Titans QB Marcus Mariota responded well to his first appearance in OTAs. “It felt great,” said Mariota, who’s coming off a fractured fibula on December 24. “Four months ago I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to participate in OTAs, and being able to do some of the drills... I was very happy and very grateful. It was fun to be out there with the guys, and I enjoyed it.” HC Mike Mularkey confirmed that the Titans will take it slow with their franchise passer. “We’ll take it day by day with Marcus,” Mularkey said. “He’d like to do more. He looks like he can do more, but it’s May, so we have time.” A notoriously hard worker, Mariota is on track to be 100% well ahead of Week 1.
According to The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec, "team officials have said repeatedly they are content with [Terrance] West as the lead guy." The Ravens signed Danny Woodhead early in free agency but otherwise added nothing to the backfield. West returns on just his 1-year restricted free-agent tender after trailing Kenneth Dixon in carries 3 of the final 4 games last year. But the 2 split the work even then, and Dixon will miss the 1st 4 games of 2017 because of a PED suspension. That presents opportunity for West, at the least. Of course, he failed to hold the top job with the same opportunity last year. We'd bet on a committee approach here, with Woodhead and Dixon carrying significantly more fantasy upside than West -- especially in PPR formats.
Jets WR Eric Decker was on the field for the start of this week's OTAs. He was sporting a red no-contact jersey, and it's unclear how much he'll actually do. But the fact that he's out there at all is good news after he underwent shoulder and hip surgeries last year. Barring setbacks, Decker should be ready for training camp and a full-go by the time Week 1 rolls around. A healthy Decker could dominate targets for the Brandon Marshall-less Jets.
The Broncos plan on deploying a RB-by-committee this season. “You need two or three guys that can carry the load," HC Vance Joseph said from OTAs on Monday. "It is no longer a one-guy position." Denver has built up some backfield depth this offseason by drafting De'Angelo Henderson and signing Jamaal Charles. They join returnees C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker. Anderson will head to training camp as the favorite for touches, but we'll be keeping an eye on how the work will be divvied. You can currently land Anderson in the 5th round of MFL10s, which feels like a fair price.
The Jets have waived/injured WR Devin Smith. He'll likely go unclaimed and land on IR. Smith tore his ACL for the 2nd time as a pro in April. He's appeared in just 14 games since being selected in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft. He's still just 25, but his dynasty stock is fading fast.
49ers insider Eric Branch doesn't consider TE Vance McDonald a lock to make the final roster. Former GM Trent Baalke handed McDonald a 5-year, $35 million extension just last December, but the new regime evidently doesn't see him as a fit. GM John Lynch even admitted that McDonald was on the trade block during the draft. We'll see how this ends, but McDonald isn't worth even a late pick in fantasy drafts right now.
Bengals RB Gio Bernard (knee) is expected to be a limited participant in OTAs this week, according to ESPN's Katherine Terrell. The fact that Bernard is out there at all just 6 months after tearing his ACL is encouraging. He'll be nearly 10 months removed when the 2017 season kicks off. Bernard appears to be on track to be on the field come Week 1. The bigger issue is where his touches will come from in a backfield that now includes Jeremy Hill and rookie Joe Mixon.
Washington HC Jay Gruden told reporters Monday that WR Josh Doctson will be "full for everything" when the team hits the field for OTAs. That's big news for a 2nd-year wideout who missed basically all of his 1st offseason while dealing with Achilles' tendon trouble. Doctson faces big opportunity on a 2017 offense that lost DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. A healthy summer figures to play a big role in whether Doctson can take advantage.
Cardinals LB Deone Bucannon recently had surgery to repair the ankle injury that landed him on IR in December. Bucannon played through the issue for much of the year, according to the team website, before missing the final 3 games. He hoped to be able to rehab the injury without surgery but finally had to go under the knife. “We think, if everything goes perfect, he’ll be ready,” HC Bruce Arians said, referring to the start of the regular season. “But there’s always that chance that it won’t.” We'll see this summer how perfectly everything works out. In the meantime, rookie Haason Reddick is expected to work in Bucannon's spot.
The Broncos are "very high" on TE A.J. Derby, according to Andrew Mason of the team's official website. Denver acquired Derby from the Patriots in exchange for a 5th-round pick last October. He totaled 16 catches on 20 targets for 160 yards in 6 appearances for the Broncos. Nine of those grabs came in the final 2 games. Mason suggests that Denver plans on using Derby in the passing game out of the slot. He's a name to watch this summer and could turn into a late-round sleeper.
If you're comfy with Raiders WR Amari Cooper going consistently in the 2nd round of fantasy football drafts, then GM Reggie McKenzie probably agrees with you. According to the team website, he had this to say during a conference call with season-ticket holders: “We’re definitely hoping that he takes a big leap. He started off really good last year, and at the end we kind of fell off a little bit, but we’re expecting huge things from Amari this year. He’s doing great, he’s coming into his own, and I think he’s definitely going to put himself among the best of the best by the end of this season.” Cooper finished top-14 across fantasy formats in his 2nd season but ranked outside the top 40 over the 2nd half, while reaching 60 yards just once. He has displayed the ceiling that made him the 4th overall pick in 2015, but Cooper needs to get more consistent. The talent and opportunity is certainly there, especially if he can pass Michael Crabtree in targets in his 3rd season.
Bills QB Tyrod Taylor told the team website that he has noticed the "maturation process" speeding up for WR Sammy Watkins this offseason. "His attention to detail each day has definitely been different than the years past that I’ve been around him," Taylor said. "He’s always been a hard worker, but you can definitely tell that he’s out there with the right mindset and with the positive attitude, trying to help the guys that are around him.” The QB specifically mentioned aspects such as eating right, which is often a lesson young players need to learn -- in various sports. Watkins' big problem has obviously been staying on the field, and eating a salad or some salmon isn't going to keep his foot from breaking. But preparing his body better could certainly affect Watkins' health and durability. In any event, increased focus -- and the motivation of a contract year -- can't hurt a player who has always flashed the talent.
The Buccaneers on Friday signed QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to back up Jameis Winston. There's obviously no fantasy relevance here unless Winston goes down. But if that happens, Fitzpatrick would inherit a nice corps of pass catchers and present some spot-start potential.
Chargers WR Dontrelle Inman recently had core muscle surgery and is expected to be sidelined for 6 weeks, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. That timeline would cost him the rest of offseason workouts but have him back on the field for the start of OTAs. Inman turned in a career-best 58-810-4 line for an injury-ravaged Chargers offense last year. If the WR group is healthy this year, though, he figures to be 5th on the depth chart behind Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin.
The Steelers have released TE Ladarius Green. That they made the move now suggests that Green just wasn't making the progress the Steelers were hoping for. He missed all but 6 games last year with concussion and ankle issues. His 4 career concussions are obviously the bigger concern and have Green's career on the ropes. We'll continue to keep an eye on a guy who has difference-making potential when healthy. Jesse James, meanwhile, looks like Pittsburgh's starting TE moving forward. He's worth a look as a lower-end TE2 in best-ball drafts.
ESPN's Jordan Raanan believes the Giants are "all-in" on RB Paul Perkins after only adding 4th-round rookie Wayne Gallman to the backfield this offseason. "Any last doubts the New York Giants were serious about making Paul Perkins their feature running back should be removed now that LeGarrette Blount landed in Philadelphia," Raanan writes. The G-Men reportedly "never really made a serious play for Blount." So it's Perkins' starting job to lose. He averaged just 4.1 yards per carry as a rookie. But that looks more impressive when you consider the rest of the Giants' RBs mustered just 3.5. New York's offensive line remains a concern, but volume alone could make Perkins a fantasy starter. He's currently being drafted as RB31 in MFL10s.
Bills WR Zay Jones suffered a knee injury in Tuesday's OTA practice. The team is calling it a "knee sprain" and labeling the rookie "week to week." We should get more details in the coming days. For now, there's no reason to believe Jones is in danger of missing any regular-season or even training-camp time. But any time on the sidelines is a missed opportunity for a rookie expected to play a significant role this year.
The Eagles have agreed to a 1-year deal with RB LeGarrette Blount, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Blount toiled on the free-agent market for a while, despite coming off a season that saw him score a whopping 18 TDs. That, of course, was largely fueled by a high-octane Patriots offense. Blount also averaged just 3.9 yards per carry last year and turned 30 this past December. Still, he immediately becomes the best between-the-tackles runner in Philadelphia. And there should be plenty of scoring opportunities on a talented offense. This is a nice landing spot.
Chargers WR Keenan Allen (knee) has been cleared to participate in OTAs this week. He's ahead of his own schedule in his recovery from last September's torn ACL. “I actually didn’t think I’d be out here competing like this this early,” Allen said. “It is what it is. I’m feeling good." He's working now on regaining trust in the surgically repaired knee. "Anytime I can run a route without thinking about my knee it definitely (gives me) confidence," he said. Allen figures to be handled with care this spring but should be a full-go by the time training camp rolls around. Durability remains a concern, though, for a guy who's played in just 9 games over the past 2 years. And Allen will be returning to a much more crowded WR depth chart than the one he left early last season. He's going off the board as WR17 in early MFL10 drafts.
New Rams HC Sean McVay wants to add the deep ball to WR Tavon Austin's repertoire this season. "He’s shown he can track the ball down the field," McVay told ESPN's Alden Gonzalez. "Really, as far as establishing him as a deep threat, I think we’re just looking for all our receivers to be complete. You want to be able to have a short, intermediate and deep route tree." Austin has made just 15 career catches on balls thrown at least 15 yards downfield, according to ESPN. There are 125 players with more over the same span. Whether that's more an issue with Austin or his offensive coaches to date remains to be seen. McVay did just spent three years in Washington with 5'10 DeSean Jackson, and OC Matt LaFleur was in Atlanta with 5'8 Taylor Gabriel last season. Gabriel scored 5 times on receptions of 25+ yards. Austin will likely be out until at least training camp after arthroscopic wrist surgery, so we'll have to wait to see the plan in action. Anything that improves on his 9.1 career yards per catch is welcome, though.
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