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McCoy: Philip Rivers will 'benefit' from new OC
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 8:33pm
While it’s clear Chargers QB Phillip Rivers flourished in last year’s system, HC Mike McCoy feels the promotion of Frank Reich will benefit the Chargers’ signal caller for 2014.
“With Frank as offensive coordinator, we will be able to maintain continuity on offense and help maximize the production by Philip and the entire unit,” McCoy said. “He has a great feel for the offense we have created and he has been a valuable asset to Philip.”
Rivers was written off by many after a substandard 2012 campaign, but he bounced back in a big way with a #5 finish in 2013. In fact, he has finished in the top 10 in five of his last six seasons. Malcom Floyd has been cleared to play, so the receiving corps will get a boost. The only concern is the loss of OC Ken Whisenhunt, who assisted Rivers in his bounce back season. He should be a good value in the later rounds for owners who want to wait on the position.
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Thursday, July 17, 2014, 8:25pm
"Evans steps into a great situation as the No. 2 wide receiver. He will start opposite Vincent Jackson, who will draw most of the attention from opposing defenses. That means there should be plenty of opportunities for Evans. His size should give him a big advantage in one-on-one matchups with cornerbacks."
We currently project Evans for 64 carries for 879 yards and five TDs, making him the #43 receiver on our board. Rookies are generally overdrafted, but Evans is in a great situation and could be starter-worthy (top 36) this season.
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 8:11pm
One of the biggest myths of the offseason has taken on a life of its own because coach Lovie Smith said a team needs more than one quality back. He is serious about that and there will be some sort of rotation. But the fact is Doug Martin still is the feature back and will get most of the carries. He just won’t get almost all the carries like he did under former coach Greg Schiano. There will be room for Charles Sims, Bobby Rainey, Mike James and Jeff Demps to compete for touches.
Martin was the #3 fantasy running back as a rookie, but his PPG dropped from #3 to #22 during his sophomore season. His stock has taken a hit due to the new regime in Tampa adding rookie Charles Sims to a stacked backfield that already includes Bobby Rainey and Mike James. He’s still going to be the RB1 for the Bucs but probably won’t see the 79.5% share of the carries that he received in his first 21 games. He’s still likely to be a high-end RB2 in both standard and PPR formats.
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 7:50pm
The optimism surrounding David Wilson's recovery from neck surgery continues to mount as we gallop toward training camp.
Echoing general manager Jerry Reese's comments last month, New York Giants co-owner John Mara said at a YMCA donation ceremony on Thursday that the team plans for Wilson to be ready to play.
"We expect him to be playing ... all signs are he'll be ready to go," Mara told reporters, per Newsday's Tom Rock.
Wilson, who seems to always find the ire of coach Tom Coughlin, could play a big role as the change-of-pace back the Giants lack -- if he can stay healthy. Doctors will re-examine his neck on Monday -- the same day the Giants report to training camp.
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 7:44pm
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 12:42pm
Packers TE Richard Rodgers was perhaps the most impressive rookie in the offseason practices, making difficult catches look easy. One member of the team's personnel department predicted Rodgers would be the opening-day starter ahead of Andrew Quarless.
If that's the case, Rodgers will be a sleeper fantasy TE2-type in a potent Packers offense, but there are a lot of moving parts here.
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 12:37pm
Teddy Bridgewater was impressive in his first work with the Vikings this spring, but unless he's clearly the best of the Vikings' quarterbacks in training camp, Matt Cassel figures to start the season as the quarterback. The Vikings re-signed Cassel so they wouldn't have to rush a young quarterback, and in the process, they created a situation in which they can afford to be patient with Bridgewater. If he's the best man for the job, it doesn't seem likely HC Mike Zimmer will wait to play him. But if he's not fully ready by the end of camp, there's nothing forcing the Vikings to play the rookie.
Montee Ball has 'every-down potential' in Denver offense
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 12:33pm
If you’re looking for a player for whom the Broncos have cleared the way to shine most, it’s RB Montee Ball. Let’s be clear, though: Ball earned that optimism by how he played down the stretch last season. He was the most effective runner with the ball in his hands over the last six weeks of the season/postseason. He’s smart and has the requisite work ethic, and the Broncos have seen vast improvements in his work as both a receiver and blocker in the passing game. That gives him the gotta-have-it, every-down potential in their offense. The Broncos aren’t looking to run the ball significantly more than they did in ’13, but when they do, they want to move the chains more efficiently. And when it’s time to slam the door on somebody, they’d like Ball to be the guy to do it.
Ball had a higher YPC (4.7) than Knowshon Moreno (4.3), but wasn’t quite the weapon in the passing game. Still, his catch percentage (receptions/targets = 74.1%) wasn’t bad for a running back. His play down the stretch (8.5 FP/game in final eight games) is encouraging. He’s locked in as the RB1 in a great offense, so 10+ touchdowns seems likely.
Panthers are 'better' at receiver
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 12:10pm
The Panthers are better at receiver than they were a year ago. Nothing against Steve L Smith, but at 35 he was no better than a No. 2 receiver and at the end of his career. Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon really weren't big losses when you look at it closely. Hixon wouldn't have been a loss at all were it not for the game-winning touchdown against New Orleans. The key here will be chemistry, but first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin looks like a red zone beast at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. Free agent signees Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant are solid possession receivers, and more dependable than the players they replaced. Who steps up as the fourth receiver will be the biggest question, whether it's free agent Tiquan Underwood or one of the young receivers. The Panthers plan to run a lot more two tight-end sets makes that less critical.
