Source: Seahawks trade Kevin Norwood to Panthers

The Seattle Seahawks have traded wide receiver Kevin Norwood to the Carolina Panthers, according to a league source.
The Seahawks were initially going to cut Norwood.
Instead, they have reached a trade with the Panthers.
This should be a good landing spot for the former Alabama standout.
Norwood caught nine passes for 102 yards as a rookie in nine games and two starts.
Follow me on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL
Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle

Steelers disappointed in suspended Martavis Bryant

The fallout from Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant’s four-game suspension continues.
Suspended for four games for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy due to marijuana usage, Bryant was scolded publicly by Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert.
“We are disappointed in Martavis’ actions that has led to his four-game suspension,” Colbert said in a statement. “It is a disappointment to our entire organization as well as our fans, but we will continue to support Martavis during his suspension. It is very unfortunate his actions have put our team in this situation to begin the year, but we are confident he will learn from his mistake and return in excellent shape in Week 5.”
Follow me on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL
Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle

2015 Division Preview Series: NFC South

This is part seven of our eight-part division preview series. We will pose two questions per team, one about offense and one about defense, and then predict each team’s 2015 record and final standing within the division. Tune in each Sunday for a new part of the series!

Atlanta Falcons (6-10 in 2014, 3rd in NFC South)

How will the offensive line perform in 2015?

2014 was a less than stellar year for the Falcons’ offensive line, which gave up 31 sacks in 2014 and was negatively ranked in both pass and run blocking by Pro Football Focus. The offensive line started struggling midway through the season after first round pick, Jake Matthews, received a high ankle sprain while playing against the Saints. Matthews finished out the season as one of the worst ranked offensive lineman in the league, with the rest of the line not doing much better. 

However, expectations for rookie left tackles must be tempered as the position is one of the most important ones in the league with a steep learning curve. This year, the Falcons plan on transitioning to a zone blocking based scheme to help alleviate the ground game and open up lanes for running back Tevin Coleman. Additionally, the Falcons released offensive tackle Sam Baker this past season and are looking at replacing him with Ryan Schraeder, who excelled as a pass blocker last year. Overall, these changes only point to an improvement in the offensive line. 

Matt Ryan has experienced offensive lines on both ends of the spectrum throughout his career and has proven he can play at an elite level when given solid blocking. He posted a passer rating of 99.1 and was a top-five quarterback in terms of yardage in 2012, the same year his line was ranked positively in both pass and run blocking. With the transition to the zone blocking scheme and Jake Matthews adjusting to the NFL, Ryan may once again have a career year. 

How will first-year coach Dan Quinn’s defensive scheme impact Atlanta’s defense?

The Falcons’ rookie coach is the former defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, and it is no surprise that the front office went with a defensive minded coach after the team ranked last in defense last year, giving up almost 400 yards a game. The team further displayed its commitment to improving the defense after drafting Clemson linebacker Vic Beasley with the eighth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. 

Quinn brings the “4-3 Under” defensive scheme with him to Atlanta. The scheme mainly consists of four defensive lineman, three linebackers, and four secondary players mainly in the Cover 3. The defensive lineman must be able to take double blocks, especially the defensive tackles. While the tackles focus on securing their gaps, the defensive ends’ main responsibility is getting up field and rushing the passer or snuffing out the run. 

The scheme also utilizes the LEO position, a hybrid linebacker/defensive end whose primary responsibility is to rush the passer. Beasley should easily fill this role, as he played a similar position at Clemson and has the athleticism and versatility to transition to the NFL.

Quinn’s defense utilizes three types of linebackers: the SAM, the MIKE, and the WILL. The SAM linebacker has to be an athletic and rangy linebacker that can cover most of the field, keeping up with tight ends and running backs. Justin Durant should be able to fill this role well if he manages to stay on the field—he’s missed sixteen games over the past two seasons. 

The MIKE backer must be a bigger, instinctual player that is capable of covering the middle of the field on third down. Falcons fans should consider projected starter Paul Worrilow‘s ability to play the MIKE position after receiving a -12.2 rating from Pro Football Focus in Pass Coverage. 

The WILL backer is usually the fastest of the group and the one picking up the tackles. The Falcons signed Brooks Reed this off-season to be their starting outside linebacker, and he should excel in that position, ranking positively in run defense according to Pro Football Focus.

Finally, Quinn’s scheme requires strong, physical corner backs to press the receiver before covering their zone in the Cover 3 base defense. Desmond Trufant, the third-year player already ranked as the #6 corner back in the league, should benefit from this new role because he particularly excels in zone coverage and bumping wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. 

Dan Quinn’s arrival in Atlanta appears to be a perfect marriage between scheme and personnel, with most of the critical positi
ons being filled with players that fit the role. While expectations for the unit should still be tempered, anticipating a defense ranked 16-20 should not be unreasonable for Falcons fans. 

Prediction: 7-9, 3rd in NFC South

The Falcons are recovering from a disappointing season with the lowest ranked defense, but with a new scheme and head coach, the team should improve in all areas on that side of the ball. The Falcons will be a contender for the division title in 2015 but ultimately fall short. 


Carolina Panthers (7-8-1 in 2014, 1st in NFC South)

How will Kelvin Benjamin‘s injury affect the Carolina Panthers?

During practice last week, Benjamin injured his knee, and an MRI confirmed that he had torn his left ACL and will soon require season-ending surgery. Many are concerned about the vacuum Benjamin leaves as the #1 receiver in the Panthers’ offense. The second-year receiver was building a good rapport with Cam Newton at the end of last season, and he was expected to step up and help the young quarterback progress as a passer. His large frame was especially beneficial to Newton, who is known for making wide and errant passes at times in the red zone.

The injury cannot be understated. Without Benjamin, the Panthers are left with Devin Funchess, Jarret Boykin, and Corey Brown at the receiver position. This pushes rookie Funchess to the starting role when he is unprepared for the position and learning curve that comes with being the #1 receiver. Tight end Greg Olsen will most likely be Newton’s favorite target this year and should provide a safety valve for him over the middle. 

The Panthers must now compensate for their passing game by running the ball, which fortunately looks to be one of the better units in the league. The team cut DeAngelo Williams last year, the all-time leading rusher for the team, after his worst season as a pro. Jonathan Stewart will be expected to fill the role as the #1 back this year after being named the starter at the end of last year and running for the most yards among running backs during the last four games. Fullback Mike Tolbert looks to be coming back after being injured last year and should help Stewart tremendously. 

