Thu Jun 23 8:01pm ET
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Pro Football Writer
Tennessee Titans tight end Chig Okonkwo takes part in a drill at the NFL football team's practice facility June 1, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. Okonkwo has a really good reason not to be working with the rest of the Titans' rookies as they wrap up their offseason at the team headquarters. Okonkwo, the rookie who ran the fastest 40-yard dash among tight ends earlier this year at the NFL Combine had somewhere better to be: Tight End University, (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle runs against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL football game Jan. 2, 2022, in Santa Clara, Calif. Tight End U is back for a second straight year in Nashville, Tenn., the offseason home of Kittle. Kittle, a three-time Pro Bowler, started this a year ago with seven-time Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce and another three-time Pro Bowl tight end in Greg Olsen, who's now retired. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn, File)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee tight end Chig Okonkwo has a really good reason not to be working with the rest of the Titans' rookies as they wrap up their offseason at the team headquarters.
Okonkwo, the rookie who ran the fastest 40-yard dash among tight ends earlier this year at the NFL Combine, had somewhere better to be.
Tight End University, the equivalent of a master class at the rookie's position.
''It's just so amazing to be able to be here and do this ...,'' Okonkwo said Thursday. ''And it's just awesome. There's like 80 of us out here. ... And there's so many Pro Bowl guys, so many big contract to the guys. It's just really nice to be able to go out there as a rookie in my first season.''
Going into his first NFL season, Okonkwo is trying to be a sponge, soaking up everything he can, especially when seven-time Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs speaks.
''He showed me something that I've never seen before,'' Okonkwo said. ''And I was like, `I think I should probably start working on that because he's really good, he's the best in the business.' So just learning things like that, like being able to just take little tidbits like that from different guys.''
That was the whole reason for Tight End U - or TEU for short.
A three-time Pro Bowler for San Francisco, George Kittle already had been working with eight to 10 tight ends in the offseason after moving to Nashville five years ago. He talked with Kelce and three-time Pro Bowler Greg Olsen about expanding the group, and Olsen said to invite everybody.
They expected 20, with 50 in attendance last year at the high school where Kittle's father, George, works as an assistant football coach for former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer. The invite list grew so much for this week's camp they had moved to Vanderbilt University and had at least 85 tight ends in attendance.
Kelce, Kittle and Olsen also had to tell a bunch of young tight ends no.
''We're still expanding and trying to find room for everybody to be able to come out here because everybody sees what kind of turnout it is,'' Kelce said. ''And on top of that, to hear the stories from the guys that are coming through and what they've learned, we know how unique of a situation it is. We're going to keep trying to make it bigger and better every year.''
The tight ends spend camp working through problems like blocking 300-pound linemen to running routes against much faster players. They picked the brains of veterans like Olsen in a classroom before moving onto the field to hone the physical techniques to thrive in an NFL season.
Getting that many people together costs money.
TEU has Bridgestone, Charmin, Gatorade, Levi's and Bud Light as sponsors. The tight ends also raised money again for the Boys and Girls Club. Dawson Knox of Buffalo winning the competition with Okonkwo second, and they brought in more than $131,000. Bridgestone brought that to $681,000 with a further donation Thursday.
More TEU expansion is likely in the future. Kelce said they would like to bring in more tight ends, possibly tight end coaches and maybe even college tight ends.
For now, everyone leaves having learned something, whether it's a new release on a route, a blocking technique or something off tape.
''And everyone here is hungry and everybody here wants to be a great NFL tight end,'' Kittle said. ''And so when you put all that hunger together, it's just big ol' nasty beast, and that's what a tight end is.''
Dynasty | Falcons rookie running back Tyler Allgeier was listed as a riser in a recent camp report Dynasty Analysis: The rookie rushed for 25 yards on three carries in his first preseason action and also had a nice blitz pickup showing that he is picking up more than just yardage on the field. As noted in the attached link, the team is going to have a make a tough cut at some point at running back but Allgeier is certain to remain. He's still expected to play behind hybrid player Cordarrelle Patterson. He's listed as DLF's RB56 and is an intriguing second-round dynasty rookie draft selection.
Dynasty | Falcons running back Damien Williams was listed as a "faller" in a recent training camp report Dynasty Analysis: Williams only managed 10 yards on three carries in the team's first preseason game and it's likely too early to make any calls on his ability to stick on the roster. The team is going to have to make a tough cut or two at the position and it means Williams or Qadree Ollison could be the first to go. Given Ollison's better performance, Williams would seem to be more on the bubble. He's very sparsely ranked as DLF's RB79.
