|Ball "vastly improved" in passing game|
Broncos have cleared the way for second-year RB to shine
By: Doug Orth | Jul 17 2014, 5:20 pm
|If you’re looking for a player for whom the Broncos have cleared the way to shine most, it’s Montee Ball, who was the most effective runner in Denver with the ball in his hands over the last six weeks of the season/postseason. He’s smart and has the requisite work ethic, and the Broncos have seen vast improvements in his work as both a receiver and blocker in the passing game. That gives him the gotta-have-it, every-down potential in their offense. The Broncos aren’t looking to run the ball significantly more than they did in 2013, but when they do, they want to move the chains more efficiently. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: Ball's current ADP of 1.12 seems like a steep price to pay for an "unproven" lead or feature back, but it is not an unfair one for a player that is a better all-around performer than Knowshon Moreno, who was a top-five back in most formats in 2013. The Broncos are probably hoping Ball is able to effectively handle 75 percent of the snaps, only sprinkling in C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman in blowouts or when Ball needs a breather.
|AP, Patterson eyeing new roles for Vikings|
OC Norv Turner intent on utilizing unique weapons
By: Doug Orth | Jul 17 2014, 4:55 pm
|Adrian Peterson has a new offensive coordinator (Norv Turner) who is intent on using him differently. Peterson will be more involved in the Vikings' passing game as Turner and Zimmer seek to convert some of his carries into receptions, giving him more room to work in the open field and making him less likely to take a pounding. Turner also has big plans for second-year WR Cordarrelle Patterson, who played mostly at split end last season. He moved to different spots during the Vikings' offseason program and Turner seems interested in getting the explosive receiver the ball as much as he can. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: Peterson is a solid bet to top his career high in receptions (43 in 2009) while critics of a potential Patterson breakout need only look what Turner did for another gifted "raw" receiver last year in Josh Gordon. The Vikings could be a sleeping giant in terms of fantasy-point production and Minnesota is a place where owners need to look as they attempt to find sneaky fantasy value this season.
|D-Jax expected to inherit "Z" receiver role|
A.J. Green played same position for Gruden in Cincinnati
By: Doug Orth | Jul 17 2014, 4:35 pm
|DeSean Jackson could play a role similar to A.J. Green, who played the Z role in Cincinnati under former OC Jay Gruden, allowing him to line up a yard off the line of scrimmage. Both Green and Jackson are legitimate deep threats that defenses have to account for on every play.
Pierre Garcon will likely continue under Gruden. The X receiver lines up on the line of scrimmage and as a result faces more press-man coverage. Marvin Jones worked his way into the X receiver role in Cincinnati, running similar routes to the ones we’ve become accustomed to Garcon running in Washington. (Washington Post)|
FFToday's Take: Garcon at "X" and Jackson at "Z" was the assumption all along since Garcon is bigger and already accustomed to the role while the smaller Jackson will be afforded space to begin his route. Garcon is the odds-on favorite to lead the team in all receiving categories since he is Robert Griffin III's go-to guy, but perhaps Jackson will be more than just a deep threat in what should be a highly-explosive offense.
|Jordan Matthews "could be a star in the future"|
Drawing comparisons for sporting T.O.-like physique
By: Doug Orth | Jul 17 2014, 4:25 pm
|The Eagles' additions are intriguing. RB Darren Sproles figures to be as versatile and unpredictable under Chip Kelly as he was in New Orleans for Sean Payton. Second-round draft pick WR Jordan Matthews had people at OTAs comparing his physique to that of Terrell Owens and could be a star in the future. Meanwhile, TE Zach Ertz is expected to take that key second-season leap in production and reliability. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: Comparing Matthews' physique to Terrell Owens' is a bit of preseason hyperbole, but fantasy owners would be wise to not underestimate the potential for the SEC's all-time leading receiver to contribute in his first year. He'll start out as the main slot receiver, but could easily knock Riley Cooper out of a starting job by midseason.
| Jags sign rookie WR Marqise Lee|
2nd rounder inks four-year deal
By: Jake Gordon | Jul 16 2014, 8:51 pm
|Lee, the Jaguars’ first second-round selection (No. 39 overall), will return to Jacksonville on Friday and sign the deal.
