Marcus Lattimore, David Wilson injury updates

Lattimore to begin season on NFI list: After back-to-back devastating knee injuries in 2011 and 2012, Marcus Lattimore’s road to the NFL has been a long, arduous journey. And it appears as if he has hit another speed bump. Lattimore will begin the season on the NFL’s non-football injury list. The move could be a sign that the 49ers aren’t as optimistic about Lattimore’s recovery just yet, and it gives more insight into why they drafted Carlos Hyde in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. While some had Lattimore pegged as a late-round flier in case the  ageless Frank Gore did succumb to an injury, that notion has gone out the window now. Hyde is the one to handcuff with Gore or take a chance on, not Lattimore. At least until the 49ers show as much  faith in Lattimore’s knee as he does.

Wilson’s recovery on track: All signs are pointing toward David Wilson making a full recovery from his season-ending neck surgery. New York Giants co-owner John Mara said at a YMCA donation ceremony on Thursday that the team plans for Wilson to be ready to go. That’s great news for Wilson, but only further muddles the backfield situation for fantasy owners. Rashad Jennings figures to be the lead back for the G-Men, but behind him is a mixed bag including Wilson, Peyton HillisMichael Cox, and rookie Andre Williams. Given Wilson’s game-breaking ability, he could slide in for a healthy role as the change-of-pace back, but only if he stays out of Tom Coughlin’s doghouse. Track Wilson’s recovery and role during training camp, but be wary about investing too much in the talented but frustrating rusher come draft day. He might be best served as a waiver-wire addition until some results are shown in actual production on the field.

Gordon’s agent to work with Browns to help troubled WR: Super-agent Drew Rosenhaus appears to have the best interests of his client Josh Gordon at heart. Or at least where his commision is concerned. Rosenhaus told the Cleveland Plain Dealer he and the Browns will “work together and do the best job we can for (Gordon) collectively.” While this is encouraging to hear, it doesn’t change the fact that Gordon will be lucky if he sees an NFL field in 2014 due to a recent positive drug test and arrest on suspicion of a DWI. While Gordon was selected late in our latest experts mock draft, at this point it’s tough to imagine wasting a roster spot on the immensely talented but troubled wide receiver when that could go to someone with high upside who is more likely to see the field. Draft Gordon at your own risk in 2014, although by the time most fantasy drafts roll around we’ll likely know the details of Gordon’s inevitable suspension.

— Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar


Frank Gore expected to lose carries in 2014

Niners to begin phasing out Gore: It was bound to come to this. After being one of the NFL’s toughest running backs for nearly a decade, Frank Gore could see his number of carries diminished by about 50 this season. Last year, the veteran carried the rock 276 times and has averaged 272 rush attempts over the past three years. That’s before you count the 20 passes a year he’s caught during that span. The big question is: Where will those carries go? The leading contenders for the job of Gore’s understudy are Marcus Lattimore and rookie Carlos Hyde. The winner of that battle will not only be a potential fantasy handcuff for Gore this season, but could be San Francisco’s running back of the future going forward.

Packers want more from Lacy: Eddie Lacy did quite a bit for the Packers last season. The rookie rushed for 1,178 yards with 11 touchdowns and caught another 35 balls for 257 yards on his way to winning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. But entering Year Two, Green Bay’s coaching staff wants more. Offensive coordinator Tom Clements says the team wants Lacy more involved in all aspects of the game. For a team that wants to be more uptempo in 2014, the logical step would be to have Lacy become a better pass blocker so he won’t need to come off the field in third downs or obvious passing situations. Lacy was already a consensus first round pick, but anything that can make him a three-down back will only help move him up the board.

Hunter the new Moss?: The offseason is rife with stories of players hyping their teammates, so it’s with several grains of salt that we consider Titans receiver Michael Preston comparing fellow wideout Justin Hunter to Randy Moss. Yes, that Randy Moss. Certainly the measurables are similar, but Hunter’s rookie campaign (18/354/4) doesn’t hold a candle to what Moss did in his first season (69/1,313/17). However, with Kenny Britt no longer in Tennessee, there will be more chances for Hunter to establish himself in the Titans passing game. There will almost certainly be improvement, but pardon us if we don’t rank him as highly as we did Moss in his prime.

— Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG


BenJarvus Green-Ellis fighting for roster spot?

Bernard poised to lead backfield: It’s no secret that the Cincinnati Bengals are set to build their offense around Giovani Bernard, but the belief was that BenJarvus Green-Ellis would take a secondary role in offensive coordinator Hue Jackson’s scheme. That last part might be a little premature. According to Cincinnati.com’s Paul Dehner, Jr., Green-Ellis could find himself competing for a roster spot with Rex Burkhead. Meanwhile, Bernard could be in line for 300 total touches — including 70 receptions. Where once it appeared Green-Ellis was going to be Bernard’s handcuff, the Law Firm instead might need to find a new place to set up his practice.

Floyd feeling ‘confident’: After missing 14 games with a serious neck injury, Malcom Floyd is ready to get back on the field for the Chargers. The veteran wideout says he feels “confident” about returning to play in 2014. That’s encouraging for both the player and his team as San Diego struggled last season to find a receiving complement to Keenan Allen. Floyd won’t be anyone’s fantasy superstar, but he could be a quality fourth or fifth option if he is healthy and productive. More importantly, Floyd could help take some of the pressure off of Allen’s shoulders.

Wallace to return kicks?: In his second season with Miami, Mike Wallace has big expectations for what he can provide on offense. If you believe Wallace, that could also include returning kicks in 2014. Right now, this sounds more like wishful thinking on the receiver’s part than any actual personnel movement by the coaching staff. The prospect of Wallace is a double-edged sword. If you play in a fantasy league that rewards you for return yards, then it’s potentially a good thing. If your league doesn’t compensate you for kick returns, then having Wallace back deep only adds another opportunity for injury. Right now, we’re not sold that this will actually happen.

— Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG


Dwayne Bowe getting fit for 2014

Bowe loses weight: We’re several years removed from Dwayne Bowe’s last 1,000-yard season (2011) and even further away from his breakout campaign (2010). To that end, the veteran receiver says he’s lost weight and is trying to get in better shape for the upcoming season and beyond. In theory, it’s a definite positive; a player improving his fitness is nothing to laugh at. The bigger question is whether or not it will improve Bowe’s production. Last season, he was second on the team in targets, receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns — trailing Jamaal Charles in all of those categories. Bowe turns 30 early in the season and while that number isn’t as dire as it is for running backs, it does make it less likely that the veteran wideout will have a career resurgence. It’s hard to envision Bowe as more than a fourth or fifth receiver for most fantasy owners in 2014.

Eagles love Matthews: So much of the talk about rookie receivers has focused on Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, but it might be time to start looking in  Jordan Matthews’ direction. The second round pick has been earning rave reviews all throughout the offseason and could make a push to be Philadelphia’s starter at the slot receiver position. Of course, the history of rookie receivers in fantasy football has been spotty. That could make Matthews a risky proposition — especially with Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper already fighting for targets. Nonetheless, in Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense, Matthews could be in line for a few passes coming his way and has deep sleeper potential.

Finley getting offers?: We’re all still waiting to see if Jermichael Finley is going to play in the NFL again, but the veteran tight end says he’s had interest from at least one team. According to Finley, the Pittsburgh Steelers showed him “a couple deals”, however the money wasn’t to his liking. But the encouraging news is that if one team is willing to offer a deal there could be more to follow. In the meantime, Finley is still undergoing medical tests on his neck and will send the results to all 32 teams. With a distinct lack of depth at the fantasy tight end position, having a talented veteran like Finley back on draft boards would be welcomed.

— Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG


Packers’ offense wants 75 plays per game

Packers want to play faster: You’ve probably heard this plenty of times by now, but there’s another NFL offense that wants to play fast in 2014. This one is the Green Bay Packers, but the difference is that their plan seems less nebulous than most. Instead of just wanting to run more plays, head coach Mike McCarthy has put a number on things. McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers have a goal of running 75 plays per game; that’s a notable change from last season’s average of 67 plays per game. It would also equal more plays than those of the 2013 Broncos, who averaged more than 72 plays per contest. It’s a simple equation: more plays means more opportunity to produce. With Rodgers and the cast of characters the Packers boast, it’s hard not to like what such a strategy could mean for the new season.

