Mon Jan 23 8:14am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Kelce comes up huge for Chiefs
The games were good this past weekend, but not quite as entertaining as the previous week. Some of the games just weren’t very close. Just two of the games were one-score games and both those games were seven-point wins. And there were some big games this year, but not a lot of huge performances. The games were a little more defensive minded, leading to lower fantasy scores. Here is to hoping you had those players that scored big this week.
Chiefs 27, Jaguars 20
Fantasy Stud: Travis Kelce. Kelce had an absolutely monster performance. He had 14 receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns. He was leaned on early and often throughout the game. This could be a theme for the entire playoffs for the Chiefs passing game, leaning on their best player in the passing game as much as possible. Kelce scored a season-high 35.8 fantasy points in the game. He had season highs in receptions and targets (17).
Fantasy Dud: JuJu Smith-Schuster. Smith-Schuster did not get much work, catching two passes for 29 yards. He had fewer touches than fellow receiver Kadarius Toney. Smith-Schuster hasn’t been very good down the stretch, though. He has fewer than 40 yards four straight games and six of eight. He hasn’t been the same playing since returning from injury in Week 12.
Game Notes: The big news in this game is Patrick Mahomes suffered an ankle injury. He left the game for a few series but was able to return. He clearly wasn’t 100 percent, though. He finished the game 22-of-30 for 195 yards and two touchdowns without a turnover.
Isiah Pacheco had a great showing in his first playoff game, topping 100 total yards. He ran 12 times for 95 yards, averaging an impressive 7.9 yards per carry. He also had on reception for six yards, giving him 101 total yards.
Eagles 38, Giants 7
Fantasy Stud: Jalen Hurts. Hurts looked a lot healthier this week and it showed in his play. He was 16-of-24 for 154 yards and two touchdowns without a turnover. He also ran nine times for 34 yards and a touchdown, giving him three total scores. Hurts had 25.1 fantasy points, producing good numbers for all his fantasy owners. Hurts might not be 100 percent recovered from his shoulder injury, but he looked a lot closer in this one.
Fantasy Dud: Daniel Jones. The Eagles did a great job of holding a red-hot Daniel Jones in check. He failed to score a touchdown. He was 15-of-27 for 135 yards with an interception. And he ran six times for just 24 yards. He had 25-plus fantasy points three straight games before this one. He scored just 8.2 fantasy points, his worst number for the entire season.
Game Notes: The Eagles ground game dominated with Kenneth Gainwell and Miles Sanders producing big. Gainwell didn’t start, but had 12 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown. Sanders had 17 carries for 90 yards.
Richie James led the way at receiver for the Giants. He had seven receptions for 51 yards. James had at least seven catches four of his last six games.
Bengals 27, Bills 10
Fantasy Stud: Joe Mixon. Mixon was leaned on often in this game and produced big with his chances. He ran 20 times for 105 yards and a touchdown. He also caught two passes for 18 yards. Mixon was really quiet in the Bengals playoff opener, so it was good to see hi get it going again. It was his first 100-yard rushing game since Week 9 of the regular season.
Fantasy Dud: Josh Allen. Allen picked a bad time to have one of his worst showings of the season. He failed to score a passing touchdown. He was 25-of-42 for 265 yards with an interception. He led the Bills in rushing, but managed just 26 yards on eight carries. He did find the end zone on the ground, which was a positive for his fantasy production. Allen had a great year and will be on of the first three quarterbacks off the board in next year’s fantasy drafts.
Game Notes: Joe Burrow played a strong game in tough, snowy conditions. He was 23-of-36 for 242 yards and two touchdowns without a turnover. He also ran six times for 31 yards.
Stefon Diggs had a down showing for his standards. He had just four catches for 35 yards. It was just his fourth game all season with fewer than 50-receiving yards.
49ers 19, Cowboys 12
Fantasy Stud: CeeDee Lamb. Lamb didn’t score but was huge in this game. He had 10 receptions for 117 yards. He also ran twice for six yards, giving him 123 total yards. This was his fourth game this season with double-digit receptions. Lamb had a huge season as the top receiver in the Cowboys offense and seems poised for huge things going forward in that role.
