Seahawks beat writer Bob Condotta:
Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise all are coming off of seasons when they had significant injuries and I think the Seahawks are going into the year just fine with the idea that they can spread the carries out and not have to count on anyone taking a Lynch-like share of the load.
My best guess, assuming they each are healthy, is Lacy and Rawls take a fairly equal share of the basedown carries with Prosise slated largely for a third-down role as well as being worked into the gameplan to take advantage of specific matchups from week to week.
So it sounds as if it's a possibility that Lacy is splitting time with Rawls on 1st and 2nd down, and that would indicate that the Seahawks will use a full-blown running back by committee. Lacy ran well last year, but that's no guarantee that he'll live up to his current 7th round ADP.
It looks like the Raiders have their quarterback. From a fantasy standpoint, it doesn't change much, though TJ Hernandez identified Carr as a positive regression candidate in his Red Zone Expected Value Series.
Maclin, who was released by the Chiefs on June 2 and later signed with the Ravens, missed four games last year with a groin injury and there was a steep drop in production from a sensational 2015 season. Maclin had 44 catches for 536 yards and two touchdowns in 2016 after he had 87 receptions for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns the season before.
Talking with ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s podcast “Know Them From Adam,” Maclin said that groin injury was worse than people knew. He revealed the injury when Schefter asked about the perception that Maclin was a step slower.
“Well, I tore my groin last year,” Maclin told Schefter. “So, if I’m supposed to be just as fast with a torn groin, then more power to them. Man, I guess they just have to wait and see. I don’t really have anything else to say about that. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. I’ll still be able to get open. I’ll still be able to make big plays, that’s for sure.”
Maclin posted 87 catches for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns in 2015, but had a substandard 2016, struggling to a 44-536-3 line thru 12 games. He was a respectable No. 44 WR on a per game basis through the first eight weeks, but the groin injury submarined his season. He joins a Baltimore offense that has had the most pass attempts over the past two seasons and lost Steve Smith (101 targets), Dennis Pitta (121) and Kamar Aiken (50) from last year.
Decker is likely to man the slot with Rishard Matthews and Corey Davis on the outside. Decker's arrival is bad news for both players, as their share of the proverbial pie will be smaller with the very productive Decker soaking up targets. It's great news for Marcus Mariota, who has yet another weapon to throw to. Projections will be updated shortly.
A clear cut candidate after struggling last year and being suspended at the end of the season for violating the NFL's drug policy, Martin has earned nothing but praise this offseason after he spent time in rehab.
NFL Network's Mike Garafolo spoke to Bucs general manager Jason Licht as the team closed minicamp on Thursday. The assessment of Martin's on-field improvement was glowing.
"I had a conversation with [Licht]. He said, '[Martin] looks lean, he looks like he's finishing his runs -- obviously, there is no contact in the spring -- but it looks like he's finishing his runs. He looks like he's got that burst. He looks like he's got that burst. He looks like the Doug Martin of 2015,'" Garafolo said Thursday on NFL Network's Inside Minicamp Live.
In 2015, Martin finished with 1,673 total yards and seven touchdowns and was the #4 fantasy running back in PPR formats. He has seemingly returned from the dead. He was mentioned as a cut candidate early this year, but now it sounds like the team is expecting him to return to form in 2017. He's suspended for the first three games of the season, and Jacquizz Rodgers is likely to start in his place for that span. In regular redraft formats, it's an intriguing strategy for owners to draft both Martin and Rodgers to serve as RB2 by committee (in a WR-heavy strategy).
Bears WR Kevin White at least is back to full speed after spending part of the winter in Phoenix at the Fischer Institute of Physical Therapy and Performance, where he retaught his body to run with the proper alignment and technique. That has allowed him to resume his developmental process as a receiver this spring.
Azzanni attested that White still has to answer questions about his route-running, given that he didn't run the full route tree at West Virginia.
