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Footballguys #55 - 6/13 - Less Work For James Conner In Pittsburgh?, Early Bird Ending, News And Notes And MORE

Volume 21, #55 -- Thursday Night, June 13th, 2019

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Howdy Folks,

Welcome to Friday. I hope your day's been more productive than mine. We spent most of it on the phone with the IRS getting forms faxed to us. You know, the glamorous part of running a Fantasy Football site. Sheesh.

On the upside, we've got some KILLER new content for you as we dive into to some team running back situations plus some interesting player areas. Plus the News and Note you need. And don't forget the Early Bird Discount is ending June 16.

Let's go.

J

SITE NEWS

A. Seriously Almost Gone - Footballguys Early Bird Discount Ends June 16
You've got until Father's Day June 16 to get the killer Early Bird Discount for our Footballguys Premium Subscriptions. Get the Season Long Pro for all the tools to Prep and Draft and Manage your team to the Super Bowl. Or the Daily Fantasy Pro for everything you need to win the DFS games from companies like DraftKings and FanDuel and FantasyDraft. Or the All-Pro that combines both. It makes a fantastic Father's Day gift for yourself! Jump on it now. You'll already be winning. And of course, we have a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee so there is ZERO risk.

B. What's Going to Happen in the Buffalo Backfield?
The Footballguys staff offers thoughts on how the Buffalo backfield will shake out.

C. What's Going to Happen in the Houston Backfield?
The Footballguys staff offers thoughts on how the Houston backfield will shake out.

D. Can Nick Chubb Break Into the Top Ten Running Backs?
Our Daniel Simpkins with a detailed look at Nick Chubb's fantasy prospects for 2019.

E. Dante Pettis and the Allure of Unknown Upside
Our Dave Larkin argues why 49ers second-year receiver Dante Pettis may be the best-kept secret in the fantasy community.


1. PIT - Pittsburgh looking to share RB workload?

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Jonathan Bombulie

Pittsburgh Steelers RB James Conner amassed more than 62 percent of his team's carries and 64 percent of the targets to running backs last season, but he is under the impression those numbers will come down this season based on what he has seen during spring practices, especially from Jaylen Samuels and rookie Benny Snell.'I think it'll be spread out pretty evenly. ... 'I've seen (Snell's) college tape. He's also learned the offense really quick. I know he'll be ready to play this year. Jaylen, obviously, is going to make a lot of plays, too,' Conner told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

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Keep this in mind when consider Conner in your fantasy drafts this year. Conner has a current ADP of RB9 (1.12) in 12-team PPR leagues. Snell is not getting drafted and Samuels is RB44 (10.02). We like Samuels as a valuable handcuff if you've got the bench space. If Conner were to miss time, Samuels has win-your-league upside and doesn't need to come off the field. We'll see how this group shakes out in training camp and the preseason.

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2. CAR - QB Cam Newton has new throwing motion

Source: Panthers.com - Max Henson

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (shoulder) is using a new throwing motion in hopes of preserving his shoulder for the long haul. 'Making him a little more compact in his upper body. A little more closed off, just so he's not as open throwing the ball. And just to make him as efficient as possible and putting the least amount of stress possible,' quarterbacks coach Scott Turner said Wednesday, June 12.

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The work on Newton's passing motion began last year when Turner cleaned up Newton's footwork. They also worked to have Newton get rid of the ball quicker when things weren't open deep. Newton's completion percentage jumped to a career high 67.9 percent (his career average was around 59 percent). Now, the team is keeping his upper body compact to prevent unnatural movement or over-torque on his shoulder. Newton insists the motion is not that different, and we'll see if it helps his shoulder stay healthy in 2019.

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3. JAX - WR Marqise Lee unlikely to start camp on time

Source: The Florida Times-Union - Phillip Heilman

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee is not expected to be ready for the start of training camp in late July, although the expectation is he will return at some point shortly thereafter, according to head coach Doug Marrone.

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Lee missed all of last year due to a knee injury. We'll see if he can stay healthy and impress in a competition to become the favorite target of new QB Nick Foles.

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4. IND - TE Jack Doyle running routes at full speed

Source: The Indianapolis Star - Zak Keefer

Indianapolis Colts TE Jack Doyle (hip), who did not practice with the team during the spring, was spotted running routes at full speed after practice Thursday, June 13.

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Good news for Doyle here. His status for the beginning of training camp has always been in question. We'll see what he can do when camp gets here later this summer. Doyle will serve as a backup TE behind Eric Ebron.

