Lineup Prep: Divisional Round

Wed Jan 17 9:40am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Related photo caption below

LaPorta is getting healthier


Here is to hoping that the playoff games are better this weekend. For the most part, the games last week just weren’t very good unless you were a fans of those teams. I’m hoping for some barn burners this week, going down to the last drive. It will make for a lot better viewing.

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

I like a snow/cold game as much as anyone, but it does kind of stink for the teams involved when playing in the playoffs. You play all season in pretty normal conditions, but have to deal with brutal conditions when the playoffs hit. Again, I love to watch a snow game, but it probably would be better for the playoffs if teams didn’t have to deal with the awful winter weather. Oh well.

The Josh Allen experience is truly wild. He can drive you crazy with the turnovers and mistakes, but when he is playing well, Allen is really the best in the game. He showed that last week. Allen is just so tough defend, especially when he is running the ball more. The Bills kind of took that out of the game plan early in the season, but brought it back more after changing offensive coordinators. The change in philosophy has been a huge spark to the Bills offense.

I’m really excited about Jameson Williams next season. The Lions are starting to use him a lot more in normal routes than just as a deep threat. He is showing his ability as a route runner lately. Williams has a chance for a breakout season as long as he is healthy and playing. The big issue for Williams to start his career is just staying on the field. The ability is there for huge things. I’m ready to see what he can do next year.

It will be interesting to see what the Vikings do with their quarterback position this offseason. I almost think Kirk Cousins will be back and the team will draft a quarterback to learn from him. That might make the most sense and keep star receiver Justin Jefferson happy. This is one situation I’m going to keep a really close eye on this offseason because it has a lot of fantasy implications.

If I’m the Bears, I’m trading that No. 1 overall pick and loading up on more draft picks to surround Justin Fields with better talent. I know Caleb Williams is a stud and could be a fantastic pro, but Fields is no slouch. He made strides this year, especially late in the season. I think the franchise would do better to take advantage of the hype surround Williams and get a huge haul in a trade.

I don’t see Bill Belichick going to a team that doesn’t already have a franchise quarterback. You hear him interviewing with Atlanta, but that situation just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I think he is going to go to a team that already has a top quarterback, so he doesn’t have to deal with the issues he had with the Patriots after losing Tom Brady.

And speaking of coaches, you have to wonder what is going to happen in Dallas after their stunning early-round exit in the playoffs. Mike McCarthy has been great during the regular season, but owner Jerry Jones doesn’t care about regular season wins. Jones wants Super Bowl titles. I would not be surprised if McCarthy is relieved of his job in the coming days.

I really thought the Browns operated better with Joe Flacco as their starting quarterback this season than Deshaun Watson. Flacco gave that passing game a spark and it produced huge numbers on a weekly basis. You have to think the Browns are really regretting going all in on Watson as their franchise quarterback. He certainly has not played near his past levels. The Browns really overpaid for Watson and could be feeling it for years to come.

News and Notes: The Bills released running back Leonard Fournette from the practice squad on Tuesday.

HOT PLAYS

Sam LaPorta, TE, Lions. LaPorta was able to play last week and didn’t look quite 100 percent, but still found the end zone. He has double-digit fantasy points three straight games and scores two straight. He should be even healthier this week, meaning his production could be even better. Plus, he has a great matchup against a bad Bucs pass defense. The Bucs allowed the second most fantasy points to tight ends during the regular season.

Christian McCaffrey, RB, 49ers. McCaffrey is always a must start and hot play, but especially this week. He gets a Packers defense that is the worst out of all the remaining playoff teams against the run. Green Bay was 28th against the run in the regular season and allowed the 13th most fantasy points to running backs. Green Bay allowed 200-plus rushing yards four times this season. We think McCaffrey is going to have a monster showing in this one, possibly pushing 200-plus total yards and 30 fantasy points.

Zay Flowers, WR, Ravens. Flowers had a breakout season as the top target at receiver the Ravens. He played really well late in the season, having 20-plus fantasy points three of five games. He has scores four of five games. Flowers keeps getting it done on a weekly basis. Look for more success this week against the Texans in what should be a high-scoring game. The Texans have allowed 265-plus passing yards three of six games.

COLD PLAYS 

Devin Singletary, RB, Texans. Singletary had a solid season, emerging as the starter for the Texans. He has scores two straight games and has been consistent for the Texans, especially the second half of the season. Singletary has a really tough matchup to keep up his solid play this week, though, playing the Ravens. Baltimore was 14th against the run during the regular season, allowing 109.4-rushing yards per game. Houston might need to rely on C.J. Stroud and the passing game moire than Singletary if they hope to have much offensive success.

David Montgomery, RB, Lions. Montgomery found the end zone again last week, giving him four straight games with a touchdown. He still hasn’t topped 65-rushing yards in any of those games and has just three catches during that stretch. He might be a scary play this week against a Bucs defense that allowed just 10-rushing touchdowns all season. The Bucs allowed the third fewest fantasy points to running backs during the regular season and were fifth overall against the run.

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs. It is so hard to bet against Patrick Mahomes, but his numbers down the stretch haven’t been great for fantasy owners. He has just one touchdown each of his last three games. He has been pretty mediocre for fantasy teams. It might be more of the same this week against the Bills on the road. Buffalo has really played better defense down the stretch and allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks during the regular season.

SLEEPERS

Baker Mayfield, QB, Bucs. Mayfield had a great opener in the playoffs, hitting the 300-yard mark while scoring three touchdowns. Mayfield has multiple touchdowns five of six games. He has three three-touchdown games during that stretch. He has a great matchup against the Lions, a team that allowed the third most fantasy points to quarterback during the regular season. Look for Mayfield to keep it going this week.

Dontayvion Wicks, WR, Packers. Wicks scored another touchdown last week, giving him scores three straight games. He keeps finding the end zone, making him a top red-zone target for the Packers. He could score again this week in a game the Packers are likely throwing often and playing from behind. This could lead to even more targets for Wicks. He could be a sneaky play for fantasy owners.

Khalil Shakir, WR, Bills. Shakir scored his third touchdown of the season last week. He has 12-plus fantasy points two straight games. He has at least three catches four consecutive games. Shakir is getting more work with Gabe Davis out and playing well in an expanded role. Shakir has a chance for another solid game this week in what should be a high-scoring game with the Chiefs.

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: Packers/49ers, Bucs/Lions.

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 [email protected]. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

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