McCoy is still a fantasy RB1, though he carries more risk since the Buffalo offense could struggle to score points. OC Greg Roman didn't use Frank Gore much in the passing game while in San Francisco, but Gore recently said that was more about Colin Kaepernick and what he was seeing than it was about Roman's offense. It remains to be seen how much McCoy will be used as a receiver, but given Roman's history, we're betting that he's an afterthought in the passing game.
Scott Chandler isn't a "move" tight end, though. At 6-foot-7, 260 pounds, he's similar to Gronk. He's a massive in-line tight end and a matchup problem for all safeties.
The addition of Chandler could mean more snaps at wide receiver for Gronk. The Pats offense was particularly effective a year ago when both Gronk and Julian Edelman were split together on one side.
Keep an eye on Fred Davis here, too. In the midst of the Deflategate madness, the Pats signed the troubled tight end to a one-year deal. It's a flier, for sure, but Davis is a "move" tight end with plenty of talent and plenty of past off-the-field issues.
Chandler is no slouch. He produced in spots for the Bills and while he doesn't fit the profile of a typical "move" TE, the Pats could elect to use Gronk in that role while leaving Chandler inside.
While Bills running backs coach Anthony Lynn would like to see LeSean McCoy’s workload stay the same, he’d prefer if Fred Jackson’s was scaled back. Jackson played 548 snaps last season, a number Lynn said he’d like to see cut in half.
“I think he wore down a little bit at the end of the season,” Lynn said. “If we could take half of that off his plate, I think you’re going to see a fresher Fred Jackson and a more explosive Fred Jackson.”
We currently have Jackson projected to touch the ball 114 times after he racked up 207 touches in 14 games last season, so Lynn's expectations mostly jibe with our projections. As for McCoy, he's going to have a tough time matching the 340 touches he had in 2014 due to the potency and pace of the Philadelphia offense compared to the Buffalo offense. We do have McCoy projected to see 329 touches since OC Greg Roman and HC Rex Ryan both love to run the ball. Just don't expect McCoy's receptions to increase; Roman barely used the very capable Frank Gore in a pass-catching role while calling plays in San Francisco the last few seasons.
Philly.com's Zach Berman on the Eagles' new running backs:
Don’t expect Murray to near that carry total this season. He will no doubt be the featured running back, but coach Chip Kelly wants carries to be shared. That’s where Ryan Mathews comes in.
Mathews appeared at first to be the consolation prize to missing out on Gore, but the Eagles still signed him. The former first-round pick is a talented rusher who has twice topped 1,000 yards, but injuries have also been an ongoing issue. He had a career-low 330 yards last season while playing on six games. I wouldn't count on him carrying the ball more than 220 times like he did in his 1,000-yard season (unless Murray gets injured), but he can find a sweet spot in the mid-100s.
We currently project Mathews for 132 carries for 561 yards, which jibes with the numbers that Berman had in mind. We project Murray for 285 carries (for 1,279 yards), which is a far cry from the 392 totes he saw last season. Berman went on to say that the team "needs to get" Darren Sproles more involved, but that may be tough since the team replaced LeSean McCoy with two new running backs.
It’s a four-year, $77 million extension on top of the two years and $18.255 million Tannehill had remaining on his rookie deal, a person informed of the contract's details told USA TODAY Sports.
The deal includes $45 million in guarantees, said the person, who was not permitted to speak publicly since the team did not release financial details of the contract.
In his first three seasons, Tannehill finished #24, #16 and finally #9 in quarterback scoring. That’s a nice trend. The Dolphins spent the offseason trying to upgrade his weapons, and ended up with Jordan Cameron at tight end to go along with Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker and Greg Jennings at receiver. Sure, they traded away Mike Wallace, but that trio (and the emerging Jarvis Landry) should be able to offset that loss. If healthy, Cameron should also be an upgrade on the departed Charles Clay. Tannehill has a good coordinator in Bill Lazor and host of weapons to utilize. He looks like a very safe pick in the 9th round.
