“I’m at 225; it’s a better 225,” Yeldon said. “I’m still going to try and lose five more pounds before camp. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot stronger to hold off the bigger guys [on defense].”
Prior to the Chris Ivory signing, Yeldon was an intriguing middle round pick thanks to a large projected workload, but the duo is expected to split carries with Ivory getting most of the goal line work. Yeldon figures to be the primary pass-catching back, so his value is a bit higher in PPR formats.
If they awarded an MVP trophy to the best player in shorts and helmets, Nelson Agholor would take home that prize this spring. Agholor's route-running has improved by leaps and bounds from his rookie campaign in 2015, he caught several contested balls throughout OTAs and seems to have a renewed commitment towards turning the page on his lackluster 23-reception rookie year. Agholor even purchased a JUGS machine for his house and invited several teammates over to get in extra work catching balls from it.
It's good to hear that Agholor is having a good offseason because his rookie year was a major disappointment. Doug Pederson's slower-paced offense may not be able to support three pass catchers (Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz and maybe Agholor), but his 12th-round ADP makes him a cheap investment.
Matt Rourke AP: "The tight end (Eagles TE Zach Ertz) is going to catch a bunch of passes this season. I'm not sure for how many yards or how many touchdowns, but he's going to lead the team in receptions."
Ertz was second to Jordan Matthews (85) on the team last year with 75 receptions, which was the 6th-most at his position. He finished as the #10 TE in standard scoring, but was #6 after his Week 8 bye, averaging 6.4 catches for 73 yards and 0.25 TD (on 8.8 targets per game) in his final eight games. Given his size and relative catch radius, his touchdown rate should increase eventually. Playing time was the issue in his first two NFL seasons, but he played 72% of the snaps in 2015 and 79% in his last five games. He’ll be playing in a new offense for a new head coach, Doug Pederson, but Travis Kelce was a key part of the Kansas City offense during Pederson’s tenure.
What kind of step could Willie Snead make from last year to this year?
Saints HC Sean Payton: “He received a lot of playing time a year ago. He’s someone that’s training real well. He’s smart. I think we can see a big step, just from his experience and his comfort level with what we’re doing. He’s very attentive. The attention to detail with him is very high. He has a real good knack for finding the right holes in zone (coverage). And (he understands) the leverage in man-to-man. So, I think we will see a good step (in the coming year).”
Snead finished #34 in PPR formats, and his playing time grew as the season wore on. There are targets opening up with the departure of Ben Watson and Marques Colston, but Coby Fleener and Michael Thomas are expected to gobble up most of those. Snead saw 101 targets last season and that's probably a good estimate for 2016.
“In our room I don’t really think we have like a solid starting running back, because with this type of offense, we do so many things as a running back,” Johnson told Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday. “(David Johnson) got his things that he’s good at and I got my things that I’m good at, and (Bruce Arians) knows how to get both of us the ball.”
Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin confirmed last week that the Cardinals are going to determine their starting running back on a week-by-week and game-by-game basis.
“Being with (Bruce Arians) since 2007, the hot hand always wins,” Goodwin said. “So, if David is killing, Chris falls back a little bit. If Chris is killing it, vice versa. Obviously there is going to be a lead dog starting every game, but to me if some guy is feeling it that day — if Michael Jordan is feeling it, you keep feeding him the ball. If David is feeling it, keep feeding him the ball. If Chris is feeling it, keep feeding him the ball. So, it’s a good problem to have."
David Johnson is being drafted like he's the clear workhorse for the Cardinals, but that doesn't sound like it's the case. Meanwhile, Chris Johnson is an afterthought in early fantasy drafts and could offer nice value in the final rounds. Remember, the veteran out-touched the rookie 18.4 to 4.9 in the 11 games in which they both played.
"His improvement over these six practices has been awesome," Brees said, via The Times-Picayune. "From Day 1 until now, the same mistakes are not being made. He's on to the next set of challenges, and he's continuing to progress well."
"I gave him a route that we have literally never repped before together," Brees said. "In fact, I don't think we'd ever even talked about it. But I was just in the moment, and he's my guy at that position, so I gave him the signal. He goes and makes the play and ran the route just like I imagined."
