Tue May 30 2:31pm ET
Field Level Media
Quarterback Deshaun Watson made it crystal clear Tuesday that he'd love for the Cleveland Browns to sign his former teammate DeAndre Hopkins.
Hopkins, a five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, was released by the Arizona Cardinals on Friday after three seasons with the club. He spent his first seven NFL seasons with the Houston Texans, earning three All-Pro honors.
"Me and D-Hop, we just naturally talk. We've been talking since the Houston days, and whenever he was in Arizona, we were always talking," Watson said at the Browns Foundation Golf outing at Westwood Country Club. "He's always been a brother of mine since I was coming out of high school. Our connection, our relationship has always been great. And I know there's a lot of things swirling around in the media about him possibly coming to Cleveland.
"For me, my answer to that is, of course we'd love to have him."
Hopkins noted that he's looking for three things in a team when speaking on a podcast with Brandon Marshall last week. Per Hopkins, he wants stable management, a quarterback who "loves the game like I do" and "a great defense."
"I'll just say this, D-Hop, DeAndre Hopkins would love to be in a place where the opportunity is there for us to win," Watson said Tuesday. "We check all those boxes and I think for us to know and make sure we check all those boxes on the national stage, we've got to go out there and prove it and I think D-Hop would love to be a part of that."
The Browns, however, have a crowded wide receiver room, led by Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones. They also added Elijah Moore and Marquise Goodwin in the offseason, and selected Cedric Tillman in the third round of the draft.
"I really, really like our wide receiver room," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said at the same event. "I love the guys that are in there. Andrew and his crew are always looking at every avenue, so I won't comment specifically on the player other than to say that I really like our roster."
Dynasty | According to SI's Albert Breer, DeAndre Hopkins is too expensive Dynasty Analysis: Breer suggests that Hopkins will only see half of his previous $19.45M salary in his next deal, potentially with extra incentives. Furthermore, the aging star may have to choose from taking a bigger offer or "he takes less to chase a ring." When asking around the league about Hopkins' game, as he turns 31 (next week), opinions varied from "he can't run anymore" and "he is not going to separate" to he's "a good route runner" and "still [has] great hands." As Breer points out, that range of opinion given Hopkins' advancing age is why he should choose a team that won't rely on him to be the only option, still clearly favoring Kansas City or Buffalo. We likely won't have to wait long before DLF's WR41 finds his next home. That sound you hear is both the Chiefs and Bills diligently working to free cap space to add the upside veteran.
Dynasty | The Jets believe running back Michael Carter will bounce back in 2023. Dynasty Analysis: Carter had a disappointing campaign following Breece Hall's ACL injury. His YPC average fell to 3.5 in his sophomore year and he could only muster three touchdowns. While his reception total did rise to 41, the third-year back is capable of far more if given the opportunity. Hall continues to progress well from the ACL injury which ended his upside rookie season, but all arrows point to a return for week one. A healthy Hall ensures Carter will remain in a backup role and, likely, not productive enough to start in fantasy with any confidence. Found as DLF's RB47, it's starting to appear that Carter's best chance and fantasy impact will come following the completion of his contract year, 2024.
Dynasty | The Jets believe fifth-round rookie running back Israel Abanikanda will have an immediate role on the offense. Dynasty Analysis: The role could be a push to start should sophomore phenom Breece Hall not be ready to go following the 2022 ACL injury which ended his season. All arrows continue to Hall being ready for the regular season but a deep running back room could allow the team to slow-play his return, thus allowing Abanikanda to potentially function as the starter. With training camp yet to be underway, it's too difficult to connect the dots at this juncture, and third-year runner Michael Carter still has a role and is expected to bounce back from his own disappointing 2022. As for Abanikanda, he's found as DLF's RB73 and remains a dark horse to be a significant fantasy producer in 2023.
Dynasty | It remains unclear when Breece Hall will be ready to return as he rehabs from an ACL injury suffered in 2022. Dynasty Analysis: There's never been any indication that the Jets believed Hall would be ready to go on day one of camp and rushing their sophomore phenom back to the field would be a misguided approach. By all accounts, his rehabilitation continues to progress ahead of schedule and there's every chance he's back for week one of the regular season. With a deep running back room consisting of Michael Carter and rookie Israel Abanikanda, the team could elect to slow play Hall's return but we won't know the Jets intentions until well beyond the start of training camp. Breece Hall is found as DLF's RB2 behind only rookie Bijan Robinson.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison is not participating at organized team activities this week, but head coach Kevin O'Connell said it is "nothing serious." Addison reportedly suffered a minor undisclosed injury at rookie minicamp. For now, there should be no panic or takeaway as the team is likely just being careful with its 2023 first-round pick. Addison is expected to have a big role right away alongside Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson in the ascending Minnesota offense led by Kirk Cousins. These "minor injuries" can develop into big things quickly, though, so stay tuned for further updates.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley will be a full participant in practice when training camp rolls around, but for now, head coach Doug Pederson said the team is being careful with the former Atlanta Falcon. Ridley hasn't seen game action since Week 7 of the 2021 season, so he'll be slowly eased back into action. However, Pederson said he has seen no sign of rust. Ridley posted 1,374 receiving yards on 90 receptions in 2020 before stepping away from the team in early 2021. The 28-year-old will look to be Trevor Lawrence's No. 1 WR and recapture his former upside in his first season in Duval County.
