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Volume 22, #21 -- Friday Night, May 8th, 2020
The Best and Worst Early-Season 2020 Schedules, News And Notes And More

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Howdy Folks,

Good Saturday to you. I hope you're hanging in there. We are here at Footballguys HQ. Keep the faith and be kind to one another.

Let's do this.

J

SITE NEWS

A. The Best and Worst Early-Season 2020 Schedules
Our Sigmund Bloom with a look at the best and worst teams to target for a hot start in fantasy football leagues.

B. NFL Schedule Grid is LIVE
The NFL Schedule is live and that means the Footballguys NFL Schedule Grid is live.

C. The Top Rookie TE for 2020
We asked the Footballguys Staff for their picks for the top rookie tight end. This is what they said.


Sponsored by Footballguys

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1. PIT - Ben Roethlisberger to be ready

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Chris Adamski

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) is doing well in his rehab and expected to be ready for the season, according to head coach Mike Tomlin. 'As we sit here today, we are extremely confident in his readiness,' Tomlin said. 'We are enjoying the process that he's going through right now. Obviously, it's not without its angst. The guy is coming off a season-ending injury and surgery. But we like where we are. He's throwing on a rehab schedule, and it's going well, and we fully anticipate him being ready to go for that opener.'

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Roethlisberger's fitness was recently panned by Jay Glazer so his physical conditioning will be something to monitor when camp opens. If he can stay healthy this year, the Steelers offense should be much improved from being one of the worst in the league last year.

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2. NE - Bill Belichick content with QBs room

Source: WEEI.com - Ryan Hannable

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Thursday, May 7, he's content with the team's options at quarterback after signing undrafted free-agent QBs Brian Lewerke and J'Mar Smith to go with Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham. 'Yeah, well that is where we are -- you never know what is going to happen down the road, but we feel like we have four good players there,' Belichick said on NFL Network. 'We added Brian and J'Mar to Hoyer and Stidham. We added Hoyer and had Stidham from last year. We like working with those guys and we will see how it goes.'

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The Patriots are likely to roll with Stidham as their starter in 2020. Stidham was a fourth-round pick last year but he showed some flashes in the preseason as a rookie. It's a huge shadow left by Tom Brady but with Belichick leading the way this team can still win enough games to get them around .500 on the season.

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3. CIN - WR A.J. Green talks Joe Burrow, health

Source: Bengals.com - Geoff Hobson

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green said he has been in communication with rookie QB Joe Burrow about working out together whenever the pandemic guidelines permit. 'We've been talking back and forth. We were talking (texting?) yesterday and I know he wants to get together and throw somewhere,' Green said. 'I told him wherever he is, we'll come to him. I don't know where, when, how. It's all who can fly where and when. He's the quarterback. He makes his location and we have to get there.' When asked about a timeline, Green said, ''We'll see,' before pivoting to speak on his health. 'Whatever happens is going to happen. When the time comes, I'll be in the best shape to play my best ball this year no matter what happens. The best shape of my life.'

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Green has to be excited about his new quarterback even though the Bengals didn't give him a long-term contract, choosing instead to use the franchise tag with no apparent intention to commit to more than one year after taking Tee Higgins with the first pick of the second round. Green is available in the 5th/6th round now, cheaper than he has ever been.

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4. SF - GM touts QB Jimmy Garoppolo

Source: NBC Sports Bay Area - Matt Maiocco

San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo received a solid vote of confidence from general manager John Lynch during a recent podcast interview with a team beat reporter. 'He (Garoppolo) takes a lot of heat for a guy who had excellent numbers and brought his team to the Super Bowl last year,' Lynch said. 'We thought Jimmy was a big reason we were at the Super Bowl. That, I guess, gave us more cause to go look a little deeper. What we said was, 'We got the answer right in the building.' And that's exciting for us because we think Jimmy's best ball is in front of him, for a number of reasons. Physically, he'll be another year away from the knee injury. Experience at that position is so critical, as you can file in the bank experiences that you've gone through and say, 'OK, I've seen this before.' That only comes through going out there and competing.'

