The NFL is into “Phase Three” of the off-season, which is the final phase before contact practices begin in late July when the Steelers and Cowboys open the start of training camp on July 21 — the Buccaneers start July 24 and the rest of the league starts on July 27. We’ve seen a steady stream of news coming out of the final phase of OTAs since veteran players are required to report for at least one mandatory minicamp. Teams can issue an excused absence for individual players, which is what it looks like the Packers will do with Aaron Rodgers to avoid fining him and further pissing him off.
I went team-by-team to round up the most important fantasy headlines coming out from all 32 workouts. I’ll be updating this article through June 18, which is the final day of Phase Three, so check back for daily updates!
Any ADP data used in this article is based on the last month of drafts with our partners over at BestBall10s.
This article was originally posted on June 10. Any added or updated news items will have a date at the end of it.
American Football Conference
Zack Moss’s recovery from ankle surgery is going well after undergoing the procedure in mid-January — he suffered the injury during Buffalo’s AFC Wild Card victory. HC Sean McDermott said he’s looking forward to having Moss ready for training camp. He’s been an off-season winner with the Bills bypassing upgrading the position in free agency or the draft as they’ve added just Matt Breida to the backfield. (Updated 6/16)
Another off-season winner has been Dawson Knox. The only significant move they’ve made at tight end is to bring in Josh Allen’s Wyoming teammate Jacob Hollister as a second option at the position. Knox is working with a vision specialist this off-season to improve his hand-eye coordination. He’s caught just 55.3% of his targets through two seasons (52/94) and a whopping 14 of his misconnections have come via drops (15.2% drop rate).
Slot WR Cole Beasley sat out of team drills during minicamp, but he did participate in individual drills and he was running at full speed after he played through a leg fracture at the end of last season. It looks as if he’ll be ready to go for the start of training camp in five weeks. (Added 6/18)
- Tua Tagovailoa admitted that he didn’t know Miami’s playbook well enough as a rookie, but he’s feeling much more comfortable heading into his second season. The story got a little too much run and his HC Brian Flores clarified a week later that Tua was just comparing where he is now compared to where he was last season. More importantly, his surgically-repaired hip feels 10 times better than it did as a rookie last season. Tua had a difficult practice on June 15 when he threw five interceptions — Jacoby Brissett also threw two INTs — with the Dolphins emphasizing downfield and tight-window throws in a torrential downpour. Tua played better later in practice with multiple intermediate throws but it’s something to keep an eye on this August with the Dolphins breaking in co-offensive coordinators George Godsey and Eric Studesville. (Updated 6/16)
New England Patriots
First-round pick Mac Jones is getting thrown right into the fire before training camp even starts. Cam Newton suffered a bone bruise in his throwing hand after smacking it off a teammate’s helmet during team drills on June 4. Cam was initially expected to rest the injury through minicamp but he’s now taking the first reps during each drill with Mac following behind him. Beat writer Jeff Howe noted that Jones is already throwing with more timing and anticipation than the other quarterbacks, and he’s been the “best quarterback” in minicamp with Newton still struggling with inconsistent accuracy. Cam is fully expected to open the season as the team’s starter but he didn’t want to lose out on too many reps this summer as he looks to hold off Jones for as long as possible. HC Bill Belichick did say Cam is “way ahead” of where he was last summer, but we’ll see just how long he can hold off Jones. (Updated 6/16)
Running backs coach Ivan Fears compared fourth-round pick Rhamondre Stevenson’s body and athletic ability to LeGarrette Blount, and he added that Stevenson is a better receiver. The Patriots’ backfield competition is wide open heading into training camp and it wouldn’t be surprising if Stevenson opens the year as the #2 early-down runner behind Damien Harris after the Patriots declined Sony Michel’s fifth-year option at the beginning of May. Harris operated as the top back in minicamp and he’s the “clear No. 1 back” right now. (Updated 6/15)
Jonnu Smith left a June 14 minicamp practice early with a left hamstring injury after he missed most, if not all, of New England’s 10 voluntary OTA practices for an undisclosed reason. Smith has been crawling up my rankings all off-season after I initially buried him early with the Patriots signing both Smith and Hunter Henry. I’ll be keeping an eye on his health but he should be good to go for training camp and, hopefully, his affordable ADP slips a bit from 135.2. Henry impressed with Smith sitting out for most of minicamp, catching everything thrown his direction. (Updated 6/18)
Jakobi Meyers has been the most advanced WR in minicamp while Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne learn the playbook, but Agholor’s speed and separation have been on a “different plane” than the other receivers. I’ve largely been avoiding these three WRs in drafts since I think all three will be involved and vulturing each other. (Added 6/15)
New York Jets
The Athletic’s Connor Hughes wrote that second-round pick Elijah Moore has easily been the most impressive player on either side of the ball at OTAs. HC Robert Saleh also praised his work ethic and his ability to line up at Z, X, and in the slot. It’s worth noting that Saleh mentioned Moore has been playing the Z first and he’s been lining up on the outside with Braxton Berrios playing in the slot in minicamp while Crowder is out. As I wrote in our AFC East Pow-wow Notes, I’m getting a fair share of Moore shares at his affordable ADP of 166.8 (WR66). Moore’s ADP was set to skyrocket if the Jets moved on from Jamison Crowder, but the sides came to terms on a restructured contract for this season. It puts a bit of a damper on Moore’s fantasy upside this season but I’ll still be taking my chances on him late in drafts especially with his ADP likely to slide a bit. (Updated 6/16)
