The Daily Briefing Tuesday, July 3, 2018

AROUND THE NFL 

The NFL is tired of dancing to the tune of Colin Kaepernick and his lawyer.  Charles Robinson of YahooSports.com:

 

The NFL is attempting to force Colin Kaepernick’s collusion case against the league to a close, sources familiar with the proceedings have told Yahoo Sports.

 

Citing a subsection of Article 17 – the portion of the collective-bargaining agreement that deals with collusion cases – the NFL has requested that arbitrator Stephen Burbank provide a summary judgement in the case, sources said.

 

Here’s what arbitrator in Kaepernick case must decide

The request puts the future of the case in the hands of Burbank, who now must determine whether Kaepernick’s legal team has uncovered sufficient evidence to continue the quarterback’s action against the league. If Burbank rules Kaepernick’s attorneys have found evidence to move toward a hearing, the case will continue, possibly with additional depositions. If he finds that the current discovery evidence is insufficient to advance, he can dismiss the case in favor of the NFL.

 

In no uncertain terms, the request is the most pivotal moment in the nearly nine months of discovery and depositions between the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and the NFL. With the league’s request for summary judgement, Kaepernick’s legal team will now have to file an argument with discovery or deposition material that supports the case continuing.

 

According to Article 17 in the CBA, the argument will need to show evidence “sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact capable of satisfying” Kaepernick’s collusion allegation.

 

Move to involve President Trump could get shut down 

It’s unclear what impact Burbank’s decision could have on an attempt by Kaepernick’s legal team to pursue subpoenas of President Donald Trump and/or others in his administration. That push was expected in the coming weeks, but would seemingly be struck down if Burbank halts the collusion case altogether.

 

At last count, Kaepernick’s legal team gathered 14 depositions, along with a significant amount of electronic discovery, including emails and text messages. Kaepernick’s collusion case is nearing the conclusion of its ninth month, with depositions including commissioner Roger Goodell and multiple NFL team owners and executives, including the Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones and New England Patriots’ Robert Kraft.

 

– – –

Chris Wesseling of NFL.com offers up some unsolved mysteries for the NFL Summer of 2018:

 

The calendar has flipped from June to July, signaling vacation time for NFL players, coaches and executives.

 

Meanwhile, football fans are left to ponder questions left answered throughout free agency, the draft and offseason practices.

 

The Around the NFL Podcast recently touched on those outstanding issues, highlighting five unsolved mysteries leading into the opening of training camps in late July.

 

1. Will Earl Thomas suit up for the Seahawks in September?

 

A six-time Pro Bowl selection, Thomas has been one of the NFL’s premier players since the podcast got its start in the summer of 2013. As Marc Sessler pointed out, the Seahawks’ identity is undergoing a transition with the departures of longstanding veterans such as Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, Cliff Avril and likely Kam Chancellor. Is Thomas’ demand for a new contract the engine driving his offseason absence? Or is there more to the story?

 

Of all the disgruntled stars seeking mega deals this offseason, Thomas seems like the one most likely to be dealt before the start of the season.

 

2. By the end of preseason action, are we going to discover that the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs have suddenly become the NFL’s version of must-see TV?

 

In any major sport, there’s a difference between a winning team and a captivating coalescence. Kansas City was in the playoff hunt annually with Alex Smith under center, generating one of the league’s winningest records over the past half-decade. But where was the excitement? Where was the buy-in?

 

After turning last summer’s preseason into his own personal highlight reel, Mahomes became a scout-team legend and impressed his coaching staff in the regular-season finale that Andy Reid had no qualms about trading Smith after a career year.

 

Quarterback is played at its most visually pleasing level with a swashbuckling style, occasionally throwing caution to the wind. There is a video on NFL.com simply titled “Patrick Mahomes is unfair.” Another clip is devoted solely to his ability to pull off no-look passes. There’s even a segment suggesting he has a bag of tricks that the NFL has never seen.

