Fantasy Football: 4 guys whose stocks are rising after NFL Draft


Fantasy Football: 4 guys whose stocks are rising after NFL Draft

With the NFL Draft come and gone, the entire Fantasy landscape has changed. There are plenty of new rookies who are in great situations (Kevin White included here in Chicago), but there are also some up-and-comers and veterans whose stock is on the rise. 

Carlos Hyde (RB), SF

No more Frank Gore means Carlos Hyde is the No. 1 dude in San Fran. Hyde impressed in his rookie season, averaging 4.0 yards per carry with 12 catches and four rushing TDs in 14 games. He's flashed potential and now is atop the depth chart. Somebody has to replace the 255 carries Gore had last season and Hyde is already a factor in the passing game. The only guy that is truly a threat to Hyde right now is Reggie Bush, who is suddenly 30 years old and put up career-lows in yardage (discluding the 2010 season in which he played just eight games), while only scoring two touchdowns in Detroit. Bush's arrow is trending down and Hyde's is on the way up. Look at Hyde as an upper-tier No. 2 running back, with the potential for more.

[ROTOWORLD: Veteran winners from the NFL Draft]

Eli Manning (QB), New York Giants

After a horrendous start to the 2014 season, Manning rebounded later in the year and posted some great numbers with the help of Odell Beckham Jr., showing the two have developed on-field chemistry. This offseason the front office decided to add to the talent around Manning by bringing in pass-catching running back Shane Vereen and using their first-round pick on Ereck Flowers to help keep the Giants' franchise QB standing up in the pocket. With the potential return of Victor Cruz, Manning is poised for a huge year in 2015. He could be this year's 2014 Big Ben and be that mid-to-late round selection that ends up being a huge steal. Oh, and did I mention he's in a contract year? - John

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Latavius Murray (RB), Oakland Raiders

After missing the entire 2013 season with an ankle injury, the second-year running back out of Central Florida had a semi-breakout season in 2014. He rushed for 424 yards with a sparkling 5.2 yards per carry. And there are plenty of reasons why Murray is on the verge of stardom. The front office cut ties with veterans Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden this offseason, while signing Roy Helu and Trent Richardson. At this stage in his career Helu is viewed as a third-down back, while Richardson doesn't pose as a threat to unseat Murray as Oakland's lead back. Murray will also benefit from new Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, who already mentioned that he wants to "tailor" the running game to Murray. Musgrave used a high-volume running game in the past with Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner, Clinton Portis and Fred Taylor. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr now has weapons in his disposal after GM Reggie McKenzie added arguably the best wide receiver in the draft in Amari Cooper and selected Miami tight end Clive Walford in the second round. Teams won't be able to stack the box against Murray now that the Raiders have players that can stretch the field. While Murray isn't necessarily a Top 20 fantasy player as of now, I wouldn't be surprised to see him reach that mark by season's end. - Scott

Jay Cutler (QB), Chicago Bears

With all the holes the Bears needed to fill on either side of the football, general manager Ryan Pace didn't have the luxury of drafting for need last week. Instead, he went for a best-player-available approach, and that meant using three of his first four selections on offensive players. That's good news for Jay Cutler, who got what should be an upgrade at wide receiver in No. 7 overall pick Kevin White, potentially a new center in Hronnis Grasu and a chance-of-pace back in Jeremy Langford who, at the very least, won't be as bad as Michael Bush or Ka'Deem Cary. Cutler still isn't a QB1 guy, but he's a much safer QB2 bet now that he's got White AND Alshon Jeffery, free agent signee Eddie Royal, Forte and Langford as targets. The offensive line will have to hold up - which is didn't do a year ago - but maybe Cutler will flourish in Adam Gase's offense. He's a guy to keep an eye on after the Bears improved their offensive in the draft.

Bears notes: Was Trey Burton’s penalty justified?

Bears notes: Was Trey Burton’s penalty justified?

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — In a game full of pivotal moments, one seemed to irk the Bears in particular following Sunday’s 31-28 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.

Driving on the Dolphins three-yard line, the Bears lined up in a T formation with Jordan Howard, Trey Burton and Tarik Cohen lined up left to right in the backfield behind Mitch Trubisky, who was under center. Burton motioned out of the backfield and to the right, and ran his route into linebacker Kiko Alonso.

Trubisky threw a short pass to a wide open Cohen for a touchdown, with Alonso late getting to the running back after being hit by Burton. But that score was taken off the board for offensive pass interference, with officials ruling what Burton did amounted to an illegal pick play.

“Trey did everything I asked him to do,” Matt Nagy said, sharply.

On the next play, Trubisky forced a pass into double coverage in the end zone, which was easily picked off by Dolphins safety T.J. McDonald. Miami turned that interception into eight points on Albert Wilson’s 43-yard touchdown and an ensuing two-point conversion.

The way Burton understood the rule was that offensive pass interference was only assessed on a pick play if he intentionally ran into a defender without running a true route. That’s what Burton felt he did; the officiating crew disagreed.

“I thought I ran a route and the guy ran into me,” Burton said. “I thought they changed the rule this year or last year — if you run the route, it doesn’t matter if you pick the guy or not, you’re good. Obviously they called it.”

A Rough Return

The conversations surrounding the Bears Sunday into Monday would be awfully different had a number of things happened — Trubisky doesn’t throw that interception, the Bears’ defense gets a stop, Tarik Cohen doesn’t fumble near midfield, etc. In that same group: If Cody Parkey hits what would’ve been a game-winning 53-yard field goal in overtime.

Parkey, instead, missed that kick wide right. His career long is 54 yards, which he hit last year while with the Miami Dolphins (and that was a game-winner with about a minute left against the Los Angeles Chargers).

