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A potential reunion between Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson and free-agent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who was released by the Arizona Cardinals last week, is now regarded as a strong possibility, according to league sources. Meanwhile, a return to the Houston Texans, the team Hopkins began his career with, is not expected. In addition to the Browns, the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills were tied to Hopkins when he was still with the Cardinals, but it remains to be seen if the money will be right for them to sign the Pro Bowl wideout. Although the 30-year-old is no longer at his peak, he'd still easily be a top-25 fantasy receiver if he were to join the Browns, and Watson would also become more attractive as a low-end QB1 target.
The Miami Dolphins announced on Friday that they have signed running back De'Von Achane to his rookie deal after taking him in the third round (84th overall) of this year's NFL draft. Achane will be intriguing immediately in Miami's quick-strike offense because of his impressive speed and quickness out of the backfield, although it may take some time for him to be a staple in fantasy leagues. The 21-year-old lines up as the No. 3 running back right now behind Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr., who were both brought back for the 2023 season. Achane's quickest path to fantasy relevance will be as a pass-catcher, especially since the Dolphins loved to target their RBs through the air in 2022.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook has rushed for more yards (5,993) than any in team history except Adrian Peterson (11,747) and Robert Smith (6,818), and he had his fourth straight 1,000-yard season in 2022 while also not missing a game for the first time in his career. He ripped off TD runs of 53 and 81 yards last year and had a top speed of 21.68 mph, the seventh-fastest speed of any ball carrier in 2022. However, he led the league with 62 carries that either lost or didn't gain a yard, and only 34.5% of his carries gained positive yards over expectation. With his injury history and high salary cap numbers the next two years, the Vikings have been planning to move on for some time now. Cook remains in Minnesota, but he's becoming an increasingly volatile RB2 investment in fantasy.
Early spring practices have suggested that Minnesota Vikings running backs Ty Chandler and Pro Bowl kickoff returner Kene Nwangwu could battle for the No. 2 job in the team's backfield behind Alexander Mattison if they part ways with Dalvin Cook, as expected. Chandler spent most of his rookie season in 2022 on Injured Reserve. DeWayne McBride, a seventh-round pick this year who led the nation in rushing last year, is another intriguing prospect but has been rehabbing a minor injury this spring and has yet to take part in organized team activities. If Cook isn't on the team come training camp, Chandler figures to be the most likely backup to Mattison, but we'll have a better idea of how the Vikings backfield will shake out in another month or so.
Dynasty | There's a "strong possibility" that DeAndre Hopkins signs with the Browns Dynasty Analysis: The report reads more as connecting the dots than anything suggested from Hopkins or the Browns. That said, it would stand to reason that Cleveland is, arguably, in the best situation financially to land the top receiver and reuniting him with Deshaun Watson certainly brings added benefit. Hopkins is said to be willing to remain patient in choosing his next location but with Buffalo and Kansas City scrambling to free cap space for a potential signing, and Watson publicly lobbying for Hopkins, the All-Pro receiver may not have long to wait. It's clear both the Chiefs and Bills offer the best chance at a championship so Hopkins will need to weigh his priorities carefully. Hopkins is listed as DLF's WR42 and stands to benefit from any of the three destinations.
Dynasty | Amon-Ra St. Brown has been Jared Goff's favorite target during OTAs Dynasty Analysis: There's no real surprise here but it's further indication that the pair are off to a quick start to 2023 and expectations for the team are as high as they've been in recent years. ARSB has been constantly open in camp and the chemistry with Goff remains good. Coming off his first 1,000-yard campaign in 2022, St. Brown remains a good bet to put up career numbers in his third year in the league. With a revamped running back room, the addition of rookie Sam LaPorta at tight end, and the eventual inclusion of Jameson Williams at receiver, all arrows are pointing up for St. Brown and the Lions offense in 2023. He's listed as DLF's WR8.
Dynasty | Jahmyr Gibbs continues to stand out at OTAs and "just looks the part." Dynasty Analysis: Gibbs was said to be a consideration even higher by the Lions during the 2023 NFL Draft while some teams reportedly had him graded above phenom Bijan Robinson. The Lions have hit the ground running with Gibbs and are splitting him out wide with the receivers, utilizing his strengths as a pass-catcher to complement his running ability. In all drills and routes, Gibbs has looked "fluid" according to the report. Listed as DLF's RB9, it's uncertain how the rushing snaps will be apportioned to start the season, but it's clear that Jahmyr Gibbs is operating as the clear RB1 at this juncture.
