Fantasy News Home
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 1:40pm
Saints K Shayne Graham has survived parts of 14 seasons as a journeyman NFL kicker, so arriving at training camp with no guarantee of a job is hardly unusual for him. Graham was signed by the Saints last December after the team parted ways with Garrett Hartley. Graham kicked reasonably well, although he missed two field goals in difficult conditions in the Saints' season-ending loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Graham was re-signed by the Saints, who also signed Derek Dimke and brought him to camp to compete for the starting job. "There's competition there, but (Graham's) efficiency is very good. He'll be a tough guy to beat out," said Saints head coach Sean Payton.
Dimke, 24, hit six field goals in the preseason for Tampa Bay in 2013 and had a brief stint with Detroit in the 2012 preseason, but has never made a regular season NFL roster. Graham is poised to be one of the top fantasy kickers this season.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 1:34pm
WR Mike Evans, six-foot-five and somewhere north of 220 pounds, is a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' new super-sized corps of pass-catchers already nicknamed the "Dunkaneers." He is adept at fighting off defenders for contested passes and he was drafted seventh overall in May because he's expected to create mismatches with smaller defenders. Given his stature, one would think that the line of scrimmage would be his domain. Try to press a receiver of his size, who also has the speed to get downfield in a hurry if he slips by, and you're asking for trouble. The problem is, this is the NFL, and even cornerbacks of average size know how to deal with big receivers at the line. Evans found that out on Saturday when he encountered a worthy opponent in Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner, who checks in at 5-10 and 186 pounds. The rookie from Texas A&M is eagerly working on all aspects of his game to speed his transition to the NFL, and getting off the line against press coverage is one of the most important issues.
Rookie WRs always come with risk in fantasy football and we rank Evans 45th. His ADP is the 10th round however, which is higher than a lot of those ranked around him. But that's typical for those who get excited about rookies with Evans' potential. He should be drafted as depth with the potential to progress up your WR depth chart.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 1:28pm
Dolphins receiver Rishard Matthews has felt like the odd man out this offseason. He showed a lot of promise last season starting as the slot receiver when Brandon Gibson went down with a patellar tear. Yet with Gibson back and the Dolphins using a second-round draft choice on Jarvis Landry, Matthews is on the bubble. But there’s no question he can catch the ball and at Sunday’s practice he was a prime target for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Gibson, still coming back from the injury, sat out the second half of practice and was seen with ice on his knee. Matthews was the most active receiver at practice today and nearly made the play of training camp with a one-handed grab over Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes. It was ruled incomplete but it’s a glimpse of how hard Matthews is working to stay on the roster.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 1:26pm
Should Vikings FB Jerome Felton expect a different or decreased role with Norv Turner running the offense? It’s a fair question considering the Browns, whose offense Turner coordinated last season, used two-back formations on just 5.2 percent of their snaps in 2013, according to Pro Football Focus. That was one of the lowest figures in the league, though the Browns didn’t exactly have a bruiser like Felton -- or any established fullback for that matter -- and they also played from behind a lot. The Vikings used two backs on 24.1 percent of their snaps a season ago. That’s why Turner is saying that the Felton should still have a role here. “He is going to have to block and block,” Turner said. “We talked the other night to our team, we need to have a physical presence. Jerome brings that type of presence, and we are still going to have a certain percentage of two backs in the backfield, or spread out with the two backs in the backfield, that personnel group, if it gives the team problems. ... I think that there’s game situations where you need to have a fullback that can go pound it a little bit.”
The fantasy news here is Felton could help pave the way for Adrian Peterson.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 1:18pm
Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Gibson didn’t finish practice Sunday, the team’s first day in full pads and third day of training camp. It wasn't believed to be a contact injury. Gibson, playing on a surgically-repaired left knee, had a visible limp and then stopped about halfway through practice and went into the training facility. He emerged about a minute later, practiced briefly, but then stopped practicing altogether soon afterward. He went back into the facility and returned to the field wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Gibson left the field with an ice pack on his left knee.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 1:16pm
New Orleans Saints receiver Robert Meachem missed practice Sunday after his back flared up, head coach Sean Payton said after the team's third day of training camp at the Greenbrier resort. Meachem mostly watched from the sidelines, although he did work on the stationary bike at the start of practice. He tweeted after practice that he was OK.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 1:13pm
Jets practice took a bad turn in a 7-on-7 drill when promising tight end Jace Amaro hurt his right knee and sat out for the remainder of the practice with a big ice wrap on his knee. The Jets have big plans for their second-round pick, and losing him for any length of time would be a blow.
Rookie Amaro needs to get all his reps in so he doesn't fall too far behind this early in camp.
Rob Gronkowski briefly took part in an 11-on-11 drill Sunday when the offense lightly ran through running plays against the defense. It’s a quick measure of progress, but they were going half speed. He still hasn’t taken any live reps against the defense through four practices.
Still, it's a good sign for Gronk's progress. We had a news story a few weeks ago from the Pat's Web site that said he would be ready Week 1 and it appears he's on pace.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 10:49am
Tight end Martellus Bennett wants to be a beast of burden. Bennett has declared this season the ‘‘Year of the YAK,’’ misspelling the acronym for ‘‘yards after catch’’ on purpose. ‘‘I just like the animal — yak — better than the word YAC,’’ he said. Bennett and quarterback Jay Cutler stayed late after the second day of camp Saturday to work on the latter. ‘‘Me and him have a plan this year in camp to constantly work on a different route each day,’’ Bennett said. ‘‘As a tight end, it’s really just about being in rhythm, just him knowing what’s going to happen on certain routes.’’