Dynasty | Bills rookie tight end Jalen Wydermyer has been released Dynasty Analysis: It's a bit of a surprise as Wydermyer had gained a bit of a following prior to the 2022 NFL Draft and he's certain to catch on elsewhere. For now, there's no need to roster the rookie until after we see him resurface and have impact with a new team. He's unranked on DLF's tight end rankings.
Dynasty | Vikings running back Kene Nwangwu was listed as a "riser" in a recent camp report Dynasty Analysis: Nwangwu looked decisive and agile in his first preseason action as he rushed for 41 yards on seven carries while converting both of his targets for 18 yards. Fellow backfield mate Ty Chandler rushed for more yardage and also looked strong but it was Nwangwu who looked more decisive and agile. With Dalvin Cook aging and Alexander Mattison a free agent in 2023, there's change on the horizon. Nwangwu, DLF's RB76, is a well valued dynasty stash for 2023 and beyond.
Minnesota Vikings kicker Greg Joseph made both of his field goal and extra point attempts in the team's preseason opener against the Las Vegas Raiders, connecting on 20-yard and 23-yard attempts in this one. The 28-year-old made 33-of-38 field goal attempts and 70-of-78 extra point attempts during the 2021 season, so he should be a reliable option for fantasy managers in 2022. After finishing as the sixth-best kicker in fantasy a season ago, Joseph seems like a safe weekly starting option as the Vikings offense should have no trouble putting him in a position to score points this season.
Minnesota Vikings running back Kene Nwangwu carried the ball seven times for 41 yards and caught two passes for an additional 18 yards in Sunday's preseason loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. The second-year back out of Iowa State will look to earn a role in the Minnesota offense this season, as he carried the ball just 13 times for 61 yards in his rookie year. Nwangwu was mostly used in the return game, showcasing his game-breaking speed on multiple occasions. As of now, he seems like a safe bet to be the RB3 behind Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, so his fantasy value could increase significantly if anyone ahead of him on the depth chart misses time this season.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Albert Wilson caught two passes for 22 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's preseason opener against the Las Vegas Raiders. Wilson saw just two targets in this one as he clearly made the most of his opportunity. The former Miami Dolphin will look to carve out a role in the offense as the preseason continues, but it is hard to envision him earning a role that will make him fantasy relevant. Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn are locked in as the top-three wide receivers, so Wilson will need to fend off Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Bisi Johnson for WR4 duties in the high-powered Minnesota offense. Wilson can be left off the fantasy radar for now.
Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler carried the ball five times for 50 yards in Sunday's preseason loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. The fifth-round pick out of North Carolina will need to continue to impress if he wants a role in the Minnesota offense, as Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, and Kene Nwangwu currently sit atop the depth chart. Head coach Kevin O'Connell praised the rookie after his strong performance, saying "he's pretty decisive in the run game, putting his foot down, getting north and south." Still, it is hard to envision Chandler having any fantasy value given that he is likely the fourth option in the backfield. The 24-year-old would need a lot to go his way to be considered for fantasy rosters this season.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kellen Mond completed 9-of-14 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns in the team's preseason opener against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. The Texas A&M collegiate product will look to gain the edge over Sean Mannion for QB2 duties throughout the rest of the preseason, as there have been reports that the 23-year-old has struggled in training camp. However, he outperformed his competition in this one, as Mannion completed 8-of-12 passes for just 79 yards. Mond won't have any fantasy value for the time being, but if he wins the backup job and Kirk Cousins misses time this season, he could be an interesting option with the Vikings' loaded supporting cast.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor will miss the entire preseason, according to head coach Frank Reich. The star running back was rested during the preseason opener. Now, the organization has decided to have Taylor sit out the rest of the preseason. The Colts aren't expected to use any of their starters next week because of a joint practice with the Detroit Lions. The lack of reps for Taylor shouldn't be much of a concern for fantasy managers heading into the regular season.
Detroit Lions tight end Garrett Griffin has been released by the organization. The 28-year-old was reunited with head coach Dan Campbell earlier this offseason. They overlapped with each other during their time in New Orleans. Regardless, it doesn't sound like Griffin made the first round of cuts. That is not a good sign for the veteran blocking tight end. He played in a career-high 13 games last season with the Saints. Although, he couldn't make the Lions roster who lacks serious depth at tight end. Griffin is unlikely to be fantasy relevant on any roster. Fantasy managers should expect T.J. Hockenson to be the focal point at tight end in Detroit.
