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49ers Beat: Chemistry 'already building' between Colin Kaepernick and Torrey Smith

Thursday, April 30, 2015, 10:01am

49ers.com - [Full Article]

The San Francisco 49ers may only be two days into minicamp and a few weeks into the offseason program, but Torrey Smith said Wednesday that the chemistry is already building between him and his new quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

The two aren’t new acquaintances; Smith said that he and Kap had trained at the same facility in past offseasons. He referenced Kaepernick’s “cannon” and how it differs from the strong arm of his former Baltimore Ravens teammate Joe Flacco.

“Joe (Flacco) has a great arm, probably the strongest arm in the league, but Kap’s is something different with that velocity,” Smith said. “I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s something different.”

“He’s doing a great job,” Smith said. “Ya’ll aren’t out there, but some of the throws he made yesterday were ridiculous.”

“It was cover two and I had a conversion,” Smith said. “It turned into a deep route and there was a small, a really small window for him to make the throw between (Antoine) Bethea and myself. If he put too much air on it, the ball is going to get tipped in a real game, and I’m going to get knocked out. But, he threw it where only I could get it and I didn’t break stride. And it was on a rope, 35 yards on a rope. It would have been a touchdown. It was ridiculous.”

Fantasy Impact:

It was reported earlier in the offseason that the team planned to utilize Kaepernick’s running ability to a greater degree. Kaepernick ran the ball 12 more times in 2014 than he did in 2013 for an additional 115 yards, so it's not like he abandoned the scramble. It sounds like it's more about utilizing the read-option as a larger part of the offense. If that's the case, it could be a boon to Kaepernick's fantasy value. He was the #14 QB in 2014 after finishing #9 the season before, though his overall production only dipped by 11 fantasy points. He's a bounce-back candidate provided new OC Geep Chryst can design an offense that can move the ball. Chryst previously served as the OC for the Chargers in 1999 and 2000, but his offenses ranked 26th and 28th overall in that span. Any gains that Kaepernick can make as a thrower (due to his offseason work with QB coach Dennis Gile and former Rams/Cardinals QB Kurt Warner) will only help his overall value, and early reports describe a 'radically different' throwing motion.

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Broncos RB Montee Ball believes he'll win the RB1 job

Thursday, April 30, 2015, 9:26am

NY Times - [Full Article]

Broncos RB Montee Ball once again finds himself buried on the depth chart, this time behind C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman in Denver, and he envisions a similar story unfolding.

The Broncos' third-year running back predicts — not smugly but almost sheepishly — that he'll surpass Hillman and unseat Anderson, whose spectacular second half of 2014 earned him a Pro Bowl berth and the Broncos' starting tailback job.

"C.J. deserves the No. 1 spot right now. I'm most definitely going to try to work to get it back. And I believe that I will," Ball told The Associated Press during a break at minicamp this week. "I like coming in and being the underdog, just keeping my head down, my mouth shut and just working."

The clear-cut starter a year ago at this time after rushing for a 4.7-yard average his rookie year, Ball never regained his explosiveness or his starting job after undergoing an emergency appendectomy in August.

Ball blames the three-week layoff for weakening his core, which he believes in turn led to the torn right groin that landed him on injured reserve, limiting him to a paltry 172 yards on 55 carries for a 3.1-yard average and a single TD in 2014.

"I went back out there and it was just all downhill from there because I believe by having a weak core from having the surgery and not being able to work out my core for a good three weeks everything just lost its balance and my groin went out," Ball said. "I'm not blaming anyone because I looked them in the face and said, 'I feel great. I feel 100 percent.'"

Fantasy Impact:

Anderson starts the offseason as the starter, and it's his job to lose, but he's one of the riskier running backs currently going in the first three rounds due to his "half-year wonder" status and the presence of Hillman and Ball.

Cowboys RB Joseph Randle avoids domestic violence charge

Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 12:30pm

PFT - [Full Article]

Cowboys running back Joseph Randle, who was facing a domestic violence investigation, will not be charged.

Prosecutors in Wichita, Kansas, cited a lack of evidence in deciding not to charge Randle, according to Drew Davison of the Star-Telegram.

Fantasy Impact:

Randle is in the mix for more carries given DeMarco Murray's departure. In 2014, he averaged 6.7 YPC on 51 totes, so he has some upside behind the Cowboys' talented offensive line. This is especially true if the team doesn't pick a running back early in the draft.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 12:21pm

National Football Post - [Full Article]

Former Philadelphia Eagles running back Chris Polk has agreed to a one-year, $760,000 contract with the Texans, according to an NFL source.

