Shark Bites

The Colts plan to switch to a 4-3 base front on defense this season, which will include shifting OLB John Simon to DE. GM Chris Ballard spoke to that Friday and said he expects it to be a positive move for his top 3 edge players. “At the end of the day, even in the 3-4, you’re still in a four-man front," Ballard said, per the Indianapolis Star. "It’s the difference between putting your hand on the ground and standing up. John Simon played in a 4-3 at Ohio State, so he’s done it before. Great effort, he’s strong. He’ll fit in.” Simon tallied 16 sacks and 30.5 total tackles for loss over his final 2 Buckeye seasons. At 6'1, 250 pounds, though, he'll be challenged as a full-time DE -- especially on the right side. We'll see exactly how the playing time breaks down among Simon, Jabaal Sheard and 2017 rookie Tarell Basham. Sheard has played various schemes and delivered 13 sacks over 2 injury-impacted seasons as a 4-3 DE with the Patriots. Basham played 4-3 DE in college and reportedly struggled with the transition to standup rusher last season. There's potential IDP value to all 3. We'll evaluate the situation as we move into summer.

The Giants on Thursday released WR Brandon Marshall. According to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, the team released Marshall with a "failed physical designation." The veteran WR landed on IR in early October after suffering a severe high ankle sprain. Marshall, however, seemed to believe that he'd be sticking around for 2018 when he recently commented that there wasn't room on the Giants roster to add Dez Bryant. We'll see now whether Marshall's release creates just such an opportunity. For now, Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram stand as Eli Manning's top 3 targets.

New Bears HC Matt Nagy likes what he's seen from RB Tarik Cohen both on film and early in the offseason program. “He’s a run threat and then he can catch the ball in space in broken formations," Nagy said. “That’s an advantage for the play callers and the play designers to be able to do some different things. We can move him around and try to get an advantage. … He’s dynamic." Cohen is coming off a promising rookie season that saw him average 4.3 yards per carry on 87 attempts and tally 53 catches. Nagy said recently that Jordan Howard will remain the team's lead back, but there's certainly room for Cohen to tack on another 20 or 30 touches to last year's total. He's fairly valued at his current 7th-round ADP.

Bengals RB Joe Mixon has dropped weight this offseason and is currently tipping the scales at 225 pounds, according to Geoff Hobson of the team's official website. Mixon reportedly showed up to rookie minicamp last year at 238 pounds -- 12 pounds heavier than he checked in at the Combine. Shedding some lbs. usually works out well for RBs, so consider this report good news for Mixon's 2018 fantasy value. He's coming off a mostly disappointing rookie campaign but has breakout potential with Jeremy Hill out of the way this year.

The Broncos are releasing RB C.J. Anderson, according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo. It makes sense as a financial move. Anderson would have been due $4.5 million in salary this year and next, with none of that guaranteed. The production has not merited that. After a promising breakthrough in 2014, Anderson played his way into a committee while dealing with lower-body injuries in 2015, then missed 9 games in 2016. He played in all 16 contests last year and topped 15 carries per game for the 2nd straight year but managed just 4.1 yards per rush. Football Outsiders rated Anderson outside the top 30 RBs in rushing efficiency and outside the top 40 in receiving efficiency. The move will leave only Devontae Booker and 2017 rookie De'Angelo Henderson on the RB depth chart, which all but guarantees Denver will draft another back -- probably within the 1st 4 rounds. Don't take Booker or Henderson ahead of the double-digit rounds in best-ball drafting right now. Anderson, meanwhile, should find another suitor before training camp. He's heading into just his age-27 season.

Lions DE Ezekiel Ansah is expected to sign his franchise tender this week and join teammates for offseason training, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Ansah missed last week's workouts while reportedly tending to family stuff in Ghana. Signing the franchise tender will then give Ansah and the team until mid-July to agree on a long-term deal. If they don't by the deadline, he'll be eligible for free agency again after the 2018 season. Ansah racked up 12 sacks last season, but delivered most of that production in just 3 games: a 3-sack Week 2 at the Giants, and then another pair of 3-sack outings in the season's final 2 weeks. Otherwise, he spent the year battling knee, back and ankle injuries. Durability as been a consistent issue for Ansah, but he's worth a shot high in DL2 range in IDP leagues if he hits summer healthy. Insurance for fantasy rosters won't be hard to find.