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Garoppolo didn't seem to get that same vote as the team admitted considering Tom Brady and many thought they would have went after Kirk Cousins eventually if the Vikings didn't extend him. We'll be watching Garoppolo early in the season to see if his confidence is shaken at all after he let a lead slip away in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl and missed a potential go ahead score late in the game on a deep ball to Emmanuel Sanders.

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5. CIN - RB Joe Mixon has iron grip

Source: ProFootballFocus.com

Cincinnati Bengals RB Joe Mixon is the only NFL running back with 500-plus carries and no fumbles since 2018, according to Pro Football Focus data.

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Mixon is set to be a quality late first round pick in an improved Bengals offense as long as he doesn't hold out.

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6. JAX - RB Leonard Fournette a YAC monster

Source: ProFootballReference.com

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette ranked fourth among running backs in 2019 with an average of 2.99 yards after contact per attempt.

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Fournette is going to have a smaller role in the passing game with the arrival of Chris Thompson and it's not entirely clear that he'll start and end the season with the team. Maybe they can use this stat as a selling point to a potential buyer.

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7. IND - QB Philip Rivers to coach HS team

Source: NFL Network - James Palmer

Indianapolis Colts QB Philip Rivers on Friday, May 8, was hired as the 'head coach in waiting' for St. Michael Catholic High School in Fairhope, Ala., meaning he'll take over the program whenever his NFL career is done.

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Will it be next year? If so, the Colts don't have a replacement in place with Jacoby Brissett's contract expiring. This casts a shadow of the dynasty value of all of their key offensive pieces.

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8. CHI - GM "believes" in QB Mitchell Trubisky

Source: Chicago Sun-Times - Patrick Finley

Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky still has belief of general manager Ryan Pace even though the quarterback's fifth-year contract option wasn't exercised. 'We've always had the approach that we're honest and we're truthful with our players and our staff, and we move on and we get to work. ...' Pace said Thursday, May 7, in an interview on radio station WSCR. 'Mitch gets it. Everyone's competing. Everyone's focused on better results. That's the entire team. That starts with me and everybody. We believe in Mitch -- that doesn't change. ... I think you can point to [cornerback] Kyle Fuller as a great example of a player that didn't get his option exercised. I think we would say it worked out well for him and for us.'

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This is all lip service after the team chose not to pick up Trubisky's fifth year option. The big question now is what team will give him a shot in 2021 the way the Raiders did with Marcus Mariota's incentive-laden two-year contract this year.

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9. KC - TE Travis Kelce a monster in the red zone

Source: 1 No Source

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce has caught 17 touchdowns in the red zone since the start of the 2017 season - the second-highest total by a tight end over that span.

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And yet he only had five scores last year. He's a positive touchdown regression candidate and clear TE1. Don't hesitate to spend a second round pick on him.

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10. CAR - Derrick Brown lands rookie deal

Source: ESPN - Adam Schefter

Carolina Panthers DT Derrick Brown has reached an agreement with the team on a four-year, $23.621 million deal that is fully guaranteed, according to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Brown is the first player chosen in Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft to sign.

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Brown was the clear target of the Panthers and he gives them a strong front four in a defense that is undergoing big changes at linebacker and cornerback.

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11. NO - Cesar Ruiz to start after Larry Warford's release

Source: NewOrleans.Football - Nick Underhill

New Orleans Saints OG Cesar Ruiz will move into the starting lineup at right guard as a rookie after the release of OG Larry Warford Friday, May 8. The move also gives the Saints the second-fastest offensive line in the NFL.

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Ruiz was considered NFL ready and an instant starter so this shouldn't be considered a downgrade at all for one of the best offensive lines in the league.

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12. BAL - J.K. Dobbins contract terms

Source: Houston Chronicle - Aaron Wilson

Updating a previous report, Baltimore Ravens RB J.K. Dobbins' four-year rookie contract is worth $5.729 million total and includes a $1.726 signing bonus.