Rams WR Brian Quick (shoulder) 'progressing well'

Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 12:19pm

Jim Thomas, Twitter - [Full Article]

Rams HC Jeff Fisher says WR Brian Quick progressing well in shoulder surgery rehab; threw out possibility of him participating (with protection) in some OTAs.

Fantasy Impact:

Quick was posting solid WR3 numbers in both standard and PPR formats before his injury in Week 8. He's currently the 50th WR off the board at the end of the 10th round. The arrival of Nick Foles should be good for his prospects in 2015.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 12:09pm

Joe Buscaglia - [Full Article]

Bills WR Marquise Goodwin, in a crucial year, has had just about as good a two days as you could have to start minicamp.

Fantasy Impact:

Goodwin is expected to play behind Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin, and compete for snaps with Robert Woods.

Browns veterans say Johnny Manziel's work ethic is 'night and day' from last season

Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 8:03pm

NFL.com - [Full Article]

Joe Thomas sees a transformation in quarterback Johnny Manziel.

In an exclusive interview with NFL Media's Andrea Kremer, Cleveland's Pro Bowl left tackle heaped praise on Johnny after saying earlier this month that the Browns passer "lost probably a lot of trust" among teammates with the way he handled himself as a rookie.

"The way he is now is night and day from last year," Thomas said Tuesday. "He has a bright future ahead of him."

Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden told Kremer that Manziel has been a workhorse around the facility, staying later to study the new offense.

"He has the it-factor. He has what you can't teach," said Haden, adding: "Actions speaking louder than words. He's putting forth those actions. That's all he can do."

Fantasy Impact:

The Browns need a quarterback, and maybe Manziel can turn his career around after a very disappointing rookie season. Drawing praise from players like Thomas and Haden is a good start.

Browns' new offense will feature more receptions for the running backs

Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 1:02pm

Cleveland Browns - [Full Article]

Even though the Browns have revamped their passing game with wide receivers Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe, coach Mike Pettine has been clear Cleveland will go as far as Crowell – and fellow rookie Terrance West – can take them.

Instead of developing a rivalry for who gets the most carries, Crowell and West have embraced each other, and have even made a pact together. Somehow they kept it under the social media radar, but Crowell flew up to Baltimore this offseason to get some workouts in with West, and, in turn, West flew down to Atlanta.

That pact? Both Crowell and West want to rush for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Crowell said the offense is generally similar to last season’s scheme, but there will be distinctions.

Two hints from Crowell: The pass protection is different and we will see him more as a receiver out of the backfield.

Fantasy Impact:

Once the Browns were done with Ben Tate (Week 11), 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.) The Cleveland running backs averaged 26.6 carries per game, so if the new offense does indeed feature the backs as receivers, there should be 30 or so touches for Crowell and West to split each week. Last season, HC Mike Pettine was handing out touches based on practice performance, so Crowell's current ADP (in the 5th round) seems steep given his uncertain workload and Cleveland's projected offensive struggles.

Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson working on route-running

Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 12:35pm

Pioneer Press - [Full Article]

After catching 45 passes for 469 yards as a rookie in 2013, many were expecting Patterson to have a breakout season in '14. Instead, he had just 33 catches for 384 yards while losing his starting job.

"This year is going to make me or break me, and I hope I step up and have a good role in this offense," Patterson said.

"Just route running. Growing up, I was always athletic and could just do anything. I'm in the NFL now, so I just have to focus on my craft and just work at route running, getting in and getting out of breaks and stuff like that."

The newly-acquired Mike Wallace, a former Pro Bowl selection, hopes he can help Patterson bounce back from his disappointing season.

"Definitely, I'm going to," Wallace said. "We're going to work together a lot."

Fantasy Impact:

Patterson was a big disappointment in fantasy circles in 2014, and expectations will be tempered heading into the season. He's no longer expected to play starter's snaps, so the pressure will be off and he can (hopefully) grow as a route runner and all-around receiver. He's going very late (14th round) in early fantasy drafts.

Looking for a new contract, Bears RB Matt Forte plans to skip voluntary minicamp

Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 12:27pm

Sun-Times - [Full Article]

Bears running back Matt Forte was named the 2015 Brian Piccolo Award winner on Tuesday. But Forte was not present at the ceremony and is set to sit out the Bears’ voluntary minicamp.

Coach John Fox said during the ceremony that Forte, who is looking for a contract extension, was not at Halas Hall. The Bears’ first minicamp practice is Tuesday afternoon. Forte also has missed the Bears’ voluntary workouts this month.