Fantasy Dud: Deebo Samuel. Samuel got his touches but couldn’t break a big play. He had four catches for 45 yards and ran four times for 11 yards. The Cowboys did a great job of containing the top playmaker. Samuel was held to fewer than double-digit fantasy points after having 28.5 his previous playoff game.
Game Notes: Tony Pollard suffered a fractured left fibula during the game. He had six carries for 22 yards before the injury. Ezekiel Elliott got most of the work the rest of the way and ran 10 times for 26 yards.
Christian McCaffrey was slowed by a calf injury and had four fewer carries than Elijah Mitchell. McCaffrey still produced pretty well when on the field. He ran 10 times for 35 yards and a touchdown. He also caught six passes for 22 yards.
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.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin is reportedly feeling his explosiveness coming back. The speedy wideout tore his ACL in 2021, but still ended up playing in 14 games last season. Godwin mentioned that he feels completely different during his second offseason post-surgery. Fantasy managers still received 104 receptions, 1,023 yards, and three touchdowns from Godwin last season. He looked the same on the field, but his 9.8 yards per reception was the worst of his career. Also, the three touchdowns were his lowest since his rookie campaign. The Bucs are hopeful to see more from Godwin next season, but that also depends on the reliability of the quarterback under center.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup is reportedly feeling good again at recently team workouts. The 27-year-old is now 18 months removed from a torn ACL that he suffered in the later part of the 2021 season. Gallup was healthy for a majority of last season, but didn't contribute as much as many thought he would. He finished with 39 receptions, 424 yards, and three touchdowns in 14 games. It sounds like Gallup is feeling better now and could be in for a bounce back campaign. However, he'll have to compete with Brandin Cooks and CeeDee Lamb for targets in Dallas. The expectation is that Gallup will be the starting slot receiver to begin the season. He could have some late-round value, assuming he's truly back to full health.
Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker (Achilles) is expected to return in full for training camp. The 28-year-old tore his Achilles in Week 3 and missed the rest of the season because of it. He has been able to participate on a limited basis during recent OTAs. It sounds like the team is going to ease Walker back into things coming off a serious injury. His return to the field would be a huge boost to the Lions defense. Walker is a former third round pick who has two 100-tackle seasons under his belt. The Lions could have a scary secondary with C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Walker back there.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. took 74 percent of the snaps in the backfield last season. It sounds like the Jaguars would like to reduce that amount next season, according to ESPN's Michael DiRocco. Recently, head coach Doug Pederson praised the depth this team has at running back. They've added D'Ernest Johnson and Tank Bigsby to their backfield to play alongside Etienne. The expectation is that both of those players are going to have a role as the backups to Etienne. It remains to be seen how the Jaguars decide to split up the snaps. The organization believes that having a committee at running back will help keep everyone fresh and healthy. Fantasy managers don't need to panic, but Ethienne's value could be taking a hit, assuming the Jaguars do go with a three-back committee next season.
According to Brian Costello and Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post, there's "still confidence" the Jets and defensive lineman Quinnen Williams will get a deal done, possibly by "mid-June." The 25-year-old is coming off a fantastic season, totaling 55 tackles and two forced fumbles. He also had a career-high 12 sacks and made the Pro Bowl. Williams is expected to command well over $20 million per season in a new contract. But with the Jets looking to make a deep postseason run, keeping him happy may be in the team's best interest.
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Focus, Jimmy Garoppolo's (foot) contract with the Raiders contains an injury clause, permitting the franchise to void the deal he signed in March if he can't pass a physical heading into the 2023-24 campaign. The veteran signal-caller suffered a left foot injury in December while still a member of the 49ers. Since then, there have been conflicting reports surrounding the nature of the ailment. Although the 49ers' medical staff felt Garoppolo didn't need surgery, he eventually went under the knife and has been working his way back, recently missing OTAs as a result. Nonetheless, there will be plenty of eyes on this situation in the coming months, especially if Jimmy G can't get healthy enough to suit up for the Raiders. If that's the case, Vegas has Brian Hoyer, Chase Garbers, and fourth-round pick Aidan O'Connell on the roster. However, the club would surely look to add another option.