Ultimately, the Panthers will be forced to rely heavily on their run game to take pressure off of Newton for the time being. Once Funchess has adapted to the NFL, the Panthers can look forward to becoming a dual-threat offense again. 

Can the secondary give the defensive line time to pressure the quarterback?

Of all the position groups on the team, the secondary should be one of the team’s smallest concerns. Josh Norman and Bene Benwikere are expected to be the team’s starting corner backs this year and are one of the more underrated corner back duos in the league; Pro Football Focus rated both corner backs in the top 30 at the position last year. Roman Harper will continue to be the starting strong safety for the team, while second-year player Tre Boston should step in as the starting free safety after playing well in the last five games of the season.  

However, the defensive line presents a different story. After Greg Hardy was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List last year due to off-the-field issues, the defensive line struggled with applying consistent pressure to the quarterback. It wasn’t until the last four games of the season that Charles Johnson and Kawaan Short emerged and recorded seven sacks together. 

Playing in the same division as Drew Brees and Matt Ryan means pass rush is absolutely essential if the Panthers hope to slow down either quarterback. The defensive line seemed to come into its own after Boston was inserted into the lineup. One possible reason for this is because Boston quickly informed opposing teams of his ball-hawking abilities and held opposing quarterbacks to an average quarterback rating of 24.2 in the games he started. 

The defensive line should be able to apply more pressure this year, as Boston is named the starter. Both of the units work in tandem with each other, so when one suffers an injury or setback, the other
is affected as well. With both groups looking rested and ready for the season, Brees and Ryan should be prepared for a tough defense come game day. 

Prediction: 9-7, 1st in NFC South

The Panthers were the most complete team in the NFC South last year, and that trend should continue in 2015. While the injury to Benjamin does set this team back in terms of offense, they can expect to repeat as division champions this year. 


New Orleans Saints (7-9 in 2014, 2nd in NFC South)

How will Jimmy Graham‘s departure affect the Saints offense?

During this past off-season, the Saints traded Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham for center Max Unger and a first round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, which the Saints used to draft Clemson linebacker Stephone Anthony. 

Many fans and analysts are concerned about Graham’s departure. Graham recorded 355 receptions, 4,396 yards, and 46 touchdowns over the past four seasons and was Drew Brees’s favorite target during that time. Graham’s ability to create a mismatch against opposing linebackers and safeties contributed greatly to the Saints offense and made him one of the best receiving tight ends in the league. 

However, Saints fans should not be concerned about Graham’s departure as long as Drew Brees is still the quarterback. One of the reasons Brees is in the conversation for the Hall of Fame is his ability to elevate the level of play of those around him. Brees still has Marques Colston, his other favorite receiver, and Brandin Cooks, who is making a name for himself this preseason. 

The Saints are also looking to recommit to the ground game this year, putting less pressure on Brees to carry the offense. Mark Ingram quietly had a solid season last year, recording 964 yards and nine touchdowns in 13 games. The Saints drafted Andrus Peat, an offensive tackle from Stanford, with their 13th overall pick in the hope that he can help anchor the left side of the line. 

While Graham was certainly an important cog in the Saints offense, the team should not expect any major setbacks in 2015. 

How will the departure of Junior Galette affect the Saints pass rush?

In late July, Sean Payton informed Galette, who had signed a four-year, $41.5 million contract extension with the team in 2014, that he would be released in less than a week. The move was based on Galette’s off-the-field issues regarding domestic violence, his lack of leadership abilities as a defensive captain, and his rocky relationship with Payton. Galette lambasted the team for cutting him, claiming it was the worst move the team had ever made. The team was so adamant on releasing Galette that they were willing to pay the $12.1 million he is due in 2016, along with his $5.45 million cap hit this year. 

However troubled Galette has been off the field, it is hard to ignore the hole he leaves on the defensive line. Galette recorded 22 sacks over the past two seasons. In his place, the Saints will most likely place Akiem Hicks in the starting lineup, and he will play for an extension in his contract year. Cameron Jordan should continue to be the team’s best pass rusher and can hopefully help rookies Anthony and Hau’oli Kikaha adjust to the NFL.

The pass rush this year will be critical towards the defense as a whole. The secondary looks to improve this year after the team signed former Patriot and Seahawks corner back Brandon Browner to a three-year, $15 million contract. If the pass rush is unable to get to the quarterback and apply the necessary pressure, the team could easily return to being a bottom 10 defense like it was a year ago. 

Prediction: 8-8, 2nd in NFC South

The Saints will always be in contention for a division title as long as Brees and Payton are leading the team, but a weaker defense and tougher competition from the Falcons and Panthers this year may prevent the team from playing in January. 


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14 in 2014, 4th in NFC South)

How will Jameis Winston lead the offense in 2015?

After a dismal season and a 2-14 record to show for it, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided it was time to move on and rebuild the franchise. The team released journeyman quarterback Josh McCown and selected quarterback Jameis Winston from Florida State. It came as little surprise to most that Winston was selected with the first overall pick, as he was lauded as the #1 quarterback in this draft class throughout the entire process. 

Winston comes to an offense with more direction than it had last year. The Buccaneers hired former UC Berkeley coach Jeff Tedford as the offensive coordinator, but when he required heart surgery during the preseason, quarterback coach Marcus Arroyo was forced into the role. The result was a 30th ranked offense that put
up only 4,672 yards and allowed 56 sacks throughout the season. For reference, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and Matt Ryan all threw for more yards than the Buccaneers achieved in total. 

This year, the Buccaneers have hired former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to help turnaround the anemic offense. Koetter’s vertical offense emphasizes play action passes, two back sets, and passes out of the backfield. Winston helped run a fast paced mix of the Pistol, spread, and pro style offense at Florida State, and he will be expected to lead his receivers and quickly go through his progressions, something he wasn’t required to do in college. 

Growing pains are to be expected of Winston, like any other rookie quarterback, but with solid players in skill positions such as Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, Winston should be able to become a leader for his offense and team. 

How effective will the Cover 2 defense be for the Buccaneers?

