The Raiders signed RB Devontae Booker. The former Bronco has mustered just 3.8 yards per carry over 4 NFL seasons but has averaged 8.3 yards per catch on 105 grabs. He'll compete for a pass-catching role in Las Vegas. Booker is far from a lock to make the final roster, but his addition is another sign that the Raiders aren't ready to hand RB Josh Jacobs a 3-down, workhorse role. The team has also re-signed RB Jalen Richard and drafted RB Lynn Bowden this offseason.
According to ESPN's Jamison Hensley, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta had this to say of rookie RB J.K. Dobbins: "We think he's a three-down back. He's been extremely durable. He's an outstanding fit for what we like to do." That doesn't come as a surprise after the team drafted Dobbins in Round 2 and talked about being surprised that he lasted so long. But it's certainly reassuring for the rookie's fantasy outlook -- especially for dynasty leagues.
The Jets have signed RB Frank Gore to a 1-year deal. The soon-to-be 37-year old averaged a career-low 3.6 yards per carry in Buffalo last year and was phased out down the stretch. It's worth noting that he played for Jets HC Adam Gase in Miami back in 2018, leading that team with 156 carries and 722 rushing yards on 4.6 yards per carry. The Jets are reportedly looking to lighten RB Le'Veon Bell's load -- and Gore can help there. Ultimately, though, we're not expecting him to be a major drag on Bell's fantasy production.
Colts HC Frank Reich said Monday that he's expecting TE Trey Burton to step into the role Eric Ebron played the past 2 seasons. "Trey is a big-time playmaking tight end," Reich said. "He’s an incredible route runner. He’s a very smart, instinctive player. I think he fits a big need in our offense. You know that spot in our offense gets a lot of attention ... that role gets highlighted schematically, in certain ways. I expect Trey, assuming he’s going to stay healthy, will have a very productive year.” Burton battled groin and calf injuries last year but posted a 54-569-6 line back in 2018. He also has experience with Riech after spending 2016 and 2017 with him in Philadelphia. Ebron averaged 6 targets per game over the last 2 seasons -- a 16-game pace of 96. We wouldn't bet on Burton seeing that much volume alongside Jack Doyle, but it's certainly possible that he re-emerges as a fantasy factor in 2020.
Jets HC Adam Gase tells ESPN that he would like to "lessen the load" a bit on RB Le'Veon Bell in 2020. "Hopefully, we can get some of the younger backs to where we can make a good one-two punch to where we can really excel instead of feeling like it's just all on him all the time," Gase said. Bell ranked 8th in the league in touches in his 1st season with the Jets (despite missing a game). He handled 69.8% of the team's rushing attempts and 16.1% of the targets in his 15 contests. So there's room for Bell to shed some opportunities and still rank well in those categories. Gase said in the same interview that he hopes more downfield speed in the pass-catching corps will help create space for Bell, who faced the league's 7th-highest rate of stacked boxes on run plays last year (according to NFL Next Gen Stats). With just Kenneth Dixon, 4th-rounder La'Micael Perine and former Eagle Josh Adams currently behind him on the depth chart, we're not worried about anyone stealing a damaging amount of work from the Jets starter.
The Athletic's Ed Bouchette expects the Steelers to go with a committee backfield this season. That'd be a change from what Pittsburgh has usually done under HC Mike Tomlin. But RB James Conner has had trouble staying healthy as lead back. And the Steelers now have depth at the position with Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell and rookie Anthony McFarland alongside Conner. "The room is crowded, but there really is not a leader of the pack," Bouchette writes. "Conner will get every chance to show he can stay healthy, and they’re likely to cut back on his carries even if he remains injury-free for two reasons: to help save him and to use some of their other backs." Conner remains the best fantasy bet here by a pretty big margin. Just don't expect him to get the RB1-level volume folks who drafted him in the 1st or 2nd round last summer thought they were getting.
