Thu May 24 7:29pm ET
By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin talks to reporters following NFL football practice, Thursday, May 24, 2018, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson talks to reporters following NFL football practice, Thursday, May 24, 2018, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin talks to reporters following NFL football practice, Thursday, May 24, 2018, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin, right, talks with head coach Pete Carroll, left, following NFL football practice, Thursday, May 24, 2018, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
RENTON, Wash. (AP) Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin had harsh words for the comments made by President Donald Trump regarding the NFL's new national anthem policy on Thursday, as players began to process the new mandate from the league's owners.
Baldwin has been a leading voice from the players' perspective for why there were protests last season even though Baldwin never participated in kneeling or sitting on the sidelines during ''The Star-Spangled Banner.''
He spoke passionately after the Seahawks concluded their offseason workout and sounded offended by the president's comments to ''Fox & Friends'' in an interview that aired Thursday saying, ''maybe you shouldn't be in the country'' if you don't stand for the anthem.
''He's an idiot. Plain and simple,'' Baldwin said. ''I respect the man because he's a human being first and foremost, but he's just being divisive, which is not surprising. It is what it is. But for him to say anybody who doesn't follow his viewpoints or his constituents viewpoints should be kicked out of the country is not very empathetic. It's not very American like, actually, to me. It's not very patriotic. It's not what this country was founded upon. It's kind of ironic to me the President of the United States is contradicting what our country is really built on.''
Baldwin was among a handful of players that have expressed frustration and disappointment with the NFL mandating players must stand for the national anthem if they're on the field, though they now have the option of remaining in the locker room for the playing of the anthem and carry on the campaigns against social injustice.
Even normally reserved Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson agreed with the sentiment that the owners' decision was a message to players to essentially be quiet.
''Pretty much. I think that's part of it. It seems that way,'' Wilson said. ''But I think a policy right or wrong is not going to fix our problems.''
The new policy allows teams to adopt their own workplace rules, which many players interpreted as a backhanded way of subjecting them to fines, suspensions or loss of jobs should they carry on with the protests.
For Baldwin, who is among the players to have worked with the league on addressing social concerns and community programs, the anthem decision felt like a step back.
''If you're asking my opinion, I think that in conjunction with the NFL, the way that things were going, I felt on the Players Coalition side of things we were coming to an amicable agreement and relationship and working toward initiatives and causes that we wanted to see as players addressed, I thought that you would see the demonstrations and the issues within the NFL dissipate,'' Baldwin said.
''But again, when you stoke the fire and inflame a gap that was really dissipating at the time, diffusing, you cause more problems. That's why I say I think the NFL missed it.''
Others around the league didn't see the policy as a potential issue.
''I'm really not too worried about it. I would expect that everybody's gonna be out there with their hand over their heart, showing respect to the flag and to the country,'' New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees said.
But teammate Demario Davis had mixed emotions about the policy. His father served in the military, but he also understands why players have been protesting.
''I just think that when you love something - you care about it - you want to work to get it right. I love my children. When they do wrong things, I'm going to let them know they're doing wrong things. I'm not just going to sweep it under the rug because I love them,'' Davis said.
''I think that's the difference between patriotism and nationalism. Nationalism is loving your country just to love it, you know, even when it's right or wrong, you're going to take the side of your country. Patriotism is loving it enough to sacrifice for it, but also to call it (out) when it's wrong.
''The people who are speaking up for the people who are hurting have a deep love and devotion for our country. That's kind of gotten misconstrued at times. But it's important for people to understand that.''
The decision by the owners was an attempt to quell a firestorm by moving protests away from the public eye and potentially lure back disgruntled fans. But in the process they may have disgruntled their employees and rekindled what appeared to be an issue that was dying down.
''I feel like it might want to make people just want to rebel, just like when Trump said what he said last year,'' Denver linebacker Brandon Marshall said.
''People rebelled. And let's be clear. I know they say they'll fine the team, but players don't care about that. Players don't care about the teams get fined.''
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette could see more action on third down this year, according to head coach Doug Marrone. The Jaguars used Fournette on third down plays with the first team offense in Saturday's preseason game against the Vikings and Marrone said the second-year back "seems to be doing a good job" in the situations. If Fournette can be a true three-down back for Jacksonville this year, he could see his value in PPR formats vault into the top five by the end of the season.
