Tue Feb 19 2:24pm ET
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
In this Jan. 6, 2019, file photo, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) walks off the field after an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, in Baltimore. Greg Roman is off to a running start in his new role as offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, working on a ground game that will coincide with the skills of agile quarterback Lamar Jackson. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)
In this Aug. 8, 2017, file photo, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, left, speaks with then-senior offensive assistant/tight ends coach Greg Roman as offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley prepares to run a drill during an NFL football training camp practice in Owings Mills, Md. Roman is off to a running start in his new role as offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, working on a ground game that will coincide with the skills of agile quarterback Lamar Jackson. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Greg Roman is off to a running start in his new role as offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, working long hours to construct a unit that can fully utilize the talents of quarterback Lamar Jackson.
The Ravens closed the regular season with a 6-1 run behind Jackson, who keyed an effective ground game with frequent forays out of the pocket and downfield. Baltimore ended a three-year hiatus from the playoffs, winning the AFC North before losing to the Chargers.
The goal this offseason is to make an effective attack even better. Promoted last month from assistant coach/tight ends coach, Roman is rewriting a playbook that was originally devised for a pass-oriented offense led by Joe Flacco.
''We're trying, soup to nuts, from the ground up ... to hit the sweet spot with how we put this offense together,'' Roman said Tuesday.
The focal point is Jackson, the 32nd overall pick in the 2018 draft. After Flacco injured his right hip in November, Jackson took over and displayed the slick moves and elusiveness that earned him a Heisman Trophy at Louisville.
The rookie finished as the team's second-leading rusher with 719 yards. He spearheaded a ground game that finished second in the NFL with 152.6 yards per game - including an league-high 1,607 yards rushing over the final seven games.
''You're going to see a lot of elements of that this year,'' Roman said.
The result, he hopes, is something on a much grander scale.
''We have run an offense here that has kind of morphed over the years, and we really want to start fresh, start new,'' Roman said. ''Everything from our language, our formations, how we do everything. Rebuild the thing. That's one angle.
''The other angle is really, how do we want to move forward with Lamar Jackson? He's a unique player with a unique skill set, so let's build an offense that really accommodates that, as opposed to try to fit him into something that other people had once done.''
Roman took over for Marty Mornhinweg in part because of his work as an offensive coordinator in San Francisco and Buffalo, where he helped construct effective attacks with running quarterbacks in Colin Kaepernick and Tyrod Taylor.
At the time of Roman's hiring, coach John Harbaugh said, ''Increasing Greg's responsibilities will help us get where we're going on offense.''
Constructing a new playbook is not an easy process.
''It's a real grind. We're really looking at this as a completely new beginning, as if we were a new staff,'' Roman said. ''I've kind of compared it to putting your kid's furniture together from IKEA or something. If you make one wrong move, you've got to take the whole thing apart and start over again.''
For the offense to work, the Ravens must fortify the offensive line, get a rugged receiver capable of blocking downfield and hope Gus Edwards can continue to develop after a rookie season in which he was activated from the practice squad in October before running for a team-high 718 yards.
Most of all, however, they need Jackson to be better. His running prowess and determination are fine, but he had only one 200-yard passing game and fumbled 12 times.
''Moving forward, consistent fundamentals are what's really going to take him to the next level,'' Roman said, ''because he's got all the ability in the world.''
Approaching training camp, the San Francisco 49ers first two picks of 2019 remain unsigned. Defensive end Nick Bosa, the second overall pick, and wide receiver Deebo Samuel represent two of the eight total 2019 NFL draftees that have not reached a deal. Bosa, who many experts expect to make an immediate impact, could lift the Niners defense from its 28th-ranked fantasy DST. More worrisome is Samuel, who will miss valuable reps with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo if hes unable to report to camp on time. With a crowded receiving corps, the rookie could conceivable sink on the depth chart, severely negating any redraft value he currently possesses.
Philadelphia Eagles CB Jalen Mills (foot) is unlikely to be ready when training camp opens.
Philadelphia Eagles CB Sidney Jones could wind up being trade bait for a team that is patient as Jones develops in the weight room.
Detroit Lions CB Darius Slay and DT Damon Harrison's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, will meet with the Lions this week to discuss contract extensions for both players.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Matt Judon said this week that his representatives have opened contract extension talks with the team. He is entering the final season of a four-year, $2.595 million rookie deal, and he can be an unrestricted free agent after the 2019 season. Judon has registered 131 total tackles with 19 sacks, three forced fumbles and seven passes defensed in three NFL seasons, and he has 15 sacks over the past two campaigns. He is a key member of a Ravens defense which will be a Top 5 fantasy DST again this season.
The Baltimore Ravens signed rookie wide receiver Miles Boykin to a four-year contract this week. Boykin signed his four-year rookie deal, the team announced on Wednesday, and the club now has all of its rookies signed just in time for them to report to training camp. Boykin, a third-round pick out of Notre Dame, missed time during offseason training activities (OTAs) due to a hamstring injury. He will be jockeying with Willie Snead, Seth Roberts and Chris Moore for a meaningful role in the Baltimore offense to start.
