On the topic of the Cowboys' RBBC approach...
If you're seeking knowledge for your fantasy football draft, well, peace be with you.
Dallas isn't relenting on this. It's not a bluff. As it stands right now, this will be a committee in the purest NFL form. The Cowboys are adamant that their elite offensive line can be the glue that elevates a collection of parts into a greater whole.
Ultimately, what we saw Saturday night against the Vikings is likely a facsimile of what to expect this season. Joseph Randle came in and ended up playing the role of the guinea pig, with the Cowboys probing some inside runs for signs of weakness, then ending up sputtering with some third-and-long situations that weren't conducive to running. Lance Dunbar got one carry that went one yard. And then once Dallas identified some soft spots, Darren McFadden came in and cleaned up with 37 yards on four carries. Had this been a regular-season game, it's highly likely that Dallas would have ridden McFadden's hot hand as the lead, while mixing in Randle in both the run and pass, and then getting some situational opportunities to Dunbar. It wouldn't have played out that way because Randle is the No. 2 – it would have played out that way because he did the grunt work early and set the stage for McFadden.
That's how committees like this work.
Recent play has McFadden trending up with Randle trending downward. This has the makings of a full on committee, which means that the team is likely to ride the hot hand in any given week. This is not conducive to success in fantasy football, so we wouldn't recommend drafting Randle at his current ADP (#42). McFadden is the better value in the 9th or 10th round, but he may go early given the way things are trending. Keep in mind that his durability is a major question mark given his extensive injury history.
Packers WR Randall Cobb was injured on the team's third play from scrimmage against the Eagles. He appeared to land on his right side while attempting to catch a pass from quarterback Brett Hundley along the sideline. He was initially examined in the bench area by team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie. Shortly thereafter, he was taken to the Lambeau Field locker room for further examination.
Cobb initially feared he broke his collarbone, but tests showed that was not the case.
"I just caught the ball and was going down to the ground, and I had a guy land on top of me," Cobb said. "I was just jogging off the field at the end of the series, and I could feel the pain. I didn't know exactly what it was. It was discomfort, and I let Doc check it out and we went back and got X-rays. It's not what we think it could've been."
Cobb is scheduled for additional tests Sunday, but he expressed a feeling of relief after the game.
"It's been very unfortunate these few weeks for us," Cobb said. "At least there's a silver lining in this injury."
Cobb isn't sure if he'll be ready Week 1, but it appears that he avoided a long-term injury like a broken collarbone. For those drafting today, he's still a 2nd round pick in 12-team PPR leagues, but we'd draft him after the top seven receivers are off the board.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell said Saturday that Joique Bell is "moving along really well" in his recovery after being placed on the physically unable to perform list prior to training camp. Bell had offseason surgery to help solve knee and Achilles issues and missed the entire spring recovering from those injuries.
He's also missed all of training camp but has been running off to the side almost daily in an attempt to ramp up for his eventual return.
"After speaking to the doctors back in June, he said if I was running at all by the end of July, I'm making good progress," Bell said. "I feel by the end of July I was running. I'm not going to say I'm ready to go out there and take every play and run every down right now, but you never know how I feel in two weeks."
Bell did say he does not think he needs to take hits during the preseason to prepare for the season opener, mostly because he's been playing football his entire life. He said he and the Lions are "still playing it by ear" as for when he'll be activated.
When Bell does return, the Lions expect he'll be able to handle a full workload fairly soon after that.
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. We now project Ameer Abdullah for more touches, but not by much. Bell is likely to see the goal line work and is active in the passing game as well, so his 7th round ADP seems more than reasonable.
Deep in Vikings territory, McFadden took a stretch handoff to the left side and made two explosive cuts that extended the play, giving Dallas a first-and-goal situation inside the Minnesota 10. The carry spawned a thousand Vines wondering if McFadden is finally back. It beat his previous best on the night, a 13-yard carry with 13:59 to go in the second.
"I think that what you saw was vintage McFadden," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after the game, per the Dallas Morning News. "You saw that acceleration. You saw his abilities."
The question with McFadden will always be health. There is no doubt that plays like these are still in his arsenal, but with a body that has betrayed him so many times, is it something that can be counted on?
While Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett won't go that far, he'll agree that it was a step in the right direction; a step away from uncertainty.
We're expecting Randle to be the lead back, but he didn't help his cause with just 15 yards on six carries. The Cowboys will use a committee to a certain extent, and McFadden's health is not to be trusted. but if he's healthy and active on game day, it may be difficult to trust Randle, either.
In the third quarter, Rivers told Tracy Wolfson of CBS that the hand recently used to sign a gigantic contract is fine.
“It’s good,” he said of the right hand, adding that he’d still be playing if it were a regular-season game.
Rivers played at an extremely high level for the first half of the season, completing 68.3 percent of his passes for 277 yards, 2.5 TD and just 0.6 interceptions through Week 8. He posted #3 QB numbers in that span, but he was the #19 QB down the stretch after injuring his hand in Week 9 against the Dolphins. He then suffered back and rib injuries and threw for multiple touchdowns in just two of his final eight games (averaging 1.6 INT) as the Chargers fell out of playoff contention. If he's fully healthy entering the 2015 season, he will once again be a fine value pick in the later rounds, but owners should be prepared to stream if the injuries start to pile up. The four-game loss of Antonio Gates doesn’t help, but Ladarius Green and Stevie Johnson should be able to pick up the slack.
