The NFL took deflate-gate very seriously, hammering the New England Patriots with unheard of punishment in the matter of deflated footballs.
The league announced Monday that quarterback Tom Brady was suspended four games, the team was fined $1 million and will lose its 2016 first-round draft pick and a fourth-round pick in 2017.
If Brady doesn't win his (probable) appeal, his fantasy value will take a huge hit. The Patriots have a Week 4 bye, so he wouldn't be available to owners until Week 6. Jimmy Garoppolo will likely get the start in his place. One potential strategy would be to stream the position until his return, but it depends on how far his ADP falls. With a four game suspension, he won't be ranked in the top 25 in our initial projections. This will be a case of where his season-long ranking won't jibe with what he'll produce on a per game basis upon his return. The loss of Brady for four games will negatively impact the entire New England offense, though they have survived before without him (in 2008 with Matt Cassel). Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell all take a small hit.
Monday, May 11, 2015, 9:37am
Wide receiver Darren Waller wasn't a difficult target for quarterbacks to find during the Ravens' rookie minicamp this past weekend. As he towered over defensive backs, the sixth-round NFL draft pick barely had to jump to catch a series of downfield passes.
At 6 feet 6, 238 pounds, with the athleticism to run the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds and record a 37-inch vertical leap, Waller is an intriguing developmental project because of his rare size-speed combination. He's the tallest and heaviest wide receiver on the Ravens' roster.
It's very unlikely that Waller will make much of a fantasy impact in 2015, but given his physical attributes, he's a player to monitor in dynasty formats.
Monday, May 11, 2015, 9:32am
WR DeAndre Carter is only 5 feet 8 and 185 pounds, but he was one of the quickest and most active players on the field in the portion of Ravens’ mincamp open to reporters on Saturday.
Carter was a coveted college free agent, but he looks up to Steve Smith, so signing with the Ravens made sense. He also had an extremely prolific college career, albeit against lesser competition. Carter caught 99 passes for 1,321 yards and 17 touchdowns last season and has return skills that could come into play with the Ravens looking to replace Jacoby Jones.
The article goes on to say that the Ravens' receiving lineup will be tough to crack, but the team is generally hurting for playmakers at the position. If Carter displays a skill set that the team needs, then he'll make the cut.
Monday, May 11, 2015, 9:27am
Diggs seemed to have a nice camp. What stands out the most to me with him is how smooth and natural he looks when he operates, on top of the fact that he’s very quick. He was a special player for the University of Maryland, particularly once the football was in his hands. Watching his college tape, he had outstanding acceleration and change of direction ability, plus he seemed to have a natural feel for finding creases and running lanes. Now, it’s no surprise he looks good in a highlight tape because it is, after all, a highlight tape, and this was just one three-day rookie minicamp. But it’s easy to like Diggs so far and it’ll be fun to see him develop within Norv Turner’s offense.
This year, Diggs will struggle to find playing time in Minnesota behind Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson, unless Cordarrelle Patterson dissipates further into nothingness. He does have enough talent and playmaking ability to provide some potential in the Vikings offense, but ultimately it will be hard for him to crack the rotation in any kind of significant way.
Davis was suspended in 2014 following multiple off-the-field incidents. The Patriots have been aggressive at the tight end position this offseason by signing Scott Chandler and now Davis. It appears the team would like to get back to more of those two-TE sets they ran with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The 29-year-old Davis has receiving chops -- he caught 59 passes for 796 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games in 2011, and had a 48-509-6 season in 2009.
Sunday, May 10, 2015, 8:01pm
Following a three day rookie mini-camp that included the team's newest draft picks, 11 undrafted free agent signings and 19 unsigned tryout participants, the Cincinnati Bengals decided to add three new members to the team – including former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Cowboys beat writer Todd Archer on the team's running back situation:
"I wouldn't write anything down yet with the running back spot. It's too fluid. I made a bold prediction - well, I thought it was bold - that Joseph Randle will run for 1,200 yards in 2015. So that should tell you who I think gets the "bulk" of the carries this season. The Cowboys will go with a committee approach at running back. I don't think you will see a guy come close to 300 carries. It could work out better for Darren McFadden to be a committee guy. He's not been able to stay healthy for most of his career. To me Randle is a better fit for the scheme and showed in small doses he has a feel for the Cowboys' scheme. There is a lot more to playing the position than just running the ball, but to me Randle should be the guy."
McFadden is going ahead of Randle in early drafts, but Randle may be the better bet. He was highly effective (6.7 YPC) in 2014 and is reportedly showing more maturity after several off-the-field issues. He's not going to see a DeMarco Murray-type workload, but 225-250 carries is feasible if he wins the lead back job.
"Johnny's been great,'' DeFilippo said after the second rookie camp practice Saturday. "He's been fantastic. What he wants to talk about, before he stepped foot back in this building is his business. All I know is Johnny the football player, and he's been awesome. He's been working hard, very hard with myself and (quarterbacks coach Kevin O'Connell), and doing what we want him to do on the field."