 

The Chiefs understand Mahomes’ derring-do style will lead to more turnovers this season, but they’re willing to sacrifice the mistakes in favor of a dynamic improvisational wizard with the potential to make jaw-dropping plays on a weekly basis.

 

“I compare him to Brett Favre,” veteran pass rusher Tamba Hali said last week. “He runs around the field and he throws the ball and he’s just having fun.”

 

Say what you want about Brett Favre, but the Packers became must-see TV the moment he took the offensive reins from Dan Majkowski in 1992.

 

3. For all of the cautious optimism emanating from Indianapolis, we are still left wondering if we will see the Andrew Luck of two years ago.

 

We are in foreign territory. Luck recently graduated to throwing the suddenly ubiquitous “Duke” football after shelving his throwing arm for the better part of 18 months. He insists his surgically repaired shoulder is not only pain-free but is also “going to stay that way.” By the time Week 1 rolls around, it will have been roughly 600 days since his last official NFL pass.

 

Will the ersatz franchise savior return as the superstar quarterback once hailed as a “football god”? Or will we see a reduced version of Andrew Luck under center going forward?

 

4. How will the quarterback dynamics play out in the Ravens nest?

 

Baltimore’s brass has been adamant that former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson is a developmental prospect and insurance policy as opposed to a direct threat to Joe Flacco’s job. That may indeed be the case now that surrounding talent has been restocked in impressive fashion, but Flacco is under no delusion that his leash remains as long as it once was.

 

Even if coach John Harbaugh keeps finding ways to get Jackson onto the field, we don’t expect the rookie to overtake the veteran this summer. As Dan Hanzus suggested, though, it will be interesting to see how the two quarterbacks co-exist. How will Flacco react not only to the fire of competition but also to the incessant hype for a dynamic young talent?

 

5. Who is catching Dak Prescott’s passes this year?

 

Headlined by a dominant offensive line, the Cowboys are perhaps better positioned than any NFL team to hide a makeshift receiving corps behind a chain-moving ground attack. But this is 2018, Gregg Rosenthal emphasized. Teams have to throw the ball to win, particularly in come-from-behind situations.

 

With former All-Pro Dez Bryant and future Hall of Famer Jason Witten out of the picture, Prescott’s established receiving threats are Jaguars castoff Allen Hurns, perennial tease Terrance Williams, 2017 disappearing act Cole Beasley, Rams draft bust Tavon Austin and third-round rookie Michael Gallup. While it’s fair to question how much a declining Bryant and slow-footed Witten will be missed, the Cowboys are now counting on a collection of third and fourth receivers to engage in potential shootouts with the superior firepower of the Eagles, Giants and Redskins.

 

A better question might be which veteran wideout Jerry Jones will attempt to pry away from another team by mid-August.

 

More unsolved mysteries entering July:

 

— Is this the year the Lions finally establish a ground attack?

 

— Can the Bills afford to keep golden-armed rookie Josh Allen on the bench when the only other options are AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman?

 

— Will a quarterback injury prompt a preseason trade for Jets offseason sensation Teddy Bridgewater?

 

— How much magic is left in Jon Gruden’s wand after a decade away from coaching?

 

— Can Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky come close to matching the quantum leap made by reigning NFL Coach of the Year Sean McVay and Jared Goff?

 

— Is Marvin Lewis the ghost of Rasputin?

 

NFC NORTH

 

GREEN BAY

Is RB AARON JONES worth knowing for your Fantasy team?  Wes Hodkiewicz of Packers.com on last year’s 5th round pick:

 

His rookie season wasn’t even over and Aaron Jones already knew where he needed to take a step in Year 2.

 

The Packers running back made significant contributions last year after being selected in the fifth round out of UTEP, twice earning a pair of NFC Rookie of the Week honors for 100-yard rushing performances against Dallas and New Orleans.

 

As soon as the momentum started to build, however, a pair of knee injuries sidelined Jones for three combined games and limited him to only 19 carries after Green Bay’s Week 8 bye.

 

A review of his rookie season revealed Jones needed to further develop the lower half of his body to stand up to the wear-and-tear of an NFL season and improve his skills in pass protection.

