May 2016 4for4 Player News Articles
I really don’t understand fans’ eagerness to push Pierre Garcon out the door. He has done nothing but produce since he signed with Washington four offseasons ago. Whenever given the opportunity, Garcon makes something happen. He’s not used on a lot of deep routes, so he doesn’t often get to show off his speed, but he has no problem getting open on short or intermediate routes either. Last season, he recorded 72 catches on 110 targets. That means he caught 65 percent of the passes that came his way (second-highest clip behind Jordan Reed), and according to sportingcharts.com, Garcon had only one dropped pass in 2015. He averaged a solid 10.8 yards per catch and recorded six touchdown receptions, his most since joining Washington. He makes tough catches in traffic and brings a toughness to the position. Why get rid of that for an unproven rookie? Just because Doctson has great size and athleticism doesn’t mean he’s ready to step in as a starter. And even if Doctson does come in and light it up, given the lack of dependability from Jackson last season as he battled various nagging injuries (and his lack of versatility – he’s really not a threat unless running the deep route), it’s smart to have another veteran to turn to.
So, having said all that, no. I don’t see Doctson replacing Garcon. There could be plenty of times where they’re on the field together, or times when Garcon is on, and Doctson is off, or Doctson is on, and Garcon is off. There’s nothing wrong with having multiple threats.
Garcon finished as the #31 WR in PPR formats and should continue to play starter's snaps for the Redskins. Doctson is a threat to his targets and playing time, which is why Garcon is the 71st receiver off the board in early MFL10s. He appears to be a great value at that point in the draft, especially in PPR formats.
"That is always the million dollar problem — you can have a lot of good players but not everybody is not necessarily willing to accept where they fit into the team aspect of offense," Olsen said. "But Kelvin is the rare guy who can be a No. 1 talent, but still understands how he fits into the big picture. Anytime you can more add guys like that to a team, you can't help but improve."
Benjamin has no pretenses about returning to be the team's dominant No. 1 receiver.
"Hey, I just want to come in and be a part of it," Benjamin said Tuesday at OTAs.
Nelson Agholor was active. The Eagles (desperately?) need him to elevate his play in his sophomore season. They would love for Agholor to develop into a home run hitter, but I’m not sure that he’s a receiver who can consistently take the lid off a secondary. But he has looked smoother running a variety of other routes. He caught an early seam pass from Carson Wentz, a post in the middle of a zone from Sam Bradford and, in perhaps his best moment, caught a comeback throw after he had turned cornerback Eric Rowe around. If Agholor can’t be a consistent deep threat, the Eagles might need to turn to free-agent addition Chris Givens during the season.
Agholor was a 5th round fantasy pick, and failed miserably to live up to that billing. The Eagles' offense is going to run at a much slower pace this year under new HC Doug Pederson, so it's an offense that will have difficulty supporting more than Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz as bona fide fantasy starters.
Falcons RB Tevin Coleman got off to a promising start before suffering fractured ribs in the second game of the season. While out, Devonta Freeman took over the position and turned in a Pro Bowl campaign with 1,634 yards from scrimmage and 14 touchdowns.
Despite Freeman’s success, the Falcons still have high hopes for Coleman, who was electrifying in the open field.
“I love it when a guy is challenged and comes back on a mission, and that’s certainly been the case with him,” Quinn said. “He’s fit. He’s strong. He’s been catching the ball out of the backfield. He’s a man here with something to prove and he’s certainly off to that start.”
Coleman believes there’s room for him and Freeman in the rushing attack.
“Oh yeah, definitely I think people under estimate it,” Coleman said. “Free (received) most of the playing time last year because I was hurt. They don’t even know what’s coming. It will be me and Free out there killing it.”
All this talk about Coleman has us a little worried about Freeman's rushing workload. His role in the passing game should be fairly safe, giving him significantly more value in PPR formats than in standard leagues. Coleman's 11th round ADP makes him a nice attrition/injury play in the later rounds. He'd blow up if anything happened to Freeman.
Nelson, a fifth-round draft pick in 2015, has impressed in the organized team practices this month. That continued Tuesday with a couple of fine over-the-shoulder grabs in coverage, plays which displayed Nelson's hands and speed.
