Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Tyron Johnson is a 4.3-second 40-yard dash speedster that made the most of his 20 receptions for 398 yards last season. T-Billy impressed the coaches with his speed during offseason practices and is a qualified third receiver for the Bolts behind Mike Williams and Keenan Allen. The 25-year-old from Oklahoma State averaged a healthy 19.9 yards per catch in 2020 and an average depth of target of 20.3 yards. If Johnson wins the competition for the No. 3 job in LA over Jalen Guyton, the burner will be an enticing fantasy flier because his skill set meshes nicely with quarterback Justin Herbert's big arm down the field. You definitely need to keep tabs on Johnson's progress in training camp this summer.
Kansas City Chiefs rookie tight end Noah Gray, a fifth-round draft pick this year, has impressed the team this offseason with his smarts, pass-catching and route-running. Gray could see a significant amount of playing time in 2021 as the Chiefs look to keep All-Pro Travis Kelce fresh over the 17-game season, both as Kelce's replacement and in multiple-tight end formations. The 22-year-old from Duke has a real chance to be Kelce's direct backup if he can carry over his performances from this spring into training camp at the end of July. Kelce even said Gray is "years ahead of being a rookie," which speaks to his maturity. While Gray won't be relevant in single-year formats unless Kelce misses time with an injury, he's a fine dynasty/keeper target at the position in this Chiefs offense.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Kendall Hinton, who was forced to start at quarterback in an emergency situation in the 31-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints last year, has stood out in offseason workouts, according to head coach Vic Fangio. However, the former Wake Forest quarterback/wide receiver still faces long odds in a crowded depth chart at receiver. "He's super-aggressive to the ball. You feel like you can throw him a ball one-on-one and he's going to go get it," quarterback Drew Lock said. The 24-year-old threw two interceptions on his nine pass attempts and is unlikely to be relevant as a wide receiver in fantasy in 2021 despite his improvements at receiver this year. Hinton is currently buried behind Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, KJ Hamler, Tyrie Cleveland and rookies Branden Mack and Seth Williams on the depth chart.
Tennessee Titans quarterback DeShone Kizer has looked good in organized team activities and minicamp this offseason, especially on midrange routes across the middle. Kizer worked only with quarterbacks coach Pat O'Hara last year as the team's "quarantine QB," and his quick decision-making in offseason practices is evidence that he has a strong understanding of the playbook. Like starter Ryan Tannehill, the fifth-year veteran can make most of the necessary throws and can also make plays on the move. Kizer looks ready to compete with Logan Woodside for the backup job in training camp next month. The 25-year-old last played in 2018 with the Green Bay Packers, but he should be at least serviceable if he's forced into action in 2021 because of a Tannehill injury.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. has arguably been the team's best offensive player throughout organized team activities and minicamp this offseason. It's an important development due to the addition of Marvin Jones and presence of D.J. Chark. Rookie running back Travis Etienne has also been getting repetitions at receiver. The Jags are using Shenault as a receiver instead of trying to use him in the backfield, and his development as a pass-catcher has been a highlight of the spring. The 22-year-old wasn't overly impressive in his rookie season, but he was also working with quarterbacks Gardner Minshew II, Jake Luton and Mike Glennon. With first overall pick Trevor Lawrence now under center and Shenault likely to move to the slot, expect an improvement in Year 2.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz didn't have a great relationship with his teammates while with the Philadelphia Eagles, but according to those inside the Colts organization, the transition this offseason has been a smooth one. "He comes in and asks about my family, my sister and things like that," running back Nyheim Hines said. "As a new guy, it's pretty cool. It shows that he's caring and trying to take care of us." Wentz has also turned a lot of heads with his play on the field in offseason practices. The 28-year-old signal-caller has performed as a top-five fantasy QB in head coach Frank Reich's offense before, but can he do it in Indy now? With a solid offensive line in front of him, Wentz is a QB2 target with QB1 upside in his new home.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins seems poised for a big season after leading the team in receiving in his rookie campaign. Coaches and teammates have noticed Higgins' physical development this offseason, but he has flown under the radar due to the addition of wideout Ja'Marr Chase in the first round this year. The 22-year-old second-year pass-catcher has a bright future, but his fantasy ceiling took a hit with the addition of Chase, who will command a large target share right away. Higgins is an excellent target as a low-end WR2/high-end WR3 after catching 67 passes for 908 yards and six touchdowns in 2020, and that was without quarterback Joe Burrow for a full season.
