Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who reportedly was planning a contract holdout, struck a deal with the team and is headed to training camp, according to NFL Network. Charles amassed more than 1,900 total yards last year with 19 touchdowns.
Charles supposedly was unhappy with his contract, which paid him $9 million less than Adrian Peterson.
The Chargers waived linebacker Jonas Mouton (knee) with a failed physical designation and put offensive tackle Jeromey Clary (hip) on the PUP list to start training camp, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Seahawks receiver Sidney Rice announced his retirement from the NFL at age 27. Rice did not give a reason in his official statement, but Pro Football Talk reported the decision stemmed from a history of concussions.
Rice also had ACL surgery last October. In seven seasons with the Vikings and Seahawks, Rice caught 30 touchdown passes. His best season came in 2009 when he caught 83 passes for 1,312 yards and eight scores with Minnesota.
Rice said he plans to go into business. "I'll be joining the 12s in support of the Seattle Seahawks as they take on the challenge to repeat," he said. "I appreciate all of the wonderful opportunities and look forward to establishing myself as a businessman. I will always be a Seahawk!"
Bears Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long has a viral infection and won't be on the field when training camp opens Friday, reports the Chicago Tribune. Long has lost some strength and will be reevaluated next week, the report said.
Seahawks receiver Sidney Rice is retiring due to a history of concussions, reports Pro Football Talk. He caught 243 passes for 3,592 yards and 30 touchdowns in seven seasons with Minnesota and Seattle.
The Cardinals placed safety Tyrann Mathieu and nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu on the PUP list with knee injuries and released receiver Kelsey Pope. Arizona anticipates Mathieu and Ta'amu returning for its Week 5 game at Denver.
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.
The news of Jamaal Charles holding out is troubling because I fully support him as the No. 1 overall player in all leagues. He's the top running back coming into the season, but the longer he's out the worse it will be.
Prior to the holdout, some Fantasy owners were concerned about Charles losing three offensive linemen from last year with Branden Albert, Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah leaving as free agents. But coach Andy Reid has a strong track record with running backs, and Charles is an elite talent who can do it all as a running back and receiver out of the backfield.
He was the No. 1 running back last year with 259 carries for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns and 70 catches for 693 yards and seven touchdowns. The rushing touchdowns, catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns were all career highs.
Reid, going back to his days with the Eagles, now has coached a running back to seven 1,000-yard rushing seasons, eight 1,500-total yard seasons, 10 seasons with at least 50 catches and six seasons with at least 10 total touchdowns. Charles, hopefully, will make those numbers rise in 2014.
But the longer Charles is out during training camp, the less likely it is he'll stay at No. 1 in my rankings. I'd have no hesitation moving LeSean McCoy up to the top spot.
McCoy was a step behind Charles last year as the No. 2 Fantasy running back when he led the NFL in rushing with 314 carries for 1,607 yards and nine touchdowns and 52 catches for 539 yards and two touchdowns. He also led the NFL in carries, and he should again be around 300-plus carries in Chip Kelly's offense.
Sure, McCoy will lose catches with the addition of Darren Sproles, but McCoy still has has at least 52 catches in three of the past four years, with 500-plus receiving yards in two of those campaigns. He's a candidate for 2,000 total yards, and he's No. 2 behind Charles right now coming into the season.
Some Fantasy owners might argue Matt Forte or Adrian Peterson should be No. 1 if Charles is out, but it's only McCoy for me. Now, if Charles is a holdout and McCoy were to get injured ... let's just hope all is well with the top two picks.
Holdouts and Fantasy Football go together like sweet-smelling roses and monster trucks -- they don't.
Jamaal Charles is reportedly planning to hold out of training camp until he lands a contract in line with what his numbers have been. While it's certainly understandable that Charles wants to be paid more than guys he's outperformed like Reggie Bush and Ray Rice, it's frustrating that he didn't make his intentions known long before camp. Had he, the Chiefs might have offered him a new deal to his liking and we wouldn't be in this mess.
Here's why it's a problem: Though I don't have the exact research to back this up right now, the majority of players who hold out of training camp tend to struggle in the ensuing season. Guys like Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson, Vincent Jackson and even Larry Johnson with the Chiefs held out of camp (and much of the season in Jackson's case) and then returned only to produce weaker-than-expected stats. Emmitt Smith is pretty much the only player who held out and then played to expectations.
