Wed Jan 26 10:40am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Samuel should get plenty of work
Wow, wow, wow. That is about all you can say about last week’s game. That might have been the greatest playoff weekend ever. Needless to say, this week has a lot to live up to. Hopefully, we can at least near those games. We’ll see. Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .
Josh Allen is so special. He had a game for the ages last week and lost. He had nine touchdowns without a turnover in the Bills two playoff games, showing he can come up big in the big game. Allen is a special, special player. At this point, I’m raking him first overall in my quarterback rankings for 2022. One thing that gets overlooked with Allen is his ability to make plays with his legs, rushing for 763 yard this season. This guy is as consistent it gets at the quarterback spot and is going to be a superstar for lots of years to come.
One player that is going to be intriguing next year is Gabriel Davis. He had one of the best games ever for a receiver in the playoffs, catching eight passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns. His stock is rising in a hurry, especially with Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley possibly gone next year. Davis should start opposite Stefon Diggs in the Bills explosive passing game. I’m not sure he is going to be a consistent play but expect plenty of big games. Plus, he is a great red-zone target because of his size and strength.
I think Tom Brady returns for one more season. He had a fantastic year once again and showed few signs of slowing down - if any. The Bucs were depleted at receiver by season’s end, so I think they reload there and give Brady one more shot to win it all. A healthy Chris Godwin and a new No. 3 to replace Antonio Brown would give Brady a big-time boost.
How do the Bucs let Cooper Kupp get behind him in the waning seconds of a tie game? I could not believe that one. I know Kupp is one of the best, so you can’t ignore that. But if I’m the Bucs, I do everything in my power to keep him in front of me to prevent a big play. I could not believe the end to that game. As for Kupp, he has 100-yard games six of his last eight games. He had one of the all-time great seasons for a receiver, so it was kind of a fitting end to this game for him.
And speaking of crazy finishes. You could second guess a lot with the end to that Bills/Chiefs, seeing a ton of points scored in a short time to send that game to overtime. The big one for me is seeing the Bills kick the ball into the end zone after they gook the lead with just 13 seconds left. I make the Chiefs run it back to run some time off the clock. I think they did them a favor by kicking it deep, giving Patrick Mahomes more time to do his thing. That was my big beef with how that played out. But even with that said, it was sure exciting to watch. Wow. That was probably the best football game I ever watched.
I had a hard time picking the games last week and am feeling the same way this week. These aren’t easy decisions. I have a hard time picking against the Chiefs right now, though. I never thought they would make three straight Super Bowls, but just can’t see the Bengals going on the road and winning that one. The Chiefs are playing their best football at the right time. And over in the NFC, I am going with the 49ers. They beat the Rams twice during the regular season and think they will make it a third time. San Francisco just seems a team of destiny. Their defense is playing great and I expect the offense, mainly the running game, to play much better this week. The Rams impressed last week, but I still don’t have total faith in Matthew Stafford. Maybe he showed me last week, but I don’t think the Rams run the ball well this week and Stafford will be forced to carry the offense against a very good 49ers defense.
Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs. Kelce is red hot right now, having touchdowns five straight games. He also has 100-yard games two of those weeks. Kelce has 23-plus fantasy points two straight and three of five. He is setup to find the end zone again this week against the Bengals. Cincinnati struggles to stop the tight end, allowing the sixth most fantasy points to tight ends during the regular season.
Deebo Samuel, WR, 49ers. Samuel just keeps getting it done on a weekly basis. He has touchdowns three of four games. He has 20-plus fantasy points nine times this season. His rushing numbers make him a force at the receiver spot, producing as a dual threat for all his fantasy owners. Samuel had huge success in two games against the Rams this season. Samuel had 300 total yards and three touchdowns, catching nine passes. He should be heavily involved in the 49ers game plan.
Cam Akers, RB, Rams. Akers is back and looks to be the clear lead back for the Rams. He ran the ball 24 times last week and has 41 carries in the Rams two playoff games. Unfortunately, the Rams running game isn’t opening many holes for him right now. Akers has 41 carries for just 103 yards in those two games. And things won’t get much easier for him this week against the 49ers. The 49ers held the Rams to 116-rushing yards in two games this year. Ie might be more of the same for Akers.
Elijah Mitchell, RB, 49ers. Mitchell had a breakout season, emerging as the lead back for the 49ers and having much success in that role. His lack of work in the passing game holds him back little, though, especially in games against a team that does well in holding down the run. He faces one of those teams this week, the Rams. Los Angeles held Mitchell to fewer than double-digit fantasy points in each of their games this year. Mitchell got 20-plus carries in each game but couldn’t crack double-digit points despite the work. He might be tough sledding for him again this week.
Byron Pringle, WR, Chiefs. Pringle has really emerged as a consistent threat in the Chiefs passing game. He has five receptions three straight games. And he has at least five catches four of five games. He also has three touchdowns in two playoff games this year. Patrick Mahomes has more trust in him and is looking his way a lot more often. He could be a good play again this week in a game that could be very high scoring once again.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals. Boyd can disappear at times in this offense with two top weapons to compete with for targets this year. But he has still produced some big games this year. He is more than capable. He has touchdowns four of five games. He also has three games with 20-plus fantasy points. The Chiefs allowed Cole Beasley to have six receptions for 60 yards last week. Beasley plays a similar position to Boyd, so that bodes well for Boyd to have some success in this matchup.
