The Cardinals selected Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray with the 1st pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. Murray spent his first 3 college seasons — 1 at Texas A&M and 2 at Oklahoma — on the bench. He followed Baker Mayfield as the Sooners’ starter this past year and turned in a massive campaign. Murray completed 69% of his passes and averaged an NCAA record 11.6 yards per attempt on his way to 4,361 yards and 42 TDs. He ranked top 2 in this draft class in adjusted completion rate, adjusted completion rate vs. pressure and adjusted completion rate vs. the blitz, according to Pro Football Focus. But what makes Murray such an exciting fantasy prospect is his elite athleticism. (He was also the 9th overall pick of the 2018 MLB Draft.) He cranked out 1,001 yards and 12 scores on the ground last year, showcasing RB-like speed and quickness. His transition to the pros will be made easier in Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury’s college-style Air Raid offense. Kingsbury, of course, has no NFL coaching experience — so this marriage with Murray certainly has bust potential. Murray’s size is also a concern: at 5’10, he’ll be the league’s shortest QB. We’ll see what happens with QB Josh Rosen, but Murray is the heavy favorite to be under center for the Cardinals in the season opener against Detroit.
Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill won't be charged in connection to an incident that left his 3-year-old son with a broken arm, the Johnson County District Attorney announced on Wednesday. The DA added that he believes a crime was committed but can't prove who did it. So Hill is off the legal hook. But the NFL is still investigating the situation, so a suspension remains a possibility. We'll continue to keep a close eye on the situation. Hill has been going in the middle of Round 2 in recent fantasy drafts.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that RB Marshawn Lynch "is not planning to play football again." That likely increases Oakland's focus on the position for this week's NFL Draft. The Raiders signed Isaiah Crowell in free agency to join a backfield that returns Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and 2018 rookie Chris Warren. Last year's carry leader, Doug Martin, remains on the open market. Richard ranked 3rd on last year's Raiders with just 55 rushing attempts but also tied for the team reception lead. Washington tallied only 31 total touches over 10 games and doesn't appear likely to be a significant factor. We'll see how/whether Oakland addresses the position in the draft before projecting others forward. Warren looks intriguing after a strong 2018 preseason, but adding an early-round RB this week would make him harder to like.
The Chiefs have agreed to a trade for Seahawks DE Frank Clark. Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, the move will send this year's 1st-round pick and a 2nd-rounder in 2020 to Seattle, with the 2 teams also swapping selections in this year's 3rd round. Beyond that, Kansas City has reportedly signed Clark to a 5-year contract worth $105.5 million, with $63.5 million of that guaranteed. The Seahawks had franchised Clark, so his payday was coming. It's a surprising move for K.C., though, given that they had already traded away franchised edge rusher Dee Ford this offseason. Clark tied Ford's 13 sacks last season (7th in the league) and ranked 8th in total QB hits (with 2 fewer than Ford -- who also tallied 3 more tackles for loss). That followed seasons of 9, 10 and 3 sacks for the 25-year-old Clark. The trade shows K.C. clearly considers Clark a better fit in new DC Steve Spagnuolo's 4-3 base than it did Ford, an OLB in the Chiefs' previous 3-4 alignment. Clark's fantasy outlook shouldn't change. Perhaps it will help that he joins a stronger D-line than the one he left. Seattle, meanwhile, should be in the market for DE help. And the Seahawks are well setup with picks 21 and 29 in a class loaded on EDGE prospects. The current roster sports 2018 rookie Rasheem Green, 4th-year DE Branden Jackson and recent 1-year signees Cassius Marsh and Nate Orchard as the top options. Green's the highest upside play for IDP owners among them.
The Bills have reached a 2-year deal with RB T.J. Yeldon, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. That puts Yeldon in a backfield with soon-to-be-36 Frank Gore and soon-to-be-31 LeSean McCoy, who is coming off the most inefficient rushing season of his career. Yeldon caught 30+ passes in each of his 4 seasons with the Jaguars, averaging 3.4 per game over his time there. He stands a shot at a decent receiving role there, but it's also a tough situation for touch volume. Yeldon's no more than a late-round flier/handcuff in fantasy football drafts.
