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2024 Minicamp Roundup: NFC Edition

With Mini-Camp's wrapping up across the league @ReflipeWThenuz breaks down some of the headlines from across the NFC.

Well, it’s that time of year again. The draft is in the books, and teams are getting together to begin installing work ahead of the season. With these team activities getting underway, you will see the obligatory minicamp blurbs. This player looks like a whole new man; that rookie looks like he will change the franchise. Often, this information is simply team beat writers looking for something to cover, so they dive in with the friendliest of assessments of both players and teams in general. For this article, I would like to examine some of the leading storylines that have emerged from minicamp and give you my take as to whether the headline has any merit for us in the dynasty community or if it is simply a superfluous fluff piece intended as red meat for the team’s fanbase. Without further ado, let us take a stroll around the league. 

2024 Minicamp Roundup: NFC Edition

NFC East:

The Next Great McCaffrey?

The Washington Commanders have enjoyed a lot of buzz since making major additions to their offensive unit. In particular, the draft brought in a number of high-profile players. For dynasty purposes, Jayden Daniels is the big name. Everyone recognizes the quarterback. However, another player has also been making waves in camp.

Third-round wide receiver Luke McCaffrey has garnered quite a bit of attention and praise from coaches and teammates alike. There has even been some noise about him getting some touches out of the backfield in minicamp. Early in his college career, Luke was a mobile QB at Nebraska.

This feels like a minicamp fluff piece. While I believe McCaffrey will have a bonafide role in the Commanders offense, I think that role will be more of a traditional receiver. The Commanders have an opening at their third receiver spot, and Luke could very well thrive there as a potential long-term replacement for Terry McLaurin.

Will Dak Be Back in 2025?

In both Superflex and the NFL, quarterbacks are king. There has been a lot of news brewing in Big D over the contract status of their franchise quarterback, Dak Prescott, who enters 2024 in the last year of his deal. The Cowboys will be strapped for funds in the near future, with big-time extensions looming for Ceedee Lamb and Micah Parsons.

I, for one, do not believe that the Cowboys will allow their franchise quarterback to walk. Prescott has been a great statistical quarterback since taking over for Tony Romo all those years ago. At only 31 years old at the start of the season, he still has plenty of prime years left in the tank. I believe it is far more likely the Cowboys are slow-rolling negotiations as opposed to allowing Dak to test the market next offseason.

Hurts So Good, Jalen Is Noticeably Bigger.

News out of Philadelphia minicamp has focused on the physique of their franchise QB. Jalen Hurts showed up to the Eagles minicamp noticeably bulked up since the end of the 2023 season. I have even seen some questions about whether this could be detrimental to his mechanics.

This one feels like a doldrums special. Sure, Hurts looks more bulky than he did at the end of last year. However, that doesn’t mean he will be any less efficient when it comes to delivering the ball downfield on time with accuracy. Perhaps his bulking up is part of an effort to make it through the season healthy. If you find any dip in his dynasty value, jump on that ASAP.

OBJ 2.0?

The New York Giants have lacked a true WR1 receiver since they traded away Odell Beckham Jr. all those years ago. The wait may finally be over. News out of the Giants minicamp has been glowing on the performance of their first-round pick, Malik Nabers.

The former LSU star has a huge opportunity before him. He has a legitimate chance to be the top dog out of camp and the chance for a massive rookie campaign. The departure of All-Pro running back Saquon Barkley has led to a philosophical shift in the team’s offense. Daniel Jones will be forced to earn his contract and turn the team into a more balanced, if not pass-centric, team.

This is a story that I am buying. Nabers clearly had some massive talent coming out of LSU. He combined that skill with extremely high draft stock and landed on a team bereft of high-end skill players. The recent retirement news of Darren Waller only heightens the opportunity that lies before young Malik. Just check out the ease of that catch above and ask yourself who that reminds you of.

