Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz's rehabilitation from a serious knee injury has so far gone as planned. Both the Giants and Cruz expect him to be ready for the season opener on Sunday night, Sep. 13, against the Dallas Cowboys.
"Absolutely. There is not a doubt in my mind that I'll be out there playing on the field [Week 1]," Cruz said Thursday. "Obviously it's just a matter of getting myself back to 100 percent.
"I definitely, as of right now, there is zero doubts in my mind that I'll be playing in that first game and continue to be at 100 percent and playing at the level I'd like to be playing."
Cruz tore his patellar tendon in mid-October, and despite Cruz's confidence, it's no sure thing that he'll be back for the start of the season. He's probably a player to avoid this season unless his price drops so much that he becomes a value in the later rounds. He's not going to get the same number of targets given Odell Beckham's emergence as a top-flight wideout.
Eagles TE Zach Ertz did his homework and was told that retired offensive line coach Hudson Houck still trained players. So he called Houck, who mentored Hall of Famers Anthony Munoz and Bruce Matthews at Southern Cal and coached the great Cowboys lines of the 1990s, out of the blue. Soon after, they spent two weeks together in San Diego working on blocking.
Ertz' time with Houck was just one part of his offseason plan. He spent a month focusing on strength training, another on circuit training and additional time on mixed martial arts training. He also sought out former tight end great Tony Gonzalez, who instructed Ertz on the importance of preparation and tenacity.
The 24-year-old Ertz's goals are high. He said he wants to be mentioned someday alongside Gonzalez and others in the NFL pantheon of tight ends. But he knows he can't get there if he's playing only 50 percent of offensive snaps, as he did last season.
There's ample reason, though, to believe that Ertz will finally become a focal point of Chip Kelly's offense. He caught a franchise-record 15 passes against the Redskins in the penultimate game of last season. And when asked to explain last month how he'll compensate for the loss of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, Kelly prominently mentioned Ertz.
"I think he's still growing, and I think Zach will be the first one to tell you that," Kelly said at the NFL meeting. "I think he's working extremely hard in the offseason at continuing to get better."
Ertz was the #13 TE in both standard and PPR formats despite only playing half of the Eagles’ snaps in his second year. Ertz played mostly (73%) 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 -- DeSean Jackson and then Jeremy Maclin -- in back-to-back seasons, so there will be opportunity from a targets standpoint. If Chip Kelly moves Jordan Matthews outside, then Ertz is a candidate to fill Matthews role in the slot, assuming Kelly is willing to play more two-TE sets to get Ertz on the field. Ertz is currently going in the 8th round of early PPR drafts.
Thursday, April 9, 2015, 10:25am
According to Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals are expected to re-sign the veteran running back later today.
The Bengals like Peerman’s ability on special teams, as he has just 64 carries in his five seasons there.
Monday, April 6, 2015, 1:07pm
The Cowboys certainly hope that's the case. McFadden averaged less than 3.4 yards a carry the past three seasons with Oakland. He rushed for a total of 1,620 yards, which is less than DeMarco Murray accumulated for the Cowboys last season.
So, what do the Cowboys see in McFadden?
"We liked him a lot coming out of college,'' head coach Jason Garrett said. "He came out in '08. That was the same year we drafted Felix Jones. We spent a lot of time with him and on him. I think he was the fourth player taken in that draft. There was a lot to like about him.
"We are confident in the environment we can create for our guys to bring the best out in him.''
McFadden played in 16 games for the first time in his career last season. He missed 19 games over the previous three seasons and has played in more than 13 games in a season only once in his career. There is no doubt McFadden will be behind a better offensive line this year, but the Cowboys could very well address the position in the draft. There is a lot to settle between now and fantasy draft day in terms of McFadden's possible value.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Peterson will meet with the NFL this week to discuss reinstatement, per a source informed of the situation.
The meeting is ahead of schedule for Peterson, who was supposed to be eligible for reinstatement on April 15.
Updated reports on Monday said the meeting will take place on Tuesday. Peterson, who agreed to a plea deal in November of no contest to one count of misdemeanor reckless assault, is still on the Commissioner's Exempt List. Having some clarity on Peterson's situation could soon answer some of the lingering questions surrounding the face of Minnesota's franchise and if he'll play for the Vikings again since there has been a growing sentiment from Peterson's camp that he'd prefer to play elsewhere. The Cardinals and Cowboys have both been rumored destinations.
"I think you would think that I might get a whole lot more outside reps now just because Maclin is gone, but I already had talked to coaches, and they were already going to implement me more on the outside as opposed to just the inside regardless," Matthews said. "I don't think that's a crazy, huge deal."