Coach Bruce Arians sees Nelson's confidence growing with each workout.
"He has a very unique skill in tracking the ball that the great ones have when the ball's coming over your opposite shoulder," Arians said. "When you have a little fast guy that can do that, you have a special one.
"Every day, he's making a big play or two," Arians added. "Getting a little bit stronger. He might be a buck-61 right now. We're going to try to get 4 more pounds on him."
Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette was asked who would benefit the most from Martavis Bryant's absence. His reply: "Markus Wheaton is a starter, as he was when Martavis Bryant played. I would guess the one who should benefit most is Sammie Coates."
He added, "I have been told he worked like crazy this offseason and is in great shape. Also, the fact the coaches keep talking him up means they expect him to progress nicely."
It's very possible that Coates "benefits the most" since he's being promoted from WR4 to WR3, so it's a big jump in playing time. We still believe that Wheaton is the second best fantasy receiver in Pittsburgh, however. His performance late last year indicated that he finally turned the corner. He caught 44 passes for 749 yards and five touchdowns on the season, but really came on down the stretch, averaging 4.7 catches for 79 yards and 0.67 TD (on 7.8 targets per game) over the final six games of the season. (He was the #12 fantasy receiver in that span.) Though he only gained 53 total receiving yards in two playoff games, he was targeted 13 times, so he was an integral part of the offense late in the year. Wheaton also fared well on a per target basis, finishing 22nd and 27th (out of 121 eligible receivers) in fantasy points per target in standard and PPR formats, respectively.
One of the biggest question marks facing Wentz after he was chosen No. 2 overall out of North Dakota State was; how will his game translate at the next level? It has only been two public practices, so there can’t be enough of a sample size to make an absolute determination, but so far so good. Wentz has shown a plus-NFL arm, accuracy to make every throw on the route-tree and an ability to move the pocket and buy time. Not for nothing, but Wentz also seems be ahead of Sam Bradford in terms of mastering Doug Pederson’s offense.
It's just a matter of time before Wentz is starting for the Eagles, but Bradford could hold the starting job for a while if he proves capable and the team is winning.
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott figures to have a prominent role right away, but he’s also entering a veteran running back room that includes free-agent signing Alfred Morris and returning starter Darren McFadden. If he’s going to be a featured back as a rookie, “Zeke has to earn it,” running backs coach Gary Brown said.
In other words, expect a healthy competition.
“I think that’s the best thing for our team and for those guys going forward,” Brown said.
That’s just fine with Elliott, who says competition “keeps you on your toes and make sure you’re getting that work done.”
Only six active NFL players have a higher career yards-per-catch average than Kenny Stills (16.5), and Dolphins coach Adam Gase said he “definitely” wants to get him involved more after he was targeted just 63 times last season (compared with 165 for Jarvis Landry).
Stills says that excites him and “the numbers don’t lie” about Gase’s offenses.
But the chemistry must improve with Ryan Tannehill. Though a bunch of Stills’ targets were difficult deep routes (and that must be taken into account with this stat), he caught only 42.8 percent of passes thrown to him, compared to 70.4 for Rishard Matthews (now with Tennessee), 66.7 for Landry, 50.9 for DeVante Parker and 50 for Jordan Cameron.
Stills had only two drops last season, so many of the incomplete passes were errant throws by Tannehill. Gase has been impressed with Stills so far this offseason.
Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey still is figuring out ways to deploy Matt Forte, the NFL's most prolific pass-catching back since his rookie year, 2008. When asked how Forte fits into his system, Gailey replied, "That's not the question. The question is, how do we adjust the system to fit Matt Forte?"
A good reference point might be C.J. Spiller, formerly of the Buffalo Bills. From 2011 to 2013 under Gailey, Spiller caught 115 passes. Gailey moved him around the formation, sometimes lining him up wide or in the slot. Forte has that kind of versatility.
