Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he expects Pro Bowl outside linebacker John Abraham to report to camp within five to six days, reports the Arizona Republic. Abraham was arrested last month in the Atlanta area and charged with DUI.
Given that it's his second known DUI arrest since coming into the league, Abraham could be looking at a two- to four-game suspension, the paper said. He led Arizona with 11.5 sacks last year.
Doug Marrone: C.J. Spiller 'looks more explosive' this year
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
Bills coach Doug Marrone said running back C.J. Spiller "looks more explosive than he did during the season last year." Spiller was bothered by a high ankle sprain much of last season, when he ran for 927 yards and two touchdowns.
Redskins receiver Jerry Rice tore the labrum in his left shoulder Thursday and will need surgery, coach Jay Gruden said, adding Rice likely will go on injured reserve. Rice fell on his shoulder trying to make a catch in the end zone.
The son of the Hall of Famer went undrafted out of UNLV before hooking on with the Redskins.
Five-time Pro Bowler Adrian Wilson and Danny McCray worked as the Bears' starting safeties Friday, but both positions are truly up for grabs, reports ESPN.com. Ryan Mundy, Brock Vereen and M.D. Jennings also have taken snaps with the starters.
Chris Conte (shoulder) and Craig Steltz (groin) remain on the PUP list. If Conte comes back healthy, he'll be a favorite to start at free safety, the website said.
'Pretty even workload' expected for Saints' top 3 backs
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
The Saints have at least a three-headed monster at running back, with Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson expected to receive significant snaps. Then there's pass-catching back Travaris Cadet.
ESPN's Saints reporter, Mike Triplett, expects "a pretty even workload between the Saints' top three running backs, with Thomas playing more of the nickel/third-down role now that Darren Sproles has been traded away. But it's always possible that the Saints could stick with the hot hand as the season goes along."
This week's mock draft with users was a late one Friday night, and it was a 12-team standard league. I had the No. 3 overall pick. I'm planning to do a 12-team mock draft to pick from every spot from now until the middle of August, so hopefully many of you will get a chance to draft with me.
As always, you can find the information on Twitter @jameyeisenberg. And feel free to comment on the draft and my selections below.
This was a 14-round mock draft with a lineup of QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, TE, K, DST and FLEX (RB/WR/TE) with five bench spots.
Round 1:LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte (me), Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Peyton Manning, Eddie Lacy, Jimmy Graham, Demaryius Thomas, DeMarco Murray, Le'Veon Bell, Montee Ball
My pick: Forte was a stud last year in Marc Trestman's offense and should again be awesome. I'll gladly take him at No. 3 overall after Charles and McCoy come off the board.
Round 2:Dez Bryant, Rob Gronkowski, Marshawn Lynch, Giovani Bernard, A.J. Green, Arian Foster, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, Aaron Rodgers, Alfred Morris (me), Zac Stacy, Drew Brees
My pick: Morris falling to this spot was a little surprising since I would take him early in Round 2. I was planning on a receiver here, but I won't pass on Morris, who has Top 10 potential at running back this season.
Round 3:Doug Martin, Jordy Nelson, Antonio Brown (me), Toby Gerhart, Randall Cobb, Andre Ellington, Alshon Jeffery, Pierre Garcon, C.J. Spiller, Matthew Stafford, Michael Crabtree, Julius Thomas
My pick: I went with Morris with the understanding I would be able to get one of Nelson, Brown, Jeffery or Cobb here, and I like Brown second-best of that group behind Nelson. He is a Top 8 receiver this season as the No. 1 option for the Steelers.
Round 4:Shane Vereen, Bishop Sankey, Larry Fitzgerald, Keenan Allen, Reggie Bush, Ryan Mathews, Vincent Jackson, Frank Gore, Rashad Jennings, Joique Bell (me), Andre Johnson, Cordarrelle Patterson
My pick: Just like with Morris, I went with Bell here knowing a receiver I like should be available to me in Round 5 like Johnson, Patterson, Michael Floyd or Roddy White. Bell could be the best running back for the Lions this year and is easily a No. 2 Fantasy running back with Top 20 potential. He's a great flex.
