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|BURY ME IN SMOKE (0-0)|
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson has high expectations heading into the season. With the Vikings hiring former Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell to serve as its head coach, the wideout believes he will benefit, similar to how Cooper Kupp thrived in the same system. The 23-year-old finished the 2022-23 campaign by posting spectacular numbers, accumulating 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns off 108 receptions, all while averaging an impressive 15.0 yards per catch. Although having Kirk Cousins under center is a step down from Matthew Stafford, there's still no reason why Jefferson can't finish as the league's top fantasy receiver.
Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers reported he's 100% after tearing his Achilles last season. While getting back on the field from such an injury is a feat in itself, the 23-year-old wasn't satisfied with his play upon returning. "I wasn't happy with my postseason performance. I just felt like I left a lot on the field. There was more out there to be had," Akers said before adding he's committed to working hard this offseason in hopes of becoming a top-three option at the position in 2022-23. Nevertheless, despite Akers' production during the playoffs being somewhat discouraging, he seems determined to turn things around. Managers shouldn't forget about him during fantasy drafts, especially after all of the elite options have come off the board. Still, nobody should be reaching too far for him, either.
Sue L. Robinson, the NFL/Players Association disciplinary officer, has told each side in Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson's case to submit a brief due the week of July 11, according to a source. Robinson will make her ruling on Watson after that. Watson's disciplinary hearing concluded on Thursday after three days. He has been accused in civil lawsuits by 25 women of actions ranging from sexual assault to inappropriate behavior during massage sessions. The NFL has been pushing for a suspension of at least a year, but both sides have engaged in multiple attempts to reach a settlement while the hearing was taking place, which was unsuccessful. If you have Watson rostered in a keeper/dynasty league or have already drafted for the 2022 season, hopefully you have an insurance policy in place in case Watson is hit with a year-long suspension.
Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Tyus Bowser (Achilles) tore his Achilles in the Jan. 9 regular season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but head coach John Harbaugh thinks he'll be back for training camp next month. "I think Tyus will be back for the start of the season. I think Tyus will be back for training camp. That's my prediction. That's my timeline, so I'm going to stick with that," Harbaugh said back on Jan. 31. Bowser showed up for the start of the offseason program without a boot on his foot or an obvious limp, but he's still only about 5 1/2 months removed from surgery, and the timetable for Achilles returns has been anywhere from nine to 12 months. But other players have returned much earlier, and Bowser has a chance to be ready by Week 1. It would be huge for Baltimore's D, as Bowser is one of the best athletes on the team.
Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins (knee), who tore the ACL in his left knee in the final preseason game last fall, is highly unlikely to play in the preseason this year. There have been reports that Dobbins also sustained LCL damage to his knee, although the Ravens have only confirmed the torn ACL. The 23-year-old was mostly a bystander during organized team activities, although he did catch some balls from the Jugs machine. There has been outside pessimism about Dobbins' availability and effectiveness in 2022, but the Ravens say he's on track and expect him to be a factor. The most logical expectation is for him to start training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Dobbins will be an extremely risky RB2/3 selection for fantasy managers coming off his serious knee injury.
Baltimore Ravens three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters (knee) tore his ACL in a Sept. 9 practice and missed the entire 2021 season, but as long as he continues to progress, he should be back at some point over the summer, which would give him a chance to play in Week 1. Peters' focus isn't on being on the field for the start of training camp at the end of July, and the Ravens won't be rushing him back after the first major injury of his career. The goal will be to have Peters on the field in September. The 29-year-old has been working hard in his rehab and spent considerable time rehabbing at the team's facility in recent weeks. Getting Peters back on the field will be a huge boost to a Ravens secondary that was decimated by injuries in 2021.
Even though the Buffalo Bills drafted rookie running back James Cook as a pass-catching threat out of the backfield, the coaching staff remains firmly behind Devin Singletary as an important piece of the backfield puzzle. Singletary ended last year as the team's every-down starter, yielding minimal snaps to Zack Moss as the backup. The Bills aren't going to cut Singletary out of the offense just because of Cook, and for now, The Athletic's Joe Buscaglia expects Singletary to remain the lead back by playing time, but Cook will have a role. Cook will likely mix in on obvious passing situations and when the team feels comfortable enough to use two-RB sets and split him out wide. Singletary's fantasy ceiling is definitely lowered with Cook now in the fold, but he could still end up as a top-30 fantasy back.