Texans WR Will Fuller is on track to be ready for the 2019 opener after last October's torn ACL. "Everything has gone well, no setbacks," GM Brian Gaine said. "Everything trending in right direction. Looking good." Fuller will be over 10 months removed from the injury when the season kicks off. He'd ideally be able to get some work in during training camp and the preseason, but we'll monitor his progress as we move toward the summer. Fuller has appeared in just 17 games over the past 2 seasons but averaged 54.5 yards and .65 TDs per outing.
49ers TE George Kittle revealed that he suffered “fractured cartilage” to his rib cage on the 3rd play of Week 9's game against the Raiders. “It didn’t feel very good,” he said. “I wore two giant rib protectors for the rest of the season.” Kittle went for 108 yards and a score in that Raiders game and then ranked 3rd among TEs in fantasy points from Week 10 on. So the injury obviously wasn't a major factor. Kittle has missed just 1 game through his first 2 NFL seasons but was listed on the injury report with hamstring, calf, hip, chest, back, elbow and ankle issues as a rookie. He also suffered shoulder and foot injuries in his final college season. While he's shown the ability to produce through injuries, he might be a bigger durability risk going forward than he appears at first glance.
When asked at the beginning of the offseason program this week about his knee, Rams RB Todd Gurley managed only cautious optimism to the Los Angeles Times: "I'm feeling pretty good. All I can worry about is how I'm feeling right now. I don't know how I'm going to be feeling six months from now. Just trying to make sure I feel the best when the season comes." We've all seen/heard countless examples of athletes erring on the side of confidence with their recovering body parts. That makes this response from Gurley seem fairly worrisome. If he can't even muster an "I'm feeling great" in April, it's tough to know what we can expect come October. Gurley's upside certainly remains worth a 1st-round draft slot until something more substantial comes out. (The Rams have declined to specify his knee ailment.) But Gurley belongs in the middle of the round for early drafting, rather than near the top. Backup Malcolm Brown also carries big handcuff upside into 2019 fantasy football drafts. Count on this being the most closely tracked fantasy situation of the year.
The Patriots have signed WR Demaryius Thomas to a 1-year deal that could be worth "up to" $6 million, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Thomas is currently rehabbing a torn Achilles suffered in late December that has his availability for the start of the 2019 campaign in doubt. He seemed to be in decline even before that injury, posting his fewest yards per game (45.1) since his rookie season. That said, this is just about the best landing spot Thomas could have hoped for. The Patriots have lost over 220 targets from last year and have just Phillip Dorsett, Bruce Ellington and Maurice Harris sitting behind Julian Edelman on the WR depth chart. If Thomas can get healthy, he has a good shot of emerging as the #2 WR.
Bucs GM Jason Licht singled out RB Ronald Jones as the player who's most impressed the coaching staff this offseason. "His attitude, his willingness to do extra," Licht continued. "You can just see the confidence rising in him." Jones is coming off a brutal rookie campaign that saw him fail to pass Peyton Barber on the depth chart and average just 1.9 yards on 23 carries. Licht might be simply covering his butt after spending a 2nd-round pick on Jones last year. But it's also too soon to write off a guy who turns just 22 in August. Jones still has every chance to win Tampa's starting job in 2019.
The Seahawks and QB Russell Wilson have agreed to a 4-year, $140 million extension that includes $65 million in signing bonus and $107 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The deal came at the end of a window Wilson had set for extending his contract and ends all the trade speculation. Wilson might have found even more fantasy upside in an offense less focused on running the ball, but he has finished 3 of the past 5 seasons among the top 6 fantasy football QBs. Wilson's extension obviously helps Seattle's wideouts, who certainly would have seen a downturn in efficiency with any replacement.
Eagles RB Josh Adams underwent shoulder surgery in January to repair a labrum injury, NJ.com's Mike Kaye reports. Adams is expected to be sidelined for 6 months, which would put him back on the field for the start of training camp. Still, the missed time is bad news for a guy who figures to be fighting for a roster spot after the Eagles added RB Jordan Howard.