Round 5:Ray Rice, Stevan Ridley, Michael Floyd (me), Roddy White, Ben Tate, Vernon Davis, Colin Kaepernick, Victor Cruz, Golden Tate, Chris Johnson, Tom Brady, Percy Harvin
My pick: This worked out great with Floyd making it back to me. I like this team a lot with Forte, Morris and Bell at running back and Brown and Floyd at receiver. I just hope I don't screw it up from this point forward.
Round 6:Emmanuel Sanders, Torrey Smith, DeSean Jackson, Trent Richardson, Andrew Luck, Wes Welker, Steven Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Julian Edelman, Matt Ryan (me), Dennis Pitta, Jason Witten
My pick: I wasn't thrilled with the running back and receiver selection here, so I was considering Ryan or Pitta. I went with Ryan, who I consider a Top 5 quarterback now that Julio Jones and Roddy White are expected to be 100 percent.
Round 7:Mike Wallace, Pierre Thomas, Kendall Wright (me), DeAngelo Williams, Lamar Miller, Maurice Jones-Drew, Jordan Cameron, T.Y. Hilton, Robert Griffin III, Devonta Freeman, Rueben Randle, Terrance West
My pick: Wright is someone I plan to target in all leagues, and he has Top 20 potential. He was three touchdowns away from being the No. 21 receiver in standard leagues last season, and we expect an improvement this year in his third season. He's a definite high-upside No. 3 receiver and potential flex option.
Round 8:Tony Romo, Jeremy Hill, Greg Olsen, Fred Jackson, Danny Woodhead, Terrance Williams, Seahawks DST, Kyle Rudolph, Zach Ertz, Jordan Reed (me), Marques Colston, Nick Foles
My pick: When I miss on Pitta, which I did in this draft, one of my next targets at tight end is Reed. He has the chance to be special in this offense if he can stay healthy, and the Redskins clearly hope his concussion problems from last year are behind him. This should be a great value pick.
Round 9:Eric Decker, Jay Cutler, Bernard Pierce (me), Darren Sproles, Ben Roethlisberger, Sammy Watkins, Brandin Cooks, Darren McFadden, Marvin Jones, Christine Michael, Jarrett Boykin, Khiry Robinson
My pick: Pierce has a two-game audition to prove he should share touches with Ray Rice once his suspension is over. I'll take that gamble in this spot. My choice was between Pierce, Robinson and Michael, and hopefully I made the right choice.
Round 10:Cam Newton, Kenny Stills, Reggie Wayne, Charles Clay, Carlos Hyde, Eric Ebron, Mike Evans, Hakeem Nicks, Dwayne Bowe, Stepfan Taylor, Tavon Austin, Knowshon Moreno
My pick: I like taking Taylor late because he should do well working in tandem with Ellington. He could lead the Cardinals in rushing touchdowns this season and has the chance to score seven or eight times. Rashard Mendenhall had eight rushing touchdowns last year.
Round 11:Heath Miller, Doug Baldwin, Justin Hunter (me), Riley Cooper, Anquan Boldin, Martellus Bennett, Stephen Gostkowski, Danny Amendola, DeAndre Hopkins, Kelvin Benjamin, Knile Davis, Chris Ivory
My pick: Ideally, you'd like a better receiving tandem than the Titans, but I'll take a chance on Hunter this year. He should continue to develop as the No. 2 option behind Wright, and hopefully he and Jake Locker can connect often this season.
Round 12:49ers DST, Cecil Shorts, Cardinals DST, James White, Johnny Manziel, Antonio Gates, Delanie Walker, Ladarius Green, Dexter McCluster, Tre Mason (me), Philip Rivers, Harry Douglas
My pick: Kind of fluky to see Mason fall this far, but he's an easy choice at this spot. In case Stacy gets hurt, Mason could be a star.