Per the NFL’s slotting system, Lee’s contract is expected to be worth $5,174,016 and include a $2,082,924 signing bonus and a first-year salary cap number of $940,731.
FFToday's Take: An athletic receiver from USC, Marqise Lee missed most of OTAs with a bum ankle. He represents part of the young core Jacksonville is trying to build around so getting him signed and in camp on time was imperative for a team in need of a new offensive identity. Lee could be in the mix to start but faces competition at the position where Ace Sanders and fellow rookie Allen Robinson are also competing.
|Eagles backfield to stress defenses|
McCoy marvels at Sproles' quickness
By: Doug Orth | Jul 16 2014, 3:15 pm
|Darren Sproles' role in Chip Kelly's offense will be one of the intriguing plot lines as we encroach upon training camp. "Sproles has the quickest feet I've ever seen out of any player," McCoy said. "He'll help us out tremendously. I think the best thing about him, what he brings to this team is not only leadership and experience, but also just another big playmaker on the team. You talk about losing DeSean (Jackson), but I think Howie (Roseman) and Chip did a great job of bringing another playmaker to our team." (NFL.com)|
FFToday's Take: Instead of feeling threatened or challenged by the addition of another veteran running back, LeSean McCoy is excited to share the backfield with another playmaker. In fact, no other running back tandem in the NFL boasts the combined explosive running and pass-catching abilities of LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles. They should be the focal point of Chip Kelly's dynamic offense this season but fantasy owners should keep a close eye on how often they see the field together where they will be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.
| Malcom Floyd eyes return from neck injury|
Training camp the next test for Chargers wide receiver
By: Mike Krueger | Jul 16 2014, 9:00 am
|Were there an MVP for spring training -- a silly notion -- Malcom Floyd would've been my choice.
The Chargers tested him, even though they've employed him since 2004. In all five practices open to the media, the first pass from Philip Rivers went to Floyd. He was typically the most-targeted pass-catcher, and won more than he lost. (San Diego Union Tribune)|
FFToday's Take: Floyd missed the majority of 2013 with a neck injury but appears to be in good form and should slide into the starting lineup in 2014. Training camp will give us a better idea if he's practicing without restrictions. He's got an opportunity to be the Chargers No.2 wide receiver but won't be more than a fantasy WR4.
|Giovani Bernard projected for 300 touches|
Bengals focus on running game will boost Gio's stats
By: Mike Krueger | Jul 16 2014, 8:00 am
|His ability won't be new this year and much talk early will revolve around new offensive toy Jeremy Hill. But this team will feature Giovani Bernard early and often. His expansion as a receiver will only help create a scenario where he can crack 70 receptions and 230 carries for 300-plus total touches. Buckle up. (Cincinnati Enquirer)|
FFToday's Take: The prevailing wisdom amongst fantasy owners is that Bernard is poised for a breakout season which is why he's currently going in the second round of mock drafts. Bernard's catching ability makes him an attractive option in PPR leagues as well. His fantasy stock is on the rise.
|Jimmy Graham gets new deal with Saints|
By: Mike Krueger | Jul 15 2014, 9:47 am
|The New Orleans Saints and Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham have agreed to a four-year, $40 million deal that includes $21 million guaranteed, a source familiar with the deal told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: The two sides had until 4pm Eastern to reach a deal. Graham had been seeking to be paid as a wide receiver but his request was rejected by an arbitrator. This means there won't be any tension or holdout possibility during camp. Graham is the top tight end in fantasy football scoring 36 touchdowns the last three years.
|Spiller to average 20 touches?|
Bills less concerned about RB depth in 2014
By: Doug Orth | Jul 14 2014, 4:20 pm
|The bell cow in this quartet, however, is still expected to be C.J. Spiller. After spending a year working with Spiller and understanding where he really excels and how diversified his game can be, OC Nathaniel Hackett is confident he can maximize Spiller’s talents for the offense. And now with an extra pair of backs (as well as Fred Jackson) he can freely maneuver Spiller to any position on the field.
