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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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Seahawks NT Brandon Mebane expected to be full go by April
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:15 pm ET) Seahawks starting nose tackle Brandon Mebane said the surgery to fix his torn hamstring went well, and he should be full go by April, reports the Seattle Times. Mebane's season was cut short after nine games. He finished with 20 tackles and a sack.

DT Kevin Williams could retire if Seahawks win
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:03 pm ET) Seahawks defensive tackle Kevin Williams did not rule out retiring if his team beats the Patriots in Super Bowl 49, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Williams, 34, is a six-time Pro Bowler and five-time First-Team All-Pro.

He played in every game this season, recording 22 tackles, three sacks and two pass breakups.


Bills' Roman: EJ Manuel getting clean slate with new coaching staff
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:41 pm ET) Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Tuesday during his introductory press conference quarterback EJ Manuel will get a fresh start with the new coaching staff, per WGR 550. Manuel was benched in favor of veteran Kyle Orton in 2014. Orton has since retired.

"I'm not going to get into specifics. but I definitely think he's done some very good things and displayed some good traits," Roman said. "We just have to get his level of consistency a little bit greater. Really, he and everybody else, once we get thru this evaluation process, we're going to have a very clean slate, once we get going because what they might have been asked to do or done in the past is really not relevant to what we may or may not ask them to do. So to sit here and pontificate about this that and the other, is a little premature."

Manuel is 6-8 as a starter over two NFL seasons. The 2013 first-round pick has a career 58.6 completion rate. He has passed for 2,810 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 15 games (14 starts).


Bryan Stork not a lock to play in Super Bowl
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:37 pm ET) Patriots rookie center Bryan Stork said he's working with the training staff in hopes of playing in Super Bowl 49, reports ESPN.com. Stork, who nursing a knee injury, has been limited in practice.

"Nobody's working harder than Bryan to play," coach Bill Belichick said.

Stork started 11 regular-season games but missed the AFC title game after getting hurt in the divisional playoff win over Baltimore. Ryan Wendell replaced Stork and played well in the 45-7 victory over the Colts.


Colts can void RB Trent Richardson's contract
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:27 pm ET) The Colts can void running back Trent Richardson's $3.1 million guaranteed salary for 2015 because he was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, reports CBS Sports' Joel Corry, a former agent who's an expert on player contracts.

Richardson, who missed a walkthrough before the AFC title game, received a two-game suspension from the team, general manager Ryan Grigson confirmed. If Indy chooses to keep Richardson, he'd serve the second game of the suspension next season.

ESPN.com expects the Colts to exercise their option to void Richardson's contract, and the players' union to challenge that move.


Panthers LB Thomas Davis says he's not close to retirement
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:17 pm ET) Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, who turns 32 in March, is not contemplating retirement any time soon, reports ESPN.com.

“I lost two and a half years to injuries, but I also feel I gained two and a half years," said Davis, who underwent two reconstructive ACL surgeries on the same knee. "This was my 10th year and I’m going on year 11, and I still feel I have a lot of football left in me.’’

Davis has one year left on his contract, and he hopes to sign one more contract after that. Davis made 100 tackles this season after recording a team-high 123 in 2013.


Union challenges Goodell on Adrian Peterson's counseling requirement
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:16 pm ET) The NFL Players Association filed a legal brief saying Commissioner Roger Goodell's requirement that Adrian Peterson attend counseling was unlawful, reports ESPN.com. The union claims Goodell's disciplinary powers don't extend past suspensions, fines and contract terminations to counseling, the report said.

In November, Goodell suspended Peterson without pay for the rest of the season and said the Vikings running back cannot be reinstated until at least April 15. The move came after Peterson pleaded no contest to recklessly injuring his 4-year-old son last May.

In his letter to Peterson, Goodell set several requirements for reinstatement, including counseling.

"In order to assess your progress going forward, I will establish periodic reviews, the first of which will be on or about April 15, 2015," the commisssioner wrote. "At that time, I will meet with you and your representatives and the NFLPA to review the extent to which you have complied with your program of counseling and therapy and both made and lived up to an affirmative commitment to change such that this conduct will not occur again. A failure to cooperate and follow your plan will result in a lengthier suspension without pay."


Bucs QB Mike Glennon on the move?
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(11:03 am ET) With the Buccaneers holding the No. 1 overall draft pick, the team has its choice of quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. The Tampa Tribune says "some around the league" believe other teams will try to trade for quarterback Mike Glennon, and that Glennon could net the Bucs a fourth- or fifth-round pick.

Glennon played in six games this season, throwing for 1,417 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions. The team's refusal to play Glennon "even after their slim playoff hopes faded" has many observers believing the Bucs are ready to move on from him, the paper said.


Lions see plenty of upside in WR Corey Fuller
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(10:38 am ET) The Lions are looking for a solid No. 3 receiver to supplement Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, and converted track star Corey Fuller could be the guy, reports the team's website. Fuller was Johnson's backup in 2014 and played in some multi-receiver sets, catching 14 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown.

“I think I had a big improvement coming in from last year to this year,” said Fuller, a sixth-round pick in the 2013 draft. “If I just keep on progressing, who knows where I can go.”

Fuller, who brings a unique combination of speed and strength, said his main focus this offseason is improving his route running.

“The whole (route) tree,” he said. “Being able to expand the routes they throw me.”


Steelers not expected to re-sign Ike Taylor
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(9:55 am ET) The Steelers likely won't re-sign impending free agent cornerback Ike Taylor, reports ESPN.com. Taylor, 34, dealt with multiple injuries this season and finished with 16 tackles in five games.

Taylor has spent his entire 12-year career with Pittsburgh. He said this month he's OK with 2014 being his last season.


 
 
 
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