Wed Nov 24 9:47am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Mooney should remain hot
This is always one of my favorite “Lineup Prep” columns of the year. It is the Thanksgiving edition. I tell you all the things I’m thankful for with a fantasy spin. Here is to hoping you have a great Thanksgiving!
I’m thankful for in-depth stats. There are so many stats you access now. It is so helpful when it comes to analyzing fantasy football. You can get snap counts, target shares, red zone targets, fantasy defense stats. You name it and you can likely get it. The information for fantasy football users is off the charts this day and age.
I’m thankful for the running quarterback. The advent of the mobile quarterback has changed the landscape of the position, especially in fantasy land. Guys like Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray have such a high weekly floor because of their ability to make plays with their legs. It makes targeting them come draft day the smart move for fantasy teams.
I’m thankful for the parity in the NFL. This league has been so crazy this year, seeing so many teams play erratic football. You just never know what you are going to see any given week. This is causing fantasy leagues to be a lot more crazy as well, having erratic point totals from week to week. I think this makes for more excitement in fantasy leagues, which is never a bad thing.
I’m thankful for rookies. Every year there are a handful of exciting, young players that take the fantasy world by storm. This year is no different with Najee Harris and Ja’Marr Chase leading the way. You never know how a rookie will pan out, but when you hit, it sure is exciting. These guys can be fantasy difference makers.
I’m thankful for players like Deebo Samuel. There are players every year that are picked in the middle or so rounds of drafts that end up being fantasy superstars. This is exactly what has happened to Samuel, who is second overall in fantasy receiver scoring. Preseason rankings don’t always go as planned, so seeing a player ranked lower really outperform their draft spot is exciting. Hopefully, you hit on a few of these guys in your league this year.
I’m thankful for the easy access of information these days. It is so much easier than when I first started in the industry. My job used to be scouring the local newspapers, reading all the practice reports from the previous day. These days all you have to do is get on Twitter or search the internet for the latest practice news. The stuff is reported as it happens. This makes it so much easier for fantasy owners, having so much more information at their fingertips.
I’m thankful for the craziness at the tight end position. I know it might drive some crazy but I think it makes for some great strategy, especially come draft day. The position is just so top heavy. Do you use an early pick on Travis Kelce or Darren Waller? Or do you wait and pick two players like Noah Fant and Jared Cook to platoon on a weekly basis? It would be a lot easier if there are 10 surefire fantasy tight ends, but no one ever said fantasy football was easy, right?
I’m thankful for the NFL RedZone channel. Is there a better way to watch football as a fantasy football fan? I don’t think so. I mean you get to see all the scores and all the action when teams are close to scoring. It is a fascinating way to watch the games. And it makes for some real excitement as you are trying to see what you are doing in your fantasy games. The highs and lows come real quick when watching the NFL RedZone.
Lastly, I’m thankful for all of our users. We truly have the best users in the fantasy world that are on RealTime Fantasy Sports. It is so great to be a part of. It truly feels like a community on our site and I’m proud to be just a small part of that. So I want to thank all of you out there for helping make this place the best to play fantasy sports.
News and Notes: The Texans released running back Phillip Lindsay on Tuesday. Lindsay saw his playing time dip in recent weeks, so this move isn’t a complete surprise. Rex Burkhead and David Johnson should handle most of the running back duties going forward. . . . .The Bears reportedly will fire head coach Matt Nagy after their Week 12 game. . . . .The Giants fired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett on Tuesday. You could see this coming with the way the offense had played recently. Tight end’s coach Freddie Kitchens will take over the offensive coordinator position going forward for the Giants. . . . .The Titans released Adrian Peterson on Tuesday. This might be the end of the line for Peterson, who did little with his chances in Tennessee.
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, 49ers. Aiyuk has finally become a factor in the 49ers offense once again. He had his best game of the season last week, catching seven passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. He has scores two of three games and double-digit fantasy points three of four games. He is finally getting more consistent targets and producing with those chances. He should keep up his hot play this week against the Vikings, a team that allows the third most fantasy points to receivers.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Broncos. You can be frustrated all you want about rookie Javonte Williams not playing more, but at this point, it doesn’t looking like things are going to change in the backfield. Gordon is going to be a big part of the offense every week. And as long as he is on the field, he has fantasy value. Gordon has touchdowns four straight games and double-digit fantasy points five straight. He seems setup for at least another score this week against the Chargers, a team that is dead last against the run and has allowed 13-rushing touchdowns.