HC Chip Kelly said last week that he can envision Matthews playing "a lot of different spots." Kelly kept Matthews in the slot because they wanted him to learn only one position as a rookie. Now that Matthews is more comfortable entering his second season, that role can expand.
If Matthews moves outside, he'll surely see his snaps played increase from his rookie season (65%) and he should be able to improve on his #25 finish in PPR formats. The team signed Miles Austin, who played mostly in the slot while with the Cowboys. Josh Huff and Zach Ertz could also see snaps in the slot.
"I think it will be a competitive situation," Del Rio said.
Del Rio likes Richardson's potential.
"What I saw when we brought him in and talked to him was a young man that was hungry to kind of leave that portion of his career behind him and start fresh," Del Rio said. "My challenge to him was, 'Look, I don't want you to worry about anything other than coming in here and competing your butt off every day. Come in here and be a great teammate. Come in here and find a role on special teams. Come in here and just grind every day with the hunger you had as a freshman at Alabama.'"
We fully expect Murray to win the job, though it is concerning that the Raiders aggressively pursued DeMarco Murray. It indicates that they aren't fully ready to move forward with Latavius Murray, even though he rushed 82 times for 424 yards (a 5.2 YPC) and two touchdowns, including an incredible four-carry, 112-yard, two-TD performance against the Chiefs in Week 12. He still averaged a solid (if unspectacular) 4.0 YPC when that game is excluded. With good size (6'2", 223 lbs) and great speed (4.38 40-yard dash), Murray has all the physical tools to succeed at the position. He even showed solid hands with 17 receptions on 23 targets. We don't see Richardson as much of a threat, but teams have force-fed him before. Roy Helu is also in the mix, so if the Raiders don't commit to Murray, this could devolve into an ugly committee.
This is actually good news for Latavius Murray, since Richardson isn't a real threat to Murray's chances of winning the RB1 job in Oakland. The team went hard after DeMarco Murray but ended up with T-Rich. There's an opportunity for a joke here, but we're going to let it pass. The team also signed Roy Helu, who should serve as the third down back.
Update: The deal is worth up to $3 million over two years, with incentives.
McFadden turns 28 in August and he hasn't cracked 3.5 YPC since 2011 (when he rushed for 5.4 YPC). It's an interesting signing given the Dallas offensive line, which may be the best run-blocking unit in the league. But 2014 was the first time that McFadden played a full season; he has missed 26% of his team's games in his seven-year career. We'll see what else the Cowboys do at running back before going down this road once again.
It's reportedly a 3-year, $12M deal. Philadelphia would have been a good landing spot for Mathews before the team agreed to terms with DeMarco Murray. The Eagles ran the ball a lot more than the Chargers did, but they'll be hard-pressed to find enough carries for Mathews to allow him to maintain his RB2 value from his days in San Diego. The signing is also a downgrade for Murray, whose workload is surely to take a hit from the 449 touches he saw in 2014.
Murray will get $42 million over five years, including $21 million in guaranteed money, per reports.
Although the Cowboys said they wanted Murray to return, they never came close to meeting his contract demands, citing the diminished value of the running back and the decline in production as they get older.
Murray had a career year in his fourth season, racking up 2,261 total yards and 13 touchdowns on 449 touches. He should get plenty of work in Philadelphia, though the signing of Ryan Mathews and the presence of Darren Sproles indicate that he won’t approach 450 touches in 2015. LeSean McCoy averaged 353 touches over the past two seasons, so that’s probably Murray’s best-case scenario if everyone stays healthy. He’ll hold low-end RB1 value, though the presence of Mathews and Sproles may make that a stretch.
Beasley averaged 3.5 catches for 47 yards and 0.5 touchdowns (on 4.9 T/G) in his final eight games, including two postseason games. That extrapolates to fringe WR3 numbers in PPR formats over a full 16-game season. He's on the radar as a WR5/WR6 stopgap-type option in PPR leagues.
Here are the five players who got the non-exclusive franchise tag, and the amount of the tender offer for each:
This may not make either Bryant or Thomas happy, but it ensures that they aren't going anywhere for at least one more season. Both players figure to be ranked in the top 5 at their position in 2015 fantasy drafts.
"I still think that it's probably, you know, would be a stretch to think that we would have something done by Monday and beat the franchise-tag deadline," Jones said. "Looks like we're eyeing a franchise tag on Dez, but certainly won't stop us from working hard to get a long-term deal."
Bryant was the #3 WR in standard formats and has finished in the top 6 in three consecutive seasons. The Cowboys are wise to apply the franchise tag if they can't yet work out a long-term deal. The only worry is that Bryant is offended by the team's move and is distracted as the 2015 season kicks off, but the two sides still have plenty of time to work out a long-term deal before July 15.
- Page 1