Steelers RB Najee Harris played some 'X' receiver and slot receiver at rookie minicamp over the weekend, according to The Athletic's Mark Kaboly. "It appears that Harris will be used in the passing game as well and as more than just a checkdown option out of the backfield," Kaboly wrote. Harris racked up 70 catches over his final 2 seasons at Alabama and put some impressive receiving ability on tape. We're expecting him to immediately handle the majority of the ball-carrying and pass-catching work in Pittsburgh's backfield this season. The rookie has easy RB1 upside.
Bengals HC Zac Taylor praised 6th-round rookie RB Chris Evans' pass-catching ability. "He’s a very natural route runner out of the backfield,” Taylor said. “He can split out. That’s one of the things that really jumped out to us at the Senior Bowl, just how dominant he was in those one-on-ones. How natural and easy it looked for him." Cincinnati released pass-catching RB Gio Bernard this offseason, although we're expecting RB Joe Mixon to soak up most of that work this year. Evans remains just a dynasty stash for now but is worth monitoring this summer.
Eagles TE Zach Ertz didn't report for voluntary workouts on Monday and isn't expected to take part in the offseason program, according to insider Jeff McLane. He knows he's not part of the team's 2021 plans and is waiting until he's traded or released. The Eagles have seemingly been looking to trade him for a few months but haven't found any takers. Ertz is still just 30 but is coming off an ugly 2020 season that saw him rank 31st in yards per route run and 30th in Pro Football Focus receiving grade among 34 TEs with 40+ targets. We'll see where he ends up, but Ertz isn't an attractive draft target right now. Meanwhile, we've already projected Eagles TE Dallas Goedert as if Ertz is gone.
Bucs TE O.J. Howard remains on track in his recovery from October's torn Achilles. “Yeah, he’s really close now,” HC Bruce Arians said. “He looks fantastic working out every day.” Howard is tentatively expected to be able to get some work in during June minicamp and sure seems to be trending toward being ready for Week 1. Anything QB Tom Brady and the Bucs get from him this year will be a bonus. Note that Howard out-targeted Rob Gronkowski 19 to 14 over the first 4 games of last season.
Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy said Saturday that QB Dak Prescott (ankle) is on track to be a full-go when training camp opens in late July. Prescott has had "excellent workouts" the past couple of weeks and is expected to do "most things" at OTAs, McCarthy added. Prescott, by all indications, has had a smooth rehab from October's fractured and dislocated ankle. We're not expecting it to be an issue this season.
The Giants have signed former WR Kelvin Benjamin as a TE. The 2014 1st-rounder topped 1,000 yards with 9 TDs as a rookie, missed 2015 with a torn ACL and then rebounded for a 63-941-7 line in 2016. But he bounced around to 3 different teams the next 2 seasons, totaling 73 catches and 4 TDs. And he's been out of the league the past 2 years. Benjamin is now 30. He has TE size at 6'5, 245 pounds and would be a catch-first player if he makes it. But Benjamin isn't even a lock to make the Giants' final roster and is a long shot to find meaningful playing time.
Travis Etienne will take all of his reps at WR at Jacksonville's rookie minicamp, HC Urban Meyer said. "Worst case scenario you have a RB with the skillset of a WR, best case scenario you have a hybrid player that can do both," Meyer explained. Etienne's role will be 1 of the bigger fantasy storylines of the summer. If he's a RB who plays a big role in the passing game, we're talking about Alvin Kamara. If he's more of a gadget, "hybrid" guy, he'd be in Nyheim Hines territory. We're still leaning toward something closer to the former, but it'll be worth watching closely. Etienne's ADP is sitting in the middle of the 4th round in recent FFPC best-ball drafts.
Bucs QB Tom Brady admitted that his left knee was an issue throughout last season. "It just took a lot," he said "Every week I was kind of tending to my knee, and I thought I would love to see a season where I can focus on some other strength stuff that I want to do, some other technique stuff where I’m not just focused on protecting my knee all the time." Despite that, Brady threw for 4,633 yards and 40 TDs in his Bucs debut, finishing 7th among QBs in fantasy points. He underwent what he called "pretty serious" knee surgery after the Super Bowl and will resume throwing next week. The knee shouldn't be an issue by the time training camp kicks off, but we'll keep an eye on the soon-to-be 44-year-old.
Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence will be limited in rookie minicamp as he continues to make his way back from left (non-throwing) surgery in February, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Lawrence is "doing well" in rehab and should be ready to go when training camp opens, Rapoport adds. This is a situation worth monitoring but shouldn't ultimately impact Lawrence's rookie campaign.