It’s also worth noting that Keelan Cole has been working with the starters and Denzel Mims has been working with the second-team offense in June. The Jets signed Cole as a free agent because of his route running and his ability after the catch while Mims is more of a straight line, downfield receiver, whom the old regime drafted. This will be a camp battle to keep an eye on in August. The Jets will go into training camp five-deep at WR between Corey Davis, Moore, Crowder, Cole, and Mims. With a rookie QB at the helm, it’s going to be difficult for one of these WRs to emerge as a fantasy difference-maker and my exposure to the group is going to be mostly limited to Moore. (Updated 6/16)
Fourth-round pick Michael Carter, Tevin Coleman, and Ty Johnson are splitting first-team reps during OTAs while La’Mical Perine and Josh Adams are working with the backups. ESPN’s Rich Cimini is giving Coleman the early edge because of his knowledge of the system, but he noted that Carter is the most intriguing option in this backfield. Beat writer Connor Hughes believes the Jets haven’t had a back as talented as Carter in quite some time, and he noted that he catches the ball with ease. (Added 6/16)
The Ravens gave Gus Edwards a not-so-insignificant chunk of cash when they handed him a two-year, $10 million. The contract extension suggests he’s going to be a much bigger piece of this offense and OC Greg Roman also recently called this backfield a running group by committee. Edwards is being slightly underdrafted at his current ADP of 120.6 (RB43) while J.K. Dobbins is being slightly overdrafted at 26.5 (RB16).
On a positive note for Dobbins, Jim Harbaugh said a main point of emphasis this off-season was to get running backs more involved in the passing game. Dobbins caught 71 passes in three seasons at Ohio State before leading the Ravens’ backfield with 18 catches last season.
A wrench could be thrown into this backfield if the Ravens would sign free agent Todd Gurley after he visited with the Ravens on June 10. He took a visit with the Lions in late May, and he’s set to piss off fantasy owners in some fashion when he signs somewhere before the season starts.
In our AFC North Pow-wow, Adam Caplan told us how the Ravens were going to expand their passing game this season and OC Greg Roman recently said the same thing. Lamar Jackson is actually going to work under center this season, which could help their play-action and downfield passing attacks. Mark Andrews (57.1, TE4) and Marquise Brown (86.6, WR39) are sliding a bit in drafts but they could turn into values if they fall a little farther by the time August rolls around.
Sammy Watkins has shown an early rapport with his new quarterback and beat writer Jeff Zreibec called him the standout offensive player. He’s been making plays down the field and in the intermediate areas during practice but the question remains if he’ll actually be able to stay healthy for an extended amount of time. (Added 6/17)
Joe Mixon is headed for a bigger role this season after the Bengals released Giovani Bernard this off-season, but just how many snaps he’ll play a game is being determined. HC Zac Taylor said he doesn’t want Mixon playing “75 snaps a game” so he’s not likely headed toward an every-down role like Christian McCaffrey, but Taylor added that the offense is better when Mixon is on the field. OC Brian Callahan previously stated after the draft that he doesn’t want Mixon to leave the field but he still needs some improvement in pass protection. The Bengals aren’t exactly teeming with competition behind Mixon with Samaje Perine the next man up behind him, and his lack of competition has been reflected in his rising ADP to RB12. It should be noted that it appears Mixon has fully recovered from his undisclosed foot injury that unexpectedly ended his season after six games last season. (Added 6/14)
Our Greg Cosell told us during the AFC North Pow-wow that he heard it on good authority that Joe Burrow has increased his arm strength this off-season. It didn’t take long for the video proof to come out from practice shortly after our meeting. Burrow told Sports Illustrated’s Abert Breer that he was frustrated with his downfield accuracy last season and that it’s been a focus of his training this off-season. Burrow said his upper body and his right leg feel better than ever before and he thinks his knee will be 100% before training camp. (Updated 6/16)
Tee Higgins earned praise from Taylor, Burrow, and OC Brian Callahan in June. Higgins has added some muscle this off-season and Taylor said he’s in “outstanding shape” while Burrow said Higgins looks completely different and that he’s primed for a “big year.” Callahan jumped in on the fun and said Higgins has been “markedly more explosive” this summer. Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase are neck-and-neck in ADP as the WR26 and WR27, respectively. (Updated 6/17)
- Jarvis Landry said Odell Beckham looks fully recovered from his ACL surgery seven months ago — “he’s even better than he was last year” — after the pair worked out with Baker Mayfield in Austin, Texas in early June. He then participated in drills during minicamp without a knee brace. OBJ will battle it out with Landry to lead this receiving corps in production, and he’s as cheap as he’s even been with an ADP of 68.1 (WR30). (Updated 6/16)
Longtime Steelers’ beat writer Ed Bouchette believes Ben Roethlisberger’s surgically repaired throwing elbow will be much stronger this season. Big Ben called his surgery a total reconstruction and he said he’s on a normal throwing routine this off-season after throwing extra balls last year to get his arm strength back to an acceptable level during his rehab. Our Adam Caplan said something similar during our AFC North Pow-wow when he said he expects the Steelers to stretch the field more now that Big Ben will be two years removed from his elbow surgery.