Darnell Mooney, WR, Bears. Mooney is eighth in fantasy receiver scoring his last three games. He has taken over as the No. 1 receiver in Chicago and is playing great in that role. He had his second 100-yard game of the season last week and has touchdowns two straight. He had a season-high 16 targets last week. Mooney has moved into must start territory for fantasy teams, especially this week against the Lions. Detroit has allowed more than 30 points in a game four times this season.
James Robinson, RB, Jaguars. Robinson didn’t have a great game last week but was still able to find the end zone. He has scores two straight games and seems to be getting a little healthier every week. He seems ready to have one of his big performances. And a matchup this week against the Falcons gives him a good chance for that huge game. Atlanta is a mess defensively and allow the fourth most fantasy points to running backs. The Falcons allow 123.3-rushing yards per game and have given up 10-rushing touchdowns.
Dalton Schultz, TE, Cowboys. Schultz had his best game in a few weeks in Week 11, having six receptions for 53 yards on eight targets. All the injuries at receiver for the Cowboys opens the door for Schultz to get more targets. It should be more of the same this week for Schultz against the Raiders. Las Vegas also struggles to stop the tight end, allowing the second most fantasy points to tight ends.
Myles Gaskin, RB, Dolphins. Gaskin has been getting his most work of the season lately, having a season high 23 carries last week. He has 20 or more carries two of three games. The Dolphins have made it a point to get him more involved in the offense. But even with that said, his producing hasn’t been great. He has fewer than 40-rushing yards three of four games. He might get a lot of work again this week but that might not lead to much production once again. Gaskin plays the Panthers, a team that allows the second fewest fantasy points to running backs.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Giants. Golladay has been a big disappointment much of the season. He caught just a pass for 12 yards on two targets last week. He has three receptions for 40 yards on four targets his last two games. He has a few big games this year but you can’t bank on that right now with his recent play and the struggles of the Giants offense. Plus, he has a tough matchup this week against the Eagles, a team that has allowed the second fewest fantasy points to receivers.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans. Tannehill had a season high 52 pass attempts last week but that didn’t lead to al to of fantasy production. He scored just a touchdown and finished with fewer than 17 fantasy points. He has fewer than 17 points two of three games. The loss of Derrick Henry has really impacted the entire offense, including the passing game. Tannehill just hasn’t looked like the same quarterback from the past few years. Plus, he is dealing with a lot of injuries at the receiver spot, which isn’t helping. He gets the Patriots this week, a team that allows the second fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. If you have better options, go with them.
Damien Harris, RB, Patriots. The emergence of rookie Rhamondre Stevenson is a concern for Harris owners. Harris still had double-digit carries his last time out but that total was his lowest since Week 4. We aren’t giving up on Harris just yet but he might be a little more hit or miss going forward, especially against teams with good run defenses. He gets a tough matchup this week against the Titans. Tennessee is a mess against the pass but do well against the run, allowing the fourth fewest fantasy points to running backs. Tennessee is fourth overall against the rush, allowing just 97.2-rushing yards per game.
Courtland Sutton, WR, Broncos. Sutton just signed a big contract extension this week, but that doesn’t mean you just plug him into your fantasy lineup. He has really struggled lately, having six or fewer fantasy points three straight games. He has 40 or fewer yards all three of those games. His production has really been up and down all year, especially with Jerry Jeudy is healthy and in the lineup. Things won’t be much easier for him this week against the Chargers, a team that allows the third fewest fantasy points to receivers.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers. Garoppolo is playing his best football right now. He has multiple touchdowns three straight games and has just one interception during that stretch. He also has 300-yard games two of four games. Garoppolo can have another good showing this week against the Vikings. Minnesota allows the seventh most fantasy points to quarterbacks and rank 21st overall against the pass. He is a good streaming play for Week 12.
