Tampa WR Mike Evans – No Sure Thing

Mike Evans will have to suffer through Winston's growing pains

Mike Evans will have to suffer through Winston’s growing pains

Tampa Bay wideout Mike Evans doesn’t get the same attention as Odell Beckham Jr., but with 12 touchdowns and more than a 1,000 yards receiving, he more than made his mark during his rookie 2014 season.

After a first half start, Evans exploded during weeks 9-11 for 458 yards and five touchdowns. After that impressive run, Evans’ production dwindled and he wasn’t slow to point the blame elsewhere.

“The quarterback would just look me off, and then I’d be dead,” Evans told USA Today sports reporter Tom Pelissero. “And I didn’t understand, because I always think I’m open. Just throw that thing up.”

There’s no doubt that at 6-foot-5 and 230-pounds, any jump ball will have a good chance to land in Evans’ hands. Luckily for Evans, the 2015 number one overall pick, Jameis Winston, has no problem throwing it up to big receivers. During Winston’s undefeated 2013 campaign, the quarterback threw for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns. That year, his teammate was the 6-foot-5, 240-pound, Kelvin Benjamin, who was responsible for a thousand of those yards and 15 touchdowns.

As if that’s not exciting enough for the outlook on Evan’s future, offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter just recently moved from Atlanta to Tampa. Koetter is responsible for reviving the Falcons offense last season and generating success with Julio Jones. Evans should be the number one receiver for the Buccaneers and Koetter will look to get him the ball early and often.

However, fantasy owners should be cautious, Evans will have a rookie quarterback throwing the ball and there will be growing pains. The ceiling for Evans and all Buccaneers wide receivers is obviously linked to how long it takes Winston to adjust to the next level.

Too Much Fantasy Fanfare for Latavius Murray

Latavius Murray

Latavius Murray has a little too much buzz going into the fantasy draft season

Despite what the experts say, it’s far too early to crown Raiders running back Latavius Murray as the breakout fantasy player for the upcoming 2015 season. Murray had a grand total of ONE good game last season and he’s playing for an Oakland squad that finished the season with a rushing attack that ranked DEAD-LAST in the league.

Plagued by injuries last season, Murray registered 82 rushing attempts for 424 yards and a pair of touchdowns. And most of those totals came from Oakland’s Week 12 win against the Chiefs where Murray ran for two scores and 112 yards on only four carries.

Apparently that one game, coupled with the retirement of Maurice Jones-Drew and the departure of Darren McFadden, has convinced the fantasy community that Murray is going to be a stud during the upcoming season.

While I agree he may indeed be the starting back for the Raiders and easily beat out Trent Richardson for the starting job, he’s still playing on a team that has done very little to improve its offensive line.

Even if Murray is the stud that everyone imagines him to be, he’s going to get pounded by opposing defenders on a weekly basis. Couple that with his injury issues, and you could very well have a running back that may spend more time recovering from injury than playing for your fantasy team. It’s not that Murray is a terrible selection, but he’s far too risky to burn up an early fantasy draft pick coming into a new season.

Injury Woes Persist for Odell Beckham Jr.

No one wants to say it, but Odell Beckham Jr. may just be injury prone

No one wants to say it, but Odell Beckham Jr. may be injury prone

Despite missing the majority of the preseason and the first four games of the regular season, Odell Beckham Jr. was a man among boys during his introduction to the NFL last year. His speed, talent and swagger didn’t just earn him Rookie of the Year honors, but also a spot on the Madden 16 cover.

Now it’s time to follow up on a fabulous first year, but Beckham’s health concerns are already shooting up some red flags very similar to last season. As opposed to Beckham’s left hamstring, which he tweaked last spring, he’s now struggling with an injured right hamstring. Last season’s injury proved to be more than a “tweak” costing him the first quarter of the season. Now all eyes are on Beckham to evaluate how serious this new injury is.

