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The Week in NFL News - 4/19

A look at news around the league and how it might affect your fantasy teams

AFC

 

Buffalo

Bills WR Kelvin Benjamin is participating in voluntary offseason workouts.

Why It Matters: The Bills offense is going to be one of the most underwhelming units in the league, but Benjamin is the closest thing the team has to a weapon in the passing game. His balky knee was a problem on and off all season last year, so this is the first good sign that maybe 2018 will be a better year.

The Bills signed WR Jeremy Kerley to a one-year contract.

Why It Matters: Kerley had a flash in 2016 as the 49ers most reliable target for a stretch, but was a non-factor last year for the Jets. He isn’t a lock to make the team, but if he does and outplays 2017 second-round pick Zay Jones coming off his bizarre offseason incident, he might lead the team in catches.

Cincinnati

Bengals QB Andy Dalton said there is going to be a lot of change and learning in the team’s offense this year.

Why It Matters: Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor immediately revived the offense when he took over last year, and now he’ll have a whole offseason install a scheme that matches his more aggressive philosophy. Dalton was a steady QB1 for fantasy teams once upon a time, and he could be again this year, especially if the Bengals add a starting center in the first round to continue to offensive line upgrade started with the trade for OT Cordy Glenn that moved them down nine picks in the first round to #21.

Bengals RB Joe Mixon weighs 225 pounds and intends to lose more weight before training camp.

Why It Matters: Marshawn Lynch and Le'Veon Bell both hit new levels in their game by reshaping their bodies to be lighter in the offseason. The Bengals offense is trending in the right direction and Mixon will be the clear lead back. He might end up being a value in his second year.

Denver

The Broncos released RB CJ Anderson.

Why It Matters: The Broncos took their time after some speculation that they would ask Anderson to accept a pay cut. Reportedly, no pay cut was offered before the release. Anderson missed a window to sign with Adam Gase in Miami in a reunion, as the team signed Frank Gore instead after trying to trade for Anderson. He should end up being in a timeshare, but his fantasy value has taken a hit and Anderson might have to wait until after the draft to sign.

Kansas City

The Chiefs signed RB Kerwynn Williams to a one-year contract.

Why It Matters: Head coach Andy Reid has been non-committal about Spencer Ware, who is coming back from a tricky knee injury. The team also signed Damien Williams earlier this offseason. Connecting the dots, it doesn’t seem like Ware is a lock to be the complement to Kareem Hunt this season.

Miami

The Palm Beach Post reports that RB Kenyan Drake has added at least five pounds this offseason.

Why It Matters: Former Dolphins back Lamar Miller lost some of his explosiveness by adding weight to take on a larger workload with Houston. Hopefully, Drake doesn’t sacrifice his playmaking ability to address the Dolphins concerns about how he will hold up under a heavy workload. Drake will share with Frank Gore, but as long as he’s heavily involved in the passing game, he could still be a fantasy RB1.

The Palm Beach Post expects the Dolphins to exercise the fifth-year option on WR Devante Parker.

Why It Matters: Parker hasn’t lived up to his first-round pick status yet, and the option would only be guaranteed for injury, so it doesn’t mean that he’s a sure thing for the 2019 Dolphins roster. He should get a bump in targets with Jarvis Landry in Cleveland and have a chance to earn the 9.5 million dollar option. That’s about what Jacksonville paid Donte Moncrief this offseason, so it’s not an outlandish number even though Parker has been disappointing.

New England

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski did not attend the start of the team’s offseason program.

Why It Matters: Retirement watch seems to be over for Gronkowski, but there has been some buzz that he wants to be traded. There is still a high probability that Gronkowski will be a Patriot, but this negative aura around the relationship between Gronkowski and the Patriots is something to file away as context for whatever comes next.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Patriots QB Tom Brady has not committed to playing in 2018.

Why It Matters: It probably doesn’t, but when Schefter reports something, it’s worth noting. NBC Sports Michael Giardi said Brady has continued his normal offseason regimen, and that his teammates haven’t said he plans to retire. The Patriots have been linked to quarterbacks in the upcoming draft, so a choice of Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph in the first round isn’t an indication that there is something to this item.

New York Jets

Jets TE Neal Sterling signed his one year, 1.9 million original pick level restricted free agent tender.

Why It Matters: Sterling is a pass-catching tight end on a team that doesn’t have an entrenched player at the position right now. He’s only worth remembering in very deep dynasty leagues, but if the Jets pass offense is as good as it was last year, Sterling could flirt with fantasy relevance with improved play.

NFC

 

Carolina

Panthers TE Greg Olsen said his foot is completely healed.

Why It Matters: Olsen didn’t look at all like his old self when he came back last year until the playoffs, but it sounds like we don’t have to worry about that this season. Olsen is a good bet to be Cam Newton’s leading downfield receiver and he could be a value if he is outside of the top five tight ends off of the board in drafts.

Chicago

Bears RB Jordan Howard said the team told his agent that they have no plans to trade him and head coach Matt Nagy confirmed that he will be featured.

