Cowboys beat writer Brandon George thinks Dallas will run the same kind of offense even with the loss of RB DeMarco Murray to free agency.
George: The Cowboys, I believe, will go about their offense the same way as last year with emphasizing the run game behind a dominant offensive line. At least early in the season. If the run game starts to struggle, you could see them start to shy away from it and put the ball int he hands of QB Tony Romo more again. And that hasn't always been positive. They need a strong rushing game again to make this offense click.
In another question, George went on to say he believes Joseph Randle is the team's RB1, but Lance Dunbar and Darren McFadden will also have roles in the running game.
George added that things could change but he'd "put [his] money on Randle at this point." We agree with George and have Randle ranked the highest among the Dallas backs - coming in 24th with an ADP of the sixth round in 10 team leagues. If he can manage to keep the RB1 role, he could provide owners with some nice value from that draft slot.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 8:25am
While league rules have carved into the amount of offseason practice time — which some have called unnecessary — others are looking for more.
According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford wants to bring receiver Calvin Johnson and the rest of his targets together for some pre-camp work of their own.
Such camps aren’t new, as Peyton Manning has been taking his receivers to Duke every spring, and others do the same. But Stafford said he thought it would help.
“I think it’s big,” Stafford said. “I’m obviously in Atlanta quite a bit, so Calvin’s right there, throw with him some. But try to find a way to get together with some of the other guys as well. . . ."
Stafford went on to say there's no substitute for running routes for a receiver and catching the ball from the guy you’re going to be catching the ball from during the season. The Lions got good numbers out of Johnson and Golden Tate last year, but the rest of the offense struggled at times. They were 22nd in the league in scoring offense, and no other non-Johnson or Tate receiver had more than 322 receiving yards, the story said.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 8:22am
Pittsburgh TE Heath Miller is a No. 3 or 4 option for the offense but nothing more.
He might’ve been a 1,000-yard receiver as a 25-year-old in Haley’s offense. Miller’s scoring rate is concerning. After 27 touchdowns in his first five years, Miller has 16 in his last five, for an average of 3.2 per year. He surpassed three scores in one of those five seasons.
The Steelers placed a waiver claim for tight end Tim Wright, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. When coupled with reported interest in second-round tight end Maxx Williams during the draft, the Wright claim indicates the franchise is at least exploring tight end alternatives.
The story went on to say Miller isn’t an elite tight end but he’s still very solid. He can put up 600 yards in this offense at age 32. And the truth is the Steelers still need him. He’s a safety valve for QB Ben Roethlisberger. In fact, we predict Miller for 588 yards and just under 3 TDs for 2015. However he's ranked 20th on our list and likely won't get a lot of draft attention in typical leagues. With Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell and Martavis Bryant, that's a strong core of talent to monopolize the red zone touches.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 8:14am
Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin had some familiarity with the Chiefs’ offensive scheme when he arrived in Kansas City this offseason because of his past working relationship with coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Doug Pederson, but he’d never played with quarterback Alex Smith.
Maclin says that the two men clicked during the spring and that he’s never “been off to a better start” with a quarterback during his career. It’s probably fair to assume that a big part of the reason for that may be Maclin’s ability to make Smith’s life easier than some Chiefs receivers have made it in recent years.
“He has a guy he can trust,” Maclin said, via the team’s uniform. “He can put the ball in different spots and I’ll go out there and make plays. I’m looking forward to doing some special things with him.”
Maclin comes in ranked 27th on our WR list heading into fantasy drafts. With the Eagles, Maclin spent some weeks last year ranked as a WR1. While that remains to be seen with the Chiefs, Maclin is shaping up to be a solid WR3, even with the concerns of Smith not always throwing down field. The addition of Maclin should help open up the Chiefs offense, though, and the two seem to be clicking early on.
