This was supposed to be the summer Ertz wrestled the starting job away from the 30-year-old Celek. He worked hard in the offseason to improve his blocking, talking to offensive line coaches and future Hall of Fame tight ends and training with MMA fighters.
But then he suffered a core-muscle injury early in training camp and has missed the entire preseason. Ertz hopes to be back for the Atlanta game. But even if he is, his snaps likely will be limited to passing downs and two-tight-end sets.
And if the preseason and their 11-on-11 team work in training camp is any indication, the Eagles will be cutting down on their use of two-tight-end sets this season as they make greater use of running back Darren Sproles in the passing game.
Last year, they used two-tight-end formations on 344 of their 1,128 offensive snaps, or 30.1 percent of the time. Celek played 815 snaps; Ertz played 587.
Ertz was the #13 TE in both standard and PPR formats despite only playing half of the Eagles’ snaps in his second year. Most (73%) of his snaps came on passing downs, so if his playing time is going to increase, a majority of the additional snaps are likely to come in run formations. Still, there’s upside with Ertz if he begins to see starter’s snaps. The Eagles lost their leading receiver -- first DeSean Jackson and then Jeremy Maclin -- in back-to-back seasons, so there will be opportunity from a targets standpoint. The groin injury isn't helping, so owners who draft Ertz should be prepared for an unproductive September.
Tom Brady has beaten the NFL in the Deflategate court case, with U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman nullifying the league's four-game suspension Thursday.
Brady immediately becomes a mid-level QB1 and his ADP is bound to jump a couple of rounds from the 8th/9th round into the 5th/6th range. It's a bump for all of the Patriot skill position players, especially Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. Brady is dealing with a receiving corps (Brandon LaFell, Edelman) suffering from mysterious ailments, so he may not have a full complement of weapons for Week 1 against the Steelers. Still, he should provide solid QB1 numbers in 2015.
"As Coach has always said -- I'm not saying anything out of the blue -- it's a running back by committee crew," Rivers explained, via The San Diego Union-Tribune. "It's going to be a team effort in that bunch. We're going to need all of them to carry the load in the run game and to catch the ball out of the backfield."
The Bolts might have been planning all along to use Danny Woodhead as their primary passing-down back, but NFL teams don't spend first-round draft picks on running backs with the idea of installing a committee attack.
Gordon has disappointed this summer, acknowledging after his preseason debut that he must be a more decisive runner.
The Chargers traded up to get Gordon, so we’d expect they’ll use him often in 2015, though his preseason hasn't gone well. He doesn’t have a lot of experience as a receiver, so we'd expect that Woodhead still gets a lot of work on third down and in the two minute offense.
Coleman did start ahead of Marques Colston in the team's third preseason game, but hasn't done much (one catch for 27 yards) thus far. If the 6'6" Coleman continues to start ahead of Colston, he could quickly turn into a starting-caliber fantasy receiver. Remember, Sean Payton said that Coleman impressed him the most of any player in camp. He has been going in the 14th round over the past week or so, and is a nice late-round flier once drafts hit the 12th or 13th round.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015, 2:58pm
The Cowboys are going to split carries between Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and change-of-pace back Lance Dunbar. None of them has done enough to separate themselves from the pack, and take on a workhorse-type role that DeMarco Murray had last season.
None of them, in other words, is likely going to carry it 20-plus times a game. Instead, Randle could fall in the 10-15 carry range with McFadden slightly below that.
“I’m just going to go in there and be as productive as a I can and take full advantage of the opportunity that I get,” Randle said. “And let the rest fall where it may.”
Added McFadden: “[A committee approach] is something I’ve done pretty much throughout my career, at school [in Arkansas] or being with the Raiders. It’s one of those deals, it’s the NFL, it’s a long season. You have to be able to have two backs that can go in there and be able to tote it the way you need them to tote it.”
