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Footballguys.com

Volume 20, #34 -- Friday Night, May 25th, 2018

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Hi Footballguy,

Good Saturday to you and welcome to the Weekend. We've got the News and Notes you need so let's get to it.

J

SITE NEWS

A. AFC West Backfield Study
Our Sigmund Bloom takes a look at AFC West backfield productivity, volume, and efficiency numbers in 2017 and how to use that data in 2018 drafts.

B. Is Oakland's Ground Game The Contrarian Fantasy Play?
The Raiders have drawn criticism for their off-season moves. Matt Waldman sees potentially effective contrarian angles--beginning with Oakland's ground game.

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. CHI - RB Jordan Howard to be factor in passing game?

2. PIT - Another lengthy holdout for Le'Veon Bell?

3. NE - Dont'a Hightower back on field

4. BAL - Joe Flacco talks up WR Michael Crabtree

5. NO - WR Cameron Meredith getting some work in

6. BAL - RG III splitting backup reps

7. NE - WR Kenny Britt could make an impact

8. GB - TE Marcedes Lewis signs with Green Bay

9. PHI - RB Corey Clement hopes for bigger role

10. JAX - DJ Chark signs rookie deal

11. NYG - S Landon Collins may be at minicamp

12. JAX - Keelan Cole staying relevant

13. NE - WR Cordarrelle Patterson a lock?

14. PIT - TE Vance McDonald to have bigger role

15. CHI - WR Kevin White not setting goals

16. DEN - TE Jake Butt looking sharp

17. SEA - S Earl Thomas expected at minicamp


1. CHI - RB Jordan Howard to be factor in passing game?

Source: Chicago Sun-Times - Adam L. Jahns

Chicago Bears RB Jordan Howard is working on some issues to help him become a better receiver out of the backfield, according to new running backs coach Charles London, who mentioned hand placement, focus and concentration and hand-eye coordination as some of the areas he is hoping to see improvement.

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This is something that has been reported more than once this offseason. Howard is putting in the work, and he's doing that to be more involved in Matt Nagy's offense. He's good for around 25 catches per year, and even with his extra work to be a better receiver those numbers might not move that much for Howard in 2018. The Bears can always use Tarik Cohen as a dynamic receiver out of the backfield.

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2. PIT - Another lengthy holdout for Le'Veon Bell?

Source: NFL Network - Tom Pelissero

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell is not expected to report to camp before he did a year ago, which was just prior to Week 1 of the 2017 season, while still holding out for a long-term deal. Bell wants to be 'by far the highest-paid running back' in the league.

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Bell did this same thing last year when he was franchise tagged. Fantasy owners dealt with a lengthy holdout last year, and they should be ready to do the same thing again this season.

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3. NE - Dont'a Hightower back on field

Source: The Athletic - Jeff Howe

New England Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder) participated in organized team activities Thursday, May 24.

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Hightower has almost always dealt with injuries of some kind, and he hasn't played a full 16-game season since 2013. Last year, Hightower only made it through five games before this torn pec knocked him out. This season, the Patriots need Hightower to stay healthy and play up to his potential as an enforcer.

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4. BAL - Joe Flacco talks up WR Michael Crabtree

Source: ESPN.com - Jamison Hensley

Baltimore Ravens WR Michael Crabtree was called 'the guy' by QB Joe Flacco when the latter was asked about chemistry with his new receivers following an OTA session on Thursday, May 24.

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The Ravens overhauled their WR corps this offseason, and Crabtree was the biggest 'get' for them at the position. He's a quarterback's best friend as Crabtree can run drag routes to get open and still has the ability to be dangerous after the catch. Expect Crabtree to be a security-blanket target for Flacco in 2018. His current ADP is WR26 (5.12) in 12-team PPR leagues.

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5. NO - WR Cameron Meredith getting some work in

Source: ESPN.com - Mike Triplett

New Orleans Saints WR Cameron Meredith (knee) participated in some individual drills during OTAs on Thursday, May 24.

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This matches what Saints head coach Sean Payton has been saying about Meredith behind ahead of schedule. Meredith suffered an ACL injury in the third preseason game last year and missed the entire 2017 season. There's no need for the Saints to push him much until training camp gets here.

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6. BAL - RG III splitting backup reps

Source: USA TODAY Sports - Mike Jones

Baltimore Ravens QBs Robert Griffin III and Lamar Jackson split the second-team repetitions Thursday, May 24.

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Griffin is trying to get his pro career back on track while the rookie Jackson is trying to show that he can develop as the team's QB of the future. Both have similar skill sets, but Jackson is much more athletic.

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7. NE - WR Kenny Britt could make an impact

Source: ESPNBoston.com - Mike Reiss

New England Patriots WR Kenny Britt stood out the most among the team's receivers during OTAs, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss, who also believes Britt has a good shot to make the team and have an impact offensively.