New York Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley, who opted out in 2020 due to COVID-19 and played in just two games due to injuries in 2019, could have a bounce-back year in 2021. Mosley looked slimmer and quicker during offseason practices, which should help him transition to the team's 4-3 defensive scheme. He was one of the league's best off-ball linebackers before his injuries in his first year with the Jets, but he'll need to prove that the rust is shaken off this summer in training camp. The Jets defense should take a huge step forward if Mosley returns to his pre-injury form, and savvy fantasy managers in IDP leagues will take advantage of his low cost.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins was a standout during the first few days of last year's training camp, but a shoulder injury kept him out all season. Now healthy, Hodgins stood out again during organized team activities and minicamp and shed his red non-contact jersey. He has an uphill battle in a crowded receiver room in Buffalo, but he has received praise from head coach Sean McDermott and quarterback Josh Allen. The 22-year-old was taken with the 207th overall selection in the 2020 draft out of Oregon State after he caught 176 passes for 2,322 yards and 20 touchdowns in three collegiate seasons. He's off the fantasy radar for now, but keep an eye on him later this summer in training camp.
The Chicago Bears are expected to give rookie quarterback Justin Fields a lot of work in preseason games this fall. The Bears plan is to start with veteran Andy Dalton under center to begin the season, but Fields is expected to take over at some point when he's ready. The 11th overall pick is fitting in just fine and said he's completely on board with the team's plan. "My job is, strictly, get better and be the best quarterback I can be, and hope my team wins. That's what I'm going to do whether it's starting, whether it's sitting, I'm going to do whatever is going to help us win," Fields said. His dual-threat ability makes him an excellent dynasty/keeper target this year, but only time will tell if he can make some noise in single-year setups in 2021.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Sammy Watkins was the team's best receiver at minicamp, but he's coming off the worst season of his seven-year career. "I'm not going to lie to you; it is fun," quarterback Lamar Jackson said of Watkins. "A big receiver, nice target, fast guy. Sammy is going to make our job a lot easier." The Ravens don't throw the ball much as a run-first offense, but they upgraded their receiving corps with Watkins and rookies Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace in the draft. Watkins is going undrafted in most leagues because of his poor performance in 2020, but if he gains chemistry with Jackson as one of his top targets, he could be a fantastic late-round value in deeper leagues at his current ADP of 214.
Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson, who will be a major part of special teams while also being used as a gadget guy on offense, could be used in more of a traditional running back role behind lead back Mike Davis. The only thing we really know is that Davis is expected to be the primary ball-carrier, but this will be the first time he's actually entered a season with that role. The coaches have been impressed with what they've seen from Qadree Ollison this offseason, so Patterson will have to earn a role in this backfield in his first year in Atlanta. He's unlikely to see enough weekly touches to be relevant in most leagues, but perhaps the Falcons line him up at receiver after they traded away All-Pro Julio Jones.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll sees big things for tight end Gerald Everett in his first year with the team. "This is I think the fanciest, sweetest-looking receiver/tight end mix that we've had. He's like a wide receiver, he's got terrific after-the-catch run ability, really aggressive and he's a good blocker, too," Carroll said. The 2017 second-rounder follows offensive coordinator Shane Waldron into town. Waldron was the Rams tight ends coach during Everett's rookie season. Carroll said Everett knows Waldron's offense "inside and out." The 27-year-old had a career-high 41 catches and 417 yards last year, and he could be Seattle's true No. 3 receiver behind D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. At Everett's current ADP, he's a low-risk, high-upside, low-end TE1 now that Jacob Hollister and Greg Olsen are no longer on the team.
