Lineup Prep: Super Bowl

Wed Feb 8 11:44am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Related photo caption below

Pacheco is playing at high level


It is hard to believe, but the last game of the season is this week. It has been a great season, so let’s hope it ends on a high note. The matchup certainly is a good one. I’m excited about the game and ready for the weekend of Super Bowl activities.

Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .

Is there a better day of the year than Super Bowl Sunday? I’m not so sure. The food. The friends. The football. What more could you ask for? I am firing up my smoker early Sunday morning like a kid on Christmas. I’ll be up early, getting ready for the big game. And you can’t forget about the commercials, which are always entertaining. This day has it all. Bring it on!

As for the game, this is a tough one to pick. I really think you can make a strong case for either team. For me, I am going to pick the Chiefs. I like the experience factor of being in the game before for the Chiefs. Plus, I think the Chiefs were tested more during the playoffs this year, which should help the Chiefs in this game. So I like Patrick Mahomes and company to come out on top Sunday. It will be a close game with the Chiefs pulling out a 31-28 victory.

I do think Tom Brady is done. I don’t think he comes back from this retirement announcement. It finally seems official. And he goes out as he best quarterback of all time. Love him or hate him, the guy had an amazing career. The numbers and Super Bowl wins don’t lie. There might not be another one like him ever. Thanks for the amazing ride Mr. Brady. 

It is interesting to see the news break that the Chargers are likely to release both Keenan Allen and Gerald Everett this offseason. Allen has been a mainstay in the Chargers passing game for several seasons, but has shown signs of decline in recent years and injuries are a concern. The Chargers will need to find a replacement, though. My guess is they do this through the draft, so keep an eye on that this offseason. Either way, there are going to be some new faces in Los Angeles to help the Chargers passing game. 

The Vikings made a strong hire to help revamp the defense, hiring Brian Flores to take over as defensive coordinator. He has a strong track record and plenty of success. This could help the Vikings take their team to a new level. The offense is already top notch. If the defense can get it going, watch out for the Vikings next year. This team could be really dangerous. 

The Lamar Jackson saga in Baltimore is going to be really interesting to watch. The early reports are the two sides could be 100 million dollars apart in contract talks. This is quite a difference. And it really seems like Jackson isn’t going to cave. I’m still not sure that Jackson ends up back in Baltimore despite the Ravens saying they aren't going to let him go. This is definitely a situation to watch. 

News and Notes: Receiver A.J. Green announced his retirement on Monday. Green had a great career, especially during his playing days with the Bengals. . . . .The Colts acquired the Bills' fifth-round pick to satisfy the conditional draft pick requirement in the Nyheim Hines trade from earlier this season.

HOT PLAYS

Isiah Pacheco, RB, Chiefs. Pacheco has been very consistent down the stretch as the starter for the Chiefs. He has double-digit fantasy points five straight games and nine of 10 games. And it was really encouraging to see him get so much work in the passing game his last game, catching a season-high five passes for 59 yards. Pacheco could get a lot of work in the passing game once again this week with the Chiefs having injuries at receiver. Plus, he could do some damage on the ground against the Eagles. Philadelphia has allowed 115-plus rushing yards six of their last seven games. 

DeVonta Smith, WR, Eagles. Smith has emerged as an elite fantasy receiver this year. He has been very good down the stretch. He was quiet his last game, but has at least 13 fantasy points seven of his last eight games. He has double-digit targets three of five games. Smith is getting his work and producing. Expect more of the same this week against a Chiefs secondary that can be leaky. The Chiefs have allowed the eighth most fantasy points to receivers during the regular season. 

COLD PLAYS 

Dallas Goedert, TE, Eagles. Goedert has been fine since returning from injury in Week 16, but not off the charts by any means. He has fewer than 50 yards three of four games. He also has fewer than double-digit fantasy points three of five games. Goedert is a little erratic right now and it could be more of the same this week against the Chiefs. Goedert is an iffy play in this matchup. 

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Chiefs. McKinnon had a great finish to his regular season, but done very little in the playoffs. He has fewer than four fantasy points each of his playoff games. He has 15 carries for just 26 yards and just two receptions. His lack of work in the passing game is the big concern. McKinnon is a hard player to trust for fantasy teams after his last two playoff games. 