 

So when Jones wasn’t busy earning his college degree this offseason or helping grandmothers navigate the Appleton International Airport, the second-year running back was a steady presence in the weight room.

 

Once Jones returned for the start of the offseason program in April, the emphasis was obvious on the practice field.

 

“I’m bigger all around,” Jones said. “That’s something that’s going to help me in pass protection and that’s something I want to get better at. I’m stronger, so definitely when a defender who’s bigger than me comes up I can hold my ground this year.”

 

Pass protection is a crucial component for Green Bay running backs blocking for two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers. It’s also the surest way to stay on the field with the Packers’ preference to stay in a no-huddle mode of offensive operation.

 

While Jones is thicker in his lower body, neither he nor position coach Ben Sirmans feel the 5-foot-9, 208-pound running back has lost any of the explosiveness that allowed Jones to average of 5.5 yards per carry on 81 attempts last season.

 

Jones rushed for nearly 300 yards in a three-week stretch from Oct. 8 to Oct. 22 before injuring his knee against Chicago in Week 10. He missed two games, but returned in December.

 

When it looked like Jones was getting back into a rhythm with three carries for 47 yards against Carolina, he then injured his other knee against Minnesota on Dec. 23 and sat out the season finale against Detroit.

 

“It was really frustrating,” Jones said. “I feel like it kind of messed up the season I was having, but I was still there for my teammates and still enjoyed being here. I came back from one and then injured the other one, and that was even more frustrating.

 

“I was like, ‘How unlucky am I,’ but I was lucky at the same time because it could have been ACL. MCLs you just have to rest.”

 

The silver lining for Jones was his knee injuries would not require surgery, allowing the 23-year-old running back to jump right into his offseason routine.

 

While some injuries cannot be avoided, Jones hopes the byproduct of his increased strength will help him avoid more preventable soft-tissue injuries.

 

Sirmans agrees Jones’ biggest area to work on this offseason was developing more lower-body strength. When the season was over, the Packers’ running backs coach even put together a tape showing Jones how a little more strength will help his overall finish.

 

Sirmans cautions the true impact of Jones’ offseason might not be seen until the pads come on in training camp, but he is fully convinced Jones did everything possible to prepare his body for the long haul.

 

“Over time, you start getting that grown-man weight, which is good weight,” Sirmans said. “When you see a guy come in as a rookie – in all sports – by the time they get to their third or fourth year, you can see how their body has changed, just naturally, now that you’re in more of a system that’s really focusing on your body and what you’re putting in nutritionally and how you’re working out.”

 

The Packers’ backfield competition could very well be the most highly contested position battle in training camp with Jones, Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery all having proved they can handle starting responsibilities when summoned into action.

 

If recent history is any indication, the two more sure-fire ways for a running back to earn playing time are through durability and accountability.

 

After emerging as one of the league’s most explosive young runners last season, Jones hopes the improvements he made this offseason will result in him becoming the complete running back he knows he’s capable of being.

 

“I feel like any athlete wants to get bigger, stronger as long as they can stay explosive,” Jones said. “I still feel just as explosive as I was, if not even more.”

 

NFC WEST

 

ARIZONA

CB PATRICK PETERSON likes what he sees of the new quarterbacks in Arizona, particularly the rookie JOSH ROSEN.  Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com:

 

The Arizona Cardinals can’t get enough of their hot-shot rookie quarterback.

 

New coach Steve Wilks said in May that the likelihood of 10th overall pick Josh Rosen starting in 2018 isn’t a longshot and gushed to reporters that the signal-caller has the “mindset of a vet.” Rosen’s fellow rookie Christian Kirk said that if Rosen were to start Week 1 under center over veteran Sam Bradford, the Cards would have just as good a shot to win right away.

 

But as first-year Cardinals, Wilks and Kirk are new to the desert. So has optimism about Rosen extended to Arizona’s veterans?

 

If Patrick Peterson’s evaluation of the Chosen One is any indication, yes, yes it has.

