|Gates suspended four games for PEDs|
One of four players levied with suspensions on Thursday
By: Doug Orth | Jul 2 2015, 4:30 pm
|The San Diego Chargers announced Thursday that TE Antonio Gates has been suspended four games without pay for violating the NFL Policy and Program for performance-enhancing substances.
He is eligible to return to the active roster on Oct. 5, ahead of a Week 5 matchup against the Steelers. Gates is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games.
Gates blamed his positive test on "supplements and holistic medicines" he used in an effort to recover from the past season.
FFToday's Take: Jets DT Sheldon Richardson, Cowboys LB Rolando McClain and Packers DE Datone Jones were the three other players suspended. Gates had a team-high 12 touchdowns last season and crossed the 10,000 receiving yard mark in San Diego's season finale, so he will be missed. With Gates out, the Chargers will finally have a reason to unleash athletic freak Ladarius Green, who has been unable to assume a bigger role in the offense because of Gates and the team's preference to use three receivers.
|Joique Bell "I'm going to rush for over 1200 yds"|
Lions RB not concerned about injuries
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 30 2015, 9:00 am
|Joique Bell isn't worried about the knee injury that has sidelined him for the entirety of this offseason. He isn't worried about the Achilles either. "I'm going to rush for over 1,200 yards," Bell told MLive.com. "That's the minimum. If I do less than that, I'll be surprised. I'll be disappointed.
"Anything more than that, I wouldn't be surprised at all."
FFToday's Take: Detroit runners have had a rough time reaching 1000 yards in recent years let alone 1200. Bell (Achilles, knee) is expected to be ready for training camp and head coach Jim Caldwell has expressed his interest to run the ball more. However, Rookie Ameer Abdullah is expected to have a role in the offense that will limit Bell's opportunities. If Bell were to hit his ceiling of 250 carries, he'd need to average 4.8 ypc to hit 1200 yards.
|Graham, Lockett among offseason standouts|
Ex-Saint TE, third-round pick catch Carroll's eye
By: Doug Orth | Jun 29 2015, 4:25 pm
|When the offseason program ended Thursday, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll pointed to two players who stood out to him through the rookie camp and OTAs. The first one is rookie wide receiver Tyler Lockett.
"(Lockett) has a lot of responsibilities. He’s going after this return job, he’s inside playing in the slot and been outside. We’ve just thrown everything at him because he seems to be able to handle it," Carroll said.
The other standout for Carroll is TE Jimmy Graham.
“(Graham is) a great kid. He’s as hard a worker as we could hope to get. ... He loves the challenge and coming to a new setting and having to prove himself. He’s feeding off that." (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: Lockett is going to fly under the radar in redraft leagues that don't reward owners for return yards simply because the Seahawks once again don't figure to provide enough volume to make their receivers worthy of starting consideration in fantasy. The same lack of passing-game volume is expected to hinder Graham, although certainly not to the same degree. The three-time Pro Bowler will immediately become Russell Wilson's top target and should be good for at least 10 touchdowns, even if his other receiving numbers take a slight hit.
|Stevie Johnson could be Chargers' X-factor|
WR developed good rapport with Philip Rivers in offseason
By: Doug Orth | Jun 29 2015, 4:15 pm
|WR Steve Johnson appears to have found a home with the San Diego Chargers. The 28-year-old signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract with the Chargers in free agency and has developed a good rapport with QB Philip Rivers during offseason work.
The wide receiver group should be a plus for San Diego’s offense, and it should compete for the best combination of players at that position in the AFC West. Malcom Floyd provides familiarity and stability as the elder statesmen of the group, while Keenan Allen should be more productive in Year 3. But the X-factor will be Johnson and the impact plays he can produce in critical situations for this offense. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: Johnson is expected to replace Eddie Royal as the primary slot receiver and should outperform his predecessor since he is equally capable inside and outside the hashmarks. With field stretchers like Floyd and Jacoby Jones on board, Johnson and Allen should have ample opportunity to work the middle part of the field. Johnson has top-30 receiver potential in this offense, making him a steal at his current 14th-round ADP.
