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Dynasty | Brandon Aiyuk was the best player on the field during spring practices Dynasty Analysis: He continues to draw rave reviews from players and coaches with cornerback Deommodore Lenoir suggesting Aiyuk will be a top-five receiver in 2023. Entering his fourth year, the receiver has improved his statistical production each year previous, culminating into a 78/1,015/8 line in 2022, his first 1,000-yard campaign. Listed as DLF's WR29, Aiyuk's WR3 status provides value-on upside and he'll player the entirety of the 2023 season at just 25-years-old.
Dynasty | 49ers running back Jordan Mason looked natural as a pass catcher during spring practices Dynasty Analysis: Fellow back Elijah Mitchell was sidelined with a minor injury (again) which provided Mason with more reps behind starter Christian McCaffrey. While Mason isn't known as a receiver due to his 223 lbs. size, by all accounts he showed well. The second-year player is well liked and could have a meaningful if (when?) Mitchell were to fall to injury again during the regular season. Jordan Mason is listed as a sparsely ranked RB82 on DLF's running back rankings.
Dynasty | Sam LaPorta has been a favorite target of Jared Goff, especially in the red zone. Dynasty Analysis: It's been a recurring theme for LaPorta this offseason after being selected in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft. The Lions traded away standout tight end TJ Hockenson (MIN) in 2022 and replaced him with LaPorta this offseason. In one of the top tight end schemes in the league, the athletic 6'4" rookie played at Iowa, a college some consider "Tight End U" and he projects highly in the Lions passing revamped passing offense. Pads aren't on yet but LaPorta, DLF's TE17, remains an upside value target in dynasty rookie drafts, still possessing a mid-second round ADP.
Dynasty | The move was fully expected after news broke yesterday, but the Vikings took one more shot at trading the ultra-productive veteran. Dynasty Analysis: Cook is now officially a free agent and likely won't take long before answering the question as to where he'll play in 2023. While Miami and Buffalo seemingly remain the most likely landing spots, he's also been linked to both Denver and the New York Jets. Should Cook sign with the Jets, the fantasy fallout would be significant. Cook is listed as DLF's RB22. It's recommended to wait for the dust to settle related to his situation before considering acquiring Dalvin Cook.
Dynasty | An offseason news piece suggests rookie running back Zach Charbonnet will garner significant playing time as a rookie Dynasty Analysis: A collective groan arose from the dynasty community when the Seahawks selected Charbonnet in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft, torpedoing current starter Kenneth Walker's second-year potential and dynasty ranking. In yet another example of the lack of dependability for the running back position, Walker's draft ADP fell a full round to 26 following the draft. As for Charbonnet, he's a do-it-all back with the ability to carry-the-load if called upon. Instead, the Seahawks now possess an upside RBBC which will likely mute the production of all involved. Zach Charbonnet is found as DLF's RB33.
Dynasty | Bears' offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said Justin Fields won't be limited in his rushing ability Dynasty Analysis: Getsy used the term "robotic" in suggesting that he isn't forcing Fields to be a pocket-passer and, instead, will trust Fields' instincts as a quarterback. It's good news for the the third-year passer who rushed for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns in 2022. At the same time, Fields needs to develop as a passer if he hopes to remain healthy over the long term and a more successful passing attack will lead to increased effectiveness as a runner. It's anyone's guess how Fields will perform in 2023 and whether his rushing totals will diminish materially. What is known is that the team continues to upgrade its receiver room in hopes of balancing its offensive attack. Listed as DLF's QB8, Justin Fields remains a high-upside, risk-on, player with a lot of questions to be answered in 2023.
Dynasty | Bryce Young has been elevated to the QB1 on the Panthers depth chart. Dynasty Analysis: While Young sits atop the depth chart, he's not yet considered the "starter." It's only a formality at this point with full expectation that Young will be under-center when the Panthers take the field in week one of the regular season. By all accounts, Young has impressed with his abilities and is already showing leadership, intelligence and command of the huddle in his short time as a rookie. Look for the official move to "starter" to occur mid-way through training camp. Young is listed as DLF's QB14 and our rookie QB2 behind only Anthony Richardson.