Last year, the Buccaneers hired former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith to be the head coach of the team and signed former Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Fraser as the defensive coordinator. Smith brought his signature Cover 2 defense with him and is looking to improve upon his implementation of the scheme this year. 

The basis of the Cover 2 defense is a “bend, but don’t break” philosophy. The defense allows short yards and first downs before eventually stopping the offense or getting a turnover. 

The linebackers in this scheme are usually the ones tackling the ball carrier and are responsible for pass coverage across the middle. The corner backs are usually responsible for jamming the receiver at the line of scrimmage to disrupt the offense’s timing and have more responsibility in stopping the run. Alterraun Verner is the ideal corner back for the Buccaneers, as he was ranked the #1 cornerback in run defense last year by Pro Football Focus. 

However, the most important part of the Cover 2 defense is the defensive line. The defensive line’s main obligation is to provide constant pressure on the offense so the linebackers and secondary have time to cover their zones. While All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy can be expected to take double teams for most plays, the rest of the defensive line must be able to step up and apply pressure if the scheme is to work. 

Prediction: 5-11, 4th in NFC South

The Buccaneers will definitely improve on last season, but they are still in the rebuilding process. A division title may not be within their grasp, but with all the young, talented pieces they have on both sides of the ball, expect them to be in the conversation in a few years. 

Hands Off: NFL Should Not Regulate Gloves

NFL fans have been treated to some absolutely ridiculous catches in the past few seasons. If you want to relive the most mesmerizing grabs of the 2014 season, here you are:

These catches are why football fans tune in on Sundays. People follow sports to see men and women perform astonishing, physics-defying feats of athleticism. These sorts of plays are what the leagues sell. In the NFL, amazing catches are especially electrifying. Running plays, while important, can make games monotonous, and nothing quite draws the attention of fans like the forward pass. Moreover, the best catches often occur in pivotal situations or swing the momentum toward one team. Intuitively, we would think the more unbelievable catches the better.

But the league has cast a more skeptical gaze on all these acrobatic, one-handed snags. ProFootballTalk reports that the NFL will take a look at the gloves receivers wear to determine if an unfair advantage has been gained. Rich McKay, chairman of the Competition Committee, noted that this equipment hasn’t been examined in a long time though the technology has improved drastically. As an unnamed commentator at a league meeting in Indianapolis said, “Pretty soon, these gloves are going to be able to catch a ball without a hand in them.”

The NFL is correct in saying that the technology has improved radically. In the 1970s, players used stickum, a synthetic adhesive available as a spray, powder, and paste. Despite being somewhat messy and thus obvious, players consistently used the stuff until it was banned in 1981. Even after the ban, players still tried to smuggle the adhesive onto their uniforms, gloves, or hands. Jerry Rice admitted to using it during his career, claiming that many players around him also defied the ban. 

As fierce competitors, players sought an edge on the field. Receivers most obviously had something to gain from stickum, but so did anyone who might have to touch the ball. In fact, Lester Hayes, a cornerback for the Oakland Raiders, used so much that the ban was nicknamed the “Lester Hayes rule.” In fairness, the rule also prohibits any kind of slippery substance (e.g. lubricant on jerseys of defensive linemen). Ever since the ban, players have searched for a replacement. 

Enter “gloves with tactified surfaces,” as the league officially calls them. So long as these gloves don’t adhere to the football, they’re allowed. But the NFL does not have strict or clear rules on what exactly that means. The newest technology, like Nike’s Magnigrip, basically sticks to the ball. Nike’s website publicizes as much about its gloves, which, by the way, Odell Beckham wore during his catch. The majority of players likely to handle the ball use sticky gloves because they work, plain and simple. Were he to “go commando,” as Peyton Manning put it, a player would be sacrificing an edge. 

Offense sells tickets, and it’s clear that gloves help in many aspects of offensive play. Receivers make great catches, but quarterbacks can make better throws. Manning wears gloves to improve his grip on the football. Harsh weather conditions used to be a quarterback’s worst nightmare but now are more of an inconvenience. Running backs also benefit from sticky gloves. BenJarvus Green-Ellis wears gloves and didn’t fumble for 589 carries to start his NFL career. Meanwhile, the defense can put the same equipment to use. For however many receptions a pair of gloves makes, there will be a corresponding number of interceptions those gloves make on the hands of CB or safety. These plays are exciting, and exciting is what fans want.

When NFL officials look into the rules concerning gloves, they should bear in mind one thing: fans want the most entertaining product on the field. A great catch could end up on Top 10 Plays, but a drop of a contested ball won’t draw any attention after the next snap. Odell Beckham’s catch, not Odell Beckham in a generic receiver stance, is on the cover of Madden 16. A touchdown reception will send a fantasy football player jumping off his couch in glee; a drop generates a few moments of disappointment. An interception sends a sports bar into pandemonium, but a deflection doesn’t. 

Former receiver and football analyst Chris Collinsworth sums up the matter best: “I think if they took the gloves completely away from the guys, including the quarterbacks at this point, it would have a major impact on what the game looked like on the field…and not for the better. Every Sunday we say, ‘Oh, my goodness! Look at that!’ That’s a good thing. It’s an entertainment business. Why not make it as entertaining as possible?”

Monday Morning MD: More preseason injuries or not?