 

“I’m very impressed,” Peterson said on Monday’s edition of The Rich Eisen Show. “To see [Rosen] make checks and get guys in line early, I was like, ‘Has this guy been here before?’ I was very, very impressed of his spring camp, minicamp, OTAs. He’s just been extremely sharp.”

 

Peterson added that he was pleasantly surprised by Rosen’s maturity at camp, given the generally unfounded negative hubbub about his personality during the pre-draft evaluation stage.

 

“Honestly since he’s been with us, he’s been the total opposite of what you hear from the media or you hear from outside people,” Peterson explained. “The way he’s able to grasp the offense and get guys in line right now, I’ve been very, very impressed with that. As far as his throwing motion and his quarterback IQ and his pocket presence and all that stuff, it’s off the charts. I’ve never seen a rookie come on a team and do some of the things he’s doing.”

 

That’s high praise — even though, since Peterson was drafted by the Cardinals in 2011, Ryan Lindley and Logan Thomas are the only quarterbacks to be drafted by the team. (Not much competition there for Most Impressive Offseason of the Decade by a Cardinals Rookie Quarterback.)

 

Though Wilks and Co. have made it clear that free-agent acquisition Sam Bradford is expected to start once the season begins, the nine-year veteran has a notoriously dicey injury history. This makes the offseason development and instruction of Rosen, the presumptive backup ahead of Mike Glennon, all the more important.

 

Thankfully for Arizona, the early returns franchise-wide, from newbies to captains, on Rosen’s readiness have been overwhelmingly positive.

 

 

SEATTLE

Cut by the Bucs, G J.R. SWEEZY may be returning to the Seahawks according to Herbie Teope of NFL.com:

 

Free-agent guard J.R. Sweezy could return to where his career started.

 

Sweezy, whom the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released last week, is visiting the Seattle Seahawks and will get a physical Monday, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.

 

The 29-year-old Sweezy continues to work himself back from a broken bone in his leg suffered in 2017, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo previously reported.

 

A passed physical, however, could eventually clear the way for the veteran offensive lineman to secure employment.

– – –

Sandy Gregory, a woman with an amazing history in community and public relations, has retired after 42 years with the Seahawks.  Curtis Crabtree of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The Seattle Seahawks have had over 900 players suit up for them since entering the NFL as an expansion franchise in 1976. One team employee had been around for every one of those players who wore varying shades of blue, green and silver throughout the 42 years the team has played in the NFL.

 

Sandy Gregory was hired by the Seahawks six months before they played their first game in 1976. She was the lone remaining original team employee still working for the franchise before announcement her retirement last week. She had served as an administrative assistant, community service director, and senior director of legends, team history and special projects in her 42 years with the franchise.

 

Gregory took the mantle as the lone remaining original employee following the retirements of public relations director and Vice President Gary Wright in 2009, and director of video Thom Fermstad in 2011.

 

Hard to believe nine years have passed since Gary Wright retired.

 

Many former Seahawks players have chimed in.  Chad Brown:

 

@chadbrown94

 Huge shout out & the warmest thank you to Sandy Gregory, the rock that the @Seahawks have been built on. I’ve met and worked w/ lots of amazing folks during my time in the NFL, Sandy stands alone as the most genuine & loving. Thank you Sandy for loving on my family!

 

Russell Wilson:

 

@DangeRussWilson

 Sandy Gregory…

 You are a Legend. Thank you for all of the lives you impacted. Enjoy your retirement…but just know your work is still working. @Seahawks

 

Love you.

 

Shaun Alexander:

 

@shaunalexander

Sandy, you are so loved by us all. Thank you for being such a great helper to me, the Seahawks, @12s, and more. Thank you for loving Seattle. You are a MVP!!!  I’ll never forget the @MakeAWish . #12sForever

 

Kenny Easley:

 

@Easleyforce5

 Congrats, Sandy on an immaculate career! Thank you for your service and support of the players both during and after our careers. You’ve got some tough shoes to fill.