Round 13:Panthers DST, Broncos DST, Rams DST (me), Buccaneers DST, Patriots DST, Rod Streater, Jordan Matthews, Saints DST, Chiefs DST, Brian Hartline, Bears DST, Justin Tucker
Round 14:James Jones, Matt Prater, Phil Dawson, Mason Crosby, Steven Hauschka, Packers DST, Matt Bryant, Dan Bailey, Nick Novak, Adam Vinatieri (me), Alex Henery, Shayne Graham
The Cowboys gave up 6,645 yards last year, third-most in NFL history. For this defense, that might not be rock bottom.
Since last season, Dallas cut all-time sacks leader DeMarcus Ware in a salary move, watched Jason Hatcher (11 sacks) bolt to the Redskins, and lost middle linebacker Sean Lee to a torn ACL.
Eternal optimist Stephen Jones, the team's chief operating officer, said a defensive turnaround is possible and named three critical players for 2014: rookie defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, corner Marcus Claiborne and linebacker Bruce Carter.
Well, Lawrence, the No. 34 overall pick, just fractured his foot and will be out 8-12 weeks.
Claiborne was having a good camp until twisting his knee Wednesday. His injury isn't believed to be serious, but he was held out Thursday. Claiborne was downright awful last year, grading out as Pro Football Focus' 88th-best cornerback.
Carter is extremely talented but has never lived up to expectations. Although he had 96 tackles and two sacks last year, he graded out poorly against the run and pass.
"I think he’s got a chance to turn the corner," Jones said of Carter. "He’s got all the skills. He’s got everything you want in a linebacker, size, speed, the whole thing. He’s just got to turn it loose and play with the energy and enthusiasm that Rod Marinelli demands."
Marinelli took over an impossible task. For this defense to improve substantially, defensive tackle Henry Melton (ACL) and defensive end Anthony Spencer (microfracture) must come back strong from major surgeries. It's wishful thinking -- something the Cowboys specialize in.
In Fantasy terms, Dallas is an equal opportunity defense. The Cowboys gave up the most Fantasy points to running backs (23.88 per game), the second-most to quarterbacks (24.75), the fifth-most to receivers (23.62) and the fourth-most to tight ends (9.0).
This defense is so bad, upgrade any player who gets to play Dallas in a given week. And consider the Cowboys when choosing bye-week replacements.
The Giants and Eagles get to play Dallas twice during the Fantasy season. New York plays Dallas in Weeks 7 and 12. Philly faces Dallas in Weeks 13 and 15. Sadly for Robert Griffin III and the Redskins, their second meeting with Dallas comes Week 17 when most Fantasy seasons are over.
If you draft Nick Foles as your starter, back him up with Eli Manning since the Giants play Dallas in Week 7 when Philly is off.
Of course, as Jamey Eisenberg likes to point out, the Cowboys' defense also boosts the Fantasy prospects of Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams. This team should be in a shootout every week.
When Darren Sproles was acquired by the Eagles, the immediate thought was that he'd supplant LeSean McCoy in many passing situations and be used for what he's done best over his career: catch passes and make plays. That would put a damper on McCoy's reception total, which was at 52 grabs last year (not a career-high). Sproles has averaged 77.3 catches per year over the last three seasons.
McCoy had a career-high 366 total touches in his first year with the Eagles. Should we expect McCoy to get near those numbers again in 2014?
To get a better idea on an answer, I took a peek into Kelly's past and how he typically managed his backs at Oregon. He always had at least two contributors: one stud workhorse in the run game and another who would dominate receptions.
In 2012 Kenjon Barner led the way on the ground with 21.4 carries per game but averaged just 1.5 receptions per. De'Anthony Thomas, on the other hand, picked up 7.1 carries and 3.5 catches per game.
In 2011 it was LaMichael James hogging handoffs, getting 17.6 per game with 1.2 catches on average. James actually had help in Barner, who had 10.9 carries and 1.2 catches per game on his own. Thomas was still primarily a receiver for the Ducks, grabbing 3.3 catches per game with only 3.9 carries per game.