The agents for Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield don't plan to drag out a contract extension with their client and aren't opposed to getting something done this summer. "We pretty much know what's coming on down the road and what's been done. We don't have any particular reluctance about doing a deal. But I think something will be done this summer," Jack Mills said. "As far as trying to get a deal done, I don't know if it'll get done. It's something that would be pretty much in the team's control." Even though Mayfield's fifth-year option for the 2022 season was picked up and he said he's "in no rush" for an extension, it sounds like his agents would rather get something done before the 2021 season. The preferred length of the deal is for four years, but the two sides haven't discussed that yet. The Browns might want to get out ahead of extensions for Bills QB Josh Allen and Ravens QB Lamar Jackson. Regardless of whether he has a new extension in 2021, Mayfield will be more of a QB2 in Cleveland's run-first offense.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed first-round outside linebacker Joe Tryon to his four-year rookie contract on Tuesday. Tryon was taken 32nd overall in the first round of this year's NFL draft out of the University of Washington. He opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns around COVID-19, but he managed to record eight sacks in college in 2019. Depending on how ready Tryon is for the NFL after taking a year off, he's an exciting pass-rusher off the edge that could become an impact player right away for an improving Buccaneers defense. He has the size and strength to be a full-time pass-rusher, but he also has the technique to drop into coverage if asked to do so. If not for the fact that he didn't play at all in 2020, he might've been long gone at pick No. 32.
Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan has been impressed with rookie running back Chris Evans so far this offseason. "He's got the most natural hands for a running back that I've ever been around," Callahan said. Evans was selected with the 202nd overall pick in this year's NFL draft out of Michigan. While the 23-year-old has the physical skills, he doesn't have a ton of experience. He probably won't be anything more than a late-round flier in much deeper fantasy leagues, but he could be dangerous in this offense eventually, especially in point-per-reception formats. Evans is obviously a much more attractive dynasty/keeper piece, but if Joe Mixon misses extended time with injury, there's definitely a path for Evans to find some relevant single-year appeal in a rising Bengals offense.
Free-agent wide receiver Golden Tate remains available on the open market after being released by the New York Giants following two disappointing seasons. The 32-year-old hasn't received much interest, but he wants to continue playing and mentioned the Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Rams as three teams he'd be interested in joining. Tate wouldn't mind reuniting with quarterback Matthew Stafford in LA after enjoying three 1,000-yard seasons with Stafford in Detroit. The veteran wideout caught just 35 of 53 targets for 388 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games (four starts) for New York in 2020. He was benched at one point and dealt with a calf injury, so Tate will have to prove he's worth a spot on fantasy rosters again if he signs with a new team.
Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark was arrested in Los Angeles on Sunday after police saw a submachine gun in his car. Officers noticed a bag with an Uzi sticking out in plain sight in the car, and Clark was then arrested on suspicion of having a concealed firearm in a vehicle. He was booked into an LA county jail and released Monday on $35,000 bond. "We are aware of the matter, which will be reviewed under the NFL's personal conduct policy," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. The 28-year-old pass-rusher spent the first four seasons of his career with the Seattle Seahawks before being traded to the Chiefs in 2019. Clark has been a Pro Bowler each of the last two years with KC, so any suspension would be bad news for the Chiefs defense. He has 49 sacks in 91 career games, including 14 total in the last two seasons.
Minnesota Vikings rookie defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman was shot four times on Monday while visiting an aunt in Washington D.C. "Wrong place, wrong time," said his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. "In talking to him today, he's going to be OK - that's all that matters. We're thankful he's OK. He will make a full recovery." The 21-year-old suffered superficial exit wounds and will not need to have surgery. The Vikings selected Twyman with the 199th overall pick back in May. He was the first interior defensive lineman to lead Pittsburgh in sacks when he had 10.5 in 2019 since Aaron Donald achieved the feat six years earlier. Twyman opted out of the 2020 season in college due to concerns over COVID-19.
