Recent 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.
Jakobi Meyers looking like Patriots' WR1 for camp
New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers will likely be the No. 1 option during training camp, writes Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald.
Meyers led the Patriots in targets (81), catches (59), and yards (729) last season, and Callahan says "don't be surprised" if the 2019 undrafted free agent remains the top target in training camp this week. New England added Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne this offseason, as well as tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, but Callahan believes Meyers will retain No. 1 status while all the new additions learn the playbook. N'Keal Harry figures to be the fourth receiver behind Meyers, Agholor, and Bournes.
numberFire's models currently project Meyers to lead the Patriots' receivers this season with 69.7 targets and 44.0 catches, just ahead of Agholor (65.9, 39.1). Meyers is the WR85 and Agholor is the WR87 in our preseason fantasy rankings.
49ers' Trey Sermon exceeding expectations at OTAs
San Francisco 49ers rookie running back Trey Sermon is ahead of the curve at OTAs, writes to Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area.
The 49ers are limiting Raheem Mostert at this point in the offseason and Jeff Wilson (knee) is expected to be out through the start of the regular season, so Sermon is working as the lead back. He is already putting his dual-threat ability on display by both taking handoffs and catching passes out of the backfield. Sermon will likely be stuck in a committee to start the season, but he has the tools to eventually take over as a workhorse in Kyle Shanahan's scheme. The backfield roster also includes Wayne Gallman, JaMycal Hasty, and 2021 sixth-rounder Elijah Mitchell.
Sermon is currently the RB28 and Mostert is the RB31 in numberFire's preseason fantasy rankings. Our models project the third-rounder for 170.9 carries, 21.1 receptions, 931.9 yards, and 8.5 touchdowns. Mostert is expected to record 152.5 carries with 22.2 catches and Gallman is expected to siphon away 77.3 touches.
Rams praise Cam Akers' pass-catching ability heading into 2021 season
Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers reportedly has "no limitations" on how he can be utilized in the team's offense, according to Sean McVay.
Asked about Akers earlier in the month, McVay said "He’s obviously a great runner, but he’s got ability as a pass-catcher coming from the backfield, and we can displace him and put him in the slot or the outside receiver location, there’s not any limitations, but we’ll see how it comes to life." Akers saw just 14 targets in his rookie season, catching 11 of them for 123 yards and 1 touchdown. Consistent involvement in the passing game would provide a massive boost to his outlook, which already includes a role as the Rams' lead back.
numberFire's models project Akers for 1,445.9 rushing yards, 31.1 receptions, 42.2 targets, 253.2 receiving yards, and 14.75 total touchdowns this season. He is the RB7 in our preseason fantasy projections.
Washington's Curtis Samuel (groin) not participating in minicamp
Washington Football Team wide receiver Curtis Samuel (groin) is not participating in minicamp, according to head coach Ron Rivera.
Samuel is reportedly dealing with a groin injury and is sitting out of minicamp as he recovers. The missed minicamp practices come after he felt a "twinge" in his groin last week, but was still able to do some work on the side. This is a situation to monitor until Samuel is fully cleared and back to full speed, ideally by training camp.
numberFire's models project Samuel for 67.6 receptions on 105.43 targets for 852.4 yards and 4.95 touchdowns this season. He is the WR46 in our preseason fantasy projections.
Giants' Saquon Barkley (knee) without an exact timetable to return heading into 2021 season
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (knee) remains without an exact timetable for his return, according to Joe Judge.
Judge declined to provide reporters with a timetable for Barkley's return when asked about the star running back earlier this month. According to The Athletic's Dan Duggan, Judge is happy with how Barkley has "attacked" rehab. Keep an eye on this situation as training camp approaches.
numberFire's models project Barkley for 1,334 rushing yards, 65.4 receptions, 496.0 receiving yards, and 13.89 total touchdowns this season. He is the RB5 in our preseason projections.
Ravens focused on involving J.K. Dobbins in the passing game
Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins has reportedly made strides in the passing game heading into the 2021-22 season.
The Ravens have reportedly made it a point of emphasis this offseason to get their running backs involved in the passing game. Dobbins has made a "good number" of catches during OTAs and is progressing well in his development in that area of his game. In his rookie season, Dobbins caught 18 of 24 targets for 120 yards and no touchdowns. Consistent involvement in the passing game, combined with the Ravens utilizing their running backs through the air more often, would be a positive development for Dobbins' fantasy outlook this season.
numberFire's models project Dobbins for 1,205.1 rushing yards, 31.5 receptions, 251.1 receiving yards, and 12.9 total touchdowns this season. He is the RB17 in our preseason projections.
