The season is finally right at our doorstep. After this coming weekend filled with drafts, what we’ve all been waiting for will finally be here.
Even though drafts are heating up, Wednesday was a painfully slow day for news. Still, we’ve got to bring the goods. Let’s get to it in Thursday’s Dose.
It didn’t take long for veteran CB Joe Haden to find work after he was cut on Wednesday morning by the Browns. Roughly seven hours passed between the time Haden hit waivers and the time it took for Pittsburgh to sign him to a three-year deal worth up to $27 million, with $7M guaranteed at signing. It’s not always best to look at NFL contracts through an average per year lens, but Haden’s $9M/year, if he were to earn the full life of the contract, ranks 17th-most among all cornerbacks in the league. Haden has struggled through injuries over the past two years and his advanced metrics show it. Per ProFootballFocus, Joe Haden allowed the 12th most receiving yards per coverage snap last season (out of 79 qualifying corners). Arguably at the height of his talent four seasons ago, Haden shut down opposing wideouts every week, allowing the fifth-fewest yards coverage per snap. The Steelers think Haden has 2013-levels of play left in the tank at just 28-years-old.
In the seemingly never ending Ezekiel Elliott saga, his appeal stretched into Thursday. Both sides — the NFL and Elliott’s corner — are going to argue their side until, likely, a bitter end. There is no way of telling when we’ll finally have some clarity on the situation. However, fantasy owners have to act as if Darren McFadden is walking into a phenomenal running back workload for Weeks 1-7 (Dallas’ bye is Week 6).
Before letting Ezekiel Elliott take a few snaps in their third preseason game, Darren McFadden was dominating snaps. In fact, McFadden played every single snap with the ‘Boys first-team offense during the first two weeks of preseason. As of now, we have to operate as if McFadden is in nearly the same role he found himself two seasons ago – in which he played on at least 64% of Cowboys’ snaps in every single game from Weeks 7-17. In that 11 game stretch, Dallas entrusted at least 70% of team snaps to McFadden in eight contests and let him handle 73% of their team carries. His snap share led all backs over that span. McFadden was the RB5 (PPR) in total points during Weeks 7-17 in 2015 on a Dallas team that trailed on 52% of its offensive snaps. For reference, the Cowboys trailed on just 28.2% of plays last season. McFadden is a locked-in RB1 for six weeks who is readily available in the ninth-round of 12-team fantasy drafts.
On Wednesday, the Raiders signed WR Seth Roberts to a two-year extension through 2019, adding $6.5M guaranteed to his deal. Roberts only has 70 career catches through two seasons as a pro, but he was a major thorn in Amari Cooper’s red-zone production last year. Last year, Seth Roberts saw more red-zone targets (22) than Amari Cooper has over his first two seasons combined (21). That’s staggering. Furthermore, Cooper’s usage from in close is even more interesting. In fact, Cooper is third on the team in targets inside of the opponents’ 10-yard line (8) in his first two seasons, trailing Seth Roberts (15) and Michael Crabtree (18). The Raiders would be wise to shift more looks Cooper’s way from in close, but it’s hard to ignore two year’s worth of data. Roberts getting his deal re-upped a year before he was scheduled to hit free agency is even more curious.
The Seahawks are trying to dangle a trade for veteran receiver Jermaine Kearse, which, after his preseason usage, shouldn’t be surprising. As DraftKings’ analyst Adam Levitan noted, Kearse was behind Paul Richardson in snap-rate in the ‘Hawks third-preseason game. Tyler Lockett (leg) did not play, but it appears Kearse has fallen behind both Richardson and Lockett on the depth chart. Seattle can save $2.2M against the cap by just letting Kearse walk. Since Kearse has seemingly fallen out of favor in Seattle, hopefully some of his zany red-zone usage will shift to more fantasy friendly players. Last year, Jermaine Kearse led Seattle in targets inside of the opponents’ 10-yard line last year (10). Jimmy Graham had three. If Kearse is traded (or cut), he will leave behind 89 targets for the rest of Seattle’s receiving corps to gobble up.
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Officially, Spencer Ware has been diagnosed with a torn PCL and LCL in his right knee and is out for the season. … Cameron Meredith (injured reserve) has been officially diagnosed with a torn ACL and “slight” MCL tear in his left knee. … The NFL has canceled the Cowboys vs. Texans fourth preseason game. … Bengals WLB Vontaze Burfict‘s suspension has been reduced to three games. … Cowboys MLB Anthony Hitchens (knee) escaped with no ligament damage and will be sidelined for eight weeks. … The Chiefs acquired OL Cameron Erving from the Browns in exchange for a 2018 fifth-round pick. … The Packers signed OLB Ahmad Brooks, formerly of the 49ers, to a one-year contract. … Patriots WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee) has been cleared to practice. … Head coach Pete Carroll said he’s not concerned with Tyler Lockett‘s (leg) Week 1 status. … Finally, head coach Doug Marrone said Dede Westbrook (core) is a game-time decision for Jacksonville’s preseason finale.
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