Eli Manning ‘re-energized’: Last season was a forgettable one for Eli Manning. But the veteran Giants quarterback has a new offensive coordinator and says he feels “re-energized” learning Ben McAdoo’s system. Manning even spent time working out with Giants rookie receiver Odell Beckham in Louisiana. None of this is any guarantee that Manning won’t have another disastrous season, but it’s a positive step. Regardless, Eli could struggle to be drafted in plenty of fantasy leagues.

Hoyer ‘100 percent healthy’: The Browns will have arguably the most-watched quarterback competition of the fall between Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel. Hoyer was limited during offseason workouts but says now that he’s completely healthy and “ready to go” for training camp. Hoyer will need to be with the rookie Manziel charging for the starting job. Whoever wins the role will likely spend the entire season working without Josh Gordon. Whether it be Hoyer or Manziel, fantasy owners would be wise to wait until the later rounds to draft a Cleveland quarterback.

— Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG


Bills want Bryce Brown to grow into a lead back

Bills high on Brown’s future: The Buffalo Bills have high hopes for Bryce Brown after they traded for him with the Philadelphia Eagles back in May. Mike Rodak of ESPN.com reported that the Bills hope Brown grows into a lead back for them. This makes sense, as Fred Jackson is on the wrong side of 30, and C.J. Spiller only has one bonafide season to his name. Meanwhile, Brown has more carries in the NFL than he did in his entire collegiate career so there is plenty of tread left on the tires. For now, Brown will likely be part of an increasingly frustrating platoon of running backs for the Bills, annoying fantasy owners all season. This news makes him a nice target if you’re starting a new dynasty league or your rules would allow you to pick him up. But for standard redraft leagues, Brown is best served as a fourth or fifth option in case Jackson or Spiller are out of the lineup for a significant amount of time.

Witherspoon believes Britt will be a star for the Rams: Everyone who has played fantasy football (or followed football for that matter) understands the wasted potential of Kenny Britt. Between off the field issues and multiple knee surgeries, Britt has yet to deliver on that promise. Well, Will Witherspoon, Britt’s former teammate with the Tennessee Titans, believes that Britt will be a star for the Rams. So is this the year Britt delivers a monster fantasy season? Don’t hold your breath. Britt’s an intriguing late round option, but he plays for the Rams, who haven’t had a receiver hit 700 yards since 2008. Keep an eye on Britt during the preseason, but don’t get caught buying into July hype from someone not even on Britt’s current team.

Andre Johnson to remain in Houston: Stories change quickly in the NFL. A mere day ago, the trade winds surrounding Andre Johnson were beginning to swirl, as pundits dissected the possible options. Now, plugged-in beat reporter John McClain has put the kibosh on Johnson leaving Houston. McClain “guaranteed” that Johnson will remain with the team, as he is their best offensive player and if the team wants to succeed in 2014, they’ll need him. Johnson will still be a borderline No. 1 wide receiver in fantasy this season, as he put up great numbers last year with a cadre of quarterbacks that struggled mightily — and that’s putting it gently. His stock could rise or fall a tad depending on if/when he shows up to training camp, and how quickly he gels with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Nevertheless, he’ll be gone in most drafts by the end of the fourth round — if not sooner.

— Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar


Andre Johnson’s ideal fantasy landing spots

A late edition of Three and Out is better than no Three and Out, right? Let’s get to it.

Will the Texans shop Andre Johnson?: This is currently on the mind of every Houston Texans player and fan. The disgruntled but supremely-talented Andre Johnson has expressed his interest in moving on from the team, as he has no desire to be a part of another rebuilding project. Our Around the League team postulated where exactly Johnson could land. From a fantasy perspective, the ideal situation would be New England or Carolina, where he’d be paired with a quarterback who could make the most of his skill set.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that this issue will be resolved anytime soon, so as fantasy drafts approach, owners should take a measured approach when looking at Johnson. A good way to figure out where or when to take him would be by joining a mock draft lobby and seeing what the rest of the fantasy world is making of this situation.

