EJ diggin' on a a Sammy

Rookie Sammy Watkins is making a splash, and E.J. Manuel has nothing but praise for the fourth pick of the NFL draft. "I don't know if you saw him out there, on a slant, stop on a dime -- and he just turned the other way, on Gilmore, who I think could be an All-Pro corner," Manuel said, "and he made the play. The kid is special. I have thought that way since 2010."

Pyro's take: Watkins is truly talented, he stands at 6-0 and weighs 211 pounds, his physical gifts come through being an explosive play-maker who can score on any touch from any place on the field. A deep threat who will stretch a defense vertically. Watkins can burn double coverage over the top and is able to take a short swing pass the distance. He has the size and strength to operate in the short to intermediate part of the field with the toughness to pick up yards after contact, and also has been impressive as a blocker.

He has shown all of this during camp and this could be the making of something special, between Watkins and Manuel, as they both can grow together. Need proof? Check this: https://vine.co/u/1026896794380087296

07/23/14, 11:54 AM CDT by Michael Valverde
Source: www.nfl.com

Charles holding out

KCTV-5 reports that Jamaal Charles has decided to not report to training camp. With two years left in his contract and owed $3.9 million this year. Charles' stance is that he should be paid more than the players making the same. "He makes about $9 million per season less than Minnesota's Adrian Peterson who has a seven-year, $96 million deal. Detroit's Reggie Bush and Baltimore's Ray Rice also make more than Charles."

Jamaal Charles had a career year in 2013, as he led the team in rushing with 259 carries for 1,287 yards, but also in receiving with 70 catches for 693 yards.

The Chiefs expect Charles to report today with the veterans, but Thursday is the first practice, and most likely the beginning of the hold-out.

Pyro's take: The Chiefs rely to much on Jamaal Charles to make this a long standing situation. Charles was on 85 percent of the snaps, and without him, they will have to rely on Knile Davis.

For the most part, players that do hold out do not perform well upon their return. Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson and Larry Johnson all took a decline. Charles has room as of right now to get back on track, and decide what he should do. Soon enough, it will be time to be in game shape, and if he has not reported a month before the season, August 9th, I would be locking in Knile Davis.

Running back coach Eric Bieniemy likes what he sees so far from Knile Davis. "He has a better awareness of what's going on with the game...what it takes to see a blitz coming, how to apply the proper technique when pressure is coming. So he's doing a great job so far."

07/23/14, 10:26 AM CDT by Michael Valverde
Source: www.kctv5.com

Possible Tennessee committee

According to Jim Wyatt for the "Tenneessean" the Titans back-field could become a committee approach. The candidates are Bishop Sankey, Shonn Greene, and Dexter McCluster. Also involved, are Leon Washington, Jackie Battle, and rookies Wayman James and Antonio Andrews.

The major spotlight is going to be on Sankey, Greene, and McCluster. The Titans like Battle as a full-back due to his all-around skills.

If the Titans do hold on to Greene, who did not play well last year, is now injured, and will be due $2.3 million if he remains with the team, but they are impressed with his goal-line attributes.

Pyro's take: This is Sankey's job, unless he shows he isnt capable. Dexter McCluster, Shonn Greene are not viable threats, as each are more of a specialtist type of player. The Titans have noted they want to be a running back-by-committee, but I just dont see that happening, draft Sankey as you see fit, and just oversee how the Titans are planning to use their weapons.

07/22/14, 04:21 PM CDT by Michael Valverde
Source: www.tennessean.com

Showdown on Tate and West

Senior Editor for cleveland.com Vic Carucci says that Ben Tate and Terrance West will challenge for the No.1 running back job. The competition will begin in four days, because that's when the Browns opens its first practice in training camp.

When Ben Tate was signed in free-agency this year, he was the clear starter, but they drafted Terrance West in the second round, and the convulsion began.