According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, only the Bills and Cardinals had "substantive" talks with the Cardinals about trading for DeAndre Hopkins. Of course, nobody made a move, and Arizona released him on Friday. Since the multi-time Pro Bowler became a free agent, several teams have emerged as potential suitors. However, other clubs like the Browns appear uninterested, meaning a reunion between Hopkins and Deshaun Watson probably won't happen. The Chiefs have since expressed their faith in Kadarius Toney to become the top wideout on the depth chart, while the Bills may not have the cash to make a move, considering Hopkins could command more than the $15 million Odell Beckham Jr. received from Baltimore. Nonetheless, there will be plenty of updates and speculation moving forward. But it will be hard to tell how Hopkins will look from a fantasy standpoint until he officially inks a new deal
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. entered training camp last offseason working his way back from a foot injury that cost him his rookie year. However, the 24-year-old is healthy this offseason, so he's focused on "fine-tuning" his skills. "Last year was more about getting healthy and getting back," said Etienne during OTAs. "This year, I didn't have to worry about my foot. It's great. So I'm able to work on football, all football." Although Etienne got off to a slow start in 2022-23, he still finished with 1,125 yards and five rushing touchdowns off 220 carries. He also caught 35 passes for 316 yards. Nonetheless, the former Clemson Tiger is the top option on the depth chart, so he may easily surpass his ADP projections this season.
During an interview with Cameron Cox of 12News, Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker stated he would attend training camp. "Oh yeah, of course, I'll be there when it's time to be there," said Baker. "I'll be there smiling and (be) the same regular guy that I am." The All-Pro finished last season with 111 total tackles (75 solo), seven passes defensed, and two sacks. However, he requested a trade in April after failing to secure a new deal. Nonetheless, with Arizona in rebuilding mode, it will be interesting to see the outcome of this situation.
2023 is the last year that the Cincinnati Bengals will have quarterback Joe Burrow on the cheap via his rookie deal. While it does seem inevitable a deal will get done between the two sides, how big will it be? Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Burrow should agree to a percentage of the salary each year to compensate for it going up. Nonetheless, the contract extension talks shouldn't impact Burrow's fantasy outlook for 2023. Even without a ton of rushing upside, Burrow should still be viewed as a Top 5-7 quarterback for fantasy in 2023. The Bengals ran 11 personnel at an 82% rate in 2022, good for the second-highest in the NFL. With Joe Mixon, Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and some improvements on the offensive line, it's hard not to see the Bengals' offense as a potent foe for 2023. In the two seasons combined Burrow has averaged 4500+ passing yards and 34+ TD passes per year.
The New York Jets signed undrafted rookie wide receiver Jerome Kapp to an undisclosed deal this week and placed defensive lineman Bradlee Anae (undisclosed) on the Injured Reserve in a corresponding move. Kapp took part in the team's rookie minicamp earlier this month. In his final collegiate season at Kutztown, he produced 47 catches for 916 yards and nine touchdowns. In three total seasons at Kutztown, Kapp caught 122 passes for 2,190 yards and 22 touchdowns over 36 games. He'll be a long shot to make the team's active roster out of training camp this summer, but he could stick on the team's practice squad.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Chris Moore, who is coming off the best season of his NFL career, will look to be versatile in order to help his new team in 2023. "I can do whatever they need me to do," Moore said. "First, I am a football player, and then I'm a receiver. Whatever they want me to do, I'm going to do it." The former fourth-rounder of the Ravens in 2016, Moore spent the last two years with the Texans and caught 48 passes for 548 yards and two TDs in 16 games (seven starts) in 2022. In his six NFL seasons, he's caught 116 passes for 1,286 yards and eight scores, and he also has experience as a kick returner. The 29-year-old will likely be behind Treylon Burks, Kyle Phillips and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine in the receiving pecking order, though, so he'll be off the fantasy radar to begin the year.
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw (thumb) had a minor procedure after last year to fix an injured thumb, and he's still working his way back, which is why he wasn't taking part in organized team activities this week. Once he's back to full health, Greenlaw expects to absorb everything new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks has to offer him. The former fifth-rounder in 2019 only has two career sacks to his name, but he's hoping to be used more as a blitzer in the new defensive scheme in 2023. In his four seasons in the Bay Area, the 26-year-old has recorded 326 tackles (217 solo), 13 tackles for loss, five QB hits, three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), 10 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries (one for a TD) in 47 games (39 starts).
