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Chargers Beat: Antonio Gates may have to 'settle for a reduced role' upon return

Friday, July 3, 2015, 2:11pm

Union-Tribune - [Full Article]

Ladarius Green is known for his limited route tree, but his speed, athleticism and big frame supersede those concerns. He can stretch the field in ways no other Chargers receiver can.

He’s also a better run blocker than Antonio Gates, which could have a significant impact in rookie running back Melvin Gordon’s early development.

Even before the suspension, Green was due a bigger role in the offense. If the Chargers utilize his natural abilities and he shows he’s ready for primetime, Gates will have to settle for a reduced role when he returns.

Fantasy Impact:

Given how effective Gates was last year, it's hard to see the team benching him for Green even if Green lights it up in the first month of the season. One thing's for sure -- Gates's suspension has thrown a pretty settled situation up in the air. In the five career games in which Green has seen more than three targets, he has averaged 3.4 catches for 66 yards and 0.40 TD. Thats 12.4 FP in PPR formats, or about what Julius Thomas averaged last season. Keep in mind that Green only averaged 5.4 T/G in those games, while Gates averaged 6.1 T/G last season, so Green has the potential to post top 5 numbers for the first month of the season.

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Chargers TE Antonio Gates suspended for four games for PED use

Thursday, July 2, 2015, 4:11pm

Albert Breer, Twitter - [Full Article]

Chargers tight end Antonio Gates will be suspended for the first four games of the 2015 regular season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances, the league informed the Chargers on Thursday.

Gates's statement included the following:

“In an effort to recover from a long season and although I was unaware at the time, I regret to confirm that I tested positive for a substance that is currently on the NFL banned substance list. As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues, and I take full responsibility for my actions."

Fantasy Impact:

Gates will be eligible to return in Week 5. Ladarius Green figures to see starter's snaps with Gates sidelined. In the five games in which Green has seen more than three targets, he has averaged 3.4 catches for 66 yards and 0.40 TD. Thats 12.4 FP in PPR formats, or about what Julius Thomas averaged last season. Keep in mind that Green only averaged 5.4 T/G in those games, while Gates averaged 6.1 T/G last season, so Green has the potential to post top 5 numbers for the first month of the season.

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles' overall health is 'night and day' compared to last year

Thursday, July 2, 2015, 11:39am

USA Today - [Full Article]

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles' shoulder didn't require surgery, said HC Jim Caldwell, who referred to it as a "dead arm" suffering from inflammation, forcing a reduction in practice reps after roughly 17 months straight of throwing through the quarterback's last year at Central Florida, the pre-draft process and his first NFL season.

A toe injury suffered in a December loss to the Baltimore Ravens exacerbated things by disrupting Bortles' footwork but didn't stop him from making a start four days later against the Tennessee Titans (one of the Jaguars' three wins).

"A lot of it was good until some of those (injuries) happen," said Caldwell. "Now he's gotten healthy, and he's gotten back to really taking care of his body. I just asked him today, 'How's your body feel compared to this time last year?'

"He said it's night and day, man."

Fantasy Impact:

Bortles averaged 12.0 fantasy points per game, which led to a #24 finish at his position. He's a passer who could make a leap in his second season if the Jaguars can give him time to throw and he continues to clean up his fundamentals. The receiving corps is young but talented, with Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns all capable of producing when given the opportunity. The team signed Julius Thomas to provide a dangerous weapon at tight end. Bortles averaged nearly 30 yards rushing, so he offers some baseline production as a runner.

Former coach calls Titans WR Dorial Green-Beckham a 'nightmare matchup'

Thursday, July 2, 2015, 11:30am

NFL.com - [Full Article]

Dorial Green-Beckham spent weeks sidelined by a hamstring injury. That aside, his former college coach believes the Titans have landed the equivalent of a "nightmare matchup for any cornerback at any level."

"I was with the Colts with Jim Mora when he had Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, I was with the Raiders when they had Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Jerry Porter and some other guys on the Super Bowl team," University of Texas receivers coach Jay Norvell told the Tennessean.

