Ertz was the #13 TE in both standard and PPR formats despite only playing half of the Eagles’ snaps in his second year. Most (73%) of his snaps came on passing downs, so if his playing time is going to increase, a majority of the additional snaps are likely to come in run formations. Still, there’s upside with Ertz if he begins to see starter’s snaps. The Eagles lost their leading receiver -- first DeSean Jackson and then Jeremy Maclin -- in back-to-back seasons, so there will be opportunity from a targets standpoint. At this point, we wouldn't be surprised if he's held out Week 1, but it's a good sign that he's still optimistic about his potential availability.
This was supposed to be the summer Ertz wrestled the starting job away from the 30-year-old Celek. He worked hard in the offseason to improve his blocking, talking to offensive line coaches and future Hall of Fame tight ends and training with MMA fighters.
But then he suffered a core-muscle injury early in training camp and has missed the entire preseason. Ertz hopes to be back for the Atlanta game. But even if he is, his snaps likely will be limited to passing downs and two-tight-end sets.
And if the preseason and their 11-on-11 team work in training camp is any indication, the Eagles will be cutting down on their use of two-tight-end sets this season as they make greater use of running back Darren Sproles in the passing game.
Last year, they used two-tight-end formations on 344 of their 1,128 offensive snaps, or 30.1 percent of the time. Celek played 815 snaps; Ertz played 587.
Ertz was the #13 TE in both standard and PPR formats despite only playing half of the Eagles’ snaps in his second year. Most (73%) of his snaps came on passing downs, so if his playing time is going to increase, a majority of the additional snaps are likely to come in run formations. Still, there’s upside with Ertz if he begins to see starter’s snaps. The Eagles lost their leading receiver -- first DeSean Jackson and then Jeremy Maclin -- in back-to-back seasons, so there will be opportunity from a targets standpoint. The groin injury isn't helping, so owners who draft Ertz should be prepared for an unproductive September.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015, 2:58pm
The Cowboys are going to split carries between Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and change-of-pace back Lance Dunbar. None of them has done enough to separate themselves from the pack, and take on a workhorse-type role that DeMarco Murray had last season.
None of them, in other words, is likely going to carry it 20-plus times a game. Instead, Randle could fall in the 10-15 carry range with McFadden slightly below that.
“I’m just going to go in there and be as productive as a I can and take full advantage of the opportunity that I get,” Randle said. “And let the rest fall where it may.”
Added McFadden: “[A committee approach] is something I’ve done pretty much throughout my career, at school [in Arkansas] or being with the Raiders. It’s one of those deals, it’s the NFL, it’s a long season. You have to be able to have two backs that can go in there and be able to tote it the way you need them to tote it.”
We still believe that Randle is the back to own in the Dallas backfield, mainly because McFadden can't be trusted to stay healthy. But given Randle's 4th-round price, McFadden may be the better value since he's going in the 8th-10th round, depending on the draft. This is going to be a fantasy headache for most of the season, especially if everyone stays healthy.
Eagles HC Chip Kelly said that adding depth at the position was a priority in the offseason. When you add DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews – both have been staples on the injury list over their careers – you better have some depth. But assuming Murray, Mathews and Darren Sproles stay healthy, the Eagles might have the deepest running-back group in the NFL. The guess here is that Murray gets 225-250 carries this season. He had 392 last season for the Cowboys. Mathews would be next with 100-125 carries. And Sproles would be sprinkled in for about 50. Sproles’ presence in the passing game is obviously going to be beefed up. The Eagles have made that clear. But Murray and Mathews aren’t slouches in catching passes, either and will get their share of screens and check downs.
We currently project Murray for 259 carries, Mathews for 153 and Sproles for 39, so our numbers are fairly close to McLane's "guesses." Owners counting on Murray to tote the ball 300-plus times will probably be disappointed. They're planning to use Mathews and Sproles extensively, and that will limit Murray's overall upside. We do expect Murray to be highly productive in the touches that he does get, but he's not going to approach his 2014 workload in Dallas.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015, 8:39pm
On Tuesday, Rams coach Jeff Fisher announced that Keenum has "locked up" the No. 2 quarterback spot behind Foles.
"He just has a good feel for offense and timing and release and is a natural athlete," Fisher said. "Since the trade he's been able to sit here and really, really grasp the offense, so he has a good feel for what we're doing."
He has completed 20 of 34 passes for 255 yards with one touchdown and a QB rating of 92.2.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015, 4:43pm
Rookie tight end Maxx Williams, who has been in a red non-contact jersey since the Ravens resumed practice after the Aug. 22 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, shouldn't be dealing with his injury by the regular season opener at Denver, coach John Harbaugh said.
