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Volume 14, Issue #24, May 22nd

Hi Folks,

Big news day today as Brian Urlacher decided to hang up the cleats and for a story with more immediate Fantasy Football implications, San Francisco WR Michael Crabtree suffered a torn Achilles Tuesday and he'll miss a significant portion, if not all of the 2013 season. Plus we've got new features for you and the News and Notes you need. Let's get to it.

J

SITE NEWS

A. Updated Staff Cheatsheet Rankings
Want current cheatsheet rankings to reflect the latest injury information? We've got you covered. With the Footballguys Staff ready to update their rankings as news warrants, you'll have the most up to date info anywhere. Let the other guys in your league use out of date sites or magazines. You'll dominate with Footballguys.

B. Michael Crabtree - How This Injury Will Affect Him
Our Dr. Jene Bramel is our Footballguys Resident MD and he brings a fantastic perspective as his expertise of medical and football knowledge intersect. He takes a deep look at how this Achilles issue will affect Crabtree not just this year but in the future. Dr. Bramel's medical / football insights will be a cornerstone feature for Footballguys all season long.

C. Michael Crabtree - How This Injury Affects Other Players
Experienced owners know the news is rarely about just the players in the story. With Michael Crabtree expected to miss a significant portion, if not all of the 2013 season, many other players on the 49ers are affected. Some in negative ways. Others in positive ways as they seize opportunity created by Crabtree's absence. Our Sigmund Bloom digs deep to see what this injury really means.

D. Updated Detailed Stat Projections
Injuries unfortunately are a part of fantasy football. As a Footballguys Insider Subscriber, we'll react quickly to these situations and adjust our rankings and projections quickly so you can take advantage of the owners in your league who don't have the Footballguys edge. Today's a great example as my buddy David Dodds has his full projections updated to reflect the Crabtree injury. These projections are free for the next six weeks or so and then they'll be available just to Footballguys Insider Subscribers.

E. Fantasy Fallout From The NFL Draft - AFC
Our Sigmund Bloom takes a detailed look at how the NFL draft affected the fantasy outlook for AFC players.

F. Milk Carton Men - WRs
Our Matt Waldman continues his "Milk Carton Men" series looking for players that were missing last season. In this one, he looks at wide receivers.

G. Career Arc For RBs
Our Heath Cummings examines how running backs historically fare as they age and what that can tell us about predicting stats for 2013.

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. SF - WR Michael Crabtree undergoes surgery
2. SF - Coach does not expect WR Michael Crabtree to miss season
3. NFL - ILB Brian Urlacher retires
4. NYJ - Coach unhappy with QB Mark Sanchez's OTA performance
5. BUF - OC says EJ Manuel has to work on things
6. PIT - QB Ben Roethlisberger happy with offensive changes
7. TEN - Jake Locker ready to throw
8. CIN - Andy Dalton working on deep throws
9. MIA - Lamar Miller works with first-team offense
10. PHI - QB Michael Vick will have to change in new offense
11. SF - Have high hopes for WR Ricardo Lockette
12. SF - Quinton Patton signed
13. DEN - TE Julius Thomas impressing OC
14. DEN - Osweiler making improvements
15. DEN - Hillman has improved in pass protection
16. Arena Football team serious about interest in Tim Tebow
17. MIA - WR Brandon Gibson works in slot
18. NYJ - WR Santonio Holmes not expected to take part in minicamp
19. NYJ - Stephen Hill dealing with swelling
20. DET - Mikel Leshoure sits out practice
21. NE - Brandon Bolden didn't practice
22. NYG - Jerrel Jernigan taking advantage of opportunity
23. NYG - WR Hakeem Nicks says he's healthy
24. CHI - TE depth chart open
25. HOU - Case Keenum could be No. 2
26. BAL - Arthur Brown projected to be starter
27. TB - CB Darrelle Revis feeling confident

SF - WR Michael Crabtree undergoes surgery

Source: ESPN - Chris Mortensen

Updating previous reports, San Francisco 49ers WR Michael Crabtree (Achilles') has undergone surgery to repair his torn Achilles' tendon.

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The team isn't counting Crabtree out for the season at this point. It's a huge blow to the offense even if Crabtree can return in time for the playoffs.

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SF - Coach does not expect WR Michael Crabtree to miss season

Source: Twitter

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said he does not think WR Michael Crabtree (Achilles') will miss the entire 2013 regular season.

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He may not be done for the entire year but Crabtree certainly won't look like himself if he makes it in at the end of the season. It's a huge blow to the 49ers passing game and QB Colin Kaepernick. Including the playoffs, Kaepernick targeted Crabtree more than three times as frequently as any other 49ers player on both third down and in the red zone.

