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Offseason Extra: Post-draft winners and losers

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The NFL Draft changes things. Every year over 250 rookies come into the league, effectively pushing 250 veterans out of jobs. But sometimes those rookies help the veterans do their jobs better. There's no denying the effect Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris had on the Redskins last season, even if it pushed Rex Grossman to the bench and Tim Hightower to the unemployment line.

With the draft over and rookies participating in their first minicamps with their new teams, let's begin evaluating which veterans should benefit from the new blood and which veterans could suffer from it.

Winners

Chris Johnson, RB, Titans: The Titans did everything they could to eliminate excuses for why Johnson has been sub par. He complained that his offensive line didn't give him any help, so the team plucked Alabama guard Chance Warmack and Cal center Brian Schwenke in the draft after signing road grader Andy Levitre and versatile lineman Robert Turner. Warmack is expected to start right away and Schwenke might not have much competition to man the middle of the line. Johnson also opined about the play calling, so the coaches have come out and said they will be more run-heavy after rushing just 41 percent of the time last season. And while Johnson didn't say much about being used in different ways, the Titans will aim to utilize him more as a receiver and let the interior linemen clear the path for him. If Johnson's right about why he "struggled" the last two seasons (he still had 1,400 total yards in each while averaging at least 4.0 yards per carry) then there should be no issues that keep his stats limited. That includes the beginning of the season, a part of the slate that's been hard for him; he's posted one 100-yard game with no touchdowns in his last seven games in September. Matchups at Pittsburgh and at Houston to begin the year suggest some early-season trouble, but once he gets past that his schedule lightens up. It's all on Johnson this season and the improvements around him should benefit him.
Expected ADP in seasonal formats: 11-18 overall

Chris Ivory, RB, Jets: The Jets' acquisition of Ivory during the draft was enough to send his stock rising. He's going from a spot on the Saints' depth chart with little chance of landing massive playing time to headlining Gang Green's revamped backfield. New Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg spoke glowingly of Ivory, saying he'll "mix in beautifully" because of his downhill running style. It's that style that should land Ivory a number of starts and the role of running downs back, meaning he'll come off the field on most third downs. He'll also contend for goal-line carries. After watching Ivory rumble for 1,307 yards on 256 carries (a 5.1 average!) with eight touchdowns and 10 carries for 20-plus yards over three seasons, there's reason to believe he'll be in line to help Fantasy owners out this year, even though the Jets offense doesn't sport a lot of talent. If he can do what Shonn Greene has done the last two seasons -- top 1,200 total yards with at least six scores per year -- then he'll be a great value for Fantasy owners.
Expected ADP in seasonal formats: 55-65 overall

Steve Johnson, WR, Bills: I'll admit I've never been a huge fan of Johnson but sweeping changes in Buffalo make him more interesting. Let's not pretend E.J. Manuel is Andrew Luck, but there is something to be said for his 66.9 completion percentage and 8.6 yards per attempt average at Florida State. His arm, athleticism and intelligence should be enough to get him by in the Bills' new progressive offense and that will only help Johnson. Keep in mind, Stevie has posted three consecutive 75-plus-catch, 1,000-yard seasons with the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick (60.3 completion percentage, 6.8 yards per attempt over that time) under center. One might believe Manuel is an improvement over Fitzpatrick. Tack on the Bills aggressively drafting two receivers -- Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin -- with Top 100 picks to help and Johnson is suddenly surrounded by capable teammates who can make life easy for him (there's that C.J. Spiller guy, too). Owners probably won't go out of their way to draft Johnson this summer but now there's a feeling he'll at least hit the 1,000-yard mark again with his usual dose of decent touchdowns.
Expected ADP in seasonal formats: 70-80 overall

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: Many quarterbacks got help in the draft but Dalton might have gotten the most in terms of short- and long-term help. The Bengals drafted Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Giovani Bernard, both of whom offer easy short- and mid-range targets for Dalton to lean on. Despite completing a much-improved 62.3 percent of his passes last year, Dalton finished with just 3,669 yards and a 6.95 yards per attempt average. That was thanks in part to him juggling weapons in the passing game beyond A.J. Green. Not only is Mohamed Sanu expected back in time for camp and Andrew Hawkins aiming to improve in his third year, but Eifert and Bernard offer upgrades in terms of quality receivers and quantity of targets for Dalton to lean on. Because there's potential for Dalton to improve statistically he should receive plenty of attention as a second quarterback in Fantasy drafts.
Expected ADP in seasonal formats: Late-round pick

