Lynch has finished in the top 6 in four straight seasons in both standard and PPR formats. With 2,272 career touches and a punishing running style, injuries are a concern. But even with all the back issues he has had, he hasn't missed a game in the last three seasons. With a new deal in place, his ADP should climb into the back half of the 1st round.
In his final three seasons with the Vikings, Harvin averaged 16.3 fantasy points (PPR) and was dangerous in both the passing game (averaging 5.6-64-.35) and the running game (2.4 carries for 14 yards and 0.10 TD). In 14 regular season games with the Seahawks and the Jets, Harvin has averaged just 50 total yards and 0.14 TD per game, resulting in 9.6 PPR fantasy points. He turns 27 this summer and still has elite speed for his position, so he should be a hot commodity in free agency despite his poor production in recent years. There are character concerns, but if he lands in the right situation, he will be a fantasy factor in 2015.
Injuries made it a frustrating year for Marshall owners. His biggest game (5-48-3) came on Sunday night in Week 2 when it looked like he wasn't going to play against the 49ers. Then, when everyone had him back in the lineup for Week 3, he posted one catch for six yards against the Jets. He finished as the #34 PPR receiver, but had the #21 PPG. If fully healthy, he'll be a solid starter, though it's a quarterback downgrade from Jay Cutler to Geno Smith (or whomever ends up starting for the Jets). New OC Chan Gailey did throw the ball 56.6% of the time in his three seasons running the Bills, so the Jets figure to pass it much more than they have in the last few seasons. Marshall's arrival could have a negative impact on Eric Decker's targets, but given the team's relative lack of playmakers and Gailey's positive impact on the pass offense, Decker's value should hold steady.
Jordan Reed is signed through 2016, so Paul's upside is limited as long as Reed stays healthy. Since Reed hasn't played more than 11 games in either of his two NFL seasons, his owners should keep Paul on speed dial. In best ball formats, the Reed/Paul combo scored 159 points in PPR formats, which equates to #11 TE-type numbers.
Jones-Drew was a minor threat to Latavius Murray's upside in 2015, but now the path is clear. Murray rushed 82 times for 424 yards (a 5.2 YPC) and two touchdowns, including an incredible four-carry, 112-yard, two-TD performance against the Chiefs in Week 12. He still averaged a solid (if unspectacular) 4.0 YPC when that game is excluded. With good size (6'2", 223 lbs) and great speed (4.38 40-yard dash), Murray has all the physical tools to succeed at the position. He even showed solid hands with 17 receptions on 23 targets. Per beat writer Jerry McDonald, Murray will be “given every chance” to win the starting job, though the glut of running backs on the free agent market may lead to a veteran or two being brought in to shore up the Oakland RB corps.
Manning first popped up on the injury report with a thigh injury after Week 15 (vs. San Diego). When looking only at his first 13 games, Manning averaged 301 yards, 2.8 TD and 0.8 INT, or 21.4 fantasy points per game. That would have been good enough for the third-highest average if he were able to keep that pace. In the final three weeks, including the game in which he injured the thigh, Manning averaged 272 yards and just 1.0 TD versus 1.3 INT. Even with the reduced production, Manning finished as the #4 quarterback in 2014. If he's fully healthy and ready to go, we'd expect him to be selected in the top 5 in 2015 fantasy drafts, though the Broncos' activity in free agency (namely re-signing Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas) will impact his value.
"The injury's going well, the rehab's going very, very well," Giants WR Victor Cruz said. "I'm a little more than halfway there, we're building the strength back in my leg. The rehab's been hard, it's been difficult, it's been long, it's been grueling, but I've been going through it, man, and it's definitely paying off now. The strength is coming back slowly but surely.
"I started running on this cool machine called the Alter-G, where it lets you run with a certain percentage of your body weight. And I just started doing that yesterday so it's only a matter of time before I get out there on that field, so I'm excited about that."
As for when he'll be back running and cutting in pads, Cruz has the start of training camp in his crosshairs, but said that he should be feeling close to 100 percent well before the start date. His goal is to be ready to shake off the rust in the months leading up to training camp and be ready to go full throttle when practices start.
Cruz will re-join a receiving corps that has a new alpha dog -- Odell Beckham. If healthy, Cruz should see WR2-type targets out of the slot, but he's unlikely to see the 8.8 T/G that he received from 2012-2013.
The loss of Thomas will open the door for Travaris Cadet to step into the pass-catching role, though he only averaged 3.2 catches for 25 yards in the five games that Thomas missed last season.
Nothing can be finalized until next week, but if the trade does indeed go through, it's a blockbuster. This looks like a system downgrade for McCoy, who ran much better later in the season once his offensive line started to get healthy. In Buffalo, new HC Rex Ryan and new OC Greg Roman (formerly of San Francisco) both have a history of running ball control, run-first teams, but the Bills have serious quarterback issues. Free agent C.J. Spiller isn't likely to re-sign and the acquisition of McCoy has to be a downgrade for Fred Jackson. As for McCoy, he's still a fantasy RB1, though he carries more risk since the Buffalo offense could struggle to score points. Given the way the Eagles like to run the ball, whoever emerges as the starter in Philadelphia will carry early round value.
Beasley averaged 3.5 catches for 47 yards and 0.5 touchdowns (on 4.9 T/G) in his final eight games, including two postseason games. That extrapolates to fringe WR3 numbers in PPR formats over a full 16-game season. He's on the radar as a WR5/WR6 stopgap-type option in PPR leagues.
Johnson finished #28 in PPR formats in 2014 after finishing in the top 10 in five of the previous six seasons. His departure would be a downgrade for the entire offense, though DeAndre Hopkins would likely see an increase from the 127 targets that came his way last season.
Here are the five players who got the non-exclusive franchise tag, and the amount of the tender offer for each:
This may not make either Bryant or Thomas happy, but it ensures that they aren't going anywhere for at least one more season. Both players figure to be ranked in the top 5 at their position in 2015 fantasy drafts.
The new substance-abuse policy imposes a two-game suspension for a first-offense DUI. By landing on probation for a July 2014 DUI arrest arising from marijuana use, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is expected to be suspended for two games.
But there’s a catch that could result in a doubling of Bell’s expected punishment. The new substance-abuse policy makes a two-game suspension the standard penalty for a DUI arising from alcohol use. For violations of the law involving other substances of abuse, a first offense exposes the player to a suspension of “up to four” games.
It’s unclear whether the NFL will give Bell, who becomes the test case for the new substance-abuse policy, four games, three, two, or fewer.
Bell was fantastic last year, finishing #2 in standard formats and #1 in PPR. But his looming suspension is certainly a concern. Running backs typically miss at least 1-2 games due to injury, so a two-game suspension isn't a deal-breaker, but it doesn't make him an attractive #1 overall pick. If he's suspended for four games, his ADP will likely slip into the late 1st/early 2nd. It's tough to overcome the loss of one's 1st round pick for the first quarter of the season.