NFL PLAYER NEWS
Matt Nagy: 'Andy Dalton is our starter' for Chicago's Week 1 regular season matchup
According to head coach Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears quarterback Andy Dalton is currently Week One's regular season starter against the Los Angeles Rams.
Despite Chicago's recent first round selection, head coach Matt Nagy has been very supportive of Andy Dalton as his Week One starting quarterback. "Andy Dalton is our starter," said Nagy to Cris Collinsworth when asked about his quarterbacks. "Justin is our number 2 and we are going to stick with this plan. You just got to trust the plan."
Expect Dalton to open as Chicago's first-string signal caller despite an average 69.6 offensive Pro Football Focus Rating last season on 333 attempts. numberFire's models currently project the veteran to produce 195.5 completions for 12.3 touchdowns and 2,055.2 yards for a total of 127.8 Standard Fantasy Points.
Gruden: Raiders want to get Henry Ruggs 'more involved in offense and not just be a decoy'
According to head coach Jon Gruden, Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs "looks much better than he did last season."
After a lackluster rookie season as Las Vegas' primary deep threat, the Raiders want to utilize their former first round pick in other ways including intermediate and shallow routes. Despite an expected drop in average depth of target (17.3), Ruggs' overall target volume and receptions should see a sizable increase from his 26-reception mark last season.
numberFire's models currently project the 22-year old wideout to haul in 55.9 receptions for 819.4 yards and 3.9 touchdowns on 89.3 targets.
James Robinson expected to lead Jaguars' backfield in snaps
Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson is expected to lead the backfield in snaps, per John Shipley of Jaguar Report.
Robinson racked up the sixth-most touches in the NFL during his rookie season, but he will be at risk of reduced volume in 2021 after the Jaguars selected Travis Etienne in the first round of this year's draft. "Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has shown a past tendency to give more of his offense's rushing focus to backs with skill sets similar Robinson in the past," Shipley writes. "Robinson should be expected to be the hammer of the offense, a role that is still supremely important." Shipley believes that "the Jaguars have bigger and more expansive plans for" Etienne, possibly putting Robinson in a position to still dominate carries and goal-line work.
numberFire's models currently project Robinson for 164.0 carries and 701.9 yards with 4.5 rushing touchdowns in his second season. Etienne, meanwhile, is expected to handle 151.7 carries and also catch 87.4 catches for 1,217.2 yards from scrimmage. Robinson is the RB37 and Etienne is the RB24 in our preseason fantasy rankings.
Denzel Mims working behind Keelan Cole at Jets camp
New York Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims is working behind Keelan Cole in three-wide sets, per Connor Hughes of The Athletic.
The Jets' receiving core has been limited by various injuries so far this offseason, but when everyone is healthy, Hughes believes three-wide sets will have Cole and Corey Davis on the outside with Jamison Crowder in the slot. He expects rookie Elijah Moore to be featured in a super-utility role with Mims just "checking in to stretch the field." Moore's role should grow as the year goes on, but Mims may struggle to see consistent snaps.
numberFire's models currently project Mims to draw the second-most targets (107.3) on the team this season behind Davis (112.9). Mims averaged 8.1 yards per target and Cole averaged 7.3 in 2020.
Pats' Mac Jones playing behind Jarrett Stidham in "every period"
New England Patriots first-round pick Mac Jones has reportedly played behind teammate Jarrett Stidham throughout OTA's and mini-camp this offseason.
When incumbent starter Cam Newton suffered a hand injury during offseason camp, many assumed it would "pro-ready" 2021 NFL Draft first-round pick Mac Jones that would step up as the Patriots' top quarterback in Newton's stead. However, Jones has reportedly taken a backseat to teammate Jarrett Stidham so far since Newton's injury. Stidham has reportedly been the first quarterback to lead off each drill so far since Newton's injury, while Jones has alternated second- and third-team reps with veteran Brian Hoyer.
Coming out of Alabama, Jones was hailed by some as one of the most pro-ready quarterbacks in this year's draft. It's unclear at this point whether the Pats are making the rookie pay his dues or if his placement in the camp rotations is an early red flag for his fantasy prospects. Our early projections features Jones as a part-time starter for the 2021 season, completing 159 of 253 attempts for 1734 yards, 10.9 touchdowns, and 7.7 interceptions.
Jamison Crowder, Jets rework contract
The New York Jets and wide receiver Jamison Crowder have agreed to a renegotiated contract for the 2021 season.
Crowder has agreed to take less money to remain with the Jets for another season. He led the team with 89 targets last year, but Crowder is expected to see a reduced role after the Jets spent a second-round pick on slot receiver Elijah Moore and added Corey Davis and Keelan Cole in free agency. There was some hope that Crowder would be traded to free up looks for Moore and others, but the reworked deal likely indicates that the veteran will stick around for at least the beginning of the Zach Wilson era.
numberFire's models expect Crowder to be fourth on the Jets in targets (87.0) behind Davis (112.9), Denzel Mims (107.3), and Moore (92.4). He is currently the WR66 in our preseason fantasy rankings.