Arizona Cardinals rookie linebacker Zaven Collins, who was the No. 16 overall pick in this year's NFL draft, was arrested on Sunday for excessive speed and reckless driving, according to the Scottsdale Police Department. The 22-year-old was observed going 76 mph in a 35-mph zone in Scottsdale, Ariz. Collins signed his fully guaranteed four-year rookie deal with Arizona on June 8 and is expected to start right away in 2021. The All-American from Tulsa is a big and physical presence in the middle of the field. Despite his size, he moves smoothly and is great in zone coverage. Although he shouldn't be considered a sideline-to-sideline linebacker, Collins has excellent closing speed and change-of-direction ability. It's not a great start to his rookie campaign, but Collins should pair nicely with last year's first-rounder, Isaiah Simmons.
Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Tyron Smith (neck), Zack Martin (calf, concussion) and La'el Collins (hip) didn't do much on-field work during spring practices, but all three are expected to be full participants when training camp begins at the end of July. The trio combined to miss 36 games in a lost 2020 season. The Cowboys were forced to use 13 different offensive line combinations a year ago without Smith, Martin and Collins. Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick also retired. Smith hasn't played a full season since 2015, but he said his injury is no longer something he's worried about. Collins said he's dropped around 10 pounds and is moving around fine. With these three linemen back healthy, Dallas' offensive line has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL, which is obviously great news for running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, the league's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2020, said the team's new offense under coordinator Joe Lombardi puts a lot more on his plate. "It's pretty similar. I think there are just more personnel [groups], more formations and a lot more put on the quarterback with going up to the line of scrimmage," Herbert said. The sky is the limit for Herbert, but it's not easy for a young signal-caller to have to learn a whole new offense in just his second season. It might be a lot to expect Herbert to make another big jump in Year 2 after throwing 31 touchdowns in 2020. The 23-year-old is one of the best young QBs to own in dynasty/keeper leagues, but he should be more of a low-end QB1 target in single-year leagues in 2021.
Free-agent offensive guard Trai Turner said that he's 100 percent healthy after being limited to just nine games with the Los Angeles Chargers last season. The Chargers acquired Turner in 2020 in a trade with the Carolina Panthers, but the 28-year-old missed seven of the first eight weeks due to injury before returning for the stretch run. Turner allowed 19 pressures in his nine games played, according to Pro Football Focus. He said that he's ready to "hit the ground running" if he's given a chance with a new team. The Pittsburgh Steelers, whose offensive line really struggled last season, visited with Turner, but the two sides haven't come to an agreement. The five-time Pro Bowler can provide plenty of experience and depth if he's fully healthy in 2021.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay couldn't be more happy with the team's new quarterback, Matthew Stafford. "Bro, this dude's a bad MF-er," McVay said, laughing. "Whatever people say about him, as good as it can be, he's even better than advertised. It makes sense to him. The guy's ability to see the game, his ability to draw on his experiences, the feel that he has, it's pretty special and unique. And man, his feel for people, his authentic way of connecting with his teammates, his coaches, this guy, it's great being around him." The 33-year-old was often undervalued while with the Detroit Lions, but now he has higher expectations with a much better supporting cast around him. Health is a concern, but Stafford is an excellent selection as a QB1 with upside after the bigger names at the position come off the board.
Five-time Pro Bowl offensive guard Trai Turner finished up his visit with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday, according to a source. The Steelers had the worst rushing offense in the league last year thanks to a bad offensive line, so it makes sense that they're searching for more help up front. Pittsburgh is replacing three of their five starters along the offensive line this year. Second-year guard Kevin Dotson is currently projected to be the team's starting left guard, with three-time All-Pro David DeCastro locked into the right guard spot. The 28-year-old Turner would create competition on the interior and would bring valuable experience in front of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is likely heading into his final season. Turner made just nine starts with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2020 and hasn't played a full season in five years thanks to injuries.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that he's confident the team will get a long-term contract extension worked out with All-Pro safety Jamal Adams, who was excused from mandatory minicamp this week for personal reasons. Carroll also said the team expects Adams to be present for training camp at the end of July. Adams is due $9.86 million in the final year of his deal in 2021. The 25-year-old has been regarded as one of the top safeties in the league because of his versatility, and he has been named to three straight Pro Bowls in his four NFL seasons. Adams is an elite pass-rushing defensive back, which is why he should be the top defensive back off the board in IDP drafts.
