Mar
28

Andre Ellington could catch 10 passes per game

Ellington to see up to 30 touches: When the Cardinals first hired Bruce Arians as their head coach, he said he wanted one workhorse back. While that didn’t materialize in 2013, it could happen in 2014. The coach says Andre Ellington could see as many as 30 touches per game — including 10 catches each week. Any other work would be split between Stepfan Taylor and Jonathan Dwyer, but Ellington would rank as the undisputed No. 1 in the Arizona attack. The second-year back entered the offseason as a sleeper, but it could be hard to keep him a fantasy secret if Arians continues to talk him up.

Falcons going to RB rotation: It’s the way of the world today in the NFL — running backs are going to find themselves in committees. That reality has hit former bell-cow Steven Jackson. Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith admitted that the veteran runner will have to be part of a rotation if the team’s offense is going to succeed in 2014. Jackson struggled with injuries last year and had the worst statistical season of his career. The veteran will turn 31 this summer and his best days are in the rearview mirror. This news likely means more work for Jacquizz Rodgers, but in his first three seasons he hasn’t quite been the Darren Sproles-type back many believed he could be. Neither of Atlanta’s runners will rank as more than a No. 4 option in most leagues.

Giants counting on Randle: Now that Hakeem Nicks has moved on to Indianapolis, the Giants are turning toward Rueben Randle to fill the shoes of the playmaking receiver. Randle took a step forward last season as the team’s leader in receiving touchdowns (6) and looks to truly break out in his third season. In 2013, Randle saw the third most targets, but that number is likely to increase as the wideout moves up the depth chart. Fantasy owners mistrust of Eli Manning might cause Randle to linger on draft boards, but his talent should put him in the range of a low-end WR3 in many formats.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

Mar
27

Packers look for Jarrett Boykin to step up

McCarthy praises Boykin: Last season when the Packers receiving corps was hit with a rash of injuries, Jarrett Boykin stepped up. The second-year wideout averaged nearly 10 fantasy points per game over a six week stretch in the middle of the season and became a hot waiver wire option. Now with James Jones departed for Oakland, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy believes the former Virginia Tech star is ready to “step up.” Boykin certainly plays in an offense that is tailor-made to create fantasy stars at the wide receiver position. If he can prove to be a quality No. 3 option behind Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, Boykin can be a nice No. 4 option for plenty of fantasy owners this season.

Panthers Moneyballing WRs?: The Carolina Panthers lost Steve Smith and Ted Ginn from their wide receiver group this offseason, but coach Ron Rivera doesn’t seem particularly worried. Rivera intimated that his team would take a “Moneyball” approach to replacing the hole Smith leaves as the team’s No. 1 pass-catcher. That would seem to be a tall task for the combination of Jerricho Cotchery, Tiquan Underwood, Tavarres King and Marvin McNutt. It could also have a negative impact on the production of Cam Newton. With recent ankle surgery making it questionable if he’ll run nearly as much in 2014, a dearth of quality receivers could really impact a player who has been a top-five fantasy quarterback since his arrival in the league.

Steelers leaning on Wheaton: After having lost Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders in consecutive offseasons, the Steelers are in need of a rebuild within their receiving corps. As such, the team added former Saints wideout Lance Moore, but it appears that the team is also willing to place its trust in Markus Wheaton. The former Oregon State speedster caught only six passes this season, but could emerge as an option behind Moore and Antonio Brown. It would be wise not to reach too high for Wheaton in drafts, but he could have sleeper potential in 2014.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

Mar
26

Coughlin: Rashad Jennings is ‘all-purpose player’

Jennings could be three-down RB: The New York Giants hope they solved their running back issues when they signed free agent Rashad Jennings. At least that’s what head coach Tom Coughlin believes, especially when he referred to Jennings as an “all-purpose player.” With a depth chart full of question marks, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Big Blue’s new backfield acquisition get work as a three-down back in 2014. It would do a lot to bolster his budding status as a No. 2 fantasy running back.

