New England Patriots fullback Dan Vitale would like to follow in the footsteps of the now retired James Develin. Vitale is aware that he has some big shoes to fill after Develin decided to call it a career due to health concerns. This marks his fourth season in the league, but the 2020 campaign will be his first with the Pats. James was a hell-of-a player, Ive enjoyed watching him, really since I got in the league now and he was really a role model at the position," says Vitale. He knows that being versatile and using his intelligence to the best of his ability are crucial to succeeding as a fullback in the league. It sounds like Vitale is prepared for his next step in his career.
New England Patriots defensive back Joejuan Williams is increasing his value through versatility this offseason. He played 82 defensive snaps last season, which is mostly due to the fact that the Pats were stacked in the secondary. The former second-round pick from 2019 will look to carve out a role as a versatile rotational player. He will likely play both defensive back and safety for the Pats next season. Williams is not expected to have a huge role on the team, but playing multiple positions should help him get on the field more often.
Although Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry is looking for a long-term deal, he's also fine with playing the 2020 season under the franchise tag. The deadline for the two sides to work out a long-term extension is July 15. Henry has made no mention of a potential holdout this summer. The 25-year-old has struggled with injuries in his four seasons and played in only 12 games in 2019, but he had a career-high 55 catches for 652 yards and five touchdowns and was still a top-10 fantasy tight end at season's end. Even with Philip Rivers out of town and either quarterback Tyrod Taylor or rookie first-rounder Justin Herbert at the helm, Henry will be a top-10 fantasy tight end target on draft day.
New York Jets safety Jamal Adams would like to be traded if he doesn't receive a long-term contract extension before the season. But the Jets want to keep him and extend him next offseason. The Jets aren't actively shopping Adams on the trade market, and Adams' agent doesn't have permission to facilitate a trade. The All-Pro safety's trade preference is the Dallas Cowboys, but that's not the only team he'd play for. Dallas has yet to call on Adams after discussing him at last year's trade deadline. Even if the Cowboys were to trade for Adams, they might ask him to wait until after his rookie deal to approach an extension. The 24-year-old has been a Pro Bowler in two of his three seasons and is in discussion as the top IDP safety heading into 2020, mainly because of his ability to play the box against the run and rush the passer.
Seattle Seahawks running back Carlos Hyde (shoulder), who signed a one-year deal with Seattle on Friday, underwent surgery in February to fix a torn labrum in his shoulder. Hyde played through the shoulder injury in 2019 and aggravated it in the Texans playoff loss to the Chiefs. It's a testament to Hyde's toughness that he played through injury to a career-high 1,070 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 245 carries for Houston last year. However, it's even more of a reason not to expect Hyde to have standalone value behind Chris Carson as veteran running back depth to open the regular season. At best, the 29-year-old will be a handcuff for Carson owners, and that's if Rashaad Penny (knee) begins the year on the PUP list.
Free-agent running back Devonta Freeman thinks he's worth more than the one-year deal worth up to $4 million that he rejected from the Seahawks this week, and he insists he's willing to skip the 2020 season if his contract demands aren't met on the open market. Carlos Hyde took the deal instead in Seattle, which surely motivates Freeman even more. The 28-year-old made the Pro Bowl in 2015 and 2016 with back-to-back 1,000-yard, 11-touchdown seasons, but he's been declining ever since and has dealt with injuries the last two years before Atlanta released him. He's veteran depth at this point in his career with a bunch of tread on the tires, and he's unlikely to get a better offer than Seattle gave him. The Jets and Eagles still have some interest in him. Philly would be a better fit from a fantasy standpoint, where he'd be insurance for Miles Sanders.
New York Jets quarterback Joe Flacco (neck) has resumed throwing, but is not expected to be ready to play until the middle of September. He started the first eight games for the Denver Broncos last season before going down with a neck injury. It's uncertain at the moment if Flacco will be ready to play by Week 1 of the regular season. Quarterback David Fales or fourth-round pick James Morgan could be asked to back up Sam Darnold to begin the season. More information on Flacco's injury should be known closer to the start of the season.
