Shark Bites

Here's the least surprising news you'll hear all day: Cowboys RB Darren McFadden will open training camp on the PUP list with a hamstring injury.  He missed time early this offseason with hammy trouble but got back on the field for June minicamp.  It looks like he suffered a setback between then and now.  McFadden, of course, has had major durability problems since entering the league.  He's missed 29 games over 7 seasons with a variety of injuries.  We'll see how long the latest sidelines him for.

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Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talked up RB Joseph Randle on Wednesday.  "We have a player (in Randle) that has the potential -- and we based that on, not on what he did at Oklahoma State or how we drafted him, but by literally being a teammate around here for the last two years -- but he has the potential to be the kind of back that would step in there and be your No. 1 back," Jones said. "If he were not here, then I wouldn't feel as good as we go into the season and what might happen."  There's no doubt that Randle is the current favorite to open the season as Dallas' lead back.  The questions are whether he can hold off RBs Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar, and just how many touches he'll get.  Jones later suggested that Randle and McFadden could form a committee.  "That's the kind of back -- if you add those two together -- we had in (DeMarco) Murray," Jones said.

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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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2 weeks ago

The Cowboys and WR Dez Bryant have agreed to a long-term deal less than an hour ahead of the deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign.  Per multiple sources, it's a 5-year, $70 million contract with $45 million guaranteed.  The average salary and guaranteed money make Bryant the 2nd-highest-paid WR in the league -- just behind Calvin Johnson.  More importantly, we don't need to worry about any kind of holdout.  Bryant's MFL10 ADP sunk to the late 1st round over the past couple of weeks.  We suspect it'll quickly climb at least a few spots with this long-term deal reached.

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Teams have until 4 pm ET Wednesday to sign their franchise-tagged players to long-term deals. Cowboys WR Dez Bryant and Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas are the 2 players to watch leading up to the deadline. Bryant has threatened to hold out of regular-season games if he doesn’t get a long-term contract, and it doesn’t sound like the 2 sides are particularly close to an agreement. Thomas and the Broncos, meanwhile, have been exchanging numbers recently, according to insider Mike Klis. Thomas hasn’t threatened a hold out. Stayed tuned to Shark Bites for updates.

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The NFL announced Friday that it has reduced Cowboys DE Greg Hardy's suspension from 10 games to 4. That'll give Dallas 6 more games of 1 of the league's best pass rushers. It'll also give Hardy a lot more fantasy football value for IDP owners. The boost gets Hardy into DL3 range in our 2015 IDP rankings.

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The league has suspended Cowboys LB Rolando McClain for 4 games for violating the substance-abuse policy. The move doesn't make much of a team-defense ripple for fantasy football drafts, because Dallas isn't a strong option even with all of its starters around. We'll be interested to see, however, if the Cowboys slide Sean Lee into the middle from his new weak-side spot or 2014 rookie Anthony Hitchens in from the strong side. Hitchens would seem to make more sense from here. Dallas played him there 4 times last season and could give the youngster a tryout to see if he fits there long term. Of course, the Cowboys could just slot in backup Jasper Brinkley and leave the outside guys in their spots. McClain didn't look particularly attractive as an IDP option to begin with and should certainly go undrafted in nearly all redraft leagues at this point.

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Cowboys RB Darren McFadden is back on the field for minicamp this week after missing time earlier this offseason with a bum hamstring.  “I’m 100 percent and ready to go play ball,” McFadden said. “It felt great. We were just taking precautions, they didn’t want me to mess it up or anything crazy."  Now let's see if he can stay healthy.  It sounds like McFadden has already fallen behind Joseph Randle in the race for the Cowboys' starting RB job.

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Cowboys WR Dez Bryant showed up for Thursday's minicamp.  He's not practicing because he still hasn't signed his franchise-tag contract, but this is obviously a good sign.  Owner Jerry Jones said yesterday that he's been speaking with Bryant over the past couple of weeks.  We're still betting on a long-term deal getting hammered out before the July 15th deadline.  And if not, we're not buying Bryant's threat to sit out Week 1.

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Cowboys WR Dez Bryant is threatening to sit out the season opener if he doesn't get a long-term contract.  "This is not a rumor," Bryant said, according to NFL Network's Mike Silver.  It's only mid-June, so both sides are playing hardball.  They have until July 15 to agree to a multi-year deal.  Dallas absolutely needs Bryant on the field, and Bryant would lose about $1 million if he sits out Week 1.  That's plenty of motivation for a deal to get done.  At this point, we'd be extremely surprised if Bryant wasn't on the field for the Sunday-night opener against the Giants.

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Cowboys RB Joseph Randle has been dominating 1st-team reps this spring.  RB Darren McFadden has been sidelined by a hamstring issue, while RB Ryan Williams is having problems with his surgically repaired knee.  Injuries, of course, have been a major problem for both guys.  Randle will have a leg up on the starting job heading to training camp.  There's RB2 upside if he wins that spot.  Randle's price tag in fantasy drafts is skyrocketing, though.  He was available in the double-digit rounds of drafts a month ago but is going in the 6th round of early-June drafts.

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The Cowboys have signed RB Lache Seastrunk.  We usually don't report moves of this ilk, but we're closely monitoring the Dallas backfield because of its fantasy potential.  Seastrunk was a 6th-round pick of the Redskins last year after averaging 7.6 yards per carry over his final 2 seasons at Baylor.  He goes 5'10, 201 pounds with 4.5 speed and above average burst and agility.  Seastrunk popped off 4.8 yards per carry last preseason but spent the regular season on the practice squad.  He's still raw coming from a college spread offense.  He remains a long shot to make a 2015 fantasy impact but is worth monitoring this summer.  The Cowboys released undrafted rookie RB Synjyn Days to make room for Seastrunk.

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The Dallas Morning News' Jon Machota predicts that Joseph Randle will win the starting RB job this summer.  He's competing for that spot with Darren McFadden and Ryan Williams.  The former hasn't topped 3.4 yards per carry since 2011; the latter hasn't played in a regular-season game since rupturing his patellar tendon in 2012.  Randle, meanwhile, averaged a robust 6.7 yards on his 51 totes last year.  We're on board with Machota and believe Randle will lead Dallas RBs in carries and fantasy points this season.  Don't expect him to even approach DeMarco Murray's numbers from a year ago, but Randle could emerge as a weekly RB2.  He's going in the mid-6th round of recent MFL10 drafts.

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