Wed Jun 7 12:31pm ET
Field Level Media
Bills quarterback Josh Allen achieved a childhood dream Wednesday when he was named the cover athlete for the Madden NFL 24 video game.
Allen, 27, is the first Buffalo player to appear on the cover and joins a club that includes fellow signal-callers Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson.
"It's such a small group of people who have ever touched the face of Madden, so now to be on that list, it's very surreal. It's very humbling," Allen told ESPN. "To think about where I was not too long ago and coming out of high school with zero offers, going to junior college and have one offer, University of Wyoming of all places, and then fast-forward to now.
"I don't know if I would have believed you at that point, if you were to tell me in high school. It's so surreal. Madden has such a special place in my heart."
Allen has guided the Bills to three straight AFC East division championships.
The two-time Pro Bowl selection finished second in the NFL MVP voting in 2020 and third in 2022.
The release date for Madden NFL 24 is Aug. 18.
Dynasty | Mark Andrews said that he's probably in the best shape of his life Dynasty Analysis: Andrews turns 28 in early September and is coming off a down year in which he produced 847 yards and five touchdowns across 73 receptions. The top tight end did miss two games due to injury. Looking ahead to the 2023 regular season, Andrews figures to loom large once again as a favored target of Lamar Jackson, potentially approaching the 107/1,361/9 stat line he produced in 2021. One to always deflect praise, if Andrews is saying he's in the best shape of his career, it's a statement to take note of. He's listed as DLF's TE2.
Dynasty | Romeo Doubs is a breakout candidate for 2023 Dynasty Analysis: Doubs' connection with Jordan Love has been on display in OTAs and it continues to grow. It's clear the second-year receiver has been the standout in camp and he'll be looking to finally make good on expectations after, as a rookie, the fast-rising receiver failed to match the hype, ultimately finishing with a 42/425/3 line with Aaron Rodgers under center. Now with Jordan Love at the helm, it remains to be seen if the reduced expectations from the dynasty community are enough to create a value-on opportunity. He's found as DLF's WR61.
Dynasty | Rookie running back Tyjae Spears is "regularly one of the most active - and noticeable - players." Dynasty Analysis: Spears has also been staying after practice to catch "100-plus" balls on a consistent basis. Fellow players have also been effusive in their praise of the rookie noting his routes, versatility, and his quickness. One of the stories of the 2023 NFL Draft involved the Titans using a third-round selection on what was perceived as an unneeded position and, furthermore, on Spears who has no ACL in one knee, leading many to believe he'll be a one-contract player. At the running back position, however, few reach a second contract with their original team. With reports that Spears is already dealing with some level of arthritis due to his condition, career length continues to be an issue keeping his draft status in dynasty lower than it would otherwise be. Starter Derrick Henry is 29 and Spears figures to see touches immediately, potentially inheriting the starting role when Henry departs, likely following 2023. Tyjae Spears is found as DLF's RB47 and an intriguing second-round dynasty rookie selection
Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel said that linebacker David Long (undisclosed) had a "tweak" earlier in the offseason workout program, which is why he hasn't been participating in team drills. "He's in a good spot and look forward to getting him out there," McDaniel said. It's unclear what Long's specific injury is, but it doesn't sound like something that will keep him sidelined into training camp at the end of July. The Dolphins are just being cautious with him for now. The 26-year-old is expected to enter 2023 as the team's starting inside linebacker after inking a two-year deal in March. Long comes to Miami after recording 230 tackles (137 solo), 15 tackles for loss, five QB hits, four interceptions, 14 passes defensed and two forced fumbles in four years with the Tennessee Titans.
The Buffalo Bills signed free-agent cornerback Cameron Dantzler to an undisclosed one-year deal on Wednesday and released cornerback Kyler McMichael in a corresponding move. Dantzler was just waived by the Washington Commanders at the end of May, but he quickly finds a home in Buffalo. The 24-year-old was originally a third-round selection by the Minnesota Vikings in 2020 out of Mississippi State. In three seasons with the Vikings, he had 149 tackles (125 solo), six tackles for loss, three interceptions, 17 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 35 games (26 starts). Dantzler had 50 tackles in 10 games in his final season in Minnesota in 2022. He'll provide secondary depth at corner behind Tre'Davious White and Kaiir Elam.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that quarterback Brock Purdy (elbow) is "right on pace" with his recovery from tightrope surgery on the torn UCL in his right elbow. Purdy is now throwing three times a week, and the Niners are hoping he'll be cleared for training camp at the end of July. The 23-year-old second-year signal-caller was present for the first day of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, and although he didn't throw, he was seen running on a side field. In the meantime, Trey Lance and Sam Darnold will split first-team repetitions under center, but if Purdy is ready to go for Week 1 of the regular season as expected, he is the 49ers' starting QB after an impressive rookie season. Until Purdy shows us more, though, he'll be considered a low-end QB2 in fantasy.