There's no comparison to these numbers and what happened in Philly last year: McCoy had 19.6 carries per game and 3.3 catches per game while Brown finagled 4.7 carries and 0.5 catches per contest. Chris Polk had less than one carry and one catch per matchup.
So the thought here is that Kelly could aim to go back to his roots -- but not all the way back. He'd be cuckoo to not use McCoy as a receiver, though he'd be just as cuckoo to not take advantage of Sproles' skill-set. He also has to account for the loss of DeSean Jackson, and even though Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews and others (Zach Ertz!) will be asked to replace D-Jax's numbers, Sproles will help too. Eagles backs totaled 64 receptions last year. That number's going up.
Even with Kelly's comments this week, I'm anticipating a drop in receptions for McCoy, though not one on par with what Barner or James had at Oregon. I'm also expecting Sproles to fill Thomas' role almost down to the letter -- a guy who gets 3 to 4 catches per game and does a little bit on handoffs. Probably not enough to drag down McCoy's 19.6 carry average from last season, though. That's a good thing for those who take McCoy in Round 1.
Current McCoy projection: 287 carries, 1,410 yards, 10 rushing touchdowns; 34 catches, 298 yards, two touchdown catches
Current Sproles projection: 66 carries, 264 yards, one rush touchdown; 57 catches, 455 yards, three touchdown catches
Giants receiver Rueben Randle was a convenient punching bag last year. Deservedly so.
Eli Manning threw a league-high 27 interceptions, and nearly one-third of those -- eight -- came on passes intended for Randle.
Under then-offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, receivers were asked to run option routes depending on the defense. Manning and Randle apparently didn't read defenses the same way.
"At least a majority of them [were miscommunication]," Randle told The Star-Ledger. "Maybe some were not being competitive or open a lot on my part. But at least 80 percent of them are miscommunication, not being on the same page."
New OC Ben McAdoo runs a West Coast system that's simpler for receivers.
"Everything is pretty much black and white, simple. What you have is what you run," Randle said. "It just takes a lot of things off our mind and go out there and play football, just use our ability to get open. And that is what we are doing."
Coaches say Randle, entering his third year, took a more serious approach this offseason. Perhaps he's maturing. Randle left LSU after his junior year and turned 23 in May.
While Randle took a beating in the media last season -- despite the fact he led the team with six touchdowns, two more than Victor Cruz -- the last few months have done wonders for Randle's Fantasy value.
The Giants let Hakeem Nicks go in free agency. They did not draft a tight end, nor add a significant one in free agency. None of the tight ends on the roster will be a featured target.
First-round pick Odell Beckham, expected to be a big part of the offense, is falling way behind due to a hamstring injury that's bothered him since the spring. Coach Tom Coughlin is frustrated with the rookie's absence. (Randle missed Tuesday's practice with a sore hamstring of his own, but it's not believed to be serious).
Randle (6-2, 208) is the only relevant receiver above 6-feet tall. He got 80 targets last year and could easily draw 120 this season.
CBSSports.com ADP data shows Randle going 123rd overall, early in the 11th round, behind receivers like Tavon Austin, Riley Cooper, Brandin Cooks and Nicks. Randle should be taken before all those guys. He's a good bet to put up WR3 numbers, with a WR2 ceiling.
Today's rankings conundrum started during a PPR mock draft Jamey Eisenberg and I did for the purpose of our annual "Pick by Pick" series, which leads you through our thought process when we draft. Looking for a running back in Round 6, I saw Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead available for a team that needed a third running back.
I went with Ridley. Now I'm second-guessing it.
Part of me wants to trash Ridley in the projections and rankings. What's going to happen the first time he fumbles in a game? Last year he lost his grip on being the Pats' top back and had 178 carries over the season (12.7 per game) even with Shane Vereen missing a ton of time. There's no dedication to Ridley by this Pats staff and if Vereen stays healthy and rookie James White continues to amaze, Ridley could be reduced to a much smaller role.