 

The DB was thinking about those people who do a great job, seemingly effortlessly, in one role for many, many years last night when thinking about the perfection of Alex Trebek with Jeopardy! 

 

Come to think of it, Sandy Gregory is in that same class.

 

 

AFC NORTH

 

CLEVELAND

DE MYLES GARRETT wants Cleveland to know there still is a world-class athlete lurking within the city.  Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

 

— Myles Garrett has offered to rule The Land in LeBron James’ absence.

 

With James agreeing to a four-year, $154 million contract with the Lakers, Garrett has graciously volunteered to assume the Cleveland throne that James is abdicating.

 

Jurassic Myles

@MylesLGarrett

 @KingJames if you don’t want to take your throne with you I’ll take it..

 

But Garrett wasn’t the only one. Linebacker Christian Kirksey, who proclaimed in a tweet last month that the “Browns will be in the playoffs this year,” also plans to fill James’ royal seat.

 

Christian Kirksey

@Kirko58

 Time for me to take the throne! #kirkoland

 

With emotions running high on Sunday over James leaving town, new Browns  free safety Damarious Randall devised a plan that should have Cleveland fans feeling noble.

 

Damarious Randall

@RandallTime

 Time to take over the city … #WeUpNext #DawgPound

 

Garrett’s declaration comes on the heels of him blasting Kevin Durant for joining a super team in the Warriors and breaking the NBA, saying “if I were him, I never would’ve made a move like that in the first place.”

 

He absolved James of doing the same thing when he defected to the Heat, because championships weren’t guaranteed there before James arrived.

 

Garrett’s generous offer certainly isn’t the first time he’s spoken like an aristocrat.

 

As the newly-minted No. 1 overall pick, he vowed to become the greatest NFL player of all time — and he hasn’t backed down from that.

 

Still, he knows he has a ways to go. Garrett, who had seven sacks in 11 games as a rookie, didn’t feel he dominated last season and is eager to unleash the beast in 2018.

 

“I did well but not up to my standards,” he said at the end of last season. “I want to be a force in this league and didn’t feel like I did that this year. But there’s always next year and there’s always the next game.”

 

As for Randall, if he can help the Browns take over the city, he’ll regain some of the fans he alienated when he rooted for the Warriors to beat the Cavs in the NBA finals.

 

For now, there’s plenty of blue blood coursing through the veins of those in orange and brown.

– – –

Speaking of replacing Cleveland legends, here is a report on the hunt for a new left tackle.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

As the Browns search for a left tackle to replace future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas, the best option could be hiding right next door.

 

Left guard Joel Bitonio, a Pro Bowl alternate in 2017, took some snaps at left tackle during the offseason program, and the door vaguely seems to be open on more of the same.

 

“We put Joel and Chris [Hubbard] over there for a few snaps because this is the time to do it,” offensive line coach Bob Wylie recently said regarding the offseason workouts, via Dan Labbe of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “It’s the time to experiment. Once you get into camp you get more zeroed in on the guys who will actually play.”

 

So could it be Bitonio?

 

“Just because you’re the best guy doesn’t mean you’re in the best spot,” Wylie said. “Joel is an elite left guard. Could he play tackle? Sure, but it would take a while for him to learn the nuances. If he’s the best lineman, is he really the best left tackle? Not necessarily.”

 

Bitonio, who received a contract extension under the premise that he’s a guard not a tackle, seems to be willing to do whatever the team wants.

 

“Anything they need I’m willing to give a try, but I think right now the plan is to find a guy to play left tackle, and I’m going to stick right at left guard,” Bitonio recently said.

 

Shon Coleman is expected to open training camp at the top option at left tackle. Where it goes from there remains to be seen, but if they could find a left guard who plays well enough in place of Bitonio, the best move for the short- and long-term could be to slide Bitonio to the outside.

 

AFC SOUTH

 

TENNESSEE

With JAMEIS WINSTON in more trouble, the Titans are saying (or at least their former scouting director is saying) that MARCUS MARIOTA was there man all along.  Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Heading into the 2015 NFL draft, pretty much everyone agreed that quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were the top two players. But not everyone agreed on the order between the top two.

