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New Bills QB E.J. Manuel told Sirius XM radio on Friday that he loves OC Nathaniel Hackett's scheme. Manuel said it's simpler than the system he ran at Florida State and called it the kind of "true West Coast-progression type offense" he was hoping to land in. Some might react by laughing at Buffalo's "simple" new offense, but that doesn't make it a bad scheme. Many NFL teams have devised systems too complicated for their players to run effectively. Hackett has never run an NFL offense, and HC Doug Marrone did so under Saints HC Sean Payton and with Drew Brees at QB. It's easy to wonder how much control he actually wielded. Manuel, meanwhile, looks intriguing for fantasy purposes because of his strong arm and mobility. If he takes over the starting job at any point this year, he could deliver at least a couple of surprisingly valuable outings.
Bills HC Doug Marrone admits that rookie QB E.J. Manuel isn't the most "polished guy." Marrone got his first look at the signal-caller in action with some of his new teammates at rookie minicamp on Friday. While Manuel made some "nice throws," according to Marrone, he also needs to improve his footwork and mechanics. In a perfect world, Manuel would sit and learn from the sidelines in 2013. But as a 1st-round pick with only Kevin Kolb ahead of him on the depth chart, we're expecting to see the rookie under center by midseason.
Related Players: Kevin Kolb
The Bills selected Florida State QB E.J. Manuel. It's the biggest shock of the 1st round so far. Buffalo was thought to be hot on Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib's trail all offseason. The fact that HC Doug Marrone passed on his college QB for Manuel says a lot about his feelings for Nassib. Manuel is a big 6'5, 237-pounder with plenty of arm and athleticism. He's raw, though, and could use at least one season learning from the sidelines. We'd consider QB Kevin Kolb to favorite to win the starting out of training camp, although Manuel figures to see the field at some point.
Beat writer Mary Kay Cabot says the Browns "really like" TE Jordan Cameron and "plan to throw to him a lot." Cabot adds that he was "targeted on plenty of deep balls in OTAs." The highly athletic Cameron brings intriguing upside in HC Rob Chudzinski's TE-friendly offense. But the hype machine is already getting out of control. He'll likely be overvalued in fantasy drafts this summer. With just 26 catches over his first 2 NFL seasons, Cameron shouldn't be drafted as anything more than a mid-range fantasy backup behind a reliable starter.
Browns HC Rob Chudzinski believes TE Jordan Cameron is a good fit in the offense. “This is an offense that has featured tight ends and tight ends have always been a big part of it,” Chud said. “He has the skill set that fits.” Cameron has intriguing physical ability as a 6'4, 245-pound former basketball player. And he's in an offense led by a couple of guys with a history of getting big-time production from the TE position (Chudzinski with Kellen Winslow, Antonio Gates and Greg Olsen; and OC Norv Turner with Jay Novacek, Vernon Davis and Gates). Cameron is short on production -- just 16 career college catches and 26 in the NFL -- but 2013 could be a breakout year. He'll be worth targeting as a sleeper in the later rounds of your fantasy football draft.
Browns TE Jordan Cameron sees a "big opportunity" to push for a starting job in 2013. Cleveland let Ben Watson walk as a free agent this offseason, and only brought in middling talents in Kellen Davis and Gary Barnidge. "There’s a lot of opportunities to make plays, and I just want to get out there, show what I can do, and showcase my athleticism," Cameron said. "Right now, I’m working my butt off to get to that position and show them that I’m ready and capable of being the guy.” Cameron has just 26 catches over his first 2 NFL seasons. But he entered the league as a project -- a former basketball player with just a few years of football experience. His combination of size and speed presents plenty of fantasy football upside. Cameron goes 6'5 and 245 pounds and ran a 4.59 40-yard dash at the 2011 Combine. We'll see if he can capture the starting job this summer. New HC Rob Chudzinski loves getting his TE involved in the passing game.
Pro Football Talk hears that contract talks between the Giants and WR Victor Cruz are "moving slowly." We suppose that's better than no movement at all. But the 2 sides are reportedly still at least $3 million apart in annual salary. Cruz is looking for $10 million per year. The Giants are believed to be offering $7 million. We're still about a month away from the first real pressure point. That will come on June 17th when the team can replace the 1-year, $2.9 million restricted free-agent tender with a $594K offer. The situation could get ugly at that point. We doubt it gets there, though, and won't worry about Cruz's 2013 outlook unless it does.
Giants GM Jerry Reese isn't ruling out a holdout by WR Victor Cruz. “We’ll see,” Reese said. “I can tell you this: When we get ready to play, when the season starts, we will have some good players out there. I’m not sure if Victor will be there or not. But I don’t assume anything.” Cruz was slapped with a 1st-round restricted free-agent tender earlier this offseason. That will pay him $2.9 million this year. Cruz is looking for a long-term deal, and the Giants want the same. But the 2 sides are reportedly far apart on money. Cruz is looking for $10-11 million per year, while the G-Men have only offered $7. It doesn't sound like Cruz plans on showing up for any team activities until a long-term contract is in place. That could change on June 17th, though, when the Giants can lower Cruz's salary to $630K. We won't start to worry about Cruz's fantasy football outlook until that point.