Williams, the Ravens' second-round pick in the NFL Draft, was shaken up on a play late in the first half of the Eagles game. He tried to dodge a hit from Eagles cornerback E.J. Biggers, but took the worst of it and needed attention from trainers on the sidelines.
He came back to finish the game, ending the night with three catches for 25 yards, but hasn't fully participated since.
"He’s got an issue that we just can’t get him banged around with," Harbaugh said. "He’s practicing, so he should be there for Denver, but we just want to protect him from the bump."
Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who’s battling back from a hamstring injury suffered on Aug. 6, had his most active day in practice on Monday.
“That was encouraging for us,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “To see him go and move. We’ll take it to the next step (on Tuesday.)”
It’s not clear if the Falcons will try to get him some action in the final exhibition game against the Ravens at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Georgia Dome. They may elected to just sit Freeman and have him ready for the season-opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, Sept. 14 at the Georgia Dome.
“He caught it well out of the backfield,” Quinn said. “He ran it well today. Limited reps, but it was awesome to see him.”
Quinn was clearly excited when discussing Freeman.
“He is a guy who has juice,” Quinn said. “When you feel somebody on the field, he’s got that kind of explosion and ability. It was great to have him out there.”
Freeman, who appeared headed for the starting running back position, has not played during the exhibition season. Quinn clearly believes that Freeman can be a key cog in the offense, the story said, which has struggled to run the ball in the three exhibition games. We think there's a possibility of a three-headed attack here with rookie Tevin Coleman the main threat. Coleman is the hand-picked guy from the new staff and they usually win out in the end, but Freeman is the current RB1. Antone Smith will also be a factor.
After letting league-leading rusher DeMarco Murray go in free agency, and not making a move for any replacement, or trading for a guy like Adrian Peterson, the Cowboys seem determined to go with their running back by committee.
In Saturday’s game against the Vikings, Joseph Randle started and had six carries for 15 yards. Darren McFadden took the second quarter and added four carries for 37 yards. While it may not be Murray, getting 10 for 52 out of the pair of them is a solid start.
“I thought they both did a good job,” quarterback Tony Romo said, via Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com. “I thought the looks were a little tougher for Joe early on with the way they played it, then we got to some runs we could attack them with and it opened up some holes. Darren obviously did good on those and made some explosive runs.
“But sometimes the dirty ones are some of the best ones too.”
So as much as it made sense that they might pursue more of a bell-cow back, Jones seemed content going with the duo into the regular season.
“I see how we can line up certainly this coming week but I see how we can line up against the Giants, yes, I do,” Jones said. “You say, ‘Well, couldn’t you see it before?’ Now, I saw the same things before. I expect [Randle] to give us and has the talent to make some of the plays we saw him make tonight. I certainly know [McFadden] can make them and [Lance] Dunbar can do the same. If they’re healthy, I’ll take their skill and what they can bring and go to the game against the Giants and won’t ask for any more.”
Going with that approach is going to put more pressure on Romo and their offensive line this year, but they seem comfortable with that for the time being, the story pointed out. Maybe more importantly, it's going to be a headache for fantasy owners. Add Lance Dunbar in the mix, especially in the passing game, and there's potential for a three-headed backfield. Randle is still our pick to have the most fantasy value out of the three.
Packers WR Randall Cobb was injured on the team's third play from scrimmage against the Eagles. He appeared to land on his right side while attempting to catch a pass from quarterback Brett Hundley along the sideline. He was initially examined in the bench area by team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie. Shortly thereafter, he was taken to the Lambeau Field locker room for further examination.
Cobb initially feared he broke his collarbone, but tests showed that was not the case.
"I just caught the ball and was going down to the ground, and I had a guy land on top of me," Cobb said. "I was just jogging off the field at the end of the series, and I could feel the pain. I didn't know exactly what it was. It was discomfort, and I let Doc check it out and we went back and got X-rays. It's not what we think it could've been."
Cobb is scheduled for additional tests Sunday, but he expressed a feeling of relief after the game.
"It's been very unfortunate these few weeks for us," Cobb said. "At least there's a silver lining in this injury."
Cobb isn't sure if he'll be ready Week 1, but it appears that he avoided a long-term injury like a broken collarbone. For those drafting today, he's still a 2nd round pick in 12-team PPR leagues, but we'd draft him after the top seven receivers are off the board.
