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Fantasy fallout: Goodbye Saquon Barkley, hello Daniel Jones

Normally you can’t accuse this column of any sort of East Coast bias. But the New York Giants changed that this week by becoming the center of the fantasy universe. For better and for worse.

We lost the consensus No. 1 draft pick, Saquon Barkley, to a high ankle sprain for an estimated 4-8 weeks. But we gained “Danny Dimes,” thanks to the surprisingly explosive debut of rookie quarterback Daniel Jones — which should also boost the value of tight end Evan Engram and receivers Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate, according to ESPN Giants reporter Jordan Raanan.

“Engram and Shepard, they’re like on Cloud 9 right now,” said Raanan, who said it’s no coincidence that both of them had 100-yard games in Jones’ debut — because not only does he throw the ball deep with accuracy, but he also keeps plays alive with his legs longer than previous QB Eli Manning did.5

Raanan had a great breakdown of how Jones’ mobility played such a big role in the Giants’ 32-31 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in which he threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 28 yards and two more TDs.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Raanan stopped short of predicting Shepard will become a top-20 fantasy receiver, because he thinks Shepard and Tate could be somewhat interchangeable when Tate returns from a suspension in Week 5.

However, Raanan does believe that Jones himself can be a legitimate fantasy asset — especially when you throw in those bonus points he can provide in the running game.

“I mean, he’s done it pretty consistently,” Raanan said. “He completed 85% of his passes in the preseason. That’s really good no matter who you’re playing against. And he’s not throwing dink and dunks — he’s willing to throw it down the field. That’s probably the thing he does best. He averaged 9.8 air yards per attempt.

“And he’s gonna put up numbers because their defense is not very good. So they’re gonna have to score points.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Raanan did offer some notes of caution, though. For one thing, fumbling has been an Achilles’ heel for Jones, with three of them in the preseason and three of them already in limited regular-season action. And, of course, the Giants’ offense will lose some potency while Barkley is sidelined, especially when they face top defenses such as New England and Minnesota in Weeks 5-6.

As for replacing Barkley, Raanan said he thinks third-year RB Wayne Gallman is “their guy” and that he should see around 15 carries per game. He certainly won’t replace the production level of Barkley — and Raanan doesn’t think he will see nearly as much work in the passing game, some of which could go to fullback Elijhaa Penny. But Raanan said he’s a little higher on Gallman’s running ability than others seem to be and thinks he could have moderate success because the opportunity will be there.

Don’t overlook Kyle Allen if he faces former nemesis Kyler Murray

It’s easy to overlook Carolina Panthers backup quarterback Kyle Allen because he wasn’t invited to a college all-star game, went undrafted and was cut from the practice squad before making the 53-man roster when Cam Newton was shut down for the final two games of last season.

It’s easy to overlook Allen’s Week 17 win against New Orleans because the Saints rested their starters, having already wrapped up the NFC South title.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

It’s easy to overlook Allen this week as he works with the first team in the likelihood a left foot sprain will keep Newton out of Sunday’s game against the Cardinals in Arizona, where Allen grew up, and against the top pick of the draft — a fellow QB whose presence played a role in Allen’s college career that showed promise but never took off.

Jordan Palmer gets why Allen is under the radar.5

“I totally understand how the media and the fans could arrive at that,” said Palmer, a former NFL quarterback who works with Allen during the offseason at QB Summit. “There’s so much information out there nowadays, you feel if you don’t know a lot about somebody, they’re probably not that good.

“I do know Kyle. I’ve been paying attention since high school, and I’ve had a lot of conviction on him for a long time. So I’m not surprised at all he’s in this position, and I’m not going to be surprised at all when he plays really, really well and this offense really starts clicking.”

That’s a bold prediction, as Allen completed only 52.9% of his passes and had no touchdown passes in four preseason games.

Palmer has worked with Allen since he was at Desert Mountain High in Scottsdale. He has seen enough to believe that when surrounded by the first-team line and do-it-all running back Christian McCaffrey — neither was at his disposal most of the preseason — the offense will be as explosive as Allen promised it would be coming out of training camp.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“He’s going to go through his progressions, and he’s going to throw and anticipate your timing; and the moment is not going to be too big for him, and he’s going to play really composed, good, execution football,” said Palmer, the younger brother of former three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer.

2019 fantasy football handcuffs: Austin Ekeler among top options

On one hand, you want to protect yourself from injuries by warehousing your star player’s backup.

On the other hand, the opportunity cost of expending that roster spot could cost you a valuable waiver pickup.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The fact is handcuffing is a valuable tool if used correctly.