Roethlisberger has quickly struck up a relationship with first-round pick Najee Harris. The veteran QB said his rookie RB is “going to be something to see” this season with Big Ben praising his ability to quickly pick up what’s being taught to him.
The Steelers may have put an emphasis on improving their rushing attack this off-season, but new OC Matt Canada made it clear that the offense still revolves around Big Ben and that Roethlisberger is still calling the shots on offense. Canada said Big Ben will actually be going under center and running play action this season while they’ll continue to use different tempos like they have throughout Big Ben’s tenure. The Steelers’ offense has the chance to be more dynamic than it has been in recent seasons after the offense became predictable under Randy Fichtner, but the fate of the unit will ultimately come down to what’s left in Roethlisberger’s right arm. (Added 6/16)
To no one’s surprise, Deshaun Watson isn’t attending OTAs or team meetings.
The Texans signed Rex Burkhead to a one-year contract to add another body to this crowded backfield. David Johnson will be the lead back in Houston but they’re going to use some sort of committee with the likes of Phillip Lindsay, Mark Ingram, and Burkhead behind him. Both HC David Culley and OC Tim Kelly emphasized how the Texans need to do a better job in the run game this season, but I’m skeptical if they’ll stay competitive enough each week to stick to their plan to run the ball more this season. (Updated 6/14)
The Colts convened for two weeks of team activities in May in exchange for canceling the rest of the off-season program. A few notes from May:
Parris Campbell (knee) said he’s completely recovered from his surgery to repair his MCL and PCL tears from early last season.
Marlon Mack (Achilles) worked on the side but he wasn’t cleared to practice.
T.Y. Hilton could return to being a downfield factor after playing the last two seasons with Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett. He said Carson Wentz’s arm strength stood out during their workouts and he said “it’s gonna be fun” when asked about the downfield passing game.
Urban Meyer called out D.J. Chark for playing too small after watching his 2020 tape, and Chark has responded by adding seven pounds of muscle this off-season — he’s now checking in at 6’4”, 210 pounds. Chark is entering a pivotal season in his career as he plays out the final year on his rookie contract while trying to prove that his 2019 performance wasn’t a fluke.
Jaguars’ beat writer John Shipley wrote that Laviska Shenault has been the most impressive skill player during OTAs, catching everything in sight while looking dynamic as a route runner. Beat reporter Hays Carlyon also tweeted that the coaching staff is “buzzing” about Shenault this spring. I’ve been skeptical of Shenault’s role in this offense since he was an inherited player from the last regime and since Urban Meyer was looking to draft Kadarius Toney before he settled for Travis Etienne, whom they’re looking to use all over the field. I’m still out on him at his current ADP of 97.7 (WR43) but I may reconsider if he continues to impress in August. (Updated 6/14)
The Jaguars haven’t been holding back Trevor Lawrence as he comes back from non-throwing shoulder surgery in February, but he was limited by hamstring tightness in a June 8 practice in which he threw two pick-sixes. The Jaguars continued to hold him out of minicamp practices during the week of June 14 as a precaution, but Meyer said he could play a game if he had to. (Updated 6/15)
Per ESPN’s Diana Russini, Tim Tebow could be used in a utility role like….nevermind.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you know that the Titans acquired Julio Jones and a 2023 sixth-round pick from the Falcons in exchange for a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 fourth-round pick. Julio is at 100% health and he’s expected to attend Titans’ minicamp the week of June 14. Check out Graham Barfield’s Fantasy Fallout article for an extensive breakdown of the trade.
Anthony Firkser’s fantasy relevance took a major hit with the Titans acquiring Jones, and Tennessee might not be done acquiring receivers for Ryan Tannehill. During a press conference to announce the Jones trade, GM Jon Robinson said the team is still monitoring the tight end position in free agency. Firkser went from being a late-round dart throw at 169.2 (TE21) to an in-season fantasy streamer, at best, in the blink of an eye.