Detroit Lions rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs and tight end Sam LaPorta are both expected to play significant roles early on in their first NFL seasons, and they have both been impressive in showing their playmaking abilities this spring. Gibbs is a smooth and fluid runner with excellent burst and balance, but he has really impressed with his route-running abilities as a pass-catcher. His versatility will allow Detroit to use both him and David Montgomery on the field together. LaPorta is explosive and is able to gain separation from defenders effortlessly. He's been a favorite target in the red zone in practices. LaPorta has plenty of intriguing characteristics, but it will most likely be Gibbs with more fantasy upside in his rookie season.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has added noticeable size and strength this offseason as he prepares himself for his fourth season in the NFL. Tagovailoa's 2022 season ended prematurely after suffering multiple concussions, and he ended up playing in only 13 games. But when he was healthy, the 25-year-old looked the best he ever has operating in head coach Mike McDaniel's offensive system. It helps that he has one of the best one-two receiver punches in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, and Tagavailoa has plenty of chemistry with both of them. His concussion injuries might scare many fantasy managers away, but if Tagovailoa can stay healthy in 2023, he should be viewed as a high-upside QB1 option.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. (ankle) took part in team drills at practice on Thursday. It was Chark's first action in 11-on-11 drills since he had a cleanup surgery on his ankle this offseason. The Panthers added the 26-year-old pass-catcher in the offseason to be a starter on the outside opposite Terrace Marshall Jr. He'll be a starter in his first year with Carolina, but his availability is what is in question. Chark has missed 22 of 50 games since he broke out in his second NFL season in 2019 with 1,008 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 73 receptions. Since then, he has 90 catches for 1,362 yards and 10 TDs in three seasons. Chark has some big-play ability, but he'll likely be a frustrating and inconsistent fantasy option while working with rookie quarterback Bryce Young in 2023.
Seattle Seahawks rookie running back Zach Charbonnet has impressed the coaching staff during offseason workouts, and The Tacoma News Tribune's Gregg Bell says not to be surprised at the playing time and opportunities that Charbonnet gets with returning 1,000-yards rusher Kenneth Walker III in the backfield. "Zach does everything well...He's just a complete ball player." Walker will be the team's primary early-down runner, but Charbonnet could carve out a nice role as the pass-catching back in his first NFL season, making him a decent RB4/flex target in the late rounds in PPR fantasy formats. The fact that Seattle took the 22-year-old 52nd overall in the second round of this year's draft should tell us that he could play meaningful snaps right away.
Seattle Seahawks rookie cornerback Devon Witherspoon, the fifth overall pick of this year's NFL draft, was highly touted for his work at Illinois on the outside. But Witherspoon often worked on the inside at slot cornerback during the team's three-day mandatory minicamp this week. "He's capable of playing in there," head coach Pete Carroll said. The injury to last year's nickel defensive back Coby Bryant (foot) has allowed Seattle to give Witherspoon a try on the inside. While the 22-year-old can certainly play on the inside, he'll likely spend most of his time on the outside. But Witherspoon's athleticism will allow the Seahawks to get creative and move him around as they see fit to get the matchups they like against opposing wide receivers.
Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said he won't make quarterback Justin Fields robotic as a pocket passer. The Bears are obviously focused on improving Fields as a passer in 2023, but they aren't interested in limiting his rushing abilities after he led all QBs with 1,143 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games last year. Fantasy managers may not want to expect gaudy rushing totals like that moving forward, but scrambling and improvising should continue to be part of the 24-year-old's game, which is excellent news for his rising fantasy stock as a midrange QB1 with upside for more. If Fields masters Chicago's offense and improves as a passer with added aerial weapons, he could finish the 2023 season as a high-end QB1.
Former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is set to visit with the New England Patriots next week, according to sources. Hopkins also has a visit scheduled with the Tennessee Titans, so his free-agent market is heating up. The Cleveland Browns are another team that is rumored to be courting Hopkins. The Patriots could add a top pass-catcher for quarterback Mac Jones, who took a step back in his sophomore season in 2022. New England added JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency this offseason, but Hopkins would immediately become the Patriots' No. 1 receiver if they were able to add him. The 31-year-old isn't quite in his prime anymore, but he was productive when active last year and would be a target hog in New England. Even without a home, Hopkins is a top-25 fantasy receiver.
The Minnesota Vikings re-signed running back Alexander Mattison this offseason with the plan for him to be the starter. There have been trade talks surrounding Dalvin Cook, but no deal has materialized. He will officially be released on Friday, with several teams, including the Miami Dolphins, set to inquire about him. Up until this point, Mattison has strictly been a handcuff for Cook, but he's been a productive plug-and-play option at RB when Cook has missed time with injuries. Ty Chandler and DeWayne McBride could steal some touches away, but this should mostly be Mattison's show in 2023. The 24-year-old has averaged 4.1 yards per carry in his four seasons in Minnesota and has also caught 70 passes for 526 yards. Mattison's fantasy stock has skyrocketed in recent days after the official news that the Vikes will be moving on from Cook.
