Fri May 7 10:24am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Ryan is looking better and better
There were plenty of winners and losers this draft day, seeing their fantasy value either improve or take a hit. Below is the list of the biggest movers from draft day. These are guys that either are looking better for fantasy owners or a little worse. Adjust your rankings accordingly!
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons. The Falcons used their first round pick on Kyle Pitts and also grabbed an offensive lineman (Jalen Mayfield) in the third round. There was speculation the Falcons could look to their quarterback of the future in the draft, but that didn’t happen. Instead, they built up the offense even more, which is great news for Ryan. Plus, they didn’t add a running back. Atlanta could really be a pass-first team with Ryan leading the way. His ceiling is really high this year with all these great options to work with in the passing game.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens. The Ravens added two receivers in the draft, including Rashod Bateman in the first round. Baltimore is surrounding Jackson with more talent, setting him up for more success in the passing game. Baltimore will be a run-first team but might air it out a little more because of additions in the draft and free agency to boost their receiver unit. This is great news for Jackson.
Mike Davis, RB, Falcons. As mentioned, the Falcons did not take a running back in the draft. They have to feel pretty good about Davis being their starter for the coming year. He has next to no competition for carries and should be the starter from day one. Davis had a big year as the starter for the Panthers last year, so don’t discount him to have more success in a starting role for the Falcons.
Justin Herbert, QB, Chargers. The Chargers took a much needed offensive tackle with their first pick (Rashawn Slater), giving Herbert some top protection. Los Angeles also picked receiver Josh Palmer and tight end Tre’ McKitty in the third round of the draft. These are two more playmakers for Herbert to work with. The Chargers did a great job of doing all they can to get Herbert more help for the coming season.
Myles Gaskin, RB, Dolphins. There was speculation the Dolphins would find a new running back in the draft, but that didn’t happen. Gaskin sure looks like the guy in Miami this year. The Dolphins did draft a running back but it was in round seven. Gaskin has some real upside in a starting role in this offense. He could get a lot of work.
Tre’Quan Smith, WR, Saints. Smith has not lived up to his potential just yet but will get his chance this year. The Saints did not address their receiver position in the draft with an early pick, meaning Smith will get first shot to start opposite Michael Thomas.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Jets. The Jets did take a running back in the draft but it was Michael Carter in the fourth round. Carter is a good player but his size probably makes him a better fit as a change of pace guy or third-down back. This means Coleman should get first shot at the early-down work for the Jets. He should be moving up draft boards after this draft. Coleman is an injury risky but also has some potential in an expanded role.
Jalen Hurts, QB, Eagles. There was some talk the Eagles could look at a quarterback in the draft but that wasn’t the case. Hurts is their guy for the coming season. And Philadelphia gave him some more weapons to work with, picking receiver Jaylen Waddle in the first and tight end Hunter Long in the third round. The Eagles still could use some receiver help, but getting Waddle is a good start. Hurts is going to be given the keys to this offense and has a high fantasy ceiling in a starting role.
Cam Newton, QB, Patriots. Newton is going to have a real battle on his hands to start this year. The Patriots picked Mac Jones in the first round of the draft. Jones seems an ideal fit for the Patriots offense. And with the way Newton faded down the stretch last year, you can expect New England to do all they can to get Jones ready to start from day one.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Broncos. Gordon did not have a bad first season with the Broncos but that didn’t prevent Denver from picking running back Javonte Williams in the second round. And the Broncos even traded up to get Williams, showing you how much they like him. Williams will challenge Gordon for carries and could even take over the starting job sooner than later.
Jared Goff, QB, Lions. The Lions did add arguably the top offensive lineman in the draft in Penei Sewell, but failing to invest in a receiver early in the draft doesn’t help Goff at all. The Lions are super thin at receiver and took just one in the draft, picking Amon-Ra St. Brown in the fourth round. Goff might have a little more time to throw with Sewell around, but who the heck is he going to throw the ball to?
Derek Carr, QB, Raiders. The Raiders revamped the offensive line in the offseason and needed more help in the draft. They took offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood in the first round, but many thought that was a bit of a reach. The team didn’t add another offensive lineman and failed to take any skill positions offensively. Carr could have less time to throw this year and his receivers are in the bottom half of the NFL.
Darius Slayton, WR, Giants. Slayton might be the odd man out in New York after the draft. The Giants took Kadairus Toney in the first round. He probably is a more talented version of Slayton. He should be the No. 3 receiver with Sterling Shepard and Kenny Golladay manning the starting spots for the Giants.