The Green Bay Packers are not expected to have any negotiations with quarterback Aaron Rodgers over the course of the next couple of weeks. Rodgers, the reigning MVP sat out of the team's entire offseason program. "To me, and based on the people I've spoken with, this is really something that will be wrapped up either way, if they do find the solution that Green Bay has wanted, if Aaron Rodgers does get the security that he wants potentially in the form of a new contract, probably not going to happen until the start of training camp," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said. Most people expect some sort of resolution to the drama to take place, but if Rodgers holds out of training camp, it would be a sign that he might not be back. Although Rodgers doesn't appear to be slowing down at 37 years old, fantasy managers shouldn't expect another MVP season in 2021, even if he stays in Green Bay. If you can get him as a midrange QB1, that's fine, but let someone else pay the high-end QB1 price.
New York Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft, has had his ups and downs in offseason practices, but the Jets coaching staff has been impressed with how he's handled things so far. "He's unflappable in the sense that he doesn't care whether something went good or bad, he wants to know why it went good or bad. He wants to learn from it. He is wired exactly the way you want all players to be wired," head coach Robert Saleh said. Wilson has developed a reputation for having a hunger for watching film, and he thinks he's made improvements in his timing and going through his progressions. The 21-year-old has been a quick study and has the talent to succeed in the NFL with an improved receiving corps in New York, but fantasy managers should be patient with him in single-season leagues as a low-end QB2 with upside.
The Chicago Bears signed former Denver Broncos tight end Jake Butt to an undisclosed deal on Friday. The Bears also added offensive lineman Tyrone Wheatley Jr., the son of former NFL running back Tyrone Wheatley. Offensive lineman Gunnar Vogel and defensive lineman Thomas Schaffer were released. Butt is only 25 years old, but he's played in only eight games in two seasons in the NFL and missed the entire 2017 and 2019 seasons due to injuries. He fell to the fifth round in 2017 due to a torn ACL. Butt will join a tight end group that includes Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet, among others. He projects as an in-line tight end who will provide some depth behind Graham and Kmet, so he won't have any fantasy value to begin the year.
The Jacksonville Jaguars signed free-agent wide receiver Laquon Treadwell to an undisclosed deal on Friday after he tried out for the team at minicamp. In a corresponding move, wide receiver Jon'Vea Johnson was waived. Treadwell was a first-round pick (23rd overall) by the Minnesota Vikings in 2016 out of Mississippi, but he never lived up to his first-round billing catching just 65 of his 107 targets for 701 yards and two touchdowns in 53 games (16 starts) over his four years with the team. The 26-year-old caught just six passes for 49 yards in five games with the Atlanta Falcons last season, but he did produce a career-high two touchdowns. With a crowded wide receiver room in Jacksonville, Treadwell will have to prove himself in training camp in order to make the final roster. He can be ignored in fantasy.
Houston Texans offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (knee) recently underwent minor knee surgery following organized team activities, according to a source. Cannon is feeling good, and the scope is unlikely to affect his participation in training camp next month. The 33-year-old had played his entire career with the New England Patriots before being traded to the Texans in March. Cannon, who is a cancer survivor, opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns about COVID-19. He had been a reliable contributor on New England's offensive line in his previous four seasons, though, earning offensive grades of 70 or better in that span. Houston will need Cannon to contribute to help improve their running game and protect quarterback Deshaun Watson, if he sticks around.
The Chicago Bears signed free-agent defensive tackle Mike Pennel to an undisclosed one-year deal on Thursday, according to his agent, Andy Simms. Pennel served a two-game suspension to open last season with the Kansas City Chiefs, but he played in the other 14 games (one start) and recorded 29 tackles (13 solo) and one QB hit. The 30-year-old began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers and spent his first three seasons with them. He also spent two years with the New York Jets before joining the Chiefs in 2019. In 91 career games (16 starts), Pennel has 155 tackles (90 solo), 13 QB hits, two passes defensed, one forced fumble and two sacks. He will strictly serve as defensive line depth in Chicago if he makes the final roster out of training camp.