"West hardly looks as if he’ll have any issues making the transition from a small school, Towson, to the NFL. In fact, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if he ends up winning the starting job or at least getting a significant number of carries in what is expected to be a run-oriented offense."

Pyro's take: Ben Tate when healthy has played well, but his hang-up has always been not getting injured. To leverage that possibility, the Browns drafted Terrance West out of Towson.

West has a 5-foot-9, 225-pound frame, and is more of glider than a runner. " like a natural in the Browns’ outside-zone-blocking scheme. He shows the necessary patience to allow gaps to form as the offensive line moves laterally and the necessary ability to plant a foot and explode through the hole. He’s also big enough and strong enough to shake tacklers, but has the speed to tear away from them in the open field."

Tate is more than happy to get out of the shadow of Arian Foster, and knows offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's system through Gary Kubiak, another factor is that Tate's contract is his contract is loaded with performance-oriented incentives.

Right now this competition can go either way, and being part of a mostly running offense, could build hefty stats for the star running back. For your fantasy team if you grab one, make sure you grab the other.

07/22/14, 03:50 PM CDT by Michael Valverde
Source: www.clevelandbrowns.com

Gerhart Workhorse

Updating on previous reports, offensive coordinator Jed Fisch stated “Toby will be our workhorse," Fisch went on to say that: "Toby has the ability to do it all. He can catch it well. He can pass protect well, and he's going to be in the game a lot on third down, base downs, short-yardage, passing downs."

Pyro's take: No doubt that Fisch wants Toby Gerhart involved as much as possible, but the whole back-field is a big question mark, as nobody knows if Gerhart can be a bell-cow, or even a good running back. Not only is Toby Gerhart a questionable option, but the Jaguars have other options in Jordan Todman and Denard Robinson, but Jed Fisch believes that both are change-of-pace backs.

When looking at Gerhart for your fantasy team he will hold more value in a PPR league than standard, due to his ability to catch the ball. I also doubt that Toby Gerhart can score more than 8 touchdowns in a Jacksonville offense, and rush for more than 1,100 yards.

I would avoid him in standard league until late, and draft him as a number 3 with upside in a PPR.

07/22/14, 01:43 PM CDT by Michael Valverde
Source: chat.jacksonville.com

Wayne's team impact

Reggie Wayne has major impact on the young Colts. When he went down with an ACL injury last year. Colts still found a way to make the playoffs and beat the Chiefs in the Wild-Card, but there was a vacant hole on the wings. "He can still play. You know he's gonna get open, you know he's gonna make the catch," Pagano says of Wayne, whom he's known since their days together at the University of Miami (Fla.) two decades ago.

"And you know what he brings to the table as far as the locker room and your facility with the type of leader and type of man that he is. It's gonna be great to have him back in there."

Pyro's take: Andrew Luck may have the "C" on his chest, but Reggie Wayne lead's this team, both in the locker room, on-the-field, and off-the-field. He is pushing the age threshold, as he is 36, but he will be Andrew Luck's security, as he was last year. How will he perform coming off a torn ACL at the age of 36? Tracking his performance over the off-season should be the first step in answering that question.

07/19/14, 07:16 PM CDT by Michael Valverde
Source: www.indystar.com

EJ work in progress

Chris Brown from Bills Insider noted how E.J. Manuel can be a difference maker this season. Items on the list is better decision making, accuracy, and a trust in what he sees on the field. “I think I’ve done a lot of work preparing for (coverages), even seeing it pre-snap and obviously recognizing what they do after the ball is snapped,” Manuel told Buffalobills.com. “I think I’ve had a ton of progress moving forward. The biggest thing is just relaxing. Everybody else is moving fast around you, but as a quarterback you almost have to be that relaxed force and not try to do too much and I think I’ve made a lot of progress.”

Pyro's take: One of the biggest issues for Manuel was his completion percentage, which directly correlates to his field vision. In his rookie season Manuel’s completion percentage was a pedestrian 58.8 percent. Among NFL quarterbacks who played in at least 10 games in 2013 he ranked 23rd.