Fantasy Impact:

Forte has finished in the top 4 in both PPR and standard formats in the last two years, but his usage (especially in the passing game) was up under former OC Marc Trestman. He’s likely to see a drop in targets, but should still be good for 50-60 catches under new OC Adam Gase. Provided that his holdout doesn’t continue into the summer, Forte should deliver on his mid- to late-1st round ADP.

Monday, April 27, 2015, 12:36pm

NFL.com - [Full Article]

Redskins GM Scot McCloughan annouced at a Monday news conference that the team will exercise the fifth-year option for Robert Griffin III ahead of next Monday's deadline. However, McCloughan said the decision "does not affect our draft process whatsoever."

According to NFL Media's Albert Breer, the cost -- $16.1 million -- is viewed by the club as a discount version of the franchise tag and may give them one more season to make a clear evaluation.

Allowing a player of Griffin's caliber to walk before you are certain he is no longer the same player he was as a rookie would be foolish. New general manager Scot McCloughan is not willing to take that chance.

Fantasy Impact:

This will keep RG3 with the team through the 2016 season.

Steelers WR Antonio Brown present at workouts

Monday, April 27, 2015, 11:51am

PFT - [Full Article]

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown didn’t report to the start of the team’s offseason conditioning work along with his teammates and his absence was tied to a report that he was looking for a new contract and mulling an extended absence that could lead him to miss mandatory work at both minicamp and training camp. Brown chimed in later in the week to say that he was hanging out with his new child and was looking forward to getting back to work with the team.

The wait for his return to the team’s facility wasn’t a particularly long one. The Steelers posted some pictures from Monday’s workout session and Brown is among the featured players.

Fantasy Impact:

There was a report that Brown was planning to hold out for a new contract, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Counting the playoffs, Brown has caught at least five passes and/or a touchdown in 38 straight games. He followed up a #3 finish in PPR formats in 2013 with a #1 finish (in both PPR and standard formats) last season. He’s an extremely safe pick in the first round of PPR drafts and is currently the first receiver off the board in early best ball drafts.

Ravens TE Dennis Pitta hoping to play in 2015

Sunday, April 26, 2015, 10:26am

PFT - [Full Article]

Pitta has fractured and dislocated his hip both times, which has cast doubt on his ability to continue his playing career. Pitta isn’t sure whether or not he’ll be able to play, but he said Saturday that he’s “feeling good in workouts” while waiting to find out if he gets the green light to make a full return to action.

“We still have some time to be able to assess where I’m at,” Pitta said, via the Baltimore Sun. “I sure hope that I’ll be on the field next year. That’s my hope; that’s my goal. We’ll just see if we can get there.”

Fantasy Impact:

Pitta turns 30 in June, so he's no spring chicken. If he is able to play this season, it'll be a big boost for a Baltimore passing that lost Torrey Smith this offseason.

Vikings say that WR Cordarrelle Patterson has 'grown up a lot'

Sunday, April 26, 2015, 10:14am

NFL.com - [Full Article]

At the league meetings last month, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer tried his best to reason with a fan base clamoring for more of wideout Cordarrelle Patterson.

"There's no question he is, again there's another young guy that came out early and made a splash his rookie year because of his unique speed and his unique athletic traits," general manager Rick Spielman told The Star Tribune. "Sometimes you have to go through some growing pains where you have to realize it's more than just that. It's more than just relying on your athletic skill set and what it takes to be a great receiver in this league."

On the bright side, Spielman thinks Patterson has turned a corner in that respect.

"I think Cordarrelle has really grown up a lot," Spielman said. "I know what he has done this offseason dedicating himself to being the best receiver he can be, and how serious he is taking that, we're very excited about the future with Cordarrelle."

Fantasy Impact:

Patterson will likely play behind Charles Johnson and Mike Wallace, at least. He didn't crack the 15 percent mark in snaps played over the final five weeks of the season.

Jets Beat: Expect Chris Ivory and Stevan Ridley to split carries

Saturday, April 25, 2015, 12:04pm

NJ.com - [Full Article]

Regarding the Jets running game, expect Chris Ivory and Stevan Ridley to share the bulk of the load. One of those two might get 20 to 30 carries more than the other guy, but it won't be a huge gap, provided both backs stay healthy all season.

Fantasy Impact:

With Chris Johnson out of the way, it looked like Ivory might be one of the more attractive middle round sleepers at his position, but the team’s decision to sign Stevan Ridley has thrown his status up in the air. He’s a career 4.7 YPC runner, and has averaged 4.4 YPC in two seasons with the Jets. It would have made more sense if the Jets had paired Ivory with a speed back/receiving threat like C.J. Spiller, but the arrival of Ridley is a concern. If the two players do indeed split carries, neither will carry much reliable fantasy value.

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