The Minnesota Vikings released Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook on Thursday. The team saved $9 million by cutting Cook while taking on a $5.1 million dead cap hit this season and a $3.1 million dead cap hit in 2024.https://twitter.com/tompelissero/status/1666806520359849986?s=42&t=nmclxZ4zP1Gqt9CUbbpkHwThe 27-year-old back has been a big part of Minnesota's offense since he was drafted in 2017. He has topped 1,100-plus rush yards over the past four years, including 1,173 yards on 264 carries and eight touchdowns last season. With Cook now gone, the Vikings will call on Alexander Mattison, Ty Chandler, rookie DeWayne McBride, and Kene Nwangwu in the running game.But which running back takes over the RB1 job? What's his fantasy value like with Cook out of town? Who is the Vikings RB1 After Dalvin Cook Was Released?Mattison is set to take over the lead-back role in Minnesota after backing up Cook for four seasons. He was a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and will finally get his shot to shine as the RB1. The Vikings re-signed the 24-year-old to a two-year, $8 million deal this offseason.The former Boise State product has been highly efficient as the backup in Minnesota's offense since 2019. He finished with 500-plus scrimmage yards in three of his four NFL seasons and has averaged 4.1 yards per carry throughout his career.But he has really excelled when stepping up for an injured Cook. In 2021, Mattison had over 120 scrimmage yards in three of the four games as the Vikings' starter. He showed potential in that role since entering the league and will now be the top back in the offense for the first time in his career.https://twitter.com/nfloncbs/status/1666816519681245188?s=42&t=nmclxZ4zP1Gqt9CUbbpkHwAlexander Mattison 2023 Fantasy Football OutlookMattison was regarded as one of the best handcuffs to Cook in fantasy football since 2019. The latter not only missed multiple games per season due to injuries, but the former always came in and put up just as good numbers.These were Mattison's fantasy numbers and stats as the RB1 since 2020: Week 6, 2020: 10 carries for 26 yards, one catch for four yards (4 points) Week 17, 2020: 21 carries for 95 yards and one touchdown, three catches for 50 yards and one touchdown (29.5 points) Week 3, 2021: 26 carries for 112 yards, six catches for 59 yards (23.1 points) Week 5, 2021: 25 carries for 113 yards, seven catches for 40 yards, and one touchdown (26.3 points) Week 13, 2021: 22 carries for 90 yards and one touchdown, three catches for 34 yards (21.4 points) Week 16, 2021: 13 carries for 41 yards and one touchdown, three catches for 29 yards (16 points)Mattison averaged 20.05 PPR fantasy points and 115.5 scrimmage yards in games as the Vikings' RB1 in 2020 and 2021. That type of production will likely put him in the RB1 conversation this season. He should be drafted higher in drafts in 2023 as a low-end RB1/high-end RB2.
Former Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark stayed in the AFC West by signing a one-year deal worth up to $7.5 million on Thursday with the Denver Broncos, according to a source. The deal includes a $5.5 million guaranteed base salary, $1 million in makeable incentives and another challenging $1 million in incentives. The three-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion became a free agent in March when the Chiefs released him. The 29-year-old pass-rusher finished the 2022 season with 39 tackles (25 solo), five sacks, eight tackles for loss, 13 QB hits, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 15 starts. Clark has only had two double-digit sack campaigns in his eight NFL seasons, with the last one coming in 2018 with the Seahawks. He won't really be much of an option in IDP fantasy leagues, but Clark's presence should boost their defense overall.
The Los Angeles Chargers are placing a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of second-year cornerback Ja'Sir Taylor with the way their roster is constructed in 2023. Asante Samuel Jr. has spent most of his time this spring playing outside corner opposite Michael Davis, and Taylor has been the starter at slot corner. Bryce Callahan was the starter in the slot in 2022, but he's now a free agent, and Taylor played well in his one start in Week 14 against the Dolphins. Until J.C. Jackson is back and healthy, it will be Taylor's job in the slot. So far in organized team activities this offseason, The Athletic's Daniel Popper has been impressed with Taylor's coverage. "He's mature past his age," defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley said of Taylor. "He's a very quiet kid, very observant. He understands the big picture."
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (shoulder) was pushing the ball downfield regularly in the opening period of his return to organized team activities on Wednesday after having surgery in January in his left, non-throwing shoulder. He took around 25 repetitions over two 7-on-7 periods. Herbert tossed a pair of 50-yard touchdowns, so clearly his right arm is completely fine. He should enter training camp in late July with minimal limitations physically. "Obviously Justin has a cannon," receiver Keenan Allen said. "We're probably going to be going deep." Herbert should have more upside in new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore's system as he attempts to bounce back from a somewhat disappointing season in 2022.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Chase Claypool is reportedly in a better place with the offense, according to offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. In early February, Getsy said he sees a chance for Claypool to see "a lot of opportunities" this season. However, that was before the Bears traded for wide receiver D.J. Moore. Despite that, Claypool should still be able to carve out a decent role in Chicago. The Bears gave up a second-round pick for Claypool, so he's expected to have a significant part on the team. It sounds like the 24-year-old is becoming more comfortable with his new team. His fantasy value seems bleak, but he could end up being a sleeper option heading into next season. Claypool did well during his first two seasons in Pittsburgh, so hopefully he can carry that over into Chicago.
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