Monday, June 29, 2015, 5:10pm
The Carolina Panthers' revamped receiving corps has been one of the most-discussed units in the NFL this offseason, with praise emanating from nearly every corner of the franchise.
"We're going to be a dynamic duo, two 6-5 guys out there on the outside just making damage and causing havoc on the field," Funchess told the Detroit News last week. "You never see that type of duo in the league, two 6-5 guys on the outside that are athletic and that can run and go up and get the ball. Nobody has that wingspan in the league like us, so it's going to be fun during the season."
The story went on to stay the duo doesn't possess much speed, but the Benjamin-Funchess combo should aid quarterback Cam Newton, who has a tendency to spray high on passes. We have Benjamin ranked 17th among our WRs with an ADP of the fourth round. Funchess isn't getting a lot of draft love so far and we have him ranked 61st. However both should make Newton a more desirable fantasy QB. We list Newon eighth among our QBs so far this season.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 9:52am
Bucs WR Mike Evans helped make the 2014 rookie receiver class one of the best in NFL history.
When asked by USA Today's Tom Pelissero recently if there is a competition within the group to be the best, Evans wouldn't constrain it to merely his own draft class.
"I'm just trying to be the best, period," he said.
While Beckham bathed in the spotlight in 2014, especially after his ridiculous one-handed catch on Sunday Night Football, Evans put up his 12-touchdown, 1,051-yard season relatively quietly on a two-win Buccaneers team. You can argue Evans' QB situation was among the worst of that group. But with Jameis Winston under the helm and Evans taking over the "X" receiver role in the Bucs' new offense under coordinator Dirk Koetter, the second-year pass catcher is confident he can push his name further into the national consciousness. We think so too as Evans is ranked eighth among our WRs this season heading into camps. He has an ADP of the third round and we project him for over 10 TDs and 1,200 yards.
NFL.com writer Conor Orr:
Funchess, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound second-round pick, said as much last week during his NFL.com rookie confessional: "The goal that I've set for myself is to be Rookie of the Year."
Early reports out of camp suggest that the Michigan standout has already played at the X, Z and F slots and is learning all three at a brisk pace. He's giving himself more opportunities to stay on the field and make the plays Newton needs him to.
Funchess will be at best the third option in the passing game after Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen. The Panthers are run-oriented, so their WR2 isn’t typically much of a fantasy factor. If he plays starter’s snaps, he should be fantasy relevant, but we’re not expecting fantasy-starter numbers.
Benjamin said the injury to his right hamstring will likely keep him out of Thursday’s final minicamp practice, and Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera believes the hamstring issues could be related to Benjamin showing up to OTAs (organized team activities) overweight.
According to a team source, Benjamin, who played last season at 245 pounds, showed up to offseason workouts eight to nine pounds overweight.
“He did come in a little heavy and he had to work himself into shape. Or diet or something. We’re going to take a look at it and make sure it’s not a chronic issue with him. He’s too good a football player to have on the sideline.”
This isn’t the first time Benjamin has shown up to a camp overweight. He was so overweight when he first arrived to Florida State—reportedly 20 pounds—that Seminoles coaches couldn’t justify putting him on the field and used a redshirt for him.
We're not that concerned about a few extra pounds of weight, but if it's causing hamstring issues, then we start to worry. Benjamin had a strong rookie season, finishing as the #15 WR in PPR formats and #16 in standard leagues. However, after his team’s Week 12 bye, Benjamin was just the #42 WR the rest of the way. Benjamin admitted to suffering from mental fatigue as a rookie, which is understandable given how much he was asked to do in his first year.
During organized team activities, the rookie has already displayed knowledge off all three wide receiver positions.
"It's huge," wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl said. "He can fill in for anybody. That helps us tremendously."
He's a big, fluid athlete. Proehl now has to polish his technique so those strengths can be maximized in Carolina's offense.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera was non-committal as to how many times he'd like Jonathan Stewart to carry the football during a game, adding that he's encouraged by what he's seen in OTAs from young backs Fozzy Whittaker and Cam Artis-Payne.
"Honestly it's going to come down to how you are doing," Rivera said. "If you are running the ball well, obviously you are going to feed him. We would like to be able to run the ball when we have to and run the ball when we want to."
Stewart was tremendous down the stretch, averaging 105 total yards (97.0 rushing) in the final seven games, including two playoff games. He averaged 5.30 YPC in that span, including 5.13 YPC versus Arizona and 5.38 YPC against Seattle in the playoffs. Over the final five games of the regular season, he was the #10 fantasy running back. He turns 28 in March, so there is definitely some tread left on his tires. Even though he has missed 20 percent of his team's games due to injury throughout the career, he’ll be a high-upside pick in the middle rounds. The Panthers are committed to running the ball and Stewart has talent. They originally said they planned to limit him to 15 carries per game, but these comments indicate they will continue to give him the ball if he's running well.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 8:48pm
Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams is considered a bridge back until LeVeon Bell returns from suspension, but he shouldn't be alone on that bridge. The Steelers will need just as much from Dri Archer as from Williams, who signed a two-year, $4 million deal worth $1.13 million in signing bonus money but no incentives in 2015.