| Mike Tolbert healthy, looking to regain 2013 form|
Panthers RB “didn't feel like myself" last season
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 26 2015, 12:45 pm
|Mike Tolbert said he has been particularly motivated to work out in the offseason because of a left leg and knee injury last season that cost him eight games in 2014. It was the first major injury of his career. “I didn't feel like myself,” Tolbert said. “I didn't feel like I had the power. I didn't fully trust my knee or my leg. I didn't know if it was going to break again or not. I definitely wasn't confident in my body at that point." (Charlotte Observer)|
FFToday's Take: Tolbert returned late last season from his broken leg but was ineffective. His return to health could pose a threat to Jonathan Stewart's fantasy upside as Tolbert is known TD-vulture scoring 11 times in 2010. Rookie Cameron Artis-Payne is also in the mix for carries and would likely split time with Tolbert if Stewart suffers a significant injury.
|Moeaki, Tamme competition expected at camp|
Falcons looking for answers at tight end
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 26 2015, 9:00 am
|The Falcons sought to upgrade the tight end position this offseason by signing Jacob Tamme and Tony Moeaki in free agency. Tamme received a two-year, $4 million contract with $400,000 guaranteed, while Moeaki, who’s been often injured, received a modest one-year, $744,000 deal. The two are expected to compete for the role of top pass-catching tight end when training camp opens on July 31. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)|
FFToday's Take: Levine Toilolo finished 37th among fantasy tight ends last season with a 31-238-2 stat line. The Falcons will role the dice with a consistently injured Moeaki and the veteran Tamme who last had fantasy relevance back in 2012 with Denver. Moeaki is the better athlete with the biggest fantasy upside of the three but his injury history and the WR-focused gameplan in Atlanta makes him undraftable even if he does win the starting job in camp.
|Melvin Gordon "as good as advertised"|
No. 15 overall pick has been a quick study
By: Doug Orth | Jun 25 2015, 5:30 pm
|So far, Melvin Gordon has been as good as advertised in offseason workouts. He’s proved a quick study, both on the field and in the classroom. And he’s been better than expected in the passing game. Most important, Gordon won’t be asked to carry the offense. With Danny Woodhead, Branden Oliver and Donald Brown, Gordon will be part of a running back by committee approach that should provide a significant improvement for San Diego’s running game in 2015. But Gordon will serve as the bell-cow running back. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: RB coach Ollie Wilson went on to compliment his study habits and intelligence. Everybody looks great in shorts at this time of the year, but this is about as much as present and future Gordon owners can ask for at the moment. It's not hard to imagine the No. 15 overall pick amassing 225-250 carries for the Chargers and 25-35 catches while stealing the occasional passing-down snap from Woodhead.
|Charles Johnson "picking up where he left off"|
Expected to have a big role in offense
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 24 2015, 2:51 pm
|Charles Johnson seemed to have gained some stability for the first time in career last year.
The wide receiver emerged as the Vikings No. 1 target last year in his second season, though he didn’t even start the season with the team. “CJ has picked up where he left off in December and he’s having a good spring,” Turner said. Johnson won’t technically be labeled as the No. 1 receiver with the Vikings trading for Mike Wallace from the Dolphins, but he’s expected to have a big role in the offense.
(Minneapolis Star Tribune)|
FFToday's Take: Johnson's fantasy value took a hit with the signing of Mike Wallace but both should be in the starting lineup come Week 1. Both also have WR2 upside in 2015 with Johnson a slight favorite in PPR leagues, playing the "X" position in Norv Turner's offense.
|Bounceback season coming from Garcon?|
Gruden wants to get Garcon more involved
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 24 2015, 1:00 pm
|There were signs, as the Redskins wrapped up last week’s minicamp, that Pierre Garcon will be featured more prominently in the 2015 game plan. Gruden said more than once last season that he wanted to get Garcon more involved in the passing game. But it never really happened, whether as a result of free agent DeSean Jackson’s addition to the receiving corps, the revolving door at quarterback or the failure of Robert Griffin III to make timely, decisive reads. (Washington Post)|
FFToday's Take: It should be noted that DeSean Jackson elected to skip a number of the Redskins voluntary workouts giving Garcon an opportunity to make his way into off-season headlines. Garcon finished 47th among fantasy wide receivers last season, scoring only three touchdowns. If the coach's talk comes true, Garcon should be looking at WR3 value in 2015.
