Lineup Prep: Championship Games

Wed Jan 26 10:40am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Related photo caption below

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.

HOT PLAYS

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.

COLD PLAYS 

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.

SLEEPERS

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

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Player Notes
Deshaun Watson Jul 6 5:13pm ET
Deshaun Watson

Dynasty | With the trade of Baker Mayfield to the Panthers, the Browns could turn to Jacoby Brissett as their starter should Deshaun Watson face a long-term suspension. Dynasty Analysis: Deshaun Watson is potentially looking at a year-long suspension, or even an indefinite one. With Mayfield off to Carolina, Cleveland has Brissett now as the stopgap solution should Watson miss significant time. At this point, it seems highly likely Brissett is under center in week one and he's going to hold some potential in-season value. Brissett is currently unranked, but that's likely to change with the news of this trade.

From Dynasty League Fantasy

Jimmy Garoppolo Jul 6 5:13pm ET
Jimmy Garoppolo

Dynasty | The 49ers are likely going to be forced to release quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Dynasty Analysis: With Baker Mayfield off to Carolina, the number of suitors for the services of Jimmy G have dwindled yet again. At this point, Seattle may be the best bet for his next landing spot, but a trade between those two division rivals seems very unlikely. The 49ers will likely have to bite the bullet here and release him to get his salary off the books. Seattle still looks like the most likely destination for him moving forward.

From Dynasty League Fantasy

Chase Edmonds Jul 6 5:03pm ET
Chase Edmonds

Miami Dolphins RB Chase Edmonds appears to be the leading candidate for the starting running back job at this point but will share snaps with several other backs, in the opinion of DolphinsWire's Mike Masala.

Fantasy Spin: Edmonds probably will receive a majority of the carries in the running game but will not see extended playing time because of the other running backs on the roster. Edmonds could be considered a No. 2 or No. 3 back in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Eddie Goldman Jul 6 4:03pm ET
Eddie Goldman

Free-agent DT Eddie Goldman (Bears) signed a one-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons Wednesday, July 6. Financial terms were not disclosed. The team also waived S Brad Hawkins.

From TheHuddle

Baker Mayfield Jul 6 3:13pm ET
Baker Mayfield

Dynasty | Sam Darnold is the odd man out after the Panthers traded for quarterback Baker Mayfield. Dynasty Analysis: The Panthers acquired Mayfield today, moving Darnold to the bench. The Panthers famously traded a second, fourth and sixth round pick just last season in the hopes Darnold could be their long-term answer. Unfortunately, he faceplanted in 12 games, throwing for 2,527 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions. His QBR of 33.2 tells you just about everything you need to know about his season. Darnold was even briefly replaced by Cam Newton after floundering. He should compete with Mayfield this off-season, but it's highly unlikely he beats him out. Darnold's dynasty value is on life support and his ranking of WB37 will likely drop even further now.

From Dynasty League Fantasy

Baker Mayfield Jul 6 2:23pm ET
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Updating a previous report, Carolina Panthers QB Baker Mayfield agreed to trim $3.5 million off his 2022 base salary and the Cleveland Browns will pick up $10.5 million more, leaving the Panthers to pay around $5 million for him this coming season. Cleveland also saves $8 million against the salary cap with this deal.

Fantasy Spin: The financials make this even more of a win-win trade for both sides. The Browns get rid of one of their problems and save money in the process, and Carolina gets a look at a potential long-term solution at quarterback for a very cheap price tag. Mayfield enters 2022 as a QB2.

From TheHuddle

Baker Mayfield Jul 6 2:13pm ET
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Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield was traded to the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday, July 6, in exchange for a conditional 2024 fifth-round pick, per sources. The deal is pending a physical and it isn't clear exactly how much of Mayfield's money the Panthers will pick up.

Fantasy Spin: Mayfield will now join a Panthers roster that has a good amount of weapons in DJ Moore, Robbie Anderson and Christian McCaffrey. Assuming he wins the starting role, Mayfield is a QB2.

From TheHuddle

Baker Mayfield Jul 6 1:46pm ET
Baker Mayfield

NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport is reporting the Panthers are acquiring quarterback Baker Mayfield from the Browns for a 2024 conditional 5th-round draft pick. The deal is pending a physical.

Salvon Ahmed Jul 6 1:13pm ET
Salvon Ahmed

Dynasty | Chase Edmonds is currently at the top of the Dolphins depth chart. Dynasty Analysis: The Dolphins depth chart currently consists of Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, Sony Michel, Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, ZeQuandre White, and Gerrid Doaks. In short, this is a mess. The most likely scenario this season is all of these running backs fail to have very much real value as they're nearly destined to vulture off each other. On the plus side, Edmonds is likely the best pass catcher of the group and while Mostert and Michel will split carries on early downs, he looks like the favorite to handle the passing game work. Edmonds remains our RB35 at this point in the season.

From Dynasty League Fantasy

Rob Gronkowski Jul 6 12:03pm ET
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans believes retired TE Rob Gronkowski will stay retired. 'I feel like he's done,' Evans said. 'He takes a pretty big beating; I've seen his body after some of them games and I understand why [he would retire].'

From TheHuddle

Anthony Barr Jul 6 11:43am ET
Anthony Barr

The Dallas Cowboys signing free-agent LB Anthony Barr (Vikings) remains a possibility, according to multiple beat writers.

From TheHuddle

Jameis Winston Jul 6 10:03am ET
Jameis Winston

New Orleans Saints QB Jameis Winston (knee) posted a video of him throwing to social media without a knee brace.

Fantasy Spin: He looks to be progressing well as there were reports he was still limping at the end of May. He's a QB2 in fantasy.