Season-ending injuries have spurred more discussion of limiting preseason games. Are there really more preseason injuries? It certainly feels that way, but that may be the illusion created by increased media coverage of injuries. Nowadays, an ACL tear to the 3rd stringer that won’t make the team still makes news.
The NFL and the NFLPA rarely agree, but they both say there is nothing new or unusual and state injuries are not up overall. The aggregate numbers may not be statistically increased but I do believe there is a worrisome trend. Last week I indicated the highest number of preseason ACL tears in the last decade was 27 in 2013. We are now at 25 with a week of preseason to go.
A detailed look may explain our feeling of more injuries as more starters are injured in the era of the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA). By my count, the ten years prior (2001-2010) there was an average of 6.2 starters league-wide on injured reserve (Football Outsiders) at the start of the season. Since the new CBA (2011-2014), there were 10 starters per year who began Week 1 on IR. Of course, IR numbers are not in for this year, but with Raiders starting right tackle Menelik Watson’s Achilles rupture last night, it looks to surely exceed the average of 10. This represents a greater than 50% increase in starters being injured in the era of the current CBA.
I always have said that one season-ending injury to a key star and the feel is that of a “bad” injury year. Meanwhile, multiple injuries to those outside the projected 53 and the feel is that of a “healthy” preseason. By counting injured starters, I think we can account for our collective feeling of more injuries.
How do we prevent more starters being injured? Eliminating preseason games would be a knee-jerk reaction. First, most starters play sparingly in the preseason and that trend has not changed. Second, the vast majority of season ending injuries like ACLs, occur in practice. Jordy Nelson was a high profile exception, but Kelvin Benjamin, Orlando Scandrick, Dante Fowler, Jr,, and others all tore their ACL during practice.
The current CBA mandates less practice time, eliminates two-a-days and reduces the amount of player contact. Why would preseason/practice ACL injuries increase (or even stay the same) when they should go down due to the new protections started in 2011? The leading two season-ending injuries are ACL and Achilles tears and both predominately occur without contact. Limiting contact/padded practices doesn’t change the rate of these tears.
The current practice rules may also have unintended consequences. Some say there is too much rest and players are not in shape. I don’t buy that as we don’t see an early season injury spike and a later season drop in ACL tears as players “get into shape”. My theory is that limited practice time and contact has created the new mantra of tempo. There is a league-wide focus on practice speed/intensity, using multiple fields and maximizing plays with game urgency. Walk thru practice is now a run thru event. Another unintended consequence of limiting practice time is the starters will get their reps, but the third stringers get cheated with limited time. Ask veterans if camp is any easier for them now. My informal survey says “no”. These factors may contribute to the 61% increase in starters on IR for Week 1.
The NFL and NFLPA may be right that total preseason injuries are not up; however, the data seems to show there are more starters injured. Next week, I plan to discuss “sports science” and how analytics can or can’t help prevent injuries.
MMMD 1: Unusual happenings in Washington
In almost two decades working in the NFL, I don’t recall not being on the same page with the head coach. I am not aware of conflicting information between a doctor and coach with other teams either, at least not publically. In Washington, we have our third public misunderstanding in the last three seasons involving the same player.
I am not inside Washington’s team walls and I make no judgments as to fault. I have not spoken to anyone involved, nor am I an investigative reporter. I am not making any criticism of their medical care. As a former NFL team physician, I simply make the observation that this mixed messaging is not something typically seen.
Late in the 2012 season, a team doctor publically disputed head coach’s assertion that Robert Griffin III was cleared to go back in after a knee injury. At the beginning of 2013 season, the same head coach referenced a doctor’s concerns on RG3’s knee but the doctor publically denied that he had any. Now, we have a different head coach and a different doctor at odds on whether RG3 was cleared to play from concussion. This time Washington put out a public statement from the independent neurological doctor that contradicted the coach saying RG3 was cleared.
Perhaps this repeated doctor/coach misunderstanding is indicative of a larger team dysfunction as I wrote about previously. A report now surfaced about the Redskins brass being at odds over the RG3 era ending.
MMMD 2: All 1,184 players released this week need to be healthy
480 players will be cut by Tuesday and an additional 704 players by Saturday. All players need to be healthy to be released. A team can’t cut an injured player. If unable to play football, injured reserve classification is used or injury settlements much be reached. If a team cuts an injured player, he is entitled to file an injury grievance. Five players who are released can be signed back to the practice squad.
This is why I always said my goal as head team physician was to get everyone healthy, from the star player to the 90th player on the roster. I used to tell management I didn’t want to know if a player was about to be cut, my job was to get players healthy either way.
MMMD 3: Three things that don’t surprise me.
Having the fortune of being a medical insider, these three things may come as a surprise to some but not to me.

Manning’s triceps

Peyton Manning’s fingertips being numb is not surprising to me. Feeling is affected before muscles get weak. His triceps atrophy/weakness has been well documented. With his triceps affected, I would expect good feeling in the thumb and index finger but loss of feeling in the long and possibly ring/pinkie fingers.
Todd Gurley was only recently cleared to practice fully, but still is not likely a Week 1 starter. I don’t doubt his health or ability, but it is enough to ask any player to return the following season to his same level after ACL surgery. However, Gurley is being asked to do two things: return from surgery and play at a higher NFL level.
Geno Smith throwing at practice nine days from surgery is not surprising. As soon it was discovered that his jaw was not wired shut, I felt he would beat the initial 6-10 week recovery timeline. His practicing in a red jersey is a good medical sign. Of course, there may be other reasons he doesn’t play Week 1.
MMMD 4: Russell Wilson’s nanobubbles debunked
The Seahawks quarterback is an investor in special water and claimed the nanobubbles helped prevent a recent concussion. There is no scientific evidence to support that claim.
There is more we don’t know about concussion than what we do know. We do not know of any true preventative measures that work, other than avoid the blows to the head.
MMMD 5: Why narcotic pain meds are needed
For decades, sports team physicians from the Olympics to the NFL have routinely travelled with a limited quantity of pain medication. After all, if you could get your doctor to make a house call, do you want him/her to show up with medication or empty-handed. The Drug Enforcement Agency has made it clear over the last several years that travelling with even a single pill not already prescribed may be medically indicated but is not proper per federal laws.
Pain medicine is needed in the NFL for humanitarian reasons, not just playing to pain. Patriots’ fullback James Develin broke his tibia in Charlotte and stayed behind for immediate surgery. If he had access to pain medicine, would he have been able to fly home with the team in a splint instead of being left behind and hospitalized? He certainly deserved immediate pain medication at the stadium, which his team doctors are no longer able to have on hand.
This season, the league is instituting a visiting team medical liason (VTML). In the past the host team physician would assist the visitors. The VTML may be able to assist in obtaining medications, but my guess is the home team orthopedic surgeon still helped the visiting Patriots out with the tibial rodding surgery. Team doctors do not have privileges to perform surgery or admit players to the hospital outside their home state.
Taste at the Cove

MMMD 6: Taste at the Cove thank you
One of my passions is helping kids without access to medical care, obtain the care they need. 14 years ago we started the San Diego Sports Medicine Foundation and it has provided over $1.5 million in free surgeries and medical care. Our annual fundraiser was held this past Thursday. Thanks to all who attended or bid online.
Special thanks to honoree LaDainian Tomlinson and emcee Nick Hardwick as well as the countless teammates who came out to support. Extra thanks to Hall of Famers Marshall Faulk and James Lofton for coming.
Some former teammates at Taste of the Cove