|Randle heads into training camp as starting RB|
Cowboys RB ready to have career year
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 23 2015, 7:00 am
|Joseph Randle led most of the individual drills throughout offseason workouts and regularly worked with the first-team offense. With a month to go before training camp, taking over as the lead back behind the Cowboys’ talented offensive line appears to be Randle’s job to lose. (Dallas Morning News)|
FFToday's Take: Randle's competition currently includes Darren McFadden and Ryan Williams which is part of the reason why Randle's ADP currently sits at 4.04 (RB No.20) in twelve-team leagues. Assuming he can keep his head on straight, Randle has a chance to make a big fantasy impact in his third season.
|Ahmad Bradshaw gets one-game suspension|
Pleaded no contest to marijuana possession
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 22 2015, 8:00 pm
|Free-agent running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who pleaded no contest to marijuana possession in May, was suspended for one game by the NFL on Monday. Bradshaw played the past two seasons for the Indianapolis Colts but was released during the offseason. He would have to serve the suspension if he's signed by another team.
FFToday's Take: Bradshaw hasn't found any takers on the free agent market this off-season. He was playing well for the Colts last season before breaking his leg in Week 11. The Colts appear set at the running back spot with Frank Gore, Dan Herron and rookie Josh Robinson.
|Royal, Cutler working to rekindle chemistry|
Pair worked together in Denver in 2008
By: Doug Orth | Jun 22 2015, 6:00 pm
|The Bears got rid of a frequent Jay Cutler target this offseason when they traded WR Brandon Marshall to the Jets, but Cutler hasn’t been left without any ties to his days in Denver. Eddie Royal signed with the team as a free agent, which reunites him with the man who was the quarterback during his rookie year with the Broncos in 2008. Royal got off to a fast start in his first year, catching 91 passes for 980 yards and five touchdowns. It was the only year that the two men worked together, but both remember it fondly and Royal says they’re putting in the same work now that they did then to build the same chemistry. (Pro Football Talk)|
FFToday's Take: As PFT states, Royal isn't going to match his rookie-year production with Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett, Matt Forte and first-rounder Kevin White also on hand. However, one has to believe new HC John Fox and OC Adam Gase will be emphasizing more high-percentage throws from Cutler. To that end, NFL Media's Albert Breer tweeted the Bears "have big plans" for Royal.
|James White "looked great" in spring|
"Looks like a carbon copy of Shane Vereen"
By: Doug Orth | Jun 22 2015, 5:35 pm
|In the battle of third-down backs, James White looks like a carbon copy of Shane Vereen. He’s lined up in all the same places, and turned in some spectacular catches, particularly on wheel routes coming out of the backfield. He’s made a few drops, but all in all, looks great. It’s important to remember he also looked great last year at this time before falling off the map.
Dion Lewis has earned praise on the field from Brady for his route-running. He’s also been a primary kick returner in drills. He has some giddy-up in his step. Travaris Cadet, another free agent who was the third down back in New Orleans, has had some good moments. (Boston Herald)|
FFToday's Take: Last Thursday, Boston Globe beat writer Ben Volin speculated that Cadet had a “leg up” on the job, which should tell owners just about everything they need to know about believing everything they read in the offseason. White should be considered as a slight favorite simply because the Patriots drafted him last year with the intention of him becoming the heir apparent to Vereen, but he’ll need to carry his offseason performance into the preseason - something he was unable to do last year.
|Eifert caught "virtually everything" in spring|
Fully recovered from shoulder, elbow injuries
By: Doug Orth | Jun 22 2015, 5:30 pm
|(Bengals TE Tyler Eifert) had a strong spring, too. He was being brought along a little slower (than WR Marvin Jones) mainly because coaches and trainers simply didn't want to run the risk of getting him hurt. He's fully recovered from late-season shoulder surgery, and his dislocated elbow has healed. Eifert looks healthy. He caught virtually everything thrown his way during open practices, and looked sharp in his routes. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: The Bengals insist they are playing it cautiously with Eifert, who was lost for the season with the elbow injury early in Week 1 after catching a pass on each of the team's first three series. With Jermaine Gresham no longer around, the No. 21 overall pick in 2013 could easily absorb the 62 catches he leaves behind and become an every-week fantasy TE1. Eifert and A.J. Green should be Andy Dalton's primary targets inside and outside the red zone, meaning Eifert could be poised for a top-10 season at his position if he can just stay healthy.
