Thu Jun 1 5:43pm ET
Field Level Media
Minnesota Vikings tight end Ben Ellefson, citing injuries, retired from football on Thursday after three NFL seasons.
Ellefson, 26, appeared in four games with one start for the Vikings last season, when he had three receptions on three targets for 26 yards. Primarily a blocking tight end and special teams player, he was placed on injured reserve in October and was unable to return to action.
"Injuries are part of the game and although they are a big reason for me moving on, I am fortunate to be in a spot where I can still walk away from the game as a player, ready to tackle whatever is next in my life," Ellefson wrote on his Instagram account.
For his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2020) and Minnesota (2021-22), Ellefson totaled 16 games (five starts) with four receptions on eight targets for 36 yards. Each season ended on the injured reserve list.
Ellefson, a native of Hawley, Minn., played at North Dakota State and signed with Jacksonville as an undrafted free agent in 2020. He signed with the Vikings after the Jaguars released him in September 2021.
"Thank you football for the people you've brought into my life and the opportunities you've given me to pursue my dreams to the fullest," Ellefson wrote. "I've been blessed on my path to have people who believed in me, which has drowned out those who doubted. So, thank you believers, for the chances you've taken on me, helping and supporting me in my drive to give this game all I could and to reach my fullest potential. The list is long and I am fortunate.
"Everybody's story is different, and I'm proud to say I've given the game of football everything I have."
Dynasty | Second-year receiver Justyn Ross is trusted by Patrick Mahomes Dynasty Analysis: Ross missed all of 2022 due to a foot injury and subsequent surgery but he's been full-go in OTAs and has performed well enough to be a trusted receiver for Patrick Mahomes. Ross went undrafted during the 2022 NFL Draft due to injury concern but his red-shirt 2022 rookie season allowed him to rest, recover and be 100% for 2023. At 6'4/210 lbs., he could be the big receiver the offense needs to replace departed Juju Smith-Schuster (NE) if he can find a way to garner material snaps during the regular season. It's a long offseason and Ross needs to show he can remain healthy to be in the mix come September. If he continues to trend during training camp, he's a deep sleeper with a high ceiling dynasty coaches will want to consider. Very sparsely ranked as DLF's WR121, Justyn Ross can be added now in deep-roster leagues for coach's with available space.
Dynasty | Second-year receiver Jalen Tolbert was mentioned by head coach Mike McCarthy as an "excellent example" of a player making a jump Dynasty Analysis: Tolbert was trending in 2022's dynasty rookie drafts as an upside second-round selection with talk of a possible starting situation. Instead, the rookie wasn't able to crack the starting lineup and was inactive on most game days, causing him to slide back down rankings. Fast forward to 2023 and it appears Tolbert is finally gaining notice and, though he won't factor as a starter given the presence of CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks and Michael Gallup, things can change quickly in the NFL and the sophomore's 6'3" size could be difficult to keep off the field. Found as DLF's WR91, patient and enterprising dynasty coaches looking for a low-valued upside prospect may want to consider addition of Jalen Tolbert.
Dynasty | Second-year running back Kyren Williams is sharing snaps with starter Cam Akers during OTAs Dynasty Analysis: The 2022 fifth-round selection missed the start of the season due to a foot injury during training camp, followed by an ankle injury to begin the regular season. While many believed the rookie could garner starter's snaps, it never transpired, and Williams finished with 35 carries for 139 yards. In a Sean McVay backfield, anything is possible as the mercurial coach often demonstrates flights of fancy in his play calling and backfield committee. While Williams receiving snaps with the first-team isn't immaterial, there's little way anything can be drawn from the report other than he is healthy and should be seen as Akers' backup. Kyren Williams is found as DLF's RB81.
Dynasty | Rookie receiver Puka Nacua is playing all three receiver positions and is making an impression Dynasty Analysis: He's also said to have a firm grasp of the playbook. The fifth-round rookie out of BYU has good size (6'2/205) and had material production in his final (and only) two years with the Cougars. The Rams clearly need additional dynamic in the receiver room and Nacua gaining notice while star Cooper Kupp is away from camp is a positive sign. Kupp and Van Jefferson figure to be the team's top-two receivers to begin the season with veteran Ben Skowronek lining up in three-wide formations. With little behind the veterans, Nacua may be able to compete for regular season snaps with a good training camp. He's listed as DLF's WR103.
Los Angeles Chargers left tackle Rashawn Slater (biceps) tore his bicep muscle in Week 3 last year and didn't play again the rest of the season. However, he said his bicep has been "100 percent" healthy for at least the last couple of months. He has been training with personal offensive-line trainer Duke Manyweather alongside teammates Trey Pipkins III and Foster Sarell. With a starting O-line of Slater, Zion Johnson, Corey Linsley, Jamaree Salyer and Pipkins, the Chargers will enter the 2023 season with one of the most solid offensive lines they've had in recent memory. "I just feel like the potential is insane with us," Slater said of the young group. "It's a really cool thing to be a part of." If they can stay healthy all year, they'll be a huge boost for quarterback Justin Herbert and running back Austin Ekeler.
Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell said that running back David Montgomery (undisclosed) won't take part in organized team activities on Thursday due to an undisclosed injury that he suffered at practice last week, but his injury isn't considered serious. After four seasons with the Chicago Bears, where he put up 800-plus rushing yards in every season, Montgomery comes to Detroit as the expected primary option on early downs in 2023. The 25-year-old had a total of 155 receptions in his tenure in Chicago as well, but the presence of first-round rookie Jahmyr Gibbs will certainly lower Montgomery's overall fantasy ceiling, especially in PPR leagues. Treat Montgomery as a low-end RB2/high-end RB3 in his first year with the Lions.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jakeem Grant Sr. (Achilles) was a limited participant in organized team activities on Wednesday after spending the first week of OTAs exclusively with trainers. Grant worked on a side field mostly catching kicks on Wednesday, and his path to returning from a torn Achilles and trying to make the final roster will be via the return game on special teams. The 30-year-old didn't play at all in 2022 because of his injury. He's never really been a threat as a pass-catcher in seven NFL seasons, with his career year coming in 2020 with the Miami Dolphins, when he caught 36 passes for 373 yards and one touchdown in 14 games (four starts). Grant will be well off the fantasy radar come draft season this fall.
Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said wide receiver Jalen Tolbert is an excellent example of a player making a second-year jump so far this offseason. Tolbert has flashed during some 7-on-7 work during organized team activities. It's nice to hear, but it's still early in the offseason, and players aren't in pads or making contact yet. The 24-year-old former third-rounder had a disappointing rookie campaign, catching just two of three targets for 12 yards in eight games played (one start) for Dallas in 2022. It'll be hard for him not to be better in 2023, but he'll still be opening the year behind CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks and Michael Gallup in the receiving pecking order. Tolbert should only be rostered in dynasty/keeper leagues.
Free-agent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who was released by the Arizona Cardinals at the end of last week, said he'd be interested in a reunion with the Houston Texans, the team he began his career with after they took him in the first round in 2013. It's been widely believed that Hopkins is looking to play for a contender -- the Bills and Chiefs are the two teams most mentioned -- so a return to the rebuilding Texans would be a pretty big surprise. The 30-year-old made four Pro Bowls in Houston, and he'd undoubtedly become their top pass-catching target with rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud eventually expected to start in 2023. While Nuk is no longer at his peak physically, he still produced when on the field last year and should be in the mix as at least a WR2 in fantasy this year.
It's clear from organized team activities that the Cleveland Browns are intent on feeding new wide receiver Elijah Moore this year. He was frequently targeted by quarterback Deshaun Watson during practice on Wednesday, mostly on quick passes. Moore has been lining up in different spots and going in motion a lot. It's still unclear on how exactly his role will shake out, but it's clear the Browns want to get him the ball on short passes to let him create with the ball in his hands in space. "(Moore) has great flexibility; inside and outside flexibility," offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said. The 23-year-old impressed as a rookie with the Jets in 2021, but he fell out of favor last year and was traded to Cleveland, where he has a nice chance to bounce back. Moore is quickly becoming a trendy sleeper target in fantasy drafts this year, especially in PPR leagues.
Dynasty | DeAndre Hopkins could have interest in returning to Houston. Dynasty Analysis: Hopkins was surprisingly released by Arizona earlier this week and most believe he'll ultimately end up with the Bills or Chiefs in pursuit of a Super Bowl ring. However, if he doesn't get an offer he loves, it seems as if he's interested in a reunion in Texas. Houston is a much different team now that Deshaun Watson is gone but CJ Stroud would certainly welcome the Texans legend back into town. At this point, it's just speculation. We should have an answer on where our current WR42 lands soon enough.
Dynasty | Tom Brady has doubled down on his retirement by saying he's certain he's done playing football. Dynasty Analysis: It seems the GOAT is truly done this time after returning to the field for one last season with Tampa Bay. He'll go down as one of the best fantasy quarterbacks as well after posting over 89,000 passing yards and 649 touchdowns over his career. For the first time since 2000, fantasy managers will truly be looking elsewhere for their signal callers. At this point, it certainly seems more than safe to drop Brady in your dynasty league.