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We always listen to whatever Reiss has to report about the Patriots. Britt made it through nine games with the Browns last year before requesting his release in early December. The Patriots picked him up a few days later, but he barely played for them and was inactive for the Super Bowl. We'll see how he can fit into a WR corps that gets Julian Edelman back this year, in addition to having guys like Chris Hogan and Jordan Matthews competing for targets.

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8. GB - TE Marcedes Lewis signs with Green Bay

Source: NFL Network - Mike Garafolo

Free-agent TE Marcedes Lewis (Jaguars) signed a deal with the Green Bay Packers on Thursday, May 24. Terms have not yet been disclosed.

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Lewis is on board with the Packers to mainly be a blocking tight end. They have Jimmy Graham and Lance Kendricks to work as receiving tight ends in the new-look passing game.

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9. PHI - RB Corey Clement hopes for bigger role

Source: Philadelphia Daily News - Paul Domowitch

Philadelphia Eagles RB Corey Clement said he hopes to be more involved in the offense this upcoming season. 'I definitely want to get more touches, more carries, more catches out of the backfield this year. I want to be more of a key contributor. I don't think that's being greedy. I have a job to do and that's to put this team in the best position possible [to win],' Clement said.

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Clement should compete with Darren Sproles for the receiving back/change-of-pace role in Philadelphia. Jay Ajayi should be the lead ball-carrier for the Eagles in 2018.

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10. JAX - DJ Chark signs rookie deal

Source: Jaguars.com - John Oehser

Jacksonville Jaguars second-round draft choice WR DJ Chark signed a four-year deal with the Jaguars Friday, May 25. Financial terms were not disclosed.

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Chark's game is all about speed, speed and more speed. He can fly down the field and collect deep passes but his ball-tracking skill needs better consistency. The Jagaurs have a top trio at wide receiver with Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook and Marqise Lee. The rookie from LSU is going to compete for a spot on the depth chart behind those three.

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11. NYG - S Landon Collins may be at minicamp

Source: Newsday - Tom Rock

New York Giants SS Landon Collins (forearm) said he expects to be cleared in a few weeks and hopes to be able to participate in the mandatory June minicamp.

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It will be good for Collins to get some work at mandatory mincamp, but he's unlikely to be fully healthy until training camp. Expect the Giants to keep him limited as they ease him back into action.

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12. JAX - Keelan Cole staying relevant

Source: FirstCoastNews.com - Mike Kaye

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Keelan Cole made 'several impressive catches' Friday, May 25, according to Mike Kaye of First Coast News. Kaye believes this is evidence QB Blake Bortles has built on the chemistry he showed with Cole last season.

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Cole is a big-play receiver who can go long and gather in the rock. Last year, the undrafted rookie from Kentucky Wesleyan snared 42 passes for 748 yards and three touchdowns. As part of the top trio of pass-catchers in Jacksonville, we could see Cole duplicate those numbers in 2018.

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13. NE - WR Cordarrelle Patterson a lock?

Source: ESPNBoston.com - Mike Reiss

New England Patriots WR Cordarrelle Patterson is a lock to make the 53-man roster because of his size and special teams ability, in the opinion of ESPN's Mike Reiss.

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Patterson has failed to live up to expectations as a receiver during his pro career. His best attributes can be seen on special teams.

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14. PIT - TE Vance McDonald to have bigger role

Source: ESPN.com - Jeremy Fowler

Pittsburgh Steelers TE Vance McDonald will be featured more frequently in the quick passing game this year, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com.

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The team wants McDonald to be their lead tight end in 2018. Now, he just needs to stay healthy and play up to the potential he's always had. We like taking McDonald as a super late TE2 in fantasy drafts if you've got a solid starter.

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15. CHI - WR Kevin White not setting goals

Source: Chicago Sun-Times - Adam L. Jahns

Chicago Bears WR Kevin White said he isn't worried about his fifth-year option being declined and believes 'anything' is possible for him this season.

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White's pro career has been marred by injury in a big way. A first-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft, White has only appeared in five games as a pro. His trademark speed from college may be a thing of the past after multiple injuries. White is going to face more and better competition this year after the Bears made moves in the draft and free agency to upgrade the position.

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16. DEN - TE Jake Butt looking sharp

Source: The Denver Post - Kyle Fredrickson

Denver Broncos TE Jake Butt (knee) said his surgically repaired knee 'feels great' following organized team activities Thursday, May 24, and QB Case Keenum said he couldn't tell Butt was recovering from a knee injury.

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Butt has Kyle Rudolph-like ability, but it may take some time for him to play up to his potential after missing his rookie season in 2017. He's your classic 'Y' tight end, an all-purpose player who can contribute as a blocker and receiver. With Case Keenum's efficiency in the red zone, Butt could be in for a few touchdowns in 2018.

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17. SEA - S Earl Thomas expected at minicamp

Source: The Seattle Times - Bob Condotta

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas is expected to report to minicamp, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

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The Seahawks worked to deal Thomas this offseason but were unable to find any takers. Thomas has one year left on his contract and is set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

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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