New Ravens WR Sammy Watkins expects OC Greg Roman to "open up" the offense this season. “He’s going to utilize us in so many different ways," Watkins said. "He’s got a complex offense. I know the world hasn’t been seeing that yet, but he’s definitely going to open it up this year, run the ball and do, I’m pretty sure, all types of things with this offense.” We'll believe it when we see it. All 8 of Roman's offenses have ranked in the bottom 4 in pass attempts. That includes 32nd-place finishes in Baltimore the last 2 years. And when Watkins played under Roman in Buffalo, the Bills finished 31st and 32nd in pass attempts. Perhaps the Ravens chuck it a bit more in 2021, but it won't be enough to make Watkins, WR Marquise Brown and TE Mark Andrews reliable weekly fantasy plays. Watkins figures to be the odd man out.
After dealing for QB Sam Darnold, the Panthers have given QB Teddy Bridgewater permission to seek a trade, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. "Carolina is open to Bridgewater returning, but will give him a chance to have a say in his future," Rapoport adds. Bridgewater straddles the line between quality NFL starter and backup, so it's unclear how much interest there will be in him on the trade market. The takeaway here, though, is that the Panthers are planning on handing the keys to Darnold.
The Jets traded QB Sam Darnold to the Panthers in exchange for a 2021 6th-round pick and 2nd and 4th-rounders next year. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport hears that Carolina was the "sole suitor" for Darnold -- hence the relatively cheap price tag. Darnold, of course, has been largely disappointing since going 3rd overall in 2018, completing 59.8% of his passes, averaging 6.6 yards per attempt and tossing 39 INTs vs. 45 TDs. He's gotten little help from his coaches or supporting cast. But Darnold has not fared well in Pro Football Focus' passing grades, ranking 30th, 27th and 35th over the past 3 seasons. He's a fine gamble for the Panthers to make, but Darnold certainly isn't a lock to emerge as the team's long-term starter. In fact, he'll need to beat out QB Teddy Bridgewater for the 2021 starting job -- although we do consider Darnold the favorite there. The Jets, meanwhile, are widely expected to take BYU QB Zach Wilson with the 2nd overall pick later this month.
NFL executives expect WR Larry Fitzgerald to retire at some point prior to the 2021 season, according to The Athletic's Mike Sando. Fitz has so far been hush-hush about his plans. He turns 38 in August and mustered just 7.6 yards per catch on 54 grabs last year. We've been anticipating this news: Fitzgerald isn't even in our 2021 WR rankings.
A complaint against Texans QB Deshaun Watson has officially been filed with the Houston Police Department. Prior to this, all the sexual assault claims against Watson were of the civil variety. It's unclear exactly what this means for Watson's standing with the league. The NFL can place him on the commissioner's exempt list and/or suspend Watson even without a guilty charge. Watson is obviously a risk/reward pick in current best-ball drafts.
The Bills “aren’t giving up on Dawson Knox,” per Matthew Fairburn of The Athletic. “Dawson, going into Year 3, we have big expectations for him,” GM Brandon Beane said. “It’s a big offseason for him. He’s already told us that he plans to link up with Josh (Allen) out in California, which will be good for those guys to continue to get more reps.” Drops (13 on 94 career targets) have been Knox’s biggest issue thus far. Buffalo has yet to sign an impact free-agent, though, instead adding former Seahawk Jacob Hollister. If the depth chart remains favorable, Knox should have some streaming value in 2021. Just keep in mind that Buffalo ranked 2nd league-wide last year in percentage of 4-WR sets. With Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, Emmanuel Sanders and Gabe Davis, the position remains one of strength.
Rams QB Matt Stafford had surgery on his right (throwing) thumb in March, The Athletic reports. The procedure was "minor" and "elective," according to a source. Stafford revealed back in February that he played through a partially torn UCL in that thumb last season -- in addition to elbow, rib, knee and ankle injuries. The 33-year-old is expected to be available for the offseason program and at 100% by training camp. He's played all 16 games in 9 of the last 10 seasons.
Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians earned RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn some headlines Wednesday by saying that he expects a "breakout" from the 2nd-year back. But don't get too excited. Asked to assess his backfield headed toward the 2021 season, Arians told Pewter Report: “Those guys are all here and know what the system is and the best players are going to play. Obviously we have two really, really good ones at that position and I really like Ke’Shawn Vaughn. I think that with an offseason he’s going to have a breakout year also. All of those roles will be defined by the time that we get to the last week of the preseason.” Basically any level of relevance for Vaughn could be considered a breakout after he amassed just 26-109 rushing and a 5-34-1 receiving line. If the Bucs were truly excited about him, then fully guaranteeing Leonard Fournette's $3.25 million contract would seem unnecessary. Arians also didn't rule out drafting another RB. We'll see what Vaughn can do this summer, but we're not going out of our way to draft him for best-ball rosters right now.
The Seahawks and WR Tyler Lockett agreed to a 4-year, $69.2 million extension with $37 million guaranteed, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. He's now signed with Seattle through the 2025 season and is the league's 10th-highest-paid WR in average annual salary. Lockett has finished 16th, 13th and then 8th among WR in PPR points over the last 3 years -- although he's been maddeningly inconsistent at times. His forward-looking fantasy value hinges on just how often the Seahawks are willing to chuck it and whether QB Russell Wilson remains in town.
