Giants, Eli Manning Making Progress On Deal

NFL News
September 8, 2015

The Giants and quarterback Eli Manning were believed to be far apart in extension talks for most of the summer, but with the season right around the corner, there’s still a chance that the two sides could reach an agreement, writes Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. A source with knowledge of the negotiations recently told Raanan that he expects a deal to happen before Week 1, and Manning has acknowledged that progress has been made in contract discussions.

For his part, Manning has mostly avoided discussing his contract, which expires at season’s end, suggesting that his focus is on football. But according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News (Twitter links), the two-time Super Bowl MVP addressed the issue on WFAN today.

“I’m not a big fan of negotiations going on during the season,” Manning said. “I’m hoping if this thing is going to get done, it’s going to get done very quickly … and not have these talks continue on.”

As Manning and the Giants potentially move toward a new agreement, the team also has to figure out what to do with veteran pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul, who reported to New York yesterday and took a physical with the team.

A source tells ESPN’s Dan Graziano (Twitter link) that the Giants were encouraged by Monday’s meeting with JPP, and that the team could engaged in contract talks with Pierre-Paul’s agent as soon as today. However, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the Giants are still reviewing records and notes from the 26-year-old’s physical, and are “conferring internally” before making their next move.

Pierre-Paul believes he’s capable of playing Week 1, but it’s not clear whether the Giants share his confidence — if they do, they’ll have to get him under contract within the next few days.

Week 1 Waiver Wire: Fantasy Football's Top Targets Following Preseason Action

Fantasy Football
September 8, 2015

If you think you are done working on your fantasy football team after the draft, you are sorely mistaken. The best teams are the ones that feature constant adjustments, starting with Week 1.

Most players usually don’t think about the waiver wire until later in the year when injuries and breakout performances dictate a change of value. However, there are still plenty of intriguing options likely available even before the regular season begins on Thursday night.

Here is a look at some of the best players to target following the preseason, including only players available in more than 50 percent of leagues on ESPN.com.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans

The key for this pickup is upside. Assuming you have a solid QB1 on your roster, it makes sense for your second quarterback to be someone who could legitimately break out with a huge season. This doesn’t qualify for veterans like Jay Cutler, Alex Smith or Andy Dalton.

Coming into the league, there were concerns about Marcus Mariota’s ability to play in a pro system compared to what he was used to in Oregon.

Those doubting him are now quieter after a strong preseason, as noted by Chris Wesseling of NFL.com:

Although he doesn’t have big-time targets around him like fellow rookie Jameis Winston does with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mariota can spread the ball around to a number of quality options and succeed with volume.

Most importantly, the Titans starter has some elite speed that could allow him to be a rushing threat each time out. This makes him a valuable commodity in fantasy considering the past success of players like Russell Wilson, Cam Newton or Michael Vick.

Quarterback is a deep position, but few alternatives on the board possess as much potential from a fantasy perspective as Mariota.

Christine Michael, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Plenty of players were shifted through waivers on Sunday, but one of the most notable transactions might have been the Dallas Cowboys acquiring running back Christine Michael in a trade for a conditional draft pick.

This generated a lot more interest than you would expect for a player who has just 254 rushing yards and zero touchdowns in his two-year career.

The intriguing part of this is the pure talent Michael possesses. ESPN’s Louis Riddick is very high on the running back’s ability:

With size (5’10”, 221 lbs), speed and shiftiness with the ball, all he has needed is an opportunity. Evan Silva of Rotoworld gave him high praise but also noted that he is partly to blame for his lack of chances:

Still, putting a skillful player behind the Cowboys’ offensive line—which is arguably the best in the league after helping DeMarco Murray win the rushing title last year—is enough to turn heads in fantasy football. At the very least, he is worth a late-round flier in drafts or a free-agency pickup to stash on the end of your bench.

