Shark Bites - Up-to-the-minute Fantasy Football News

Rams QB Matt Stafford had surgery on his right (throwing) thumb in March, The Athletic reports. The procedure was "minor" and "elective," according to a source. Stafford revealed back in February that he played through a partially torn UCL in that thumb last season -- in addition to elbow, rib, knee and ankle injuries. The 33-year-old is expected to be available for the offseason program and at 100% by training camp. He's played all 16 games in 9 of the last 10 seasons.

Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians earned RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn some headlines Wednesday by saying that he expects a "breakout" from the 2nd-year back. But don't get too excited. Asked to assess his backfield headed toward the 2021 season, Arians told Pewter Report: “Those guys are all here and know what the system is and the best players are going to play. Obviously we have two really, really good ones at that position and I really like Ke’Shawn Vaughn. I think that with an offseason he’s going to have a breakout year also. All of those roles will be defined by the time that we get to the last week of the preseason.” Basically any level of relevance for Vaughn could be considered a breakout after he amassed just 26-109 rushing and a 5-34-1 receiving line. If the Bucs were truly excited about him, then fully guaranteeing Leonard Fournette's $3.25 million contract would seem unnecessary. Arians also didn't rule out drafting another RB. We'll see what Vaughn can do this summer, but we're not going out of our way to draft him for best-ball rosters right now.

The Seahawks and WR Tyler Lockett agreed to a 4-year, $69.2 million extension with $37 million guaranteed, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. He's now signed with Seattle through the 2025 season and is the league's 10th-highest-paid WR in average annual salary. Lockett has finished 16th, 13th and then 8th among WR in PPR points over the last 3 years -- although he's been maddeningly inconsistent at times. His forward-looking fantasy value hinges on just how often the Seahawks are willing to chuck it and whether QB Russell Wilson remains in town.

The NFL owners officially approved a 17-game schedule for the 2021 season. It'll be an 18-week season, with every team still getting just 1 bye week. There will be 3 weeks of preseason in August, rather than 4. Fantasy leagues will need to decide whether they want to add another regular-season game, expand the playoffs by a week or simply end the season in Week 16.

Bucs TE O.J. Howard has been setback-free so far in his recovery from October's torn Achilles, HC Bruce Arians said Tuesday. Arians added that Howard is "real close" to getting back to pre-injury form, although that seems optimistic for an injury that often takes a year-plus to return from. It does sound like he has a good chance to be ready for the start of the 2021 campaign. It's worth remembering that Howard out-targeted TE Rob Gronkowski 19 to 14 over the first 4 games of last season.

The Steelers have signed RB Kalen Ballage to a 1-year deal, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Ballage lands in a backfield with plenty of opportunity currently available. We'll see, though, whether Pittsburgh adds a RB in the draft. We'd bet on the Steelers doing so, with the big question being how early. Ballage saw surprising touch volume with the Chargers last season, after injuries knocked out Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. But he averaged only 3.3 yards per rush and 5.0 per reception. If you want to take a shot on Ballage at the very end of best-ball drafts, there's little risk. But we'd hope to see more touches go to Anthony McFarland -- who sure looks like he has a higher ceiling -- than Ballage. Even Benny Snell would probably still be a better bet for carries on the current depth chart.

12:03pm EDT 3/27/21

The 49ers signed WR Mohamed Sanu to a 1-year deal. The 31-year-old totaled just 17 catches across 10 outings with San Francisco and Detroit this past season. But he'd tallied 59+ grabs in each of the previous 4 years -- and even cost the Patriots a 2nd-round pick in a trade back in 2019. We'll see how much gas is left in Sanu's tank this summer. The 'Niners are thin at WR behind Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, so there's a chance for Sanu to win the #3 WR job.

The Ravens have agreed to a 1-year, $6 million deal with WR Sammy Watkins, including $5 million guaranteed, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Watkins should slot in as at least Baltimore's #2 wideout in targets. Of course, it's not the best offense for receiving production. The Ravens have attempted the league's fewest passes each of the past 2 seasons. Last year's 406 attempts were the fewest by any team since Seattle in 2012. Watkins makes for a decent best-ball option in the double-digit rounds of fantasy football drafts, but he's not likely to turn into a reliable redraft starter.

The Raiders signed WR Willie Snead to a 1-year deal. The 28-year-old had a couple of nice seasons with the Saints back in 2015 and 2016 but hasn't topped 651 yards since. He's averaging a pedestrian 12.3 yards per catch for his career. Snead isn't a difference-maker in real life or fantasy football. He figures to back up Hunter Renfrow in the slot in Vegas.

Just a few minutes after it was reported that the Dolphins traded down from #3 to #12, we learned that the Fins made another trade -- this time with the Eagles -- to move from #12 back up to #6. Philly is picking up Miami's 2022 1st-rounder to make that move down. Our guess is the Dolphins are targeting 1 of the top rookie WRs -- Ja'Marr Chase or DeVonta Smith -- and figure they'll be able to get 1 at #6. The Eagles, meanwhile, are now less likely to land a QB in the 1st round. That's good news for QB Jalen Hurts' 2021 fantasy value.

