Cruz yet to sign offer sheet: Now that we’re past free agency and the draft, the New York Giants expected that wide receiver Victor Cruz would sign the offer sheet he was presented. So far, that hasn’t happened and the Big Blue brass are starting to get concerned. It was never expected that the situation would be resolved quickly, but the longer it drags on, the greater the chance of a holdout. For fantasy owners, it’s a tad too soon to really worry about it, but it could be worth keeping an eye on someone like Louis Murphy … just in case.
Bess excited about being a Brown: After five seasons with the Miami Dolphins, Davone Bess will be making his new home in Cleveland with the Browns. It’s an interesting pairing — a fairly productive slot receiver joining an offense that has plans to stretch the field a little more in 2013. Bess won’t ever be an enormous fantasy producer, but he could have some value as a No. 3 or flex option, especially in PPR leagues.
Jones drafted as Big Ben insurance?: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch has a suspicion that Landry Jones was drafted as the long-term replacement for Ben Roethlisberger. While it’s certainly possible, it seems more likely that Jones is in Pittsburgh to give the Steelers more options in the (very likely) event that Roethlisberger gets hurt. Big Ben hasn’t played a full 16 games since 2008, and that doesn’t take into account the number of games in which he plays noticeably hurt. If past is prologue, Roethlisberger will spend some time on the shelf in 2013 — which means Jones could see meaningful snaps.
After watching a wild 2013 NFL Draft unfold, Jason Smith and Michael Fabiano break down which rookies will make the biggest fantasy impact with their new squads and which rookies you should steer clear of in your fantasy drafts. Hour 1 concludes with speculation of a retired fantasy football legend contemplating a return to the gridiron.
In Hour 2 of their 2013 NFL Draft recap, the guys debate about current NFL quarterbacks. Which signal callers were helped most in the draft? Which QBs are in for a down year? Plus a fresh edition of the Fantasy Cantina awaits.
Welcome to my Fantasy Man crush list, Chris Ivory.
The talented running back was dealt to the New York Jets over the weekend, a move that will make him one of the top sleeper/breakout candidates in fantasy football. Buried on the depth chart over the last three years with the New Orleans Saints, Ivory showed flashes of brilliance when he did have a chance to tote the rock. He’s averaged better than five yards per carry in his career, and his body is fresh from the lack of attempts he’s received since 2011.
Ivory will fill the role of departed starter Shonn Greene, who finished among the top 20 running backs in the league based on fantasy points last season while averaging a less-than-impressive 3.9 yards per carry. To put it simply, Ivory is a better back than Greene with youth on his side (he’s 25). And now he’ll have a chance to see 275-300 carries for the first time as an NFL back. While he will lose some third-down work to Mike Goodson, Ivory will be about as close to a featured runner as you can have in a league that has installed more committees in recent seasons.
I wouldn’t hesitate to draft him in one of the first four- to five rounds as a No. 2 runner in 2013.
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!
Sanchez to take first team reps: For a team struggling to stay relevant on the field, the New York Jets sure know how to stir things up. First, the team drafted Geno Smith to go along with a cadre of quarterbacks that already ran five deep. Then on Monday, the team released Tim Tebow. So what does that mean for Mark Sanchez? For the moment, it means he’ll take the first team reps in OTAs, according to head coach Rex Ryan. Take it with a grain of salt. As the incumbent (and highest-paid QB on the roster), Sanchez will be given every opportunity to earn the starting job. But whether it’s Sanchez or someone else, New York’s roster is too devoid of any supplemental talent for the quarterback to be an impact fantasy option.
Cowboys seek RB help: Before the draft, the Dallas Cowboys intimated that they could chase a running back to support DeMarco Murray. After the draft, owner Jerry Jones reiterated the desire to add depth to the backfield and suggested fifth-round selection Joseph Randle could be that player. Color us skeptical. It’s no secret that Murray hasn’t been the most reliable option. He’s been effective when he’s been on the field, but missing nine games in two seasons won’t endear you to coaches, GMs and fantasy owners alike. Still, it seems odd that the ‘Boys would wait so long to fill a position of need — especially when there was decent RB depth available on the board. The plan might be for Randle to share snaps. We’ll see what the reality is.