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Jordan Willis has been suspended without pay for the first six games of the 2021 regular season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Despite the suspension, Willis will be able to participate in all offseason practices and all three preseason games. He'll be eligible to return on Monday, Oct. 25, after the team's Week 7 game against the Indianapolis Colts. The 26-year-old backup was acquired from the New York Jets in a trade last year and re-signed this offseason for one year. In seven games, he had 13 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 2020 for the Niners. Willis is expected to compete for a spot on the team's roster in training camp as an edge rusher.
The Las Vegas Raiders signed former New York Jets first-round linebacker Darron Lee to an undisclosed deal on Thursday. The Raiders also added cornerback De'Vante Bausby to their roster and waived cornerback TJ Morrison in a corresponding move. Lee, 26, was the 20th overall pick in 2016. He spent three seasons with the Jets before joining the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019 and the Buffalo Bills for two games last year. Lee will provide the Raiders with some veteran depth at the position in training camp, and he'll have a decent chance at making the final roster heading into the regular season. In 58 career games (38 starts) over five seasons, Lee has 273 tackles (178 solo), 11 QB hits, three interceptions (one for a touchdown), 11 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and four sacks.
Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu said on Thursday that it's at the top of his priority list to finish his career with the team. "It's been everything I've asked for," said Mathieu. "I feel I can play football anywhere, but when you develop relationships with certain people, these people become a part of your life." Mathieu was previously pessimistic about receiving a contract extension from the Chiefs, but he's recently changed his tune and is now optimistic about getting a new deal. The three-time first-team All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowler has been with the Chiefs the last two seasons, recording 111 solo tackles, 10 interceptions (one for a touchdown), 21 passes defensed, one fumble recovery and two sacks in 31 regular season starts in that span. The 29-year-old's greatest asset to the Chiefs is his versatility in the secondary.
The Los Angeles Chargers are expected to sign defensive lineman Willie Yarbary, a 6-foot-2, 285-pound Wake Forest product who recently played for the Massachusetts Pirates of the National Arena League and in the Spring League. Yarbary is one of four Spring League participants that could be signed by the Chargers for depth purposes. He'll strictly be providing depth for the team's defensive line during training camp, and he won't be guaranteed a spot on the active roster to begin the season, although he could stick around on the practice squad if he doesn't make the team.
New York Jets rookie wide receiver Elijah Moore has been impressing the coaches so far at organized team activities and minicamp. The Ole Miss star has been a standout of the team's offseason practices after being taken 34th overall in this year's draft. Head coach Robert Saleh said Moore's "work ethic is off the charts." He's undersized at 5-foot-9, but he's smooth, sure-handed and runs precise routes. The Jets are using Moore in a variety of roles, and he could be used in tandem with slot receiver Jamison Crowder. The coaches love his versatility, so he'll also get a chance to audition for the punt-return job because of his ability to produce yards after the catch. Crowder's return will hurt Moore's upside in his rookie season, and it won't help that he'll also be working with a rookie quarterback in Zach Wilson. Temper expectations in single-year leagues, but those in dynasty/keeper formats should absolutely circle Moore on their cheat sheets.