The Cowboys are signing QB Andy Dalton to a 1-year deal, according to multiple reports. It's a $3 million pact with incentives up to $7 million. It's a little surprising to see Dalton settle for a clear backup job so quickly after his Bengals release, but that suggests New England and Jacksonville were not options. Now we're back to Cam Newton as the only free-agent QB with a shot to challenge for a starting job. In Dallas, Dalton represents a big upgrade over Cooper Rush as Dak Prescott's backup. Prescott, though, accounted for every QB passing attempt for the Cowboys over the past 2 years.
The Jaguars have signed RB Chris Thompson to a 1-year deal. He's reuniting with OC Jay Gruden in Jacksonville after the pair spent the past 6 seasons together in Washington. Thompson has struggled with injuries throughout his career but averaged 3.4 catches and 29 receiving yards per game over the last 5 years. If healthy, he figures to take a big bite out of RB Leonard Fournette's pass-catching production.
Seahawks HC Pete Carroll implied during a Thursday radio interview that RB Rashaad Penny (ACL) is likely to begin the season on the PUP list, per The Seattle Times' Bob Condotta. "He's doing great but it was a late-season injury," Carroll said. Penny tore his ACL on December 8, giving him 9 months to get ready for Week 1. Landing on PUP would cost him at least the first 6 games of the season -- and turn RB Chris Carson into a workhorse. Carson is rehabbing last December's fractured hip but "will be ready" for the start of the season, according to Carroll.
The Bears signed WR Ted Ginn to a 1-year deal. The 35-year-old lands in a decent spot for snaps, as Chicago lacks depth behind Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller. But going from Drew Brees to Nick Foles and/or Mitchell Trubisky isn’t appealing. Plus, Ginn struggled to emerge for a Saints WR corps that was thin behind Michael Thomas in 2019, catching just 30 balls in 16 games. He's barely on the best ball radar.
The Bengals have released QB Andy Dalton. They looked for a trade partner but had no leverage with Dalton set to count nearly $18 million against the cap. We'll see where he lands, but New England looks like the only spot where Dalton would have a legitimate chance to win a starting job. This move confirms that rookie Joe Burrow will be under center for Cincinnati come Week 1.
The Browns have re-signed WR Rashard Higgins to a 1-year deal. His 2019 season was derailed by a knee injury, but Higgins went for 572 yards and 4 TDs on 39 catches in 2018. Consider him the early favorite for Cleveland's #3 WR job this year -- with Taywan Taylor, Damion Ratley, KhaDarel Hodge and rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones as the competition.
49ers WR Jalen Hurd has been medically cleared from the stress fracture in his back that cost him his entire rookie season. "We're ramping him up. We are very optimistic,” GM John Lynch said. "Jalen’s 14 days that we've seen him were lights out. The problem is we've only seen him for 14 days. Jalen knows full well that he needs to work his tail off, so that he can get back and be a contributor and try to earn opportunities to be a contributor for our team moving forward.” Hurd scored twice in last year's preseason opener before being sidelined with that back injury. The 6'4, 230-pound former RB remains an intriguing prospect -- and San Francisco's WR depth chart remains wide open behind Deebo Samuel and 1st-round rookie Brandon Aiyuk.
The Saints have signed QB Taysom Hill to a 2-year, $21 million deal with $16 million guaranteed. We know HC Sean Payton loves Hill, but this is still a surprising amount of money -- especially with the Saints expected to sign QB Jameis Winston. It's still unclear whether Payton views Hill as a potential heir apparent to Drew Brees, but he's at least set to continue playing a significant gadget role in 2020.
The Packers had a head-scratching draft, trading up for QB Jordan Love in the 1st round and taking power-back A.J. Dillon in the 2nd. They didn't draft a single WR, despite being 1 of the neediest teams in the league at the position. GM Brian Gutekunst said it's all part of the plan to be a run-leaning offense. “I think [HC Matt LaFleur has] talked to you guys repeatedly about how much he’d like to run the ball and have the pass work off of that,” Gutekunst told reporters on Saturday. Green Bay ranked 18th in run rate last season -- and it sounds like we should project them to run it more in 2020. It's all bad news for Aaron Rodgers, who might not sit in QB1 territory when release our initial projections next month.