MMMD 7: ProFootballDoc scorecard
Last week, I had my first miss for 2015 resulting in a 17-1 overall record. This week I tried to make amends to Packers fans as their other star wide receiver, Randall Cobb, was injured. The video indicated AC joint separation (shoulder sprain), which was later confirmed.
I believe Cobb is likely to return to play for Week 1. This injury does not truly healing, but is a matter of controlling swelling and pain. Any elevation of the end of the clavicle stays up and never comes back down, but functionally is not an issue.
Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick was injured in practice but we were lucky enough to still have injury video courtesy of local news. Unfortunately, he did suffer an ACL and MCL tear from accidental contact from a teammate.
Patriots FB James Develin had a rotational injury similar to UFC’s Anderson Sliva and predictably suffered a tibia fracture that required surgery. An initial report indicated a “clean break” and hope of a 6-8 week return but I think it is much more likely a season-ending injury.
When Giants safety Nat Berhe injured his calf a month ago, I tweeted the opener was in doubt as calf injuries tend to linger. Now the entire season is in doubt after calf surgery to remove a blood clot.
I will count the above four as correct but I will hold off on counting the predictions of Arian Foster, Zach Ertz and Chris Hogan. Foster and Ertz had similar surgeries and Foster is following my prediction of quicker than indicated return and is doing modified running. Ertz original target of Week 1 was optimistic and it now looks like he will miss the opener. Chris Hogan’s injury is pegged at 2-4 weeks and consistent with PCL but I have yet to hear the specific diagnosis, so that can’t be counted.
I never saw any video on Leonard Williams and Bryan Bulaga video was very limited so I took a pass on these two.
That leaves the record at 21-1 so far for 2015.
Follow David on Twitter: @profootballdoc
Dr. David Chao is a former NFL head team physician with 17 years of sideline, locker and training room experience. He currently has a successful orthopedic/sports medicine practice in San Diego.

SQ College Football Top-25 Preview: #3 TCU

We’re getting closer and closer to the start of the 2015 college football season. In order to prepare our readers, SQ has created a Top-25 preview series. Today, we focus on TCU. 

Team: TCU 

SQ Ranking:

2014 Record: 12-1 

Finish in AP Poll:

Head Coach: Gary Patterson (16th year) 

Key Arrivals: OT Sam Awolope, CB Deshawn Raymond, ATH Tony James, WR Jarrison Stewart, DE Breylin Mitchell 

Key Departures: LB Paul Dawson, FS Chris Hackett, CB Kevin White, RB B.J. Catalon, OT Tayo Fabuluje, SS Sam Carter 

Previewing the TCU Offense: By now, everybody knows that the TCU offense starts and ends with superstar quarterback Trevone Boykin. The reigning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year will return for his senior year with a completely different mentality from last year. Boykin enters the year with Heisman and championship expectations, while last year, he was simply looking to win the starting job. 

Boykin will get to work with arguably the greatest supporting cast in the country this year. Both leading receivers (Josh Doctson and Kolby Listenbee) and leading rusher (Aaron Green) all return for another year in Fort Worth. As if the Boykin-Doctson-Listenbee combo wasn’t deadly enough, with an entire year under their belts, they can reach record-breaking levels in 2015. The combo combined for 1,771 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. On the ground, the Boykin-Green combo went for 1,629 yards and 17 touchdowns. Just in case you’re not impressed yet, that’s 3,400 yards and 32 touchdowns between the four of them. 

Up front, TCU loses left tackle Tayo Fabuluje; he started 12 games for them at the position and was named to the conference’s honorable mention team. There’s no need for worry, however, because all five projected starters are entering their senior season. 

The team returns 10 of 11 starters on offense. Considering how electric they were last year, there’s nowhere to go but up for Boykin and co.   

Previewing the TCU Defense: The Horned Frogs lost a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball, including All-Big 12 first-teamers Chris Hackett and Paul Dawson (who was also named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year). They will have to replace more than half of their starters from 2014, a task that defensive-minded head coach Gary Patterson is more than ready for. 

The biggest concern defensively will be the secondary. Safeties Chris Hackett and Sam Carter (1st and 2nd Team All-Big 12, respectively) are both gone, along with number one CB Kevin White. Hackett led the team in interceptions last season, which means that Coach Patterson will need someone else to step up as the big play-maker. 

As for the front seven, no shoes will be bigger to fill than Paul Dawson’s. 

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The All-American linebacker was ninth in the country in tackles last year and also finished second on the team in interceptions. Dawson was the unquestioned leader and star of the Horned Frog defense. Replacing him is going to take a group effor
t because players like that don’t come around very often. 

This season, look for senior safeties Derrick Kindred and Kenny Iloka (pictured right) to step up, along with team captain and defensive tackle Davion Pierson. These guys all played significant minutes last year and will be looked at as the glue that holds the entire unit together.

Patterson is going to have his work cut out for him on the defensive side of the ball. Luckily, the offense should be able to patch up some of the defense’s holes early on, but by the end of the year, one expects the unit to click…just in time for a playoff push wink wink. 

Three Key Games: 

1. TCU vs. Baylor, Nov. 27 – This one comes as expected. TCU’s lone loss last year, and arguably the sole reason why they didn’t make the playoffs, was to Baylor. This game will come as advertised, with both teams expected to put up around 60 points. Whoever scores last will probably win this game. 

2. TCU at Oklahoma, Nov. 21 – The only other team worthy of being in the Big 12 elites is Oklahoma. The Sooners are considered by many to be a dark horse championship contender. This game will be the Horned Frogs’ biggest test to date, and the fact that they have to play at Oklahoma only adds to the difficulty. 

3. TCU at Oklahoma State, Nov. 7 – Oklahoma State is the team to watch out for in the Big 12. Outside of TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma, nobody has really been a proven threat. OSU is expected to change that this year, and they will look to make a statement when hosting the Horned Frogs. 

Final Analysis: Now’s the time for Coach Patterson and his Horned Frogs. The team enters 2015 with a huge chip on their shoulder, as they will try to prove why it was a mistake to leave them out of the playoffs last season. Ten starters return on offense, including Heisman frontrunner Trevone Boykin. With one year left on campus, Boykin will look to take full advantage of his talented players. 

