled in his only target for 26 yards. TE Travis Kelce caught eight of his nine targets for 96 yards and the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) told reporters he will undergo surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, and will decide whether he wants to continue his career 'after [his] surgery.'
Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen completed 27 of 37 passes for 329 yards and 4 TDs against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round matchup on Sunday, Jan. 23. He also ran 11 times for 68 yards. RB Devin Singletary carried the ball 10 times for 26 yards and a touchdown; in addition, he caught four passes for 25 yards. WR Gabriel Davis led the team with eight receptions, 201 yards and 4 touchdowns. WR Stefon Diggs managed just three catches for seven yards, though he did catch a two-point conversion. WR Cole Beasley caught six of eight targeted passes for 60 yards, finishing second on the club in both categories. WR Emmanuel Sanders had one reception for 16 yards. On defense, LB Matt Milano posted a team-high 11 tackles, including six solo.
Updating an earlier report, Kansas City Chiefs S Tyrann Mathieu (head) sustained a concussion during the team's win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Jan. 23.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs was held completely under wraps during Sunday's loss to the Chiefs, finishing with just three receptions for a season-low seven yards. Diggs' prior season-low mark was 23 yards back in Week 11, an outing that he salvaged from a fantasy perspective by scoring two touchdowns. Gabriel Davis was Josh Allen's favored target in the Divisional Round, hauling in eight catches for 201 yards, including a record-setting four touchdowns. Diggs, who led the league in receptions and receiving yards just one year ago, was back among the league's elite this season, earning his second straight Pro Bowl nod after setting a career high with 10 receiving touchdowns. He figures to reprise that top-tier role heading into 2022, but his ice cold finish to the year could give some fantasy managers pause.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce hauled in the game-winning grab during Sunday's victory over Buffalo, capping a wild, topsy-turvy contest. Kelce finished with eight grabs for 96 yards, including the score, which marks five consecutive outings with him finding pay dirt dating back to the regular season. His production came on just nine targets, giving him his highest catch percentage of the year when it mattered most. Coming short of the 100-yard plateau, Kelce saw his four-game streak of exceeding the century mark in the postseason snapped. Next up, he faces off with a Bengals defense that he accrued 25 yards against on five catches in Week 17, albeit with one crossing the goal line. He and Tyreek Hill stand to continue seeing massive passing game interest from Patrick Mahomes during what stands to be another shootout in the AFC Championship Game.
Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary enjoyed a touchdown deluge to conclude the 2021 year, including adding one final rushing score during Sunday's loss to the Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round. Singletary was utilized for just 10 carries and 26 yards on the ground, but he did add four receptions for 25 yards through the air. Dating back to Week 15 of the regular season, Singletary scored nine touchdowns (eight rushing, one receiving), emerging not only as the lead back for the Bills, but as a potentially game-changing back heading into the '22 season. The 24-year-old had a six-game stretch during the regular season where he did not so much as log double-digit carries once, collecting just one touchdown in that span; now, he stands to be a low-end RB1 or high-end RB2 ahead of his fourth professional year.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen saw his year come to a close during Sunday's loss to Kansas City, but it certainly wasn't due to his lack of production. Allen followed up his five-touchdown performance from the Wild Card Round with a four-touchdown showing in an epic duel against Patrick Mahomes. Allen finished 27-for-37 through the air, adding 329 passing yards to his team-high 68 yards accrued on the ground. The 25-year-old combined for nine touchdowns and just 14 incompletions in his two playoff outings, finishing with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions over his last three games dating back to the regular season. Allen will be in the conversation for top quarterback honors in 2022 drafts, although offensive coordinator Brian Daboll stands to be a highly coveted head-coaching target over the coming months.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill was once again a game changer during Sunday's win over Buffalo, which sent the team to the AFC Championship Game. Hill hauled in 11 of his 13 targets for a reception, none bigger than the 64-yard touchdown that he peeled off late in the fourth quarter, seemingly sealing the contest. Ultimately, Hill would compile 150 receiving yards, the third time this season he reached that mark. Next up is a meeting with the Bengals' defense, which held him largely under wraps back in Week 17, limiting his six catches to just 40 yards and no touchdowns. Still, the Patrick Mahomes-Hill connection remains as potent as they come, with the wideout having ripped off a 100-yard performance in four of his last six postseason appearances.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes led his squad back to the AFC Championship Game with a victory over the Bills on Sunday that saw the signal caller sling three passing touchdowns, in addition to adding a rushing score. Arguably Mahomes' most impressive moment came with just 13 seconds remaining in regulation, when he got his team into field-goal range, thereby forcing overtime. Mahomes finished 33-for-44 through the air, slicing the elite Bills defense for 378 passing yards. If being the game's preeminent pass maestro wasn't difficult enough to gameplan, Mahomes also led Kansas City's ground attack with a season-high 69 rushing yards. He next squares off with a Bengals defense that he dropped 259 passing yards and two touchdowns on back in Week 17. He remains the premier DFS threat on any slate due to his propensity for finding the end zone.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis became the first player in NFL history to haul in four receiving touchdowns during a game in Sunday's defeat to the Chiefs. Davis' scintillating stat line also included eight receptions for 201 yards, easily pacing his team in both categories. During the regular season, Davis did not exceed five receptions in any single outing, with his domination of the Chiefs' defense coming as Stefon Diggs was largely held under wraps (three catches, seven yards). Looking ahead, Davis figures to remain a focal point of the potent Buffalo offense for years to come, having combined for 13 regular-season receiving touchdowns over his first two professional seasons.