|GM: No restrictions for Cam as a runner|
"You don’t hold back a thoroughbred"
By: Doug Orth | Jun 22 2015, 5:10 pm
|Panthers GM Dave Gettleman, when asked if Cam Newton's extension will change how often he runs:
"No. He’s got to be Cam. You don’t hold back a thoroughbred, you don’t. I don’t know if you watched the Belmont (Stakes). When (American) Pharoah came around that backstretch and that horse was nipping at his heels, the jockey let him go. He didn’t whip him. He’s just, ‘Go baby!’ And that’s what a thoroughbred does. You don’t change their game. …You can’t do it." (Charlotte Observer)|
FFToday's Take: Newton was saddled with one of the worst depth charts at receiver last year and was rarely ever able to stay healthy, from his early-season rib injury to the back injury he suffered as a result of his November car accident. Once Newton got to feeling better, however, he averaged 9.5 carries for 53 yards and 0.5 rushing touchdowns over the final six games of the season (including playoffs). With his health and long-term status no longer an issue, Newton is a solid bet to finish among the top 5-8 fantasy quarterbacks this season.
|Green expected to have bigger role in offense|
We've heard this before
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 19 2015, 7:00 am
|The Chargers said it last year. They're saying it again now. Ladarius Green is expected to have a larger role in their offense, the team working to take advantage of his size-speed combo to present a mismatch for defenses. "I'd be shocked if he didn't have his most productive year," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. (San Diego Union Tribune)|
FFToday's Take: We've heard this before. Green's expected breakout last season never happened as he dealt with injuries and the consistently good play of veteran Antonio Gates. Green has immense physical skills but with Steve Johnson added to the receiving mix, Green will likely need an injury to Gates in order to make a significant fantasy impact.
|Allen Robinson "unbelievable" in offseason|
Missed final six weeks of last season with a broken right foot
By: Doug Orth | Jun 18 2015, 8:55 pm
|Allen Robinson spent last season looking for a niche. He was somewhat lost in the mix, especially after missing most of OTAs, training camp and the preseason with a hamstring injury and then ending up on injured reserve for the final six weeks with a broken right foot. The former Penn State standout has been the star of Jacksonville's offseason program, showing big-play ability all over the field and most noticeably in and around the end zone.
"He's been unbelievable," QB Blake Bortles said. "He's definitely a threat now in the red zone. ... He's physical. He can run and do everything out in the open field, so he's been fun to throw to." (AP)|
FFToday's Take: Jacksonville hasn't had a 1,000-yard receiver since Jimmy Smith in 2005, but it appears Robinson could end that dry spell. The second-year receiver showed he was capable of being a high-volume receiver when he was healthy, so there is reason to believe this is more than just typical offseason hype. Robinson should make for a fine WR3 - with WR2 upside - in just about every league this season.
|Cadet has a "leg up" on third-down competition?|
Battling with James White to replace Shane Vereen
By: Doug Orth | Jun 18 2015, 8:50 pm
|For (Boston Globe beat writer) Ben Volin, what Patriots OC Josh McDaniels is most looking out for is the back that steps up to replace Shane Vereen, now a member of the New York Giants.
“Vereen did a lot for this offense; not only catching the ball. ... Vereen knew all the pass protections and all the audibles. There’s a lot [mentally] that goes into that role. Right now it looks like a battle between Travaris Cadet and James White, and I think Cadet probably has the leg up,” Volin said. (CBS Boston)|
FFToday's Take: Less than two weeks ago, the Boston Herald suggested White was "in the driver's seat" for Vereen's old role, so take both reports with a grain of salt; this competition will be decided in training camp and the preseason. Volin cited experience and explosiveness as two of the main reasons why he felt Cadet was the favorite and hinted that the complexity of the New England offense is what essentially forced White into a redshirt year in 2014. The winner - if there is going to be one - will be a decent flex option in PPR leagues.
|Gates rested for most of SD offseason work|
Has no idea when he plans to retire
By: Doug Orth | Jun 18 2015, 7:20 pm
|San Diego TE Antonio Gates said he’ll evaluate at the end of each season where he’s at physically and mentally in order to determine if he wants to keep playing. He’s missed most of the offseason work at Chargers Park to keep the wear and tear down on his body. On Tuesday, Gates caught the first pass from QB Philip Rivers during the first rep of 7-on-7 passing drills and then watched from the sideline for most of the two-hour practice.