From TheHuddle

Baker Mayfield Jul 6 8:33am ET
Baker Mayfield

Updating previous reports, Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield has received interest from the Seattle Seahawks, according to NFL insider Josina Anderson. Anderson tweeted she understood why the report that the Seahawks aren't interested came out because it helps them manage their quarterback situation if they don't land Mayfield.

Fantasy Spin: Mayfield's fantasy potential could be a little better in Seattle, but he'll be a QB2 regardless.

From TheHuddle

Micah Parsons Jul 6 12:30am ET
Micah Parsons

Dallas Cowboys pass-rusher Micah Parsons had 13 sacks as a rookie and won Defensive Rookie of the Year, but he's setting his sights higher in his second NFL season. "Yeah, 15's like the minimum. 15's what I wanna hit. But definitely 23 is that goal, to break the record," Parsons said. The 23-year-old pass-rushing linebacker also added 84 tackles (64 solo), 20 tackles for loss, 30 QB hits, three passes defensed and three forced fumbles in 16 games in his first NFL season to finish as the No. 12 linebacker in fantasy points in IDP leagues. Parsons will surely be a menace for opposing QBs again in 2022, but he'll also generate plenty of attention from opposing offensive lines.

From RotoBaller

Michael Pittman Jr. Jul 6 12:30am ET
Michael Pittman Jr.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., who finished last year 18th in the NFL in receiving yards and 18th in catches, is a huge fan of new quarterback Matt Ryan. Pittman has been very impressed with the ball placement of Ryan, and the new signal-caller should help Pittman achieve his 2022 goal of proving that he's a true No. 1 receiver in the league. "Working on route discipline," Pittman said of his main area for improvement. "Sometimes you just go out there and start playing football. Yes, I can make plays like that but you want to stay on QB timing because it helps everybody else flow so I'm really working on that." The 24-year-old third-year wideout is being ranked as a low-end WR1/high-end WR2 heading into fall fantasy drafts, and he should see an uptick in production if he continues to gain chemistry with Ryan in training camp.

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Alvin Kamara Jul 6 12:30am ET
Alvin Kamara

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara has had a tumultuous offseason thanks to an offseason arrest following an altercation in Las Vegas back in February, and he could be looking at a suspension from the NFL. However, his court hearings have already been continued twice, each time relative to delivery of evidence to his team. His next hearing is currently scheduled for August, but if it's pushed back again or if the case moves along beyond the hearing, the process could extend into the regular season or even further. A six-game suspension is expected for Kamara, but the legal process will need to wrap up before the NFL hands down their suspension. A looming six-game suspension obviously hurts the 26-year-old's fantasy value, and he's extremely risky while on the RB1/2 borderline. If you draft Kamara, you better handcuff him with Mark Ingram II.

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Diontae Johnson Jul 6 12:30am ET
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The Pittsburgh Steelers aren't expected to offer wide receiver Diontae Johnson anything near what Terry McLaurin got from the Washington Commanders or any other receiver that received more than $20 million per year. The Athletic's Mark Kaboly sees the Steelers offering him something, but it won't be what he thinks he can get on the market and he'll get paid somewhere else in 2023. Spotrac projects Johnson's market value at $22 million per season, but Kaboly writes the Steelers won't pay a wideout $22 million per year. The 26-year-old had his first 1,000-yard season and a career-high eight touchdowns on 107 receptions, but he could take a step back with Mitchell Trubisky under center this year. Still, Johnson should see plenty of volume as the team's No. 1 wideout, and he's a high-end WR2 in fantasy.

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Cordarrelle Patterson Jul 6 12:30am ET
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Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson will be the team's starting running back this year after he led the team with 153 carries and 618 yards in 2021, but he had only 71 rushing yards in the last four games and averaged 2.3 yards per carry in that span. The Athletic's Josh Kendall writes that it's overly optimistic to expect Patterson to be fully available to carry a full load at RB this year. The 10-year veteran took all of the spring workouts off, and the Falcons will likely continue taking it slow with him in training camp and the preseason. He's 31 and coming off his most active NFL season -- he had 205 combined catches and carries in 2021, with his previous career-high at 85 in 2020. Don't pay for last year's production in fantasy. Patterson should be an RB3/flex target.

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Tyler Allgeier Jul 6 12:30am ET
Tyler Allgeier

The Atlanta Falcons took running back Tyler Allgeier in the fifth round of this year's draft because they think he can eventually carry the bulk of the load in their backfield. He set a single-season record at BYU last year with 1,601 yards and was fourth in rushing attempts (276) in college football. Seventy percent of Allgeier's yards last season also came after contact. But if Cordarrelle Patterson is healthy, the Falcons are unlikely to rush him into the RB rotation in 2022. But if Patterson isn't healthy or if the team is trying to keep him on a pitch count, the 22-year-old could get a lot of early playing time in his rookie season. Patterson should open the season as Atlanta's starter and Damien Williams and Qadree Ollison are around, but Allgeier probably has the best chance of anyone on Atlanta's roster of making a run at the starting job in 2022.

From RotoBaller

Baker Mayfield Jul 6 12:30am ET
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NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said on the Pat McAfee Show that the Seattle Seahawks "have never really been that interested" in trading for Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. Something could change in training camp, but as of now in early July, the Seahawks are comfortable having Geno Smith and Drew Lock battle for the starting gig under center entering the 2022 season. Mayfield is ready to move on from the Browns despite the fact that Deshaun Watson could be suspended for the entire season, but Cleveland will need to eat most of his guaranteed salary this year in order to entice a team to trade for him. The Carolina Panthers have been the most aggressive on the Mayfield front, but even if he is wearing a new uniform this fall, he won't be guaranteed a starting job at QB.

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