The other part of me wants to accept Ridley a little bit. After all, he averaged a touchdown every other game last season and had 12 end-zone visits in 16 games in 2012. Plus he's still young and pretty healthy.
Woodhead is easier to trust, particularly if he continues to serve as the Chargers' Swiss-Army Knife in the pass game. He wound up with career-highs in carries (106) and catches (76), actually putting him just six touches behind Ridley. He also scored one more touchdown and totaled 199 more yards than Ridley. And guess who doesn't have fumble issues?
I expect the Chargers to keep throwing the ball around a lot, particularly because they'll have to. That's good for Woodhead. The Patriots will always be a team that runs a bunch but the strength of their offense is still with Brady. For Ridley to outperform Woodhead in a PPR league -- and maybe even in a standard league -- he'd have to not fumble and score a ton of touchdowns or Woodhead's role would have to get zapped. After signing a contract extension this month, I doubt that'll happen to Woodhead.
I made the wrong choice. Luckily, it's a mock draft no one will ever see and the column can show the change. If you're drafting in a PPR league, don't underestimate Woodhead.
Dynasty owners who nabbed 49ers rookie running back Carlos Hyde have to be feeling good. Not that anyone wants to benefit from injuries, but Hyde went from a prized dynasty league property to a hot redraft commodity in a matter of days.
First, Marcus Lattimore opened training camp on the PUP list. It's a major red flag after he was able to participate in minicamp last month. Lattimore remains inactive.
Then on Friday, No. 2 back Kendall Hunter tore his ACL. On Sunday, new No. 2 LaMichael James dislocated his elbow. He'll be out at least a month, putting his status for the opener in jeopardy.
With Anthony Dixon now in Buffalo, the only backs behind 31-year-old Frank Gore are Hyde and 2012 undrafted free agent Jewel Hampton. The 49ers genuinely like Hampton, but there's a huge talent gap between him and Hyde.
CBSSports.com's ADP shows Hyde is currently going in the 13th round. That's three rounds too low.
The 49ers drafted Hyde -- who averaged 7.3 yards per carry last year at Ohio State -- in the second round. They've been consistently impressed with him ever since, saying the violent 230-pound runner can excel as a receiver and as a pass protector too. GM Trent Baalke said Hyde already is "flashing" in camp.
Gore averaged 3.65 yards per carry over his last 10 games. He's not going to get 276 carries again, probably more like 200-220. And remember, Hunter, Dixon and James combined for 118 carries last year in San Fran's run-heavy attack. Hunter and Dixon won't be around this year, and James was out of favor even before his injury.
As things stand, Hyde is looking at eight carries and 10 touches per game. If Gore breaks down all bets are off and we are talking about a top-20 back.
Gore is currently going at the top of the fifth round. Hyde should be drafted no later than the 10th, and not just as a Gore handcuff.
This week's mock draft with users Friday was a 12-team standard league, and I had the No. 2 overall pick. I'm planning to do a 12-team mock draft to pick from every spot from now until the middle of August, so hopefully many of you will get a chance to draft with me.
As always, you can find the information on Twitter @jameyeisenberg. And feel free to comment on the draft and my selections below.
This was a 14-round mock draft with a lineup of QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, TE, K, DST and FLEX (RB/WR/TE) with five bench spots.
Round 1:Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles (me), LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Eddie Lacy, Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Jimmy Graham, Montee Ball, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Julio Jones
My pick: I like Charles at No. 1 overall, so I was happy to see him fall. I was going running back here no matter what, so this was an easy selection. I was surprised to see so many receivers go in the first round, but you can't argue with Johnson, Thomas, Bryant and Jones outside of wide receiver being a deep position, so maybe you could have waited until Round 2 to grab some of those guys.