Buffalo Bills running back Zack Moss had a chance to take control of the backfield last year, but instead he allowed Devin Singletary to become the lead back. Moss struggled with his reads at the line of scrimmage and failed to maximize his opportunities. He's also more of a power back, so there may be a clash between principle with more athletic offensive linemen this season and Moss' skill set. With rookie James Cook now in the fold, Moss is third on the depth chart, and a trade shouldn't be ruled out if he doesn't perform well in training camp. Contributing on special teams would be a plus towards roster security, and The Athletic's Joe Buscaglia thinks Moss will be on the final roster, regardless of his summer performance. Moss' disappointing 2021 season and the addition of Cook put him off the fantasy radar in standard-sized leagues this year.
Buffalo Bills running back Taiwan Jones was a favorite of former special teams coordinator Heath Farwell, but Jones may not have the roster certainty that he's enjoyed the last two years. He has participated in all four phases of the kick and return units, but he's also entering his age-34 season. The Bills might look to fill those roles with another player if Jones loses some of the explosiveness he uses on punt and kickoff coverage. He's probably on the right side of the roster bubble right now, but that could change this summer in training camp. Jones hasn't had a single carry in the last two seasons with Buffalo, and he's only been targeted twice in the passing game, so he's nowhere near the fantasy radar.
Buffalo Bills running back Duke Johnson's roster security likely depends on how Zack Moss plays this summer at training camp, but Johnson's experience and relative success in the NFL could help him stick if Moss falters. Johnson had two 100-yard games with the Miami Dolphins last year and offers more explosiveness in the receiving game than Moss. He'll also turn 29 in September, but Moss is still young and has two years left on his rookie deal. The odds are in favor of Moss, but Johnson has a chance if general manager Brandon Beane decides to trade Moss this summer. If Moss makes the team, Johnson will be expendable, but there could be a spot on the practice squad for Johnson.
Jacksonville Jaguars second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence has looked the part in each phase of his first true offseason in the NFL. Quarterbacks coach Mike McCoy saw Lawrence take strides in organized team activities while getting more repetitions in head coach Doug Pederson's offense while developing his comfort level. "The last couple of days through the OTAs, you see some of the checks that he's made at the line of scrimmage," McCoy said. "He's making quicker decisions now." The 22-year-old signal-caller had his growing pains in his rookie season, but he also showed flashes of why he was the No. 1 overall pick, completing 59.6% of his passes for 3,641 yards, 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. With added aerial firepower, Lawrence is expected to take a step forward in Year 2, but fantasy managers should be drafting him as a low-end QB2 with upside.
The Dallas Cowboys signed free-agent kicker Lirim Hajrullahu in order to provide some competition in training camp for undrafted rookie Jonathan Garibay. Hajrullahu kicked in three games for the Carolina Panthers and one game for the Cowboys last year, making four of his five total field-goal tries and all eight of his extra points. The 32-year-old only has those four games of NFL experience from last year, so either way the Cowboys go, they'll be relying on an inexperienced kicker, at least to open the 2022 season. Fantasy managers will want to stay away from this situation.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (groin), who missed a part of organized team activities with a strained groin, said he's healthy ahead of training camp at the end of July. Remaining on the field will be a significant factor in whether the former first-rounder can make a big leap in his third NFL season with quarterback Russell Wilson this year. The 23-year-old has been a disappointment at this early juncture in his career, especially after playing in only 10 games due to injury in 2021 while failing to catch a single touchdown pass. Jeudy should see a boost with Wilson under center, but there are still plenty of mouths to feed in this offense. He'll be a fine target as a low-end WR2/high-end WR3 if he can stay on the field.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders is searching for more consistency heading into the 2022 season, as he's had his fair share of injuries over the last two years. Sanders has been productive when he's on the field, but he's played in just 12 games in each of the last two years due to injuries. The former second-rounder in 2019 has averaged 5.1 yards per carry in his three-year career, and his rushing numbers have improved with each season. "Being consistent, being more consistent," Sanders said. "I'm going to be honest, opportunities. I'll just say it simple like that. I need to be more consistent but I need opportunities." The 25-year-old had 137 carries in 2021, but he also had a career-low 34 targets in the passing attack and didn't have a single touchdown. Sanders will enter this season as the primary back, but he'll need to stay healthy to realize his true potential. He's best selected as a high-end RB3 in fantasy drafts.