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

Fantasy Football News 2021

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The Lions believe T.J. Hockenson is capable of making another leap forward in his 3rd NFL season. “I think it’s been a fairly consistent message all offseason, from Coach [Dan] Campbell to [OC Anthony] Lynn, that there’s plenty of meat still on that bone for him,” TEs coach Ben Johnson said. “And I think he’s embraced that. He agrees with that. We’re really looking forward to getting more out of him now.” Hockenson turned 101 targets into a 67-723-6 line last year and should be in for a boost in targets in 2021 considering Detroit's crappy WR corps. The stars are aligning for a big fantasy season here.

The Jets announced Friday that S Marcus Maye has opened training camp on the non-football injury list. DT Quinnen Williams landed on the active/PUP list. Williams' designation isn't surprising after his foot fracture in early May. It's not clear what Maye's issue is. We'll see how soon each starter gets activated.

Multiple Las Vegas sportsbooks believe Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will retire next week, according to Sports Illustrated's Bill Huber. Westgate SuperBook, for example, has taken down all its NFC North win totals and playoff odds. “Vegas oddsmakers tend to be pretty sharp," a source with knowledge of Rodgers' situation told Pro Football Talk. The thinking here is that Rodgers would "retire" until he was able to get out of Green Bay -- even if that wasn't until 2022. We'll continue to keep a close eye on this situation, but Rodgers carries lots of risk in fantasy drafts until this gets settled.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport hears that Saints WR Michael Thomas (ankle) will debut in Week 7 this season "if everything goes perfect." Thomas elected not to undergo surgery on that ankle immediately after the season, evidently hoping it'd heal with rest and rehab. But he ended up having "major surgery" in early June, per Rapoport, and will need at least 4 months to recover. Thomas is expected to open the season on the PUP list, with the hope that he'll be ready to go following the Saints' Week 6 bye. And that sounds like the best-case scenario. He'll also miss a ton of valuable practice reps with QBs Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill. Thomas has gone from a value pick in Round 3 of fantasy drafts to a guy that you're probably better off just passing on unless you can land him super late.

Cowboys OC Kellen Moore said Friday that WR CeeDee Lamb will “play all over the field” in year 2. Lamb ran 95.4% of his routes from the slot as a rookie, but Moore pointed to the COVID offseason as a limiting factor. The Oklahoma product carries top-12 upside into the fall.

Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes confirmed on Friday that he'll have no restrictions at the start of training camp. That's no surprise after he was a full-go in June workouts, but it's another reminder that last year's toe injury will not be an issue in 2021.

The Packers and WR Davante Adams have broken off contract-extension talks and are "in a bad place," according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. There's no mention of a holdout here, but it's obviously not an ideal situation with training camp about to get going. We'll see where this goes. It's still unclear, of course, whether Adams and the Packers will have QB Aaron Rodgers this season.

Saints WR Michael Thomas is expected to miss the beginning of the regular season after June ankle surgery, according to NFL Network's ian Rapoport. Thomas reportedly needed ligaments repaired in the ankle, stemming from last September's injury. "It simply never recovered," Rapoport reports. Doctors reportedly recommend a 4-month recovery. From a June surgery date, that would stretch into October -- potentially costing Thomas half the season. We'll keep an eye out for more details. For now, at least, the Saints' top wideout becomes no more than a late-round fantasy pick. Tre'Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway and other Saints pass-catchers obviously stand to see their opportunities increase. We'll also see whether New Orleans dips into the trade market for WR help. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reports that the team has been "nosing around" available free agents at the position.

Update: The Athletic reports that Thomas "may miss up to five games."

Titans WR A.J. Brown (knees) will be a "full go" for the start of training camp, according to insider Paul Kuharsky. Brown underwent surgery on both knees early this offseason and was sidelined for spring workouts. But it looks like he'll be at 100% for the start of the 2021 campaign. Brown's ADP is sitting in the early 3rd round of recent FFPC drafts.

The Athletic's Greg Auman calls Gio Bernard the Bucs' "likely" pass-catching back. That could be a valuable role considering Tampa RBs combined for 119 targets last year. Bernard, though, will need to beat out Leonard Fournette among others for that job. Bernard has caught 30+ passes in all 8 of his NFL seasons, including 47 last year. But he turns 30 in November and settled for a cheap, 1-year deal with the Bucs this offseason after getting cut by the Bengals. He's not guaranteed anything. We'll monitor the battle for the passing-down snaps in this backfield.

