Rookie wide receiver DeVante Parker, recovering from foot surgery, is not going to be ready for practice at the start of training camp. He is a candidate for the physically unable to perform list.
"Whenever the medical staff tells us he's ready to go we'll get him out there," HC Joe Philbin said. "... Hopefully, we'll get him back sooner as opposed to later."
Despite the fact Parker won't be 100 percent in time for Thursday's first training camp practice, the coach has little doubt he'll be ready for the regular season.
"It's hard to predict if Week One he'll be ready for 30 snaps or 60 snaps," Philbin said.
The Ravens placed tight end Dennis Pitta and free safety Terrence Brooks on the physically unable to perform list, an unsurprising development considering the severity and timing of their respective injuries.
Pitta has rehabilitated his surgically repaired right hip after fracturing and dislocating it for a second time last September. However, it remains unclear if he'll be medically cleared to play again. Pitta is likely to begin the regular season on the reserve list and would be required under NFL rules to miss at least the first six games of the regular season.
With Pitta out, Crocket Gillmore and Maxx Williams are vying for snaps as the team's starter, and Gillmore (a former third-round pick) reportedly has the edge on the rookie Williams.
As the season progressed, it was clear that Zach Ertz was taking on a larger role in the Eagles' offense. Over the final four-game stretch of the season, Ertz edged out Brent Celek in total offensive snaps (168 to 167), and his historic 15-catch performance (an Eagles record) against Washington in Week 16 was the shining example of what Ertz might be able to accomplish in his NFL career.
Ertz was the #13 TE in both standard and PPR formats despite only playing half of the Eagles’ snaps in his second year. Most (73%) of his snaps came on passing downs, so if his playing time is going to increase, a majority of the additional snaps are likely to come in run formations. Still, there’s upside with Ertz if he begins to see starter’s snaps. The Eagles lost their leading receiver -- first DeSean Jackson and then Jeremy Maclin -- in back-to-back seasons, so there will be opportunity from a targets standpoint.
Tight ends accounted for 15.5% of the team's targets in 2014. John Carlson led the way with 55 targets, so the TE1 isn't a big factor in Bruce Arians' offense. Gresham could start immediately, but isn't likely to be fantasy relevant in one-TE leagues.
Saints beat writer Mike Triplett projects Ben Watson to start ahead of Josh Hill, adding that Watson "will split time with rising young backup Josh Hill, but should play more snaps as a trusty blocker and underrated receiving option."
Our only concern with Hill is that he doesn’t play ahead of Watson on early downs, which would limit his upside. HC Sean Payton has spoke highly of Hill, but referred to “two-TE sets” when discussing Hill’s potential playing time. This indicates that he may not be on the field in one-TE sets.
Lions beat writer Michael Rothstein (of ESPN) projects Joique Bell to start over Ameer Abdullah, adding, "The Lions ranked 28th in rushing last season, but Bell had a career year putting up 860 yards with seven touchdowns."
Bell was the #14 RB in standard formats (#13 in PPR), while racking up 257 touches in 15 games. That works out to a 17.1-touch average. While he certainly benefited from Reggie Bush's injury-plagued season, Bell dominated the touches even when Bush was active and playing. He should continue to see RB1-type touches in 2015 with Bush out of the way, though the arrival of Abdullah is a concern.
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. According to ESPN’s Adam Caplan, a Raiders source said that Murray is “freak” and has a chance to have “a huge year” in 2015.
Chiefs writer Adam Teicher (of ESPN) projects that WR Albert WIlson will start Week 1 over rookie Chris Conley, adding "He came on near the end of his rookie season, recording 12 of his 16 catches in the Chiefs' last four games."
The buzz about Conley has been good, so things have been trending his way, but Teicher believes Wilson has the edge. Conley is a much bigger receiver and has tremendous speed, but the presence of Travis Kelce at tight end makes the Chiefs' WR2 and unappealing fantasy prospect. Remember, the team famously did not throw a touchdown to a receiver during the entire 2014 season.