If the offense is operating at peak efficiency, Spiller is likely to touch the ball 20 times a game, they just won’t all be carries out of the backfield. (BuffaloBills.com)|
FFToday's Take: Hackett famously claimed that Spiller would get the ball "until he throws up" last season, so skepticism is natural. However, the additions of Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon may allow Hackett to use Spiller liberally in his up-tempo attack, especially now that his ankle is no longer an issue. It is unlikely Spiller will average 20 touches per game in such a deep backfield, but he should have no problems leading the group by a wide margin if he can stay healthy.
|Packers aiming for 75 plays per game|
Broncos led the NFL in 2013 with 72.1
By: Doug Orth | Jul 14 2014, 4:10 pm
|Packers HC Mike McCarthy and his quarterback have one primary goal in mind for 2014: run 75 plays per game. Do that, and everything else -- big numbers for Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin and possibly one of the new rookie receivers; another 1,000-plus yard season for Eddie Lacy; solid pass protection - will fall into place.
The first hint of McCarthy's plans came in February, when he declared that he wants all of his running backs to turn into three-down players in order to limit the need for substitutions, which, of course, slows down the game. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: It is always notable when one of the league's best offenses wants to do something in order to give its best players more opportunities. Rodgers, Lacy, Cobb and Nelson are already in line for a ton of production regardless of the tempo Green Bay operates at, but a few more plays per game may allow players like Boykin and James Starks to become spot starters in deeper fantasy leagues and enable the stars to bump up their numbers a bit at the same time.
|Maclin feeling faster than he did pre-injury|
Recovering from July 2013 ACL injury
By: Doug Orth | Jul 14 2014, 4:05 pm
|Jeremy Maclin thinks that in some ways, he's in better physical condition than he was before he tore his ACL. "In some ways, I feel faster," Maclin said. "In some ways I feel more fresh, more physically strong. I just think you put so much hard work into your rehab process that that's kind of what happens. You get that leg back. You build that leg back stronger. So like I said, I'm really looking forward to this year." (Philly.com)|
FFToday's Take: Maclin is taking over the "Z" receiver spot formerly occupied by DeSean Jackson. Perhaps it is too much to expect him to produce at the same rate as Jackson did last year, but Maclin was a more complete player prior to his injury. Then again, with more weapons surrounding him this year, he shouldn't be needed as much as Jackson was. Maclin obviously comes with a fair amount of risk, but he is a high-end WR3 at worst in all leagues this fall.
|Jets expected to take it easy on Chris Johnson|
Likely to see limited action in preseason
By: Doug Orth | Jul 14 2014, 3:55 pm
|Five years removed from his 2,000-yard season with the Tennessee Titans, Chris Johnson starts over with the Jets, attempting to prove he's still CJ2K. His surgically-repaired knee, which sidelined him for the spring, will be a hot topic throughout camp. The last thing the Jets will want to do is tax Johnson, so look for a modified practice schedule - a "pitch count," as Rex Ryan likes to call it. It doesn't matter how many rushing yards he accumulates in the preseason; the objective is to make sure he's in peak condition for the Sept. 7 opener. (ESPN New York)|
FFToday's Take: With Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell and possibly even Daryl Richardson in reserve, the Jets really have no reason to run Johnson into the ground. As the article points out at the end, only two other backs faced more eight-man boxes than Johnson last year, so opposing defensive coordinators still fear him. Still, Johnson should be in line for a shade over 200 carries, which should allow him to be a solid low-end RB2 option.
|Rob Housler sliding down the depth chart|
Not the best fit for Arians offense
By: Doug Orth | Jul 13 2014, 2:00 pm
|I'd say it's likely the Cardinals will carry four tight ends on the 53-man roster, but will the fourth be Robert Housler? That all depends on how he plays during training camp. I think he's sitting at No. 4 right now behind John Carlson, Jake Ballard and rookie Troy Niklas. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: Housler isn't exactly a good fit for Bruce Arians' scheme. The tight end isn't a high-catch, high yardage position in this offense. Housler led all Cardinal tight ends last season with 39 receptions and 454 yards. For now, Carlson would be considered the best fantasy option of the bunch but there are much better TE2's with upside to choose from.