Jones’ rehab ahead of schedule: After missing most of 2013 with an injured foot, Julio Jones is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation, according to coach Mike Smith. The dynamic receiver was on his way to an enormous season before the injury derailed both him and the Falcons’ season. With the retirement of Tony Gonzalez, Jones figures to be an even bigger part of Atlanta’s passing game in 2014 and should be a No. 1 fantasy wideout once again.

Britt, Rams talking contract: Any hope that Kenny Britt can resurrect his career could come with the St. Louis Rams. The team is reportedly interested in the underachieving receiver, who has also visited Buffalo and Washington. After making a splash in 2010, Britt has posted a combined 974 receiving yards with nine touchdowns in his next three campaigns. In fairness, an ACL tear ended his 2011 season after just three games. But he’s done nothing in the past two years to suggest he’s on the verge of returning to his early career production. If he lands with the Rams, he’ll join a receiving corps still trying to find an identity with the likes of Tavon AustinAustin Pettis and Chris Givens. It’s unlikely that Britt is going to be the missing piece of the puzzle.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

Mar
25

Michael Vick to compete for Jets starting job

Vick, Smith in QB battle: Any idea that Michael Vick was signed by the New York Jets strictly to be a backup is off the mark. Coach Rex Ryan says the veteran will compete to be the team’s starter, but added that incumbent Geno Smith “is going to be hard to beat out.” That statement might not seem so ridiculous when you look back at Smith’s final few weeks of 2013. Over his final four games, the rookie averaged better than 20 points per game which was seventh-best among fantasy quarterbacks. If Smith can build on that late-season success, and with the addition of free agent Eric Decker, it might not be a sure thing that Vick takes over the starting gig. It might also be enough to make Smith a legitimate No. 2 fantasy option.

MJD finding suitors: Maurice Jones-Drew is on the free agent market and there are plenty of teams interested in the veteran’s services. The Jets, Patriots, Dolphins and Steelers are all reportedly courting the veteran running back. While Le’Veon Bell appears to have the top spot locked down in Pittsburgh, the other three teams could present plenty of opportunity for Jones-Drew to be productive. MJD’s days as a bell-cow running back are probably finished, but there’s no reason to believe he can’t return plenty of value to fantasy owners as a flex option working in a backfield platoon.

Eagles looking at Sanchez: The Jets and Eagles could end up swapping quarterbacks. With Michael Vick now in Gotham, Philadelphia is taking a long look at recently released Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. Unlike Vick, it would be hard to imagine Sanchez pushing Nick Foles for the team’s starting job after the second-year signal-caller had such a successful 2013 season. But with few QBs able to make it through the rigors of a 16-game NFL season, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see more than one person take snaps at the position during the season.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

Mar
24

Rams showing interest in Mark Sanchez

Sanchez to St. Louis?: It hasn’t taken long for Mark Sanchez to draw interest in the open market. Rams head coach Jeff Fisher says his team has some interest in the free agent quarterback. Judging by Fisher’s comments, however, it appears that interest is as a backup option to Sam Bradford. Considering the nature of the QB position — and Bradford’s own injury history — there’s a reasonable chance that St. Louis could use an experienced reserve player. Whether that player is going to be Sanchez remains to be seen. If the former Jet doesn’t end up as a starter anywhere else in the league, he won’t find himself on many fantasy rosters either.

Jets interested in Jackson: DeSean Jackson hasn’t hit the free agent pool yet, though the Eagles are reportedly shopping the veteran receiver and could cut him if they can’t find a suitable trade offer. If the latter scenario happens, the New York Jets have expressed some interest in adding Jackson. That interest, expressed by owner Woody Johnson, was littered with qualifiers — namely about Jackson’s price tag and his compatibility in the locker room. Nonetheless, the speedster could form an intriguing pairing with newly-signed Eric Decker while re-teaming with new Jets quarterback Michael Vick. It sounds like a longshot at the moment for Jackson to land with Gang Green, but it could be a win for both sides if it comes to pass.