The 6-foot-3 receiver was drafted in part to help replace Marques Colston, especially in the red zone. It might not happen out of the gate, but having an early rapport with the starting quarterback is a solid first step towards a productive first campaign. Getting raved about is the cherry on top.
Thomas will likely take over Marques Colston's role which means he'll play about 60-70% of the snaps. Brandin Cooks is locked in as the WR1, while Willie Snead turned in a good first season as the team's WR2. With Coby Fleener bound to soak up targets at tight end, Thomas will have a tough time being fantasy relevant unless he's able to overtake Snead.
While Packers WR Jordy Nelson likely will hold off on 11-on-11 drills until training camp, the ninth-year receiver was back running the route tree, cutting sharply and catching passes with his favorite quarterback once again.
Nelson has caught passes from Rodgers this offseason, but Thursday marked the first time during OTAs that he’s run routes at a competitive speed with the quarterback delivering passes in his breaks.
Nelson again reiterated with reporters after practice that the cautious approach is strictly part of his rehab plan, adding: “If there’s a game Sunday. I’m playing.”
Nelson has had three healthy seasons in his last five, and in those years he finished #2, #11 and #2 in standard wide receiver scoring. He’s currently going in the 2nd round of early fantasy drafts. If he continues to have a healthy offseason then a return to the top 5 is a real possibility.
This was Doug Pederson in March when asked about using wide receiver Jordan Matthews less in the slot and more on the outside: "I think he can play outside. I'm going to look at him outside as we go through this spring. With his skill set, I think he can play both (inside and outside)."
This was Pederson Friday when asked the same question about Matthews: "Jordan, again, he's been good on the outside. (But) he's better inside, because he's got that big body and he knows how to sort of use it in space.
"One thing he can do, particularly in tight areas, is separate from man-to-man type coverages. That's one thing we've seen (from him) this spring from the slot position. But again, he's a position-versatile guy that you can move around."
Matthews: "Obviously, I've done slot two years in a row. Inside, I feel I'm at another level when it comes to playing inside. But I definitely want to be able to move around and do some other things for this offense. And I think coach is going to let me do that."
Matthews may play outside in two-WR sets, but it looks like he's mainly going to play in the slot. He finished 25th and 16th in PPR formats in his first two seasons, and may be hard-pressed to match those numbers since Pederson's offense is likely to operate at a much slower pace than Chip Kelly's. Pederson will have to feature Matthews like he did Jeremy Maclin last year for Matthews not to see a significant dip in targets.
The latest no-name tight end to bubble to the surface with the Giants may already be making his move at organized team activities. Matt LaCosse has consistently been making plays this spring, and earned a large chunk of first-team snaps during Wednesday's OTA workout which was open to the media.
With a slightly more well rounded skill set, LaCosse – an undrafted rookie in his second season out of Illinois – is already pushing Donnell and Tye, the last two in a long line of unknown Giants tight ends to make a surprise impact working with quarterback Eli Manning.
The early reviews from OTAs show LaCosse making plays. He lined up wide right on Wednesday and made a leaping catch over safety Landon Collins deep down the right sideline. He reached back and plucked a ball off his back shoulder in the end zone on Thursday.
Every day, it seems he's catching passes in live drills. It's making it possible to envision LaCosse (despite a rare fumble on Wednesday) as this year's Donnell or Tye, even with Donnell and Tye still on the roster.
LaCosse may already be the best blocking tight end currently on the Giants roster, even if his competition in that regard isn't very strong.
Our money is on Will Tye to win the job, but it sounds as if LaCosse is making a push. If he's able to replicate Tye's receiving ability and add additional value as a blocker, he may win the job.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jared Cook, the team's biggest offseason acquisition this year, underwent foot surgery this week and will miss the rest of the offseason program, multiple sources told ESPN.
The Packers hope that Cook will be back for training camp next month. The surgery was described as "preventative" and something that both Cook and the team wanted to take care of now so that it didn't linger into the regular season.
Cook could surprise this year since it's the first season that he's playing with an elite passer, but offseason foot surgery won't help him build chemistry with Aaron Rodgers. If he's not ready by training camp, he'll be a dicey pick on draft day.