Raheem Mostert, RB, 49ers. The 49ers surprised some by adding another running back in the draft, picking Trey Sermon in the third round. Sermon is an ideal fit for coach Kyle Shanahan’s zone blocking running scheme. Sermon has a good chance to play a big role from day one and cut into Mostert’s playing time. The addition of Sermon was not good for Mostert’s fantasy value.
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Five-time Pro Bowl offensive guard Trai Turner finished up his visit with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday, according to a source. The Steelers had the worst rushing offense in the league last year thanks to a bad offensive line, so it makes sense that they're searching for more help up front. Pittsburgh is replacing three of their five starters along the offensive line this year. Second-year guard Kevin Dotson is currently projected to be the team's starting left guard, with three-time All-Pro David DeCastro locked into the right guard spot. The 28-year-old Turner would create competition on the interior and would bring valuable experience in front of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is likely heading into his final season. Turner made just nine starts with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2020 and hasn't played a full season in five years thanks to injuries.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that he's confident the team will get a long-term contract extension worked out with All-Pro safety Jamal Adams, who was excused from mandatory minicamp this week for personal reasons. Carroll also said the team expects Adams to be present for training camp at the end of July. Adams is due $9.86 million in the final year of his deal in 2021. The 25-year-old has been regarded as one of the top safeties in the league because of his versatility, and he has been named to three straight Pro Bowls in his four NFL seasons. Adams is an elite pass-rushing defensive back, which is why he should be the top defensive back off the board in IDP drafts.
The Green Bay Packers are not expected to have any negotiations with quarterback Aaron Rodgers over the course of the next couple of weeks. Rodgers, the reigning MVP sat out of the team's entire offseason program. "To me, and based on the people I've spoken with, this is really something that will be wrapped up either way, if they do find the solution that Green Bay has wanted, if Aaron Rodgers does get the security that he wants potentially in the form of a new contract, probably not going to happen until the start of training camp," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said. Most people expect some sort of resolution to the drama to take place, but if Rodgers holds out of training camp, it would be a sign that he might not be back. Although Rodgers doesn't appear to be slowing down at 37 years old, fantasy managers shouldn't expect another MVP season in 2021, even if he stays in Green Bay. If you can get him as a midrange QB1, that's fine, but let someone else pay the high-end QB1 price.
New York Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft, has had his ups and downs in offseason practices, but the Jets coaching staff has been impressed with how he's handled things so far. "He's unflappable in the sense that he doesn't care whether something went good or bad, he wants to know why it went good or bad. He wants to learn from it. He is wired exactly the way you want all players to be wired," head coach Robert Saleh said. Wilson has developed a reputation for having a hunger for watching film, and he thinks he's made improvements in his timing and going through his progressions. The 21-year-old has been a quick study and has the talent to succeed in the NFL with an improved receiving corps in New York, but fantasy managers should be patient with him in single-season leagues as a low-end QB2 with upside.
The Chicago Bears signed former Denver Broncos tight end Jake Butt to an undisclosed deal on Friday. The Bears also added offensive lineman Tyrone Wheatley Jr., the son of former NFL running back Tyrone Wheatley. Offensive lineman Gunnar Vogel and defensive lineman Thomas Schaffer were released. Butt is only 25 years old, but he's played in only eight games in two seasons in the NFL and missed the entire 2017 and 2019 seasons due to injuries. He fell to the fifth round in 2017 due to a torn ACL. Butt will join a tight end group that includes Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet, among others. He projects as an in-line tight end who will provide some depth behind Graham and Kmet, so he won't have any fantasy value to begin the year.
The Jacksonville Jaguars signed free-agent wide receiver Laquon Treadwell to an undisclosed deal on Friday after he tried out for the team at minicamp. In a corresponding move, wide receiver Jon'Vea Johnson was waived. Treadwell was a first-round pick (23rd overall) by the Minnesota Vikings in 2016 out of Mississippi, but he never lived up to his first-round billing catching just 65 of his 107 targets for 701 yards and two touchdowns in 53 games (16 starts) over his four years with the team. The 26-year-old caught just six passes for 49 yards in five games with the Atlanta Falcons last season, but he did produce a career-high two touchdowns. With a crowded wide receiver room in Jacksonville, Treadwell will have to prove himself in training camp in order to make the final roster. He can be ignored in fantasy.