Broncos beat reporter Troy Renck reported that Teddy Bridgewater has been more impressive than Drew Lock in OTAs, but it should be noted that Lock has been dealing with a blister on his throwing hand. HC Vic Fangio has said this competition isn’t going to take off before training camp, but Teddy has left the better impression in June.
I’m hoping Bridgewater gets the call as the starter to open the season since Jerry Jeudy could feast with the conservative Bridgewater peppering him in the intermediate to short areas of the field. Jeudy and Bridgewater have demonstrated a strong early connection in practice with Courtland Sutton (ACL) and K.J. Hamler (hamstring) on the sidelines, and beat reporter Taylor Brooks wrote that he’s been the WR that’s stood out the most. Jeudy will likely go down as one of my highest-owned WRs this year with his ADP sitting at a tasty 84.3 (WR37). (Updated 6/17)
HC Vic Fangio said Sutton won’t start training camp on the PUP list, which is a good sign after he sat out minicamp. Sutton will be in a battle with Jeudy for the most targets in this offense this season. (Added 6/16)
Hamler’s hamstrings are acting up already and he missed practice during OTAs. His hamstrings have been a persistent problem for him dating back to his time at Penn State so it’s an issue to monitor.
Kansas City Chiefs
I’ll be passing on Patrick Mahomes in the early fourth round but it’s safe to draft him if you’re eyeing him up around his 37.1 ADP (QB1). Andy Reid said Mahomes has been a “full go” during OTAs after undergoing toe surgery in the off-season.
Fifth-round pick Cornell Powell has been getting some buzz a late-round dart throw because of his performance at OTAs and because of the lack of WR depth behind Tyreek Hill. Mahomes called the Clemson WR “a beast” while complimenting his contested-catch ability. He could eventually complement Kansas City’s speedy receiving corps as a perimeter possession receiver, and he’s a player to monitor in August.
Another fifth-round pick, Noah Gray, has been turning some heads in minicamp and the Chiefs have been practicing more two and three tight end sets this summer. It makes some sense since the Chiefs let Sammy Watkins walk in free agency without bringing in a major addition to their current group. (Added 6/17)
Byron Pringle is staking a claim to a bigger role after Mahomes targeted him the most in minicamp, per beat writer Nate Taylor. The #2 WR spot is up for grabs behind Hill but it remains to be seen if it will actually be a fantasy-relevant spot after Tyreek and Travis Kelce hogged production last season. (Updated 6/14)
Kyle Long came out of retirement to play guard for the Chiefs this off-season, but the start of his comeback campaign is in jeopardy. He suffered a leg injury during OTAs that could keep him out of training camp, and the hope is that he can return for the start of the regular season. The Chiefs’ rebuilt offensive line isn’t off to the best start and Long can’t be counted on to stay healthy for long as he’s played in just 30 games since 2016.
Las Vegas Raiders
It’s been pretty quiet in Las Vegas this June. The only somewhat notable fantasy news is that Henry Ruggs’ off-season focus has been to add more weight and strength after a disappointing rookie season — he was listed at 6’0”, 190 pounds last season. HC Jon Gruden also thinks Ruggs looks much better this summer than he did at this time last year, and he wants him to be more than a field stretcher this season. I can’t say Ruggs has been a target of mine but I have some shares of him at his extremely affordable ADP of 147.6 (WR57). (Updated 6/17)
Kenyan Drake sees himself as another mismatch piece for the Raiders offense, and he said he’s been working on his speed and receiver footwork drills. He said his speed will complement Josh Jacobs’ physical running style in this backfield.
Los Angeles Chargers
- New OC Joe Lombardi would be drafting Mike Williams at his affordable ADP of 118.7 (WR49) as Lombardi stated that he’d “bet he’ll have nice numbers this year.” He added that he’ll be playing the X receiver in his New Orleans’ style offense, and the spot naturally gets production because of the nature of the offense. Williams has been a player who has found ways to disappoint when he’s been in seemingly great positions to succeed the last couple of seasons, including last year when he averaged a meager 8.9 YPT playing with Justin Herbert. Williams is playing out the fifth and final year of his rookie contract and the Chargers aren’t in a rush to offer him an extension at this point.
National Football Conference
Dak Prescott said he moved on from his catastrophic ankle injury when he did some little dance moves around Cinco de Mayo. We all learned that Dak loves to dance on Sunday Night Football two seasons ago. HC Mike McCarthy anticipates Prescott will be a full participant once training camp starts in late July. Dak could be a regular fifth-round pick by the time August rolls around with his ADP rising to 64.0 (QB5) in the last month.
