Bell has averaged 23.2 touches for 132 total yards and 0.64 TD in his last 22 games and is the clear cut #1 RB when healthy. If he is truly 100 percent ready to go for training camp, then he is a very solid pick in the 1st round of fantasy drafts. The Steelers would be wise to utilize the very capable DeAngelo Williams to keep Bell fresh, but they haven't shown much of a willingness to do so, as Bell has averaged 22.8 touches (for 115 total yards) in six games with Williams available.
Some close to Lewis feel that he's about one month away from being able to play in a game, which naturally means that his availability for the season opener Sept. 11 in Arizona is looking good at this point (assuming no unexpected setbacks).
Lewis tore his ACL in a Nov. 8 game against the Washington Redskins and underwent surgery on Nov. 18. Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery.
While Lewis' progress is encouraging, the team is bringing him along slowly because there is little urgency at this time of year, which is consistent with their approach for most players coming back from surgery. So while Lewis' recovery has been on a promising track, his level of participation in OTAs might still be limited (if he participates at all) and there is a possibility that approach could also extend into the start of training camp.
Lewis was New England’s best fantasy back through the first eight weeks of the season before tearing his ACL in Week 9. In six healthy games in that span, 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. According to ESPN Boston, Lewis’s recovery is ahead of schedule and “there’s no reason to think Lewis won’t be available for when the games count.” If he’s good to go for Week 1, we believe he’ll be the team’s RB1 heading to the season, barring the addition of Arian Foster.
Watkins answered "of course" when asked on Twitter if he would be ready for the preseason. Still, the offseason foot surgery is reason to be concerned about his overall health heading into the 2016 season. However, with the way he finished the season -- 5.4-100-0.78 over the final nine games -- he has WR1 potential provided he can get (and stay) healthy.
Hue Jackson was among those watching Duke Johnson's pro day at the University of Miami before the 2015 draft. His quickness allows him to run outside and be a weapon in the passing game. His 61 receptions set a Browns rookie record for a back, and were the second-highest total by any Browns rookie. Only Oakland's Amari Cooper -- a receiver -- had more receptions as a rookie.
Jackson sees Johnson as an every-down back. The previous coaching staff actually felt the same. They started training camp intending to make Johnson the starter. But a hamstring pull set him back, and then he was sidelined by a concussion.
The overall season was disappointing for the running game, but the Browns and the backs can point to the final four or five games when a greater commitment to the run led to more production.
Isaiah Crowell averaged 5.2 yards over the final five games, when he had three of his four touchdowns. Johnson averaged 5.6 yards in the final four.
Crowell outscored Johnson in standard formats, but Johnson (61 catches) had the edge in PPR, finishing #24 on the year. We can glean new HC Hue Jackson's playcalling tendencies from his usage of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill last year in Cincinnati. When the Bengals were trailing by a field goal or more, Bernard saw 33 touches to Hill's 32. When the Bengals were trailing by two points or less, tied or leading, Hill saw 206 touches to 170 for Bernard. Since the 2016 Browns are likely to be trailing far more often than the 2015 Bengals, Johnson has a chance at an even larger share than Bernard, who finished #17 in PPR formats last season. Given Johnson's 6th-round ADP in early PPR drafts, he looks like a nice target for the "wait on RB" crowd.
Monday, May 23, 2016, 10:22pm
Last season, the Jets completed eight passes to a tight end, a ridiculously low number. Jace Amaro, the team’s second-round pick in 2014, missed last season with a shoulder injury. Could he be the answer at the position? It will be interesting to see how the coaches use him in OTAs. Last year, before the injury, he was an afterthought.
T.J. Hernandez in his preview of the 2015 Jets with Chan Gailey calling the shots: "The tight end has been somewhat of an afterthought for Chan Gailey. Only two tight ends have caught more than 40 balls with Gailey calling plays, with Tony Gonzalez the only player to finish as a TE1 under Gailey."
With Calvin Johnson settling into retirement, the Lions will need more from their running game this fall. Ameer Abdullah is the No. 1 back, and if he conquers his fumble problems, he should be in for a big season.
Abdullah had a disappointing rookie season after an electrifying preseason. Joique Bell is gone, but Theo Riddick is still around to handle third-down duties and the team signed Stevan Ridley to compete with Zach Zenner for carries behind Abdullah. The rookie had five fumbles on 168 touches, which is not a good fumble rate. As the article highlights, if Abdullah can prove he can hold onto the ball, he could surpass 250 touches in his second season.
After selecting four receivers in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns cut ties with a veteran.
The move shouldn't be a surprise. The 29-year-old receiver struggled to gain separation the past several seasons and was a below-replacement-level wideout on one of the shallowest pass-catching groups in the NFL. Hartline compiled 523 yards on 46 receptions, with two touchdowns in 12 games last season, his only year in Cleveland.
The Browns are making room for the four receivers they selected in the draft. They are in full rebuilding mode, so holding on to a 29-year-old receiver was not in their plans.
Giants beat writer Jordan Raanan:
There is hope with the way Will Tye flashed in the second half of last season that he can build on that and become a dangerous receiving option. His athleticism and pass-catching potential makes him my choice to start Week 1, especially given the uncertainty that remains with Larry Donnell returning from a broken bone in his neck.
Tye essentially took over as the Giants’ starter in Week 8, and was the #13 tight end in standard formats from that point on. From Week 9 to Week 17, he had the 10th-most targets at his position. If he wins the job this summer, he’ll be a good late-round target for owners looking for value at the position.