“As of right now, I feel great. I feel good physically. I’m in a great place mentally. So I’ll just see how it goes. I have no expectations on how long I will play, or if this is my last year,” Gates said. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: Gates finished second among tight ends in standard scoring and third in PPR, so the birthday boy (turned 35 on Thursday) doesn't need to be in a rush to leave the game. Gates was asked to block less in 2014 and the result was more consistent production late in the season than he had delivered in recent years. That will probably be the blueprint going forward as well. Gates represents a solid value in yearly leagues at his current 9.08 ADP in standard drafts and 10.05 in PPR.
| Cruz expected to be limited at the start of camp|
Believes he'll be "around 100 percent" in late July/early August
By: Doug Orth | Jun 18 2015, 6:20 pm
|Victor Cruz (patellar tear) agrees with Giants HC Tom Coughlin; he expects to be cleared for limited practice at start of training camp. (Paul Schwartz on Twitter)|
FFToday's Take: If ever there was a report that should draw an eyebrow raise or eye-roll, this is that one. Patellar tears are arguably the most difficult injuries for a football player to come back from, so the notion that Cruz is going to be "around 100 percent" (as he told the New York Daily News earlier Thursday) less than a year after the injury is highly improbable. It is unlikely Cruz is going to be anything better than a fantasy WR4 in 2015.
|Agholor "as advertised" during spring practices|
No. 20 overall pick likely to start opposite Jordan Matthews
By: Doug Orth | Jun 18 2015, 6:10 pm
|Rookie WR Nelson Agholor made a pair of grabs from QB Matt Barkley, flashing good hands on a high pass near the sideline. Agholor was as advertised this spring - a shifty athlete with good hands who plays hard. (Philly Mag: Birds 24/7)|
FFToday's Take: Agholor is perhaps the safest rookie for redraft purposes in that he is versatile (can play in the slot or on the outside) and a good route-runner slated for a lot of snaps in a good offense. He cannot be expected to fill the shoes of the man he is replacing (Jeremy Maclin) in 2015 by himself, but he should be a steady WR3 in PPR leagues and a low-end WR3 one in standard formats.
| Todd Gurley's status for training camp unclear|
Rams will be cautious with rookie running back
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 17 2015, 8:27 pm
|“It’s hard to say right now. I can’t predict that,” Fisher said Tuesday. “I know he’s doing well. He had a day off today because he’s doing so well. He’ll rehab with us during the break. ... We’re just going to see how he progresses. ... If he’s not PUP-ed (physically unable to perform), then I think you could probably assume that he’s going to play sooner than you think.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)|
FFToday's Take: Todd Gurley is coming off ACL surgery in November and will likely be eased into training camp whenever he's ready to participate. Expect St. Louis to be cautious with their first round pick and it won't be a surprise if its mid-season before Gurley sees significant action.
| Kelvin Benjamin out with yet another hamstring injury|
Panthers receiver a little on the hefty side
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 17 2015, 8:00 pm
|A week after returning from one hamstring injury, second-year Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin has another hamstring injury that caused him to miss Wednesday’s minicamp practice. Benjamin said the injury to his right hamstring will likely keep him out of Thursday’s final minicamp practice, and Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera believes the hamstring issues could be related to Benjamin showing up to OTAs (organized team activities) overweight. (Charlotte Observer)|
FFToday's Take: Eight to nine pounds overweight is being reported. Sounds like the coach is using the media to get his No.1 receiver into shape. Benjamin injured his hamstring last month at OTAs. He'll have six weeks to get healed before the Panthers begin training camp in late July.
| WR Kevin White out with undisclosed injury|
Competing to be the fourth receiver
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 17 2015, 9:30 am
|An injury kept rookie receiver Kevin White out of the Bears' minicamp practice Tuesday, coach John Fox indicated. After Tuesday's practice, quarterback Jay Cutler indicated White is competing to be the fourth receiver behind Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson. (Chicago Tribune)|
FFToday's Take: Fox declined to give any details about White's injury saying only "he'll be out here when he's ready." Cutler's comments about White's place on the depth chart are noteworthy and a reminder that its an uphill process for rookies to crack the starting lineup, despite the success of last year's rookie group.