Hard enough to become a successful NFL quarterback?
"All I know is this: From the moment he stepped in this building from the last two weeks, he's been nothing but a consummate professional,'' DeFilippo said. "He's spent every hour that he's been allowed to spend in this building. We give them worksheets every Tuesday and every Friday, and they're done to the unbelievable detail that we need an NFL quarterback to do. From that standpoint, like I said I can't predict the future, but all I can do is tell you right now Johnny Manziel is putting himself in a position to be a quarterback in the NFL."
There is certainly opportunity in Cleveland for playing time, but it isn't a great situation for a young quarterback given the unexciting receiving options (namely Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline, who combined to catch two touchdowns last season). By all accounts, it does appear that Manziel is on his way to turning his career around. He finished a rehab program, moved to the suburbs and has earned praise from his teammates and coordinator.
“Usually when you put in changes or change the system or address fundamentals, it usually shows up in Year 2,’’ OC Ben McAdoo said. “I like the look in his eye. I am excited for what is on the plate this year.’’
Manning finished the season as the #10 fantasy quarterback, but was #2 over the final six weeks, when OC Ben McAdoo said that the team finally played the way it wanted to play. In Odell Beckham, Manning finally has a stud receiver. The free agent signing of receiving specialist Shane Vereen and the return of a (hopefully) healthy Victor Cruz give Manning two more weapons to utilize in the passing game. He looks like a great value for those who want to wait on the position until the 9th or 10th round.
Browns coach Mike Pettine revealed Saturday that fourth-round receiver Vince Mayle will undergo surgery after rookie camp on his broken right thumb.
"It should not be an issue in the fall,'' Pettine said after day two of rookie camp. "We wanted him to come out, just see how it was, test it. Found out real quick yesterday that there's still some lingering pain there. So, we're going to go ahead and get it corrected."
Mayle, the only receiver among the Browns' 12 draft picks, injured the thumb during Senior Bowl week in January, but didn't realize it was fractured until he had X-rays at the NFL combine in late February.
The Browns knew about the injury when they drafted Mayle, but were hoping it would heal on its own.
Mayle has a chance to emerge as a contributor if he can pick things up quickly.
Linehan: “I’m not worried about Dez, he’ll be ready to rock and roll when it’s all said and done, I’m sure of that.”
Last season, Bryant was the #3 WR in standard formats and #4 in PPR. It was the third consecutive season that he finished in the top 7 in both formats. He is one of fantasy’s most dependable receivers. The only concern heading into the season is whether he’ll be distracted by his ongoing contract negotiations.
Cardinals RB Andre Ellington on his recovery from a foot injury: "I'm close to doing a lot of things I've done in the past. Just (this week) I was able to do all my cuts and put a lot more pressure on my foot."
Ellington felt the opposite of threatened when the Cardinals drafted running back David Johnson in the third round last week. If Johnson, from Northern Iowa, is what the Cardinals think he is, he will lighten Ellington's load.
"I don't see why not," Ellington said when asked if he would be helped by the addition of Johnson. "It allows me to have more rest time, and it should keep the offense upbeat."
The Cardinals drafted Johnson to lighten Ellington’s workload, and a reduction in touches may actually help his effectiveness, though it's unlikely to help his per game fantasy production. Ellington averaged 22.0 touches per game, but only managed 3.3 YPC after averaging 5.5 YPC in his rookie season.
It was unlikely that Heuerman would have been fantasy relevant as a rookie, but we'll never know. If he can pick up the mental side of the game as he rehabs his injury, he should be ready to go in 2016.
“In Denver — Anderson would hate me for saying this — but he got tired and was a little chubby sometimes,” Gase said. “I mean, he got worn down quick and then we had to rotate backs in last year.”
Anderson's fatigue might have something to do with the 24.0 touches he averaged over the final eight games. Over that span, he averaged 132 total yards and 1.3 TD, and was the #1 fantasy running back. If the Broncos commit to Anderson, he should thrive under new HC Gary Kubiak, who just coaxed a career year out of journeyman Justin Forsett.
“T.J. looked pretty smooth,” Bradley said. “A lot of the same things that we saw on tape. His ability to make quick decisions, spontaneous decisions, his instincts. One play really jumps out at me and it’s the same thing we saw on tape.”
Yeldon showed off his agility and acceleration during 11-on-11 work.
Toby Gerhart struggled with injuries last season and may play more of a fullback/H-back position this season. Denard Robinson was solid in stretches, but apparently the Jaguars don’t view him as an every-down, feature-type back. Yeldon’s upside will depend heavily on the growth of QB Blake Bortles and the entire Jacksonville offense, which suddenly has a young and talented receiving corps (Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns) and a weapon at tight end in Julius Thomas.