Sunday, July 26, 2015, 4:32pm
MManamon: I’m going with Brian Hartline. Dwayne Bowe, to me, has never consistently lived up to the moniker of the No. 1 receiver. He’s had good seasons, but not great ones year after year. He did not have a single touchdown last season and he was targeted 93 times, just less than six per game, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
After catching 72 and 81 passes in 2010 and ’11, Bowe has caught 59, 57 and 60 the last three seasons. Whether it’s a function of the Kansas City offense or whether it’s a function of Bowe being in a decline will play out. Andy Reid is a pretty good offensive coach and he preferred Jeremy Maclin.
Hartline’s receptions in Miami dropped in 2014 as well, from 74 and 76 in 2012 and ’13 to 47 in ’14. But unlike Bowe, Hartline’s targets dropped precipitously.
In 2013 and 2012, he was targeted 130 and 125 times. Last season he was thrown to 62 times.
McManamon has some questions about where Bowe is at this stage of his career, while Hartline is just a year removed from a career season. The author added that Hartline's hard-nosed, consistent play will certainly help the Browns in terms of what they can expect. Our rankings disagree with this, though, and we project Bowe to have a much better season.
The Steelers set team record in points, first downs, and yards per game, powered by the superstar trio of Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. The quarterback -- who reported to training camp with teammates on Saturday -- sees no reason why Pittsburgh can't top those numbers.
"We want to start fast and we want to be able to put 30 points on the board in every game," Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Sunday.
Roethlisberger has strong belief in his supporting cast, from Bell and Brown, to an improved offensive line, the story said. Roethlisberger is now 33, but he's coming off his two best statistical seasons of his career. We're buying in on the Steelers this year, too, as Big Ben jumps to sixth on our QB list and is looking like a great option to target in the middle rounds of drafts. Brown is our top WR, and despite a suspension, Bell is among our best RBs.
The Boston Herald broke down the Patriots RBs:
LeGarrette Blount will miss the opener on the suspended list, but should be viewed as a lock because the Patriots made no obvious attempt to replace him in the draft or free agency. Brandon Bolden signed a contract extension last season and is one of their most trusted special teamers. The Patriots believe James Develin is the best fullback in the league, so he is safe as long as the Pats continue to value the position.
We still don’t know for sure much about Travis Cadet, Tyler Gaffney, Jonas Gray and James White really. Cadet has an intriguing set of skills, but could he provide more than Bolden or White? And White just had his second strong spring of OTAs, but can he do it wearing pads? Is Gray the bulldozer we saw against the Colts or the guy Bill Belichick preferred to keep in the doghouse? And the thinking here is that Gaffney’s best work must come in pads, which is why he had a somewhat quiet spring.
The story went on to say that White, a 2014 fourth-round pick, dazzled at the start of training camp last season before falling off the map with 16 healthy scratches in 19 games. He was strong again during the nine-week OTAs program and appeared to be the Pats’ best back in passing situations. White could monopolize that role if he keeps it up and earns more trust, the story went on to say. But if he disappears again midway through camp, he might even get cut. We had news articles last year that stated White could be a potential Shane Vereen replacement, but the team signed Cadet in the offseason and right now is a bit more proven after filling in for Pierre Thomas at times last year in New Orleans. With Blount seemingly the early down back, the winner of the third down, passing situation job could potentially have PPR value in fantasy leagues.
Sparano, a former NFL head coach, who spent last year as the Raiders' interim head coach, was blown away by the athletic specimen Davis still is at age 31.
“I’d like to drink from the same fountain as Vernon drinks from because he’s not a 31-year-old athlete,” Sparano said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “This guy takes care of his body, he can really run, he’s athletic and still very, very explosive."
Davis turned in the worst performance of his career last season, catching just 26 balls for 245 yards and two touchdowns in 14 starts. As a result, Davis comes in at just 26th on our TE list this year. He's going very late in 12-team leagues with an ADP of the 14th round. If you're league uses two TEs, or even a TE flex, Davis may be worth a flier that late in drafts, but right now we list plenty more potential better options at the position.
Sunday, July 26, 2015, 2:10pm
It is a four-year deal worth up to $14 million with $5.25 million guaranteed, per a league source. Walsh, still in uniform, signed the deal with General Manager Rick Spielman after the morning walkthrough.
