Health, injuries and surgeries. They are perhaps Jordy Nelson’s least favorite topics, so you’re not going to get much out of him. But he did admit to having off-season surgery when he talked to reporters Thursday in Green Bay after organized team activities.
“Everything is going well. We’re excited where we’re at. I continue to move forward and everything is good though,” said Nelson.
There doesn’t seem to be a timetable for his return.
“Not necessarily,” said Nelson. “We’re just going to continue to progress going forward. Like I said, we’re excited where we’re at and don’t have any worries about anything that’s of importance down the road.”
Nelson said it bothered him during the season.
“Obviously, if it didn’t bother me, I probably wouldn’t have had surgery,” said Nelson. “But – nothing major. Just an opportunity to get some things cleaned up. We did it and I think it was a good move and I feel good with where we’re at, moving forward.”
Anytime a player has surgery it raises red flags, but this doesn't sound too serious. Nelson has finished in the top 11 in standard formats in three of the last four seasons, averaging 5.0 catches for 81 yards and 0.72 TD in that span. The Packers' offense remains intact, so as long as he and Aaron Rodgers stay healthy, we're expecting more of the same in 2015.
Mike Triplett on the Saints' tight end situation:
Veteran tight end Benjamin Watson was arguably the New Orleans Saints’ player of the day during Thursday’s OTA practice – catching both short and long passes alike. Watson caught one deep pass over the middle that likely would have gone for a touchdown even if the Saints were live tackling. He broke open past outside linebacker Anthony Spencer before safety help arrived.
Of course, Watson won’t become the next Jimmy Graham in New Orleans’ offense. But at the same time, don’t sleep on the idea that the 34-year-old could play an expanded role as a pass-catcher after Graham was traded to the Seattle Seahawks.
As I wrote in my recent fantasy breakdown, I don’t think this is a case where young backup tight end Josh Hill will simply leapfrog Watson in the pecking order. Watson will likely even play more snaps than Hill because of his blocking ability.
While Watson could cause Hill owners headaches in certain situations, he's 34-years-old and is going to have a tough time playing starter's snaps ahead of Hill. HC Sean Payton continues to fawn over Hill's skillset, so we believe he's going to breakout this season, a la Travis Kelce or Jordan Cameron in recent years.
At one point, Eagles WRs Jordan Matthews, Riley Cooper, and Josh Huff got reps with the 1's, with Matthews in the slot. Later in practice, it was Matthews, Cooper and Jeff Maehl, with Matthews on the outside. Matthews had previously said his role would be expanded by playing some on the outside. We saw that Thursday.
With Jeremy Maclin gone, Matthews will have to play more than the 65% of the snaps that he played as a rookie. He was the #24 WR in standard formats, so increased playing time should lead to a better finish. He won't be limited to the slot in 2015.
But with each passing day that Bradford is not completely back from tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, the specter of Sanchez under center on Sept. 14 in Atlanta becomes more and more of a reality.
Bradford wore a large brace around his left knee Thursday. He was the only player who did not participate in conditioning warm-ups. He threw only during individual drills. He jogged without a limp in between the drills, but when he walked off the field after practice he was clearly favoring his left leg.
But if Bradford isn't participating in seven-on-seven drills next week, as Kelly said he expected him to, or if he isn't taking 11-on-11 repetitions by minicamp in mid-June, or if he isn't ready by training camp in early August, then how ready will he be learning a new offense in a short time? More important, where will he be mentally?
Bradford was shaping up as a sleeper, but it's not good to hear that he's still favoring the leg. We'll reassess as training camp gets started, but he needs reps to learn Kelly's offense.
Colts WR Andre Johnson's late-career change of address has reinvigorated his passion for the game. His mom hears it in his voice. His uncle sees it in his body language. HC Chuck Pagano senses it on the practice field.
For Andre Johnson, football is fun again.
