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.
Smith, who is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury, showed an impressive burst and change of direction to avoid it.
Smith tore his Achilles tendon on Nov. 1 and hasn't participated in any offseason workouts. In March, Smith said he was confident he would be ready for the start of the regular season. On Sunday, he declined to give a timetable on his return.
"I don't know when I'm coming back," he said. "I just know I have to be able to do something in training camp to be able to play for the season. That's just the way I operate. I can't go from doing absolutely nothing [and] sitting on my butt for all of training camp and then go out there and play."
It's a bad idea to doubt Smith, who is one of the toughest and most resilient players in the league. But he's a 37-year-old coming off of an Achilles injury. When healthy, he'll be the WR1 for the Ravens, but one has to wonder just how many games he'll be able to play this season. Father Time is undefeated.
Update on newest knee injury for Ravens WR Breshad Perriman: He suffered a partially torn ACL in his left knee and will visit Dr. James Andrews on Monday to determine if he needs potential season-ending surgery, per source. He missed last season with a partially torn PCL in his right knee.
Corey Coleman quickly worked himself into NFL shape after a few whirlwind months on the draft circuit and impressed Jackson throughout OTAs and minicamp.
The first-round pick has received constant attention from Jackson and senior offensive assistant/wide receivers coach Al Saunders on the practice field, and that’s been reciprocated with continuous improvement.
“He’s a tremendous player,” Jackson said. “He’s going to be pretty good. I ride him pretty hard because he has so much ability and I want to get it out of him. He’s really shown why we drafted him in the first round. He is a tremendous talent. If he keeps working like he is and stays as humble and he has great desire to be a great football player, I think that’s going to happen for him.
“He’s still got to earn it. He’s got to work for it. He’s got to go fight for it to go get it. I think he will.”
Coleman is a good bet to lead the Browns in targets which is why he's the second rookie (after Ezekiel Elliott) off the board in early fantasy drafts. Rookie receivers drafted in the middle rounds tend to fare pretty well compared to their veteran counterparts. The only thing that could submarine his value is the surprising return of Josh Gordon to the fold.
Giants beat writer Ralph Vacchiano on the team's TE situation: I think a lot of my take is going to depend on how healthy Larry Donnell is come training camp. If he’s healthy, I think he’ll probably be the No. 1 guy given his experience, his receiving ability and his blocking skills. If he’s not healthy, it could be Will Tye. And I wouldn’t rule out some combination of the two of them.
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. The same can be said of Donnell. Over the past 24 games, he has averaged 3.8 catches for 35 yards and 0.33 TD. Those are fringe TE1 numbers.
The Chiefs’ three-day mandatory minicamp starts Tuesday, and it appears a few notable injured players — including star running back Jamaal Charles — might take part in on-field drills for the first time this offseason.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Charles, who is recovering from a torn ACL, and receiver Mike Williams, who is battling a strained hamstring, could make their first on-field appearance of organized team activities.
“What you might see if them doing drills,” Reid said.
Both players could spotted running and jumping around cones over a 25-yard period during Friday’s practice, which was another first of the offseason.
Charles was playing at an elite RB1 pace prior to tearing his ACL in Week 5. Our injury expert, Russell Manalastas, predicts that Charles will be limited in camp and good to go for Week 1, and that his recovery is an opportunity to get him at a discount. The Chiefs found solid contributors in Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware, so Andy Reid could elect to reduce his workload in an effort to keep him healthy.
The Eagles on Friday confirmed that Agholor was being investigated by police.
We're just passing this along. Agholor isn't high on our draft board this year, and this certainly doesn't help.