Shark Bites

Browns WR Odell Beckham sat out the team portion of Wednesday's practice with a hip injury, according to ESPN's Dan Graziano. OBJ was able to participate in some individual drills. "Team is not concerned about a long-term absence," Graziano adds. This sounds like a minor issue, but it'll be worth monitoring over the next couple of weeks -- especially considering Beckham's injury history and the high price fantasy drafters are paying to land him.

Anthony Poisal of the Browns' official website expects RB Dontrell Hilliard to step into RB Duke Johnson's old role as "as a pass-catching running back used mostly on third down plays." Hilliard caught 9 balls for 105 yards in 11 appearances as a rookie last year and racked up 70 grabs over 4 seasons at Tulane. “Dontrell has shown some explosion in the open field,” HC Freddie Kitchens said. “He is hard to get down. Body control is a characteristic or a skillset that running backs sometimes often get overlooked. He has great body control, change of direction and great speed. I like those skillsets.” Hilliard notably caught 2 passes on QB Baker Mayfield's lone possession in Cleveland's preseason opener. We doubt that he'll play as big a role as Duke Johnson played last season (2.5 carries and 3.9 targets per game), but any pass-catching work would put a cap on RB Nick Chubb's ceiling.

Browns WR Antonio Callaway has been suspended 4 games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Callaway has already unsuccessfully tried to appeal the ban. The 22-year-old entered the league last year with major character concerns, so this shouldn't come as a major surprise. The news also explains why Callaway has been running behind WR Rashard Higgins in training camp. Higgins will open the season as Cleveland's #3 WR. Callaway isn't worth rostering redraft leagues.

Browns WR Rashard Higgins has been working with the 1st team in camp so far, ahead of 2nd-year WR Antonio Callaway, according to Scott Patsko of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Even when Odell Beckham missed team drills Monday, Derrick Willies and Jaelen Strong reportedly stepped in for 1st-team reps over Callaway. The Browns' #3 WR spot will likely only matter in deep fantasy football leagues, but it's worth noting that Higgins looks like the early favorite -- especially after Callaway flashed some deep-ball abilities as a 4th-round rookie.

We haven't heard much about RB Kareem Hunt since he signed with the Browns -- a good thing considering his previous off-field trouble. But Nick Shook of the Browns' official website says Hunt looked like the same player this spring as the guy we saw in Kansas City the past 2 seasons. "Even in shorts and helmets, it's clear to the naked eye that Hunt is a special player who could become the Browns' best weapon not wearing No. 13 [Odell Beckham]," Shook writes. Hunt, of course, is suspended for the first 8 games of the season, leaving him as no more than a late-rounder in fantasy drafts. But it's a reminder that he's a strong bet to be a factor -- and a problem for Nick Chubb owners -- in the season's 2nd half.

Browns RB Kareem Hunt was questioned by police after a bar fight in Cleveland late Saturday night, according to insider Mary Kay Cabot. Hunt has not been charged, and police say there is no video or documentation of Hunt being involved. Still, it's not a great look considering Hunt's history. He's already suspended for the first 8 games of 2019 for violating the league's personal-conduct policy. We'll continue to keep tabs on this latest situation.

RB Kareem Hunt has been suspended 8 games for violating the league's personal conduct policy. He was investigated for multiple incidents, including the assault at a Cleveland hotel last February. Between the missed time, a new offense to settle into and the presence of Nick Chubb, it's tough to imagine Hunt being a real fantasy factor in 2019. He's just a late-round flier in early best-ball drafts. Hunt will be a restricted free agent in 2020 and will still be just 25 when that season kicks off.

The Browns have reached a 2-year deal with former Chiefs TE Demetrius Harris, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. That's a disappointing move for anyone hoping to get some kind of Harris breakthrough via free agency. Harris is a size-speed freak, with a 4.57-second 40 time at 6'7 and 230 pounds. But he managed just 57 total receptions over 5 seasons behind Travis Kelce. In Cleveland, he figures to remain behind David Njoku. And we're not too worried at this point about Harris lowering Njoku's fantasy ceiling. We'll see if HC Freddie Kitchens and his staff reveal anything about Harris' role.