|Lance Dunbar's role in the Cowboys offense|
Would likely split time if Murray goes down with an injury
By: Mike Krueger | Jul 13 2014, 11:00 am
|He'll have the third-down back role. He has the ability to be a change of pace runner for DeMarco Murray. But does this mean he will see a huge role? Not necessarily because I think Murray will still be on the field for the bulk of the game. And if something happens to Murray, I think they would keep Lance Dunbar in the third down role, expand it a little, but use Joseph Randle or Ryan Williams, whoever wins the third back job, as the every-down back. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: The opinions of ESPN's Todd Archer who covers the cowboys are worth noting. Dunbar appears to be healed from his knee injury that occurred last November but it appears Murray will be getting the bulk of attention in this offense as long as he remains healthy. Dunbar will likely have more value in PPR leagues.
|Colts release WR LaVon Brazill|
Suspended by league for one year
By: Mike Krueger | Jul 11 2014, 4:50 pm
|The Colts have released receiver LaVon Brazill.
The announcement is not surprising after the NFL suspended Brazill for at least a year on July 3 for violating the league's substance-abuse policy for the second time. Brazill was banned for the first four games of the 2013 season for violating the policy. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: Brazill's off-field issues have landed him out of the league and perhaps beyond his one-year suspension. T.Y. Hilton, Hakeem Nicks, Reggie Wayne and Da'Rick Rogers project to be Andrew Luck's top wide receivers this season.
| ATL confident Julio Jones will return to old self|
Under contract through 2015
By: Doug Orth | Jul 10 2014, 4:40 pm
|Giving QB Matt Ryan all the protection in the world means nothing without playmakers catching the ball. That's why the Falcons have to lock up top receiver Julio Jones with a lucrative, long-term contract. Although Jones is coming off a significant foot injury, the Falcons are certain he'll return to his old explosive self. At his best, Jones is probably one of the top two receivers in the league, along with Calvin Johnson. Johnson makes $16 million per year; Jones will make $10,176,000 in 2015 as part of the option year. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: Jones' recovery figures to be one of the more-discussed subjects of training camp, but there is not debating that he is a top-five receiver when healthy. Despite questions about his foot going forward, it is unlikely he will slip much past his early-second round ADP in standard and PPR formats.
|Andre Johnson wants out of Houston|
Informs team he'd like to be traded
By: Mike Krueger | Jul 10 2014, 12:10 pm
|Andre Johnson has informed the Texans he wants to play for another team in 2014, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.
According to the report, four teams have shown interest in trading for Johnson, who is the Texans’ all-time receiving leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns. (Houston Chronicle)|
FFToday's Take: Johnson's displeasure with the direction of the team has been well documented over the last couple months. He skipped the offseason workouts and lost a $1 million bonus in the process. Johnson (33) is scheduled to make $10 million this season in Houston.
| Dobson optimistic he'll be ready for camp|
Stress fracture kept him sidelined during OTAs
By: Mike Krueger | Jul 9 2014, 1:00 pm
|As for the injury itself, Aaron Dobson remains optimistic with the start of training camp looming on July 24. “It’s doing better, man,” he said. “It’s getting better every day. Every week it’s getting better, so we’re just going to see where it’s at by the time camp starts.” (Boston Herald)|
FFToday's Take: The Patriots are known for keeping injuries close to the vest so we'll have to wait and see how much Dobson is participating once camp begins. He's got WR3 upside in the Patriots offense if he can manage to stay healthy but his injury risk will have far down fantasy rankings this summer.
| Joique Bell ready for camp, "feeling 100%"|
Cleared to run at full speed
By: Mike Krueger | Jul 8 2014, 12:35 pm
|Joique Bell said he'll report to training camp a few days before most of his teammates to test out his body.
"I'm feeling 100 percent," Bell said. "I'm feeling great." A knee injury has sidelined Bell for the early portions of Detroit's offseason program. That hasn't stopped him from staying in shape. (MLive.com)|
FFToday's Take: Bell has been cleared to run at full speed and is coming off his best season as a pro totaling 1197 combined yards and 8 touchdowns. He's an ideal RB2 especially in PPR leagues and is slightly undervalued with an ADP late in round five.
| Romo "miles ahead" of last year in recovery|
Pleased with conditiioning after second back surgery
By: Doug Orth | Jul 7 2014, 4:45 pm
|This is the second consecutive offseason in which QB Tony Romo is rehabilitating from back surgery. His work in these sessions has been limited, but he wasn’t cleared to do anything in organized team activities or minicamp last year.