Norvell spent last season coaching the red-shirted Green-Beckham in practice at Oklahoma, saying: "When you go through the history of the draft and look at the guys with size and speed and all that, he is just unique. Calvin Johnson is probably one of the closest comparisons physically because of his size."

Armed with 4.49 speed and a 6-foot-5, 237-pound frame, Green-Beckham drew pre-draft comparisons from NFL Media's Charles Davis to Falcons star Julio Jones and former NFL wideout Plaxico Burress.

"He's not a finished product, but most players aren't," Norvell said. "So he's going to have to learn the pro game and that's a completely different game from college. But he's got some natural gifts that will help him in that game, and in some ways, the NFL is probably a better game for him than college football, just because of the bump rules and (less) contact and all of that. So there are some advantages he has. ... That's why they picked him."

Fantasy Impact:

If Green-Beckham picks up things quickly and proves he’s not as raw as his detractors say — one offensive coordinator said he was “completely lost” at the whiteboard in a pre-draft interview — he could certainly start early in the season opposite Kendall Wright, since it seems that Justin Hunter is on the outs with the current coaching staff. If he sees starter’s snaps, he should be fantasy relevant as a rookie, though he'll have to prove he's ready for the mental side of the game. Long-term, he has a chance to flourish if both he and Marcus Mariota are the real deal.

Geno Smith, Brandon Marshall meeting for throwing sessions before camp

Wednesday, July 1, 2015, 11:13pm

Newsday - [Full Article]

About a month before camp, Geno Smith and most of the Jets' skill players will work out in Brandon Marshall's hometown, Chicago, so Marshall can spend more time with his newborn twins. They'll work on "chemistry, talking over the playbook and things we saw at the end of camp, things that we thought we needed to improve on,'' Smith said.

Fantasy Impact:

It's usually not a good thing when a receiver changes teams, unless he's getting a promotion, which isn't really the case with Marshall. But it's a good sign that he and Smith are working on their chemistry, because they're going to need to be on the same page by the time training camp begins. Smith is expected to get an opportunity to start at least four games so that the franchise can decide if he’s their quarterback of the future. With the addition of Marshall, Eric Decker and receiving TE Jace Amaro in the last two years, the weapons around him are improved. He could work his way into the QB2/streaming conversation if he gets off to a good start.

If healthy, Redskins will 'figure out ways' to utilize TE Jordan Reed

Wednesday, July 1, 2015, 3:08pm

Real Redskins - [Full Article]

Redskins beat writer Rich Tandler on whether or not TE Jordan Reed will be a big part of the offense:

Add it up and when he was healthy Jordan played 337 of 612 snaps. That’s about 55 percent of the plays, amounting to a heavy part-time load. When he played in 2013 he was targeted 7.8 times per game. Last year his targets per game (again not counting the games he left early due to injury) stood at 6.9. Despite being healthy, he was virtually ignored in games against the Vikings (1 target), Eagles (2), and Bucs (2).

I shouldn’t give the impression here that Reed was not used at all. His 65 total targets were fourth on the team and more than anyone besides the top three wide receivers, despite missing five games.

Still, it’s hard to look at the snap counts and targets and figure that Reed will be a “major part” of the offense even if he’s healthy. That could change but probably not initially. I can see him starting out the year playing about half of the snaps and if he stays on the field his workload could increase to where he’s playing, say, 70 percent of the snaps. If he’s on the field more his targets will increase and he could become more of a part of the offense.

But it all starts with Reed staying healthy. If that happens I’m sure that the team will figure out ways to take advantage of his considerable talents.

Fantasy Impact:

If Reed were to average 6.9 T/G over a full 16-game season, it works out to 110 targets, which would have been the 5th-most among tight ends last season. His problem is that he can't seem to stay healthy and isn't currently healthy enough to practice. Tandler mentions that Reed's playing time may increase as the season wears on.

Carr: 'The sky is the limit' for Raiders WR Amari Cooper

Wednesday, July 1, 2015, 11:48am

NFL.com - [Full Article]

Amari Cooper possesses the natural talents that could help transform the Raiders' passing offense from a smorgasbord of faulty short threats and singles hitters to one with a playmaker boasting the ability to hit a home run at any moment.