Colts WR Chester Rogers has signed his 2nd-round restricted free agent tender and will stay with Indy for the 2019 season. Rogers spent 2018 as the Colts' primary slot WR and should fit easily into that role again, between T.Y. Hilton and free-agent addition Devin Funchess. Rogers ranked 4th on last year's team with 72 targets, 11.2% of the team total. He'll be tough to count on for any more than that with Funchess arriving and TE Jack Doyle returning from injury. Tendering Rogers at the 2nd-round level, however, shows the Colts didn't want him to leave.
The Panthers have signed WR Chris Hogan to a 1-year contract. He follows fleeting AAF star Rashad Ross onto a roster that shed WR Devin Funchess this offseason but retains Torrey Smith as an outside speed WR. Carolina also returns D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel and Jarius Wright -- 3 of last year's top 5 targets. Hogan endured a wildly disappointing 2018 and then got shunned by a New England team short on pass-catchers. Don't bet on Hogan rebounding for fantasy football value.
The league will fine Washington LB Reuben Foster 2 game checks but not suspend him "following a review of recent incidents and an assessment of his adherence to obligations arising from previous violations of league policies." The statement from the NFL went on to say that evidence didn't indicate any further violation of the personal-conduct policy in the November incident that involved a girlfriend. Foster will now be available to take over the spot vacated when Washington cut Zach Brown in March. We'll see if the team adds any further competition in the NFL Draft. At the moment, Shaun Dion Hamilton looks like Foster's chief competition.
The Jets have reached a 1-year deal with RB Ty Montgomery, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The move came a day before the free agent was set to visit the Dolphins, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. That seems a curious decisions by Montgomery: taking a 1-year deal with the team that just signed Le'Veon Bell -- almost certainly to dominate backfield touches -- rather than at least talk to a Miami squad with no proven workhorse. Montgomery will compete with Elijah McGuire to back up Bell, barring further personnel moves. The financial details here might help indicate how big a role the Jets expect for Montgomery.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers revealed this week that he suffered a tibial plateau fracture and MCL sprain in his left knee in last season's opener. Rodgers told ESPN Wisconsin that the "indent" fracture to the top of the shin bone was "very painful." Rodgers re-injured the MCL in Week 5 on a hit by Lions LB Christian Jones. Rodgers said the injuries limited his mobility "for a good part of the season." Rodgers previously had the ACL repaired in that knee (in high school) and had arthroscopic surgery on the joint after the 2015 season. This time around, he avoided surgery. Instead, Rodgers said he had "a series of shots" this offseason and that the knee now feels fine. Barring any offseason setbacks, Rodgers should be a 2019 bounce-back candidate.
The Raiders announced Wednesday that they have re-signed RB Jalen Richard. It's not surprising, given that Richard was a restricted free agent. At the moment, he stands a good chance at staying heavily involved in the Oakland backfield. Richard's primary competition looks like Isaiah Crowell and 2018 rookie Chris Warren, neither of whom should threaten Richard's receiving role. We'll see what else the Raiders do at the position in the draft and whether Marshawn Lynch decides to return.
The Patriots on Wednesday signed TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins to a 1-year deal at the league minimum. The contract doesn't guarantee a thing for ASJ, but it does place him in 1 of the league's most attractive situations. Rob Gronkowski's retirement and Dwayne Allen's departure left New England returning just 5 TE receptions (by Jacob Hollister) from last year's team. Seferian-Jenkins has never played more than 13 games in an NFL season and has only once played more than 9. But he has also scored TDs on 9.5% of his 116 career catches. If he can enter the year as the position's top option for the Pats, there will be top-12 per-game fantasy upside to him. At the moment, ASJ makes for a solid mid-level TE2 option in best-ball drafts.
WR Seth Roberts has inked a deal with the Ravens. The former Raider never reached 500 yards across 5 seasons in Oakland. But he has a good shot to see a bunch of playing time in a Ravens WR corps that's currently headed by Willie Snead and Chris Moore. We'll see what else Baltimore adds to the position this offseason. Of course, there won't be much fantasy production to go around in what figures to be the league's run-heaviest offense.
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