Shark Bites

Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens has been out since Aug. 15 with a bruised foot, and the Dallas Morning News reports that he won't get back onto the field until the end of the preseason. Hitchens had been in a walking boot but got out this week and still appears to be on track to start in the middle for the Cowboys. He's an OK shot to take as an IDP reserve but not a player to get excited about at this point.

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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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3 months ago

ESPN's Josina Anderson reports that RB Ben Tate will work out for the Cowboys on Thursday. Tate averaged an ugly 3.1 yards per carry with Cleveland last season before the Browns cut him in favor of its rookie duo (and because of a bad attitude). Tate then failed to stick with either Minnesota or Pittsburgh. Any RB who emerges as the Dallas starter will be worth a fantasy look this season, but we'd still like the upside on RB Joseph Randle much more than Tate's if the Cowboys were to sign him. The most interesting thing about this news, of course, is that Dallas doesn't appear set on its 2015 backfield. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Rob Phillips of DallasCowboys.com reports that the team will work out "a group of WRs and RBs" Thursday but wouldn't confirm the names of any participants.

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3 months ago

The Cowboys finally stopped DE Randy Gregory's slide by taking him in the 2nd round with the 60th overall pick. Gregory's failed drug test at the Scouting Combine was the big headline, but NFL.com reported that many around the league worried about Gregory's "ability to handle the mental rigors of professional football." We'll see how things go on that front, but there's no denying the talent Gregory brings. Some called him a top-5 player. Dallas presents an immediate need after DE Greg Hardy's 10-game suspension, and landing in a 4-3 D undeniably boosts Gregory's IDP value. He could be a fantasy football factor right away and looks quite intriguing for dynasty rookie drafts.

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4 months ago

The Cowboys picked CB Byron Jones in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. Jones became an athletic marvel with his eye-opening Scouting Combine but also performed well as a cover man in 2014. Pro Football Focus credited him with a 26.0 QB rating on balls thrown his way. Jones could fight for a starting job right away in Dallas. We'll see how that goes before projecting any IDP value.

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The NFL on Wednesday announced a 10-game suspension for Cowboys DE Greg Hardy for "conduct detrimental to the league." The move comes under a disciplinary code that wasn't in place when Hardy allegedly assaulted his ex-girlfriend last summer. That could make his appeal interesting. If he does miss the 1st 10 games, it's going to be tough to draft the top-shelf pass rusher in most IDP leagues. That would also keep DE among Dallas' top needs heading into next week's NFL Draft. We'll see where this situation goes.

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ESPN's Ed Werder reports that the Cowboys have agreed to a new 1-year deal with LB Rolando McClain. They'll reportedly pay him $3 million, with up to $1 million more available via incentives. McClain reportedly chose the offer over 1 from the Patriots. That plus the money indicate McClain will continue to start in Dallas. A MLB ever since he entered the NFL, McClain could push LB Sean Lee to the weak side. Look for McClain to offer only spotty IDP value and Lee to remain the top fantasy football option among Dallas LBs, regardless of where he lines up.

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5 months ago

The Cowboys on Wednesday signed DE Greg Hardy to a 1-year, $11.3 million contract. The short term reflects the league's wariness of Hardy after the domestic incident in summer 2014 that led to charges and the star DE's benching (commissioner's exempt list) for just about all of last season. The big salary, however, shows that Hardy still found a market. That part's not a surprise. He'll turn just 27 in July and racked up 26 sacks over his past 2 active seasons. On the field, Hardy's a tremendous addition for a Dallas D that ranked 28th in sacks in 2014. He turns the Cowboys from an undraftable team D to a potential starting unit. Hardy also carries top-5 upside among D-linemen for IDP fantasy football leagues. And the year off plus a contract year should add plenty of motivation. That said, the league office has yet to comment on his active status for 2015.

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ESPN's Adam Schefter and Todd Archer report that Cowboys LB Rolando McClain will face a 4-game fine in the coming season under the league's new substance abuse policy. The good news, of course, is that he won't miss any games just yet. Of course, it's 1 more off-field issue for a free-agent LB who previously retired after nearly landing himself in jail. We'll see if it impacts his marketability.

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The Cowboys have declined their option on DT Henry Melton, which will make the veteran a free agent come March 10. The move doesn't necessarily mean Dallas is done with Melton. The option would have guaranteed his $9 million salary for 2015, which is well beyond what his 2014 performance merits for the Cowboys. We'll see how much interest he draws on the open market. Melton's 2013 ACL tear made him a cheap free-agent option for Dallas a year ago, but a healthy Melton produced 13 sacks over the previous 2 seasons. He'll turn 29 in October.

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7 months ago

The team website reports that Cowboys HC Jason Garrett expects LB Sean Lee to be able to go through a normal offseason. Lee tore his left ACL in May, but the timing should allow him to be fully ready for training camp. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported during the season that Dallas plans to move Lee to the weak side in 2015. The team certainly has options after rookie LB Anthony Hitchens emerged as a solid player in 2014. Rolando McClain also enjoyed a solid season when healthy, and OLB Bruce Carter improved over his 2013. It'll be an interesting -- and potentially high-value -- situation to watch for IDP owners.

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Cowboys DE Jeremy Mincey missed Wednesday's practice with a concussion. That obviously means he'll need to clear the league protocol before returning to action. The Sunday kickoff will help. Mincey played well and began to produce sacks over the season's 2nd half, but the matchup with the Packers is bad for his IDP upside. It's also bad for an iffy Dallas defense overall.

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Cowboys DE Tyrone Crawford (illness) and LB Anthony Hitchens (ankle) are active for today's game against the Lions after entering Sunday questionable. They're down-the-list options in playoff fantasy football leagues but help the Dallas team D overall.

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