Will this be the year that 2013 second-round pick Aaron Dobson breaks through? He had a solid series of spring practices, but it's understandable why many are waiting to see more based on his struggles to stay healthy the past two seasons and the fact the pads have yet to come on. Dobson, rookie Malcolm Mitchell and first-year player Chris Harper are the top "X" options. If the season started today, Dobson would probably get the nod, but there's a long way to go.
Related players: Chris Hogan
It's interesting that Reiss didn't mention Chris Hogan, who at 6'1" has the size to play outside. We reached out to Reiss and asked about Hogan in the X, and he replied: "Has inside-outside flexibility but wouldn't view him as pure X."
Titans beat writer Paul Kuharsky:
New receivers coach Bob Bratkowski said the time off for Green-Beckham is still a factor in his game.
“It’s still there, it’s going to be there,” Bratkowski said. “You can’t ever replace the experienced missed. Is it going to get better? Yes. But that gap, that missing time of the experience missed, is always going to be a part of it.
“Maybe three years from now, it’ll be a moot point. I still think right now in just playing the game, there are things that he missed. If you take Jerry Rice or any top receiver or actually any player, and they had that kind of a gap, it has an effect on them. It takes time.”
DGB has a solid FP/T (1.18, #35) and is slated for a larger target share in his sophomore season. He averaged 5.9 T/G over his final nine games and played at a 44-791-3.5 pace in that span. Negative news at this point in the offseason usually isn't a good sign for the fall, but Green-Beckham still has time to earn a starting job.
This is a good sign since we're still around six weeks from the start of training camp and there's two and a half months until Week 1. With the way he finished the season -- 5.4-100-0.78 over the final nine games -- he has WR1 potential in 2016 provided he's fully healthy, but that's far from certain. Our injury expert, Russell Manalastas recommends caution, saying "I still think it's going to be an uphill battle for him to be effective early on in the regular season...and he needs at least five to six months with no setbacks to feel confident that he's fully healthy." If he had the surgery in mid-April, then five to six months puts a full recovery in mid-September to mid-October.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett told reporters on Tuesday that Darren McFadden recently had surgery on a broken elbow he suffered in an accident at his home. McFadden is out for a couple months, and may or may not be ready for Dallas' season opener against the New York Giants in September.
If there was ever much doubt, this should cement Ezekiel Elliott's status as the RB1. Alfred Morris will likely serve as Elliott's backup as long as McFadden is sidelined. Rookie running backs who are drafted in the early rounds of fantasy drafts tend to outperform their veteran counterparts, but no rookies in recent memory have been drafted as early as Elliott is being drafted this year (in the 1st round).
We'll see what being "fine for the season" really means. He's likely to miss a number of practices and may have to earn his playing time as the season begins if he's not able to participate in camp. More concrete timelines should come out in the next week or so.
“I think I’ve said it before: He clearly has a role here,’’ Mularkey said of McCluster. “The offense is multi-faceted, and he will be parts of many different packages to try and attack defenses.”
If McCluster has a sizable role in the passing game, it will put a dent in the upside of DeMarco Murray, who is a solid receiver out of the backfield.
There has been nothing but raves for Sterling Shepard, the second-round receiver out of Oklahoma, who has drawn comparisons to both a healthy Victor Cruz and to Odell Beckham. He has flashed terrific speed and great hands throughout the Giants' spring drills and appears to be a lock to land in the starting lineup.
The mini-camp drills will be more of the same — no contact, no game-planning — but it'll be more of an opportunity to watch him one-on-one against the Giants' best cornerbacks. So far he's been up to the challenge and the excitement over the 22-year-old sure has seemed justified.
Shepard's fantasy value will depend somewhat on the status of Victor Cruz, but it appears that the rookie may start even if Cruz is 100 percent.
With Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin still not all the way back from his ACL surgery, second-year wideout Devin Funchess has been the star of OTAs. Funchess, a second-round pick last year, has shown terrific hands going across the middle, albeit in non-contact drills.
That’s a good sign for a player who struggled hanging on to the ball early in his rookie year before finishing strong. Funchess, 6-4 and 225 pounds, also has looked more fluid in his routes this spring.
An improved Funchess and a healthy Benjamin would be huge to a receiving group that had wideouts playing out of position for much of last season.
Funchess finished with 31 catches for 473 yards and 5 touchdowns on 63 targets, which was a little disappointing considering the opportunity he had with Benjamin out for the year. Instead it was Ted Ginn who provided the most consistent fantasy value. With Benjamin back and Ginn still around, it's hard to see how Funchess's role increases. The Panthers did give Jerricho Cotchery 54 targets last year, so that's a start.