NFC North:

Peaches & Cream: Williams To Odunze

Whenever a team lands multiple first-round picks in a single draft, the media and fans look to that as a transformative class. The excitement around those picks intensifies if one of the players is a QB. Now add in a second top-10 pick. Make that second player a wide receiver, and the heat is off the charts.

News out of Bears camp has been all about Caleb Williams and how he has looked and performed against the Bears legitimate defense. The early reports have been good, especially regarding his budding connection with his receivers, including Rome Odunze.

I expect Rome to be a really nice WR for years to come. He has even stated recently that he will attempt to break former college teammate Puka Nacua’s rookie records. However, that is not likely to happen. DJ Moore and Keenan Allen will garner the lion’s share of targets and keep Rome’s numbers down.

Despite the above beliefs, I would buy Williams and Rome wherever possible. Rome has the potential to develop into a long-term WR1. Think of the situation Larry Fitzgerald was drafted into with the Arizona Cardinals or Julio Jones with the Falcons. Eventually, talent and youth will carry the day. This has all the looks of a dynamic pairing.

Jeckle & Hyde J.J. McCarthy

Former Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy was a polarizing prospect throughout the process. Some in the NFL and dynasty community loved his winning resume. They saw the game-winning drives when the game was on the line. However, others saw the distinct lack of big numbers during his time at Ann Arbor.

There has been quite a bit of news out of Minnesota about the early development of the Vikings’ new franchise QB. Reports of inconsistent accuracy have surfaced as a potential hiccup for McCarthy’s ascension to the top of the depth chart. How much credence do we give these reports?

For my money, I am buying some of the early struggles. I believe that McCarthy has a genuine chance of being special down the line. I am happy that the Vikings are reportedly slow-walking their new QB. Sam Darnold has acted as the starter from the jump and will provide an excellent mentor for McCarthy if he listens. Darnold will almost certainly falter later in the year, opening a window for J.J. to take over. Grab your shares of McCarthy, but don’t expect big returns early.

TE Breakout Incoming?

The Green Bay Packers have been searching for a big-time TE for quite a while. In recent years, they have dabbled in the free agent pool with players like Jimmy Graham. But he was on the back nine of his career by the time he made it to the Packers.

Last season, the team chose to make the TE position a priority during the NFL draft. The Packers took TEs in the second and third rounds with Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft. As the higher draft pick, Musgrave got the first shot and played really well early in the season. Eventually, he was hurt and gave way to Kraft to finish the year. Heading into camp, Kraft has dealt with injuries and has been unavailable. This has opened a window for Musgrave to take the job and run with it.

The youngster has made several really nice plays in minicamp. He has all the looks of a player heading into a breakout season. I am buying this story. He has the skill set and the pedigree to be a nice dynasty asset. He has a good report with Jordan Love, and Kraft’s absence will only further solidify his return to the top of the depth chart. Buy him here, you can.

$212 Million Dollar Man?

The Detroit Lions were the big surprises of the 2023 season. Many had them begged as a team on the rise following the end of their 2022 season, in which they knocked the Green Bay Packers out of the playoffs in the last game of the season. But few, if any, believed they would succeed in the way they did.

Captained by former No.1 overall pick Jared Goff, the Lions won the NFL North, had their first playoff victory in decades, and took the conference Champions down to the wire. It became apparent that Goff was not simply a placeholder QB the Lions received in their trade of Matt Stafford a few years back.

In order to solidify their long-term outlook, the team gave Goff a massive extension following the year. This will likely tie him to the Lions for the foreseeable future. As a result, he will have an outstanding supporting cast to work with and has gone up in dynasty value. I am buying this deal and believe he feels much safer as a cornerstone piece of your super flex squads.

NFC South:

Is Kirk The Captain?

The Atlanta Falcons made one of the biggest additions of the entire NFL offseason when they signed former Minnesota and Washington QB Kirk Cousins. He signed a massive four-year, $180 million contract, $100 million of which was fully guaranteed. It looked for all the work like the Falcons had finally found the replacement for former MVP Matt Ryan.

