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Fantasy Football News 2021

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Steelers RB James Conner (ankle) put in full practices on Thursday and Friday and isn't listed on the final Week 2 injury report. So he'll play in this weekend's game against the Broncos. But it's unclear how carries will be divvied after RB Benny Snell played well in Conner's absence in the opener. Pittsburgh will also be without offensive linemen David DeCastro, Stefan Wisniewski and Zach Banner vs. Denver.

Steelers RB James Conner put in a full practice Thursday. That's a little surprising after he sat out Wednesday following the Monday night ankle sprain. It just might indicate that Conner could have played more against the Giants but didn't because Benny Snell displayed the hot hand. This will be a tough situation to parse for Week 2 fantasy lineups. We'll hope to get some indication on usage from Pittsburgh coaches before the Sunday games.

Steelers HC Mike Tomlin indicated Tuesday that RB James Conner has a chance to play Sunday against the Broncos, according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo. Conner left Monday night's win over the Giants with an ankle sprain and then watched Benny Snell rack up 113 yards. We'd bet that even an active Conner wouldn't operate as a workhorse against Denver. We'll watch his practice participation this week.

Steelers RB James Conner sprained his left ankle in Monday night's win over the Giants. He'll have it examined further Tuesday, but ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the team is "optimistic for a timely return." Conner watched Benny Snell run for 113 yards on 19 carries (5.9 per rush) in his place. That might lead to Snell siphoning some Conner carries even when the starter returns. We'll keep an eye out for further updates on the situation.

Steelers RB James Conner suffered a left ankle injury in the 1st half of Monday night's game against the Giants. He's officially questionable to return. Conner has been on the sidelines since exiting, but it doesn't look like he'll return to this one. RB Benny Snell has run well in Conner's absence. We'll update Conner's status when we learn more.

The Cardinals and WR DeAndre Hopkins have agreed to a 2-year extension with $54.5 million in new money, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. It makes Hopkins the highest-paid non-QB in NFL history. Hopkins is now signed with Arizona for the next 5 seasons. And the new deal reportedly includes a no-trade clause.

Bengals HC Zac Taylor suggested that WR A.J. Green's snaps could be limited in Sunday's opener against the Chargers. "Fifty-five is a lot of snaps. You always monitor that," Taylor said. "We're fortunate because we're deep at receiver and we feel like there are a lot of guys that can step in there and be a primary receiver." Green missed about a week of camp this summer with a hamstring injury after an ankle injury cost him the entire 2019 campaign. We'll see exactly how big a role he's ready for on Sunday, but we'd try to not use him in Week 1 fantasy lineups.

Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury wants to get WR Andy Isabella a bigger role in 2020. “I have to do a better job of expanding his role and finding ways to get him on the field and get him utilized," Kingsbury said. Isabella saw just 13 targets as a rookie last year -- but still had gains of 88 and 55 yards. The problem is that he figures to open the season as Arizona's #4 WR behind DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals had 4+ WRs on the field for 33% of their offensive snaps last season, but that's still not enough to make Isabella a reliable fantasy play. He'll need a promotion or an injury to 1 of those top 3 guys. Isabella is a nice dynasty stash but just a waiver-wire watch list guy in redraft.

Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins has continued to miss camp time with what the team is calling "hamstring tightness." HC Kliff Kingsbury said he's being "overly cautious" and holding Hopkins out until he's back to 100%. That's smart -- but Hopkins is missing valuable time to get comfortable in the offense and build rapport with QB Kyler Murray. Murray and Hopkins will have taken very few reps together when Week 1 rolls around. Don't be surprised if the duo gets off to a slow start.

Bengals WR A.J. Green is expected to return to practice on Wednesday after missing the last week with a hamstring injury. "We’re early in training camp and we have some other guys at that position we need to look at," HC Zac Taylor said. "I think it was smart of us to hold him out for a couple of days." We'll see if Green can stay on the field between now and Week 1. His ADP is sitting in the late 6th round of best-ball drafts over the last week.

The Eagles' top 2 TEs returned to practice Sunday. Zach Ertz returned from a minor "upper-body" issue. Dallas Goedert wore a covering on the thumb in which he sustained a hairline fracture. But the fact that he practiced with it suggests the team isn't too worried.

The Eagles added TE Zach Ertz to the injury report Friday with an "upper body" issue. The team lists him as day-to-day, so there seems no reason for concern here.

Bengals WR A.J. Green ended Monday's practice on the sideline after appearing to tweak his left hamstring, according to multiple reports. "I just told him he's done taking reps for the day," HC Zac Taylor told The Athletic's Paul Dehner afterward. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow." This doesn't sound like anything serious, but Green obviously calls for a closer watch than most players on the injury front after missing the past year-and-a-half with lower-body issues. We're not adjusting projections at all right now but will certainly keep an eye on Green. Cincinnati was already practicing without WRs John Ross and Tee Higgins on Monday. The team excused Ross to tend to a son who tested positive for COVID-19. Higgins has been sitting out with a reportedly minor injury.