Houston Texans offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (knee) recently underwent minor knee surgery following organized team activities, according to a source. Cannon is feeling good, and the scope is unlikely to affect his participation in training camp next month. The 33-year-old had played his entire career with the New England Patriots before being traded to the Texans in March. Cannon, who is a cancer survivor, opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns about COVID-19. He had been a reliable contributor on New England's offensive line in his previous four seasons, though, earning offensive grades of 70 or better in that span. Houston will need Cannon to contribute to help improve their running game and protect quarterback Deshaun Watson, if he sticks around.
The Chicago Bears signed free-agent defensive tackle Mike Pennel to an undisclosed one-year deal on Thursday, according to his agent, Andy Simms. Pennel served a two-game suspension to open last season with the Kansas City Chiefs, but he played in the other 14 games (one start) and recorded 29 tackles (13 solo) and one QB hit. The 30-year-old began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers and spent his first three seasons with them. He also spent two years with the New York Jets before joining the Chiefs in 2019. In 91 career games (16 starts), Pennel has 155 tackles (90 solo), 13 QB hits, two passes defensed, one forced fumble and two sacks. He will strictly serve as defensive line depth in Chicago if he makes the final roster out of training camp.
The Las Vegas Raiders signed former New York Jets first-round linebacker Darron Lee to an undisclosed deal on Thursday. The Raiders also added cornerback De'Vante Bausby to their roster and waived cornerback TJ Morrison in a corresponding move. Lee, 26, was the 20th overall pick in 2016. He spent three seasons with the Jets before joining the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019 and the Buffalo Bills for two games last year. Lee will provide the Raiders with some veteran depth at the position in training camp, and he'll have a decent chance at making the final roster heading into the regular season. In 58 career games (38 starts) over five seasons, Lee has 273 tackles (178 solo), 11 QB hits, three interceptions (one for a touchdown), 11 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and four sacks.
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Jordan Willis has been suspended without pay for the first six games of the 2021 regular season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Despite the suspension, Willis will be able to participate in all offseason practices and all three preseason games. He'll be eligible to return on Monday, Oct. 25, after the team's Week 7 game against the Indianapolis Colts. The 26-year-old backup was acquired from the New York Jets in a trade last year and re-signed this offseason for one year. In seven games, he had 13 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 2020 for the Niners. Willis is expected to compete for a spot on the team's roster in training camp as an edge rusher.
Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu said on Thursday that it's at the top of his priority list to finish his career with the team. "It's been everything I've asked for," said Mathieu. "I feel I can play football anywhere, but when you develop relationships with certain people, these people become a part of your life." Mathieu was previously pessimistic about receiving a contract extension from the Chiefs, but he's recently changed his tune and is now optimistic about getting a new deal. The three-time first-team All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowler has been with the Chiefs the last two seasons, recording 111 solo tackles, 10 interceptions (one for a touchdown), 21 passes defensed, one fumble recovery and two sacks in 31 regular season starts in that span. The 29-year-old's greatest asset to the Chiefs is his versatility in the secondary.
New York Jets rookie wide receiver Elijah Moore has been impressing the coaches so far at organized team activities and minicamp. The Ole Miss star has been a standout of the team's offseason practices after being taken 34th overall in this year's draft. Head coach Robert Saleh said Moore's "work ethic is off the charts." He's undersized at 5-foot-9, but he's smooth, sure-handed and runs precise routes. The Jets are using Moore in a variety of roles, and he could be used in tandem with slot receiver Jamison Crowder. The coaches love his versatility, so he'll also get a chance to audition for the punt-return job because of his ability to produce yards after the catch. Crowder's return will hurt Moore's upside in his rookie season, and it won't help that he'll also be working with a rookie quarterback in Zach Wilson. Temper expectations in single-year leagues, but those in dynasty/keeper formats should absolutely circle Moore on their cheat sheets.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (toe) said that he doesn't "see any problems moving forward" with his surgically repaired toe. Mahomes was able to move around well, which included some scrambling, during the team's mandatory minicamp this week. It was reported around a month ago that the former MVP was ahead of schedule, so it looks like nothing has changed. Mahomes should be a full-go for training camp next month with the toe issue in the rearview mirror. Although the offensive line remains somewhat of a question mark after the Super Bowl loss, Mahomes should once again be the first quarterback selected in the early rounds of fantasy drafts in 2021. He's posted QB1 numbers in 69.6 percent of his 46 career games to this point.