 

As it turned out, the Buccaneers took Winston first overall, and the Titans took Mariota second. Now the person who was running Tennessee’s scouting says the Titans were ecstatic that the Bucs chose the quarterback Tennessee saw as the lesser of the two.

 

Picking Mariota was “an easy choice at that time,” former Titans director of scouting Blake Beddingfield told Paul Kuharsky of 104.5 The Zone.

 

Beddingfield said the Titans might have settled for Winston if the Bucs had taken Mariota, but they were definitely convinced on draft day that they were getting the better of the two players.

 

Of course, Beddingfield may come across as a little self-serving saying that now, after Winston has been suspended three games for groping an Uber driver. But Beddingfield made similar comments a year ago. And character was one of the primary arguments at the time for preferring Mariota over Winston: Mariota had a squeaky-clean image, while Winston had been accused of rape at Florida State, in addition to other off-field issues.

 

It’s now easy to see why weighing character as well as on-field performance made Mariota the superior pick.

 

 

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL ADVICE

There was a time when only running backs would go in the first round.  Writing at SI.com, Michael Beller says WRs are just as vital as first round RBs.

 

Perhaps the toughest questions that fantasy owners wrestle with every year involve the ranking of positions. Do I take a wide receiver now? And if I do, will all the good running backs be gone later? This dilemma is complicated by the changing nature of NFL offenses. The priorities that worked for you a few seasons ago might prove incorrect in 2018. For many years running backs were the top prizes, but as rule changes and offensive schemes have pushed NFL teams toward a more pass-happy approach, fantasy owners have asked themselves if they should spend that precious first-round pick on a wideout. In 2016, Antonio Brown climbed to the top of draft boards, becoming the first wide receiver to be the consensus top pick since the days when Jerry Rice, owner of every major career receiving record, was at the peak of his powers.

 

But the idea of giving receivers that high a priority has faded as quickly as it arose. With all due respect to Occam and his razor, the reason isn’t as simple as you think.

 

For the last two seasons running backs have been the dominant force in fantasy football. In 2017 six running backs outscored the No. 1 wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins. A year earlier the top-scoring WR, Jordy Nelson, put up fewer points than eight RBs. Because of this recent history running backs have retaken their spot at the top of the draft this season.

 

But the balance of power between the two positions has not been settled entirely. (Oh, were it that simple!) Look at the results from last year and you’ll see that from the second to the fifth rounds, receivers are better bets than backs.

 

Using average draft position as a guide, a typical third round last year included wide receivers Hopkins, Doug Baldwin and T.Y. Hilton. Hopkins was a true league-winner. Baldwin finished 14th at the position, delivering value on his ADP. Hilton was a bit of a bust, but that was mainly because his quarterback, Andrew Luck, missed the entire season with a shoulder injury. Receivers frequently taken in the fourth round included not only disappointments Terrelle Pryor and Demaryius Thomas, but also excellent value picks Keenan Allen (ranked third among WRs in both standard and PPR leagues), Alshon Jeffery (18th, 23rd), Tyreek Hill (fourth, 9th) and Davante Adams (12th, 13th).

 

The running back position, meanwhile, was pockmarked with far more busts outside the first round. Three backs who delivered strong returns—Todd Gurley, Jordan Howard and Leonard Fournette—all went between pick Nos. 16 and 25 on average, and Kareem Hunt rode his fourth-round ADP to a superstar season. But the other backs frequently taken in the second through fifth rounds read like a list of last season’s biggest misses: Jay Ajayi, DeMarco Murray, Christian McCaffrey, Lamar Miller, Marshawn Lynch, Isaiah Crowell, Ty Montgomery, Joe Mixon, Dalvin Cook, Doug Martin, Ameer Abdullah, Mike Gillislee, Belial Powell and Adrian Peterson all disappointed relative to draft position. Mark Ingram, a legitimate star, was also taken in this range, as were Carlos Hyde and C.J. Anderson, who performed to expectation. So among the 21 backs chosen in rounds 2 through 5, five were unbridled successes, two didn’t disappoint and the remaining 14 were huge letdowns. In short, once the elite backs were off the board, the risk at that position escalated more quickly than it did for receivers.

