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Volume 19, #35 -- Saturday Night, May 27th, 2017

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Hi Folks,

Good Sunday to you. I hope you're having a great weekend and we've got the NFL News and Notes for you. Let's get to it.

J

SITE NEWS

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1. SEA - Nothing close between SEA, QB Colin Kaepernick

Source: CBSSports.com - Jason La Canfora

Free-agent QB Colin Kaepernick (49ers) is not close to an agreement with the Seattle Seahawks at this point even though they had a nice visit.

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Kaepernick only wants to play for the Seahawks, so it seems like something could be done at a later date. It makes sense for both sides as Seattle needs an upgrade over Trevone Boykin as the primary backup behind Russell Wilson.

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2. LAR - WR Robert Woods eyeing lead receiver role

Source: Los Angeles Times - Gary Klein

Los Angeles Rams WR Robert Woods is determined to be a 'No. 1 receiver,' according to the Los Angeles Times' Gary Klein.

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Woods is out to prove that he's more than a decent no2 wide receiver in the NFL. That's the role he played in Buffalo behind Sammy Watkins, but with his new team Woods will have a chance to be the main man. We see him as a low-ceiling WR1 for the Rams, especially since they made moves in the draft to add pass-catching talent like WR Cooper Kupp, WR Josh Reynolds and TE Gerald Everett. Projecting Woods to catch around 60-ish passes is fair, but that doesn't make him much of a fantasy asset. Woods is getting drafted as a late-round flier (WR73, 14.09) in 12-team PPR leagues.

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3. PHI - QB Carson Wentz stronger heading into Year 2

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer - Jeff McLane

Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz is noticeably stronger and appears to be throwing the ball better than he did as a rookie, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane.

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Wentz is throwing tighter spirals out at Eagles camp per beat writers covering the team. He also seems more comfortable and confident as he enters his second season as a pro. Wentz has way better pass-catchers around him this year as the team made an emphasis to add talent in the offseason. He should be looked at as a low-end QB2 in 2017, but we wouldn't be surprised to see Wentz finish around QB15 when all is said and done.

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4. NYJ - QB Josh McCown expected to be Week 1 starter

Source: ESPNNewYork.com - Rich Cimini

New York Jets QB Josh McCown is the 'heavy favorite' to be named the starting quarterback even though the team plans on having an open competition, giving McCown, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg an equal amount of practice reps, according to ESPN's Rich Cimini.

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That's the way it should shake out, but with the Jets you just never know. Hackenberg has been impressive at Jets camp according to reports, but given what he looked like last year we have to take that with a grain (block?) of salt. Fantasy owners should watch this play out in training camp and publicly shame anyone in their league that adds one of these QBs to their roster. No matter who wins the job, only QB3 value should come from it.

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5. PIT - WR Martavis Bryant works with first-team

Source: NFL.com - Jeffri Chadiha

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Martavis Bryant worked with the first-team offense during OTAs and 'looked great on the field while showing a more mature demeanor,' according to a team source.

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Most fully expect Bryant to win the starting job opposite Antonio Brown in 2017. Coming back from his suspension, Bryant will have to get back into football shape and stay clean in order to play up to his potential this year. He's a boom/bust fantasy propect this year, and Byrant is getting drafted at WR26 (5.07) in 12-team PPR leagues.

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6. NE - TE Rob Gronkowski looks like old self

Source: ESPNBoston.com - Mike Reiss

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (back) has been a full participant in drills during voluntary workouts, and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Gronkowski has been 'involved in everything' and 'looks like Gronk.'

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Great news for the Patriots, and great news for fantasy owners. Everyone knows that if he's healthy then Gronkowski will perform like a top flight fantasy tight end.

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7. CLE - DeShone Kizer being groomed to start?

Source: The Cleveland Plain Dealer - Mary Kay Cabot

Cleveland Browns QB DeShone Kizer said he has been glued to head coach Hue Jackson, and Jackson said he has to find out more about Kizer than any of the other quarterbacks on the roster. 'He's not going to get too far away from me, I know that,' Jackson said. 'He's done a good job. He just has to keep getting better. He's improved from day to day.'

