Shark Bites

Saints RB Pierre Thomas acknowledged Wednesday that things will be different for him in 2014.  "I know my role is going to change a whole lot this year," Thomas said, per NOLA.com. "I'm going to do more pass protection and route running. I'm improving my route running game."  He, of course, mentioned that he'll still run the ball, too, and said his backfield mates are "going to have to outwork me" to take his touches away.  For his part, HC Sean Payton said the team has repeatedly envisioned an altered role for Thomas at the outset of recent seasons but adapted it throughout the year because of Thomas' smarts, versatility and all-around value.  As a fantasy owner, you should be wary of Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson infringing on Thomas' workload.  Thomas has delivered terrific fantasy value in the past -- but largely because he was criminally undervalued at draft time.  He's going at a more appropriate 6th-round ADP this year, which makes him a decent option instead of a steal.  If the Saints are trying to be "unpredictable" on offense, however -- as Thomas said Wednesday -- the fantasy fallout could be a trio of backs that are tough to count on in your lineup.  We'll take Thomas as a RB3 (or late RB2) in PPR formats, but we're not chasing him this season.

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Titans WR Justin Hunter has been "nearly unstoppable" on fade passes in the end zone in camp, according to insider John Glennon.  He scored a 4-yard TD on a fade in last week's preseason game.  At 6'4 with a huge vertical, Hunter is a prime red zone target.  He's plenty capable of leading the Titans in receiving TDs this season and even has the upside to hit 10 scores.

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Steelers RBs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount will play in tonight's preseason game against the Eagles -- just 1 day after being arrested for marijuana possession.  HC Mike Tomlin reasoned that guys are fighting for jobs tonight, so it wouldn't be fair to not have the full squad out there.  We take it as a sign that the team isn't overly concerned with the situation and is unlikely to dole out any punishment.  Of course, the NFL also has the authority to suspend Bell and Blount.  The general consensus in the media, though, is that any ban probably wouldn't come until 2015.  Note that Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe just received his suspension for a DUI arrest last November.  We've moved Bell and Blount down our RB Rankings slightly to account for the risk of a suspension.  But Bell is still worth considering near the end of the 2nd round and is a value anywhere in the 3rd.

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6 hours ago

Browns insider Tony Grossi believes WR Nate Burleson's roster spot could be in jeopardy.  The 33-year-old has missed most of camp with a hamstring problem and has yet to play in a preseason game.  Burleson might keep his job just because Cleveland is so desperate at WR, but there's no reason to draft him in fantasy.

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Cardinals DB Tyrann Mathieu joined his teammates at practice Wednesday for the 1st time since tearing 2 knee ligaments last November.  He told reporters afterward that he's not nervous about working the repaired joint but that he is waiting for that 1st big test.  We're still hesitant to draft Mathieu in IDP formats less than a year after such a major knee injury.  But he'll be a player to watch whenever the Cards return him to game action.  We'll be particularly curious to see if Arizona limits his role early in the year.

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After attending the Texans-Broncos joint practice on Wednesday, CBS' Jason La Canfora reports that WR Andre Johnson is showing "no signs of rust."  Johnson, of course, skipped most of spring workouts and missed a couple weeks of camp with a hamstring injury.  "He was showing up all over the field, making one incredible catch in the back of the end zone, staying in bounds and holding on to the ball in a red zone drill," La Canfora writes.  Johnson is 33 and in a new offense with a shaky QB position.  But those concerns are baked into his 4th-round ADP.  He's a fine value there.

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Steelers RBs Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were arrested on Wednesday night for marijuana possession. Police found 20 grams of pot in their car. Bell was also charged with DUI for being under the influence of marijuana. Both RBs are looking at a suspension, although it’s possible those bans are delayed by the appeals process. There’s even a chance Bell and Blount avoid any 2014 suspension. For now, we’ve moved both guys down our RB Rankings a tad to account for the increased risk. If those guys are suspended this season, it’d leave 5’8, 173-pound rookie Dri Archer atop the depth chart.

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20 hours ago

Packers TE Colt Lyerla (knee) has been placed on IR.  He had to pass through waivers to get there, so no other team wanted him.  Of course, that's not surprising considering he went undrafted back in May.  The NFL might not be as high on Lyerla as we thought.  Green Bay's coaches have even suggested that he could eventually move to FB.  Lyerla isn't a must-stash in dynasty leagues.