Robby Anderson, WR, Panthers. Anderson is having a really disappointing season, but starting to show a few signs of life. And the addition of Cam Newton to the starting lineup should be a good thing for Anderson. He has six targets each of his last two games and has nine receptions on those 12 targets. He is finally getting a little more work and helping fantasy teams. He might be worth a shot this week against the Dolphins, a team that has allowed the second most fantasy points to receivers this season.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Ravens. Latavius Murray returned to the lineup last week, but Freeman still started and got the most carries for the Ravens. This should continue to happen going forward because Freeman has done well in this role. He had a season-high 20 fantasy points last week. He has double-digit fantasy points four of five games. His numbers aren’t off the charts but consistent, making him a good weekly flex play. He can do well again this week against the Browns, a team that has allowed at least 22 fantasy points to running backs five straight games.
Taylor Heinicke, QB, Washington. Heinicke had a tough matchup against one of the best defenses in football last week but still managed to have a three-touchdown game. It was an impressive performance. He has three three-touchdown games this season and five games with 24-plus fantasy points. He has become a good spot play for fantasy teams. And a Week 12 game against the Seahawks might be a good spot to play him. Seattle has allowed 285-plus passing yards two straight games.
Kendrick Bourne, WR, Patriots. Bourne had four more receptions last week, giving him at least four receptions four of five games. He has become a consistent factor in the Patriots passing game. He also has 14-plus fantasy points three of six games. He can help fantasy teams as a No. 3 receiver. Bourne has a matchup for more good things against the Titans this week. Tennessee allows the most fantasy points to receivers.
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: Raiders/Cowboys, Bills/Saints, Bucs/Colts, Rams/Packers.
Low Scoring Games: Bears/Lions, Falcons/Jaguars.
Bye Weeks: Cardinals, Chiefs.
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.
San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell (knee) has been removed from the injury report heading into the playoff matchup against the Green Bay Packers. The knee issue appears to be behind him as Mitchell has fully practiced each of the last two days. That being said, Mitchell should have a full workload against Green Bay this weekend. He has seen 20-plus carries in each of the last six games. He'll be the offensive focal point and an excellent DFS option for this weekend's slate.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (abdominal) has been activated off the injured reserve. This is good news for the Packers who could use the reinforcements. Although, Cobb isn't expected to generated a ton of targets against the San Francisco 49ers this weekend. The last time Cobb played was Week 12 against the Los Angeles Rams. He finished with four receptions, 95 receiving yards, and one touchdown in that contest. Possibly, it's a sign that Cobb is better than he looks, but DFS players shouldn't trust him. He'll be a touchdown-dependent option for this playoff matchup with the 49ers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II (ankle) did not suit up for Thursday's practice. There was some confusion earlier because Jones was at practice without a walking boot. However, he didn't practice with the team and was likely limited to rehab duties. Despite that, it's nice to see Jones out of the walking boot finally. However, it's uncertain if Jones will be able to suit up for Sunday's playoff matchup with the Los Angeles Rams. Fellow running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) is questionable to play after missing last week's matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles. That means, the Bucs could once again use the combination of Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard. Neither of them carry high value in terms of streaming, but Bernard is the slightly better DFS option. However, the return of Fournette or Jones would likely end both of their values. Fantasy managers are going to need to stay tuned over the next few days.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Cyril Grayson Jr. (hamstring) remained sidelined during Thursday's practice. He was joined on the sideline by fellow wideout Breshad Perriman (abdominal, hip) on Thursday. That being said, Mike Evans, Tyler Johnson, and Scotty Miller could be the starters for the playoff matchup against the Los Angeles Rams this weekend. The hope is that Grayson will be able to play since he was able to practice on Wednesday. He has a small sample size this season, but played well whenever given the chance. Grayson hauled in six receptions for 81 yards and one touchdown against the New York Jets in Week 17. Possibly, Grayson could be a sneaky DFS option, assuming he's able to suit up against the Rams.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins has gotten somewhat lost in the storm of Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase putting up record-setting numbers. However, Higgins is a solid option, and it was fairly recently that the fantasy community was in a frenzy regarding taking Higgins over Chase in 2022. Things have changed, obviously, but Higgins is still a fantastic option for DFS and will be a draft target in 2022. A tall, possession wide receiver, paired with one of the best in the game in Chase and a gunslinger in Burrow, Higgins has the potential to go off in any given week while also holding a decent floor due to the offense's electricity and the lanky receiver's talent. With the LSU reunion in Cincinnati, the former Clemson Tiger is being overlooked to a fault.