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NFL - ILB Brian Urlacher retires

Source: Brian Urlacher - Twitter

Free-agent MLB Brian Urlacher (Bears) retired after 13 seasons.

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Hat's off to a great career. Urlacher wasn't getting any interest on the open market and instead decided to hang up his cleats. Urlacher was named to eight Pro Bowls during his career. Perhaps Urlacher could get some interest if any Middle Linebackers get hurt during training camp but he's not the same player he used to be but some team might take show some interest if they have to.

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NYJ - Coach unhappy with QB Mark Sanchez's OTA performance

Source: NFL.com - Dan Hanzus

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan said he was disappointed with QB Mark Sanchez after he threw three interceptions during organized team activities Wednesday, May 22. 'Yeah, it is. Absolutely. It's a good thing defense makes the plays, but no, I'd rather him not turn the ball over once,' Ryan said. 'He did a lot of great things, and then those negative things, at the end of the day, that's what gets you beat. And so we got to do a better job of eliminating those turnovers.'

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We've been down the road with Sanchez before. He's the Stuart Smalley of NFL QBs and the Jets are spinning their wheels dealing with him. We'll see if he can beat out rookie Geno Smith for the starting job in training camp. Early reports don't show him making the most of his opportunity.

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BUF - OC says EJ Manuel has to work on things

Source: BuffaloBills.com - Chris Brown

Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said QB EJ Manuel needs to work on all parts of his game to become a better quarterback. 'He’s a young man that’s got to work on a lot of things from footwork to progressions to plays to formations, everything. Defenses in the NFL are obviously a little different. He’s got to work on that too. He’s got to work on everything,' Hackett said.

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Manuel is far from a polished QB and the Bills knew that when they selected him in the first-round of the 2013 NFL draft. However, he has arguably the highest upside of any QB in this class and is an exciting player who just sleeps, eats, and breathes football. Manuel is competing with veteran Kevin Kolb to be the starter in 2013.

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PIT - QB Ben Roethlisberger happy with offensive changes

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Alan Robinson

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has voiced his happiness over the direction of the team's new offense this offseason. 'There've been some changes this offseason in some of the offensive philosophies, playbook and some things that I think are good,' Roethlisberger said. 'It's some compromise from all the different position coaches, the running back coaches, the line and quarterback coaches. I think we've taken a little bit of everything and made it a lot better.'

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We'll see if year two in the Todd Haley offense is better for Roethlisberger and the Steelers. The team needs to feature more downfield passing which is not a Haley specialty but plays to the strength of their QB.

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TEN - Jake Locker ready to throw

Source: The Associated Press

Tennessee Titans QB Jake Locker (shoulder) will be ready to throw without limitations during organized team activities that start next week. He underwent surgery around 20 weeks ago to fix his non-throwing shoulder that popped out of join multiple times last year. The team will be installing a run-first offense this year under offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. 'He plays sometimes with a linebacker mentality, and I know it's sometimes for the effect. He wants his teammates to see how tough he is, but he needs to learn to take care of himself. You know his speed and the ability to run and throw on the run is something we want to take advantage of,' Loggains said.

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Good news for Locker and the Titans here. It's a make or break season for him and he has to stay healthy and prove that he can be the franchise QB the team envisioned when they selected him in the first-round of the 2011 NFL draft.

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CIN - Andy Dalton working on deep throws

Source: The Cincinnati Enquirer - Joe Reedy

Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton has, during organized team activities, been focusing on improving the trajectory and accuracy of his throws while working with quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese. Dalton also is practicing a quicker dropback in the pocket. The club is hoping first-round TE Tyler Eifert will help stretch the offense so defensive attention doesn't squarely target WR A.J. Green.

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Many have questioned Dalton's arm strength since he came into the league. He's made improvements there in terms of length of passes but needs to improve his deep accuracy.

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MIA - Lamar Miller works with first-team offense

Source: The Miami Herald - Adam H. Beasley

Miami Dolphins RB Lamar Miller worked predominantly with the first-team offense, but RBs Daniel Thomas, Mike Gillislee and Marcus Thigpen also saw carries Tuesday, May 21, in organized team activities (OTAs).

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No surprise here. Miller should be the Dolphins starting running back in 2013. He is fast, quick, and can change direction without losing much speed. Miller has the ability to score from anywhere on the field. Thomas and Gillislee will compete in camp to be the primary backup behind Miller.