|Brandin Cooks shines at Saints minicamp|
"Cooks is the best player on offense"
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 17 2015, 8:00 am
|The roster is brimming with talented young receivers. Brandin Cooks is the best player on offense - hands down. He has another gear. The third receiver job is Nick Toon's to lose. Word of advice: Draft C.J. Spiller on your fantasy football team. The Saints are going to get him the ball in a number of ways this season. If he can stay healthy, he could have a breakout year. It certainly won't be for lack of opportunity. (NOLA.com)|
FFToday's Take: Note, these are beat writer Jeff Duncan's comments after the Saints first minicamp practice on Tuesday. The Saints will run the ball plenty with Mark Ingram but Cooks and Spiller could be heavily involved in the passing game. Spiller is going to be a player to target in PPR leagues.
| McFadden back at work, in full for Tuesday's practice|
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 16 2015, 2:00 pm
|Darren McFadden a full participant today after being limited the last two weeks by hamstring tightness. (Clarence Hill on Twitter)|
FFToday's Take: We'll be tracking the Cowboys running game this entire pre-season trying to get some clarity on the expected workload distribution between McFadden, Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar. McFadden has been limited during OTAs, giving Randle the first shot at making a lasting impression.
|Titans release RB Shonn Greene|
Scheduled to make $3.25 million
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 16 2015, 9:32 am
|The Titans plan to release running back Shonn Greene this morning, according to sources familiar with the situation.
Greene, who signed a three-year, $10 million contract in 2013, was scheduled to make $3.25 million in the final year of his contract this year.
FFToday's Take: The Titans have drafted two running backs in the last two years. Bishop Sankey and David Cobb (rookie) will handle the bulk of the carries in 2015. Greene had back-to-back 1000-yard rushing seasons with the Jets but never found his footing in Tennessee.
|Sean Payton comments on role for TE Josh Hill|
Low TE1 upside
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 16 2015, 8:00 am
|His opportunity to be on the field in myriad offensive sets figures to increase exponentially.
“It just depends on how much two tight end sets we’re in, how much sub (packages),” Coach Sean Payton said. “I couldn’t say specifically that he is going to have 25 percent more playing time but certainly his playing time will increase.
“We utilize multiple tight end sets and obviously that’ll affect him with his number count (of snaps). He has good position versatility. We think he is a guy that can run and stretch the defense. A lot of it will be by game plan and what we are trying to do.”
(New Orleans Saints)|
FFToday's Take: Josh Hill scored five touchdowns on only 14 receptions last season and ever since the trade of Jimmy Graham to Seattle, the Hill hype train has been rolling down the tracks at a brisk pace. Hill's playing time will certainly increase but expecting Jimmy-Graham type numbers is unrealistic. Hill has low TE1 upside.
|Bounce-back season in store for Vernon Davis?|
Coming off career-worst season
By: Doug Orth | Jun 15 2015, 5:30 pm
|Vernon Davis had the worst season of his career last year, one in which he missed two games due to injury and caught only two touchdown passes - both in Week 1. The downfield catches that had been the staple of his career all but vanished as well. After averaging more than 16 yards a catch in 2013, he averaged a career-low 9.4 yards per reception last year. "Whenever I'd run, like, my deep over routes there was a safety sitting over there already," Davis said. "It was just game planning and nothing really ever opened up. But I wasn't really ever a factor in the offense last year. ... The first game, yeah. But the second game, the tight ends (weren't) really involved as a whole." (Sacramento Bee)|
FFToday's Take: Tony Sparano will be tasked with the job of getting more out of Davis & Co. this year. He fits the Niners' hopes for a stern, old-line position coach like Carolina assistant Pete Hoener, who coached the tight ends in San Francisco from 2005-10 and is the man Davis has long credited for shaping him into a well-rounded player, but their request to interview him was blocked. San Francisco's desire to go downfield more often this year should mean a bounce-back season for Davis, who could easily return to fantasy TE1 status.
|Back from injury, Woodhead looking like old self|
Missed final 13 games with broken ankle in 2014
By: Doug Orth | Jun 15 2015, 4:55 pm
|A running back has finished with at least 49 catches each season since Philip Rivers became the team’s starter in 2006. But that changed in 2014. Branden Oliver led running backs with 36 catches for 271 yards. The reason for that decline, of course, is the early season injury to third-down back Danny Woodhead, who suffered a broken ankle against Buffalo in Week 3.