Spiller caught 115 passes in three years under Gailey as a part-time player. In the 12 games that then-starter Fred Jackson missed, Spiller averaged 3.42 receptions per game. Forte may lose carries to Bilal Powell and/or Khiry Robinson, and is unlikely to score many rushing touchdowns. But if he's utilized regularly in the slot, he should be able to catch at least 50 passes, maybe more. Jets running backs caught a total of 90 balls last season under Gailey.
Jameis Winston and Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans worked through countless routes and were together on and off the field. Winston invited Evans over to his house several times this offseason to break down film before watching Golden State Warriors games.
Tim Grover, who has worked with NBA greats Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, received a call in early February. Grover agreed to meet and establish a preliminary workout but under one condition: Winston would have to abide by strict guidelines and show improvement by Grover's next visit.
"I have to put my stamp on him," said Grover, who is very selective about the high-profile clients he trains. "When it's actually time to follow up on it, sometimes athletes don't do it. I wanted to make sure not only was he saying the right things but was doing them."
Grover was pleasantly surprised when he resumed workouts with Winston a month later.
Without depriving Winston of his favorite foods but rather modifying his eating schedule, Grover helped him drop 18 pounds since February. Grover would prefer Winston lose about five more pounds to reach a goal weight between 225 to 229 pounds.
Winston was the #13 fantasy quarterback in his rookie season thanks in large part to his six rushing touchdowns. He may not be able to repeat that feat, but he should be able to improve as a passer and post a similar finish in 2016.
The plan is for Murray to be the starter, and to get the bulk of the carries. And he’s been impressive so far. I expect him to have success. But henry is going to get his share of carries as well, and you know how this works – if one guy is tearing it up, he’ll get more opportunities. We’ll just see how things play out.
Murray's stock took a hit when the Titans curiously spent a second round pick on Henry. He should still be a good bet for 300 carries, provided he stays healthy, but he'll have to outplay Henry to keep his job.
Justin Forsett was a breakout player for the Ravens in 2014, totaling 1,266 yards rushing — more than twice as many as any of his previous six seasons — and eight touchdowns. In Forsett’s absence, Javorius Allen started the last six games of 2015 as a rookie.
Forsett's YPC (4.25) was better than Javorius Allen's (3.75), but the rookie showed good receiving chops, hauling in 45 catches for 353 yards and two touchdowns. Allen was the #6 RB in standard formats (#3 in PPR) from Week 11 to Week 17, while Forsett was sidelined with a wrist injury. Forsett was #17 in standard and #12 in PPR through the first 10 weeks. According to HC John Harbaugh, the two will compete for touches in 2016. Forsett will be a great value if he gets starter's touches and stays healthy. Dixon is the dark horse in Baltimore.
With Austin Seferian-Jenkins battling injuries a year ago, TE Cameron Brate stepped in to become the Bucs’ leading receiver at the tight end position. Brate, who was waived at the start of last season and briefly claimed by the Saints, has looked strong in both of the Bucs’ open OTA practices. He caught several passes during each of the two practices, including a one-handed catch behind his back on Thursday.
Earlier this month, HC Dirk Koetter implied that Brate has a chance to start ahead of Seferian-Jenkins if he has a good summer.
Ravens.com writer Kevin Byrne:
It’s only minicamp, but last year’s No. 1 pick, receiver Breshad Perriman, is startling. That’s one big and very fast wideout flying down the field. I know, he has to prove he can be healthy and beat NFL corners, but he leaps out when you watch practice.
Due to the opportunity in the Ravens' receiving corps, Perriman looked like a nice sleeper prior to his injury. The Ravens signed Mike Wallace, while Steve L Smith is back and Kamar Aiken emerged as a viable WR2, so Perriman is not guaranteed starter's snaps even though he brings deep speed to the receiving corps. If this buzz continues, however, he should be able to beat out the recently disappointing Wallace for a starting job.
While Jordy Nelson’s surgically repaired knee feels good to go, he understands the Packers' reluctance to push him out of the recovery nest. They don’t hand out Lombardi trophies in May. It’s about making sure he’s 100 percent when it counts.
“Everything I’m doing I’m comfortable with,” Nelson said. “I’m not worried about anything else. We’re still progressing and dealing with the situation that we’re in. Obviously, we don’t need to push it too much. We’re still in May. Our goal is obviously August and September.”
