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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.”
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
“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.”
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
Browns HC Mike Pettine broke the tight end group down this way: “We really have two different types of tight ends. The ‘Y’ is more the on the ball, blocker type where that’s [Jim Dray] and [Gary Barnidge]. The F is more of a move type, off the ball, more of a wing. You can flex him out some. Gary is kind of a ‘tweener.’ He can do both. We just like the depth in the room. We have three guys that they’re not identical skillsets there. There’s some overlap. Gary, like I said, is kind of both. Jim is more towards the ideal ‘Y,’ and [Rob Housler] is more the ideal ‘F.’”
Housler could be fantasy relevant if he sees starter snaps as a move tight end. He wasn’t given much to do in Bruce Arians’ offense while in Arizona, but he has a good skill set for a "move" tight end.
Lions RB 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.
He really, really isn't.
Bell is so confident about this season, in fact, that he's predicting he'll become the second Detroit Lions running back to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards since 2004 -- and then some.
"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."
Bell was the #14 RB in standard formats (#13 in PPR), while racking up 257 touches in 15 games. That works out to a 17.1-touch average. While he certainly benefited from Reggie Bush's injury-plagued season, Bell dominated the touches even when Bush was active and playing. He should continue to see RB1-type touches in 2015 with Bush out of the way, though the arrival of Ameer Abdullah is a concern. Abdullah has shined with Bell sitting out of offseason activities, but Bell should still see 14-15 touches per game.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 8:58pm
The Eagles signed guard John Moffitt on Monday, adding a former third-round pick with starting experience who abruptly retired in 2013 and faced legal problems while out of the league. Moffitt, 28, agreed to a one-year deal. The Eagles released undrafted rookie Cole Manhart to make room for Moffitt.
Moffitt was a third-round pick by the Seattle Seahawks in 2011. He started 15 games during his first two years in the league before a trade to the Broncos. Moffitt played two games for Denver in 2013, then retired in midseason after losing interest in the game and worrying about his health.
Moffitt was arrested in March 2014 for allegedly punching a man and was charged with assault, public urination and possession of marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy. The drug charges were later dismissed and he pleaded guilty to the other charge after enrolling in a rehabilitation clinic in Malibu, according to a November 2014 Now York Times article.
The 6-foot-4, 319-pound Wisconsin product presents the Eagles with a potential starting option at guard, a position that lacks depth after the team released long-time starters Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis this offseason. Allen Barbre is expected to start at left guard. Moffitt could compete with Matthew Tobin, Andrew Gardner, Dennis Kelly, and Kevin Graf for the starting job at right guard.
To help RG3 improve as a more conventional pocket passer, consider new general manager Scot McCloughan's first draft a throwback nod to the Redskins' championship past. McCloughan focused on making the team bigger, tougher and stronger in the trenches, beginning with the fifth overall pick, Iowa's Brandon Scherff, who will start at right tackle. Then McCloughan, who places a premium on building through the draft, added fourth-round guard Arie Kouandjio and seventh-round center Austin Reiter.
In a need-based draft, McCloughan gave RG3 everything he needed to improve.
Think of the 2015 Redskins as The Hogs 2.0 (they can only hope) after McCloughan infused the offensive line with the same smash-mouth mentality that helped the Joe Gibbs-coached Redskins win three Super Bowls behind blockers like Joe Jacoby, Jeff Bostic and Russ Grimm.
"Just get back to the old days — the ground-and-pound football, which will open up the passing lanes," 6-5, 319-pound Scherff said. "I think that's what they want to start doing, and that's what we will start doing from Day 1."
"We want to be able to run the football. It sets up everything else for us," said McCloughan, who seemed to have a solid, meat-and-potatoes first draft. Scherff and second-round pass rusher Preston Smith project as immediate starters."
McCloughan's picks gave new offensive line coach Bill Callahan the resources to revamp a leaky group that also allowed 58 sacks last season. Couple that with a successful running game, and it should take pressure off RGIII. Unfortunately, that game plan won't necessarily make for great fantasy QB production, and Griffin comes in 20th in our rankings. But it could be good news for RB Alfred Morris, who once again shapes up to be a safe RB2 option in the third or fourth rounds of fantasy drafts.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 8:42pm
Darren McFadden's career with the Dallas Cowboys didn't get off to a great start. The running back was sidelined for most of the team's OTA and mini-camp practices with a strained hamstring. After taking off several weeks, McFadden is feeling healthy again and ready to go when the Cowboys open up training camp in a little over a month from now.
"It's doing great," McFadden told Steve Rogers of his hamstring, per the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette. "I feel like I had a decent mini-camp, so I'm just looking forward to putting in my work and getting ready for training camp."
McFadden will enter training camp behind Joseph Randle on the depth chart at running back, and he could also be behind Lance Dunbar. Since his breakout 2011 season, McFadden has struggled to remain productive on a per touch basis. Many believe that the Cowboys' offensive line can be a great catalyst for a runner like McFadden, because although he struggles to make defenders miss, he is lightning fast when running downhill.
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