Monday, June 29, 2015, 8:58pm
The Eagles signed guard John Moffitt on Monday, adding a former third-round pick with starting experience who abruptly retired in 2013 and faced legal problems while out of the league. Moffitt, 28, agreed to a one-year deal. The Eagles released undrafted rookie Cole Manhart to make room for Moffitt.
Moffitt was a third-round pick by the Seattle Seahawks in 2011. He started 15 games during his first two years in the league before a trade to the Broncos. Moffitt played two games for Denver in 2013, then retired in midseason after losing interest in the game and worrying about his health.
Moffitt was arrested in March 2014 for allegedly punching a man and was charged with assault, public urination and possession of marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy. The drug charges were later dismissed and he pleaded guilty to the other charge after enrolling in a rehabilitation clinic in Malibu, according to a November 2014 Now York Times article.
The 6-foot-4, 319-pound Wisconsin product presents the Eagles with a potential starting option at guard, a position that lacks depth after the team released long-time starters Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis this offseason. Allen Barbre is expected to start at left guard. Moffitt could compete with Matthew Tobin, Andrew Gardner, Dennis Kelly, and Kevin Graf for the starting job at right guard.
To help RG3 improve as a more conventional pocket passer, consider new general manager Scot McCloughan's first draft a throwback nod to the Redskins' championship past. McCloughan focused on making the team bigger, tougher and stronger in the trenches, beginning with the fifth overall pick, Iowa's Brandon Scherff, who will start at right tackle. Then McCloughan, who places a premium on building through the draft, added fourth-round guard Arie Kouandjio and seventh-round center Austin Reiter.
In a need-based draft, McCloughan gave RG3 everything he needed to improve.
Think of the 2015 Redskins as The Hogs 2.0 (they can only hope) after McCloughan infused the offensive line with the same smash-mouth mentality that helped the Joe Gibbs-coached Redskins win three Super Bowls behind blockers like Joe Jacoby, Jeff Bostic and Russ Grimm.
"Just get back to the old days — the ground-and-pound football, which will open up the passing lanes," 6-5, 319-pound Scherff said. "I think that's what they want to start doing, and that's what we will start doing from Day 1."
"We want to be able to run the football. It sets up everything else for us," said McCloughan, who seemed to have a solid, meat-and-potatoes first draft. Scherff and second-round pass rusher Preston Smith project as immediate starters."
McCloughan's picks gave new offensive line coach Bill Callahan the resources to revamp a leaky group that also allowed 58 sacks last season. Couple that with a successful running game, and it should take pressure off RGIII. Unfortunately, that game plan won't necessarily make for great fantasy QB production, and Griffin comes in 20th in our rankings. But it could be good news for RB Alfred Morris, who once again shapes up to be a safe RB2 option in the third or fourth rounds of fantasy drafts.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 8:42pm
Darren McFadden's career with the Dallas Cowboys didn't get off to a great start. The running back was sidelined for most of the team's OTA and mini-camp practices with a strained hamstring. After taking off several weeks, McFadden is feeling healthy again and ready to go when the Cowboys open up training camp in a little over a month from now.
"It's doing great," McFadden told Steve Rogers of his hamstring, per the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette. "I feel like I had a decent mini-camp, so I'm just looking forward to putting in my work and getting ready for training camp."
McFadden will enter training camp behind Joseph Randle on the depth chart at running back, and he could also be behind Lance Dunbar. Since his breakout 2011 season, McFadden has struggled to remain productive on a per touch basis. Many believe that the Cowboys' offensive line can be a great catalyst for a runner like McFadden, because although he struggles to make defenders miss, he is lightning fast when running downhill.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 5:10pm
The Carolina Panthers' revamped receiving corps has been one of the most-discussed units in the NFL this offseason, with praise emanating from nearly every corner of the franchise.
"We're going to be a dynamic duo, two 6-5 guys out there on the outside just making damage and causing havoc on the field," Funchess told the Detroit News last week. "You never see that type of duo in the league, two 6-5 guys on the outside that are athletic and that can run and go up and get the ball. Nobody has that wingspan in the league like us, so it's going to be fun during the season."
The story went on to stay the duo doesn't possess much speed, but the Benjamin-Funchess combo should aid quarterback Cam Newton, who has a tendency to spray high on passes. We have Benjamin ranked 17th among our WRs with an ADP of the fourth round. Funchess isn't getting a lot of draft love so far and we have him ranked 61st. However both should make Newton a more desirable fantasy QB. We list Newon eighth among our QBs so far this season.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 2:33pm
Walker: James is an interesting project for Miami. He was a hot name coming out of Oregon in 2012 and the 49ers took him with the No. 61 overall pick. But the smaller James never fit San Francisco's power running game and he was released in his third season. The Dolphins picked him up, but James played in only two games last season and rushed for 9 yards on three carries. This is a huge year for James to prove himself. He's had a full offseason with the Dolphins to learn the offense, and the backup tailback position is wide open behind starter and 1,000-yard rusher Lamar Miller.
