There's always a lot of news that comes out of the NFL Scouting Combine as most of the coaches and general managers meet with the media. While a lot of what is said is generic coachspeak, you can find some good nuggets of information that is useful for plugged in Fantasy managers.
Granted, free agency and the NFL Draft will change some of these things being said by team personnel. But you might be able to use that to your advantage now in dynasty leagues, or these are quotes to remember for your Fantasy draft later this year.
With that in mind, let's catch you up on what happened in Indianapolis this week. And the biggest development is the backfield in Tampa Bay, where the Buccaneers are expected to release Leonard Fournette.
This move was expected after the way last season ended for Fournette, as well as Tampa Bay potentially hitting the reset button with Tom Brady now retired. According to reports, cutting Fournette will save the Buccaneers about $3.5 million in cap space while adding $5 million dead money to their cap. Fournette also turned 28 in January, and Tampa Bay has Rachaad White ready to take over as the starter.
For Fournette, he will sign with a new team in free agency, and his Fantasy value will be determined then. His days as a featured runner are likely over, but he could still have enough Fantasy value in the right situation. Most likely, he will be a flex option in the majority of leagues, but he's not someone to target on Draft Day.
As for White, his Fantasy value is on the rise, and he's a borderline No. 2 running back in all leagues. We'll see who the Buccaneers bring in to share touches with White, but he should get the chance to be the leader of the backfield. The quarterback will matter in Tampa Bay as well, but White had plenty of positive moments as a rookie in 2022.
He was one of 11 running backs with at least 50 catches (50 for 290 yards and two touchdowns on 58 targets), and he finished the season with 129 carries for 481 yards and one touchdown. He took over as the lead running back in Tampa Bay in Week 10, and he closed the season with at least 12 total touches in six of his final eight games. Over that span, he had five games with at least 10 PPR points and three games with at least 14 PPR points.
But the Buccaneers offense could be brutal in 2023 if the quarterback situation is messy, so keep that in mind. And White will likely be part of a tandem again, whether it's another veteran or a rookie added to the mix. Still, Fournette's release helps White's Fantasy value now, and he's worth drafting as early as Round 6 in most formats.
Mixon going, Higgins staying in Cincinnati?
Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said Tee Higgins isn't getting traded while remaining non-committal on Joe Mixon staying in Cincinnati. When asked about Mixon being on the roster next year, Tobin said "I don't know."
According to reports, releasing Mixon would save $7.3 million in cap space. With Samaje Perine also a free agent, a Mixon release would make the Bengals backfield a blank slate as of now.
Mixon, 27 in July, could still earn a prominent role with a new team if Cincinnati releases him, and we'll address his Fantasy value then. If he stays with the Bengals he would be a No. 2 running back worth drafting in Round 3, and he was the No. 6 PPR running back last year at 16.4 points per game. Ideally, the Bengals go after a prominent rookie running back in the NFL Draft, and that player would be coveted by Fantasy managers given the scoring potential of this offense.
As for Higgins, Tobin said trade talk around Higgins is "a little ridiculous right now."
"I'm not in the business of making other teams better," Tobin said. "You want a great receiver, go find your own."
You can continue to value Higgins as a high-end No. 2 Fantasy receiver in all leagues worth drafting in early Round 3. He averaged 13.4 PPR points per game in 2022.
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Lions to limit Swift, bring back Williams
Lions coach Dan Campbell doesn't plan to give D'Andre Swift a big workload in 2023 because Campbell wants to keep Swift healthy.
"He's a very talented player," Campbell said of Swift. "He's one of those guys that can take it to the house from anywhere on the field. We thought we had a recipe going into the year. It didn't work out. He got a little bit banged up. By the end of the year, he started to feel better, and his production went up. We're going to start all over from scratch again. Let's find another way to see if we can help him stay on the field. What can we do better by him? Because he's too talented to not have out there. He's an explosive athlete."
Swift started 2022 with a bang with 15 carries for 144 yards and a touchdown and three catches for 31 yards in Week 1 against Philadelphia. But he only had two more games all season with more than eight carries, and he missed three games with ankle and shoulder injuries. He also played more than 50 percent of the snaps just five times all year.
Swift is entering a contract year, which will hopefully motivate him for a big season. But he could be sharing the backfield again with Jamaal Williams, who is a free agent. However, Lions general manager Brad Holmes said there is mutual interest between Detroit and Williams in re-signing, and the two sides have had ongoing discussions.
Williams led the NFL with 17 rushing touchdowns and averaged 12.7 PPR points per game. Swift was at 12.9 PPR points per game. Clearly, Swift is the better talent, but durability and workload issues could limit his upside. The earliest I would draft him is Round 3, but I would prefer to get him in Round 4. Williams is more of a mid-round pick as a No. 3 running back if he remains with the Lions, and hopefully he can score double digits in touchdowns again in what should be a high-scoring offense.