News from camp has E.J. Manuel striving to better himself in that area. "To aid Manuel in making more completions more often the offensive staff has tied the footwork of the quarterback position to that of the receiver routes. The link is expected to improve the timing and precision between the two ends of the passing game."

Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett stated that “We want everybody to know right where everybody is going to be every time and how we create that spacing across the field to create a more efficient passing game.”

Manuel only made 10 starts, but will need to make more clutch plays during the regular season. E.J. went on to say about his performance at the end of regulation time: “I think the biggest thing is taking what the defense gives you,” said Manuel. “If it’s not there throw it away and be smart, especially when you’re in the red zone and you’re working on special situations. There’s no reason to force it. As I grow as a quarterback with this team as well as the offense that we run I know better play will come.”

Manuel could become a solid quarterback for years to come, if he makes these strides to be a more fluid quarter back. He should be on the radar for all leagues, and definitely on the watch-list if he is not drafted in your leagues.

07/18/14, 10:09 PM CDT by Michael Valverde
Source: www.buffalobills.com

SF looking to pass more

Jim Harbaugh's key to success has been the ability to have the team run the football, but no offensive coordinator Greg Roman has hinted he wants to open up the passing game. The 49ers have not been anywhere near a passing threat, since 2011, San Francisco has rated 31st in passing attempts.

They brought over Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd in from free-agency, and key players such as Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, and Vernon Davis are explosive play-maker's.

Another reason, is that Colin Kaepernick is more familiar with the offense. Greg Roman stated about Kaepernick: “That’s definitely a factor,” Roman said. “It really is his second full year starting … So he’s seeing things now that he didn’t see before.”

Pyro's take: I don't believe the 49ers are going to change much of their offense to fit in an a large increase passing regime, but I do foresee an uptick. Something needs to change, and a raised level in passing will put off the wear and tear of the running game. Take a look at camp and see how the 49ers use their passing game, and then adjust your tiers accordingly for players:
Colin Kaepernick, Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, and Vernon Davis.

07/18/14, 09:18 PM CDT by Michael Valverde
Source: blog.sfgate.com

Orton released

The Dallas Cowboys had enough of Kyle Orton and decided it was best to release him. Orton has not shown up for any of the off-season activities, and the Cowboys needed to move on.

Pyro's take: The release of Kyle Orton leaves Brandon Weeden and Caleb Hanie as back-ups. In other words, if Tony Romo goes down, the Cowboys are screwed. No-way does Weeded or Hanie carry this team, and this may force the Dallas Cowboys hands to go into free-agency, as both are number #3 type quarterbacks at best.

07/17/14, 02:42 PM CDT by Michael Valverde
Source: www.dallascowboys.com

Wallace returning kicks?

Mike Wallace came to Miami to be a big-time play maker. After last year's performance, they are still looking for him to make plays. Miami signed Wallace to a five-year $60 million dollar contract. So, if he struggles getting the job done on the field, throw him out there and have him return kicks, and Wallace doesn't seem to mind it at all. “I might get back there for kickoff returns,” said Wallace. “I just want to be on the field making an impact for my team. I’ve always wanted to return kicks ever since I’ve been in the NFL.”

Pyro's take: Mike Wallace returning kicks is not out of the question, as Percy Harvin, Antonio Brown, and Cordarrelle Patterson already do so, but thats is not what the Dolphins need him to do to earn his $60 million.

Wallace finished the season with 73 receptions and five touchdowns, but it should have been more, and Bill Lazor was brought in to instill a better offense. Also, its hard to make plays when your quarterback has been sacked nearly 60 times last season.

If Lazor can turn around the offense, and Ryan Tannehill can stay upright, Mike Wallace should have a solid turnaround year, and if your league awards points for returns, Wallace has just flown up your tier rankings.

07/15/14, 04:54 PM CDT by Michael Valverde
Source: miami.cbslocal.com

Andre and the Raiders?