Free-agent defensive end Everson Griffen has had strong interest from multiple teams this offseason, with the Arizona Cardinals believed to be one of those teams. Griffen is staying patient and waiting for the right opportunity in this unique offseason affected by COVID-19. The 32-year-old veteran played in just 11 games in 2018 and took a leave of absence from the team due to mental-health issues, but he rebounded in 2019 with another Pro Bowl season in Minnesota (eight sacks, one interception). The four-time Pro Bowler proved he still has some gas left in the tank and could help an Arizona defense with plenty of holes in it. The Seahawks are another team interested in Griffen.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson would love for the team to add wide receiver Antonio Brown, according to sources. Brown is also close with backup quarterback Geno Smith. Wilson surely wouldn't mind more playmakers through the air, as there are plenty of questions behind D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in the passing game, but a return to the NFL for Brown is probably unlikely at this point given all of his off-the-field baggage. And even if Seattle did consider adding Brown, it wouldn't happen until late July or August. A more plausible outcome would be Josh Gordon being reinstated by the league and returning to Seattle after playing with them in 2019.
The Seattle Seahawks still plan on using running back Chris Carson as their primary back in 2020 despite signing Carlos Hyde on Friday. Although Hyde could steal some work in short-yardage and goal-line situations early in the season, he's mostly just insurance with Rashaad Penny (knee) a candidate to miss the first six weeks while on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Carson suffered a season-ending hip injury late in 2019 like Penny, but unlike Penny, Carson is fully expected to be ready by Week 1. There's a lot to like about Carson when he's healthy in this run-first offense, but the problem is he always seems to be hurt. As such, fantasy owners feel better taking him as an RB2 with upside for more. Monitor his health this summer and during training camp. Hyde is unlikely to have standalone value unless Carson is hurt early in the year.
The Seattle Seahawks are signing running back Carlos Hyde to a one-year deal worth up to $4 million on Friday, according to sources. Seattle reportedly offered Devonta Freeman a very similar deal in recent days, but he turned it down. With Rashaad Penny (knee) a question mark for the start of the 2020 regular season, the Seahawks wanted some veteran depth behind Chris Carson, who is coming off a serious hip injury of his own. Hyde, who will be 30 this September, ran for a career-high 1,070 yards and six touchdowns on 245 carries in his lone season with Houston last year. He could slot in as the direct backup to Carson ahead of Travis Homer and rookie DeeJay Dallas if Penny starts the year on the PUP list. With a Seattle team that loves to run the football, Hyde could have sneaky appeal as a Carson handcuff in deeper leagues.
The New York Jets are signing quarterback Joe Flacco to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million on Friday, according to a source. The deal could be worth up to $4.5 million with incentives. General manager Joe Douglas was a Ravens scout in 2008 when the team took Flacco in the first round. Flacco had neck surgery in early April and isn't expected to be cleared until near the start of the regular season, but if he's healthy he'll compete with David Fales to be the backup to Sam Darnold. The former Super Bowl MVP with Baltimore is now 35 and was a shell of his former self in eight games with the Broncos in 2019. The Jets would be in trouble if he's starting games in 2020, but he at least can provide some veteran leadership as a backup upgrade over Fales.
The New York Jets don't intend on trading safety Jamal Adams despite the latest impasse in contract negotiations, according to a source. The Jets expect to eventually sign Adams to a lucrative contract that will make him a "Jet for life." However, Adams' camp is frustrated with the pace of recent talks and would like an extension before the 2020 season. The All-Pro safety is entering the final year of his four-year, $22.2 million rookie deal and wants his money now, but the team's brass wants to wait. The Jets say they haven't had any trade talks involving Adams since the trade deadline last October. Adams is refusing to take part in the team's "virtual" offseason program, and it's unknown if he plans for a holdout when training camps begin. But the Jets hold all the leverage, as Adams is signed through 2021 at a cost of $9.86 million and they have the option of the franchise tag twice beyond that. With the coronavirus pandemic also creating future financial concerns, the Jets would prefer to hold off on an extension.
The Washington Redskins running back room is packed with bodies, but veteran Adrian Peterson won't alter is approach and is competing for a starting job in 2020. "I've always had the mindset of being open to competition," Peterson said. "So I will embrace it the same way." Washington signed Peyton Barber and J.D. McKissic in free agency and drafted Antonio Gibson in the third round. Derrius Guice and Bryce Love also remain on the roster despite dealing with injuries. McKissic mostly plays on third downs, but Barber and Gibson are real threats to Peterson's workload. Peterson has rushed for 1,940 yards and 12 touchdowns in his two seasons in D.C. and missed just one game when he was a healthy inactive. The future Hall of Famer will still have a role in 2020, but he's likely to be overshadowed by Guice and/or Gibson.
