Eric Ebron wasn't sharp to open OTAs, but has gotten progressively better. That includes no drops in the last OTA that was open to the media, and then no drops on the first day of minicamp. The closest thing was a pass that was broken up at the last moment by Rashean Mathis. Other than that, Ebron caught everything thrown his way, and was a real matchup nightmare. (And despite the good practice, Ebron still stuck around to take extra balls from the JUGS machine after practice. Another indicator his questionable attitude is a thing of the past, even if the drops aren't -- yet.)
Ebron turned 3.8 targets into 1.9 catches for 19 yards and 0.08 TD as a rookie. He played half the snaps, so his lack of production is somewhat alarming. Tight end is a tough position to learn as a rookie, so there is some reason for optimism given Ebron's skill set, especially since he seems to be having a good offseason.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 9:06pm
Talking about wide receivers, Nick Toon has been here for years now, do you think that this could potentially be his year to emerge.
Saints QB Drew Brees: “I do, absolutely. This will be his fourth season and that first year he was injured, the second year he made progress, and then last year he had a chance to kind of break out a little bit and get some opportunities to play once (Brandin) Cooks went down and I felt like made the most of it. We saw glimpses. For him it’s just a matter of repetition and the more opportunities he gets I think the more plays he is going to make. We’ve had the ability to maneuver him around and give him more opportunities that way and he’s been able to handle it very well. So I’m excited for Nick Toon, he’s got a great opportunity I think there’s a great fit for him and a great opportunity for him and a great role for him in this offense.”
Toon figures to serve as the WR3 behind Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston. The role hasn't traditionally been a big fantasy producer, but Jimmy Graham is gone so the team figures to get less production out of the tight end position. If anything happens to Cooks or Colston, fantasy owners should have Toon on speed dial.
Tevin Coleman hasn't passed Freeman yet. Coleman is the new regime's hand-picked running back, so we would expect him to see plenty of playing time as a rookie. But for now Freeman continues to start. He's a late-round option, especially in PPR formats.
Texans beat writer John McClain:
Hoyer is such a nautral in the system implemented by coach Bill O'Brien and OC George Godsey. QB gets a lot of freedom at the line.
Hoyer is smooth, smart and accurate. Looks like he's been in this system for years. Has a nice touch on all throws. Looked good today.
Hoyer didn't have much success in Cleveland, but he could work his way into the QB2 conversation if everything breaks his way in Houston. He has a bona fide WR1 in DeAndre Hopkins, but after that there isn't a whole lot of certainty in the receiving corps.
“I would say Davante Adams for someone if, if you want a clear illustration and example of a first-year player taking a jump in his second year, you just saw it here the last four weeks,” Packers HC Mike McCarthy said. “I think he’s been tremendous throughout the OTAs. And he’s got more in front of him, too, so I think that’s what’s exciting. I think Davante has done a great job in the strength and conditioning. He’s been really, really good in practice throughout this deal. Davante, if you wanted me to pick an MVP or an all-star, he would definitely be atop the list.”
Adams had his moments during his rookie season, specifically against the Patriots (6-121 on 11 targets) in Week 13 and in the postseason against the Cowboys (7-117-1 on 11 targets). However, he only saw 66 passes come his way since he played alongside target hogs Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Aaron Rodgers has been highly complimentary of Adams this offseason and says he has “humongous upside.” In 20 games from 2012-13, the team’s WR3, James Jones, managed WR3-type numbers (3.7-50.3-.60 on 5.6 targets) with both Cobb and Nelson in the lineup, but that was mainly due to his unusually high TD rate. In 13 games that Cobb and/or Nelson missed, Jones averaged solid WR2 numbers (4.6-58-.46 on 7.3 targets), but his TD rate regressed. We’re bullish on Adams since he has more potential than Jones. The Packers are also without a tight end of Jermichael Finley’s caliber, so there may be more targets available for the team’s third receiver. Owners should expect fantasy WR2 numbers if Cobb or Nelson go down, making the second-year wideout a great handcuff for either player.
Cowboys beat writer Bob Sturm broke down RB Darren McFadden:
Hundreds of Oakland carries to consider, yet, anybody-but-McFadden averaged over 5.5 yards per carry or 2.2 more than each and every single run from McFadden? Basically, he had 60% the productivity of each of his backup’s runs – over 3 straight years.
In answer to the question of whether “anyone would have problems in Oakland”, it appears that 5.5 yards per carry over 370 attempts might not fully agree with that assessment.
I believe the Cowboys think he is their 3rd down back. I don’t think they want him running on 1st and 2nd down in their offense. I think that will be Randle to start. (3rd down back can mean 30 snaps in a game.)
