Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 8:28pm
Welker has not yet been medically cleared from his concussion to engage in contact, so he won't play in the game Thursday night at AT&T Stadium. Then again, none of the Broncos' other projected opening-day starters will play against the Cowboys.
The slot receiver's recovery, though, is encouraging. He was seen joining the Broncos' offense in the team's weightlifting and exercise facility Tuesday and was able to travel Wednesday.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 8:23pm
Brown put up some awe-inspiring numbers: 110 receptions and a franchise single-season best 1,499 receiving yards.
While the spotlight will shine on Brown, there will be plenty attention given his supporting cast. Roethlisberger has spent much of training camp and the preseason adapting to several new faces, including free agent signees Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey, and rookie Martavis Bryant.
Roethlisberger, too, will have a new starter flanked opposite Brown. Markus Wheaton, a second-year receiver who was slowed by a broken finger during his rookie season, seems to have settled in with the offense.
There still needs to be some balance in the offense with the running game. But if the Steelers are going to air it out, the new WR members will be challenged to duplicate the 2013 efforts of Jerricho Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders. They combined for 113 receptions, 1,342 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. We expect Wheaton to put up solid numbers as the Steelers WR2, and could provide some depth to your fantasy team.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 5:35pm
The San Francisco 49ers' first-team offense has looked off-kilter all preseason.
The issues are one part offensive line struggles and another part chemistry with receivers.
The most notable disconnect is between Colin Kaepernick and new No. 3 receiver Stevie Johnson. The wideout admitted this week part of the chemistry troubles stems from his "unorthodox" style requiring time to build rapport with a quarterback.
Kaepernick concurred with that assessment.
"There are times that he's going to make a move on a DB, and you have to be ready because he's also making a move that you have to see," Kaepernick said, per The Sacramento Bee. "So I think that's something where it took a little bit longer just to get used to his body language because he had some unorthodox things that he does. But ultimately his separation is there, he's getting open."
What would be the basis of his lawsuit? Writes Fox: "Gordon's argument would surely be similar to the one presented in his appeal: While the 'A' sample was above the limit of what's considered a positive test, his 'B' sample was below it, with his stating any THC in his system was the result of second-hand smoke."
Gordon's incentive NOT to sue the league is that he could be allowed to apply to be reinstated after the 2014 year ends, which means he would be allowed to take part in 2015's OTAs and training camp, assuring he's ready for the start of the 2015 season. Obviously a full calendar year suspension would mean he couldn't come back until Aug. 27, 2015, thus he would miss OTAs and camp and as a result need time to get up to speed to be able to play sometime in 2015. This is why we're suggesting keeping Gordon on your roster until we know a little more. We'll continue to keep you posted.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 5:24pm
Michael's injury is the reason the Seahawks re-signed rookie running back Demitrius Bronson, who was released earlier this week. The team waived guard Greg Van Roten to make room for Bronson to return. The Seahawks also released linebacker Marcus Dowtin and signed center Patrick Lewis off waivers from Jacksonville.
"He pulled up a little bit [Tuesday] in practice," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Michael, "so we're ensuring we have enough guys to run the football [adding Bronson]. He did a really nice job while he was here, but the numbers caught him and we're glad to have him back.”
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 5:22pm
Dolphins RB Daniel Thomas has one last chance to salvage his career in Miami. After missing the first three games with a hamstring injury, he will play and likely get a heavy workload in the Dolphins' preseason finale against St. Louis Thursday.
And if he's going to make this team, he will have to earn it. The people who drafted him are gone. And their replacements – Dennis Hickey and Joe Philbin – have shown no compunction about removing the mistakes of regimes past.
Even if Thomas makes the team there doesn't look like there is a lot of fantasy value to be had. He'll be behind Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno who appear as if they are going to share the workload in some capacity.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 5:18pm
On Tuesday, Jets QB David Lee held court and talked mostly about QB Geno Smith’s progress as he enters his second season. Smith’s preseason is done, after three games, because starters don’t play in the fourth and final preseason game, Thursday at the Eagles.
Smith has officially been named the starter, at least for Week 1 against Oakland. Throughout this summer, teammates have raved about the progress they see in his composure and confidence.
Lee loves all of that. But most of all, he just wanted to see Smith stop giving the ball away. He threw 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions last season, and lost four fumbles. Couple that with Mark Sanchez’s 26 turnovers in both 2011 and 2012, and the Jets’ primary quarterbacks over the past three seasons have committed 77 turnovers.
Through three preseason games, Smith threw just one interception – and it appeared to stem from a miscommunication with receiver David Nelson.
“That’s probably been the No. 1 most encouraging thing, is he’s secured the ball in the pocket,” Lee said. “He’s had two hands on the ball, he’s working with two hands on the ball as he’s escaping the pocket and (he’s) moving and sliding. Just his ball security has been a gigantic (improvement). And that’ll be the biggest turnaround thing for us, if he just takes care of the ball and doesn’t get it knocked loose. So that’s a good observation. That’s the big thing he’s improved.”
Smith didn't turn the ball over the Jets final two games last season, which were both victories. He's ranked just 28th on our list and isn't getting a lot of draft day action. The Jets will likely be a run-first team for one reason and the turnover threat is another. We still project Smith for more INTs than TDs. He may have some limited value in some certain matchups. But it appears he's making strides to fix the turnover issues from last year.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 3:56pm
The Packers’ depth at running back should only help the no-huddle offense, which will benefit from having a fresh set of legs available at any moment. That has shown up thus far in the preseason.