Johnson will likely start opposite T.Y. Hilton. It’s a big upgrade from a quality-of-quarterback standpoint, as he has never played with one as good as Andrew Luck. His targets are likely to take a hit, however. He averaged 9.7 T/G in 2014, while Hilton and Reggie Wayne led the Colts with 8.7 and 7.7 T/G, respectively. So this looks like a case of the targets dropping but the quality of those targets increasing. After finishing in the top 10 (in PPR) in five of his previous six seasons, Johnson finished #28 in 2014. He’s turning 34 this offseason, so it may be foolhardy to expect a huge bounceback season, but low-end WR2 numbers in PPR formats seem reasonable.
Forsett should see his PPR upside increase due to new OC Marc Trestman's tendency to use his running backs in the passing game. Under Trestman, Matt Forte caught 176 passes in the last two seasons, including 102 catches in 2014. Forsett caught 44 passes last season, and could potentially see that number double if he's the RB1 for the Ravens in 2015. However, the loss of OC Gary Kubiak is likely to hurt the Ravens’ running game. As the #8 RB in both standard and PPR formats in 2014, he’ll likely hold more value in PPR formats than in standard formats in 2015.
A two-time Pro Bowl pick, he says he will report to training camp on time despite the team's refusal to extend his deal. Forte is entering the final season of a four-year contract he signed in 2012.
Forte has finished in the top 4 in both PPR and standard formats in the last two years, but his usage (especially in the passing game) was up under former OC Marc Trestman. He’s likely to see a drop in targets, but should still be good for 50-60 catches under new OC Adam Gase. Provided that the holdout doesn’t continue into the summer, Forte should deliver on his mid- to late-1st round ADP.
Thursday, May 28, 2015, 3:35pm
Texans writer John Harris...
If there’s a guy that I’m truly stoked about his progress as a second year player, it’s TE C.J. Fiedorowicz. He made a great fingertip catch on a ball down the seam. If he’s healthy, he’s going to impact this offense in 2015 and be a multi-purpose “tight end” in every respect.
The Redskins are expected to transition into more of a power-running scheme in 2015 under new offensive line coach Bill Callahan.
"I feel I'm better at downhill plays anyway," Alfred Morris told ESPN.com’s John Keim earlier this week. "You know what's coming. It's a knockout, drag-out style of play. I don't shy away from contact. It's right up my alley. I thoroughly enjoy it."
In his first three seasons, Morris has finished #5, #14 and #13 in standard formats. He's more of a RB2 in PPR leagues (#7, #19, #17) since he has only averaged 0.8 receptions per game in his career. Bill Callahan's arrival (as offensive line coach) should help the effectiveness of the team's running game, which in turn will help Morris's fantasy production. He's a solid value and a safe pick in the 3rd/4th round of early PPR drafts, though rookie Matt Jones may have something to say about that.
David Johnson, a third-round pick out of Northern Iowa, ranked 15th in FCS in 2014, posting 1,553 rushing yards while finding the end zone 17 times. He is expected to make a big contribution to the Cardinals offense this season, according to his position coach, Stump Mitchell.
"He's a guy who has a lot of confidence in his ability to play," Mitchell told Doug and Wolf Thursday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "He's coachable. He's a smart young man, he's physical. He's going to make Andre (Ellington) pick up his game when given the opportunity.
"He has excellent hands and he's a bigger target to throw the ball to. He's going to be a big piece of the puzzle before this season is said and done."
Mitchell gushed about Johnson's physicality, citing his ability to run over people as well as run around them. He also conjured a comparison to one of the NFL's most productive backs over the last five years.
"He reminds me a lot of (Chicago RB) Matt Forte," Mitchell said. "You can put him outside and use him as a receiver and he's a good runner."
The Cardinals have been trying to add a bigger back to complement Andre Ellington, and Johnson fits the bill. He does a lot of the same things as Ellington, so for now we're expecting that he'll serve in a backup capacity, but Mitchell sounds as if Johnson will play a larger role than a typical backup. We currently project him for around 147 touches.
