Jordan Reed is signed through 2016, so Paul's upside is limited as long as Reed stays healthy. Since Reed hasn't played more than 11 games in either of his two NFL seasons, his owners should keep Paul on speed dial. In best ball formats, the Reed/Paul combo scored 159 points in PPR formats, which equates to #11 TE-type numbers.
Jones-Drew was a minor threat to Latavius Murray's upside in 2015, but now the path is clear. Murray rushed 82 times for 424 yards (a 5.2 YPC) and two touchdowns, including an incredible four-carry, 112-yard, two-TD performance against the Chiefs in Week 12. He still averaged a solid (if unspectacular) 4.0 YPC when that game is excluded. With good size (6'2", 223 lbs) and great speed (4.38 40-yard dash), Murray has all the physical tools to succeed at the position. He even showed solid hands with 17 receptions on 23 targets. Per beat writer Jerry McDonald, Murray will be “given every chance” to win the starting job, though the glut of running backs on the free agent market may lead to a veteran or two being brought in to shore up the Oakland RB corps.
Manning first popped up on the injury report with a thigh injury after Week 15 (vs. San Diego). When looking only at his first 13 games, Manning averaged 301 yards, 2.8 TD and 0.8 INT, or 21.4 fantasy points per game. That would have been good enough for the third-highest average if he were able to keep that pace. In the final three weeks, including the game in which he injured the thigh, Manning averaged 272 yards and just 1.0 TD versus 1.3 INT. Even with the reduced production, Manning finished as the #4 quarterback in 2014. If he's fully healthy and ready to go, we'd expect him to be selected in the top 5 in 2015 fantasy drafts, though the Broncos' activity in free agency (namely re-signing Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas) will impact his value.
"The injury's going well, the rehab's going very, very well," Giants WR Victor Cruz said. "I'm a little more than halfway there, we're building the strength back in my leg. The rehab's been hard, it's been difficult, it's been long, it's been grueling, but I've been going through it, man, and it's definitely paying off now. The strength is coming back slowly but surely.
"I started running on this cool machine called the Alter-G, where it lets you run with a certain percentage of your body weight. And I just started doing that yesterday so it's only a matter of time before I get out there on that field, so I'm excited about that."
As for when he'll be back running and cutting in pads, Cruz has the start of training camp in his crosshairs, but said that he should be feeling close to 100 percent well before the start date. His goal is to be ready to shake off the rust in the months leading up to training camp and be ready to go full throttle when practices start.
Cruz will re-join a receiving corps that has a new alpha dog -- Odell Beckham. If healthy, Cruz should see WR2-type targets out of the slot, but he's unlikely to see the 8.8 T/G that he received from 2012-2013.
The loss of Thomas will open the door for Travaris Cadet to step into the pass-catching role, though he only averaged 3.2 catches for 25 yards in the five games that Thomas missed last season.
Nothing can be finalized until next week, but if the trade does indeed go through, it's a blockbuster. This looks like a system downgrade for McCoy, who ran much better later in the season once his offensive line started to get healthy. In Buffalo, new HC Rex Ryan and new OC Greg Roman (formerly of San Francisco) both have a history of running ball control, run-first teams, but the Bills have serious quarterback issues. Free agent C.J. Spiller isn't likely to re-sign and the acquisition of McCoy has to be a downgrade for Fred Jackson. As for McCoy, he's still a fantasy RB1, though he carries more risk since the Buffalo offense could struggle to score points. Given the way the Eagles like to run the ball, whoever emerges as the starter in Philadelphia will carry early round value.
Beasley averaged 3.5 catches for 47 yards and 0.5 touchdowns (on 4.9 T/G) in his final eight games, including two postseason games. That extrapolates to fringe WR3 numbers in PPR formats over a full 16-game season. He's on the radar as a WR5/WR6 stopgap-type option in PPR leagues.
Johnson finished #28 in PPR formats in 2014 after finishing in the top 10 in five of the previous six seasons. His departure would be a downgrade for the entire offense, though DeAndre Hopkins would likely see an increase from the 127 targets that came his way last season.
Here are the five players who got the non-exclusive franchise tag, and the amount of the tender offer for each:
This may not make either Bryant or Thomas happy, but it ensures that they aren't going anywhere for at least one more season. Both players figure to be ranked in the top 5 at their position in 2015 fantasy drafts.
The new substance-abuse policy imposes a two-game suspension for a first-offense DUI. By landing on probation for a July 2014 DUI arrest arising from marijuana use, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is expected to be suspended for two games.
But there’s a catch that could result in a doubling of Bell’s expected punishment. The new substance-abuse policy makes a two-game suspension the standard penalty for a DUI arising from alcohol use. For violations of the law involving other substances of abuse, a first offense exposes the player to a suspension of “up to four” games.
It’s unclear whether the NFL will give Bell, who becomes the test case for the new substance-abuse policy, four games, three, two, or fewer.
Bell was fantastic last year, finishing #2 in standard formats and #1 in PPR. But his looming suspension is certainly a concern. Running backs typically miss at least 1-2 games due to injury, so a two-game suspension isn't a deal-breaker, but it doesn't make him an attractive #1 overall pick. If he's suspended for four games, his ADP will likely slip into the late 1st/early 2nd. It's tough to overcome the loss of one's 1st round pick for the first quarter of the season.
Cutting Johnson would save the 49ers $6.025 million in cap space, according to overthecap.com.
Johnson is only 28 and is a good possession receiver so he shouldn't be unemployed for long.
It's possible that we've only seen the tip of the iceberg from Jordan Matthews. He was great in his role as the Eagles' slot wide receiver, but with the speed and production he showed this season, Matthews could be vying for an outside wideout position come Training Camp. He certainly has the size and the hands to keep producing at this level for the forseeable future. With a full offseason to tighten his game and develop a rapport, Matthews should be able to use his rookie season as a stepping stone to bigger and brighter things in 2015.
Matthews averaged 4.1-39-.29 (or 9.8 PPR fantasy points) in the seven games that Nick Foles started and finished. He posted 4.4-70-.63 in the eight games that Mark Sanchez started and finished, but he actually averaged fewer targets with Sanchez (6.4 T/G) than he did with Foles (6.9 T/G). So while he was more efficient with Sanchez, he was targeted more heavily by Foles. The Eagles like him in the slot, but he's a candidate to start outside and then move inside in three-receiver sets. If that's the case, he will see his snaps played increase from his rookie season (65%) and he should be able to improve on his #25 finish in PPR formats.
"I still think that it's probably, you know, would be a stretch to think that we would have something done by Monday and beat the franchise-tag deadline," Jones said. "Looks like we're eyeing a franchise tag on Dez, but certainly won't stop us from working hard to get a long-term deal."
Bryant was the #3 WR in standard formats and has finished in the top 6 in three consecutive seasons. The Cowboys are wise to apply the franchise tag if they can't yet work out a long-term deal. The only worry is that Bryant is offended by the team's move and is distracted as the 2015 season kicks off, but the two sides still have plenty of time to work out a long-term deal before July 15.