Thursday, August 28, 2014, 1:07pm
Browns WRs Miles Austin, Andrew Hawkins, and Travis Benjamin are locks, while Nate Burleson is too valuable to release after Josh Gordon was suspended for the season by the NFL. Charles Johnson is attempting to hang onto his job under heavy pushes from undrafted rookies Taylor Gabriel and Willie Snead, with Marlon Moore a longshot.
Johnson has gotten a bit of hype as a potential sleeper with Josh Gordon out, but he's still fighting for a roster spot.
Griffin's transition from gimmick offense to pocket passer was fully expected to feature a few bumps in the road. What has had us concerned since the preseason opener, though, is that the bad habits in his footwork and throwing motion seem to have carried over from last season's return from ACL surgery.
Appearing on The Herd with Colin Cowherd this week, ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski confirmed, after watching hours of preseason film, that Griffin's mechanics have regressed.
"They have regressed in the fundamental way of throwing the football," Jaworski said, via The Washington Post. "His throwing slot, his footwork, his inability to remain consistent in that."
We've been on the low side on Griffin for the entire offseason due to minor concerns about the knee and moderate concerns about the installation of a new offense. He has a very good receiving corps, and may very well work out his preseason issues during the regular season, but it's tough to draft him over (seemingly) more reliable options like Russell Wilson, Jay Cutler and Colin Kaepernick.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 9:33pm
While the Panthers are in Pittsburgh on Thursday night for their final exhibition, tight end Greg Olsen will be at Levine Children’s Hospital watching over his son’s recovery from open-heart surgery this week.
T.J. Olsen, born in 2012 with a congenital heart defect, is recovering from Monday’s four-hour surgery, the last of three scheduled procedures for the tight end’s son.
If T.J. continues to progress well, Olsen will rejoin the team next week and play in the season opener Sept. 7 at Tampa Bay.
“A lot depends on his recovery status,” Olsen said Wednesday in a text message. “But he’s doing well now, so hope that continues.”
“So far so good,” Olsen added. “It’s just a long recovery. We knew that going in.”
It sounds like things are progressing nicely for Olsen and his son and the hope is that continues. Obviously Olsen will put his son's health ahead of a football game, but from a fantasy perspective it's something to keep an eye on...
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 8:44pm
"Everything Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant have done for us is exactly what we're looking for," Rivera said. "We're looking for very consistent football players who run good routes and know where they need to be. They can handle things and control things in the classroom and on the field, and that's what those two guys bring to the table."
In three preseason games, Cotchery has just one catch for eight yards and Avant has one reception for 25 yards.
"Go back and look at the targets – that's the biggest thing," Rivera said.
Cotchery has been targeted just three times and Avant only two.
All that said, Cotchery cautioned those who read too much into preseason production.
"I don't put too much stock in it as far as what your numbers look like, because I've seen guys catch 100 yards every game in the preseason and then in the regular season you wonder where the production is," Cotchery said. "For that matter, (preseason) is a focus of just getting better individually and staying on top of your assignments."
Carolina's WRs are a big question mark coming into the season. WR1 Kelvin Benjamin has looked good but is a rookie. Cotchery quietly had 10 TDs last season and Avant has very good hands as a slot receiver. But Newton has been banged up with ankle and rib issues, and as the story points out, there wasn't a lot of live work in the preseason games. Benjamin is a sleeper-type addition later in fantasy drafts and Newton's stock has fallen a bit to a lower-end QB1 with now some injury issues.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 8:38pm
Yet with starting quarterback Matt Schaub sitting out Thursday night's game against the Seattle Seahawks at O.co Coliseum with a sore right elbow, the Raiders quarterback of the future can speed up that process in front of a home fan base that is embracing his candidacy through social media.
Carr could get extended work and a chance to make another good impression if Schaub continues to struggle or not be able to play due to his elbow. Carr, a second-round draft pick out of Fresno State, appears firmly entrenched as the backup even though second-year player Matt McGloin has put up the best numbers, albeit against mostly third-team competition.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 8:34pm
Heading into his 11th NFL season, Cards WR Larry Fitzgerald brushes aside suggestions that his best days are behind him.
"I think it's funny people assume I actually listen to anything anybody says," he said. "The only thing you can control in life is your effort. I give my best effort every single day and try to improve my craft."
And he still figures prominently in the team's plans for the coming season.
"I don't think anybody's the same at 30 as you were at 20," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "You're a lot more experienced so you should be able to play faster — mentally."
When Arians took over a year ago, Arians moved Fitzgerald to the slot, putting big, young, athletic Michael Floyd at wideout.
"There comes a point in time in your career that if you want to continue to have success and get a lot of balls," Arians said, "then you've got to stretch your envelope a little bit."
Fitz is ranked 17th among our WRs and after a disappointing season in 2012, he bounced back nicely in 2013. He's not the top-five WR he once was in terms of fantasy numbers, but he can certainly be a worthy WR2 and he continues to look good with Carson Palmer at QB.
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...