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5. SEA - Russell Wilson raves about D.K. Metcalf

Source: Seahawks.com - John Boyle

Seattle Seahawks WR D.K. Metcalf has repeatedly impressed QB Russell Wilson throughout spring workouts.'It's great seeing DK make his plays. I think DK is looking really, really special. He can do anything and everything and he's tremendous. ... Everybody knows about (his) ability to run and jump and catch and all that. But I think more than anything else, it's his brain, how he processes information, how quickly he understands it. He's really intelligent, he understands the game really well. He takes coaching well, he gets extra work. He's a legit pro wide receiver. He's everything everyone was talking about in terms of what he's capable of and more,' Wilson said.

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Metcalf can at least be a jump-ball specialist for Seattle this year. That makes him a great option for Wilson in the red zone. Metcalf needs to stay healthy and he struggled with a few different injuries during his college career at Ole Miss. He also needs to become more nuanced as a route runner. Metcalf if big and fast but he struggles when throttling down to change direction. We're going to be monitoring him closely in training camp and the preseason.

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6. CHI - David Montgomery's receiving skills impressing

Source: Chicago Sun-Times - Patrick Finley

Chicago Bears RB David Montgomery has impressed in minicamp with his pass-catching skills, 'He's making plays,' Bears head coach Matt Nagy said. 'We always knew he had great hands. You don't know how great of a route runner a college back is, but he's a really good route runner.'

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We love Montgomery's no-nonsense approach as a runner. He's intent, determined and tough to bring down when he builds a head of steam. So far this offseason, we've heard plenty of good things about the rookie's ability as a receiver out of the backfield. He's got to contend with veteran Mike Davis in training camp, and Tarik Cohen will get plenty of work in that backfield. Right now, Montgomery is going off the board at RB21 (4.04) in 12-team PPR leagues.

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7. MIN - QB Kirk Cousins eyeing next level

Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press - Chris Tomasson

Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins owns a 34-37-1 record as an NFL starter, and said Wednesday, June 12, that his goal is achieving more team success in terms of wins. 'The next level really is all about winning,' Cousins said. 'I'm pretty much a .500 quarterback in my career so far, and I don't think that's where you want to be, and that's not why you are brought in or people are excited about you. If I don't play well, if I don't have gaudy statistics, but we win multiple playoff games, the narrative will be I went to the next level.'

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Yes, the next level would be nice...or getting back to the level they were at before Cousins showed up. The Vikings went to the NFC Championship Game with Case Keenum in 2017...let that sink in. Then let it sting because Cousins didn't even get them to the postseason in 2018, even though they paid him the first fully guaranteed contract in NFL history. Cousins has a ton of pressure on him to perform better than ever in 2019.

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8. PHI - WR Alshon Jeffery participates in practice

Source: NBC Sports Philadelphia - Dave Zangaro

Philadelphia Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery (wrist) was able to participate in practice Wednesday, June 12. He had been dealing with a wrist ailment.

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Jeffery is trending in the right direction here. If healthy, Jeffery is going to be a big part of the Eagles passing attack. Even though QB Carson Wentz spreads the ball around, the trust with Jeffery is there. If Jeffery is a touchdown hog in 2019, he could outperform his current ADP of WR29 (6.09) in 12-team PPR leagues.

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9. KC - RB Carlos Hyde lines up with RB Damien Williams

Source: ESPN.com - Adam Teicher

Kansas City Chiefs RB Carlos Hyde is listed as the backup to RB Damien Williams, but he has been busy at minicamp, lining up along with Williams in the teams backfield on occasion. He has been used as a receiver. 'For a running back like me who likes to catch the ball, it would be like a dream come true,' Hyde said Wednesday, June 12.

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Williams is the Chiefs back Fantasy GMs are going nuts for...and we get it. In that offense with Williams skill set it could mean big fantasy points. However, everyone needs to know that the Chiefs staff loves the addition of Hyde this offseason. He could push for a larger role than most think. Right now, Williams has an ADP of RB12 (2.07) and Hyde is going off the board at RB45 (10.04) in 12-team PPR leagues.

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10. NYG - TE Evan Engram could be used as deep threat

Source: SNY - Scott Thompson

New York Giants TE Evan Engram (hamstring) could be used more as a deep threat this season following the departure of WR Odell Beckham Jr. (Browns). Last season head coach Pat Shurmur set Engram out in motion, and even used him a few times to rush the ball. He has been sidelined due to a hamstring pull during offseason workouts.

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We'll see if that comes to fruition, but Engram is certainly capable of that if asked. Last year, the Giants did not utilize him in that way. In 11 games last season, Engram ran 308 routes but his air-yards-per-target average was only 5.25 yards (23rd in the league). By comparison, Rob Gronkowski (12.14 yards, 1st) and Travis Kelce (9.16, 9th) were used much differently. We'll see if the Giants want to use that deep part of Engram's game more often in 2019.

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11. SEA - WR David Moore making huge leap

Source: The Seattle Times - Bob Condotta

Seattle Seahawks WR David Moore has made a huge leap this offseason in his knowledge of the position and in his ability to play multiple spots, according to head coach Pete Carroll on Thursday, June 13.