Steelers want RB depth: The Steelers got good production from rookie Le’Veon Bell last season. The problem is that the team has few options behind him on the depth chart. That’s an issue that head coach Mike Tomlin would like to change this season, which is why the team is looking at running backs in free agency. At the top of the list for Pittsburgh is Maurice Jones-Drew. The veteran runner was a disappointment in 2013 while trying to rebound from an injury-shortened 2012 season. If MJD were to go to the Steelers, he would be the No. 2 option to Bell but could be a quality handcuff option for fantasy owners.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

Mar
21

Matt Schaub to the Oakland Raiders offers intrigue

Schaub a fantasy black hole?: It’s official. The Houston Texans have traded quarterback Matt Schaub to the Oakland Raiders for a sixth-round pick. This move doesn’t make the Raiders offense any younger, but it does make it better — slightly. The addition of James Jones boosts the receiving corps to at least a respectable level, and there’s always the big “if” around whether Darren McFadden will ever deliver on his potential. Schaub is only two years removed from a Pro Bowl, 4,000-plus yard season, but the recent statistics aren’t terribly encouraging. Since Thanksgiving of 2012, he has a 16:20 TD-to-INT ratio with rapidly declining yards per attempt and completion percentage. At this point, circle Schaub as a low-end QB 2, but more likely a matchup-based, bye-week fill-in.

“Fitzmagic” joins the Texans: One day before they shipped Matt Schaub off to the Oakland Raiders, the Houston Texans signed a two-year deal with former Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. “Fitzmagic” could potentially assume the starting spot in Houston, as he’ll compete with Case Keenum and perhaps a rookie for the rest of the offseason. In his 10 games with significant playing time in 2013, Fitzpatrick scored at least 15 fantasy points six times, with four of those efforts crossing the 20 point mark. Even with the solid offensive talent surrounding Fitzpatrick in Houston, if he earns the starting spot he’s nothing more than a No. 2 QB option in fantasy football next season.

Panthers add another receiver: Most of the sports media has spent the past two weeks bashing the Carolina Panthers for their inability to bring in weapons for Cam Newton. Well, it looks the like Panthers have been listening … sort of. The Panthers have signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneer wideout Tiquan Underwood to a two-year deal, who is more renowned for his epic high-top fade than production on the field. Underwood will enter his sixth pro season with just six career touchdown receptions to his name. He should find his way onto a Panthers’ roster that lacks a true playmaker at wide receiver. Underwood figures to slot in as the second or third wide receiver for the Panthers behind Jerrico Cotchery, but his best fantasy value is as a potential waiver-wire target and nothing more.

– Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar

Mar
20

Ryan Mathews emerges as ‘bell cow’ back for 2014

Mathews is the ‘bell-cow’: To say San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews has had a tumultuous start to his career is an understatement for the ages. Mathews went from looking like a perennial Pro Bowler to having more broken collarbones (two) than touchdowns (one) in 2012. However, 2013 rolled around and the Fresno State product proved he had what it takes to produce in the NFL — and fantasy — by rushing for over 1,200 yards with six scores. That was good enough for a 12th place finish in fantasy scoring among running backs. This offseason, the Chargers brought in Donald Brown to create a crowded backfield with Mathews and Danny Woodhead, but Chargers general manager Tom Telesco has reassured fantasy players by stating that “Ryan is out bell cow. He’s our No. 1 back.” As reassuring as that is, the presence of Brown doesn’t bode well for Mathews if he slips up again. However, seeing as he is in a contract year and fared well last year sharing touches with Woodhead, Mathews should make for a nice mid-round pickup as a No. 2 or No. 3 rusher in fantasy next season.

