Here are our fantasy takes on the NFL news of the day …
Big Ben involved in workouts: The lockout remains in force, but many players are holding offseason workouts to stay in shape. And according to Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers’ offense has held such workouts in an effort to “refresh people’s memories on audible calls or no-huddle calls, little things like that.” It’s good for fantasy owners to hear such news, especially when you consider how important Roethlisberger can be in your draft strategy. Despite his success on the field, Big Ben isn’t considered an elite fantasy quarterback. But consider this — despite missing four games to suspension in 2010, Roethlisberger amassed 3,200 passing yards and 19 total touchdowns in 12 games. If you project the numbers over a full season, he would have scored more fantasy points than Drew Brees. For owners who want to go after running backs and wide receivers early, targeting a signal-caller like Roethlisberger in the middle rounds is a savvy move.
Montario Hardesty ready for camp: If football starts in time for teams to hold training camps, it looks like the Browns will have Hardesty back and ready to roll. While teams can’t have contact with players at this point, coach Pat Shurmur did tell the Cleveland Plain-Dealer that “to the best of [his] knowledge, [Hardesty is] progressing well and will be ready to participate (fully) once training camp starts.” A second-round draft pick in 2010, Hardesty missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury but will be leaned on this year to be part of a two-man backfield tandem with Peyton Hillis. Barring a setback in his return to action, Hardesty’s presence is going to put at least a slight dent into Hillis’ touches. And when you consider that Hillis is coming off a career season (and is on the cover of the new Madden video game), well, it’s going to be a good idea to temper expectations for the Arkansas product. As for Hardesty, he’ll be well worth a roll of the dice in the middle to late rounds.
Murray wants to gain weight: During a recent interview with 105.3 The Fan, Cowboys rookie runner DeMarco Murray discussed a number of topics pertaining to the start of his NFL career — including his desire to “put on 5-8 more pounds” to help endure the physical punishment his position endures. Murray also called himself a “change of pace” who is can “run, catch and definitely block.” Of course, he could have an uphill climb to make an immediate impact in fantasy circles. With Felix Jones, Marion Barber and Tashard Choice in the mix, the Cowboys’ backfield is a little more than just crowded. But when you consider that Barber could be released and the fact that Jones, the projected starter, hasn’t been all the durable at the NFL level, Murray could actually be allowed a chance to showcase his skills sooner than later. If you’re in a seasonal league, taking a chance on the Oklahoma product makes sense in the middle to late rounds.