Bottom line: Players need their time to get ready for the season, and when they don't have it they'll be unprepared and it could lead to injury or shoddy play. That's the concern with Charles at this point.
So how much time does Charles realistically need to get his body and mind aligned and in game mode? Only he could tell you, but we'd guess he'd need a month before Week 1. That would mean him reporting by Aug. 7, the day of the team's first preseason game against the Bengals. If he's not back by a few days after that game -- call it Aug. 10 -- we'll start to get nervous about his chances to repeat as an elite Fantasy running back.
In the interim, anyone who takes Charles with a top pick has to make room on the roster for his backup, Knile Davis. If Charles takes his holdout seriously, this speedster has a real chance to be a difference maker in Fantasy. Davis suddenly shapes up as a Round 10 option rather than the 12th-round price tag I gave him in my recent running back tiers & strategies story.
In the Rashad Jennings debate that's raged throughout the spring and summer -- is he a low-end RB2 or a flex? -- I came down squarely on the RB2 side. Back in March I laid out six reasons to get excited about Jennings and his new situation.
This week's David Wilson news changes things. It was never a certainty Giants doctors would clear him for full contact, not after Wilson underwent neck fusion surgery. There was a real chance Wilson would never play again.
Now Wilson is starting training camp with no restrictions whatsoever. Coaches will ease him back in, but he won't wear special equipment or be limited medically.
The New York Daily News doesn't envision Wilson grabbing the lead back role he was ticketed for last year until fumbling it away. "Still, if Wilson can regain the coaching staff's confidence, he could be dangerous in new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's system, which should include plenty of swing passes and screens to running backs," the paper said.
That's a problem for Jennings' value. He was looking at 50-plus receptions if Wilson didn't get cleared.
Jennings did not drop any of the 36 catchable passes thrown his way last year and is excellent in pass protection. But the Giants would be foolish not to use Wilson on swing passes and screens. He's clocked a sub-4.3 forty and is far more explosive than Jennings.
Rookie Andre Williams (5-11, 230) is a pounder who won't figure in the passing game, but he could siphon goal-line carries away from Jennings. Williams lined up in the goal-line package on the first day of practice, another bad sign for Jennings.
It seems hard to believe now, but Wilson was getting drafted in Round 2 last year, as the 14th running back off the board. He's that talented.
Before the Wilson news, Jennings was going 27th among RBs in CBSSports.com leagues. He was going significantly higher elsewhere, as an RB2 from 19th to 24th on four other sites. Dave Richard ranks Jennings 27th and Jamey Eisenberg has him 30th.
It's no longer possible to make a strong case for Jennings as an RB2.
Currently ranked in the 50s, Wilson worked with the second team Tuesday as camp opened. He'll move into RB4 territory soon.
The term "mailbag" is old and overused on the interwebs. "Press conference" sounds cooler. So here's today's short-but-sweet Q&A with people who have recently emailed me.
From David G.: In a 12 team, 0.5 ppr, one keeper where I'm keeping Gronk in the 6th. Would you prefer to start your team with the first four picks of Arian Foster, DeMarco Murray and then two quality receivers ranked anywhere from 10 to 20th, or would you prefer to start your team with Dez Bryant and Julio Jones, then come back with two RBs like Ryan Mathews, Shane Vereen, Bishop Sankey or Toby Gerhart pick 2?
From Dave in Florida: Great strategy question. Every owner needs to think about how they want to start their drafts, so maybe this will help out. I never like to pre-determine my first four picks because I like being able to adjust on the fly to how the draft shakes out. But in a 12-team league I know I don't want to be caught without at least one great running back and one great receiver. So I might pencil in going RB-WR with my first two picks but would be open to going with two backs if one I really liked got to me in Round 2.
If you MUST go RB-RB or WR-WR with your first two picks and then pick at the other position with your next two picks, I'd feel more comfortable taking the running backs first.
From Rowan P.:Would you rather pick 10th or 14th in a 14-team standard scoring league?
From Dave in Florida: The answer might vary from year to year but you're locked into a stud difference-maker at 10th overall. Any of the top seven running backs plus Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Jimmy Graham and if the mood strikes you Peyton Manning all will be available. They could all be gone by 14th overall. The other cool benefits is that you'd presumably have the 19th overall pick which could be used on a back before that position gets thin. You can also have the advantage of seeing what the needs are of the owners picking in the 11 through 14 slots and adjust your draft queue accordingly.