Woodhead has been one of the pleasant surprises for the Chargers so far during offseason work. He has flashed the quickness and elusiveness that makes him one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league in his return from a serious ankle injury. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: Woodhead totaled 1,034 yards from scrimmage in 2013, including 76 catches for 605 yards and six touchdowns. He finished tied for third among running backs with 86 targets and topped all running backs with 21 red-zone targets. If the former Patriot is this impressive now, it probably means he is going to get the majority of passing-down work ahead of first-round rookie Melvin Gordon. While Gordon should have early-down duties to himself, little-to-no work in the passing game means he will struggle to be the best rookie running back in fantasy in 2015.
|Royal impressing Bears with grasp of the offense|
Ex-Charger, Bronco has 10 red-zone TDs over last two seasons
By: Doug Orth | Jun 15 2015, 4:40 pm
|Eddie Royal's resurgence over the past two seasons and his early grasp of the Bears' new offense has him in great position to play a prominent role right away. The staff seemed excited about him when (ESPN's Mike Sando) visited Bears camp earlier in the offseason. Royal has 10 red zone touchdowns over the past two seasons, tied for ninth in the league among wide receivers. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: New OC Adam Gase was the Broncos' WR coach during the second and third year of Royal's four-year stay in Denver, so his quick assimilation of the playbook should not be a surprise. Royal doesn't figure to be more than a slot receiver in Chicago, but rookie Kevin White is raw and may have some growing pains before realizing his potential. Royal was quite proficient as a red-zone receiver and has worked with Jay Cutler before, so another high-score season (eight in 2013, seven in 2014) cannot be ruled out.
| Allen Hurns benefiting from injuries to receiving corps|
Marqise Lee, Alle Robinson sidelined
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 14 2015, 8:00 pm
|What remains constant around the Jaguars: Allen Hurns taking advantage of his teammates’ injuries. Hurns has continued his trajectory, partly because Marqise Lee (knee), Allen Robinson (foot), Bryan Walters (hamstring) and Damian Copeland (quad) missed all nine OTAs or were slowed at some point. It’s only June 14, but my receiver Trust Chart (not depth chart) would be 1. Robinson; 2. Hurns and 3. Rashad Greene. (Florida Times Union)|
FFToday's Take: Hurns notched two touchdowns in Week 1 last season and posted another two-touchdown game in Week 9. With Lee expected to miss the upcoming minicamp, Hurns will continue to get reps with the first team. Even if he's able to win a starting job out of training camp, it will be difficult to get excited about his fantasy prospects until the Jacksonville offense proves it can be more efficient.
|Roddy White not worried about smaller role in new offense|
New OC Kyle Shanahan likely to have more balanced approach
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 14 2015, 1:00 pm
|Falcons wide receiver Roddy White is not worried about his role being diminished in the new offense. “I just don’t think we’re going to go out there and throw it 30, 40 times a game like we did in the past,” White said. “I’m not saying that we didn’t like that, but it’s going to be different. We have to get back to our old (style) where we run the football. Play-action passes and convert on third downs.” (Atlanta Journal Constitution)|
FFToday's Take: The Falcons finished third in pass attempts (632) last season throwing it 62-percent of the time. New OC Kyle Shanahan will likely want a more balanced attack that could cut into White's targets. Whether or not that balanced attack comes to be is another issue. Julio Jones will be the focal point of the passing game.
|Dez considering sitting out first game|
Has not signed his franchise tag
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 12 2015, 3:00 pm
|Dez Bryant is contemplating not reporting to the Dallas Cowboys for the regular-season opener unless he is signed to a long-term contract by July 15. "This is no rumor; it's legit," Bryant told the NFL Network, confirming what sources familiar with the receiver's negotiation strategy earlier told ESPN. Bryant has not signed his franchise tag, which would guarantee him $12,823,000 for the 2015 season. (Chris Mortensen)|
FFToday's Take: It wouldn't be an off-season without a player holding out of workouts and/or training camp in hope a new deal. It's hard to imagine this situation concluding in Bryant missing any action on the field, but it has happened before... Emmitt Smith (1993) and Vincent Jackson (2010) come to mind. Stay tuned...
|RB coach discusses Adrian Peterson's workload|
"More about snaps not the carries"
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 12 2015, 1:23 pm
|"No question that the workload will be a lot more balanced than in the past because the organization has done an outstanding job of acquiring talent and other explosive pieces," Vikings running backs coach Kirby Wilson told Around The NFL on Thursday. "And just as the natural progression as an older back ages, the workload decreases anyway." (NFL.com)|
FFToday's Take: Wilson went on to say "I think it's more about snaps per game, because that's what you have to watch in regard to the wear and tear." It's common for coaches to talk about reducing a running back's workload during June and July but when the lights come on, they find it hard to take their best player off the field. Adrian Peterson is an RB1 while Jerick McKinnon is an intriguing mid-to-late round upside pick.
|Rodgers gushing over Adams' approach|
Second-year WR had "humongous upside"
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 11 2015, 5:20 pm
|A little over a year after he’d challenged Davante Adams - although not by name - to step up his preparation, Aaron Rodgers couldn’t stop talking Wednesday about the approach Adams is taking to his job now.
