All of these things were said, or reported, about the veteran wide receiver from the end of last year and into the offseason. But the version of Wallace that the Vikings have seen since acquiring him for a fifth-round pick in the 2015 draft in March has been anything but a recalcitrant player.
Wallace is usually the last guy off the field following each practice because he wants to put in extra work. He has granted just about every interview he has been asked to conduct and he has talked about wanting to be a leader.
So what has changed when it comes to a guy whose last act with the Dolphins involved getting into a sideline altercation in Week 17 that got him benched in the second half?
"I definitely have something to prove," Wallace said. "Everyone knows why I'm here. I have a lot to prove, man."
Wallace didn't come cheap but the Vikes can opt out after the 2015 or 2016 season. The team feels he's a good fit for OC Norv Turner's offense and is a potential deep threat. Wallace isn't coming off a terrible season in Miami. He led the Dolphins in receiving yards (862) and touchdowns (10) and was second with 67 receptions. However, he and quarterback Ryan Tannehill failed to develop the type of chemistry and consistency that Wallace had with Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, the story said. The hope is Wallace will develop with young QB Teddy Bridgewater. Wallace is ranked 36th on our WR list and can be had in the middle rounds of drafts.
There are a couple schools of thought on how a year off might affect a 30-year-old running back.
Some people believe that the Vikings Adrian Peterson - held out of game action since Week 2 of last year - could be fresher this season because he didn't have the normal wear and tear associated with the NFL's 16-game schedule.
Others, who believe Peterson has some catching up to do after missing most of the first year in a new offensive system, would find themselves at odds with second-year offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
Peterson, Turner contends, has only minor adjustments to get up to speed with Turner's offensive playbook. If that's true, it shouldn't be terribly surprising, considering Peterson was there for the preseason last year as the team installed plays and concepts, and he also carried a big load in the team's Week 1 win in St. Louis against the Rams.
The Vikings don't put the pads on until Tuesday, but if walk-throughs and practices in shorts are any indication, Turner says Peterson is reintegrating just fine.
"When he comes out here and I watch him he's way ahead of everybody else," Turner said.
"This scheme thing is, to me, it's overrated," he added, in response to a question about whether Peterson has any catching up to do with the playbook. "I know it's different for Adrian, so there are some things that caught him off guard, but he is very comfortable with what we're doing. He and [running backs coach] Kirby Wilson spent a lot of extra time getting him back caught up on what things are different."
The story pointed out that one of the great mysteries about the Vikings entering this year's training camp would be Peterson's readiness to once again be featured in the offense. Many have wondered how the superstar running back will be used, considering the Vikings now have a quarterback they know they can trust in a pass-happy league, the story said. But it sounds like Peterson is doing just fine in learning the system and will be ready to take on a full load. Peterson, of course, is our top-rated RB and our thinking is he bounces back just fine. So far, he's being selected atop of many fantasy drafts this season.
The Miami Dolphins overhauled their wide receiver group this offseason, with the exception of promising second-year player, Jarvis Landry. Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, and Brandon Gibson are all out of Miami, and have been "replaced" by Greg Jennings, Kenny Stills, and DeVante Parker.
Three new receivers, three better fits for Ryan Tannehill, according to head coach Joe Philbin. He is confident the trio of Jennings, Stills, and Parker are better for Tannehill than the previous trio of Wallace, Hartline, and Gibson.
"I do think it’s a better skill set to match [Tannehill]," Philbin told the Palm Beach Post.
As expected, first-round pick DeVante Parker should be a big part of the offense this season. Philbin had great things to say about Stills' speed and called Parker and Jennings QB-friendly guys. A combination of these three receivers, plus Landry, the story said, should give Tannehill the weapons he needs. Add in newly-acquired tight end Jordan Cameron and the Dolphins look like a dangerous offense. As a result, Tannehill finds himself ranked 10th on our QB list. If he can produce QB1 numbers, he could be a real steal with an ADP of the ninth round in 12-team leagues.
Sunday, July 26, 2015, 2:10pm
It is a four-year deal worth up to $14 million with $5.25 million guaranteed, per a league source. Walsh, still in uniform, signed the deal with General Manager Rick Spielman after the morning walkthrough.
The Vikings drafted Walsh in the sixth round in 2012. He missed just three field-goal attempts as a rookie and was named a first-team All-Pro
I got a few questions this week about Peterson's role in the passing game; I'd expect he'll wind up with 40-50 catches, and he'll be able to turn some of those into big plays.
OC Norv Turner has a history of feeding the ball to his top running back; LaDainian Tomlinson averaged 20.9 touches per game from 2007-09 while he and Turner were in San Diego. That included 2.86 receptions per game, which would represent a career high 45-46 receptions for Peterson if he catches the ball at the same rate.
