We scour the news around the NFL to bring you what matters most to you and your dynasty team: the most current news on players, both superstars and the relative unknowns, and analysis to decipher the respective situations. These are many of the major stories and not meant to be an exhaustive look at all the recent happenings around the league.
With the beat writers touting rookie DeShone Kizer as the Week 1 starter, Cleveland’s quarterback coach, David Lee, had to jump in and slow the momentum. Lee stated that Kizer was currently not ready to play but could become so after a full training camp. Lee said, "He's not ready to play but he's climbing on it, making progress … He's gotten better every day." Most read this quote as negative. I disagree. This looks to be a coach saying that, if the rookie works hard, he could be the starter on opening day. The beat reporters have reported that Kizer and Cody Kessler are working with the first-team offense while Brock Osweiler works with the backups. Last week, beat writer Nate Ulrich tweeted that Kessler is struggling with his minicamp passes getting batted down at the line of scrimmage. Kizer looks to start for the Browns early in the season.
It is never a good sign for the incumbent quarterback when the general manager of the team tells the media that he “guarantees” the passer will attempt fewer passes this season. But, this happened last week in Jacksonville as Dave Caldwell spoke to reporters. The selection of Leonard Fournette should help balance the offense. Blake Bortles attempted 625 passes a year ago and we expect the fantasy upside of him and his receivers to take a dip in 2017. Further, it would not be a surprise if the Jaguars selected a rookie passer in the 2018 NFL Draft.
After signing a rich contract, it was announced that Doug Martin would be suspended to begin the 2017 season. Many thought that the suspension would give the team a great opportunity to move on from the veteran ball carrier. But, Martin entered rehab and has been focused on regaining his 2015 form. Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht chimed in about Martin and gave a glowing report. Licht said, "He 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." Yes, he will miss the first three games of the season, but Martin could be the answer for many fantasy owners. He is super cheap in most dynasty leagues. Expect Jacquizz Rodgers to lead the team in carries while Martin is out of action.
Even though fantasy owners are enamored with Kenneth Dixon and Danny Woodhead, all of the reports out of Baltimore have been how Terrance West is the starter. We are unsure if this is because Dixon will be suspended for the first four games or because he is a legitimate threat to lead the team in carries. A few weeks ago, beat reporter Jamison Hensley called West the "unquestioned starter." It is likely that neither West nor Dixon will be fantasy saviors but each could help on a weekly basis. Woodhead is a passing game threat who will have more receptions than carries.
Much to the chagrin of some fantasy owners, the Sacramento Bee reported last week that undrafted rookie tailback Matt Breida had more highlight runs than more highly touted fourth-round selection Joe Williams. Breida is a tremendous athlete but is undersized at just 5’9”, 195 pounds. Williams gained traction in the dynasty community when it was reported that the coaching staff “banged the table” for him. In the end, Carlos Hyde looks to be the starter with the pair of rookies, Tim Hightower, and Kapri Bibbs fighting for backup duties.
While many dynasty owners are scooping up rookie Marlon Mack as Frank Gore’s handcuff, beat reporter Zak Keefer wrote that he expects Turbin having a bigger role in 2017. Offensive coordinator, Rob Chudzinski said, "We're really pleased with Turbin. He's developing into a leader." The only issue with this report is that we have seen Robert Turbin in action before his Colts tenure. He is an average NFL running back who is a decent redzone option.
One week after a glowing report about how Christine Michael blew away expectations at his tryout, Michael was placed on injured reserve by Indianapolis. He was replaced by Troymaine Pope. It is interesting how both backs, as well as Turbin above, came from Seattle. The injury makes a Colts backfield even shallower than before.
The one running back generating buzz in Philadelphia is Donnel Pumphrey. The fourth-round pick is getting significant work with the starters, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Zach Berman. Berman tweeted recently, "Don't want to overstate what happens in June … but Eagles are prepping him for a role." While Pumphrey plays a similar role as does Darren Sproles, the Eagles may find ways to use the two small scatbacks on the field together. Also, running back Ryan Mathews is not participating in mandatory minicamp as he recovers from a neck injury. Most beat writers expect Mathews to be released once healthy so the team does not want to take chances of owing him money for an injury settlement. Also, beat reporter and radio host Jimmy Kempski said that he expects Wendell Smallwood to make the final roster, but could be a game-day scratch. The second-year pro is playing behind Sproles, newcomer LeGarrette Blount, and the rookie Pumphrey.
After his release from the Chiefs, Jeremy Maclin surveyed a few teams but landed in Baltimore on a two-year, $11-million contract. He is reportedly going to take over the role Steve Smith vacated by retiring. Maclin is a welcome sight to Joe Flacco with just speedy Mike Wallace and disappointing Breshad Perriman as viable weapons. The Baltimore Sun ran an interesting article last week saying that the Chiefs were reportedly concerned that Maclin had “lost a step" and that is why he was released. While possible, Maclin was released to free up salary cap room.
The buzz in Miami regarding DeVante Parker is palpable. Each week, there is a new story about how the coaching staff expects Parker to have a huge year. The third-year receiver has the ability. There has never been any doubt about that fact. He just needs to stay healthy. But, there is also the question in our mind whether the Parker buzz is correlated with fellow receiver Jarvis Landry not getting the contract extension he desires. If Parker does have a good season, there is no reason to give Landry the money. But, if Parker fails for any reason, expect Landry to remain a Dolphin. Parker’s development is one situation we will be actively monitoring during training camp and preseason.
Even though he is still recovering from wrist surgery, Rams head coach Sean McVay said that he projects Tavon Austin to be a big part of the offense. Los Angeles does not have much talent at the position and could lean on the speedy receiver. Between a lacking offense, poor quarterback play, and a narrow skill set, we are leery of a fantasy boom for Austin. Maybe, McVay knows how to use Austin in a better capacity than the past coaching staff.
Washington receiver Brian Quick was signed from the Rams this offseason. Some in the dynasty community still like Quick even after his mediocre stint in St. Louis. ESPN Redskins reporter John Keim gave his best guess as to which players would make the team’s final roster. Keim left Quick off the list. This is not good news for Quick fantasy owners. The team has little depth at the position so it says more about Quick than the team’s receiving corps.
The sad, sordid story of Michael Floyd. Addictions are real. After falling out of favor in Arizona and New England, Floyd signed with Minnesota, but had to pass several blood-alcohol tests each week in accordance with the court ruling from his extreme DUI arrest last year. He passed all of the tests until one day last week. Floyd is blaming the failed tests on herbal tea. This could be accurate, but the court system is likely not going to buy it. There is a good chance that Floyd is headed to jail. We will know more after Floyd’s June 26 court appearance to discuss the failed tests. Still brimming with talent enough to be on an NFL roster, this is a sad story.
There is a reason why the Falcons let Jacob Tamme walk. His name is Austin Hooper. Hooper played well down the stretch in 2016. He has impressed the veterans so far this offseason. Matt Ryan said the youngster has improved exponentially. The quarterback went on to say that Hooper will be "a big part of our offensive success this year." Hooper should be in the conversation to be a low-end TE1 option. With the way that Stanford players do not get to practice early in OTAs as rookies, the full offseason should allow Hooper to make a leap in year two.
Do not sleep on San Francisco rookie tight end, George Kittle. He is already getting snaps with the starters and should quickly replace Vance McDonald. On a team void of receiving options, the first-year pro could land in the top 10 at the position. No, that is not a likely scenario but it is possible.