With the Jimmy Graham trade, the door was open for Hill to emerge for the Saints, but it appears that Watson will be the guy to start the season. Hill only played 288 snaps in 2014, but still managed to catch 14 passes for 176 yards and five touchdowns on just 20 targets. That was the 5th-highest fantasy points per snap at his position. HC Sean Payton has spoke highly of Hill, but referred to “two-TE sets” when discussing Hill’s potential playing time. This indicates that he may not be on the field in one-TE sets. Hill is still an interesting prospect in case the 34-year-old Watson goes down with an injury. His value would explode in starter's snaps.
Jones was one of our favorite sleepers last summer, but his season was derailed by an ankle injury. His 51 catches for 712 yards and 10 touchdowns resulted in the 3rd-highest FP/T in 2013. He’s poised to surprise if he can prove he’s fully healthy and win the starting job opposite A.J. Green. Mohamed Sanu played pretty well last season but he struggled with drops, and Jones was ahead of Sanu when disaster struck. Both players are free agents after the season, so this is one of the more interesting camp battles to monitor this summer. One thing to note -- Sanu only saw 5.2 targets in the 12 games in which Green played, so Cincinnati’s WR2 it wasn’t a high-volume role in OC Hue Jackson’s run-oriented offense, but Jackson said that he is planning to open things up a bit in 2015.
The Ravens didn’t seem to have any answer for Eagles WR Jordan Matthews over the middle, be it shallow crosses or intermediate seam passes, and his touchdown grab was a thing of beauty, beating his man clean to the outside and extending to make the catch. Of course, this is nothing altogether new—Matthews has been tearing it up all camp. Regardless, it was nice to see him as a focal point of the Eagles offense while going up against another team. Big things appear to be in store for Matthews this season.
With Jeremy Maclin gone, Matthews will have to play more than the 65% of the snaps that he played as a rookie. He was the #24 WR in standard formats, so increased playing time should lead to a better finish. He won't be limited to the slot in 2015. He's primed to build on a strong rookie season.
"Richard Rodgers has definitely taken a step from last year," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said earlier in training camp. "He's taken a step offensively in the passing game and completely understands it. You think about where he was this time last year. He's comfortable and he's catching the ball very well."
Rodgers has some of the best hands on the team, which has earned him points from his quarterback. He's also a dependable short-to-intermediate receiver, even though his yards after the catch (1.9 in 2014) must improve.
Rodgers caught 20 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie. We shouldn’t be too quick to write him off as a budding fantasy asset since rookie tight ends rarely make much of a fantasy impact. Andrew Quarless is dealing with a legal issue and may be suspended to start the season, which opens the door for Rodgers to play big snaps. He is reportedly a ‘frequent target’ in the red zone in practice, so it’s possible that he works his way into TE2 numbers in his second season.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera told reporters earlier in the day Benjamin had a sprained knee and remained hopeful everything would be fine. However, Benjamin was taken back to Charlotte, North Carolina where an MRI revealed the tear.
Rookie Devin Funchess has had a good offseason and seems like the likeliest candidate to replace (some) of Benjamin's production. He tweaked his hamstring today, so hopefully he's not out too long. Second year speedster Philly Brown flashed last season and could be headed for a starter's role, though Ted Ginn, Jerricho Cotchery, Brenton Bersin and Jarrett Boykin are in the mix as well. Funchess' ADP is probably headed for the 8th/9th round; Benjamin went in the 7th/8th last year, but had an outstanding camp. Consider Brown a late-round flier. This is obviously bad news for Cam Newton, who loses his best weapon in the passing game. Greg Olsen looks like an even better value as a mid-round tight end.
Murray suiting up in Week 1 is clearly the goal for the Eagles as well, as head coach Chip Kelly has admitted he is the reason the running back hasn't been taking part in many team drills.
"The only thing holding back DeMarco is me," Kelly said last week.
Murray increased his workload on Wednesday, taking first-team reps throughout the day against the Ravens. He looked sharp doing so, running hard and not having to spend anytime with trainers.
Murray had a career year in his fourth season, racking up 2,261 total yards and 13 touchdowns on 449 touches. He should get plenty of work in Philadelphia, though the signing of Ryan Mathews and the presence of Darren Sproles make it very unlikely that he’ll approach 450 touches in 2015. LeSean McCoy averaged 353 touches over the past two seasons, so that’s probably Murray’s ceiling if everyone stays healthy. He’ll hold low-end RB1 value, though the presence of Mathews and Sproles may make even that a stretch. The local beat writers are predicting a 50-30-15 split in carries among Murray, Mathews and Sproles. The history of 380-carry running backs isn't pretty when we look at the next season, but those players didn't have Chip Kelly's sports science program to lean on.
Head Coach Gus Bradley on Wednesday said while Marqise Lee likely will miss at least two more weeks, there initially was concern he could miss six-to-eight weeks with a four-week absence the best-case scenario. Bradley said it now appears likely Lee’s return will come close to four weeks from the time of his injury. “Everything I hear, he’s making really good progress,” Bradley said. If Lee returns four weeks after the injury, that would be the week of the final preseason game.
