Each Monday, Aaron Larson (@aalarson) and Michael Stephenson (@DFF_MSte) examine the hottest NFL rumors and offer their insights as to any potential fantasy football implications they might have. So, grab your beverage or snack of choice and get ready to start the week off with some good old-fashioned fantasy football speculation
Rumor: Ricky Seals-Jones charged with assault, disorderly conduct, and criminal trespassing
Fantasy Fallout: RSJ has been one of the most hotly touted late round TE values this offseason, and he had crept as high as the 13.09 average draft spot as this news broke. There is no news as to whether this will lead to a suspension, but it is one to keep an eye on as it could either bring Jermaine Gresham into relevance or simply funnel even more targets to Larry Fitzgerald.
Rumor: Larry Fitzgerald has heaped praise upon Sam Bradford this week, calling him one of the best passers in the league. https://www.twincities.com/2018/07/16/larry-fitzgerald-has-no-plans-to-retire-or-play-for-the-vikings/:
Fantasy Fallout: Larry looks primed for well over 100 targets this season, with Tony Gonzalez’s all-time reception total in sight. If those targets are coming from Sam Bradford all season long, he will have more than a fighting chance. According to NFL.com’s Next-Gen stats, in his last full season, Sam Bradford averaged a passer rating of 141.9 when targeting the middle of the field, aka the Larry Zone. The more games Bradford plays, the more confident I am in Larry finding himself yet another top 10 WR finish.
Rumor: Christian McCaffrey‘s workload “won’t go up by much” claims The Charlotte Observer’s Jourdan Rodrigue:
Fantasy Fallout: This is something that a lot of experts have been expecting. Now that it has been confirmed we may see a rise in C.J. Anderson’s draft price. Jonathan Stewart had over 200 touches in Carolina last year, including 198 carries. If you apply Anderson’s career averages to this usage, you would be looking at an 871 yard, 5 TD season on the ground. Coming off his career season, and a slight improvement at offensive line (going from last year’s 23rd ranked line to this year’s 21st ranked) we could easily see him outperform this stat line.
Rumor: Veteran running back Shane Vereen has been signed by the New Orleans Saints:
Fantasy Fallout: Alvin Kamara is primed to be the lead back in New Orleans, but with the four-game suspension of Mark Ingram, they’ll need somebody else to serve as his complimentary back to start the season. Vereen is a versatile back that has averaged 4.2 yards per carry and 8.4 yards per reception in his career. He caught 44 passes with the Giants in 2017, so it appears he still has gas left in the tank. He’ll have to compete with fellow veteran Terrance West and rookie Boston Scott to backup Kamara.
Rumor: Andrew Luck is “good to go” for training camp. While he’ll have some planned days off during camp, he’ll have no restrictions during the practice sessions:
Fantasy Fallout: This is the news everybody’s been waiting for on Andrew Luck. He finished as the overall QB2 in 2014 and QB4 in 2016, the last two seasons that he played without injury. If his shoulder is truly back to full strength, you can expect a top ten season again from Luck. It’s also great news for Indy’s other offensive weapons like T.Y. Hilton, Marlon Mack, and Jack Doyle.
Rumor: Steelers running back James Conner “really looks like he can be a solid every down running back in this league.”:
Fantasy Fallout: Le’Veon Bell is holding out of training camp yet again, and while nobody expects him to sit out any games, Conner would get the chance to be lead back if he did. The second-year hometown hero from Pitt is possibly the most valuable running back handcuff in fantasy football, but unless there is any other news on Bell that is the most you can expect from him for now. With Bell not expected to return to Pittsburg in 2019, Conner has huge value in dynasty formats.
Rumor: The Baltimore Ravens are practicing plays where multiple quarterbacks touch the ball:
Fantasy Fallout: The Ravens are possibly the biggest unknown heading into the 2018 season. They intend to give Joe Flacco his chance to be their starting quarterback and have completely revamped the pass catchers around him. They are committed to keeping rookie Lamar Jackson at the quarterback position, but you don’t keep a player with his freakish athleticism on the sideline. Flacco doesn’t even register an ADP right now on fantasyfootballcalculator.com, so he is a no-risk final pick with upside. Jackson, who also doesn’t have an ADP, is an interesting stash at the position but isn’t likely to help you much early in the season beyond the possibility of some gadget plays.
Rumor: The Denver Broncos are planning to use 2 or 3 backs this season https://www.denverpost.com/2018/07/19/denver-broncos-running-back-preview-2018/:
Fantasy Fallout: As with most of the rookie RBs this year, Royce Freeman’s ADP has not stopped rising since the draft, sitting at the 5.02 at time of writing. This news will hopefully slow his rise down, as despite this news, I still fully expect Freeman to be the man in Denver this year. Freeman was a beast in college, averaging 110 yards, 1.17 TDs per game and 1.5 receptions per game over 51 games. He is built for an every-down role and has four years of college experience being used as such. He is competing with Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson, both of whom were drafted at least a round late the Freeman, and have yet to make an impact with the Broncos.
Rumor: Jimmy Kempski of the Philly Voice says there is a good chance that Jay Ajayi sees a much bigger workload in 2018 https://www.phillyvoice.com/eagles-training-camp-preview-running-back-2018/:
Fantasy Fallout: We have seen so far in Ajayi’s career a mixture of extreme inefficiency and extreme efficiency, with 1 or 2 runs per game masking his overall inefficiency. I did a study into his 2017 season, and removing his longest run from each contest saw his total yards per carry drop from 4.8 to 3.3. With increased carries, Ajayi is more likely to break off long runs, which gives him a bizarre and unique trait, in that increasing his carries actually improves his average yards per carry. Over the past two seasons, Ajayi has averaged 3.5 ypc when given 10-19 carries, and 4.6 when given 20+ carries. If he sees 20+ in Philly, with the best offensive line in football, he could well deliver on his 3rd round price.