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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
Cardinals' Larry Foote '50-50' on playing in 2015
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2:17 pm ET) Though Larry Foote is on the Cardinals' coaching staff at the moment, he hasn't ruled out a potential return to the team

Speaking to the team's website, Foote said he's "50-50" about playing in 2015. He talked about the factors that could play into whether or not he returns to playing. 

“Draft, what happens with (suspended linebacker) Darryl Washington, stuff like that, how my knee feels (after offseason surgery),” Foote said. “I’ll sit down with (Bruce Arians) and the next couple of months are really going to be the deciding factor.”

If Foote doesn't play, he'll be the linebackers coach for Arizona's upcoming season. He's been adjusting to the role of being a coach this offseason. 

“I am starting to like coaching,” Foote said. “It’s a little tough in the office, eating M&Ms, snacking all day, drinking coffee. I started my diet a couple days ago.”


Panthers pick up option on Luke Kuechly contract
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) What was promised by general manager Dave Gettleman is now official - the Panthers have picked up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of standout linebacker Luke Kuechly, per the team website.

The two-time Pro Bowler has led the NFL in tackles in two of his three seasons and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He has racked up 473 tackles since 2012, the most in the NFL.


Ravens TE Dennis Pitta hopeful for 2015 return
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta hopes to take the field in time for the 2015 season, but admits it's too early to determine if that goal can become a reality.

Pitta has undergone surgeries to repair a fractured and dislocated hip in each of the last two years.

"We still have some time to be able to assess where I'm at," Pitta told the Baltimore Sun. "I sure hope that I'll be on the field next year. That's my hope; that's my goal. We'll just see if I can get there."

Pitta has played in just seven games in the last two seasons combined.


Mark Sanchez: Eagles said Tim Tebow was just a camp arm
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez said he wasn't concerned that the team signed Tim Tebow, because the Eagles told him Tebow was just there to throw in camp.

"We needed another guy to throw while Sam's (Bradford) still recovering. So that's the reason (for the signing), at least as explained to me," Sanchez said, per CSN Philadelphia

The Eagles signed Tebow on Monday. He hasn't played in the NFL since getting cut by the Patriots at the end of training camp prior to the 2013 season. He spent last year as a television analyst for the SEC Network. 

Tebow and Sanchez were teammates on the Jets in 2012. Tebow's presence as a back-up created a quarterback controversy among fans and media that last ed throughout the season. 


Vikings CB Terence Newman has familiarity with Mike Zimmer
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Vikings cornerback Terence Newman won't have a steep learning curve now that he's with his new team. 

Newman played under Vikings coach Mike Zimmer when he was the defensive coordinator with the Cowboys. Drafted in 2003, Newman learned Zimmer's defense from his rookie season through 2006, before Zimmer left to take the same position with the Falcons. 

“I just know exactly what to expect from him as a coach, as well as everybody else in this locker room,” Newman told the Vikings' website. “You play your best football under him.”

In his career, Newman has recorded 741 tackles and 37 interceptions. Entering his 13th NFL year, Newman has already impressed his teammates with voluntary workouts underway. 

“I met with him and he seemed like a great guy,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. “Like he’s going to come in and teach us what we need to know about the technique of the game and about the defense because he’s been in it before, so he’s going to help us out a lot. He’s a big asset to this team and the defense.”


Chiefs pick up option on NT Dontari Poe
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Chiefs have exercised their fifth-year option on two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe, per NFL.com. He is set in Kansas City through 2016, when he will earn $6.146 million.

The 350-pound Poe has earned the money. He racked up six sacks and contributed to 46 tackles in 2014.


Lions GM Mayhew OK with James Ihedigbo skipping workouts
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Safety James Ihedigbo was the lone absence from voluntary workouts this week for the Lions. But general manager Martin Mayhew understands. After all, Ihedigbo's agent has stated that he would not work without a new contract.

"I look forward to talking with James," Mayhew told ESPN. "I understand what he's going through. I've been through that myself as a player, when I felt that a time in my career that I was underpaid and I had to deal with that.

"So I have empathy for him. I understand what he's going through and I look forward to sitting down and talking with him. I have great respect for him as a player, as a man. I've gotten to know him a little bit away from football and I understand how he feels."

Mayhew declined to discuss whether the Liins will rework Ihedigbo's contract.

The 31-year-old Ihedigbo contributed 71 tackles and two sacks with a career-high four interceptions in 2014 despite missing three games at the start of the year with a nerve injury. He earned Pro Bowl alternate status.


Eagles withdraw qualifying offer to RB Chris Polk
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Running back Chris Polk is now a free agent. 

According to the NFL transaction wire, the Eagles rescinded their $1.6 million tender they offered this past March. The Eagles placed the tender on Polk, previously a restricted free agent, before signing both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews in free agency. 

With Darren Sproles on the roster, it didn't make much sense for Polk to stay with the Eagles. 

In 2014, Polk ran for 172 yards and four touchdowns. 


RB Bobby Rainey signs qualifying offer with Buccaneers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Buccaneers have announced that running back Bobby Rainey has signed a one-year qualifying offer the team extended to him before the free agency period. He was a restricted free agent and was given an opportunity to negotiate with other teams.

Rainey will compete for playing time with Tampa Bay. He rushed for 406 yards in 2014, but faded at the end of the season with just two carries in the last six games combined.


Jaguars planning to play 2015 season without Justin Blackmon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) As far as the Jaguars are concerned, Justin Blackmon will not be lining up at receiver for them this season. 

At least that's the approach Jacksonville is taking. Blackmon has been indefinitely suspended since Nov. 1 2013 for three violations of the substance-abuse policy under the old CBA.

"Our process hasn't changed," Caldwell said, via ESPN.com. "[We] plan to go without him, but if he emerges, he emerges, and he's going to go in with those top guys and compete with those other guys. Hopefully we're able to get some news, but if not we weren't planning on [having Blackmon]. We're just going to go [without him]."

Before he can re-join the Jaguars, he'll need to file an application for reinstatement, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell making a decision within a 60-day window. The application letter would include details of the treatment he's received. 

Since being selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Blackmon has only played in 20 games. He has 1,280 yards and six touchdowns in his career. 


 
 
 
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