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) recently posted a video of himself running routes, a positive update regarding the veteran's rehab efforts. Thomas is coming off off-season ankle surgery, with head coach Dennis Allen allowing the multi-time Pro Bowler to get to 100% before he returns to the team. Yet, things appear to be moving in the right direction, so there's a chance he could be back for training camp. However, Thomas isn't a sure thing on the fantasy end anymore, although based on his years of dominance, it will be hard for fantasy managers to ignore him.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman had a decent rookie year, finishing with 46 catches for 515 yards and one touchdown. However, that was with Marquise Brown on the roster. But after Hollywood was dealt to the Arizona Cardinals during the 2022 NFL Draft, Bateman is now projected to be the team's No. 1 wideout on the depth chart. He clearly can make some noise from a fantasy standpoint, with tight end Mark Andrews recently taking the time to praise the speedster due to his speed and ability to run routes. With Baltimore looking to utilize the passing attack more often this season, Bateman is someone to watch, although his outlook won't be as bright if Lamar Jackson doesn't return to MVP form.
Seattle Seahawks tight end Noah Fant was acquired this offseason as part of a blockbuster trade featuring superstar quarterback Russell Wilson. The former 2019 first-round pick was a highly touted prospect entering the league, given his athleticism and opportunity to be a downfield threat. While he showed flashes in Denver, his career-highs of 68 receptions, 670 yards and only four touchdowns left a lot to be desired. Recently described as having "the most spectacular camp of anybody" by head coach Pete Carroll, it's clear that Fant is making a strong impression with his new team. Despite the void left at quarterback, there will still be plenty of opportunity for Fant to emerge behind receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett as a focal point for this offense, which could equate to a big year as a top-15 tight end in fantasy.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt struggled with injuries last season, limiting him to only eight games played. While still searching for a contract extension in an effort to remain a member of the Browns organization, it's good to know that health is no longer a concern for Hunt, who says "he feels 100%." Regardless of who ultimately ends up behind center, there are 181 vacated targets with minimal proven receiving options on the roster, creating a real opportunity for Hunt. After finishing as the RB10 in 2020 and RB8 in the first six games last season, Hunt has demonstrated his ability to produce and will again be a top-24 running back this year if he can stay healthy.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota was signed in free agency to be the team's new starter, replacing their long-time leader Matt Ryan. Mariota steps in after backing up Derek Carr for the Raiders the past two seasons, and he's hoping to regain his role as a starter in the NFL. Although his passing statistics were mediocre, he averaged 300-plus yards and three rushing touchdowns over his three seasons as a starter. While there has been concern about newly drafted quarterback Desmond Ridder, who the Falcons selected 74th overall, competing for the starting job, a recent report says Mariota is "far ahead" of Ridder and "injury would be the only way Ridder finds himself under center." This confirms the veteran's stranglehold on the role, which would make him an intriguing option as a streamer or second quarterback in two-quarterback/superflex leagues, given his rushing upside.
ESPN.com's Turron Davenport gives a 75% chance that Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback Malik Willis sits all season behind Ryan Tannehill in 2022. Barring injury or some kind of catastrophic failure, Tannehill will take the bulk of the snaps this year. The Titans are taking a ground-up approach with Willis, first getting him used to calling plays in the huddle and working from under center. QB coach Pat O'Hara has also worked extensively with Willis to make adjustments to his mechanics to improve his accuracy. Tannehill has started every game since taking over as the starter in Week 6 of 2019, and the team is still in win-now mode. The Titans have loved what they've seen from Willis so far this offseason, but he remains a work in progress, so he should only be selected in dynasty/keeper drafts this fall.
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|SKEETER||Thu Jun 30 7:46pm ET|
|General Joe||Wed Jun 29 7:28am ET|
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|Bill||Wed Jun 29 6:49am ET|
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|Wolfe||Mon Jan 10 4:55pm ET|
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