The Vikings drafted Walsh in the sixth round in 2012. He missed just three field-goal attempts as a rookie and was named a first-team All-Pro
The Dolphins need a hard-running back, but there isn’t much diversity among this group. Most of them are speedy runners, with the exception of Jay Ajayi. The Dolphins also need someone who can move the chains in short-yardage and goalline situations and take some carries from Lamar Miller, who had more than 15 carries in a game just six times last season. There’s a suspicion Miller wears down after a certain amount of carries.
Miller had a good performance last season. But the Dolphins need a complementary back, especially in short-yardage and goalline situations. None of the reserves are pushing Miller, however. Ajayi, the fifth-round pick, wasn’t as strong in offseason workouts as the returnees.
Miller carried the ball 219 times for 1,099 yards and eight touchdowns while adding 38-275-1 on 52 targets in the passing game. This resulted in a #9 finish in both standard and PPR formats. Despite this, the team doesn't seem completely sold on Miller as a feature back and drafted Ajayi to shore up the position. It's good to hear that Miller is putting on some muscle and is working on his flaws in attempt to take his game to the next level. We don't expect Miller's touches to drop significantly.
Giants beat writer Jordan Raanan:
The good news is that Larry Donnell is out of the walking boot and has been training down in Alabama. My understanding is he's expected to participate in training camp practices this week. It doesn't mean he's completely in the clear. I'm still somewhat concerned about the Achilles problem he had in the spring. It's an old college injury that resurfaced. That means it has never really gone away, and may pop up again.
Donnell averaged 82% of the snaps through the first 11 weeks, but played just 69% over the final six games, due to run-blocking and ball-security concerns. He finished the season as the #11 TE in both standard and PPR formats, but did not crack 60 yards or find the endzone in the final six games. He had the 17th-most targets (5.2 T/G) over that span, after seeing the 7th-most (6.1 T/G) in the first 11 weeks. If he improves his blocking, his snaps should rise and that should result in an increase in production. Hopefully that Achilles holds up.
Sunday, July 26, 2015, 11:13am
The Lions return all five of their receivers from the end of last season — Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Jeremy Ross, Corey Fuller and Ryan Broyles — plus add TJ Jones (back from IR) and Lance Moore (free agent) to the mix. This competition will be fierce, and someone notable is guaranteed not to have a job at the end of camp.
The numbers are there, and so is the production from the two-headed monster of Johnson and Tate. But Detroit got little out of its third receivers last season (primarily Ross) and is looking for someone to step up as a complement this season.
Moore would seem to be the favorite, as the most experienced of all the candidates for the job, both in years in the league and years in this offense. He grabbed 346 passes for 4,281 yards in eights seasons with the Saints, seven of which occurred with current Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi on staff.
The Lions third WR could have some fantasy value in their passing offense. Detroit touted that experience when signing Moore, and quarterback Matthew Stafford has gone on and on about how Moore sees things in this offense that other receivers don't. Competency in the offense, and reliable route-running, were issues last year, the story said. The piece also added the staff still likes Fuller a lot, because his size and top-end speed allow him to stretch a defense the way Detroit's other No. 3 possibilities cannot. Broyles and Jones are both smaller receivers who do their best work underneath, and it's hard to see a situation where both make the team.
The Redskins’ ranked 19th in the NFL in yards gained last year and their 4.2 yards per carry ranked 15th. That’s not good enough for a team that is as unsettled as the Redskins are at quarterback. Whether it’s Robert Griffin III behind center or Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy, the QB will benefit greatly from a running game that is better than something right around the league average.
So there will be changes in way they do things. One is a more power-oriented ground game. The other may be some form of running back by committee.
“The running game nowadays, you need to have a couple of guys that can tote it,” Jay Gruden told Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro on ESPN 980 earlier this week. “Sixteen games is a long time, that’s a lot of games, a lot of carries, that’s a lot of hits on these running backs.”
Gruden said that he would like to split up the carries more than he did last year, when he went with what was mostly a one-back attack. Alfred Morris had 265 rushing attempts. The other tailbacks on the roster, Roy Helu, Silas Redd, and Chris Thompson, combined for 59 rushing attempts. That is 82 percent of the carries for Morris, 18 percent for the rest.
Most backs come into the NFL with some innate ability to run the football. But it’s learning to do the other necessary, less glamorous work that separates an NFL running back from a guy who can find a hole and pick up some yards.