“Whatever the medical people tell me is what I do,” Tom Coughlin told New Jersey reporter, Jordan Raanan. “If he could go, he’d be out there.”

There’s little need to push any receiver in June, but this injury should bring up a lot of questions and concerns. Will OBJ miss the start of the season again? Will a hamstring injury hinder his entire career? Is this the effect of the Madden Curse?

The problem right now is, there is no good answer to any of those questions. Hamstring injuries tend to linger, resurface, and reoccur. If Beckham’s right hamstring does flare up, you can almost guarantee that the Giants will move very slowly with his rehab, even if he has to miss regular season games.

Right now, OBJ isn’t a big gamble, but a gamble nonetheless. Rolling the dice on him is banking on his lower extremities holding up, barring any other injuries as well. If Beckham Jr. can put together a full season, he’ll put up the numbers of an elite receiver and live up to all the hype.

Will Superman Ever Return To Carolina?

Superman lost his shine with fantasy owners last season

Superman lost his shine with fantasy owners last season

Fantasy owners who took a shot with Panthers quarterback, Cam Newton are still feeling the pain a year later. He was a buy-low quarterback last year and turned into an absolute bust leaving owners scrambling for a viable quarterback.

Newton was banged up from the start of the season and being in car accident half way through the year didn’t help either. Despite an abysmal record, Carolina actually won the the NFC South for the second year in a row and Cam Newton even found his Superman form (Kind of) towards the end of the season.

Which Cam Newton will we see going into 2015? On paper, Carolina’s receiving core has significantly improved since last season. Kelvin Benjamin should build off of his impressive rookie year; Carolina acquired Ted Ginn Jr. during the off-season and drafted a big target in Devin Funchess out of Michigan. It looks like Superman will have more talent to throw to this year. If Newton can play the way he did towards the end of the 2014 season, his numbers should certainly improve from last season.

Carolina has become one of the better defensive teams in the NFL, and has bailed out Newton when he’s struggled. Newton should be healthy in this upcoming season, but his offensive line has not improved much since last year, where they struggled to keep him standing upright. Newton has also shown an alarming tendency to throw the ball way too high when he’s under any kind of pressure.

Fantasy owners need to be very cautious before drafting Newton. He’s a feast or famine fantasy option and only a very solid fantasy team can survive with him at the helm.

Falcons Rookie RB Tevin Coleman: Pure Electricity

Coleman

Tevin Coleman possesses pure breakaway speed, but lacks patience

Coming into the new season, no rookie ball handler should be more electrifying to watch than Tevin Coleman. Drafted in the third round by the Atlanta Falcons, Coleman finds himself battling for touches. However, his lightning-quick speed should perch him atop the depth chart before season’s end.

Last year at Indiana, Coleman ran for 2,036 yards, only the third player in Big 10 history to do so. His breakaway speed meshed perfectly with the stretch-zone scheme utilized by the Hoosiers. This is the same set up new offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, plans to implement in Atlanta. This should translate into immediate success for the Atlanta offense and Coleman during his rookie campaign.

However, fantasy owners should keep in mind that Coleman is currently listed as second on the depth chart behind second-year back Devonta Freeman. Freeman was used sparingly during his rookie season recording 95 touches and two touchdowns. Freeman’s small frame (5-foot-8, 205-pounds) might make him a change-of-pace scat back, but there’s no questioning his superior pass-catching skills.

Coleman has the size and speed to be the workhorse out of the two, but his biggest knock is his lack of patience and vision.

“Coleman treats every carry like a sprint,” one NFL scout said. “He is a race car in the red.” That can attest to why half of Coleman’s 28 career rushing touchdowns were of 43-plus yards, including eight of 64-plus yards. However, run plays need time to develop, and timing miscues translate into loss of yardage.

For now, Coleman is worth a bench spot on any fantasy team. The opportunity is there for Coleman to become a starter before the regular season begins. Once Coleman develops patience, the starting gig is his, and he’ll set the league ablaze.