Then, the NFL draft threw a wrench into everything. The Falcons spent a top-10 draft pick on former University of Washington signal-caller Michael Penix Jr. Rumors of a potential QB controversy almost immediately sprung up. Should we pay these rumors any heed?

I put zero stock in any talk of Penix having a legitimate shot at the starting role in Atlanta. Cousins is a proven leader who knows what he is doing. The team has essentially fully guaranteed the first two years of Cousins’ contract. Kirk will call the shots for the next two years while Penix waits his turn.

A Role For Bucky?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had one of the most inefficient rushing attacks in the league in 2023. Sure, Rachaad White put up decent fantasy numbers. But most of that came through sheer volume and his success in the passing game. Many believed the team might select an RB to help take some of the load off of White.

Enter Bucky Irving. The Buccaneers selected the former Oregon Duck playmaker in the 4th round. Irving is a compact runner who some believe could secure a role in Tampa’s rushing attack.

I am buying these rumors. Irving might not be a speed demon, but he is dynamic in space and effectively uses his satire to his advantage. He reminds me quite a bit of former Falcons RB Devonta Freeman. The early reports out of camp have been very good, and I would seek to add him to your lineups wherever you can.

Young’s New Toys

Last season, the Carolina Panthers fielded one of the worst WR groups in the NFL. The team had almost nothing beyond their aged veteran addition, Adam Thielen, and a pair of disappointing young WRs in Terrace Marshall and Jonathan Mingo. So, the team set out to correct the situation.

To right the ship, the team looked at both the trade market and the draft. Enter Diontae Johnson and Xavier Legette. Bryce Young will now have a proven separator and an exciting rookie to go along with their steady veteran. Might this mean a rebound for last season’s #1 overall rookie pick?

I am low-key buying this turn of events. Young was in a hopeless situation last season. He has a new sympathetic coaching staff and a group of new toys to play with. Johnson, in particular, should help set the table for the rest, as he is extremely proficient at getting open quickly off the line of scrimmage.

Rattling The Depth Chart

The New Orleans Saints are perpetually in salary cap hell. The team is currently led by former Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Last year, many in the dynasty community were unimpressed by the way Carr played in his first year for the Saints. Some even wondered if he could face a high draft pick in camp.

Well, a high draft pick did not materialize, but the team did manage to select former South Carolina and Oklahoma signal caller Spencer Rattler in the 5th round. Rattler was once looked upon as the top quarterback in the 2024 rookie class. That was before he lost his job to Caleb Williams and turned his college career into a tailspin.

News out of camp is that Rattler has been turning heads. Could there be a controversy brewing? I don’t think so, even in the slightest. Carr played well enough last year, given the circumstances. The team also decided to rework his contract, giving him further guarantees this season and next. Rattler could be something down the line, but there is no guarantee. Carr should be safe, but feel free to roster Rattler as a long-term stash.

NFC West:

Slick Rick

There was perhaps no bigger surprise in the 2024 1st round pick than Ricky Pearsall. The 49ers took the former Florida Gator at the back end of the 1st round despite having a pair of high-end pass catchers with Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. However, news out of camp is that Pearsall is proving GM John Lynch to be a smart man, and the team may trade one of their top pass catchers to clear the way for Slick Rick.

The rumor was given a big boost when Aiyuk took to social media and said that the 49ers did not want him back. When you take both of the minicamp developments in conjunction, they paint an interesting picture of the San Francisco depth chart. Should we be buying the emergence of Pearsall?

This is a rumor that I am buying wholesale. The 49ers have a big shoe that is set to drop in the near future. That shoe is the contract extension for QB Brock Purdy. The team is already paying Deebo Samuel, and Aiyuk is angling for a mega-extension. The 49ers cannot afford to pay everyone. Pearsall has flashed his skill, and I believe that Lynch and company will seek to move Aiyuk before his contact dispute causes a problem. Grab Pearsall before it’s too late.