It’s going to be an uphill battle for the defense, as they will look to replace upwards of seven starters, including four people in the secondary and star linebacker Paul Dawson. Senior safeties Derrick Kindred and Kenny Iloka will be seen as the leaders of this defense on the field. The true leader of this defense will be Coach Patterson, as he must put his defensive mind to use now more than ever. 

TCU’s offense alone has enough talent to carry the team through the season, and with the defense gelling together by the end of the year, one can see the Horned Frogs win the Big 12 and enter the college football playoffs, thanks to Heisman winner Trevone Boykin. Also—you heard it here first—TCU may in fact finish the year hoisting the championship trophy.

2015 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet Guaranteed To Lead You To Playoffs

Fantasy football is back. Money and bragging rights are squarely on the line.

To those unfortunate souls who have already drafted and ended up with Jordy Nelson, I feel your pain. I own both Nelson and Aaron Rodgers in a keeper league.

For everyone who has drafts yet to come, your secret weapon is here. I have assembled a list of the top 150 fantasy players for the upcoming season based on performance over the last two to three seasons, projected volume for this season, and health during the preseason. If utilized properly, these rankings are sure to land you a spot in the playoffs.

There have been many injuries this preseason that are factored into my rankings even though the player who suffered the injury is not out for the season. I’ve documented injuries to both offensive and defensive players this preseason, and the full list of injuries can be found here. If you see that there are injuries missing, please let me know so I can update the list (@mrosekNFL).

Rather than discussing all 150 players, many of whom are ranked similarly to the general public opinion, I felt this article would be more useful if instead I focus on players that I am high or low on relative to their current ADP on ESPN and Yahoo. The link to my full big board with position rankings can be found here. These rankings are for standard scoring leagues.

Before getting into the players I’m buying/selling, I must emphasize that drafting is all about value, and value is determined by how the other owners in your league view a player. 

I’m fully aboard the Stevie Johnson bandwagon, but only because I can get him for a cheap price. If his ADP spiked to the mid 40s tomorrow, I would no longer be on the bandwagon. However, his current ADP resides between 130-170, depending on the site, which I am more than happy to take advantage of. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I am much lower on LeSean McCoy than many seem to be, but if he falls into the 30s, I’ll take a chance on him. I am selling him because of where he is being valued, not because of how I think he will perform in a vacuum.

It is also important to remember that where you rank a player is not equivalent to where you would end up taking them. If you have the 20th pick, the odds that the 19 picks before you align perfectly with the top 19 players on your board are very slim. 

To project where you would actually take a player based on their rank, my general rule is to add 20% (multiply the rank by 1.2). If you have a player ranked at 20, you can reasonably expect to take that player if he falls to 24.

Now, on to the guys who are going to decide fantasy leagues this season. All ADP values are as of Aug. 28, 2015.


RB Jeremy Hill: 11 (my rank) // Projected Draft Slot (PDS = my rank * 1.2): 13

ESPN ADP: 18  // Yahoo ADP: 14

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Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

After the consensus top five RBs (Jamaal Charles, Marshawn Lynch, Le’Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy, and Adrian Peterson), there are few sure things at the RB position. Hill has as good of a chance to finish as a top ten RB as anyone after the top five guys, and for that reason I have him 11th overall. 

Hill’s ranking is just as much about his offensive line as his talent as a player. The Bengals offensive line was one of the league’s best last season, led by LT Andrew Whitworth, Pro Football Focus’ top graded OT. Cincinnati drafted O-Lineman in both the first and second round to add to an already stout line. 

Gio Bernard will be involved, but this is Hill’s show. He will get enough touches, especially near the goal-line, to be the consistent starting RB in the lineup you need to win your league.

WR DeAndre Hopkins: 21 // PDS: 25

ESPN: 35 // Yahoo: 33

With Andre Johnson now in Indianapolis, Hopkins is the unquestioned WR1 in Houston. He’s going to be catching passes from Brian Hoyer and potentially Ryan Mallett, so his QB play will be less than optimal. 

Despite the lackluster QB options the Texans possess, the future is bright for Hopkins. He is by far the best pass catcher on the Texans’ roster and a good bet to finish among the league leaders in targets. He was targeted 127 times last season and is sure to absorb some of Johnson’s 147 targets.

In 2014, Hopkins averaged almost 10 yards per target (1,210 yards on 127 targets). He could easily surpass 150 targets next season if he stays healthy. The upside is there. If you go RB early, Hopkins is a low-end WR1 option that you can get with your third, and maybe even fourth pick, depending on league size.

WR Jordan Matthews: 28 // PDS: 34

ESPN: 39 // Yahoo ADP: 41

Matthews is in a similar situation to that of Hopkins. The Eagles’ WR1 from 2014 (Jeremy Maclin) is now on a different team (Chiefs). Maclin was targeted 143 times last season, while Matthews was targeted 103 times.

Matthews is slated to be the new WR1 in Chip Kelly’s high-powered offense and should receive a decent chunk of Maclin’s targets. He does some of his best work in the slot and subsequently won’t always put up huge yards per catch averages. What he will do is score touchdowns in one of the fastest-paced offenses in the league.

Among WRs who saw at least 50 targets in 2014, Matthews finished ninth in the NFL in touchdowns per target. His 6’3, 215 lb frame allows him to be a dangerous red zone threat. Philly will still run the ball, but Matthews will put up points in 2015.

TE Travis Kelce: 35 // PDS: 42

ESPN: 58 // Yahoo: 49

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John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Kelce is a freak. He has athleticism that is rivaled only by Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham at the TE position, which he used to average 7.5 YAC/reception last season, an incredible number considering Gronkowski averaged only 5.6. 

The Chiefs’ offense is never going to be a fantasy goldmine, but Kelce doesn’t need it to be. He just needs the ball. With Anthony Fasano no longer a Kansas City Chief, 2015 will be a breakout year for Kelce. 

RB Ameer Abdullah: 37 // PDS: 44

ESPN: 82 // Yahoo: 84

As you get later into the ADP numbers, kickers and D/ST start to pop up due to the limited length of 8 team drafts. This flaw in the ADP rankings has inflated Abdullah’s ADP a bit. With that being said, Abdullah is an absolute steal where he is being taken.