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: Bengals/Chiefs, 49ers/Rams.
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 Dallas Cowboys have reached an agreement with kicker Brett Maher. The organization brought in Maher along with a few other kickers for a tryout. Clearly, Maher has won that battle and has been signed by the organization. He made 16-of-18 field goals for the New Orleans Saints in 2021. Before that, Maher spent two seasons as a member of the Cowboys. The expectation is that Maher and Lirim Hajrullahu will compete for the kicking job in training camp. Fantasy managers can wait and see who wins this competition before adding one of them in fantasy formats.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris could see a lighter workload heading into next season. The second-year back saw 307 carries for 1,200 yards, and seven touchdowns during his first season in Pittsburgh. He also hauled in 74 receptions for 467 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Clearly, Harris was heavily used in the offense and the team doesn't want to go overboard with Harris. That being said, Benny Snell could be seeing more chances on short-yardage situations. Also, Anthony McFarland Jr. should get carries as well. Fantasy managers shouldn't be too worried as he should remain the workhorse back. However, it's unlikely he gets near 300 carries again this upcoming season.
Arizona Cardinals running back Eno Benjamin has been impressive during training camp, according to head coach Kliff Kingsbury. The 23-year-old is reportedly one of the hardest workers on the team. Despite that, Benjamin will have competition for the RB2 job in Arizona. The team has added Darrel Williams and drafted Keontay Ingram as well. James Conner will be the starter, but there will be plenty of backup reps available with the departure of Chase Edmonds. It sounds like Benjamin has a legitimate shot at the backup role heading into the season. Fantasy managers should keep their eye on Benjamin as the season gets closer.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith will make the start under center for the first preseason game, according to head coach Pete Carroll. The former second round pick looks to have the edge over Drew Lock. Although, Lock has looked better over the last week, but it sounds like this is Smith's job to lose. Smith has played briefly with the Seahawks over the last two seasons. No one expects him to be comparable to Russell Wilson. It's hard to imagine Smith have weekly fantasy value, but it looks like he'll be the starter over Lock to begin the season.
Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith has been an integral part of the team's defense since he was drafted eighth overall in 2018. The Bears have traded away some big names from their once fierce defense, including Khalil Mack, and it appears Smith could be next. Smith released a statement officially requesting a trade, reporting the new management regime "won't negotiate in good faith" and "doesn't value me here." Smith is one of the few remaining superstars on this team, so losing him would big a big blow.
Dynasty | The Ravens activated running back J.K. Dobbins from the PUP list Dynasty Analysis: Dobbins was pushing to return and was granted the green light on Monday and it's said he's on track to be ready for week one. It's been a year since Dobbins tore his ACL and his timeline for return was expected to allow for full-health by week one. It's great news for Dobbins, the Ravens and his dynasty coaches who badly missed his presence in 2021. The bruising runner rushed for 805 yards and nine touchdowns in his rookie year on only 134 carries, good for an amazing 6.0 ypc. average. The question for Dobbins will surround his role within the teams committee rotation, including the impact of Lamar Jackson's rushing prowess. But as seen with his rookie year production, a healthy allotment of touches should provide for an even greater runway for increased 2022 production. Touchdown totals will be a concern inside the five yard line as fantasy coaches wait to see how the team will utilize Jackson's capable legs, perhaps at the expense of Dobbins. He's listed as DLF's RB14, showing that there's more than a little concern about Dobbins' injury when paired with Jackson under-center.
Dynasty | Titans rookie receiver Treylon Burks has been running with the second and third teams at camp Dynasty Analysis: Burks got off to a poor start in OTAs and was diagnosed with asthma earlier this off-season. As such, the rookie is still getting his legs under him and will have to work his way back with the starters. Rookies tend to hit the "rookie wall" near week 10 of the regular season and this could be an issue to watch with Burks here in his first season. The full expectation is that he'll eventually take the spot vacated by the traded A.J. Brown, but it won't be handed to him. Burks is listed as DLF's WR21 and possesses a fair amount of premium as a rookie.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said on Tuesday that the league is seeking a tougher penalty for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson because his actions were "egregious" and "predatory behavior." The league formally appealed Watson's six-game suspension last week, which was given by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson earlier this month. The NFL is seeking a suspension of at least a year for Watson. It's unknown when former New Jersey attorney general Peter C. Harvey will make a ruling on the appeal. Watson was accused of sexual assault and other inappropriate conduct during massage sessions in civil lawsuits filed by 25 women. There's a chance this ends up playing out in federal court, but Watson will miss at least the first six games of the 2022 season, making him an extremely risky fantasy QB this year.