SLEEPERS

Skyy Moore, WR, Chiefs. The Chiefs have all sorts of injuries at receiver, so Moore could play a bigger role in the Super Bowl. He had a season-high seven targets his last game, so the potential is certainly there for big things in this offense if he gets the looks. Moore could be a worth a look for fantasy teams in an expanded role. 

Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Eagles. Gainwell did not have double-digit carries the entire regular season, but has reached that mark in each of the Eagles playoff games. He has 26 carries his last two games, getting a lot more work in the Eagles offense. Gainwell has at least nine fantasy points his last two games. The Eagles obviously like the way he is playing, so don’t be surprised if he gets double-digit touches once again. And if he gets those touches, he can help fantasy teams. 

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: Eagles/Chiefs.

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 jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

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Fantasy Position SOS

Player Notes
Darren Waller May 23 11:13am ET
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New York Giants TE Darren Waller remains absent from voluntary OTAs as he continues to consider retirement, according to sources Thursday, May 23.

Fantasy Spin: Waller hasn't been consistent enough to truly make a difference for fantasy, but the landscape is so thin that managers will still want to monitor the situation. He's a borderline TE1 if he returns.

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Deshaun Watson May 23 1:03am ET
Deshaun Watson

Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson (shoulder) will throw every other day as part of his ongoing rehab, per head coach Kevin Stefanski.

Fantasy Spin: Cleveland added Jerry Jeudy to a receiver room brimming with potential, so if Watson can stay upright he could deliver decent production from fantasy owners. Given his recent history, though, he can't be viewed as more than a midrange QB2 with upside.

From TheHuddle

Kalif Raymond May 22 11:20pm ET
Kalif Raymond

Detroit Lions wide receiver Kalif Raymond (knee) was photographed participating in OTAs on Wednesday, via the team website. There hasn't been much information available regarding Raymond's status until this latest development, which suggests that he has made progress in his recovery ever since missing the NFC Championship in January. Raymond managed to carve out a role on offense despite competing for targets with plenty of offensive playmakers. He finished 2023 with 35 catches, 489 yards, and one touchdown over 17 games (three starts), serving as a reliable option for Jared Goff. This year, Raymond will once again be in play for a non-zero target share given his familiarity with Detroit's offense. However, he remains off the fantasy radar in most formats as he operates behind the likes of Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams, and Sam LaPorta.

From RotoBaller

Rico Dowdle May 22 11:10pm ET
Rico Dowdle

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has started to lose his grasp on the top role in the team's backfield. "Elliott is being viewed as the leader of the [running back] room, but it is already beginning to look like a committee approach as he and Rico Dowdle split nearly all of the first-team reps on Wednesday," wrote Patrik Walker of DallasCowboys.com. This will be an important competition to watch as offseason programs unfold and both Elliott and Dowdle compete for more opportunities. Elliott, of course, has spent most of his career with the Cowboys but did join the Patriots for the 2023 season. He's not getting any younger, but Dallas still values his experience and pass-catching skills, both of which could boost his fantasy value down the stretch. Dowdle has youth on his side, though, and it sounds like there's a real chance he could push to earn just as many touches as Elliott.

From RotoBaller

T.J. Watt May 22 10:53pm ET
T.J. Watt

Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt (knee) participated in the first day of OTAs Wednesday, May 22.

From TheHuddle

Marquise Brown May 22 9:50pm ET
Marquise Brown

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid praised new wide receiver Marquise Brown at organized team activities on Wednesday. "Hollywood (Brown) does a nice job at receiver. Looks like he and Pat are developing a chemistry," Reid said. Anytime Mahomes is developing chemistry with a receiver, fantasy managers should take notice. The speedy Brown made a highlight-reel, one-handed catch during 7-on-7 drills on Wednesday and appears to have put the heel injury that bothered him last year in the rearview mirror. Tight end Travis Kelce is going to remain a favorite target of Mahomes in 2024 as long as he's healthy, but the 26-year-old Brown has an opportunity to become heavily involved as well, especially with Rashee Rice likely to be hit with a suspension from the league. The former 25th overall pick by Arizona in 2019 out of Oklahoma had a 1,000-yard receiving season in his final season in Baltimore in 2021.