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Byron Pringle is nothing special, but if DFS players are scouring for a cheap wide receiver or Flex, Pringle is a good fit. In his last four games, Pringle has played 64 percent of snaps and been on pace for 81 receptions, 863 yards, and 17 touchdowns. Obviously, this is not sustainable, but behind Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, Pringle has emerged as the Chiefs' next best option through the air. Although he has little value in Dynasty and probably won't even be drafted in 2022, fantasy managers can ride the 28-year-old's hot streak in what projects to be a shootout against the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon had a surprising performance last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers with 12 carries for 61 yards and six receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown. However, this apparent breakout should be analyzed skeptically. The 29-year-old accompanied a variation of lead backs in his days with the Minnesota Vikings but managed to sign a substantial deal with the San Francisco 49ers, where he would fade to irrelevance. But the Chiefs took a flier on this speedster, and after a full season with the team, he finally played a role in this offense for one game. Throughout the season, the Chiefs have been searching for an answer at running back and cycling from one guy to another. Perhaps McKinnon is what they've been looking for all along, but based on his career's history and the abruptness of his surge, it's most likely that they'll continue rotating to the next guy and McKinnon will fade once again.
Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary had a stellar end to the season and has continued his dominance into the playoffs. Last week, against the New England Patriots, Singletary had 16 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns as well three catches for 13 yards. Through the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 15 to 17), the 24-year-old was the RB2, averaging 18.5 fantasy points per game. Singletary's divisional round performance against the Kansas City Chiefs may be extremely indicative of his future outlook. Against a good defense and in what's projected to be a contested game, the Bills may choose to lean on their lead-runner: a great sign for Singletary's future value. However, the Bills may also find themselves falling behind and revert to their pass-heavy ways, neglecting Singletary, which presents some downside for Dynasty managers and potential 2022 drafters. The Bills have recently reinvented themselves around this talented rusher, but only time will tell if they choose to sustain this strategy.
Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers has officially returned after recovering from his torn Achilles in record time, and he has returned with a bang. The sophomore amassed 18 touches for 95 total yards against the Arizona Cardinals on Wild Card Weekend. After such a great performance, it seems as though Akers has returned as the Rams' feature-back; however, this notion is not reflected in his DFS cost. A mere price of $5,700 places him in the neighborhood of questionable backups Giovanni Bernard and Jerick McKinnon. Even if Akers isn't ready to assume the full workload, this price is overcompensating for an injury that has been a minimal factor since his return. Akers should be a cornerstone of all DFS lineups this week and will be a staple of the early rounds in 2022 drafts.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Breshad Perriman (abdomen, hip) looked to be limited in practice on Thursday and is still a question mark to play on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round. Perriman sat out of Wednesday's walkthrough practice, but the good news is that he was able to get back on the field on Thursday. The 28-year-old caught only one of three targets for five yards in the wild-card win over the Philadelphia Eagles last week with Cyril Grayson (hamstring) inactive. If he's able to play against the Rams, he'll be a boom/bust DFS option for fantasy gamers. If both Perriman and Grayson are unable to play, Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller would have expanded roles alongside Mike Evans in three-wide sets.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (foot) is progressing well, but the team won't make a decision on his status for the Divisional Round against the Cincinnati Bengals until Friday, according to head coach Mike Vrabel. Henry has been taking contact in practice this week, but the Titans must first activate him from Injured Reserve if Henry is healthy enough to play on Saturday for the first time since Week 8. All signs are pointing to the 28-year-old being active against Cincinnati, and if he is, he should be the team's workhorse running back. Henry could be a bit risky in his first game back, especially as the most expensive RB at DraftKings, but he's also been the most dominant RB in the league when he's been healthy the last couple of seasons.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) is practicing again on Thursday. Fournette remains on Injured Reserve and hasn't played since Week 15, but he could be trending towards a return for the Divisional Round game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. If Fournette is healthy enough to play, the Bucs will have to activate him no later than Saturday. With Fournette and Ronald Jones II (ankle) out in the wild-card round, Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard were in a timeshare in Tampa's backfield. Fournette should operate as the team's lead back if he's activated, although he might not be used as the workhorse in the running and passing game like he was before his injury, especially if Jones is able to return as well.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II (ankle) was back at practice on Thursday and wasn't in his walking boot as he worked with a trainer. Jones appears to be making progress after sitting out of the wild-card win over the Philadelphia Eagles, but he's fighting an uphill battle to be ready on Sunday to face the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round. Leonard Fournette (hamstring) is making progress and could come off Injured Reserve to play this weekend, while Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard wait for their opportunity after splitting the backfield touches last weekend. Even if Jones somehow was able to play on Sunday and Fournette missed another game, Vaughn and Bernard would likely still be involved, which would make Jones tough to recommend in DFS contests.