The Colts signed K Eddy Pineiro to a 1-year deal. It's a curious move with K Rodrigo Blankenship coming off a strong rookie season (32 of 37 on FGs). Pineiro was out of work last year but connected on 23 of 28 FGs for the Bears back in 2019. Blankenship remains a heavy favorite to be the Colts' kicker in 2021, but he carries a bit more risk in fantasy drafts right now.
The Packers signed QB Blake Bortles. The 29-year-old has attempted just 2 passes over the last 2 years after 5 mostly disappointing seasons in Jacksonville. The real takeaway here, of course, is that Green Bay might be preparing to be without disgruntled QB Aaron Rodgers. We'll continue to monitor the situation.
The Cardinals have announced that 1st-round LB Zaven Collins will start at the "Mike" position, which belonged to Jordan Hicks last season. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that the team has given Hicks permission to pursue trade possibilities -- but also renegotiated his contract to a lower salary. So it's possible Hicks remains. Collins' mix of size (259 pounds) a 70th-percentile speed score and production both coming forward and in coverage give him huge immediate IDP upside.
The Jaguars are set to sign Tim Tebow, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Tebow is now 33 and has been out of the NFL since 2015. He also has zero experience at TE. Jacksonville does have 1 of the weakest TE depth charts in the league, but Tebow is still a super long shot to fantasy relevance. Get ready to hear way too much about this story over the next few months.
Seahawks HC Pete Carroll pointed to WR D'Wayne Eskridge's versatility as 1 of the reasons the team liked him. "He definitely is a guy, as you can tell in the highlights that you have seen, that we can hand him the football, we can flip it to him, we can do things with him behind the line of scrimmage," Carroll said. "He's run very effectively on reverses and stuff like that, and the returns show that as well. We were looking for a receiver that would have all of that kind of versatility and he was really an exciting one to draft." Eskridge has a clear path to #3 WR duties this season, but Seattle's 3rd WR has tallied just 53, 34 and 47 targets the past 3 seasons. So Eskridge will need to add a bunch of value on the ground if he's going to be a fantasy factor this year.
The Vikings were hoping to land QB Justin Fields at pick 14 and even considered trading up for him, according to ESPN's Courtney Cronin. The Bears ended up making the move for Fields, while the Vikings added QB Kellen Mond with pick 66. Minnesota is clearly looking at their long-term QB situation, with Kirk Cousins turning 33 in August and, more importantly, set to count $45 million against the cap in 2022, the final year of his deal. Mond won't threaten Cousins' job this season. But if he shows well throughout the year, Minnesota might opt to roll with Mond the following year.
The Eagles on Friday signed RB Kerryon Johnson. He slipped to just 3.3 carries and 1.2 receptions per game last season, with D'Andre Swift in the mix -- despite playing in all 16 games for the 1st time in his 3 years. Johnson joins a Philly backfield with Miles Sanders as the leader, 5th-round pick Kenneth Gainwell arriving as a receiving factor and Jordan Howard returning. We'll see exactly how Johnson fits in this summer.
The Titans signed former Falcons RB Brian Hill to a 1-year deal. Hill, a 2017 5th-round pick, averaged 4.7 YPC last year on a career-high 100 attempts. He’ll battle Darrynton Evans and Jeremy McNichols for the #2 spot behind Derrick Henry. A Henry injury would almost certainly result in a timeshare, though.
The Titans are declining the 5th-year option on the rookie contract of former 1st-round LB Rashaan Evans. That makes 2021 the final campaign on his deal. Assuming Evans doesn't explode and earn a new contract, his expected departure could benefit Jayon Brown and/or David Long.
The Cowboys have declined the 5th-year option on LB Leighton Vander Esch, leaving 2021 as the final year on his rookie contract. It's not a surprising move given LVE's injury issues the past 2 years (13 games missed). The decision adds upside to 1st-round pick Micah Parsons, who should find a full-time role by 2022 (if not sooner).
The Lions are waiving RB Kerryon Johnson, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. This move doesn't come as a surprise after Detroit signed Jamaal Williams in free agency. We'd bet on Johnson finding a new team before long, with Atlanta the most obvious candidate. Johnson averaged 4.3 yards per carry and 8.3 yards per catch over 3 seasons in Detroit but averaged just 10.1 touches per game. He lost 14 games to injuries over his first 2 seasons before playing in every 2020 game -- and seeing his rushing workload crater (3.3 rushes per contest). We'll see where Johnson lands for 2021.
©2021 Draft Sharks | website by:
687 Lee Road, Suite 208, Rochester, NY 14606 | 833-333-7238