Rumor mill central has the Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans in trade talks about Andre Johnson. It's no secret that Johnson wants out of Houston, and the Raiders have become an option for him. The main reason is that former quarterback Matt Schaub is the signal caller in Oakland, and the Schaub to Johnson tandem has been going strong since 2007.

Other reasons why Andre Johnson coming to Oakland makes sense. First, the Texans run a similar type of offense as the Raiders, and Oakland has a much better offensive line. Second, from Houston's perspective they are looking to rebuild as they have on defense, and cycling Johnson through could lead to an influx of youth, such as, getting Denarius Moore. Third, the Raiders would love to team Matt Schaub with Andre Johnson, and have someone like Johnson, lead the wide receiving corps.

Johnson stated that “I just look at my career. … I’ve only been to the playoffs twice. I think we’ve only had three winning seasons. I don’t think any player wants to experience that. I think over time it can become very frustrating. And this offseason has been very frustrating for me; beginning of the offseason, I should say. That’s just kind of where I’m at right now.”

Pyro's take: Andre Johnson would make a great addition to the Oakland Raiders, and they would have no problem making the offense work around him. As of right now, its only speculation, but Andre would make the silver and black look even more flashier and intimidating.

07/15/14, 11:55 AM CDT by Michael Valverde
Source: sfbay.ca

Graham and Saints beat Deadline -Sign Deal

The New Orleans Saints and Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham have agreed to a four-year, $40 million deal that includes $21 million guaranteed.

Pyro's take: Fantasy owners rejoice as the best tight end in the league will remain in one of the best situations for at least the next four seasons. Drew Brees and Sean Payton remain committed to getting the matchup nightmare the ball and making him one of the most valuable commodities in the NFL.

Graham's deal makes him the highest paid TIGHT END in the NFL (ever) and het gets more guaranteed cash than any other tight end before him. As long as Drew Brees stays under center Graham should reap the rewards of this deal on and off the field for seasons to come.

As for his fantasy value it remains as high as ever, look for him to be taken in the late season or early first of drafts this season and help carry your team to fantasy glory.

07/15/14, 11:09 AM CDT by Stagg Party
Source: espn.go.com

Jimmy signs new contract

Jimmy Graham abd the Saints have met somewhere in the middle, upon Graham signing his new deal. The New Orleans Saints did not want to franchise tag him, and Graham wanted a raise. The new deal is worth $40M over 4 years which includes $21M guranteed. Graham went on his twitter account to make the announcement

Jimmy Graham @TheJimmyGraham
It's official I'm bleeding black and gold this morning! Thank you WhoDatNation for all the support.

The bright spots is that Graham can now play without the thoughts of getting injured, and the Saints have saved some dollar bills, by not having to sign him in the free-agency market.

"They avoid the $7 million cap hit Graham's deal would have exacted and gain payroll flexibility for the upcoming season. They also avoid the potential long-shot risk of Graham being ruled a wide receiver by judges in his wide receiver/tight end grievance hearing appeal. That's a potential $5 million risk the Saints don't need to take."

Pyro's take: This is great news for the Saints and the Graham family. As for fantasy owners, you will get the same Jimmy Graham that puts him above all other tight ends, it would of just been nice to see more edge as he would have really loved to explode the market next year as a free-agent, meaning, utter annihilation on opposing defenses, but no worries, he will still be a one-man weapon.

07/15/14, 10:59 AM CDT by Michael Valverde
Source: www.nola.com

Deep Sleeper Alert: Texans RB Alfred Blue

Standing 6'2" and weighing 223 pounds, Alfred Blue is a near-clone of the man he could eventually take over for in Houston; 6'1", 227-pound Arian Foster.