Newton to throw with receivers: Even though he’s not yet 100 percent healed from his offseason ankle surgery,Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will be joining his receivers in Charlotte to work on timing and chemistry. This is music to fantasy owners ears, as Newton’s receiving corps has undergone a massive overhaul — no wide receiver on the roster has caught a pass as a Panther. Still, it’s not like this offseason workout is going to turn Newton and his pass catchers into the second-coming of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. Assuming Newton recovers in time for training camp, his progress with his receivers will be one to watch in preseason to accurately gauge his value as a fantasy quarterback. As for his receivers … draft at your own peril.

Allen’s return like “getting a brand new player”: Both the Indianapolis Colts and numerous football pundits had high hopes for tight end Dwayne Allen last season. Those lofty expectations came crashing back to earth when Allen was sidelined for most of the year with a hip injury that required surgery. Allen very quietly finished 22nd in fantasy points in his rookie season, and looked set to breakout in 2013 under offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. Allen had become a favorite target of Andrew Luck, and that chemistry should return (hopefully) during training camp. Allen is a sleeper worth following as we approach the season, as the tight end crop is a mixed bag after Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski. Allen could end up being a steal late in drafts if you wait on drafting a tight end.

— Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar


Aaron Dobson optimistic for training camp return

Dobson’s recovery on track: After having surgery on March 10 to repair a stress fracture in his foot, New England Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson has been patiently waiting to recover so he can get back to action. “It’s getting better every day,” he told the Boston Herald, and hinted that he’s focusing on his mental preparation while his body catches up. Dobson played in just 12 games as a rookie and finished 60th in fantasy points at his position with 37 catches for 519 yards and four touchdowns. Those numbers figure to rise significantly if Dobson returns to camp fully healthy, as the Patriots expect him to be the deep threat in their offense. Tom Brady forced 151 targets to Julian Edelman last season, and although Danny Amendola and Kenbrell Thompkins could take some of those, the likeliest recipient of an increased role is Dobson. Keep an eye on his recovery, as he could have excellent value as a WR3 or WR4 with loads of upside later in drafts.

Pitta prepping for variety of positions: Fully healthy and with new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak running the show, Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta has been prepping for a versatile role  in the offense. The plan is for Pitta to line up every where, from in-line to split wide to the backfield. Pitta seems up for the challenge, and has already said he foresees 2014 as his breakout year. Kubiak made a fantasy star of Owen Daniels — while healthy — and other tight ends in his system while head coach of the Houston Texans, so this isn’t just lip service from Pitta. Considering the dropoff in tight ends after the titans of Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski, Pitta could offer immense value later in drafts, as a top-five finish is very much a reality for the fifth-year man out of BYU. Pitta’s a bonafide No. 1 tight end for 2014, just don’t make the mistake of letting him slip past the middle rounds.

Sanders in “wide receiver heaven”: Since joining the Denver Broncos this offseason, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders says he feels like he’s in “wide receiver heaven.” Sanders enjoyed his best statistical season in 2013, even if he didn’t put up the WR2 numbers the Pittsburgh Steelers were hoping for. Now, he is hoping that Peyton Manning’s matchup-based aerial attack can lead to big numbers for him. Sanders acknowledged that there are a lot of mouths to feed in the Denver offense, but hopes that he’ll be able to contribute (and get his) week in and week out. Despite Sanders’ heavenly feelings about his place in the Denver offense, fantasy owners should take pause before reaching too high for him. He is five inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter than the departed Eric Decker, which could be an inhibitor for him matching Decker’s production from 2013 and he still needs to build a rapport with Manning.  Sanders should be targeted as a WR3 when fantasy drafts roll around this fall.

— Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar


Denver Broncos’ offense to be even better in 2014?

Adam Gase believes the Broncos can improve: Even though he’s one of the youngest offensive coordinators in the NFL, Adam Gase of the Denver Broncos isn’t lacking for confidence after his offense broke records in 2013. Gase told ESPN.com that he believes the offense “can do things better” in the coming season. While it’s great that Gase believes in his offense, hyperbole like this in July isn’t worth buying into — especially from a fantasy perspective. The loss of Eric Decker will be a big one for the offense, as Emmanuel Sanders won’t be able to do the same things Decker did to create space in the defensive backfield. Montee Ball should be an upgrade at running back, but overall a slight decline in numbers for this offense should be expected (five skill position players scored double-digit touchdowns last season). That being said, those decreased numbers will still be pretty darn good  for fantasy enthusiasts, and Peyton Manning, Ball, and the rest of the Broncos offensive weapons will be highly-coveted commodities come draft day.