Bills RB Fred Jackson has been on the shelf for almost two weeks with a hamstring injury, but he was moving well in work on the side with the strength and conditioning staff Tuesday night. At this point however, he’s got to follow doctor’s orders.
“We’ve got to follow the protocol, but we want to get back out there,” said Jackson in reference to himself and Anthony Dixon. “Obviously we’re hurting, but the more numbers that we have that’s going to take a lot (of reps) off everybody’s plate. So we’ll try to get back out there as soon as we can.”
Jackson figures to back up LeSean McCoy, who is dealing with a hamstring injury of his own. Running backs coach Anthony Lynn said he’d like to cut Jackson’s snaps/workload in half, so barring a long-term injury to McCoy, don’t expect F-Jax to rack up 14-plus touches per game like he did in 2014. However, even if we slice his PPG in half (to 6.7 per game in PPR formats) and extrapolate over a full, 16-game season, we end up with RB4-type numbers. He has upside from there if anything happens to McCoy.
A calf injury kept Alshon Jeffery from playing in Chicago’s preseason opener and Bears General Manager Ryan Pace said that the wideout will be on the sideline again this week, although he added that the team isn’t worried about a long absence.
“He has a mild calf strain,” Pace said, via ESPNChicago.com. “He’s not going to participate versus Indianapolis. But this isn’t a long-term injury with Alshon,” Pace said. “We don’t anticipate that [he’ll] miss the Green Bay game.”
In PPR formats, Jeffery finished #8 in 2013 and #10 last year. With Brandon Marshall gone, there is no serious threat to his targets, so he should once again post WR1 numbers. Sure, Marc Trestman is gone, but it’s not like the Denver passing game suffered under Adam Gase. Jeffery will play the Demaryius Thomas role in Gase’s offense. The calf injury is a minor concern, and while the Bears have lied about injuries before (e.g. Kevin White), we would think that they'd be making major moves at the position if they thought Jeffery would miss regular season action.
Dolphins WE DeVante Parker had foot surgery more than two months ago. Despite being off the PUP list, he’s not expected to practice yet. The move was done so both he and Jones can become involved in team activities.
It’s still a promising move for Parker, who hopes to return by the team’s Sept. 13 regular season opener in Washington.
Coach Joe Philbin said earlier this week that he’s optimistic Parker will be able to play at some point in the preseason, but it will depend on how he responds from running activities. Parker began running this week.
Cowboys writer Bryan Broaddus: I like what I saw from Darren McFadden in his first extensive work during the various team periods in which he took snaps. He looked decisive and committed to what he was handed from this Rams defense in the running game. He was in position to execute the check downs when needed and when asked to step up for pass protection, he was up to the task.
McFadden is perfectly capable of producing behind the team's talented offensive line, but we believe Joseph Randle will be more effective and is more likely to stay healthy.
Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry caught 84 passes to lead the team in receptions as a rookie in 2014. He is clearly quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s go-to receiver, so there are questions whether he might eclipse the team record of 90 catches in one season.
Except Landry doesn’t seem to care about any team record except the wins and losses.
“Honestly, the focus right now is on winning,” he said. “Things like [the catch record] come. But It’s about this team. It’s about overcoming I wouldn’t say a couple of bad years but it’s about overcoming what the Dolphins standards are and redefining them.”
Landry was the #42 WR in standard formats and #30 in PPR, so as a high-volume slot receiver, he's going to have more value in PPR formats. The Dolphins lost four of their top six most-targeted players: Mike Wallace, Charles Clay, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson. They have been replaced by Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings, DeVante Parker and Jordan Cameron, but Landry's role should still expand. He only played 62% of the snaps on the season, and didn't start playing consistent starter's snaps until Week 9. Over the final nine weeks, Landry was the #15 WR in PPR formats (and #23 in standard). He is currently the 24th WR off the board in early PPR drafts.
Bradford, who sat out the Eagles preseason opener last Sunday, faced a good Ravens' defense in both 7-on-7 drills and full 11-on-11 team drills and showed the same velocity and accuracy on his passes that he showed practicing against his teammates the first two weeks of training camp.
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. If Bradford ends up starting for the Eagles, we wouldn’t expect anything more than high-end QB2 numbers, but this is a definite system upgrade due to the overall effectiveness of Chip Kelly’s offense.
Star wide receiver Victor Cruz is expected to miss practice with a calf injury. It is not believed to be serious.
Coach Tom Coughlin said it's not related to the serious knee injury Cruz suffered last season against the Eagles. The calf problem is believed to be dehydration-related.
We were just starting to feel better about Cruz, but this doesn't sound too serious. When healthy, he'll fill the Randall Cobb role in OC Ben McAdoo's offense, so he has some upside if he can return to form.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015, 2:57pm