Williams is exactly what the money suggests he is -- a veteran who can get you 10-12 carries at a respectable clip and nothing more.
There's not much to love about the idea of starting Williams against the Patriots, 49ers and Rams during Bell's three-game suspension, but we believe that the team will try to get him closer to 15 carries per game. He should be healthy to start the season, and there are reasons why he only averaged 12.2 carries per game in his career -- he was splitting time with Jonathan Stewart and QB Cam Newton carried much of the rushing load for the Panthers. The biggest concern is Williams' 3.5 YPC last season, but he battled injuries the whole way. We think he'll provide low-end RB2 numbers while Bell is sidelined, provided he's healthy.
Panthers second-year receiver Kelvin Benjamin strained his hamstring last week, a team spokesman confirmed. As a precaution, he likely won’t participate in next week’s activities, though he has been with the team on the field and in the locker room recently.
Benjamin had a strong rookie season, finishing as the #15 WR in PPR formats and #16 in standard leagues. However, after his team’s Week 12 bye, Benjamin was just the #42 WR the rest of the way. Benjamin admitted to suffering from mental fatigue as a rookie, which is understandable given how much he was asked to do in his first year.
The Steelers will begin the 2015 season without their top running back. The NFL has suspended RB LeVeon Bell for three games without pay for violating its substance-abuse policy, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.
Bell has appealed the ruling, ESPN reported. The tailback has also been docked a fourth game check by the league, per Schefter.
If the suspension holds, Bell can take part in preseason games and training camp before serving his ban away from the club.
Bell’s suspension stems from a DUI charge last summer. He was sentenced to probation, and the charge, along with a marijuana possession count, can be removed from his record if he completes 15 months of service. His former Steelers teammate, LeGarrette Blount, has garnered a one-game suspension for the incident.
Obviously losing Bell for any stretch is a major blow to the Steelers offense. Bell emerged as one of the game’s star dual threats at the position in 2014, racking up more than 2,000 rushing-receiving yards. Ex-Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams figures to have a bigger role with Bell out of the Pittsburgh lineup to begin next season. This could drop Bell a few slots come draft time, but given his workload and last year's success, he should still be a very desirable draft-day selection.
Monday, March 30, 2015, 12:48pm
"Jordan is a veteran running back who has had some success in the league," coach Ron Rivera said in a statement. "We think he has some return skills and we are always looking to be good in that area. At running back, he brings versatility. He is stout and physical enough to run the ball up inside, but he's got the quickness and speed to get outside to the corner."
Todman will provide depth behind Jonathan Stewart.
“The thing you’ve got to be careful about in this league is you can’t rely on one player at one position,’’ Rivera said during the NFC coaches breakfast. “Running back has definitely been proven that you’ve got to have a good two-back tandem.
“And that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for that complement to Jonathan.’’
Stewart averaged 18.3 carries per game in the final seven games of the season (averaging 97.0 rushing yards and 0.29 TD per game). Those are #9 RB numbers in PPR formats, so even if Stewart's carries are limited to 16-17 per game (15 carries plus 1-2 receptions), he should still provide solid RB2 production.
Friday, March 27, 2015, 2:48pm
Update: The deal is for $4 million over two years, but is effectively $2 million for one year, per Jason La Canfora.
LeVeon Bell is facing a 2-4 game suspension and the Williams signing makes Bell more appealing as a 1.01 or 1.02 pick since he can provide starter-caliber numbers while Bell is sidelined. Over the past two seasons, Williams has averaged 12.4 PPR fantasy points in the eight games where he's touched the ball at least 15 times. That equates to high-end RB2 numbers, so he should be able to carry the load while Bell is suspended.
Williams told WBTV in an exclusive interview Monday that he was cut by the Panthers last week during a meeting with coach Ron Rivera and general manager Dave Gettleman.
"We sat down, and he told me, 'The fact of the matter is we're going to have to release you,'" Williams told the station. "I said, you know, 'Why?' and he said, 'Because we don't run the ball enough. Just like you said back before the season started, we don't run the ball enough to keep you and [Jonathan Stewart] both, so we're going to release you.'"
Carolina will save $2 million in salary-cap space by designating Williams as a post-June 1 cut. Williams has one year left on his deal and is scheduled to count $6.3 million against the 2015 salary cap.
Jonathan Stewart was tremendous down the stretch, averaging 105 total yards (97.0 rushing) in the final seven games, including two playoff games. He averaged 5.30 YPC in that span, including 5.13 YPC versus Arizona and 5.38 YPC against Seattle in the playoffs. Over the final five games of the regular season, he was the #10 fantasy running back. He turns 28 in March, so there is definitely some tread left on his tires. Even though he has missed 20 percent of his team's games due to injury throughout the career, he'll be a high-upside pick with Williams out of the way.
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