Maybe you heard ... unofficial depth charts are out around the NFL. Instead of just speculating over how certain rosters will stack up this season, we can now pore over the lists and make way-too-early evaluations of what this all means for players and the fantasy owners who draft them. Our friends at Around The League listed a few immediate reflections.
The Cleveland Browns were one of the teams that released their charts -- what, you thought we weren't going to talk about Johnny Manziel? -- and Brian Hoyer is currently sitting in the top quarterback slot. It's not a complete surprise, but it also reinforces the notion that the first preseason depth chart and first regular season depth chart can differ wildly.
The same can be said of the situation in Minnesota. Matt Cassel is the lead signal-caller in Minnesota's preseason work, but all the reports from camp have Teddy Bridgewater closing the gap quickly. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner has continually been effusive about the rookie, saying on Tuesday that Bridgewater is playing at an "awfully high level."
Looking for an actual surprise on a preseason depth chart? Try Kenny Britt lining up with the first team in St. Louis. The mercurial receiver has always seemed on the verge of breaking out, but injuries on the field and issues off of it have prevented Britt from reaching his potential. Now reunited with his old coach Jeff Fisher, Britt is taking advantage of what could be his last chance to be a true impact player in the NFL. With St. Louis' receiving corps far from settled, the opportunity is there. Forgive us, though, if we're not immediately jumping on board.
Rookie receiver roundup
Stop me if you've heard this one: rookie wide receivers generally don't make an immediate fantasy impact. But in an era when pass-catchers are taking on greater importance, the chances that a first-year wideout could become a legitimate fantasy contributor would seem to grow year by year. In the 2014 draft class Sammy Watkins is the early pick to be that guy -- with Brandin Cooks gaining steam -- but he could be challenged by others.
Jordan Matthews could be one of those guys. The Eagles rookie has earned praises from just about everyone around the team with LeSean McCoy being the latest to speak good things. McCoy has been the biggest cheerleader of all things Eagles so maybe it's best to take his pronouncements with a grain of salt, but Matthews' addition to the first team in practice says a lot about what the coaching staff thinks of the young receiver.
Packers rookie Davante Adams opens the preseason listed with the second team, where he's likely to stay barring an injury to either Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb. But the man from Fresno State drew interest from Aaron Rodgers when he was selected in the second round. With Green Bay's propensity to line up three receivers (67 percent of the time last season), a strong preseason from Adams could help him sneak onto the field quite a bit this year.
Not all of the news is good. The Giants are still waiting on Odell Beckham to be cleared for practice. The G-Men were hoping that Beckham could be an immediate impact player, but at this point they might just settle for him being able to get on the field. Elsewhere in the Empire State, Jets rookie receiver Shaq Evans could have his 2014 season ended before it even begins due to a "severe" shoulder injury.
-- C.J. Spiller says he hopes he'll "be around for this coming season." Wait, what? Apparently the Bills rusher has heard his name in a variety of trade rumors recently. Spiller also has to certainly be aware of the contract extension for Fred Jackson and the presence of Bryce Brown. If the Bills indeed move Spiller, his landing spot would impact his fantasy value going forward. But it would also open things up in Buffalo for a backfield that looks fairly crowded right now.
-- For the time being, Trent Richardson is the man in the Colts backfield. Knowing that he needs a big bounce back after a terrible 2013, Richardson is aiming high saying he plans to top the 1,000-yard mark this season. It's all part of the narrative that has included reports of Richardson's comfort level increasing in the offseason. Right now, these are just words. Fantasy owners are looking for action.
-- A week ago, we were all regaled with stories of Chris Johnson's quick start in training camp while Chris Ivory was trying to just get untracked. A week later, Rex Ryan is telling the New York Daily News that he expects his team to go with a committee approach. It's pretty much what was expected from the Jets offense this season, but hopefully it won't be anything to fear.
-- Ray Rice won't play in the Ravens first two games of the 2014 season but when he returns, might he look like the Ray Rice of old? That's certainly what John Harbaugh believes. Baltimore's head coach says the veteran back has looked good in camp and could be ready to produce as he has in past seasons. Of course, some of that could rest on the shoulders of an offensive line that struggled last season. If that doesn't improve, Rice's chances of a bounce back decrease.
-- The early returns on Eric Ebron haven't been particularly good. But the rookie says he's already hit the "rookie wall" and is looking to improve. We know what he's trying to say, even if his phrasing could be better. It will be interesting to monitor camp reports about Ebron going forward to see if he truly is getting into the swing of things.