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This is why Moore has spent time with the first-team offense in three-receiver sets during spring practices. The Seahawks are going to be a run-first offense in 2019, but more consistent usage of Moore could lead to steady production. Let's see what he looks like in the preseason.

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12. DET - RB Kerryon Johnson a threat for 60 catches?

Source: Detroit Free Press - Dave Birkett

Detroit Lions RB Kerryon Johnson finished with 32 catches in 10 games as a rookie in 2018, and the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett could see him doubling that production in 2019 if the team decides they don't need to take Johnson off the field on third down.

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Johnson caught 32 passes as a rookie in 2018...in just 10 games. Catching 45 or more passes this season is not an outlandish projection for the second-year back. Johnson has a current ADP of RB19 (3.12) in 12-team PPR leagues.

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13. DET - RB Theo Riddick not a lock to stick?

Source: Detroit Free Press - Dave Birkett

Detroit Lions RB Theo Riddick is not guaranteed to make the team out of training camp, in the opinion of the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett.

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The Lions have always used Riddick as their pass-catching back. That could change if starter Kerryon Johnson is utilized more in the passing game. With C.J. Anderson to back up Johnson, the team may decide to move on from Riddick. The Lions would save $3.6 million on the cap if they let Riddick go. Riddick is in the final year of his contract and he's on the books for $4.6 million.

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14. PHI - Chemistry between QB, WR DeSean Jackson on point

Source: NJ.com - Mike Kaye

Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson has reportedly built a strong connection and sense of timing with QB Carson Wentz throughout the spring, according to Mike Kaye of NJ.com.

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These type of reports have been a steady drumbeat this offseason. Jackson can still be a deep threat and we know Wentz has no problem trusting his receivers on field-flipping plays. He could easily outplay his current ADP of WR49 (11.03) in 12-team PPR leagues.

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15. BAL - QB Lamar Jackson may work with QB guru

Source: ProFootballTalk.com - Josh Alper

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson indicated he may work with noted 'quarterback guru' Tom House over the summer and confirmed he will throw to his teammates in either Baltimore or somewhere in Florida in July.

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It sounds like Jackson needs to. The reports from OTAs and minicamp were not kind about Jackson's progression as a passer. He's got time to improve, and it sounds like he'll use his 'off' time to get some more work in. Jackson's rushing ability and the improved playmakers around him could make him produce like a QB1 in some weeks for Fantasy GMs. Jackson is currently going off the board at QB22 (13.08) in 12-team PPR leagues.

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16. KC - TE Neal Sterling finds home with Kansas City

Source: Sirius XM NFL Radio - Adam Caplan

Free-agent TE Neal Sterling (Jets) signed an undisclosed contract with the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday, June 13.

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We'll see how Sterling does now with a real chance to earn a spot on the Chiefs 53-man roster. They have no real option behind Travis Kelce at the tight end position. Sterling was released by the Jets just a couple of days ago and didn't stay on the open market that long.

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17. NO - WR Rishard Matthews headed to New Orleans

Source: ESPN.com - Field Yates

Free-agent WR Rishard Matthews (Titans) signed an undisclosed contract with the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, June 13, according to a source.

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Matthews is healthy now after a hamstring injury landed him on Injured Reserve last season. He's got a real chance at cracking the 53-man roster with the Saints. They've got a ton of question marks on the roster behind Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr. We'll see if Matthews can do enough to impress in training camp.

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18. SEA - RB C.J. Prosise nursing another injury

Source: The Tacoma News Tribune - Gregg Bell

Seattle Seahawks RB C.J. Prosise (hamstring) reportedly left practice with a tight hamstring Thursday, June 13, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

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A third-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft, Prosise has played in only 16 games over three seasons in the pros. He is as oft-injured as they come. Prosise is no lock to make the 53-man roster.

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19. TEN - TE Ryan Hewitt joins Tennessee

Source: TitanInsider.com - Terry McCormick

Free-agent TE Ryan Hewitt (Colts) signed an undisclosed contract with the Tennessee Titans on Thursday, June 13. TE Keith Towbridge was waived to make room for him on the roster.

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Hewitt is kind of a fullback/TE who is primarily a blocker. That's going to be his role for the Titans if he makes the final roster.

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20. SEA - TE Will Dissly will be ready for regular season

Source: Seahawks.com - John Boyle

Seattle Seahawks TE Will Dissly (knee) is expected to be ready training camp but may not be on the field for the first week or so, according to head coach Pete Carroll, who added there is 'no doubt' Dissly will be ready for the regular season.

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Dissly had a mini-breakout last year in the first month of his rookie year...although his best game did come against the Broncos defense who can't cover tight ends for anything. His rookie season ended with a torn patella tendon in Week 4. Dissly won't be ready to begin training camp, but it sounds like he should be ready before Week 1. He's competing for a reserve role this year.