 

In fantasy, here’s the crucial truth to remember: Yards are yards and touchdowns are touchdowns, whether they come through the air or on the ground. One hundred receiving yards get you the same amount of points as 100 rushing yards, and a touchdown is worth six points regardless of how it is scored. With this in mind, fantasy owners should focus on stat accumulators rather than a specific position. Elite backs such as Gurley and Le’Veon Bell should go first, because as great as top WRs such as Brown, Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. are, they simply don’t get the same volume of opportunities to rack up yards and touchdowns. But once you get past the topflight rushers, the decision to take Brown over, say, Melvin Gordon, is a relatively easy one. The same goes for the likes of Beckham and Hopkins over backs Fournette and Alvin Kamara. Make sure you get stats first, then worry about filling out positions later—especially with the explosion of flex spots in typical fantasy leagues.

 

In fact, the more flex positions your league has, the more outdated the concern about positions becomes. In nearly every fantasy league you’re going to have to start at least two running backs and two receivers. More likely, you’ll need a combination of six backs and receivers for your starting lineup every week. You can reliably find receivers worthy of being starters in rounds 3 through 5. You want your stable of running backs to be made up of either 1. sure things or 2. players whose ADPs are low enough that they won’t hurt your bottom line if they fail to pan out.

 

What about other offensive positions? While you can go after a superior tight end in those early rounds (read: Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce) savvy fantasy players know that most TEs, and all quarterbacks, should be taken later.

 

So an ideal pattern would be to get a first-rate back early, focus on receivers with your next few picks, and return to running backs when the price of doing business—in other words, overcoming a bust—is no longer prohibitive. But really, the best approach is to acquire the most prolific stat accumulators, regardless of their position, early in a draft, and take care of positional requirements later. The true answer to the RB/WR question that has vexed fantasy owners in recent years turns out to be a liberating question: Who cares?

 

 

JAY CUTLER

An update on the status of QB JAY CUTLER from Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Jay Cutler announced his retirement and took a job as a CBS announcer last year, then changed his mind and signed a one-year contract with the Dolphins. Now everyone seems to be assuming Cutler is definitely retired, but Cutler says it’s not a certainty.

 

In a clip for his wife’s reality TV show, Cutler is shown talking to her about his future, and when she asks him if he’s 100 percent done with football, he won’t say that.

 

“I mean, I can’t say 100. Probably,” Cutler said.

 

Asked when he’ll know for sure if he’s retired, Cutler answered, “September.”

 

Cutler’s wife, Kristin Cavallari, made no secret that she wants him to stop playing.

 

“You have to realize how many sacrifices I have made over the eight football seasons we’ve been together,” she said. “This is my turn.”

 

Realistically, it’s unlikely any team is going to offer Cutler a job, as he did not play well for the Dolphins last year. Cutler doesn’t have a broadcasting job right now, but that’s probably where he should be looking if he wants to work.

 

 

2018 SUPPLEMENTAL DRAFT

Chris Trapasso of CBSSports.com looks at what teams might be in the market for DB SAM BEAL, the prize of the supplemental draft:

 

he NFL’s passing renaissance has given credence to the famous football adage “you can never have too many cornerbacks.” And it makes sense simply from a defensive personnel standpoint, with the nickel corner now considered a full-time starter.

 

Western Michigan’s Sam Beal is the best prospect in the 2018 NFL Supplemental Draft, and Virginia Tech’s Adonis Alexander had flashes of brilliance early in his career at Virginia Tech. The same is true for safety Brandon Bryant out of Mississippi State.

 

We rarely see anyone picked in the supplemental draft (it hasn’t happened since 2015), but there’s a chance we’ll have multiple selections this time around. The supplemental draft will take place on July 11 at 1 p.m. ET.