Why It Matters: The Bears are undergoing a change in offensive scheme and philosophy under Nagy, and it should be very different from the run-heavy attack under John Fox, but Howard is still an RB2 with this confirmation about his place in the team’s plans, and any loss in volume could be offset by a gain in efficiency and scoring opportunities in a better offense.

Bears RB Tarik Cohen has added ten pounds of muscle in the offseason and is up to 190 and head coach Matt Nagy said he is going to use him as a receiver outside of the backfield and move Cohen around.

Why It Matters: Cohen displayed a ton of talent as a receiver last year, but was sometimes curiously underused by the Bears. Nagy is saying the right things about Cohen’s usage, and he could be an RB2 in PPR leagues if he is a core piece of the passing attack, even if Jordan Howard still dominates carries. Hopefully, Cohen doesn’t lose any of the suddenness and explosive he showed last year after gaining additional weight, and that development is no reason to bet against his growth as a player and part of the offense this year.

Dallas

The Cowboys released WR Dez Bryant.

Why It Matters: This isn’t surprising after it has been rumored all offseason, but the timing is strange, as the team could have used the cap room opened by his release in the first wave of free agency, and Bryant could have generated a lot more interest in March. Allen Hurns is the closest thing the team has to a #1 receiver now, and they are much more likely to go with a receiver on the first two days of the draft, if not at #19. Cole Beasley, or his superior eventual replacement, 2017 fourth-rounder Ryan Switzer have to be a bigger part of the passing game this year.

Detroit

Michael Rothstein of ESPN would not be surprised if RB Ameer Abdullah or Theo Riddick is “shopped”, especially if the team takes a running back early in the draft.

Why It Matters: Abdullah has underwhelmed despite a lot of opportunity with the Lions, and he might benefit from a change of scenery. LeGarrette Blount is the surest thing to lead the Lions in carries this year, but that could change in draft, which might also change Abdullah’s fate with the team.

Green Bay

Yahoo Sports Charles Robinson reports that Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is frustrated and emotional about decisions to no longer have WR Jordy Nelson and QB coach Alex Van Pelt in the organization.

Why It Matters: Rodgers only has two years left on his contract and this kind of news could affect how those negotiations go if the issues that make him unhappy are not addressed. There is a philosophical question here about a quarterback not being involved in coaching and personnel decisions no matter how important he is to the team and how well he plays.

Minnesota

The Vikings signed LB Eric Kendricks to a five-year, 50 million dollar extension with 25 million guaranteed.

Why It Matters: Kendricks is about to take off as an elite IDP linebacker for his prime years. The Vikings have still been able to keep their defense intact despite giving Kirk Cousins a fully guaranteed contract in free agency.

New York Giants

Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reported that it is not likely that the Giants will take a quarterback with the second overall pick of the draft and ESPN’s Todd McShay said “it feels inevitable” that the team will select Penn State RB Saquon Barkley.

Why It Matters: From a value standpoint, the Giants should be looking to take a quarterback or trade down to a team that needs a quarterback. Barkley is a “can’t miss” player in his draft, but running back is a devalued position. He would add a significant amount in the passing game as a blocker and receiver to offset that trend, but the Broncos and Bills would probably be pleased to see the Giants take Barkley and push quarterbacks lower in the top 5-10, and perhaps even cause a slide for UCLA’s Josh Rosen.

The Giants released WR Brandon Marshall with a failed physical

Why It Matters: Marshall was a dud last year anyway, but this confirms that he is not in the team’s plans going forward. Marshall won’t be signed to be a starter now, and he might be lucky to make a roster if his play doesn’t improve from the 2017 level. Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram give the team two excellent secondary options after Odell Beckham, so there shouldn’t be urgency to replace Marshall.

Jordan Schultz from Yahoo Sports and Mike Fisher from 105.3 Dallas believe former Cowboys WR Dez Bryant wants to play for the Giants.

Why It Matters: It won’t unless the Giants want him too. Bryant would have extra motivation with two games against Cowboys next season, and the Giants might want another veteran presence in the passing game. Some teams might wait until they see their draft results before making overtures towards Bryant, so this situation will require some patience.

Philadelphia

Eagles QB Carson Wentz has progressed to the running phase of the rehabilitation of his surgically repaired knee.

Why It Matters: Wentz had a multi-ligament tear, so when he does return, we shouldn’t expect him to have all of his abilities back. He won’t be as much of a running and scrambling threat and probably won’t resume as a top five fantasy quarterback right away, but this is obviously a step in the right direction.

Seattle

The Seahawks signed PK Sebastian Janikowski to a one-year contract.

Why It Matters: It didn’t seem likely that the team would go into camp with Jaguars castoff Jason Myers as their only kicker, and the other shoe has now dropped in their kicking game. Janikowski was replaced in Oakland last year, but he is surely better than Blair Walsh, who was one of the worst kickers in the league for the Seahawks last year.

Seahawks safety Earl Thomas was not present for the open of voluntary offseason activities.

Why It Matters: The team has said that they expect him at the open of camp and have been assured by his representatives that he will be there, but they were open to dealing him earlier in the offseason, and the Cowboys have newfound cap room. This could be a sign of a developing story and continued dismantling of the Seahawks defense.