Walker went on to say that James is a better fit for Miami’s spread scheme under offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, and the running back has made some nice plays this spring. But James will compete for reps with a crowded group of running backs that includes Miller, rookie Jay Ajayi, Damien Williams and Mike Gillislee. Miami may keep only three tailbacks on its active roster and it could come down to Williams or James for the final spot.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 1:41pm
Browns beat writer Mary Kay Cabot answered a question about the team using Terrelle Pryor as a TE and/or a WR.
Cabot: The Browns will work Pryor primarily at wide receiver, but if he demonstrates he can play tight end, I can see them giving him a shot there too based on his size (6-4, 233) and athleticism. Most of the skill players line up at various spots anyway, so the lines are definitely blurred. I'm guessing that [offensive coordinator John DeFilippo] was willing to give Pryor a chance because he worked with him in Oakland and got the most of him that anyone in the NFL has as a dual-threat quarterback.
As Cabot says, it's worth a shot. But it could be a difficult transition to receiver, or TE, for Pryor, especially in such a compressed time frame.
Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson was a week from returning to the Vikings' roster after a three-game suspension for drunken driving, when ESPN reported on Sept. 18 that Simpson had been cited in July for misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving with an open bottle. The Vikings released Simpson later that day, and signed Charles Johnson off the Cleveland Browns' practice squad the next day.
It seemed at the time like a move to replenish the Vikings' wide receiver depth with a known commodity -- quarterbacks coach Scott Turner had been Johnson's position coach the previous year in Cleveland -- but Johnson was less than a year removed from knee surgery, and didn't play more than 20 snaps in a game until Nov. 16. From that point on, though, he caught 25 passes for 415 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and supplanted Cordarrelle Patterson as the team's "X" receiver.
"He was recovering from that knee surgery a year ago and I don't know that he was ever 100 percent," offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. "I think he's 100 percent. He's got great work ethic, and he's a big, strong guy. He's a 218-pound receiver that can run. He's got everything you need to be a productive player in this league."
In organized team activities and minicamp, there was no mystery about where Johnson figured in the Vikings' plans, the story went on to say. He was lined up at split end all spring, and teamed with Mike Wallace and Jarius Wright in the team's three receiver sets. According to ESPN, 33 of Johnson's 58 targets were at least 10 yards downfield, and 13 of those 58 were 20 or more yards downfield. Johnson worked out in Southern California with Bridgewater and a number of the Vikings' receivers this offseason, and also spent time in Houston with Rischad Whitfield, the "Footwork King" who has counted Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins among his clients. Johnson is one of 4for4.com Senior Editor John Paulsen's potential sleepers this year. We rank him 37th on our WR list and he looks to be in a good situation with the offense under OC Norv Turner and a developing QB in Bridgewater.
He’s not the new wide receiver who many call the best player in Houston Texans franchise history. He’s not the dynamic weapon fresh off his first Pro Bowl appearance. He’s not the first-round draft pick with speed that rivals some of the NFL’s fastest players.
As a 21-year old rookie last season, Moncrief forced his way into the lineup and gave Colts coaches enough of a look to feel just fine in increasing expectations for No. 10.
“Moncrief has big play ability and we saw him do that,” Chuck Pagano said back at the League Meetings in March. “He’s going to have more opportunities going forward.
“He’s got such a high ceiling and room for improvement. The sky’s the limit for him.”
There's no question Moncrief has talent, but rookie Phillip Dorsett is getting a lot of press so far this offseason and he could battle Moncrief for the WR3 spot - assuming T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson are the top two. In a news article from earlier this month, we thought it was possible Johnson, Moncrief, Dorsett and TEs Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener rotate through the other three positions in one running back sets.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 9:52am
Bucs WR Mike Evans helped make the 2014 rookie receiver class one of the best in NFL history.
When asked by USA Today's Tom Pelissero recently if there is a competition within the group to be the best, Evans wouldn't constrain it to merely his own draft class.
"I'm just trying to be the best, period," he said.
While Beckham bathed in the spotlight in 2014, especially after his ridiculous one-handed catch on Sunday Night Football, Evans put up his 12-touchdown, 1,051-yard season relatively quietly on a two-win Buccaneers team. You can argue Evans' QB situation was among the worst of that group. But with Jameis Winston under the helm and Evans taking over the "X" receiver role in the Bucs' new offense under coordinator Dirk Koetter, the second-year pass catcher is confident he can push his name further into the national consciousness. We think so too as Evans is ranked eighth among our WRs this season heading into camps. He has an ADP of the third round and we project him for over 10 TDs and 1,200 yards.
Cowboys beat writer Brandon George thinks Dallas will run the same kind of offense even with the loss of RB DeMarco Murray to free agency.