The San Francisco 49ers signed free-agent defensive end Darryl Johnson to an undisclosed deal on Tuesday. Johnson, 26, was drafted in the seventh round by the Buffalo Bills in 2019 and has also spent time with the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks. He was in training camp with Carolina last year, which means he's familiar to 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, who was the interim head coach for the Panthers after Matt Rhule was fired in 2022. In a corresponding move, the team waived wide receiver Shae Wyatt, an undrafted rookie out of Tulane. In four years in the NFL, Johnson has racked up only 34 tackles (23 solo), two sacks, six tackles for loss and five QB hits in 38 games (one start). He's played only seven games in the last two seasons with Carolina and Seattle.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle is among those who think quarterback Trey Lance looks better and more comfortable this year than he did at this point a year ago when he was still adjusting to a 2021 broken finger that threw off his mechanics. "I'm not gonna lie to you I think Trey looks significantly better than he did last year. I really do," Kittle said. "He just looks comfortable back there. He just looks like he's having fun." Lance is set to join Kittle and others at Tight End University, the annual summit held by Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, later this month. The 23-year-old is looking fully healthy and comfortable this offseason, but the bad news is he's likely headed for the bench to begin the 2023 season, as long as Brock Purdy (elbow) is ready to go.
The Athletic's Matt Barrows writes that San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has looked like the best player on the field the past two weeks during organized team activities and minicamp. Aiyuk had his fifth-year option picked up by the team at the end of April after he posted his first 1,000-yard receiving season while adding a career-high eight touchdowns on 78 receptions (114 targets) in 17 regular season games in his third NFL season. The 25-year-old pass-catcher stepped up in a big way with Deebo Samuel having a down year, but it could be difficult for Aiyuk to match those numbers in 2023 in head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense with a full year of quarterback Brock Purdy (elbow) under center. Fantasy managers should avoid paying too much for Aiyuk's big 2022 season and instead consider him a solid WR3.
Dynasty | Deebo Samuel said he expects to bounce back following an "awful" 2022 due to the ongoing distraction of contract discussions Dynasty Analysis: In his comments, Samuel seems extremely motivated and said he'll "never put nothing on tape like that again." By all accounts, Brandon Aiyuk has been the standout in OTAs while Deebo worked on the side but he's expected to hit the ground running when camp opens. There are few players in the NFL with Samuel's dynamic and if he's on his game, he's a show-stopper and a candidate to be the top receiver in total yardage production. 2021's total production of 1,770 yards stands in stark contrast to 2022's total of 864 across only 13 games. Still only 27 and now listed as DLF's WR15, the dynasty community appears unconvinced a return to 2021's production is forthcoming.
Dynasty | Michael Thomas said he will be full speed for training camp Dynasty Analysis: It will be the first time Thomas has been fully healthy in years and he's certain to be a favored target of new quarterback Derek Carr. Now 30, Thomas hasn't had a 1,000-yard season (1,725) since 2019 and he's appeared in only 10 games over the past two years. With a somewhat revamped offense, it's hard to know what to expect from the aging, once-great, receiver though he's likely to be a popular sleeper selection in dynasty drafts. He's listed as DLF's WR70.
Dynasty | Rhamondre Stevenson is preparing for an even greater role in 2023 Dynasty Analysis: Damien Harris has moved on to Buffalo leaving few clear-cut options below him on the Patriots depth chart. Stevenson notched his first 1,000-yard (1,040) campaign as a sophomore in 2022 though only scored five touchdowns. On a more positive note, he also produced 69 receptions for 421 yards and another touchdown as a receiver. It's clear the 25-year-old will be the lead back for the Patriots while questions remain about which who will factor to reduce his workload. Expect those answers to emerge during training camp. Listed as DLF's RB13, Stevenson is priced to perfection given the expected increase in role.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel wants to make amends for a subpar season in 2022 after describing last year as "awful" while acknowledging that a sometimes-prickly contract negotiation was a distraction that left him "being the eight ball" when the season started. He finished with 864 combined yards in 13 games, a step down from 1,770 scrimmage yards in 2021. Samuel isn't quite in excellent shape right now, but he intends to be on Day 1 of training camp this summer. The 27-year-old dealt with nagging injuries along the way in 2022 as well, which likely slowed him down. It's great that Samuel is motivated to bounce back this year, but the presence of running back Christian McCaffrey will likely continue to limit Samuel's fantasy ceiling. Despite his down 2022 campaign, Samuel remains a strong WR2 in fantasy.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold took all of the first-team repetitions at the first day of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, while Trey Lance led the second-team group and Brandon Allen handled the third team. Darnold and Lance have been alternating throughout the spring, and Lance is expected to get first-team reps on Wednesday. Darnold went 4-for-7 in 11-on-11 sessions, while Lance went 6-for-9 on his attempts. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has been impressed with Allen's ability to pick up the offense despite signing after the offseason program started. The Niners really like both Darnold and Lance, but as long as Brock Purdy (elbow) is ready for the start of the regular season, as expected, the second-year QB will be the starter for San Fran under center.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor is coming off a disappointing 2022 season that saw him run for a career-low 861 yards. Part of the problem for Taylor last season was injuries, as the superstar missed six games with a nagging ankle injury. He had just four touchdowns and finished as the RB33 in PPR leagues.After finishing as the RB1 in 2021 and the RB6 in 2020 in PPR leagues, Taylor couldn't maintain that same level of success in 2022. He averaged just 13.3 fantasy points per game last season. However, the 24-year-old will be a high fantasy pick again in 2023 due to his upside in Indianapolis' offense.Is Taylor still hurt? Will he be a fantasy superstar again? Let's take a look at the report from the Colts' organized team activities. Is Jonathan Taylor Injured or Healthy?Taylor underwent ankle surgery in January to repair the lingering injury he dealt with for most of the 2022 season. The surgery will help him get back to 100% and back to that 2021-type season.Even though it's still early into the offseason, Taylor is not participating in the Colts' OTAs after the recent ankle surgery. It's not a surprise to see Indianapolis take a careful approach with their young running back. There's no need to rush him back with a long offseason ahead.https://twitter.com/romeovillekid/status/1661773113749651457?s=42&t=nmclxZ4zP1Gqt9CUbbpkHwDespite missing OTAs though, Taylor should still be in a position to be a full go for the start of Training Camp. Jonathan Taylor's 2023 Fantasy OutlookThe off-season ankle surgery will, hopefully, help Taylor bounce back from a poor 2022 season. If he can stay healthy in 2023, there's no doubt he can finish as the RB1 in fantasy football again.He's just one season removed from that RB1 finish, which saw him run for 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns. He averaged almost 22 fantasy points per game that season and had nine finishes over 20 fantasy points. Taylor has the upside and potential to repeat that type of performance in 2023.Taylor has the talent to be a fantasy superstar again, but the arrival of rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson delivers a small hit to his value. With the selection of Richardson, Taylor might see fewer carries and goal-line touches with the 6-foot-4 quarterback under center. Still, the star running back should get enough volume to finish in the RB1 to RB5 range this season.
