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The Houston Texans have traded for Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller, with the Texans betting on Miller to win their No. 3 receiver job heading into the 2021 season. Houston has Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb already, but there have been big questions about the other receiver slot, with rookie Nico Collins and veterans like Donte Moncrief and Chris Conley competing for that role. Of course, both Miller and Cobb are best in the slot, so maybe this doesn’t end up solving anything for Houston. Miller is coming off a season in which he caught 49 passes for 485 yards and two touchdowns. Consistency has been a major issue for Miller, so while there’s still some upside, he’s a late-round dart throw at best in an offense that’ll likely struggle to move the ball through the air with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback.
The Dallas Cowboys are expected to sign defensive back Malik Hooker to complete their 90-man roster. Hooker and the Cowboys met for a second time on Friday and as long as everything checks out with his medicals, he should be joining the team soon. Hooker is coming off an Achilles injury that required surgery. The former first round pick has missed 17 games over the past two seasons, but he’s always been a ball hawk while on the field. He’s a high-upside signing for a Cowboys defense that needs help in the secondary.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (ankle) said that he “definitely want[s] to play” in the preseason. “I obviously want to get out there and get some reps before it’s real,” he continued. Coach Mike McCarthy said that he does expect his quarterback to get some preseason playing time. Prescott will likely not play much, but they’ll get him into some game action to make sure he’s ready to go in Week 1. With Prescott expected to be back to full strength, all of the Cowboys skill position players have their fantasy arrows pointing up.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) could miss up to five games after ankle surgery, per The Athletic. Thomas was limited to seven games in 2020 due to a high-ankle sprain and could now be sidelined through the team’s Week 6 bye. It’s a significant blow to the star wideout’s fantasy value, as he now becomes a mid-to-late round injury stash for a team transitioning to a new quarterback. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Saints bring in a veteran receiver, given their limited depth. Already a popular breakout pick, Tre’Quan Smith figures to see a large target share and could be a wise investment for fantasy managers if he can take advantage of the opportunity. Marquez Callaway and Adam Trautman could be sneaky late-round sleepers- though perhaps the real winner from a fantasy perspective is running back Alvin Kamara, who will be tasked with a large workload through the first several weeks of the season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Friday. Whitehead wasn’t at the team’s Super Bowl ring ceremony or the visit to the White House from earlier this week. He reportedly won’t be available when the team opens training camp on Sunday, though he likely won’t miss more than a couple of weeks of practice. It’s unclear if he tested positive or when he’ll be able to return to the facility. Whitehead was an important part of a championship defense in 2020, playing 83 percent of the snaps, totaling 74 tackles, two sacks, and two interceptions in his best campaign yet. He figures to be a solid contributor to a productive fantasy defense once again in 2021.
The Denver Broncos completed the signing of their 2021 draft class by signing second-rounder Javonte Williams to a four-year contract on Friday. Williams was electric in his final year at North Carolina, posting 1445 total yards and 22 total touchdowns while averaging 7.3 yards per carry. The Broncos brass has talked up Williams throughout the offseason, and the fact that the team invested significant draft capital into selecting him bodes well for his fantasy prospects in 2021. Going into camp, Williams will be competing with Melvin Gordon for the bulk of backfield touches. Williams’ current fifth-round ADP is well ahead of Gordon, who is currently being taken in the seventh round in most drafts. Williams has a great chance to take over this backfield early in the season and he should be considered a volatile, but exciting RB2 going into 2021.
The Green Bay Packers signed third-round pick Amari Rodgers to a four-year deal that officially completes the signing of all of the team’s 2021 draft picks. Rodgers, a 5-foot-9 slot weapon, was very productive at Clemson and projects to be used creatively in the Packers offense regardless of who lines up under center. In college, Rodgers excelled in a gadget/kick returner role as well as in the slot receiver role, which speaks to his explosiveness with the ball in his hands. Rodgers’ fantasy value in 2021 is a mystery at this point in time due to his lack of experience and the uncertainty surrounding quarterbackAaron Rodgers, but the 21-year-old wideout is an intriguing dynasty asset going forward.