Sam Bradford, QB, Rams: You can't help but appreciate what the Rams did for their franchise quarterback in the draft, but can you apply it to Fantasy Football? For a former No. 1 overall pick, Bradford has been a bust statistically with 47 total touchdowns over 42 games and a 58.3 career completion percentage. But in the three seasons he's been under center the Rams haven't had a receiver top 700 yards or six touchdowns in a single year. With apologies to Danny Amendola, Brandon Lloyd and Brandon Gibson, the Rams haven't given Bradford anyone reliable to lean on in the passing game. That changed when they double-dipped on West Virginia wideouts in the draft, bringing in the electric Tavon Austin and the less-electric-but-still-effective Stedman Bailey. Those additions along with tight end Jared Cook coming over from the Titans give Bradford three fresh faces to mesh with. If Austin lives up to expectations he'll do the same thing for Bradford's numbers that Wes Welker did for Tom Brady, Randall Cobb did for Aaron Rodgers and Percy Harvin did for Christian Ponder. Is it enough to make Bradford a worthwhile Fantasy backup? That might depend on your league's size and roster requirements, but it's clear Bradford should have his best season yet.
Expected ADP in seasonal formats: Late-round pick

Other winners

Steven Jackson Falcons did zilch to address future of their run game, meaning they're all-in with S-Jax
Matt Schaub DeAndre Hopkins adds instant credibility to passing game
Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas No Ivory means more work for them, and Sean Payton wants to give it to them
Michael Vick O-line help in Lane Johnson, versatile weapon Zach Ertz will only help Vick's chances
Tony Romo Center Travis Frederick helps but Joseph Randle, Gavin Escobar, Terrance Williams should pad Romo's numbers
Jay Cutler Kyle Long just more O-line help for the Bears. Chicago quarterbacks were sacked 44 times last year
Alex Smith Chiefs add tackle Eric Fisher, tight end Travis Kelce and no pick spent on a quarterback. Job is Smith's
Brandon LaFell Lack of receivers drafted, lone receiver signed was Domenik Hixon. Proof Panthers will give LaFell yet another chance
Philip Rivers D.J. Fluker will help anchor the right side of line and Keenan Allen likely to contribute to some degree sooner than later
Nate Burleson The only receiver added by the Lions all offseason is sixth rounder Corey Fuller. He'll start Week 1
Davone Bess Traded to the Browns where his only competition is Greg Little and David Nelson. Another 50-catch season ahead
Santonio Holmes Jets add no help to passing game, making him the De facto No. 1. Too bad his quarterback situation is worse off than his foot

Losers

Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos: When the Broncos drafted Montee Ball in the second round the writing was on the wall right away: The 31-year-old running back with over 2,000 career carries (including the postseason), multiple knee and leg injuries and a $2.5 million salary in 2013 was on the cutting block. At the very least his playing time will be scaled back with Ball the hand-picked choice of the Broncos. John Fox's track record with rookie running backs is not good, but the Broncos couldn't possibly let Bell rot on the bench Ronnie Hillman-style after spending a top 60 pick on him. McGahee went from the running back you'd settle for to the bench guy you might draft.
Expected ADP in seasonal formats: Late-round pick

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals: Fantasy owners can't possibly feel good about drafting Green-Ellis after the Bengals picked up speedster Giovani Bernard. The Bengals liked Bernard so much they took him ahead of Montee Ball, Eddie Lacy and every single other back in the draft. That's a telling sign that they have designs specifically for him. That's going to push Green-Ellis off the field beyond obvious passing downs and potentially put his role at risk if he continues to grind out a mediocre rushing average. The Law Firm had a 3.9 clip last year but had 3.8 yards per carry or less in eight of 15 matchups. Bernard did have 10 games with at least 20 carries and 15 games with at least 20 touches over a 23-game college career in the ACC, proving he can handle a pretty hefty workload if need be. Bernard has little to lose and much to gain whereas Green-Ellis would need a full makeover of his skills to gain more work than the 278 carries and 22 catches he had last year. BJGE will be a running back you settle for this summer.
Expected ADP in seasonal formats: 70-80 overall

