Monday, June 29, 2015, 8:42pm
Darren McFadden's career with the Dallas Cowboys didn't get off to a great start. The running back was sidelined for most of the team's OTA and mini-camp practices with a strained hamstring. After taking off several weeks, McFadden is feeling healthy again and ready to go when the Cowboys open up training camp in a little over a month from now.
"It's doing great," McFadden told Steve Rogers of his hamstring, per the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette. "I feel like I had a decent mini-camp, so I'm just looking forward to putting in my work and getting ready for training camp."
McFadden will enter training camp behind Joseph Randle on the depth chart at running back, and he could also be behind Lance Dunbar. Since his breakout 2011 season, McFadden has struggled to remain productive on a per touch basis. Many believe that the Cowboys' offensive line can be a great catalyst for a runner like McFadden, because although he struggles to make defenders miss, he is lightning fast when running downhill.
Cowboys beat writer Brandon George thinks Dallas will run the same kind of offense even with the loss of RB DeMarco Murray to free agency.
George: The Cowboys, I believe, will go about their offense the same way as last year with emphasizing the run game behind a dominant offensive line. At least early in the season. If the run game starts to struggle, you could see them start to shy away from it and put the ball int he hands of QB Tony Romo more again. And that hasn't always been positive. They need a strong rushing game again to make this offense click.
In another question, George went on to say he believes Joseph Randle is the team's RB1, but Lance Dunbar and Darren McFadden will also have roles in the running game.
George added that things could change but he'd "put [his] money on Randle at this point." We agree with George and have Randle ranked the highest among the Dallas backs - coming in 24th with an ADP of the sixth round in 10 team leagues. If he can manage to keep the RB1 role, he could provide owners with some nice value from that draft slot.
Sunday, June 28, 2015, 4:39pm
Giants QB Eli Manning, 34, signed a six-year, $97 million deal with the Giants in 2009. It's been re-worked frequently to create salary-cap room but Manning's still on the same deal. It expires after the 2015 season.
Despite his age and despite his propensity for throwing picks (he's led the league three times, including 2013), Manning has two Super Bowl MVP awards and certainly qualifies as a top-end quarterback.
From a fantasy perspective, Manning had one of the best statistical seasons of his career in 2014, throwing for 4,410 yards with 30 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions. That he did it in a new offensive scheme is only more impressive. It was a rough start for the Giants but the emergence of Odell Beckham Jr at WR certainly helped turn around the offense. WR Victor Cruz should be back healthy and the team signed Shane Vereen as a pass-catching running back. The point of the story is more times than not, QBs tend to get deals done with their current team, so there's a good chance Manning stays in New York - and he has the potential for a nice 2015. He's ranked ninth on our QB list heading into camps. With an ADP of the 12th round, he's a potential sneaky pick because guys behind him in our rankings - Tony Romo, Ryan Tannehill, Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford - all project to come off the board before Manning.
With the deadline to agree to a long-term deal coming July 15, Tom Condon, the agent for wide receiver Dez Bryant, and the Dallas Cowboys had their first face-to-face meeting in nearly four months within the past week, according to sources.
Last month, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said the team would make a push to sign Bryant to a deal, but much work remains before that actually happens.
Bryant has yet to sign his $12.823 million franchise tag tender in hopes of a deal with larger guaranteed money. Bryant's camp has threatened to miss regular-season games even though there would be no financial incentive. After July 15, Bryant has to play the season on the tender and the two sides could begin negotiations again after the season.
Bryant missed most of the Cowboys' offseason program, showing up for a handful of workouts and an organized team activity, according to the story. Bryant attended the final day of the Cowboys' mandatory minicamp on June 18 but did not practice. The Cowboys do not believe the threat to miss games because it would cost Bryant roughly $754,000 each week. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he believes Bryant will be "leading the way" when the Cowboys open the season Sept. 13 against the New York Giants. Bryant is ranked fourth on our WR list with an ADP of late in the first round.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015, 12:59pm
During organized team activities and minicamp, Cowboys RB Lance Dunbar has been one of Tony Romo’s favorite targets in third down situations. One of Dunbar’s best traits is his ability to take advantage of open space. Romo targeted DeMarco Murray 130 times over the last two seasons. A large chunk of those passes could be headed in Dunbar’s direction.