“I had the distance, I just didn’t kick it straight enough, bottom line,” Parkey said. “But you’ve got to move on. I’ve made game winners, I’ve missed game winners. As long as I keep playing, I’m just going to keep trying to kick my best.

“… I control what I can control, and unfortunately I missed a field goal. I’d like to have that one back, but it is what it is and I’m just going to focus on the next game. That’s all I can do.”

For an improving Bears offense vs. Dolphins, a day of maddening extremes

For an improving Bears offense vs. Dolphins, a day of maddening extremes

Their points production in the 31-28 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday marked the fourth time in five games under coach Matt Nagy that the Bears have scored 23 or more points. All of the 28 were heaped on the Dolphins by the offense, which churned for 467 yards one game after amassing 483 and 48 points against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But the Bears did in fact lose, and not all of the reasons can be laid at the feet of the defense. Not nearly all of them.

In great position to put the game virtually out of reach for the struggling Dolphins, the Bears offense failed. The yardage total gave the Bears consecutive 400-yard games for the first time since games 14-15 in 2016, and well could have represented a statement that the offense of Nagy and coordinator Mark Helfrich was indeed hitting a potent stride.

It may be. But a combination of troubling factors gave Sunday’s output a hollow ring.

Against the Dolphins, 149 of the yards came on possessions ending in turnovers, including an interception thrown by quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and fumble by running back Jordan Howard both occurring in the red zone with points well within reach.

The offense hurt itself with a handful of pre-snap penalties, and the overarching sense is that the belief in Nagy and the overall offense is growing amid mistakes that clearly rest with players themselves.

“For sure, 100 percent trust in Coach Nagy and what he believes is best for this team,” Trubisky said. “What he believes is what I believe is best for this team. Whatever he calls, we're going to run it to the best of our ability. We put ourselves in a great chance, and I have faith in our guys that next time we get the opportunity we make it.”

Opportunities taken and opportunities missed

For Trubisky, the linchpin of the evolving offense, it was a day of extremes.

His production (316 yards) gave him consecutive 300-yard games for the first time in his 17-game career. His passer rating (122.5) was the seond-highest of his career, behind only the stratospheric 154.6 of the Tampa Bay game. His three TD passes are second only to his six against the Buccaneers. Trubisky’s yardage outputs this season are pointing in a decidedly upward arc: 171 at Green Bay, followed by 200-220-354-316.

But decision-making proved costly at tipping points against the Dolphins. From the Miami 13 with a 21-13 lead early in the fourth quarter, and holding a chance to create potentially decisive breathing room on the scoreboard, Trubisky forced a throw toward tight end Ben Braunecker, who was double-covered in the Miami end zone. The ball was intercepted by safety T.J. McDonald, and the Dolphins went from the touchback to a touchdown and subsequent game-tying two-point conversion.

“I just thought the safety went with the ‘over’ route,” Trubisky said. “He made a good play. I lost him when I was stepping up [in the pocket], and I forced one in the red zone when I shouldn't have… . I forced it and I put my team in a bad position, and I shouldn't have thrown that pass.”

The second-year quarterback started poorly, with an overthrow of a wide-open Anthony Miller on the third play from scrimmage, resulting in a three-and-out and a concerning start for what would be only scoreless Bears first half this season. A failed fourth-and-2 conversion gave Miami the football at its 41 later in the quarter.

Trubisky badly overthrew an open Miller in the second quarter, creating a third-and-long on which the Dolphins broke down his protection for a second sack in the span of just 11 plays. After a 47-yard completion to Taylor Gabriel, Trubisky threw an checkdown pass nowhere near running back Jordan Howard.

Fatigue factor overlooked?

Running back Tarik Cohen totaled 121 yards for the second straight game and the second time in his career. For the second straight week Cohen led or co-led the Bears with seven pass receptions.

But the last of the seven came with a disastrous finish. Cohen was hit by Miami linebacker Kiko Alonso after taking a swing pass and picking up 11 yards, fumbled and had the ball recovered by cornerback Xavien Howard at the Chicago 45. The defense did manage a stop, leading to the overtime, but the result was devastating.

“Personally for me, it’s [frustrating] because I know I took my team out of position to win the game late in the ball game,’ Cohen said. “So personally, that’s frustrating for me… . I feel like I had an opportunity to get ourselves down in scoring position. I let fatigue get the best of me, and I forgot about the fundamentals.”

That Cohen mentioned “fatigue” is perhaps noteworthy. A question was raised to Helfrich last week as to whether there was an optimal or max number of snaps for the diminutive Cohen, who had five carries and was targeted nine times – not including one punt return and plays on which he ran pass routes but was not thrown to in the south Florida heat.

“It was hot,” said defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. “It was hot out there.”

Weapons rising

Last offseason and millions in contracts were spent upgrading offensive weaponry. The investments produced in Miami.

Touchdown passes were caught by wide receivers Anthony Miller (drafted) and Allen Robinson (free agent) plus tight end Trey Burton (free agent). Wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (free agent) caught the five passes thrown to him for a team-high 110 yards, his second straight 100-yard game after none in his previous four NFL seasons.

Five different players posted plays of 20 yards or longer, including pass plays of 54 and 47 yards by Gabriel and a run of 21 yards and reception of 59 yards by Cohen.

Uncharacteristically for the normally fast-starting Bears offense, the group followed the scoreless first half with 21 points in the third quarter and 343 yards of combined offense in the second half and overtime.

“We came out with more energy and had the attitude that we were going to go down and score the ball,” Trubisky said, “and we played a lot better the second half.”