Manuel to compete for Bills job: It was a surprise to plenty of observers that E.J. Manuel was the first quarterback selected this weekend. It’s not such a surprise that the rookie will be given a chance to compete for the Buffalo Bills starting job. Team president Russ Brandon called Manuel “a bell-cow quarterback” and expects him to battle for the gig. It’s far from certain whether that bell will ring in 2013 — or how often it might, but there’s certainly no reason to think Kevin Kolb will be automatically handed the keys to the offense.
Two tight ends for Bengals?: When the Cincinnati Bengals selected Tyler Eifert in the first round of the draft, the immediate question was “What does this mean for Jermaine Gresham?” According to offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, it means the two players could be on the field at the same time. It also means Gresham is likely to lose a few targets. The Bengals offense is certainly upgraded, but not enough to make this pair of tight ends anything more than No. 2 options in most fantasy formats.
Mendenhall is presumptive starter: It certainly won’t be official for some time, but (as we all thought), Rashard Mendenhall is the favorite to be the starting running back for the Arizona Cardinals. Head coach Bruce Arians has said he will go with a featured back, which bodes well for Mendenhall. The hope is that the veteran runner can remain healthy after missing 10 games with injury last season. If he can, he could be a solid low-end No. 2 fantasy rushing option.
Posey will start on PUP list: Houston Texans receiver DeVier Posey is expected to start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. With the wideout forced to miss the first six games of the season, it provides an opportunity for newly-drafted DeAndre Hopkins to challenge for the team’s No. 2 receiver slot. Right now, it’s hard to imagine Hopkins wouldn’t have a fair shot at the job — the combination of Posey, Lestar Jean and Keshawn Martin caught a combined 22 passes for 323 yards and two touchdowns.
Fitzgerald to return to elite?: You might have heard by now that Larry Fitzgerald had a bad season in 2012. New coach Bruce Arians aims to fix that. In a radio interview, the Cardinals head man said he’d like Fitzgerald to have “100 catches and 10-15 touchdowns” in 2013. That’s sweet music to the ears of fantasy owners. And with Carson Palmer under center (as opposed to last season’s QB quartet of disappointment), there’s a much better chance the veteran wideout sees those numbers. If the Redbirds really can get him the ball that often, he’s solidly back in the realm of elite N0. 1 receivers.
Giants looking at RB tandem: Questions have swirled around whether the New York Giants had plans to add any depth to their backfield. According to running backs coach Jerald Ingram, the answer is … maybe. However, all signs point to Andre Brown and David Wilson sharing the bulk of the carries. That’s good and bad news. There are the normal pitfalls of trying to manage a fantasy football rosters around the dynamics of a running back timeshare. However, the silver lining is that the timeshare should be limited to primarily two backs — instead of a possible three.
Cowboys looking for complementary RB: It appears DeMarco Murray won’t have the chance to be a featured back. It’s not a surprise considering Murray’s inability to make it through a 16-game schedule, but Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told a San Antonio radio station that the team will take a look at drafting “a complementary back”. In reality, this won’t have a major effect on Murray’s fantasy value. He remains a No. 2 option in most formats. The only change is who you should consider drafting as his handcuff.
Dwyer, Redman seen a complements: With Rashard Mendenhall taking up residence in Arizona, there was a question as to whether Jonathan Dwyer or Isaac Redman would take up the mantle as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ No. 1 running back. The answer to that questions appears to be “no” and “no”. According to the Post-Gazette, the Steelers are still in the market for a back. Whether they find that player in the draft or through free agency remains to be seen. Whoever takes that top spot on the depth chart will have some fantasy value, but with the other two backs lurking around seeking carries, that value will be limited.
Smith ready to be No. 1 WR: Now that Anquan Boldin is no longer in the nest in Baltimore, it falls on Torrey Smith to be the team’s No. 1 receiver. It’s a role that Ray Rice believes the young wideout is prepared for. Smith has certainly been consistent, posting nearly identical numbers in each of his first two seasons. But so far he’s been regarded mostly as a deep threat. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts when defenses are geared more toward slowing him. Right now, he slots as a No. 2 option in most leagues.