Nelson alluded to a potentially light schedule at OTAs when he met with the Green Bay media at the start of the offseason program, saying his participation would be “up for discussion.”
Right now, it’s all about finding a happy medium between Nelson’s ambitions and erring on the side of caution. Individually, Nelson has no limitations in what he’s able to do.
Nelson has had three healthy seasons in his last five, and in those years he finished #2, #11 and #2 in standard wide receiver scoring. He’s currently going in the 2nd round of early fantasy drafts. If he continues to have a healthy offseason then a return to the top 5 is a real possibility.
“I think it was really frustrating, especially early on, just dealing with the foot injury and having a repeat of it,” Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill said of WR DeVante Parker. “I think you saw – the last six to eight games of the year – his confidence start to build. He made more and more plays it seemed like as the weeks went on.
“He got more comfortable and more confident and was attacking the football. He’s starting at that point now. We can build from where he is at now, and the sky is the limit for him.”
That doesn’t mean he’ll immediately develop in to a star receiver.
Parker has been solid, not dominant, in early offseason practices. Cornerback Bryon Maxwell, acquired in a March trade, has been the star so far — and sometimes at the expense of Parker.
For the final six games of his rookie season, Parker played at a 59-1187-8 pace, which are solid WR2 numbers. He’ll likely play the “X” receiver in Adam Gase’s offense, a position which has yielded 6.0-90-0.44 from Alshon Jeffery and 6.9-101-0.69 from Demaryius Thomas over the past two seasons. The former 1st round pick has a big green arrow next to his name heading into the 2016 season.
Quarterback Blake Bortles said that he and Thomas have been working to develop the kind of chemistry that leads to a spike in production.
“We had a chance this offseason to sit down multiple times, watch film and talk about things,” Bortles said, via ESPN.com. “Talk about what he wanted from me and what I wanted from him and how we can quickly get on the same page to grow together. He’s been unbelievable. He’s obviously a freak athlete and he’s continued to prove that and make plays.”
Thomas missed the first month of the season with a hand injury, but returned in Week 5 to post #11 TE numbers (PPR) the rest of the way. He has missed seven games over the past two seasons due to injury.
Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder in January and could miss the rest of the off-season, a person with knowledge of the procedure but not authorized to speak about it publicly told the Free Press today.
Steelers TE Ladarius Green is sitting out OTAs after offseason ankle surgery and doesn't know the exact date for return (the expectation is training camp). "I just want to see if I can prove it to myself that I can go out there and be the best," he said.
This doesn't sound too serious. Green landed in an optimal situation in Pittsburgh, playing with an elite quarterback and in a high-octane offense. It also doesn’t hurt that Martavis Bryant is suspended for the year; the team is likely to lean on Green’s size in the red zone. In four games that Antonio Gates missed in 2015, Green averaged 4.5 catches for 55 yards and 0.75 TD (on 6.8 targets per game). In the 13 career games where he has seen at least five targets, he has averaged 7.5 fantasy points (standard), which would have translated to #7 TE numbers in 2015.
Lions.com writer Tim Twentyman was asked via Twitter who will lead the team in catches. His response:
I think it will be hard for Theo Riddick to reach 80 catches again this season. Teams will scheme hard against him.
I expect Eric Ebron’s stats to take another significant increase in year three, but the 90-catch range is probably a bit high for him.
In the end, I expect Tate and Marvin Jones to be right there, with Tate edging Jones out.
Jones had a career-high 65 catches in 2015, so it's tough to see him pushing Tate, who has back-to-back seasons with 90-plus catches. Tate looks like a great value, especially in PPR formats.
Benjamin Watson is the new addition, Crockett Gillmore is the presumed starter, and Pitta is the popular veteran looking to complete what would be an uplifting comeback. Maxx Williams, a little more than a year after the Ravens traded up in the second round to get him, has become a forgotten man of sorts. But he can change that real quick by building off the solid finish to his rookie year.