The Dallas Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott remain hopeful that a long-term deal will be worked out, but those talks haven't picked up in intensity in recent weeks. If a long-term deal isn't reached by July 15, Prescott will have to play on the franchise tag ($31.4 million) through the 2020 season. The Cowboys currently have an offer out to Prescott that would make him the second-highest paid NFL QB in terms of average per year, according to sources. Not only did Prescott have a career year in 2019, but he now has a receiver trio of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and impressive rookie CeeDee Lamb, not to mention one of the best running backs in the league in Ezekiel Elliott. An extension for the 26-year-old should get done before the deadline, and Prescott should be considered the No. 3 fantasy QB behind Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has been impressed with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) in his return from elbow surgery. "You're getting a version that we all expect that he will be at. He's back," Smith-Schuster said. "He's doing what he's doing. He's throwing NFL passes, there's nothing more to that." Smith-Schuster had an extremely disappointing season with injuries mixed in, but it was mainly due to the fact that Big Ben wasn't on the field throwing him passes. When Roethlisberger's return, the entire Steelers offense should rebound if he can stay healthy. There's obvious risk with the 38-year-old QB, but if he is fully past his arm issues and stays on the field, he'll be a great value pick as a late-round QB2.
Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller V has struggled to stay healthy during his NFL career, but head coach Bill O'Brien says that "Fuller is doing great" after dealing with hamstring and groin issues last season. Having Fuller back and healthy is good news for the Texans, who need his field-stretching ability to help run O'Brien's preferred offensive system. A healthy Fuller could be a high-end fantasy WR2 now that DeAndre Hopkins is gone, but there's still so much uncertainty surrounding him, even if the team is optimistic about his ability to stay on the field in 2020.
New England Patriots wide receiver Jeff Thomas has the best chance among the four undrafted receivers to make the team's roster. Thomas will be battling Isaiah Zuber, Will Hastings, and Sean Riley for a spot on the Patriots roster during the preseason. It sounds like Thomas has the best chance at securing a spot solely based off talent, according to Doug Kyed. He recorded 83 receptions, 1,316 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns through three seasons in college. It's unlikely Thomas would have much fantasy impact whatsoever, but maybe Bill Belichick has found another diamond in the rough.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire recently received some more praise, with his latest adoration coming from offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. "I think the kid's got some special traits," remarked Bieniemy before adding, "our players are going to help him to grow to become even more of a special contributor when it's all said and done with." The former LSU star will likely start the season mixing in with Damien Williams, with the rookie expected to see a gradual increase in snaps as the 2020 campaign progresses. While the 21-year-old could make an immediate impact, it is more likely he becomes a top fantasy producer toward the middle-to-end of the season.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore has been named by Cynthia Frelund of NFL.com as the most underrated player on the roster. Despite the season-ending injury of quarterback Cam Newton and the inconsistent play of Kyle Allen, the 23-year-old still managed to finish ninth overall in receiving yards (1,175) and 15th overall in receptions (87) in 2019. While he will need to rack up a few more touchdowns to become a more significant asset on the fantasy end, the sky is the limit with signal-caller Teddy Bridgewater now under center and new head coach Matt Rhule beginning his first year with the organization. Moore is projected to be selected somewhere in the fourth or fifth round in fantasy drafts but could finish higher than expected with the team adding some much-need stability at the quarterback position.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster will be looking to "take that next step," according to Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert. Colbert acknowledged the wideout's lack of production in 2019, indicating that injuries and the lack of chemistry with backup quarterback Mason Rudolph hindered his performance. The 23-year-old finished last season with a career-low 42 catches (70 targets) for 552 yards and three touchdowns throughout 12 games. With Ben Roethlisberger expected to be ready to go after a season-ending elbow injury sustained during Week 2, the former Trojan has an excellent shot at getting back on track in what could be his final year in the Steel City.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay could be looking at a contract extension before the start of the 2020 season in September. While speaking to 97.1 "The Ticket" host Mike Stone and ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter, general manager Bob Quinn indicated that he believes that the 26-year-old is happy in the Motor City, while also stating that he hopes a deal is made at some point over the summer. Golladay finished as the third-best fantasy receiver in standard formats in 2019 and could be in line for an even more productive season with quarterback Matthew Stafford back under center after missing some time last year as a result of a back injury.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones was recently named to the NFLPA's Rising Stars list, which identifies the "top rookies and veterans poised to have a breakout season." The 25-year-old had his best campaign to date in 2019, finishing with 1,084 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns off of 236 carries. He also added 49 catches, good for 474 yards and three additional scores. With the team reportedly focusing more on the run in 2020, the fourth-year man could be in store for another productive fantasy season, despite conceding a few touches to second-round pick A.J. Dillion. He is projected to be selected behind the likes of Austin Ekeler and Nick Chubb in fantasy drafts. However, he could easily finish ahead of them in many statistical categories by year's end. '
Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley II will be entering the year playing for a new team. After five seasons with the Rams, which included a 21-touchdown campaign in 2018, the former All-Pro was released after being plagued with consistent knee issues. While questions regarding Gurley's health seemingly should have been answered after he signed a one-year deal with Atlanta back in March, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter indicated that he isn't sure exactly how healthy he is. "The main question no one seems to know is, what's his health status? What's his workload?" remarked Koetter recently on "The Dirty Birds Podcast." While the team may know more once they see the 25-year-old in action during practices, it isn't promising news for those expecting a productive fantasy season out of the former Georgia Bulldog in 2020.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs continues to be highly touted entering the 2020 NFL season. According to Pro Football Focus, the sophomore led the league by forcing 69 missed tackles despite missing some time with a shoulder ailment. Jacobs finished the 2019 campaign with 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns throughout 13 contests. He is projected to be a second-round pick in the majority of fantasy drafts but could easily find himself getting selected over the likes of fellow backs Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, and Joe Mixon.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley may benefit from the team's commitment to rebuilding the offensive line. With the organization selecting former Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick, the protective unit has been touted by Pro Football Focus as one of the most improved lines in the league. Barkley will enter 2020 looking to rebound from a subpar 2019 season that saw the 23-year-old regress in statistical categories across the board. While a high-ankle sprain was also a factor in his second-year decline, an improvement on the blocking end will surely help his case to finish as the year's top fantasy back.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey may take a step back in 2020, at least according to ESPN. The Bristol-based company anticipates that the 23-year-old may see fewer snaps in new head coach Matt Rhule's offense and could see dips in statistical categories across the board as a result. However, he is still slotted by most to finish as the top back once again in 2020, especially when you consider the team's strength of schedule. McCaffrey ended 2019 with 287 carries for 1,387 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. He also added 116 catches for another four scores and 1,005 receiving yards. He is projected to be the first overall pick in nearly all fantasy drafts for the upcoming NFL season.
The New York Jets and safety Jamal Adams have reached an impasse in contract talks, according to sources. Tensions are raised between the team and their star safety. Both sides have had multiple conversations since the NFL draft, but the Jets told Adams they'd prefer to wait on a long-term extension and Adams wants a deal before the 2020 season. The Adams camp claims the Jets are dragging their feet, and the possibility of a trade came up in talks between the two sides on Wednesday. The Jets are intent on keeping the 24-year-old and have no desire to trade him, however, but Adams is open to a trade if his contract demands aren't met. More than half the teams in the league have reached out to New York to express interest in Adams. He's due to make $3.5 million this year and his salary jumps to $9.9 million in 2021, the amount of his fifth-year option. We don't know how this will turn out, but Gang Green's defense is much better with Adams in the fold. Since 2011, only 16 of 223 first-round picks have received a new contract after their third season. Adams was an All-Pro last year and has made two Pro Bowls in his first three seasons. He's likely looking to become the league's highest-paid safety.
The Kansas City Chiefs plan on starting contract-extension talks with quarterback Patrick Mahomes this summer, chairman Clark Hunt said on a Facebook Live event with 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Thursday. Both sides would love it if Mahomes remained a Chief for his entire career. He's currently set to count around $5.3 million against the salary cap in 2020 on the fourth year of his rookie deal, but the expectation is that he'll sign a long-term extension and become the highest-paid player in the NFL. The 24-year-old was the MVP in 2018 and led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl title last season. Mahomes' 2019 regular season wasn't nearly as good as his 2018 campaign, but he remains in consideration to be the first QB off the board in fantasy drafts alongside Lamar Jackson.
