There have been plenty of interesting headlines generated since the opening of the 2019 NFL combine. In this article, I will examine the most fantasy-relevant headlines with a dynasty lens.
Jerick McKinnon to lead the 49ers backfield
Shanahan expects McKinnon to be 49ers’ lead RB https://t.co/3hBGNSZG3Y
— Rotoworld Football (@Rotoworld_FB) February 27, 2019
Kyle Shanahan has confirmed what we all expected. Jerick McKinnon will get lead back duties in 2019. Given how effective Matt Breida was last year I do not expect that he will be completely phased out of the offense. Whilst the phrase ‘lead back’ implies a significant workload, Shanahan has a history of utilizing multiple backs in his offense. Even a 60/40 split in favor of McKinnon would make both of these players’ viable starters in one of the most fantasy-friendly offenses for running backs. Breida is a cheap add right now, a move that might prove shrewd given McKinnon’s lighter frame and the fact that he is returning from a severe injury.
Gus Edwards is the Ravens’ number one running back
According to John Harbaugh, undrafted free-agent Gus Edwards is currently the lead back in Baltimore. Edwards performed well with his opportunities, taking advantage of the Ravens’ run-heavy game plan. With Alex Collins, Ty Montgomery, and Javorius Allen, all free agents, Edwards faces little competition on the roster right now except for Kenneth Dixon. The Ravens also have to sign first Edwards to a new deal, who is an Exclusive Rights Free Agent himself. Assuming this gets done, the Ravens will also need to bring in depth and competition to the position which makes me reluctant to bank on the UDFA.
Given Edwards nonexistent presence in the passing game (two receptions in six starts), his ceiling is limited which makes me hesitant to rely on him. This offseason noise might open up a selling opportunity for Edwards, or just as a throw-in to get a larger trade deal across the line.
The Bears are shopping Jordan Howard
Report: Bears looking to trade Jordan Howard https://t.co/JEgj80tfFR
— Rotoworld Football (@Rotoworld_FB) February 28, 2019
Remember when Jordan Howard was supposed to be a three-down back? Pepperidge Farm remembers. He finished the season with a whopping 20 receptions for 7.3 yards per reception and was completely outplayed in the Bears’ passing game by Tarik Cohen (71 receptions at 10.2 YPR). Quite frankly, the Bears missed their trade window on Howard after he posted consecutive 1,000 yard rushing seasons. With two-down thumpers able to be signed off the street (C.J. Anderson and Gus Edwards come to mind), the Bears will be lucky to fetch anything more than a day three draft pick for Howard, whose efficiency has dropped off a cliff since his rookie season. Regardless of whether Howard is traded, cut, or kept on the roster, the fact the Bears are even contemplating moving Howard makes Tarik Cohen a priority target for me in all formats this season.
The Eagles will not use their franchise tag on Nick Foles
A lot can change once free agency opens March 13, but for now, the Jacksonville Jaguars will head into free agency as the favorite to land Nick Foles.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 27, 2019
Part two of the Nick Foles era in Philadelphia is over. Having taken over from an injured Carson Wentz on multiple occasions, and leading the franchise to its first-ever Super Bowl championship, Foles leaves the Eagles as a Super Bowl MVP and Philly legend. With Jacksonville leading the charge for his signature, Foles will be asked to do something different as the Jaguars lean on their defense and take a run-first approach. Foles will be an upgrade to Bortles from a real football perspective (although that’s not saying much), but with a thin pass-catching corps and a lack of rushing upside to his game, don’t expect Foles to be anything other than a bye week fill-in on Superflex rosters. Once he signs as a starter, cash in for as much as you can get!
Ronald Jones lives? Maybe.
More Jason Licht on RB Ronald Jones today: “Nobody’s given up on Ronald Jones. I expect Ronald Jones to have a big jump this year.”
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) February 27, 2019
It might be too soon to label Ronald Jones a complete bust. But he’s close to it. It’s fair to say expectations for the 38th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft were slightly higher than what he delivered:
Fortunately for RoJo, his draft capital will almost certainly guarantee him at least one more season with the Buccaneers and failing that, another NFL team will surely kick the tires on him. If Tampa Bay can improve on its 31st ranked offensive line in run blocking (per Football Outsiders), Jones may find himself in a positive situation. New head coach Bruce Arians’ vertical passing game should prevent opposing defenses from keying in on the run, which would increase Jones’ chances of carving out a role on offense. Jones’ value has never been lower, falling to 128 in overall ADP. If there’s any chance he could take the starting running back job in Tampa, he is worth acquiring this offseason.
The Packers like their current wide receiver group
Matt LaFleur on the trio of Packers WRs drafted last year — J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and EQ St. Brown: “Really excited about all three guys. They’re big guys who can run, and we want to stretch the field vertically.” https://t.co/GTvSgdMIBM pic.twitter.com/oLa3XIDaCZ
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) February 27, 2019
Davante Adams is the clear number one receiver in Green Bay, but the other spots are up for grabs. Long-time Packer Randall Cobb is expected to move on after a couple of lackluster seasons, and Geronimo Allison is a Restricted Free Agent and may leave. Even if he doesn’t, the second and even third options in an Aaron Rodgers offense are valuable fantasy assets.
On three separate occasions, Rodgers has supported two top-12 WRs and on seven occasions supported two top-24 WRs. Following a four-game stretch in 2018 during which he either scored a touchdown or had 100 receiving yards, Marquez Valdes-Scantling seems the most likely to carve out a role as the second option in this offense. However, the job is very much up for grabs under new head coach, Matt LaFleur. St. Brown and J’Mon Moore are practically free to acquire and worth taking a chance on with a late round rookie or startup draft pick.
I can’t wait for the proper part of the NFL combine to start, and with all of the GMs gathered in one place, we can expect plenty more breaking news over the next few days. Here at the Dynasty Football Factory, we will be keeping on top of everything you need to know to dominate your offseason.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @FF_DownUnder to keep up with all the fantasy news this offseason!