The Bills have signed WR Jeremy Kerley to a 1-year deal. Kerley, who will turn 30 in November, has reached 50 catches twice in his 7 seasons, most recently in a 64-667-3 season with the Niners in 2016. He lost half of last year to injury and a 4-game PED suspension. We're not betting on fantasy relevance from the veteran in an ugly-looking Bills pass offense, but he should at least get a chance to compete for targets. Only Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones look like roster locks among the current WR corps.

Rams S Lamarcus Joyner will sign his franchise tender Monday and begin offseason training with his teammates, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. In his 1st season as a full-time starter, Joyner finished 2017 as Pro Football Focus' #3 graded safety, despite losing 3 early games to a hamstring injury. He snagged 3 INTs and defensed 9 passes. Joyner spent much of his 1st 3 seasons at CB, including extensive work in the slot. IDP owners should keep an eye on him in DB2 range come draft time this summer.

The Seahawks on Friday reached a 1-year deal with K Sebastian Janikowski. The former Raiders kicker missed last season but finished 12th among fantasy kickers in 2016. Seattle got a disappointing 72.4% conversion rate on FGs last year from K Blair Walsh. Steven Hauschka finished top 12 among fantasy kickers each of the previous 5 seasons as a Seahawk.

The Cowboys are expected to release WR Dez Bryant, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter and Todd Archer. We've heard whispers about this for a while now. Dallas reportedly wants Bryant to take a pay cut from the $12.5 million he's scheduled to earn this year and next -- and the mercurial WR evidently isn't willing to oblige. The 2 sides are meeting today, but a divorce is expected "barring an unexpected last-minute change of heart," Schefter tweets. Bryant's production has crated since 3-straight seasons of 1,200+ yards from 2012 to 2014. Over the past 3 years, he's totaled just 150 catches for 2,035 yards and 17 TDs across 38 appearances. He seemingly struggled to get on the same page as QB Dak Prescott, corralling just 52.2% of his targets over the last 2 seasons. Bryant is still just 29, so there's certainly a chance he bounces back in 2018. We'll see where he lands before assessing his fantasy value. The Cowboys, meanwhile, are left with Terrance Williams, Allen Hurns and Cole Beasley atop their WR depth chart. They figure to be in the market for a rookie WR or 2.

Update: They did.

Santa Clara police have charged 49ers LB Reuben Foster with felony domestic violence stemming from a February arrest. According to a press release from the district attorney's office, Foster "physically attacked" his live-in girlfriend, "leaving her bruised and with a ruptured ear drum." Beyond the fact that he's (allegedly) an a-hole, this is the kind of charge that could jeopardize Foster's standing with the Niners and the league. A conviction, meanwhile, could mean 11+ years in jail, according to the press release. We'll see where this case goes, but dynasty owners should go ahead and plan on not having Foster available for at least the near future in IDP leagues.

The Browns and WR Jarvis Landry have agreed to a 5-year, $75.5 million extension with $47 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. That $15.1 million per year makes Landry the league's 5th highest paid WR in terms of average annual salary. It's a massive commitment to a guy the Dolphins clearly didn't value nearly as much. Landry is still unlikely to see the 142.5 targets per season he averaged in Miami, though. He's a bit overvalued at his current ADP on WR20 in early best-ball drafts.

Giants S Landon Collins confirmed Wednesday that he needs a 2nd surgery on the right forearm he fractured late last season, according to Art Stapleton of NorthJersey.com. Collins will reportedly need 6-8 weeks of recovery time, which should still allow him to start training camp on time. We'll keep an eye on the situation as we move into summer, but IDP owners needn't worry just yet.

