Shark Bites

The Patriots signed RB Rex Burkhead. He joins Dion Lewis and James White in the backfield. (RB LeGarrette Blount remains a free agent.) Burkhead was mostly a special-teamer in Cincinnati but flashed when given a bigger opportunity this past year, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 8.5 yards per catch. That included a 144-total-yard, 2-TD outing against the Ravens in Week 17. At 5'10, 210 pounds, Burkhead is the biggest of New England's top 3 backs (5 pounds heavier than White). He could be a sneaky option for early-down work, although stealing significant passing-down action from White and Lewis will be tough. As usual, we'll need to keep a close eye on the Patriots' backfield this summer.

The Patriots have acquired WR Brandin Cooks from the Saints, sending a 1st- and a 3rd-round pick and getting back a 4th-rounder. Cooks caught 162 passes over the past 2 seasons, topping 1,100 yards in each campaign and scoring 17 TDs over that span. He finished among the top 13 WRs across fantasy formats in each of those seasons. The Pats control his rights for the next 2 years, including a team option for 2018. Cooks lands in 1 of the few offenses that approximates the efficiency of New Orleans and figures to quickly challenge Julian Edelman for the team target lead. His fantasy outlook doesn't change drastically from what it's been with the Saints. Other WRs in New England will have more trouble finding regular opportunities. Back in New Orleans, Michael Thomas should grab a larger share of targets, while Willie Snead stands to gain if the team doesn't add anything more than Ted Ginn to the corps this offseason.

The Patriots have acquired TE Dwayne Allen from the Colts. No word yet on the compensation. Allen turned in a promising rookie season, tallying 521 yards and 3 scores on 45 grabs. But he's missed 23 games and totaled just 81 catches over the past 4 seasons. He was passed by Jack Doyle on the depth chart last year. Allen remains just 27, though, and landing in New England gives him a chance to revive his career. If nothing else, he's a strong blocker and red-zone presence. Allen has scored on 19 of 126 career catches -- a 15.1% TD rate. He'll make for an intriguing TE2 pick in 2017 fantasy football drafts. Allen's arrival means TE Martellus Bennett won't be back in New England. Jack Doyle, meanwhile, appears locked in as the Colts' lead TE.

Update: New England shipped a 4th-round pick to Indianapolis in exchange for Allen and a 6th-rounder.

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski said Friday that he has "no doubt" he'll be ready for Week 1. He underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back. It was his 3rd back surgery -- the 1st coming in 2009, the 2nd in 2013. It's still unclear how much Gronk will be able to do this offseason. Despite the durability problems, he remains fantasy football's #1 TE. We're curious to see where he'll go in 2017 drafts.

Patriots RB Dion Lewis injured his hamstring late in the Super Bowl victory over the Falcons, he told reporters after the game. Lewis actually said he "tweaked" the hammy early on, which at least partially explains why he finished with just 7 touches. The injury shouldn't impact Lewis' offseason. He'll be back with New England in 2017, the final year of his current contract, but his role is murky after an injury-riddled and inconsistent 2016.

Patriots WRs Chris Hogan (thigh) and Malcolm Mitchell (knee) are active for tonight's AFC Championship against the Steelers. WR Michael Floyd is a healthy scratch, leaving Danny Amendola as the #4 WR.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Patriots WRs Chris Hogan (thigh) and Malcolm Mitchell (ankle) are both expected to play against the Steelers today. They figure to join Julian Edelman as New England's top 3 WRs and are viable DFS plays.

The Patriots listed WR Chris Hogan (thigh) as questionable for Sunday's AFC Championship against the Steelers. He was limited in practice all week. Hogan is fully expected to play, but it looks like he won't be operating at 100%.

Patriots WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee) is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Steelers after a limited week of practice. He's in the same boat as last week, when he ended up inactive. There's more optimism about Mitchell's availability this weekend, though. "It's trending in the right direction," ESPN's Mike Reiss tweeted on Friday afternoon. We'll find out Mitchell's official status around 5 pm ET on Sunday.

Patriots WR Chris Hogan injured his thigh late in last weekend's win over the Texans. He suggested Tuesday, though, that he could have returned to that one and should be available for Sunday's AFC Championship. “Feeling good, just had a little minor setback in the game, but I’m working back every single day and feeling better every day,” Hogan said. We'll keep an eye on his practice reps this week, but look for him to be out there vs. the Steelers.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Patriots WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee) won't play against the Texans tonight. That figures to leave Chris Hogan as the #2 WR alongside JulIan Edelman. We're betting on WR Michael Floyd playing the 3rd most snaps, with Danny Amendola as the #4 WR.

Patriots WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee) is listed as questionable for Saturday night's game against Texans. He was limited in practice all week, and the New England media hasn't sounded very optimistic about his status. We probably won't find out Mitchell's official status until inactives are announced around 7 pm ET.

Patriots WR Danny Amendola (ankle) put in a full practice on Wednesday, putting him on track to return for this weekend's game against the Texans. He's been out since Week 13. Amendola will join a crowded WR group that also includes Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Michael Floyd and potentially Malcolm Mitchell, who was limited on Wednesday with his knee injury.

Patriots WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee) returned to practice on Thursday. That seemingly puts him on track to play in the Divisional Round after missing the regular season finale. Mitchell averaged 4.2 catches, 51 yards and .67 TDs over his last 6 games.

Patriots WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee) didn’t practice all week and is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins. He tweaked the knee last week that he’s had 3 surgeries on. His status for the postseason is unclear. Mitchell’s absence will leave Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Michael Floyd as New England’s top 3 WRs.

Patriots WR Malcolm Mitchell has missed the first 2 practices of the week with a knee injury. We don't have any other details, but it looks like he's in danger of missing Sunday's season finale vs. the Dolphins. Check back tomorrow for another update.

Patriots QB Tom Brady was pulled late in the 3rd quarter of Sunday's game against the Jets with the score 34-0. He finished the day 17 of 27 for 214 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs. Fantasy owners certainly can't complain about that line -- although getting the 4th quarter would have been nice.

Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower (knee) is inactive for today's game against the Jets. It's a matchup that some New England LB could exploit for IDP value -- perhaps Shea McClellin -- but the fluid playing time makes it a tough situation to mine for your fantasy football lineup. The team D remains a strong play even without Hightower.

The forecast for today's Jets-Patriots game calls for a 95% chance of rain with winds around 10 mph. That wind isn't a major concern, but it looks like this will be a sloppy game. We still don't expect the Pats to have any trouble when they take to the air, but the weather could push them further toward the run if (when?) they get out to a big lead.

Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower (knee) and CB Malcolm Butler (hip) are active for today's game against the Broncos. Both entered the day questionable but should be fine to use at their normal IDP levels.

 
 
 

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