The Giants began voluntary workouts today at team facilities. Giants WR Victor Cruz did not, according to USA Today's Mike Garafolo. That news should surprise no one, of course. Cruz continues to seek a long-term deal from the team that merely applied a 1st-round tender to the restricted free agent this offseason. We still fully expect a deal to happen. It's not yet clear whether Cruz would skip "mandatory" workouts without a new contract. Until he signs his RFA tender or a longer-term deal, however, the team won't be able to mandate anything. It's also worth noting that Cruz did work out with Giants QB Eli Manning at Duke University last week.
The Boston Herald's Karen Guregian has confirmed that Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski will undergo a 4th forearm surgery on Monday at 2 pm ET. Doctors will go in and determine whether or not the infection has cleared. But contrary to previous information, Guregian reports that Gronk will need a 5th surgery regardless. If the infection has cleared, that procedure to replace the plate in his forearm will take place in about a week. Gronk would then begin a 10-11 week recovery phase. If the infection is still present, "it's back to square one, and the possibility of missed games creeps into the equation," Guregian writes. We'll continue to stay on top of this situation.
2 important updates on the Rob Gronkowski back story. First, Pro Football Talk has learned that Gronk is awaiting a 2nd opinion but will "probably" need surgery to address the disc problem. Second, we've learned more about the timetable for the procedure and recovery. PFT reports that Gronk will go under the knife 3-4 weeks after the final forearm procedure. That could be Monday, or it could be later if he needs that 5th surgery. (Still following?) Then Gronk will need 10 weeks of rehab after the back surgery, according to ESPN. If our math is right, that means Gronk will be back in 13-14 weeks, assuming he doesn't need a 5th forearm surgery. The 2013 season starts in 16 weeks. If everything goes to plan, Gronk would be ready for Week 1. But he won't do much in training camp or the preseason. If he needs that 5th forearm surgery, all bets are off.
USA Today’s Mike Garafolo reports that Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski has a disc issue in his back that is “being examined and could require surgery.” ESPN’s Adam Schefter hears that the issue is considered minor and wouldn’t keep Gronk out longer than he’ll be sidelined with his forearm situation. “He’s going to be fine long term,” a person close to Gronk said. “[He’s] not worried about the short term, i.e. start of training camp.” Fantasy owners should be alarmed, though. Gronkowski is only 24, but the medical problems are starting to pile up. Remember that he missed the entire 2009 college season after undergoing surgery to repair a disc in his back, although this latest issue is reportedly unrelated. He also dealt with a hip problem for a chunk of last year. Gronk needs to be considered an injury-risk in fantasy drafts this summer – even if he’s ready to go for Week 1.
Broncos QB Peyton Manning has signed a slightly altered contract with Denver. Pro Football Talk reports that the money didn't change. The Broncos merely added language to mention an insurance policy they bought against injury to the same part of Manning's neck that cost him the entire 2011 season. This contract has no real fantasy impact. But it serves as a reminder that even a full -- apparently healthy -- season doesn't completely remove the physical risk with the 37-year-old.
The NFL schedule has been released. The Ravens and Broncos kick things off on Thursday, September 5th. HC Chip Kelly makes his Eagles debut on Monday night against the Redskins (and maybe RG3). We get the Manning Bowl in Week 2. Peyton returns to Indianapolis in Week 7. Here's the complete 2013 NFL schedule.
Broncos QB Peyton Manning admits that he still has "certain challenges" related to his multiple neck surgeries. "When you're dealing with nerves, I've learned it's a patience deal," Manning said. "They kind of say it could be a year or two, or it may never come back, so I'm kind of hopeful. I kind of wish certain things would come back a little bit more, but I have learned to adjust and compensate in the state that I am. I still would like to make some more improvement. I still work at it. But, yeah, I'm certainly better than I was last year. But I'm still not quite where I was before I was injured." Some evaluators noticed a dip in Manning's arm strength last year, especially late in the season. That may be accurate, but Manning's production didn't dip. His 68.6% completion rate, 8.0 yards-per-attempt average and 37 TDs were all better than his career averages. Despite turning 37 last month, Manning could be even better in 2013 -- another year removed from those neck surgeries. The addition of WR Wes Welker won't hurt either.
Alex Smith joins pass-happy HC Andy Reid in Kansas City's new-look offense. Is that enough to make Smith a fantasy asset?
Still think waiting on QB can work, but all three champs in my three leagues all went QB first. Interestingly enough, the wait on QB guys wound up with Stafford, Big Ben, and Eli, looked fab, and they were the dormats. The problem with waiting on a QB, if you hit it, you hit it. If you miss it, well then......
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