Chicago Bears tight end Adam Shaheen's Week 1 status is in doubt due to a right ankle sprain. Shaheen rolled the ankle hauling in his third reception of the game against the Bengals on August 9. Shaheen racked up 53 yards in the preseason affair but this is just another injury that could stunt his development. Shaheen also had a strong performance last season against the Bengals but exited that game as well with a chest injury at the time. The sprain is not being characterized as serious right now but this certainly hurts his value as a TE2 in deeper leagues moving forward. Expect Shaheen to miss the rest of the preseason.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson made his preseason debut against the Broncos last Saturday. It has been a long road back from a torn ACL for the talented receiver and his appearance marks his first game action since the injury in Week 1 of last season. The free-agent acquisition was not targeted in the game but his rehab is right on course to begin the season at full speed. When healthy, Robinson is a professional route runner with the physical tools to win on 50-50 balls and is a big-time red zone threat. He currently is being slotted as a low-end WR1 and is in line for tons of targets in the Bears revamped offense.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley missed practice for the sixth straight day with a tweaked hamstring on Tuesday. Barkley was not in uniform for the team's second preseason game last Friday and the team is being ultra cautious with their top draft pick. Barkley has the talent and skill-set to deserve the top-6 fantasy status he currently is getting in most rankings. At this time, the Giants will do everything they can to get their rookie up to 100% before Week 1 and should be ready to roll when the lights come on. His draft status should not be altered because of this injury for now.
Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman will once again be inactive for the third preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Freeman has not yet seen a single minute of preseason action, and it now looks increasingly likely that he will not suit up at all this preseason. Freeman not playing in the preseason is not an issue for his fantasy value entering the season. If anything, given his history of concussions, not playing is a bonus to his fantasy value. If Freeman can stay healthy for the majority of the season he should be in contention to be a top-10 running back at the end of the season.
Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant will kick again in Wednesday's practice. Bryant has an undisclosed injury and has not played in either of the first two preseason games. He did kick 15 balls last week, but that was not enough to convince the Falcons to activate him for the second preseason game. How Bryant fairs Wednesday could determine his status for the third preseason game. Right now Bryant is still the front runner to remain the Falcons kicker into the season, and he should be treated as such in fantasy drafts.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews has missed all of training camp dealing with an undisclosed injury, however, head coach Mike Vrabel said on Tuesday that he is hopeful the receiver will return shortly. Lack of injury updates and the emergence of Taywan Taylor have both caused a bit of a drop in Matthews' draft stock this year, but should he be able to return early in the season, he still has a chance to be Mariota's favorite weapon. Despite the possible value, proceed with caution regarding Matthews until we receive news that he is able to return to practice.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones will not suit up against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Falcons third preseason game. Given that the third game is often the one where the starters play the most time, it is now looking as if Jones is not going to suit up for any preseason games. This should not be an issue for fantasy owners entering the season. As long as Jones remains present at Falcons practice you should consider him good to go when the season begins. As it stands Jones remains a top-five fantasy wide receiver, despite the lack of preseason action.
Chicago Bears tight end Trey Burton gave fantasy owners a taste of his forthcoming expanded role with his new team in the Bears 24-23 preseason win over the Broncos. Burton caught four passes for 45 yards, including a touchdown catch on a fantastic play drawn up by new head coach Matt Nagy. Burton was used in motion on several plays out of the slot, including an excellent sideline catch for 12 yards for a first down. Burton's career high for receptions in a season is only 37 but glimpses at the new Bears offense indicate he could blow by that number. Burton's value will continue to rise leading up to fantasy drafts over the next few weeks.
The New Orleans Saints have released running back Terrance West, according to the NFL Network. West racked up 36 yards on seven carries over two preseason games, including a 21-yard run. The team appears to be favoring youth and running back Jonathan Williams has continued to impress in camp. The team is looking for a player to combo with Alvin Kamara while Mark Ingram serves his suspension to begin the season. West enjoyed his best season in 2016 when he racked up six total touchdowns and 1,010 all-purpose yards for the Ravens. West surely will get a look with another team at some point this season.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (knee) could realistically make his preseason debut on Friday against the Seattle Seahawks. Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo mentioned that the team is "looking forward to possibly seeing him out there". While it seems like a foregone conclusion that Cook will play in Week 1 of the regular season, it would still be nice to get a glimpse of him before preseason is over. There have been rumblings about Cook and fellow RB Latavius Murray splitting carries during the season, but there is no doubt that Cook is the more dynamic of the two. He should still be drafted with RB1 upside, while Murray would be a smart handcuff to grab in later rounds.