Bennett could be a nice, late-round get. His ADP is the 13th round and we rank him 11th at the position, but it seems like he has a chance to improve on that. We don't always recommend drafting two TEs if you don't have to, but Bennett looks like a decent TE2 option.
The Patriots should fear Rob Gronkowski’s knees will have a bull’s-eye on them this season. There is an unsettling feeling among those who have played the game that Gronkowski won’t be able to endure a full slate of games thanks to now being an easier mark for rival defensive backs. The overwhelming concern is the Patriots all-world tight end will again be the victim of a blow to his surgically repaired right knee when he returns to game action.
Given the way the rules are geared toward eliminating violent hits to the head and neck, it's a legit concern and could be something fantasy owners want to consider before drafting Gronk. There are already injury concerns with the star tight end and whether or not he'll even be ready for Week 1. As the article points out, he's a difference maker for the Pats, and if you take him early in drafts, he could break your fantasy team if he doesn't make it all season.
The rules remain simple, if not ironic: Want to run the ball for the Broncos? You had better be able to pass block. "Coach E (Eric Studesville) makes it clear our job is to keep them off Peyton," Montee Ball said. Manning threw the ball 659 times last season. The Broncos' aerial gumbo of audibles and short routes assaults the senses. It also humbles even the best athletes. Ball's breakthrough last summer ended abruptly. He landed on the bench when he couldn't keep Manning upright. The Broncos believe in Ball, inserting him as the starter after Knowshon Moreno's defection to the Dolphins. Ball possesses NFL-workhorse qualities, including a sturdy frame and a college résumé that included 924 carries and 77 rushing TDs at Wisconsin.
Pass blocking was one of the reasons Moreno emerged as the Broncos main back last year, and it's something the team has to feel comfortable having Ball do this year in order for him to be a stud fantasy RB. The signs are pointing to Ball emerging as that guy. If he does he could end up being a huge value in drafts, even as an early second round pick. But his pass blocking is one thing potential owners need to monitor in camp.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 10:13am
Top 49ers WR Michael Crabtree’s return to full health – and he sure looks like he has, moving well in Saturday’s practice and making a one-handed catch in traffic – headlines a group with improved depth and talent. Anquan Boldin remains tough and crafty at age 33. Stevie Johnson, who had three straight 1,000-yard seasons in Buffalo from 2010 to ’12, arrived in a trade. General manager Trent Baalke made a point to praise rookie Bruce Ellington (“a young guy that’s come in and showed an awful lot of promise”) second-year pro Quinton Patton (“a year older, a year better”), and even 33-year-old Brandon Lloyd (“playing like he’s 28 years old out there”). RB Frank Gore said it’s “by far” the best receiver group the 49ers have had in his 10 seasons.
The 49ers have a lot of big names at WR, but outside of Crabtree and Boldin, fantasy owners will have to see where Johnson fits in, and perhaps even Lloyd. Either way, QB Colin Kaepernick figures to benefit the most from this experienced group around him.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 10:07am
Steelers O-line coach Mik Munchak, who compiled a 22-26 record as head coach of the Titans, is highly regarded as an offensive line coach. He very well could have been the Steelers’ best offseason transaction. The Steelers ranked 27th in the NFL in rushing offense last season. Their 1,383 yards were the fewest for the team since 1966. But the offensive line did allow quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to play every offensive snap for the first time since 2008 and surrendered just seven sacks in the final five games after allowing 36 in the first 11.
The Steelers hope an improved line under Munchak will allow them to get RBs LeVeon Bell and LeGarrette Blount going this season and improve on last year's rushing totals. Bell is turning into an attractive, second-round fantasy option in drafts and is ranked 12th among our backs.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 9:54am
Dolphins WR Mike Wallace isn't expected to be just a nine-route runner this year. And he's excited about the possibilities that will bring. He said his goal is to be a first-team All-Pro this season. And he's apparently ready to take that do-more theme to extremes. Even special teams extremes. That's right, Wallace said he's willing to help on special teams in 2014.
Wallace doesn't want to be running down the field making tackles, but he's willing to go back in certain situations or key parts of the game to return kicks.
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 9:48am
According to multiple people within the Giants organization who requested anonymity in order to speak freely on the matter, the Giants have informed their tight ends that there is a good possibility that a fullback won’t make the final 53-man roster — leaving all of those duties up to the tight ends. Though injuries, personnel shifts and observances in the preseason could change the team’s plans, they entered the year hoping to keep their best four tight ends and give themselves some options on cut-down day. Imagining a Tom Coughlin team without a hard-nosed presence at fullback is difficult to do, though it’s more a reflection of the offensive evolution around the NFL. Some scouts around the league believe that the league will eventually retreat back into a run-heavy offenses that emphasize ball control, but for now, bolstering options in the passing game make the most sense.
Free agents Kellen Davis (Seahawks) and Daniel Fells (New England) along with Larry Donnell and Adrien Robinson have been asked to learn the new wrinkle. While it will likely give a job to one of these guys, none are expected to be fantasy worthy. However, it looks like the Giants will have a new look on offense running the ball.