The Cowboys are moving both Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb around the field more in OTAs after Gallup primarily played the X and Lamb ran 93% of his routes from the slot last season. If the Cowboys follow through with moving their receivers around more, Gallup could put up more consistent production with more slot snaps and Lamb could have a little more volatility with more perimeter snaps. It would also make breaking down individual matchups on a week-to-week basis a little more difficult for this Cowboys’ offense.
The Cowboys are also tinkering with Tony Pollard at receiver in camp as they look for ways to get him more involved in the offense. He also may be getting receiver reps since the Cowboys have been missing WRs in camp, including Amari Cooper. He underwent ankle surgery at the conclusion of the season and it became irritated about two weeks ago. Coop will rest for the next couple of weeks and he could start training camp on the PUP list if he’s not in top shape.
Blake Jarwin didn’t participate in OTAs but he’s anticipating being ready for the start of training camp. He’ll be competing with Dalton Schultz for snaps as he comes back from his injury, and he’s a bit shockingly being drafted ahead of a player like Austin Hooper with his DP at 165.9 (TE20).
Both Dak Prescott and Tony Pollard praised Ezekiel Elliott for his conditioning during minicamp. He’s coming off a difficult 2020 when he posted career-lows in rushing yards per game (65.3), touchdowns (9), and YPC (4.0). Zeke is primed for a bounce-back campaign if his explosiveness is back and if he can keep Pollard at bay since this offense will be in much better shape with Dak and his O-line back. His ADP has risen inside the top-eight picks and it may not be long until he challenges Jonathan Taylor to be the RB6. (Added 6/14)
New York Giants
To no one’s surprise, Saquon Barkley is being held out of OTAs as he continues to rehab from his ACL injury. Barkley declined to say if he’d be ready for Week 1 and HC Joe Judge also declined to put a timeline on Barkley’s return. As we discussed on our NFC East Pow-wow, the Giants could limit his snaps early in the season as they ramp him up to a full workload. I’ve recently slid Barkley to my RB5 behind Alvin Kamara in case he’s slow out of the gates this season.
First-round pick Kadarius Toney is off to a slow start this summer after he didn’t get a single rep in with Daniel Jones. He first skipped voluntary full-team workouts, which is unusual for a rookie, before he failed to finish the first any of his minicamp practices because of his cleats, a minor injury, and a family emergency. He worked with the second-team offense throughout the three-day minicamp. It’s too early to freak out but you have to wonder if GM Dave Gettleman is having some buyer’s remorse through the first six weeks with Toney. Toney can be had for free in drafts with an ADP of 211.6 (WR79). (Added 6/11)
Kyle Rudolph is expected to be ready for training camp after getting in light work at minicamp. He won’t be a fantasy factor this season but he’s likely to be a pain for the likes of Evan Engram and the rest of this receiving corps, especially near the end zone. (Added 6/11)
The Eagles eliminated their mandatory minicamp on June 8-10 and they held two weeks of OTAs starting on May 25. A few notes from May:
Jalen Reagor said he will play in the slot more this season, which means the Eagles could use Travis Fulgham at the X, DeVonta Smith at the Z, and Reagor in the slot in 11 personnel.
Lane Johnson spilled the beans that the screen game could be a big factor in Nick Sirianni’s offense this season, which is a positive for Miles Sanders who saw his receiving production plummet last season.
The size of Miles Sanders’ role in the Eagles backfield is a big unanswered question entering the season. The Eagles have added Kerryon Johnson, Kenneth Gainwell, and Jordan Howard to a backfield that already has Sanders and Boston Scott. RB coach Jamel Singleton downplayed the need for an every-down back but he added that it all depends on the running back room. Sanders has been sliding down draftboards into the mid-third round since the Eagles drafted Gainwell in the fifth round and they signed Johnson.
Antonio Gibson has been a hot topic during Washington’s OTAs. It came out that he’s still rehabbing the toe injury that forced him to miss two games at the end of last season. Our Edwin Porras laid out three possible scenarios for how Gibson’s injury will play out this season.
We also talked about his likely bigger role in the passing game this season in our NFC East Pow-wow, and ESPN’s John Keim also reported that the Football Team wants him to run more routes this season. He’s been getting extra reps catching passes with J.D. McKissic away from the team during minicamp. HC Ron Rivera also said he expects a big jump from Gibson in Year Two, as well. Gibson carries some risk with his toe injury, but his top-five upside at the position makes him worth the risk at his 21.2 ADP (RB15).
Curtis Samuel missed OTAs after he felt a “twinge” in his groin, which is something to monitor this August if it becomes more of an issue.
The Bears have been consistent since the draft that Andy Dalton is the No. 1 QB, Justin Fields is the No. 2, and Nick Foles is the No. 3 heading into training camp. HC Matt Nagy once again insisted that Dalton would be the Week 1 starter in an interview with Chris Collinsworth. The first-round pick turned heads during OTAs with deep balls to Darnell Mooney and Damiere Byrd and he took control of the offense in 7-on-7 drills. We’ll see how things develop in August but I’m aggressively drafting the likes of Fields and Trey Lance as my QB2s when they’re available starting around 150+ pick into my best ball drafts. (Updated 6/16)
Sixth-round pick Dazz Newsome broke his collarbone in early June and the injury will likely sideline for eight weeks. He could miss the first week or two of training camp, which will hurt his chances of earning early playing time as a rookie.
