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.
This offseason so far reminds me of the Texans offseasons when it was Andre Johnson and a buncha rando wide receivers competing to see who would be starters. No receiver targets in OTAs have been *oh-wow* type guys where you see a particularly positive future for him when they are in the offense longer.
When Colts QB Andrew Luck worked out of a three-receiver formation during Wednesday evening’s work at Lucas Oil Stadium, it primarily was T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson and Donte Moncrief. But rookie Phillip Dorsett is going to cut into somebody’s playing time this season. That might be Moncrief. And it might be either Coby Fleener or Dwayne Allen as Hamilton uses more three-wide alignments than two-tight end formations.
The Colts are loaded with talent, but they can't play everyone all the time. We would expect T.Y. Hilton to play a ton, but Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief, Dorsett and the two tight ends, Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, could rotate through the other three positions in typical one-running back sets.
"Yeah, if you're asking if we're going to throw some swing passes, yes," Bush said, laughing. "I think that'd be an understatement."
The biggest question with Frank Gore for fantasy football managers is whether he’ll return to PPR prominence in 2015. I believe he will. He’s seen plenty of action catching balls out of the backfield during the offseason program, even lining up out wide during the Colts’ open practice at Lucas Oil Stadium Wednesday. This was a huge part of the offense with Ahmad Bradshaw last year, especially in the red zone, and it looks like we may see the Frank Gore of old that averaged more than 50 receptions per season from 2006-2010. That would be a huge increase to his value in PPR leagues but shouldn’t be overlooked in standard leagues either. Yards are yards.
Gore is turning 32 this summer, but should be able to shore up the Colts' running game. Dan Herron and Vick Ballard are in the mix, but Gore is better than advertised in the passing game. Gore averaged 51.0 receptions from 2006-2010, but as soon as Greg Roman took over as offensive coordinator in 2011, his targets dropped precipitously. He averaged just 28.3 targets over the past four seasons, while the Colts' running backs accounted for 113 targets last season, so look for Gore's value to jump significantly in PPR formats. Due to his age, Gore typically goes later than he should in fantasy drafts, but he hasn't missed a game in three seasons and should be reinvigorated by a change of scenery. For more on Gore, be sure to check out Senior Editor John Paulsen's case for Gore in Indianapolis.
Colts RB Frank Gore is still dangerous in the open field, and the Colts' deep passing game could create opportunities for a number of check-down passes to Gore (something that's been seen frequently in recent practices).
Gore is turning 32 this summer, but should be able to shore up the Colts' running game. Dan Herron and Vick Ballard are in the mix, but Gore is better than advertised in the passing game. Gore averaged 51.0 receptions from 2006-2010, but as soon as Greg Roman took over as offensive coordinator in 2011, his targets dropped precipitously. He averaged just 28.3 targets over the past four seasons, while the Colts' running backs accounted for 113 targets last season, so look for Gore's value to jump significantly in PPR formats. Due to his age, Gore typically goes later than he should in fantasy drafts, but he hasn't missed a game in three seasons and should be reinvigorated by a change of scenery. For more detail about Gore, be sure to check out Senior Editor John Paulsen's case for Gore in Indianapolis.
Colts WR Andre Johnson's late-career change of address has reinvigorated his passion for the game. His mom hears it in his voice. His uncle sees it in his body language. HC Chuck Pagano senses it on the practice field.
For Andre Johnson, football is fun again.
Johnson will likely start opposite T.Y. Hilton. It’s a big upgrade from a quality-of-quarterback standpoint, as he has never played with one as good as Andrew Luck. His targets are likely to take a hit, however. He averaged 9.7 T/G in 2014, while Hilton and Reggie Wayne led the Colts with 8.7 and 7.7 T/G, respectively. So this looks like a case of the targets dropping but the quality of those targets increasing. After finishing in the top 10 (in PPR) in five of his previous six seasons, Johnson finished #28 in 2014. He’s turning 34 this offseason, so it may be foolhardy to expect a huge bounceback season, but low-end WR2 numbers in PPR formats seem reasonable.