Falcons TE Jacob Tamme, who spent his first seven NFL seasons primarily catching passes from Peyton Manning in Indianapolis and Denver, made an immediate impression with his pass-catching ability this offseason. He looks poised to come in and become a real threat in Kyle Shanahan's offense. It's hard to compare him to a guy such as future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, but Tamme can be the type of reliable pass-catcher the Falcons haven't had at the position since Gonzalez's retirement. The 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pound Tamme isn't going to overwhelm you with his size, but he finds a way to get open and is fluid with his routes.
Tamme is 30 years old and isn’t likely to be a fantasy factor in single-TE leagues, but he’s on the radar in two-TE or TE-premium (1.5 PPR) formats.
Perriman has the physical tools (6’2, 4.24 40-yard dash), to replace Torrey Smith in the Ravens’ lineup from the start, but he has to learn Marc Trestman’s offense and prove that he can catch the ball consistently. If Gillmore wins the starting job, he'll be a deep sleeper in Trestman's TE-friendly offense.
To be fair, rookie Jaelen Strong had a rough spring and has time in camp to close the gap. But in Shorts and Washington, he'll have to overcome a couple of very experienced veterans. Shorts (27) is younger than Washington (32), but Washington has been more durable in recent years. Given the team's quarterback situation, there isn't a whole lot to like in the passing game other than Hopkins, who figures to be a target-hog.
Shorter passes, including ones aimed at running backs, are also prevalent in Browns OC John DeFilippo’s West Coast system. As a result, rookie Duke Johnson, the University of Miami’s all-time leading rusher whom the Browns drafted in the third round, will be counted on to fill a prominent role from the beginning.
Johnson poses the greatest receiving threat among this group, so he’ll have a lot on his plate in his first professional season. The coaching staff plans to move him into different spots, including receiver, in hopes of creating mismatches.
The Browns, though, are not relying on Johnson to become their starter right away. They would like him to eventually develop into the role, but they realize it might not happen immediately.
So at this point, Isaiah Crowell, who entered the league undrafted last year, is the favorite to start. A third-round draft pick in 2014, Terrance West will receive chances to earn carries as well, but his job security is more vulnerable after being benched twice last season because the coaches weren’t pleased with his preparation.
Crowell out-touched Terrance West 90 to 68 over the final seven games, but West had the last laugh, turning 20 touches into 106 yards and a TD against the Ravens in Week 17. (A seemingly healthy Crowell touched the ball five times for 22 yards.) In PPR formats, Johnson is the only running back in Cleveland that interests us. At this point, there is just too much uncertainty with Crowell/West in terms of who will get the carries in any given week.
The Lions were about a 58-42 pass to run team last season. HC Jim aldwell wants that number closer to 50-50.
Caldwell wants to run the ball more consistently and that couldn’t be more evident than with the selection of guard Laken Tomlinson in the first round and running back Ameer Abdullah in the second round.
Abdullah is going to play a similar role as Reggie Bush did in this offense and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets somewhere in the range of 15 touches per game as a runner and pass catcher.
Joique Bell was the team's leading rusher last year and averaged about 15 carries per game. If Abdullah is as good as the Lions think he’ll be, I’m guessing he gets around 15 touches per game early in the season and potentially builds on that as the year goes on.
We currently project Abdullah for 11.3 touches per game (3.6 catches), so Twentyman's projection is aggressive. The Lions are going to have to get closer to that aforementioned 50/50 split if they're going to support both Abdullah and Bell as viable fantasy starters. If he meets these expectations, Abdullah is shaping up as a nice value in the late 4th or 5th round.
Coach Ron Rivera said Thursday at a charity golf event that he's heard good reports on Benjamin's health and fitness and expects the receiver to be full-go when training camp opens on July 30, per The Associated Press.
Benjamin had a strong rookie season, finishing as the #15 WR in PPR formats and #16 in standard leagues. However, after his team’s Week 12 bye, Benjamin was just the #42 WR the rest of the way. Benjamin admitted to suffering from mental fatigue as a rookie, which is understandable given how much he was asked to do in his first year.