Throwing out his one-game season in 2014, Peterson never finished outside of the top 6 on a per game basis in standard formats (or outside the top 11 in PPR) in his previous seven seasons. He's now on the wrong side of 30, but his legs should be fresh after taking a full season off to deal with his criminal case. OC Norv Turner has a history of feeding the ball to his top running back; LaDainian Tomlinson averaged 20.9 touches per game from 2007-09 while he and Turner were in San Diego. That included 2.86 receptions per game, which would represent a career high 45-46 receptions for Peterson if he catches the ball at the same rate.
Johnson-Patterson is the most intriguing position battle, for the split end spot. Johnson showed enough to keep the job through offseason work, but a 29th-overall pick in Patterson will get plenty of chances to earn his job back. There's no question about Patterson's ability. With the ball, he's a threat to score anywhere on the field. In order to get the ball in less predictable spots, he needs to be in sync with Teddy Bridgewater. Inconsistency in his routes didn't allow chemistry to build as he's still learning the nuances of the position. Patterson had four playbooks in his last four years of football, and some consistency on that end could help him take the next step.
We favor Johnson in this "battle," due to his production down the stretch last season. Johnson started playing significant snaps in Week 11, and over the final seven games of the season, he averaged 3.6 catches for 59 yards and 0.29 touchdowns. He was the #31 fantasy receiver in that span.
There are plenty of ways to break down just how bad the Jaguars' offense has been the past several seasons, but the best way to illustrate the ineptness is by looking at how the unit has performed in the red zone.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Jaguars scored an NFL-low 13 touchdowns and completed an NFL-worst 39.1 percent of passes on an NFL-low 85 snaps in 32 red zone possessions in 2014. They were still last in TDs and completion percentage if you include the 2013 season, too.
The blame is spread between the quarterbacks, offensive line, backs and receivers, and play calling. Not much the Jaguars have tried the past two seasons has worked consistently and as a result the team has averaged just 15.5 points per game the past two seasons.
Things could be significantly better in 2015, though, thanks to the addition of tight end Julius Thomas. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder was not only one of the league's better tight ends the past two seasons – catching 108 passes, including 24 for touchdowns – he was one of the NFL's most effective players in the red zone.
Thomas had 13 catches in the red zone in 2014, including nine for touchdowns. Only Green Bay receiver Randall Cobb had more (10) and Thomas had the same number as New England's Rob Gronkowski, Miami's Mike Wallace, New Orleans' Jimmy Graham, and San Diego's Antonio Gates, the story said. Obviously potential owners of Thomas need to keep in mind the situation is now a little bit different. The Jags don't have the same weapons Denver had a year ago that also needed to be accounted for in the red zone, and don't forget about Peyton Manning as the QB. Still, Thomas will be looked at as a big red zone option, and if the Jag WRs can step up as threats, that should also help Thomas' chances to continue his success. Thomas is ranked eighth among our TEs and is available in the middle of drafts.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015, 12:04pm
Returning from his third major surgery in his last five seasons of football, Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph has an important season upcoming for a player starting a five-year deal worth up to $40 million if he earns the incentives, including game day active roster and workout bonuses.
Rudolph hasn't played a full season since 2012, with just as many catches (54) in the past two years as that Pro Bowl-alternate season (53). Availability, not ability, is the chief concern with the Vikings' second-round pick from 2010, who has suffered a broken foot and needed surgery to repair a sports hernia in back-to-back seasons.
Rudolph showed a glimpse of what he might do under Norv Turner in last year's preseason, catching seven passes for a 21.3-yard average, including a 51-yard touchdown. He slimmed down in 2014 to adapt to Turner's vertical offense and is still listed 10 pounds lighter than he was in 2013. Rudolph turned his focus to flexibility in workout regimens this offseason, opting for hot yoga and beach exercises. The Vikings hope that will make a difference for a talented player marred by injuries and for an offense that wants to use Rudolph as a big weapon in the passing game.
The story went on to say the Vikings targeted tight ends on 85 passes last season. Nearly half the league (13) had a single player targeted more at the position. But, Rudolph's injury limited the Vikings down the middle of the field and the turnaround at tight end will help frame the Vikings' bid to build a passing game after ranking near the bottom of the league in passing yards, yards per attempt and touchdowns last season. We all know Rudolph is a reliable target, and the story said he's caught seven balls for every 10 passes thrown his way through four seasons. But, he just can't seem to stay on the field - as fantasy owners well know. Rudolph comes in 16th on our list. We don't always recommend drafting two TEs, but Rudolph in the late rounds as a flier may prove to pan out especially in deeper leagues.
And after five 1,000-yard rushing seasons in the last six years, with one year lost to a torn anterior cruciate ligament, no one would blame Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles if his body felt far older than his 28 years.
Yet he is heading into his eighth NFL season saying he feels young.
"I feel like I am 20, 21," Charles said this spring. "I feel good. I feel healthy. I eat right. I take vitamins. I do yoga. I'm doing everything I am supposed to do to keep my body up at my age."
