An exciting Wild Card weekend is in the books, and NFL fans were treated to an exhilarating slate of games that included two contests decided in the final seconds in excruciating fashion. Numerous noteworthy performances and injuries occurred in the four Wild Card games, and we will touch on the fantasy significance of these situations, along with other news from around the NFL in Monday’s Daily Dose.
Cousins Cruises, But Loses
Although Washington was eliminated from the NFL playoffs on Sunday, the Redskins produced many of the weekend’s top fantasy performances that were useful in weekly playoff leagues and DFS contests.
Kirk Cousins was the top fantasy quarterback over the weekend, turning in a solid performance against Green Bay. Cousins finished the regular season with 11 touchdown passes in Weeks 15-17, but threw just one score in the Wild Card round. Cousins’ stat line was carried by 329 passing yards, a total he topped just once in the 2015 regular season. Cousins also added a rushing score on Sunday after tallying five scores on the ground in 2015, as he punched in a quarterback draw. Cousins is about to hit free agency and will likely be back in Washington where he will reside in QB2 land for the 2016 season.
Washington running back Chris Thompson pumped out a huge PPR performance as the Redskins trailed Green Bay on Sunday, catching eight passes for 89 yards to go with 25 rushing yards. Matt Jones (hip) was inactive, and Thompson ended up getting more run than Pierre Thomas on passing downs in this game. Thompson is the clubhouse leader for passing-down work in the Washington backfield in 2016, and he snagged 35 passes in the 2015 regular season.
Tight end Jordan Reed was outstanding yet again as he caught nine passes for 120 yards and a score on Sunday in Washington’s loss to Green Bay. Reed was targeted a whopping 17 times, and continued his string of hot performances. In his last five games, Reed has averaged 7.6 receptions, 99.6 yards, and scored six touchdowns as he has quickly elevated in the fantasy tight end landscape. Reed will be a top-five option at the position in drafts next summer.
Kansas City wide receiver Jeremy Maclin suffered what was believed to be a knee injury on Saturday, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter delivered good news for Chiefs fans on Sunday when he reported that Maclin escaped with just a high-ankle sprain. While avoiding a knee injury is a bonus, Maclin’s Divisional Round status is in serious doubt as the Chiefs prepare to travel to New England to take on the Patriots. Tight end Travis Kelce saw 10 targets in Kansas City’s win over Houston, and he would likely be Alex Smith’s primary target if Maclin is out. Wide receivers Albert Wilson and Chris Conley would also see additional chances to contribute on a big stage if the team’s leading receiver misses time.
Ben Roethlisberger’s shoulder injury will be a huge factor in the game between Pittsburgh and Denver next weekend, and CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reports that the Steelers are “optimistic” that their quarterback will be able to suit up on Sunday. Roethlisberger was able to re-enter Pittsburgh’s Wild Card game at Cincinnati but was clearly limited and struggled to throw the ball downfield. The entire fate of the Steelers’ offense rests on Ben’s strained shoulder, as backup quarterback Landry Jones has thrown an interception every 12 pass attempts since the start of the 2015 season.
Antonio Brown suffered a concussion near the end of Pittsburgh’s Wild Card win over Cincinnati, as he took a monstrous hit from Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. No major news has been released regarding Brown’s status for the upcoming round of the NFL playoffs, but stay tuned to Rotoworld for updates throughout the week. Brown racked up 119 yards on seven catches on Saturday, the first time he topped the 100-yard mark against Cincinnati this season in three tries. Even if Brown is healthy, his production will take a major hit if Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder) isn’t 100 percent, so injury news out of Pittsburgh this week will be critical as Sunday approaches.
Seattle escaped from Minnesota with a win thanks to a crooked boot from Vikings kicker Blair Walsh, and now the speculation on running back Marshawn Lynch’s status will begin as the Seahawks prepare for a long flight to Carolina to face the Panthers. Lynch (abdomen) declared himself out for the Wild Card round last Friday, and Seattle coach Pete Carroll told reporters after Sunday’s game that he “didn’t know” what the next step was regarding Lynch’s playing status. Christine Michael has filled-in admirably for Lynch in recent weeks and contributed 84 total yards in Seattle’s opening-round victory, but the injury status of Lynch this week will go a long way in determining whether Seattle will get its lead runner back this postseason.
Rotoworld’s Ray Summerlin wrote a fantastic recap of recent NFL coaching changes (check it out here), but a few coaching updates filtered in on Sunday, led by Rob Ryan being hired in Buffalo as a defensive assistant. Ryan has been largely ineffective in defensive coaching positions in his career, but will get a shot to work with his brother Rex in hopes of improving the Buffalo defense. The Bills recorded just 21 sacks in 2015, the second-lowest total among NFL teams, and failed to live up to preseason expectations as a unit.
Cincinnati OC Hue Jackson is a target of numerous teams including Cleveland and San Francisco, but the New York Giants are also reportedly interested in interviewing Jackson for their open head coach position. It appears that the Bengals will be on the prowl for a new play caller with Jackson being heavily courted by multiple NFL teams. Jackson will likely decide on a destination in coming days.
The fate of Detroit coach Jim Caldwell will be determined in coming days according to the Detroit Free Press. Fresh new Detroit GM Bob Quinn will decide whether to keep Caldwell in the seat or bring in his own coach as the Lions look to improve on a seven win 2015 season.