The Minnesota Vikings have been slowly transitioning away from running back Dalvin Cook and to Alexander Mattison, who was re-signed in March to a contract that guarantees him $6.35 million over the next two seasons. Mattison said he returned because of an "understanding how it's all laid out and how it's all going to work out." Head coach Kevin O'Connell recently lauded Mattison's demonstration of "that all-three-down kind of ownership that he's been capable of for a long time." Mattison is a physical inside runner, having averaged 1.91 yards per rush after contact, but only one of his 404 career carries has gone for more than 24 yards. All indications are that the Vikings would use Mattison as an every-down back if Cook is out of the picture, which would make him a steal in fantasy drafts at the moment.
Dynasty | Offensive coordinator said of Sam Howell: "His demeanor does not change … and I will say this: he autocorrects himself as well." Dynasty Analysis: Bienemy was effusive in his praise for Howell as the second-year quarterback takes the reins of the offense. The 2022 fifth-round selection will get a year to show he can be the team's new face of the franchise after the Carson Wentz experiment failed. Despite the chatter about Howell's leadership qualities and growth process, NFL veteran Jacoby Brissett is also fighting for the starting role, a situation he's all too familiar with and one he's been successful with in the past. Listed as DLF's QB33, there's little confidence from the expert dynasty community that Howell is the long-term answer for the Commanders.
Dynasty | Kevin O'Connell believes Alexander Mattison is a three-down back Dynasty Analysis: It's one of the hottest stories in 2023 related to the running back position and Mattison's prospects hinge on the team's decision related to release, or trade, Dalvin Cook. It's widely believed the Vikings will move on from Cook and now beyond June 1, we may not be waiting long for the answer. Whether the team releases the veteran or is able to work out a trade remains to be seen, but should Cook remain in Minnesota, Mattison's 2023 prospects would suffer. Cook has been linked to both Miami and Buffalo as possible trade destinations. As for Mattison, DLF's RB39, who turns 25 this month, he could see a significant boost to his dynasty ranking if/when news of Cook's departure is official. Until then, he's a risk-on acquisition on the potential Cook, somehow, remains in Minnesota. Patient dynasty managers may want to seek acquisition now ahead of the expected Cook move.
Dynasty | Dalvin Cook remains with the Vikings, but for how long? Dynasty Analysis: Now beyond June 1, the team could release Cook with a friendlier cap hit. The Vikings' preferred move would be to trade the aging back, who turns 28 in August, but there's been no indications that the team is close to a deal. Cook has signaled his desire to play with his brother in Buffalo, or return home to Miami, and both teams have a need. Knowing that a release would likely result if no trade is agreed to, team's simply may wait to force Minnesota's hand. In either case, now in June, we won't be waiting long to hear the ultimate fate of Dalvin Cook, DLF's RB21.
The Panthers made some changes to their running back room this offseason by adding Miles Sanders and letting D'Onta Foreman walk in free agency. Chuba Hubbard, though, remains in the mix as the RB2 in Carolina.Hubbard, a former fourth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, is entering his third year in the NFL. He was a backup to Christian McCaffrey for one and a half seasons in Carolina in his first two years, and he will likely back up Sanders in 2023.But will he have a bigger role in the offense this season? Is he going to be the Panthers' short-yardage back? Let's take a look. Chuba Hubbard 2022 SeasonFollowing the McCaffrey trade that sent the All-Pro running back to the San Francisco 49ers, Hubbard saw an uptick in playing time alongside Foreman. The two running backs co-existed as the RB1 in Carolina and split playing time.Hubbard ran for 432 yards on 89 carries (4.85 yards per carry) with two touchdowns and added 13 catches for 170 yards in nine games after McCaffrey's departure, while Foreman had 191 carries for 877 yards (4.59 yards per carry) and five touchdowns in 11 games during that same stretch.Hubbard only had 29 total yards in the first six weeks of the season as the backup to McCaffrey, but the 23-year-old back was a vital part of Carolina's rushing attack after he left, delivering 12-plus touches in four of the final six games of the season. In Week 16, he also ran for a career-high 125 yards against the Lions. Is Chuba Hubbard the Panthers' short-yardage back?It would be hard to imagine Hubbard as the lead short-yardage back in the Panthers' offense with Sanders there. The former Philadelphia Eagles running back figures to carry a large workload in Carolina and have an impact in the backfield in all aspects.Last season, Sanders had 13 carries inside the five-yard line, seven of which turned into touchdowns. Hubbard, on the other hand, had just one rush inside the five all year. His teammates Foreman (10) and Raheem Blackshear (2) had more carries in such situations.How the backfield completely shakes out depends on the team's willingness to get Sanders more work in the passing game. If he sees an uptick in receiving and opportunities on third down, Hubbard could function more as the short-yardage back this season.But with Sanders' efficiency last year in those close-yard situations, it might be difficult to bank on Hubbard as that type of back in 2023. As the RB2 in Carolina, he likely won't be fantasy relevant this season and should go undrafted in most leagues.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that offensive tackle Abraham Lucas (shoulder) had shoulder surgery this offseason, which is why he's been limited at organized team activities. However, Carroll said Lucas should be ready for the start of the regular season. Lucas was the 72nd overall pick in last year's draft and managed to start 16 games for Seattle in 2022 as their right tackle. As long as the 24-year-old offensive tackle is able to take part in training camp, he should be ready for Week 1 as the team's starting right tackle for his sophomore season in the NFL.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said again on Thursday that there remains no firm timetable on the returns of safety Jamal Adams (quadriceps) and linebacker Jordyn Brooks (knee), and that they won't have a timetable for six to eight weeks or so. Still, both players are doing well in their rehab and have their sights set on being ready for the regular season. Adams set an NFL record for defensive backs with 9.5 sacks in 2020, but he's played in just 25 games combined in the last three seasons due to injury. But if he's healthy in 2023, he'll be a force in IDP fantasy leagues. Brooks, the former 27th overall pick in 2020, has totaled 345 tackles in 33 games in his first two NFL seasons, but he tore his ACL in Week 17 of 2022. His fantasy value will depend on whether he has a realistic chance to be ready for Week 1.