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21. CHI - Anthony Miller likely on track for camp

Source: Chicago Tribune - Brad Biggs

Chicago Bears WR Anthony Miller (shoulder) has made enough progress from offseason shoulder surgery to make head coach Matt Nagy optimistic about his chances of being ready for the start of training camp.

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Miller had shoulder surgery back in January, and he's always been on track for training camp. With no known setbacks, that seems to still be the case. Miller's seven touchdowns last year inflated his fantasy value. This season, several factors (and other players) stand in Miller's way of doing more. We like him as more of a WR5 with upside in a high-powered passing attack.

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22. CHI - Chicago optimistic TE Trey Burton will be ready

Source: ESPN.com - Jeff Dickerson

Chicago Bears TE Trey Burton (hernia) underwent surgery for a sports hernia during the offseason, but head coach Matt Nagy still 'feels good' about Burton's chances of being ready for the start of training camp, according to ESPN's Jeff Dickerson.

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In his first season with the Bears in 2018, Burton finished as the No. 6 fantasy tight end in standard-scoring formats. He might be hard pressed to duplicate that production this year, especially with fellow TE Adam Shaheen healthy. Burton's timeline in recovery always had him back for training camp, so he seems to be on track.

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23. NYJ - QB Sam Darnold impressing in Year 2

Source: ProFootballTalk.com - Josh Alper

New York Jets QB Sam Darnold has impressed Jets wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson in his second season. 'It's everything,' Jefferson said of Darnold. 'The way that he works -- he's here early in the morning, he stays after, he probably doesn't leave this building until six, seven at night. He's in the old quarterback room. I've been so impressed with this kids work ethic and the way he attacks everything. It's just been awesome to see a young kid like that. It's almost like he's been here before. He's a young guy, but he has a lot of veteran attributes to him.'

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It will be interesting to see what kind of steps Darnold can take in year two...now with the guidance of head coach Adam Gase. Having better weapons around Darnold (like RB Le'Veon Bell) should greatly help. Darnold is a low-end QB2 for Fantasy GMs in 2019.

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24. BAL - Coach optimistic on Marquise Brown

Source: NFL Network - Mike Garafolo

Baltimore Ravens WR Marquise Brown (foot) hopefully will be ready for training camp as he recovers from foot surgery, head coach John Harbaugh said Thursday, June 13. Harbaugh added he's optimistic if Brown has no setbacks.

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The plan was always for Brown to be ready by training camp. The surgery Brown had was back in February, so he's on track with no known setbacks. Brown is a playmaker and should quickly become a favorite of QB Lamar Jackson.

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25. BAL - Throwing coach for QB Lamar Jackson?

Source: NFL Network - Mike Garafolo

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson said Thursday, June 13, he might work with throwing coach Tom House before the start of training camp.

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It sounds like Jackson needs to. The reports from OTAs and minicamp were not kind about Jackson's progression as a passer. He's got time to improve, and it sounds like he'll use his 'off' time to get some more work in. Jackson's rushing ability and the improved playmakers around him could make him produce like a QB1 in some weeks for Fantasy GMs. Jackson is currently going off the board at QB22 (13.08) in 12-team PPR leagues.

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26. GB - Jake Kumerow draws praise

Source: Packers Wire - Zach Kruse

Green Bay Packers WR Jake Kumerow caught two touchdowns during minicamp practice Tuesday, June 11, and earned a lot of praise from QB Aaron Rodgers, who talked about Kumerow's intelligence and consistency being in the right spots. Rodgers concluded by saying he was a 'big fan' of Kumerow.

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Message! There are three wide receivers in Green Bay that Fantasy GMs need to be all over. Davante Adams (of course), Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Kumerow. The last two weeks of the 2018 season, Kumerow flashed and we love adding him in dynasty formats. He has the speed to get deep and tracks the ball well, and we're interested to see if he can push for more playing time this season. Consider Kumerow a favorite deep sleeper for the 2019 season.

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27. GB - WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling comfortable in offense

Source: 1 No Source

Green Bay Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling feels confident he'll flourish in the team's new offense. 'It's built for my kind of player. I'm a vertical guy, I can stretch the field,' Valdes-Scantling said.

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Another offseason drumbeat on Valdes-Scantling here. He's the WR to monitor behind Davante Adams. Even better, just scoop him up in your fantasy draft because the potential for him to be a top-25 fantasy WR is there. His current ADP shows plenty are sleeping on the second-year pro. Valdes-Scantling is going off the board at WR58 (13.10) in 12-team PPR leagues.

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That'll do it for today, Folks. Thanks for reading and thanks for being part of Footballguys.

We'll see you tomorrow with the Update.

Peace,

J