Bengals WR A.J. Green is impressing his teammates early in training camp. “You can tell when a guy looks explosive and he looks explosive," WR Alex Erickson said. "The quick twitch. He’s bending, getting in and out of routes. It’s awesome seeing A.J. Green back out there.” Green obviously carries plenty of risk in fantasy drafts: He's 32 and hasn't played a regular-season game since December 2018. But he also finished 16th among WRs in PPR points per game in 2018 and ranked 10th in 2017. A healthy Green has the upside to approach that territory again in 2020. We think he's worth gambling on in the 6th or 7th round of fantasy drafts.

Steelers HC Mike Tomlin called RB James Conner a "featured guy" and "proven runner when healthy" in a recent conference call with reporters. “I’m a featured-runner type guy by mentality,” Tomlin added. “I think that when you have a featured runner, it gives him the opportunity to drop a stake in the ground and allows others to rally around him, and it gives him a set of core base run plays that he specializes in, and you find a rhythm that way.” Tomlin has had a RB top 240 carries in 7 of his 13 seasons with the Steelers. But Conner has had trouble staying healthy; the Steelers have added Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland to the backfield over the last 3 drafts; and longtime Steelers insider Ed Bouchette expects more of a committee backfield this season. It'll be a situation to monitor closely throughout the summer. Right now, Conner carries a wide range of 2020 outcomes, making him a risk/reward pick in the 4th or 5th round of fantasy drafts.

The Athletic's Ed Bouchette expects the Steelers to go with a committee backfield this season. That'd be a change from what Pittsburgh has usually done under HC Mike Tomlin. But RB James Conner has had trouble staying healthy as lead back. And the Steelers now have depth at the position with Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell and rookie Anthony McFarland alongside Conner. "The room is crowded, but there really is not a leader of the pack," Bouchette writes. "Conner will get every chance to show he can stay healthy, and they’re likely to cut back on his carries even if he remains injury-free for two reasons: to help save him and to use some of their other backs." Conner remains the best fantasy bet here by a pretty big margin. Just don't expect him to get the RB1-level volume folks who drafted him in the 1st or 2nd round last summer thought they were getting.

The Cardinals selected Arizona State RB Eno Benjamin in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. We’re surprised he lasted this long. Benjamin is a fun watch; a Tazmanian Devil-style runner who darts and spins his way through traffic. Some scouts think he does too much dancing, though, which might explain his underwhelming 5.0 career yards per carry. Benjamin ranked a mediocre 15th among 21 of this year’s top RB prospects in Pro Football Focus’ 2019 Elusive Rating and 14th in the site’s rushing grades. And although he racked up 553 carries over the past 2 years, the 5’9, 207-pounder is likely too small to handle big workloads as a pro. On the plus side, Benjamin tested as a 72nd percentile athlete at the Combine and leads this RB class in career receptions (82), career receptions per game (2.4) and 2019 market share of receptions (18.0%). He should compete with Chase Edmonds for change-of-pace duties behind Kenyan Drake in Arizona.

The Cardinals selected Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons with the 8th pick of the NFL Draft. Simmons is most commonly viewed as a LB, but some NFL teams reportedly see him as more of a safety. He spent plenty of snaps at both positions for the Tigers, as well as every other spot on the defense besides DT. Simmons arrives with a vaulted fantasy ceiling that includes upside across categories. His primary position should be ILB, but Simmons could see significant DB snaps and possibly impact Budda Baker's role. He'll rank among the top picks for dynasty rookie drafts with IDPs.

The Seahawks on Monday traded a 5th-round NFL Draft pick to Washington for CB Quinton Dunbar, ESPN reports. Dunbar is heading into the final season on his contract and lost 14 games to injuries over the past 2 years. He has proved productive when on the field, though, including 17 passes defensed and 6 INTs over his past 18 games. Dunbar should be a starter for Seattle and a draftable DB in 2020 IDP leagues of at least moderate depth.

The Texans are set to trade WR DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. Wow. Hopkins is an elite receiver in the prime of his career with 3 years remaining on a manageable contract. It's a mind-boggling move by the Texans, leaving Will Fuller and Kenny Stills atop the depth chart for now. Those 2 are big winners here, while QB Deshaun Watson's fantasy stock takes a significant hit. QB Kyler Murray, meanwhile, gets the legitimate #1 WR that he was missing last year. He looks like a top-5 QB in 2020 fantasy drafts. Hopkins should easily remain a WR1 in a pass-leaning offense piloted by an accurate QB.

Update: Schefter reports that the Cardinals are receiving Hopkins and a late-round pick in exchange for RB David Johnson and a 2nd-rounder. Other picks are involved in the trade. Hopkins is expected to get a new contract from Arizona.

Update: The Houston Chronicle's John McClain reports it's Hopkins and a 4th-round pick to Arizona for Johnson, a 2020 2nd-rounder and a 2021 4th-rounder.

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