The Cleveland Plain Dealer
reports running back Trent Richardson
is sitting out OTA practice Thursday with a lower leg muscle pull. At this point the injury is not believed to be serious.
The Browns can't take chances with their prized running back, particularly since he'll be featured in an offense that will lean heavily on him. Richardson established himself as one of the top young running backs in the league last season with 267 carries for 950 yards with 11 touchdowns and another 51 catches for 367 yards and a score. He should be able to better those stats this season as long as he's healthy. You're taking him with a Top 5 pick.
Welker expects catches to drop
, WR, DEN
The Denver Post
reports that new Broncos receiver Wes Welker
doesn't expect to reach his average for receptions, which was 112 over the past six seasons with the Patriots. "If I have to catch 112 balls, that probably means we're in trouble," Welker said. "(The catches) are not the goal," Welker said. "The goal is to go out there and help your team win games. However many catches that is, however many blocks that takes, however many routes I've got to run, whatever. I think we all feel the same way about that." The report says that in New England, the Patriots don't feature their outside receivers. In recent years, they have become a tight end-slot attack. Not so the Broncos. For all the questions about Peyton Manning
's arm strength last year, he threw enough outside the numbers to help Demaryius Thomas
and Eric Decker
develop into one of the NFL's top receiver tandems. "I mean, we have two really good guys. We can't ignore them," Welker said. "If one guy is catching 112 balls, the defense is focusing in on that guy. We want defenses focusing on everybody and having to worry about everybody. That was one of the main reasons I came here."
Now, before you downgrade Welker, keep in mind it's not like the plan calls for him to go from 112 catches to 50. Manning won't forget his friends, but he won't ignore the new guy, either. Welker's Fantasy value definitely takes a hit going from New England to Denver, but he remains a solid No. 2 Fantasy receiver worth a pick in Round 4 or 5 in standard leagues. In PPR formats, look for Welker to be drafted as early as Round 3 since he should still be around 85-plus catches despite the drop-off with the Broncos.
Harvin to get time at running back
, WR, SEA
The Seattle Times
reports that new Seattle receiver Percy Harvin
is already making an impact. "His talent level is unbelievable, off the charts," said quarterback Russell Wilson
. "He brings an explosive mentality to the game, which a lot of our guys already have. But to have him is truly tremendous. He's a guy that's been one of the best football players in the National Football League for the past several years." Harvin, 24, has averaged 1,800 total yards in four seasons and was on pace for 2,400 yards in 2012 which would have led the NFL before an ankle injury ended his season. In those nine games, he had 62 catches 12 more than any Seahawk for 677 yards. He also had 96 yards rushing and 574 yards on kickoff returns, including a 105-yard touchdown return. The Seahawks plan to use him similarly. He'll likely line up in the slot as his regular spot, but figures to get used outside, as well, and should see his share of handoffs and kickoff returns. "I'll be moving around pretty much all around," said Harvin. "There'll be a little bit of running back coming up. But right now, we're just trying to get the foundation set, just running the base plays, and we'll see where it goes from there."
We're excited about Harvin in Seattle because he should be able to remain highly involved on offense with better talent around him. Harvin remains a solid No. 1 Fantasy receiver, and he's worth drafting in Round 3 or 4 in the majority of leagues, especially if he continues to see time in the backfield.
Rodgers: Cobb could catch 100 passes
, WR, GB
ESPN reports that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers
has high expectations for third-year receiver Randall Cobb
this season. Last year, Cobb made an enormous jump in his second NFL season. With Greg Jennings
out with a torn abdominal muscle, Cobb played 733 snaps and caught a team-high 80 passes for 954 yards and added eight touchdowns. Rodgers thinks Cobb can do more. "I think Randall Cobb
is a guy who could be a 100-plus catch guy every year," Rodgers said.
We don't think Rodgers is far off with Cobb, who could take the next step in his career in his third season. The Packers as a team have high expectations for Cobb, and we like him as a low-end No. 1 Fantasy option. Plan on drafting Cobb in Round 4 in the majority of leagues, with his value slightly higher in PPR formats.
Cardinals running back Ryan Williams
told the Arizona Republic
that he was more concerned about his knee than his play last season, saying he played scared. Williams came back from a torn patella tendon suffered in 2011 and wasn't ready for the physical punishment that comes with playing running back. Per the story, he got nervous when then-quarterback Kevin Kolb
would call '39 toss' because it exposed his right side and his injured knee. The lack of confidence left him "pretty much scared all last year to get the ball in my hands." He added hurting his shoulder was a "blessing" because it allowed him time to get his knee feeling good. Now he says he's not scared anymore. "This is the healthiest I've felt in the past two years," Williams said. "It feels good to be able to run like myself, instinctive and not having to think about what Im doing, just going out and doing it. I've been working real hard, so things are looking good. My stars are aligned this year."