Goodness gracious does Eagles QB Sam Bradford look sharp. Any tentativeness we saw Saturday night at the Linc vs. the Ravens was gone. Any jitters that were apparent in his first appearance in a year were nowhere to be seen. He used all his receivers, was remarkably accurate, made quick and smart decisions in the pocket and even threw a touchdown pass to Trey Burton while under heavy pressure from Packers safety Micah Hyde. Bradford played three series in his final preseason appearance, threw three touchdown passes and then gave way to Mark Sanchez. Add in his own series against the Ravens, and Bradford played four series this preseason and put up four touchdowns. His final numbers Saturday: 10 for 10 for 121 yards with three TDs and no INTs. Things aren’t going to come this easily in the regular season — I don’t think — but it’s hard not to be incredibly excited about where Bradford is and how far he’s come.
Over the last two seasons, Philadelphia quarterbacks have averaged 16.7 passing game-only fantasy points. Bradford isn’t much of a runner, but he adds about 0.7 FP per game as a rusher. That adds up to 17.4 FP, or about what Eli Manning averaged as the #10 QB in 2014. The Eagles’ offense has lost their top receiver – DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin – in each of the last two seasons, but Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz are emerging and the team added Nelson Agholor in the draft. This is a definite system upgrade due to the overall effectiveness of Chip Kelly’s offense.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 8:42pm
Aaron Rodgers already made it clear how he feels about preseason games, so it surely wouldn't break his heart if he doesn't take another snap before the Green Bay Packers' regular-season opener on Sept. 13 at Chicago.
With three of his five starting offensive linemen likely out for Saturday's preseason home opener against the Eagles, that's probably not a bad idea.
In Wednesday's practice, Rodgers' reps were lighter than they've been all training camp -- he took only the first snap in most team drills and no more than three in the others. That could be a sign coach Mike McCarthy does not plan to play him at all the rest of the preseason, which finishes with a Sept. 3 game against the Saints.
McCarthy pulled Rodgers after the first quarter of Sunday's game at Pittsburgh after backup left tackle Don Barclay allowed Rodgers to get sacked for a safety. Rodgers took a hit on his right hand and was seen icing it on the sideline. After the game, the one in which receiver Jordy Nelson was lost for the season because of a knee injury, Rodgers referred to preseason games as "meaningless."
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 4:15pm
DeMarco Murray was asked how he expects the rotation to play out. Will the RBs alternate series? Will they spell one another during a drive?
"I don't think it will be alternating series," Murray said. "But [Mathews] is a quality back, great guy, works extremely hard. I'm sure he'll get his fair share of touches. But I don't know how the rotation will be yet, we haven't touched on it."
Murray is unsure of how many snaps he'll get in Green Bay this Saturday, but expect his workload to increase in the dress rehearsal. Starters typically play an entire half, if not more, in the penultimate preseason game.
The Eagles like to run a lot of plays so it's possible Murray still gets a solid workload with perhaps Mathews getting 8-10 touches. Sproles could mix in but is expected to get most of his work in the passing, even though he proved to be a nice weapon running the ball last year. As long as the Eagles offense is clicking, Murray owners shouldn't worry too much about the Birds crowded backfield.
Ertz underwent core muscle surgery on Aug. 14 and was expected to miss the entire preseason with an eye towards the season opener as a return date.
"No comment yet," Ertz told NJ Advance Media following Tuesday's practice at the NovaCare Complex when asked if he was still on target for playing Week 1. "I should know soon, though."
On Monday Ertz was seen catching balls from the JUGS machine and getting extra work in after practice for the first time since suffering the injury earlier this month. To make it worse for fantasy owners, the Eagles play Monday night of Week 1. Brent Celek is a possible late, emergency replacement at the position if you're really counting on Ertz.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 10:10am
DeMarco Murray’s biggest schematic adjustment in coming from Dallas to Philadelphia is running out of the shotgun formation instead of getting the ball from a quarterback is who under center. It’s similar to how he played at Oklahoma, though, when he last took handoffs from Sam Bradford.
“We didn’t do much of it in Dallas, but I’ve done it in past,” Murray said. “Hopefully we’ll get more downhill runs and get in the home position, but I think just the way we run and the plays, it’s hard for teams to set on one guy, set on one formation, we have a lot of things.”
There are advantages and disadvantages. LeSean McCoy preferred taking handoffs when the quarterback was under center because he was 7 ½ yards deep and he said it helped with his vision. He had the running start in that scenario as opposed to in the shotgun, when McCoy said he started running sideways.
Murray said he actually gets to “see more of the field” when it’s a shotgun formation.
Add the Ravens backfield to the positions hit by the injury bug.
“I don’t have the degree on it yet, but it’s going to be a few weeks for Lorenzo,” Harbaugh said.
Taliaferro was listed as the Ravens No. 2 running back behind Justin Forsett, but now rookie fourth-round pick Buck Allen will likely see an increased workload for the rest of the preseason and potentially early in the regular season. Behind Allen is second-year back Fitzgerald Toussaint and undrafted rookie Terrence Magee.
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