“In my mind, he has humongous upside - and he’s starting to reach that upside,” Rodgers said after the team’s open-to-the-public OTA practice. “I think the opportunities are going to come for him. He’s got two great guys to play with. His attention to detail is very impressive and his approach." (ESPN Wisconsin)|
FFToday's Take: Let's not forget that two seasons ago, Rodgers helped then-third receiver James Jones catch an NFL-high 14 touchdown passes. Even though some of that was due to the fact Jordy Nelson missed four games that season, the point to be made is that Rodgers can support three fantasy receivers. Although his production figures to be inconsistent again in 2015 behind Nelson and Cobb, the second-year wideout should expect a fairly sizable increase from his 38-446-3 rookie line.
|Rueben Randle poised for big year?|
Eli believes WR can be a "dominant" player
By: Doug Orth | Jun 11 2015, 4:30 pm
|A year ago, before (Rueben Randle) finished with a flourish, he was benched for the first quarter of two games.
“It was a personal issue,” Randle said. “It just caused me to be late here a couple of times. It’s over with now. I’m past it. At one time in the season people thought me and Coach [Coughlin] had a beef going on, which is not the case.”
“I think Rueben’ll have a big year,” Eli Manning said. “I think Rueben can be a great receiver, a dominant receiver. I think he has it in him. You’ve definitely seen him from Day 1 to Day Now, just the maturity level is definitely improved, he’s all in, he’s been here working, he’s been here off days, and so I've been impressed with his commitment.” (New York Post)|
FFToday's Take: This has the makings of a preseason fluff piece, but it would be a mistake to discount a player that went for 6-132-1 and 6-158 over the final two games of last season. With Odell Beckham Jr. likely to command double teams this year and Victor Cruz no sure thing to be what he once was, Randle could be ready to fulfill the promise that many owners believed he was going to deliver on a year or two ago.
|CLE eyeing Bernard-like role for Duke Johnson|
Third-round rookie to be used as vesatile chess piece
By: Doug Orth | Jun 11 2015, 4:15 pm
|RB coach Wilbert Montgomery wants to use rookie Duke Johnson in many spots. Called it "Where's Waldo?" Compared to CIN's Gio Bernard. (Nate Ulrich on Twitter)|
FFToday's Take: For any of those folks that checked out FF Today's Rookie Impact articles or followed our Instant Analysis blog on draft day, this should only serve as confirmation that Johnson should be busy as a rookie. Cleveland will likely start Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline at receiver and Rob Housler at tight end, so presumptive starting QB Josh McCown is going to need someone like Johnson who can win his one-on-one matchups. While his year-end carry total may not be great, it should come as no shock if he finishes with 50 or more receptions.
|Patriots release TE Tim Wright|
New England with plenty of depth at tight end
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 11 2015, 8:53 am
|Patriots have released TE Tim Wright, source says. Had six TDs last season. (Mike Garafolo on Twitter)|
FFToday's Take: Wright scored 11 TDs over the last two years but only had 33 receptions last year in New England. Scott Chandler, Michael Hoomanawanui and Fred Davis remain on the roster as backups to Rob Gronkowski.
| Jordy Nelson returns to individual drills|
Expected to be ready for camp on July 30
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 10 2015, 3:38 pm
|All along, the plan for Jordy Nelson was to be full-go by the start of the Green Bay Packers' training camp on July 30. Nelson took another step in that direction this week, when he practiced for the first time since his offseason hip surgery. The Pro Bowl receiver took part in individual drills during Wednesday's organized team activities (OTAs). (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: Nelson sat out of team drills but is apparently on schedule with his rehab. Nelson is coming off a career year (98-1519-13) and will have WR1 value in fantasy drafts. His current ADP sits at 2.07 (WR No.7) in 12-team leagues.