The Ravens placed tight end Dennis Pitta and free safety Terrence Brooks on the physically unable to perform list, an unsurprising development considering the severity and timing of their respective injuries.
Pitta has rehabilitated his surgically repaired right hip after fracturing and dislocating it for a second time last September. However, it remains unclear if he'll be medically cleared to play again. Pitta is likely to begin the regular season on the reserve list and would be required under NFL rules to miss at least the first six games of the regular season.
With Pitta out, Crocket Gillmore and Maxx Williams are vying for snaps as the team's starter, and Gillmore (a former third-round pick) reportedly has the edge on the rookie Williams.
Perriman has the physical tools (6’2, 4.24 40-yard dash), to replace Torrey Smith in the Ravens’ lineup from the start, but he has to learn Marc Trestman’s offense and prove that he can catch the ball consistently. If Gillmore wins the starting job, he'll be a deep sleeper in Trestman's TE-friendly offense.
Shorter passes, including ones aimed at running backs, are also prevalent in Browns OC John DeFilippo’s West Coast system. As a result, rookie Duke Johnson, the University of Miami’s all-time leading rusher whom the Browns drafted in the third round, will be counted on to fill a prominent role from the beginning.
Johnson poses the greatest receiving threat among this group, so he’ll have a lot on his plate in his first professional season. The coaching staff plans to move him into different spots, including receiver, in hopes of creating mismatches.
The Browns, though, are not relying on Johnson to become their starter right away. They would like him to eventually develop into the role, but they realize it might not happen immediately.
So at this point, Isaiah Crowell, who entered the league undrafted last year, is the favorite to start. A third-round draft pick in 2014, Terrance West will receive chances to earn carries as well, but his job security is more vulnerable after being benched twice last season because the coaches weren’t pleased with his preparation.
Crowell out-touched Terrance West 90 to 68 over the final seven games, but West had the last laugh, turning 20 touches into 106 yards and a TD against the Ravens in Week 17. (A seemingly healthy Crowell touched the ball five times for 22 yards.) In PPR formats, Johnson is the only running back in Cleveland that interests us. At this point, there is just too much uncertainty with Crowell/West in terms of who will get the carries in any given week.
Ravens TE Dennis Pitta is likely to begin training camp and the regular season on the physically unable to perform list, according to NFL sources. If Pitta began the season on the reserve list, he would be required to miss at least the first six games of the season.
Pitta hasn't been medically to practice since his second serious hip injury in as many years. He has rehabilitated the hip to the point where he's able to do some route running and individual drills, but wasn't allowed to fully participate during the Ravens' offseason practices.
Crockett Gilmore and Maxx Williams are vying for snaps at tight end, a position that was heavily involved in Marc Trestman's offense during his days in Chicago.
Ryan Mink of the Ravens' official website believes that TE Crockett Gillmore has a good chance to break out: Gillmore showed strong hands last year and they have only gotten better. He struggled with drops last training camp. So far this summer, he’s hardly let a ball touch the ground. He’s had another year in the offensive system, so he won’t be thinking as much on the field. Plus, Gillmore is massive. He was a big guy last year, but added 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason. He’s still got the ability to stretch the field, which he showed by catching numerous jump balls in Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamp. Flacco seemed to develop a real comfort with Gillmore during the practices.
Gillmore is more of a blocker than a receiver but as the article notes, Gillmore has improved in that facet of the game. There is opportunity at the position with Dennis Pitta still sidelined and Owen Daniels in Denver, but the team drafted Maxx Williams as the long-term answer, so it's not clear how big of a receiving role Gillmore will have in 2015. Martellus Bennett shined under then-HC Marc Trestman in Chicago, so there is some upside for whoever wins the starting job in Baltimore. Fantasy-wise, rookie tight ends are notoriously disappointing, so this may be a muddled situation this season.
Ravens WR Steve L Smith will presumably lock down one of the starting spots. Despite the possibility of a lightened snap count for the veteran, Smith Sr. will play a huge role in the passing game. He’s the unquestioned leader of the group.
Smith was the #20 WR in standard formats and #18 in PPR, but he did most of his damage in the first six weeks of the season when he was #3 and #4, respectively. He was a fantasy WR4 the rest of the way, though he did have his moments. The Ravens can’t afford to put Smith out to pasture because they let Torrey Smith walk in free agency and the team’s receiver corps is severely lacking experience. Smith has some upside given his ADP (8th/9th round) and the arrival of pass-happy OC Marc Trestman, who should be able to figure out how to best utilize Smith’s skill set on a more consistent basis.
Detroit has thrown the ball more than it has rushed it every season since 2001 according to ESPN Stats & Information. The closest the Detroit Lions have come to "balance" was in 2004, when Detroit ran the ball 407 times and attempted 505 passes.
In Detroit's more successful seasons, the Lions have trended much heavier toward the pass. In 2011, one of the two seasons Detroit made the playoffs this century, the Lions rushed the ball 356 times and had 666 passing attempts, completing 423 of them.