Sunday, June 28, 2015, 4:39pm
Giants QB Eli Manning, 34, signed a six-year, $97 million deal with the Giants in 2009. It's been re-worked frequently to create salary-cap room but Manning's still on the same deal. It expires after the 2015 season.
Despite his age and despite his propensity for throwing picks (he's led the league three times, including 2013), Manning has two Super Bowl MVP awards and certainly qualifies as a top-end quarterback.
From a fantasy perspective, Manning had one of the best statistical seasons of his career in 2014, throwing for 4,410 yards with 30 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions. That he did it in a new offensive scheme is only more impressive. It was a rough start for the Giants but the emergence of Odell Beckham Jr at WR certainly helped turn around the offense. WR Victor Cruz should be back healthy and the team signed Shane Vereen as a pass-catching running back. The point of the story is more times than not, QBs tend to get deals done with their current team, so there's a good chance Manning stays in New York - and he has the potential for a nice 2015. He's ranked ninth on our QB list heading into camps. With an ADP of the 12th round, he's a potential sneaky pick because guys behind him in our rankings - Tony Romo, Ryan Tannehill, Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford - all project to come off the board before Manning.
He stayed on the field on third downs as a pass protector and receiving outlet for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He was solid in blitz pickup, and he boosted his pass-catching numbers considerably, from 257 yards and no touchdowns in 2013 to 427 yards and four scores last year.
All the while, he improved his per-carry rushing average a full half yard, from 4.1 to 4.6, without missing a single game and never touching the ball fewer than a dozen times per contest.
It’s a heavy workload that isn’t likely to diminish in the upcoming season, but the third-year running back is fine with his extensive every-down responsibilities.
“I don’t feel I have too much on my plate,” Lacy said last week as the offseason program wrapped up. “I really think it’s the perfect amount. You can see the chemistry between me and the offensive line, and me and the quarterback. We’re just all on the same page and we’re rolling.”
Lacy will certainly be a major factor again this season, and the coaching staff has emphasized it wants to get clicking from the get-go this year, the story said. That's something Lacy didn't do last season, thanks in part to a tough, early schedule. But we preached to stay patient with Lacy as his schedule eased. It paid off as he finished in the top-eight in both PPR and standard formats. This year Lacy is ranked third among our running backs heading into drafts, but with an ADP of 1.3, he's actually going before Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch, who we have ahead of him here in late June.
Sunday, June 28, 2015, 9:34am
When the offseason program ended Thursday, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll pointed to two players who stood out to him through the rookie camp and organized team activities (OTAs).
The first one is rookie wide receiver Tyler Lockett, the team’s third-round draft choice.
“It’s been really fun to learn about Tyler," Carroll said. “He’s got a lot of responsibilities. He’s going after this return job, he’s inside playing in the slot in the receiver position, and he’s been outside.
“We’ve just thrown everything at him because he seems to be able to handle it. He studies really hard. You don’t really know until you get these guys how dedicated they will be, but he’s been an exciting addition to the team.”
The other standout for Carroll is tight end Jimmy Graham, the Pro-Bowl player who should make a big impact on the offense this season.
“Jimmy coming in with the big history and all the accomplishments that he had, he could have been all kinds of things,” Carroll said. “He’s a great kid. He’s as hard a worker as we could hope to get. He loves the game. He loves the challenge and he loves coming to a new setting and having to prove himself. He’s feeding off that.”
Lockett is listed fourth our Seattle WR depth chart and isn't expected to be a typical fantasy league option - at least to start the season. Graham, on the other hand, is second among our TEs heading into fantasy drafts and projects as a third round pick. We think his value takes a little hit in a Seahawk, run-oriented offense, but given there isn't really a standout among the WRs, Graham should still get his targets.
With the deadline to agree to a long-term deal coming July 15, Tom Condon, the agent for wide receiver Dez Bryant, and the Dallas Cowboys had their first face-to-face meeting in nearly four months within the past week, according to sources.