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AJ Barner May 22 9:40pm ET
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Seattle Seahawks rookie tight end AJ Barner (hamstring), who didn't take part in rookie minicamp, is still sidelined during organized team activities this week due to a hamstring injury. It remains to be seen if Barner's hamstring issues will keep him sidelined for the start of training camp at the end of July, but he's still missing valuable repetitions as he tries to learn Seattle's offense heading into his first NFL season. The 22-year-old was taken in the fourth round of last month's NFL draft and was considered more of a project at the position, so he was unlikely to play a key role in 2024 anyway. When healthy, he's going to provide the Seahawks with depth at the tight end position behind Noah Fant, Pharaoh Brown, Will Dissly and Colby Parkinson. At best, Barner may be a red-zone weapon for the Seahawks offense down the road.

From RotoBaller

Geno Smith May 22 9:30pm ET
Geno Smith

The Seattle Seahawks are in the early stages of installing new offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb's offense during organized team activities this spring. However, quarterback Geno Smith feels that he has "a really good grasp" of the offense so far and that it fits his skillset in a few ways. "I feel like I'm a dropback passer and I feel like this is a dropback offense," Smith said. The signal-caller went on to describe it as "an offense that's going to spread the ball around and trust the quarterbacks to make the right decisions... pre-and-post snap. I feel like that's something I'm really good at." A spread offense would be good for Smith and his receivers. The 33-year-old was a Pro Bowler in each of the last two years, but he was definitely not as productive in 2023 and missed two games with injuries. Smith probably won't ever be as good as his 2022 campaign again, but he can be a serviceable No. 2 in superflex fantasy formats.

From RotoBaller

Anthony Richardson May 22 9:20pm ET
Anthony Richardson

Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Anthony Richardson (shoulder) made his return to 11-on-11 action during organized team activities on Wednesday on the day he turned 22 years old. It's the first time the media got a look at him in a practice/game since last October. It looked as though Richardson didn't miss time at all with a shoulder injury that required surgery. The former first-rounder went 4-for-6 in two 11-on-11 periods, and the motion and velocity on his throws looked normal. There are some days Richardson said he feels "a little achy," but it's part of his recovery process. Unless soreness pops up, Richardson is expected to have no restrictions in offseason workouts as he heads into Year 2 in the NFL. The 22-year-old injured his throwing shoulder in just the fourth game of his rookie year in 2023, but Richardson was already showing why he has high-end QB1 upside if he can stay healthy.

From RotoBaller

Jelani Woods May 22 9:20pm ET
Jelani Woods

Indianapolis Colts tight end Jelani Woods (hamstring) is back in action at organized team activities this week after missing all of last year due to hamstring injuries. Woods caught a pass on Wednesday from second-year quarterback Anthony Richardson while running a post route on air. The 25-year-old third round pick in 2022 out of Virginia will be competing for targets with Kylen Granson, who is in a contract year, and Drew Ogletree, but if he can stay on the field in 2024, he'll have some TE2 sleeper appeal with Richardson running the offense in Indy. In his first year in the NFL in 2022, Woods caught 25 passes on 40 targets for 312 yards and three touchdowns in 15 games (two starts). The Colts' tight end room has been one to avoid for fantasy managers for a while, but Woods is certainly worth watching this summer.

From RotoBaller

Lamar Jackson May 22 9:10pm ET
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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, last year's NFL MVP, said that he dropped weight this offseason to "be more agile." Jackson said he weighed 205 pounds, which is 25 pounds less than his 2022 weight and 10 pounds less than last year. The 27-year-old is already the most prolific running QB in the NFL, as he's gained 5,258 yards on the ground in his first six seasons in the league, 1,399 more than any other signal-caller. He led the NFL by averaging 5.5 yards per carry in 2023, but that was his lowest in any full season. Jackson had nine runs in his first three seasons in which he reached a maximum speed of 20 mph or faster, but he's managed just one of those runs in his last three seasons. He doesn't think the weight loss will impact how he takes hits, and it shouldn't deter fantasy managers from taking him as a high-end QB1.

From RotoBaller

Dalvin Cook May 22 7:53pm ET
Dalvin Cook

Free-agent RB Dalvin Cook (Ravens) said he would like to go to training camp with a team this upcoming season to show he can be a productive player.

From TheHuddle

Jalen Tolbert May 22 4:10pm ET
Jalen Tolbert

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Jalen Tolbert looks like he has added muscle this offseason, according to Nick Harris of DallasCowboys.com. The 25-year-old is expected to have a more significant role behind CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks this season, and his added bulk could help him take a step forward. After catching just two passes in just eight games as a third-round rookie in 2022, Tolbert caught 22 passes for 268 yards and two scores in 2023. After the team moved on from Michael Gallup this offseason, his path to the WR3 role is more clear. It's also worth noting the Cowboys will have to replace 67 targets vacated by Tony Pollard after he signed with the Tennessee Titans at the start of free agency, so there could be more targets up for grabs in the short and intermediate areas of the field for Tolbert.