We still believe that Randle is the back to own in the Dallas backfield, mainly because McFadden can't be trusted to stay healthy. But given Randle's 4th-round price, McFadden may be the better value since he's going in the 8th-10th round, depending on the draft. This is going to be a fantasy headache for most of the season, especially if everyone stays healthy.
Eagles HC Chip Kelly said that adding depth at the position was a priority in the offseason. When you add DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews – both have been staples on the injury list over their careers – you better have some depth. But assuming Murray, Mathews and Darren Sproles stay healthy, the Eagles might have the deepest running-back group in the NFL. The guess here is that Murray gets 225-250 carries this season. He had 392 last season for the Cowboys. Mathews would be next with 100-125 carries. And Sproles would be sprinkled in for about 50. Sproles’ presence in the passing game is obviously going to be beefed up. The Eagles have made that clear. But Murray and Mathews aren’t slouches in catching passes, either and will get their share of screens and check downs.
We currently project Murray for 259 carries, Mathews for 153 and Sproles for 39, so our numbers are fairly close to McLane's "guesses." Owners counting on Murray to tote the ball 300-plus times will probably be disappointed. They're planning to use Mathews and Sproles extensively, and that will limit Murray's overall upside. We do expect Murray to be highly productive in the touches that he does get, but he's not going to approach his 2014 workload in Dallas.
Bills beat writer Mike Rodak on the Week 1 status of LeSean McCoy: "Well we certainly expect him to be ready to go, I hope," coach Rex Ryan said Monday. "If not then the next man has to step up. [Anthony Dixon] got a lot of reps out there today. Bryce Brown got a lot of reps today. So we will see. I am not going to put that all on one man. If he is not ready to go, he won’t be in there." If McCoy -- who did rehab work in practices Monday and Tuesday -- can't play in Week 1, then the Bills will most likely turn to Brown or Dixon as their primary ball carriers. In my view, the favorite for that job would be rookie Karlos Williams. The fifth-round pick might not be available for the opener -- he began rehab work Tuesday at practice after undergoing an undisclosed medical procedure last month -- but down the road could be the better option to replace McCoy than Brown or Dixon.
Two things to note here: 1) McCoy may not play in Week 1 and it looks like the primary replacements would be Dixon and Brown, and 2) Rodak believes that, when healthy, Williams is the best option to back up McCoy. Williams is dealing with an undisclosed injury.
The wait for a “Deflategate” decision continues.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman today issued an order saying that his “Court anticipates its Decision and Order by the end of the week.” The brief order was the only filing today in the ongoing Deflategate scandal.
Yesterday, Berman said in open court that he intended to have a decision by today or tomorrow. Docket watchers kept an eye out for his final decision but were greeted later in the day by a brief order that essentially said his decision wasn’t ready, yet.
The Pats wanted a decision with at least a week to go before the season. They open with the Steelers on Thursday night, Sept. 10.
The reasoning behind the Seattle Seahawks’ decision to bring in former Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson for a visit seemingly became clearer on Tuesday after head coach Pete Carroll revealed Robert Turbin suffered a serious ankle injury in the Hawks’ preseason matchup at San Diego on Saturday.
Speaking with reporters after Seattle’s practice in anticipation of their preseason finale Thursday, Carroll hinted that Turbin’s injury may keep him out of action for a while.
“Robert’s got a sprained ankle,” Carroll said. “It’s a significant ankle sprain. We have to see what that means. He feels pretty good about it, but it definitely showed up on the MRI and all that.”
Carroll said that Turbin got “whacked” and “rolled up on,” and that there was timetable for Turbin’s return. Carroll also said that the injury wasn’t the only reason they decided to bring in Jackson for a visit after he was released by the Bills on Monday. But now it at least makes a lot more sense.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015, 8:45pm
Some notes from 49ers camp on Tuesday:
Smith apparently suffered the injury while making a 5-yard catch in Saturday’s exhibition loss at Denver. He showed no hindrance at practice, nor while seen walking around in the locker room.
