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Offseason Extra: Catching up with Anquan Boldin

Senior Fantasy Writer
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PAHOKEE, Fla. – Anquan Boldin is one of the most generous players you'll find in the NFL. Every year he hosts a charity event for his foundation to benefit underprivileged children in his hometown, which is a small city near West Palm Beach.

This was the ninth year of Boldin's "Q-Fest," and the guest list, as always, was filled with past and present NFL greats, including Eric Dickerson, Torry Holt, Roddy White, Torrey Smith and Brian Hartline. We were there as well to gain insight on these prominent players and more, which hopefully will help you prepare for the upcoming season.

As for the turnout from his peers and people making donations, Boldin was impressed.

"It's for a great cause," Boldin said. "We're helping to better people's lives, so that's what it's all about. I think I've been put in this position for that reason to help others. Anyone that knows my story knows I come from not so lavish backgrounds. I find it important to come back home and give back where you started."

Boldin excited for move to 49ers

Boldin was traded from the Ravens to the 49ers this offseason, and he's excited about the move. Even though it's hard to leave a team where he just won a Super Bowl, he's ready for the next chapter in his career.

"I embrace change," Boldin said. "For me, I think it's a great opportunity. I feel like the job that I was brought to Baltimore to do, I accomplished that. I feel good in that aspect. It's on to another challenge in life."

He's also excited about working with Colin Kaepernick. Boldin saw up close how good Kaepernick can be since the Ravens beat the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.

"You look at Kaepernick, the sky's the limit for him," Boldin said. "He's a very talented quarterback. I hope we all can get better."

He said he's never played with a quarterback as athletic as Kaepernick.

"I think the thing that gets overlooked with him is that he's a quarterback," Boldin added. "People look at his athletic ability, but they underestimate how strong of an arm that he has and how intelligent that he is as a quarterback. That's what I'm excited about."

Boldin said there will be "an adjustment period" in getting used to Kaepernick, but he's been through a lot of quarterback changes in his career, including the transition from Kurt Warner in Arizona to Joe Flacco in Baltimore. We like this move for Boldin, but he remains just a reserve Fantasy option this season worth a late-round pick. In three seasons with the Ravens, Boldin averaged 62 catches for 882 yards per year with 14 total touchdowns (four in 2012). He went on a tear in the 2012 postseason, ripping opponents (including the 49ers) for four more scores over 22 catches for 380 yards. He could improve to a No. 3 option as the year goes on, but Boldin is a steady option to have on your bench with upside.

Dickerson glad Peterson fell short

Dickerson said he "watched a little bit" last season as Vikings running back Adrian Peterson came within 9 yards of his single-season rushing record set in 1984.

"When he got so close, I had to watch some of it," Dickerson said. "But it was good. It's always good when somebody gets close but not break. I asked him, 'You want that record don't you?' He said, 'You know I want it.' But it was good for the league, it was good for me, it was good for him. He's a great player, a great guy and I hope he gets close again -- without breaking it."

Dickerson said Peterson could again challenge for the record this season, but it will be tough.

"Now that he got so close, the defense is going to really be after him," Dickerson said. "They're going to really scheme for him."

Peterson was amazing in 2012. He racked up 2,097 rushing yards this season and rushed for 12 touchdowns while hauling in another through the air. He will enter this year as the No. 1 Fantasy running back and likely No. 1 overall pick in all leagues. But he could have some struggles since every running back who rushed for 2,000 yards in NFL history -- there are five others besides Dickerson and Peterson (Jamal Lewis, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, Chris Johnson and O.J. Simpson) -- has seen a decline in production the following year. Still, Peterson has proved everyone wrong before, and he should still produce at a high level.

Smith ready for No. 1 role

Boldin said that his former teammate -- Torrey Smith -- is ready to step into the role as the No. 1 option in the passing game for the Ravens in his third year.

"Definitely," Boldin said. "He hasn't shied away from the moment. ... I think he's ready to step into that role."

Smith agrees with Boldin.

"I don't view it any differently. My job is the same," Smith said. "It's not like I'm going to move in the slot where (Boldin) was doing most of the work. My responsibilities are still going to be the same on the outside. I'm just going out to go out there and be the best player I can be. I have higher goals for myself than anyone else. I'm excited about it. It's a new challenge. Hopefully I'll use what I've learned over these past two years and show everyone else that I can handle the load."