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DeVante Parker May 22 4:03pm ET
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Philadelphia Eagles WR DeVante Parker was placed on the Reserve/Retired list Wednesday, May 22.

From TheHuddle

Ashton Dulin May 22 4:00pm ET
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From RotoBaller

Christian McCaffrey May 22 3:53pm ET
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Updating a previous report, San Francisco 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey's absence from organized team activities is not related to his contract situation, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: McCaffrey likely will be on the field for the mandator minicamp in a few weeks, but fantasy players can keep an eye on the situation. He is one of the most valuable options in fantasy football and is a must-start option when healthy.

From TheHuddle

Parris Campbell May 22 3:50pm ET
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Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Parris Campbell was a frequent target for quarterback Jalen Hurts during Wednesday's practice, according to Eagles reporter Brandon Lee Gowton. A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith have occupied the WR1 and WR2 roles over the last two seasons and will continue to do so, but Philadelphia has lacked a legitimate No. 3 wideout during Hurts' tenure. Campbell, who has missed 39 games over his first five NFL seasons due to injury, has a chance to crack the starting lineup in three-wide sets. The former Ohio State Buckeye tallied 117 receptions for 1,087 yards and 11 touchdowns in four years with the Indianapolis Colts and one season with the New York Giants. Although he's been disappointing overall, he'll get a new opportunity in Philly, and his competition for the WR3 role became easier after the retirement announcement of DeVante Parker. Campbell won't begin the season on the fantasy football radar in traditional leagues, but he could be worth a late-round pick in best ball formats.

From RotoBaller

Xavier Worthy May 22 3:30pm ET
Xavier Worthy

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Xavier Worthy (hamstring) is not participating in OTAs on Wednesday after tweaking his hamstring earlier in the week. While it's concerning that the 165-pound wideout is already dealing with an aliment, it's too early in the offseason to have a takeaway from this report. The No. 21 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft out of Texas is one of the most intriguing rookies for fantasy football this season, especially given the off-field concerns surrounding second-year wideout Rashee Rice. Worthy was an exciting prospect after posting 197 receptions for 2,755 yards, and 26 touchdowns in three collegiate seasons, and his stock grew after he set the NFL record for the fastest official 40-yard dash (4.21). Assuming he can get past his hamstring injury and stay healthy, he should have spike weeks catching passes from Patrick Mahomes in his debut season. All that said, his slight frame could mean he'll be more prone to injuries.

From RotoBaller

Michael Pittman Jr. May 22 3:30pm ET
Michael Pittman Jr.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (knee) left Wednesday's offseason practice early after taking a fall during team period. The 26-year-old limped off the field with trainers, but head coach Shane Steichen said he "should be fine." Pittman reportedly just bumped his knee, but organizations are going to be extra careful with their stud players at this point in the offseason. The 2020 second-round pick had an excellent 2023 campaign while playing mostly with quarterback Gardner Minshew. He caught 109 passes for 1,152 yards and four touchdowns. It's tough to know what to expect out of him with a healthy Anthony Richardson and Jonathan Taylor to begin the 2024 season, and the team drafted Texas wideout Adonai Mitchell in the second round of last month's draft. Either way, he remains the No. 1 option in the passing game for the Colts, and another 1,000-yard season should be the expectation.

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Keaton Mitchell May 22 3:10pm ET
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Baltimore Ravens running back Keaton Mitchell (knee) is "on schedule" with his recovery from a torn ACL suffered in Week 15 of last season. However, the speedster won't take part in training camp this summer, and he's likely to miss at least a few games early in the 2024 campaign. This is no surprise given the usual timeline to return from a major knee injury. After going undrafted last year out of East Carolina, Mitchell rushed 47 times for 396 yards and two touchdowns. His sample size was small, but his 8.4 yards per carry led all running backs, and he flashed his splash-play upside. The 22-year-old should be stashed in dynasty formats, but he has a slim chance of being a significant fantasy contributor this year behind Derrick Henry. Justice Hill is slated to begin the season in the RB2 role, though fifth-round rookie Rasheen Ali could make a run at it.

From RotoBaller