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Kizer is big, strong and athletic...but man is he raw as a passer. Too often Kizer will lock onto his initial read and try to press throws in that have no business being thrown. He doesn't read his progressions as quickly as he can, and Kizer seems hesitant at times when he passes. The potential is there...but Kizer needs a year or two of grooming before he'll truly be ready to be a starter.

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8. WAS - QB Kirk Cousins upbeat about extension talks

Source: The Washington Post - Liz Clarke

Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins recently characterized his talks about a contract extension as 'really positive' and appears content with whatever happens leading up to the July 15 league deadline for franchise-tagged players to hammer out a long-term deal, according to the Washington Post's Liz Clarke.

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Cousins has had the franchise tag each of the last two years. Washington needs to sign him to an extension or risk losing him on the open market in 2018. A team like the 49ers would likely be willing to pay Cousins the $20 million annually he'll command in free agency.

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9. GB - RB Ty Montgomery continuing his RB education

Source: Packers.com - Wes Hodkiewicz

Green Bay Packers RB Ty Montgomery admits he was running on instincts for most of last year following his position change from wide receiver, but he feels much more comfortable after a full offseason at his new position.

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Montgomery is atop the depth chart at running back for the Packers, but he'll have better competition behind him this year. Rookie Jamaal Williams (BYU) was the team's fourth-round pick, and he's got the ability to be a grinder in the mold of a Jordan Howard (Bears). Fellow rookie Aaron Jones (UTEP) should compete for touches in the backfield as well.

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10. MIN - RB Jerick McKinnon bigger, better in 2017?

Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press - Chris Tomasson

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon trained with former teammate Adrian Peterson in Houston during the offseason and weighs 211 pounds, up from 200 a season ago. McKinnon is reportedly not only stronger, but faster as well.

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McKinnon is kind of the forgotten man in the Vikings backfield. With the addition of free agent Latavius Murray and rookie Dalvin Cook, McKinnon will have more competition for touches. We'll see how this RBBC shakes out in training camp, but most expect Cook to emerge as the leader at some time this season.

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11. DET - Detroit adding RB Matt Asiata

Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press - Chris Tomasson

Free-agent RB Matt Asiata (Vikings) agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions Friday, May 26, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

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Asiata joins a Lions backfield to give them another power option behind Zach Zenner. Ameer Abdullah is likely the lead back, but he's not built to be a grinder in the NFL. That's where Zenner comes in...and oh yeah, Theo Riddick will still be a fine pass-catching option for the Lions in 2017. Asiata is no lock for the final roster.

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12. PIT - Alejandro Villanueva may walk away?

Source: ESPN.com - Jeremy Fowler

Pittsburgh Steelers exclusive rights free-agent OT Alejandro Villanueva could consider walking away from football if he does not receive a long-term contract from the Steelers, in the opinion of ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler.

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Villeanueva has an interesting situation. He's an ERFA, so Villanueva can sign a tender worth around $615,000. That's significantly less than starting left tackles make, but the Steelers own his rights for two years as Villanueva is set to be a restricted free agent in 2018. We'll see if the two sides can come together on an extension that properly compensates the veteran left tackle.

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13. JAX - WR Allen Hurns looking to improve

Source: The Florida Times-Union - John Reid

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Allen Hurns said he knows he has to play better than he did in 2016 and has been working to improve during the offseason. Hurns has added some weight but has cut his body fat. He has also worked on improving his change of direction during routes and has been strengthening his legs to help avoid hamstring injuries.

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Fantasy owners would like to see him get back to the numbers he posted a couple of years ago. In 2015 he had 64 catches for 1,031 yards and 11 touchdowns. Hurns finished as the 15th fantasy wide receiver that year, but fell to 75th in 2016 as his numbers fell off and he only made it through 11 games. His current ADP of WR66 (14.05) in 12-team PPR leagues cooks in the risk associated with his up-and-down career so far.