This take is a bit surprising considering that the team signed Ben Watson and used a 2nd round draft pick on Williams last year. Rookie tight ends rarely make much of a fantasy or real-world impact, so there's no sense in writing off Williams at this point. Gillmore is recovering from offseason shoulder injury.
Moments after saying he would prefer not to hype anyone’s performance this early to avoid the potential for complacency, Colts coach Chuck Pagano proceeded to sing the praises of his No. 1 receiver.
“(T.Y. Hilton) is having as good an offseason as anybody, probably better than anybody,” Pagano said Tuesday. “…I’ve never seen this guy practice as fast as he's practicing right now. … He’s done it day in and day out.”
That's no embellishment. Hilton has caught just about everything thrown his way – over the middle, on the sideline, falling out of the end zone. On those occasions when he’s matched up against No. 1 cornerback Vontae Davis, Hilton seems to have won more of those battles than he’s lost.
I asked Hilton what gives. He offered a simple explanation.
“I’m more motivated, more hungry,” he said. “I’m just ready to go, man. After watching the playoffs last year and not being in there, I’m just ready to get back to that point and continue to lead this team.”
In 22 games over the past two seasons with an active 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.
Bengals TE Tyler Eifert is in Charlotte for surgery from Dr. Robert Anderson today to repair a loose ligament on the side of his foot.
Our injury expert, Russell Manalastas, says that barring any setbacks the recovery timetable for this type of surgery is 3-4 months, which would put Eifert back sometime in late-August to late-September. He could return by Week 1 or miss up to three games if his recovery is on the slower side. Manalastas also said that players going through that sort of surgery may have to deal with secondary issues like a sore Achilles. We will assume that he's going to miss two games in our rankings and adjust from there. A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Brandon LaFell and Tyler Kroft all get a small bump if Eifert is out.
"I made him do yoga. We went to boxing classes. We did P90X, we did P90X2, we did 22 Minute Hard Corps, we did a lot of my personal workouts. We did pullups and pushups until we couldn’t lift our arms. We did everything. I had him do plyometrics twice a week. And then just pure cardio just to burn calories once a week. We had three days a week that were heavy on the plyometrics and the heart, lungs and legs. Then the other days of the week it was more resistance — body weight, functional fitness, balance, speed, range of motion and things like that. A lot of core work, which was really important for him... The other thing too was just getting his diet in order. The problem was caused because of a poor diet. That changed. He didn’t know that healthy food could taste good. I cooked for him a lot of days. It’s not that hard. You make some egg whites and throw some veggies in there. It’s not rocket science. He was excited because he learned that you can make healthy food taste really good, so it’s easier for him to be more consistent with it. In the past — he’s from New Orleans so there’s a lot of really rich foods. He grew up with that. He’s a crawfish fan. He cut way back on the alcohol, which he learned early on that excess alcohol causes testosterone levels to go down. And that’s all he needed to hear. It was really impressive to see his level of discipline and hard work and willingness to get way outside of his comfort zone. Because he knew what was at stake. It was important to him, so he did it."
In his first two seasons, Lacy posted back-to-back top 8 finishes in both standard and PPR formats. In 2015, he finished 25th and 32nd, respectively, struggling both with his health and staying out of Mike McCarthy’s doghouse. His playing weight was a major topic of conversation all year, and to his credit, Lacy followed through this offseason by working out with Horton. If he keeps the weight off for the rest of the summer, he has a good chance of returning to the top 10.
But in the nearly four months since, the ankle has not responded as quickly as all of the parties would have liked, and The Enquirer has learned from multiple league sources that the 25-year-old tight end will undergo what was deemed a "minimal procedure" on that ankle soon.
A three month recovery is anticipated.
Update: Adam Schefter is reporting that Eifert's availability for the opener is "in jeopardy, per source."
A three month timetable puts Eifert back in late August, and if there are any delays in his recovery, he may not be available for Week 1. He was a touchdown machine in 2015, finding the end zone 13 times in 13 games. His 5th-round ADP is sure to drop on the news of his surgery, and if he’s healthy for Week 1, he could be a nice value in the 7th/8th round.