From Drew in Gainesville: Dave, I am a 20 year old student going into my junior year of college at the University of Florida. I have been playing fantasy sports for the past 10 years, in particular having a strong passion for Fantasy Football. I was just wondering how you got into the Fantasy Sports business and if you have any tips for a college student like me?
From Dave in Florida: Drew, I'm a lucky guy. I was hired by CBSSports.com (then-called SportsLine USA) in 2000 to cover pro wrestling for a site called WrestleLine. Yes, really. The short version is that I worked my way up from there to this spot which I've held since 2005. It's hard to break in but the best plan is to hop on Twitter and start giving advice there while also blogging and providing rankings on said blog. The good news is that you can do this while holding down another job so you don't starve to death. Get yourself a degree from UF in something involving another passion of yours and then do that while writing/talking/tweeting about Fantasy.
We recently published our latest 12-team standard mock draft, and I had the second overall pick. Somehow, I was able to land LeSean McCoy, Julio Jones and A.J. Green with my first three picks, which is like stealing.
Now, that's not likely to happen in most drafts, but don't be surprised when a stud player lands in your lap when you least expect it. Here's how I ended up with Green at No. 26 overall (his Average Draft Position is No. 20 on CBSSports.com).
There was nothing shocking about the first round outside of maybe Peyton Manning not going in the Top 12 overall picks. Our Top 12 (Jamaal Charles, McCoy, Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy, Calvin Johnson, Jimmy Graham, Montee Ball, Arian Foster, Le'Veon Bell, Giovani Bernard and DeMarco Murray) is comparable to the ADP right now (Charles, McCoy, Peterson, Forte, Manning, Johnson, Lacy, Graham, Ball, Demaryius Thomas, Foster and Drew Brees).
It's Round 2 where things got a little wacky. The players taken ahead of Green who should have gone later based on ADP were Jones, Andre Ellington, Bishop Sankey, Brandon Marshall, Zac Stacy and Doug Martin. I'm fine with Jones and Marshall (I took Jones) because with those upper echelon receivers it's a personal choice, and I like Jones better.
I'm also OK with Martin and Stacy ahead of Green. While I wouldn't do it, there's an obvious need to get potential stud running backs, and Martin and Stacy could easily be Top 12 at their position.
The players who 100 percent shouldn't have been drafted ahead of Green are Ellington and Sankey. Larry Hartstein drafted Ellington at No. 20 overall, and Al Melchior took Sankey at No. 25. Ellington's ADP is No. 26, and Sankey is at No. 30.
Melchior took Marshall, and he could have locked down Charles, Marshall and Green with his first three picks. He couldn't have gotten Sankey in Round 4, but clearly Green is the better choice as we discuss this today.
Hartstein, however, could have gambled that Ellington made it back to him in Round 3 at No. 29 overall. Here's how his team started: Lacy, Ellington, Jordy Nelson. Here's how his team could have looked: Lacy, Green, C.J. Spiller or Ryan Mathews.
I love Ellington this season, as does Hartstein, and he could definitely be a Top 12 running back in all formats. But I would never draft him ahead of Green.
I'm happy how it worked out with Green landing on my roster, but I doubt I'll ever have a trio like this again of McCoy, Jones and Green with my first three picks.
The Titans beat writer for the Tennessean, Jim Wyatt, decided to show off his projections for Fantasy owners for some relevant Tennessee players this season in Kendall Wright, Bishop Sankey, Delanie Walker and Justin Hunter.
Here's how his projections compare to mine and Dave Richard for each guy.
For Wright, Wyatt has him with 88 catches, 1,360 yards and eight touchdowns. I have Wright at 88 catches for 1,085 yards and five touchdowns. Dave has Wright with 89 catches for 1,008 yards and five touchdowns.
Comment: Wright is a breakout candidate for me in his third year. I hope Wyatt's numbers come to fruition because Fantasy owners drafting him with a mid-round pick will be rewarded in a big way.
For Sankey, Wyatt has him with 980 rushing yards and five touchdowns and 24 catches for 242 yards and two touchdowns. I have Sankey at 1,221 rushing yards and six touchdowns and 38 catches for 292 yards and one touchdown. Dave has Sankey at 1,157 rushing yards and five touchdowns and 31 catches for 260 yards and one touchdown.
Comment: Dave and I clearly like Sankey a little better than Wyatt does, but his projections still suggest a solid rookie season as a No. 2 Fantasy running back. I'd target Sankey in Round 3 with the hope of getting him in Round 4.