The story went on to say in his three years as the offensive coordinator with the Bengals, Gruden spread the workload in different ways in different seasons. In 2012 he had BenJarvus Green-Ellis take 80 percent of the tailback rushing attempts. But in 2011 it was a 70-30 split between Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott. And in 2013 Cincinnati drafted Giovani Bernard and gave him 170 carries to 220 for Green-Ellis (that’s a 56-44 split in percentage terms). The story also added the roster can often dictate who gets the carries, and Gruden, in the interview, added that Morris would get the bulk of carries with Matt Jones, Chris Thompson and Silas Redd getting chances to get the carries Morris won't get. However, the story continued to say if Gruden can find another running back or two, it could be more of a running back by committee approach than we have seen with this team in the past.
The understanding is he's expected to participate in training camp practices this week. It doesn't mean he's completely in the clear. There's reason to be concerned about the Achilles problem he had in the spring. It's an old college injury that resurfaced. That means it has never really gone away, and may pop up again. Hopefully (fingers crossed) it doesn't finally reach the point where it gives out.
The Giants have Daniel Fells, Adrien Robinson and a whole bunch of youngsters at the TE position. Jerome Cunningham, Matt LaCosse and Will Tye fare better as blockers and will be a factor in who makes the team and gets playing time if Donnell were to miss time. Donnell showed flashes last year but comes in ranked just 21st on our TE list and is a later-round flier in 12 team leagues. We don't always recommend drafting a second TE, but Donnell could at least be a guy to start in streaming situations.
Sunday, July 26, 2015, 10:28am
It's easy to forget that Thompson spent the final three weeks of last season on the 53-man roster, so it's not out of the question that he earns a roster spot again this season. His best opportunity would be as the No. 6 receiver on the depth chart (if that spot even exists), where he can try to make his mark on special teams.
Rodak thinks, however, the Bills will keep an extra TE or fullback rather than a WR, which puts Thompson on the roster bubble. Sammy Watkins, Percy Harvin and Robert Woods are the undisputed top three receivers on the depth chart, with Chris Hogan a firm bet to make the roster and Marcus Easley almost certain to stick as the team's best special teams player.
Rookie wide receiver DeVante Parker, recovering from foot surgery, is not going to be ready for practice at the start of training camp. He is a candidate for the physically unable to perform list.
"Whenever the medical staff tells us he's ready to go we'll get him out there," HC Joe Philbin said. "... Hopefully, we'll get him back sooner as opposed to later."
Despite the fact Parker won't be 100 percent in time for Thursday's first training camp practice, the coach has little doubt he'll be ready for the regular season.
"It's hard to predict if Week One he'll be ready for 30 snaps or 60 snaps," Philbin said.
The Ravens placed tight end Dennis Pitta and free safety Terrence Brooks on the physically unable to perform list, an unsurprising development considering the severity and timing of their respective injuries.
Pitta has rehabilitated his surgically repaired right hip after fracturing and dislocating it for a second time last September. However, it remains unclear if he'll be medically cleared to play again. Pitta is likely to begin the regular season on the reserve list and would be required under NFL rules to miss at least the first six games of the regular season.
With Pitta out, Crocket Gillmore and Maxx Williams are vying for snaps as the team's starter, and Gillmore (a former third-round pick) reportedly has the edge on the rookie Williams.
As the season progressed, it was clear that Zach Ertz was taking on a larger role in the Eagles' offense. Over the final four-game stretch of the season, Ertz edged out Brent Celek in total offensive snaps (168 to 167), and his historic 15-catch performance (an Eagles record) against Washington in Week 16 was the shining example of what Ertz might be able to accomplish in his NFL career.
Ertz was the #13 TE in both standard and PPR formats despite only playing half of the Eagles’ snaps in his second year. Most (73%) of his snaps came on passing downs, so if his playing time is going to increase, a majority of the additional snaps are likely to come in run formations. Still, there’s upside with Ertz if he begins to see starter’s snaps. The Eagles lost their leading receiver -- first DeSean Jackson and then Jeremy Maclin -- in back-to-back seasons, so there will be opportunity from a targets standpoint.
Tight ends accounted for 15.5% of the team's targets in 2014. John Carlson led the way with 55 targets, so the TE1 isn't a big factor in Bruce Arians' offense. Gresham could start immediately, but isn't likely to be fantasy relevant in one-TE leagues.