Shark Bites

Bears DE Jared Allen told the Chicago Tribune that a nagging back issue from 2014 got diagnosed as a herniated disc after the season. He also said that he spent 4 weeks trying to regain the weight and muscle mass lost to the pneumonia that forced him out of Week 4 and shed 15 pounds from his body. Allen swears he's "still good" and says he's energized by the challenge of switching to 3-4 OLB for the 1st time in his career. We'll see what he has left for his age-33 season, but the position switch is bad new for his fantasy value if it changes his designation in your IDP league.

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"I think it’s time for him to make a big jump, not just a little jump." That's what Broncos HC Gary Kubiak told the team website about 2nd-year WR Cody Latimer this week. The 2014 second-round pick plans to join Peyton Manning next week for his annual workouts at Duke University to work on timing and chemistry. Kubiak said he saw "a lot of flashes" in practice from Latimer in his rookie season -- which Kubiak spent as Baltimore's OC -- and that the young wideout has already displayed "a lot of skill." Latimer will be the #3 WR in Denver, likely lining up outside in 3-WR sets with Emmanuel Sanders moving to the slot. Kubiak's teams have historically not run a ton of multiple-WR sets, but he's probably now working with the most talented trio of wideouts that he's had at any point. A smart offensive coach isn't going to keep his biggest playmakers on the sideline just so that he can get as many TEs on the field as possible. That said, Latimer's role will cap his fantasy upside and certainly limit his week-to-week consistency. He'll make for an intriguing pick in the double-digit rounds of 2015 redraft leagues. Any earlier, though, and you'll likely be overpaying.

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16 hours ago

Cardinals HC Bruce Arians plans to get 2nd-year QB Logan Thomas plenty of work this offseason. “He’s going to get a ton of work and those reps are invaluable,” Arians told the team’s website. “Just in decision-making, how fast you’re getting it out of your hand, where you’re going with it, where you’re going when ‘one’ and ‘two’ are still covered. Are you still scrambling around or are you going to find your outlets? That growth process comes strictly from reps.” Thomas has the physical tools but entered the league as a raw 4th-round pick whom Arians didn't feel ready to play in 2014 even after Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton went down. We'll see how far Thomas can progress in his 2nd pro offseason, though we still wouldn't expect much regular-season action from him in 2015. If he can develop, however, the strong-armed athlete could present some real fantasy intrigue in the future. There's no better candidate on the current roster to succeed the 35-year-old Palmer.

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Panthers HC Ron Rivera would like to limit RB Jonathan Stewart to about 15 carries per game this season.  “The thing you’ve got to be careful about in this league is you can’t rely on one player at one position,’’ Rivera said. “Running back has definitely been proven that you’ve got to have a good two-back tandem. And that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for that complement to Jonathan."  Fifteen carries per game would put Stewart at 240 for the season.  That'd actually be a career-high and would have ranked 10th league-wide last year.  It's a workload that makes sense for a RB who's struggled with durability throughout his career.  Carolina currently has Fozzy Whittaker and Mike Tolbert behind Stewart on the depth chart, but they've shown interest in rookies Todd Gurley, Tevin Coleman and Buck Allen.  

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The Panthers on Friday signed former Packers WR Jarrett Boykin to a 1-year deal. Boykin made a fantasy impact 2 years ago in Green Bay when injuries to Randall Cobb (10 games missed) and James Jones (2 games) created opportunity. Boykin managed 49 catches for 681 yards and 3 TDs. But he quickly fell out of use with Cobb back healthy and rookie Davante Adams on board last year. And then the Packers didn't even tender him as a restricted free agent. Carolina presents clear opportunity, with 32-year-old Jerricho Cotchery ranking 3rd on the team in targets last year. But Boykin will need the Panthers to avoid adding an early-round WR in the draft if he's to realize any real 2015 fantasy football value.

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Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower could be in danger of missing the start of the 2015 NFL season. The Boston Herald reports that he's expected to need 6-7 months to return from recent shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, an injury he played through in the Super Bowl (among other games). We'll certainly keep an eye on Hightower's status this summer, but the recovery period obviously threatens his IDP value heading into next season. At the same time, it should increase Jerod Mayo's fantasy upside in his own return from the patellar tendon tear that ended his 2014 season early. The combo of both LB injury situations only solidifies LB Jamie Collins' top-10 status for IDP leagues. The injuries at LB and loss of both starting CBs could hurt the fantasy value of the Patriots' team D.

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Lions QB Matt Stafford chucked it 602 times last year.  That ranked 5th league-wide but was his lowest total in 4 full NFL seasons.  HC Jim Caldwell doesn't want Stafford's volume to climb in 2015.  "We're probably not going to throw it (more)," Caldwell said. "If we do throw it more, that means we're behind, we're struggling, we're not winning, we're not a very good football team, plain and simple."  Detroit is looking to establish a more balanced offense after being among the pass-heaviest teams in the league from 2011-2013.  That's good news for RB Joique Bell, although we wouldn't be surprised if the Lions add to the backfield in next month's draft.  As for Stafford, he's just a borderline QB1 without the huge volume.