Cowboys beat writer Todd Archer projects that Ryan Williams won't make the 53-man roster.
Archer: How in the world could I keep Ryan Williams off the roster? It was a tough decision, but the fact that he was limited in the spring because of a swollen knee didn’t help his cause. He can work his way into the mix this summer and with his work in the preseason games. Even if I can envision the Cowboys keeping four tailbacks, I have a hard time seeing them taking all four to the game, which makes that spot tenuous at best on the 53-man roster, as teams generally use back-of-the-roster spots on players they might want to groom.
Williams was recently a dark horse in the running back competition, but he's still experiencing swelling in his knee. It's good news for Joseph Randle who is currently in line for a big jump in touches after a productive (if limited) role last season.
A quick canvas of the league revealed 10 No. 1-caliber receivers: Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, Alshon Jeffrey, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, DeMaryius Thomas, Jordy Nelson, T.Y. Hilton, Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown.
Robinson, the Jaguars’ second-year receiver, is below that level, but on this team at this moment, he’s the best.
Robinson averaged 5.2 catches for 61 yards and 0.22 TD from Week 2 to Week 10, which extrapolates to an 84-974-3.6 over the course of a full 16-game season. He posted fringe WR2-type numbers before suffering a stress fracture in his foot. The Jacksonville receiving corps should feature Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns. If QB Blake Bortles can progress, this could be a dangerous passing game, and Robinson would be the primary beneficiary.
Williams was competing for a pass against first-round pick cornerback Byron Jones over the middle of the field in team drills and came down awkwardly on his left arm. Williams suffered a bruised left elbow, and X-rays came back negative.Williams was competing for a pass against first-round pick cornerback Byron Jones over the middle of the field in team drills and came down awkwardly on his left arm. Williams suffered a bruised left elbow, and X-rays came back negative.
The injury doesn't sound too serious. Williams has finished in the top 20 in fantasy points per target in each of his two seasons, but he doesn't see enough targets to be a reliable fantasy option. In fact, his targets dropped from 74 as a rookie to 66 in his sophomore season even though his snaps jumped 18.5% year over year. If the Cowboys move to a pass-heavy offense, then Williams should be fantasy relevant, though he's still competing with Jason Witten and Cole Beasley for Dez Bryant's leftovers.
“I would say Davante Adams for someone if, if you want a clear illustration and example of a first-year player taking a jump in his second year, you just saw it here the last four weeks,” Packers HC Mike McCarthy said. “I think he’s been tremendous throughout the OTAs. And he’s got more in front of him, too, so I think that’s what’s exciting. I think Davante has done a great job in the strength and conditioning. He’s been really, really good in practice throughout this deal. Davante, if you wanted me to pick an MVP or an all-star, he would definitely be atop the list.”
Adams had his moments during his rookie season, specifically against the Patriots (6-121 on 11 targets) in Week 13 and in the postseason against the Cowboys (7-117-1 on 11 targets). However, he only saw 66 passes come his way since he played alongside target hogs Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Aaron Rodgers has been highly complimentary of Adams this offseason and says he has “humongous upside.” In 20 games from 2012-13, the team’s WR3, James Jones, managed WR3-type numbers (3.7-50.3-.60 on 5.6 targets) with both Cobb and Nelson in the lineup, but that was mainly due to his unusually high TD rate. In 13 games that Cobb and/or Nelson missed, Jones averaged solid WR2 numbers (4.6-58-.46 on 7.3 targets), but his TD rate regressed. We’re bullish on Adams since he has more potential than Jones. The Packers are also without a tight end of Jermichael Finley’s caliber, so there may be more targets available for the team’s third receiver. Owners should expect fantasy WR2 numbers if Cobb or Nelson go down, making the second-year wideout a great handcuff for either player.
