Shark Bites

Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (foot) has been placed on the active/PUP list.  He can be removed anytime and would be eligible to play Week 1, but the news still puts him on our watch list.  LaFell was in a walking boot for much of the offseason and didn't participate in spring practices open to the media.  He shed the boot earlier this month but obviously isn't yet back to 100%.  We'll continue to keep a close eye on him.  LaFell's absence opens up an opportunity for guys like Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson to earn bigger roles.

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Rams insider Nick Wagoner calls predictions that RB Todd Gurley (knee) will be held out through the Week 6 bye "too far flung."  The rookie is expected to be ready for individual drills when training camp opens before eventually graduating to full-team work.  He remains a question mark for Week 1, but our best guess as of now is that Gurley will be on the field sometime in September.  Wagoner says that he'll "quickly become a focal point of the offense."  There's risk here, but Gurley could pay big at his current late-4th-round ADP.

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Bills WR Sammy Watkins says his "body feels great" as he gets ready to head to his 2nd NFL training camp.  He struggled with injuries as a rookie, suffering broken ribs, a groin issue and then a torn hip labrum that required offseason surgery.  Watkins didn't do much this spring.  And while he's expected to be medically cleared for the start of training camp, he'll be eased in.  “I need to just get used to cutting and jumping and doing the things that [the hip] is not used to doing now," Watkins said.  Missing reps is never ideal, and that's especially true for a young WR learning a new offense with a new QB.  Watkins remains an intriguing physical talent, but his durability and supporting cast are major concerns heading into 2015.

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Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin is ready for the start of training camp.  That wasn't a given at certain points this offseason, when he was overweight and sidelined by hamstring injuries.  “I'm looking to go full when we go into camp," Benjamin said. “I’m feeling good. I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited."  We'll continue to track the 2nd-year WR's health and conditioning, but don't consider it a concern for now.

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Bills insider Vic Carucci does not expect WR Percy Harvin to have a "major role" in the offense this season.  "Harvin needed plenty of detailed instruction on how to run routes during the offseason," Carucci adds. "He made progress, but needs to make more."  Carucci believes Harvin will slot in as the #3 WR behind Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods, serving a "gadget-type" role.  That gig would make Harvin tough to rely on in fantasy lineups. 

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Packers insider Bob McGinn points out that 33 of WR Randall Cobb's 46 backfield snaps came in the final 5 games last season.  He carried 8 times for 28 yards in those contests after totaling just 9 yards on 4 carries in his first 11 outings.  Cobb averaged just 3.1 yards per carry last year but ripped off 15.0 per carry over the previous 2.  We'll see if the increased rushing role at the end of 2014 carries over to 2015.  That'd only raise the fantasy ceiling on a guy who finished as a top-8 WR across formats last year.

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Giants TE Larry Donnell is ready for the start of training camp, according to insider Jordan Raanan.  Donnell missed some time this spring with an Achilles injury that dates back to college.  It's a situation worth monitoring but isn't a concern for now.  Donnell posted a 63-623-6 line and 11th-place PPR finish on 92 targets last year.  That volume might dip in 2015 with WR Victor Cruz's return and RB Shane Vereen's arrival, but Donnell is still a nice value at his 13th-round ADP.

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Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell admitted over the weekend that his knee still isn't back to 100%.  "It's close," Bell said.  "Close" would be fine if it was still February or March.  But Bell is now about 7 months removed from the injury, so it's concerning to hear that he's still not fully healed.  The injury was reported as a mere hyperextension, but that's tough to believe at this point.  We detailed Bell's elevated injury risk in a recent feature article.  It's a must-read if you're considering making Bell your 1st-round pick.

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The Cardinals have signed TE Jermaine Gresham.  The former Bengal needed offseason back surgery, but Arizona is clearly satisfied with his recovery so far.  Gresham caught 62 balls last year but averaged just 7.4 yards per catch.  His career average sits at 9.7.  There's not much physical upside here, and Gresham will now be battling Troy Niklas for targets in an offense that doesn't feature the TE in its passing game.  Neither Cardinal TE is worth drafting in standard-sized fantasy leagues.