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.
As Donte Moncrief pointed out last season, young Colts receivers are at a slight disadvantage compared to other rookies because they must learn the X, Z, slot and the inside (F) spot in Pep Hamilton's offense rather than concentrating on one position.
"I've been all over the place," Phillip Dorsett said. "Basically, playing receiver here, you can't just learn one position. You've got to learn them all."
So far, so good. Dorsett believes he's picking up Hamilton's scheme quickly.
After dialing up a few deep throws to his new weapon, Andrew Luck noted that "it's definitely not too big for him. ... He fits in very, very well."
Long-term, Dorsett is in a good situation, but he’s going to have a tough time getting on the field as a rookie with T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson locked in as the team's top two receivers. Dorsett will have to compete with Moncrief for snaps at WR3. It sounds like he's off to a good start, so the Dorsett/Moncrief competition will be one to watch this summer.
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.
General manager Ryan Grigson isn't making any promises to a healthy Ballard.
"Two years is a long time not to play football, there's no doubt about it," Grigson said. "The only thing he needs to do is get a devil-may-care mindset. Because if you think about getting hurt, or you're concerned about getting hurt again, then you probably will."
Ballard realizes training camp could be his final shot at a roster spot in Indianapolis.
This further underlines Gore's value as the team's feature back. Dan Herron will get some work in a backup capacity, but Ballard is just fighting for a roster spot at this point.
Friday, May 8, 2015, 10:17am
“We’ve been throwing for the past three weeks and I can honestly say I’ve thrown with [Andrew Luck], [Nick Foles] and other guys, and I don’t think I’ve thrown with a guy who has a stronger arm than Sam Bradford,” Ertz said.
“He hasn’t been able to really truly get his full legs underneath him. But the ball still comes out effortlessly, and it’s a lot of fun to run routes with him.”
But the Colts didn't spend a first-round pick on Phillip Dorsett for him to sit on the bench. If he proves ready for playing time, it's likely going to come quickly. And that will have a considerable impact on certain players' snap counts and their number of targets.
Hilton's snaps figure to be safe, but if the Colts bring Dorsett along quickly, the playing time of both Johnson and Moncrief will be affected. If he plays big snaps, it could have a ripple effect on Fleener and/or Allen, assuming Hamilton calls fewer two-TE sets to get his receivers on the field. The pick is certainly a boost for QB Andrew Luck, but it's hard to see how it helps any of the other Colts receivers.
Carlos Hyde will have to move on from Frank Gore's mentorship and carve out a bigger role in 2015, a year that figures to showcase a new-look 49ers team. Besides the changing of the guard in the 49ers backfield, Hyde has undergone another major change this offseason.
His body is different. Hyde slimmed down 15 pounds since his rookie year.
General manager Trent Baalke touted Hyde as one of the most noticeably different players in the team's offseason program.
Hyde is expected to take over as the team's primary ball-carrier, with Reggie Bush assuming the passing down role. Given Bush's presence and Hyde's 4.0 YPC during in his rookie season, Hyde is probably being overdrafted as he's been going at the beginning of the 3rd round of early PPR drafts. Expect 250 or so carries and a somewhat limited role in the passing game, though there is upside here if the new offense falls into place.
"I'm nowhere near finished, man, and I want to prove that to the world and everybody," Nicks told FOX Sports' Mike Garafalo recently. "That's definitely my mentality, but I don't even want to talk about it. I feel like I got into that situation last year talking about it. I'm about to just go out there and prove it.
"I can't even describe the feeling to you. It's like a burning sensation inside of me. I just want to be the best. I know I have to work hard at it; it's something that's in me. It's just in me and takes over me."
Nicks was underwhelming in Indianapolis, catching only 55% of his targets while posting 38 catches for 405 yards and four touchdowns. The Titans also added Harry Douglas this offseason, so he and Nicks will join a receiving corps that already includes Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter. There isn't much fantasy value here.