Last month, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said the team would make a push to sign Bryant to a deal, but much work remains before that actually happens.
Bryant has yet to sign his $12.823 million franchise tag tender in hopes of a deal with larger guaranteed money. Bryant's camp has threatened to miss regular-season games even though there would be no financial incentive. After July 15, Bryant has to play the season on the tender and the two sides could begin negotiations again after the season.
Bryant missed most of the Cowboys' offseason program, showing up for a handful of workouts and an organized team activity, according to the story. Bryant attended the final day of the Cowboys' mandatory minicamp on June 18 but did not practice. The Cowboys do not believe the threat to miss games because it would cost Bryant roughly $754,000 each week. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he believes Bryant will be "leading the way" when the Cowboys open the season Sept. 13 against the New York Giants. Bryant is ranked fourth on our WR list with an ADP of late in the first round.
Saturday, June 27, 2015, 4:56pm
Adrian Peterson will be back in the lineup as the starting running back for the Vikings. However, Jerick McKinnon said his health is fine and that shouldn't play any role as he competes with Matt Asiata for playing time behind Peterson.
"Two hundred percent,'' McKinnon said about he feels since December surgery. "If there is a 300, I feel 300. It's all good.''
McKinnon was a third-round pick out of Georgia Southern and made the transition from being an option quarterback. Any plans to bring him along slowly as a rookie were scuttled when Peterson left the team following the regular-season opener.
McKinnon's outing against the Falcons came in the fourth game of the season and in just his third appearance. He averaged an impressive 4.8 yards per carry while sharing running duties with Asiata until he got hurt.
McKinnon developed a close bond with Peterson in the four months he spent with him last year, the story said. McKinnon even said he'd draft himself on his own fantasy team, but the fact is, Peterson returns this year ranked as our number-one fantasy back. McKinnon can be had in the very late rounds, though, and if you're a Peterson owner, it may not be a bad move to back yourself up.
Saturday, June 27, 2015, 1:51pm
Bills beat writer Vic Carucci answered a question about keeping struggling QB Matt Cassel because he's a veteran.
Carucci: [$4.75 million] is a whole lot of cap space to devote to a backup. I believe the Bills acquired Cassel in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings last March with the intention of making him their starter. Furthermore, I would fully expect the Bills to extend Cassel’s contract to provide cap relief if they are convinced he will have the job.
The fact that hasn’t happened and that there is no indication of it happening any time soon after his struggles through the offseason raise some legitimate questions about whether he will be on the roster if he isn’t starting.
Carucci said he thinks Cassel is wired to accept a backup role as a mentor to EJ Manuel or Tyrod Taylor or any younger starter, but doubts the Bills would devote that much to their cap. With a run-first plan of attack likely still in place, whoever the Bills starter is won't have a ton of week-to-week fantasy value.
Saturday, June 27, 2015, 11:15am
Cimini: I'll tell you what I've seen from Bryce Petty: arm talent. His arm is good enough to make all the throws. But, as you know from watching Geno Smith, it takes more than a good arm to be an effective quarterback. We won't know about Petty's intangibles until we see him in game conditions, facing a live pass rush. Some fans might be hoping he pulls a Russell Wilson, a middle-round pick who blows away everyone from day one. The Jets would love to see that happen, but Wilson's advantage was that he already was well-versed in the Seattle Seahawks' offense, having played in a West Coast system in college. That's not the case with Petty, who played in an up-tempo spread at Baylor. There will be a steep learning curve.
Saturday, June 27, 2015, 11:02am
Harvey: First, I must say, the "if" is a big qualifier. Obviously, every team comes into each new season believing "if" it can stay healthy it has a chance to truly be great. In Cincinnati's case, I really do believe that some measure of greatness can be achieved assuming at least near-complete health this season.