No player on the Colts’ 90-man roster flashed more in recent weeks than Hilton. And no player has to be more excited about the return of No. 12 than No. 13, whose skill set was hampered last season after Luck went down and the downfield threat disappeared. This spring, with Luck back under center, Hilton has starred.
“T.Y.’s had as good an offseason as anybody,” Pagano gushed a few weeks back. “I’ve never seen this guy practice as fast as he is right now and compete at the level he is.”
Hilton admitted he was ticked off about last season, about watching the playoffs from home for the first time in his four-year career. When he returned to the field, he dueled Pro Bowl cornerback Vontae Davis for much of the spring. Hilton won more than his fair share.
Also of note: Hilton is no longer just the No. 1 target. He’s the elder statesman in the receivers room for the first time in his career — Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne owned that distinction in years past. Hilton must deliver this season, and he knows it. Watch out. No. 13 could be in line for a career year.
In 22 games over the past two seasons with a healthy Andrew Luck, Hilton has averaged 5.1 catches for 86 yards and 0.45 TD. Those are fringe WR1 numbers in PPR formats and solid WR1 numbers in standard leagues. With Luck back under center, Hilton should have a bounce back season after finishing #22 in both formats.
Lewis tore his ACL in November, so he'll be 10 months removed from surgery in September. He's expected to play in Week 1 but may not be completely comfortable in his surgically repaired knee. In six healthy games, Lewis averaged 12.8 touches for 95 yards and 0.67 TD. On a per game basis, he was #10 in standard and #5 in PPR at the time of his injury. As for Gronkowski, the team is being very careful in the hopes that he'll stay healthy in 2016.
Bears WR Kevin White seemed to be in great shape during OTAs. However, the Chicago media is permitted to attend only three OTA workouts (one per week). Minicamp, on the other hand, is a chance to watch White perform on consecutive days. This still isn’t real football. Real football is played with pads. So we won’t know for sure how White is progressing until the Bears play in actual games. That being said, White has looked strong and fast in offseason workouts. He certainly looks the part. The thought of White and Jeffery paired together is exciting, and could cause major problems for opposing defenses -- think Jeffery and Brandon Marshall together in 2013, but with less drama.
White, who spent the entire year on the shelf with a severe case of shin splints and/or some sort of leg injury, should have a big role in 2016. He was starting to practice before the end of the season but landed on injured reserve since he wasn’t in game shape and there was no really point in rushing him back in what became a lost season for the Bears. He was the #7 overall pick in the 2015 Draft and the bottom line is that the Bears need him.
Lions TE Eric Ebron didn’t play much football the first two weeks of OTAs, sidelined with an injury. He returned this week and immediately slid into his position in Jim Bob Cooter's offense. It’s a role he believes will be “a lot more exciting” than it was his first two seasons under Joe Lombardi.
Ebron is going to have to take more responsibility, too. With Calvin Johnson's retirement, he becomes one of the team’s primary mismatches for opponents. When he was drafted, he was supposed to be another option for Matthew Stafford. Now, he’ll likely line up with Marvin Jones and Golden Tate as a primary one.
“I see him hopefully taking strides this year,” Cooter said. “And making those big strides.”
Ebron caught 47 passes for 537 yards and five touchdowns last season and finished as the #13 TE in PPR formats, though he was actually worse under then-interim and now-official offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. He averaged 13.0 FP (PPR) through the first seven weeks, and 7.3 FP once Cooter was promoted. With Calvin Johnson gone, there are a lot of moving parts in Detroit, so this doesn't mean that Ebron won't produce similar (or better) numbers in his third season.
Monday, June 13, 2016, 11:41am
It looks like we’re going to have another running-back-by-committee season in Philadelphia. While Ryan Mathews got the bulk of first-team reps this spring, he also shared them with Kenjon Barner and Darren Sproles. The team also has fifth-rounder Wendell Smallwood.
“Well, you go in thinking that one guy can handle the load,” HC Doug Pederson said. “If that's Ryan, he can handle all the stuff and the pounding. But with the guys we have, with the depth we have at that position, Darren is obviously a big part of that and now with Wendell [RB Wendell Smallwood] coming on, I think it could be a little bit of a running back by committee.”
This doesn't worry us, since Mathews appears to be one of the better values at the running back position even with a conservative projection of touches. He's ranked 17th in standard and 21st in PPR formats, and that's only with 240 touches, which is very reasonable as the lead back in a committee. Mathews' career production (4.5 YPC) and 2015 production (5.0 YPC) allow him to generate yards on fewer touches.