Cowboys beat writer Bob Sturm broke down RB Darren McFadden:
Hundreds of Oakland carries to consider, yet, anybody-but-McFadden averaged over 5.5 yards per carry or 2.2 more than each and every single run from McFadden? Basically, he had 60% the productivity of each of his backup’s runs – over 3 straight years.
In answer to the question of whether “anyone would have problems in Oakland”, it appears that 5.5 yards per carry over 370 attempts might not fully agree with that assessment.
I believe the Cowboys think he is their 3rd down back. I don’t think they want him running on 1st and 2nd down in their offense. I think that will be Randle to start. (3rd down back can mean 30 snaps in a game.)
The soon-to-be 28-year-old McFadden hasn't cracked 3.5 YPC since the 2011 season, when he ran for 614 yards on 113 carries (5.4 YPC) in seven games. That's the rub with McFadden -- fantasy owners haven't been able to count on his durability. He has missed roughly a quarter of his team's games since entering the league. We also believe he’ll serve as a change-of-pace/3rd-down back behind Joseph Randle, but he'll have to beat out Lance Dunbar for that role.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 2:42pm
The Cowboys' intrigue with Lance Dunbar has been long-running. He might not be an every-down back, but he can be part of a committee. They like what he can do in space. They believe he can be a mismatch player for defenses. Before arriving from the Detroit Lions, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan had two running backs catch more than 50 passes in a season. Linehan sees Dunbar being able to do some of what Reggie Bush and Joique Bell did in 2013 in Detroit.
"Sometimes he doesn't play as many plays as some of the other guys, but when you look at his production within the plays that he has, it's usually pretty good," coach Jason Garrett said. "He's usually a difference maker. He's a really smart football player. He's talented. He's quick. He's fast and explosive, has great intuition and instincts for the game. We try to use him a lot of different ways, and when we have used him he's been effective for us. You're always trying to give those guys more opportunities."
ESPN's Chris Mortensen first reported that Bryant was considering a holdout that could extend into the season.
"This is not a rumor," Bryant confirmed to Silver. "It's legit."
It's no surprise that Bryant would attempt to maximize his leverage and stimulate talks with just five weeks remaining before the July 15 deadline for franchise players to sign new contracts.
Bryant would sacrifice major money if he misses any games, so this sounds like posturing. Hopefully this will be resolved by mid-July. If not, we would expect that he plays for the one-year franchise tender of $12+ million.
My biggest concern with McFadden these days is that it looks like he has lost his decisiveness. He seems to not go anywhere particularly fast at the moment he gets the ball. This offense needs a RB shot out of a cannon and I fear that he has been ruined by his difficulties in Oakland.
The soon-to-be 28-year-old McFadden hasn't cracked 3.5 YPC since the 2011 season, when he ran for 614 yards on 113 carries (5.4 YPC) in seven games. That's the rub with McFadden -- fantasy owners haven't been able to count on his durability. He has missed roughly a quarter of his team's games since entering the league. We believe he’ll serve as a change-of-pace/3rd-down back behind Joseph Randle.
Cowboys RB Joseph Randle averaged 6.7 yards a carry off the bench in 2014. He can average well over 5.0 getting 20-plus carries a game as a starter as long as he plays with the discipline that DeMarco Murray sometimes lacked.
Randle’s only obstacle to 1,500-plus yards is Darren McFadden, a fascinating wild card in this backfield equation. In between hamstring pulls and ankles sprains, McFadden has proven to be an excellent straight-line runner. But if Murray is “plywood” on the stiffness scale, McFadden is “oak.” My good friend Greg Cosell of NFL Films once said it best: it’s like McFadden’s lower body and upper body are fused together. An inability to make people miss was something previous Raider coaching staffs didn’t like about the former first-round running back.
The article goes on to say that McFadden might end up being the better fit since Randle's elusiveness may lead to him making poor decisions in the running game. Randle was highly effective (6.7 YPC) in 2014 and is reportedly showing more maturity after several off-the-field issues. He's not going to see a DeMarco Murray-type workload, but 225-250 carries is feasible if he wins the lead back job, and it appears he will.
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