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Gates suspended four games for PEDs

Fantasy Football Today - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 13:30

One of four players levied with suspensions on Thursday

The San Diego Chargers announced Thursday that TE Antonio Gates has been suspended four games without pay for violating the NFL Policy and Program for performance-enhancing substances. He is eligible to return to the active roster on Oct. 5, ahead of a Week 5 matchup against the Steelers. Gates is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games. Gates blamed his positive test on "supplements and holistic medicines" he used in an effort to recover from the past season. (

FF Today's Take: Jets DT Sheldon Richardson, Cowboys LB Rolando McClain and Packers DE Datone Jones were the three other players suspended. Gates had a team-high 12 touchdowns last season and crossed the 10,000 receiving yard mark in San Diego's season finale, so he will be missed. With Gates out, the Chargers will finally have a reason to unleash athletic freak Ladarius Green, who has been unable to assume a bigger role in the offense because of Gates and the team's preference to use three receivers.

Gates gets 4-game suspension

Draft Sharks - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 12:15

Chargers TE Antonio Gates has been suspended 4 games for violating the NFL's Substance Abuse Policy.  Gates admitted to taking "supplements and holistic medicines" this offseason to recover, although he claims he didn't know they contained banned substances.  The 4-game suspension obviously puts a sizable dent in the fantasy outlook of a guy who was looking like 1 of the better values at TE.  Gates was going in the 10th round of 12-team PPR drafts prior to the news.  We'll see how far his ADP drops.  He could still end up as a solid target as a probable TE1 over the final 12 games.  Meanwhile, uber-athlete Ladarius Green becomes an intriguing spot starter while Gates is out.  And a strong performance then could earn him a bigger role the rest of the way.  WRs Keenan Allen, Stevie Johnson and Malcom Floyd also figure to see a few extra targets those first 4 games.  QB Philip Rivers' stock takes a small hit.

McClain suspended 4 games

Draft Sharks - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 10:56

The league has suspended Cowboys LB Rolando McClain for 4 games for violating the substance-abuse policy. The move doesn't make much of a team-defense ripple for fantasy football drafts, because Dallas isn't a strong option even with all of its starters around. We'll be interested to see, however, if the Cowboys slide Sean Lee into the middle from his new weak-side spot or 2014 rookie Anthony Hitchens in from the strong side. Hitchens would seem to make more sense from here. Dallas played him there 4 times last season and could give the youngster a tryout to see if he fits there long term. Of course, the Cowboys could just slot in backup Jasper Brinkley and leave the outside guys in their spots. McClain didn't look particularly attractive as an IDP option to begin with and should certainly go undrafted in nearly all redraft leagues at this point.

Richardson suspended 4 games

Draft Sharks - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 10:23

The league has suspended Jets DE Sheldon Richardson 4 games for violating its substance-abuse policy. Barring a successful appeal, that benches Richardson for season-opening matchups with the Browns, Colts, Eagles and Dolphins. It takes away a run-defense pillar and solid pass rusher from a defense that many expect to push for top-5 fantasy status this year. Rookie Leonard Williams, the #6 overall pick, could fill in for Richardson, though, and keep the D from losing much in run D. (We'll see what Williams can provide as a pass rusher in the pros.) The suspension obviously hurts Richardson's IDP value in fantasy football leagues as well, but he should remain a fine option beyond his return. Williams isn't likely to supplant him as a starter long term, especially with Muhammad Wilkerson facing 2016 free agency. We're also not moving the Jets down our 2015 Team Defense rankings. Three of those 4 games look like non-positive fantasy matchups anyway.

Rodgers to overtake Quarless on depth chart?

Draft Sharks - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 06:10

Andrew Quarless led Packers TEs with 695 snaps last year.  Richard Rodgers was 2nd with 528.  But insider Rob Demovsky writes, "It wouldn't be a surprise if those numbers are reversed this year."  Rodgers was the more efficient receiver last year, besting Quarless in catch rate, yards per catch and yards per route run.  We project Rodgers to lead Packers TEs in fantasy points this season, but it's still tough to imagine him emerging as more than a matchup option.  Quarless will remain involved, and Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams are the clear top 3 targets.

Carr raves about Cooper

Draft Sharks - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 06:03

Raiders QB Derek Carr didn't hold back any praise when discussing rookie WR Amari Cooper in a Tuesday radio appearance.  “He is ridiculous in and out of his breaks,” Carr said. “His style of play is perfect for this league. He’s good at getting on toes and creating separation. He’s good at when the ball is in his hands making those fast-twitch movements to make a guy go one way so he can take it to the house. It’s just little things that honestly people don’t even notice.”  Cooper is widely considered 1 of the most NFL-ready WRs to enter the league in a while.  He should slot right in as Oakland's #1 WR and produce as a fantasy starter this season.  Cooper will cost ya, though -- his 12-team PPR ADP is sitting in the early 5th round.