The Atlanta Falcons brought in free-agent tight ends Logan Paulsen and Luke Stocker during the offseason to provide depth behind Austin Hooper, who is in a contract year. Stocker, who signed a two-year, $5.5 million deal in the offseason, received a $1.5 million signing bonus. He might also see some time at fullback in addition to tight end, but neither is expected to move the needle in terms of fantasy appeal unless disaster strikes Hooper. TE Jaeden Graham has also seen some time at fullback during offseason practices.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Eric Saubert was one of the team's three players at the position in 2018, but team re-signed Logan Paulsen while adding Luke Stocker in free agency. And Austin Hooper is the unquestioned starter and one of the more productive tight ends in the NFC. Saubert might be the odd-man out heading into training camp and the preseason unless they elect to keep four tight ends on the 53-man roster. Either way, Saubert isn't someone to bother with in fantasy football.
Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn feels tight end Austin Hooper might be primed and ready to step up his play in 2019. Hooper, who is in a contract year, posted career highs across the board with 71 grabs, 660 yards and four touchdown in 2018 while being targeted 88 times. "Now, he's ready to go to another level, and I'm looking forward to seeing him make that growth," Quinn said. "The addition of having (tight ends coach Mike Mularkey) here, he's done everything that Mike has asked in terms of getting him ready." Hooper is worth targeting as a low-end TE1 in most fantasy leagues heading into 2019.
The Atlanta Falcons and middle linebacker Deion Jones have agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $57 million, with $28.5 million guaranteed. The deal comes on the heels of a long-term pact with defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, who inked a four-year, $68 million deal earlier in the week. Jones bounced back to record 53 tackles in six games after suffering a broken foot in the regular-season opener. While the Falcons have some key components on their defense locked up for the long haul, they're still nothing more than a streamer DST in most fantasy formats heading into 2019.
Atlanta Falcons TE Eric Saubert could be released if the team elects to carry just three tight ends on its 53-man roster, in the opinion of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter.
Detroit Lions RB Zach Zenner could challenge veteran RB C.J. Anderson for the No. 2 spot behind RB Kerryon Johnson, in the opinion of The Detroit News' Justin Rogers, who notes that Zenner's north-south running style is a good fit for the team's blocking scheme.
Fantasy Spin: At this point, Johnson is the only sure thing in the Lions backfield, so you'll need to keep an eye on the preseason to see how Anderson, Zenner and Theo Riddick slot in behind him to see if anyone other than Johnson warrants a selection in fantasy drafts.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry finished the 2018 season on a tear, rushing for 625 yards and eight touchdowns in the month of December alone. New Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith has stated that he plans to "ride" Henry going forward, but perhaps expectations should be tempered. While the Titans did improve their offensive line through free agency and the draft this offseason, Henry's involvement should remain game-script sensitive with receiving back Dion Lewis still in Tennessee. Henry is likely going to win you some matchups this season with his big play ability and touchdown upside, but he is also likely to lose you some weeks should the Titans fall behind early, making Henry a risky pick in the late second or early third rounds of fantasy drafts.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate could see 60 targets in 2019 while working as the backup to starter O.J. Howard, according to Taylor Jenkins of PewterReport.com.
Fantasy Spin: Jenkins projected just 45 targets for RB Peyton Barber, leaving extra work in the passing game for Brate. The 28-year-old has been a reliable red-zone threat over the past four years, but the chance for more catches and yards could make him a more reliable option in fantasy leagues. He's best left to the waiver wire, but he'll be worth starting as a bye-week replacement.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Peyton Barber will receive close to 45 targets in 2019, according to Taylor Jenkins of PewterReport.com.
Fantasy Spin: Jenkins projects Barber to be the every-down back for the Bucs this season. The 25-year-old caught 20 of 29 targets while starting all 16 games last year, but he went for just 92 yards and one touchdown through the air. He's an adequate RB3 play in standard leagues if he's able to hold off Ronald Jones II in training camp, but Jones has the higher upside.
Atlanta Falcons LB Deion Jones agreed to terms on four-year contract extension with the Falcons Wednesday, July 17, worth $57 million. The deal includes $34 million in guaranteed money.
Free-agent CB Rashard Robinson (Jets) has been suspended for the first 10 games of the 2019 season.
Denver Broncos WR Aaron Burbridge was waived Wednesday, July 17.
Cincinnati Bengals rookie running back Rodney Anderson (knee) is expected to open the 2019 season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. If he does, Anderson will have to miss the first six games of the season and will be significantly behind in the battle for backup minutes in Cincinnati. This news likely means that Anderson's rookie season is going to be a fantasy nonfactor, though he still has value in dynasty leagues, where he has a chance to be the future number-two back behind Joe Mixon.