Injuries derailed many of the Bengals' hopes in 2014, with receivers A.J. Green and Marvin Jones, tight ends Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham, offensive linemen Andre Smith and Kevin Zeitler, and running back Giovani Bernard missing significant chunks of the season. Had the Bengals been able to get a couple games back where those players weren't injured, they might have won an extra regular-season game, and perhaps they would have had a better shot in the playoff game at Indianapolis. Because of the qualifier "if," it's hard to guess about the unknown. But here's the thing: On paper, the Bengals are poised to be every bit as good as the 2013 team. That year's offense ranked 10th. Last year's was 15th. The Bengals certainly will be more improved this season.
It's also year two under offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, which should help. Jeremy Hill has emerged as a bell cow rusher and the team expects to have healthy weapons in the passing game. The story added the team better understands how to rotate Hill and Bernard at RB. Where the 2013 and 2015 offenses will differ is in the way that they play. Two years ago, Cincinnati had a pass-heavy system that put a lot of pressure on quarterback Andy Dalton's shoulders. This season, the Bengals will use Hill and Bernard to pace the offense.
Saturday, June 27, 2015, 10:53am
Coach John Harbaugh is pushing Brown for a breakout season.
"I have high hopes for him," Harbaugh said recently, via the Ravens' official website. "I really want to see him break out. ... It's time for him to step up and become what he's capable of doing. He's very determined to do that."
Harbaugh continues to talk up Brown this offseason. When training camp opens, Brown will be battling Aiken and Perriman for a starting job. The story went on to say Brown didn't make enough plays in 2014. After recording seven touchdowns as an undrafted rookie in 2013, he was kept out of the end zone entirely last season. In fact, the 6-foot-5 redzone threat wasn't targeted once inside the 20-yard line.
Seahawks beat writer Bob Condotta (of the Seattle Times) was asked to predict the pecking order at receiver:
If you go with just two receivers, then I’d still go with Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse being the two starters for the opening game. They are the two most experienced and proven receivers on the team and also excel at a really underrated aspect of the game that is hugely important to the coaches — blocking. That’s one reason you rarely saw those two come off the field last season. Teams obviously often run three-receiver sets. And if what we saw in OTAs and mini-caps is any indication, then the starting 3-WR sets would well include Baldwin, Kearse and Chris Matthews. Tyler Lockett projects as Baldwin’s backup, with the other spots sort of a jumble at the moment. But as of now, I’d go with Kevin Norwood and Ricardo Lockette as the other backups. As you note, Paul Richardson could well being the year on the PUP list. If he’s healthy by opening day, I’d put him on the second unit. As for the Kearse and Matthews, there’s no question that what Matthews did in the Super Bowl creates a lot of excitement going forward. But Kearse is one of the team’s most versatile receivers and as noted, also excels at blocking. For now, I think he holds on to a role as being more of an every down receiver.
Matthews is a deep sleeper this year despite a great performance in the Super Bowl. Baldwin should be usable in fantasy leagues, but with the addition of TE Jimmy Graham, there will be fewer targets available to the Seattle receivers.
Head coach Rex Ryan is on board with WR coach Sanjay Lal’s plan to develop Percy Harvin as a bona fide receiver on the outside. Harvin never had enough time to invest in being an outside threat because he was spending too much practice time elsewhere on the field, be it in the slot or the offensive backfield or on kick return with his previous clubs.
“He’s a playmaker and I think Percy now he’s just scratching the surface of what kind of outside receiver he can be,” said Ryan. “I’m excited to see how he can elevate his game at that position. He’s extremely talented.”
“Sometimes Percy Harvin may get 10 balls thrown to him. Maybe the next week he gets three, but that’s okay because we just want to win,” said Ryan. “It could mean your number is dialed up a lot more this week than it was the last week. That’s just part of it. We know we have a lot of playmakers and we plan to get the ball in all of their hands.”
This is all well and good, but the Bills still have serious quarterback issues and an offensive coordinator (Greg Roman) who never had an offense finish better than 23rd in total passing yards in four seasons in San Francisco.