Flynn will have to compete: New Raiders quarterback Matt Flynn won’t be handed the keys to the offense. Instead, he’ll be forced to compete in training camp to be the team’s No. 1 signal-caller. It’s not a major surprise considering the team has said it wants to see what it has with Terrelle Pryor. It might also have something to do with the fact that Flynn has just two career starts. While it appears that Flynn has the inside track to the job, this could be one of the training camp battles to keep an eye on.
McGahee is Broncos’ ‘big back’: It’s been reported repeatedly that the Denver Broncos are in search of a big running back to add to the backfield. Turns out, they might already have that guy. John Elway said in a press conference Monday that Willis McGahee“is that big back for us right now”. He also went on to mention Ronnie Hillman as a change-of-pace option for the team. That would seem to leave little for Knowshon Moreno to do. Of course, this could all be a smokescreen and the Broncos could still draft a running back later this week. Stay tuned.
Britt’s knee rehab going well: It’s taken Kenny Britt some time to recover from the major knee injury that cost him most of 2011 and sapped his skills in 2012. But if his teammates at Titans mini-camp are any indication, Britt’s back to his old self. We’re all still waiting on the big breakout season from the talented wideout. With 2013 being a contract year for Britt, it could be a case of now or never. He’ll rank as a No. 3 receiver with sleeper potential until we see otherwise.
Graham seeking opportunity: Now that Donald Jones and David Nelson are gone from Buffalo, it would appear to open things up for T.J. Graham to be a No. 2 receiver option for the Bills. As a rookie last season, the speedster caught 31 passes for 322 yards and a touchdown. There’s certainly a chance he could surpass those numbers, but it’s dependent upon the quarterback situation … which is far from settled in Buffalo. It’s likely to be Kevin Kolb, but expect some competition in camp. Either way, the guy tossing passes won’t inspire enough confidence to make Graham more than a late-round flier in most leagues.
Bowe likes new attack: New Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid already has one fan for his offense — wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. Bowe raved about the new style of playcalling, saying it was “totally different from last year. It’s not check downs or putting it in the running back’s hands. This guy likes to go down the field, take the top off (the defense) and that’s something we haven’t done in the past, put up a lot of points.”
That comment immediately raises red flags among anyone who watched how inconsistently Reid used LeSean McCoy in Philadelphia. One would hope that a similar fate doesn’t befall Jamaal Charles, especially since he’s been Kansas City’s most productive weapon in recent seasons. It’s hard to imagine the Chiefs being a much more vertical offense considering Alex Smith isn’t known for having a big arm. Bowe may be excited now, but we’ll wait until more of the offense is installed before we follow his scouting report.
Hernandez looking at recovery timetable: The saga of the Patriots banged-up tight ends continues. After having recent shoulder surgery, Aaron Hernandez is expected to endure a four-month recovery that could land him on the Physically Unable to Perform list when training camp begins. Right now, it doesn’t appear that he will miss any time during the regular season. That’s good news considering the status of Rob Gronkowski remains an unknown for the time being.
Burleson ahead of schedule: Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson says he’s ahead of schedule in his recovery from a broken leg. The veteran will likely head into the 2013 season as the No. 2 receiver behind Calvin Johnson. Yet with the addition of Reggie Bush, Burleson will get pushed down the pecking order a notch or two. Plus, with Ryan Broyles hoping to compete for more targets, there may not be much reason for fantasy owners to clamor over Burleson in drafts.
In a move that’s been discussed for weeks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers acquired cornerback Darrelle Revis in a trade with the New York Jets on Sunday in exchange for a 2013 first-rounder and a conditional third- or fourth-round pick in 2014. The Buccaneers also have signed Revis to a new six-year, $96 million contract — the deal averages $16 million annually. Typically, trades that involve a defensive player as it’s centerpiece don’t have a major impact on fantasy football leagues.
This is one of those rare cases when it does.
In the past, facing Revis was a statistical death sentence for the opposing team’s No. 1 wide receiver — even an elite player like Andre Johnson became somewhat of a risk in fantasy starting lineups when he was going up against the NFL’s best cover cornerback.
Of course, whether or not Revis will be as dominant in his first season back from major knee reconstruction remains to be seen. Regardless, he’ll have his work cut out for him — just look at the list of wide receivers Revis will face twice a year in the NFC South — the Atlanta’s Falcons Roddy White and Julio Jones, the New Orleans Saints’ Marques Colston and the Carolina Panthers’ Steve Smith.