In an interview on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Bills QB E.J. Manuel said his commitment to the quarterback position has reached a point of singular fixation, and attributes it to the adversity he faced last season when he was benched after just four starts.
“I think what I went through that’s just what made me grow up. That was true adversity in my playing career,” Manuel said. “As far as the competitive edge I have now, it’s crazy. It’s almost an obsession now as far as mastering this position and mastering this offense and mainly the fundamentals and mechanics of the game. Why not spend all my time doing that? There’s really nothing else to do right now. The main thing is just being all in and investing in yourself.”
Manuel insists his throwing accuracy is much improved after working for four months this offseason with former NFL QB Steve DeBerg. He credits DeBerg with eliminating the wind up in his throwing motion that compromised his accuracy. His throwing motion is much more compact now and he feels his accuracy is much improved.
The team acquired Matt Cassel in the offseason and he's likely to start unless Manuel is able to make big strides. There are a lot of weapons in Buffalo, but under new OC Greg Roman the team is likely to utilize a run-heavy approach (with LeSean McCoy and Fred Jackson) and rely on its defense to win games.
The NFL took deflate-gate very seriously, hammering the New England Patriots with unheard of punishment in the matter of deflated footballs.
The league announced Monday that quarterback Tom Brady was suspended four games, the team was fined $1 million and will lose its 2016 first-round draft pick and a fourth-round pick in 2017.
If Brady doesn't win his (probable) appeal, his fantasy value will take a huge hit. The Patriots have a Week 4 bye, so he wouldn't be available to owners until Week 6. Jimmy Garoppolo will likely get the start in his place. One potential strategy would be to stream the position until his return, but it depends on how far his ADP falls. With a four game suspension, he won't be ranked in the top 25 in our initial projections. This will be a case of where his season-long ranking won't jibe with what he'll produce on a per game basis upon his return. The loss of Brady for four games will negatively impact the entire New England offense, though they have survived before without him (in 2008 with Matt Cassel). Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell all take a small hit.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 12:09pm
A breakthrough season would be improving on the 84 receptions for 758 yards and 5 TDs he had last year as a rookie. There’s a good chance that happens now that TE Charles Clay and WRs Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson are gone. Tannehill is familiar with Landry, and Landry showed he’s got good NFL skills. He’s got good hands and can get YAC (Yards After Catch).
Landry was the #42 WR in standard formats and #30 in PPR, so as a high-volume slot receiver, he's going to have more value in PPR formats. The Dolphins lost four of their top six most-targeted players: Mike Wallace, Charles Clay, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson. They have been replaced by Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron, but Landry's role should expand as well. He only played 62 percent of the snaps on the season, and didn't start playing consistent starter's snaps until Week 9. Over the final nine weeks, Landry was the #15 WR in PPR formats (and #23 in standard). He is currently the 24th WR off the board in early PPR drafts.
Friday, April 10, 2015, 4:28pm
Robinson will enter his third season with the Saints as third fiddle with Mark Ingram returning and C.J. Spiller signing with the Saints. The landscape looked quite different one month ago with Ingram being a potentially hot free agent and Pierre Thomas being released.
Ingram will be the clear-cut option for snatching up carries after his breakout 2014 season. Spiller is a far more capable runner in the traditional ground game than Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles the last few seasons.
This means more carries for Ingram and Spiller and less touches for Robinson. The logic entering 2014 was that we'd see more Robinson. Barring injuries, Robinson will likely find fewer opportunities.
Sunday, April 5, 2015, 8:30pm
Rex Ryan has stressed all offseason that the quarterback position will be an open competition in training camp for the Buffalo Bills. Should we believe him?
After all, it was just last August that Ryan and the Jets staged a faux competition between Geno Smith and Michael Vick. The Jets stacked the deck so far in Smith's favor that Vick wouldn't even play along, publicly disagreeing with the coaching staff's notion that he was competing for a starting job.