“Miles ahead of last year," Romo said of his conditioning now compared to last June. “I don’t think they’re comparable. I think last year I was just starting around this point so this year I’ve had whatever months to kind of get myself into feeling like I can go." (Dallas Morning News)|
FFToday's Take: With the Cowboys' defense expected to be among the worst in the NFL, Romo will need to be in tip-top shape in order to keep Dallas in games. The 34-year-old should be among the league leaders in attempts and yards in 2014 and has plenty of weapons at his disposal, so he could be a darkhorse pick to finish among the top five fantasy quarterbacks this season.
|Polk may be in line for regular touches|
Eagles possibly looking to lessen reliance on McCoy
By: Doug Orth | Jul 7 2014, 3:55 pm
|One of the few guys on offense who can expand his role in 2014 is Chris Polk, and given the success he had last year, I’d expect Polk to produce even more as LeSean McCoy’s backup than Bryce Brown did last year. Even though the Eagles traded for Darren Sproles this offseason, they almost surely would put the ball in Polk’s hands for most of the carries if LeSean McCoy got hurt.
It wouldn’t shock me if Polk averaged between six to eight touches per game this coming season. For a guy with 11 NFL carries, that’s a hefty increase. (CSN Philly)|
FFToday's Take: Polk made enough of an impression on the Eagles last year that they were willing to part with Brown. Even so, with McCoy and Sproles in front of him, the six to eight weekly touches probably represents Polk's ceiling than his 2014 if everyone stays relatively healthy. Nevertheless, Polk makes sense as the most likely handcuff for McCoy.
|Can Theo Riddick become the next Sproles?|
Backup QB believes Riddick will catch 50 passes in 2014
By: Doug Orth | Jul 7 2014, 3:40 pm
|Who takes the role of Darren Sproles - the shifty, multifaceted running back who can run the ball and make plays as a receiver in the open field - in Detroit? Backup QB Dan Orlovsky has an idea. His bold prediction: Theo Riddick will catch at least 50 passes.
“This kid, he wasn’t covered a single time in OTAs and minicamp,” Orlovsky said. "If he doesn’t have 50 catches this year, I’ll be surprised. He’s going to have opportunities and he’s really talented at it.” (Detroit Free Press)|
FFToday's Take: With two very adept receivers ahead of him in Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, Riddick appears to be a longshot to fulfill Orlovsky's prediction. However, New OC Joe Lombardi saw the three-back system work well in New Orleans and is reportedly installing the same offense in Detroit that the Saints use. Bush also stated earlier in the offseason that Riddick is a more complete back now that he was at the same age. Riddick has the skill set to be fantasy-relevant in 2014.
|More trouble for Josh Gordon|
Browns' receiver charged with DWI
By: Mike Krueger | Jul 5 2014, 4:00 pm
|Police say Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was arrested and charged with driving while impaired after speeding down a street in Raleigh. Browns general manager Ray Farmer said the team is aware of Gordon's arrest and is disappointed. He didn't comment further.
Gordon, 23, could be facing a one-season NFL suspension for another failed drug test. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: Gordon's appeal on a one-year ban was set to be head later this month. With another apparent infraction, it's likely Gordon won't be seeing the field in 2014 and perhaps beyond. His fantasy stock is at an all time low- off the the re-draft radar and perhaps off the dynasty league radar very soon.
| Falcons' Drew Davis placed on PUP list|
Atlanta receiver will have procedure on his foot
By: Mike Krueger | Jul 5 2014, 10:00 am
|The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have placed wide receiver Drew Davis on the training camp physically unable to perform list. “Drew felt some discomfort in his foot at the end of minicamp,” said Head Coach Mike Smith. “We decided to send him to the doctors for some evaluations and it was determined he had suffered an injury that would require a procedure. He recently had the procedure done and we expect him to miss around six weeks, which is why we have decided to place him on Training Camp PUP.” (AtlantaFalcons.com)|
FFToday's Take: Davis is no better than fourth and depth chart behind Julio Jones, Roddy White and Harry Douglas and missing six weeks of the pre-season isn't going to help him become fantasy relevant. He's off the fantasy radar even in the deepest of leagues.
|Josh Gordon decision expected in late July|
Substance-abuse violation; could sit out 2014 season
By: Doug Orth | Jul 3 2014, 5:55 pm
|With the NFL firing off suspensions today like shots from a Roman candle, some have wondered whether the next shoe will drop on the throat of Browns receiver Josh Gordon. But it will be happening sooner rather than later. Gordon’s hearing, we’re told, has been scheduled for late July.