The Bears have declined to match the Saints' offer to WR Cameron Meredith. So he'll head to New Orleans on a 2-year, $9.6 million deal. Meredith is rehabbing from a late-August torn ACL and MCL but flashed back in 2016 with a 66-888-4 line. He's still just 25 and owns a 74th percentile SPARQ score. He should at least settle in as the Saints' #3 WR and could even push Ted Ginn for 2nd on the team in targets behind Michael Thomas.

New Cardinals HC Steve Wilks confirmed Tuesday his team will be switching to a 4-3 base defense this season, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. Wilks reportedly said a key factor in the change is allowing edge guys Chandler Jones and Markus Golden to rush the passer every down. That's the big news here for IDP owners as well. The switch should mean that we'll get DE designations for Jones and Golden in fantasy football leagues in 2018, which would dramatically increase their value. Jones, of course, led the NFL with 17 sacks last season and is no secret as a top pass rusher. Golden much more quietly racked up 12.5 sacks, 16 total tackles for loss and 22 total QB hits in 2016 before missing most of last season with a torn right ACL. He'll be a solid shot to take late in IDP drafts this summer -- especially if he gets that DL designation.

Colts QB Andrew Luck told reporters Monday that he still has yet to get back to throwing a real football following last year's shoulder surgery. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Luck says he's not freaking out because he's "very, very optimistic" and making progress. It is only April, but today's quotes sound a lot like what we were hearing last spring when we fantasy owners tried to downplay our own concerns. Luck will be among the most closely watched players in the league until he proves he's all the way back.

Giants WR Odell Beckham showed up for the start of the team's offseason program on Monday. It's at least a small olive branch amid an offseason of trade rumors and holdout threats. The drama isn't necessarily over yet. The trade rumors figure to persist at least until the NFL Draft is over. And Beckham could still stage a training camp holdout if he doesn't get a new contract. But the odds that he's a Giant in 2018 look better now than they did a couple of weeks ago.

Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston tweeted Friday, "I personally will make sure we show how valuable [WR DeSean Jackson] is to our team and [the NFL]." The tweet came in response to a Tampa Bay Times story link pondering what the Bucs would do with Jackson after a somewhat disappointing 2017. Offseason is obviously time for dreaming and big talk for all players and teams, but D-Jax ranked 2nd among Bucs in targets last year, averaging 6.4 per game. He endured the worst yards per reception rate of his career, though, and sported his lowest catch rate since 2012. There's plenty of room for 2018 stat improvement, and a better connection would likely help Winston's fantasy numbers as well. With an ADP at the end of Round 11 in MFL10 drafting so far, Jackson looks like a solid best-ball value -- especially when he slips beyond that range.

The Browns have traded QB Kevin Hogan to Washington for a 6th-round draft pick, ESPN reports. Good move for Cleveland, which has clearly chosen a new direction. Hogan figures to compete for a backup job with Colt McCoy, who has 1 year left on his contract

WR Cameron Meredith has signed a 2-year, $10 million offer sheet with the Saints, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The Bears tendered the restricted free agent at the original-round level. That means New Orleans will owe Chicago no compensation, but the Bears get a chance to match the offer. Meredith missed all of last season after tearing his left ACL and MCL, so we'll need to watch his progress this offseason and see exactly when he's ready for full practice. If Meredith's good to go in plenty of time, he'll be in an interesting situation. New Orleans has been a passing-game party for most of Drew Brees' time there, but only Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara topped 70 targets among Saints last year. Ted Ginn drew 70 to rank 3rd on the team and 2nd among Saints WRs. A healthy Meredith could challenge Ginn's status as the #2 WR and approach Willie Snead's 2016 role. We would bet on a bit more passing from the Saints this year, though also not a total swing back from the 2017 rushing emphasis. Meredith makes for an upside late-round pick in best-ball drafts right now. His arrival adds a bit of risk to Ginn but certainly doesn't kill his value.

 
 
 

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