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.
Sunday, June 28, 2015, 9:34am
When the offseason program ended Thursday, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll pointed to two players who stood out to him through the rookie camp and organized team activities (OTAs).
The first one is rookie wide receiver Tyler Lockett, the team’s third-round draft choice.
“It’s been really fun to learn about Tyler," Carroll said. “He’s got a lot of responsibilities. He’s going after this return job, he’s inside playing in the slot in the receiver position, and he’s been outside.
“We’ve just thrown everything at him because he seems to be able to handle it. He studies really hard. You don’t really know until you get these guys how dedicated they will be, but he’s been an exciting addition to the team.”
The other standout for Carroll is tight end Jimmy Graham, the Pro-Bowl player who should make a big impact on the offense this season.
“Jimmy coming in with the big history and all the accomplishments that he had, he could have been all kinds of things,” Carroll said. “He’s a great kid. He’s as hard a worker as we could hope to get. He loves the game. He loves the challenge and he loves coming to a new setting and having to prove himself. He’s feeding off that.”
Lockett is listed fourth our Seattle WR depth chart and isn't expected to be a typical fantasy league option - at least to start the season. Graham, on the other hand, is second among our TEs heading into fantasy drafts and projects as a third round pick. We think his value takes a little hit in a Seahawk, run-oriented offense, but given there isn't really a standout among the WRs, Graham should still get his targets.
With the deadline to agree to a long-term deal coming July 15, Tom Condon, the agent for wide receiver Dez Bryant, and the Dallas Cowboys had their first face-to-face meeting in nearly four months within the past week, according to sources.
Last month, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said the team would make a push to sign Bryant to a deal, but much work remains before that actually happens.
Bryant has yet to sign his $12.823 million franchise tag tender in hopes of a deal with larger guaranteed money. Bryant's camp has threatened to miss regular-season games even though there would be no financial incentive. After July 15, Bryant has to play the season on the tender and the two sides could begin negotiations again after the season.
Bryant missed most of the Cowboys' offseason program, showing up for a handful of workouts and an organized team activity, according to the story. Bryant attended the final day of the Cowboys' mandatory minicamp on June 18 but did not practice. The Cowboys do not believe the threat to miss games because it would cost Bryant roughly $754,000 each week. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he believes Bryant will be "leading the way" when the Cowboys open the season Sept. 13 against the New York Giants. Bryant is ranked fourth on our WR list with an ADP of late in the first round.
Saturday, June 27, 2015, 4:56pm
Adrian Peterson will be back in the lineup as the starting running back for the Vikings. However, Jerick McKinnon said his health is fine and that shouldn't play any role as he competes with Matt Asiata for playing time behind Peterson.
"Two hundred percent,'' McKinnon said about he feels since December surgery. "If there is a 300, I feel 300. It's all good.''
McKinnon was a third-round pick out of Georgia Southern and made the transition from being an option quarterback. Any plans to bring him along slowly as a rookie were scuttled when Peterson left the team following the regular-season opener.
McKinnon's outing against the Falcons came in the fourth game of the season and in just his third appearance. He averaged an impressive 4.8 yards per carry while sharing running duties with Asiata until he got hurt.
McKinnon developed a close bond with Peterson in the four months he spent with him last year, the story said. McKinnon even said he'd draft himself on his own fantasy team, but the fact is, Peterson returns this year ranked as our number-one fantasy back. McKinnon can be had in the very late rounds, though, and if you're a Peterson owner, it may not be a bad move to back yourself up.
Saturday, June 27, 2015, 1:51pm
Bills beat writer Vic Carucci answered a question about keeping struggling QB Matt Cassel because he's a veteran.
Carucci: [$4.75 million] is a whole lot of cap space to devote to a backup. I believe the Bills acquired Cassel in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings last March with the intention of making him their starter. Furthermore, I would fully expect the Bills to extend Cassel’s contract to provide cap relief if they are convinced he will have the job.
The fact that hasn’t happened and that there is no indication of it happening any time soon after his struggles through the offseason raise some legitimate questions about whether he will be on the roster if he isn’t starting.
Carucci said he thinks Cassel is wired to accept a backup role as a mentor to EJ Manuel or Tyrod Taylor or any younger starter, but doubts the Bills would devote that much to their cap. With a run-first plan of attack likely still in place, whoever the Bills starter is won't have a ton of week-to-week fantasy value.
Saturday, June 27, 2015, 11:15am
Cimini: I'll tell you what I've seen from Bryce Petty: arm talent. His arm is good enough to make all the throws. But, as you know from watching Geno Smith, it takes more than a good arm to be an effective quarterback. We won't know about Petty's intangibles until we see him in game conditions, facing a live pass rush. Some fans might be hoping he pulls a Russell Wilson, a middle-round pick who blows away everyone from day one. The Jets would love to see that happen, but Wilson's advantage was that he already was well-versed in the Seattle Seahawks' offense, having played in a West Coast system in college. That's not the case with Petty, who played in an up-tempo spread at Baylor. There will be a steep learning curve.