New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon (hamstring) was limited at the team's minicamp practice on Wednesday due to what head coach Robert Saleh said was "a little bit of tightness" in his hamstring. However, Saleh said that Herndon is "perfectly fine." It doesn't sound like an injury that should impact Herndon's availability for training camp at the end of July. The 25-year-old had a fine rookie season in 2018 when he caught 39 passes for 502 yards and four touchdowns in 16 games (12 starts), but he played in only one game in 2019 and caught 31 passes for only 287 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games (13 starts) in 2020. With a new coaching staff in place, Herndon could be more productive, but he'll also have a rookie quarterback under center in Zach Wilson. Don't write off Herndon just yet, but he should go undrafted in standard-sized leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (toe) said that he doesn't "see any problems moving forward" with his surgically repaired toe. Mahomes was able to move around well, which included some scrambling, during the team's mandatory minicamp this week. It was reported around a month ago that the former MVP was ahead of schedule, so it looks like nothing has changed. Mahomes should be a full-go for training camp next month with the toe issue in the rearview mirror. Although the offensive line remains somewhat of a question mark after the Super Bowl loss, Mahomes should once again be the first quarterback selected in the early rounds of fantasy drafts in 2021. He's posted QB1 numbers in 69.6 percent of his 46 career games to this point.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett said that offensive coordinator Shane Waldron's new scheme gives him and the other receivers more freedom. "I think with the offense Shane brings in, it gives us more freedom. More freedom to be able to be the receivers that we can be. We got free range to do a lot of stuff," Lockett said. The pass-catcher also used the word "sophisticated" when describing the new offense. It remains to be seen if Waldron can get Seattle's offense out of the funk that they experienced in the second half of last season, but they certainly have the weapons to do it with Lockett, D.K. Metcalf and Russell Wilson. Lockett will have big games, but his fantasy managers last year were all too familiar with the fact that he would disappear for stretches, too. 48.7 percent of his production in 2020 came from just three games. It's fun to think about how good this offense can be, but targeting Lockett as anything more than a WR2 could be foolish.
The Denver Broncos are signing wide receiver/return specialist De'Mornay Pierson-El to an undisclosed deal on Thursday. Pierson-El was with the Las Vegas Raiders the last two seasons as a member of their practice squad, but he has never appeared in a regular season NFL game. He also spent time in both the AAF and XFL before both leagues folded. He'll be fighting for a spot on the final roster in training camp next month, and he'll have a better shot at making the squad if he can prove something in the return game. Pierson-El had 100 catches and also returned three punts for touchdowns in his time at Nebraska in college.
Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said that both quarterbacks Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater, who are expected to share repetitions evenly in training camp next month, have both improved at minicamp this week. The two signal-callers had 29 snaps apiece in practice on Wednesday. "I've seen improvement in Drew's decision-making, timing and accuracy and for Teddy, it's more about getting up to speed on what we've done and he's right on-board with the things we're doing," Shurmur said. While it's anyone's guess as to who will be the starter in Week 1 against the New York Giants, Lock probably has the slight edge since he was the guy in 2020. But now that he'll have a much shorter leash, he'll need to improve drastically to win and keep the job. Whoever wins the job will have plenty of receiving weapons at their disposal, but they'll be a low-end QB2 option until they prove otherwise.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said that wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (knee) looked "great" on Wednesday at mandatory minicamp. Beckham suffered a torn ACL in Week 7 last year and missed the rest of the 2020 season. "It looks really great," Mayfield said. "After seeing him run and really just talking to him, as well. He feels comfortable. He's still getting used to some of these cuts and certain motions. You're talking about seven months since the (knee) surgery, so it's pretty impressive how quickly he's come back." OBJ has become an injury risk in a run-first offense, so fantasy managers should no longer treat him as a top-15 wideout. But he's currently healthy and his price will be much lower this year, making him a fine high-end WR3 target.
Cleveland Browns defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (knee) took part in nearly every drill in minicamp on Tuesday and plans to be full go for the rest of minicamp. The three-time Pro Bowler said he "felt great" after surgery on his left meniscus ended his season early in 2020. "I felt great coming in, and I feel great now. I hope I continue on that phase into the next six-week phase and just keep getting stronger and faster for training camp," Clowney said. The 28-year-old pass-rusher played in just eight games for the Tennessee Titans and failed to record a sack. In 13 games for the Seattle Seahawks the year prior, Clowney managed just three sacks. The former No. 1 overall pick has played in just one full season in his seven years in the NFL, but he can be a game-wrecking force when healthy. If he can stay on the field in 2021, Cleveland's defense could be nasty.