Pederson excited for Etienne's future
"The biggest thing for me was I loved his toughness," Pederson said. "His physicality. He's not a big guy, but he's very physical when he runs. Elusive. He has good speed. He's just going to get better as a runner. When he gets a chance to go back and watch what he did last year in our system, there's gonna be times where he goes, 'I should have hit it here.' That's the growth mentality that he'll have. Just excited for him."
Etienne became the featured running back in Jacksonville in Week 8 after James Robinson was traded to the Jets. Over his final eight full games (he left Week 12 against Baltimore in the first quarter with a foot injury and played limited snaps in Week 18 against Tennessee), Etienne had five games with at least 12 PPR points, including three with at least 22 PPR points.
I like Etienne as a top-10 running back in all leagues, and I'm drafting him in Round 2. We'll see what Jacksonville does to add to its backfield, but Etienne should remain the lead rusher in an explosive offense.
Broncos expect Williams, Patrick to be ready for Week 1
Broncos general manager George Paton said running back Javonte Williams is "on track" to be ready for the start of the season. Williams suffered a major knee injury last season in Week 4 with multiple ligament tears.
"I think he's on track," Paton said. "I don't want to put a date on it, but he's out there jogging. He's working his butt off, he's rehabbing. Javonte, they anticipate he would be ready for the start of the season."
We'll continue to monitor Williams' status, and he could be considered a high-end No. 2 running back in all leagues if he's fully healthy for Week 1. Under new coach Sean Payton, Williams could be a star, especially if he's heavily involved in the passing game. But you should be cautious given the nature of his injury, and Paton might just be optimistic about his own player.
If Williams isn't ready to start the season, Paton said the team will have "another back or two" to play in Williams' place.
As for Patrick, who suffered a torn ACL in training camp last season, Paton said he also should be ready for Week 1.
"That was a huge loss," Paton said of Patrick. "You could argue one of the biggest losses of the season. When he got hurt that day, the whole building was deflated. ... I don't know where he'll be back in terms of the offseason program, but next season certainly he'll be 100 percent."
Bills high on Cook, Davis heading into 2023
"We're excited about James Cook and looking forward to what he can do in Year 2, especially with an expanded workload and more touches," Beane said.
Cook had four games in 2022 with double digits in carries, and he scored 16 PPR points in two of them. He only had 89 carries as a rookie, but he averaged 5.7 yards per carry. We'll see who Buffalo adds to complement Cook if Singletary is gone, but Cook could be in the No. 2 Fantasy running back range and worth drafting in Round 6.
As for Davis, Beane said "I have a lot of confidence with Gabe as our No. 2 (receiver)." That's good news for Davis, but he needs to play better in 2023 in that role. He only had six games with more than 11 PPR points all season.
Now, you can say he struggled early in the year with an ankle injury, and then he suffered the most after Josh Allen hurt his elbow in Week 9 at the Jets. Allen's downfield throws were limited to end the season, and that's the strength of Davis' game.
I'm still willing to draft Davis as a high-end No. 3 Fantasy receiver in all leagues in Round 7, but he has plenty to prove. However, if he hits as the No. 2 receiver opposite Stefon Diggs, he could be a league winner for Fantasy managers in 2023.
Dolphins have decision to make on Tua
Dolphins general manager Chris Grier has a decision to make on the fifth-year option for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa by May 1, and his concussion concerns are something Grier has to consider.
"I can't lie and say no," Grier said about concerns over Tagovailoa's durability. "But it's not something that's going to make us afraid to do something long-term."
When Tagovailoa was healthy last season, he was impressive. In his first year with coach Mike McDaniel and a receiving corps that featured Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, Tagovailoa was a NFL MVP candidate. In 11 games where he played 90 percent of the snaps, Tagovailoa had five outings where he scored at least 21 Fantasy points.
If he's healthy for Week 1 then you should plan to draft Tagovailoa as a low-end starter in all Fantasy leagues with a late-round pick. But you should also draft a No. 2 quarterback just in case Tagovailoa once again can't play a full season due to injury.
49ers remain uncertain on health of Purdy, Lance
The 49ers have one of the best rosters in the NFL, but quarterback is uncertain given the health of Brock Purdy (elbow) and Trey Lance (ankle). Purdy, who injured the UCL ligament in his elbow in the NFC Championship Game, has yet to undergo surgery because of too much inflammation in the joint, according to The Athletic.
"Some of the delay and the swelling and all that — it's not like a typical baseball injury," 49ers general manager John Lynch said. "This was a football injury where there was a lot of force there. So, it just all had to quiet down."