Smith also said he buys into the third-year receiver theory. And he said his goals this season are 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. We like Smith a lot heading into his third year, and he presents a ton of upside as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver with a mid-round pick. If Smith picks up the slack with Boldin gone and matures in his third year, this could be a breakout campaign.

White excited for Jackson and Jones

White said he's excited for the addition of new running back Steven Jackson, who signed with the Falcons this offseason as a free agent from the Rams.

"I'm always happy when you get better players," White said. "He's a Pro Bowl running back. He can do it all -- run, catch, whatever. It's going to make the play calling much easier."

White said having Jackson on the field in place of Michael Turner will help the offense as a whole.

"That's the best thing about Steven," White said. "The play calling changes because you don't know if it's a run or pass. It's going to make our offense harder for defensive coordinators to catch on. It's a whole different thing, and we'll be good."

Falcons coach Mike Smith expressed the same optimism about Jackson with his improvement in the passing game. Jackson was limited to 38 catches in 2012, which was his lowest reception total since 2007, but he has at least 45 catches in three years in his career.

With the Falcons, Jackson should be involved in the passing game, and bringing that aspect back into his game should only enhance his Fantasy value. We consider Jackson a No. 2 Fantasy running back this year, and he's worth drafting as early as Round 2 in the majority of leagues.

White also expects a big year for fellow receiver Julio Jones this season, which is his third year in the NFL.

"I just want him to be the best player he can be for as long as possible. That's my goal for him," White said. "What he's done so far, we expected him to do that. When you draft a guy that high and he's 6-3 and runs a 4.3 (40-yard dash) and is 225 pounds, you have to go out there and dominate. We want him to dominate. Every week I tell him that's not enough. Whatever he does, I tell him it's not enough. You can do more. As long as we can keep him like that and keep him hungry, we'll be fine."

Jones is coming off a breakout campaign in 2012 when he had 79 catches for 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns, but this is a big year for him in his third season. Jones could really take a nice jump in production. He's worth drafting as a Top 5 receiver in all leagues, and we expect him to be selected toward the end of Round 2 or beginning of Round 3 in all formats.

Hartline says Tannehill has tools to shine

The Dolphins have given second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill new weapons in Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller and brought back Hartline as a free agent. Hartline said Tannehill is poised to improve this season.

"In this day and age, teams are typically defined by your quarterback," Hartline said. "His ceiling is as high as it can be. He's taken the right steps this offseason through leadership and working with guys and getting better. As long as he continues that and continues what he's doing I don't have any hesitation with how good he's going to be. Again the proof is in the pudding, but he's a great guy and he wants to be great. That's all you can ask for."

Tannehill has the chance for a breakout year with the additions the Dolphins made this offseason. Wallace gives him a No. 1 receiver with speed, and Gibson, Hartline and Davone Bess are solid complementary options. Keller is also an upgrade at tight end, and the Dolphins have said they want to use Tannehill more in read-option formations. Tannehill might not get drafted in most standard leagues, but he's someone to monitor as the season goes on. Put him on your radar as a sleeper for 2013.

As for Hartline, he just hopes to build on his breakout season from last year. He is expected to start opposite Wallace as the No. 2 receiver for the Dolphins.

"I'm just going to keep playing the way I play," Hartline said. "The coaches will put me in position to make plays. As long as we're winning football games, that's all that matters. Hopefully I'll get some opportunities. And when the opportunities come I'll make some plays."

Hartline had 74 catches for 1,083 yards and one touchdown last year, with the catches and yards both career highs. We'd like to see Hartline score more, but he does have the chance to play at a high level this season. Consider him a solid reserve receiver worth a late-round pick.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Patriots' Devin McCourty: There's a 'chance that I might not be back'
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) With the Patriots deciding to use their franchise tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski, safety Devin McCourty knows his time in New England could be coming to an end. 

In an interview with ESPN's Josina Anderson, McCourty said he didn't have much information on what the Patriots would do and was going off of various media reports that came down to the organization deciding whether to franchise him or Gostkowski. 

Now that Gostkowski is ineligible from hitting the free agent market, McCourty will test the waters beginning on March 10. 

"I guess it's more realistic now that [there's] a chance that I might not be back there," McCourty said. "Or there's still a chance that I will, but I guess [there's] more of a chance now with the franchise tag going to Steve that I could be playing in a different place. Still, keeping an open mind and trying to enjoy the process."