Some backups are very good players, while others are not. In the event of an injury, some would be positioned for a clear path to a large share of touches, while others would see only a slight uptick in work. Most of your opponents will be thinking only about handcuffs at running back, so you can gain an advantage by considering those at other positions as well.6

When evaluating handcuffs, the best game plan is to select players with high ceilings should the player ahead of them on the depth chart miss time. For example, should Alvin Kamara get hurt, Latavius Murray would take on a workhorse role in New Orleans and would be in the RB1 discussion. If Saquon Barkley goes down, however, the likes of Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins and Rod Smith would figure to share touches and none would be a clear fantasy starter. If you selected Barkley and not Kamara, don’t cross Murray off your draft board and force a dart throw at Gallman. Pick the guy who can win you a league championship, not a player who would barely be worth flex consideration.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Below is a two-part examination of the 2019 handcuff landscape. Because handcuffing is most relevant to the running back position, the first part is a ranking 1-to-32 of the top RB handcuffs for each team, as well as some thoughts on how the backfield might look if the starter goes down. Part 2 runs through a few notable handcuffs at other positions.

For updated handcuff information and advice throughout the season, be sure to keep up with our fantasy depth charts.

Jadeveon Clowney playing on franchise tag is wrong step for Texans brass

the Houston Texans had two of the top pass-rushers in the NFL in J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. By not reaching a long-term extension by the franchise tag deadline on Monday, the Texans risk losing Clowney — the first overall pick in the 2014 draft — at the end of the season instead of building around the core talent they have right now.

The Texans placed the non-exclusive franchise tag, which is worth $15.967 million for the 2019 season, on Clowney in March and the outside linebacker/defensive end did not attend any of the Texans’ spring workouts, including the mandatory veterans minicamp.

While the Texans could of course still sign Clowney to a new contract after the 2019 season — or tag him for the second year in a row — they likely wouldn’t match what the pass-rusher would get on the open market.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping5

The Raiders learned last season that you can’t let a player of that caliber go when they traded outside linebacker Khalil Mack to the Bears for two first-round picks. Mack gave a huge boost to the Bears defense (12.5 sacks, 18 QB hits), while Oakland coach Jon Gruden said later in the season that his team was in need of a pass-rusher.

There are few teams that have a pair of defensive linemen like the Texans do with Watt and Clowney. Last season, Houston ranked 12th in total defense but third against the run. The 3.4 rushing yards allowed per attempt was an NFL low due to the performances of Watt and Clowney.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Last season, Clowney was named to his third straight Pro Bowl, and finished the regular season with 47 tackles, nine sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. According to NFL NextGen, the Texans’ defender had a Pass-Block Win Rate of 35% — second-best among qualifying defensive ends/linebackers. He also had 16 tackles for loss, which tied for ninth in the NFL last season, and now has 53 tackles for loss over the past three seasons, third in the league.

According to Pro Football Focus, Clowney had the best season of his career “by far” in 2018. His overall grade of 89.5 was tied for seventh best among edge defenders. He had 28 run stops on 283 run-defense snaps, the 10th-best run-stop percentage at his position.

While Clowney is not expected to report to training camp on July 24 with the rest of his teammates because he did not get a new contract, it’s unlikely his holdout will continue into the regular season, where he would miss out on game checks worth more than $1 million per game.

Seahawks rookie receiver DK Metcalf has brains to go with brawn

Leading up to and immediately after the NFL draft, in which the Seahawks traded up to take Metcalf with the final pick of the second round, he was perhaps known just as much for his hulking physique as he was for what he did on the field at Ole Miss.

But this spring, he was more than merely a physical specimen. Wilson pointed to Metcalf’s football knowledge when asked what about the rookie wide receiver has stood out most.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“Everybody knows about his ability to run and everything else, and jump and catch and all that,” Wilson said. “You guys have been talking about that for months, but I think more than anything else, it’s his brain and how he processes information and how quickly he understands it. He’s really intelligent. He really understands the game really well. He takes coaching really well. He gets extra work. He’s a legit pro wide receiver. He’s everything that everybody was talking about in terms of what he’s capable of and more.”5

Metcalf, at 6-foot-3 and 228 pounds, has looked like a professional receiver during offseason work, so much so that it was easy to momentarily forget about all the concerns over his route running, lateral agility and NFL readiness. Metcalf ran a blazing 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine but produced less impressive results in some of the agility drills. He managed 26 catches for 569 yards and five touchdowns before a neck injury ended his final season at Ole Miss after only seven games.
Now, for the mandatory pumping of the breaks. The usual caveats about offseason practices apply here. The noncontact format — Seahawks defensive backs weren’t fully contesting catches — sets pass-catchers up to shine. And there are a few cautionary tales from recent Seahawks past about getting too excited over an impressive spring from a rookie receiver.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

In 2010, it was Golden Tate, who arrived with similar fanfare as a second-round pick coming off an All-American season that earned him the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver. He made play after play over the spring and summer and looked poised for a strong rookie season. He was benched in Week 1 and finished the year with only 21 catches.