The Browns have reached a deal with the Giants to acquire WR Odell Beckham Jr. The deal will send 1st- and 3rd-round picks plus S Jabrill Peppers to the Giants. Beckham has 5 more years on a contract that he signed just last August, though there's no guaranteed money beyond 2020. The move obviously gives Cleveland a new #1 WR, one of the league's most talented. Beckham and WR Jarvis Landry will challenge each others' target counts in an offense that finished 2018 with lower passing volume. The Giants, meanwhile, sport no WR ahead of Sterling Shepard at the moment. We'll see what they do in free agency and the draft to address a position that's suddenly desperately shallow. Peppers joins a secondary that will also add Antoine Bethea in free agency. If Peppers and Bethea emerge as the 2 starters, the Giants might sport a lack in deep-coverage ability. The big fantasy winner here, by the way, is Cleveland 2nd-year QB Baker Mayfield.

The Browns have agreed to a 3-year deal with DT Sheldon Richardson, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. That will land Richardson in a Cleveland D-line that will also feature 3rd-year DT Larry Ogunjobi and DEs Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon. There's room for all 4 players to deliver solid-to-strong IDP numbers. And the Cleveland defense has a chance to be strong in both real life and fantasy. Richardson posted 4.5 sacks in his lone Vikings season, matching his 2nd best total. He topped out at 8 back in 2014, his 2nd season in the league. Richardson will turn 29 in November.

The Giants on Friday traded OLB Olivier Vernon to the Browns for G Kevin Zeitler. That news looks biggest for IDP owners, who could afford to pay Vernon no attention as a LB battling an ankle injury. With Cleveland, Vernon should return to primarily playing 4-3 DE opposite Myles Garrett. That immediately increases his fantasy value and puts him in a potentially nice situation. Vernon figures to jump back into our top 20 D-linemen for 2019.

The Browns have signed former Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt. It's surprising news in terms of both timing and landing spot. Hunt is still on the Commissioner's Exempt List after video was released of his February altercation with a woman inside a Cleveland hotel. It's unclear when he'll be reinstated and how long a suspension he'll garner to open the 2019 campaign. And the Browns, of course, already have RBs Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson on the roster. We'll see when Hunt is ruled eligible to return, but his addition makes Chubb a riskier pick in early fantasy drafts. We've seen him going in the late 1st and early 2nd round of FFPC best-ball drafts.

The Browns are hiring Freddie Kitchens as their HC. Kitchens took over as Cleveland's interim OC in Week 9 of this past season and immediately turned the unit around. After averaging 21.1 points and 342 total yards over the first 8 games, the Browns averaged 23.8 points and 395 yards across the last 8. QB Baker Mayfield was especially impressive under Kitchens, completing 68% of his passes, averaging 8.6 yards per attempt and tossing 19 TDs over those 8 games. This is a big step up in responsibility for Kitchens, who had never even called plays in the NFL prior to last year. But we at least like the move for the Browns offense.

Giants WR Odell Beckham (quad) is out for Week 17. WR Sterling Shepard and TE Evan Engram will again serve as QB Eli Manning’s top 2 targets against a Cowboys team that figures to rest some defensive starters.

Giants WR Odell Beckham (quad) remained sidelined for Wednesday's practice. He's unlikely to play in this weekend's finale against the Cowboys, again leaving WR Sterling Shepard and TE Evan Engram as QB Eli Manning's top 2 targets.

Browns CB Denzel Ward left Sunday's win over the Bengals after suffering his 2nd concussion within a month. Ward had missed the previous 2 games with his 1st career concussion before returning Sunday. The rookie is likely done for the year after this latest setback.

Browns S Jabrill Peppers (neck) and DT Larry Ogunjobi (biceps) are active for today's game against the Bengals. Each entered the day questionable. Each is just a lower-level IDP option.

The Giants have ruled WR Odell Beckham out for Sunday's game at Indianapolis. That will once again leave Sterling Shepard as the de facto lead wideout. Shepard absorbed 9 targets in that role last week but caught just 2 balls for the 2nd straight game. Beckham's absence helps the volume outlook but doesn't turn Shepard into a strong option. TE Evan Engram, on the other hand, has topped 70 receiving yards in each of the 2 games Beckham has missed -- including last week's 12-target, 8-catch outing. He gets a better matchup than his WR teammates against a Colts D that ranks 7th worst vs. TEs in our adjusted fantasy points allowed.

The New York Post's Paul Schwartz considers Giants WR Odell Beckham (quad) "likely" to miss the final 2 games of the season. Beckham's quad contusion is "showing little or no improvement." And the Giants, of course, have no reason to push him back out there. TE Evan Engram has been the biggest beneficiary of Beckham's absence over the past 2 weeks, totaling 17 targets, 11 catches and 152 yards.

Giants WR Odell Beckham (quad) will not practice on Wednesday, HC Pat Shurmur said. OBJ has been sidelined since putting in a limited practice exactly a week ago. His availability for this weekend's game against the Colts is uncertain.

 
 
 

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