Baldwin was ridiculous after Seattle’s Week 9 bye, posting an average of 5.9 catches for 90.5 yards and 1.5 TD per game in the second half of the season. This represents a 147% increase from his production in the first half of the season. The outburst corresponded with the emergence of Russell Wilson as an elite fantasy quarterback, and Pete Carroll has indicated that the team’s offense will more closely resemble the one we saw down the stretch in 2015. We’re not expecting WR1 fantasy numbers from Baldwin, but he’s certainly in the WR2 conversation given Seattle’s newfound willingness to throw the ball.
"He’s a legit player for us, and he’s right in the middle of all our planning and all of our preparation," Carroll said. "You have to deal with him in our offense. He’s going to be moved around to a lot. He'll be in a lot of different spots. He can do everything. We’re really pumped about him coming back. He looks so confident, which he always has. We had to make him prove it a little bit. But once we got a hold of the kind of dynamic player that he is, we used the heck out of him, and he’s going to get a lot of play time, a lot of stuff happening his way. Really helps Doug [Baldwin], really helps [Jermaine] Kearse. Those guys are great complements."
One of the things Lockett has focused on this offseason is beating press coverage. Some pegged Lockett, at 5-foot-10 and 182 pounds, exclusively as a slot receiver coming out of college. But according to ESPN Stats & Information, he lined up outside on 65.6 percent of his routes last season. And 63 percent of Lockett's receiving yards came when he set up out wide.
"The biggest thing is I’ve been going against Richard about 95 percent of the camp, and he’s just made me a better player," Lockett said. "Going against Richard (Sherman), I’ve got to be able to move him and get him off at the line, and I can’t use the same stuff every time because he’s a smart defender, so I’ve got to switch some things up.
"And if things don’t work, at least it doesn’t work in practice against him. If it does work, he’ll let me know and be like, ‘Hey, that was a good release. That really does work.’ And it just makes it easier for me to go against anybody else, especially on other teams, after I go up against the best DB in the league."
As a rookie, Lockett owned the #5 fantasy points per target (FP/T) in standard formats (#3 in PPR), and he plays in a historically efficient passing offense. The only issue is volume. Lockett saw just 69 targets in 2015, but averaged 5.4 T/G (and 57.1 yards) over the final nine games of the season, including the playoffs. That’s an 86-target (and a 913-yard) pace, so if he’s able to maintain his 1.48 FP/T, it would yield 128 fantasy points, which is about what Rueben Randle scored as the #28 WR last year. If Lockett is going to crack the top 20, he’ll need to see 6.0+ T/G. The good news is that Russell Wilson has increased his pass attempts in each of the last three seasons, and with Marshawn Lynch retired, it sounds as if there will be more opportunity in the passing game for Lockett.
It was deserved. The second-year receiver was excellent in practices open to the press, working in precision with quarterback Derek Carr.
There’s clearly growth between passer and receiver, but Cooper himself has a spring in his step. He’s confident, comfortable with the Raiders and his place in the NFL.
Cooper suffered a foot injury in practice after Week 13. Prior to the injury, he was playing at an 83-1243-5.3 pace, and was the #18 receiver in standard and #17 in PPR. Over the final four games, he only managed 10 catches for 150 total yards and two touchdowns. Now that he’s back to full health, we’re expecting the early-season version of Cooper, and he may make further strides in his second season.
Via Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union, Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas and quarterback Blake Bortles looked “nearly unstoppable” during Organized Team Activities and minicamp. While shorts and T-shirts football remains a far cry from real football, it won’t be a surprise if Thomas and Bortles are indeed unstoppable this year.
Last season, Thomas broke his hand during the preseason. This season, assuming that he stays healthy, Thomas will have plenty of opportunities in a passing game fueled by receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns.
Thomas missed the first month of the season with a hand injury, but returned in Week 5 to post #11 TE numbers (PPR) the rest of the way. He has missed seven games over the past two seasons due to injury. He has reportedly had a great offseason and has spent extra time in the film room with QB Blake Bortles in the hopes of building better chemistry.
Bills WR Sammy Watkins told ESPN’s Vaughn McClure that though he “feels good,” he doesn’t know when he’ll be cleared and hopes to be able to participate in training camp.