Carroll has theorized aloud that Tate’s football development was stunted in college because of the double duty he pulled as an outfielder on Notre Dame’s baseball team, which took him away from spring practices. Tate readily admitted years after the fact that he was skating by on his athleticism as a rookie and didn’t really understand the finer points of the position.

Vikings’ decision to extend Kyle Rudolph reflects all-in mentality

He wore his feelings on his chest, donning a white hoodie with the phrase “Lots of Game Left” as he participated in voluntary workouts while uncertainty swirled around the status of his contract and his future in Minnesota.

Ahead of mandatory minicamp, the Vikings came back at Rudolph with a message just as poignant: The pursuit of our first Lombardi Trophy cannot happen without you.nfl jersey cheap wholesale china

The four-year, $36 million contract extension Rudolph signed on Tuesday is set to keep him in Minnesota through the 2023 season. The veteran tight end got what he wanted — to remain in the place where he started his career in 2011 on a deal in which he doesn’t feel like he’s shortchanging himself ($9 million of Rudolph’s new contract is fully guaranteed, a source told ESPN). The Vikings made out well on their end, too, not having to overpay or lock themselves long term into a player approaching the later years of his prime, with Rudolph’s extension also expected to free up $4 million in cap space, according to NFL Network.

The laborious work it took for both sides to get here finally paid off. Finding a way to keep Rudolph on this offense exemplifies a mentality that the Vikings are all-in for the 2019 season, backed by the support of an ownership group willing to pull out all the stops to make it happen.6

“It certainly embodies the win-now mentality,” Rudolph said. “But to me, it just embodies how much they (the Wilf family) care about winning, period. They came to this organization a little over 12 years ago with one goal and that was to win a championship. All the stuff that they’ve done since is falling in place with that goal. Certainly we want to win now — that’s not going to change. But with their leadership, they’re providing us with every resource imaginable to win now, but also to win for a long time.”wholesale jerseys cheap nfl

Rudolph is the third core veteran the Vikings retained this offseason when financial limitations felt like they would lead to dead ends. Keeping defensive end Everson Griffen, linebacker Anthony Barr and now Rudolph shows the belief this franchise has that it can get back to where it was in 2017, when this team reached its highest heights under this ownership, front office and coaching staff, standing one win away from a trip to the Super Bowl.

What the Vikings want to do offensively cannot happen without Rudolph on the roster. After the Vikings drafted Irv Smith Jr. with the 50th overall pick, general manager Rick Spielman noted how the use of multiple tight end sets can help this offense become harder to defend. Smith and Rudolph are completely different; one does not make the other obsolete. Keeping both of them, especially with the roles tight ends have played in Gary Kubiak’s offenses before and the concepts that coordinator Kevin Stefanski has voiced a desire to employ regularly, was critical for the success of this unit.

If the Vikings weren’t serious about the way they view Rudolph’s role as a necessary component to the success of this offense, they might have taken a gamble that they could have been just as successful without him. But the pressure that would put on Smith to perform immediately when rookie tight ends often face struggles might not be worth it.

Browns eager for good dose of OBJ in minicamp

Browns coach Freddie Kitchens was direct when asked what Odell Beckham Jr. was missing during organized team activities, which are voluntary.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“A lot,” Kitchens told reporters Thursday. “The offense.”

Beckham attended the first OTA session May 14 but has missed the eight sessions since. The Browns open mandatory minicamp Tuesday, and Beckham is expected to show. Beckham also attended an April 1 news conference with teammates Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry and Myles Garrett, but he has not been a fixture at the team facility since Cleveland acquired him in a March 12 trade with the New York Giants.7

“I just want to see him,” Kitchens said when asked what he wants to see from Beckham during the three-day camp.

Mayfield has been running the offense without several top options. Landry did not participate in Thursday’s session, and Kitchens said an injury will likely keep him off the field for minicamp, delaying the on-field reunion of Beckham and Landry from their LSU days. Running back Duke Johnson, the subject of trade rumors, has stayed away.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Two weeks ago, Kitchens said he wanted every player here but stressed they had the option to attend. Receivers coach Adam Henry, who coached Beckham in New York and at LSU, said he has no concerns about Beckham’s readiness.

“He’s a worker. He’s a guy who works hard,” Henry said. “He’s always in condition. You have to save him from himself when he’s practicing because he’ll go and go and go. He’s like the young person with the ball. If there’s a ball being thrown or kicked, he wants it.”

The Browns haven’t seen much of that in person but are eager to find out.

Beckham is entering the second year of a five-year, $95 million deal he signed with the Giants last offseason.