Miami Dolphins TE Adam Shaheen was traded to the Houston Texans Tuesday, Aug. 9, in exchange for a 2023 sixth-round draft choice. The Texans will also receive a 2023 seventh-round draft choice in the trade.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (elbow) resumed throwing in individual drills at training camp practice on Tuesday. The Rams are managing Stafford's elbow pain this offseason in order to attempt to keep him healthy all years as the Rams try to defend their Super Bowl championship. The 34-year-old will likely continue to take it easy on his right arm throughout the rest of camp, and it's definitely something to watch as we get into the regular season. For now, fantasy managers should expect Stafford to be fine for Week 1. He has an amazing connection with All-Pro wideout Cooper Kupp and also has Allen Robinson II at his disposal, but Stafford should be targeted as a low-end QB1 in fantasy.
The Houston Texans acquired tight end Adam Shaheen and a seventh-round pick in 2023 from the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday in exchange for a sixth-round pick in next year's draft. The Dolphins already have Mike Gesicki locked in as their starting tight end, with Durham Smythe, Hunter Long and Cethan Carter providing depth behind him, so Shaheen was expendable after catching 12 of 16 targets for only 110 scoreless yards in 12 games (seven starts) in 2021. Shaheen will now join a tight end group in Houston that already has Pharaoh Brown and Brevin Jordan. Jordan is expected to be the primary pass-catching option at the position, so Shaheen should remain well off the fantasy radar entering the 2022 campaign.
Los Angeles Rams CB Jalen Ramsey (shoulder) participated in team drills during practice Tuesday, Aug. 9.
Houston Texans running backs Marlon Mack and Rex Burkhead are listed as co-starters at running back on the team's first unofficial depth chart of training camp. They are followed by rookie Dameon Pierce, Royce Freeman, Dare Ogunbowale and Darius Anderson. Coming off a serious Achilles injury that limited him to seven games the last two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, the 26-year-old Mack figures to lead Houston's backfield to begin the 2022 season. However, this could be a frustrating backfield to predict early on, and Pierce has the goods to become the starter by season's end in an offense run by quarterback Davis Mills. If you're betting on anyone as a last-round RB for depth, Pierce is probably the best low-cost investment with the most upside.
The Kansas City Chiefs agreed to an undisclosed one-year deal with veteran free-agent defensive tackle Danny Shelton on Tuesday, according to his agents, Drew Rosenhaus and Ryan Matha. Shelton played in 13 games (zero starts) for the New York Giants last year, recording 31 tackles (12 solo) and half a sack. He was originally a first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2015 out of the University of Washington, and he spent his first three seasons in the NFL in Cleveland. The 28-year-old pass-rusher has also spent time with the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions. Shelton will be looking to compete for a starting spot on the interior of KC's defensive line. He has 278 tackles (138 solo), 17 tackles for loss, 19 QB hits, six sacks and a forced fumble in seven NFL seasons.
Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew Stafford (elbow) participated in team drills during practice Tuesday, Aug. 9.
Fantasy Spin: Stafford has been dealing with the elbow injury for a while and will continue to be a story moving forward. Fantasy players can monitor the situation because Stafford can be a low-end No. 1 fantasy quarterback if he is healthy.
New Orleans Saints DE Marcus Davenport (finger) passed his physical Tuesday, Aug. 9, and has been activated from the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor continues to stack good days at training camp in what has definitely been his most consistent camp as a professional. At the moment, he looks too good to consider releasing, in the opinion of The Athletic's Bo Wulf, although a trade remains on the table. The former first-round pick has been a disappointment through his two NFL seasons, compiling 64 catches (111 targets) for 695 yards and three touchdowns in 28 games (24 starts). The 23-year-old will probably only be fantasy relevant if he's traded to a team that gives him a realistic chance to start. As things stand now in Philly, he's behind the likes of A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal.
Cleveland Browns All-Pro returner and wide receiver Jakeem Grant Sr. (Achilles) is feared to have torn his Achilles in training camp practice on Tuesday. He will undergo tests to confirm after he was carted off the field on Tuesday. This will be a big blow to Cleveland's special teams unit this year as well as their receiver depth. The 29-year-old speedy wideout was looking for a role on both special teams and as a pass-catcher in his first year with the Browns after catching 11 of his 17 targets for 132 yards and two touchdowns in 2021 with the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears. He was a Pro Bowler last year for his work as a returner, handling 23 kickoff returns for 539 yards and 26 punt returns for 309 yards and one touchdown.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Zach Pascal missed the first week-plus of training camp with food poisoning and has been slowly acclimating since, but Monday was his best day by a wide margin. He showcased nice route-running and dominated a portion of seven-on-seven drills with a one-handed catch. Pascal has yet to make much of an impact in team drills, though, and he's still trying to get on the same page as quarterback Jalen Hurts. Unfortunately for Pascal, he's currently fourth on the Eagles depth chart behind A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins, who had a productive day in team drills on Monday with a couple of nice catches. Pascal can be passed over on draft day in most leagues to begin the 2022 season.
Free-agent RB Kalen Ballage (Steelers), RB Jaylen Samuels (Cardinals) and Stevie Scott (Broncos) recently worked out for the Green Bay Packers. The team also worked out undrafted free-agent RB Calvin Turner (Hawaii).