Dynasty | Speaking on the topic of the Cowboys backfield, head coach Mike McCarthy said: "It's Tony's opportunity to be the lead back." Dynasty Analysis: There's no surprise in that statement and McCarthy's full quote was: "It's Tony's opportunity to be the lead back, so we're just getting all of those guys ready. Deuce is the new guy and it's been cool to see him implemented in the things that we've been doing here the last week. The group will look different because [Zeke's] presence is not there."The Cowboys were sixth-overall in rushing attempts (531) in 2022 and the absence of Ezekiel Elliott looms large as a potential benefit to Pollard. That said, it's not out of the question Elliott returns to the team on a much cheaper contract, one that would allow the veteran to slide into a backup role. As for Pollard, the recently-turned 26-year-old has steadily climbed dynasty rankings and is now found as DLF's RB11 with most expecting a material increase in touches in 2023. With equal potential both as a runner and as a receiver, Pollard could solidify himself as one of fantasy's top-backs with another strong performance in 2023.
Dynasty | Patriots writer Paul Perillo doesn't believe Bailey Zappe will supplant Mac Jones as the starter. Dynasty Analysis: His full quote was: "I don't rule out any possibilities, especially considering Bill Belichick specifically said there will competition at all spots on the roster when asked about quarterback. That said, no, I don't believe Zappe outplayed Jones for the most part last year and I don't believe he will supplant Jones as the quarterback in 2023.It's clear the Jones and Belichick relationship doesn't have a strong foundation but winning cures all. Losing, however, further erodes relationships. It's not likely Zappe would threaten Jones' role as the starter during the offseason, but all bets are off when the 2023 regular season kicks off. Found as DLF's QB34, Zappe is flying well below the dynasty radar and seems to only have value in superflex formats. There's little reason to add the second-year quarterback at this time, but enterprising dynasty coaches playing in deep-roster formats may want to consider adding Zappe immediately prior to the 2023 regular season.
Dynasty | Patriots writer Paul Perillo believes second-year receiver Tyquan Thornton is in a pivotal year Dynasty Analysis: Thornton possesses a slight build without the likelihood of adding significant additional weight. As primarily a deep threat, concerns remain about the sophomore's ability to work across the field. But Thornton is projected to be a starter in 2023 and should have a role to begin the season. Whether Thornton can develop into something more than a boundary option remains to be seen, and DLF's WR76 ranking shows the dynasty community doesn't possess a great deal of confidence. Tyquan Thornton is positioned as a value-on addition during the 2023 offseason with the ability to move on quickly if he doesn't produce early during the regular season.
Dynasty | Patriots writer Paul Perillo believes sixth-round rookie Kayshon Boutte could be a late-round gem. Dynasty Analysis: Perillo admits there a lot of uncertainty around this thought and Boutte in general. Once believed to be a high pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Boutte's draft stock was torpedoed by an ankle injury and poor production in what would be his final year at LSU. Working in the rookie's favor is the fact that the Patriots receiver depth chart appears wide-open below JuJu Smith-Schuster and it's not out of the realm of possibility Boutte could show well during training camp and parlay this into an early-season role. At the same time, as a late-round selection, Boutte is guaranteed nothing and won't be a lock to remain on the roster through training camp. He's found as DLF's WR101 and rookie WR14.
Dynasty | Rookie receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton was mentioned as one of the most exciting UDFA's following the 2023 NFL Draft Dynasty Analysis: The rookie out of West Virginia has a notable athletic profile in a 6'3/221 lbs. frame. He produced a 4.38 40-yard dash and isn't without collegiate production, amassing a 62/675/7 line in his final year at West Virginia. Even better, Ford-Wheaton chose the Giants over the Eagles due to the team's unsettled depth chart and potential to see the field early in his career if he can stand out this offseason. Unranked on DLF's rookie receiver rankings, Bryce Ford-Wheaton is undoubtedly a long shot to produce in the NFL, but a combination of size and opportunity provides at least a puncher's chance of success.
It remains to be seen if the Baltimore Ravens will consider signing free-agent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, but The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec thinks it's a "no-brainer, contract demands and team chemistry questions be damned." Hopkins would no doubt help Baltimore in their quest to develop a more dynamic passing game under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, but will they be able to afford him? He'll turn 31 next week, but he's a five-time All-Pro and still has some of the best hands in the game. The Ravens did their due diligence on Hopkins earlier this offseason, but it doesn't appear that the team was ever really close to a deal with the Cardinals. Baltimore can get Hopkins cheaper now, but they've also invested a lot of offseason capital on adding receivers Nelson Agholor and Odell Beckham Jr.