The Panthers finally found a WR: Panthers fans rejoice! They have finally signed a receiver and it’s … Jerricho Cotchery? It isn’t the No. 1 receiver Cam Newton needs, but it’s at least a start. Cotchery does have 437 catches in the NFL, which is 434 more than the rest of the Panthers current wide receiver corps (per Around the League’s Kevin Patra.) Fantasy owners shouldn’t take too much stock in this signing. Cotchery is a 31-year-old journeyman receiver who will play a nice role for the Panthers in 2014. He just won’t play a nice role on any fantasy teams this fall. Don’t plan on expending a roster spot on Cotchery next fall. He’s merely a bye-week fill-in if you end up hurting at the wide receiver position.

Bye, bye, bionic leg: It’s a slower news day in the NFL and fantasy land, so I’m using this finally space to bid adieu to Rob Bironas. The bionic leg had tapered off in fantasy, finishing 17th and 18th in scoring among kickers the last two seasons, and with a sizable salary cap number, the Titans decided to part ways with the veteran kicker. This really isn’t that fantasy relevant as no one drafts kickers (or shouldn’t, at least) until the last rounds, but for those who remember the feats of kickers (if there are any of you out there besides me) we’ll always have Bironas’ ridiculous eight-field goal day as a glowing memory of his bionic leg.

– Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar

Mar
19

Trade market grows for Chris Johnson, DeSean Jackson

CJ2K gains interest: When word first leaked that the Tennessee Titans were considering trading veteran running back Chris Johnson, the market was perceived to be nonexistent due to Johnson’s high price tag of $8 million in 2014. However, after Johnson admitted he’d consider taking a pay cut, there are now teams showing real interest in trading for the veteran. Of course, along with that news is the notion that nothing is imminent. We’re still in a holding pattern here until Johnson ultimately gets traded or cut. If he lands with the right team he could slide up into a nice value pick as an RB 2.

Eagle leaving the nest: Longtime Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson enjoyed his most successful season since 2009 last year, finishing with 187.40 fantasy points — good enough for a ninth place finish. Yet, Jackson and head coach Chip Kelly apparently don’t gel which has led to the Eagles gauging interest from the rest of the league in trading for the speedy receiver. Jackson’s best fantasy value may still be in Philly, where he blew the top off defenses repeatedly in Kelly’s high-octane offense. He’ll also have Riley CooperLeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin in the fold for defenses to focus on. However, while a trade sounds doubtful, were Jackson to find his way to the Bay Area to play with Colin Kaepernick or up the East Coast to join Tom Brady, he’d have a good chance of repeating his stellar 2013 numbers as well. Keep an eye on where Jackson lands as the offseason progresses and adjust his value accordingly.

Broadway Michael?: All offseason, pundits and prognosticators have been forecasting that Michael Vick will sign with the New York Jets, yet both parties have been quiet on the topic. Until now. According to Eliot Schorr-Parks of NJ.com, Vick will be meeting with the Jets this weekend. If Vick signs with Gang Green, he’ll undoubtedly compete with Geno Smith for the starting duties. Odds are Vick would win that contest, but Smith showed flashes last season, scoring an average of 20.5 fantasy points over the final four weeks of last season while leading the team to an 8-8 record. Neither quarterback will be a week-to-week fantasy starter regardless, unless they find Eric Decker some help and boost their WR corps. Until then, consider whoever starts under center for the Jets a No. 2 quarterback at best.

– Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar

Mar
18

James Jones to the Raiders has little fantasy appeal

Britt getting second chance in D.C.?: The state of the Washington Redskins’ receiving corps was in disrepair recently, but now the unit appears to be taking shape. The team signed the capable Andre Roberts from the Arizona Cardinals, and NFL Media’s Albert Breer is reporting that Kenny Britt will be visiting with the team today. The presence of Roberts and incumbent No. 1 WR Pierre Garcon will limit Britt’s fantasy appeal if he lands in the nation’s capital, but he’ll have upside as a deeper sleeper. It wasn’t that long ago when Britt was one of the hottest wideouts in fantasy land before a combination of injuries, off-field issues and poor effort derailed a promising future. If Britt takes advantage of a second chance with a talented young signal-caller like Robert Griffin III he could be a potential waiver-wire or late-round draft steal for 2014

Trading green and gold for silver and black:  After weighing his options for the first week or so of free agency, former Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones has signed a three-year deal with the Oakland Raiders. Jones will likely sit atop the Raiders wide receiver depth chart ahead of the likes of Denarius Moore and Rod Streater. Even if that’s the case, Jones’ fantasy outlook for 2014 is that of a WR 4 or waiver-wire replacement, as the drop-off from Aaron Rodgers to whomever starts under center in Oakland will be colossal.

Back to the Pack: Free agent running back James Starks was scheduled to visit with the Pittsburgh Steelers today, but instead chose to resign with the Packers late Monday. Starks was going to serve as a backup either way, so sticking with the familiar team and a high-powered offense makes sense. Starks found a lot of success in 2013, averaging 5.5 yards per carry spelling Offensive Rookie of the Year (and fantasy stud) Eddie Lacy. As for Starks’ fantasy value, as long as Lacy is healthy Starks won’t see the volume of carries necessary to merit starting in any format. He is a possible handcuff selection for Lacy, however, as he’s proven capable of taking on the lead role when needed — he rushed for 132 yards and one touchdown in Week 2 of 2013 when Lacy went down with a concussion.

– Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar

Mar
17

Wes Welker, Peyton Manning set for Year 2

Broncos restock WR corps: John Elway has been busy this offseason. He already resigned Andre Caldwell and brought in Emmanuel Sanders, but now the Broncos fortified their WR corps even more by exercising their 2014 option on Wes Welker, keeping him in Denver for one more season. With Eric Decker departing for the New York Jets, Welker, Caldwell and Sanders are left to pick up the slack. Welker found the endzone more often in 2013 than in any other season in his career, but another double-digit TD explosion will be difficult to duplicate, even with Peyton Manning under center. Welker did miss three games last season with a concussion, and that issue could arise again given his role of roaming through the middle of defenses. That being said, Welker still has value as a low-end WR 2 in standard formats, with slightly higher value in PPR formats.

Variety of flavors available for Rice: After being cut by the Seattle Seahawks in a salary cap-saving move, Sidney Rice has a handful of new suitors lined up — including his former team. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport is reporting that the teams interested in signing the veteran receiver include the New York Jets, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks. From a fantasy perspective, the ideal situation would be for Rice to return to the Pacific Northwest, where he can stay in a familiar system and fill the void left by Golden Tate who is now a Detroit Lion. Health is still a concern for Rice, so tread carefully once he lands with a team. His value still sits at best as a low-end WR 3 option, but he’s better suited as waiver-wire commodity in 2014.

Steelers targeting Moore?: It’s a well known fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers are in need of some depth at the wide receiver position. They already lost Emmanuel Sanders to the Broncos, which has led them to schedule a visit with former New Orleans Saints pass-catcher Lance Moore. Moore was cut by the Saints earlier this offeason, despite posting over 1,000 receiving yards in 2013. Moore will be entering his 10th season in 2014, and his best days are likely behind him. Even if he lands in the Steel City, second-year speedster Markus Wheaton is the more enticing late-round fantasy option to target, as the Steelers will likely find ways to get him more involved after he recorded just six receptions in his injury-shortened rookie season.

– Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar

Mar
14

McCluster in, Johnson likely out in Tennessee

Titans eyeing McCluster as RB: The efforts of the Kansas City Chiefs to transform Dexter McCluster into a wide receiver never produced much. Now that McCluster has moved to Tennessee, coach Ken Whisenhunt would prefer to have the speedy player move back to his college position of running back. That’s a win for McCluster … and fantasy owners. The former Ole Miss star is likely to split time in the backfield with Shonn Greene, but will have some nice value as a PPR option. In his four seasons in Kansas City, McCluster averaged 43 receptions per season. That’s a respectable number for a PPR back — not so much for a receiver.