Cleveland Browns defensive back Greg Newsome II (hamstring) won't be sidelined for long, according to head coach Kevin Stefanski. The 22-year-old hasn't practiced since Tuesday and sat out the preseason opener. Despite that, the Browns don't expect Newsome to miss Week 1 of the regular season. The former first round pick battled multiple injuries last season. Although, he still had success with 37 tackles and nine passes defended through 13 games. Fantasy managers who have the Browns defense rostered shouldn't be worried about Newsome missing significant time from this injury.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara is unlikely to face a suspension, according to Adam Schefter. It seems increasingly more likely that Kamara won't be suspended before the regular season begins. That being said, it could happen down the road or even during the 2023 campaign. The 27-year-old is facing felony battery charges resulting in substantial bodily harm. The hearing is supposed to happen on September 29th, but it has also been postponed three times already. Kamara should be a fine RB2 after getting a career-high in touches last season. Although, the threat of a suspension is always looming, which does somewhat hurt his value.
New Orleans rookie wide receiverChris Olave turned his lone target into four yards in Saturday's 17-13 preseason loss to the Houston Texans. Only logging 15 snaps (eight routes run) during his time on the field, he will look to make a more significant impact in the next preseason matchup against the Green Bay Packers. The lack of targets should not be a concern for fantasy managers; look for that to increase when starting quarterback Jameis Winston(foot) returns to action. While we still wait to see whatMichael Thomaslooks like post-injury and whereJarvis Landryfits into the lineup, Olave still looks to be a great value as a later-round wide receiver with a high upside in what should be a pass-happy offense.
Las Vegas Raiders RB Ameer Abdullah was among the players rested during a 26-20 preseason win over the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, Aug. 14.
Fantasy Spin: Josh Jacobs and Abdullah rested in the preseason contest, which seems to support the rumors that Abdullah has emerged as the third-down back for Las Vegas. Kenyan Drake and Zamir Wchite are lurking, but Abdullah is worth grabbing in the later rounds of PPR formats.
San Francisco 49ers tight end Charlie Woerner (core muscle) was removed from the PUP list on Sunday. The 2020 sixth-round selection out of Georgia had surgery during the offseason. However, he's buried deep on the depth chart, with a big chunk of his workload reserved for the special teams unit. Still, if George Kittle or Tyler Kroft miss time this season, there's a chance Woerner could receive more snaps. But even then, his fantasy expectations will remain low.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson (knee) came off the Physically Unable to Perform list, per head coach Matt LaFleur. The rookie had an offseason procedure and hasn't been active throughout training camp thus far. He will be eased back into action, performing individual drills. However, his status for Week 1 remains up in the air. Nevertheless, while Watson figures to see plenty of attention from Aaron Rodgers this season, he will probably need some time to work out any rust caused by his lengthy absence. As a result, he may not be a starting fantasy option early in the season, although he could pick things up as the year progresses.
Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan (knee) came off the PUP list on Sunday to start drilling individually, according to head coach Matt LaFleur. The 28-year-old tore his ACL in Week 8 last season during a matchup against the Arizona Cardinals and wasn't available for the remainder of the year. While it's still not certain if he'll be in uniform for Week 1, he's at least moving in the right direction. Nevertheless, his workload may be limited even if he's good for the season opener. However, Tonyan is a familiar face for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, so he could progressively get more targets and snaps throughout the 2022-23 campaign.
Miami Dolphins cornerback Trill Williams (knee) suffered a torn left ACL during Saturday's preseason matchup against the Buccaneers. He will miss the 2022-23 season. The 22-year-old was forecasted to backup Xavier Howard and Byron Jones (leg). However, Williams had a chance to see more action, at least for a game or two, if Jones wasn't recovered enough from leg surgery to be ready for Week 1. Still, even if the Syracuse alum had remained healthy, he wasn't expected to see any interest from most IDP managers.
Las Vegas Raiders TE Darren Waller says the team has a plan for him in the red zone, which is different than in years past. 'There was a lot of times in the last couple years where I felt like there wasn't a clear defined attack in the red zone or like a plan for me specifically,' Waller said. 'Now I kind of feel like that's something that's in place with [head coach] Josh [McDaniels].'
Fantasy Spin: Waller tallied nine touchdowns in 2020, but sandwiched around that were campaigns that saw him total three in 2019 and two in 2021, although he missed six games in the latter season. That said, one of the best tight ends in fantasy getting more red zone looks is a good thing. Waller is an elite TE1 and should be one of the first off the board at his position in re-draft leagues.