Falcons' Calvin Ridley expected to be ready for training camp following minor foot surgery
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley underwent minor foot surgery earlier this month, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Ridley battled foot and ankle injuries for multiple weeks during the 2020-21 season and has now addressed those with a minor offseason surgery. According to Ian Rapoport, Ridley "should be fine" for the starting of training camp. Following the trade of Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans, Ridley is expected to operate as Atlanta's unquestioned top option in the passing game as he enters his fourth season.
numberFire's models project Ridley for 105.2 receptions on 163.4 targets for 1490.7 yards and 8.7 touchdowns this season. He is the WR5 in our preseason projections.
Lions' T.J. Hockenson primed for a "big season" in 2021
Detroit Lions' tight end T.J. Hockenson is "headed for a big season" according to the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett.
Hockenson is entering his third season in the NFL after being selected with the 8th overall pick in the 2019 draft. With Kenny Golladay now a member of the New York Giants, the Lions have a large vacancy in their pass game. Golladay had averaged 7.4 targets per game over his last three seasons. With Golladay injured for most of last year, Hockenson hauled in 67 receptions on 101 targets for 723 yards and 6 touchdowns.
numberFire's models project Hockenson for 79.9 receptions on 117.7 targets for 817.4 yards and 5.2 touchdowns in the upcoming season. He is the TE6 in our preseason projections.
Russell Wilson excited for Seahawks' new "super complex" offense
Seattle Seahawks quarter back Russell Wilson is reportedly excited and "all in" learning the team's new offense, according to The News Tribune's Gregg Bell.
Wilson told reporters earlier this month that first-time offensive coordinator Shane Waldron's offense is "super complex" and includes more varied formations. Wilson said, "We are going to be able to move people around. We are going to do everything that we want to.". He also noted that the offense would be up-tempo, stating that "the tempo part of it is something that is real".
numberFire's models project Wilson for 4,403 passing yards and 35.88 passing touchdowns this season on 596.1 attempts. He is the QB6 in our preseason projections.
Jaguars' Laviska Shenault impressing during OTAs
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault is generating buzz following his performances in OTAs according to FanNation's John Shipley.
Shenault has reportedly staked a claim as the Jaguars' best skill-position player during OTAs. He has looked explosive and dynamic while hauling in several big grabs. Entering his sophomore season, Shenault will look to improve on a rookie campaign that saw him catch 58 of 79 targets for 600 yards and 5 touchdowns in 14 games played.
Our models project Shenault for 69.8 receptions on 106.8 targets for 804.3 yards and 4.74 touchdowns in the 2021 season. He is the WR40 in our preseason projections.
Vikings not eyeing larger role for Irv Smith Jr. in 2021 season
Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. is not expected to see an expanded role in the 2021 season, according to head coach Mike Zimmer.
Asked about Smith this week, Zimmer said "I don't think it's any bigger role for him whatsoever", adding "I think it's a bigger role for Tyler Conklin. He's kind of emerged as a guy that's moving upward and with those two guys, we have a lot of weapons there". In the 2020-21 season, Smith caught 30 of 43 targets for 365 yards and 5 touchdowns.
numberFire's models project Smith for 57.6 receptions on 89.5 targets for 603.6 yards and 5.62 touchdowns in the 2021 season. He is the TE11 in our preseason projections.
Bengals hoping Joe Mixon improves in pass protection for 2021 season
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon is aware that he needs to improve in pass protection this season, according to offensive coordinator Brian Callahan.
Callahan was emphatic in his praise for Mixon, stating that he "doesn't want Mixon to leave the field" and that Mixon "should be on the field every down". However, to get to that point, Callahan said Mixon has to improve pass protection-wise. Head coach Zac Taylor added that having Mixon on the field "makes us better, but that the same time, you don't need him on the field for 75 snaps a game."
numberFire's models project Mixon for 1,319.7 rushing yards, 8.40 rushing touchdowns, and 54.7 receptions on 72.9 targets for 392.4 receiving yards this season. He is the RB12 in our preseason projections.
Packers' Jace Sternberger suspended first two games of 2021
Green Bay Packers tight end Jace Sternberger has been suspended for the first two games of the 2021 season.
The league announced Thursday that Sternberger has been suspended without pay for violating the NFL Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse. It's unclear exactly what he tested positive for, but either way, he'll sit to start the year. Robert Tonyan figures to open the season as the starting tight end, and Marcedes Lewis and Josiah Deguara should mix in behind him in Sternberger's absence.
