NFL minicamps have wrapped up and there was plenty of information reported by national and team beat writers over the last month. Of course we can’t take all of what coaches say to heart, but it’s always worth keeping on top of what they are saying and what beat writers are seeing during practices.
Below, we’ll take a look at some of the news and which players came out of OTAs on the rise in fantasy football and which look to be on the decline.
Mac Jones, New England Patriots, QB
Mac Jones had more first team snaps than Cam Newton, per The Athletic’s Jeff Howe. Howe also said Jones looked like “the best quarterback on the field.” This is the first time we’ve heard praise like this for Jones and it isn’t like Howe is someone to just heap praise for no reason. It’s a long ways before Newton isn’t considered the favorite to start Week 1, but this is a step for Jones.
Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens, RB
The Ravens signed Edwards through the 2023 season, giving him a $10 million contract extension. That’s a good chunk of money in the running back market and likely assures him a big role in the offense moving forward.
Elijah Moore, New York Jets, WR
The rookie receiver has looked great so far, with beat writer Connor Hughes saying he’s “been the most impressive player at OTAs and it’s not really close.” This coincides with Denzel Mims getting second team snaps, so if he can keep it up in training camp, there’s a real chance he’ll be a top target for Zach Wilson this season.
Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons, TE
Pitts is probably going to go higher in drafts than he should, but there is also no doubt there are plenty of vacated targets in the Falcons offense and he’s going to get every chance to prove himself. In OTAs he’s easily been the most targeted receiver by Matt Ryan according to beat reporter D. Orlando Ledbetter. The Falcons realize they need Pitts to be a useful offensive player in year one.
Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals, WR
Bengals OC Brian Callahan said second-year WR Tee Higgins is “markedly more explosive” this summer, per ESPN’s Ben Baby. Higgins had a strong rookie campaign in a bad offense last season and now should take a step forward in an offense which should be better as a whole.
Cornell Powell, Kansas City Chiefs, WR
Powell is still a long shot to make a splash this season after being drafted late, but he’s been getting praise from Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes called him a “beast” when it comes to contested catches. Powell was a late bloomer in college and there is room for him to carve out a role in the Chiefs high-powered offense.
De’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions, RB
The news continues to look bad for Swift’s workload in 2021. Lions new OC Anthony Lynn says that he will “ride the hot hand at running back.” He also lauded Jamaal Williams as an early down back and Swift as a speed back a few months ago. And now they’re taking a hard look at Todd Gurley. Swift is going to need a lot of receptions to live up to his current ADP.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, QB
Rodgers proved he’s still one of the best quarterbacks in the league after his 2020 MVP season, but he didn’t show up at OTAs as expected and Peter King writes would bet Rodgers, today, is solid on never playing for the Packers again.” If that is true, there’s a real chance the Packers play hard ball and let him sit out the season instead of trading him. It’s still too early to write him off for fantasy this season, but we have to entertain the thought.
J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens, RB
The Edwards extension reinforces the fact that the Ravens will continue to have a committee backfield. Dobbins is the better pass-catcher of the two and has more fantasy upside, but we can’t expect a huge discrepancy in touches toward Dobbins. There has also been some talk of Justice Hill getting more work this season, so expecting for 200+ looks from Dobbins this season is probably too much.
Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles, RB
We all know the day of the bell-cow back is gone, but there are enough teams and backs in the NFL still getting huge shares of the running back snaps and usage that we hope it can happen to our fantasy players. Sanders is one of those players and after big usage to end last season there was reason to hope, but running backs coach Jamel Singleton downplayed that kind of usage. He told Zach Berman of The Athletic, I think the days of, ‘he’s an every-down back,’ that’s a little skewed . . . because of the speed, because of the contact.”