New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon (hamstring) was limited at the team's minicamp practice on Wednesday due to what head coach Robert Saleh said was "a little bit of tightness" in his hamstring. However, Saleh said that Herndon is "perfectly fine." It doesn't sound like an injury that should impact Herndon's availability for training camp at the end of July. The 25-year-old had a fine rookie season in 2018 when he caught 39 passes for 502 yards and four touchdowns in 16 games (12 starts), but he played in only one game in 2019 and caught 31 passes for only 287 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games (13 starts) in 2020. With a new coaching staff in place, Herndon could be more productive, but he'll also have a rookie quarterback under center in Zach Wilson. Don't write off Herndon just yet, but he should go undrafted in standard-sized leagues.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett said that offensive coordinator Shane Waldron's new scheme gives him and the other receivers more freedom. "I think with the offense Shane brings in, it gives us more freedom. More freedom to be able to be the receivers that we can be. We got free range to do a lot of stuff," Lockett said. The pass-catcher also used the word "sophisticated" when describing the new offense. It remains to be seen if Waldron can get Seattle's offense out of the funk that they experienced in the second half of last season, but they certainly have the weapons to do it with Lockett, D.K. Metcalf and Russell Wilson. Lockett will have big games, but his fantasy managers last year were all too familiar with the fact that he would disappear for stretches, too. 48.7 percent of his production in 2020 came from just three games. It's fun to think about how good this offense can be, but targeting Lockett as anything more than a WR2 could be foolish.
Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said that both quarterbacks Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater, who are expected to share repetitions evenly in training camp next month, have both improved at minicamp this week. The two signal-callers had 29 snaps apiece in practice on Wednesday. "I've seen improvement in Drew's decision-making, timing and accuracy and for Teddy, it's more about getting up to speed on what we've done and he's right on-board with the things we're doing," Shurmur said. While it's anyone's guess as to who will be the starter in Week 1 against the New York Giants, Lock probably has the slight edge since he was the guy in 2020. But now that he'll have a much shorter leash, he'll need to improve drastically to win and keep the job. Whoever wins the job will have plenty of receiving weapons at their disposal, but they'll be a low-end QB2 option until they prove otherwise.
Arizona Cardinals SS Budda Baker (illness) said Wednesday, June 16, that he tested positive for COVID-19. The Cardinals finished minicamp last week, and no close contacts were identified.
Fantasy Spin: Baker is among the top defensive backs in fantasy for his tackling ability. This shouldn't affect that status.
Cleveland Browns defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (knee) took part in nearly every drill in minicamp on Tuesday and plans to be full go for the rest of minicamp. The three-time Pro Bowler said he "felt great" after surgery on his left meniscus ended his season early in 2020. "I felt great coming in, and I feel great now. I hope I continue on that phase into the next six-week phase and just keep getting stronger and faster for training camp," Clowney said. The 28-year-old pass-rusher played in just eight games for the Tennessee Titans and failed to record a sack. In 13 games for the Seattle Seahawks the year prior, Clowney managed just three sacks. The former No. 1 overall pick has played in just one full season in his seven years in the NFL, but he can be a game-wrecking force when healthy. If he can stay on the field in 2021, Cleveland's defense could be nasty.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said that wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (knee) looked "great" on Wednesday at mandatory minicamp. Beckham suffered a torn ACL in Week 7 last year and missed the rest of the 2020 season. "It looks really great," Mayfield said. "After seeing him run and really just talking to him, as well. He feels comfortable. He's still getting used to some of these cuts and certain motions. You're talking about seven months since the (knee) surgery, so it's pretty impressive how quickly he's come back." OBJ has become an injury risk in a run-first offense, so fantasy managers should no longer treat him as a top-15 wideout. But he's currently healthy and his price will be much lower this year, making him a fine high-end WR3 target.
Jacksonville Jaguars passing-game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said the team hasn't settled on a starting quarterback despite taking Clemson star Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall in this year's draft. Schottenheimer cautioned against assuming that Gardner Minshew II was entrenched as Lawrence's backup. The Jags also have C.J. Beathard and Jake Luton in the QB room. "We're letting them all roll. Everybody's getting reps. We want this thing to be really competitive. Ultimately, when we name a starter, we'll name a starter," Schottenheimer said. Lawrence, who was drafted to be the franchise QB, will most likely be the Week 1 starter, but he must first earn it this summer. While it's not technically official yet, the best bet is for Minshew to back up Lawrence from the get-go. With all the makings of a stud NFL QB, Lawrence will have some high-end QB2 upside in his rookie season.