The 49ers swung a massive trade for the #3 overall pick in next month's draft, sending the #12 pick, a 2021 3rd-rounder and 1st-rounders in 2022 and 2023 to the Dolphins. The 'Niners clearly have their eyes on a QB. ESPN's Adam Schefter hears that the team doesn't have 1 specific rookie in mind but is "good with the options" that will be available. That'll be some combination of BYU's Zach Wilson, Ohio State's Justin Fields and North Dakota State's Trey Lance. Schefter also reports that San Francisco "has no plans" to trade QB Jimmy Garoppolo -- but his days as the starter are clearly numbered. The Dolphins, meanwhile, are reaffirming their commitment to QB Tua Tagovailoa with this trade.

RB Leonard Fournette has re-signed a 1-year deal with the Bucs. He gets $3.25 million with a chance to make up to $4 million via incentives, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Fournette had a rocky regular season in Tampa last year but was awesome in 4 postseason contests, carrying 64 times for 300 yards (4.7 YPC) and 3 TDs and hauling in 18 of 21 targets for 148 yards (8.2 YPC) and another score. He figures to operate in a committee alongside RB Ronald Jones in 2021, but Fournette's pass-catching ability makes him the more attractive fantasy target. Check out our updated projections for the Bucs backfield.

Washington signed WR Adam Humphries to a 1-year deal. COVID and a concussion limited the 27-year-old to just 7 games with the Titans in 2020. His best season came in Tampa back in 2018, when new Washington QB Ryan Fitzpatrick started 7 games. It's unclear exactly how Humphries fits in his new digs alongside Curtis Samuel. Both of those guys are primarily slot receivers.

The Seahawks have agreed to a 2-year deal with DE Carlos Dunlap. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that it's worth $16.6 million, with $8.5 million guaranteed. Seattle released Dunlap earlier in the offseason, but the new deal makes it clear that was a cap move. Dunlap went from falling out of favor in Cincinnati and registering just 4 QB hits in 7 games to rebounding after a trade to the Seahawks. Dunlap delivered 14 hits over 8 games in Seattle, despite a foot injury that cost him 1 week and limited his playing time in at least 2 others. Dunlap has DL2 potential for 2021 IDP leagues.

The Chiefs re-signed WR Demarcus Robinson to a 1-year deal. Despite playing with QB Patrick Mahomes, Robinson hasn't reached 500 yards in any of the last 3 seasons. There's a chance he sees a bigger target share in 2021 if Kansas City doesn't bring back WR Sammy Watkins, but we still wouldn't expect Robinson to emerge as a reliable fantasy option without an injury to WR Tyreek Hill or TE Travis Kelce

The Bills have agreed to a 1-year deal with RB Matt Breida. The 26-year-old collected just 59 carries and 10 targets for the Dolphins last year, after Miami traded a 5th-round pick to get him from the 49ers. This signing provides nice insurance -- an improvement over T.J. Yeldon -- but doesn't necessarily preclude Buffalo from drafting a RB early. If the Bills head toward the season with Breida, Zack Moss and Devin Singletary still the most prominent names in the backfield, then Breida could present intriguing upside late in fantasy football drafts.

The Jets have agreed to a 1-year deal with RB Tevin Coleman. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports is worth a mere $2 million. That certainly doesn't set Coleman up as a favorite to control the backfield. He does, however, join new OC Mike LaFleur, who spent the past 4 seasons on the 49ers staff. Coleman also joins a corps that currently only includes La'Mical Perine, Ty Johnson, Josh Adams and Pete Guerriero. Heading into just his age-28 season, Coleman certainly has a shot to play a big role in the Jets' backfield plans. We'll see what else the team adds this offseason, though.

WR T.Y. Hilton has agreed to a 1-year deal with the Colts. His agency reports that it's a $10 million pact, with $8 million of that guaranteed. That's similar to what JuJu Smith-Schuster got to return to Pittsburgh. Hilton's yards per catch and per target rebounded last year vs. 2019, with the QB upgrade from Jacoby Brissett to Philip Rivers. But he doesn't look like the same big-play threat he was earlier in his career. Staying with the Colts gives Hilton a chance to continue leading the team in targets, but healthier seasons from young wideouts Michael Pittman Jr. and Parris Campbell figure to challenge Hilton's share. The veteran looks fine as a fantasy option in the double-digit rounds of best-ball drafts.

The Bears have agreed to a 1-year deal with RB Damien Williams, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The 29-year-old (as of April 3) spent 2 seasons with the Chiefs before opting out of 2020 over COVID concerns. Williams shined over late-season stretches in both of those years but totaled just 161 regular-season carries and 53 receptions over those 2 campaigns. He previously played under new Bears OC Bill Lazor in Miami but totaled a mere 51 rushes and 60 targets over those 2 shared seasons. Williams will join a Chicago backfield that finds David Montgomery heading into his 3rd season and coming off a torrid fantasy finish to 2020, plus Tarik Cohen coming off a September ACL tear. We'll see how all these pieces fit together, but we don't head toward 2021 with big expectations for the former Chief.

RB James White is expected to re-sign with the Patriots, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reports. We'll see what the contract looks like, but it seems like White was met with a cool market. The 29-year-old caught just 35 balls last year -- his fewest since 2015 -- in his first season without QB Tom Brady. White should remain New England's lead pass-catching back in 2021, but a run-heavy offense under QB Cam Newton would make it tough to White to find enough volume to be a real fantasy factor.

Update: White signed a 1-year, $2.5 million deal with the Pats.

 
 
 

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