Fantasy football news and opinion from FFToday.com
Urlacher announces retirement
Eight-time Pro Bowler calls it a career
After 13 seasons in a Bears uniform, LB Brian Urlacher is retiring from the NFL. He announced his decision on his Twitter account on Wednesday. The Bears did try to re-sign Urlacher, offering him a one-year deal totaling $2 million. New Bears HC Marc Trestman even said that he told Urlacher that he wanted him to return. But the Bears announced on March 20 that a deal could not be reached. In the end, no other teams were seriously interested in the services of the 34-year-old.
FF Today's Take: While there is always a small chance that Urlacher could get lured out of retirement if/when a team suffers an injury during training camp, this looks to be the end of the road for him after his play dropped off significantly in 2012. An eight-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro selection, Urlacher stands a pretty good chance at seeing his bust in Canton in a few years if his playing days are over.
Crabtree suffers torn Achilles
Likely out at least six months
Michael Crabtree suffered a torn Achilles tendon during OTAs Tuesday and will soon undergo what could be season-ending surgery, a person informed of the injury told USA TODAY Sports. The 49ers haven't commented yet on the injury, which used to be an automatic season-ender but has since become one that can sometimes be rehabbed in a matter of months - as Baltimore Ravens LB Terrell Suggs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers DE De'Quan Bowers did last year. Both players tore the tendon in the spring and returned to the field after starting the year on the physically unable to perform list. (USA Today)
FF Today's Take: Crabtree is coming off a breakout season in which he had career-highs in receptions (85), yards (1,105) and touchdowns (nine). The major difference between Crabtree and players like Suggs and Bowers is that Crabtree's position requires him to plant and cut much more. Anquan Boldin moves to the top of depth chart and stands to be a solid fantasy WR3 at the very least. This also means A.J. Jenkins will most likely be counted on more heavily after a disappointing rookie season.
Gronk given good news after surgery
No infection found in troublesome left forearm
Rob Gronkowski came out of surgery Monday with good news for the New England Patriots. NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported that he had new plates put into his troublesome left forearm, and doctors have determined the infection in the arm is gone. No further surgery is planned at this time. The team now can turn its focus to Gronkowski's other issue - chronic back pain. Gronkowski recently underwent an MRI to determine the severity of the injury and will see spine specialist Robert Watkins in three to four weeks in California for a consultation, NFL.com's Albert Breer reported. (NFL.com)
FF Today's Take: The Patriots hope the back issue can be treated without surgery and the rehab process can be concurrent with the forearm. Gronk isn't in the clear by any stretch, but Monday was a positive development. There's now hope that Gronkowski can be ready for the start of training camp. Although his buy-low window may be closing, fantasy owners may be wise to trade him as he regains his value early in the season. At the very least, owners need to have a backup plan in mind.
2014 NFL Draft could move to May
League looking into moving draft back permanently
The NFL's effort to change its offseason calendar is starting to make some progress. NFL.com's Albert Breer reported Monday that the NFL and NFL Players Association are working toward a deal to move the 2014 NFL Draft to May. It likely would start as a one-year trial before deciding if the May move makes sense.
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported that the likely target start date for the 2014 draft is May 15. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sets the date of the draft, provided it's within the agreed-upon window. May 15 would be. (http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0a)
FF Today's Take: The Radio City Rockettes are scheduled to perform at Radio City Music Hall in late April, when the draft usually is held. However, ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting the league will also move the new league year ahead of the NFL Combine, which is typically held in late February. The changes, which have been in the works for awhile, are designed to "keep fans' attention over a longer period" and "use the events to produce additional revenue."
McGahee a no-show for OTAs
Only non-injured veteran not present
The running game was missing veterans Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno. McGahee continued his practice of not showing up for the voluntary OTA sessions. Moreno was present and seems to be running well but he has not been cleared to take live reps because of the knee injury he sustained in the final game against Baltimore.
With McGahee and Moreno out, Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball got a few more reps. (Denver Post)
FF Today's Take: McGahee rushed for 1,199 yards in 2011 and was on pace for another 1,000-yard season in 2012 when he suffered a slightly torn MCL and compression fracture in his right tibia. Ball will take his job eventually, but HC John Fox is notorious for making rookies "earn it", so McGahee could have one more year of solid fantasy production in him. He could just as easily be released before training camp, making this backfield situation one of the more interesting storylines of the summer.
Josh Gordon primed for breakout?