Steelers RB LeVeon Bell did individual work, running, cutting and says he will be 100% for camp.
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.
Last season, the Jets completed eight passes to a tight...
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.
Colts WR Phillip Dorsett left Tuesday’s OTA with an app...
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.
Colts WR Donte Moncrief was out after he had surgery for turf toe. But that was not a surprise. They're not worried about him long term.
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.
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.
Amendola underwent surgery to repair the left knee that gave him considerable trouble late last season, and he also had to remove a bone spur in his ankle, according to a source. Both surgeries occurred early this offseason.
The timeline is still a concern because it’s far too early to know when Amendola will return at full strength, and the Patriots will not rush him back to the field until he is ready. There is hope Amendola will be ready in time for training camp, which begins July 27, but there’s no guarantee the 30-year-old will even be good to go for Week 1.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Monday that Sammy Watkins suffered a broken small bone in his foot and had a screw inserted, per a source informed of the situation. The silver lining for Bills brass is that Watkins is expected to be available for training camp.
Watkins' availability for training camp figures to be an optimistic timeline for the star wideout. Doctors usually proceed with caution when it involves foot injuries, especially for a skill position like wide receiver. The pass catcher's injury shouldn't ring alarms in Buffalo, but it's not a positive start to the Bills' offseason programs.
Subsequent reports state that Watkins will miss the preseason but should be ready for Week 1. This is obviously not an ideal situation, but it's reasonable that Watkins goes on to have a great year. The possibility that suffers a setback and misses games should be taken into account when drafting Watkins (or QB Tyrod Taylor).
The Titans have waived QB Zach Mettenberger, who was th...
First-round pick Josh Doctson, listed as 6 feet 2, 202 ...
First-round pick Josh Doctson, listed as 6 feet 2, 202 pounds, naturally stands out. Doctson said the Redskins’ pass routes differ from those at Texas Christian mainly because the pro game has deeper breaking in and out routes. He also said he probably has run more double-move routes in the past two days than he did all of last season.
Hue Jackson hasn't seen enough of Robert Griffin III over the past month to declare him the Browns' No. 1 quarterback, but expects to name his man long before the season opener Sept. 11 in Philadelphia.
"It's too soon,'' Jackson said after rookie minicamp practice during Fan Fest at FirstEnergy Stadium. "We haven't gotten into OTAs yet. We just have had off-season and voluntary veteran minicamp and now we've got the rookies in and I think that's way too soon. I would never do that. Again, every position is earned. There's always competition and there's a reason behind it."
"I don't have a timeline," he said. "Obviously, we're going to do it way before we play. If we can do it after OTAs, great. If it has to be at another time, great. We'll do it then, too. Whatever's best for us, that's what we'll do."
Ralph Vacchiano discusses the Giants' backfield:
Rashad Jennings, who I like a lot more than most fans (and media) seem to like, will be the likely workhorse and get the majority of carries. (By the way, hard as it is to believe, he got 48.3% of the carries last year, though I'd expect that to tick up.) Shane Vereen will again be the third-down back and primary receiver-out-of-the-backfield weapon. Maybe they get a little more creative with him. Maybe he just plays better. But I see him being more of a factor.
And then? Good question. I don't think Paul Perkins, their fifth-round pick, will have much of an impact in the offense this year. I think Andre Williams will likely get the first shot to be the short-yardage back, and the guy who spells Jennings for a series or two. How long that lasts depends on him. And I think Orleans Darkwa and Bobby Rainey have an uphill battle to make the roster.
Vacchiano also mentioned that the RB breakdown may depend on which coach came up with the "stupid" four-running back rotation the team used last year. If it was the now-departed Tom Coughlin, then the Giants will primarily use two or three running backs. If it was former OC/new HC Ben McAdoo, then all bets are off.
According to ESPN, citing a source, Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman recently had surgery on his left foot. This relates to the injury that sidelined the slot receiver for seven games to close out last regular season before he returned to play in each of New England’s playoff games.
Though he’s going to reportedly “return for training camp,” it will be interesting to see what Edelman’s participation is as the OTA program transitions to mini-camp and then the start of training camp.