The best non-division opponents Revis will go up against are a virtual who’s who among fantasy football’s best wideouts and includes New England’s Danny Amendola (Week 3), Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald (Week 4), Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson (Week 6), Seattle’s Percy Harvin (Week 9), Miami’s Mike Wallace (Week 10), Detroit’s Calvin Johnson (Week 12), Buffalo’s Steve Johnson (Week 14) and San Francisco’s Michael Crabtree (Week 15).
Add them all up, and you have 11 different wideouts ranked among the top 25 at their position in fantasy football (heading into the 2013 season) who will be slated to make a visit to Revis Island.
So, should owners now look to avoid most of these receivers in drafts? Of course not, but keep in mind that the Buccaneers are a virtual lock to drastically improve a pass defense that gave up the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers just one season ago. That makes what would have been a favorable matchup on paper for wideouts now far less attractive.
In New York, Revis’ departure isn’t a reason to downgrade the Jets’ pass defense. Remember that he missed all but 14 games with the anterior cruciate ligament tear last season, and the Men in Green still allowed just 11 touchdowns and the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. That had much to do with the emergence of cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who is now the best player on the team’s roster. So, instead of having two of the best cover corners on the same team, NFL wide receivers will now have to face Revis and Cromartie much more often.
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or via Facebook!
Pryor wants to push Flynn: Last season, Matt Flynn went to Seattle expecting to be the starter. Then Russell Wilson came along and pushed him out of a job. Now Flynn is in Oakland, where he once again is penciled in as the No. 1 option. Terrelle Pryor hopes history repeats itself. The young signal-caller says he plans to compete for Oakland’s starting job. Despite the huge gap in paycheck size, Flynn has only one more career start than Pryor. It would seem like the younger QB is behind the 8-ball in this competition, but there is still a long way to go.
Redman re-signs in Pittsburgh: Running back Isaac Redman is back with the Steelers after signing his tender offer. That puts him back in a situation to compete for touches with Jonathan Dwyer. Last season, Dwyer got the bulk of the work, but Redman wasn’t far behind. There’s little to suggest that it won’t be a near 50-50 split between the two now that Rashard Mendenhall has joined the Cardinals. That would make both of them No. 3 fantasy options as best.
Cameron sees opportunity: Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameronis excited about the chance to play for coaches Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner — two men who recognize the value of the tight end position. In two seasons, Cameron has caught just 26 passes (20 of them in 2012) with one touchdown. He’s still a far cry from being elite, something Chudzinski acknowledges, but it will be interesting to see how the staff uses him this season and beyond. Keep him on your radar as a deep sleeper.
Vick getting comfortable in offense: Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly hasn’t proffered a starting quarterback for next season, but Michael Vick has weighed in, saying “This is still my job.” While that ultimately remains to be seen, most believe that the veteran has the inside track in a system that seems expressly suited to his skills. Vick wasn’t the only player complimentary of Kelly — tight end Brent Celekregards the new coach as revolutionary. It’s all quite intriguing. New coaches often talk about creating a culture change and Kelly seems to have done that. While it doesn’t automatically lead to success, the palpable excitement around the Eagles is reason for optimism.
Jags open QB competition: The race to be the Jacksonville Jaguars’ starting quarterback is on. Chad Henne and incumbent starter Blaine Gabbertare dueling during the team’s mini-camp. Neither man was great last year — they combined for 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions — but the winner of this competition will have greater fantasy value than the loser. Just expect that value to be minimal.
Nicks recovering from knee surgery: New York Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks is recuperating from what he calls a “minor procedure” on his knee. The veteran says he hopes “to be full-go by training camp”. With Victor Cruz sitting out OTAs, Big Blue is missing two big pieces of its pass attack. It would be more of a concern if the duo wasn’t so experienced. As long as everything can be straightened out by the time training camp starts, it won’t be anything to worry about.
Brown looking for big season: New York Giants running back Andre Brown was having a nice year, averaging 5.3 yards per carry when a broken leg derailed his campaign. Now that he’s healthy, he wants to prove what he can do. What he says he can do is rush for 1,300 yards and score 22 touchdowns. Keep in mind that 22 touchdowns would tie him for the 12th best season in NFL history while Arian Foster led all players with 17 scores last season. The point is, it’s hard enough to reach 22 as a featured back. If you’re splitting time — as Brown could end up doing with David Wilson — it becomes nearly impossible. Right now, we’d expect Brown to have a good year, but is likely to end up in the 10-12 touchdown range.