Last season, Detroit ran the ball 396 times and threw it 604 times, completing 365 passes. So while the Lions appeared to focus their draft on improving a run game that had its worst yards per carry since 2003, don't expect to see a massive play-call shift.
"It's all quarterbacking," former NFL QB Elvis Grbac said. "I got in a league where Drew Bledsoe was starting to come in and just in the last 10 years, retired since 2001, so it's been some time. But just the league in general, it's quarterback-driven. If you don't have a quarterback, you're screwed."
The story went on to say: A 50-50 split hasn't been typical for Jim Caldwell historically. In his three seasons as head coach in Indianapolis, the Colts never rushed more than 393 times in a season. They never threw less than 534 times in a year, and that was in 2011 when Peyton Manning was injured. The only sample size in which a team coordinated or led by Caldwell has had more runs than passes came during the Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl run in 2012, when Caldwell took over leading into Week 15. Through the final three weeks of the regular season and the playoffs, the Ravens ran the ball 249 times and passed it 235 times. The following season was more in line with what happened in Indianapolis, where Baltimore had 423 rushes to 619 passes.
Much of the same is expected this year, and the story mentioned how Grbac thinks QB Matthew Stafford has progressed nicely in the offense. The team lost pass-catching RB Reggie Bush, but seems to have a more than capable replacement in Ameer Abdullah, who looks like he's going to hurt the value of Theo Riddick. Both Joique Bell and Abdullah crack our top-31 backs, with Abdullah having top-25 potential in PPR leagues. Stafford is just 13th on our QB list, but if WR Calvin Johnson can stay healthy Stafford could crack the top-10 and be a nice value at QB with an ADP of the ninth round.
Owen Daniels and Virgil Green appear locked in on the top two spots, and depending on the frequency at which the Broncos use certain personnel groups, could both end up with play counts that reflect being starters. It was appropriate that their contracts were finalized within 24 hours of each other in free agency, because the two are best viewed as a collective as the Broncos work to build a deep tight end complement after Julius Thomas left for the Jaguars and Jacob Tamme joined the Falcons in free agency.
If both Daniels and Green play starter's snaps, then it's not going to leave much playing time for Cody Latimer as the team's WR3. Marlon Brown (40%) and Kamar Aiken (26%) didn't play enough to be fantasy relevant under Kubiak last year. However, things could change if Latimer makes a leap in training camp.
There will some ambiguity at tight end because it’s too early to know if Dennis Pitta will play or if rookie Maxx Williams will be ready to take on a big role. However, second-year player Crockett Gillmore remains the likely candidate to start because he’s the closest thing that the Ravens have to a two-way tight end after he spent the offseason working on his quickness and receiving skills.
Since 1998, 47 tight ends have been drafted in the first two rounds, and a grand total of one (Jeremy Shockey) scored at a TE1-type rate when compared to the position’s production in 2014. Six more scored at a rate good enough to crack the top 18, so the odds are against Williams making much of a fantasy impact in 2015. However, there are a couple of things working in his favor. He has a great opportunity for snaps if Pitta is unable to play (and be effective) this season, and he’s playing in a very pass-friendly offense (under OC Marc Trestman) for a team that is looking for playmakers at receiver.
While it seems like yesterday that a young Joe Flacco was drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens, he’s already heading into his eighth season as an NFL quarterback. He’s a seasoned, mature veteran and the leader of one of the winningest pro football franchises over the last decade. Flacco is the Super Bowl XLVII MVP and has the most playoff wins of any NFL quarterback since he entered the league in 2008. Last season, he had his best statistical outing yet, putting up 3,986 passing yards and 27 touchdowns. Nobody wants to see those numbers regress even if Flacco has his fourth coordinator in four years. In fact, the hope is that he gets even better and breaks the 4,000-yard milestone. When asked about what he’ll do to better his game in 2015, Flacco didn’t say a single thing about stats, wins or any accolades, such as getting a Pro Bowl nod for the first time. Instead, he named three specific goals: 1) Stay healthy 2) Maintain strong communication with his OC Marc Trestman 3) Work on his footwork
Perhaps the most important fantasy-related item to take away here is Flacco building his relationship with Trestman. The story said Flacco isn’t worried about the offense under Trestman due to its similarity to the system Gary Kubiak implemented last season. Flacco is ranked 16th among our QBs this year. He lost his deep threat in Torrey Smith but the team drafted Breshad Perriman, who is expected to start alongside Steve L Smith, and fill the deep threat void. We project Flacco for 4,259 yards, which would put him tenth. He'll continue to have QB2 value and probably could start for your fantasy team in certain matchups.
Monday, July 6, 2015, 6:41pm
Clayton, who's now retired, wound up catching 44 passes for 471 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie as he started 10 games. And Torrey Smith, the former Maryland standout now with the San Francisco 49ers via a five-year, $40 million contract this offseason, caught 50 passes for 847 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie second-round draft pick in 2011.
Perriman is eyeing a starting job and is hoping to make an immediate impact as a deep threat and otherwise following an offseason where he flashed playmaking skills and explosiveness along with a tendency to lose his concentration and drop passes.