Oakland Raiders running to daylight: In an interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio, Oakland Raiders offensive tackle Donald Penn revealed that the team’s offensive game plan in 2014 is to “run the ball, run the ball, then run it again.” This isn’t a surprise, considering the team will either be trotting out a potentially broken Matt Schaub or the untested rookie Derek Carr as their handoff machine come September. However, this news does raise the awareness around the backfield tandem of Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden, which would strike fear into the hearts of defenses were it 2010 and not 2014. Jones-Drew was effective at times last year, but was limited by nagging injuries and the Jaguars in general, while Run DMConce again spent most of his time running to the trainer’s table instead of the end zone. No matter how many times the Raiders run the ball, this figures to be a straight time share between two running backs past their fantasy prime. They should both be rostered, but as nothing more than a third or fourth option.

Josh Gordon runs into trouble … again: The story of ultra-talented wide receiver Josh Gordon has taken another sad turn. Gordon was arrested this past weekend under suspicion of driving while intoxicated. It’d be another black mark on a long list of strikes for Gordon, whose NFL career could be in jeopardy. Gordon was able to score the second-most fantasy points at his position last season despite missing the first two games while serving a league-imposed suspension. At this point, even though we don’t know what’s in store for Gordon in 2014, there’s too much risk involved to waste even a late-round flier on the Cleveland Browns top pass-catcher. Use that pick on a talented, high-upside player instead of Gordon, and wait and see what happens next. Hopefully there’s a happy ending just around the corner.

— Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar


LeSean McCoy: Nick Foles “blows it away” this year

Foles to “blow it away,” says McCoy: The tape-watching jury might still be out on Nick Foles, but that won’t stop veteran running back LeSean McCoy from pumping up the hype surrounding his quarterback. McCoy told CSN Philly that Foles is already playing lights out in camp, and this will be the year he “blows it away.” As any fan of the NFL knows, this is the time of year where cliches and hyperbole run rampant in the national sports media, so any praise should be taken with a grain of salt. Still, Foles will enter 2014 more comfortable in a system that saw him throw a ludicrous 27-2 TD-INT ratio last year. Even if a few of his lucky bounces go south, Foles still slots in at the backend of the QB1 conversation, yet can likely be had much later in drafts than the usual crop of superstar signal-callers.

Evans overweight: Tampa Bay rookie receiver Mike Evans is reportedly looking to drop a few more pounds before the season starts. Evans admitted he’s a bit out of shape, partially a product of his offseason hamstring injury, but things are looking up. In fact, to help shed the weight, he’s working out with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in Miami. With his video game-like combination of size and speed, Evans is an intriguing option in fantasy next year. However, as we so often discuss on this site, rookie receivers hardly ever deliver in fantasy. Keenan Allen was the exception last year — not the norm. Also stacked against Evans is that he’s admitted to having an uphill battle over learning his NFL playbook after playing in a relatively simple system at Texas A&M. Preseason could shed more light on Evans’ fantasy potential, but at most he’s a late-round flier.

Archer expects “big role” for Steelers: They say you can’t teach speed, but somewhere in his youth Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Dri Archer sure learned how to run. He was the fastest athlete at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, and it’s his speed that made the Steelers draft him in May. It’s also the reason Archer expects to have a “big role” with the team this season. What that role will include remains to be seen, but as our Around the League writers have speculated, it will primarily be on special teams. Archer is a potential Darren Sproles in the making, but he might need a season or two to get there. He’s not worth a roster spot in standard leagues, as Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount will take the vast majority of the team’s rushing attempts. That being said, Archer is definitely worth drafting in dynasty formats where you can wait for the mental side of his game to catch up to his blazing speed.

— Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar


Chris Johnson: Timeshare ‘won’t be an issue’

Johnson expects to be workhorse: Say this for the New York Jets: they’re consistent. The confusion of the “maybe it is, maybe it isn’t” quarterback competition now seems to have spread to the backfield. Last week, the coaching staff suggested that the team would use Chris Johnson as part of a running back committee. This week, Johnson says that’s not going to happen. The veteran rusher told Around the League that “if I’m making plays they’re going to want to keep handing the ball off to me.” Sounds like a case of Johnson employing the “ride the hot hand” principle. It’s nice, in theory. But the reality is that he’s averaged 290 carries in his six seasons — that’s a number that few backs are reaching nowadays. With Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell waiting in the wings, we’ll believe Johnson is a workhorse back when we actually see it.

Thomas to have bigger role: Last season, Julius Thomas burst onto the scene from the first game of the season and didn’t slow down for the remainder of 2013. Now, the Broncos tight end says the team plans to use him “a lot more creatively” in 2014. Th0se are words that should warm the heart of any fantasy owner. Thomas is already a big part of what is arguably the league’s most high-powered offense. If Peyton Manning and the Denver coaching staff can find new and inventive ways of getting Thomas the football, there’s no reason he can’t repeat as a top three fantasy tight end this season.

Walker wants ‘to catch 80 balls’: Before arriving in Tennessee, the knock on Delanie Walker was his inconsistency catching the football. He took a big step toward shedding that label by catching 60 passes and six touchdowns last season — both career-highs. This season, he plans to step up even more, saying “I’m looking to catch 80 balls this year.” It’s an ambitious goal for a player who saw just north of 80 targets last season. It’s especially ambitious in an offense that is still fairly unsettled at quarterback. It would be wonderful to see Walker take that leap forward, but he’ll still fall in the range of a lower-end TE1.

— Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG


Bernard Pierce could lead Ravens RB committee

Ravens to use rotation: The Ravens are preparing for a likely Ray Rice suspension from the league by apparently setting up for a running back-by-committee situation. At the head of the pack is Bernard Pierce, but there is a flock of Ravens waiting to pick up the slack behind him. Justin Forsett is probably slated to be Pierce’s backup, but Lorenzo TaliaferroCierre Wood and Fitzgerald Toussaint will also get long looks in training camp. Of that committee, Pierce is likely the only one with any sort of fantasy staying power. Once Rice returns from any possible ban, he’ll assume a fair share of the workload and push the other into the background.

Ebron learning multiple positions: Lions rookie tight end Eric Ebron is undergoing a tough initiation to the NFL. The team has the former North Carolina standout learning multiple positions, something Ebron says has been difficult early on. Detroit’s decision to make Ebron a “multiple” player speaks to the changing face of the tight end position, spurred in large part by players like Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski. How quickly Ebron picks it up will determine how quickly he can be a contributor. However, with the poor track record of rookie tight ends in fantasy combined with Ebron’s admitted steep learning curve, he’ll be nothing more than a very late round flier in most leagues.

Mettenberger ‘coming for starting role’: Former LSU star Zach Mettenberger slid all the way down to the sixth round of the draft before the Titans came calling. But Mettenberger isn’t letting that get him down, telling SiriusXM NFL Radio that he’s aiming to be the team’s starter. Right now, this isn’t anything more than the normal bravado necessary to be a professional athlete. Jake Locker — as long as he’s healthy — will be the starter this season. Mettenberger’s biggest challenge could be trying to unseat Charlie Whitehurst as Tennessee’s No. 2 quarterback. Until further notice, the rookie isn’t a fantasy factor.

— Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG


Browns considering running back committee

Tate to share carries: Ben Tate isn’t worried about anyone beating him out for the Browns’ starting running back job. He never said anything about his fear of being in a timeshare. It appears that Cleveland’s new rusher is headed for a committee, according to coach Mike Pettine. Some of this might have to do with Tate’s spotty injury history over his three NFL seasons. Some of it might have to do with the potential that players like Terrance West and Dion Lewis could be contributors. Tate will see the majority of the carries, but if Pettine’s wish comes true, the Browns lead back might end up more in the neighborhood of 200 carries.

