Crabtree hasn't been himself since his Achilles injury, but there is opportunity in the Raider receiving corps. The problem is -- he's not markedly better than James Jones, Andre Holmes or Rod Streater, so Crabtree could end up anywhere from first to fourth in the pecking order by the time preseason rolls around.
Roy Helu, 26, looks like a perfect fit for Oakland’s new up-tempo offense that will often feature a no-huddle approach. ESPN scout Matt Williamson thinks Helu can be one of the Raiders’ most productive offensive weapons even though it will be in a limited role.
“While he isn’t great in protection, I think he will be a very valuable piece and a quick safe option for Derek Carr in this up-tempo passing game and offense overall,” Williamson said. “Helu has been extremely productive on a per-snap basis.”
Helu has averaged 2.69 catches per game in his four-year career, and is expected to serve as the team's primary passing down back while Latavius Murray and Trent Richardson compete for early-down duties. The Raiders are planning to move to a more up-tempo offense under OC Bill Musgrave, who spent last season working for Chip Kelly in Philadelphia. Helu is likely to be fantasy relevant in PPR formats, though the explosive Murray should hold the most fantasy value in 2015.
Moore caught 33 passes for 618 yards and five touchdowns while also running for one score that season and he followed that up with seven more touchdown catches the next year. He continued to play a prominent role in the offense in 2013, but drifted into an insignificant role with Oakland last season.
Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was the head coach in Oakland when Moore was a rookie during the 2011 season. The problem for Moore's fantasy potential is he'll be behind A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones and the recently re-signed Brandon Tate, at least heading into OTAs and camp.
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.
Saturday, April 4, 2015, 9:05am
Williamson: I think Murray is going to win the job. I just don’t think Richardson is a starting running back in the NFL. He has shown no explosion. I think he is a backup. Two teams have committed first-round picks to him and they both gave up on him. That’s a hint. Murray has more explosion and more potential at this point.
Williamson added that Murray does have to improve his football IQ. That likely means they want Murray to know the playbook more, know scheme better, know the blocking schemes better. It’s all things a young running back has to go through. Roy Helu may be a bigger threat to take away production than Richardson.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 3:59pm
Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 2:29pm
Schaub will serve as a backup to Joe Flacco.
Broncos RB C.J. Anderson earned his place on the first team with a performance in the second half of the season that was more productive than all but one other running back in that span.When offseason workouts start, he will remain atop the depth chart at running back -- but only if he can maintain his performance and diligence.
"He made a big jump as a player, and I think he's earned the right to walk in to the offseason program -- the OTAs -- and line up as our starter," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "But he's got to continue to earn it on a daily basis... I think he's shown he has all the ability to be an excellent starter in this league, so we're really looking forward to working with him."
But he will return to find his predecessors at running back at full strength. Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman have recovered from groin and foot injuries, respectively, and will factor into the scramble for carries.
"All those guys are young. I think all three of those guys ... have all kind of had their little spurts of success with the club when they've had their opportunity," Kubiak said. "But they're all young. Who's going to be the bell cow, who's going to play every down, who's going to be the three-down player, they've got to sort that out. C.J. has shown the flashes of doing that... We'll give them all a chance and see how it pans out, but C.J. obviously has a good head start on things," Kubiak said.
The competition could be fierce, but Anderson's success last year and his ability to translate that to a zone-blocking scheme gives him the early lead.
"All good players fit your system, and he's a good player," Kubiak said. "So we've got some good young backs, and it's going to be very competitive from that standpoint, but, yeah, he's proven that running zone schemes and doing those types of things seem to fit him very well."
Anderson began to see starter-type touches in Week 10 with 17 touches for 163 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders. Over the final eight weeks, he averaged 24.0 touches for 132 yards and 1.3 TD, and was the #1 RB in that span. If the Broncos commit to Anderson (and why wouldn’t they?), he should thrive under Kubiak, who just coaxed a career year out of journeyman Justin Forsett.
"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.
The Denver Post, which first reported the news Monday night, said the multiyear contract is worth around $9 million a season.
Thomas was the #3 TE in 2013, but struggled to a #10 finish last season after dealing with torn ligaments in his ankle. He has considerable talent as a pass-catcher, but this is a huge system downgrade from Denver to Jacksonville. He'll no longer enjoy the benefits of playing in a Peyton Manning-led offense and will instead be relying on Blake Bortles to deliver the ball. If the Jaguars feature him in the passing game -- and why wouldn't they? -- he has the potential to finish as a fantasy TE1 provided he can stay healthy. It's certainly an upgrade for Bortles and a downgrade for Manning, though whomever wins the starting tight end job in Denver will be on the fantasy radar.
Jones-Drew was a minor threat to Latavius Murray's upside in 2015, but now the path is clear. Murray 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. Per beat writer Jerry McDonald, Murray will be “given every chance” to win the starting job, though the glut of running backs on the free agent market may lead to a veteran or two being brought in to shore up the Oakland RB corps.
If they can bring back Justin Forsett, the Ravens are expected to pair him with a young running back. They met with Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin), David Johnson (Northern Iowa) and Duke Johnson (Miami) at the NFL scouting combine.
"He doesn’t have the wear and tear, and Justin did a very good job of coming in, competing and then being our bell cow," GM Ozzie Newsome said. "We would like to retain Justin, but I’ve learned something since the end of the season about Justin that I didn’t really know. He has mentored some very good, young backs, starting with Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, Maurice Jones-Drew when he was in Jacksonville.
"Having Justin here, and with the opportunity also bringing in hopefully another young running back, to have Justin be around that guy would be an asset also. So, we will work to try to retain Justin.”
Under OC Marc Trestman, Matt Forte caught 176 passes in the last two seasons, including 102 catches in 2014. Forsett caught 44 passes last season, and could potentially see that number double if he's the RB1 for the Ravens in 2015. Depending on his asking price, re-signing the 29-year-old Forsett isn't a no-brainer for the Ravens, though he's not likely to garner a huge contract in free agency. As the #8 RB in both standard and PPR formats in 2014, he'll likely hold RB2-type draft value if he stays in Baltimore. If the Ravens draft a running back early, it would certainly damper Forsett's outlook in 2015.
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