For Walker, Wyatt has him with 62 catches for 646 yards and five touchdowns. I have Walker for 57 catches, 587 yards and six touchdowns. Dave has Walker for 59 catches, 624 yards and six touchdowns.
Comment: Wyatt's projections are similar to ours, and we both consider Walker a No. 2 Fantasy tight end this season. He's not worth drafting in the majority of leagues but can be a solid bye-week replacement.
And for Hunter, Wyatt has him with 44 catches for 690 yards and seven touchdowns. I have Hunter at 42 catches for 715 yards and five touchdowns. Dave has Hunter at 42 catches for 690 yards and five touchdowns.
Comment: I like Hunter as a sleeper in his second year. He should keep Nate Washington on the bench, and he's a great late-round flier in all formats.
This week's mock draft with users Thursday was a 12-team standard league, and I had the No. 1 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: Jamaal Charles (me), LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Eddie Lacy, Peyton Manning, Montee Ball, Jimmy Graham, DeMarco Murray, Arian FosterLe'Veon Bell
My pick: Charles is the No. 1 overall pick for me because of his talent and Andy Reid's offense. His offensive line won't be the same, but I'm not expecting much of a drop-off. I will take him No. 1 overall in all leagues.
My pick: My eyes were getting big when Green started falling, but he went just before my pick. I like Stacy in this spot because I still consider him a workhorse rusher. He's a solid No. 2 running back to pair with Charles.
Round 3: Antonio Brown (me), Randall Cobb, Andre Ellington, C.J. Spiller, Bishop Sankey, Rob Gronkowski, Vincent Jackson, Drew Brees, Michael Crabtree, Aaron Rodgers, Larry Fitzgerald, Julius Thomas
My pick: I thought about Gronkowski here and actually entertained one of the quarterbacks in Rodgers and Brees. But Brown is the last elite receiver on the board, and I love his upside in that Steelers offense.
Round 4: Pierre Garcon, Ryan Mathews, Toby Gerhart, Shane Vereen, Reggie Bush, Frank Gore, Keenan Allen, Andre Johnson, Victor Cruz, Matthew Stafford, Stevan Ridley, Cordarrelle Patterson (me)
My pick: I was thrilled to get Patterson here, and I would have gone with Michael Floyd if he went. Patterson has Top 10 potential this season if he builds off last year's finish as expected. I plan to target him in all leagues.
Round 5: Joique Bell (me), Michael Floyd, Roddy White, Jordan Cameron, Ben Tate, Emmanuel Sanders, Chris Johnson, Vernon Davis, Golden Tate, Percy Harvin, Wes Welker, Trent Richardson
My pick: I was looking at either Bell or going back-to-back receivers with Floyd, but I like Bell's upside at his position just a little bit better. He should build off last year's solid performance and is a breakout candidate in all leagues.
Round 6: Matt Ryan, Colin Kaepernick, Torrey Smith, Rashad Jennings, DeSean Jackson, Ray Rice, Steven Jackson, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Dennis Pitta, Pierre Thomas, Julian Edelman (me)
My pick: I was looking at Luck and Pitta as the round unfolded, but both went before my pick. I settled for the best player available, which is Edelman. He should again be a candidate for 100-plus catches, 1,200-plus yards and six touchdowns and is an excellent No. 3 receiver.
Round 7: Tony Romo (me), Terrance Williams, Maurice Jones-Drew, Mike Wallace, T.Y. Hilton, Tom Brady, Jeremy Maclin, Seahawks, Jay Cutler, Jordan Reed, Jason Witten, Kendall Wright
My pick: I debated Witten or another receiver like Williams or Wright at this spot, but I took my quarterback in Romo. I'm glad I did with Brady and Cutler being selected in this round. Romo is in line for a big year this season with that bad defense and the addition of Scott Linehan calling plays.
Round 8: Marques Colston, Mike Evans, Fred Jackson, Terrance West, Eric Decker, Greg Olsen, Devonta Freeman, Knowshon Moreno, Rueben Randle, Nick Foles, Jeremy Hill, Khiry Robinson (me)
My pick: Robinson was the player I hoped for this round, especially when West was drafted four picks in. Robinson won't be an every-week starter for Fantasy owners, but he's a good No. 3 running back with upside.
My pick: Rudolph was the last of the starting-caliber tight ends I feel comfortable with this season. I love the idea of any tight end in a Norv Turner offense, and Rudolph has the chance to be this year's Cameron with a breakout season.