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Cardinals: Mendenhall will be 26 when the season begins and has topped 1,100 rushing yards twice under the guidance of current Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. But the coach double dipped on running backs in the draft, adding Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington, both capable runners with a good collegiate track record. They'll join a running back depth chart that has Mendenhall and third-year back Ryan Williams on it. That casts some doubt over Mendenhall's long-term employment in Arizona, particularly if he doesn't regain his pre-injury form this year. Mendenhall tore his ACL late in the 2011 season and played horribly in limited reps last year in Pittsburgh, so there's no promise he'll be great. He's one to watch this preseason before committing to him on Draft Day but with the rookies looming along with Williams, there might not be much room for error for Mendenhall in 2013.
Expected ADP in seasonal formats: 75-85 overall

Jermaine Gresham, TE, Bengals: With his stats improving through each of his first three years in the league, there normally would be a lot to like about Gresham. But the Bengals spent their first-round pick on Tyler Eifert, considered by many to be the best tight end in the draft. Even though the Bengals are paying lip service to Gresham by calling him the starter, the reality is that Eifert is the more appealing player in terms of both receiving and blocking skills, and it's that combination that could land him more playing time than Gresham. Save for any surprises during training camp Eifert's arrival will almost certainly cut into Gresham's targets and snaps.
Expected ADP in seasonal formats: Not drafted

Isaiah Pead, Daryl Richardson, RBs, Rams: It's rare for a player out of Vanderbilt to come in and be impactful in the NFL, but running back Zac Stacy may be that rare case. In reviewing Stacy's games it's clear he has some nice skills, including some pretty good speed and hands. Playing on a doormat SEC team he had back-to-back 1,100 rushing seasons with 10-plus touchdowns while averaging a sweet 5.7 yards per carry. He looks good, has the coaches in St. Louis excited and could trump both Pead and Richardson for the top gig with the Rams before too long. His arrival and easy path to the starting lineup pushed him into the Fantasy space while owners have begun second-guessing Pead's potential and Richardson's value. Remember, Pead was not battle tested last season and Richardson flamed out long before the end of the year.
Expected ADP in seasonal formats: 90-100 overall for Pead, not drafted for Richardson

Other losers

Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman This one is obvious with Le'Veon Bell's arrival in Pittsburgh. No one was taking Dwyer or Redman anyway
DuJuan Harris I liked Harris' work last year but probably won't see much of him with Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin in town
Roy Helu, Evan Royster Last year it was Alfred Morris, this year it's Chris Thompson and Jawan Jamison. Both might not make the final roster
Daniel Thomas The coaches drafted Mike Gillislee whereas they inherited Thomas. Big difference
Kevin Kolb E.J. Manuel should get fast-tracked to the starting lineup
Mark Sanchez Jets added Geno Smith and provided zero help at receiver. Sanchez is being set up to fail
Nate Washington Titans added youthful speedster Justin Hunter, just in time for Washington (30 when the season starts) set to earn an unguaranteed $4.2 million

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

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Player News
Bears QB Jay Cutler expected back in Chicago with new staff
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:42 am ET) Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is expected to be back in Chicago next season, likely with a new offensive staff, reports CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora on Sunday.

Cutler has accounted for 30 touchdowns and a league-high 24 turnovers for the 5-9 Bears. He has the seventh-best completion percentage (66.1) among all quarterbacks this season. He signed a seven-year, $126 million contract in January and is guaranteed to make $15.5 million next season.


Report: Falcons remain optimistic Julio Jones will play Sunday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:33 am ET) The Falcons remain optimistic that wide receiver Julio Jones will be in the starting lineup Sunday against New Orleans, despite missing another week of practice because of a hip injury, Albert Breer of the NFL Network reports.

Jones ran on Saturday and will test his injured hip hours before kickoff in order to see how it responds. According to Breer, Jones' hip is in "better shape" than last week, and if he warms up without any setbacks, he'll be cleared to play Sunday.

Jones is third among all receivers in receptions (93) and second in receiving yards (1,428) this season. Harry Douglas would get the start if Jones sits out a second straight game.

Atlanta has moved from 6-point to a 6 1/2-point underdog at New Orleans.


Reports: Colts WR T.Y. Hilton a 'long shot' to play Week 16
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:25 am ET) Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who missed a week of practice due to a nagging hamstring injury, appears to be a "long shot" to play Week 16 against the Cowboys, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Hilton will test his injured hamstring during warmups, but will only play if he's at 100 percent and "can be himself," coach Chuck Pagano told Ed Werder of ESPN.

Hilton is tied for ninth in receptions (82) and fourth in receiving yards (1,345) this season. If he's unable to play, rookie Donte Moncrief will see a slight increase in playing time.