In 2014, McCourty recorded 68 tackles and two interceptions. 


Report: Texans' Andre Johnson given permission to seek trade
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) Wide receiver Andre Johnson has been given permission by the Texans to seek a trade, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle

The Texans told Johnson that he'd have a reduced role this upcoming season opposite of DeAndre Hopkins. Therefore, Johnson wanted out of his deal. If a trade cannot be made with a suitor, Johnson will be released

Johnson was the third overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft and is the greatest player in the history of the Texans. He's recorded 1,012 catches, 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns in his career.

A trade could be difficult, however, based on Johnson's upcoming $16.1 million cap figure and $10.5 million base salary for the 2015 season. 


Colts RB Vick Ballard (Achilles) 'on schedule' with recovery
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) Running back Vick Ballard is poised to be back in the Colts' plans for the 2015 season. 

Ballard, who has missed almost all of the previous two seasons due to injuries, hasn't suffered any setbacks with his recovery, according to the Colts' official website. Ballard tore his ACL in 2013 and suffered an Achilles tear before the 2014 season. 

“Vick’s doing well. He’s going through rehab right now. He’s on schedule,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "He’s been working his tail. When the doctors say he’s 100 percent and ready to roll, then we’ll get him back on the field.”

Ballard led the Colts in rushing as a rookie in 2012 with 814 yards and two touchdowns. He only played in one game in 2013 before tearing his ACL in a practice the following week. His Achilles tear came during the 2014 preseason. 


Report: Jaguars looking for help at RB this offseason
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) It appears Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart will have new role in 2015. 

According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, the Jaguars are planning to move Gerhart around on offense at H-back in addition to running back. This also means the Jaguars will be in the market for additional help at running back. 

Gerhart was plagued by injuries in 2014, which paved the way for Denard Robinson to assert himself as a potential starting running back down the road. Robinson, however, is injury prone himself, which goes back to his days as a standout quarterback in college at Michigan.

Robinson's 2014 season ended on injured reserve with a mid-foot sprain.

Gerhart's season ended with just 326 yards and a patry 3.2 yards per carry average. Robinson emerged late in the year and ran for 582 yards and held a 4.3 yards per carry average.  


Report: Titans parting ways with safety Bernard Pollard
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Titans will release veteran safety Bernard Pollard, according to a report from The Tennessean

Pollard had previously requested for the Titans to release him. He's coming off a season that ended prematurely due to an Achilles tear in early October. He was slated to earn $3.5 million with the Titans this year if he stayed on. 

In the five games he appeared in during the 2014 season, Pollard recorded 27 tackles and one sack. 


Report: Browns looking to add another quarterback
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Browns are not done just yet in their search for quarterback talent, according to ESPN.com. Cleveland is reportedly looking to add at least one more quarterback through the draft or free agency.

The Browns made their signing of Josh McCown to a three-year deal official last week, but appear to want another to go along with him and Johnny Manziel.


Report: Redskins will pursue Ndamukong Suh as free agent
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) After the Lions chose not to use the franchise tag to retain DE Ndamukong Suh, it became more likely that he'll become an unrestricted free agent on March 10. 

When Suh hits the market, the Redskins will be interested in signing him, reported Dianna Marie Russini of DC's NBC 4, citing sources within the organization. 


Browns don't use franchise tag on Jordan Cameron
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Browns won't use their franchise tag on any player, meaning that TE Jordan Cameron will become a free agent on March 10. 

Cameron had 24 catches for 424 yards and two touchdowns last season, at a salary of $1.431 million.


No franchise tag for Broncos' Julius Thomas
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Broncos will not use their franchise tag on TE Julius Thomas. The team instead tagged WR Demaryius Thomas. 

Julius Thomas will be able to become a free agent on March 10. He had 43 catches for 489 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. Thomas made $645,000 salary last year. 


Report: Bills do not apply franchise tag to linebacker Jerry Hughes
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Bills reportedly chose not to apply their franchise tag to linebacker Jerry Hughes Monday, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

Buffalo has been working on signing Hughes to a new, long term deal for the past month. The veteran linebacker racked up 10 sacks and totaled 54 tackles in all 16 games in 2014 for the Bills. 


 
 
 
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