At the 2014 NFL Combine, Abdullah showcased mind-blowing short area burst and quickness. Abdullah’s 3-cone, jumps and shuttles were off the charts, and it shows on tape. His ability to make defenders miss in tight spaces is already among the NFL’s best. 

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Some have compared him to Cincinatti Bengals RB Giovani Bernard, but that might be selling Abdullah a bit short. Both were drafted in the second round, and Bernard was better in the 10- and 40- yard dash at his combine, but the explosiveness and agility Abdullah possesses are matched by few players in the NFL.

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Joique Bell is still in Detroit, and his presence is depressing Abdullah’s ADP. Bell may steal touches from Abdullah to start the season, but this situation seems destined to play out how the RB situation did last year in Cincinatti. Bernard started the year as the RB1, got hurt, and then talented second round pick Jeremy Hill took his opportunity and ran with it.

Bell has had more surgeries than I can count, and Abdullah is a special talent. As long as he doesn’t fumble (my biggest concern of his coming out of college), Abdullah’s primary hurdle to fantasy dominance in 2015 is the Detroit Lions’ coaching staff. Take him as your RB3 with confidence.

RB Doug Martin: 53 // PDS: 64

ESPN: 80 // Yahoo: 99

There are several kickers and D/ST listed above Martin on the ADP list, so 99 may not be an accurate indication of where he is actually being drafted. Even if it significantly lower than 99, Martin is still a good value on both sites.

Martin lost weight this offseason, something that almost always benefits an RB. In losing weight, he may not absorb hits quite as well, but he will be more shifty and won’t get hit as much or as hard.

The Buccaneers drafted two offensive lineman in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet both appear ready to help improve what was one of the worst units in the league in 2014. Combine an improved line with one of the league’s easiest schedules (the NFC South is going to be the worst division in the NFL again), and 2015 is shaping up as a bounce-back year for the Muscle Hamster.

RB Duke Johnson: 71 // PDS: 85

ESPN: 115 //  Yahoo: 125

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson is the leading rusher in University of Miami (FL) history. Yes, you read that right. To put it lightly, Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West are place-holders. Johnson has missed some time in camp due to a hamstring injury, and the injury forced me to move him down my board a bit, but this job is Johnson’s to lose as long as he’s healthy. 

The Browns have one of the top offensive lines in the league. LT Joe Thomas, LG Joel Bitonio and C Alex Mack are as good of a threesome as any in the NFL. The holes should be there in the running game, and Johnson is by far the best pass-catching RB on the Browns roster.

Even though he’s playing in a mediocre offense, the opportunity to grab a potential starting RB as late as Johnson is going is a no-brainer.

Update: Duke Johnson suffered a concussion last night (8/29) in the Browns third preseason game. Due to the unfortunate setback I moved him down to 88th overall.

WR Anquan Boldin: 72 // PDS: 86

ESPN: 120 // Yahoo: 106

Boldin is the definition of a solid WR2. Boldin doesn’t have the highest ceiling in the world, but also has one of the highest floors. It could be coming soon, but Boldin has been so good the last few years that it’s difficult to imagine much fantasy regression in 2014. 

Torrey Smith is now a 49er, but Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson no longer are. Boldin should see at least as many targets as he did in 2014 (131) and could easily see more, given the 49ers will likely be playing from behind a lot in 2015. You can load up on RBs early knowing you can snag Boldin later.

TE Tyler Eifert: 77 // PDS: 92

ESPN: 131 // Yahoo: 122

Eifert is a talented player who hasn’t yet had the chance to fully showcase his ability at the NFL level. In 2013, he was overshadowed by the presence of Jermaine Gresham, and last year, he only played one game due to injury.

Gresham is now an Arizona Cardinal, and the TE snaps are Eifert’s for the taking. He should see a healthy volume of targets in 2015 and easily outperform his ADP. If you can’t get your hands on Gronk, Kelce, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen or Martellus Bennett, take Eifert.

WR Stevie Johnson: 79 // PDS: 95

ESPN: 170 (max number) // Yahoo: 130.4

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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Out of all the players on this list, Johnson may be my favorite deep sleeper for the 2015 season. He was extremely efficient last year in San Francisco but only played 305 snaps. He is now locked in as the co-WR1 with Keenan Allen in San Diego. 

Many would call Johnson the WR2 in San Diego. After breaking down Johnson’s and Allen’s statistics over the past two seasons, it appears as though Allen and Johnson are actually quite close in skill level. 

That’s not to say that Allen’s established chemistry with QB Phillip Rivers won’t lead to him having better numbers than Johnson in 2015, but I’d much rather have Johnson in the late rounds than Allen in the 45-55 range. Knowing Johnson (among a few others on this list) will be available late can allow you to pass on WRs early and ensure you come away with enough depth at RB.

RB Ronnie Hillman: 83 // PDS: 100

ESPN: 138 // Yahoo: 118

This pick is all about upside. The RB in a Peyton Manning-led offense is always put in a position to succeed, and Hillman is the clear backup to C.J. Anderson. Hillman has been praised for his work in practice and the preseason as of late, and if Anderson gets hurt or does not perform, Hillman will be an extremely valuable fantasy asset.

WR Eddie Royal: 84 // PDS: 101

ESPN: 133 // Yahoo: 117

Royal sustained a minor hip injury in practice this week, which forced me to drop him a few spots on my board. Despite the injury, I love Royal this year. Brandon Marshall is now a New York Jet, and Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White are both dealing with injuries. 

Royal has played with Jay Cutler before and has drawn rave reviews in camp. Yet again, efficient WR changing teams are underrated. It happens every year. Last year it was Golden Tate and Jeremy Maclin. This year its Royal and Stevie Johnson.

Honorable Mentions:

RB Arian Foster: 42 (my rank)  

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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Foster suffered a serious groin injury this offseason that required surgery. The outlook on Foster’s injury is not quite as bad as was initially believed, and his ADP is rising as a result. If Foster can get healthy in time for the fantasy playoffs, he will be an invaluable asset. If you can get him in the mid 50s, take him.

TE Martellus Bennett: 55 – Bennett would be on the list above, but his ADP isn’t far behind where I have him ranked. I’m buying Bennett for the same reasons I’m buying Eddie Royal, and Royal is currently nicked up, which further adds to Bennett’s value. Bennett should be targeted heavily all season long and has a very realistic chance to finish as a top five TE.