Fast forward to present day, and Ryan is facing a familiar problem with a new team. EJ Manuel, like Smith, is a high 2013 draft pick who's struggled in his first two seasons and was benched in his second season. Matt Cassel, like Vick, is a 30-something veteran with past success.
"You look at Matt Cassel, obviously he's won in this league," said Ryan, according to The Buffalo News. "He's been a Pro Bowl-quarterback, so there's that experience that you have.
Ryan went on to say that he won't throw out Manuel after just two years and pointed out that Aaron Rodgers never took a snap for three years. From a coaching standpoint, Manuel may not have a lot of motivation if Cassel is named the starter at this point in the year, but it sure seems like that's where the team is heading.
It was a tale of two seasons for Watkins, who averaged 4.8 catches for 74 yards and 0.63 TD in the first eight games; he was the #12 fantasy WR going into his team's Week 9 bye. Over the final eight weeks, he averaged 3.4 catches for 49 yards and 0.13 TD, and was the #48 WR from Week 10 to Week 17. The timing of his hip injury (Week 13 vs. CLE) is interesting, because Watkins was already in a slump, posting just 10 catches for 94 yards in the three previous games. Matt Cassel brings some stability at quarterback, but he's no better than Kyle Orton, so we're not expecting a huge jump for Watkins in OC Greg Roman's run-oriented offense.
"We try and give (the ball) to the guys who are going to do something with it, and I think he's going to be one of those guys who's going to force us to give him the ball more," Caldwell said last week at the NFL owners meetings. "I think you're really going to see him come along."
Caldwell expects Riddick's role to grow next season, though that could depend on what kind of tailback the team adds in April's draft. Riddick is a plus-plus pass catcher out of the backfield, but hasn't shown any kind of chops yet on the ground -- yet.
"He has all the qualities. Here's the thing -- if you're smart, if you're tough, if you're disciplined, if you have a great work ethic, there's improvement ahead. And he has all those things. So I think he's going to improve, and I think he's going to force us to get him the ball a little bit more in some situations."
Reggie Bush’s departure should give Riddick the opportunity to shine as the team's primary passing down back. He averaged 5.0 catches for 53 yards for 13.2 fantasy points in PPR formats in the five games that Bush missed last season. That's about what Fred Jackson averaged as the #17 running back in 2014. If the Lions don't add a running back early in the draft, then Riddick should be a sleeper in PPR formats.
“His cutup is unbelievable,” Saints HC Sean Payton said of breaking down C.J. Spiller’s film with the Buffalo Bills. “And I’m not talking about last season because I think it became challenging, but you go back a couple of years and start looking at his screen reel, a sweep reel, a return reel. So when you watch his film you think of a lot of things he can do.
“He’s physical. He’s the most explosive player on the field a lot of times when you’re watching him."
While New Orleans may not be an ideal landing spot from a workload standpoint, Spiller should have a big role in the passing game with Pierre Thomas, Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills no longer on the roster. He’ll likely take over the role of Thomas, who averaged 11.6 touches in the last two seasons. Thomas finished with a top 30 PPG (PPR) in six of the last seven seasons, so that's a reasonable baseline for Spiller. New Orleans running backs caught 275 passes in the last two seasons, so there are plenty of catches to go around. In short, he has significant PPR upside in this offense, but his workload will be somewhat limited since he'll be part of a committee.
He'll join a receiving corps that already includes Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin, so targets may be tough to come by, especially when the Bills go run-heavy under OC Greg Roman and HC Rex Ryan. Roman's (lack of) usage of Vernon Davis while with the 49ers is not a good sign for Clay. In Miami, Jordan Cameron gets a boost as the Dolphins' primary tight end. Clay was #10 in targets per game (6.0) last season. Cameron could be even more involved than Clay.
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