The soon-to-be 28-year-old McFadden hasn't cracked 3.5 YPC since the 2011 season, when he ran for 614 yards on 113 carries (5.4 YPC) in seven games. That's the rub with McFadden -- fantasy owners haven't been able to count on his durability. He has missed roughly a quarter of his team's games since entering the league. We also believe he’ll serve as a change-of-pace/3rd-down back behind Joseph Randle, but he'll have to beat out Lance Dunbar for that role.
If things hold true throughout training camp, then I’d expect to see Morris continue as the workhorse back. Coaches will most likely use Jones to give Morris a breather here in there, or both on short-yardage situations, and on third downs.
In his first three seasons, Morris has finished #5, #14 and #13 in standard formats. He's more of a RB2 in PPR leagues (#7, #19, #17) since he has only averaged 0.8 receptions per game in his career. Bill Callahan's arrival (as offensive line coach) should boost the effectiveness of the team's running game, which in turn will help Morris's fantasy production. He's a solid value and a safe pick in the 3rd/4th round of early PPR drafts.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 3:03pm
"Andrew Quarless has had a great offseason," the quarterback said. "I think he's really, something clicked in for him at the end of last year and he's been taking the jump."
Richard Rodgers is also in the mix. Neither player is particularly attractive at this point since they rotated at the position for most of last year.
"If I'm not ready for 11 on 11 by training camp, then something has gone horribly wrong,'' Eagles QB Sam Bradford, who is coming back from his second ACL tear in two years, said. "That's the plan right now. We're going to keep plugging away and be ready when camp starts.''
It appears Bradford is on track for camp. Over the last two seasons, Philadelphia quarterbacks have averaged 16.7 passing game-only fantasy points. Bradford isn’t much of a runner, but he adds about 0.7 FP per game as a rusher. That adds up to 17.4 FP, or about what Eli Manning averaged as the #13 QB in 2014. The Eagles’ offense has lost their top receiver – DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin – in each of the last two seasons, but Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz are emerging and the team added Nelson Agholor in the draft. If Bradford ends up starting for the Eagles, we wouldn’t expect anything more than high-end QB2 numbers, but this is a definite system upgrade due to the overall effectiveness of Chip Kelly’s offense.
Texans RB Arian Foster’s early performance during offseason workouts has been encouraging. A season removed from back surgery, the veteran running back has been a full participant in workouts and stood out again Tuesday, during the first day of a three-day minicamp.
Foster averaged 22.9 touches per game (the 4th-highest workload in the league) and scored 0.79 fantasy points per touch (13th among the top 60 running backs). From a per game standpoint, he was #2 in standard formats and #4 in PPR, so he's still playing at a very high level when healthy. However, he missed three games in 2014 and eight more in 2013, and has only played 14 or more games once in his last four seasons.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 2:42pm
Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 1:15pm
Strong is vying for snaps opposite DeAndre Hopkins. It's nice to see that he's healthy enough to get these crucial practice reps as he tries to learn the offense.
In what will be some of his last public comments on the matter until training camp opens in late July, HC Gary Kubiak said, “We’re right where we’re at. Obviously, C.J., that’s in a lot of ways his spot to hang on to. I think that Montee has had a great offseason. I think Ronnie [Hillman] has had a really good offseason. I think it's very competitive. You never know about the backs until you put the pads on. I think C.J. has worked extremely hard. Coming off of last year, he deserves that opportunity, and I think he's getting ready for that opportunity. But he knows he’s being pushed very hard."
Kubiak said Monday that Anderson’s ability in the passing game, both in protection and as a receiver, has kept him there.
"I think in this league as coaches you look for guys that can be three-down players," Kubiak said. "When you have two-down players, that's fine, but it's just very difficult in the game standpoint and getting them the ball and calling the game when you're not out there all the time. He has a knack for protection, he's very bright in protection. So he's a guy that’s not going to leave the field -- as much as he can stand. And that's what the great ones do, so that gives him an excellent chance."
He began to see starter-type touches in Week 10 with 17 touches for 163 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders. Over the final eight weeks, he averaged 24.0 touches for 132 yards and 1.3 TD, and was the #1 RB in that span. Anderson had a tough offseason last year, but is doing much better this time around. He should start the season as the starter, and as long as he doesn't fall on his face (or start fumbling), it should be a very productive role in the Broncos' offense.
ESPN's Adam Caplan on RB T.J. Yeldon:
Best hands of their RBs, I'm told. First time in many years their OL has depth, versatility.
Yeldon should see plenty of touches, but the Jaguars' offense has been poor for some time, so he may not see the same number of scoring opportunities as some of the other running backs being drafted in the middle rounds. Denard Robinson had a very nice stretch for four weeks, but otherwise the Jacksonville running backs weren't much of a fantasy factor in 2014. The team did make an effort to improve the offensive line via free agency and the draft, so Yeldon has top 20 potential provided QB Blake Bortles shows progress from his disappointing rookie season.