Jaws sees "nice growth" from Smith

Draft Sharks - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 06:00

Count ESPN's Ron Jaworski among the group that still believes in Jets QB Geno Smith.  “I think Geno, when I’ve looked at him now for a couple of years in the NFL, I see a quarterback that’s getting better,” Jaws said.  “I see a nice growth every single year in Geno and I like the future of the Jets with Geno Smith at quarterback.”  Smith improved his completion rate (55.8% to 59.7%), TD rate (2.7% to 3.5%) and INT rate (4.7% to 3.5%) from 2013 to 2014.  Now he gets to play in OC Chan Gailey's spread offense, which is similar to the system Smith excelled in at West Virginia.  The Jets also added another weapon this offseason in WR Brandon Marshall.  "He can make every throw, he can do everything it takes to be an NFL quarterback. It’s just about consistency," Jaworski added.  If Smith can hold off QB Ryan Fitzpatrick for the starting job this summer, he'll be an intriguing matchup play in fantasy football.

Vereen not just a 3rd-down back for Giants

Draft Sharks - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 07:58

Giants insider Jordan Raanan came away from spring practices believing that RB Shane Vereen is "not just going to be a third-down back."  We've heard similar sentiments from other members of the New York media.  Vereen is getting lots of work in passing situations, as expected, but has also been busy as a ball-carrier and in the red zone.  He never topped 96 carries in New England but could set a new career-high in 2015.  RB Rashad Jennings turned 30 in March, has never played a full 16-game season and averaged just 3.8 yards per carry last year.  RB Andre Williams mustered just 3.3 yards per carry as a rookie and offers nothing as a receiver.  "Get ready for a lot of Shane Vereen," Raanan adds.

Joique Bell "I'm going to rush for over 1200 yds"

Fantasy Football Today - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 06:00

Lions RB not concerned about injuries

Joique Bell isn't worried about the knee injury that has sidelined him for the entirety of this offseason. He isn't worried about the Achilles either. "I'm going to rush for over 1,200 yards," Bell told "That's the minimum. If I do less than that, I'll be surprised. I'll be disappointed. "Anything more than that, I wouldn't be surprised at all." (

FF Today's Take: Detroit runners have had a rough time reaching 1000 yards in recent years let alone 1200. Bell (Achilles, knee) is expected to be ready for training camp and head coach Jim Caldwell has expressed his interest to run the ball more. However, Rookie Ameer Abdullah is expected to have a role in the offense that will limit Bell's opportunities. If Bell were to hit his ceiling of 250 carries, he'd need to average 4.8 ypc to hit 1200 yards.

Turner talks up Johnson again

Draft Sharks - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 05:54

Vikings OC Norv Turner called Charles Johnson "far and away" the team's best WR earlier this offseason.  (Although that was before Minnesota traded for Mike Wallace.)  Turner piled on some more love after the team wrapped up minicamp:  "He's got great work ethic, and he's a big, strong guy. He's a 218-pound receiver that can run. He's got everything you need to be a productive player in this league."  Johnson certainly has the size and athleticism to flourish as a pro.  He closed last season with 25 catches, 415 yards and 2 TDs over the final 7 games and appears locked into a starting spot this year.  There's WR2 upside here, making Johnson a nice grab at his 7th-round ADP.

Housler will move around formation

Draft Sharks - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 05:28

Browns HC Mike Pettine called Rob Housler the "ideal 'F'" TE.  Here's how Pettine described that position: "The F is more of a move type, off the ball, more of a wing. You can flex him out some."  That's the kind of role we want our fantasy TE playing.  Housler was signed by the Browns to be a pass-catcher.  Although he disappointed in Arizona, there's still upside here.  Housler goes 6'5, 250 pounds with a SPARQ (athleticism) score in the 92nd percentile among TEs.  He's a nice late-round flier in fantasy drafts.

Graham, Lockett among offseason standouts

Fantasy Football Today - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 13:25

Ex-Saint TE, third-round pick catch Carroll's eye

When the offseason program ended Thursday, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll pointed to two players who stood out to him through the rookie camp and OTAs. The first one is rookie wide receiver Tyler Lockett. "(Lockett) has a lot of responsibilities. He's going after this return job, he's inside playing in the slot and been outside. We've just thrown everything at him because he seems to be able to handle it," Carroll said. The other standout for Carroll is TE Jimmy Graham. "(Graham is) a great kid. He's as hard a worker as we could hope to get. ... He loves the challenge and coming to a new setting and having to prove himself. He's feeding off that." (ESPN)

FF Today's Take: Lockett is going to fly under the radar in redraft leagues that don't reward owners for return yards simply because the Seahawks once again don't figure to provide enough volume to make their receivers worthy of starting consideration in fantasy. The same lack of passing-game volume is expected to hinder Graham, although certainly not to the same degree. The three-time Pro Bowler will immediately become Russell Wilson's top target and should be good for at least 10 touchdowns, even if his other receiving numbers take a slight hit.

