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.
“(Green) still has huge upside and possibilities,” said Chargers TE coach Pete Metzelaars. “Last year he had to fight through a number of different injuries at different times, so I am excited for him this year. He is an asset in the passing game, and has deceptive speed. So I’m looking forward to putting him into situations to take advantage of that, but also challenge him to put more tools into his toolbox.”
“He seems faster than he’s ever been,” quarterback Philip Rivers acknowledged. “He certainly seems that way with the way he’s moving. Some of that comes with (having) more and more confidence. You just naturally gain that the more you play and the more comfortable you are in an offense. When you don’t have to think or do as much, you do play a little bit faster.”
“He’s looked really good and he needs to be a bigger part…” Rivers said. “We need to have him be a weapon for us because he could be a heck of a matchup for us against some defenses.”
Gates will miss the first four games due to a suspension for PED use. Green figures to see starter's snaps with Gates sidelined. In the five career games in which Green has seen more than three targets, he has averaged 3.4 catches for 66 yards and 0.40 TD. Thats 12.4 FP in PPR formats, or about what Julius Thomas averaged last season. Keep in mind that Green only averaged 5.4 T/G in those games, while Gates averaged 6.1 T/G last season, so Green has the potential to post top 5 numbers for the first month of the season.
Even before the suspension, Green was due a bigger role in the offense. If the Chargers utilize his natural abilities and he shows he’s ready for primetime, Gates will have to settle for a reduced role when he returns.
Given how effective Gates was last year, it's hard to see the team benching him for Green even if Green lights it up in the first month of the season. One thing's for sure -- Gates's suspension has thrown a pretty settled situation up in the air. In the five career games in which Green has seen more than three targets, he has averaged 3.4 catches for 66 yards and 0.40 TD. Thats 12.4 FP in PPR formats, or about what Julius Thomas averaged last season. Keep in mind that Green only averaged 5.4 T/G in those games, while Gates averaged 6.1 T/G last season, so Green has the potential to post top 5 numbers for the first month of the season.
Chargers tight end Antonio Gates will be suspended for the first four games of the 2015 regular season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances, the league informed the Chargers on Thursday.
Gates's statement included the following:
“In an effort to recover from a long season and although I was unaware at the time, I regret to confirm that I tested positive for a substance that is currently on the NFL banned substance list. As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues, and I take full responsibility for my actions."
Gates will be eligible to return in Week 5. Ladarius Green figures to see starter's snaps with Gates sidelined. In the five games in which Green has seen more than three targets, he has averaged 3.4 catches for 66 yards and 0.40 TD. Thats 12.4 FP in PPR formats, or about what Julius Thomas averaged last season. Keep in mind that Green only averaged 5.4 T/G in those games, while Gates averaged 6.1 T/G last season, so Green has the potential to post top 5 numbers for the first month of the season.
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.
“He studies and he’s smart,” Wilson said, via ESPN. “When you give him something, you know that you’re on to the next thing. Usually with rookies it takes a little while to get it done. Now, he’s still working through some of the protection stuff. But for the most part, when we give him something, he’s pretty much got it. So that’s going to help him stay on the field.”
The Chargers traded up to get Gordon, so we’d expect they’ll use him early and often in 2015. In fact, GM Tom Telesco used the phrase "impact player" 11 times in Gordon's introductory press conference. He doesn’t have a lot of experience as a receiver, so we'd expect that Danny Woodhead still gets a lot of work on third down while Gordon establishes himself as a good weapon out of the backfield.
Melvin Gordon gives the Chargers a home-run threat at running back. Gordon exceeded expectations during offseason work, which is impressive, considering goals were high for the Wisconsin product after he was selected in the first round of the draft as the replacement for the departed Ryan Mathews. However, Gordon has to take the next step in training camp, which means playing fast and physical, as well as keeping up with a fast-paced San Diego offense led by Philip Rivers.
The Chargers traded up to get Gordon, so we’d expect they’ll use him early and often in 2015. In fact, GM Tom Telesco used the phrase "impact player" 11 times in Gordon's introductory press conference. Ryan Mathews is gone, so it’s Gordon’s job to lose. He doesn’t have a lot of experience as a receiver, so we'd expect that Danny Woodhead still gets a lot of work on third down while Gordon establishes himself as a good weapon out of the backfield. This somewhat limits Gordon's upside since he doesn't project to be an every-down back as a rookie.
Greg Cosell of NFL Films discussed the 49ers' offseason:
People tend to forget with Colin Kaepernick, because he had such great success early, that he's only been a full-time starter for two years. He's still a young quarterback, he's still learning the craftsmanship of the position and the subtleties of the position. With a new coordinator, I think Geep Chryst, my sense is, I think he'll try and be a little more expansive and explosive with the pass game. So I'm anxious to see that. I think they'll try very hard to get Vernon Davis back into it. So I think it's important for people to remember that Colin Kaepernick is still a young quarterback learning.
He was the #14 QB in 2014 after finishing #9 the season before, though his overall production only dipped by 11 fantasy points. He's a bounce-back candidate provided new OC Geep Chryst can design an offense that can move the ball. Chryst previously served as the OC for the Chargers in 1999 and 2000, but his offenses ranked 26th and 28th overall in that span. Any gains that Kaepernick can make as a thrower (due to his offseason work with QB coach Dennis Gile and former Rams/Cardinals QB Kurt Warner) will only help his overall value.