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PHI - QB Michael Vick will have to change in new offense

Source: Philadelphia Sports Daily - Tim McManus

Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick, who held onto the ball for an average of 3.07 seconds last year, will likely have to change in order to be successful in head coach Chip Kelly's new offense. Kelly, while at Oregon, preached that his quarterbacks were urged to get the ball out of their hands in 1.5 seconds. 'I think there is a lot more to Michael,' Kelly said back in February. 'I think quarterbacks are a byproduct of their experience. But to sit here and say I understood the system that Michael's been in whether he's with the Falcons under Coach (Dan) Reeves or here, that depends on the system that you run. Some of the systems that they run they don't ask him to get the ball out quick. Do I think he can get the ball out quick? I think he's got an unbelievable release. It's up and out and it's quick.'

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Vick is athletic and that should be featured in the Kelly inside zone read offense. However, Kelly's QBs need to get rid of the ball quickly to keep a defense on their toes and keep the high powered offense churning. We'll see if Vick can change this part of his game and lead the offense in 2013.

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SF - Have high hopes for WR Ricardo Lockette

Source: ESPN.com - Mike Sando

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has high hopes for WR Ricardo Lockette this season.

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The team should have high hopes for Lockette. He's incredibly fast, can change direction without losing much speed, and is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Lockette has an opportunity for a bigger role after the injury to Michael Crabtree (Achilles').

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SF - Quinton Patton signed

Source: Scout.com - Aaron Wilson

The San Francisco 49ers have signed fourth-round draft choice WR Quinton Patton. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

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Patton is a big play receiver who can fly down the field. He was hyper productive in college and is known for his downfield ball tracking ability. Patton is known as a hard worker and will have an opportunity for a big role in 2013 because of the injury to Michael Crabtree (Achilles').

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DEN - TE Julius Thomas impressing OC

Source: Cecil Lammey - ESPN Denver, Footballguys.com

Denver Broncos OC Adam Gase has been impressed by the development he's seen in TE Julius Thomas. Gase said “The thing that he has really improved on is his knowledge of the offense. For me, just the last three days of seeing him go out and be able to practice instead of being like, ‘Where am I lining up what is this concept?’ He’s getting to play football. You can see the strides he’s able to make so fast because he knows what he’s doing.”

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Thomas is in a make or break year. He's finally healthy after ankle surgery last year slowed him down all season. Thomas is buried on the depth chart right now at TE3 (at best) behind Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreesen. The former basketball star needs to impress in training camp to see if he can earn a bigger role going forward.

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DEN - Osweiler making improvements

Source: Cecil Lammey - ESPN Denver, Footballguys.com

Denver Broncos second-year QB Brock Osweiler is making improvements to his game. New OC Adam Gase commented about Osweiler's progress. “Brock is making strides every day. His biggest thing that he has done is his demeanor right now has really taken a step up. He’s very calm, understands our offense, able to direct other players in the huddle. That’s something we were really looking for coming out into the spring.”

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Dynasty owners need to take note here. Osweiler is seen as the franchise QB of the future and is getting great experience learning behind Peyton Manning. If Osweiler hits he could be a Ben Roethlisberger-like prospect.

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DEN - Hillman has improved in pass protection

Source: Cecil Lammey - ESPN Denver, Footballguys.com

Denver Broncos new OC Adam Gase commented at a press conference that second-year RB Ronnie Hillman has shown improvement as a pass blocker at OTAs. “The thing that he’s shown us the last three days is at least his aggressiveness and willingness to go attack the blitzer. That’s what we need to see. When we get in pads, that’s going to be a different deal as far as, OK, is he going to be able to sustain and do it consistently? I think he will. That size that he’s put on, that should help him. But his mentality, he’s an aggressive guy." Gase continued, "For a guy that’s built like him, you see him bigger now, he was never afraid to run between the tackles to begin with. Running the ball inside there and being able to take on linebackers, it’s very close to being the same thing for him as far as a physical standpoint.”

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If you're going to play RB for the Denver Broncos then you must protect QB Peyton Manning. It sounds like Hillman is making strides in that department.

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Arena Football team serious about interest in Tim Tebow

Source: The Associated Press

Ron Jaworski, part owner of the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League, said he is serious about his interest in signing free-agent QB Tim Tebow (Jets) to his team. Jaworski said he reached out to Tebow the day after he was released but has not heard from Tebow at this time. Jaworski thinks arena football would help Tebow because he would have to get rid of the football quickly and process information quickly.

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The Soul are interested in Tebow...as a backup. They already have Dan Raudabaugh entrenched as the starter.

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MIA - WR Brandon Gibson works in slot

Source: The Miami Herald - Barry Jackson

Miami Dolphins WR Brandon Gibson lined up as the slot receiver when the team used three-receiver sets during organized team activities Tuesday, May 21.

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Gibson is competing for playing time behind Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline. Davone Bess was traded to the Browns earlier this year leaving a void at the slot position. Armon Binns is competing with Gibson to be the team's WR3 in 2013.