We project Cotchery and Benjamin to start but believe that Greg Olsen will once again lead the team in catches. Benjamin has upside, but Cotchery is a dirt cheap WR5/WR6 option available in the final rounds.
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 12:01pm
The Vikings drafted Jerick McKinnon in the hopes that he could become their third-down running back. He didn’t catch many passes in Georgia Southern’s triple-option offense, but he looked comfortable running routes and making catches during offseason workouts. Pass protection will be important, though, and McKinnon admittedly has a lot of learning to do in that area because of the offense he played in during college. Meanwhile, HC Mike Zimmer and the Vikings like Matt Asiata’s versatility and reliability, so he will be in the mix, as well. And don’t rule out Adrian Peterson hogging a big chunk of the third-down snaps, too.
How are the Vikings going to use McKinnon? We got a glimpse during offseason workouts and the minicamp, but we will get a better idea during training camp. McKinnon is quick, shifty and one of the most athletic players on the roster. To put his skill set to use, though, they will have to take Peterson off the field -- or find creative ways to use them together. Could a Sproles-type hybrid role be in the plans for the rookie? We’ll soon find out.
Packers want Eddie Lacy to be a three-down back
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 11:40am
"We haven't sat down and figured out 'X' number of carries for Eddie," offensive coordinator Tom Clements said this offseason, per ESPN.com. "We want to get him touches, trying to get him more involved in all aspects of the game, but Eddie was a workhorse for us last year. And then when James got in there last year, he ran very hard. That was a great one-two punch. Now you factor in DuJuan and the other guys, it's going to be interesting to see how that plays out."
As we discussed last week, the Packers want Lacy to be able to stay on the field on third downs so the pace doesn't slow due to subbing in a better pass-catching, blocking back.
Lacy finished as the #7 RB in his rookie season and did it in essentially 14 games. Removing Week 2 (where he was concussed and only carried the ball once), Lacy averaged 14.9 fantasy points, which is the 6th-best average, just behind Adrian Peterson. He is a great talent and plays in a potent offense that should be even better in 2014 with a (hopefully) healthy Aaron Rodgers under center. We're not worried about his playing time.
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 11:27am
While nothing is set in stone in terms of starters at receiver entering this training camp, Rams WR Chris Givens does seem to have the inside track on holding down a starting job, at least as camp opens. Tavon Austin also figures to have a large role. Givens will almost certainly have every opportunity to nail down the job, especially with Stedman Bailey set to miss the first four games because of a suspension. The Rams haven't had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2007 or even one to reach 700 yards since 2008. Givens doesn't have to reach the 1,000-yard mark for it to be considered a productive season but something close to 800 yards with six touchdowns would go a long way in ensuring his future as a starter.
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 11:18am
WR Golden Tate is the best No. 2 the Lions have had in Calvin Johnson’s tenure with the team. No disrespect to Nate Burleson, but he was more of a possession receiver. Tate can catch a five-yard pass and turn it into 80 yards. That’s nice to have in the bag when double coverage rolls Megatron’s way.
Tate is also sure-handed. He’s dropped just seven passes in four years. The Lions have led the league in dropped passes the last two seasons.
Tate had the #29 FP/T (1.21) in 2013, which was right on his three-year average. Tate saw 99 targets last year, which was a career high. He has back-to-back top 35 seasons to his credit, and he did that with just 5.4 T/G. He’s likely to see around 7.0 T/G in a pass-happy offense. (The Lions threw it 51% more than the Seahawks did in 2013.) And he’ll get to play opposite Calvin Johnson, ensuring that he’ll be seeing single coverage on virtually every play. He’s a fantasy WR3 with upside, assuming he and Matthew Stafford develop a good rapport. For more on his potential in the Detroit offense, click here.
'No surprise' if LeSean McCoy matches '13 workload
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 11:15am
Philly Mag's Sheil Kapadia...
The pressing question: Will Chip Kelly lighten LeSean McCoy’s workload?
On his way to setting the franchise record for rushing yards, McCoy led the NFL in carries (314) and touches (366). Only Chicago's Matt Forte played more snaps. The Eagles added Darren Sproles in the offseason. Does that mean they want to give McCoy more of a breather in 2014?
The answer, as I see it, is no. McCoy often mentions how his running style lends itself to fewer big hits, and the numbers suggest there could be something to that. In the Eagles' final four regular season games, he piled up 519 yards and averaged 6.3 YPC. In the fourth quarters of games, he led the NFL with 441 yards and averaged 6.0 YPC, according to STATS, Inc. In other words, there were no signs that his production took a hit because of the heavy workload.
McCoy is only 26 years old and the focal point of the Eagles' offense. Matching last year's number of touches would be no surprise. Assuming health, he's as close to a lock as there is to finish as one of the top three rushers in the NFL.
Due to the arrival of Darren Sproles and Jordan Matthews, and the expected emergence of Zach Ertz, we would be surprised if the Eagles didn't lighten McCoy's workload a bit. We currently have him projected for 337 touches, which represents an 8 percent drop in touches. He's still a top 3 RB in both PPR and standard formats.
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 10:52am
The Giants’ third-round pick in 2011, WR Jerrel Jernigan spent almost three full seasons in obscurity. But he closed last season with a flourish, catching 19 passes and scoring three TDs in the final three games. He showed plenty of burst and acceleration.
But Jernigan needs to build on that in training camp. Nagging injuries and inconsistent performance sabotaged him in previous camps, but a good camp could convince the Giants that he’s a receiver worth featuring. Victor Cruz will be the Giants’ receiving meal ticket, and Rueben Randle could be the big outside threat, but Jernigan has the potential to be a dangerous catch-and-run weapon.