- Both Blue and Foster attended SEC schools (LSU and Tennessee)
- Both ran sub-ideal 40-yard dash times (4.63 & 4.68, respectively)
- Both were somewhat injury-prone in college
- Both were relegated to shared backfield duties during their final college season
- Which led to both of their draft stocks falling nearly off the map (Blue was drafted in the 6th round, Foster went undrafted in 2009)

Pyro's take: Blue is a much better option than the Texans' other two candidates (Dennis Johnson, Jonathan Grimes) for the RB3 job behind Foster and Andre Brown, and it's still entirely possible he wins the backup job outright over the mediocre Brown.

Either way, Fragile Foster and Brittle Brown are far from locks to complete the 2014 season - as shown by each of them playing just eight games in 2013 due to injury.

The potential for Alfred Blue to get a few starts later in the year makes him well worth a late-round fantasy draft pick... especially with Houston owning the easiest schedule against the run this season.

07/11/14, 11:24 AM CDT by Dawgmaticå
Source: www.pyromaniac.com

Wright back at Baylor with his buddies

Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright has returned to his old stomping grounds – Baylor University – to prepare for the NFL season.

And he's been working out with his former college quarterback, Robert Griffin III.

On Tuesday, Wright posted a picture of himself on Instagram with Griffin III and former Baylor wide receiver Terrance Williams.

"Good grind session with my bros … where it all started at BU,'' Wright wrote.

Wright also worked out with Griffin III in previous offseasons.

Pyro's take: Wright is on the verge of a major breakout, and working out with RG III is never going to be a bad thing. Unfortunately Kendall does not have RG III throwing him the ball during the regular season. Regardless, Wright is emerging as a real talent, who is dominant in PPR leagues, and while he has yet to be a consistent touchdown producer, that could change this year.

07/09/14, 10:34 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.tennessean.com

Jeffery dominates the Go Route

What makes Jeffery so effective on the Go route is is size and body control. He may not leave defensive backs in his dust off the line, but he's big enough to run through press coverage, he's just fast enough to get deep, and then he uses his size to shield defenders away from the ball while he uses his 36.5' vertical leap to high point the ball.

Here's what Palazzolo said about Jeffery.

Although perhaps not the first name to come to mind as the top receiver on go routes given his lack of elite top-end speed, Jeffery broke out in 2013 and did so by making plays down the field. Even while playing last season with two different quarterbacks, Jay Cutler and Josh McCown, Jeffery used his body well to shield defenders on his way to 15 receptions for 469 yards (31.3 yards per reception) on the go route.

Pyro's take: Jeffery is an impact receiver, and even more effective in leagues that reward for long touchdowns. The Bears offense should find even more ways to put Alshon's talents on display, in their second year in the system.

Marshall is going to be running more of the underneath routes, while Jeffery is the man when it comes to the Bears airing it out. Alshon is a highlight reel waiting to happen with his body control and his ability to high point the football. Currently he is one of the best in the game at that as well.

07/08/14, 09:45 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.windycitygridiron.com

Lee feeling the family vibe from Jaguars

Wide receiver Marqise Lee was hoping to make an impression on the field when the Jacksonville Jaguars held their organized team activities and minicamp in May and June.

An ankle injury prevented him from doing that. But the second-round pick out of USC has made quite a few friends already in their locker room.

That was something he never expected.

"Being in this locker room is like college all over again," said Lee, who will be expected to compete for a starting job when training camp opens later this month.

"You hear a lot on the outside," he said. "But coming here, this is great. I've had an opportunity to be with these guys, and having them sit down with me and spend extra time going over plays and things like that, it shows how much leadership they have and how much of a family this team is. I appreciate it."

Pyro's take: Lee should be ready for the start of training camp, and he will have a chance to be a starter when the season starts. Lee was so dynamic as a sophomore for the Trojans, and while he did not build on that last year, he has the ability to be one of the top receivers in this class when it is all said and done. If you are in dynasty leagues that have rookie drafts, I have seen him fall to an average ADP of 13-17, which is a great value.

