News: He wasn't under center or running all over the place, but the Redskins posted a picture of quarterback Robert Griffin III throwing at OTAs on Thursday. He was dropping back to pass wearing a helmet along with a brace on his right knee. NFL Network did one better, posting a video of Griffin throwing to receivers on the side. Analysis: Looks like RG3 is making progress, which is all we can hope for after suffering an ugly knee injury back in January. Training camp opens on July 25, less than seven months after he got hurt. The Redskins' first game takes place September 9, eight months and three days after he got hurt. If the Redskins approach the injury with the long-term picture in mind then they might not rush him back so soon. A Fantasy gameplan: Draft Griffin with a pick in Round 7 or 8 and pair him with Carson Palmer in the final rounds. Palmer has a great early-season schedule and the Cardinals take on the Panthers in Week 5 when the Redskins are on bye. We'll keep you posted on RG3.
News: USA Today reports that Eagles tight end James Casey will undergo arthroscopic surgery to clean out loose cartilage his right knee and will be out of action for the rest of the spring. A team spokesman said Casey should be ready to go by the start of training camp. Casey signed a three-year deal with $14.5 million as one of the first additions for the Eagles in a busy opening few days in free agency. The former Texans fullback/tight end is expected to play a key role in coach Chip Kelly's offense. Analysis: Casey had career-highs with 34 receptions, 330 yards and three touchdowns last year, numbers that could spike with the Eagles because of the expected design of the offense and the up-tempo style that will result in more snaps. Like any player getting used to Kelly's offense, Casey would surely benefit from more reps through the rest of organized team activities and minicamp, so being sidelined for the next month isn't ideal. Still, if all goes as well as planned, Casey should get plenty of time on the field in July and August as long as he's healthy. He's not worth drafting in most leagues, but Casey is someone to monitor as a potential waiver wire addition if he's fine as expected following this procedure.
News: In an exclusive Q&A with CBSSports.com NFL Columnist Pete Prisco, Peyton Manning admitted to being nervous about his arm as far back as June 2011 when he had a hard time throwing at all, then again last season when he forced some things in a road game at Atlanta. But a year removed from rehabbing his arm, Manning sounds confident in his skills. "I feel much more comfortable than I was last year. I am stronger than I was last year. I am throwing the ball better now in May of 2013 than I did in May of 2012 -- significantly better," he said. "I got better throughout the season. I am not doing the monthly update reports anymore. I am past that." Analysis: The Broncos will attempt to move into a more up-tempo approach this season and added Wes Welker to an already stacked receiving corps. Manning should be in for a very good season, perhaps even better than the one he had last year. Manning is a candidate for 300 yards and at least two scores every week. He should be considered an elite passer worth a pick between the middle of Round 2 and the end of Round 3, depending on your league's size and scoring system.
News: 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. Analysis: 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.
News: 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." Analysis: 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.
News: 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." Analysis: 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.
News: 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. Analysis: 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.
News: 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." Analysis: 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.
News: 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." Analysis: 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.
News: Heath Miller told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review he wasn't sure when he'd be able to play again. Miller tore his ACL last December. It's too far away to speculate, Miller said. "One thing I've learned with this thing, it's a long process, (it's) still going to be a long process. You don't know how your body is going to react moving forward with this stuff. It's too early to tell." Analysis: Miller has been running and lifting weights but is still working on regaining strength and confidence in his knee, particularly when he's on grass. He's not ruling out a return for Week 1 but seems far from being ready to help Fantasy owners out on a regular basis. If Miller is ready to roll without limitations by late August then he's worth a mid- to late-round pick. But if he's not then he's a late-round pickup as a guy to rest on your bench for the first few weeks of the season.