Round 2:A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, Rob Gronkowski, Arian Foster, Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, Peyton Manning, Giovani Bernard, Jordy Nelson, Marshawn Lynch, Alfred Morris (me), Zac Stacy
My pick: I usually expect a Top 6 receiver to fall here, but clearly the early run pushed a lot of running back talent down. It's hard to expect Foster, Bell, Bernard and Morris to all be second-round picks, but I'll take Morris here since he should post quality stats in Washington's offense. He's a Top 15 running back in all standard formats.
Round 3:Toby Gerhart, Alshon Jeffery (me), Drew Brees, Doug Martin, Randall Cobb, Andre Ellington, Aaron Rodgers, Pierre Garcon, Larry Fitzgerald, C.J. Spiller, Victor Cruz, Julius Thomas
My pick: If Jeffery was gone I would have considered a few options in another running back like Martin, another receiver like Cobb or even pulling the trigger on Rodgers. But Jeffery was an easy choice since he has Top 5 potential playing in Marc Trestman's offense.
Round 4:Bishop Sankey, Vincent Jackson, Reggie Bush, Michael Crabtree, Shane Vereen, Ryan Mathews, Frank Gore, Ray Rice, Andre Johnson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Keenan Allen (me), Roddy White
My pick: The two players I was targeting as the round was underway were Allen and Patterson because I wanted a quality No. 2 receiver in this spot. I would have taken Vereen if he came back to me, but he was obviously gone. I also realized there were two running backs on the board I wanted in Round 5 in Stevan Ridley and Joique Bell, so I gambled and grabbed Allen.
Round 5:Wes Welker, Stevan Ridley (me), Michael Floyd, Matthew Stafford, Percy Harvin, Joique Bell, Torrey Smith, Steven Jackson, Trent Richardson, Emmanuel Sanders, Chris Johnson, Pierre Thomas
My pick: Not many Fantasy owners want Ridley, but in Round 5 I'll gamble that he returns to form. Clearly he has to stop fumbling, but he ran well down the stretch last year after he was demoted behind LeGarrette Blount and has Top 12 potential as we saw in 2012. He's a solid flex option in standard leagues, and he was the No. 1 running back on the board.
Round 6:Golden Tate, Rashad Jennings, DeSean Jackson, Vernon Davis, Tom Brady, Ben Tate, Jason Witten, Matt Ryan, Jeremy Maclin, Julian Edelman, Kendall Wright (me), Jordan Cameron
My pick: Wright is a strong breakout candidate in his third season, and he should be a potential Top 24 receiver in 2014 if he can find the end zone just a few more times than he did in 2013. I like coming out of Round 6 with three quality running backs and receivers and feel like I did that here with Charles, Morris, Ridley, Jeffery, Allen and Wright.
Round 7:Nick Foles, Dennis Pitta (me), Terrance West, Jordan Reed, T.Y. Hilton, Mike Wallace, Seahawks, Marques Colston, Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck, Terrance Williams, Tony Romo
My pick: I was considering Kaepernick here, but there was a lot of depth at quarterback on the board, so I decided to wait. I went with a top breakout candidate at tight end in Pitta, who has Top 5 potential this season in Gary Kubiak's offense.
Round 8:Khiry Robinson, Eric Decker, Maurice Jones-Drew, Fred Jackson, Darren McFadden, Greg Olsen, DeAngelo Williams, Devonta Freeman, Danny Woodhead, Kyle Rudolph, Christine Michael (me), Reggie Wayne
My pick: I've been down on Lynch since the Super Bowl because of his workload from 2013, and this holdout only solidifies my belief he'll be a letdown this year. If Lynch struggles, Michael will get an extended look, and I'll gladly take him as my No. 4 running back. I also considered Bernard Pierce here now that we know Ray Rice is suspended for the first two games of the season.
Round 9:Kenny Stills, Robert Griffin III (me), Jeremy Hill, Lamar Miller, Zach Ertz, Knowshon Moreno, Sammy Watkins, Brandin Cooks, Mike Evans, Bernard Pierce, Charles Clay, Rueben Randle
My pick: The reason I waited on quarterback was because Griffin and Jay Cutler were still available, and I knew the owner at the No. 1 spot already had Foles. So I went with Michael in Round 8 knowing that Griffin was mine. I'm excited for him this season now that he appears to be back at 100 percent.