Second-year quarterback Derek Carr sang high praise about his rookie target to 95.7 The Game on Tuesday.

"He (Cooper) is ridiculous in and out of his breaks," said Carr, via the team's official website. "His style of play is perfect for this league. He's good at getting on toes and creating separation. He's good at when the ball is in his hands making those fast-twitch movements to make a guy go one way so he can take it to the house. It's just little things that honestly people don't even notice."

"His work ethic is second to none," Carr added of Cooper. "I was throwing with him as soon as mini-camp was over so we can get more reps in, and our plan was to throw a couple more times, but he texted me that night. He said, 'Hey, let's throw at least three more times. I need to get this one route right.' Just him telling me that kind of stuff, it blew my mind."

"I think the sky's the limit for him, obviously," Carr said. "Hopefully I just get the ball into his hands so he can make the plays."

Fantasy Impact:

Cooper should immediately step into the team’s WR1 role. By all accounts he looks like the real deal, and his coaches and teammates have been effusive in their praise of the rookie. He is the safest of the first year wideouts, but touchdowns may be an issue for the offensively-challenged Raiders.

Redskins RB Matt Jones in line for third-down duties

Wednesday, July 1, 2015, 11:19am

CSN Washington - [Full Article]

Redskins beat writers Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler discussed the candidates to replace Roy Helu as the team's third-down back.

Tandler: If [Chris Thompson] stays healthy he is definitely a threat to get the job but I’m putting my hypothetical money on [Matt Jones]. I think that Jay Gruden and company think that they might have quite an unusual weapon in the rookie and they will give him a shot to see what he can do.

El-Bashir: After getting a good look at Jones in OTAs and minicamp, I’m now expecting the Florida product to end up as a direct replacement for Helu, meaning he’ll occasionally spell Morris and fill the role of third down running back.

Fantasy Impact:

Helu finished the season as the #31 RB in PPR formats, and that was with Alfred Morris playing a full season. It's possible that Jones will post RB3 numbers in PPR leagues as Morris's direct backup and Washington's third-down back.

Bengals RB Jeremy Hill focused on breaking tackles

Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 4:29pm

PFT - [Full Article]

Getting past initial contact was a focus for Jeremy Hill this offseason and OC Hue Jackson said that the back did a good job laying the groundwork for better results.

“For me, it’s just getting that acceleration from the first level to the second level,” Hill said, via ESPN.com. “I’m just trying to lift my acceleration up and miss more tackles. That’s the biggest thing for me. The first guy got me down way too much last season.”

ESPN Stats and Info had Hill averaging 2.29 yards after contact during his rookie season, which was good for fourth in the league last season and helps explain why Hill became such a big part of the offense in the second half of the season. If he becomes even harder for defenses to stop this time around, the backfield work in Cincinnati may not be as balanced as Hill expected earlier this offseason.

Fantasy Impact:

Hill began to see significant work in Week 9 and averaged 19.1 carries for 103 yards and 0.67 TD over the final nine games. He averaged 18.1 carries for 95 yards and 0.67 TD in the six games in which Giovani Bernard also played during that same span, so it certainly appears that OC Hue Jackson was ready to turn to Hill as the team’s primary ball-carrier.

Cowboys say they have a 'complementary backfield'

Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 4:20pm

Dallas News - [Full Article]

Cowboys RB Joseph Randle appears to be the lead dog heading into camp. If Darren McFadden is healthy, he could also fill the starting role. Lance Dunbar will likely see more carries, but his biggest impact should come during passing downs.

“We’re very confident in what we have,” Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown said. “We got some very good football players. With the addition of Darren it’s going to be a nice group. I can’t say who is going to be the lead dog right now, but those guys are going to compete and we’re going to do what’s necessary to win games.