Second-year WR seems like perfect fit in deep-ball offense
The game comes outrageously easy for Josh Gordon, as he glides down the field. If Gordon keeps his concentration and work ethic at NFL caliber, he could have a breakout season in the new "throw it downfield" offense. (Cleveland Plain Dealer )
FF Today's Take: Gordon's talent is through the roof, as evidenced by the fact he posted a 50-805-5 as a rookie despite being as green as possible in an offense ill-suited for his (or Brandon Weeden's) talents. Gordon and TE Jordan Cameron are almost certain to experience dramatic spikes in production working in Norv Turner's vertical-based offense, so both players need to be considered as potential top 15 (if not top 10) fantasy players at their respective positions in 2013.
Chiefs toying with "Pistol" formation
Alex Smith may be in line for more running in 2013
The hiring of pistol formation guru Chris Ault as a consultant seemed to signal the Chiefs would incorporate some of that offense into their plans and, sure enough, they ran a handful of plays from the pistol in Thursday's practice. Option plays are part of the pistol, which would mean quarterback Alex Smith would be asked to use his legs as well as his arm. Don't forget that Smith was featured as a runner in college while playing in Urban Meyer's offense at Utah. (Kansas City Str)
FF Today's Take: Ault created the offense while at Nevada and Smith worked almost exclusively out of the shotgun under Meyer, so the idea makes a lot of sense. Smith is a capable runner - as evidenced by his touchdown run in the playoffs against the Saints two years ago. With Jamaal Charles such a dynamic threat on the perimeter, any formation designed to help him get there is a plus. Either way, Smith is likely no better than a QB2 for fantasy purposes.
Foles takes most snaps in OTA
Vick close behind; Barkley takes snaps with third team
Nick Foles had the slight edge in quarterback repetitions with the first team. Foles took 21 snaps and Michael Vick had 15. Vick had the edge last Monday. Vick took 21 snaps to Foles' 16 with the second team. Matt Barkley's snaps with the third team increase dramatically over last Monday. He had 21 to Dennis Dixon's 5 and G.J. Kinne's 2. (Philly.com)
FF Today's Take: Obviously, we aren't going to do an update every time this happens, but it is notable that new HC Chip Kelly at least wants to create the illusion of a quarterback competition. Vick offers the most upside - real and fantasy - and allows Kelly to do incorporate more of the same principles (such as the read option) that he used in college. Vick will always be a health risk, but his fantasy upside is still very high when healthy.
Gronk's back an issue again
May need back surgery in addition to forearm surgery
In addition to a fourth surgery on his broken forearm, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski might need back surgery, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Gronkowski recently underwent an MRI on his back to check on a disk issue from last season according to ESPN and media reports. The injury is not considered serious, the source said. If he needs back surgery, it would be performed during the time frame he would be sidelined after his forearm surgery, which is expected next week. (ESPN)
FF Today's Take: Multiple media outlets are reporting this story but not everyone is on the same page. "He is going to be fine long term," a source close to Gronkowski said. "[He is] not worried about the short term, i.e., start of training camp." Gronk missed the 2009 season in college due to a herniated disk but this issue isn't related. It's another red flag for fantasy owners but we'll have to wait for more concrete news... stay tuned.
Jets running back Goodson arrested
Handgun and marijuana charges
Jets running back Mike Goodson was arrested and charged with possession of a handgun and possession of marijuana early Friday morning in New Jersey. Goodson, who was in the passenger seat, and Garant Evans were found in an SUV that was stopped in the left lane of Route 80 in Denville, a New Jersey State Police spokesperson said Friday. Police were responding to a 911 call at 3:20 a.m. and discovered a "strong odor" of marijuana when they found Goodson, the spokesperson said. Both Goodson and Evans apeared intoxicated, the spokesperson said. (New York Newsday)
FF Today's Take: Goodson was signed by the Jets this off-season to a three-year contract and was set to be the backup to Chris Ivory. This incident will likely result in a suspension and opens the door for Bilal Powell and/or Joe McKnight.
Coach Pagano wants more efficiency
More three- and five-step drops for Colts QB
"We still want to be able to run the football. We're still going to take our shots down the field, calculated. We don't want to waste plays. We want to be efficient. The biggest difference might be a little bit more quick-game, if you will. Get the ball out of Andrew's hands. Three- and quick five-step drops. Get it into our playmakers' hands. A little bit more catch-and-run type of things." (Indianapolis Star)
FF Today's Take: The Colts ran a lot of seven-step drops and deep throws for Andrew Luck last season under Bruce Arians which resulted in a low completion rate (54.1%) for the rookie QB. A more efficient Luck in 2014 may lead to slightly less passing stats but he still qualifies as a low-end QB1.