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NYJ - WR Santonio Holmes not expected to take part in minicamp

Source: New York Daily News - Manish Mehta

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan said he does not believe that WR Santonio Holmes (foot) will be able to participate in the team's minicamp in June.

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Holmes may not even be ready by the start of training camp later this year. We'll see if the team puts him on the camp PUP in August and eases him back in the lineup. They need to get him on the field ASAP because Geno Smith may win the starting job and needs to build chemistry with their top wide receiver.

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NYJ - Stephen Hill dealing with swelling

Source: New York Daily News - Manish Mehta

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan said WR Stephen Hill (knee) did not participate in organized team activities Wednesday, May 22, because of swelling in his knee.

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The team needs to be careful here. Hill is a big, physical WR who can fly down the field. We expect them to monitor the second-year pro closely as he deals with this injury.

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DET - Mikel Leshoure sits out practice

Source: MLive.com - Anwar Richardson

Detroit Lions RB Mikel Leshoure (undisclosed) was limited to individual drills during organized team activities Wednesday, May 22, because of an undisclosed injury.

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Leshoure has been replaced by Reggie Bush as the feature back. He's going to be replaced by Joique Bell as the primary backup if he doesn't get healthy and get on the practice field soon.

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NE - Brandon Bolden didn't practice

Source: ESPNBoston.com - Mike Reiss

New England Patriots RB Brandon Bolden (undisclosed) wasn't on the practice field Tuesday, May 21, because he's still rehabbing from an unrevealed ailment. He's taking part in their offseason program, though.

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Bolden saw more competition added to the backfield when the team traded for LeGarrette Blount earlier this year. We'll see if he can get healthy and impress the coaching staff in camp.

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NYG - Jerrel Jernigan taking advantage of opportunity

Source: New York Daily News - Ebenezer Samuel

New York Giants WR Jerrel Jernigan has shown progress as Victor Cruz remains absent from OTAs. WR Hakeem Nicks said his teammate has been adjusting well to the slot role, which fits him. 'I feel like he got a lot of reps,' Nicks added. 'He's a little older now, he's a little mature. He got more patient in his routes. ... He's catching the ball a lot better, and he's ready to step up.'

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Jernigan can be a good slot WR because of his speed, quickness and run after the catch ability. He's competing with Rueben Randle to be the team's third WR behind Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz.

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NYG - WR Hakeem Nicks says he's healthy

Source: New York Daily News - Ebenezer Samuel

New York Giants WR Hakeem Nicks said he hasn't experienced problems with the knee that plagued his 2012 season, adding he's feeling 'as good as [he's] felt in awhile.'

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Nicks is one of the best wide receivers in the league when healthy. He's struggled with durability issues throughout his pro career. If he's back to full strength that's nothing but good news for the Giants. Nicks has a current ADP of WR20 and is coming off the board in the middle of round five.

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CHI - TE depth chart open

Source: Chicago Tribune - Dan Pompei

The Chicago Bears' depth chart at tight end after TE Martellus Bennett is wide open. TE Fendi Onobun could seize an opportunity for playing time.

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Onobun is a converted basketball player who never lived up to the hype during his time with the Rams. After he was waived by the Rams in 2011 Onobun bounced around to four different teams (Seahawks, Redskins, Jaguars, Bills) before finding a spot with the Bears this year. He's incredibly athletic but attitude, work ethic and maturity problems have held him back. If he impresses the coaching staff he could win the backup job behind Bennett.

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HOU - Case Keenum could be No. 2

Source: NFL.com

Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said QB Case Keenum could unseat QB T.J. Yates for the backup quarterback spot.

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Keenum has always been an intelligent passer but many questioned his size and arm strength coming out of college. Yates has looked decent when forced into the starting lineup but is now facing competition from Keenum.

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BAL - Arthur Brown projected to be starter

Source: NFL.com - Dan Hanzus

Baltimore Ravens LB Arthur Brown (hernia), who is expected to be ready for training camp in July, is projected to be one of the team's two starting inside linebackers this year. Brown's surgery to fix a sports hernia shouldn't change that.

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Brown was one of our favorite picks in this draft. He's incredibly smart, a sound tackler, and loves to be around the game of football. Brown is position versatile and can play any linebacker spot (strong, weak, middle) on the team.

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TB - CB Darrelle Revis feeling confident

Source: ProFootballTalk.com - Mike Florio

Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB Darrelle Revis (knee) has been cleared to cut and change directions. 'I feel very confident,' Revis said Tuesday, May 21.

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Confidence is one of the hallmarks of his game. Revis provides the Buccaneers with an instant (and huge) upgrade for their secondary.

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That'll do it for today, Folks. Thanks for reading and thanks for being a part of the Footballguys Family. We appreciate it. See you tomorrow with the update.

Peace,

J