Jacksonville Jaguars passing-game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said the team hasn't settled on a starting quarterback despite taking Clemson star Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall in this year's draft. Schottenheimer cautioned against assuming that Gardner Minshew II was entrenched as Lawrence's backup. The Jags also have C.J. Beathard and Jake Luton in the QB room. "We're letting them all roll. Everybody's getting reps. We want this thing to be really competitive. Ultimately, when we name a starter, we'll name a starter," Schottenheimer said. Lawrence, who was drafted to be the franchise QB, will most likely be the Week 1 starter, but he must first earn it this summer. While it's not technically official yet, the best bet is for Minshew to back up Lawrence from the get-go. With all the makings of a stud NFL QB, Lawrence will have some high-end QB2 upside in his rookie season.
Retired quarterback and future Hall of Famer Drew Brees took in the Los Angeles Chargers minicamp practice on Wednesday and was very impressed with second-year signal-caller Justin Herbert. "I think his physical tools are as good as anybody I've ever seen," Brees said. "By all accounts, he's a great worker. He's got great leadership qualities, he's got a lot of intangibles. So I think the sky's the limit for a guy like him." Herbert threw 31 touchdown passes, completed 396 passes and had eight 300-yard games last year, all rookie records. He also ran for 234 yards and five touchdowns while winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. The 23-year-old former sixth overall pick is learning a new offense under a new head coach and new offensive coordinator, but Brees is right, the sky is the limit for this kid. Herbert isn't quite an elite QB1, but he's a solid target as a midrange QB1 with upside for more in just his second season.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson II said he doesn't have any contract-extension updates and sounded resigned to possibly playing the 2021 season on his one-year franchise tag. The deadline to sign franchise-tagged players to long-term deals is on July 15. Robinson will make $17.98 million if he plays on the franchise tag after leading the team with 102 catches for 1,250 yards last year. The 27-year-old skipped voluntary workouts but reported to the mandatory minicamp this week. He plans on reporting to training camp next month on time. Robinson has finished as a top-12 receiver in the last two years despite shoddy quarterback play. Veteran Andy Dalton might be an upgrade for A-Rob, giving him some more upside as a very safe low-end WR1.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is learning new offensive coordinator Matt Canada's scheme in his 18th NFL season. Canada intends to build off the strengths of Roethlisberger while also placing a renewed emphasis on a running game that is expected to feature rookie first-round running back Najee Harris after the team finished last in rushing in 2020. "We are going to do what Ben wants to do and how Ben wants to do it. Our job is putting every player in a position to make plays," Canada said. Pittsburgh is expected to continue running an up-tempo offense with Big Ben at the helm. If the ground game improves, Roethlisberger could continue to produce for fantasy managers after he threw for 3,803 yards with 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 15 games last year. But at 39 years old in what is likely his last season, fantasy managers will probably prefer a younger signal-caller with more upside as their QB2.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said that defensive end Danielle Hunter (neck) "looks fantastic" after having surgery on a herniated disc in his neck last October and missing all of the 2020 season. The Vikings are hoping that Hunter can return to his Pro Bowl form and stay healthy after a disappointing year on defense last season. The 26-year-old had 14.5 sacks apiece in both 2018 and 2019. Hunter isn't taking part in mandatory minicamp, but the Vikings are just happy that he's healthy and back in the building as training camp approaches next month. If he can stay healthy all season and return to his pre-injury form, Hunter will be an excellent value pick in IDP leagues in 2021.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson, who spent two seasons with quarterback Sam Darnold with the New York Jets, said that Darnold has a different "aura" about him with his new squad. "I saw like a new energy out of him, a glowing charisma that I didn't really see in New York," said Anderson. Darnold is trying to resurrect his career in Carolina after they traded three draft picks for the former No. 3 overall pick in 2018. Carolina also exercised the 24-year-old signal-caller's fifth-year option, signaling that they are fully committed to him. Head coach Matt Rhule's system could unlock Darnold's talent, and having a familiar face in Anderson won't hurt. However, fantasy managers want to see it to believe it, and Darnold will be more of a low-end QB2 until he proves otherwise.