“If not, then cool,” Watkins said. “Get ready for the first game.”
That takes his timetable for a projected return from early August to any time from August to early September. Watkins last week told TSN.ca that he’d “definitely be available” and might only miss two or three days of camp, which begins in late July.
The Bills won’t rush Watkins back from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot, and Watkins sounded like he’s fine waiting if that’s what it takes, too. He said he hasn’t run in the last three or four weeks.
Watkins had offseason foot surgery, which has put his preseason (and Week 1) availability into question. However, with the way he finished the season -- 5.4-100-0.78 over the final nine games -- he has WR1 potential in 2016 provided he can stay healthy.
Patriots WR Julian Edelman missed minicamp and every OTA open to the media. He was in a bulky walking boot for Tom Brady's annual Best Buddies flag football game on June 3. He did not play in the game.
According to one photo from Patriots.com, though, it appears Edelman did not wear the boot to the MGH event Wednesday.
This would be a sign of progress for Edelman, who, according to a May 12 report from ESPN's Mike Reiss and Adam Schefter, was "on track" to return for training camp.
The Jones fracture suffered by Edelman can be a tricky injury. Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, who also underwent a second surgery following his Jones fracture, needed five months to gain clearance for running and cutting. As CSNNE's Tom Curran pointed out, Edelman wouldn't be back until November if he followed the same timeline.
In 28 games over the past two seasons (including the playoffs), Edelman has averaged 7.0 catches for 75 yards and 0.43 TD on 10.3 targets per game. That works out to low-end WR1 numbers in PPR formats, so as long as he's healthy, he should provide good value in the 3rd round of fantasy drafts.
Abdullah went through his fair share of ups and downs as a rookie and finished with 597 rushing yards (4.2 average) and two touchdowns.
I thought he showed a high level of maturity and dedication in an interview with Sirius NFL Radio this offseason.
“I feel like I showed some flashes last year, but in this league you can’t show flashes,” he said. “You have to be consistent. That definitely had a lot to do with growing pains.
“It also had a lot to do with me being immature as a player coming straight from college and not understanding what kind of preparation and mental focus it took for such a long amount of time.
“I know I have a lot to give to this team and a lot to give to this league. I know I can be a good back, but it starts with those little things I mentioned earlier.”
I’d be pretty surprised if we don't see a much-improved Abdullah in year two.
After the team's Week 9 bye, and with new-OC Jim Bob Cooter calling the plays, Abdullah averaged 11.5 touches for 55.3 yards and 0.12 TD per game. He averaged 4.65 YPC in that span, and the running game as a whole improved considerably under Cooter (+6.75 carries, +27.5 yards and +0.37 TD per game). Joique Bell saw 9.4 touches per game during that stretch, and that work is up for grabs now that Bell is gone. If healthy, Abdullah will probably lead the Lions in carries and yards, and may be a post-hype sleeper if his touches increase significantly. But Theo Riddick will serve as the primary pass-catcher out of the backfield, and Stevan Ridley and Zach Zenner could eat into Abdullah's early-down and short-yardage touches, so Abdullah's upside is somewhat capped.
Bucs Beat: RB Charles Sims will get 'more carries,' but Doug Martin still the 'focal point' of the offenseThursday, June 23, 2016, 10:47am
Mark Cook of the Pewter Report was asked about the Buccaneers' running game.
Question 1. Chris will Doug Martin rush for over 1,400 yards again this season?
Answer: Well he certainly is capable, but so many factors play into it actually happening. First and foremost, does he stay healthy? Secondly, will head coach Dirk Koetter rely more on the arm of Winston now that he is in his second season of the offense? There is no question Koetter understands the importance of balance, but how much did Lovie Smith’s influence have an affect on the play calling in 2015? And then there is the Charles Sims effect. I really believe we will see Sims get more carries in 2016 and that could cut into Martin’s total yardage. Of course you don’t give Martin the contract you gave him to take too many touches away from him, if any at all. It will be interesting to see how things play out, but one thing is certain, and that is, if Martin is healthy, he will be a focal point of this offense, as he should be.
