Chargers RB Branden Oliver is driven with an insatiable desire to make a bigger impact in 2015. True to form, he is not resting on his laurels, stressing a number of areas he wants to improve upon in order to fulfill his potential.
“My power, strength, speed and agility I am focusing on,” he said after a recent workout at Chargers Park. “I want to get better at everything. I don’t really focus on just one particular thing. I like to be well rounded and won’t limit myself to one area. It is always best to work at everything. I worked out the entire offseason Monday through Saturday. I took three weeks off after the season ended but worked out every week after that.”
Still, there is one aspect he wants to improve upon the most. “I want to break more tackles. I would also like to be a little more explosive.”
Oliver is also confident he can take his game to the next level in 2015 because he is far more comfortable than he was as a rookie.
“They will come easier this year because I’m more comfortable and know the offense. Now I can just go out there and ball. This year is very different. I feel so much better coming in. I’m more confident. I’m gelling with the guys and am more open to them because I know them better. It’s really just crazy to be going into my second year already! But I feel real good.”
When asked about the state of his running back corps, GM Tom Telesco said, "I'm not saying we wouldn't add somebody, but we don't need to." This is a situation to watch during the draft -- if the Chargers don't add a runner during the first two days, it's very possible that Oliver will go into the season as the starter with Donald Brown as his primary backup and Danny Woodhead as the passing down back. In that scenario, Oliver’s ADP would rise from its current level (12th round) and Woodhead would be a nice value in PPR formats.
“I feel really, really good,” Chargers RB Danny Woodhead said, flashing his trademark grin. “I really do. As far as the injury goes, that is something I’m not even thinking about. I’m thinking about trying to get better. I’m focusing on working on what I can do to be better than I was last year. Obviously I wasn’t able to play a lot of games, so I should say I want to be better than I was that first season here.”
“It’s been a long process,” he said of his recovery from a broken fibula. “But definitely it makes you hungrier when the game is taken away. It makes you realize how blessed you are to play it. Not that I didn’t understand that before, but when it is taken away for such a long amount of time, it makes you even hungrier. You miss being out there with your brothers. I’m excited for this season. I’m always excited, but my mentality might even be younger and hungrier than ever before.”
Woodhead is signed through the 2016 season, so assuming he's fully healed, he should resume his role as the Chargers' passing down specialist. In 21 games with the Chargers (including the playoffs), Woodhead has averaged 11.0 touches (4.1 catches) for 58 yards and 0.43 touchdowns, which equate to #13 RB numbers in PPR formats (#21 in standard). The team is expected to draft a running back this month, but it's unlikely that they'll trust a rookie on third downs when they have Woodhead at their disposal. He should continue to be a terrific value in the later rounds, especially in PPR formats.
On the cusp of his 13th season, Chargers TE Antonio Gates has only one year remaining on his contract and is acutely aware of his expiring clock. He no longer attends voluntary workouts, nor has he done any route running this offseason.
“With injuries and whatnot, I played a little bit more than they expected me to play last season,” he says. “I was playing the whole game. How I feel next year, it depends on how much volume they have me doing. I’d like to come in on third-and-7s, red zones, those situations. That’s what my contribution is at anyway.”
Ladarius Green will once again be an intriguing late round pick, but it's hard to see him posting TE1-type numbers with Gates still healthy and available. The future Hall of Famer finished #2 in standard formats and #3 in PPR, posting 69 catches for 821 yards and 12 touchdowns. It was his 4th-best fantasy season of his career, production-wise. We'll see if the team agrees with his "reduced role" perspective.
“When I saw him yesterday, I didn’t even know that was Colin,” Davis said Friday after the final day of the first week of the 49ers’ offseason program. “Seriously, he was working on his drop-back. ‘Who was that?’ You guys are in for a treat. He looks like a totally different guy.”
Kaepernick spent 10 weeks at the beginning of the offseason in Arizona working on his mechanics with private quarterback coach Dennis Gile. He also spent about one day a week on the mental aspect of the game with two-time NFL MVP Kurt Warner.
“I feel like there’s been quite a bit of change,” Kaepernick said. “Obviously, it’s noticeable. Vernon said something to me right away when we started throwing. But I just want to do everything I can to make sure I’m getting better and doing my part to help this team win.”
Neither Kaepernick nor Davis spoke specifically about the mechanical changes, but Kaepernick said everything he did was aimed at becoming a better quarterback to enable the 49ers to win more games.
It was reported earlier in the offseason that the team planned to utilize Kaepernick’s running ability to a greater degree. Kaepernick ran the ball 12 more times in 2014 than he did in 2013 for an additional 115 yards, so it's not like he abandoned the scramble. It sounds like it's more about utilizing the read-option as a larger part of the offense. If that's the case, it could be a boon to Kaepernick's fantasy value. He was the #14 QB in 2014 after finishing #9 the season before, though his overall production only dipped by 11 fantasy points. He's a bounce-back candidate provided new OC Geep Chryst can design an offense that can move the ball. Chryst previously served as the OC for the Chargers in 1999 and 2000, but his offenses ranked 26th and 28th overall in that span. Any gains that Kaepernick can make as a thrower will only help his overall value.
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.
Williams feels Allen has short-area quickness and will be able to move around more to create miss-matches. The Chargers also signed Stevie Johnson who can play the slot, but Williams thinks Allen benefit the most. Allen started off his sophomore season slowly after being a second-tier fantasy WR last summer, but did show signs of his successful 2013 rookie year later in the 2014 season.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015, 6:14pm
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Ajirotutu has played in 57 games for San Diego and Carolina over the past five years. He has caught a total of 24 passes for 420 yards and three touchdowns.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 3:59pm
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 that span. The Chargers lost Eddie Royal, so Johnson will presumably replace Royal in the slot, though he had his best years playing outside. (The Bills moved him into the slot in 2013 and his production dropped.) He doesn't have Malcom Floyd's speed, so it will be interesting to see how OC Frank Reich decides to use the 28-year-old Johnson in the offense.
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.
It's reportedly a 3-year, $12M deal. Philadelphia would have been a good landing spot for Mathews before the team also 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.
Update: This deal has been finalized.
The Eagles can also pick up a conditional pick in 2016 based on how many snaps Bradford takes. If Bradford plays less than 50 percent the Eagles will get a 4th-round pick, if he does not play at all it becomes a 3rd-rounder. If Bradford plays more than 50 percent of snaps the Eagles will not receive any additional compensation.
Change is afoot. Foles’ second season as the starter in Philadelphia didn’t go as well as his first. After a ridiculous 27-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2013, Foles tossed 13 touchdowns against 10 picks last year. It wasn’t all his fault, however, as he was playing behind a patchwork offensive line and didn’t have as much time to throw. In the seven games that he finished in 2014, he averaged 16.9 fantasy points, which is about what Philip Rivers scored as the #12 QB on the season. Foles ultimately broke his collarbone in Week 9 and missed the final eight games of the season. He'll be penciled in as the starter in St. Louis, but this is a scheme/system downgrade, and the Rams' receiving corps is currently lacking established talent. As for Bradford, he'll get a fresh start in a friendly offense, though the Eagles just lost Jeremy Maclin. It's a familiar situation for Bradford, who has never had the benefit of a strong supporting cast. Both quarterbacks will be QB2 types heading into the summer.
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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