The Week in NFL News - 4/15

The most important news items of the week and why they matter for fantasy football

AFC

Cincinnati Bengals

Tight end C.J. Uzomah said he was cleared from his October achilles injury. If the Bengals don’t take Florida generational tight end Kyle Pitts at #35, Uzomah should be in line for fantasy relevance in a high volume pass offense. File his name away in tight end premium leagues and on your waiver wire watch list.

Cleveland Browns

Jadeveon Clowney signed a one-year, eight million dollar deal with the Browns this week. He’ll combine with Takk McKinley, who signed earlier in the offseason, to give the Browns a strong edge rush presence opposite Myles Garrett. Clowney and McKinley have both had trouble staying healthy, but if they rotate snaps, it could result in getting the best out of both players. The Browns defense has quietly been greatly improved with the addition of the edge rushers, Malik Jackson on the interior defensive line, Anthony Walker at linebacker, Troy Hill at cornerback, and John Johnson III at safety. The team also lost 2020 second-round pick safety Grant Delpit before last season, so there will be new blood at every level of the defense. The Browns will be a good sleeper team defense in fantasy leagues this year.

Houston Texans

Peter King believes a trade of Deshaun Watson is “very unlikely” while his legal issues are ongoing. Watson was removed from the intro to the team’s in-house TV show Texans 360. It appears to be almost impossible for Watson to avoid either the commissioner’s exempt list or a suspension at the beginning of the season. The Texans could still be in on Alex Smith or Teddy Bridgewater if they think they won’t have Watson this season… The Texans signed Lane Taylor, who was slated to start for the Packers last year before tearing an ACL in the season opener. He’ll be reunited with James Campen, who was Taylor’s offensive line coach in Green Bay through 2018.

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders signed safety Karl Joseph. He returns to the team after spending 2020 on the Browns roster. The Raiders selected him at #14 in the 2016 draft and he reportedly grew on the Raiders coaching staff, but his durability issues caused the team to part ways with Joseph. He could be an upgrade from Jeff Heath, who replaced him last year, but the Raiders still have no true coverage safety to play with box safety and 2019 first-round pick Johnathan Abram.

New England Patriots

Julian Edelman was released by the Patriots and announced his retirement. His knee condition was too much to overcome. Kendrick Bourne should be the top slot option, but Jakobi Meyers also proved his prowess at the spot last year when nothing else was working in the Patriots passing game.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Vince Williams returned to the Steelers on a one-year deal. After it was assumed that the Steelers didn’t have enough cap room to keep Williams, Juju Smith-Schuster, or Tyson Alualu, all three returned to the team for less money than expected (and probably less than they were offered elsewhere). This improves the Steelers run defense, restores one of the leaders of the locker room, and gives the team more flexibility in the upcoming draft as they look to maximize their Super Bowl chances in what is likely Ben Roethlisberger’s final season.

NFC

Arizona Cardinals

James Conner signed a one-year, $1.75 million deal with the Cardinals on Tuesday. He recently had surgery to correct a “moderate” turf toe issue stemming from an ATV accident. While he might be in line to get early down carries and goal line work ahead of Chase Edmonds, Conner’s durability record and lack of dynamism as a runner probably ensures that Edmonds will have more fantasy value this year. Conner was paid the same as Malcolm Brown got from the Dolphins, so his signing shouldn’t be seen as one that precludes the team taking a running back in the first or second round, although the Cardinals have two picks in the first four rounds, while the Dolphins have four picks in the top 50.

Atlanta Falcons

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith are “aligned” on what they will do with the fourth pick in the draft. Previously, reports had Smith stumping for Matt Ryan still being a strong starting option for the foreseeable future, while Fontenot was more open to quarterbacks at #4. Even with Ryan taking up 40+ million in cap space in 2022, we have to consider the Falcons a legitimate candidate to take a quarterback at #4, and of course, the stronger that perception becomes, the more a team will pay to trade up to #4 for a quarterback. They have been at every top quarterback pro day and will do their due diligence on this class as QB4 in this class is better than QB2 in many classes. The opportunity to take that player is a rare opportunity for a team that surely doesn’t plan on being in the top four again soon... The Falcons also signed Cordarrelle Patterson and Duron Harmon. Patterson is the more recognizable name and he’ll help in the return game and on manufactured touches, but Harmon is more important for a team that lost both of their starting safeties to free agency. He started all 16 games last year for the Lions last year... In another move that reinforces the strong probability of the Falcons taking a running back early in the draft, the team released Ito Smith. He was their top back at the end of 2020 season and would have been second in line for touches behind free agent pickup Mike Davis.

Dallas Cowboys

Chris Mortensen reports that Jerry Jones is “infatuated” with Florida tight end Kyle Pitts and could trade up in the draft to land him. This might make Dak Prescott the #1 fantasy quarterback this year, but it is still a remote possibility with Pitts ranked as the #1 non-quarterback on many boards. If none of the top five quarterbacks are on the board and Pitts still is, maybe the Cowboys could afford the trade up, but this year the cost to move up inside of the top 10 is prohibitive because of the intersection of a strong quarterback class at the top and the always short supply of viable starters in the NFL.

Los Angeles Rams

Assault charges were filed against Aaron Donald. An attorney for De’Vincent Spriggs said his client suffered facial fractures, a concussion, and an injured arm. Pittsburgh police said they are reviewing the complaint and investigating to see if charges are warranted, and the league will surely be keeping tabs on the progress of the case.

San Francisco 49ers

John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan attended Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields’ pro day earlier this week, and will attend North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance’s pro day next week. Media accounts have settled on Alabama’s Mac Jones as the most likely pick, but Shanahan recently said “To move up to 3, we had to feel. There’s a chance to get there with four or five. There’s five guys that are kind of at this party.” It’s possible that Shanahan and Lynch are attending these pro days to see if Fields or Lance is the player they’ll take home from the party. Jones fits the type that Shanahan has had the most success with, but Fields and Lance offer a running/athleticism dimension that Jones does not.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks signed Aldon Smith to a one-year contract. Smith rebooted his career with the Cowboys last year. Seattle tried to trade for him at the deadline, but they were rebuffed as Dallas reportedly saw Smith as part of their long term plans. Instead, they end up getting him for no draft capital cost. He instantly becomes their second best edge rusher and part of a possibly formidable duo with Carlos Dunlap, who they brought back earlier in free agency.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers signed Giovani Bernard to a one-year deal. He’ll get the role vacated by LeSean McCoy, and perhaps more, as he has more left in the tank than McCoy did at this time last year. Bernard should be the first option on passing downs now and cut into the value of both Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette. It’s possible that no Buccaneers back will be a consistent fantasy option this year if all of them stay healthy.

Washington Football Team

The Football Team signed Tulane basketball convert Sammis Reyes as a tight end. Reyes had a ridiculous pro day earlier this month when he ran a 4.65 40 at 6’5” 260 while also posting 31 reps on the bench press, a 40” vertical and a 10’5” broad jump. If he can successfully make the conversion to football, he’ll be one of the most athletic tight ends in the league and should definitely be on your dynasty radar.


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