The Athletic reports that Purdy's surgery will have a six-month recovery, and it's optimistic to have him back for training camp. The report says a more realistic outcome has him being fully recovered by the first week of September.
Meanwhile, Lynch was optimistic about Lance being ready for the offseason program. He injured his ankle in Week 2 and missed the rest of the season after undergoing multiple surgeries. Lynch said he's been watching Lance's progress from his office window.
"I get reports, obviously, but my eyes tell me a lot," Lynch said. "And I'm watching Trey out there taking drops. I don't see a limp. Not to say he's 100 percent, but he's really recovering well and doing a really nice job."
The Athletic reports that the 49ers will likely be in the market for a veteran quarterback, but Jimmy Garoppolo isn't expected to return. Most likely, Lance will be the starting quarterback at the start of training camp as long as he doesn't suffer a setback, and he's worth drafting with a late-round pick in all leagues. If he hits, he could be a league winner for Fantasy managers given his potential as a runner, along with his passing prowess.
Packers ready to trust Love?
Now that Aaron Rodgers has emerged from his cave of darkness, the Packers quarterback situation will hopefully be decided soon. It seems like Rodgers is gone from Green Bay, meaning Jordan Love could be set to take over as the starter. And that's OK for Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst.
"I think he's ready to play, and I think he's ready to be an NFL starting quarterback," Gutekunst said. "Not every quarterback comes into this league ready to go out there and play. I think he needed a little time, but over the last year and a half or so, we've seen that's the next step in his progression. He needs to go out and play."
Love is an interesting Fantasy prospect. He's someone to draft in Superflex and two-quarterback leagues and maybe even with a late-round pick in one-quarterback formats. Hopefully, he can connect with Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and the running backs in Green Bay and develop into a starter in all leagues.
Allen staying with Chargers?
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said "Keenan Allen isn't going anywhere." This comes after a report in The Athletic that Allen could be cut this offseason.
According to reports, Allen has a $21.7 million cap hit in 2023, so the Chargers will probably redo his contract. He'll be 31 in April, but staying with Justin Herbert is likely the best scenario for Allen's Fantasy value, especially with Kellen Moore now the offensive coordinator.
Allen struggled with hamstring injuries in 2022, but he played the final eight games of the season and averaged 20.9 PPR points per game. To put that in perspective, only Cooper Kupp (21.8) and Justin Jefferson (21.1) averaged more than 20.0 PPR points per game last year.
If Allen does remain with the Chargers, he's worth drafting in Round 3 in PPR leagues. He can still be a huge asset for Fantasy managers in this offense.
Chiefs expect more from Toney, Moore in 2023
Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore both caught touchdowns in Super Bowl LVII, but both played limited roles overall. They combined for two catches for 9 yards and two touchdowns on two targets against the Eagles. But heading into next season, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said more is expected of both young receivers.
"Both of them will probably have bigger roles," Reid said. "Both of them are very talented."
JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman are free agents, and if both leave, Toney and Moore could be in prominent positions, along with Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Even if one or both of Smith-Schuster and Hardman return, or another receiver is added via free agency or the NFL Draft, Toney and Moore were already headed for expanded roles. We just don't know yet to what extent.
Toney has the higher ceiling, and he could be a difference maker for Fantasy managers if he can stay healthy. He didn't do much with the Chiefs after a midseason trade from the Giants with only 17 targets in seven games, but he can change a game on one play. His 65-yard punt return in the Super Bowl is a great example of that.
Moore also had limited production as a rookie in 2022 with just 22 catches for 250 yards and no touchdowns on 33 targets, but a bigger role will hopefully unlock his potential. I plan to draft Toney as early as Round 7, and Moore will be someone to target in Round 10. Just keep an eye on any moves the Chiefs make at receiver in free agency or the NFL Draft.
Titans counting on Tannehill-Okonkwo combo
New Titans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly is expecting big things from second-year tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo in 2023.
"Chig did a great job of making plays when the ball went his way," Kelly said. "When the ball found him, he caught it, and he's really good with the ball in his hands. We're going to continue to grow his skills and his abilities so we can utilize him more."
Okonkwo closed last season with three games in his final six outings with at least 10 PPR points, and he's worth drafting as a low-end Fantasy starter with a late-round pick in all leagues. And he should have Ryan Tannehill back as his quarterback in 2023.
Titans general manager Ran Carthon said Tannehill "is a Titan and he will be a Titan" this season. Tannehill has one year remaining on his contract.
Last year was rough for Tannehill, and he missed the final three games of the season with an ankle injury. But prior to getting hurt, he scored at least 21 Fantasy points in three of his final six outings.
No one will draft Tannehill in one-quarterback leagues, which is understandable. But don't be surprised if he's a popular commodity off the waiver wire during the season as a bye-week or injury replacement, especially if he starts off the season playing well.