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.
Last week, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million extension. Most have been informed that Carr will average more per year ($25 million) annually than anyone in NFL history. But, as is the case with most NFL contracts, there are details not widely reported that portray the deal in a less-positive light. For example, Carr only received $40 million guaranteed. So, the guarantees run out after two years. That is much less than many of the recent quarterback deals. Additionally, Carr disclosed that he orchestrated the cash flow in a way that should allow Oakland to re-sign the team’s other stars, notably Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. Also, let’s keep in mind that Carr benefits by increasing his salary once the team moves to Nevada due to the lack of state income tax in the state. No matter how it is spun in the media, the Raiders got a steal in the contract with its star passer.
New York Post beat reporter, Brian Costello, opined last week that there is doubt that quarterback Josh McCown will start the season opener. Earlier in the week, Rich Cimini reported that Christian Hackenberg is closing the gap on McCown. We do not know if this is a result of McCown playing well or Hackenberg improving. We would guess the former. Additionally, imagine how poorly Bryce Petty must be playing in practice to fall into third place behind the other two. In the midst of a rebuilding year and a below-average receiving corps, hopes cannot be high for whichever Jets quarterback wins the job. It likely means that the other two lost.
One running back who has gone under the radar this offseason is Thomas Rawls. The Seattle back has been forgotten with the addition of Eddie Lacy now in the Pacific Northwest. Beat reporter, Bob Condotta, said last week that he thinks the two tailbacks will split "a fairly equal share of the basedown carries." This is not what Lacy owners want to hear. C.J. Prosise should get most of the passing-down touches so it leaves these two to battle for early down work.
The New York Jets have a lack of talent at the running back position. Yes, Matt Forte is still on the team. But, he is far past his prime. Bilal Powell is a pass-catching option who is far from an every-down option. This is why we have hopes that rookie Elijah McGuire can make an impact in year one. Running backs coach, Stump Mitchell recently spoke about the rookie. Mitchell, a former NFL ball carrier, said, "I like everything (about him) … He's got great hands. As a third-down back or simply a back, he can catch the ball extremely well. He has good vision, and a good ability to make cuts. I like him. He's a student of the game." While he may enter the season third on the depth chart behind the two veterans, there is a very real possibility that McGuire can be a fantasy starter by midseason.
Beat writer, Mike Jurecki, wrote last week that the expects rookie receiver Chad Williams to open the year as the team’s WR5. While this may come as a shock, the Cardinals like to develop their rookies. The third-round pick has plenty of size and speed to be a long-term starter. Making the transition from small-school football to the NFL will take time so dynasty owners need to be patient. The good news for Williams is that he is getting plenty of positive feedback in camp. The lack of immediate production could enable savvy dynasty owners to trade for Williams on the cheap.
There was an article in the Nashville Tennessean which should scare Tajae Sharpe dynasty owners. The paper opined that Sharpe, who is recovering from foot surgery, may have a "tenuous grasp on a roster spot" entering training camp. Coach Mike Mularkey added, “Obviously he’s not going to run right now, but he’s got to do something to stay in shape … You’ve got to be ready to go. No matter what your injury is, there’s something you can do, cardio-wise, to train." We expect Sharpe to remain on the roster, or go to injured reserve. But, there is no fantasy relevance in his near future after the Titans added Eric Decker and Corey Davis, and still have Rishard Matthews on the roster.
One of the more disappointing receivers the past few years is Laquon Treadwell. The former first-round pick has failed to impress as a pro. Beat writer, Matt Vensel, recently reported that Treadwell practiced as the WR3 exclusively, behind Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. With little else at the position, Treadwell has settled in as the third receiver. This is not a positive feat. He could see the field in two-receiver sets if one of the other two were to get injured.
Beat writer, Jimmy Kempski, opined last week that rookie Shelton Gibson may not make the Philadelphia final 53-man roster. We wrote about it recently. Most of the beat reports have spoken out about Gibson’s poor play in camp so far. Kempski insinuated that the fifth-round pick may end up on the practice squad. The Eagles have a solid receiving corps so there will be no urgency to push the inconsistent rookie. He needs time to develop.
Most would agree that the Indianapolis Colts have an offense that fantasy owners want to invest in. So, when we came across a Colts.com article on a sleeper receiver, we had to include it. Last week, Kevin Bowen wrote that Chester Rogers has a real shot to earn the WR3 job over Kamar Aiken and Phillip Dorsett. While T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief have the two top receiver jobs locked down, there is an opportunity for Rogers to settle in as the WR3. Rogers is in his second season after not getting drafted coming out of Grambling State. Aiken is still the favorite to win the role. But, let’s remember that the two top pass catchers have been oft-injured in their respective careers.
With the injury to Dennis Pitta and the past injuries to Ben Watson and Maxx Williams, the Ravens have a gap at the tight end position. Beat reporter, Jeff Zrebiec, wrote last week that Darren Waller has the talent to emerge as the starter but he struggles with consistency. Zrebiec wrote, "On one play, he’s running past starting safety Tony Jefferson and making a big catch downfield … A few plays later, a pass bounced off his hands and was intercepted." Zrebiec did go on to say that Waller is the most gifted of the tight ends on the roster. The interesting part of the story is that Waller is a former wide receiver. The pass-catching piece should be second nature to him. But, it is not. At this time, we would advise not wasting a roster spot on Waller unless in the deepest of tight end-premium leagues.
Steelers.com's Bob Labriola wrote last week that he thinks tight end Xavier Grimble could "make a run" at Jesse James’ starting job. This is James’ job to lose. Labriola wrote Grimble "has flashed the ability to be special" but struggles with inconsistency. While Grimble is more athletic and adds a different element in the passing game, he has far too many mental lapses and drops too many passes.
Beat writer, Nate Ulrich, said last week that second-year tight end Seth DeValve might be the Browns' most improved player this offseason. Ulrich went on to say that DeValve could emerge as a "go-to target for whichever Browns quarterback wins the starting job." Tight ends coach Greg Seamon echoed the sentiment. He said, "Most of his development in the offseason was that he put on a little weight, he is noticeably stronger, he is faster and he is healthier … He continues to work hard technically." While Gary Barnidge is gone, Cleveland selected David Njoku in the first round of the NFL Draft. DeValve and Njoku should see the field in two-tight end sets. DeValve makes a solid short-term stash with Njoku developing into the long-term starter.