"We've been working on that hard, some of his breaking-point stuff," Azzanni said. "A lot of times when you're a big guy like that, stopping and change of direction is hard."
During offense-only drills earlier in May, White ran a curl on which he sank his body and exploded back to the ball.
"A bunch of mouths dropped," Azzanni recalled. "Like the wideouts (said), 'Wow, we have not seen Kevin do that in a long time.' I think that got him excited."
This is good news since the last update on May 24 said that White was "working to align his stride." If healthy, White will likely get the chance to start opposite Cameron Meredith, who is the better fantasy option at this point. White came out of college with sub-4.40 speed and has a top 10 pedigree, so the Bears are still optimistic that he'll get his career back on track.
Dalvin Cook has yet to run in pads for the Minnesota Vikings, and it will be some time before coaches begin to establish a pecking order for a backfield that hasn't really needed one for the better part of a decade. But Cook's early work has coach Mike Zimmer believing the Vikings might have a unique player on their hands.
"I think he's got a chance to be special," Zimmer said on Thursday. "There was a play yesterday that, Xavier Rhodes is trying to catch him, and he's hauling now. I just think this guy has got a chance to be pretty good. Now, he's got some things he's got to work on, like all young backs, but I've been very impressed with him this spring."
It's looking more and more that Cook will line up as the starter in Week 1. The Vikings had a lot of problems running the ball last year, but signed tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers and drafted center Pat Elflein (3rd round) and guard Danny Isidora in an effort to rebuild the offensive line. Cook has had a good spring and his primary competition (Latavius Murray) has been sidelined as he recovers from ankle surgery.
Of the horde of receivers that are trying to break through, Andre Holmes seems to have stood out the most. It was a slow start, fighting the ball a little bit early on, but he's settled in nicely -- and is even leading a lot of the positional reps during individual work. He's consistently worked with the first-team offense, and Sean McDermott made it known that he felt really impressed by Holmes with both his offensive and special teams work. On Tuesday, he was smooth with his hands and made a couple of tough catches during team drills. He's positioning himself to be a contender for a roster spot in 2017.
Most of the blurb sounds like Holmes is penciled in as a starter, but then the writer (Joe Buscaglia) says that Holmes is positioning himself for a roster spot. Holmes is turning 29, and had a mini-breakout in his third season (2014) with 47 catches for 693 yards and four touchdowns, but the Raiders added both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree and Holmes only saw 58 targets in his final two seasons in Oakland. Holmes has a career 48.3% catch percentage, so it's important not to get too excited, but if he's playing starter snaps and seeing plenty of red zone targets (he's 6-5), he could work his way into fantasy relevancy.
“Ever since we lost Ray, we haven’t had the type of back quite like Ray was and quite like (Danny Woodhead) is in the passing game,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “They just have a very good feel for when they’re open, how to get open, how to sit in holes, how to find my eyes.”
“He was somebody that we targeted early in free agency and signed him right out of the gate,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s a very versatile running back for us. He can carry the ball, but he’s a big part of the passing game.”
Woodhead is an elite pass-catcher and an underrated runner. With Kenneth Dixon suspended for the first four games, Woodhead will form a committee with Terrance West. He should continue to be a good value in PPR formats. Keep in mind that Ray Rice averaged 4.25 receptions per game in his final five seasons in Baltimore, so if Woodhead's role is similar, he has 60- to 70-catch upside.
Decker will get to choose his landing spot. He's always an underrated fantasy asset so we're watching his status closely.
Maclin posted 87 catches for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns in 2015, but had a substandard 2016, struggling to a 44-536-3 line thru 12 games. He was a respectable No. 44 WR on a per game basis through the first eight weeks, but a groin injury submarined his season. His arrival will impact both Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, but it's probably the latter who is more negatively affected by the signing. The Ravens are trying to replace 335 targets from last year's team, so there is more than enough work to go around. We'll update team projections shortly, but Wallace still looks like a fantasy WR3, while Maclin and Perriman are WR5 types. Joe Flacco will get a slight upgrade.
