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.
It should not come as a surprise to read in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer made the biggest leap of all the Browns' quarterbacks this offseason. First, rookies should improve at a faster rate than veterans. Second, and most important, Kizer is easily the most talented trio which includes Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler. So, yes, he should take a bigger leap than these two backups. Fantasy owners should see this as confirmation that Kizer will start for Cleveland sooner than later.
Another non-surprise was ESPN New York's Rich Cimini stating his belief that quarterback Josh McCown’s starting gig is not safe. It has been well-reported how McCown may not be the week-one starter for the Jets. The 38-year-old passer is far from a top-end quarterback at this stage in his career. But, the issue is that New York only has Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty behind the veteran. Some may call the season a rebuilding year, but the team is really tanking for 2018. Otherwise, what is the explanation for cutting or trading expensive players?
Many fantasy owners are focused on the role and impact of rookie Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel in Carolina while veteran Jonathan Stewart has been forgotten. Team website writer Max Henson recently wrote, "everyone from head coach Ron Rivera to running backs coach Jim Skipper has insisted that Stewart's role will not change." While this may or may not be true, it does bring to light how Stewart has been overlooked. It is difficult to believe that Stewart will serve the same role as last season and the first-round pick will exceed expectations from fans and fantasy owners. Something will have to give … and we think it will be Stewart’s role. Even so, he is still undervalued.
The fantasy football landscape is full of riddles. One such mystery is the breakdown of touches for the Patriots running backs. The issue for fantasy owners is that Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, and James White are valued highly in dynasty leagues. So, when ace beat writer wrote last week that Gillislee is the likeliest to play the LeGarrette Blount role, it only fed the fire. While Gillislee is very talented, he will struggle to live up to expectations from fantasy owners thinking the newcomer will equal Blount’s 2016 numbers. Blount was almost free last offseason before scoring 18 touchdowns. Now, Gillislee is priced like he will find the endzone almost 20 times in 2017. This is an unlikely scenario.
The Baltimore Ravens official website recently ran an article stating how the running back position is expected to be a full committee. Terrance West should see early-down work while Kenneth Dixon serves his four-game suspension. Danny Woodhead will be the passing-game back. Dixon is the most versatile of the three and should contribute when back in the lineup. For a team that has led the NFL in pass attempts the past two seasons, we would not advise chasing either West or Dixon. It seems like fantasy owners are looking for an oasis in the desert. Neither West nor Dixon should get enough touches to be reliable most weeks. Given the high number of pass attempts, Woodhead has the best chance for a solid fantasy campaign as long as he can stay healthy.
Another forgotten running back has been Jeremy Hill. The Bengals runner has been neglected and ignored after Cincinnati drafted Joe Mixon in the second round of the NFL Draft. He has even been dropped in some dynasty leagues. But, Giovani Bernard is still not healthy and up to speed. Beat writer Geoff Hobson recently wrote that Hill should have a regular role in the offense, including on short yardage situations. Even more surprising was Hobson relating how coach Marvin Lewis fiercely defending Hill this offseason. Nothing coming out of Cincinnati should surprise us anymore but this definitely was a shock. Check your waiver wire for Hill and you never know what may happen.
Dynasty owners have been talking about the role of Corey Davis in the Tennessee offense. He looks like a future star. The rookie will compete with Rishard Matthews and Eric Decker for touches. With the roles of these three being hotly discussed, fellow rookie Taywan Taylor has been the talk of OTAs. Jim Wyatt of the Titans' official website recently wrote that Taylor looked "like a perfect fit" in the slot during OTAs. Taylor will be a solid buy-low candidate if he fails to make a fantasy impact early. He and Davis will only get better over time as each came from smaller college football programs. The Titans have assembled a solid group of receivers for quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Even after signing Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery, the Eagles drafted Mack Hollins, and Shelton Gibson in the NFL Draft. Gibson has struggled with dropped passes but Hollins is carving out a role. Adam Caplan, who is very connected in Philadelphia, stated that the team’s confidence in Hollins, as well as second-year UDFA Marcus Johnson, allowed the team to release troubled receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Hollins is a great size/speed specimen and should contribute right away on special teams.
Yes, this is hyperbole season but there are some instances we believe the praise is warranted. One such case is the acclaim for Hunter Henry from San Diego’s tight end coach, John McNulty. In a Chargers.com article, McNulty stated his belief that Henry has "rare awareness and savvy for someone his age." He went on to say, "For a young player, he’s got a tremendous amount of poise … You don’t have to spell everything out A-Z for him." While Henry might still split snaps with Antonio Gates, his star is on the rise. With so many aging veterans at the position, it would be smart of dynasty owners to look to acquire Henry or Austin Hooper as the focus is on the new crop of rookies.
One player that we have been picking up off waivers, especially in tight end-premium leagues is Nick Vannett. The Seahawks are not as deep at the position as it may appear. Both Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson are only signed through the 2017 season. The second-year player will compete for snaps. He was highly touted out of Ohio State but was forgotten after an injury. Vannett is a good receiver and blocker and could emerge to fantasy relevance if Graham was to miss action with an injury.