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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
Kickoff returns still in Percy Harvin's future
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:15 am ET) Seahawks fans have waited a long time to see Percy Harvin in a regular role in the offense, but it might not happen quite to the level they might have wanted. Harvin is "slated" to return kickoffs for the Seahawks this season according to the Seattle Times, meaning that his role might not be as full-blown offensively because he'll be working on the play before first downs as a return man. 

Harvin has a career 28.2-yard kick-return average and delivered a sweet kick-return for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLVIII last February. 


Coach says Antonio Brown is smarter and smoother
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:55 am ET) Steelers receivers coach Richard Mann told the official team website that top wideout Antonio Brown has improved this offseason to the point where he's more polished and wise to the playbook than he's ever been. 

"He doesn't really look like the same guy. He's made a transition," Mann said. "He's very confident. He's matured. He understands the concepts. He's smoother. His body language is different. He's just a different guy. He's matured a lot."

Brown caught 110 passes for 1,499 yards and eight touchdowns last season. 


Coach describes Dri Archer as 'ace in the hole'
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:50 am ET) Steelers receivers coach Richard Mann told the official team website that rookie running back Dri Archer has already made strides as a receiving threat on top of working as a change-of-pace back on handoffs. 

"We feel like he can be our ace in the hole, or the joker, since we can use him in various positions," Mann said. "We can move him around. We can utilize his running ability by lining him up as a running back, and he also has receiving skills. I think it's up to coach (Todd) Haley and the offensive staff to put him in places where he can succeed. I think he's going to be a weapon for us."

Archer tallied 10 total touchdowns and 854 total yards on less than 100 touches at Kent State last season. 


Coach describes Martavis Bryant as fast red-zone threat
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:47 am ET) Steelers receivers coach Richard Mann told the official team website that rookie wideout Martavis Bryant could contribute right away, especially when it comes to touchdowns. 

"He's a big guy, different from what we've had, as far as his length," Mann said. "We feel like we can utilize his talents in the red zone. He has a big reach. He has good speed. So we can use him in various ways, as far as cleaning things out. He's also a deep threat. He does have the speed."

Bryant played alongside Sammy Watkins at Clemson. He's 6-foot-4 and 211 pounds with "legit" 4.4 speed according to offensive coordinator Todd Haley. He could end up helping the Steelers out if he can prove worthy of playing time in training camp. 


Lance Moore can 'probably' take over for Cotchery
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:43 am ET) Steelers receivers coach Richard Mann told the official team website that he thinks ex-Saints wideout Lance Moore has a shot to fill the slot for the team, replacing Jerricho Cotchery. 

"What he can do, and from what I've seen so far, he can probably fill the void that we had after losing Jerricho Cotchery," Mann said. "We have a couple of other guys we are looking at (in that role). We might have to jerry-rig a few things to get the blocking aspect of it, but as far as the passing game, I think we are going to be fine."

Moore had caught at least six touchdowns in each of his last three seasons prior to 2013 when he scored just two. Cotchery scored 10 touchdowns last year in that role for Pittsburgh. 


Steelers working on Darrius Heyward-Bey's confidence
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:36 am ET) Steelers receivers coach Richard Mann told the official team website that he's focused on getting Darrius Heyward-Bey to feel better about his game heading into the season. Heyward-Bey has posted one decent season since being taken seventh overall by the Raiders in 2009. He's competing for playing time with the Steelers this summer. 

"What we are doing with him is just trying to get his confidence up," Mann said. "He has speed. He has talent. We'll teach him what to do, and hopefully we can put him in a position to succeed with his speed and intelligence. We will take advantage of what he does best."


From camp to the season, Chris Johnson will face limits
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:31 am ET) New Jets running back Chris Johnson will be kept on a "pitch count" in training camp because he's coming off of torn meniscus surgery. ESPN not only reported that but echoed the sentiment that the Jets will use a running back-by-committee approach even with Johnson joining the team. New York is expected to experiment with the playing time of Johnson, Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell during the preseason. 

Johnson has had at least 251 carries in each of his first six seasons with the Titans, posting over 1,000 rushing yards in all of them. He's also had at least 1,400 total yards in each of his six seasons. All of that might be in jeopardy given the Jets' plans. 


Emmanuel Sanders thinks he'll catch at least 80 passes
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:21 am ET) Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders believes that he can catch at least 80 passes thanks to the new style of offense that he's in, ESPN's John Clayton reported. 

Sanders' career high in receptions is 67, coming last year with the Steelers. They spent the first half of the season playing conservatively until they employed the no-huddle and began throwing it more. Sanders had four touchdowns in his last six games and 36 grabs in his last nine games. 


Jimmy Smith cited on misdemeanor charge
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/13/2014) Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith was cited by police Saturday night for failing to follow an officer's orders. The misdemeanor charge came after police responded to a report of a woman passed out in a restaurant bathroom in Towson.

The woman was vomiting into a bathroom sink when police arrived. Smith was with the woman and "refused to obey an officer's repeated orders to leave the bathroom," police said.

Smith became the fifth Raven to get in trouble with police this offseason.


Chris Harris targeting midway point of preseason
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Broncos cornerback Chris Harris, who's coming back from ACL surgery, told ESPN he expects to be cleared for full participation by the midway point of the preseason. Harris said the exact timetable hinges on his upcoming visit to his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews.

"I’m doing everything, there’s really nothing I can’t do right now," Harris told the network. "I still have to go see Dr. Andrews at the end of the month and get checked up and he’ll pretty much let us know the plan from there."

Harris had 65 tackles and three interceptions last year before getting hurt in the playoffs.


 
 
 
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