In the story coach Bruce Arians noted that Williams has his mobility back and is someone to watch when the pads come on. Williams has to fight for playing time after the Cardinals drafted Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington and signed Rashard Mendenhall. For now he's no better than a late-round flier but if he looks good in camp and runs with confidence then we could see him getting a decent amount of work.
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh indicated that Michael Crabtree
's torn right Achilles will not cost him the entire season. With surgery already done, it is believed Crabtree will return within six months. Linebacker Patrick Willis
said Crabtree went down after making a "simple, normal cut" after going in motion and before starting his route during 7 on 7 drills. "Crab is one of those tough guys. He can get hit hard, and he'll bounce right back up," Willis told the San Jose Mercury News
. "Yesterday he stayed down a little longer than normal. You say a little prayer and hope it wasn't as bad as it looked. Unfortunately it is."
Crabtree was expected to post ridiculous numbers in 2013 after becoming Colin Kaepernick's go-to receiver last year and his promise to dedicate himself to being the Niners' top receiver this year. Eventually he should return and contribute to the Niners but the earliest it seems he could be back is Week 12 at Washington. If you draft Crabtree with what would now be a late-round pick, you'd have to dedicate a bench spot to him for most of the regular season with no guarantee you'd get him in your lineup at 100 percent, if at all. We'd rather spend the same late-round pick on Anquan Boldin or maybe even A.J. Jenkins knowing both will see a lot of work in San Francisco with Crabtree sidelined.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is already fond of rookie running back Giovani Bernard
, who Cincinnati drafted out of North Carolina in the second round. Bernard displayed multiple rushing and receiving skills in college and offers promise of a new dimension for the Bengals offensive scheme. He scored 31 touchdowns in just two seasons at North Carolina and established a career record for yards-per-rush (5.9). He totaled 2,481 rushing yards and added 852 as a receiver. He averaged 107.9 rushing yards per game and 144.9 scrimmage yards per game. Bernard is expected to be a complementary back to BenJarvus Green-Ellis
. He should be a change-of-pace rusher and work on passing downs. Giovani is a dynamic guy, both running the football and catching it, said Lewis. And he was one of North Carolinas hardest-working guys on the team, so he fits the mold of guys we like not only good, but extremely hard-working.
Bernard's Fantasy value might be slightly limited this year with Green-Ellis still the starter and likely working at the goal line. But Bernard has the chance to be a solid playmaker, and he's worth drafting as a No. 3 option with a mid-round pick. In rookie-only drafts, plan on taking Bernard with a first-round selection since he could be the starter for the Bengals as early as 2014.
Backup Colts running back Delone Carter
had recent shoulder surgery and isn't practicing in team OTAs according to the Indianapolis Star
. He dealt with a thumb injury and two ankle injuries in 2012.
Carter will struggle to find meaningful playing time in 2013 aside from potentially being the goal-line back for the Colts. That makes him a candidate to tally six points per week for Fantasy owners, but that's not exactly worth counting on from week to week. Figure Carter to be a low-end option off waivers during the season when the Colts face a terrible defense (Weeks 4 and 17 against Jacksonville stand out).
Ivory locking up top spot
, RB, NYJ
The New York Post
reports that Jets running back Chris Ivory
is "sitting even prettier" in the fight to be the No. 1 running back now that newly acquired Mike Goodson
s future with the team is up in the air after his arrest last week on drugs and weapons charges. Ivorys only competition for snaps with Goodson out are Bilal Powell
and Joe McKnight
. Ivory considers himself reborn as a Jet, telling a New Orleans newspaper shortly after the trade that he was going to put up some crazy numbers in New York. Coach Rex Ryan said the best for Ivory is yet to come. Ivorys not going to shine until you put the pads on, Ryan said. Hes a physical-style back. Were really not going to see what hes all about until we start putting the ball under his arm and letting him run.
Ivory would have likely been the No. 1 running back for the Jets even if Goodson had not gotten into trouble, but this only makes his outlook better. He comes into this season as a low-end No. 2/high-end No. 3 Fantasy running back with the chance to be a Top 20 option. He's worth drafting by Round 4 or 5 in the majority of standard leagues, with his value slightly lower in PPR formats.
49ers could go back to Moss
, WR, SF
Comcast Sports Net reports that one possible free agent the 49ers could look at with Michael Crabtree
(Achilles) getting hurt is Randy Moss
, who caught 28 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns last season in San Francisco. The 49ers seemingly closed the door on Moss early in the offseason after Jim Harbaugh declared he wanted Moss back on the team in 2013. The report says Moss is enjoying spending time with his kids, said a source close to Moss. But if the 49ers wanted to talk to Moss, there's little doubt he would listen.
Moss would make sense coming back to the 49ers since he knows the team, played with Colin Kaepernick and would provide a downfield presence. That said, his best days are behind him, and his Fantasy value would be minimal coming into the year. The 49ers will likely do something to help replace Crabtree, and it could be Moss. Keep an eye on what develops, and we'll know Moss' value once he signs somewhere.