Two of Anderson's best runs Wednesday came late in practice. On the first one, Anderson read the blocking and exploded to daylight created by Max Garcia and Michael Schofield on the left side.
Seven snaps later, Anderson took a shotgun handoff from Siemian and saw a seam created by Garcia and James Ferentz. He burst through it for what would have been a substantial gain in game conditions.
Anderson wasn’t fully healthy heading into the season and struggled at the onset, averaging just 2.69 YPC on 11.4 rushing attempts through the first six weeks of the season. He turned it around in a big way after the Week 7 bye, however, racking up an average of 64.5 yards on 11.6 carries (5.57 YPC) and 0.58 TD over his final 12 games, including the playoffs. Those are mid-level RB1 numbers in standard formats and low-end RB1 numbers in PPR. Moreover, the Broncos committed to Anderson down the stretch, feeding him 15.6 carries over the final five games. In that span, he averaged 13.7 fantasy points in standard (and 15.9 FP in PPR). Those averages would have been good enough to finish #3 in both formats. Even though he finished strong, playoff numbers don’t count for fantasy, so the fact remains that Anderson burned his owners in 2015. As a result, his ADP is likely to remain depressed heading into 2016 fantasy drafts.
“He’s not missed a day and he’s running extra after practice,” Fisher said. “He looked pretty good running in a straight line a year ago at this time. He’s doing everything [now], to the point where you almost [say], ‘OK, let’s back down a little bit.’ He’s had an impressive offseason.”
“It was just my first real offseason,” Gurley said. “So being able to take some time off, and being able to rest, and then just getting back to work — and working hard to just try to make sure I have a great year this year. I’m eating right, and making sure I’m taking care of my body and doing all the right lifts.”
As for what Gurley’s looking to improve upon in Year 2, he mentioned becoming a better receiver.
“Definitely, routes and catching,” Gurley said. “I’ve got to get more catches this year, stay healthy and then run the ball. Get my line right and make sure we start off strong and finish strong. But most definitely I want to work on catching.”
Gurley averaged 91.6 rushing yards in his final 12 games, which is a 16-game pace of 1,465 yards. But he only caught 21 passes for 188 yards, which serves to limit his value in PPR formats. If his offseason work as a receiver pays off during the season, that would change.
Barnidge had the rare age-30 breakout season, posting 79 catches for 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns on 125 targets. There are a lot of changes in Cleveland this year with a new head coach/offense and a new quarterback (Robert Griffin III), and given Barnidge's short fantasy resume, he's not a safe pick. But Tyler Eifert played well under Hue Jackson, so it's likely that Barnidge will be an integral part of the passing attack, especially considering the sorry state of the Cleveland receiving corps.
All we've heard to this point is that the Bills were of the belief that Watkins would be ready by the start of the regular season, without any mention of training camp or the preseason. While the wide receiver admitted that he's hopeful to get back by training camp -- and by saying that, he's admitting there's at least a chance of that happening -- he knows he's in for a summer where he can't push the issue.
"This is an injury where you have to be really careful," Watkins said Wednesday. "The only thing that I can do is listen to the staff and take it slow, and just, really protect myself, and they’re going to protect me also. We’re just going to take the course with the injury. Nobody knows what timetable, what or when I’ll be back."
Bills head coach Rex Ryan met with the media after Watkins updated his injury, and was asked about the possibility a return in the summer in the lead up to the regular season.
"I think all I know is that Sammy won’t miss time in the regular season," Ryan said in a familiar refrain. "But when he comes back during training camp? Nobody has given us a specific time, it’s just that we’re extremely confident that he’ll be ready to roll when the season starts."
The Bills keep saying that he'll be ready by Week 1, but there's enough smoke here to be worried. However, with the way he finished the season -- 5.4-100-0.78 over the final nine games -- he has WR1 potential in 2016 provided he can stay healthy.
Melvin Gordon took part in several individual and team drills. It was a busy day for the running back who had microfracture knee surgery January 5.
Gordon isn't scheduled to be at 100 percent at this stage of the offseason. And, he's not.
Gordon is coming off of a disappointing rookie season and microfracture surgery. We'd rather have Danny Woodhead in this backfield, though the team isn't going to give up on Gordon.