Thursday, May 28, 2015, 1:56pm
The Saints kicker typically holds considerable fantasy value (among kickers), so this is a camp battle to monitor.
Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford is "right on schedule" in his return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, coach Chip Kelly said Thursday. Bradford has been limited during this week's first thre organized team activities. He's able to participate in individual drills, but he's not taking part in team drills.
“He is on schedule," Kelly said. "We all think there’s three phases – there’s medical rehab, performance rehab, and prepare to play.He’s probably at the tail end of medical rehab. He’ll probably start throwing some 7 on 7 next week, and I think he’s right on schedule.”
Over the last two seasons, Philadelphia quarterbacks have averaged 16.7 passing game-only fantasy points. Bradford isn’t much of a runner, but he adds about 0.7 FP per game as a rusher. That adds up to 17.4 FP, or about what Eli Manning averaged as the #13 QB in 2014. The Eagles’ offense has lost their top receiver – DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin – in each of the last two seasons, but Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz are emerging and the team added Nelson Agholor in the draft. If Bradford does start for the Eagles, we wouldn’t expect anything more than high-end QB2 numbers, but this is a definite system upgrade due to the overall effectiveness of Chip Kelly’s offense.
Victor Cruz is getting close.
“I’m about 80 percent there. I think it’s just a matter of continuing to build the strength for the last leg of it,” Cruz told The Post on Wednesday after the Giants’ first OTA practice. “I’ve been running some routes for about two weeks now, and there’s been no pain, no swelling or anything like that, which are all good signs.”
As his teammates worked, Cruz was nearby on a side field, running routes, running hard. Then he iced his surgically repaired right knee. He tore his patellar tendon Oct. 19 in Philadelphia and nearly is all the way back.
Cruz tore his patellar tendon in mid-October, so it's no sure thing that he'll be back for the start of the season, though recent reports are positive. He's not going to get the same number of targets given Odell Beckham's emergence as a top-flight wideout. Cruz will likely play the Randall Cobb role in OC Ben McAdoo's offense, so there is some upside if he's fully healthy by Week 1.
The Vikings want to push the ball deep in Norv Turner's offense, and Mike Wallace, who was their top target at wide receiver this offseason, was the only one the team had interest in acquiring via a trade. He is playing flanker right now, but he said after the Vikings' organized team activity on Wednesday that he expects to move around the offense. Wherever he is, Wallace expects to feel more at home than he did in Miami.
"I think it's more so [like] my first four years," Wallace said. "It's a vertical offense, [rather] than a short, West Coast offense. You go down the field a lot more here, more what I'm accustomed to."
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said he has been spending extra time with Wallace each day, working on routes they ran in practice. The Vikings will use Wallace in a variety of ways -- coach Mike Zimmer has pointed out how dangerous Wallace can be on screen passes, too -- but his deep speed is probably the primary reason he's in Minnesota now.
Wallace will likely start opposite Charles Johnson with Cordarrelle Patterson and Jarius Wright battling for snaps as the team’s WR3. We're wary anytime a receiver changes teams, especially when he's not getting a promotion, which is the case with Wallace. He will have more opportunity to use his speed since OC Norv Turner likes the deep ball.
“I’ll tell you, what’s even a better addition is have Kyle Rudolph back healthy,” Bridgewater said. “He’s like a whole new player on the team.”
They expected big things from Rudolph last season, and the lucrative contract extension they gave him during training camp was proof of that.
“You see what my position is capable of in this offense,” Rudolph said. “I’ve proven that throughout the course of a 16-game season, when I’m out there every week, I’m one of the best players at my position.”
It has been a frustrating two years for Rudolph and his owners, as he’s missed 15 of a possible 32 games in that span. But he saw 17 targets in three games last season before going down with a sports hernia. Over the past three seasons, Rudolph has averaged 5.2 targets per game, which is about what Owen Daniels averaged in 2014. There’s some upside in OC Norv Turner’s TE-friendly offense if he can stay healthy. Granted, that’s a big “if.”
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