Goodness gracious does Eagles QB Sam Bradford look sharp. Any tentativeness we saw Saturday night at the Linc vs. the Ravens was gone. Any jitters that were apparent in his first appearance in a year were nowhere to be seen. He used all his receivers, was remarkably accurate, made quick and smart decisions in the pocket and even threw a touchdown pass to Trey Burton while under heavy pressure from Packers safety Micah Hyde. Bradford played three series in his final preseason appearance, threw three touchdown passes and then gave way to Mark Sanchez. Add in his own series against the Ravens, and Bradford played four series this preseason and put up four touchdowns. His final numbers Saturday: 10 for 10 for 121 yards with three TDs and no INTs. Things aren’t going to come this easily in the regular season — I don’t think — but it’s hard not to be incredibly excited about where Bradford is and how far he’s come.
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 #10 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. This is a definite system upgrade due to the overall effectiveness of Chip Kelly’s offense.
What we saw from Stevie Johnson in Saturday night's exhibition against the Seattle Seahawks, the connection with Rivers that the Chargers hope to see so much this season, was borne in May and June and rekindled in August.
On the Chargers’ first possession, Johnson suddenly darted left, pulling away from the safety covering him in the slot to make a 34-yard reception-and-run that converted a third down. Before leaving with the rest of the first-team offense at halftime, Johnson had two more third-down conversions and finished with four receptions for 64 yards.
That is what replacing Eddie Royal looks like.
There is great potential in the marrying of Johnson’s ability to separate combined with Rivers’ ability to throw receivers open. When Rivers develops a rapport with a target, he anticipates where that receiver will be and makes connections that seemingly should never happen.
From 2010 to 2012, Johnson was one of the most consistent receivers in football, posting at least 76 catches, 1,004 yards and six touchdowns in three straight seasons. In PPR formats, he was the #10, #16 and #18 receiver in those seasons. The Chargers lost Eddie Royal, so there are targets to be had, especially with TE Antonio Gates suspended for the first four games. Johnson is having a good camp, so it appears that he’ll play ahead of retiring wideout Malcom Floyd.
After the third, a quarterback sneak, Dalton left the game with what the team called a neck injury. He was examined on the sideline by trainers and then remained on the sideline but didn’t return to the game. At halftime, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Dalton is fine and taking him out of the game was a precautionary measure.
This is probably nothing to worry about, but it's something to monitor over the next week. Dalton may be poised for a bounceback season now that all of his major weapons are healthy.
Depending on the severity, this could impact Johnson's availability for Week 1.
"You just want to see him making plays," said Broncos coach Gary Kubiak this week. "He's a hard worker. He does the right thing. He's in the right place, but it's time for him to start making plays on the ball, coming up with big plays. The good news with him is he has worked as basically a starter from OTAs through [training] camp and everything. Everything's in place for Cody to grow up and have a big year. I like the way he works, [he] just needs to keep coming."
Latimer had a disappointing rookie season and wasn't even able to beat out Andre Caldwell. Kubiak tends to favor two-TE sets, so Latimer’s snaps may be limited for that reason. The third receiver in Baltimore didn’t even play half the snaps under Kubiak. Latimer’s talent may earn him a larger role, but that remains to be seen.
Related Players: Robert Griffin III
Cousins owns a career 7.4 YPA, but posted 8.4 YPA last season, along with a 10:9 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The sample size is small (six games), but DeSean Jackson's numbers remained pretty much the same with Cousins under center while Pierre Garcon's production increased significantly. He averaged 4.2 catches for 53 yards and 0.5 TD in the six games that Cousins played last season. Those are high-end fantasy WR3 numbers.
Chargers beat writer Eric D. Williams: Stevie Johnson signed with the Chargers in free agency to help fill the void left by Eddie Royal's departure, and so far has looked rejuvenated in San Diego’s offensive system. Johnson’s developed a good rapport with Philip Rivers and will be used both in the slot and on the perimeter. He has a shot at 50 receptions and at least four touchdowns.
We project Johnson for 54-755-5.2 as the Chargers' WR2. From 2010 to 2012, he was one of the most consistent receivers in football, posting at least 76 catches, 1,004 yards and six touchdowns in three straight seasons. In PPR formats, he was the #10, #16 and #18 receiver in those seasons. The Chargers lost Eddie Royal, so there are targets to be had, especially with TE Antonio Gates suspended for the first four games.
Raiders beat writer Bill Williamson: Rookie tight end Clive Walford wowed coaches in offseason workouts, although he has been hampered by a hamstring injury much of training camp. He showed strong field-stretching capabilities. He is a favorite to start early in the season and he could rack up impressive numbers as a rookie.
Rookie tight ends rarely make much of a fantasy impact, but if he can get healthy and win the starting job, he will see a lot of playing time in an offense that is likely to be trailing a majority of the time.
Chiefs beat writer Adam Teicher: The Chiefs will expect bigger numbers from Alex Smith. He threw for under 3,300 yards and 18 touchdowns last season and those stats aren’t enough for a quarterback who started 15 games. Don’t look for Smith to lead the league in passing, or to even come close. But it’s a huge disappointment if his numbers aren’t better than in 2014.
Let's not forget that Smith was the #18 fantasy quarterback last season. He's a dirt-cheap quarterback option who could provide high-end QB2 numbers if he becomes a bit more aggressive. He’s dangerous as a runner, and given the addition of a bona fide receiver in Jeremy Maclin, the emergence of Travis Kelce, and the always-dangerous Jamaal Charles, Smith is an unexciting yet (usually) functional fantasy quarterback.
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