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is the team's unquestioned workhorse back. He played 80 percent of the offensive snaps last year. Matt Breida was a speedy complement to Barkley who also worked well in tandem with the star runner in multi-back packages. He's the favorite to be the backup again. Gary Brightwell had a team-high 4.5 yards per carry on 31 carries in 2022, but he's expected to be challenged for the No. 3 role by rookie Eric Gray, who brings a reputation as a "balanced, agile runner with darting quickness and steady pass-catching skills." If Gray impresses during training camp this summer, the 24-year-old Brightwell could find himself No. 4 on the team's RB depth chart to open the year.
With the release of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins on Friday, Arizona Cardinals wideout Marquise Brown now becomes the team's clear No. 1 pass-catcher. Rondale Moore will be looking to overcome his injury issues but will have a big opportunity to make noise if he can stay healthy. Greg Dortch should also see plenty of chances as well. Veteran Zach Pascal and third-round rookie Michael Wilson bring nice size to the group. Hollywood Brown began 2022 as the top wideout with Hopkins suspended, but the 25-year-old former first-rounder missed time with injuries and played in only 12 games (10 starts) in his first year in the desert. He finished with 67 catches for 709 yards and three TDs. Brown has plenty of upside in fantasy, but he also might not have quarterback Kyler Murray (knee) until halfway through the season.
Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Terence Steele (knee), who tore his ACL and MCL in his left knee in Week 14 of last season against the Houston Texans, was limited during organized team activities this week. The fourth-year offensive lineman has started 40 games in the last three seasons and is a valuable member of the team's O-line when he's healthy. "Terence isn't quite ready for some of that," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "We'll try to interject these guys the best we can." As long as the 25-year-old doesn't suffer any setbacks once training camp begins later this summer, he will open the 2023 regular season as Dallas' starting right tackle.
Dynasty | Josh Downs is dealing with a minor knee injury Dynasty Analysis: It probably isn't even newsworthy but Downs is a rookie and needs to develop chemistry with rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson while also working on needed NFL-level conditioning requirements. Mandatory OTAs kick-off next month so the team will be cautious with the projected starter in the slot to ensure he's back and fully healthy when they begin. Downs is found as DLF's rookie WR5 and our WR59 overall.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Elijah Moore and quarterback Deshaun Watson are already building important chemistry early this offseason when Watson brought a few of the team's veterans to Puerto Rico last week. But Moore has continued to build chemistry with Watson in the first few days of organized team activities this week. He was a constant target for Watson in 7-on-7 work on Wednesday. "Different quarterback, different arm, seeing what he sees and just the communication around the team," Moore said. "Everyone communicates differently, but I feel like it's going to go well, so I can't complain." The 23-year-old former second-rounder appears headed for a nice bounce-back season as Cleveland's starting slot receiver in 2023.
Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Akins chose to sign with Cleveland this offseason mainly because it would give him another chance to work with a quarterback he already knew in Deshaun Watson. Akins played his first three NFL seasons with Watson in Houston and enjoyed catching passes from him. The 6-foot-4, 245-pounder will give Watson another big tight end who can be a weapon in the red zone, and Akins is coming off his best season with five touchdowns for the Texans. While working with Watson in Houston, Akins caught 90 passes for 1,046 yards and three TDs in three years. The 31-year-old's familiarity with Watson is a plus, but unless David Njoku misses time with an injury in 2023, Akins won't have a ton of fantasy appeal.
Dynasty | The Bills possess the best odds (+300) to sign DeAndre Hopkins according to DraftKings Dynasty Analysis: The next teams are the Chiefs (+400), Ravens (+650), and Jets (+750). Absent from the top four are the Patriots who were said to be in the mix when it became apparent the Cardinals were wanting to move on. The release of Hopkins clearly pegs the Cardinals as a team tanking for Caleb as they are absorbing the full cap hit ($22M) rather than waiting until after June 1 and halving the charge. Be the best or be the worst, don't be mediocre. The Cardinals are clearly choosing to clear the slate, removing those impact players that could potentially win games in hopes of securing a better draft position in 2024. As for Hopkins, look for the aging star to sign with a top contender, either Buffalo or Kansas City, neither of which are swimming in available cap room. Soon to be 31, Hopkins' decision could drag out as teams wrestle with contract terms and player restructuring to free cap room. He's found as DLF's WR41 and could have upside in 2023.