Lions QB Matt Stafford played through "broken bones in his back" last season, according to Mike O’Hara of the team's official website. Stafford was listed on the injury report for the final 4 games of the year, but this is the 1st we've heard of the extent of the injury. He did struggle in those final 4 outings, averaging just 6.0 yards per attempt with 3 total TDs. But Stafford's bigger problem last season was Detroit's renewed commitment to the run, which left Stafford with a career-low 34.7 pass attempts per game. His volume might drop again in 2019 with the arrival of run-loving O Darrell Bevell. Stafford is just a lower-end QB2 in fantasy drafts.
Steelers insider Mark Kaboly calls Donte Moncrief a "slam-dunk" #2 WR after an impressive spring with his new team. Moncrief also drew praise from QB Ben Roethlisberger for his work ethic and ability to pick up the offense. The former Colt and Jaguar has been an enigma throughout his career, disappointing fantasy owners more often than not. But he's not even 26 yet and has always possessed an intriguing combination of size and athleticism. Antonio Brown's departure, of course, leaves tons of opportunity in Pittsburgh's WR corps. We're still not counting out James Washington in the battle for the #2 WR spot and will also be keeping an eye on rookie Diontae Johnson. But Moncrief looks like the Steeler WR to target later in fantasy drafts right now.
Both Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and HC John Harbaugh labeled WR Chris Moore a 2019 breakout candidate. "I would say Chris is ready to do that and has been ready to do that," Harbaugh said. "He practices really hard, he works hard in the weight room, he knows the offense very well, and he makes spectacular catches out here very often.” Moore has tallied just 44 catches over his first 3 NFL seasons, so we're not ready to go all-in yet. The Ravens also project to be 1 of the league's run-heaviest offenses under QB Lamar Jackson. But there's opportunity in the WR corps. Ryan Mink of the team's official website expects Moore, Marquise Brown and Willie Snead to operate as the top 3 wideouts this year -- although Miles Boykin, Seth Roberts and Michael Floyd are also in the mix. We'll watch the situation as we roll into training camp and preseason action.
The MMQB's Albert Breer hears that Christian Kirk was the most impressive WR in Arizona this spring. The 47th overall pick of last year's draft had a quietly strong rookie campaign, hauling in 43 of 68 targets (63.2%) for 590 yards (13.7 YPC) and 3 scores in 12 games. Kirk ranked 35th in yards per route run among 79 WRs with 50+ targets last year -- despite playing on a Cardinals passing game that generally struggled. Teammate Larry Fitzgerald, by comparison, ranked 54th in yards per route run. We wondered if new HC Kliff Kingsbury saw Kirk as a fit in his offense after Arizona added 3 WRs in this year's draft, but the early returns for Kirk are promising. He's a 2019 breakout candidate in what should be a much better Cardinals offense.
Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe) has been cleared to participate in individual drills during minicamp. He injured a toe on his right foot twice last season and had surgery to repair torn ligaments in early December. His 7 missed games in 2018 bring him to 13 over the past 3 years and 16 over the past 5. But Green ranked 16th among WRs in PPR points per game last season after finishing 13th and 4th the previous 2 years. There's injury risk here, but Green boasts plenty of upside at his late-3rd-round ADP.
Eagles RB Miles Sanders missed all of OTAs and minicamp with a hamstring injury. We're still over a month away from training camp, so it's far too early to even start moving toward the panic button. But the rookie has missed valuable practice reps as he looks to rise to the top of a crowded depth chart. RB Jordan Howard, meanwhile, has drawn positive reviews from the coaching staff this spring -- particularly for his work in the passing game. NJ.com's Zack Rosenblatt believes expecting Sanders to become Philly's #1 RB as a rookie is "premature." This backfield still has plenty of sorting out to do, and we're still projecting Sanders to lead the way in fantasy points. But he feels a bit pricey at a mid-6th-round ADP since the start of June.
Niners HC Kyle Shanahan said this week that RB Jerick McKinnon and LB Kwon Alexander have a "very good chance" of being on the field for the start of training camp. Each guy is coming off an ACL repair. McKinnon suffered his injury in August. He'll return to find a backfield that added Tevin Coleman and returns Matt Breida. McKinnon's touch outlook has obviously changed quite a bit from last summer. he still makes for a risky selection late in the single-digit rounds of current best-ball fantasy football drafts. Alexander is expected to start after signing a big free-agent contract. He should play full time and remain a solid IDP option, as long as the knee's good.
Washington WR Paul Richardson told the Washington Times this week that he feels "100%" after surgery on the shoulder he injured last August, an injury he played through for 7 games. The team has worked him back in slowly through the spring, but HC Jay Gruden expects Richardson to be back to full health for training camp. "I think we will be able to see what he can bring to this football team," Gruden said. Richardson has been lingering to the end of drafts so far and isn't likely to climb out of value range in an offense no one is excited about.
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press says he's "not sure [RB Theo] Riddick is a lock for the 53-man roster." That makes sense, given the crowd in the Detroit backfield and Kerryon Johnson's receiving ability. Riddick offers no upside as a runner and has been merely a fine player in the passing game. If he sticks in Detroit, Riddick will be a solid late-round PPR shot to take. But his uncertain status and low fantasy ceiling mean you should pass on him in current best-ball drafting.