The chances that Michael actually ends up being a star in Dallas this year aren’t great. ESPN’s Matt Berry reminded people that there are others in front of him on the depth chart:

With that said, Darren McFadden has played all 16 games in only one of seven seasons and Joseph Randle doesn’t have much more experience than Michael. This makes him worthy of a risk if you have room on your fantasy team.

Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

Few players across the league did a better job of taking advantage of preseason reps than Tyler Lockett, a rookie out of Kansas State. Although it doesn’t necessarily translate to regular-season success, Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com gave Lockett his own award:

The receiver has showcased a lot of big-play ability over the past month on special teams as well as within the offense.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll had high praise after an electrifying debut in the preseason opener, via ESPN’s Brady Henderson:

We all know that’s exactly what we were hoping to see. He looked very special tonight.

He looked like we hoped he would look. We drafted him with the thought that he might give us a real spark in an area we wanted to see if we could find a way to improve and be more dynamic. He did that.

The Seahawks have more established receivers in Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, while new tight end Jimmy Graham is certain to have a big role within the offense. However, Lockett provides the type of big-play ability not otherwise available on the roster.

Lockett could be the player Seattle was hoping to have in Percy Harvin, so it is worth a roster spot to see what his upside could be.

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for all your fantasy football and daily fantasy needs.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more Fantasy Football news on NerdyFootball.com

NFL

Fantasy Football

Fantasy

Rashad Jennings listed as Giants starting RB

Fantasy Football, NFL News
September 8, 2015
Still a risky Week 1 play versus Cowboys

Paul Schwartz reports on Twitter that Rashad Jennings is listed as the starting running back on the Giants’ initial depth chart. Jennings started the first three preseason games as well before rotating series evenly with Andre Williams, who’s made strides to improve his play on passing downs. (Twitter)

Nerdy Football Analysis: It’s still looking an awful lot like running back by committee. Jennings is a risky RB2 play even in a good matchup Week 1 against the Cowboys, and both Williams and Shane Vereen could emerge as viable flex options.

Ravens Place Brent Urban On IR-DTR

NFL News
September 8, 2015

Baltimore has become the latest team to officially use its short-term IR slot, as the Ravens today placed defensive end Brent Urban on injured reserve with the designation to return, according to a press release. The club filled his roster spot by re-signing running back Terrence Magee.

Urban, 24, was selected in the fourth round of the 2014 draft by the Ravens, but missed his entire rookie campaign with a torn ACL. The Virginia product sustained a torn bicep this year, but Baltimore likes him enough and feels confident enough in his recovery that the team is willing to use its only IR-DTR slot on him.

As for Magee, assuming he makes Baltimore’s Week 1 roster, he’ll be the only undrafted free agent to stick with the team this year. He was initially waived during the Ravens’ cutdown to 53 players over the weekend.

Bills Re-Sign Matt Cassel

NFL News
September 8, 2015

Matt Cassel‘s unemployment lasted less than 72 hours. After being released by the Bills on Saturday afternoon, the veteran quarterback re-signed with the team today, according to a press release. Buffalo cut tight end Nick O’Leary to make room on the 53-man roster for Cassel.

Cassel, 33, was acquired by the Bills back in March in a trade with the Vikings, but didn’t initially survive the cutdown to 53 players over the weekend. His release left the team with a pair of young signal-callers, Tyrod Taylor and E.J. Manuel, as the only QBs on the roster, so it makes sense that he’d return to the fold to provide some veteran insurance.

Cassel’s reunion with the Bills also certainly comes with a reduced salary. He had initially been slated to make a base salary of $4.15MM in 2015, which likely contributed to his release. His new deal with the team will probably be closer to the veteran’s minimum, perhaps with some playing-time and performance bonuses attached, which would reward him if he retakes the starting job during the season.

Taylor is still penciled in as the Bills’ starter for 2015, but if he struggles or goes down with an injury, it appears Cassel will get the nod over Manuel. Head coach Rex Ryan said today that Cassel will open the year as the No. 2 QB on the depth chart (Twitter link via ESPN’s Mike Rodak).