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Kendall Hunter looked to be favoring his reconstructed right knee while working on a side field with a trainer at the start of practice. Hunter had seven carries for 15 yards Saturday in his first game action since the 2013 season finale.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015, 8:42pm
The Buffalo Bills are very likely to carry kickoff specialist Jordan Gay on their 53-man roster again this season, so Dan Carpenter must be nearly perfect on his field goals and extra points to justify the move.
In two preseason games, he hasn't been.
After returning from the non-football injury list, Carpenter has missed two field goals (from 46 and 53 yards) and an extra point, which is now a 33-yard kick.
"I am concerned," Bills coach Rex Ryan said Tuesday of Carpenter. "I mean, [he] missed a couple field goals and an extra point that is concerning because he missed a lot of camp. We have to see him kick better. Quite honestly he needs to, we are the only team in the league that keeps a kickoff specialist; with that being said you do that to make sure you’re giving your kicker a chance to focus on one thing, and that is field goals."
Carpenter underwent offseason surgery and then landed on the NFI list to start training camp, missing the first two weeks of practices.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015, 8:39pm
On Tuesday, Rams coach Jeff Fisher announced that Keenum has "locked up" the No. 2 quarterback spot behind Foles.
"He just has a good feel for offense and timing and release and is a natural athlete," Fisher said. "Since the trade he's been able to sit here and really, really grasp the offense, so he has a good feel for what we're doing."
He has completed 20 of 34 passes for 255 yards with one touchdown and a QB rating of 92.2.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015, 8:37pm
Cards RB Chris Johnson went through a full practice Tuesday at full speed and is on pace to play in Thursday night’s preseason finale at Denver. A hamstring injury suffered two days before Arizona’s second preseason game, against San Diego, has kept sidelined.
The plan is for Johnson to get at least between 10 and 12 carries, coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday. But Arians will be cautious with Johnson, keeping an eye on his condition. Too many plays, Arians said, could fatigue Johnson and could lead to him re-pulling his right hamstring.
In his first football since December, Johnson just wants to re-acclimate himself with being on the field.
“Just go out there and try to get in the groove, get some carries,” Johnson said. “I haven’t been tackled since last year. I haven’t played in a full-speed game or anything."
The team said Tuesday that Thomas will have surgery Wednesday to repair ligament damage in his right hand. The decision came after Thomas got a second opinion.
General manager Dave Caldwell described the surgery as "more or less just cleaning it up and tightening it up."
Thomas, who signed a five-year, $46 million contract that included $24 million guaranteed in free agency, broke a bone in the back of his hand in the preseason opener against Pittsburgh. He initially was supposed to be back for the regular-season opener Sept. 13 against Carolina.
It looks like he'll miss games against the Panthers, Miami and New England. We recommend you move him down your draft boards. He currently sits just inside our top-20 TEs but when he returns should be featured in the Jags offense and could especially be a red zone target. Keep in mind the Blake Bortles vs. Peyton Manning factor.
The Chargers were determined to fix their woeful running game this offseason.
They climbed the draft board to secure standout Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon. They revamped their offensive line, which has just one returning starter at his same position for the season opener. But after three preseason games, their average rests at 3.4 yards per carry-- the same as it was last season.
What McCoy is certain of is Gordon's skills. Even if the Heisman Trophy finalist has only 45 yards on 20 carries for a 2.3-yard average.
"Without a doubt," McCoy said. "I have a ton of confidence in Melvin Gordon, a ton of confidence. He is a very good football player and has done everything we have asked. I look forward to him having a great year."
Gordon has struggled in pass protection so that could end up hurting his fantasy value especially with Danny Woodhead back in the mix after a broken leg ended his season last year. Woodhead is very good third down back who is sure to get his share of work in passing situations. The story mentioned backup Branden Oliver has averaged four yards a carry in the preseason.
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