NFL Today: Cleveland Browns Take Depth Hit
Michael Woods II could miss the entire 2023 season. (John Kuntz, cleveland.com)
In today’s Fantasy football notes, we look at the evolving wide receiver depth situation in Cleveland; questions about the Bengals’ new starting safeties; and how Minnesota may approach the 2023 NFL Draft.
Michael Woods II Could Miss Season
The Cleveland Browns, who have regressed steadily since their 2020 playoff season, now have to deal with yet another hurdle.
Wide receiver Mike Woods II suffered a torn Achilles while practicing, and it will probably cost him the entire 2023 campaign.
A sixth-round pick last year, he got hurt while working with QB Deshaun Watson; Woods was obviously trying to build some chemistry as he tried to earn a bigger role next season.
A year ago, it wasn’t even clear that Woods would make the roster (see video below), but he saw action in 10 games as a rookie, getting targeted 10 times and pulling in five receptions for 45 yards.
Cleveland did trade for Elijah Moore this offseason, and that helps, but the loss of Woods definitely dents the overall depth at the position, so expect the team to try to address that in the draft later this month.
As for Moore, he didn’t exactly achieve our lofty projections in 2021, and was even less a factor last year despite playing more games. Still, this dude has some serious after-the-catch potential, so don’t sleep on him in 2023.
Cincy Secondary Woes
The Cincinnati Bengals may be listed at +900 to win the Super Bowl next season according to FanDuel’s Futures, but there are legitimate questions about their secondary — at least heading into the draft.
With Jessie Bates III (Atlanta) and Vonn Bell (Carolina) both bolting as free agents, Cincinnati will be without its two starting safeties from last season. These losses were mitigated somewhat by the signing of former Ram (and Super Bowl winner) Nick Scott, who projects to start alongside 2022 first round pick Daxton Hill.
Hill’s role will be much larger this season, but just how good this pair will be remains an open question. Will the Bengals use the draft to add to their secondary? The team has a few positions of need (including tight end, defensive back and running back), but we’re anticipating that they’ll grab a safety or cornerback with their second or third pick to help shore up the secondary.
Minnesota Vikings Draft Needs
The Minnesota Vikings continued their ascent last year, finishing 13-4 to win the NFC North before losing to the Giants in the Wild Card game.
Unfortunately, salary cap issues led to the loss of key players like Adam Thielen, Cameron Dantzler Jr. and Eric Kendricks. Sure, Minnesota did fill some holes through free agents with the signings of WR Brandon Powell, LB Troy Reeder, DL Dean Lowry, CB Bryon Murphy Jr. and OLB Marcus Davenport, among others, but there’s still work to be done here.
Heading into the draft, shoring up a poor defense has to be a priority. Look for them to target the inside linebacker and cornerback positions specifically. Drafting 24th in the first round (although it’s actually No. 23 thanks to Miami forfeiting its first round pick), the Vikings may opt to grab a receiver (perhaps TCU’s Quentin Johnston or Ray Flowers from Boston College) to replace Thielen before shifting gears to address defensive needs with the majority of its remaining draft picks.
It’s also not inconceivable that Minnesota makes a trade to acquire more draft capital, given that the team currently does not own second or seventh round picks.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
American rock band The Doobie Brothers formed in 1970, broke up in 1982 and then got back together in 1987 and are still going today. In 1983, the band released its first live album, appropriately (at the time) called Farewell Tour. From this effort comes “Takin’ It to the Streets,” the title track from its sixth album, released in 1976. The tune hit No. 7 in Canada.