TE1 Season Incoming

Over the back half of last season, Cardinals TE Trey McBride was the hottest TE in the league. The former John Mackey Award winner exploded becoming the top target of Kyler Murray and company. In a corresponding manner, McBride shot up rankings and draft boards everywhere.

Many saw the drafting of Marvin Harrison Jr. as a negative thing for McBride and his prospect for fantasy production. We all know that Harrison will command a massive amount of targets, but will that mean a big dip for the team’s talented TE?

I have zero concern for McBride when it comes to his targets. If anything, adding a legitimate target somewhere else on the offense will keep teams from building their defensive scheme against stopping him. News from minicamp shows McBride building upon his sophomore breakout. In fact, he is my bet for TE1 overall in 2024.

Airing It Out In The Northwest

Under Pete Carroll, the Seattle Seahawks have been one of the most run-heavy teams in the league. They did this year after year despite having the services of a future HOF QB. Things certainly didn’t change under Geno Smith.

Now Carroll is out, and the Seahawks will boast a new offensive scheme. Head Coach Mike MacDonald has tabbed the former University of Washington OC Ryan Grubb. While calling plays at Washington, Grubb ran a much more pass-friendly scheme. With DK Metcalf, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Tyler Lockett at their top WR spots, they are tooled up as a pass-happy team.

I am buying these reports out of the Seahawks camp. The Seattle offensive coordinator has used multiple WRs during his time at Washington. The team is uniquely equipped to shift to a pass-happy scheme. I, for one, would love to have a piece of this passing attack. Metcalf and Smith-Njigba are highly intriguing, and Lockett provides an excellent win-now depth piece at a bargain basement price.

The New Guy Didn’t Get The Memo

The Rams shocked many when they selected Michigan RB Blake Corum in the third round of the NFL draft. Last season, they had one of the biggest breakout players in the NFL with RB Kyren Williams. Could Williams be set up to disappoint in 2024?

Reports from the Rams minicamp have been glowing about their new RB, Corum. He has caught the eye of coaches and reporters alike. Kyren Williams has been absent due to nagging injury issues, which makes matters more interesting. This has allowed Corum to show exactly what he can do in the Rams system.

This will be a mixed bag in 2024. Corum will certainly have his moments to shine. However, I do not fool myself into believing that Kyren Williams’s success last year was built on a fluke. Kyren will begin the year in a high-volume role. He will cede some work to Corum, but barring an injury, I do not believe Williams will fall from the ranks of RB1 players.

Final Thoughts:

It is often hard to read between the lines during camp season in the NFL. Professional football players are dynamic athletes who regularly look excellent when the pads aren’t on. That’s why the combine has been jokingly called the underwear Olympics. However, if you read between the lines, you will see some valuable information that comes out. For example, if you had your ear to the ground early last year, you may have heard about the emergence of Puka Nacua in the Rams offense.

Roster flexibility is key to taking advantage of these early camp stories. Do yourself a favor and keep a spot or two open on your bench to scoop up players when they begin to make a name early on in camp. These are just a couple of the bigger storylines I have noticed in the league this summer. Perhaps you have seen others that grabbed your attention. Dynasty is a 12-month game. Be sure to keep engaged and pay attention. This time of year can give you insights that your less informed league mates miss out on.

Thank you for reading this article! Please be sure to join the #Nerdherd so you don’t miss out on any of the amazing things we have to offer @Dynastynerds.com. Use my promo code DynastyHolliday for a 15% off discount. You will get rankings, extra podcasts, and access to our rookie film room. For just a couple of bucks more you can get access to our revolutionary DynastyGM tool. So much for so little, why miss out on all the fun? Also, you absolutely must check out our new mock draft tool. Find it in your Apple & Android app stores. Follow me @ReflipeWThenuz for more dynasty content and other musings.

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