San Francisco 49ers left tackle Trent Edwards (ankle) suffered a right ankle injury during the win over the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night. Fortunately, X-rays were negative, showing no fractures, which increases his chance of being available for the NFC Championship versus the Los Angeles Rams. However, the All-Pro still has a way to go before getting the green light to suit up, and if he doesn't, things may become more challenging for Jimmy Garoppolo, who has struggled during the postseason thus far.
Green Bay Packers running back A.J. Dillon (ribs) sustained a fracture during the narrow Divisional round loss to the 49ers on Saturday night. Although Aaron Jones was the lead man out of the backfield, Dillon still finished the regular season with just over 800 rushing yards and seven total touchdowns. The 23-year-old has proven to be one of the best backups in the league, and with the Packers hinting at a rebuild, there is a chance Dillon could see an enhanced role during the upcoming 2022-23 campaign.
Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu (concussion) will not return to Sunday's game versus the visiting Bills. The defensive specialist suffered the injury during the first quarter, and after going to the locker room for an evaluation, he now finds himself in concussion protocol. The 29-year-old led the team in interceptions while ranking fourth in total tackles this season, so this certainly isn't the update the Chiefs' coaching staff was hoping for. Nonetheless, without Mathieu on the field, Josh Allen will have one less thing to worry about as he attempts to lead Buffalo to the AFC Championship versus the Bengals.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans caught 9-of-16 targets for 119 yards and one touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams. In this raging comeback attempt with absurd passing volume, Evans sometimes looked like the only aspect of the Buccaneers offense that was working. In 2022, with Antonio Brown gone, Chris Godwin starting the season injured and possibly being on another team, and Rob Gronkowski aging, Evans may find himself in an unfamiliar position in 2022 with fairly minimal competition. Regardless of what this offense looks like, as long as he has Tom Brady as his quarterback, Evans should be drafted in the first three rounds. Albeit in different ways, whether or not he has competition, Evans will succeed in fantasy.
Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers had 24 carries for 48 yards and two extremely costly fumbles against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The sophomore runner still looked impressive at times, and considering the Buccaneers have one of the best run defenses and were expecting the Rams to run, this wasn't that discouraging. Fantasy managers should continue to monitor that his fumbling doesn't become a recurring issue, but other than that, this performance was not as bad as it seems. Plus, even after his initial fumble, the Rams remained confident in their young runner, illustrating that they trust him and prioritize his talent over the risk that he brings in terms of ball security, even in the playoffs. In 2022, Akers should be drafted in the early second round as a workhorse back with some lingering questions but elite talent and opportunity.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp collected 183 on nine catches and one touchdown, including a spectacular grab that led to the game-winning field goal against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's not completely logical, but the chemistry that Kupp and Matthew Stafford share has been truly unparalleled andat timesunstoppable this season. Kupp isn't necessarily the fastest nor most agile, but his football IQ is unmatched and he seemingly always finds a way to produce. Historically, this illogical confidence can lead to disappointment, however. Kupp should be drafted as a top three wide receiver in 2022, but fantasy managers shouldn't expect him to replicate what he did this year.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford had a phenomenal statistical output going 28-for-38 for 363 yards, two touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, he made a number of almost costly mistakes. Fantasy managers must realize that this wasn't a fluke, and it's just part of the Stafford-experience; that isn't necessarily a bad thing though. For fantasy a quarterback that plays recklessly is typically not penalized that much, and this style of play can lend itself to fantasy stardom by means of comeback attempts. Sometimes, a reckless quarterback such as this can fail in the comeback attempt or even be benched, but Stafford is so talented that neither of these general concerns are major issues. In 2022, with the collection of Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr., and Robert Woods along with Cam Akers and a stellar offensive line, Stafford must be considered a top quarterback in all leagues.