The Chiefs believe they need to make more plays in the short and intermediate passing games, according to NFL Network's James Palmer. Palmer notes that the team is looking to get the RBs more involved in the passing game (which we've heard multiple times this offseason) and adds that rookie TE Noah Gray could emerge as a factor with an increase in 2-TE sets. It's a situation to track this summer. There's certainly room for a 3rd viable fantasy option to emerge in Kansas City behind WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce. We might also just see Hill and Kelce set new career highs in target share this year.
Chiefs DE Frank Clark was arrested Sunday night in L.A. after police spotted an Uzi (submachine gun) in his car, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. The situation will certainly get a review under the league's personal-conduct policy. We'll see whether it ultimately costs Clark any games.
49ers RB Trey Sermon has "made a strong first impression, particularly as a pass-catcher out of the backfield," according to ESPN's Nick Wagoner. Sermon soaked up 1st-team reps in minicamp with RBs Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert sidelined with knee issues. The pass-catching comment is particularly noteworthy since Sermon arrives to the NFL with a modest 48 receptions across 4 college seasons. We'll be keeping a close eye on this 49ers backfield in training camp and preseason. Sermon has been leaving the board in the 6th round of recent FFPC best-ball drafts.
ESPN's Jenna Laine highlighted rookie WR Jaelon Darden as the biggest surprise of Bucs minicamp. QB Tom Brady reportedly had a say in Tampa's decision to take Darden in the 4th round of this spring's draft, and the rookie has drawn comparisons to Emmanuel Sanders and John Brown from HC Bruce Arians. "He's super quick and fast," Arians said. "He's a little thicker than I thought he was going to be when I watched him. He catches punts very easily and catches the football extremely easily. He can be very explosive." Darden has an extremely difficult path to playing time in a Bucs WR corps that also includes Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller. But he's at least worth monitoring this summer and is a nice dynasty stash.
According to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, Ravens WR Rashod Bateman has given the Ravens, “every reason to believe he’ll be a significant contributor from Day 1.” Zrebiec adds that Bateman “hasn’t looked like a rookie.” It's tough to expect consistent fantasy contributions given a run-heavy offense and the presence of Mark Andrews, Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins. But there’s a real chance that Bateman’s role grows as the season rolls along. He's heavily discounted with a WR62 price in FFPC best ball drafts.
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes was a full participant in minicamp and doesn't sound at all worried about the left foot injury that required surgery after the Super Bowl. “I don’t see any problems moving forward,” Mahomes said. “Obviously I’m going to continue with the rehab and work to strengthen it. I feel I had good OTAs, a good minicamp. I was able to move around and do the things I needed to do.” Barring a setback, the foot will be a non-issue this season.
Jets TE Chris Herndon "failed to separate himself" from the rest of the team's TEs in OTAs and minicamp, according to The Athletic's Connor Hughes. In fact, Hughes says that both Tyler Kroft and Ryan Griffin looked better and have worked ahead of Herndon lately. We're still over 2 months away from Week 1, so the situation is far from settled. But it's not the report you were looking for if hoping for a bounce-back season from Herndon. We'll see if he can turn it around in August.
The Athletic's Connor Hughes believes it "might not be long before [Jets RB Michael] Carter starts to see the lion’s share of reps." The rookie has had a "promising" spring and early summer, according to Hughes, and looks like the most explosive and best receiver of the Jets' RBs. Hughes does add that the Jets "prefer a running-back-by-committee approach, so guys like Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson and/or La'Mical Perine will be involved. But Carter is the most exciting of the group and has a chance to emerge as a weekly fantasy starter this year.
49ers HC Kyle Shanahan confirmed that QB Jimmy Garoppolo is in the driver’s seat to start Week 1. "I definitely see it as Jimmy's the starter," Shanahan said via CBS. "But if Trey's ready to compete, I have no problem with it. I don't sit there and say, 'Hey, we're not playing a rookie quarterback. We have to rest him the first year.' … I don't really make any decisions like that until I actually have an opinion on it. And that'll take to how I see him in camp. If he comes in and he's playing at a high level and we think he gives us the best chance to win, we wouldn't hesitate to do that [start him Week 1]." While Garoppolo will likely start Week 1, he’ll almost certainly turn the keys over to Lance at some point in 2021.
Bengals WR Tee Higgins has been the talk of minicamp. QB Joe Burrow said Tuesday that Higgins looks "completely different" than he did as a rookie and is "going to have a big year." Then OC Brian Callahan said the next day that Higgins has gotten "markedly more explosive." The Clemson product is coming off an excellent rookie season, tallying 67 catches, 908 yards and 6 TDs. He faces increased target competition with the arrival of rookie WR Ja'Marr Chase. But there's room for all 3 Bengals WRs (including Tyler Boyd) in what figures to be a pass-leaning offense without a real threat at TE.
Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire put an emphasis on his pass catching ability this offseason. “Talking to Coach [Andy] Reid and also Pat [Mahomes], there are some things we’re implementing to get the ball to the back and just spread it out more,” Edwards-Helaire said via the Kansas City Star. “That’s one of the reasons why I chose to work on my hands and just be more of a threat.” CEH went on to discuss his route-running potential both out of the slot and outside. As beat writer Sam McDowell points out, the Chiefs moved former WR coach (and NFL WR) Greg Lewis to RB coach. Call it a potential edge for a guy who caught 55 balls as an LSU senior. CEH remains a breakout candidate.
After skipping 2 weeks of voluntary OTAs, Bears WR Allen Robinson showed up for mandatory minicamp. On Wednesday, the veteran confirmed that he won’t be a training camp holdout. “That [contract negotiations] is not in my control,” Robinson said. “That is what it is. I’m comfortable with that. Obviously that [signing an extension] is a possibility. My main focus right now is to continue to get better.” The Bears have until July 15 to extend Robinson. The 27-year-old has rolled up 200-2,397-13 over the past 2 seasons.
Panthers HC Matt Rhule is “hoping” to “add some vertical element” to WR Robby Anderson’s game this season. That was Anderson’s forte across 4 years in New York, where his average depth of target ranged between 13.6 and 17.3 yards. Last year in Carolina, his tally stood at only 9.8 yards. “When you look at it, my game in New York was more down the field and vertical, but I didn’t have the intermediate opportunities,” Anderson said via the Charlotte Observer. “I think with Coach Rhule expressing that, and then you mix that with last year, I think that’s something to look forward to.” Anderson, coming off the board deep in WR3 territory, remains a value option in 2021 drafts.
In an interview with Cris Collinsworth, Bears HC Matt Nagy said “Andy [Dalton] is our starter … Justin [Fields] is our #2, and we’re going to stick to this plan.” Time will tell on that one. But if the plan holds and Dalton starts, he’ll face tough road tests early on: Week 1 at Rams, Week 3 at Browns. We still see Fields starting the majority of Chicago’s games this fall. See where the rookie sits in our QB Rankings.
Broncos HC Vic Fangio said he doesn’t see “any limits” with rookie RB Javonte Williams. “We could work him and Melvin, just spelling each other as we go, and one could go in and predominately do third-down stuff,” Fangio said via the Denver Post. “(The rotation) will work itself out and we think (Javonte’s) capable in all downs and distances and all situations for us. And I also believe that him and Melvin will be a good combination back there, along with Boone.” We’re not buying Boone as a real piece of Denver’s backfield rotation. But it’s nice to hear the early confidence in Williams, who the Broncos traded up to select in Round 2. He’s a potential RB2 right out of the gate.
Bengals QB Joe Burrow expects his surgically repaired left knee to be back to 100% for the start of training camp. "The knee still has a little ways to go, but my upper body, my right leg, everything else feels better than it ever has before," Burrow said. "When I'm on the field and executing, I'm playing better than I ever have before. So I'll continue the program we were on and get back to 100% before camp." Burrow was able to get on the field for minicamp. And while we thought he still looked a bit hobbled, he was moving around and throwing with nice velocity. We'll continue to keep a close eye on his progress leading up to Week 1.
Browns WR Odell Beckham took the field for minicamp practice on Tuesday for the first time since tearing his ACL last October. He was held out of full-team work but participated in individual drills without a brace or wrap on that surgically repaired knee. "He looked good to me," HC Kevin Stefanski said. It's still uncertain if Beckham will be a full-go for the start of training camp -- but he's trending toward being ready come Week 1.
Seahawks WR D'Wayne Eskridge is missing minicamp with a toe injury, HC Pete Carroll said Tuesday. We don't have any other details on the injury or when Eskridge will be back. It's obviously not ideal for a rookie to be missing practice reps. It's also worth noting that Eskridge missed time with 3 separate injuries over his 5 seasons at Western Michigan. We'll see when he's able to get back on the field.
Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny had knee surgery this offseason to "get something cleaned up," HC Pete Carroll said Tuesday. Penny isn't participating in minicamp, but the always-optimistic Carroll expects him to be ready for the start of training camp. Penny missed all but 3 games last season after tearing multiple ligaments in his left knee in December of 2019. It's a concern that he's still having issues with that knee. And at this point, it's unclear if he'll regain pre-injury form. Penny is just a late-round dart in fantasy drafts, while RB Chris Carson remains a safe bet for nice volume this season.
Broncos WR Courtland Sutton (knee) won't start training camp on the PUP list, HC Vic Fangio said. Sutton is still rehabbing last September's torn ACL and MCL. But he'll evidently at least be ready for some work at the start of camp and is on track to be on the field for the season opener. We'll continue to track his progress.
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