Allen Robinson is planning on participating in minicamp after skipping voluntary OTAs in recent weeks. A-Rob is frustrated with his contract situation as he’s set to play on a one-year, $17.9 million franchise tag this season. (Added 6/15)
D’Andre Swift has seen his stock dip since the draft after Anthony Lynn called Jamaal Williams a “classic ‘A’ back” and Swift a “speed-space back” when describing their skill sets — not their positions on the depth chart. Lynn then opened his mouth again in early June when he said he’ll be riding the hot hand when it comes to his backfield. Add in the fact that the Lions recently hosted free agent Todd Gurley and it’s easy to see why Swift is starting to be drafted in the third round. On a positive note, beat writer Tim Twentyman wrote that Swift and Jared Goff are building a “nice rapport, especially on option routes.” (Updated 6/14)
T.J. Hockenson dominated the final session of minicamp, and the Detroit Free Press stated he’s headed for a “big season” after his strong off-season program. He still has some timing issues to work out with Jared Goff but he’s been the clear top option in the passing game. I’m hoping to start drafting Hockenson at a bit of a discounted rate with the hype building for Kyle Pitts — Hock has been the TE6 since the Julio Jones trade. (Added 6/11)
Beat writer Dave Birkett broke down the Lions’ WR depth chart at the conclusion of minicamp. Tyrell Williams has been the #1 WR option for Jared Goff while Breshad Perriman has been less consistent this spring. Amon St. Brown has looked the part as the #3 option and he could turn into Goff’s most trusted option. Quintez Cephus and Victor Bolden are also making noise and have earned praise for their minicamps. Beat writer Tim Twentyman added that Cephus was a volume receiver during minicamp. It’s weird to say but Perriman and St. Brown have priced themselves out of my range for a Lions’ WR in the top-200 as Tyrell and Cephus have been my preferred picks in the final round of BB10s. (Updated 6/14)
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rogers was the only Packers player who missed the first day of mandatory minicamp who wasn’t in the COVID-19 protocol. Rodgers and the Packers are no closer to a resolution with less than two months before the start of training camp. Each of the Packers’ skill players has seen their ADPs plummet with Rodgers’ holdout entering Month Two.
Davante Adams won’t be joining Rodgers as a potential holdout in training camp as he heads into the final year of his four-year, $58 million contract. He’s seeking a new contract but he said he won’t be forfeiting any of the money that he’s earned. (Added 6/11)
Jordan Love would be the next man up at quarterback and he’s been a bit all over the map with his performances in camp, which aligns with the performances he put on tape at Utah State. He favored check-down passes in practices without his top receivers before showing both pinpoint and erratic accuracy when Green Bay’s top skill players showed up the Week of June 7.
Jace Sternberger has been suspended for two games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. The talented third-year player is buried behind 2020 breakout TE Robert Tonyan on the Packers’ depth chart and he can be left alone except in deep dynasty formats. (Added 6/11)
- Irv Smith showed up to minicamp “bigger, stronger, faster” after following a more strict diet this off-season. HC Mike Zimmer said he doesn’t envision Smith’s role growing this season but he does see Tyler Conklin’s role growing with Kyle Rudolph heading to New York. Smith has been one of my favorite TE targets once drafts hit double-digit rounds, but Zimmer clearly has a soft spot for Conklin, who actually saw one more target than Smith in the final four games of last season (21 to 20) with Rudolph out of the lineup.
- Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you know that the Titans acquired Julio Jones and a 2023 sixth-round pick from the Falcons in exchange for a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 fourth-round pick. Check out Graham Barfield’s Fantasy Fallout article for an extensive breakdown of the trade.
- As Adam Caplan told us during the NFC South Pow-wow, the Falcons were in salary cap hell before the Jones trade. They couldn’t make any moves and they had tapped out their contract restructures. Keep an eye out on some potential roster moves now that they have some salary-cap relief. In particular, I’ll be watching to see if they look to bring in competition for Mike Davis at running back and Russell Gage for the #2 WR spot. Le’Veon Bell and Duke Johnson are two of the bigger available names at running back while Kenny Stills and Golden Tate are a couple of names at wide receiver to keep an eye on.