Vikings move QB Webb to receiver
Cassel acquisition makes decision easy for Frazier
Those who thought Joe Webb had no future as at quarterback should be happy, because the former Alabama-Birmingham standout has become a full-time wide receiver for the Vikings. Coach Leslie Frazier said the decision to shift Webb to receiver was made after the draft, when the team selected receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round and also because the Vikings had signed free agent quarterback Matt Cassel. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
FF Today's Take: Webb played receiver as a sophomore and ran in the 4.4's coming out of college but it's doubtful he'll make any significant fantasy contribution at the position in 2013.
QB Garrard calling it quits
Knee injury will cause veteran quarterback to retire
Text from Garrard: "Having to call it quits. My knee is not holding up. Continuing to swell after practices. Limiting what I can do." (Adam Schein via Twitter)
FF Today's Take: David Garrard's knee just won't let him continue. Reportedly, it swells up after practice. This move thins out the competition in New York and leaves Mark Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith the favorites to handle the majority of quarterback duties in 2013.
Raiders sign Josh Cribbs
The Oakland Raiders signed wide receiver/kick returner Josh Cribbs on Wednesday.
A league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Cribbs signed a one-year deal. Cribbs, 29, nearly signed with the Arizona Cardinals, but concern over a knee injury caused the team to back out. (ESPN)
FF Today's Take: Cribbs took a step away from offense last season and at this point is nothing more than a return man. He finished fourth last season in average kick return yardage (27.4).
LB Rolando McClain retires
Off-field trouble ends short career
The Ravens placed inside linebacker Rolando McClain and former first-round pick on the reserve/retired list Wednesday afternoon, General Manager Ozzie Newsome announced. McClain signed a one-year contract with the Ravens on April 12, but was arrested just 10 days later. It was the latest in a string of off-field problems for McClain since entering the league in 2009 as the eighth-overall pick. (BaltimoreRavens.com)
FF Today's Take: The Ravens picked Arthur Brown in the second round of the NFL draft. Brown and Jameel McClain are the likely starters, with Josh Bynes and Albert McClellan serving in a backup role.
Gabbert, Henne splitting reps
QB competition expected in Jacksonville
The competition for the quarterback job between Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne continues to be the focus of the camp. "It's going good," Bradley said. "We're rotating by period. There's a lot of competition and they're battling it. I think once we get pads on and see how they react in different situations, it will become more clear."
FF Today's Take: Gabbert averaged 182 yards and 1 TD while Henne averaged 267 yards and 1.5 TDs per game last season. Gabbert will be given every opportunity to win the job, but this competition will likely drag into August.
Panthers restructure DeAngelo Williams
Panthers now $8.46 million under the 2013 salary cap
Just when it appeared as though 2013 would be DeAngelo Williams' final year in Carolina, the franchise's leading rusher has restructured his contract with the team. Williams, scheduled to earn $5 million in 2013 but carrying a cap hit of $8.2 million, will still earn the $5 million, but his cap number will reflect what he earns. (Charolotte Observer)
FF Today's Take: Williams contract now includes two more years (2016 & 2017) but those years were tacked on for cap relief purposes. Basically, his contract will conclude at the end of 2015. Williams fantasy value is hit or miss with Jonathan Stewart ahead of him on the depth chart and QB Cam Newton stealing touchdown opportunities. He'll be an inconsistent RB4 in fantasy drafts this summer.
Eagles add running back depth
Felix Jones agrees to a one-year deal
Former Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones has agreed to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles on a one-year deal, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on Tuesday. (ESPN)
FF Today's Take: Jones will have a tough time making a fantasy impact in Philadelphia with Bryce Brown and LeSean McCoy ahead of him on the depth chart. He does possess good receiving ability which will be a plus in Chip Kelly's offense.
Cardinals cut QB Brian Hoyer
Stanton and Lindley will backup Carson Palmer
The Arizona Cardinals on Monday cut quarterback Brian Hoyer, who had been tendered at a second-round level, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. (ESPN)
FF Today's Take: With the acquisition of Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton, Hoyer became expendable. Ryan Lindley is currently the teams third string QB. Hoyer played in two games last season, throwing for 330 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions.
Pats add another receiver, Hawkins
Former Titans wideout headed to New England
The Patriots now have 12 wide receivers on their roster after signing free agent Lavelle Hawkins to a 2-year deal. (Boston Globe)
FF Today's Take: The Patriots will be releasing at least a couple of the veterans wideouts they signed as Danny Amendola and the two rookies (Aaron Dobson & Josh Boyce) are likely to make the roster. That leaves Donald Jones, Micheal Jenkins Julian Edelman (foot) and Hawkins battling for roster spots.