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Rams HC Jeff Fisher admitted that WR Brian Quick (shoulder) might not be ready for the start of training camp.  "There will be some question marks there," Fisher said. "He may be [ready]. I can't say. The next three or four months are going to be important.  It was a very, very difficult early rehab process. It was an extensive, extensive injury. He's starting to see the light now. He's doing good. He's worked hard.”  Quick suffered a torn rotator cuff and separated shoulder last October.  He was seemingly in the midst of a breakout season before going down, but missing this entire offseason could stunt his progress.  Quick looks like a WR4 or 5 -- albeit with upside -- in 2015 fantasy drafts.

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Chicago's new coaching staff has committed to Jay Cutler as their starting QB this season.  But it sounds like they want to limit his volume.  “Football-wise, there are things you can do in coaching to minimize some of the exposure,” HC John Fox said. “Playing defense. Playing complementary football is going to be something that helps."  Fox went on to mention the Cowboys' run-heavy blueprint last year.  The Bears have a top RB in Matt Forte and have beefed up their defense this offseason.  Look for a significant drop from last season's 63.2% pass rate.  That will lower Cutler's fantasy ceiling.

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Eagles WR Jordan Matthews ran 92.4% of his routes from the slot last season.  But HC Chip Kelly confirmed at the NFL owners meetings that Matthews might play more outside going forward.  “We just wanted him to play one position and learn one position,” Kelly said of Matthews' rookie season. “He can [play outside]."  With Jeremy Maclin's departure, Matthews is now Philly's best WR.  Look for him to be featured in a Chip Kelly passing game that has produced a top-12 fantasy WR in each of the past 2 seasons.

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Redskins HC Jay Gruden said that QB Robert Griffin is the team's starter "right now."  It's a lukewarm endorsement from a coach who benched RG3 last season.  Griffin will head to training camp as the favorite to be under center Week 1, but he could lose that spot to Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy.  It's the 1st time in Griffin's NFL career that he's not locked in as the starter.  Perhaps that will provide the spark to get RG3's game back on track.  We can't consider him anything more than a QB2 gamble in 2015 fantasy drafts.  Griffin has been lasting until at least the 14th round in most March MFL10 drafts.

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Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie described the team's trade for QB Sam Bradford as an "upside gamble."  He added that prior to the 2010 draft, Bradford was "the best young quarterback we'd seen... probably since Peyton Manning coming out of college."  The #1 overall pick of that 2010 draft went on to win Rookie of the Year before struggling with injuries in 3 of the last 4 seasons.  Therein lies the risk with Bradford.  But if he can stay healthy, HC Chip Kelly's offense can make him a QB1 in fantasy football.

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Redskins insider Mike Jones believes RB Chris Thompson will get the "first crack" at replacing Roy Helu as the team's 3rd-down back.  "[HC Jay] Gruden likes some of the things he did late last year," Jones adds.  Thompson only played in Week 15 and 16 last year, totaling 6 catches for 27 yards and a score.  He caught 21 balls in his final season at Florida State.  Thompson is at least worth sticking on your PPR radar.  Helu tallied a 42-477-2 receiving line for Washington last year.

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Packers HC Mike McCarthy revealed that WR Jordy Nelson underwent a "cleanup" hip surgery after the Pro Bowl.  "It's nothing serious," McCarthy added.  Nelson was slapped with a 6-8 week rehab timeline, so he should be nearing 100% now.  He never appeared on last year's injury report and never seemed bothered by the hip.  At this point, there's no reason to believe the hip will be an issue in 2015.  Nelson has played all 16 games in 4 of the past 5 seasons.

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4 days ago

Speaking to reporters Wednesday during the NFL owners meetings, Eagles HC Chip Kelly shared some optimism regarding TE Zach Ertz. "I still think there's a big jump that can happen between Year 2 and 3," he said, per Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Ertz, of course, is heading into his 3rd pro season after failing to reach fantasy football starter level each of the past 2 years. The former high 2nd-round pick hasn't seen as much playing time as many of us expected so far, and a 15-catch Week 16 inflated his overall numbers last year. But this will be just Ertz's 2nd full offseason in the NFL, thanks to graduation rules that kept him out of OTAs in his rookie season. And an Eagles offense currently looking at Jordan Matthews, Riley Cooper and Josh Huff as its top 3 WRs might need the athletic, young TE more than it did before. We'll be tracking reports on Ertz's role and performance through the spring and into training camp. He certainly carries top-8 fantasy upside.

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Giants HC Tom Coughlin would not commit to WR Victor Cruz (knee) being ready for the starting of training camp.  Coughlin did say that Cruz is making "good progress" in his rehab from the torn patellar tendon he suffered on October 12th.  He'll be over 9 months removed from the injury when training camp kicks off, but that injury often takes closer to a full year to recover from.  And there's no guarantee that Cruz ever regains pre-injury form.  Don't be surprised if the Giants add a WR in the early or middle rounds of next month's draft.

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