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Eagles RB Chris Polk suffered a Grade 2 hamstring tear on the 2nd day of training camp.  He's been sidelined ever since, missing 3 weeks of practice and Philly's first 2 preseason games.  He won't play in the 3rd exhibition, either.  Polk was locked in as RB LeSean McCoy's handcuff, but his role is no longer clear.  For now, we wouldn't roster him in redraft leagues.

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Falcons WR Julio Jones is nearing 100% physically after last year's foot injury.  But he admits that he's still not there mentally.  "Physically, we are there, but I am still progressing mentally," Jones said. "Just having that confidence I can go out there and run routes without thinking about my foot. “  A big play or 2 should have Jones fully trusting that foot again.  Still, it's a reminder that he's returning from a serious injury.  We're still skeptical about taking him in the late 1st or early 2nd round of fantasy drafts.

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Falcons HC Mike Smith confirmed that RB Steven Jackson (hamstring) remains on track to be ready for Week 1.  The missed training camp and preseason action isn't a big deal for a veteran returning to the same offense.  Jackson isn't a great bet to last all 16 games this season, but he's capable of producing as a RB2 when he's on the field.  That makes him a fine value at his 9th-round ADP.

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Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry has been rotating with WR Brandon Gibson as the 1st-team slot receiver in recent practices.  The rookie has been an offseason standout.  Gibson is still the favorite to open the season as Miami's #3 WR, but look for Landry to take over at some point.  Neither guy is worth rostering in redraft leagues.

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Browns QB Johnny Manziel has struggled learning the playbook, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.  "Play calls were tough. Snaps under center. Protections," Rapoport tweeted.  It's no surprise for a QB who played in a spread offense and relied on improvisation in college.  Manziel has a significant transition to make at the next level.  We're still expecting him to take over at some point this season, but his passing numbers won't be reliable.  Rushing production could still make him an intriguing fantasy spot starter.

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Vikings HC Mike Zimmer essentially ruled RB Adrian Peterson out of the final 2 preseason games. “Adrian and I have talked about it a little bit and I really don’t see the need," Zimmer said of AP’s exhibition participation. “We’re grabbing at the ball pretty good [in practice]. We’re not tackling him or anything. He’s doing a great job with the protections and the routes and obviously he runs really good.”  It's a wise approach to take with the 29-year-old RB.  He's locked in as a top 3 RB in fantasy drafts.

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Eagles HC Chip Kelly expressed no concern about RB LeSean McCoy's toe injury.  “No, he’s fine,” Kelly said. “He practiced full [Monday]. He’s fine. It’s not as big of an issue as I think anybody has made it out to be.”  Fantasy owners shouldn't be concerned, either, considering the fact that McCoy is practicing.  He remains the safest of the top-4 fantasy RBs.

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1 day ago

The Browns have named Brian Hoyer their starting QB.  Neither Hoyer nor Johnny Manziel impressed in the first 2 preseason games, so the veteran gets the nod.  It's a smart move because it'll be a lot easier to bench Hoyer in favor of Manziel than it would be the other way around.  We're still expecting to see the rookie under center by midseason, but this news makes Manziel undraftable in standard fantasy leagues.  We wouldn't bother with Hoyer, either.

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49ers HC Jim Harbaugh revealed earlier this offseason that QB Colin Kaepernick played through a foot injury last year.  Harbaugh admitted that the issue impact Kaepernick's mobility.  But he didn't provide any details.  Kaep did on Tuesday, explaining to reporters that he chipped a bone in his forefoot and ruptured a capsule in the ball of his foot in Week 2.  "It was something that was always there,” he admitted.  Kaepernick totaled just 63 rushing yards in his next 4 games.  Healthier over the 2nd half of the season, he averaged 35.2 rushing yards over his final 10.  This injury is just another reason to be excited about Kaep's 2014 fantasy outlook.  He has top-6 potential and can be had in the 7th or 8th round of most drafts.

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Dolphins K Caleb Sturgis has missed the majority of training camp with a groin injury.  He won't play in this weekend's preseason game, according to Fox Sports' Alex Marvez.  HC Joe Philbin confirmed on Monday that the team's starting kicker job is up for grabs.  John Potter, who's pushing for that job, nailed FGs of 48 and 51 yards in Miami's 2nd exhibition.  This is another situation to avoid in fantasy drafts -- along with the Cardinals, Redskins and Saints' kickers.

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