- Calvin Ridley is sitting out of minicamp after he recently underwent foot surgery, but he should be ready for training camp. Our Edwin Porras’ first thought when he heard about the surgery was that Ridley is looking at 4-8 weeks of rest, which should have Ridley close to ready for the start of training camp. Ridley said as much when he said was “pretty sure” he’d be ready for training camp. Ridley has had an ADP of 20.0 (WR5) since the Jones trade went through on June 6 and we’ll see if his minor surgery slows down his march into the teens in drafts. (Updated 6/16)
- Kyle Pitts has seen his ADP skyrocket since the trade as he’s now the fourth TE off the board at 50.8 — he’s leapfrogged Mark Andrews and T.J. Hockenson. He’s going 20 spots higher than he was being drafted the month before the trade when he was going off the board as the TE6. The Falcons have been force-feeding the rock to Pitts and they’ve been moving him all over the field in minicamp to throw as much as possible at him. (Added 6/11)
- Russell Gage is the de facto #2 WR after the Julio trade, and HC Arthur Smith said he envisions him playing multiple spots. Gage has run 65.4% of his routes from the slot and he’s averaged just 10.2 YPR through three seasons, but we’ll see if more explosive plays come his way if he does in fact play more on the outside. I’m fine with his ADP of 144.9 (WR58) since the Jones trade went down, but I’ll likely be out if he starts going in the WR4 range inside the first 10 rounds of drafts since he’s been more of a compiler than a big-play threat to start his career. (Added 6/11)
Christian McCaffrey participated in OTAs without any limitations and he told the press that he’s back to 100 percent. OC Joe Brady also said CMC’s role will remain unchanged this season after he played just three games in 2020 so he should see one of the highest usage rates at the position. Just like last season, you won’t get CMC on your fantasy teams this year unless you have the top overall pick. (Updated 6/11)
Sam Darnold has been uneven in his first minicamp with the Panthers as he learns a new offense under Joe Brady and he builds a rapport with his new receivers. HC Matt Rhule said they’ve designed their practices to be difficult on Darnold and the rest of the quarterbacks with more traditional dropbacks and reads. It’s not exactly a great start for Darnold in his new offense but it is way too early to make sweeping judgements about him before we get to August of his fourth season. (Added 6/17)
New Orleans Saints
There’s not a whole lot to report out of Saints’ minicamp. Beat writer Larry Holder is calling Jameis Winston the “odd-on favorite” to win the starting job, which is technically true since FanDuel sportsbook has installed Winston as a -280 favorite to be the Week 1 starter while Taysom Hill is sitting at +220. Hill’s big-plus odds look pretty tasty to me after he came in over Winston and went 3-1 as the team’s starter last season. Even if he doesn’t open the season as the starter, I’m still comfortable drafting Hill as my QB3 in the final round or two of my best ball drafts. Winston’s track record suggests mistakes will be made and Sean Payton isn’t going to tolerate turnovers so Hill should get a chance for significant playing time at some point.
Michael Thomas is participating in minicamp and he’s receiving treatment on his ankle and HC Sean Payton said he looks good so far. Thomas was scheduled to have surgery after the playoffs and his rehab seems to be in a good place heading into training camp. Thomas is the cheapest he’s been in years (28.7, WR9) coming off his injury and playing without Drew Brees for the first time. (Added 6/11)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Both Antonio Brown (knee) is two weeks away from returning to the practice field while O.J. Howard (Achilles) is “really close” to returning to action. It’s looking like Tom Brady will have his full cast of receivers ready to go for training camp. The Buccaneers have an embarrassment of riches at receiver entering the season.
Speaking of Brady, he was on the practice field for minicamp after he had surgery on his knee after the Super Bowl — it was his first surgery in 12 years. He wore a sleeve on his surgically repaired left knee and Bruce Arians said he had to drag Brady out to take a couple of reps off. The Buccaneers offense really hit its stride at the end of last season with Brady throwing multiple TD passes in his final 11 games (playoffs included) and his price tag is affordable with an ADP of 97.8 (QB10).
Kyler Murray wants Arizona’s offense to be less reliant on his running this season after the offense went into a funk when he couldn’t run as much in the final seven weeks of the season after he injured his shoulder against the Seahawks in Week 11. Frankly, Murray needs to become a better passer if the Cardinals are to rely less on his running, and it’s yet to be seen if he’ll make a jump as a passer in Year Three. He at least got more receiver upgrades this off-season in Rondale Moore and A.J. Green to run more four-WR sets and to potentially make a third-year leap like we saw Josh Allen do last year. Murray is my QB3 in a tight cluster of second-tier QBs behind Patrick Mahomes, and I’m betting on some passing-game improvements with plenty of running mixed in from Murray. (Added 6/11)
Kliff Kingsbury sounded pretty excited to draw plays up for Rondale Moore this season, and he wants to use him as Jeff Brohm did at Purdue by getting him the ball in space in creative ways. I’ve drafted Kyler quite a bit this summer and Moore has been my preferred stack with him with his ADP sitting at an affordable 165.3 (WR64). (Added 6/11)
It’s been pretty silent in Cardinals’ minicamp to this point. Kliff Kingsbury had no update on Larry Fitzgerald’s status for next season, which is the one big roster situation hanging over this offense heading into training camp.