MLB Week 12 – Waiver Wire Report

Chi Chi

Chi Chi Gonzalez has only two wins, but sports an impressive 2.27 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP

Chi Chi Gonzalez- Texas Rangers

Even after getting knocked around by the Athletics on Tuesday, Rangers starter Chi Chi Gonzalez needs to be a priority if he’s currently sitting on your league’s waiver wire. The 23-year-old sports a wildly impressive 2.27 ERA, even though he doesn’t ring up too many strikeouts. His command is often suspect, having allowed 13 walks, but that doesn’t erase the fact that he’s allowed only 9 runs in in 35 2/3 innings. Gonzalez has been very impressive, yet is only owned in about 50 percent of fantasy leagues. He deserves a spot on your team.

Yunel Escobar- Washington Nationals

Escobar is now batting .331 on the season. He has hit four home runs on the season, half of them coming in the last 15 games. If you’re looking for a high average batter, the Nationals infielder is your guy. I’d love to se him steal more bases but that likely isn’t going to happen. If you can accept that and need average, grab Escobar. He is available in over 40 percent of leagues.

Francisco Cervelli- Pittsburgh Pirates

Cervelli is batting .308 on the season with two home runs and 19 RBI. He’s a stud behind home plate and a solid piece of the Pirates lineup. There are health questions surrounding the backstop, but if he can stay 100%, or even near that level, he is a force. I’ll say it again; catcher is the hardest position to fill in fantasy baseball. If you can get lucky enough to claim Cervelli, do so. You won’t regret it.

A.J. McCarron Sparking Preseason Heat

A.J.

A.J. McCarron is unlikely to get his shot during the upcoming regular season

The Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff and players are putting a lot of confidence in their second string quarterback, AJ McCarron. The second year Alabama product has been putting a lot of time and work into his arm and players are taking notice. McCarron is having a phenomenal preseason, but the real question is whether or not he can push Andy Dalton during the regular season?

During the past couple of seasons, there have been questions about Dalton’s performance. Even though he’s led the Bengals to four straight playoff appearances, Dalton continues to come up short in the post season. Cincinnati has done a great job surrounding Dalton with talented players, but the team has little to show for it.

This doesn’t mean that McCarron has any real shot of taking Dalton’s job this season. He’s coming off three straight 10-win seasons and has never missed a game. Dalton would have to either go down in absolute flames or suffer an injury to give McCarron a shot this season.

The second year quarterback has some sleeper potential, but is much more likely to ride the pine behind Dalton unless he’s mopping up at the end of a blowout.

 

Dez Bryant Drops in on Cowboys Camp

Bryant showed up to camp, but no deal is in site

Bryant showed up to camp, but no deal is in site

Dez Bryant finally made an appearance at Cowboys minicamp, but there’s still no contact between the two sides. Bryant refused to sign the franchise tag offered to him and has threatened to miss the season opener against the New York Giants.

July 15 is the deadline for franchised players to sign a long-term deal. If an agreement can’t be met, Bryant will be relegated to $12.823 million for the year. During the past five seasons, Bryant has 381 receptions for 5,424 yards and 56 touchdowns and his league leading 16 touchdowns last season was three more than any other receiver.

Bryant will play this season. The Cowboys and their franchise receiver will very likely reach a long-term deal before the July 15th deadline. If a long-term deal isn’t reached, Bryant will still play. It’s not that Bryant doesn’t need $13 million, he just can’t afford to miss out on $752,941 per week for playing football.

Also, if Bryant holds out too long enough and is ineligible to play for the 2015 season, the Cowboys can simply place a franchise tag on him again in 2016.