Round 10:Tavon Austin, Cam Newton, Dwayne Bowe, Riley Cooper, Darren Sproles, Eric Ebron, Heath Miller, Ladarius Green, Stepfan Taylor, Doug Baldwin, Tre Mason (me), Roy Helu
My pick: Mason gives me plenty of depth at running back and a good lottery ticket in case Stacy gets hurt. We don't expect Stacy to lose his job barring something unforeseen, but Mason's value would skyrocket if Stacy were out.
Round 11:Ahmad Bradshaw, Jarrett Boykin (me), Chris Ivory, Martellus Bennett, Hakeem Nicks, Marvin Jones, Jay Cutler, Antonio Gates, Andre Brown, Philip Rivers, David Wilson, LeGarrette Blount
My pick: Boykin should do well as the No. 3 receiver for the Packers behind Nelson and Cobb. The Packers don't have a threat at tight end, and Boykin should see plenty of targets in a great passing attack. I like him as my No. 4 receiver in any format.
Round 12:Kelvin Benjamin, DeAndre Hopkins, 49ers, Justin Hunter, Ben Roethlisberger, Delanie Walker, Rod Streater, Jordan Matthews, Anquan Boldin, Rams, Knile Davis (me), Dwayne Allen
My pick: I was looking at the Rams in this round and then getting Davis later, but it didn't work out for me. I'll take Davis whenever possible if I draft Charles to cover myself in the event of injury.
Round 13:Broncos, Panthers (me), Cecil Shorts, Cardinals, Patriots, Chiefs, Brian Hartline, Bengals, Buccaneers, Carlos Hyde, Steelers, Bears
Round 14:Stephen Gostkowski, Matt Prater, Phil Dawson, Steven Hauschka, Justin Tucker, Matt Bryant, Mason Crosby, Shayne Graham, Adam Vinatieri, Dan Bailey, Nick Novak (me), Robbie Gould
Marshawn Lynch was once considered a rock-solid, sure-fire first-round Fantasy draft pick. Heck, that's what he was last year!
Boy, have things changed. Lynch is coming off of a 400-touch season that included a Super Bowl run, a double whammy of red flags that indicate he could falter. And now he's reportedly decided to hold out.
If he somehow turns 30 and adds 500 carries to his resume before the season starts he'll have hit the grand slam of running back breakdown warning signs.
Even as it stands, Lynch is a dangerous proposition for Fantasy. The longer he decides to hold out, the even more dangerous he'll be. As I mentioned in a blog I wrote about Jamaal Charles' holdout (which lasted a few hours), players who miss a large chunk of training camp and/or the preseason tend to get off to a slow start and open themselves up to having a bad season. Lynch is already coming off a year where he was overworked and has racked up 1,002 carries over the Seahawks' last three seasons. Now he's going to chill out and not show up?!
I might give Lynch the benefit of the doubt and figure that even if he were on-time for camp that the Seahawks wouldn't let him practice every day at full throttle. And I'd bet a foofy coffee drink that he wouldn't play in three of the four Seahawks preseason games anyway. And I'd bet another foofy coffee drink that when he did play in the one preseason game the team would want him in, it would be for a series or two tops. But I'd still want him to be with the team and get adjusted to football again for a couple of weeks instead of, say, showing up the week before their kickoff game vs. the Packers and saying "let's play."
So the date I'd want to see Lynch with the team is Aug. 16, a generously late deadline given how I would have wanted to see Charles back with the Chiefs nearly a week earlier. If he reports by the 16th he'd have plenty of time to gear up for a few reps against the Raiders in the Seahawks' last preseason game and he'd have nearly three weeks to get into good enough shape to take on the Packers on opening night. If I don't see Lynch by then, I'm not just sinking him in my rankings, I'm dropping him down far enough to where I won't draft him.
