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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
Jerick McKinnon a clear start for once
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:45 pm ET) You may have been tempted to start Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon in Week 7 after he appeared to wrestle the starting job away from Matt Asiata in Week 6, but a bad matchup coupled with a shortage of information made it too risky to justify in most leagues. But after he once again carried the load with 19 rushes for 103 yards -- and against the Bills, no less -- the time has come to activate McKinnon in Fantasy.

And you couldn't ask for a better matchup for it. In Week 8, the Vikings visit the Buccaneers, who rank 25th against the run, allowing 128.3 yards per game. Prior to their bye in Week 7, they gave up 172 yards to the Ravens' trio of Justin Forsett, Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro in Week 6 and 124 yards to the Saints' duo of Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas in Week 5. Not exactly household names there.

McKinnon might have more potential than all of them, if only because he has the role mostly to himself. Of course, you'd like to see the Vikings put him in a position to score, but the yardage potential alone makes him worth starting in all Fantasy leagues. Keep in mind the Buccaneers have surrendered the fourth-most Fantasy points per game to running backs this season.


Denard Robinson looking more like a Week 8 sleeper
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:32 pm ET) With the news Thursday that Week 7 breakout Denard Robinson will get the bulk of the carries Week 8 against Miami even with the return of Toby Gerhart from a sprained foot, Robinson goes from a shaky start in Fantasy to at least a decent one.

Working behind the same offensive line with the same supporting cast that has reduced Toby Gerhart, Storm Johnson and Jordan Todman to a combined 2.7 yards per carry this season, Robinson had 127 yards on 22 carries in Week 7. Granted, that was with an especially favorable matchup against the Browns, who rank 32nd against the run, and this is with a not so favorable matchup against the Dolphins, who rank 10th. But still, a running back with a big workload is a valuable thing.

Before that news, Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard barely had Denard Robinson in their top 30 running backs for Week 8, but with it, he jumps to about 20th for me, ahead of Doug Martin, Tre Mason and Chris Ivory, among others.


Report: Broncos cut safety Boyett from practice squad
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:31 pm ET) The Broncos have parted ways with safety John Boyett, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Boyett was arrested for misdemeanor battery, and the team quickly decided to part ways with him after looking into the situation. Boyett was on the team's practice squad, and did not appear with the club this season.


Vikings C John Sullivan passes concussion protocol
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:28 pm ET) Vikings center John Sullivan passed the league's concussion protocol and is on track to play Week 8 against Tampa Bay, according to ESPN. Sullivan was a limited participant in practice Thursday, but coach Mike Zimmer told reporters he "did everything."

Cardinals DE Calais Campbel limited in practice Thursday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:20 pm ET) Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell practiced in a limited capacity Thursday, according to the team's official website. He has missed the last two games after suffering a Grade 2 MCL sprain against Denver in Week 5. Campbell, who practiced for the first time since the injury, told reporters earlier in the week that he's hopeful of playing Week 8 against Philadelphia.

Chiefs TE Kelce limited Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:18 pm ET) Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was limited in practice Thursday, according to ESPN.

This is the second day in a row Kelce has been limited in practice due to a rib injury. He has emerged as a solid threat in the passing game, hauling in 24 receptions and three scores.


Business as usual for Lamar Miller
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:16 pm ET) Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard both love Dolphins running back Lamar Miller at Jacksonville this week, and it makes sense. It's the Jaguars, after all. They lose all the time, often by a lopsided score, which gives opposing running backs plenty of chances to carry the ball in the second half.

Of course, the same logic applied for the Browns last week, and you see what happened with Ben Tate. He had only 36 yards on 16 carries. Granted, the Jaguars ended up winning that game, so it didn't follow the usual script. But looking back further, the Titans' Bishop Sankey had 61 yards on 18 carries in Week 6, the Steelers' Le'Veon Bell had 82 yards on 15 carries in Week 5, and the Chargers' Branden Oliver and Donald Brown combined for 42 yards on 19 carries in Week 4. Some of those performances were OK, but you have to go back to Week 2, when the Redskins' Alfred Morris ran for 85 yards and two touchdowns, to find a time when a running back really lit it up against the Jaguars. Not surprisingly, they rank a respectable 15th against the run, allowing 110.3 yards per game and just 3.8 yards per carry.

Of course, in standard 12-team leagues, you've been content with 60 yards and a touchdown from Miller, and he's probably still good for that. I just wouldn't expect more based on the matchup.


Patriots bringing back Ja'Gared Davis
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:15 pm ET) The Patriots will sign linebacker Ja'Gared Davis to the practice squad, according to NESN.

Davis cleared waivers, allowing the team to bring him back on the practice squad. He appeared in one game this season, making one tackle. 


Ryan Tannehill a Week 8 sleeper
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:03 pm ET) Owned in just 68 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is still widely available for Week 8 at Jacksonville considering his production over his last three games. Aided in part by an increased willingness to run the ball, Tannehill has averaged 24.0 Fantasy points per game during that stretch. For the season, Philip Rivers is averaging 25.0 Fantasy points per game.

Of course, Tannehill has benefited from a run of 30 or more yards each of the last two weeks, and that probably shouldn't be the expectation for him every week. But with Lamar Miller the only running game the Dolphins have, their quarterback has become more of a focal point on offense, throwing for two scores in four of six games this season.

For all their shortcomings offensively, the Jaguars have been pretty tough on defense the last three weeks, but they still rank only 30th against the pass, allowing 280.1 yards per game. Understandably, then, Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard both love Tannehill as a sleeper this week, ranking him 11th among quarterbacks, ahead of notables Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton and Nick Foles.


Bears QB Jay Cutler has no issues with Marshall's locker-room rant
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:49 pm ET) Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said he was not upset with wide receiver Brandon Marshall's postgame rant in the locker room following Sunday's loss against the Dolphins.

"He’s an emotional guy," Cutler said, per The Chicago Tribune. "Whenever he gets frustrated, he’s going to get emotional most of the time, and he’s going to speak from the heart, and he’s going to make sure everyone else around him hears him. It wasn’t anything that caught us off guard or was off-putting. It was frustration coming out and him just letting us know that it’s important to him."

Cutler added he doesn't believe Marshall crossed a line and said Marshall's actions were not directed at him.

"He didn’t come near me," Cutler said. "He didn’t say my name. I don’t think he attacked anybody personally (with) what he was saying."


 
 
 
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