Prior to this news, our models had projected Sternberger for 15.64 catches on 22.36 targets for 160.69 yards and 1.53 touchdowns.
Kyle Rudolph (foot) expected to be ready for Giants' training camp
New York Giants tight end Kyle Rudolph is preparing to be ready for the start of 2021 training camp.
Rudolph was mostly sidelined during the minicamp sessions that have taken place this week after he underwent foot surgery this offseason. However, despite the procedure, it seems as though he'll be a full-go when the team meets back up later next month to prepare for the upcoming season. Rudolph figures to be the TE2 on the roster behind Evan Engram, and it'll be up to Jason Garrett to decide how often he runs two-tight end sets.
Our models currently project Rudolph for 11.96 catches on 17.23 targets for 111.05 yards and 0.89 touchdowns.
Cardinals' Kyler Murray looking to run less this season
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray doesn't want to run as much as he did last season, he told reporters on Thursday.
After tallying 819 yards - 6.2 per attempt - and 11 touchdowns on the ground in 2020, Murray is looking to shake up his playing style. "Honestly, the way I see it is, my legs should be a luxury," he said said. "And it kind of wasn't like that last year. It was me having to run for us in a sense." Murray was banged up multiple times in his sophomore campaign, and less running should help him stay fresh during the new 17-game season format. However, this news could take a hit to his fantasy output, as rushing quarterbacks get a huge boost.
Our models currently project Murray for 4,494.67 passing yards, 27.23 passing touchdowns, 9.24 interceptions, 639.66 rushing yards and 8.50 rushing touchdowns this season. He's currently ranked as the No. 3 quarterback.
McCarthy: Cowboys' Michael Gallup has been 'moved around some and in the slot' this offseason
According to head coach Mike McCarthy, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup has seen repetitions at multiple positions this offseason.
Gallup's usage could see a change in 2021 after the Cowboys' receiver played 93.7% of his snaps last season on the outside. Expect the 25-year old to see an uptick in receptions if he is utilized less on vertical routes and more as a versatile option. On 98 targets in 2020, Gallup recorded a 60.2% reception percentage and 1.34 yards per route run.
For this upcoming season, numberFire's models currently project Gallup to haul in 64.7 receptions for 949.7 yards and 5.0 touchdowns on 113.0 targets.
Ravens sign Gus Edwards to 2-year extension
The Baltimore Ravens have signed running back Gus Edwards to a 2-year extension worth $10 million.
The new extension keeps Edwards on the roster through the 2023 season. Edwards has rushed for over 700 yards in each of his 3 seasons with the Ravens and has been an important contributor as a change-of-pace rusher to quarterback Lamar Jackson. Edwards will likely continue to split the running back workload with teammate J.K. Dobbins during the 2021 season.
Our preseason projections have Edwards as the RB46 (while Dobbins comes in at RB17), with 125 carries for 586 yards and 4 touchdowns. He has one of the most reliable workloads among running backs drafted after the first few rounds of fantasy drafts.
DeVante Parker "moving around" in the Dolphins' formation
Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker noted that he is "moving around more than usual" in the team's formations under new offensive coordinators George Godsey and Eric Studesville.
Parker primarily operated on the outside for the Dolphins in 2020, as the team's other top receivers (Mike Gesicki, Jakeem Grant and Lynn Bowden) primarily operated out of the slot. While the Dolphins drafted Jaylen Waddle, who thrived in the slot at Alabama, with the sixth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, they also signed Will Fuller in free agency, giving the team much more flexibility in their receiving group.
More opportunities in the slot and reps away from opposing teams' top corners could be good for Parker in 2021, as the veteran saw his yards per game marks fall from 75.1 per game in 2019 to just 56.6 in 2020. Our models currently project Parker as the WR48 for the 2021 fantasy season.
Miami's Jaylen Waddle a "quick learner"
Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker noted that new teammate and 2021 NFL Draft first-round pick Jaylen Waddle is "a quick learner."
"He listens to what we have to say. You coach him up and he listens to you," Parker told reporters about teammate Jaylen Waddle. As the Dolphins kick off their first preseason regimen, Waddle has been seen fielding punts in addition to traditional receiving work.
Waddle will have a crowded depth chart to compete with in Miami this season between Parker and free agent signing Will Fuller, but the Dolphins will likely feel compelled to get the sixth-overall pick on the field. Our models currently project him for 63 catches on 97 targets for 734 yards and 5 scores in 2021.
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