07/08/14, 08:42 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: msn.foxsports.com

Pierce's workload depends on Rice's suspension

The Baltimore Ravens are about two weeks from starting training camp, and they have no idea on how long running back Ray Rice will be unavailable to begin the season.

The NFL needs to make a decision soon because the league shouldn't punish the Ravens along with Rice, who is expected to receive a multi-game suspension for allegedly striking his fiancée unconscious in February. The Ravens' workload at running back will be based on the length of Rice's absence.

If Rice is going to miss a major chunk of the season, the Ravens would give Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro more snaps this summer, especially later in the preseason. If Rice is only going to be suspended for a couple of games, the Ravens' rotation at running back may not change significantly.

Pyro's take: We all know that Rice is going to be suspended, but the NFL is sure taking their sweet time letting any results out. Pierce has the most to gain if Rice misses 4-6 games, and would have a good chance to establish himself as a major offensive contributor in that time, allowing him to retain touches upon Rice's return.

Pierce did not produce like he was expected to last season, but the Ravens have more weapons on offense this season than they did last year. Bernard has something to prove, and he knows he will get his chance with the Rice suspension, and the longer the better for Pierce.

07/08/14, 08:14 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: espn.go.com

Raiders plan to be run first in 2014

Oakland is banking on a running game to set the tempo.

“We’re going to run the ball, run the ball, then run it again until the defense stops us,” said offensive tackle Donald Penn in an interview Monday on Sirius XM NFL Radio.

Oakland certainly invested heavily in blockers this offseason. They took Gabe Jackson in the third round of the draft, and he could be the team’s starter at left guard; they brought in veteran free agents Penn, Austin Howard and Kevin Boothe; and they hope that 2013 second-round pick Menelik Watson can win the starting job at right tackle. On paper, at least, the Raiders have the makings of their best offensive line in several seasons.

Pyro's take: This is good news for MJD, Darren McFadden and Latavius Murray. Murray has the most to gain of the three, and MJD and RUN DNP have both had their issues staying healthy.

If the Raiders do plan on running more than the 27 attempts per game last season (16th in the league) it also increases the chances for those guys to get injured. I am concerned about the potential for injury with McFadden and MJD, which is why if you do draft them and they get off to a good start, you should look to move them. Murray has great upside and can be had at the end of your drafts.

07/08/14, 08:03 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.nbcbayarea.com

Gerhart expectations

Ryan O'Hallloran for the Florida Times-Union discussed what will be in store for Gerhart who had 276 carries for 1,305 yards and five touchdowns in four years with Minnesota as a back-up to Adrian Peterson.

Now as a Jaguar, he is in a offense that did not perform very well in several categories. O'Halloran, broke it down:

The Jaguars desperately need to boost their running game. Last year’s rankings:

*78.8 rushing yards per game – 31st in the NFL (ahead of only Atlanta).

*378 attempts – 28th (ahead of only Miami, Cleveland, Dallas and Atlanta).

*3.1 yards per carry – 31st (ahead of only Baltimore).

*Seven rushing touchdowns – 28th.

What are Toby Gerhart expectations in this weak offense? Earlier this off-season, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said: “The league has turned into one that there wasn’t a one player who averaged 20 carries per game last year – no running back had 320 carries last year. [Philadelphia’s] LeSean McCoy was closest with 314. So you’re not looking for that workhorse back per se that can handle 20-25 carries every game for 16 weeks. It doesn’t happen.” Gerhart should be in the 12-15 range, according to Ryan O'Hallaran with a few going to Denard Robinson and Jordan Todman.

Pyro's take: Few carries in a bad offense makes bad results. As of this printing it does not look like Toby Gerhart is going to achieve much, because at most with 15 carries per game, it results into 240 carries, and to break the 1,000 barrier he will need to average 4.2 yards per carry.

Because of these reasons, Gerhart should be treated as a running back three, and be low on your tier board.

07/08/14, 10:17 AM CDT by Michael Valverde
Source: members.jacksonville.com




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