WR Allen Robinson: 62 – Robinson was a favorite of mine coming out of Penn State and is a physical presence on the outside at 6’3, 210 lbs. He injured his foot last season and was only able to play 10 games. 

Foot injuries are not to be taken lightly, and it’s certainly possible he may suffer another lower leg injury next season. If A-Rob is able to stay healthy for a full 16 games, he should have a big season as the clear WR1 on the Jaguars. Julius Thomas has missed a significant portion of camp with a broken hand which should free up more red zone targets for Robinson.

RB Ryan Mathews: 70 – Mathews should see six to 10 touches a game even when DeMarco Murray is healthy and be the rare handcuff who has standalone value. If Murray goes down, Mathews will be a fantasy force. Take him as your RB3/4.

RB Khiry Robinson: 107 – Sean Payton likes to involve multiple RB when he has more than one healthy back, and Khiry Robinson is one of two currently healthy Saints’ RB. C.J. Spiller underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on August 14th and should be ready for Week 1, but his health is a question mark. If Robinson does manage to gain a significant share of the workload, he will be a viable RB3/FLEX candidate.


RB LeSean McCoy: 26 // PDS: 31

ESPN ADP: 15 // Yahoo ADP: 19

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Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

McCoy wasn’t efficient last year in the Eagles’ offense, so there’s little reason to think he will improve in the anemic Buffalo offense. While Rex Ryan has stated publicly he wants to give Shady plenty of touches, McCoy has suffered multiple injuries this offseason and has missed a significant amount of practice time. Don’t pay for the McCoy from 2013. He is a different player now and should be evaluated as such.

RB Melvin Gordon: 48 // PDS: 58

ESPN ADP: 31 // Yahoo ADP: 41

I wasn’t as big of a Gordon fan coming out of college as many were, including the San Diego Chargers. I had him ranked as the fifth best RB in the class behind Todd Gurley, T.J. Yeldon, Duke Johnson and Ameer Abdullah.

Montee Ball, Ron Dayne, P.J. Hill and many others were able to put up big numbers in the Wisconsin offense and were disappointments in the NFL. Gordon has more physical talent than any Wisconsin RB to enter the NFL in my lifetime, but the trend is concerning. Gordon has the tendency to stop his feet at the line of scrimmage, is regularly stuffed for little or no gain and isn’t great at catching the ball or in pass protection.

Danny Woodhead is back healthy and is an excellent pass-catcher, while Branden Oliver is a solid player in his own right. There’s a very good chance Woodhead and Oliver command a significant portion of the RB workload in San Diego next season. If that ends up the case, I’d rather not be the one who spent a pick in the 30s on Melvin Gordon.

WR Julian Edelman: 69 // PDS: 83

ESPN: 41 // Yahoo: 55

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Julian Edelman has been a reliable WR2 over the past few years, and his ADP reflects that valuable consistency. Unfortunately for Pats fans, Edelman has been sidelined for much of camp with an ankle injury. 

Bill Belichick never has (and never will be) forthcoming with injury-related information, so the severity of Edelman’s injury is uncertain. Regardless, Edelman’s absence is concerning. Combine the injury with the possibility that Tom Brady may miss the first four games, and you get a player who is being overvalued, particularly on ESPN.

WR Davante Adams: 76 // PDS: 91

ESPN: 54 // Yahoo: 110

Adams’ Yahoo ADP doesn’t appear to reflect the Jordy Nelson injury, while the ESPN ADP does. Personally, the mid-50s is too rich for my liking. Adams will absorb many of the targets Nelson would have seen, and his ADP has spiked for good reason. I moved him up my board as well, but in the public eye he has passed many receivers who are far more talented. 

For example, Adams has passed Jarvis Landry in ADP on ESPN. Landry is a superior player and in all likelihood will receive a similar number of targets. Playing in the Packers offense is certainly enticing, but only to a point. 

If Adams falls, take a chance on him. Don’t be the guy to reach for him.

Update: Randall Cobb left Saturday’s preseason game with a shoulder injury. By all reports the injury is a minor one. If the injury ends up being more serious than initially believed, move Adams up 15-20 spots.  

WR Vincent Jackson: 129 // PDS: 155

ESPN ADP: 59 // Yahoo ADP: 70

Jackson’s ADP is about right…if it were 2012. He is coming off one of the worst seasonsof his career and is the clear WR2 in a below-average offense. 

Take a chance on a younger, higher upside WR2 in a better offense (Terrance Williams, Marvin Jones) before you take V-Jax. Depth at RB is far more valuable than adding V-Jax as a WR4/5. He is still draftable, but only at the right price.

WR Roddy White: 150 // PDS: 180

ESPN: 94 // Yahoo: 82

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Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

White falls into the same boat as Jackson. He’s a WR2 (at best) on his team in the twilight of his career, and his health seems to be declining by the day. White had his knee drained multiple times over the past few months and just recently had elbow surgery. GM Thomas Dimitroff and the Falcons’ front office know White is fading, drafting Justin Hardy and signing Leonard Hankerson as insurance. Take White as a late round flier and nothing more. 

Honorable Mention:

RB Matt Forte: 16 (my rank) – Forte didn’t make the list above because I still think he can be a useful fantasy player when taken with realistic expectations. However, people who are taking him at his 11th overall ADP on ESPN are likely to be disappointed next season. 

Forte has played significantly more snaps (2658) than any other RB over the past three seasons (2012-2014). The next closest RB is LeSean McCoy (2393), and we saw how that turned out last season. 

To make matters worse, Marc Trestman is no longer calling plays in Chicago, so Forte is bound to see regression in the pass-catching department. I’ll take him if he falls into the early 20s, but I’ll pass on Forte before then.

Falcons sign Julio Jones to five-year, $71.25 million dea.

The Atlanta Falcons signed star wide receiver Julio Jones to a five-year, $71.25 million extension that includes $47.5 million guaranteed.
“Julio is the type of young man we value, and this contract reflects that,” owner Arthur Blank said. “We expect Julio to be a lifer for the Falcons.”
Jones caught 104 passes last season for 1,593 yards.
Follow me on Twitter: @Aaron Wilson@NFL
Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle