Sam Bradford STL -QBBradford comfortable in offense
For the first time in his pro career, Rams QB Sam Bradford will be working with the same OC for a 2nd consecutive season in 2013. That continuity should help him take another step forward. "I think we have a much better feel for each other," Bradford said of his relationship with OC Brian Schottenheimer. Meanwhile, Schottenheimer says the offense is "a thousand years ahead of where we were last year... The day Sam walked back into the building [this offseason] we started making adjustments." Between his familiarity with the offense and the additions of WR Tavon Austin and Jared Cook, Bradford is fully capable of a breakout campaign this year.
Justin Hunter TEN -WRHunter finally gets on the practice field
Titans WR Justin Hunter participated in individual drills on the final day of minicamp on Wednesday. He'd been sidelined all spring with a hamstring injury. Barring a setback over the next 5 weeks, Hunter should be a full-go for the start of training camp. But after missing valuable reps over the past couple months, he'll be hard-pressed to make an early-season impact. Hunter is more of a dynasty stash than a 2013 redraft option.
Peyton Manning DEN -QBManning loses starting C
Broncos C J.D. Walton is expected to miss the entire 2013 season after undergoing another surgery on his ankle this week. The ankle forced him out of last year's final 12 games. Look for Denver to re-sign C Dan Koppen, who filled in for Walton last season. Koppen finished just 21st in Pro Football Focus' 2012 C rankings, though. It's certainly not good news for QB Peyton Manning, but we're not lowering him in our QB rankings.
Aaron Hernandez NE -TEHernandez not ruled out as suspect in murder case
Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez has reportedly not been ruled out as a suspect in the homicide that took place near his home earlier this week. A law enforcement source says that Hernandez has not been cooperating with authorities conducting the investigation. There's still a lot we don't know about the situation, but it's starting to look worse and worse for Hernandez. In the best-case scenario, the whole situation will be a giant distraction for him and the Patriots. In worst case, Hernandez is looking at jail time and/or an NFL suspension. We'll continue to update this story as we learn more.
Jake Locker TEN -QBLocker having a productive offseason
Titans QB Jake Locker is entering a make-or-break year. His first 2 NFL seasons have been marred by injuries and inconsistency. But he's had a productive offseason. The shoulder he injured last year is back to 100%. Locker hasn't missed a single practice this spring. He's in top shape -- "a beast," says WR Marc Mariani. Locker has reportedly settled into OC Dowell Loggains' offense. He's improved his accuracy and decision-making, tossing 4 TDs for every 1 INT in "competitive drills with the defense" this spring, according to insider Jim Wyatt. Locker has also taken on more of a leadership role. It sure sounds like he's set up for a breakout season. Of course, we'll have to see how he looks when the pads go on in August. Locker will come dirt cheap in fantasy drafts this summer, though. He's well worth gambling on as a QB2.
Rashard Mendenhall ARI -RBMendenhall locked in as starting RB
There won't be a competition for Arizona's starting RB job this summer. Ryan Williams is healthy, and the team added rookies Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington. But HC Bruce Arians says "there's no doubt" that Rashard Mendenhall is the feature back. "He took me personally to a Super Bowl,
and I know what he can bring to the table as a runner and a pass
protector and also a receiver," Arians said. "He's an every-down player. And I think
he's looking forward to having an outstanding season." Arians prefers deploying a 3-down back, rather than a committee. We can expect Mendy to get the rock plenty this season. The issues are with his performance (4.1 yards per carry or less in 3 straight seasons) and the Cardinals' offensive line (dead-last in Pro Football Focus' 2012 run-blocking rankings). Click here to see where Mendenhall sits in our 2013 RB Rankings.
Vernon Davis SF -TEDavis practicing with the WRs
49ers beat writer Grant Crohn notes that Vernon Davis practiced "exclusively" with the WRs during spring practices. VD isn't about to switch positions, but it's a clear indication that he's being expected to play a significant role in the passing game this season. WR Michael Crabtree (Achilles) might not contribute at all. And WR Anquan Boldin is best in the slot. "The 49ers need an outside receiver who can stretch the field, like Randy
Moss and Mario Manningham did last season," Crohn writes. "Davis may be the best
candidate on the roster to fill that role this season." Still a top-notch talent, Davis is plenty capable of a top-3 fantasy finish in 2013.
Rob Gronkowski NE -TEGronkowski's surgery "successful"
Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski's surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back was deemed "successful," according to Pro Football Talk. We wouldn't expect to hear any differently. It's a waiting game now for Gronk. Recovery is expected to take 12 weeks, but that's a fluid number. Gronkowski will open training camp on the PUP list and is unlikely to see any preseason action. Consider him 50-50 for Week 1. We'll continue to stay on top of the situation all summer long.
Aaron Hernandez NE -TEHernandez involved in homicide investigation
Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez is currently caught up in a homicide investigation. The body of a 27-year-old Boston man was found about a mile from Hernandez's home on Monday. A vehicle rented in Hernandez's name is considered a key piece of evidence in the case. He's not currently considered a suspect, but police are clearly interested in his involvement. According to Sports Illustrated, 10 cop cars surrounded Hernandez's home on Tuesday, and he was questioned "for more than 2 hours." We'll continue to update this story as we learn more.
Josh Freeman TB -QBFreeman more comfortable in offense
Bucs QB Josh Freeman is entering his 2nd season in OC Mike Sullivan's offense. “He’s way
more comfortable this year with the language," WR Vincent Jackson said of his QB.
“You can see it in his confidence, the way he’s directing the field.
It’s fun to watch his physical tools take shape. We’ve got some new
faces out here and it’s fun because we spread the ball around. Once
we’re clicking, we’re going to be hard to stop." WR Mike Williams added that Freeman has the offense "down pat... We know
when to break off routes and what zone to read. It’s a knowing instead
of reacting to something... The
big problem last year was we couldn’t get on the same page, knowing when
to break our routes off." There's been plenty of debate inside the Draft Sharks War Room about Freeman's 2013 fantasy prospects. Check out where we rank him right here!
Philip Rivers SD -QBChargers switching to short passing attack
The Chargers are transitioning to a short, quick-hitting passing attack under HC Mike McCoy and OC Ken Whisenhunt. That's a big change from the downfield scheme run by former HC Norv Turner. The new system should help mask San Diego's pass protection problems. But it'll be interesting to see how QB Philip Rivers adjusts. He's always been a "bombs-away" QB. At WR, the new scheme looks like good news for possession WR Keenan Allen. WR Malcom Floyd might struggle.
Maurice Jones-Drew JAC -RBMJD says foot is healed
Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew says the foot he injured way back in October is finally healed. Now he's shifting his focus to strengthening the ankle and getting back into game shape. “The weight’s going to come off as I work out,” MJD said. “All I
could do (after surgery) was eat. With this injury, you don’t want to
break the screws and have to get the surgery over again. I couldn’t
move.” Jones-Drew sounds questionable for the start of training camp in about 5 weeks.
Alfred Morris WAS -RBMorris will be spelled more often
Redskins insider Mike Jones says the team "certainly would like to spell [RB Alfred] Morris more often" in 2013. Morris finished with a whopping 335 carries last year. Only Arian Foster and Adrian Peterson had more. With a healthy Roy Helu -- plus the additions of rookies Chris Thompson and Jawan Jamison -- Washington will be able to cut back Morris' workload. Jones suggests 5 fewer carries per game to "decrease the pounding he takes." That'd put Morris at 255 carries, which seems a bit low. We have him projected for 303 attempts.
Dennis Pitta BAL -TERavens TEs will be busy
Ravens insider Matt Zenitz believes the team's TEs will be the biggest beneficiaries of WR Anquan Boldin's departure. TE Ed Dickson has reportedly been "one of the most impressive players" this spring. He finished with just 21 catches last year but hauled in 54 in 2011. Expect him to settle in somewhere in between this season. TE Dennis Pitta will remain Baltimore's primary pass-catching TE. He racked up 61 catches on 94 targets last year. Both marks ranked 10th among TEs. With Boldin out of the picture, Pitta could finish with even better numbers in 2013. He's a rock-solid fantasy starter that's worth targeting if you miss out on the studs early in your draft. Pitta's ADP is currently sitting in the 9th round of 12-team drafts.
Miles Austin DAL -WRCowboys being careful with Austin's hamstrings
Cowboys WR Miles Austin has dealt with hamstring problems throughout the past 2 seasons. The team has limited his reps this spring in an effort to keep him healthy in the fall. Austin says, "I feel good now," and wanted to be out there for every drill in OTAs and minicamp. “I want to go,” he said. “When coach says you can’t, you just kind of
have to sit there and not go. But it’s tough for me, sometimes, just to
watch the other guys going and not be out there." Austin needs to be considered an injury risk in fantasy drafts this summer. But much of that risk will be mitigated if his ADP stays at its current level. Austin has been the 40th WR off the board in early fantasy drafts. When healthy, he carries top-25 upside.
Danny Amendola NE -WRAmendola shined in spring practices
ESPN Boston highlights WR Danny Amendola as one of the most impressive Patriots in spring practices. Amendola reportedly has a "firm grasp" on the playbook and has been "the best skill player on the field." He's looked "quick, shifty, reliable catching the football and fast down the field." The reports concludes that Amendola "has the makings of a big-time weapon for this offense." We love this guy's talent and fit in New England's passing attack. The only real concern is durability. Amendola has missed 20 games over the past 2 seasons. If he can stay on the field, though, there's top 15 upside here, especially in PPR fantasy leagues.
Desmond Bishop GB -LBPackers dump Bishop
As expected, the Packers have released LB Desmond Bishop. The team reportedly spent the spring trying to trade the injury-prone 28-year-old. It didn't work. Bishop has said the injured hamstring that cost him last season is ready to go. If he can prove that to other teams, he shouldn't take too long to find a job. LB Brad Jones steps into the Green Bay starting lineup after filling in quite well for Bishop last season. Jones should deliver starter value in 2013 IDP fantasy football leagues.
Rob Gronkowski NE -TEPatriots "don't know" when Gronk will be back
ESPN's Ed Werder reports that the Patriots "really don't know" when TE Rob Gronkowski will get back on the field following tomorrow's back surgery. It's more confirmation than revelation. Each and every individual surgery and recovery is different. The recovery timetable for Gronk's procedure to repair a herniated disc is estimated at 12 weeks. In reality, it could take anywhere from 10-14 weeks -- maybe longer. New England's season opener is a little less than 12 weeks away. Simply put, Gronkowski should be considered questionable for Week 1. And he's a candidate to get off to a slow start when he does take the field. We'll have a much better idea of his status as we get into August.
Joseph Randle DAL -RBRandle will compete for backup job
ESPN's Todd Archer notes that Cowboys RB Joseph Randle "will have to show he can beat out" RBs Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner for the backup job. The 5th-round rookie won't be handed the spot. Tanner has reportedly had a good offseason and looks like the biggest threat to Randle. Archer adds that the Cowboys believe Randle is capable of being a "full-time back" if injury-prone starter DeMarco Murray goes down. The Oklahoma State product has a significant talent edge over Tanner and Dunbar. We're expecting him to win the #2 job out of training camp -- and be a valuable handcuff to Murray.
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