The Dallas Cowboys released running back Ezekiel Elliott this offseason after a disappointing 2022 year. The veteran back finished the season with a career-low 231 carries and 876 yards in 15 games. Elliott did rush for 12 touchdowns (tied for the second most of his career in a season) but averaged a mere 3.79 yards per carry.The release was expected because of the Cowboys' cap situation and the running back's season. Dallas saved more than $10.9 million towards their cap space in 2023, and the move opened the door for Tony Pollard to be the new RB1 in the offense.But is a reunion in the works to bring Elliott back? What would his fantasy outlook look like back in Dallas? Let's take a look. Will the Cowboys bring back Ezekiel Elliott?Owner Jerry Jones has not ruled out bringing back Elliott for the 2023 season. On Monday, Jones met with reporters and reiterated that he hasn't closed the door on a possible reunion with the former All-Pro back.https://twitter.com/jonmachota/status/1665774979101650944?s=20Elliott still remains a free agent and has yet to find a new home following his release in March. Shortly after being cut, the 27-year-old running shared a wish list of teams he would love to go to: Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, and Philadelphia Eagles. But all three teams seem content with their current running back group.The return of Elliott to Dallas makes a lot of sense for the Cowboys. The team lacks a power runner behind Pollard. Malik Davis, Ronald Jones, and Deuce Vaughn all lack size. The team could roll with undrafted rookie fullback Hunter Luepke, but bringing back a veteran like Elliott, on a cheaper one-year deal, could help big time. Ezekiel Elliott's Fantasy Outlook With The CowboysIf the Cowboys bring back Elliott, he could be a solid weekly flex play with RB2 upside in 2023. He put together the worst fantasy football season of his career last season. However, he was still inserted in fantasy lineups almost every week, finishing as the RB22 in PPR formats.Elliott had 10 double-digit performances, averaged 12.39 fantasy points per game, and scored a touchdown in nine straight games he played in from Week 6 to Week 17.With Pollard locked in as the RB1, Elliott would complement him in short-yard and goal-to-go situations -- similar to how he did in 2022. He might take on a slighter workload in Dallas this year. But in a high-scoring Cowboys offense, he should be a touchdown machine again and provide weekly flex numbers, if he were to re-sign with them.
Dynasty | 49ers receivers coach Leonard Hankerson said second-year receiver Danny Gray has work ethic and continues to develop. Dynasty Analysis: Gray was a popular sleeper selection as a rookie in 2022 but only saw 87 snaps and a single reception in 2022. Hankerson referenced both Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel as two other receivers who struggled to pick up the team's difficult receiver playbook before producing. With an established work ethic, Gray now needs to be "consistent" with his effort, and Hankerson noted he's made "tremendous strides" in his growth over his rookie season. Gray will compete with rookie Ronnie Bell as the team's WR4 though could have WR3 upside should current starter Jauan Jennings falter. Danny Gray remains on the fringes of the dynasty radar, appearing as a sparsely ranked WR117.
Dynasty | Speaking about Christian McCaffrey, 49ers running back coach Anthony Lynn said he believes the veteran will be even more dynamic in 2023. Dynasty Analysis: Lynn said McCaffrey wasn't familiar with the system following his trade to the team and he's looking fast and "game-ready" in OTAs. Turning 27 on June 7, McCaffrey erased all doubts about his health when he rushed for 1,139 yards and eight touchdowns while splitting time with the Panthers and 49ers, while also reeling in a total of 85 receptions and another five touchdowns. More importantly, he appeared in all 17 games. The biggest question surrounding the aging star surrounds his touch count when considering the role of oft-injured Elijah Mitchell, who has shown capability when healthy. Over his last four games in the 2022 regular season, McCaffrey rushed 70 times for 321 yards and three touchdowns and produced 17 receptions for another touchdown. His average of 17 rushes per game were greater than Mitchell's nearly-ten per game over that same stretch. Clearly, there remains a strong potential for a significant committee between both backs, but McCaffrey's dynamic as both a runner and a receiver should keep him as the easy choice as the lead back. Christian McCaffrey is found as DLF's RB4.
Dynasty | Rachaad White said he expects to see "a lot of balls" as a receiver Dynasty Analysis: In his rookie season, White was somewhat uninspiring as a runner, amassing 481 yards and a single touchdown across 129 attempts, good for 3.7 ypc. But as a receiver, the rookie showed significant ability by producing 290 yards and two touchdowns on 50 receptions. It stands to reason the Bucs will continue to lean on the sophomore as a receiver. The bigger question surrounds what the team will do on early-down snaps with only Chase Edmonds, Ke'Shawn Vaughn, and rookie Sean Tucker behind him on the depth chart. Edmonds has been unable to parlay recent roles into upside production which could mean the Bucs will give White another chance to carry the load. Or, the team could consider a free-agent veteran. In either case, Rachaad White appears to possess value-on potential in 2023 as DLF's RB26.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper (abdomen) took part in 11-on-11 drills in Tuesday's OTAs. Cooper had core muscle surgery in February after playing through the issue for part of the 2022 season. His ability to participate fully on Tuesday is a good sign as he should be able to open training camp. Cooper is primed for a solid year as Cleveland's WR1 heading into 2023.