Mannings wants Broncos faster: It’s no secret that Peyton Manning prefers an up-tempo offense. Last year’s Broncos averaged 68.13 plays per game — fourth most in the NFL. Manning wants to top that average this season. It’s pretty simple math … more plays means more opportunities for the offense to produce yardage and points. Even though more plays doesn’t guarantee more production, with the combination of veterans and playmakers on this Denver roster, you have to feel confident about their chances to post bigger numbers.
Jets going slow with Holmes: It appears the New York Jets aren’t going to push Santonio Holmes to get back on the field. The veteran receiver is recovering from foot surgery and it looks like he’s going to be limited in training camp. Holmes had been reduced to a waiver wire option in most leagues before the foot injury. After this, that already limited value will continue to diminish.
Hernandez to miss OTAs: The New England Patriots’ tight ends have a severe case of “can’t get right”. There have been the ongoing travails of Rob Gronkowski as he continues to recover from a broken forearm. Now Aaron Hernandez has undergone shoulder surgery. The procedure is expected to keep Hernandez out of OTAs and mini-camp, but isn’t expected to sideline him for the start of the season. However, it’s not a good sign for a player who has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career. Both Patriots tight ends have tremendous fantasy upside — but only if they can remain on the field.
Thomas expects more single coverage: There’s little doubt that Wes Welker’s move to Denver is a fantasy boon for Peyton Manning. But Demaryius Thomas is expecting good things as well. The Broncos’ No. 1 wideout believes he’ll see fewer double coverages with Welker lining up in the slot alongside himself and Eric Decker. With three quality receivers and a couple of solid tight ends in Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen, it’s sound logic. We’re all for anything that can free Thomas up for a few more looks and possibly push him into the realm of a top five fantasy wideout.
Green looking to improve: It’s hard to imagine A.J. Green seeing a major improvement from last season when he caught 97 balls for 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns. Yet heading into his third season, the Bengals receiver has been working out with Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas — not a bad pair to hang around. Green also told The Cincinnati Enquirer that he hopes to decrease his drops from 2012 (he had seven). That’s how you go from being a top three receiver to challenging for the crown. He might not overtake Megatron this season, but Green is certainly lurking around the throne.
Steelers match offer to Sanders: Ben Roethlisberger is getting his wish. The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback was reportedly lobbying the team to keep receiver Emmanuel Sanders in the Steel City. It seems to have worked. The team matched the offer sheet presented by the Patriots to keep the wideout around for at least another year. That means Roethlisberger will have at least two of his top four targets from last season. Mike Wallace bolted for Miami through free agency and a major knee injury to Heath Miller could cause him to miss the start of the season. For the moment, Sanders looks like the No. 2 option in Pittsburgh’s passing game behind Antonio Brown. It’s a big step up for a player who’s never caught more than 44 passes in a season, but he appears to be on the rise and could have value as a No. 3 fantasy option in plenty of leagues.
Cruz not at Giants OTAs: Still waiting on a new long-term contract, wide receiver Victor Cruz is a no-show for the start of the New York Giants’ voluntary workouts. The news isn’t a major surprise and it’s far too early to read into what this could mean for the start of 2013. However, it’s worth noting that there has been little movement by either side to truly launch into negotiations. Then again, now that Jay-Z is on the case on Cruz’s behalf, maybe something starts to get done. Either way, there are still several months that need to pass before any fantasy owners should start concerning themselves with the receiver’s status.
Manning says he’s improving: In 2012, Peyton Manning threw for the second-most yards, attempted the second-most passes and tossed the second-most touchdowns of his illustrious career. And he says he wasn’t at 100 percent after his multiple neck surgeries. The future Hall of Fame quarterback is learning to work around the diminished arm strength he experienced last season. It won’t hurt that his receiving corps is as deep as any he’s ever worked with. After finishing last season as the sixth-highest scoring player in all of fantasy football, it appears The Sheriff is poised to crack the top five in 2013.