Dynasty | According to former Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall, Jerry Jeudy has what it takes to be a top-five receiver. Dynasty Analysis: Jeudy appeared on the "I am athlete" podcast with Marshall and acknowledged that he's had a rough start to his professional career but that he's focused and putting in the work, especially in the area of stamina. Recently turned 24, Jeudy is on the rise in dynasty after producing career-high numbers in 2022, amassing a 67/972/6 line across 15 games. He also averaged eight targets over his final five games. By all accounts, most believe the fourth-year receiver is in for a breakout season. The team picked up Jeudy's fifth-year option earlier this month. Now 100% healthy, with a full offseason of training expected and, just as important, a full offseason with Russell Wilson at the helm, the arrows are pointing straight up for Jeudy, DLF's WR26.
Dynasty | Now in a contract year, A.J. Dillon needs a big year for the Packers Dynasty Analysis: The fate of free-agent running backs has been well documented recently and following a somewhat disappointing 2022 campaign, Dillon needs to bounce back in 2023. Metrics for plus-sized back fell across the board and he ceded more receptions to fellow back Aaron Jones, though he did notch a career-high (7) in touchdowns. Not many running backs sign second contracts with their original teams and if Dillon is looking for that to occur, he'll need to improve in all areas. Found as DLF's RB27, Dillon's ADP (93) remains at a two-year low.
Unsurprisingly, Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Evan Engram is not present at voluntary organized team activities this week. This was expected with Engram still trying to secure a long-term contract extension from the team after his breakout 2022 campaign. The Jags put the franchise tag on Engram, but there is optimism that the two sides can work out something long term before the 2023 season. In his first year in Jacksonville in 2022, the 28-year-old set career-highs in catches (73) and receiving yards (766) while adding four touchdowns on 98 targets in 17 regular season games (14 starts). Fantasy managers probably shouldn't overspend for Engram, but at the very least he should be considered a solid low-end TE1 target.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley proved in 2022 that he still had explosive abilities despite dealing with the injury bug in previous years. Barkley racked up 1,312 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 295 carries, posting the third-best per-carry average (4.4) of his career and his best mark since 2019. Despite lengthy a lengthy lower-body injury history, he finished with the second-most gains of 10-plus yards over expected (17) and six runs of 20-plus mph last year. There's a chance the 26-year-old could hold out this summer as he seeks a long-term contract extension, but as long as he plays for the G-Men this year, he should be considered a top-five fantasy RB with some injury risk.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry didn't start very strong last year and didn't break 100 rushing yards in a game until Week 4. However, from Weeks 4 through 9, he had 100-plus rushing yards in each game. Henry finished second in rushing yards gained after contact (1,252 of his 1,538), logged 11 gains of 10-plus yards over expected and had 57 runs of 15-plus mph. He will turn 30 years old before the end of the 2023 season and has slipped slightly in the overall running back rankings, but King Henry can still produce big plays on the ground with the best of them. Tennessee will still likely lean heavily on Henry this year, but he's become more of a midrange RB1 than a high-end one heading into the 2023 campaign.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook ranks 10th on NFL.com's Nick Shook's list of the most explosive runners in 2022. He broke 20 mph on three of his carries and logged one of the best top speeds of any qualifying RB at 21.68 mph. Cook continues to run like a wrecking ball, as evidenced by his 57 runs of 15-plus mph. However, he didn't rack up enough runs of 10-plus yards to land higher on this list. The 27-year-old's fantasy value is down heading into 2023. He produced his fourth straight 1,000-yard rushing season a year ago, but he's also coming off shoulder surgery in February and is expected to be traded by the Vikings this offseason. Cook remains explosive at his position, but he's becoming more of a high-end RB2 target in fantasy instead of a surefire RB1.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen ranks ninth on NFL.com's Nick Shook's list of most explosive runners from a season ago. He was among the premier big-play producers in 2022, managing to gain 10-plus yards over expected 10 times last year. Allen also had 44 runs of 15-plus mph and 26 runs that gained 10-plus yards. The 27-year-old signal-caller had the highest expected points added per carry of any qualifying rusher in the NFL at plus-0.44. The Bills offense would probably be better off not relying on Allen so much as a runner, but it doesn't change the fact that he's very explosive when he takes off. It's why he'll once again be a top-three QB1 target for fantasy managers this fall.
Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker (Achilles) was at the team's organized team activities last week, albeit in a limited fashion after tearing his Achilles in Week 3 of last year against the Minnesota Vikings. Getting Walker back will be a big boost to the Lions defense in 2023 after he was Detroit's leading tackler in 2021 with 108 tackles. He also had six passes defensed and an interception that year. The 28-year-old is seven months removed from surgery and said he'll be ready to return in a full capacity when training camp starts this summer as long as he gets clearance from his surgeon. When healthy, Walker will start alongside C.J. Gardner-Johnson, with both Kerby Joseph and Brian Branch also pitching in.