Former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is interviewing with the Carolina Panthers for their vacant offensive coordinator spot again Thursday, Jan. 20.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones (ankle) was working with a trainer at practice Thursday, Jan. 20, without a boot.
Fantasy Spin: RoJo could be a flex candidate even though Leonard Fournette is trending upwards.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (knee) made his return from injury for the Bills' playoff game against New England and caught two passes for 36 yards and a touchdown. He come out of that game healthy and was able to practice in full all week, meaning he will remain active against a Chiefs team who he had great success against in October when he caught three passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns. Now, since that time, Gabriel Davis has emerged as a key members of the wide receiver corps; however, Sanders has not been phased out. In fact, Sanders played the third-most snaps among Bills wide receivers during the Wild Card win over New England, so if the Bills need to push the pace against the Chiefs, Sanders could be an intriguing DFS dart throw in GPP lineups.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce draws a difficult matchup on Sunday against the Bills. In particular, Bills linebacker Matt Milano, who the team usually uses to cover opposing tight ends, has given up the fewest yards per target in the NFL (min. 150 targets) since 2017. Milano also leads the NFL in coverage success rate and catch rate allowed over expected. When the Bills played the Chiefs in October, Kelce had 6 catches for 57 yards, but he did find the end zone, and his clear red zone role on a good offense will always make him a fantasy option. However, with the Bills missing star cornerback Tre'Davious White, it's fair to wonder if this is a game where the Kansas City wide receivers may be more consistently impactful.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (knee) has yet to undergo surgery on his torn ACL, per head coach Mike McCarthy. He suffered a clean ACL tear in the Week 17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The 25-year-old reportedly will undergo surgery later once the swelling subsides. Gallup will become an unrestricted free agent and may not be ready by Week 1 of the 2022 campaign since he tore his ACL towards the end of the 2021 season. He caught 35 passes for 445 yards and two touchdowns over nine games in 2021. Gallup will look to recover fully, and barring any setbacks, should draw plenty of interest from teams during the offseason. Stay tuned.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said the team is taking a "wait and see" approach for running back Leonard Fournette's (hamstring) status for the Divisional Round matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. He's been sidelined since Week 16 due to a hamstring injury. The 27-year-old did practice on Wednesday and is trending in the right direction towards suiting up this Sunday. Giovani Bernard and Ke'Shawn Vaughn will lead Tampa Bay's backfield if Fournette is ruled out. The Buccaneers will have until Saturday to activate Fournette from injured reserve, and if active, the Buccaneers running back is a solid value at $7,000 price tag on FanDuel.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams (toe) didn't practice on Wednesday. He played through the toe injury in Sunday's AFC Wild Card win over the Pittsburgh Steelers but only logged one carry. The 26-year-old rushed for four yards on his only attempt and lost a fumble which was returned for a touchdown. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a full participant in Wednesday's practice and is trending in the right direction towards suiting up for the Divisional Round game against the Buffalo Bills. If active, it's unclear what Williams' role will be with Edwards-Helaire most likely returning and Jerick McKinnon in the mix, who led the Chiefs backfield with 18 touches for 142 yards and a touchdown in last Sunday's win over the Steelers. Williams is a risky play at his $5,500 price tag on FanDuel.