George: The Cowboys, I believe, will go about their offense the same way as last year with emphasizing the run game behind a dominant offensive line. At least early in the season. If the run game starts to struggle, you could see them start to shy away from it and put the ball int he hands of QB Tony Romo more again. And that hasn't always been positive. They need a strong rushing game again to make this offense click.
In another question, George went on to say he believes Joseph Randle is the team's RB1, but Lance Dunbar and Darren McFadden will also have roles in the running game.
George added that things could change but he'd "put [his] money on Randle at this point." We agree with George and have Randle ranked the highest among the Dallas backs - coming in 24th with an ADP of the sixth round in 10 team leagues. If he can manage to keep the RB1 role, he could provide owners with some nice value from that draft slot.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 8:25am
While league rules have carved into the amount of offseason practice time — which some have called unnecessary — others are looking for more.
According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford wants to bring receiver Calvin Johnson and the rest of his targets together for some pre-camp work of their own.
Such camps aren’t new, as Peyton Manning has been taking his receivers to Duke every spring, and others do the same. But Stafford said he thought it would help.
“I think it’s big,” Stafford said. “I’m obviously in Atlanta quite a bit, so Calvin’s right there, throw with him some. But try to find a way to get together with some of the other guys as well. . . ."
Stafford went on to say there's no substitute for running routes for a receiver and catching the ball from the guy you’re going to be catching the ball from during the season. The Lions got good numbers out of Johnson and Golden Tate last year, but the rest of the offense struggled at times. They were 22nd in the league in scoring offense, and no other non-Johnson or Tate receiver had more than 322 receiving yards, the story said.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 8:22am
Pittsburgh TE Heath Miller is a No. 3 or 4 option for the offense but nothing more.
He might’ve been a 1,000-yard receiver as a 25-year-old in Haley’s offense. Miller’s scoring rate is concerning. After 27 touchdowns in his first five years, Miller has 16 in his last five, for an average of 3.2 per year. He surpassed three scores in one of those five seasons.
The Steelers placed a waiver claim for tight end Tim Wright, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. When coupled with reported interest in second-round tight end Maxx Williams during the draft, the Wright claim indicates the franchise is at least exploring tight end alternatives.
The story went on to say Miller isn’t an elite tight end but he’s still very solid. He can put up 600 yards in this offense at age 32. And the truth is the Steelers still need him. He’s a safety valve for QB Ben Roethlisberger. In fact, we predict Miller for 588 yards and just under 3 TDs for 2015. However he's ranked 20th on our list and likely won't get a lot of draft attention in typical leagues. With Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell and Martavis Bryant, that's a strong core of talent to monopolize the red zone touches.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 8:14am
Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin had some familiarity with the Chiefs’ offensive scheme when he arrived in Kansas City this offseason because of his past working relationship with coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Doug Pederson, but he’d never played with quarterback Alex Smith.
Maclin says that the two men clicked during the spring and that he’s never “been off to a better start” with a quarterback during his career. It’s probably fair to assume that a big part of the reason for that may be Maclin’s ability to make Smith’s life easier than some Chiefs receivers have made it in recent years.
“He has a guy he can trust,” Maclin said, via the team’s uniform. “He can put the ball in different spots and I’ll go out there and make plays. I’m looking forward to doing some special things with him.”
Maclin comes in ranked 27th on our WR list heading into fantasy drafts. With the Eagles, Maclin spent some weeks last year ranked as a WR1. While that remains to be seen with the Chiefs, Maclin is shaping up to be a solid WR3, even with the concerns of Smith not always throwing down field. The addition of Maclin should help open up the Chiefs offense, though, and the two seem to be clicking early on.
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 stayed on the field on third downs as a pass protector and receiving outlet for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He was solid in blitz pickup, and he boosted his pass-catching numbers considerably, from 257 yards and no touchdowns in 2013 to 427 yards and four scores last year.
All the while, he improved his per-carry rushing average a full half yard, from 4.1 to 4.6, without missing a single game and never touching the ball fewer than a dozen times per contest.
It’s a heavy workload that isn’t likely to diminish in the upcoming season, but the third-year running back is fine with his extensive every-down responsibilities.
“I don’t feel I have too much on my plate,” Lacy said last week as the offseason program wrapped up. “I really think it’s the perfect amount. You can see the chemistry between me and the offensive line, and me and the quarterback. We’re just all on the same page and we’re rolling.”
Lacy will certainly be a major factor again this season, and the coaching staff has emphasized it wants to get clicking from the get-go this year, the story said. That's something Lacy didn't do last season, thanks in part to a tough, early schedule. But we preached to stay patient with Lacy as his schedule eased. It paid off as he finished in the top-eight in both PPR and standard formats. This year Lacy is ranked third among our running backs heading into drafts, but with an ADP of 1.3, he's actually going before Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch, who we have ahead of him here in late June.
- Page 1