Last year, there were 479 touches split between Martin and Sims, with Martin seeing 67% of the work to Sims' 33%. We currently project a similar split, which makes Sims our #30 RB in PPR formats, three spots higher than his current ADP. He would have upside from there if the Bucs decide to give him some of Martin's carries.
Following a disappointing season with the Philadelphia Eagles in a system that didn’t seem to fit DeMarco Murray’s skills, the running back was asked on The Jim Rome Show if he believes Mike Mularkey’s offense in Tennessee is a better fit for him. He answered, “I do. It’s strictly downhill and that’s what I’ve been accustomed to my entire life. Nothing against last year or what happened, it just didn’t work out, but I’m very excited about this upcoming season and looking forward to it.”
Monday, June 20, 2016, 9:40pm
The biggest surprise of spring football was, by far, Victor Cruz getting some reps during team drills at minicamp. Leading up to the three-day camp it seemed the team wasn’t going to have him participate in team drills until training camp. Instead, he would continue to do individual work on the side, most notably conditioning drills with the training staff.
That plan changed as Cruz ran routes and caught passes against air as well as defenders during jog-through. This was yet another physical step in the right direction as he works his way back from knee and calf injuries but, most important, it was a positive from a mental standpoint in terms of building confidence in what he’ll be able to accomplish during training camp.
Owner Jim Irsay had been openly pining for an elusive Darren Sproles-style satellite back. That's the role offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski dangled in front of Ferguson in a post-draft recruiting pitch.
With the underwhelming quartet of Robert Turbin, Jordan Todman, Trey Williams and Tyler Varga behind 33-year-old starter Frank Gore, Ferguson used offseason practices to climb the depth chart and make a lasting impression on the coaching staff.
"It's just in shorts, but he looks really good," coach Chuck Pagano said last week as the Colts wrapped up minicamp. "He's smart. He picks things up in a hurry. He's very, very athletic. He's a great receiver out of the back field. We can split him wide, we can displace him formationally. He's a mismatch out in space. He's got juice. He can go. He's got great vision."
We like Frank Gore as a value pick this year, but Ferguson could surprise in PPR formats even if Gore stays healthy.
Carlos Hyde’s got the top spot in the 49ers backfield as long as he can stay healthy. Shaun Draughn’s ability to catch passes brings some versatility to the offense and should garner him plenty of playing time.
Chip Kelly discussed Hyde's ability to be an every-down back, so these third-down snaps are where he can gain a lot of value, especially in PPR formats. This is a situation to monitor this summer.
Ravens TE Dennis Pitta was one of the more active and productive offensive players for the past couple of weeks. Pitta is moving well and caught just about everything thrown in his direction. He’s always going to be at risk of reinjuring his hip, but for now, Pitta feels good and looks like he can be a significant contributor.
Watkins, who is recovering from surgery to repair stress fractures in his left foot, admits he will have to be cautious in his return to the field.
“For training camp, I think I’ll definitely be available,” Watkins told TSN.ca. “I might sit out two or three days. It’s all about how I feel within those days. The goal is to come back and be prepared for training camp.”
Watkins underwent surgery on his foot in April and graduated from crutches to a walking boot before arriving without any visible sign of an injury in Toronto late last week.
The assumption is that he'll be ready for Week 1, but time will tell if he's fully healthy by then. With the way he finished the season -- 5.4-100-0.78 over the final nine games -- he has WR1 potential in 2016 provided he can stay healthy.
Saturday, June 18, 2016, 2:57pm
Geramy Davis, last year’s sixth-round pick out of UConn, played in 10 games as a rookie but recorded just two receptions for 21 yards. So he entered spring as somewhat of a question mark, but he made the most of his reps during OTAs and minicamp. Davis saw a lot of time with Eli Manning and racked up the receptions with the first-team offense. That included a tough touchdown catch this week going against veteran cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
“Geremy is a bright guy,” Manning said. “He knows the offense very well. He studies hard. He’s really in tune with what his assignments are. He’s got great size. He’s one of our bigger receivers. You can move him around and put him in different spots. He’s going to be really keyed into what his assignment is, so that’s always helpful. Hopefully he can step up and get on a roll and make some plays for us come game time.”
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