Shark Bites

The Chiefs and QB Alex Smith have agreed to a 4-year, $68 million contract extension.  It tacks on to the final year of his current deal, keeping him in Kansas City through the 2018 season.  Smith will be making $15.2 million per year on average.  To put that in perspective, Bengals QB Andy Dalton's new deal is paying him $13.9 million per year.  That makes it seem like an overpay.  But Smith is a perfect fit for what the Chiefs want to do on offense, so it's tough to argue with the move.  Smith quietly finished 13th among QBs in fantasy points last season.  He'll be a viable matchup play in 2014.

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49ers DE Ray McDonald was arrested early Sunday morning on felony domestic violence charges.  That figures to put him in line for the league's new 6-game suspension for such offenses.  When the penalty might come is the big question at this point.  Losing McDonald would only further hurt a D that will be without OLB Aldon Smith for the 1st 9 games and NaVorro Bowman for half the season (as he recovers from an ACL tear).  Expect the Niners to get off to a slower start on defense than we're used to seeing.  It's tough to like them in fantasy right now -- especially against a talented Dallas offense in Week 1.

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The Browns have released WR Charles Johnson.  The intriguing size-athleticism prospect just didn't show enough in preseason action to earn a roster spot.  Johnson totaled just 6 catches and 65 yards in 115 preseason snaps.  He'll either get claimed by another team or land on Cleveland's practice squad.  Johnson is obviously off the redraft radar but remains an intriguing stash in dynasty.  The Browns' WR depth chart now reads Miles Austin, Andrew Hawkins, Travis Benjamin, Taylor Gabriel and LaRon Byrd.

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17 hours ago

The Patriots have traded QB Ryan Mallett to the Texans, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.  The 2011 3rd-rounder has attempted just 4 regular-season passes.  In preseason action, he's completed just 53.9% of his passes with 8 TDs and 3 INTs.  Note that Texans HC Bill O'Brien was in New England with Mallett in 2011.  Mallett isn't an immediate threat to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick's starting job but could take the field at some point this season.  Meanwhile, rookie Jimmy Garoppolo is now locked in as New England's backup QB,

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Browns insider Tony Grossi believes Isaiah Crowell could "challenge" Terrance West for the #2 spot on the depth chart.  Crowell had a quiet August before exploding for 102 yards and a score on 13 carries in the preseason finale.  Now he's only 1 of 3 RBs on the Browns' active roster, along with West and Ben Tate.  Crowell is certainly capable of pushing for a real role this season.  He went undrafted this May because of character concerns but was a 5-star recruit coming out of high school and was named SEC Freshman of the Year at Georgia.  Crowell is certainly worth rostering in all keeper and dynasty leagues.  Put him on your "watch list" in redraft leagues.

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Broncos WR Cody Latimer will enter the season 4th or 5th on the depth chart.  But insider Jeff Legwold says the rookie will get snaps in the red zone because the Broncos "like the way he attacks the ball in traffic."  Latimer goes 6'2, 215 pounds with a 39-inch vertical.  He could score a handful of times this season even if he stays low on the depth chart.  But Latimer's real fantasy upside comes in the event of an injury to 1 of Denver's top 3 WRs.  He's one of our favorite picks at the end of fantasy drafts.

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18 hours ago

After talk that Patriots RB Stevan Ridley's roster spot was in danger, he ended up on the team's final 53-man roster.  Now there's a good chance he opens the season as New England's lead RB.  Ridley is the best between-the-tackles runner on the team and finished with a better yards-per-carry average than both Shane Vereen and James White this preseason.  The Patriots' unpredictable weekly game plans and Ridley's ball-security issues make him a risky fantasy option, but there's still top-20 upside here.

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Broncos WR Wes Welker (concussion) will increase his activity on Monday.  "One step at a time, still in the process, in (the) protocol," VP John Elway said. "So, he'll be out running around Monday and continue through the protocol, take it one day at a time."  Welker still needs to progress through the non-contact and full-practice stages of the concussion protocol.  He seems 50-50 to be cleared in time for the season opener.

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Falcons WR Julio Jones still doesn't feel like he's quite back to 100%.  "I’m almost back to the old Julio," he said.  “I can get up to speed good.  I can’t hold it as long as I want to hold it like over a course of game. Right now, I probably could give you 65 plays or so, I mean that’s a whole game, but the way that I play in the running game and everything, I want to be at full speed for the whole game. I don’t feel like I’m there yet.”  Even at 90 or 95%, Jones is one of the best WRs in the game.  He sure looked healthy on his 52-yard TD in Atlanta's 3rd preseason game.  Jones will be an elite fantasy option in Week 1 and whenever he's on the field.

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Cardinals RB Stump Mitchell calls Andre Ellington an "every-down back."  That jibes with everything else the coaching staff has said this offseason.  And Ellington was on the field for almost every snap with the 1st-team offense in Arizona's 3rd preseason game.  "He can do it all," Mitchell said. "He's a great route runner. He's excellent in terms of vision and the ability to catch and the ability to cut. He's very serviceable as a pass blocker. He can stay in and be an every-down back, which a lot of teams don't do nowadays."  The biggest question with Ellington is whether he can hold up with a heavy workload.  If he does, he has an excellent chance to finish as a top-10 fantasy RB.

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1 day ago

The Chiefs have cut veteran K Ryan Succop in favor of cheaper youngster Cairo Santos.  Each went 3-for-3 on FG attempts in the preseason, and Succop outperformed Santos on kickoffs.  Unless Santos was the clear accuracy winner in practices, this seems like a money-driven decision.  The Brazilian-born Santos kicked at Tulane, where he won the 2012 Lou Groza Award.  We'd be wary of drafting him as a starting kicker right away.  But, then again, it's not like you'd have trouble finding a replacement on waivers.

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The Saints have cut kickers Shayne Graham and Derek Dimke, according to Larry Holder of NOLA.com.  Seeing as how they were the only 2 kickers on the roster, it's not immediately clear whom New Orleans will use as its Week 1 kicker.  That's a valuable fantasy spot because of the high-powered Saints offense.  Watch for the team to sign someone within the next couple of days.

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Ravens RB Bernard Pierce returned to practice Saturday for the 1st time since suffering a concussion in the team's 3rd preseason game.  That puts him on track to start the opener in Ray Rice's absence.  Consider him at least an RB2 option, and we'll see where Pierce lands when our Week 1 rankings hit the site in the coming days.

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The Chargers have released WR Vincent Brown.  He was a popular sleeper back in 2012, but a broken ankle cost him the entire season.  He didn't look like the same player last year.  Brown, still only 25, figures to get a shot elsewhere but is off the fantasy radar for now.

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The Eagles released RBs Matthew Tucker, Henry Josey and Kenjon Barner.  That means RB Chris Polk has locked up a roster spot, despite missing most of August with a hamstring injury.  Polk won't see more than a handful of touches per game behind LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles.  But if McCoy misses time, Polk's role would grow significantly. He's a worthwhile handcuff for Shady owners.

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1 day ago

The Jets released WR Stephen Hill.  The 2012 2nd-round pick was a colossal bust in New York, struggling with injuries, drops and route-running.  Hill wasn't any better this summer, hauling in just 3 of 8 targets for 42 yards (with 2 drops).  His size-speed combination figures to give him another shot, but Hill is off the redraft radar.  We'd only stash him in deep dynasty leagues.

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