Cameron stands out in workouts: Last season, Jordan Cameron started the season quickly and became a breakout fantasy star before fading down the stretch. Looking for bigger and better things in 2014, Cameron earned rave reviews during Cleveland’s minicamp workouts. With the Browns still awaiting word on Josh Gordon’s availability for this season, Cameron could take on added importance in the offense. The tight end position doesn’t have a lot of depth, but the fourth-year pass catcher could finish the season as a top five fantasy player at his spot.

Titans ‘excited’ about Locker: The word most associated with Jake Locker during his NFL tenure has been “potential.” This year, the former Washington standout will have to either live up to that potential or begin looking for a new home. To that end, Titans offensive coordinator Jason Michael had a glowing assessment of Locker’s work ethic and his (ahem!) potential to do good things. The best thing Locker can do is to stay healthy. He’s never played more than 11 games in a season because of various injuries. We’ve seen glimpses of what he can do when he’s on the field. We’ll need Locker to be there a little more often before we can put any real fantasy faith in him.

— Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG


Sammy Watkins, EJ Manuel ‘need a lot of reps’

Watkins getting comfortable: Much is expected of rookie receiver Sammy Watkins. The Bills spent the fourth overall pick on the Clemson star with hopes that he can make an immediate impact. But that won’t come without work. Watkins admitted that he and quarterback EJ Manuel still have some work to do in order to get on the same page. There’s certainly nothing to worry about here. There’s still plenty of time for the pair to get their reps in before the regular season starts. Plus, Watkins doesn’t seem to feel pressured to be spectacular right out of the box, saying he doesn’t “need to have 1,500 yards receiving.” With the fantasy history of rookie receivers being spotty, this is just one reminder not to reach too high for Watkins on draft day.

Holmes wants more targets: The Raiders have a lot of receivers on their roster. However, only James Jones seems to have a spot truly locked up. After that, there are jobs to be won and Andre Holmes has designs on winning one of them. The fourth-year receiver is looking to break out during his second season in Oakland and has caught the eye of quarterback Matt Schaub. Holmes caught two passes in his first two NFL campaigns with Dallas before making 25 grabs last season with the Raiders. In many ways, this could be considered Season No. 3 for Holmes, who didn’t see the field during his rookie season. If there’s a sleeper breakout candidate in Oakland, he could be it.

Brown pushing for No. 3: Torrey Smith and Steve Smith are locked in as the top two receivers in Baltimore. It looks like the No. 3 slot is getting closer to being locked up as well. According to reports, Marlon Brown is in the lead for the job. Brown had a respectable rookie campaign with a 49/524/7 stat line. In Year Two, there could be more opportunity coming his way. It’s not likely that he’ll rank as more than a waiver wire option in most fantasy leagues, but he shouldn’t be completely overlooked.

— Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG


Lance Dunbar to challenge for more carries

Dunbar a ‘complete weapon’?: Add another name to the list of NFL June superstars. Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar is being lauded by his coaches for his ability to do a little bit of everything. In the offense of new coordinator Scott Linehan, having a wide range of skills is a big plus. Dallas figures to throw the ball more in 2014, but the team will likely also have an interest in lessening the workload of DeMarco Murray. Murray took steps toward shedding his “injury prone” label in 2013, but it’s hard to envision Dallas giving their lead back more than the career-high 270 touches he had last year. Look for Dunbar to become the best handcuff option for the ‘Boys in 2014.

Jets to use RB committee: Forget all of Chris Johnson’s talk about still being capable of a 2,000-yard season; the Jets don’t seem eager to give him the chance to try. New York’s running backs coach described Johnson as having “some miles on him” and said the team will be “strategic” in how they use him. Translation: expect to see a lot of Chris Ivory and possibly Bilal Powell in Gang Green’s backfield. Mark it down as yet another running back committee and move Johnson down your draft board accordingly.

Haley hypes Steelers WRs: The Steelers wide receiver corps underwent a makeover during the course of free agency and recent drafts. The group that will take the field this season has earned rave reviews from offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who believes it’s the deepest WR corps he’s ever coached. I’m not willing to go that far, but it’s a group that features Antonio Brown and a handful of sleepers — most notably Markus Wheaton. Pittsburgh’s coaches might be excited about what they have, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to fantasy owners.

— Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

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