If Gordon is suspended for a year, the ban will start immediately. It’s possible that, with a reduced suspension, he’ll be permitted to participate in training camp and the preseason. (Pro Football Talk)|
FFToday's Take: It’s still possible that a hearing won’t be needed, if the NFL and the NFLPA work out a reduced suspension. Gordon reportedly faces a minimum one-year ban as a Stage 3 violator of the league's substance-abuse policy. The NFL has slow-played this decision for unknown reasons, but it appears Browns fans - as well as fantasy owners - will get some definitive resolution on this case around the start of training camp at the latest.
|LaVon Brazill suspended for 2014 season|
For violating the substance abuse policy
By: Doug Orth | Jul 3 2014, 5:50 pm
|Colts WR LaVon Brazill is suspended without pay for at least one year for violating NFL Policy & Program for Substances of Abuse. (Ian Rapoport on Twitter)|
FFToday's Take: This doesn't have much impact from a redraft perspective, but it does hurt the Colts' special teams and could open the door for Da'Rick Rogers and rookie Donte Moncrief to contribute more offensively than initially expected. Indianapolis currently has a lot of question marks at receiver outside of T.Y. Hilton, as Reggie Wayne is coming off an ACL tear and Hakeem Nicks was mostly ineffective with the Giants in 2013.
| Mike Evans working on shedding weight|
Injured hamstring during voluntary minicamp in May
By: Doug Orth | Jul 3 2014, 5:00 pm
|Mike Evans now has just three weeks until the Bucs report for training camp on July 25, but the first-round pick from Texas A&M is hard at work. "Physically, I'm not in tip-top shape. I'm getting back into my game shape," said Evans, who is training with a group of players that includes Bears WR Brandon Marshall.
Evans missed much of his first month of practice with the Bucs with a hamstring injury, but expects to be fine for camp. His focus is dropping "7 to 10 pounds" with a goal of playing at about 230 pounds this fall after playing at about 235 at Texas A&M. (Tampa Bay Times)|
FFToday's Take: It is never good news when a player - much less a rookie receiver - says he needs to shed weight this close to camp, so it might be wise to keep tabs on Evans going forward. However, it doesn't hurt that he's working out with Marshall, whose game compares favorably to his own. Evans is one of about three rookie receivers that belong on the fantasy WR3 radar in redraft leagues.
|Miami DE Jordan suspended four games|
By: Doug Orth | Jul 3 2014, 4:35 pm
|Dolphins DE Dion Jordan is suspended four games for violating the NFL's performance enhancing substance policy. (James Walker on Twitter)|
FFToday's Take: We learned on Monday that Eagles RT Lane Johnson drew a suspension for the same reason, meaning the No.3 and No. 4 overall picks from last year's draft will miss the first month of the season. Perhaps it shouldn't have come as a surprise the Miami Herald suggested that Jordan plugged an air pump into his arms and shoulders this offseason. The freakishly-athletic tweener is coming off a poor rookie season in which he finished with two sacks in limited action.
|Julius Thomas to be used more creatively in 2014|
TE not satisfied with stellar breakout season
By: Doug Orth | Jul 3 2014, 4:30 pm
|Julius Thomas won’t allow complacency to seep into his mind after his breakout campaign. As one of Broncos QB Peyton Manning’s favorite targets, he takes pride in learning every facet of the position. Thomas believes another season in second-year OC Adam Gase’s system will equate to more comfort and confidence.