Dynasty | In a report from the Steelers' camp, receiver George Pickens was described as "the best receiver I've seen in OTAs." Dynasty Analysis: The sophomore had a notable rookie season, producing a 52/804/4 line in an offense far from hitting on all cylinders. Now with a full season under his belt, and presumably the game slowing down, a lot of expectations are riding atop the 6'3" receiver's shoulders. Starting across the formation from Diontae Johnson, it's fair to assume the Steelers' passing attack will be defined by the growth of quarterback Kenny Pickett, but Pickens possesses the athletic profile to be a consistently dangerous weapon. The second-year receiver has been a popular trade asset this offseason and his WR32 status shows equal measure of upside and scrutiny.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Treylon Burks continues to be quarterback Ryan Tannehill's favorite target at organized team activities. Titans beat writer Jim Wyatt also writes that he hasn't seen Burks drop a ball intended for him yet in the open portions of OTAs. The 23-year-old former first-rounder dealt with conditioning issues last offseason and entered his first regular season in the NFL behind the eight ball in terms of development. The Titans let Robert Woods walk in the offseason and didn't do much to bolster the position, so Burks figures to play a huge role in the team's passing attack in his second year. Even in a run-first offense, fantasy managers should expect a massive increase in targets for Burks, if he can stay healthy.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Justyn Ross has looked good in offseason workouts and is gaining the trust of quarterback Patrick Mahomes at organized team activities, according to head coach Andy Reid. "Justyn is coming along. He feels good, his foot feels good (and) the surgery that he had worked out well up to this point. He's made some nice plays for us out here. I know Pat's (Mahomes) got trust in him, so that's good to see," Reid said. The 23-year-old's foot injury kept him on Injured Reserve for his entire rookie season in 2022, but he appears to be making up for lost time this offseason. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder is a big target, but he'll have to earn playing time in 2022 alongside Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, Richie James and rookie Rashee Rice. For now, he's just a name to watch heading into training camp.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry, who has missed organized team activities in the past, has been present for all five of the team's OTAs so far this offseason, and his workload has increased along the way. Henry is working with a new position coach in 2023 after the team hired Justin Outten as their run-game coordinator/RBs coach with former RBs coach Tony Dews now coaching tight ends. The 29-year-old King Henry got off to a slow start in 2022, but he remained the focal point of Tennessee's run-first offense and finished with 1,538 rushing yards and 13 TDs on a league-high 349 carries in 16 regular season starts. All of the mileage on his legs is adding up, but he should remain heavily involved in the Titans offense yet again in 2023. At worst, Henry is a midrange RB1 for fantasy managers.
Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said that the team is making improving their deep passing game in 2023 a priority this offseason. The Browns are looking for more explosive plays deep down the field this year, which should be good news for quarterback Deshaun Watson, and wide receivers Marquise Goodwin, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Elijah Moore and Amari Cooper. In 2022, Watson completed only 23.1 percent of passes that traveled 20-plus yards down the field. After a lengthy suspension to begin last season, Watson was pretty inconsistent in his six starts down the stretch, completing a career-low 58.2% of his passes. In Year 2 in Cleveland, he should be more effective. Target him as a low-end QB1 in fantasy drafts.
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones seems pleased with the team's offensive process this offseason under new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien after the offense was a disaster in his second NFL season in 2022. "It's been really good. It's been normal," Jones said. "I think everything he's done so far has been really good." Jones helped teach O'Brien Alabama's playbook upon his arrival in 2021, so the two have history together. With Joe Judge and Matt Patricia running the offense last year, the 24-year-old Jones struggled, completing 65.2% of his passes for 2,997 yards, 14 TDs and 11 picks in 14 starts. There's reason to be optimistic for a bounce-back with O'Brien now in the picture, though, but it doesn't mean Jones should be drafted in standard single-QB fantasy leagues in 2023.
The Charlotte Observer's Mike Kaye thinks that Carolina Panthers wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. is on the verge of breaking out in 2023. The former second-round pick in 2021 had just 17 receptions for 138 yards in his rookie season, but he improved by catching 28 of 47 targets for 490 yards and his first NFL touchdown in 14 games (nine starts) a year ago. Marshall will have to beat out rookie Jonathan Mingo for a starting spot in 2023, but if he does, Kaye thinks there's a lot of upside in an offense that will be led by first overall pick Bryce Young. After averaging a robust 17.5 yards per reception in his second NFL campaign, Marshall has some intriguing late-round flier potential in deeper fantasy leagues this fall.
Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said that rookie tight end Luke Musgrave "looks different" than what the team has had in the past at the position. "He is different." LaFleur also said Musgrave is a quick learner and is earning first-team repetitions at organized team activities. "He does have an elite trait in that he can flat fly, and he's a large target." Musgrave has a clear path to starting duties at tight end after being taken in the second round of this year's draft. Fellow rookie Tucker Kraft and Josiah Deguara will also factor in, but it would be an upset if the 22-year-old Musgrave wasn't Green Bay's starter in 2023. He should have plenty of opportunities in his first year in the NFL, but fantasy managers should pump the brakes on Musgrave's fantasy value in redraft leagues.