 

Which teams are in need of help in their defensive backfield and could use one of these three prospects? Let’s take a look.

 

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts lost their most productive cornerback from 2017 — Rashaan Melvin — in free agency. He had three picks and defended 13 passes en route to one of the most unheralded seasons from a corner last year. On paper, 2017 second-round selection Quincy Wilson is now their top corner. Behind him on the secondary depth chart are Kenny Moore, Chris Milton, Nate Hairston, D.J. White, and Pierre Desir. Hairston and Moore flashed at times a season ago, but clearly the Colts need more defensive back reinforcement. At safety, with T.J. Green and Clayton Geathers behind last year’s first-round selection Malik Hooker, Indianapolis isn’t as in a dire of a situation at safety. GM Chris Ballard did an admirable a fine job building the offensive and defensive lines in the 2018. The secondary remains a huge issue.

 

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Wait, the Jaguars could use a cornerback like Beal or Alexander? Yep. Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye have a strong argument as the NFL’s best cornerback tandem, and I wouldn’t doubt Ramsey speaking to that directly this year. However, after losing reliable slot corner Aaron Colvin on the free-agent market, Jacksonville’s cornerback group consists of 2017 seventh-rounder Jaylen Myrick — who actually played decently well in limited action as a rookie — 2013 first-round flop D.J. Hayden, and a host of unproven former undrafted free agents. Even with one of the best defensive lines in football, the Jaguars should seriously consider their options at cornerback in the supplemental draft. The safety spot is much more secure in Jacksonville with entrenched and steady starters Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson, who’ll mentor 2018 second-round pick Ronnie Harrison from Alabama.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

As we came to expect, Marcus Peters dominated in 2017 … but now he’s on the Rams. In steps Kendall Fuller, who was well on his way to stardom in Washington before being traded to the Chiefs. He’s Kansas City’s top dog at corner yet the depth behind him is significantly lacking. Third-round selection Steven Nelson is a slot corner and has had major ups and downs, and David Amerson had his career season in 2015. He’s coming off a season-ending injury in 2017. The team did draft Tremon Smith in the sixth round, and Arrion Springs is a talented undrafted free agent. Both Beal and Alexander had moments of immense promise while in man coverage in college, and Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton leans on his cornerback’s ability to man up typically more than any other DC in the NFL so either of those supplemental draft prospects would be worth a look for the Chiefs front office.

 

Arizona Cardinals

Patrick Peterson is the cornerstone of the Cardinals secondary and remains one of the league’s best corners. Arizona does not have a host of secondary talent behind him. Jamar Taylor will be the team’s No. 2, and he has gotten on track over the past two seasons following a disappointing start to the beginning of his pro career after being the No. 54 overall selection in the 2013 draft. Bene Benwikere played 11 snaps last season. Brandon Williams played one. Christian Campbell, the club’s sixth-round pick in 2018, is a long, fluid cover man but shouldn’t be relied upon to deal with twitchy wideouts, particularly not in Year One. Budda Baker is an emerging star at safety, but the Cardinals don’t have much depth at that position either with soon-to-be 34-year-old Antoine Bethea the other starter, so Bryant wouldn’t be a bad option later in the supplemental draft.

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Buffalo Bills

Tre’Davious White had a Defensive Rookie of the Year caliber season in 2017, finishing second in the voting to the deserving Saints rookie Marshon Lattimore. E.J. Gaines, who played well but couldn’t stay healthy, was signed by the Browns in free agency, and the Bills added Vontae Davis to be his replacement on the outside. At this point in his career, on a zone-heavy team like Buffalo, Davis is an enigma as he’ll return from a groin injury that hampered his 2017 campaign and was at his peak as an elite player from 2011 to 2015 as predominantly a man-to-man specialist. After him, the Bills’ cornerback depth chart is average at best and is lead by Chiefs castoff Phillip Gaines. The team picked small-school star Taron Johnson in hopes of him winning the nickel corner role and did ink productive undrafted free agents in Levi Wallace from Alabama and Ryan Carter from Clemson.