Andy Reid likes to ride his RB1 even when he has a capable backup, which he certainly has in Knile Davis. Davis did see a bump in touches last year, however, going from 5.1 to 9.4. We predict Charles for just under 1,200 yards this season and he should be among the RB leaders in receptions as he's proven to be a big part of the team's passing game. That should mean close to 300 touches for Charles. We rank Charles fourth on our RB list, but in a lot of drafts he's going as high as second behind Adrian Peterson. Backing yourself with Davis is a good idea if you can afford the roster spot.
Monday, July 13, 2015, 2:23pm
For the third straight year, the Packers enter the season knowing who their top two running backs are. Training camp and the preseason will be used to figure out a new third option.
Eddie Lacy and James Starks combined for 1,472 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in 2014. That’s a slight drop from their collective production the prior year (1,671 yards and 14 TDs) when they were relied on more during quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ injury absence.
The story pointed out Neal was making a bid for a roster spot last summer, only to be sidelined the rest of camp with a knee injury. He was placed on injured reserve at the first roster reduction and was eventually brought back to the practice squad right after last season’s bye week. Spending the rest of his rookie season in Green Bay appeared to pay dividends for Neal this past spring, as he got a lot of work during OTAs and showed trustworthy hands catching passes out of the backfield, the story added.
While most NFL players are vacationing this month, Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry and his buddy and former LSU teammate, Odell Beckham Jr. (the NFL offensive Rookie of the Year) are pushing themselves through grueling morning workout at well-regarded trainer Pete Bommarito’s Performance Systems facility in Davie.
Landry is determined to improve his speed to prove he’s more than a slot receiver.
Is his speed better? “Absolutely,” Landry said this week. “I can’t wait to show it.”
Landry flashed that explosiveness when he caught a deep ball from Ryan Tannehill during the Dolphins’ minicamp last month.
“You can see the difference with Jarvis,” Bommarito said. “There’s a difference between straight line speed and football speed. He’s excelled at both.”
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, Greg Jennings, DeVante Parker and Jordan Cameron, but Landry's role should expand as well. He only played 62% 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.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 6:51pm
The Broncos placed their $12.82 million franchise tag on Demaryius Thomas in March and have until 2 p.m. on July 15 to secure a long-term deal. If not, Thomas can sign the one-year contract and play on the guaranteed tag this season. Elway sits two-for-two in these situations, having worked out deals with kicker Matt Prater and left tackle Ryan Clady. Going three-for-three represents a challenge even for a former top Major League Baseball prospect like Elway. The sides began discussing an extension a year ago but have been unable to bridge the gap. Thomas ranks among the game's elite. The Broncos have said they want to sign him long term. However, they would like it at a fair cost that represents a compromise by both sides.
The author says: the Broncos are attempting, it appears, to find a balance between respect and restraint. They know Thomas is a playmaker. The also know Thomas is better than Mike Wallace, the game's second-highest paid receiver with $30 million guaranteed on his contract. They also realize that the entire industry views the contract of top-paid wideout Calvin Johnson, whom Thomas has said he believes he's better than, as an outlier. It has tangled the web with Dez Bryant's talks with the Cowboys; he's in the same franchise-tag situation as Thomas. Thomas is third on our WR list but his ADP shows he's been the fourth WR off the board at the position. We project him for 106 catches and over 1,500 yards.
Daniels and Green appear locked in on the top two spots, and depending on the frequency at which the Broncos use certain personnel groups, could both end up with play counts that reflect being starters.
Julius Thomas, who scored 24 touchdowns the last two years, left for Jacksonville. We rank Daniels 16th on our TE list, but project him for only about 5 TDs this season. While Daniels has the experience in Gary Kubiak's offense, and Green the experience with QB Peyton Manning the last four years, the story points out the job description for the tight ends is a bit different than it was the last three seasons - there'll be a bit more blocking involved. Daniels ADP is the 12th round, however. Compared to those around him, that's about three rounds earlier than Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Eifert who are ranked ahead of Daniels on our list.
Sunday, July 5, 2015, 8:56pm
If anyone wants assurances the Minnesota Vikings are heading in the right direction with Teddy Bridgewater as their quarterback, Norv Turner says to watch video of the last six games from Bridgewater's rookie season in 2014.
"He was much more decisive," said Turner, entering his second season as offensive coordinator. "We were very specific in terms of what we were doing. I think we had a good feel for what we did best as a unit. We had so many changes early: a culmination of obviously playing three quarterbacks over a period of time, the offensive line shuffling in and out, the backfield situation. I don't care if you had a veteran quarterback — it was going to be a challenge."
Matt Cassel began last season as the starter but a broken foot in Week 3 landed him on injured reserve. The story said the Vikings were in no rush to put Bridgewater on the field, but the first-round draft pick acquitted himself fairly well under the circumstances — particularly in the last six games, in which he completed more than 70% of his passes four times, throwing for 10 touchdowns with six interceptions as the Vikings averaged 24 points a game. We have Bridgwater rankd 17th on our QB list so he's going to have QB2 value and certainly seems on the rise.
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