The calendar has flipped to June, which means OTA’s are taking place with mini-camps in just a few weeks. It also means Twitter will gradually get busier with team developments, injury updates, and snippets of players looking amazing in padless practice. Below are a few of those Tweets for this week.
Cowboys RB Tony Pollard said he’s running and cutting full speed: “I’m a little bit ahead of schedule. … I’m not really limited at this point, it’s just being smart with it.” pic.twitter.com/lUelOGdqy6
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) June 1, 2023
The good news keeps coming for Tony Pollard and his dynasty managers. First, there was the surprising cut of longtime started Ezekiel Elliott. Not that it wasn’t warranted, but Elliott was a Jerry Jones favorite, and his release was one of those ‘won’t believe it until you see it’ developments. We all saw it, and Elliott is still a free agent. Furthermore, the Cowboys still haven’t brought in any serious competition for Pollard.
Veteran Malik Davis and 2023 sixth-round pick Deuce Vaughn are the current backups / complimentary players on the roster. The Cowboys may sign a veteran before the season starts. But even if they were to re-sign Elliott to a minimum contract, it’s Pollard’s job now. Then comes the news that Pollard’s return from a fractured leg is trending in the right direction, and will even be ready for training camp. Not only is the recovery great, but the timing is. Pollard, the Cowboys, et al. will have time to ease back in and evaluate Pollard’s recovery.
Dynasty Impact: The dynasty community had been collectively holding its breath since Pollard went down in the Cowboys’ playoff loss to the 49ers. The writing was on the wall about the Cowboys backfield, and Pollard was poised to take over. But the injury seems to have just been a speed bump instead of a full-on detour, and Pollard’s dynasty value has been largely unaffected.
Currently, our DLF rankers have him as a low-end RB1 and just outside the top 10. That feels right, especially considering the running backs ranked below him and the depth (or lack thereof) of the running back class this year.
Is Mac back?
Mac Jones on Bill O’Brien: Command of the room … everyone on same page. pic.twitter.com/KrnAiJO1Vv
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) May 31, 2023
For such a brief career, Mac Jones has been through a lot. From a former backup at Alabama to a first-round by the Patriots, Jones came in hot, throwing for over 3,800 yards and 22 touchdowns in his rookie season while also leading New England back to the playoffs. Fantasy-wise, out of the five first-round quarterbacks, Jones was the highest fantasy scorer, even outpacing number one overall pick Trevor Lawrence.
The wheels fell off his sophomore season. New England had Joe Judge and Matt Patricia, two coaches who had no business leading an offense, calling the plays after the more competent Josh McDaniel left for Vegas. Jones also dealt with a minor injury that kept him out of three games but opened the door for rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe to see enough playing time that local media questioned who the starter would be long-term. In all, Jones failed to top 3,000 passing yards, had just 14 touchdowns, and dropped to a fringe QB2 in fantasy scoring.
And while a young quarterback who will work with their third coordinator in three years is usually a bad sign for development, the fact that it’s former Patriots coordinator Bill O’Brien is a good thing.
Dynasty Impact: It’s clear that Jones’ sophomore season has impacted his dynasty value well into the 2023 off-season.
Yet the hiring of O’Brien should have the opposite effect. In his first stint as New England’s offensive coordinator, he led the offense to the second-most yards and third-most points in the league. During his two seasons as offensive coordinator under Nick Saban at Alabama, he coached the program’s first Heisman-winning quarterback Bryce Young.
Which isn’t to say Jones will be propelled to QB1 status. His supporting cast is just ok, even with the addition of receiver Juju Smith-Schuster. But there’s no reason Jones shouldn’t match his rookie season numbers and be a solid QB2. In combing through recent trades involving Jones in Superflex leagues, he’s going for the equivalent of a second-round pick in rookie drafts. At those prices, I’m buying.
Lightning & Reign. The addition of more strength to the Panthers’ offense could aid Bryce and the team in handling short yardage situations.
The Athletic’s Joe Person writes the absence of a power runner on the roster means “that could leave Chuba Hubbard as the short-yardage… pic.twitter.com/HSJxZW52pc
— =͟͟͞Blande (@JustBlande) May 30, 2023
With very few workhorse running backs, most teams operate with a committee. The Panthers are no different after keeping Chuba Hubbard and signing Miles Sanders in free agency and are now slated to have one of the best rushing attacks in the game. For Sanders, he cashed in on a breakout season with the Eagles, rushing for over 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Panthers signed him as their early-down back with a significant (for a running back) financial commitment. But Sanders had his limitations, specifically not catching anything and not being the short-yardage choice. Enter Chuba Hubbard, a holdover from the previous Panthers regime but one that should have some value. Now we have to determine how much.
Dynasty Impact: Sanders will be hard-pressed to duplicate his performance with the Eagles last year without a massive quarterback sneaking it in like Jalen Hurts. So we can expect him to do what he did his first couple of seasons (without Hurts) and rush for 800 yards or so.
But Hubbard should be able to improve upon his performance last year. He totaled 466 yards on just 95 carries. However, new head coach Frank Reich is no stranger to a run-oriented offense. In his five seasons as head coach of the Colts, his offenses finished in the top 10 in rush attempts three times and another two times while he was offensive coordinator of the Eagles. Now comes word that Hubbard is being prepared for a decent-sized role in the run game. So when it comes to Sanders’ and Hubbard’s dynasty values, it should probably be closer than it is now.
For Hubbard, he’s entering his age-24 season and doesn’t have a lot of mileage on him, while Sanders is entering his age-26 season and seems to be forever slotted into just an early-down role and nothing more. Hubbard will be a good target if you have Sanders or your dynasty rosters are larger than others. He’s cheap, has a run-friendly coach, and is already being tapped for a role.
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