Johnson still on trade block: The man that McCluster is ostensibly replacing, Chris Johnson, is still being shopped in trade offers by the Titans. And where once Johnson said he wouldn’t take less money, he is now reportedly willing to lower his price in order to help push a deal through. As the days of the featured back continue to wane, Johnson won’t find a team willing to give him anywhere near the 317 touches he’s averaged over the past three seasons. He’s likely relegated to a platoon situation anywhere he goes and won’t rise above the level of a No. 2 fantasy back with any franchise.

Browns could lock up Hawkins: Signs are pointing toward Andrew Hawkins landing with the Cleveland Browns. Earlier in the week, the Bengals appeared ready to match the offer sheet for the slot receiver. Now that the numbers have been made public, the Bengals seem less either less interested or less capable (or a combination of both) of retaining Hawkins. The Browns could certainly use a wide receiver complement to Josh Gordon, but a player whose best season was 51 catches for 533 yards doesn’t seem like the answer. Add in the quarterback quandary in Cleveland and there won’t be much fantasy demand for Hawkins.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

Mar
13

Eagles acquire Darren Sproles in trade

Sproles headed to Philly: The speculation over where Darren Sproles will go is finished. The veteran back has been traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he should fit as a nice cog in Chip Kelly’s offensive machine. During his three seasons in New Orleans, Sproles averaged 77 catches per season, including a career-high 86 grabs in 2011. He’ll have a tough time reaching that number on a team that features LeSean McCoy along with a host of talented wideouts. But Sproles should still have value as a RB3 in PPR formats while allowing Shady to lighten his workload. But fear not, the Eagles lead back is still a high first-round pick.

Panthers release Smith: Steve Smith’s time with the Carolina Panthers is done. The team has released the 13-year veteran after failing to find a trade partner. While Smith had a number of very productive seasons with Carolina, he’s also not the receiver he once was. That’s not to say he can’t still be a quality player — both on the field and in fantasy — but his days as a No. 1 wideout are likely over, regardless of where he lands.

Texans keeping Schaub?: Most observers surmised that the Houston Texans were likely to part ways with Matt Schaub after the quarterback’s struggles in 2013. However, Texans beat writer John McClain suggests the team could hold on to the veteran signal-caller. That doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t pursue other options in the draft. Until that big part of Houston’s offense is settled for 2014, the draft values of the pieces around them (especially the receivers) will remain unstable.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

Mar
12

Rashad Jennings expected to be Giants No. 1 RB

Jennings to fill RB job: The Giants made a pair of moves designed to fill their chaotic running back rotation. First the team re-signed Peyton Hillis. Later Tuesday, Big Blue signed former Raiders running back Rashad Jennings. It won’t come as a surprise that Jennings is expected to become Tom Coughlin’s primary rushing option this season. Last season was Jennings’ best as a pro — he set career-highs in rushing yards (733) and touchdowns scored (6). Fantasy owners can expect Hillis and David Wilson, if healthy, to see some work in the backfield. But there’s little preventing Jennings from having 200 touches in a season for the first time in his career.

McCluster to fill various roles: Fantasy owners have been waiting for Dexter McCluster to break out for his entire career. His move to Tennessee isn’t likely to make him a fantasy star, but working with Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt could pay dividends for the multi-talented player. There’s an expectation that McCluster could fill a role similar to Danny Woodhead in San Diego — namely a pass-catcher who works out of the slot or the backfield. But there’s a catch, namely how McCluster will be listed. If he’s listed a running back, there’s nice PPR potential as a reserve option. If McCluster remains a receiver (as he was in Kansas City), there’s not much value there at all.