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott is down to 218 pounds, the lightest he's been as a pro. “I feel quicker," Elliott said on the 1st day of training camp on Thursday. Several Cowboys beat writers noted that Zeke looked slimmer and faster than last year. That jibes with what we heard from Elliott's trainer earlier this month. All signs are pointing to a big bounce-back 2021 season.

The Giants placed WR Kadarius Toney on the COVID list Thursday after the rookie tested positive for the virus. Toney can only take part in meetings remotely until he's cleared and obviously won't practice with the team while on the list. This shouldn't affect his regular-season status. Toney's summer will be interesting to track, though.

Giants TE Kyle Rudolph is opening training camp on the active/PUP list. That's not surprising, given that the veteran TE had foot surgery shortly after signing with the team. He can be activated at any point during camp. If Rudolph remains on the list until the final roster cutdown, he'd be eligible for the regular-season PUP. That would require him to miss 6 games. We'll keep an eye on Rudolph's status, mostly for the sake of Evan Engram's snap/target competition.

The Giants announced Thursday that RB Saquon Barkley is opening camp on the active/PUP list. That means the team can activate him at any point. Barkley would need to remain on the list all the way until the final cutdown to 53 players to be eligible for the regular-season PUP. We'll obviously track his participation and status throughout camp. We're assuming at this point Barkley will be active for the start of the season.

The Athletic's Stephen Holder predicts that Michael Pittman will become the Colts' #1 WR this season. "If he wants to become the Colts’ go-to wide receiver, the opportunity is there," Holder writes. "And I happen to think he’s very much up to the task." Pittman didn't stuff the stat sheet as a rookie. But his development was stunted in September by a significant calf injury. He returned to play 72+% of the Colts' offensive snaps in each of the final 10 games -- and went for 90 yards in the playoff loss in Buffalo. With T.Y. Hilton past his prime and Parris Campbell's already lengthy injury history, Pittman certainly has a chance to lead this team in targets. We like him as an upside pick at his 8th- or 9th-round price tag.

Cowboys WR Amari Cooper (ankle) has been placed on the PUP list to open training camp. He's eligible to be activated at any time. Cooper had what was described as a "routine clean-up procedure" on that ankle back in January -- so it's at least slightly concerning that he's still not ready to go. We'll continue to monitor the situation.

Cowboys TE Blake Jarwin was left off the PUP list to open training camp. It's excellent news after last September's torn ACL and confirms that the team expects him to be ready for the start of the season. Jarwin got a nice 4-year, $22 million deal last offseason and was set to serve as Dallas' starting TE before that knee injury. Assuming he's back to 100%, Jarwin should get that chance again in 2021. He faces stiff target competition in WRs Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup -- but the strength of the Cowboys passing game gives Jarwin top-12 fantasy upside.

Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson has been placed on the non-football injury list. We don't have any other details, but ESPN's Mike Reiss notes that the rookie dealt with "a couple nagging things" this spring. We'll see when Stevenson is able to get back on the field. He figures to be battling RB Sony Michel for the backup job behind RB Damien Harris.

Eagles insider Howard Eskin hears that there's now a "great chance" TE Zach Ertz will be on the team for the "start of the season." That last part is noteworthy because it leaves open the possibility of an in-season trade. Still, Ertz sticking around for any number of games would hurt TE Dallas Goedert's fantasy value. In their 7 shared games together last year, Ertz out-targeted Goedert 45 to 42. We'd expect that to swing in Goedert's favor in 2021. But his chances of finishing near the top of his position in targets would be slim with Ertz to contend with.

49ers beat writer Cam Inman calls WR Jalen Hurd one of the team’s “wild cards” entering training camp. Hurd, a converted RB at 6’5, 230 pounds, buzzed during the summer of 2019 only to suffer a back fracture in August. He sustained a torn ACL roughly one year later. Still, the belief is that Hurd will “contend for the wide open #3 [WR] spot,” per Inman. We’ll see how much on-field work he gets in after working exclusively with a trainer this offseason. For now, Hurd is simply someone to monitor in deeper formats.

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