News And Notes: Down On Doug
June 4, 2014 | Jeff
Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times has reported that new Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford intends to rotate players at the running back position in 2014. Tedford stated, “I think you have to alternate,” and added, “But I don’t believe that one back can carry the load. It’s just too physical. I think you probably need to have two to three guys to bring different things to the table.” Well, Tedford barely unpacked his bags in Tampa before crushing our dreams of Doug Martin’s return to glory. Thanks Jeff! In all reality, Martin wasn’t likely to receive the 368 touches he received as a rookie in 2012, but it now appears likely that he will lose more touches to his backfield mates than we anticipated. 2013 waiver wire stars Mike James and Bobby Rainey will be back in Tampa Bay in addition to rookie running back Charles Sims. Our own Rich Hribar touched on Sims’ pass catching ability in his pre-draft running back coverage, so keep an eye on his usage throughout the preseason schedule. I personally have Doug Martin at RB14 and would rather saddle up with a slew of other “second round” type running backs in drafts this summer.
2013’s preseason darling Lamar Miller has been working with the Miami first team during OTA’s according to the Miami Herald. New Dolphins running back Knowshon Moreno apparently spent a few too many offseason afternoons at Golden Corral, leading to some concerns about his conditioning. As with most offseason NFL notes, there isn’t much too be concerned about with this situation, but keep an eye on news out of South Beach this summer to ensure that Moreno has slimmed down and taken the driver’s seat in Miami’s backfield. This is also a good time to consider that Lamar Miller just turned 23 years old in April, and spent the 2013 season running behind the fourth worst NFL offensive line, according to Pro Football Focus. Depending on summer Average Draft Position (ADP), Miller may end up being a solid swipe in fantasy drafts.
Second year wide receiver Marquess Wilson has been an interesting target in dynasty leagues for some time (take it from our own Chad Scott), but he may be ready to make a contribution in yearly leagues as well. The Chicago Tribune’s Rich Campbell reported that Wilson claims he now weighs in at 207 pounds. The knock on Wilson when he was drafted was that his frame was not quite NFL ready, but he must have hung around with Knowshon Moreno over the offseason as he has allegedly added a healthy 23 pounds. The Bears still have boat loads of pass catchers including Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett, and Matt Forte (you may have heard of them), but Wilson is a developing youngster who may end up on our dance card late in fantasy drafts this season.
Cleveland Plain Dealer writer Tom Reed expects the Browns to finish in the top third in the NFL in rushing attempts and rushing yards in 2014. This would be quite a turnaround for the Browns, as they finished up 2013 with only 348 rushing attempts (30th in the NFL) and 1,383 rushing yards (28th in the NFL). To put the 2013 Cleveland rushing attack into perspective, LeSean McCoy handled 314 attempts and racked up 1,607 yards all by himself. By 2013’s NFL rushing standards, Cleveland will need to add around 100 rushes and nearly 1,000 total yards to finish in the Top 10 in those categories, which would mean big things for Ben Tate and new quarterback Johnny Manziel. We will be covering the Cleveland backfield in greater depth later this week, but keep an eye on rookies Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell, who may also contribute to Cleveland’s new run-heavy scheme.
Atlanta Falcons fans and fake football fiends alike are hoping for a dramatic rebound from Matt Ryan and the Atlanta passing game in 2014. The key to this situation is the health of stud Julio Jones and his surgically repaired foot. So far, there has been little news out of Atlanta to make fantasy owners feel warm and tingly about hitching their wagon to this stallion on draft day. Jones has yet to participate in OTA’s and Atlanta wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie recently told ESPN, “I think every day, we’ll be out there with him with caution. We’ll be watching him a little bit kind of standing on pins and needles.” Julio Jones currently sits as our fifth ranked fantasy wide receiver for the 2014 season, but he will need to show some involvement with the Atlanta offense this summer, and most notably his signature speed, before fantasy drafts kick off or he will be taking the elevator down a few floors in our preseason ranks.