“I just think that we have a complementary backfield,” Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “They’re going to spread out the carries. Some games are going to be different than others. Maybe one guy is going to have more in one game than the other or maybe sometimes two guys are going to split the carries, sometimes it’s going to be three. Again, it’s to be determined. It is a bit rare to have the one guy carry all the load. I tip my hat to DeMarco for being able to do it. But these other guys have different roles now that he’s gone. We’re going to have someone step up, and I know they’re excited about it.”

Fantasy Impact:

It may be the team's intention to split the work among the three backs, but a talent disparity between Randle and McFadden along with McFadden's history of fragility leads us to believe that Randle is the back to own in this backfield.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 4:17pm

Colts.com - [Full Article]

Miami head coach Al Golden watched Colts WR Phillip Dorsett’s game transform over his four years coaching him.

“He’s always had speed, but I think he really developed his hands, his ability to get in and out of breaks, change of direction. You’re getting a heck of a football player and even a better person in Indianapolis.”

Fantasy Impact:

Dorsett is competing with Donte Moncrief for snaps behind T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson.

Eagles Beat: Look for a 'sizable jump' in snaps for TE Zach Ertz

Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 4:12pm

CSN Philly - [Full Article]

Eagles beat writer Geoff Mosher broke down the team's roster, including the TE position and Zach Ertz.

Look for Ertz to make a sizable jump in snaps, and for Burton, an excellent special-teamer, to be groomed into a future No. 2 behind Ertz.

Fantasy Impact:

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.

Rex Ryan has shown 'greater enthusiasm' for Tyrod Taylor than other Bills QBs

Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 11:36am

PFT - [Full Article]

The Bills brought in two new quarterbacks this offseason, trading for Matt Cassel and signing Tyrod Taylor. Most people figured Cassel was in line to start and Taylor was brought in to be a backup. But that may not be the case.

The Buffalo News reports that Bills coach Rex Ryan has shown greater enthusiasm for Taylor than for Cassel, that Ryan has wanted to coach Taylor for a long time and previously wanted the Jets to acquire him, and that Ryan says Taylor is the fastest quarterback in the NFL and can change games with his speed.

Fantasy Impact:

It's going to be a run-heavy offense, but if Taylor wins the job, he could become fantasy relevant thanks to his ability to run the ball. The Bills aren't lacking for receiving weapons, either.

Jets moving TE Jace Amaro to H-back

Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 11:29am

NY Post - [Full Article]

One of the more interesting things new coach Todd Bowles said this spring is Jace Amaro is now considered an H-back, not a tight end. We’ll see how that designation plays out under new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. It was hard to get much of a feel for it this spring because Amaro often practiced on the second field with the backups. Then he injured his back in the team’s final week of OTAs, which kept him sidelined for the minicamp.

You would think this means Amaro will play more in the slot or on the wing and not be asked to get in a stance as an in-line tight end, something he never appeared really comfortable doing.

Fantasy Impact:

Amaro has struggled with a back injury and he’s missing valuable reps as a result. If healthy, he has a chance to make a fantasy impact in his second year after cracking the 50-yard mark four times in 14 games as a rookie. Amaro's status as a tight end may depend on the individual site/fantasy league.

Jaws: Geno Smith is 'getting better' and 'can make every throw'

Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 11:22am

New York Jets - [Full Article]

Geno Smith has a new coordinator and some new weapons. And after experiencing the highs and lows of two NFL seasons, the Jets hope Smith can become a more consistent signal caller in 2015.

“I think Geno, when I’ve looked at him now for a couple of years in the NFL, I see a quarterback that’s getting better,” said ESPN analyst Ron Jaworksi. “He’s forgotten the mistakes and I still remember going to Morgantown, West Virginia for his Pro Day and outside of Robert Griffin III – it was one of the best pro days I’ve seen. So he can make every throw, he can do everything it takes to be an NFL quarterback. It’s just about consistency.”

Fantasy Impact:

Smith is expected to get an opportunity to start at least four games so that the franchise can decide if he’s their quarterback of the future. With the addition of Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and receiving TE Jace Amaro in the last two years, the weapons around him are improved. He could work his way into the QB2/streaming conversation if he gets off to a good start.

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