Colts TE Jack Doyle got back to running routes at full speed this week, according to Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. The TE hasn't yet been cleared for full practice, but the progress is good news for the hip he had repaired after the season. We'll check on Doyle's participation once training camp arrives.
Chiefs TE Travis Kelce has stayed off the field through spring workouts while recovering from offseason ankle surgery. He told ArrowheadPride.com this week, though, that he expects to be "100 percent" by the start of training camp. We'll certainly watch for that to come true and then keep an eye out for any setbacks, but we're not currently worried about our clear #1 TE.
Jets TE Chris Herndon is "facing the likelihood of a two-game suspension for pleading guilty in January to driving while intoxicated," ESPN's Rich Cimini reported Friday. Assuming that comes to fruition, it'll make Herndon tough to go after in common-sized redraft leagues. TE is already a position where we often look to roster just 1 player. Tying up a roster spot with a 2nd who won't even be available the 1st 2 weeks would complicate waiver decisions in 2 of the more important weeks for such moves all season. That said, Herndon should be able to flirt with low-TE1 production when he does hit the field this year.
ESPN's Mike DiRocco says Chris Conley "has been the best receiver during OTAs and minicamp" for the Jaguars. The free-agent signee played briefly with new QB Nick Foles in Kansas City, but the bigger factor working in his favor is Marqise Lee's slow return from an August 2018 knee injury. Lee isn't expected to return until "several weeks into training camp." That could clear a path for Conley to enter the season among the top 2 wideouts for the Jaguars. And DiRocco says they "don't have a clear No. 1." We'd bet on Dede Westbrook leading the group in fantasy scoring, but Conley makes sense as a late-round pick in current best-ball drafting.
ESPN's Rob Demovsky says minicamp revealed that 2nd-year Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling "is a starter" and "probably is the No. 2 receiver behind [Davante Adams]." MVS has reportedly been in constantly for 2- and 3-WR sets, with Geronimo Allison looking likely to play the slot in 3-wide sets. Adams said, "I think this offense is really catered for a guy like [MVS]." Valdes-Scantling already delivered 6 weeks of top-36 PPR production as a rookie. He could carry upside into WR2 range in 2019.
If you ask Steelers RB James Conner about how the team plans to divvy touches among him, Jaylen Samuels and rookie Benny Snell this season, you might get scared off drafting him in Round 1. "I think it'll be spread out pretty evenly," Conner said Wednesday, according to Jonathan Bombulie of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. We would certainly bet on Pittsburgh siphoning a bit of Conner's work for the other guys in the backfield. But he drew 62.3% of Steelers carries last season, the league's 6th largest share -- despite missing 3 games. Conner's 76% share of team carries over his 13 games would have led all RBs for the season. So he can shed some work and still deliver RB1 numbers in fantasy. His targets could be more in danger, though. Conner drew 12.5% of Pittsburgh looks over his 13 games last year, which would have ranked 15th among RBs for the season. In the lone game he shared with Samuels after returning from the ankle sprain, Conner carried 14 times vs. Samuels' 2 but drew just 3 targets to Samuels' 8. Of course, more targets figure to be available overall, with Antonio Brown gone. And last year's 2nd most pass-heavy offense could lean further toward the run in 2019 -- which would boost carry volume. We'll see how things progress in the Pittsburgh backfield this summer.
When asked this week whether rookie QB Dwayne Haskins is a serious contender to open the season as the starter, HC Jay Gruden said, "He's put enough out there on tape to say he deserves a shot, without a doubt," according to ESPN's John Keim. Gruden went on to talk about the "wow" plays and traits Haskins has already displayed. He also indicated that how well Haskins continues to learn and retains information during the break before training camp will be key. At this point, we'd bet on Haskins opening as the starter. But the situation will certainly be worth watching. He doesn't look like much of a 2019 redraft factor, but Haskins should increase the upside for Washington pass-catchers in fantasy football over what Case Keenum or Colt McCoy would provide.
The Saints on Thursday signed WR Rishard Matthews. The former Dolphin, Titan and Jet tallied 65 and 53 receptions in his final 2 full seasons with Tennessee. But he disappeared while splitting last year between the Titans and Jets, following summer knee surgery. Matthews is a fine shot for the Saints to take. His signing, though, could be a hedge against Cameron Meredith's health and/or slow development by Tre'Quan Smith. We'll see how the corps sorts out this summer. It's also worth noting that among last year's Saints, only Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara topped 35 receptions. TE Ben Watson ranked 3rd at 35.
Ravens rookie WR Marquise Brown took part in a drill for the 1st time Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. The 1st-rounder hasn’t been cleared for a full return yet coming off foot surgery. HC John Harbaugh said this week he hopes to have Brown ready for the start of training camp
The Bears are “optimistic” that WR Anthony Miller (shoulder) and TE Trey Burton (hernia) will be ready for the start of training camp, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Both players have missed offseason workouts while working back from surgeries. We’ll watch their participation early in camp
Niners rookie WR Deebo Samuel is missing minicamp with a hip injury, according to multiple reports. It doesn't appear to be a significant issue, however, and we're not worried about his status for the coming season as of now. We'll obviously watch his status into and through the summer to confirm. San Francisco heads toward training camp with a crowd of pass-catchers set to compete for some yet-undefined roles.
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