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14. CLE - DeShone Kizer to work with throwing coach

Source: The Cleveland Plain Dealer - Mary Kay Cabot

Cleveland Browns QB DeShone Kizer plans to work with throwing coach Tom House leading up to training camp.

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Kizer needs the work and may be a long way from starting for the Browns. They drafted him with the idea that he could potentially be a franchise quarterback. Kizer is big, athletic and has a strong arm...but he needs work as a passer. Too often his mechanics suffer under pressure, and Kizer has a tendency to give away where he's going with the ball with his eyes. The physical tools are certainly there with the Notre Dame prospect, but he needs more savvy and refinement to his game before he can be a quality starter at the NFL level.

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15. ARI - DE Robert Nkemdiche making strong impression

Source: AZCardinals.com - Darren Urban

Arizona Cardinals DL Robert Nkemdiche has 'changed ... for the good', according to teammate and veteran DE Frostee Rucker. Nkemdiche began showing up at the team's facility to work out shortly after the end of last season and he is among the defensive linemen getting in extra technique and conditioning work after the coaches head inside following that day's OTA.

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Nkemdiche has a ton of natural talent, but last year as a rookie he only made it through five games and had his work ethic called into question by head coach Bruce Arians. With DE Calais Campbell (Jaguars) leaving in free agency, the Cardinals defense need Nkemdiche to start playing up to his potential.

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16. DET - Jake Rudock impressive at OTAs

Source: Detroit Free Press - Carlos Monarrez

Detroit Lions QB Jake Rudock has bulked up to 215 pounds and impressed head coach Jim Caldwell during organized team activities Thursday, May 25, with stronger, crisper throws than last year. 'He's thrown the ball better,' Caldwell said. 'Not to say that he was throwing it poorly before, but he's better.'

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Rudock is competing with rookie Brad Kaaya to be the primary backup behind Matthew Stafford in 2017. A sixth-round pick out of Michigan in 2016, Rudock lacks a strong arm but he makes up for it with good rhythm as a passer. He can throw with touch and stays confident with the blitz around him. We're watching his progress in dynasty leagues.

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17. HOU - WR DeAndre Hopkins learning from Wes Welker

Source: Houston Chronicle - Aaron Wilson

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins said it has been great learning from assistant coach Wes Welker.

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Welker was a fine route runner during his time in the NFL. Hopkins is a different type of wide receiver from what Welker used to be, but he can still learn about setting up routes and getting open from the former Pro Bowler. With better QB play in 2017, Hopkins should get back to his expected level of production after a down season in 2016.

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18. KC - QB Tyler Bray could remain backup QB

Source: The Kansas City Star - Terez A. Paylor

Kansas City Chiefs QB Tyler Bray will have a chance to remain the backup quarterback despite the presence of QB Patrick Mahomes, head coach Andy Reid said Thursday, May 25.

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Bray has a big arm but struggles with control (think a poor man's version of Derek Anderson). Mahomes is the future of the franchise, but he should sit this year behind Alex Smith with the idea that he'll take over in 2018. Bray is a career backup, and we're a bit surprised he's been able to hang on this long in KC.

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19. PHI - WR Nelson Agholor turning a corner

Source: ESPN.com - Tim McManus

Philadelphia Eagles WR Nelson Agholor has benefited from the offseason additions to the receiving corps, according to head coach Doug Pederson. 'As I've said all along, competition, man, sharpens you,' Pederson said Tuesday, May 23. 'And that's what I've seen from Nelson. He's done a great job already this spring.'

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A first-round pick in 2015, Agholor has been a bust as a pro. Even if he's better in 2017, Agholor is still fourth (at best) on the depth chart behind Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Jordan Matthews.

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That'll do it for today, Folks. Thanks for reading and thanks for being part of Footballguys. We'll see you tomorrow with the Update.

Peace,

J