“What I think people will see different in me (this year) is that they will use me a lot more creatively,” Thomas told FOXSports.com. “I think there are a lot of things that our offense wanted to do with me, but you can only learn so much in one year." (Fox Sports)|
FFToday's Take: It's a reasonable assumption to make following the departure of Eric Decker. Thomas is not unlike the New Orleans Saints' Jimmy Graham, who spends a lot of his time detached from the offensive line and either in the slot or out wide. Outside of a complete return to health from Rob Gronkowski, Thomas is the best bet to give Graham a run for his money at the top of his position in fantasy.
|Jimmy Graham a tight end according to arbitrator|
Graham has 10 days to appeal
By: Mike Krueger | Jul 2 2014, 12:44 pm
|In a groundbreaking decision, the NFL has confirmed that arbitrator Stephen Burbank denied Jimmy Graham's request to officially be declared a wide receiver under the NFL's franchise-tag rules. The Saints will not have to increase their one-year tender offer of $7.053 million to Graham. The receiver tender would have cost them $12.132 million. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: No need to move Graham to you wide receiver cheatsheet. This will save the Saints roughly $5 million in franchise money but this ruling also allows the two sides to focus on a long-term deal under the parameters that Graham is a tight end and not a receiver. The two sides have until July 15th to work out a long-term contract.
| Bills LB Alonso to miss 2014 season|
ACL tear confirmed
By: Jake Gordon | Jul 2 2014, 12:15 pm
|After Bills GM Doug Whaley described Kiko Alonso’s non-football knee injury as “significant” in a team statement, the worst was already feared. On Wednesday those worst fears were confirmed by the club as the team announced that the linebacker’s knee injury was in fact a torn ACL. (BuffaloBills.com)|
FFToday's Take: The Bills will probably turn to Keith Rivers or Nigel Bradham to replace their leading tackler from 2013. Rivers is on his third team in four years while Bridham started two games in 2013 and represents a younger more athletic option.
|Lane Johnson suspended four games|
Eagles RT tested positive for PEDs
By: Doug Orth | Jun 30 2014, 4:05 pm
|Per league sources: RT Lane Johnson has tested positive for PEDs and will miss first four games. (Paul Domowitch on Twitter)|
FFToday's Take: Johnson graded out well as a run blocker in his rookie season according to Pro Football Focus, but gave up 10 sacks. The Eagles signed Allen Barbre to a three-year extension earlier this month, so he will likely get the first shot at replacing Johnson at right tackle. While the passing game doesn't figure to fall off significantly during Johnson's absence, it is possible LeSean McCoy's numbers take a slight hit.
|Cameron "impossible to cover" during spring|
Reportedly showing improved footwork and explosion
By: Doug Orth | Jun 30 2014, 3:40 pm
|Browns TE Jordan Cameron was impossible to cover in the spring. Maybe it’s just mundane OTAs and minicamp. Or maybe Cameron, 25, is still improving as a dual-threat receiver who can line up anywhere; a scary thought. Last season, the Browns targeted Cameron 117 times. Only Jimmy Graham and Tony Gonzalez saw more passes slung their way. Comparing the film, the 6-foot-5, 249-pound Cameron has shown improved foot work and explosion in the open field once he has the football. (ClevelandBrowns.com)|
FFToday's Take: Cameron could very well be improving as a receiver, but he's going to be hard-pressed to repeat last year's success given the likely year-long absence of Josh Gordon, which will allow defenses to focus all of their attention on him. It also doesn't figure to help him that QB Johnny Manziel will likely move ahead of Brian Hoyer at some point this season. One other note: five of Cameron's seven touchdowns last season came in the first four weeks.
|Will S-Jax share carries with Freeman?|
Veteran turns 31 in July; rookie stood out in OTAs
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 30 2014, 3:15 pm
|Steven Jackson is the starter. He turns 31 next month and probably has one good season left in him -- but if he is slowed by nagging injuries, the Falcons will turn to someone else. They drafted Devonta Freeman in the fourth round with thoughts of grooming him as the three-down back of the future. If he looks as good in pads as he did in shorts, Jackson might have a battle on his hands. Even the battle for the third running back will be interesting with Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith in the mix. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: It'd be a bit surprising if Jackson loses significant touches to Freeman if he manages to stay healthy because Jackson is the only back on the roster that allows the Falcons to play more physical - an area that was lacking in 2013 because of a poor offensive line and Jackson's hamstring injury. However, Freeman looks to be the clear No. 2 option right now and may open the season as the third-down back while also stealing about 30 percent of the regular backfield snaps.
|RG3 excelling "above the neck" this offseason|
Will be allowed to call some plays at the line
By: Doug Orth | Jun 30 2014, 3:05 pm
|Washington Redskins OC Sean McVay praised QB Robert Griffin III for how he handled the offseason – physically and mentally. “He did an excellent job above the neck,” McVay said, “as far as absorbing the new system, some of the terminology. … He’s done an excellent job translating his knowledge in the meeting room onto the field, recognizing some of those looks. Some of the audible situations we’ll give him the opportunity to call things at the line. He’s shown he’s fully capable of doing it and that’s what gives him a great chance to have success this year.” (ESPN )|
FFToday's Take: By all accounts, Griffin's knee is no longer a concern, so it is nice to see that McVay is pleased with his ability to process the new offensive system. While he is a poor bet to run near as much as he did as a rookie in 2012, RG3 is still a great bet to finish among the top 5-8 quarterbacks with the best supporting cast he's had entering his third season.
|Eagles may use more two-tight end sets|
Ertz and Celek to be featured early in season
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 28 2014, 3:00 pm
|When the season starts Sept. 7 against the Jags, (Chip) Kelly’s most experienced (and therefore most reliable) offense will feature Celek and Ertz. I would anticipate that two tight-end offensive packages will be the bread and butter of the Eagles’ attack earlier in the season until Matthews is ready to see an uptick in playing time. (CSNPhilly.com)|
FFToday's Take: The Eagles will likely wait to use more three-wide receiver sets until rookie Jordan Matthews gets more familiar with Kelly's system. TE Zach Ertz should benefit early on and is a good bet to improve upon his numbers (36 rec, 469 yds, 4 TDs) from last season.
|Browns' coach hints at running back by committee|
Tate and West should handle bulk of opportunities
By: Mike Krueger | Jun 28 2014, 1:00 pm
|Key quote from Coach Mike Pettine: "I think in the AFC North, you have to be running back by committee. You'd like to have a guy that can carry most of the load, but also be able to alternate guys ... you've got to be able to get fresh legs out there." (Cleveland Plain Dealer)|
FFToday's Take: Ben Tate is going to be the "carry the load" guy while rookie Terrance West should get the majority leftover carries. Tate has RB2 appeal but comes with moderate injury risk. Columnist Terry Pluto goes on to state that Edwin Baker appears to be next in line on the depth chart ahead of Dion Lewis.
|David Wilson to undergo neck exam on July 21|
Hoping to get cleared for contact in time for camp
By: Doug Orth | Jun 26 2014, 4:25 pm
|David Wilson is hoping a July 21 exam of his surgically-repaired neck will clear him for contact in time for training camp. Wilson was on the field for OTA and minicamp practices. He took some reps. These were all non-contact practices, but things do happen, and so the team held him out of anything it believed might expose him to any potential contact, just to be safe. As he worked, and watched, Wilson liked what he saw of the new Giants' offense and what it means for him assuming he gets cleared to play in it. (ESPN New York)|
FFToday's Take: Wilson may have liked what he saw from the new offense, but his fumble problems and shortcomings as a pass protector make him a poor fit for it. Unless or until those areas get corrected, Rashad Jennings will likely see the bulk of the work in the backfield for the Giants. As a result of his weaknesses and uncertain physical status, he is an end-of-draft option at best.
|Bortles to get first-team reps during camp|
Jags holding firm that Henne will be the unquestioned starter
By: Doug Orth | Jun 26 2014, 4:20 pm
|Jacksonville HC Gus Bradley has maintained all along that incumbent starter Chad Henne will be under center when the Jags open the season at Philadelphia. The second-year head coach told NFL Media's Alex Flanagan on NFL Total Access that the team has gotten behind Henne as the leader.
Bradley revealed that rookie Blake Bortles will get first-team reps during training camp so he gets a "feel for that type of environment."
If Henne struggles as expected, Bortles might get to experience the real thing sooner than the Jaguars brass hopes.
FFToday's Take: The Jaguars figure to reduce their dependence on the turnover-prone Henne as much as possible by leaning on Toby Gerhart and an improved defense. The same formula could be used to break in Bortles, although there is no harm in easing in the raw No. 3 overall pick. Bortles figures to draw some starts near the end of the season at the very least and projects as the Jags' long-term starter beginning in 2015.