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 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 Monte 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.
Saturday, June 27, 2015, 10:53am
Coach John Harbaugh is pushing Brown for a breakout season.
"I have high hopes for him," Harbaugh said recently, via the Ravens' official website. "I really want to see him break out. ... It's time for him to step up and become what he's capable of doing. He's very determined to do that."
Harbaugh continues to talk up Brown this offseason. When training camp opens, Brown will be battling Aiken and Perriman for a starting job. The story went on to say Brown didn't make enough plays in 2014. After recording seven touchdowns as an undrafted rookie in 2013, he was kept out of the end zone entirely last season. In fact, the 6-foot-5 redzone threat wasn't targeted once inside the 20-yard line.
49ers.com writer Joe Fann calls Torrey Smith the team's best free agent addition:
The 49ers needed a compliment to Anquan Boldin, and they found the perfect man for the job. Smith is far more than a one-trick pony. Yes, he excels at stretching the field and getting behind defensive backs, but he’s already shown the ability to catch balls in traffic on short and intermediate routes as well. On two specific minicamp plays, Smith caught the ball on a stopping route, then spun away from his defender and accelerated away from everyone in pursuit. I’m not sure I saw him drop a ball this offseason.
Smith got off to a slow start in 2014, posting just six catches for 85 yards in the first three games. Over the final 13 games of the season, he averaged 3.3 receptions for 52 yards and 0.85 touchdowns, which equates to #20 WR-type numbers in PPR formats. As it stands, he finished as the #29 WR in PPR and #19 in standard formats (thanks to the high touchdown rate), which is the fourth time he has finished in the top 23 (in standard formats) in his four-year career. He joins a 49ers receiving corps that has lost Michael Crabtree and has a still-effective Anquan Boldin as a possession receiver. Smith will serve as a deep threat for QB Colin Kaepernick, though this move has to be considered a downgrade from an offensive/quarterback standpoint since the 49ers are typically run-heavy and Joe Flacco is pretty adept at putting touch on the deep ball. Throwing with touch has not been one of Kaepernick's strengths, though he has been working on his passing technique his offseason.
Montee Ball had a disappointing 2014 season in which he was supposed to run away with the starting job. While Ball’s downfall can be linked to his appendectomy before the season, this season he finds himself behind Denver’s breakout star from 2014 C.J. Anderson.
While Ball remains optimistic that he’ll find a way to regain his position as Denver’s featured back, Troy Renck says his time has come and gone.
“If C.J. Anderson stays healthy, his commitment is at a new level,” Renck said. “I don’t see Ball getting the chance to prove that anymore. I think the window closed on him last year. It’s a bellcow offense, the back doesn’t rotate in and out.”
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 new HC Gary Kubiak, who just coaxed a career year out of journeyman Justin Forsett.
Fantasy football fanatics and anxious Browns fans are wondering: Will it be Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson or Terrance West carrying the torch Sept. 13 against the New York Jets? The Browns view all three as legitimate threats with the rock in their hand, but there is no clear favorite in guessing who will lead Cleveland in carries in December.
“I like to go with the guy that has the hot hand. If a guy’s got the hot hand, ride it out,” DeFilippo said. “You’re going to have some gameplan-specific plays for certain guys like a Duke Johnson where you want to get him out on a pass route or running a certain outside zone or whatever. I’m a big believer in the best five offensive linemen up front. I’m a big believer in a guy’s got a hot hand you keep riding him. That’s kind of just a philosophy that I have.”
Once the Browns were done with Ben Tate (Week 11), 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.) The team drafted Duke Johnson and last season HC Mike Pettine was handing out touches based on practice performance, so Crowell's current 6th round ADP seems steep given his uncertain workload and Cleveland's projected offensive struggles.
It was an impressive performance Thursday from the former undrafted free agent from Tennessee-Martin, who spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury last year.
"Jeremy Butler, he might have had 1,500 yards in a three-day minicamp," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "He was incredible. He caught the ball extremely well. Little things here and there to work on, but the biggest thing is catching the ball.
"He's just a big, strong body and catches the ball really well. It's exactly what he showed last year in training camp, I thought, and he's just coming out here and doing more of that."
The Ravens need playmakers to step up at the receiver position. The 6'2" Butler could quickly work his way into playing time if he continues to have a good offseason.
The speedy first-round pick arguably had his roughest practice Tuesday since joining the Ravens, as he dropped four passes, including one deep sideline pass after he had sprinted past cornerback Jimmy Smith and was wide open.
“Just really paying attention, getting too tired and really not focusing,” Perriman said when asked for an explanation about the drops. “I don’t really make excuses for it. They should have been caught, but that’s something that won’t happen too often.”
Pitta hasn't been medically cleared by doctors and his career is in doubt as he tries to return from his second fractured and dislocated right hip within the past two years.
We're not counting on Pitta's return but it's a situation to monitor. His potential return would impact the amount of playing time rookie Maxx Williams will get in 2015.
49ers WR Torrey Smith has indeed added a new dimension to San Francisco's pass game. With Smith in the fold, the 49ers were able to attack all levels of the defense. Smith's home-run ability was most evident when he hooked up with Colin Kaepernick on a 40-yard jump ball down the left side line at the expense of second-year cornerback Dontae Johnson. Kaepernick and Smith routinely connected in the minicamp, but on the final day, the deep throw showcased the budding chemistry between the two. Johnson had great coverage on the play, but Kaepernick was able to put the ball up with enough loft for the fifth-year veteran receiver to go up and get the ball. Smith caught slants and intermediate routes for most of the camp, but it's hard not to overlook his ability to stretch the defense and compete for the football at its highest point. Smith's speed and leaping ability was on display throughout the camp. The 49ers will surely tap into those talents come training camp.
Smith got off to a slow start in 2014, posting just six catches for 85 yards in the first three games. Over the final 13 games of the season, he averaged 3.3 receptions for 52 yards and 0.85 touchdowns, which equates to #20 WR-type numbers in PPR formats. As it stands, he finished as the #29 WR in PPR and #19 in standard formats (thanks to the high touchdown rate), which is the fourth time he has finished in the top 23 (in standard formats) in his four-year career. He joins a 49ers receiving corps that has lost Michael Crabtree and has a still-effective Anquan Boldin as a possession receiver. Smith will serve as a deep threat for Kaepernick, though this move has to be considered a downgrade from an offensive/quarterback standpoint since the 49ers are typically run-heavy and Joe Flacco is pretty adept at putting touch on the deep ball. Throwing with touch has not been one of Kaepernick's strengths, though he has been working on his passing technique this offseason.
With quarterback Josh McCown standing tall in the shotgun formation, Johnson and Crowell flanked both of his sides. McCown sent Crowell in motion to the far right as a receiver, causing confusion among Cleveland’s linebackers. McCown hiked the ball, faked a pass toward Crowell and, instead, dumped it off on a screen play to Johnson, who bolted into the end zone for a touchdown.
The play design was complex, but the combination of Crowell and Johnson on the field together was more intriguing. Crowell’s powerful stride and bruising style combined with Johnson’s shiftiness and burst is a mixture that screams potential.
Once the Browns were done with Ben Tate (Week 11), 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.) The team drafted Duke Johnson and last season HC Mike Pettine was handing out touches based on practice performance, so Crowell's current 6th round ADP seems steep given his uncertain workload and Cleveland's projected offensive struggles. In PPR formats, we'd rather pull the trigger on Johnson since it looks like the team is trying to find ways to get him on the field as much as possible.
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