Coach Adam Gase said Thursday that second-year tailback Jay Ajayi is the clubhouse leader when it comes to the vacant starting spot.
Speaking on WQAM (560-AM), Gase said Ajayi -- a former Boise State standout whom the Dolphins selected in the fifth-round of the 2015 NFL draft -- has put some distance between himself and Damien Williams, Daniel Thomas, Isaiah Pead, Jahwan Edwards, and Kenyan Drake, the 2016 third-round pick, who hasn't practiced with the team yet.
"He's been one of those guys he's been here every day. He's done everything right. You can tell he's looking to improve. He doesn't say much, just keeps working," Gase said. "The rest of that group has done a good job to try and keep up with him, but obviously he's kind of separated himself from that group as far as the consistency of what he does day in and day out."
The team tried but failed to sign C.J. Anderson this offseason, so they aren’t completely sold on Ajayi. Howver, these comments suggest that he’ll be the primary running back in Miami provided the team doesn’t sign Arian Foster once his Achilles is healthy. In an article examining Gase's impact on the Miami offense, our very own T.J. Hernandez concluded that "the most likely outcome seems to be that Ajayi flirts with a 60 percent backfield touch share, which would have ranked in the top 10 of all backs in 2015."
After Matt Forte spent the last eight seasons as the offense's heartbeat, coach John Fox seeks to keep it pumping with a committee approach. Replacing Forte's production, dependability and steadying presence is one of the team's greatest challenges entering Fox's second season.
"Maybe not one can do all that Matt brought to the table," running backs coach Stan Drayton said. "But they all bring a strength that can probably add up to what he brought. To say you're going to replace Matt Forte — it's going to take years, right?"
Probably. But Fox at least has a feel for managing a committee of backs, having deployed it as coach of the Panthers and Broncos. He knows what he's looking for as the competition progresses through spring practices, the preseason and into the regular season. Typically, he settles on two backs after analyzing a variety of factors.
"Who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses are," Fox said. "Then situationally, it can be…whoever has a hot hand."
While the uncertainty involving Jeremy Langford centers more on how he'll perform than whether he'll be in the rotation, the rest of the time share offers more questions than answers.
Jordan Howard's bruising style appealed to the Bears as a complement to Langford's speed. He'll have to prove his durability over a full NFL season, but the Bears like his chances to do so as part of a committee.
Related players: KaDeem Carey
The Bears fed the ball to Langford in the three games that Forte missed last year (21.3 touches per game), but Fox has always favored a committee approach at the position. The team tried to sign C.J. Anderson, so clearly they weren't sold on Langford as their workhorse back. He should lead the team in RB touches, but he'll share the workload with Howard and/or KaDeem Carey.
Johnson’s future -- and the possibility of him returning -- came up in an interview Wednesday evening on the Mitch Albom Show on WJR-760 at the annual Taste of the Lions event at Ford Field.
“In my mind, I don’t see that happening,” Stafford said. “He retired because he wanted to. That’s it.”
It's up to Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Eric Ebron to pick up the slack. Over the last two seasons, in 11 games in which Johnson was questionable, doubtful or out, Tate averaged 6.6 receptions for 77 yards and 0.73 TD. Fantasy-wise, that’s about what Allen Robinson scored as the #6 WR in PPR formats in 2015. It’s also solid WR1 production in standard formats. Jones has averaged 3.6 receptions for 48 yards and 0.44 TD in his last 32 games. The 6’2” receiver has been especially good at catching touchdowns (14 in his last 32 games), so he'll likely have a large role in the red zone.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016, 12:26pm
Colts WR Phillip Dorsett left Tuesday’s OTA with an apparent hamstring injury, per Chuck Pagano. After a nice OTA session with several catches, Dorsett pulled up lame. Trainers tended to Dorsett before the second-year pro walked off the field under his own power. Pagano believed Dorsett injured it stretching out for a pass.
Moncrief finished his second season with 64 catches for 733 yards and six touchdowns, but his numbers were a bit depressed due to the midseason loss of Andrew Luck. In seven games with Luck, Moncrief averaged 4.6 catches 50 yards and 0.71 TD (on 7.7 targets per game), which extrapolates to a 73-802-11 season. Fantasy-wise, that’s about what Michael Crabtree scored as the #19 receiver in standard formats. With Andre Johnson out of the way, Moncrief’s playing time and targets should increase a bit. He’s a serious threat to break out in his third season.
Tuesday, May 17, 2016, 4:08pm
Though the Buccaneers spent a second-round draft pick on Austin Seferian-Jenkins two years ago, HC Dirk Koetter isn’t ready to hand the oft-injured University of Washington product a starter’s job just yet. Cameron Brate is the reason.
A two-time All-Ivy League first-teamer, Brate slowly emerged as one of Winston’s go-to targets last year, eventually finishing his second full season in the NFL with 23 catches (two more than Seferian-Jenkins) for 288 yards and three touchdowns.
That has Koetter thinking he may have a better option at the pass-catching tight end spot than Seferian-Jenkins, who first has to prove he can stay healthy and then may have to prove he’s got a better connection with quarterback Jameis Winston than Brate.
“Yeah, we talk a lot about chemistry, because you never know how or why certain guys connect, but Jameis and Cam, they really connected last year,’’ Koetter said.
“They had a real good feel for each other in the red zone and on seam routes and just all over the field really. And Cam, well, he really made the most of his opportunities.’’
ASJ will likely start for the Bucs this year, but the takeaway here is that it's no sure thing, so early drafters should pick accordingly.