The Cleveland Browns officially signed rookie cornerback Greg Newsome II to a four-year deal after selecting him 26th overall in April’s draft. Newsome was a three-year standout at Northwestern University, finishing top five in passes defensed among all Big Ten players in 2019 and 2020 while also receiving third-team All-American honors in 2020. Newsome figures to compete with Greedy Williams for starting snaps across from star corner Denzel Ward, and reviews about his performance in offseason workouts were strong. Expect Newsome to contribute significantly in 2021 even if he doesn’t earn a starting outside corner job by week one.
Malik Hooker, a former first-round draft choice of the Indianapolis Colts, is close to signing with the Dallas Cowboys pending a physical. It’s no secret that Dallas has been looking for secondary help following a disastrous 2020 season on the back end of their defense, and Hooker could be just what the team is looking for if he stays healthy. Per Michael Gehlken, Hooker would make the 90-man roster if and when he signs with the team. Hooker has missed 28 games in his four seasons to this point, but he has been productive when he’s been on the field. In 36 career games Hooker has racked up seven interceptions, 11 passes defensed, 124 tackles, and two fumble recoveries. Expect Hooker to line up as a traditional free safety in 2021 alongside strong safety Donovan Wilson.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes believes that he will have no restrictions with his left foot when training camp starts. Mahomes underwent toe surgery after the season and recently shed his walking boot. Mahomes hasn’t had a setback since then and it’s a great sign for the signal caller looking ahead to this season. Mahomes remains at the top of the class for the quarterback position entering this upcoming season and managers should feel safe spending early draft capital on him. If Mahomes were to have a setback or miss time, veteran backup Chad Henne would be next in line.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not participate in most team periods during Friday’s practice, with Dwayne Haskins instead getting additional reps. Head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters that he is trying to get more playing time for guys who he expects to be involved in the Hall of Fame Game against the Dallas Cowboys on August 5. Roethlisberger is entering his 19th NFL season and does not need the reps and most assuredly won’t play much, if at all, in the HOF preseason contest. Haskins and Mason Rudolph will be competing to be the team’s backup QB during training camp, a spot that could see some playing time in the regular season considering Roethlisberger’s lengthy injury history.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Josh Reynolds is in line to be the team’s No. 3 receiver behind A.J. Brown and Julio Jones in his first year in Tennessee. Any of Reynolds, Brown or Jones could work out of the slot at any given time. Rookie Dez Fitzpatrick, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Cameron Batson are the top contenders to fill out the receiver group heading into the regular season. Reynolds had some really high hopes in this offense before the Titans traded for Jones, but now he’ll only be a late-round flier in much deeper leagues in case Brown or Jones miss time with injury. The 26-year-old caught a career-high 52 passes for a career-high 618 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 16 games (13 starts) in his final season with the Los Angeles Rams in 2020.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (knees), who missed organized team activities and minicamp this spring while working his way back from postseason surgery on both knees, will be a full-go when the team starts training camp next Wednesday. When not on the field this spring, Brown continued his conditioning and watched loads of film. The 24-year-old caught 70 passes for 1,075 yards and 11 touchdowns in 14 games in 2020 while battling his knee issues throughout the season. Brown has been a top-15 fantasy wideout each of the last two years, and while his ceiling will be limited with All-Pro Julio Jones now in the mix, Jones’ presence could also open up more one-on-ones for him. He’s currently being drafted as the No. 7 receiver off the board in the early rounds, and fantasy managers should feel more comfortable with him as their WR1 if he proves he’s fully healthy once practices begin.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Bisi Johnson will head into his third pro season hoping to lock down the third receiver role in the offense. Johnson was the ‘star’ of last year’s training camp, earning rave reviews with highlight-reel catches during practices. Unfortunately, those performances did not translate over to the regular season games and rookie teammate Justin Jefferson soared past him on the depth chart. Johnson finished the season with only 14 receptions for 189 yards and zero touchdowns and will need a strong preseason to carve out a role in the offense in 2021.
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison will head into training camp as one of the top fantasy handcuff options in the NFL. The 23-year-old posted 434 rushing yards last season, averaging 4.5 yards per carry with two touchdowns. He will backup one of the best running backs in the game in Dalvin Cook yet Cook’s health is always something to monitor from a fantasy perspective. When given a full run, Mattison can easily handle lead back duties when given the chance, as evidenced by his 20-carry, 112-yard performance in Week 5 against the Seahawks last season. Any fantasy team that selects Cook will need to consider adding Mattison as insurance in the final rounds of upcoming drafts.
Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams will attempt to compete for carries with teammate D’Andre Swift heading into training camp. Williams was signed in the offseason away from the rival Green Bay Packers after the 26-year-old posted 741 total yards with three touchdowns as a backup last season. Williams is a fantastic change-of-pace back and should compliment Swift on a team that is targeted to run the ball heavily out of the gate this season. Williams is not expected to become the starter but should see a solid amount of touches in the offense. If Swift were to go down with an injury, Williams’ fantasy stock could skyrocket.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Quintez Cephus will have a great opportunity this season to earn more playing time. Cephus had a bumpy rookie campaign last season and caught 20 passes for 349 yards with two touchdowns. He was able to make some downfield plays last season and averaged 17.5 yards per catch but was inactive for three weeks of the season. Now the Lions have a new quarterback (Jared Goff) and a totally revamped wide receiving room that features journeyman like Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman. Cephus can certainly stretch the field with his speed but consistency will be key if the young receiver wants to succeed. Cephus is not a fantasy option at this time until some untapped potential rises to the surface.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Geronimo Allison will have an opportunity to find a role on a young Lions offense heading into training camp. The 25-year-old has been the first four years of his career in Green Bay and now moves over to a NFC North rival. Allison played in all 16 games last season but was named the starter for only six of them. He racked up a career-high 34 passes on 55 targets last season with 287 yards and two touchdowns. Allison came into the league as a downfield threat but averaged only 8.4 yards per catch last season. The Lions have completely overhauled their wide receiving group in the offseason and there will be plenty of chances to build chemistry with new quarterback Jared Goff throughout camp and preseason action.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams has broken off contract extension talks with the team after months of negotiating. Adams is set to be a free agent at the end of the season and the two sides are now in a ‘bad place’, according to sources that have been speaking to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. This is the last thing Packers fans need to hear after a roller-coaster offseason embroiled with rumors that quarterback Aaron Rodgers no longer wants to play for the franchise. Adams is at the top of many wide receiver fantasy football depth charts but this development regarding his unhappiness shouldn’t knock him off that spot just yet.
The Los Angeles Rams defense was the best in fantasy football last season using standard-scoring methods, but they very well may take a step back in the 2021 season. The team lost two different starters in the secondary along with multiple rotational linemen up front. On top of the players they lost on the field, defensive coordinator Brandon Staley is now across town with the Los Angeles Chargers as their head coach. The Rams still have supremely talented players in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, but they could take a step back from being the dominant group they were a season ago.
After spending his first five seasons splitting touches at the tight end position, Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee is primed for a big year in 2021 with quarterback Matthew Stafford now under center. Former teammate Gerald Everett is now with the Seattle Seahawks, and the Rams avoided bringing in any major threats to Higbee’s touches. The tight end position remains one of the more barren for fantasy purposes, but Higbee makes a lot of sense as a dart throw in the later rounds with his athleticism and lack of competition.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods has remained one of the most underrated wide receivers in the NFL. He’s coming off of 900 or more yards in each of the last three seasons, and heading into 2021, he’ll be playing with a new starting quarterback for the first time since he arrived with the Los Angeles Rams back in 2017. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was traded from the Detroit Lions to the Rams in March, and as of just a few weeks ago, Woods was working to gel with his new signal-caller. It was noted by reporters that he was sending bits of his own film to Stafford as well as sitting with him during film sessions during team meetings to work on their chemistry for this season.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp wasn’t the most high-profile wide receiver in the 2017 draft, but he’s quickly turned into one of the most productive wideouts in the league. Through four seasons, he’s caught 288 passes for 3,570 yards across 54 games played. One of the major reasons for his success has been his ability to get open. Over the last three years, Kupp has been classified as open on more than 50 percent of his targets. Over that same stretch, the only other wideout to break the 50 percent mark has been Tyreek Hill. With a better quarterback under center this year, Kupp could put up some huge numbers with Matthew Stafford throwing him the ball.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. could emerge as the team’s third wideout out of training camp. Marshall was selected out of LSU with the club’s second-round pick after compiling 94 catches for 1,402 yards and 23 touchdowns in his last two college seasons, though he was limited to just seven games in 2020 after opting out to prepare for the draft. The 21-year-old has a history of lower-body injuries but could be a solid red-zone target for new Panthers’ quarterback Sam Darnold if he can stay on the field. Marshall could have some late-round value if he wins the training camp battle with David Moore for the third receiver spot, though he’d be effectively off the fantasy radar if Moore is deemed the starter.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) underwent surgery to repair the ligaments in his ankle last month. Four months of recovery are recommended after the surgery, which means Thomas is likely to be sidelined for several weeks at the start of the 2021 season. This news will certainly make Thomas’s ADP drop significantly. He’ll now be more of a mid-round draft-and-stash. The Saints are extremely thin at receiver. Tre’Quan Smith figures to be the top wide receiver target for whoever starts at quarterback for the Saints between Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston. Smith struggled as the WR1 in New Orleans while Thomas was hurt last year so fantasy managers shouldn’t be too aggressive in pursuit of Smith on fantasy draft day.
Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins is on the radar for a breakout 2021 campaign. According to FanDuel, the former Buckeye is a favorite to compile the most regular-season rushing yards by the end of the year. Whether Dobbins will do it or not is debatable. However, he has the potential to finish as one of the league’s most elite backs. The 22-year-old completed his inaugural season with 805 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, doing so despite competition for snaps from Mark Ingram II and Gus Edwards. Dobbins also found the end zone in each of the team’s final six regular-season games, so managers looking for upside shouldn’t need to look much harder than him, especially now than Ingram is out of the picture.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is expected to land a deal soon worth between $40 and $45 million per year, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano. Jackson has been one of the most explosive and productive signal-callers over the last few seasons, winning the Most Valuable Player award in 2019. While the 24-year-old regressed to some degree in 2020, finishing with 26 passing touchdowns, with a career-high nine picks, and seven rushing touchdowns, Jackson should remain classified as a top-five fantasy option at the position. Managers looking for an elite quarterback who can do it all should be ready to pick him up early in fantasy drafts for the 2021 campaign, especially with Baltimore anticipated to thrive off of its favorable strength of schedule.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd could be in line for a monster year, at least according to former NFL quarterback and current analyst Dan Orlovsky. The 27-year-old racked up back-to-back seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards before falling short of that mark in 2020. However, with an enhanced offensive line and the addition of Ja’Marr Chase to help take away some pressure, Boyd may have plenty of room to operate out of the slot. The ceiling remains high for the former Pittsburgh Panther despite more competition for looks from Joe Burrow. Although he is expected to see a reduction in targets, in return, he could offset that by making more trips to the end zone.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (knee) was a favorite to finish last season as the league’s Rookie of the Year. However, after he took a huge hit during a Week 7 encounter against the Cleveland Browns, resulting in a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee, Justin Herbert surpassed him to claim the award. Now, with the former LSU Tiger seemingly healthy, he is expected to benefit from an enhanced offensive line and the addition of former collegiate teammate Ja’Marr Chase. Burrow has high expectations moving ahead and was recently dubbed “baby Aaron” by Mike Daniels, a former Packer who spent six seasons playing alongside Aaron Rodgers. While managers should be rightfully apprehensive about selecting Burrow as their primary signal-caller based on the horrific injury, the upside is there for those looking to hold off on selecting a quarterback until the later rounds of upcoming fantasy drafts.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (foot) had a disappointing 2020-21 campaign. After signing a four-year, $48 million contract extension last September, the 24-year-old appeared in only six games last season before succumbing to a foot injury that eventually landed him on injured reserve. However, with the team fortifying its offensive line along with the return of Frank Pollack as O.L. coach, the former Sooner is expected to flourish. To make things sweeter, Giovani Bernard, who played in Cincy for eight seasons, is no longer in the picture, which should allow Mixon to get some additional looks from Joe Burrow in the passing game. Although he is a risky option based on his rocky past, the upside is certainly there for those looking for a back in the second or third rounds of upcoming fantasy drafts.