2018 Fantasy Football: Notes







By Chet Gresham - @Chet_G
Updated Jan. 16, 2018.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

There truly is no offseason in the NFL, and that applies to fantasy as well. Below, I gather some of the more interesting tidbits from the news and look at them with a fantasy perspective.

Jan. 16 Updates

Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars
Allen Robinson believes he will be able to pass a physical before free agency begins in March. His upside in a non-Blake Bortles run offense could be great, so his landing spot this spring is going to be interesting to fantasy players. I'm hoping for Robinson to join the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo, but of course he will end up going where the money is, which could be a wide variety of destinations.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans
If the Titans cut DeMarco Murray, his $6.5 million salary would be completely wiped from their books, and after a lackluster and injury plagued 2017, that will likely happen. He will land with another team, but at a greatly reduced salary and role.





Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers
Le'Veon Bell has threated to retire if the Steelers place the franchise tag on him again this season, and the tag is exactly what will likely happen. It is worth $14.5 million, so that would be a good chunk to leave on the table for retirement, but it's not completely out of the realm of possibilities.

Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Rex Burkhead is expected to play in the AFC Championship game in Foxborough. He would hurt James White's upside, but I just don't see Dion Lewis' snaps being cut into after his recent play.

Zay Jones, WR, Bills
Zay Jones reportedly played through a torn labrum all season, which in many ways is a positive, as he caught just 36 percent of all his targets and was just awful for the majority of the season. This development gives us some hope for a turnaround when healthier next season.

Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons
Devonta Freeman says he played with sprains to both his MCL and PCL toward the end of the season. It seemed evident, especially in the Falcons' playoff loss to the Eagles, when Tevin Coleman obviously outplayed Freeman. Freeman may need surgery, but will opt not to if it is something he can avoid. Either way, he should be ready to go for next season and will likely continue to be the lead back, but with Coleman cutting into his work.



Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers believe a deal will get done, but if it can't, then they could give him the franchise tag. Either way, Garoppolo will be a 49er next season. They'll need to upgrade their receiving group, but will have Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin to build onto.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
Larry Fitzgerald is noncommittal about playing next season, but there's no doubt he still has the ability, after catching 109 passes in 2017. He also says that Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians retiring won't impact his decision, but I think whomever the Cardinals hire as head coach will. I think the odds are good that Fitzgerald will return for another year though.

Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs
It is expected that Kansas City will move on from Alex Smith and move ahead with Patrick Mahomes. After Smith's best season as a pro, many will find this a hard pill to swallow, but Smith isn't going to improve on 2017, as I believe it will go down as his career best. Meanwhile, Mahomes has a better raw skill-set and a higher theoretical upside, which is probably needed if Kansas City wants to compete for a Super Bowl.

Brice Butler, WR, Cowboys
Brice Butler says he won't re-sign with the Cowboys unless they promise him a starting job. It does make sense, as he's shown his worth in limited playing time, while Terrance Williams and even Dez Bryant have underperformed. Butler is an intriguing name for fantasy players this offseason.



Jets RBs
Matt Forte will likely be cut after an injury-plagued season. Bilal Powell is the best running back the Jets have at the moment, but they will likely look to get younger. I don't think we can expect one back to dominate the backfield in 2018 unless the Jets end up grabbing someone in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, which I doubt will happen.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Rams
The Rams appear ready to franchise tag Sammy Watkins. Watkins didn't see a big role in his first season with the Rams, but he was also brought in late and just wasn't integrated into the offense fully. With Sean McVay and Jared Goff already off to a great start together, I expect Watkins to become a much larger part of the offense next season.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill should be 100 percent for training camp after partially tearing his ACL early on this season. He may not be a Super Bowl quarterback, but he sure has been better for the Dolphins than Jay Cutler was. Tannehill will be their starting quarterback next season and should help their offensive players more than Cutler did in 2017.