In the two games in which the entire No. 1 offense has played, the Packers have scored 32 points in eight series. Two drives with Eddie Lacy, one in each game, produced touchdowns. One with DuJuan Harris (featuring his 31-yard reception) and one with both Starks and Harris ended with TDs as well, with James Starks adding a powerful two-point conversion run.
A story we had yesterday stated that Lacy is clearly the RB1 and is expected to carry a big load this season, something we've been preaching for a while. But it looks like the Packers have two capable backups behind him who could also see snaps from time-to-time when the offense is running at full steam. Lacy is the guy to own but if he goes down Starks and Harris could be popular targets.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 3:50pm
Most of Carolina's 22 starters are set, but Thursday night's exhibition finale will have a big impact on who protects the ailing quarterback (fractured ribs) on the right side of the line.
Rookie right guard Trai Turner (groin) is out for the second straight game, and Chris Scott has played well enough to be considered the Week 1 starter.
Scott started eight games last season, all but one at right guard, before a knee injury forced him to miss time. His biggest issue since returning for offseason workouts has been conditioning. He's got that under control and has impressed the coaches.
"Chris has worked himself into position and we'll see how it goes," coach Ron Rivera said.
Newton has a lot working against him these days between his ankle, ribs and the line in front of him. Newton will play but owners with other options will want to check out our rankings...
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 1:19pm
It leaves opposing defenses able to approach the Browns playing two-deep with corners keeping plays in front of them. In a time when the passing game has become dominant, the Browns will rely on passing efficiently, running the ball and playing defense.
TE Jordan Cameron will feel the absence of Gordon as well, because no longer will teams have to double the outside. Cameron may get more targets, but he looks like he'll get a lot more attention from defenses, too. With a lot of questions at QB, the team may have to run more with Ben Tate and Terrance West, but eventually teams will stack the box unless they can somehow threaten defenses with the pass.
Carolina's fourth-year quarterback is recovering from a hairline fracture to multiple ribs and says he's improving with each day.
Newton says, "I'm moving forward and trying to stay optimistic about this process."
Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he certain Newton will play in Week 1. Newton will travel with the team to Pittsburgh but will not play against the Steelers Thursday night in the preseason finale.
Our rankings will be a good indicator how you should treat Newton in your lineup. He appears to be a go, but how much will his hairline rib fractures, and even his ankle, limit him for Week 1 is going to be a big question. Both could hamper his rushing ability which is a big part of his game. However, Newton already said he doesn't plan to hold back.
Per a league source, hearing officer Harold Henderson has upheld the one-year suspension.
It means that Gordon will be banished from the team and the league for a full calendar year. He’ll be eligible for reinstatement as of August 27, 2015, only days before the start of the 2015 regular season.
There were unsourced reports (from the Browns blog Dawg Pound Nation) that Gordon’s camp was planning to sue the NFL if his suspension was upheld, so we would wait for the dust to settle before dropping him. There is a big movement to cut Gordon at this point, but we don’t see the benefit of rushing to do so. We recommend playing the waiting game a while longer and see what Gordon’s camp does next (if anything). A potential injunction may allow Gordon to play in 2014. If he’s out, the entire Browns offense takes a hit, save for Jordan Cameron, who should see a ton of targets, and possibly Ben Tate, if the team elects to go run-heavy. Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins likely see the bulk of the targets at wide receiver.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 12:28pm
The Lions ran screens 67 times last season according to ESPN Stats & Information, completing 52 of those passes. While the 77.6 completion percentage isn’t great, Detroit gained 525 yards on screens last season, good enough for third in the NFL.
The Lions averaged 7.84 yards per screen and scored three touchdowns using them last season. The yards per screen, total yards, attempts, passer rating and touchdowns were all Top 5 in the league last season.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford's screen numbers would have been higher, too, except the Lions led the league with five dropped screens and were the only team to fumble twice on screen passes, losing one.
Last season’s overall success, though, is part of the reason why the Lions appear unconcerned about the team’s screens this preseason. While the Lions had a perfectly set up screen go for 36 yards with RB Theo Riddick against Oakland, there have been other screens that have been blown up pretty easily.
The Lions have the talent to run screens and be successful and it looks like it's going to be a big part of the offense again this season. They are looking to better some numbers, including drops. However, Reggie Bush was said to be struggling in that department recently in camp.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 12:23pm
Giants TE Daniel Fells is expected to take some (if not most) of the first-team snaps on Thursday night against his former team, and is in serious contention for playing time in the tight-end-by-committee approach the Giants admittedly will employ.
"They are all going to play," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of the rotation for Thursday night, and likely this season.
The Giants TE situation is one to just stay away from right now until someone (hopefully) emerges.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 12:20pm
His explosiveness and speed are exceptional. So, too, are his instincts.
Sometimes, though, the jumping part is too literal. As with many rookie running backs in the NFL, West will occasionally choose to jump rather than run through holes. And jumping rarely works for someone at his position unless he’s attempting a leap over the goal line.
Put it on the list of lessons that the Cleveland Browns’ third-round draft pick from Towson must learn to have long-term success in the NFL and to make an immediate contribution backing up veteran Ben Tate this season.
West has an ADP of the 11th round and may not be a bad back to take at that point to add some depth to your team. Tate will likely get some carries but seems prone to injury so West could have lead back touches at some point sooner than later. The obvious issue with West is so far the Browns have struggled on offense and the QB situation has been a mess. Factor in the team could be without star WR Josh Gordon for at least part of the season and West looks more like a matchup play until we see how things play out.