And I'll aim for his backup, Christine Michael, instead.
If he reports before the 16th then I'll still consider him with a late-first/early-second draft choice but I'll be forced to spend an eighth round pick on Michael. Fantasy owners can't take chances with Lynch no matter what.
There was some major (Ray Rice) and minor (Trent Richardson) running back news Thursday as training camp starts to unfold for several teams.
Here are some quick takes on a few situations with our favorite position.
Ray Rice: He was suspended for the first two games of the season as a result of a domestic dispute with his then fiancee (now wife) in April. As a result he will miss the Bengals in Week 1 and the Steelers in Week 2, giving Bernard Pierce the chance to start. I'd draft Rice in Round 5 since he could return as the featured back when the suspension ends, but I'm excited about Pierce with a pick in Round 8 or later. He gets a two-game audition to prove he can make this a tandem, and his value might be better than Rice on Draft Day.
Trent Richardson: He revealed that he played last season with a chipped collarbone and separated AC joint, which resulted in offseason surgery. He is healthy now, and coach Chuck Pagano said he looks more comfortable on the field. Pagano said he wants a "bell cow," and clearly Richardson is that guy. I'll take him in Round 4 without hesitation since he still has Top 15 potential.
Chris Ivory: He (shockingly) has a hamstring issue already, which is causing him to miss practice time. That will only allow Chris Johnson to solidify his role as the featured back. Not that Ivory has the chance to start over Johnson, but he could make this a tandem if Johnson struggles. But he needs to be on the field, and his injury history will again discourage Fantasy owners. I'd only take Ivory with a late-round pick, and the longer he's out the better that is for Johnson, who shouldn't be drafted before Round 5.
Terrance West: He was originally placed on the non-football injury list, but he was cleared for the start of training camp. The Browns have said West will battle Ben Tate for the starting job, and I like West's value in Round 8 better than Tate in Round 5. We'll see who ends up starting, but West has the higher upside coming into the season as of now.
Jonathan Stewart: Stop me if you've heard this before, but Stewart is hurt. He's expected to miss at least a week with a pulled hamstring, but don't be surprised if he's out longer. I was hoping Stewart would make it through training camp healthy and challenge DeAngelo Williams for the starting job, but Stewart can't stay on the field to make any sort of impact.
The Lions led the league with a whopping 58 drops last year. That's partly why Stafford ranked 30th in completion percentage (58.5).
Every Stafford owner remembers the Fantasy playoffs. In Week 15 against the Ravens, Calvin Johnson dropped two routine throws. On the first, a 3rd-and-15 in the first quarter, Johnson was wide open over the middle and had one defender between him and the end zone. Johnson ended up with six catches for 98 yards -- just missing the 100-yard bonus -- and no scores.
Johnson played with a mangled finger last year; he got it fixed and reportedly looks like his old self. Golden Tate's arrival is just as significant. He has some of the best hands in the NFL.
In four seasons in Seattle, Tate dropped six throws while being targeted 279 times, per Pro Football Focus.
Instead of throwing to Kris Durham (10 drops last year) and Nate Burleson (four drops on 51 targets), Stafford will be targeting the sure-handed Tate and a healthy Megatron (10 drops last year).
Butterfingers tight end Brandon Pettigrew (four drops) returns; rookie Eric Ebron also has inconsistent hands. And Stafford needs to get in better sync with his running backs. Reggie Bush had 10 drops on 76 targets last year, while Joique Bell dropped six of 64. Bush simply can't be that bad again.
Stafford eclipsed 20 Fantasy points 10 times last year despite his receivers' problems. With Tate in the fold and a little more help from his returning weapons, Stafford's arrow is pointing way up. Senior Fantasy Writer Dave Richard says Stafford should return to the monster numbers he posted in 2011 and deliver "elite" production as a Round 4 pick.
Stafford finished seventh among quarterbacks last season, 11th in 2012 and fourth in 2011 with 412 Fantasy points. Richard and Jamey Eisenberg rank Stafford fourth this year.