Alex Collins, RB, Ravens
The Ravens and head coach John Harbaugh won't commit to Alex Collins as their lead back after a strong 2017. Harbaugh says they will look to "upgrade everything." The Ravens also have Kenneth Dixon, Buck Allen and Danny Woodhead at the moment. It looks like this will be a messy situation for fantasy, but Collins did prove himself enough to be in the conversation for lead back.



Jan. 11 Updates

Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers
Antonio Brown returned to practice on Monday and has been practicing in full all week. He says he will be ready to go Sunday against Jacksonville, and it appears that is the case. Brown had the best game of any wide receiver against the Jaguars this season, catching 10 passes for 157 yards against them in a Week 5 loss, but he also saw a whopping 19 targets as Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions. If Brown sees 19 targets again, the Steelers probably aren't playing the game they planned on.

Jay Ajayi, RB, Eagles
Jay Ajayi was rested a little last week to give his chronic knee injury some rest. He is practicing in full this week and should be in line for the majority of the work in the backfield, as he's slowly taken over the role. After watching Nick Foles flail around for the last couple games, the Eagles would probably be smart to force the run game against Atlanta, but the Falcons' run defense is a good unit.

Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots
Rex Burkhead continues to practice this week, but he was seen with a noticeable limp by beat reporters. It is still too early to know what will happen with him, but if he can't go, Dion Lewis and James White would see the bulk of the work and would both make viable fantasy targets against the Titans.



Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings
Kyle Rudolph played through a bad ankle the last month of the season, and it showed on the field. He now is back to practicing in full after the bye week and should be good to go against the Saints.

Artie Burns, CB, Steelers
Steelers cornerback Artie Burns had to leave practice Wednesday with a knee injury. His absence would be a blow to the Steelers defense, but would be more concerning if they were to beat the Jaguars and play the Patriots next weekend, where they would need all the help they can get defending against Tom Brady.

Derrick Henry, RB, Titans
DeMarco Murray is out again this week with a knee injury. That will give Derrick Henry another shot as the full-time back, which worked out pretty well for him against Kansas City last week. His lack of receptions will continue to hurt his upside, but he was used extensively last week, even with Kansas City getting out to a big lead. He could get shut down by the Patriots and game flow, but his pricing on DFS sites still makes him hard to pass up.

Jan. 5 Updates

Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons
Devonta Freeman got some rest for his knee this week in practice, but was a full-go on Thursday and isn't on the injury report. His matchup is good against the Rams, who are better against the pass than the run, ranking third in DVOA against the pass and 22nd against the run. Statistically, they've allowed the fifth-most rushing yards, but have only allowed the 19th-most rushing attempts.

Marqise Lee, WR, Jaguars
Ian Rapoport says the team believes Marqise Lee will play against Buffalo. Lee, according to Rapoport, doesn't have to practice to be able to go. If Lee does play, that will give us a bunch of Jaguars receivers - Lee, Allen Hurns, Dede Westbrook and Keenan Cole - to choose from for fantasy. Spreading those wide receiver targets out against the Bills makes choosing a Jaguars receiver virtually impossible, as the Bills have allowed just eight touchdowns to wide receivers all season, tied for second best with Jacksonville. Additionally, Jacksonville should attack the Bills at their weakest point, which is their run defense.

LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills
LeSean McCoy didn't practice again on Thursday, but coach Sean McDermott did say that McCoy was "headed in the right direction." It's likely a race against time that McCoy probably can't win. He has played well with injuries in the past, but he himself didn't sound overly optimistic. Unless he's just unable to cut at all, I expect he'll be active, but he could easily be a decoy or just see limited work.

DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, RBs, Titans
DeMarco Murray has been ruled out against Kansas City. That pushes Derrick Henry up to the forefront again, and Kansas City has had trouble against the run, allowing the ninth-most rushing yards and sixth-most rushing touchdowns on the 12th-most rushing attempts. Where Kansas City has done well against running backs is through the air, allowing the fewest receptions, yards and touchdowns in the league, but Henry isn't a receiving back, so his ability should mesh with this matchup. The trouble is if the Titans get down big and have to focus on passing, which will severely limit Henry's touches.

Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers
Devin Funchess didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday, but that is his routine now as he manages his shoulder injury. He will likely get work in on Friday and be ready to go for Sunday's game in New Orleans.



Jan. 4 Updates

Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis, RBs, Patriots
Rex Burkhead practiced on Wednesday, which puts him on track to play in the divisional round. His presence will likely hurt Dion Lewis' overall numbers, but Lewis has proven himself enough to continue being the lead back.

Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots
Chris Hogan hasn't played in the last two weeks after having a setback when he returned from a 5-week absence against Miami in Week 14. But he has been getting practices in and the Patriots even named him one of their Practice Players of the Week. I'm assuming that is good news and by the time the Patriots play again, he should be ready to go.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins
Dolphins coach Adam Gase said that he envisions Ryan Tannehill being their starting quarterback next season. That will push Jay Cutler to the side and likely back into retirement, because he is looking for a starting gig and no team is going to assure him of that. Tannehill has shown flashes, but usually reverts to mediocrity. I think Gase can get the most out of Tannehill, but he's still going to be an iffy fantasy play.

Broncos QBs
Trevor Siemian will have surgery on his left shoulder this week. He also had surgery on the same shoulder last offseason, but it's not the same injury. Siemian was the best Broncos quarterback this season, but in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. None of Siemian, Brock Osweiler or Paxton Lynch is a starting quarterback in the NFL, so John Elway will once again have to sign a proven player if he wants to keep his team in contention, which right now feels like Kirk Cousins would be the guy he will pursue. Cousins is not Peyton Manning, but he's a good starting quarterback, and with the team Denver has, he would likely have success.





Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals
Carson Palmer has retired. He was the best quarterback on Arizona's roster, but he also was in serious decline and his lack of mobility wasn't going to get any better any time soon. With Bruce Arians also retiring, it sure would make sense to see Larry Fitzgerald follow suit, as this Cardinals team, even with David Johnson, is likely to be average at best until it finds a quarterback

DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, RBs, Titans
DeMarco Murray didn't practice on Tuesday, but that's not really news, as his injury is of the multi-week variety and the Titans are likely just playing games by not ruling him out early. Derrick Henry will likely be the lead back against a Kansas City defense that isn't that good, but does play better at home.

Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers
Mike Tomlin said Antonio Brown would be questionable if the Steelres played this weekend, but since they don't, it looks like he will be ready to go the following week. It's not a given, but so far, I think we'll see Brown in the divisional round.

LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills
Adam Schefter reported that LeSean McCoy will be a game-time decision against Jacksonville for the wild-card round. He likely won't practice this week as he gets treatment, but the odds that he'll be a full-go seem long. Without Shady at 100 percent, the Bills will be too one-dimensional to really have much of a chance against the Jaguars' top pass defense.

Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
Jim Irsay promised that Andrew Luck will return next season. He also said the same thing before this season, so I think we can take his word for what it's worth: nothing. I hope Luck comes back, because the NFL needs all the good quarterbacks it can get. Watching Brett Hundley, Tom Savage, Blaine Gabbert, Brian Hoyer, Nathan Peterman, and all the other awful quarterbacks start games this season was not the way to keep people interested.

Frank Gore, RB, Colts
Irsay also mentioned that he would like to use a high draft pick on a running back. That shows that the the Colts will likely move on from Frank Gore and bring in a back who would move ahead of Marlon Mack quickly. Irsay very much wants that Peyton Manning/Edgerrin James type of a duo to showcase, and I can't say I'm against it as a fantasy player. Gore is ageless, but he's not able to take over games anymore and usually will only get what's blocked for him.

For earlier fantasy notes from this offseason, check out the Fantasy Notes archive.

Also, check out our Fantasy Football Rankings.






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