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.

Ryan Pace says Bears are 'exploring every avenue' to upgrade tight end

Ryan Pace says Bears are 'exploring every avenue' to upgrade tight end

Bears general manager Ryan Pace didn't come across as a guy willing to go down in flames with his decision to sign tight end Trey Burton back in 2018 when he met with the media at the NFL Combine on Tuesday. Instead, he confirmed the Bears will be heavily invested in the tight end market this offseason, both in free agency and the 2020 NFL draft.

"We’re looking at it in free agency and the draft," Pace said of this year's available tight ends. "It’s deep in different areas. That’s an area of focus for us, I don’t think that’s a secret. This offense, a lot of it goes through the tight end, so we’re exploring every avenue."

It's hard to envision a scenario where Pace would be willing to travel down the big-money free-agent path again, but Falcons pass-catcher Austin Hooper could be too tempting to pass up.

Atlanta confirmed on Tuesday Hooper will be allowed to test the open market, and if he ranks high enough on Pace's wish list, we could be setting up to see a $10 million per year offer. It may seem like a waste of resources to tie that much money up in the tight end position (he and Burton would cost the Bears close to $20 million in 2020), but they experienced just how limited Matt Nagy's offense is without a capable playmaker at the position. Hooper would fix that.

The cheaper alternative for Pace to upgrade at tight end would be the draft, where several quality prospects will be on the board when the Bears pick at No. 43 and No. 50 overall. Players like Purdue's Brycen Hopkins, FAU's Harrison Bryant and Notre Dame's Cole Kmet could all be available when the Bears are on the clock, and all three of them would represent a marked uptick in talent for the depth chart.

Pace is being logical and rational when it comes to his evaluation of the tight end group. It's especially impressive considering the top two options currently on the roster -- Burton and Adam Shaheen -- were hand-picked by him and cost Chicago a top-of-the-market free-agent deal and a high draft pick (second round, 2017). 

Pace has a great opportunity to right his wrongs at tight end over the next couple of months.

How Matt Nagy's 'urgency' could foreshadow a Bears quarterback change

How Matt Nagy's 'urgency' could foreshadow a Bears quarterback change

INDIANAPOLIS — The Bears don’t look likely to sign or trade for a true starter to replace Mitch Trubisky, and Ryan Pace made clear he expects the 2017 No. 2 overall pick to be his starter in 2020. 

Let’s add an addendum to that, though, based on something Matt Nagy said: Just because Trubisky begins 2020 as the Bears’ starting quarterback does not mean he’ll hold on to that gig for the whole season, or even for half a season. 

In talking about the need to find an offensive identity in 2020, Nagy offered a response that leads you to believe job security won't be close to where it was in 2019:

“We got to figure out what our identity is and that's going to be an objective for us,” Nagy said. “And then last year you heard me say, sometimes it takes five or six weeks. I feel like personally that's always the case, but there's a sense of urgency for us going into this year. It needs to happen sooner.”

It needs to happen sooner. What happens if Trubisky doesn’t show any improvement through the first three or four games of 2020, and the Bears’ offense is lacking an identity at the end of September?

If there truly is a sense of urgency to find solutions on offense, then the Bears should consider something they didn’t last year: Changing quarterbacks. 

Chase Daniel was not on the roster to push Trubisky for playing time. He was brought in for his knowledge of the offense as “a little bit of an assistant coach,” as Nagy put it. The Bears figured surrounding Trubisky with as many resources as possible would help him thrive in Nagy’s complex offense. 

What the Bears need — and have indicated they want — is more competition in their quarterback room. That does not necessarily mean, again, luring someone like Teddy Bridgewater to Chicago to start. 

But it does mean adding someone to the roster who at least has a chance to be a better option than Trubisky, if Trubisky doesn’t show any improvement. 

Case Keenum could be that guy. Marcus Mariota, too (although Mariota sharing agents Bruce Tollner and Ryan Tollner with Trubisky could complicate any interest in him the Bears might have). Maybe there’s a trade to be made for Andy Dalton after all, if the Cincinnati Bengals are willing to bend to make the money work. 

A free agent signing along those lines and/or a draft pick — it doesn’t have to be a second rounder, either — would put someone on the roster who could be viewed as a legitimate replacement for an ineffective Trubisky. 

“If you're not creating competition around your whole roster, you're not pushing your own guys,” Nagy said.

The Bears didn’t do that at quarterback the last two years. 

But all signs are pointing to that changing in 2020. And while that may not mean an immediate change at starting quarterback, it means a switch during the season could become a real possibility. 

“If we all think that that’s what we want from (Trubisky), from last year, we’re fooling ourselves,” Nagy said. “He knows that and we know that. 

“But at the same time, we need to be real. What’s around him? And that’s where we’re at. I know it’s hard sometimes for all of us to understand that, and you see what’s going on with the instant gratification now, but there is a process for us. I do know that Mitch is very hungry. 

“He understands that we want him to play better, he understands that we want to coach better. So now we cannot worry and dwell about what happened last year. If you do that, you get stuck in the mud. We can’t do it. 

“It’s a clean slate. Now we’ve gotta get better for this year.”

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