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Browns insider Nate Ulrich considers RB Isaiah Crowell the favorite to win the starting job heading into training camp.  RB Terrance West "will receive chances to earn carries," according to Ulrich.  The Browns aren't counting on RB Duke Johnson becoming the starter "right away," although they hope he can develop into a lead back eventually.  The rookie is expected to primarily play in a pass-catching role this season.  The dynamic of Cleveland's backfield will be worth monitoring closely in August.  But this could turn into a committee attack on a subpar offense.  West remains our favorite target among the 3, only because he's going 8 rounds after Crowell and 6 rounds after Johnson.  You might be best off just avoiding the situation in drafts.

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Panthers HC Ron Rivera expects WR Kelvin Benjamin to be a full-go for the start of training camp.  It was a rough offseason for the 2nd-year receiver.  Benjamin reported to OTAs overweight and then dealt with injuries to both hamstrings.  He'll be worth keeping a close eye on in August.  After a 15th-place PPR finish as a rookie, Benjamin is being selected in the late 3rd round of drafts this summer.

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ESPN's Vaughn McClure suggests that Falcons WR Leonard Hankerson could make a run at WR Roddy White's starting job this summer.  Hankerson is familiar with new OC Kyle Shanahan's offense from their time together in Washington and had a "strong offseason," per McClure.  White, meanwhile, continued to be nagged by a bum left knee.  "The veteran White has to have a strong training camp and show the left knee injury that has plagued him won't be a lingering issue," McClure writes.  We're ultimately expecting White to hang on to the starting job and finish 2nd on the team in targets behind Julio Jones this season.  But the situation certainly bears monitoring this summer.  White is currently being selected in the 6th round as the 31st WR off the board.

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Eagles insider Eliot Shorr-Parks hears that QB Sam Bradford (knee) is expected to be ready for full-team work when training camp opens on August 2nd.  Bradford was limited to individual work this spring as he rehabbed last year's torn ACL, but he's "looking great" now, the source told Shorr-Parks.  While QB Mark Sanchez had a strong offseason, Bradford remains the favorite to be under center come Week 1.  That'll give him clear QB1 potential, making him a nice value at his current 13th-round ADP.

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Jaguars WR Marqise Lee's reps will be managed when training camp kicks off next week.  He missed most of spring workouts with a knee injury.  “We have to manage him a little bit to make sure he’s OK in term so his health," WRs coach Jerry Sullivan said.  "He’s missed some time and has some ground to make up. But he’s in a good frame of mind.”  Lee has reportedly fallen behind Allen Hurns for the #2 spot on the depth chart.  The former USC Trojan has the ability to re-take that starting job -- if he can stay healthy.

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Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus of DallasCowboys.com both predict that RB Darren McFadden will lead the team in carries this season.  "I think Joseph Randle will get the early nod but something tells me Darren McFadden will end up getting more carries," Eatman explains.  Broaddus writes, "I have put my eggs in the McFadden basket but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see one of the other backs step up and have the type of camp that makes this front office and coaching staff sit up and take notice."  Both guys are clearly expecting some sort of committee attack (Eatman also mentions Lance Dunbar), but it's interesting that they have McFadden leading the way.  That's in stark contrast to fantasy football drafters, who have pushed Randle into the late 4th round.  McFadden, meanwhile, is going in the 10th.  Our money is still on Randle leading Cowboys RBs in fantasy points this season, but he's going too early in drafts considering how unsettled the situation is.

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The Cowboys are planning to limit WR Dez Bryant's reps early in training camp after he held out all spring.  “We want to make sure that you just don’t throw him right to the wolves,” VP Stephen Jones said. “I know he works hard but there is nothing like working with your teammates in a competitive environment. I think it’s a little different.”  We've seen plenty of guys go down with injuries after holdouts, so consider this good news for Bryant's fantasy outlook.  He'll be ready to rock by the time Week 1 rolls around.

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The Titans expect WR Justin Hunter to report when training camp opens next week, according to ESPN's Ed Werder.  The team "will let legal process play out" after Hunter was arrested for assault earlier this week.  Tennessee clearly isn't ready to throw in the towel on a former 2nd-rounder with plenty of size and athleticism.  Hunter has been a disappointment through his first 2 seasons, though, and will battle with Dorial Green-Beckham and Hakeem Nicks for a starting spot this summer.  He's also likely facing a suspension.

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