Philadelphia Eagles running backs Wendell Smallwood and Matt Jones could have good outings on Thursday, making them both potentially solid DFS picks. The two backups are expected to be the only active running backs for Philadelphia's third preseason game. Darren Sproles has already been ruled out and Jay Ajayi is unlikely to play due to a lower body injury. Smallwood and Jones won't have much value during the regular season, but they could be sneaky good running backs for this week's DFS slate.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles will play "about a half" in Thursday's preseason game according to coach Doug Pederson. Foles was forced to leave the second preseason game because of a shoulder injury, but he recovered quickly and will be in there to face the Cleveland Browns in the regular season dress rehearsal. If Carson Wentz (knee) ends up not being able to start Week 1, Foles will be in there to start.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Sam Bradford has stated that he has been given a large degree of control over play-calling under offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. McCoy has previously worked with quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning, giving them the freedom to change in and out of plays and put up big numbers in the process. This is good news for Bradford fantasy owners, as the veteran quarterback could put up a solid QB2 campaign in his new offense.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Mike Glennon (forearm) is still nursing the same injury that kept him out of the team's second preseason game. Although he is making progress, his availability for this weekend's game against the Cowboys is still up in the air. Glennon projects to be the third quarterback on the depth chart, making his fantasy value virtually nothing for the 2018 season.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Brice Butler (foot) missed the team's game last week and is day-to-day heading into Week 3. However, head coach Steve Wilks is confident that the veteran receiver will be able to play. Butler has a bit of catching up to do, having lost the team's second wide receiver job to either Christian Kirk or Chad Williams for now. If Butler is able to reclaim the starting job, expect him to be a flex option this season. However, if not, Butler will likely have minimal fantasy value in 2018.
Oft-injured Baltimore Ravens running back Kenneth Dixon had a strong preseason debut Monday night against the Colts. The shifty running back averaged over five yards per carry and reeled in all three of his targets Monday night. Dixon will need to continue his strong showing to close out the preseason in an effort to grab hold of the backup running back role from teammate Javorious Allen. Allen also had a solid showing Monday night, but Dixon has shown to be the more skilled of the two when he manages to stay healthy. Alex Collins has a firm grasp on the lead-back duties in Baltimore's offense, but monitor this situation closely as his hand-cuff should emerge from one of Allen or Dixon.
Newly-acquired Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Michael Crabtree hauled in his only target from quarterback Joe Flacco in Monday night's preseason match-up with the Colts. The connection was good for a 29-yard gain along the sidelines. Both Crabtree and new teammate John Brown, who was also a free agent signing, have shown early chemistry with their new quarterback thus far. This chemistry should translate to the regular season and boosts the fantasy stock of both Flacco and his new receivers. Crabtree is coming off draft boards much earlier than Brown, but could be a candidate for double-digit touchdowns this season. Look to draft him in the middle rounds of your fantasy drafts.
Los Angeles Rams linebacker Mark Barron returned to practice. The former safety has excelled since converting to linebacker, and he is great in coverage. He flies around the field making tackles, which makes him a great play in IDP (individual defensive player) leagues. His return can also help soften the blow of Aaron Donald's absence if his holdout extends into the regular season. Head coach Sean McVay is hoping to have him back for the start of the season. If he progresses well, he will help strengthen the Rams' defense biggest weakness, which is the linebacker position. Linebacker is the position group management did not address this offseason, so Barron will have to take that next step.
Baltimore Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson had a quiet showing on Monday night against the Colts. The quarterback got off to a slow start, but flashed some elusiveness in avoiding Indianapolis' pass-rush on his first drive of the game. Jackson said after the game that he has not performed as well as he has hoped in the preseason, but, despite that, the quarterback still managed to connect for a touchdown pass in the game. Teammate Joe Flacco's strong preseason has solidified Baltimore's original plan to go into the season with the veteran having a firm hold on the starting quarterback job, so Jackson will have plenty of time to become more efficient. He is still an attractive dynasty league asset, and could have some nice value in the event of an injury to Flacco. Jackson should be drafted as the third rookie quarterback off the board in your dynasty drafts.