Round 10: Dwayne Bowe, Darren Sproles, Marvin Jones, Zach Ertz, Eric Ebron, Kenny Stills, Hakeem Nicks, Coby Fleener, Bernard Pierce, Martellus Bennett, Cecil Shorts, Stepfan Taylor (me)
My pick: I like taking Taylor anywhere after Round 8 because I'm expecting him to work well as the No. 2 running back behind Andre Ellington in Arizona. He should lead the Cardinals in rushing touchdowns and is a solid stash candidate in all leagues.
Round 11: Tre Mason (me), Jonathan Stewart, Heath Miller, Jordan Matthews, Darren McFadden, LeGarrette Blount, Kelvin Benjamin, Ladarius Green, Chris Ivory, David Wilson, Philip Rivers, Andre Williams
My pick: I went with Mason here as the handcuff option for Stacy. We'll see how the split works in St. Louis, but if Stacy gets hurt then I should be covered. I like Mason better than Knile Davis, who is the handcuff for Charles, since Mason should get more work for the Rams even without an injury.
Round 12: Tavon Austin, Carson Palmer, Justin Hunter, Antonio Gates, Ben Roethlisberger, Knile Davis, Anquan Boldin, Rams, Russell Wilson, Cardinals, Charles Clay, Jarrett Boykin (me)
My pick: I was looking at a few receivers when the round started in Boykin, Hunter and Rod Streater. I like Boykin the best, and I'm expecting him to do well as the No. 3 receiver for the Packers this year.
Round 13: Panthers (me), Chiefs, Brian Hartline, Stephen Gostkowski, Andy Dalton, James White, Broncos, Delanie Walker, Patriots, Buccaneers, Bears, Steelers
Round 14: Phil Dawson, Steven Hauschka, Matt Prater, Justin Tucker, Matt Bryant, Mason Crosby, Shayne Graham, Adam Vinatieri, Bills, Alex Henery, Robbie Gould, Dan Bailey
This is going to be a Draft Prep column coming soon, but here's a tip on drafting quarterbacks this season.
My advice to Fantasy owners drafting a quarterback has always been that it’s the most personal decision you'll make. If you who love an elite quarterback you'll take Peyton Manning in Round 1 or Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees in Round 2 no matter who is still on the board. There's nothing wrong with that because they’re the best of the best for a reason.
But if you're like me and prefer to stockpile your team with talent at running back and receiver early on Draft Day then wait. You can still get a Top 10 or even Top 5 quarterback several rounds later and win your league.
The quarterbacks I plan to target this season in their expected rounds are Matthew Stafford (Round 4), Andrew Luck (Round 6), Matt Ryan (Round 7), Colin Kaepernick (Round 8), Robert Griffin III (Round 8) and Tony Romo (Round 9). My fallback option is Jay Cutler (Round 10). If things go right – my goal is Kaepernick, Ryan, Griffin or Romo - I'll have a plethora of standout running backs and receivers with a potential stud quarterback as well.
The position is deep, and you don't have to reach – if you don't want to.
Patriots running back Shane Vereen played in eight games last year, but that's misleading. He played a full complement of snaps in six games. In the last two games he was used sparingly while nursing a groin injury.
All told, the broken wrist he suffered Week 1 and the late-season groin problem limited Vereen to 297 snaps. He played 41 percent of a full season.
To accurately project his numbers, we need to give him 45 snaps per game -- the number he averaged in the six full games he played. That translates to 720 snaps and RB1 production: 507 rushing yards, 115 catches, 1,042 receiving yards, nine total touchdowns.
Those numbers look insane, and there's obviously a health risk. But it helps to know Vereen's ceiling.
Vereen ranked fourth among running backs last year with 0.43 Fantasy Points Per Snap in PPR leagues, per Pro Football Focus. He ranked third with 0.55 Fantasy Points Per Opportunity, which combines carries and pass routes run.
ESPN's Patriots beat reporter expects Vereen to lead the team's running backs in playing time, ahead of Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden (if he makes the team) and rookie James White. LeGarrette Blount's departure helps Vereen as well as Ridley.
Vereen is currently getting drafted 18th among running backs in PPR leagues. Dave Richard and Jamey Eisenberg rank him 16th in that format. In PPR drafts, start targeting Vereen in the third round. Wait until the late fourth round in standard leagues.
If he stays healthy, Vereen is the kind of player who will win you championships.