Los Angeles Rams All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald seems unconcerned about the additional pressure pandemic protocol might place on his offseason training. Appearing in a conference call with the media on Thursday, Donald not-so-subtly showed off how his offseason workouts have gone by featuring a shirtless background photo of him flexing like he's being featured in a muscle magazine. He also reassured the media members that even though the team is adopting a new defensive scheme this year, he's still going to be well-prepared for combat. While Donald's words and impressive presence can puts minds at ease, it doesn't change the fact that there are 10 other guys on defense with him who will be learning a new scheme as well. Whether that scheme will take the league by storm or get stormed remains to be seen. It's hard not to like any scheme that has No. 99 at the center of it though.
The Atlanta Falcons agreed to an undisclosed contract with linebacker Deone Bucannon on Thursday. The former first-round pick (27th overall) in 2014 by the Cardinals turned out to be a bust in the NFL to this point. The 27-year-old spent five seasons with the Cardinals before playing for the Giants and Buccaneers in 2019. In his six seasons, Bucannon has only seven sacks, two interceptions (one for a TD), 12 passes defensed, seven forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. The versatile defender started out as a strong safety in Arizona before being converted to a linebacker and then back to a defensive back in his final season in the desert. He'll be depth for Atlanta's D in 2020.
Seattle Seahawks rookie linebacker Jordyn Brooks, the team's first-round pick this year, looks to be a clear backup or role player in his first season in the NFL behind Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Linebacker is easily the strength of Seattle's defense heading into the 2020 season, with the Wagner/Wright combination being one of the better linebacking tandems in the NFL. But as a whole, the Seahawks Defense has been average over the last few years, finishing 18th, 14th and 13th in defensive efficiency in the last three seasons, according to Football Outsiders. The Legion of Boom days in Seattle are a distant memory.
Seattle Seahawks wide receivers Phillip Dorsett II and David Moore will battle for the No. 3 wideout job behind Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf in training camp this summer. Dorsett, a former first-round pick of the Colts back in 2015, should have a leg up in this competition, but the 27-year-old has underwhelmed in five seasons in the NFL to this point. He had 29 receptions for 397 yards and a career-high five touchdowns in 14 games (four starts) for a Patriots team in 2019 lacking wideout depth. Moore, a seventh-rounder in 2017, has 43 receptions for 746 yards and seven touchdowns in three seasons (31 games) for Seattle. The winner of this battle won't be very relevant in standard-size fantasy leagues in this run-first offense.
New York Jets running back Frank Gore says that he is fine with backing up Le'Veon Bell this upcoming season. "I'm cool. I'm happy to even be playing this game at my age," says Gore. The 37-year-old soon to be Hall of Famer rushed for 599 yards with two touchdowns on 166 attempts with the Buffalo Bills last season. It sounds like Gore is perfectly fine with taking a backseat to Bell. It's unlikely that Gore will hold standard league value in most formats, but he could be a deep league option depending on his workload.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been supportive of rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The 37-year-old is fully aware the No. 5 overall pick from Alabama will likely take over the starting role at some point. However, Fitzpatrick said that he is competitive and won't give up the starting quarterback spot without a fight. "I want to go out there and start. I know there are a lot of forces that go into it from all kinds of different sides," says Fitzpatrick. Last season, Fitzpatrick threw for 3,529 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions through 15 games. Tagovailoa is coming off major hip surgery, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Fitzpatrick begin the season as the starting quarterback.
No quarterback had a lower percentage of passes over 20 yards in 2019 than San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, according to Pro Football Focus. The Niners added wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk in the first round of last month's draft, but he's more of a run-after-the-catch prospect. The plan of short throws and long runs after the catch appears to be the plan again for Garoppolo and the offense in 2020. And under head coach Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers offense is expected to remain run-heavy, leaving Jimmy G with not a whole lot of fantasy upside. In essence, he's a glorified game manager in San Francisco, making him a low-ceiling QB2.
Los Angeles Rams linebacker Travin Howard looks to be the likely successor to Cory Littleton in 2020. Micah Kiser is the favorite to start on the inside on running downs. Howard and Kiser have combined for 103 career defensive snaps, so the Rams linebacking corps is definitely inexperienced. Outside of All-Pro defensive tackle and star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, LA's defense is inexperienced and lacking in depth. In a division that features a lot of offensive firepower the Rams Defense suddenly looks extremely vulnerable.