The Colts remain a 3 1/2-point underdog at Dallas.


Report: Cowboys' DeMarco Murray to play with protective pad Sunday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:17 am ET) Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray is expected to play Sunday against the Colts, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports.

The plan is for Murray to play with a pad on his surgically-repaired hand, which he debuted during the team's final walkthru on Saturday. The Cowboys remain concerned with how his injury holds up on Sunday, and if they clinch a playoff spot in Week 16, Murray could be a candidate to sit out Week 17 in order to rest his injured hand.

Murray leads the league with 1,687 yards on 351 carries through 14 games, which is the most in franchise history. He also has 54 receptions for 395 yards.

The Cowboys remain a 3 1/2-point home favorite over Indianapolis.


49ers K Phil Dawson scores five points vs. Chargers Week 16
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:14 am ET) 49ers kicker Phil Dawson made five extra points but missed his only field-goal attempt in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Dawson didn't have much of a shot at converting his lone field-goal try, as his team tasked him with attempting to avoid overtime by nailing a 60-yard field goal at the end of regulation. He didn't come close, and the 49ers went on to lose in overtime.

Dawson has made 23 of his 29 attempts this season and is now 5 for 8 from 50 yards or more. He'll square off with the Cardinals in Week 17.


49ers WR Michael Crabtree plays sparingly vs. Chargers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:11 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree managed just one catch for five yards in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Crabtree, who was questionable to play Saturday due to a knee injury, remained on the sidelines for large portions of the game, even donning a baseball cap at one point. It appeared he was set to play only in an emergency situation. However, the receiving corps was struck by multiple injuries, leaving the team to turn to Crabtree late, and he recorded his only catch in overtime.

Crabtree will try and heal up in time to serve a larger role in his team's season finale against the Cardinals in Week 17.


49ers WR Anquan Boldin catches seven passes vs. Chargers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:08 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin recorded a team-high seven receptions on nine targets for 61 yards in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Boldin managed more than half of the team's receiving production Saturday, as the other San Francisco players combined for only 53 yards on eight receptions, though rookie Bruce Ellington did managed to catch a touchdown.

Boldin had his best performance since a nine-catch, 137-yard breakout in Week 12. He's racked up 81 receptions for 981 yards with four touchdowns going into a Week 17 matchup with the Cardinals, a team for which he played from 2003 to 2009. He'll be looking to secure his seventh career 1,000-yard performance in the season finale.


49ers WR Bruce Ellington scores twice in Week 16 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:03 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Bruce Ellington tallied three rushing attempts for 12 yards and a touchdown and added an eight-yard touchdown reception in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Ellington scored both of his touchdowns in the second quarter, first hauling in the eight-yard touchdown on a play-action pass for which he was wide open. He then added the rushing touchdown on a jet play on third-and-goal where he took the ball on the move immediately after the snap and found a crease on the right side for the score.

It wasn't all positive for the rookie, as he was ruled out in the second half with a hamstring injury. If he can heal sufficiently during the upcoming week, he'll be in line to face the Cardinals in Week 17.


49ers RB Frank Gore rumbles for 158 yards vs. Chargers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:58 am ET) 49ers running back Frank Gore racked up 26 carries for 158 rushing yards with one touchdown in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Both numbers represent season highs for Gore, who hasn't had a better rushing day since the 2009 season. He set the tone early, shaking off would-be tacklers en route to a 52-yard score less than two minutes into the game. Gore continually proved difficult to tackle, as he would have managed his third 100-yard game of the season even without the long touchdown.

Gore is now up to 962 rushing yards and four rushing scores on 230 carries. He has a reasonable shot at cracking the 1,000-yard mark in his team's Week 17 matchup with the Cardinals.


49ers QB Colin Kaepernick tallies 151 rushing yards vs. Chargers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:54 am ET) 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed 15 of his 24 pass attempts for jsut 114 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions but added 151 rushing yards on seven carries in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Kaepernick had little trouble picking up chunks of yards against a defense that seemed adverse to tackling -- the 49ers set a new team record with 355 rushing yards in the game -- but his highlight came on a 90-yard scamper where he went untouched after crossing the line of scrimmage, with the Chargers committing a penalty on the play for good measure.

The rushing touchdown was the first of the season for Kaepernick, and his 151 rushing yards marked a new regular-season high. However, he's also failed to top 175 passing yards in any of his last four games. The 49ers will look to close out the season in strong fashion when they face the Cardinals in Week 17.


 
 
 
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