We are just one week away from the Bears-Packers matchup that will kick off the 2019 NFL season! It’s been a long offseason full of holdouts, helmet-complaining, and an unfortunate retirement. At this time next week, I’ll be previewing the long-time Bears-Packers rivalry but for now, we’ll break down some of the latest news around the league.
Jerick McKinnon Suffers another setback after ACL Surgery
Speaking Wednesday, GM John Lynch indicated Jerick McKinnon (knee) suffered another setback in his return to practice Tuesday. Lynch described the issue as a “flare-up.” This is Mckinnon’s second attempt to return to practice in the past month. Both times ended poorly and Lynch added that “Yesterday was not encouraging.” Based on this news, McKinnon will either end up on injured reserve or get outright cut. He’s already gobbled up all of his guaranteed money in his four-year, $30M contract he signed last season and could now miss a good chunk of this year. I’m preparing for fantasy drafts like McKinnon will be a non-factor this season, making both Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida incredible values at their current ADPs (Coleman in the fifth round, Breida in the 9th). It will be a 1A/1B situation similar to what we saw when in Atlanta with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman when Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator. Pro Football Focus’ Scott Barrett noted in his NFC Preseason Review Article “This preseason, Tevin Coleman has played on 31 of 50 snaps (62%) with Jimmy Garoppolo under center. The other 19 snaps (38%) went to Matt Breida.” A 60/40 split seems to be a fair projection of the split between Coleman and Breida this season and if either were to suffer a long-term injury, the remaining one would have league-winning upside. The 49ers offense also has top-10 potential with Jimmy Garoppolo healthy and a supporting cast full of legitimate weapons. Coleman and Breida should both be targets in upcoming fantasy drafts, especially at their respective ADP’s.
Jalen Ramsey planning on shadowing Tyreek Hill in Week 1
Jaguars DC Todd Wash said Jalen Ramsey will shadow Tyreek Hill in the Week 1 matchup with the Chiefs. The Jaguars did not use Ramsey to shadow Hill last season when the Chiefs eviscerated the Jaguars 30-14. Mahomes threw for 313 yards but no touchdowns and two interceptions. In terms of daily fantasy, this news would make me a bit hesitant on Tyreek and want to pivot to Watkins. The issue is, if Ramsey is going to shadow Hill I would assume they will play on playing more man defense than zone coverage. I’m sure they will mix it up, but it seems unlikely they would have Ramsey shadow Hill just to play zone defense the majority of the game, otherwise Andy Reid will just have Hill running out of Ramsey’s zone. The potential uptick in man coverage is an issue for Watkins who was much better against zone coverage last season. Using The Quant Edge's WR/CB matchup tool, Watkins averaged 7.4 yards per target and an 8-yard average depth of target (ADOT) against man coverage while averaging 10 yards per target and a 9.3 ADOT against zone. So this probably puts me on Kelce. The Jags were pretty middle of the road against tight ends last season but allowed 21% of total pass attempts to the position last season. Kelce went for 100 yards on five receptions the last time these two teams met as well. With Tyreek being shadowed by one of the top targets and Watkins facing more man than usual this means Kelce could have a massive target share in Week 1.
Melvin Gordon’s Holdout coming to an end?
Well, maybe. ESPN's Eric Williams wrote to "expect" Melvin Gordon to end his holdout in time for Week 1. When he was questioned about why he thought Gordon would return, he answered with, “he has a hunch.” Only Williams knows whether that hunch is backed by sources or pure speculation but it seems like an odd way to approach the situation if he did have a source on the subject. I’m still expecting Gordon to hold out for up to half the season at this point unless he caves towards the Chargers contract demands. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson remain both high-upside picks in the middle and late rounds of fantasy drafts.
Jadeveon Clowney willing to sit out regular-season games
FL Network's Mike Garafolo reports unsigned franchise player Jadeveon Clowney is willing to sit out regular-season games. Clowney has been linked to the Seahawks and Dolphins as potential trade partners but the hold-up is that they need to have a “wink-wink” contract in place prior to the trade. Franchises want to make sure Clowney will play once traded so without a deal in place it won't happen. This is a story to monitor in the coming days.
Editor's Note: If you're on the hunt for rankings, projections, strategy and advice on how to dominate your drafts, check out the all-new Rotoworld NFL Draft Guide. Now mobile-optimized with a new look and feel, it's never been easier to take our award-winning advice with you to your drafts for that extra competitive edge! Click here to learn more!
Patriots Acquire Two Offensive Lineman
Patriots acquired OG Jermaine Eluemunor from the Ravens for an undisclosed draft pick and OT Korey Cunningham from the Cardinals for a sixth-round pick. There isn’t too much behind these two trades besides the Patriots trying to build depth at the position. Eluemunor was receiving starter reps with the Ravens but was slated for a backup role so they were alright shipping him off to the Patriots. Cunningham was in a similar situation with the Cardinals and made six starts as a rookie last season. He wasn’t very good but nonetheless can be developed by Patriots guru OL coach Dante Scarnecchia.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Derek Carr has "got to throw the ball down the field" this upcoming season. Carr struggled with his deep passing last season and actually set a career-low in passing attempts 20+ yards downfield in 2018. While Gruden wants him to be aggressive, it’s more likely he remains a short-intermediate thrower. … Redskins president Bruce Allen said holdout LT Trent Williams will "play football" and "it'll be with us." We’ll see. Unless Washington ponies up and pays Trent Williams there doesn’t seem to be much of a chance that he decides to show up. … Jimmy Garoppolo remains on track to play in Week 1. This didn’t ever really seem to be in question considering he played in multiple weeks during the preseason. … Titans acquired LB Reggie Gilbert from the Packers for a seventh-round pick. Gilbert’s missed most of training camp with a knee injury and adds to the Titans’ defensive depth. … Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones said there's no deadline on extension talks with Dak Prescott. Jones said they are “open for business” but haven’t gotten close to a deal yet. The team is still trying to get a deal done with Ezekiel Elliott, which could impact the amount of money they are willing to give Prescott.