Stevie Johnson could be Chargers' X-factor

Fantasy Football Today - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 13:15

WR developed good rapport with Philip Rivers in offseason

WR Steve Johnson appears to have found a home with the San Diego Chargers. The 28-year-old signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract with the Chargers in free agency and has developed a good rapport with QB Philip Rivers during offseason work. The wide receiver group should be a plus for San Diego's offense, and it should compete for the best combination of players at that position in the AFC West. Malcom Floyd provides familiarity and stability as the elder statesmen of the group, while Keenan Allen should be more productive in Year 3. But the X-factor will be Johnson and the impact plays he can produce in critical situations for this offense. (ESPN)

FF Today's Take: Johnson is expected to replace Eddie Royal as the primary slot receiver and should outperform his predecessor since he is equally capable inside and outside the hashmarks. With field stretchers like Floyd and Jacoby Jones on board, Johnson and Allen should have ample opportunity to work the middle part of the field. Johnson has top-30 receiver potential in this offense, making him a steal at his current 14th-round ADP.

Lockett 1 of Seahawks' spring standouts

Draft Sharks - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 07:04

Seahawks HC Pete Carroll singled out 2 spring standouts after the conclusion of last week's minicamp.  The 1st was Jimmy Graham -- no surprise there.  But the 2nd was rookie WR Tyler Lockett.  “It’s been really fun to learn about Tyler," Carroll said. “He’s got a lot of responsibilities. He’s going after this return job, he’s inside playing in the slot in the receiver position, and he’s been outside.  We’ve just thrown everything at him because he seems to be able to handle it. He studies really hard. You don’t really know until you get these guys how dedicated they will be, but he’s been an exciting addition to the team.”  Lockett is expected to serve as Seattle's primary return man this season after scoring 6 special teams TDs in 4 college seasons.  But he's also capable of pushing for a significant role on offense.  Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse head to training camp as the team's top 2 WRs, but neither guy is the type of talent that will prevent Lockett from winning playing time.  The rookie is just a late-round flier for now but could climb our WR rankings in August.

Johnson developing chemistry with Rivers

Draft Sharks - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 05:49

WR Stevie Johnson developed a "good rapport" with QB Philip Rivers this spring, according to ESPN's Eric Williams.  Williams calls Johnson the "x-factor" in a San Diego WR corps led by a still-developing Keenan Allen and 33-year-old Malcom Floyd.  Johnson should at least step into the slot role that produced 91 targets for Eddie Royal last year.  And Johnson is a more accomplished outside receiver, so his volume could grow beyond that.  He's a screaming value at his current 15th-round ADP.

Clowney on track for camp?

Draft Sharks - Sun, 06/28/2015 - 19:23

The Houston Chronicle reports that Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney has progressed so well from his microfracture knee surgery that "the goal is to have him on the practice field when camp begins." The 2nd-year man figures to work back in slowly after seeing time in only 4 games and landing on IR with a serious knee injury. We'll be quite curious to see how he performs on that repaired joint this summer and whether Clowney can prove ready to start by the regular season.

Clowney on track for camp?

Draft Sharks - Sun, 06/28/2015 - 19:23

The Houston Chronicle reports that Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney has progressed so well from his microfracture knee surgery that "the goal is to have him on the practice field when camp begins." The 2nd-year man figures to work back in slowly after seeing time in only 4 games and landing on IR with a serious knee injury. We'll be quite curious to see how he performs on that repaired joint this summer and whether Clowney can prove ready to start by the regular season.

Maclin and Smith have "budding chemistry"

Draft Sharks - Sun, 06/28/2015 - 17:07

Chiefs insider Adam Teicher noticed "budding chemistry" between QB Alex Smith and WR Jeremy Maclin this spring.  Smith raved about the connection at the conclusion of minicamp.  “I feel really good about where things are right now, where they’re going, how they have progressed,” Smith said. “I really feel like we’ve gotten great work as a whole, but he and I especially have gotten a lot of reps together, a lot of good looks. I really feel like we have a good foundation before we put the pads on and head into camp.”  Malin has the advantage of familiarity with HC Andy Reid's offense from their time together in Kansas City.  Smith's conservative style caps Maclin's 2015 fantasy upside, but he's fairly price at his 6th-round ADP.

Underwhelming spring for Amaro

Draft Sharks - Sun, 06/28/2015 - 16:59

Jets insider Rich Cimini wasn't impressed by TE Jace Amaro this spring.  "I wouldn't write him down as a 60-catch tight end," Cimini wrote.  "Watching him in practice and games, I haven't seen any special qualities that make you say, 'Wow, he's gonna be a great one.' Amaro can start by cutting down on the drops and playing with more urgency."  Amaro struggled with drops last year -- committing 6, according to Pro Football Focus -- and finished with just 38 catches, 345 yards and 2 TDs.  It's rare to read negative press about a guy this time of year, so it's worrisome for Amaro's chances of a 2nd-year breakout.  We like his fit in new OC Chan Gailey's offense, but Amaro will be no better than 3rd in line for targets behind Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.  Consider him just a matchup option for your 2015 fantasy squad.

Walford excelling in OTAs

Draft Sharks - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 13:27

Rookie TE Clive Walford has “demonstrated the ability to get up the seam and use his big body to shield defenders,” per Jerry Knaak of Walford ran a 4.79 forty-yard dash at the Combine, but he plays faster on the field. With pro-ready blocking ability, the Miami product has a real chance to out-snap 3rd-year TE Mychal Rivera this season. Still, we consider Walford more of a potential in-season pickup than a late-round flier.