Bengals to match Hawkins offer sheet: It looks like Andrew Hawkins won’t live in Cleveland, he’ll live in Cincinnati. After the Browns signed the slot receiver to an offer sheet, the Bengals have said they will match it in order to hold on to the wideout. Injuries limited Hawkins to eight games and prevented him from approaching his breakout 2012 season, when he caught 51 passes and tallied four touchdowns. Even if he is able to stay healthy this season, Hawkins will likely find himself behind Marvin JonesGio Bernard and the twin tight ends – Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert — in the battle for targets. It will be a surprise to see Hawkins drafted in plenty of leagues.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

Mar
11

Vikings reportedly interested in Darren Sproles

Saints trying to deal Sproles: The Saints are still earnestly trying to move running back Darren Sproles. According to NFL Media insider Albert Breer, New Orleans is looking to trade the veteran. But if it doesn’t happen, Sproles is likely to be released and could end up with the Minnesota Vikings. It would be an interesting coupling — especially with new offensive coordinator Norv Turner. However, Sproles would amount to little more than a third-down back at this point in his career. Would Minnesota take Adrian Peterson off the field for third down situations? Or would Sproles line up as a slot receiver? And how much would this impact Cordarrelle Patterson’s role in the offense? If this move actually happens, it seems to create more questions than it answers.

Texans release Owen Daniels: The Houston Texans have made it official, releasing tight end Owen Daniels. It’s not a surprise considering the player’s age (he’ll turn 32 this season) and the fact that his departure will open up more than $4 million in salary cap space. For fantasy owners, it means a changing of the guard in Houston. Ryan Griffin is poised to see more opportunities in Bill O’Brien’s offense — provided the team doesn’t re-sign Garrett Grahaduring free agency.

Giants re-sign Hillis: Searching for help in their fractured backfield, the Giants re-signed veteran Peyton Hillis to a two-year contract Tuesday. The move won’t solidify anything amongst a running back group that features the inconsistent Andre Brown and David Wilson, who is returning from spinal surgery. It still seems likely that New York pursues a starting running back option in free agency. If Big Blue indeed signs a free agent option, expect him to become the team’s top fantasy RB choice.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

Mar
10

Ben Tate considers himself an ‘elite’ running back

Tate says he’s ‘elite’: It’s the offseason and free agency is approaching. That means we’ll soon be inundated with conversations about which players are considered the cream of the crop. Ben Tate is inserting himself in that discussion by describing himself as “an elite running back” to a Houston television station. The merits of his statement can be debated, but it’s hard to deny that Tate will be one of the coveted running backs once free agency officially opens. As the understudy to Arian Foster during his first three NFL seasons, Tate has done well with his numerous opportunities. He’s likely to land somewhere as a No. 1 back for the upcoming season and should earn looks from fantasy owners as a RB2 in most formats.

Texans playing QB shuffle?: As for Tate’s likely-to-be former team, there are plenty of questions swirling at the quarterback position. With the Texans holding the top spot in the draft, many wondered if the pick would be a quarterback. Last week, there was speculation that Houston was interested in veteran Matt Cassel. This week, the talk is that the Texans could pursue another of Tom Brady’s backups – Ryan Mallett. In three NFL seasons, Mallett has thrown a grand total of four passes with one completion and one interception. If he goes to Houston, he would be a fairly unknown quantity, which is likely to throw off the draft values of any of the team’s pass-catchers. Then again, there’s also the issue of releasing Matt Schaub first.

Finley hoping for clearance: Among the list of free agent tight ends, Jermichael Finley ranks as the most talented. But before Finley can continue his football career after a frightening spinal injury last season, he needs to receive a full medical clearance. The veteran was having one of his best starts to a season before the injury ended his 2013 campaign and is likely to have a number of suitors — including potentially the Packers — once he’s available. While the reports about Finley’s rehabilitation have all been positive, fantasy owners would be wise to take a cautious approach when it comes to drafting him.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

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