As for Davis, he's quite a bit better than the numbers he posted last year. His 50 targets were his fewest since 2008, and his usage was way too low considering he has finished in the top 8 at his position in four of the last six seasons. He was targeted just once in the red zone after seeing 20 red zone targets in 2013.
The Chargers said it last year. They're saying it again now. Ladarius Green is expected to have a larger role in their offense, the team working to take advantage of his size-speed combo to present a mismatch for defenses. He seems to be playing at a faster speed in his fourth NFL offseason.
"I'd be shocked if he didn't have his most productive year," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said.
"He's looked really good," Rivers said. "I hope — we intended to and tried to some last year — I hope and I think we all agree that he needs to be a bigger part of it as we move forward this year. We need to have him be a weapon for us because he'll be a heck of a matchup for us on some defenses."
Green was actually drafted ahead of Antonio Gates in 2014 which turned out to be a gross miscalculation by the fantasy community, which tends to put aging vets out to pasture prematurely. A Gates/Green combo isn't a bad idea given Gates's age and Green's much lower price in 2015. He'll explode if Gates misses any time with injury.
We've updated our projections for Johnson since he's generating so much buzz in the passing game. We now have him for 45 catches for 294 yards, which makes him a low-end RB3 in PPR formats. He has upside from there if he turns into a Darren Sproles/Danny Woodhead type. The Browns didn't throw the ball much to their running backs last season, but there's a new offensive coordinator in town, so anything could happen. His ADP is currently in the 8th round.
49ers QB Colin Kaepernick was mostly on point throughout the minicamp. Sure, at times there were a few passes he'd like to have back. Kaepernick was intercepted twice in three days: Michael Wilhoite caught a deflected slant pattern; Jaquiski Tartt victimized Kaepernick on an end-zone pass to close out a situational two-minute drill. Other than those two passes, Kaepernick was decisively accurate with the football. Perhaps the most striking observation of the 49ers signal-caller was his accuracy on the move. One of the hardest throws to make is a rollout throw to the left for a right-handed quarterback. But not for Kaepernick. San Francisco's fifth-year quarterback is able to complete nearly every one of his rollout throws. Kaepernick used the three-day period to continue his chemistry with Smith as well as other prime targets like Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin.
It was reported earlier in the offseason that the team planned to utilize Kaepernick’s running ability to a greater degree. Kaepernick ran the ball 12 more times in 2014 than he did in 2013 for an additional 115 yards, so it's not like he abandoned the scramble. It sounds like it's more about utilizing the read-option as a larger part of the offense. If that's the case, it could be a boon to Kaepernick's fantasy value. He was the #14 QB in 2014 after finishing #9 the season before, though his overall production only dipped by 11 fantasy points. He's a bounce-back candidate provided new OC Geep Chryst can design an offense that can move the ball. Chryst previously served as the OC for the Chargers in 1999 and 2000, but his offenses ranked 26th and 28th overall in that span. Any gains that Kaepernick can make as a thrower (due to his offseason work with QB coach Dennis Gile and former Rams/Cardinals QB Kurt Warner) will only help his overall value.
RB Danny Woodhead has been one of the pleasant surprises for the Chargers so far during offseason work. He has flashed the quickness and elusiveness that makes him one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league in his return from a serious ankle injury.
Woodhead should resume his role as the Chargers' passing down specialist. In 21 games with the Chargers (including the playoffs), Woodhead has averaged 11.0 touches (4.1 catches) for 58 yards and 0.43 touchdowns, which equate to #13 RB numbers in PPR formats (#21 in standard). He’s not likely to post those numbers with Melvin Gordon coming aboard, but he should continue to see a significant amount of touches as the team’s primary third-down and no-huddle back, making him an excellent value late in drafts.
Johnson's isn't the thumper complement that some were expecting that the Cardinals would acquire to join Andre Ellington in the backfield. Instead, they elected to draft a running back with a similar skillset to Ellington so that the offense doesn't miss a beat if something happens to their starter. We view Johnson as a backup and the proper handcuff for Ellington owners.
Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official website:
Andre Ellington is still the man. Rookie David Johnson, I’m guessing, will eventually have a role and there are other running backs who can help. But make no mistake, Ellington remains the linchpin at the position. He’s healthy and feeling good. He has to stay that way.
The Cardinals drafted David Johnson to lighten Ellington’s workload, and a reduction in touches may actually help his effectiveness, though it's unlikely to help his per game fantasy production. Ellington averaged 22.0 touches per game, but only managed 3.3 YPC after averaging 5.5 YPC in his rookie season. He owned the #10 PPG in PPR formats last year, so he can give up some touches and still provide solid RB2 numbers, especially if his per touch production bounces back.
A proper farewell tour for Malcom Floyd can now begin.
The Chargers wide receiver reaffirmed Tuesday he will retire after the 2015 season. This long has been the plan for Floyd, who will turn 34 in September and is entering the final year of his contract.
Stevie Johnson’s arrival may put a dent in Floyd’s targets (92 in 2014), but Johnson was brought in mainly to replace the departed Eddie Royal (91 targets), so Floyd should continue to post solid numbers. He was the 72nd receiver drafted last season and finished the season in the #40 spot. Don’t be surprised if he repeats those numbers, though due to his somewhat spotty big play tendencies, he’s better suited for best ball formats than standard leagues.