MLB Week 11 – Waiver Wire Report

Yankees are looking for Ivan Nova's curveball to come around

Yankees are looking for Ivan Nova’s curveball to come around

Ivan Nova – New York Yankees

Nova hasn’t thrown a MLB inning this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery nearly a year ago. But now Nova is running through rehab starts and looking healthy. His curveball has been slow to come around, but the Yankees coaching staff believes it’s almost there. Once Nova’s breaking ball is breaking again, the Yanks will likely shift Adam Warren to the pen. Nova is scheduled to throw just one more rehab start before rejoining the Yankees team. The relief comes at a perfect time for the Yankees, with Andrew Millers injury and Michael Pineda’s rising inning count. The Yankees are hoping for Nova to eat up solid innings and get back to the pitcher he has previously been. Nova shows a lot of promise and could be huge for your fantasy team. He is currently owned in only six percent of leagues.

Matt Cain – San Francisco Giants

I’ll stick with the theme of injured pitchers for number two on the list. Cain is a more obvious addition when coming off of the DL, but is still available in nearly 65 percent of leagues. He also hasn’t tossed an MLB inning this season. But, Cain has previously been huge for the Giants and may be the same for your team as we near the halfway point of the fantasy season. He threw a rehab start on Monday with no setbacks, but gave up three earned runs over 3 1/3 innings.

Ken Giles – Philadelphia Phillies

Over the Phillies last 15 games, Giles has pitched 5 2/3 scoreless with nine strikeouts and only three hits. On the entire season he holds a 2.00 ERA with 30 strikeouts and two wins. The reliever market is often heavily picked through in fantasy, but this may be a diamond in the rough. Giles is owned in only 24 percent of leagues, and could make a difference for your fantasy team.

Rookie Ameer Abdullah Could Land Starting Job

Ameer Abdullah is making an impression at Lions camp

Ameer Abdullah is making an impression at Lions camp

As Joique Bell continues his recovery process from offseason surgery, rookie running back Ameer Abdullah is making a case for the feature back role in Detroit. Abdullah is not only drawing praises from the coaching staff, but quarterback Matt Stafford really likes what he sees from the rookie. “”Out of the backfield, catching the ball, he’s great. He’s got great hands. He has a good feel for route running,” said Stafford.

The Lions drafted Abdullah in the second-round of the 2015 NFL draft. The senior back out of Nebraska was the clear-cut best back after Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon. The Lions drafted Abdullah to fill the void left through free agency by Reggie Bush. Abdullah’s quick pace and great pass-catching ability resembles that of Bush. Abdullah has already started to make a name for himself in camp as a pass catching machine.

“I like Abdullah more every day,” offensive coordinator, Joe Lombardi, told Detroit Free Press. “He’s a real pro, and every day, you can see him do things that really excite you.”

The knock on Abdullah is that he is undersized and has a legitimate fumbling issue. Abdullah’s small hands cost him 13 fumbles over four years at Nebraska. Abdullah is slated to assist in kick and punt returns but could push for the starting role.

Bell could find himself second on the depth chart depending on how the fifth-year back rebounds from his injuries. After a couple of seasons behind Reggie Bush, Bell finally took over lead tailback duties halfway through the 2014 season. Bell underwent a cleanup procedure on his knee and Achilles tendon in January and now finds himself facing heavy competition for the number one spot on the depth chart yet again.

Another back gunning for that number one spot is third-year tailback, Theo Riddick. Riddick made the most of his time on the field when Bush went out to injury. Most effective in the receiving game, Riddick caught 34 receptions for 316 yards and four touchdowns. The sentiment around the locker room is that, “Riddick is too good NOT to be on the field.”

These two backs alone will take away 200+ touches away from Bell. That’s at least 200 given Bell is not in shape by time the season starts. Bell has already missed all of OTA’s due to the surgery and is not expected back until the first week of minicamp in August.

Bell has undoubtedly proven himself on the field as a capable back to handle a large load. With his large frame (six-foot, 230 pounds) and one-cut ability at the line, he is the ideal three-down-back.

However, Bell has had surgery three times in the past two years and although it may be too early to label him injury-prone, one can’t deny the bundle of talent in the Lions backfield. Bell has the potential to be a bell cow back in the NFL; it just won’t be this season.