Sitting Pat standing pat: Gronk still retired

Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said Sunday morning that he is happy in retirement, while playfully deflecting a question on whether he wanted to end rumors that he would ever consider a comeback.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

“Oh man! Whatever I say, it doesn’t matter. It will always be crazy out there, but you can put them to rest,” Gronkowski said with a smile while taking part in the One Mission Buzz Off for Kids at Gillette Stadium. “I’m feeling good. [In a] good place. It’s great to be back here.”
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While Gronkowski, 30, didn’t decisively spike the possibility of a comeback — which is something his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said in March wouldn’t surprise him — he clearly seems to be content in retirement.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Gronkowski said returning to Gillette Stadium for Sunday’s event, which marked the ninth year in which he’s served as an ambassador by shaving his head in support of kids with cancer, reminded him that “there will always be family here, and it will always be home here.”

Gronkowski didn’t detail specific plans for his retirement, other than saying he plans to be part of more charitable and community events.

“I love the New England community. It’s something special, all the support through many, many years of playing. The support of just not on the field, but off the field as well. New England will always be special, always have a big part in my heart, and always have much love,” he said. “It’s great to continue giving back. Just because I’m not playing any more doesn’t mean you can’t give back. You can do more, actually.”

Dak on deal talks: ‘Want to be a Cowboy forever’

“I mean, I want to be a Cowboy forever,” Prescott said Wednesday night at Dr Pepper Ballpark, where the quarterback and his teammates were raising money for the Salvation Army through the Reliant Home Run Derby. “I think the people that are doing the deal feel the same way, so to me, it’s no rush. I know it will get done.”

Prescott is set to make $2.02 million in the final year of his four-year rookie contract that he signed after the Dallas Cowboys drafted him in the fourth round in 2016.

Last week, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said talks with the agents for Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper were “off and running,” and Jones did not rule out a deal for running back Ezekiel Elliott, either.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones has said keeping Prescott is a priority for the future and that he knows it will come at a big price.

Russell Wilson recently signed a four-year, $140 million extension with the Seattle Seahawks. Prescott is likely to see a deal that could come in around $30 million per year.4

Last month, DeMarcus Lawrence signed a five-year, $105 million deal that is the most in Cowboys history in terms of average per year ($21 million) and guaranteed money ($65 million). Prescott figures to top those marks.

“It’s all generational money, life-changing money, so it’s just a blessing to be able to be in this position,” Prescott said. “But as far as the numbers are concerned, my focus is on the locker room, and that will all take care of itself.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Since 2016, only Tom Brady has won more games than Prescott in the NFL. Prescott was named NFL Rookie of the Year in 2016 after he took over for an injured Tony Romo and threw 23 touchdown passes with just four interceptions in leading the Cowboys to an NFC-best 13-3 record.

Prescott has started every game in his career, compiling a 32-16 record with two NFC East titles and two playoff appearances. He followed up his rookie campaign with back-to-back seasons with 22 touchdown passes. He had 13 interceptions in 2017 and just eight in 2018. He is the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 20 touchdown passes and run for at least five scores in each of his first three seasons.

The Cowboys picked up the fifth-year option on Elliott’s contract for 2020 at a cost of $9.09 million, and they would like to sign him to a long-term deal, as well.

‘It felt like home’: Steelers’ Al Villanueva returns to army base in Germany

Alejandro Villanueva knows how to maximize an offseason. He takes business classes at Carnegie Mellon University and spends time fishing in Florida and Canada.

Last month was all about savoring nostalgia from the fields of Kaiserslautern High School in Germany.

As an honorary football coach to military members as part of the USAA’s Salute to Service NFL Boot Camp, Villanueva returned to the place where his career as a U.S. Army Ranger began.

“As soon as I landed in Germany, it felt like it was home,” said Villanueva, who served in Afghanistan before working his way into the NFL. “Last time here (at Kaiserslautern) was with my dad getting my physical for the U.S. military.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

The boot camp — combining communities from Kaiserslautern military and the Ramstein Air Base — gives military the chance to train like NFL players. True to Steelers form, they trained in a light coat of April snowfall.4

Villanueva wasn’t exactly a hard-charging coach, bragging over the phone that he just threw a ball 45 yards. He oversaw the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, three-cone shuttle, receiving gauntlet and quarterback arm challenge.

But this was USAA’s first boot-camp session held on an overseas U.S. military base, which made Villanueva proud.

“It’s bridging the past and present with what I’ve experienced,” Villanueva said of his trip. “To be received by the military community here is something special.“cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Villanueva is one of the most recognizable figures in the league’s relationship with the armed forces. Every season, Villanueva honors teammates with helmet decals from various Army divisions. He pairs decals with players whose personalities match the spirit of a specific division.

He hoped to teach football in Germany while converting a few Steelers fans along the way. But that was already done for him.

“People follow sports differently, but there’s a huge massive Steelers following, which is rally cool,” Villanueva said. “I’ve seen terrible towels around here.”