In 28 games over the past two seasons (including the playoffs), Edelman has averaged 7.0 catches for 75 yards and 0.43 TD on 10.3 targets per game. That works out to low-end WR1 numbers in PPR formats, so as long as he's healthy, he should provide good value in the 3rd round of fantasy drafts.
Second-round wide receiver Sterling Shepard is in the best position to make a significant impact. The Giants targeted him early in the draft process as a wideout they liked, and coach Ben McAdoo sees him as a player he can use all over the formation in a variety of roles as a complement to star Odell Beckham Jr. With Rueben Randle gone and Victor Cruz still a major question mark as he attempts his comeback from knee and calf injuries, there's an opening for a No. 2 wide receiver in New York. Shepard will get every opportunity to lock down the role for the short and long term, and he has the skill set to do it.
The only thing standing in the way of a major role for Shepard is Cruz and his balky knee and calf. If Cruz looks like his old self, then the Giants will probably let Shepard grow into a larger role, but if Cruz doesn't have a great offseason then Shepard will be thrust into a major role immediately. He could fill the Randall Cobb role in Ben McAdoo's offense.
Melvin Gordon is ready to move on from his rookie season.
There is just one aspect he must put behind him first.
The Chargers running back participated in on-field drills Monday. Afterward, he acknowledged he is not yet 100 percent, still working back from a January knee procedure. Sources said that Gordon underwent microfracture surgery and was given a recovery timetable of four to six months.
That phrase, microfracture surgery, carries an ominous connotation.
While some past cases warrant the association, a high concern level about Gordon’s short- and long-term recovery is not sensed here. He expects to practice without limitation well before the start of training camp in late July.
The article says that Gordon should be ready to practice before training camp, but the surgery is worrisome nonetheless. Gordon is coming off of a very disappointing rookie season (3.5 YPC) and surgery is not the way to start your offseason.
Broncos G.M. John Elway moved up in the first round of the draft to select quarterback Paxton Lynch, a developmental project who seems very unlikely to beat out Mark Sanchez for the starting job this season. But Lynch may not take as long to become the Broncos’ starter as most observers are expecting.
Elway said on Denver Sports 760 that Lynch may just prove himself ready to be an NFL starter this year.
“Is that going to happen tomorrow? Probably not, but you never know when it can happen,” Elway said. “We think he’s going to be ready quicker than a lot of people think.”
With only Mark Sanchez to beat, Lynch could start Week 1 if he shows poise and an understanding of the offense in training camp. However, the Broncos could ask Sanchez to hold down the fort and be a 'game-manager' with a great defense and a strong running game. It's clear that Sanchez is just a placeholder.
Besides the quarterback, the player on offense under the most pressure to perform this year will be Matt Jones. The team let Alfred Morris walk in free agency and they waited until the seventh round to draft his replacement. And at this point the often injured, lightly used Keith Marshall isn’t even a sure bet to make the team. Jones will need to stay healthy while averaging 15-20 carries per game, add about a yard to the 3.4 per carry average he posted last year, and make fumbles very rare occurrences.
Jones had a few moments as a rookie, but they were mostly in the passing game, where he averaged 16.0 yards per catch on 19 receptions. As a runner, he averaged 3.4 YPC on 144 totes. It appears that he'll be the primary running back, though Chris Thompson led the Washington running backs with 35 receptions last season and may form a committee by taking over most of the third-down work.
In between discussing the rookies, Carroll made sure to let everyone know where he stands on second-year player Thomas Rawls.
"Thomas gives us a great element in his style of play," Carroll said. "We love the way he is physical and aggressive and tough. So, you see C.J. come off because he really has special qualities that he can add to the third-down aspect to our offense. We’re hoping that the other guys can complement what we’re already getting from Thomas. Each guy has his stuff. We think we can fit that together.
"We’ll come to appreciate that even more, but I think the message of who we are and what we’re about has been Thomas. We’re really excited to continue to see that, and we’ll see if we can fit it together in a really special fashion. They are unique. These guys are not from the same mold, which we really appreciate."