Redskins offensive coordinator Mat Cavanaugh indicated that they will play (the running game) by ear.
“(Rob Kelley) obviously has earned the starting job, and I think really it’s a game-to-game evaluation, an in-game evaluation of how well he’s doing and how winded he is – ‘Does he need a blow?’ said Cavanaugh. “We just feel like we’ve got depth at that position now with a lot of similar-type players: stocky, quick-footed, strong, smart guys that can sub in for each other. I wouldn’t put a pitch count on any of them, but obviously if a guy’s got a hot hand and he’s feeling good and he’s not gassed, we’ll keep him on the field. Ideally, maybe have some third-down reps too.”
That last part means that they could play Kelley or Samaje Perine on third downs. They could also expand Thompson out of his usual third-down role.
“Historically here, Chris has been our third-down back, but there’s no reason why can’t play him on first and second down,” said Cavanaugh. “But just rotating the backs, keeping them fresh, we’ve got confidence in all of them.”
Kelley won the RB1 job in Week 8, and from that point on, he was the #13 RB in standard (#15 in PPR) down the stretch. He averaged 4.19 YPC, which was the 14th highest per carry average of the 27 running backs who saw at least 150 carries last year. Rookie Samaje Perine will make a hard push for the job, but it's clear that Kelley is taking his job seriously by getting leaner in the offseason. He is currently very cheap (10th/11th round) in early drafts.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins spent a good portion of this offseason getting his life together. He stopped drinking, and lost 25 pounds. In OTAs, he was the most impressive player on the field and caught everything in sight. It's early, but if Seferian-Jenkins can stay healthy, the Jets may actually have a tight end.
The athletic Seferian-Jenkins could surprise if the good vibes continue into training camp and the season. He played with his likely quarterback, Josh McCown, in Tampa. McCown enhanced Gary Barnidge's numbers in Cleveland -- the tight end's PPR production was 34.5% higher in games that McCown played. So there is reason to believe that ASJ could become a dependable option for McCown, especially considering the Jets' receiving corps (assuming they part ways with Eric Decker).
"I think, No. 1, they were still very good in the red zone," Sarkisian said of last year's Falcons. "But when you have a player like Julio, it's making sure we maximize his opportunities because there is so much double-coverage, there are so many unique coverages that roll his way that when we don't get that, let's make sure he's one of the primary receivers on that play because it is such a tough matchup for anybody one on one."
Jones was tied for 87th in red zone targets (9). It's the same number of red zone targets as Terrance West, Braxton Miller and Tyler Boyd had last year, so there is a lot of room for improvement. If he sees more targets in the red zone, it will no doubt help his overall fantasy value.
Giants RB Paul Perkins appears to have the coaching staff sold based on what he did last season and this spring.
“Well, what he’s shown is … in our system you have to have three phases: You have to be able to run the ball. He was an effective runner last year,” running backs coach Craig Johnson said. “You have to be able to catch the ball. He did a good job in that. And you have to be able to block people, because they are going to try you out. He probably improved the most in that situation. Guys were going to test him out to see if they were going to get to the quarterback. He held up very good in protection and he’s continuing to do that.
“If you can do that, that allows you to be a guy that it’s possible to stay on the field all three downs.”
Vereen may change the situation slightly this year. He was subbed in on most passing downs for the Giants the previous season, when he caught 61 passes.
But this year could be different. Perkins may just be viewed as the feature back the Giants have lacked in recent years.
“I really like what Paul Perkins has been doing so far,” Johnson said. “He ended last season playing like a guy that is ready to take over the job. There is nothing so far in the offseason to show he’s not going to be able to handle that role.
“But that is today. It’s a long way from today to the opening game.”
We expect Vereen to get most of the passing down work since he excels in that area and has more experience than Perkins. If Vereen were to get injured, it sounds as if Perkins would take on his role on passing downs.
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