Dallas Cowboys rookie tight end Luke Schoonmaker (foot) was wearing a protective boot on his right foot at organized team activities on Thursday and is dealing with a case of plantar fasciitis that has limited his activity. Schoonmaker is missing out on valuable repetitions heading into his first NFL season, but hopefully he'll be able to work out in full once training camp commences at the end of July. If healthy, the 24-year-old second-rounder should compete for playing time immediately in his first NFL season with fellow tight ends Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot. Schoonmaker has plenty of long-term upside at the position as a pass-catcher, but it's tough to see him making a huge splash in fantasy in his first year in Dallas.
Washington Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was quick to praise quarterback Sam Howell after organized team activities on Thursday. "His demeanor does not change and I will say this: he autocorrects himself as well," Bieniemy said. While Howell will compete with Jacoby Brissett in training camp this summer, the 22-year-old Howell is expected to have the leg up for the starting gig to open the 2023 regular season in D.C. The fifth-round pick last year impressed the coaching staff in last year's season finale against Dallas, and he has an intriguing skill set as a dual threat at the QB position. He certainly has the weapons around him to succeed and be a worthwhile QB2 in superflex leagues if he earns the starting job.
It's unknown whether the Cleveland Browns will make an attempt to sign free-agent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and reunite him with quarterback Deshaun Watson, but Watson has shopped the Browns to Hopkins as a potential landing spot. Watson said, "of course we would love to have him," but that those decisions are made "out of my range." The addition of Hopkins in Cleveland would definitely make Watson a more intriguing low-end QB1 in fantasy, but it would also be bad news for wideouts Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Elijah Moore. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported on Thursday that Hopkins is open-minded about teams league-wide, and he's prepared to be patient. Minicamp could be considered a soft deadline for the 30-year-old to pick a new team, while training camp would be more of a hard deadline.
Despite Chicago Bears running back Khalil Herbert averaging 5.7 yards per carry as the No. 2 behind David Montgomery last year, the Bears signed veterans D'Onta Foreman and Travis Homer and drafted Roschon Johnson. "You know how things go in the NFL now. They're doing things running back by committee," Herbert said. "You need one, two, three really good guys that really carry the rock and there be no drop-off." Herbert said he added five pounds to his core this offseason, but he plans to stay between 215 and 220 pounds for the season. The 25-year-old will mainly battle for early-down carries with Foreman, but Johnson's presence also lowers Herbert's fantasy ceiling. And when you add the rushing prowess of quarterback Justin Fields, Herbert suddenly becomes more of a dicey RB3/flex in fantasy.
Chicago Bears rookie second-round cornerback Tyrique Stevenson should be in line to start at outside cornerback across from Jaylon Johnson in his first year in the NFL with second-year corner Kyler Gordon moving to the slot full time in 2023. "He uses his length well," cornerbacks coach and pass-game coordinator Jon Hoke said. "He's really, really instinctive. He has a way of getting his hands on a lot of footballs. He does know the game of football. It comes relatively not easy, but he does understand concepts easier than some guys do, so it's been a real plus." Rookie fifth-round corner Terell Smith has also impressed Hoke during organized team activities this week.
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said "no one has worked harder than Justin Fields in this offseason," dating back to February. Defensive coordinator Alan Williams is already seeing improvement in Fields' leadership, decision-making and accuracy during organized team activities. The Athletic's Kevin Fishbain said Fields' work leading the offense in a two-minute drill that ended in a touchdown was notable despite it being voluntary OTAs. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said in early May that Fields was "light years ahead of where he was" last offseason. The 24-year-old must get better as a passer to take the next step, but he led all QBs in 2022 with 1,143 rushing yards and also scored eight TDs on the ground. If Fields can avoid sacks and become more efficient with his arm, he'll soon be in the elite tier of QB1s in fantasy.
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