Los Angeles Rams
Cam Akers’ hype has been building since the draft as he looks to continue his bellcow role from the end of last season. HC Sean McVay said there are no limitations for Akers as a runner, as a receiver, and where he lines up on the field. Akers said mentally the game slowed down for him at the end of last season as he knew the playbook, blocking schemes, and pass protection better. Akers has been a target of mine at the first-round turn while his backup, Darrell Henderson, has been a favorite of mine in the double-digit rounds since the RB depth chart has been thinned out by Malcolm Brown’s departure.
Matthew Stafford hasn’t been limited in camp after having a thumb procedure done in March. He’s being drafted just inside the top-100 picks and he’s neck-and-neck with Tom Brady in ADP to be the QB10 in drafts.
Cooper Kupp dealt with multiple knee ailments last season, including bursitis throughout the season before he suffered a Morel-Lavelle lesion in the Wild Card Round, which is when skin and tissue separate from the fascia. Kupp is resting in minicamp but he’s been working closely with Stafford with a play-card in hand, talking him through plays. Stafford said Kupp is one of the smartest guys he’s played with and that he sees the game the same way that he does.
Fourth-round pick Jacob Harris generated plenty of buzz in minicamp because of his athleticism and length, and he saw plenty of first-team reps during minicamp with Tyler Higbee not practicing. He was a “special project” for both Sean McVay and TE coach Wes Phillips during minicamp, and McVay said he’ll be used as a mismatch piece for their passing game. Harris is a player to target in dynasty rankings before his stock rises even more with some big plays in the preseason. (Added 6/15)
San Francisco 49ers
Swing tackle Justin Skule tore his ACL in minicamp, which will hurt the 49ers’ offensive line depth.
HC Kyle Shanahan canceled the rest of OTAs and a three-day minicamp for the week of June 14 after Skule and DB Tarvarius Moore (Achilles) suffered a pair of season-ending injuries three plays apart. Shanahan had planned to end camp early but the injuries sped up the decision. The 49ers have been snakebitten with injuries since last season as they easily paced the league with 326 games missed because of injury in 2020.
Trey Sermon was given the “lion’s share” of first-team reps during OTAs with Raheem Mostert resting and Jeff Wilson (meniscus) out for the next 4-6 months. Sermon’s ADP has skyrocketed into the top-90 picks since Wilson’s injury in late May and the hype should continue to build this summer. (Added 6/14)
Jimmy Garoppolo took all of the first-team reps during their seven OTA sessions while Trey Lance worked with the second-team unit. Shanahan said Jimmy G had his best spring since joining the 49ers while he said Lance now knows what is expected of him once he returns for training camp. The 49ers appear to be leaning toward Jimmy G as the Week 1 starter but the final decision will be made in training camp. Longtime beat writer Matt Maiocco believes Lance, with his dual-threat abilities, will be given every opportunity to rise up the depth chart. Lance has been a target of mine starting around 150 picks into drafts. (Updated 6/16)
The 49ers depth chart is wide open behind Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. Shanahan and OC Mike McDaniel wouldn’t give a WR depth chart but beat writer Matt Barrows noted that Richie James had an excellent spring before suffering hamstring strain while Mohamed Sanu stood out in open practices.
D.K. Metcalf said new OC Shane Waldron’s offense has a lot of different routes than Waldron’s other offenses have shown, but exact details on what the offense will look like have been slim. Russell Wilson explained that the offense will use “different” formations and tempos, as well. During the NFC West Pow-wow, our Adam Caplan said Waldron is going to run an old-school West Coast Offense while trying to get the ball out of Wilson’s hands quicker. Beat Michael-Shawn Dugar believes the Seahawks’ offense will be pushing the pace more this season, which would be great news for their fantasy options after they ran the 10th-fewest plays per game (63.5) last season. (Updated 6/18)
Russell Wilson said he never requested a trade this off-season even though his agent gave Adam Schefter a list of four preferred destinations this winter. Either way, it looks like this winter’s spat is behind Wilson, Pete Carroll, and the organization for now. We’ll see how long until the next friction between Wilson and the organization, but he can at least be safely drafted in the mid-seventh round. (Added 6/11)
Rashaad Penny underwent a cleanup procedure on surgically repaired left knee, but HC Pete Carroll expects him to be ready for training camp. Penny is the favorite to spell Chris Carson as a change-of-pace back but his fourth season is off to an ominous start after he played just three games last season off of his torn ACL at the end of 2019. (Added 6/16)
Second-round pick D’Wayne Eskridge isn’t participating in minicamp because of a toe injury, which is a small setback in his bid to be the #3 WR as Seattle installs Waldron’s new offense. (Added 6/16)