The Eagles signed undrafted rookie RB Michael Warren. A power back through and through, Warren posted 244-1,329-19 and 261-1,265-14 rushing lines at Cincinnati over the past 2 seasons. This past year, he ranked top 9 among draft-eligible backs in both missed tackles forced and yards after contact, per Pro Football Focus. The 5’9, 226-pounder’s 110.4 Elusive Rating was good for 5th among 21 of this year’s top RBs — notably ahead of guys like Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift and J.K. Dobbins. Warren is also relatively experienced in the passing game after tallying 46 catches across the last 2 years. A hamstring injury prevented Warren from working out on the Combine, but he appears to have average agility and subpar burst on tape. Despite going undrafted, Warren has a real shot to make the Eagles’ final roster as the ‘big back’ behind Miles Sanders.
The Lions signed undrafted rookie TE Hunter Bryant. We got Jordan Reed vibes watching Bryant — a comparison also drawn by NFL.com's Lance Zierlein. Like Reed, Bryant is undersized at 6’2, 248 pounds and is basically a WR playing TE. Of course, that can be a good thing for fantasy football. Bryant flashed as a true freshman at Washington back in 2017 before tearing the ACL and MCL in 1 of his knees. He tore his meniscus the following spring and played in only 5 games in 2018. Bryant broke out this past year, racking up 52 catches for 825 yards and 3 scores. He averaged a big 15.9 yards per catch, and his 2.71 yards per route run ranked 3rd among 18 of this year’s top WR prospects. We’re guessing Bryant’s medicals played a big part of him going undrafted. He looks like a fantasy long shot but is at least worth monitoring going forward.
QB Jameis Winston is set to sign a 1-year deal with the Saints, according to Yahoo's Charles Robinson. Winston reportedly turned down more money from another team, choosing instead to learn from QB Drew Brees and HC Sean Payton. Smart move. Winston is obviously off the 2020 fantasy radar, barring a Brees injury. But the 26-year-old remains a dynasty hold. Brees is 41 and taking his career season-to-season at this point.
Update: This move has finally become official.
The Cardinals selected Arizona State RB Eno Benjamin in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. We’re surprised he lasted this long. Benjamin is a fun watch; a Tazmanian Devil-style runner who darts and spins his way through traffic. Some scouts think he does too much dancing, though, which might explain his underwhelming 5.0 career yards per carry. Benjamin ranked a mediocre 15th among 21 of this year’s top RB prospects in Pro Football Focus’ 2019 Elusive Rating and 14th in the site’s rushing grades. And although he racked up 553 carries over the past 2 years, the 5’9, 207-pounder is likely too small to handle big workloads as a pro. On the plus side, Benjamin tested as a 72nd percentile athlete at the Combine and leads this RB class in career receptions (82), career receptions per game (2.4) and 2019 market share of receptions (18.0%). He should compete with Chase Edmonds for change-of-pace duties behind Kenyan Drake in Arizona.
The 49ers added Tennessee WR Jauan Jennings in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The 6’3, 215-pounder is a beast after the catch. He led all draft-eligible WRs with 30 missed tackles forced last year, per Pro Football Focus, and averaged a strong 8.0 yards after the catch. Jennings actually arrived at Tennessee as a dual-threat QB before moving to WR as a freshman. He didn’t break out until his 2019 senior campaign but did post big market shares — 30% receptions, 34% receiving yards, 42% receiving scores — and ranked 6th in yards per route run among 30 of this year’s top WR prospects. Jennings bombed at the Combine, posting an 8th percentile SPARQ score, but he looks more athletic on tape. The ‘Niners have built their passing game around run-after-catch guys — and Jennings fits the mold.
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