The NFL owners officially approved a 17-game schedule for the 2021 season. It'll be an 18-week season, with every team still getting just 1 bye week. There will be 3 weeks of preseason in August, rather than 4. Fantasy leagues will need to decide whether they want to add another regular-season game, expand the playoffs by a week or simply end the season in Week 16.
Bucs TE O.J. Howard has been setback-free so far in his recovery from October's torn Achilles, HC Bruce Arians said Tuesday. Arians added that Howard is "real close" to getting back to pre-injury form, although that seems optimistic for an injury that often takes a year-plus to return from. It does sound like he has a good chance to be ready for the start of the 2021 campaign. It's worth remembering that Howard out-targeted TE Rob Gronkowski 19 to 14 over the first 4 games of last season.
The Steelers have signed RB Kalen Ballage to a 1-year deal, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Ballage lands in a backfield with plenty of opportunity currently available. We'll see, though, whether Pittsburgh adds a RB in the draft. We'd bet on the Steelers doing so, with the big question being how early. Ballage saw surprising touch volume with the Chargers last season, after injuries knocked out Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. But he averaged only 3.3 yards per rush and 5.0 per reception. If you want to take a shot on Ballage at the very end of best-ball drafts, there's little risk. But we'd hope to see more touches go to Anthony McFarland -- who sure looks like he has a higher ceiling -- than Ballage. Even Benny Snell would probably still be a better bet for carries on the current depth chart.
The 49ers signed WR Mohamed Sanu to a 1-year deal. The 31-year-old totaled just 17 catches across 10 outings with San Francisco and Detroit this past season. But he'd tallied 59+ grabs in each of the previous 4 years -- and even cost the Patriots a 2nd-round pick in a trade back in 2019. We'll see how much gas is left in Sanu's tank this summer. The 'Niners are thin at WR behind Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, so there's a chance for Sanu to win the #3 WR job.
The Ravens have agreed to a 1-year, $6 million deal with WR Sammy Watkins, including $5 million guaranteed, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Watkins should slot in as at least Baltimore's #2 wideout in targets. Of course, it's not the best offense for receiving production. The Ravens have attempted the league's fewest passes each of the past 2 seasons. Last year's 406 attempts were the fewest by any team since Seattle in 2012. Watkins makes for a decent best-ball option in the double-digit rounds of fantasy football drafts, but he's not likely to turn into a reliable redraft starter.
The Raiders signed WR Willie Snead to a 1-year deal. The 28-year-old had a couple of nice seasons with the Saints back in 2015 and 2016 but hasn't topped 651 yards since. He's averaging a pedestrian 12.3 yards per catch for his career. Snead isn't a difference-maker in real life or fantasy football. He figures to back up Hunter Renfrow in the slot in Vegas.
Just a few minutes after it was reported that the Dolphins traded down from #3 to #12, we learned that the Fins made another trade -- this time with the Eagles -- to move from #12 back up to #6. Philly is picking up Miami's 2022 1st-rounder to make that move down. Our guess is the Dolphins are targeting 1 of the top rookie WRs -- Ja'Marr Chase or DeVonta Smith -- and figure they'll be able to get 1 at #6. The Eagles, meanwhile, are now less likely to land a QB in the 1st round. That's good news for QB Jalen Hurts' 2021 fantasy value.
The 49ers swung a massive trade for the #3 overall pick in next month's draft, sending the #12 pick, a 2021 3rd-rounder and 1st-rounders in 2022 and 2023 to the Dolphins. The 'Niners clearly have their eyes on a QB. ESPN's Adam Schefter hears that the team doesn't have 1 specific rookie in mind but is "good with the options" that will be available. That'll be some combination of BYU's Zach Wilson, Ohio State's Justin Fields and North Dakota State's Trey Lance. Schefter also reports that San Francisco "has no plans" to trade QB Jimmy Garoppolo -- but his days as the starter are clearly numbered. The Dolphins, meanwhile, are reaffirming their commitment to QB Tua Tagovailoa with this trade.
RB Leonard Fournette has re-signed a 1-year deal with the Bucs. He gets $3.25 million with a chance to make up to $4 million via incentives, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Fournette had a rocky regular season in Tampa last year but was awesome in 4 postseason contests, carrying 64 times for 300 yards (4.7 YPC) and 3 TDs and hauling in 18 of 21 targets for 148 yards (8.2 YPC) and another score. He figures to operate in a committee alongside RB Ronald Jones in 2021, but Fournette's pass-catching ability makes him the more attractive fantasy target. Check out our updated projections for the Bucs backfield.
Washington signed WR Adam Humphries to a 1-year deal. COVID and a concussion limited the 27-year-old to just 7 games with the Titans in 2020. His best season came in Tampa back in 2018, when new Washington QB Ryan Fitzpatrick started 7 games. It's unclear exactly how Humphries fits in his new digs alongside Curtis Samuel. Both of those guys are primarily slot receivers.
The Seahawks have agreed to a 2-year deal with DE Carlos Dunlap. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that it's worth $16.6 million, with $8.5 million guaranteed. Seattle released Dunlap earlier in the offseason, but the new deal makes it clear that was a cap move. Dunlap went from falling out of favor in Cincinnati and registering just 4 QB hits in 7 games to rebounding after a trade to the Seahawks. Dunlap delivered 14 hits over 8 games in Seattle, despite a foot injury that cost him 1 week and limited his playing time in at least 2 others. Dunlap has DL2 potential for 2021 IDP leagues.
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