Los Angeles Rams rookie wide receiver Van Jefferson, a second-round pick, could play more than Josh Reynolds in the long run, but Reynolds should have an immediate role in 2020 as an outside receiver now that Brandin Cooks is out of town. Jefferson did his best work in college on the inside, but the Rams already have Cooper Kupp out of the slot and two strong tight ends in Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. Don't automatically assume that Jefferson will see more targets than Reynolds, as the Rams have confidence that Reynolds can step in and help make up for the loss of Cooks. Jefferson is a dynamic route-runner, but temper expectations for him in his rookie season in redraft leagues.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Andy Isabella, a second-round pick last year, is the likely favorite for the No. 4 job behind DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, in the opinion of NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal. The good news for Isabella is that head coach Kliff Kingsbury employs a lot of four-receiver sets. The bad news is that fellow second-year wideouts Hakeem Butler and KeeSean Johnson will be nipping at his heels if he starts out slow. Isabella caught just nine of 13 targets for 189 yards and two touchdowns in 15 games (one start) in his rookie season, with 88 of those yards coming on a long touchdown against San Francisco. He's more of a dynasty stash than redraft target.
The Philadelphia Eagles are looking to add a veteran running back and Devonta Freeman, Carlos Hyde and LeSean McCoy are on their radar, according to sources. The Eagles think Miles Sanders is a Pro Bowl-caliber player and envision Boston Scott adding useful depth, but they want to add to a group that also includes Corey Clement. Philly has reached out to Freeman, and he has a fun in running backs coach Duce Staley, who has a relationship with Freeman from his days at Florida State. The 28-year-old also has suitors in the Seahawks and Jets, however. Hyde is coming off the most productive season, rushing for 1,070 yards on 245 carries (4.4 YPC) and six touchdowns with the Texans. No matter which veteran back the Eagles choose, they shouldn't get in the way too much of Sanders' claim as the team's lead back.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay said that all options are on the table in 2020 as the team moves forward without Todd Gurley in the backfield after the last five seasons. The current running back corps includes Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson Jr. and rookie Cam Akers. "We feel we've got three really good backs," said McVay. "What does that mean in terms of the distribution of carries? I think that's to be determined based on how things play themselves out and when we get a chance to actually compete in practice and in those live opportunities." It sounds as though the Rams plan to distribute the workload among all three backs while potentially playing the hot hand on a game-by-game basis. It seems likely that the Rams will focus on developing Akers and Henderson -- second- and third-round picks, respectively, the last two years) -- first and foremost. That means Akers, who can run between the tackles but also serve in the passing game, has the best chance to lead this backfield in touches by season's end. A committee approach will lower the ceiling of each involved, but on pure upside, Akers is the most attractive in fantasy over a full season. He ran for 2,875 yards, 27 touchdowns and averaged 4.9 yards per carry in three seasons at Florida State. Akers also caught 69 passes for 486 yards and seven touchdowns, making him the most complete back of this group.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown had a fantastic rookie season, but he's not satisfied and is looking to improve in his second season in the NFL. "I think the sky is the limit for me to be honest," Brown said. "I am great learner, and I am going to keep learning each and every day." The second-year wideout also wants to be more of a leader going into his sophomore campaign. Brown finished third in NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year voting in 2019, behind Kyler Murray and Josh Jacobs. He led all rookies with 1,051 receiving yards and also had eight touchdowns among his 52 catches. Brown was the first rookie since Randy Moss in 1998 to have a minimum of 50 catches, 1,000 receiving yards and five touchdowns while averaging 17-plus yards per catch. He led the NFL with 605 receiving yards in the final six games of the regular season. You get the picture. Brown is an emerging star as the team's No. 1 wideout, but he still resides in a run-first offense, perhaps capping his fantasy upside as a WR2.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski is close to his playing weight of 260 pounds. How close? According to Gronkowski, he is "four protein shakes away" from his target weight, which is a classic 'Gronkowski' way of letting everybody know this. It's good news for the Buccaneers and fantasy owners who were thinking about scooping up the former Patriots star tight end. Weight questions aside, it remains to be seen if the 31-year-old can still play at a high level after a hiatus from the game. It will certainly help that he'll be catching balls from Tom Brady, who has tossed him 79 touchdown passes in his career.
Suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon will apply for reinstatement soon, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Gordon has been doing well, is working out and is ready to resume playing in 2020. The goal is to get him cleared to return before training camp this summer. He's currently able to sign with any team after appearing in enough games with the Seahawks last year to satisfy his contractual obligations to become an unrestricted free agent. The 29-year-old had 1,646 receiving yards back in 2013 despite missing two games, so he has special talent. But he didn't play at all in 2015 or 2016 and played in five games with the Browns in 2017, 12 with the Patriots in 2018 and 11 with Seattle in 2019. There's still potential for Gordon to be fantasy relevant, but it'll depend on where he lands and what his role will be. Stay tuned.
Free-agent quarterback Cam Newton made a few Instagram posts this week showing him throwing and working out. Concerns over back and shoulder problems are partially why Newton remains on the free-agent market during the coronavirus pandemic that has prohibited teams from being able to medically evaluate the signal-caller. Teams will most likely want their own medical personnel to examine him closely before they even consider signing him, so it might still be a while before Newton finds a home after being released by the Panthers. One of the best dual-threat QBs when healthy, the former MVP will likely have to settle for a backup job somewhere and prove he's 100 percent healthy again before he gets another shot.
Teams have called the Miami Dolphins about potentially trading for quarterback Josh Rosen, who is third on the QB depth chart behind Ryan Fitzpatrick and first-rounder Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins are in no hurry to trade Rosen despite the fact that the former first-rounder lost a competition with Fitzpatrick in 2019 in his first year in Miami. The 23-year-old played in six games (three starts) last year and looked lost with a 53.2 percent completion rate on 109 attempts, one touchdown and five interceptions. Rosen has thrown 12 touchdowns against 19 picks in his two seasons in the league and will simply be QB depth for whoever he's playing for in 2020.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor is expected to be the team's Week 1 starter in 2020, according to The Athletic's Daniel Popper. The Bolts took Oregon QB Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick in last month's draft, but the Chargers remain high on Taylor, especially since head coach Anthony Lynn has previous experience with Taylor as his signal-caller in Buffalo. The lack of on-field work this spring due to COVID-19 isn't helping Herbert's cause to start right off the bat in his rookie season, either. We could see Herbert on the sidelines much longer than expected in 2020, which is great news for Taylor's undervalued stock as a QB2 with upside in this stacked Chargers offense.
With the Seattle Seahawks uncertain when running back Rashaad Penny (knee) will return for the 2020 season, a report from Adam Caplan of SiriusXM NFL Radio on Wednesday stated that the Seahawks "have made an offer" to running back Devonta Freeman. NFL Network's Michael Silver later reported that Seattle has had talks with Carlos Hyde. Seattle's offer to Freeman was for one year and $4 million, but he also has offers from the Jets and Eagles, so he's pushing for more. The Seahawks are standing firm in their offer. Seattle has also been in contact with Marshawn Lynch. It's evident that they want to add a veteran back to pair with Chris Carson in short-yardage and goal-line situations, especially since it looks like Penny will land on the Physically Unable to Perform list to begin training camp.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry is favored to once again lead the league in rushing in 2020, at least according to Caesars Sportsbook. The 26-year-old is currently listed as a +300 favorite to take home the rushing title and could become the first player to do so in consecutive seasons since LaDainian Tomlinson did it over a decade ago. Henry came up big for fantasy owners in 2019, finishing with a league-leading 16 touchdowns in addition to his equally impressive 1,540 yards on the ground. He may see a slight regression if he concedes touches to rookie Darrynton Evans this upcoming season, but he could still produce enough to surpass his current ADP and finish with more fantasy production than most at his position.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (hip) said that he's "a little bit ahead of schedule" in his rehab from offseason hip surgery in February. Landry isn't predicting exactly when he'll get back on the field, but he said his projected return date is "sometime in August." The 27-year-old has been a target hog for most of his time in the NFL, but he's coming off a serious surgery and could lose some looks to the tight end pair of Austin Hooper and David Njoku. If Cleveland's offense takes the next step under quarterback Baker Mayfield, Landry should still put up fantasy numbers, though, and he deserves the benefit of the doubt given his consistent production over the years.