Who we are and what we're about. Carroll's message was clear: Assuming health, Rawls is the Seahawks' primary ball-carrier.
With Marshawn Lynch out of the way, Rawls is first in line for workhorse back duties given his performance in 2015. In the six games in which Rawls played and Lynch did not, the rookie averaged 20.5 touches for 120 yards and 0.84 touchdowns (on a stellar 5.6 YPC). That doesn't even include Week 3, when he turned 16 carries into 104 yards while Lynch was limited to five carries. A fractured ankle ended his season, but it didn't require surgery and he should be ready to for training camp. If he's fully healthy, Rawls' ADP should climb into the 3rd round (or higher). The only real concern here is the status of his ankle.
The Redskins’ intentions with Jones became clear by the end of the draft. They want him to be the lead back and are confident he’ll jump into the starting role and be just fine.
OC Sean McVay believes with a full offseason under his belt Jones will be able to right the fumbling issues, though.
“We know that he had some growing pains, but I think, when you look at the things that he was able to do both in the run game, and in the pass game, he’s got the skills and the traits that you’re looking for in that every down [running] back, where he can put his foot in the ground,” McVay said. “He’s a violent finisher. I think he’s a little bit more sudden than people give him credit for.”
Jones started his rookie season with a bang, posting 146 yards and two touchdowns against the Rams in Week 2, but ultimately generated just 3.40 yards per carry on 144 totes. He made a number of big plays in the passing game (16.0 yards per catch), finishing with 794 yards and four touchdowns. With Alfred Morris gone, Jones has a great opportunity to seize the RB1 job.
Offensive coordinator Sean McVay not only believes Doctson can do so, he's confident the Redskins will get the most out of the 6-foot-2, 202 pounder early on in his career.
“The great thing about it is we got a bunch of great players, and he’ll start out as an outside receiver, where he’ll play behind both Pierre and DeSean, and we’ll be able to groom him,” McVay said Wednesday on ESPN980. “And however well he does, he’ll earn that playing time if his play dictates that. He’s a guy that we’re very excited about.”
McVay went on to compare Doctson to A.J. Green and did say that he could earn more playing time if his play dictates it. We're assuming both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon will be back, and don't envision Doctson beating out either player in training camp. Garcon is probably the most vulnerable, so if Doctson has a great summer and earns a larger role, it will probably come at Garcon's expense. Jackson is also known to be somewhat injury-prone, so Doctson could see more snaps due to simple attrition.
"Those 2 guys are as good as I've seen in a while,'' Jackson said on the Browns draft review show Tuesday night that aired on 92.3 The Fan. "Their talent is extreme."
"I've been getting so much mail or phones calls with people saying, 'Well wait a minute, why don't you guys have a running back?''' he said. "I really think Isaiah Crowell is a really good running back. I think he's going to have a sensational season, I really do."
In Johnson, Jackson sees an elusive runner and dynamic receiver in the mold of Cincinnati's Gio Bernard, who rushed for 730 yards (4.7-yard average) and two TDs, and caught 49 passes for 472 yards and no TDs.
"I think he's going to have a great year as well," Jackson said. "Duke has suddenness and quickness and he can go catch the ball with anybody. He does so many different things that gives your offense a boost.''
Crowell outscored Johnson in standard formats, but Johnson (61 catches) had the edge in PPR, finishing #24 on the year. We can glean 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.
Base value of Jordan Reed extension is 5 years, just under $50M. $22M guaranteed. Amount fully guaranteed at signing not yet known.
Thanks to a relatively healthy season (14 games), Reed finished #3 in standard formats and #2 in PPR. He caught 87 passes for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns, registering a higher PPG in PPR formats than Rob Gronkowski. He was second only to Delanie Walker in targets per game. He's extremely talented and is a near-lock to be a top five tight end as long as he stays healthy, but given his history and his price (4th round ADP), there's some risk here.
Raiders TE Clive Walford suffered the injury while ago. Described as a "big gash" on one of his knees.
From multiple sources: Walford will be fine, well ahead of schedule, gave everyone a scare when it first happened.
This sounds like a non-issue, but it's something to file away in case he misses offseason activities.