Shark Bites

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick says WR Michael Crabtree looks "a step or 2 quicker" this year than he did last.  “He has a burst out of his routes," Kaepernick added.  "He has burst when he catches the ball. (He) looks really good out there.” Crabtree returned for the final 8 games of last season (playoffs included) but was still only 8 months removed from his torn Achilles when San Francisco's season ended in the NFC Championship.  That's an injury that usually takes at least a full year to fully recover from, so it's no surprise that Crabtree is looking better this offseason.  At 100%, Crabtree is a WR2 with upside.  

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Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman has "usually" been running as the #2 RB early in camp, according to insider Andrew Mason.  RB C.J. Anderson has widely been considered the favorite to win the backup job behind Montee Ball, but it sounds like Hillman is #2 on the depth chart right now.  "He's quicker and more decisive when there's a hole in front of him," Mason says of Hillman.  The battle for the #2 job in Denver is worth tracking closely.  The winner could see 100+ touches and would be a fantasy starter if Ball goes down.

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Rookie Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence limped off the practice field with an injury to his right foot or ankle Tuesday.  A cart reportedly took him to the locker room, and he was due for X-rays Tuesday night.  "Hopefully it'll be OK," GM Jerry Jones said, per ESPN Dallas.  Obviously, it's not shock that the owner/GM is hoping for the best.  But that comment from Jones plus the fact that Lawrence left the field under his own power could mean a less serious injury than the presence of a cart might imply.  The team hopes the 2nd-round pick will play a key role on D, perhaps taking over DeMarcus Ware's old right DE spot.  We'll see how severe the injury is.

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Falcons RB Steven Jackson has a strained hamstring.  It's to the opposite hamstring he injured last season, according to HC Mike Smith.  Smith added that he doesn't believe it's a serious injury and that he expects Jackson to be back for Week 1.  Still, this is a bad start to the season for a guy with all the makings of a RB about to fall off the cliff.  Jackson turns 31 soon, leads all active RBs with 2,552 career carries and averaged a career-worst 3.5 yards per carry last season.  We're only drafting Steve Jax as a RB3.  We'll see if rookie RB Devonta Freeman can take advantage of Jackson's absence and earn a significant Week 1 role.

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Texans RB Arian Foster injured his hamstring on Sunday.  He didn't practice on Monday or Tuesday.  “He’s dealing with something,” HC Bill O’Brien said. “He’ll be fine. He’ll be back. It’s a minor deal. You know, it’s a long season. He’ll be out there.”  As "minor" as Foster's injury might be, it's concerning for a guy with a history of hammy trouble.  Foster missed 3 games with a bum hamstring in 2011 and appeared on the injury report with a hamstring in 2012.  We'll keep a close eye on Foster's status this time around.  He's a classic risk/reward pick in the 2nd round of fantasy drafts.

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Giants RB David Wilson suffered what HC Tom Coughlin called a neck "burner" in Tuesday's practice.  There's been no word on the severity of the injury, but it's obviously troubling news for a guy who is just returning from neck surgery.  Wilson needs to stay on the field before he can even worry about improving his ball security and pass protection.  He remains just a late-round flier in fantasy drafts.

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Former NFL safety Matt Bowen noted "very positive" progress from Bears WR Marquess Wilson in training camp.  "He has improved his release points at the line of scrimmage along with his footwork at the top of the route stem when coming back downhill to the football," Bowen writes.  The 6'4 Wilson is the favorite for Chicago's #3 WR job this season.  That spot will leave him short of reliable fantasy value, but an injury to either Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffery would change that.  Wilson is worth rostering in draftmasters setups and is a recommended stash in dynasty leagues.

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Jets RBs coach Anthony Lynn confirmed that Chris Ivory is the team's goal-line back.  “If we were playing tomorrow, Chris Ivory would be on the goal line, obviously,” Lynn said, adding that he believes Ivory is "the best power runner in the game."  That's obviously a biased viewpoint, but Ivory did rank 3rd league-wide last year with 3.0 yards after contact per carry.  He converted 2 of 6 carries from inside the 5-yard line into TDs.  We continue to believe that Ivory will see more action this season than most are expecting.  He's a nice value pick in the double-digit rounds of drafts.  We're not interested in RB Chris Johnson at his 6th-round ADP.

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15 hours ago

Saints S Jairus Byrd joined the team for practice Tuesday for the 1st time since May back surgery.  The team called the procedure "minor" at the time, and his early-camp return seems to confirm that.  Barring any setback, we won't consider this an issue for Byrd's fantasy outlook.  He's a high-ceiling option, especially in big-play heavy formats.  Check our 2014 IDP rankings to see just how much we like him.  Byrd's return -- thanks primarily to his turnover potential -- is also great news for the underrated Saints' team D.

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Patriots insider Jeff Howe reports that WR Aaron Dobson's March surgery placed a permanent screw in his foot.  Howe adds that Dobson didn't even begin running until July.  He's still not doing much change of direction.  The initial 2-3 month timetable for Dobson's return was obviously optimistic.  At this point, we can only guess that he'll be ready in time for Week 1.  Dobson is already well behind the 8-ball after missing all of spring practices and the start of training camp, though.  He's not a good bet to make an early-season impact.  We'll see if either Kenbrell Thompkins or Brandon LaFell can take advantage of Dobson's absence and emerge as New England's top outside WR.

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Giants WR Odell Beckham is expected to be sidelined "at least another week" with his hamstring injury, according to insider Jordan Raanan.  Tests on Beckham's hammy came back negative on Monday, but the rookie continues to miss valuable practice time.  He missed most of spring workouts and has already missed a week of training camp.  Beckham won't be higher than 3rd on the depth chart when the season kicks off.  Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle are locked in as the Giants' top 2 WRs.

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Bengals WR Mohamed Sanu is preparing to play all sorts of different roles in new OC Hue Jackson's offense.  In Monday's practice alone, he caught a TD pass, threw a TD and took a handoff.  “You never know," Sanu said of his role.  "You have to see when the day comes what he brings to the table and full steam ahead.”  We're curious to see exactly what Jackson has in mind for Sanu, but we're still not expecting him to be a reliable fantasy option.  He's the Bengals' #3 WR behind A.J. Green and Marvin Jones.

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Pro Football Talk reports that Texans WR Andre Johnson "tweaked" his right hamstring in Monday's practice.  Johnson downplayed the issue afterward, saying: “I just got a little tight, it was just a precaution.  We’re going to go in and see what’s what. Just from the feeling of it, it’s not anything bad.”  HC Bill O'Brien also called it a "minor" injury.  Obviously, Johnson's decision to skip the offseason program over his desire to leave Houston will sharpen the focus on his health.  We'll see whether the hamstring proves to be minor or turns into a persistent problem.

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CSN Bay Area reports that Raiders WR Rod Streater suffered a concussion in Sunday's 1st padded practice of training camp.  HC Dennis Allen said Streater passed the 1st step of the league's concussion protocol Monday, which suggests that the wideout could return soon.  Every bit of practice time obviously helps, with the top 2 QBs on the depth chart both being new to the team.  Streater doesn't present much fantasy football intrigue, though, with free agency adding WR James Jones to an already lackluster pass offense.

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Texans WR Andre Johnson will "move around a lot" in new HC Bill O'Brien's offense.  "So it's going to be interesting to see because I really wasn't moved a whole lot before, so I just got to, day-by-day, just progressively get better and make sure that I'm on top of everything," Johnson said.  We often see teams getting more creative with older WRs to keep them away from elite CBs and double-teams.  We like the news for Johnson, who is a fine value at his 4.09 ADP.

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