“It’s a goal of mine, but at the same time, it’s not really on my mind," Perriman said as the Ravens concluded their June minicamp. "I’m just really trying to focus on getting better every day, just going out there, take it day by day and see how it plays out."
The story said Perriman had one extremely rough practice where he dropped four passes, but didn't dwell on his mistakes or make excuses for his lapses. He is competing with Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown and Michael Campanaro for a starting job opposite five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smtih. But as the story also points out, at 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, Perriman's size and 4.22 speed in the 40-yard dash would provide a natural complementary presence to Smith. Perriman is actually listed 41st on our WR list, so he's getting later-round draft attention and owners are taking a chance on him as depth on their fantasy team.
Sunday, July 5, 2015, 3:09pm
Broncos beat writer Troy Renck talked about C.J. Anderson and what could be expected of this season. Renck: I believe C.J. Anderson, a bowling ball with legs, can roll for 1,400 yards. He will be physically prepared for the grind. Just as Terrell Davis paved the way for the Broncos' first Super Bowl, Anderson holds the key to making life easier on QB Peyton Manning. It might not be circa 1997, but Anderson can be plenty good enough.
We rank Anderson 10th among our RBs, and he's been going in drafts around the middle of the second round. Over the final eight weeks, Anderson 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 new HC Gary Kubiak, who just coaxed a career year out of journeyman Justin Forsett. We don't have Anderson going for 1,400 yards, but should crack the 1,000 yard mark as Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball could steal some work.
Sunday, July 5, 2015, 10:30am
In his first year as the head coach in Washington, Jay Gruden figured he could coach the quarterbacks himself. Gruden was a college and arena football quarterback, and he wanted to take a hands-on approach to the most important position.
But after franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III struggled last season, Gruden decided he needed an assistant who could spend all his time coaching the quarterbacks. So Gruden hired a full-time quarterbacks coach, Matt Cavanaugh. Gruden says he can already see that Griffin is benefiting from Cavanaugh’s presence.
“Now we have a set of eyes strictly on the quarterback, and I think that’s important,” Gruden said, via Richmond.com. “Every snap, every handoff, every dropback is being critiqued to make sure we do it the right way, and I think that’s been a big benefit for Robert.”
Cavanaugh spent 14 seasons as an NFL quarterback for the Patriots, 49ers, Eagles and Giants, and has spent 23 seasons as a quarterbacks coach, first at his alma mater the University of Pittsburgh, and then for the Cardinals, 49ers, Bears, Ravens and Jets. Griffin agrees that he’s benefiting from Cavanaugh’s knowledge, the story went on to say. Despite that, we have Griffin ranked 20th among our QBs and he isn't getting a lot of draft attention in ten team leagues. The potential is there, and if you're looking to grab a second QB late in your draft, Griffin should be there.
Jaguars QB Blake Bortles' shoulder didn't require surgery, said HC Jim Caldwell, who referred to it as a "dead arm" suffering from inflammation, forcing a reduction in practice reps after roughly 17 months straight of throwing through the quarterback's last year at Central Florida, the pre-draft process and his first NFL season.
A toe injury suffered in a December loss to the Baltimore Ravens exacerbated things by disrupting Bortles' footwork but didn't stop him from making a start four days later against the Tennessee Titans (one of the Jaguars' three wins).
"A lot of it was good until some of those (injuries) happen," said Caldwell. "Now he's gotten healthy, and he's gotten back to really taking care of his body. I just asked him today, 'How's your body feel compared to this time last year?'
"He said it's night and day, man."
Bortles averaged 12.0 fantasy points per game, which led to a #24 finish at his position. He's a passer who could make a leap in his second season if the Jaguars can give him time to throw and he continues to clean up his fundamentals. The receiving corps is young but talented, with Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns all capable of producing when given the opportunity. The team signed Julius Thomas to provide a dangerous weapon at tight end. Bortles averaged nearly 30 yards rushing, so he offers some baseline production as a runner.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 8:22am
Pittsburgh TE Heath Miller is a No. 3 or 4 option for the offense but nothing more.
He might’ve been a 1,000-yard receiver as a 25-year-old in Haley’s offense. Miller’s scoring rate is concerning. After 27 touchdowns in his first five years, Miller has 16 in his last five, for an average of 3.2 per year. He surpassed three scores in one of those five seasons.
The Steelers placed a waiver claim for tight end Tim Wright, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. When coupled with reported interest in second-round tight end Maxx Williams during the draft, the Wright claim indicates the franchise is at least exploring tight end alternatives.
The story went on to say Miller isn’t an elite tight end but he’s still very solid. He can put up 600 yards in this offense at age 32. And the truth is the Steelers still need him. He’s a safety valve for QB Ben Roethlisberger. In fact, we predict Miller for 588 yards and just under 3 TDs for 2015. However he's ranked 20th on our list and likely won't get a lot of draft attention in typical leagues. With Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell and Martavis Bryant, that's a strong core of talent to monopolize the red zone touches.
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