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Dobbins could be an elite fantasy running back next year, but this year he will share with Mark Ingram, Justice Hill, and Gus Edwards. He's still worth a bench stash in redraft leagues if the price is right. He could benefit from an Ingram injury or just be so good that he demands more touches as the season goes on.

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13. BUF - Gabriel Davis signs rookie deal

Source: BuffaloBills.com - Maddy Glab

Buffalo Bills WR Gabriel Davis on Friday, May 8, signed his four-year rookie contract.

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Davis can win contested balls at the catch point and he has enough speed to threaten the deep part of the field. He could take John Brown's spot when his contract is up after 2021.

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14. BUF - A.J. Epenesa agrees on contract

Source: Houston Chronicle - Aaron Wilson

Buffalo Bills DE A.J. Epenesa on Friday, May 8, agreed to terms on his four-year rookie contract.

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Epenesa will be a fan favorite with his power attitude game on the defensive line. He could be a nice IDP commodity providing run support on early downs and pass rush presence inside on passing downs, but Epenesa is not a speed edge rusher.

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15. BUF - Jake Fromm agrees to terms

Source: Houston Chronicle - Aaron Wilson

Buffalo Bills QB Jake Fromm on Friday, May 8, agreed to terms on his four-year rookie contract.

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Fromm could be an improvement from Matt Barkley at backup quarterback, although he is the opposite of Josh Allen in tools and approach to the game. The Bills could look to trade him later in his rookie contract if he develops well and generates some future starter buzz.

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16. TEN - Steve Underwood retires

Source: NFL Network - Ian Rapoport

Tennessee Titans chief executive officer Steve Underwood told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport on Friday, May 8, he has retired 'a few days ago' but will remain a consultant to the team. Senior vice president of business operations and chief legal officer Burke Nihill replaces Underwood as the team president.

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Underwood has been with the team for 40 years, all the way back to the Oilers days. He had four-year retirement from 2011-2015 which he ended to be the team's CEO and President.

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17. JAX - QB Mike Glennon heads to Duval

Source: NFL Network - Mike Garafolo

Free-agent QB Mike Glennon (Raiders) agreed to terms with the Jacksonville Jaguars, a source said Friday, May 8. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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The Jaguars aren't going to have a shot in the arm off of the bench at quarterback if Gardner Minshew doesn't regain his 2019 first half form. They should be considered the favorites to get the #1 pick in 2021.

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18. PHI - RB Miles Sanders was a downfield threat in 2019

Source: Pro Football Focus

Philadelphia Eagles RB Miles Sanders accumulated 165 yards on receptions of throws that traveled at least 20 yards downfield in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus. Sanders was the only running back to lead his team in deep passing yards.

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Sanders first made an impact on the Eagles offense as a downfield receiver and came on as a runner later when Jordan Howard went down with a shoulder injury. He'll share with Boston Scott and his ADP will likely go up if the Eagles don't sign a veteran back before the season.

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19. CIN - Joe Burrow begins career as underdog

Source: ESPN - Ben Fawkes

Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow and his team opened as five-point underdogs against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 1, according to Caesars Sportsbook. Since 1989, quarterbacks selected first overall in the NFL draft have gone 3-16 against the spread in their first start.

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The Chargers are a helluva challenge for Burrow and the Bengals. They have a tough defense, a swarming defense and they just got better this offseason with additions like first-round pick ILB Kenneth Murray and free agent addition CB Chris Harris Jr.

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20. MIN - QB Kirk Cousins notes Christmas Day schedule quirk

Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press - Chris Tomasson

Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins offered up his thoughts on his team's Christmas Day game against the New Orleans Saints, noting the peculiarity of having to play on a Friday. 'I haven't played on a Friday since high school. That will be interesting,' Cousins said.

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Cousins is a little quirky as a guy, so it's a schedule quirk he would notice. The league is going to have only one game on Christmas but it's a doozy. Vikings at the Saints is going to be must-see TV on Christmas afternoon.

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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