Shark Bites

Packers insider Ryan Wood confirms that Aaron Jones was the team's clear #1 RB this spring. "That's how it's gonna be this fall," Wood adds. This shouldn't come as a surprise after Jones operated as Green Bay's clear lead back over the 2nd half of the season and finished his sophomore campaign with a big 5.5 yards per carry. But it's nice confirmation with a new coaching staff in town. "If he stays healthy, he's gonna have a big year," Wood says of Jones. We agree.

Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (Achilles) admitted on Tuesday that he won't be at 100% for the start of training camp and said his goal is to be ready for Week 1. That shouldn't come as a surprise considering he's still only 7-and-a-half months removed from his torn Achilles, an injury that can take a year or longer to fully recover from. We consider Sanders no better than 50/50 for the season opener and would avoid him even at his current 12th-round ADP.

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald has been struck by the tempo of new HC Kliff Kingsbury's offense. "It's not so much what he's installing that stands out; it's how its run, the tempo of it," Fitzgerald said. "Every single day, with more experience, we were able to run it faster and faster and faster, get more plays in more efficiently. The faster guys understand the concepts the more pressure we can put on defenses." That's perhaps the most exciting aspect of Arizona's offense this season. The 2018 Cardinals ranked 31st in offensive snaps. The 2019 Cardinals should make a big move up those rankings, maybe even into the top 10. It's a reason to be excited about guys like Kyler Murray, David Johnson, Christian Kirk and Fitzgerald.

Free-agent RB Alex Collins revealed that he recently broke his leg. "I have already begun the healing and rehab process, and I fully trust God’s plan for me. I look forward to getting back to playing football and doing what I love most," Collins added. The 24-year-old was released by the Ravens in March, shortly after he was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and a firearm. There are a bunch of roadblocks between Collins and a return to fantasy relevance.

Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official website believes RB David Johnson's receiving ability will "come back to the forefront" in HC Kliff Kingsbury's offense. "Johnson should fit perfectly into the new Cardinals’ offense," Urban adds. After posting a huge 80-879-4 receiving line in 2016, Johnson posted a relatively disappointing 50-446-3 in a stale 2018 Arizona offense. Kingsbury is expected to bring his Air Raid principles and an up-tempo attack to the desert. It should suit Johnson perfectly considering he does his best work out in space. His upside extends to the top of the RB position this year.

Pro Football Talk hears that Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott "has privately said" that he'll hold out of training camp absent a new contract. Zeke has made no public mention of a hold out. He still has 2 years left on his rookie deal, with salaries of $3.85 million this season and $9.09 million next. The problem for Elliott is that Dallas figures to prioritize re-signing QB Dak Prescott and WR Amari Cooper, who are both entering their final seasons under contract. Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson, meanwhile, hears that Elliott might ultimately show up to camp if he feels the Cowboys "are making a serious push to get an extension worked." We'll see where this goes over the next couple of weeks. We're not adjusting our projections for Elliott right now, but consider Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara safer picks at the top of drafts.

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.

Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury said WR Larry Fitzgerald and QB Kyler Murray have quickly developed chemistry. "Yeah, I just think he’s a security blanket,” Kingsbury said of Fitz. “There’s a comfort level there. If you get it close, he’s going to make a play for you. A big body in traffic, across the middle, for a young QB? You know he’s going to make a big play and that goes a long way." Fitzgerald will turn 36 before Week 1 and is coming off a 30th-place PPR finish, his worst since 2014. Christian Kirk is the highest-upside in the desert this season and sits higher in our WR rankings. But it's certainly within the realm of possibility that Fitz leads the team in catches and fantasy points this season. He's a fine pick at his 8th-round ADP.

The NFL has suspended Jets TE Chris Herndon for the 1st 4 games for violating the league's substance abuse policy, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. A suspension was expected, following Herndon's June 2018 DUI, but rumor had it at 2 games. We might yet see an appeal here. If you're drafting now, though, treat it as a 4-game ban and move Herndon down your TE rankings. The Jets have a Week 4 bye, which means you'd lose Herndon (and that roster spot) for the season's 1st 5 weeks. His absence could help the target outlooks for players such as Jamison Crowder and Quincy Enunwa.

Washington RB Derrius Guice suffered a hamstring injury a few weeks ago that has him questionable for the start of training camp, according to Erin Hawksworth of 106.7 The Fan. It's not clear how significant the injury is, though it's hard to imagine a serious ailment staying quiet for a few weeks at this point. The situation is obviously more worrisome given that Guice is coming off an ACL tear that cost him his rookie season. We'll see when he becomes available in camp and how he fares beyond that. Fortunately, Guice was going just 34th among RBs in best-ball drafts on PlayDraft even before this news. So you don't need to invest too heavily if you want to take a chance now.

Pro Football Talk tweeted that Tampa Bay is "a team to watch as a potential Duke Johnson destination." We're guessing the tweet is based on whispers the site has heard around the league. The fit certainly makes sense considering the Bucs are sporting 1 of the league's worst RB groups in Ronald Jones, Peyton Barber and Andre Ellington. Johnson would immediately become the team's best pass-catching back and could easily emerge as the lead ball-carrier. He's worth a later-round pick in fantasy drafts right now in hopes he finds a new home before Week 1. In Cleveland, though, he'll struggle for even RB3 value in PPR leagues behind Nick Chubb.

Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay (wrist) is expected to be ready for full-team drills when training camp opens, according to insider Mike Klis. Lindsay's reps will be "monitored," Klis adds, but all signs point to him being ready to rock by the time Week 1 rolls around. We'll be watching to see how new OC Rich Scangarello plans to divvy backfield work between Lindsay, Royce Freeman and Devontae Booker. Despite a super impressive rookie campaign, Lindsay carries a good amount of risk at his 4th-round ADP.

Chargers RB Melvin Gordon has informed the team that he won't report to training camp and will demand a trade if he doesn't receive a new contract, his agent told ESPN. Gordon is set to make $5.6 million this season in the final year of his rookie deal. The Chargers currently have a little less than $11 million in available salary cap space, according to OverTheCap.com, so they could make a new deal with Gordon work. We'll see how much they're willing to give up to get him back in the building. If Gordon holds out into the regular season or is traded, the Chargers would be left with RBs Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson.

Rams RB Todd Gurley expressed optimism about his troublesome knee in an interview with the NFL Network on Tuesday. "It's good, man. It's good," he said. "I'm just like, hey, we're going to find out in training camp, you know? Once training camp comes, you've got the preseason, but you don't have a lot in preseason." Players, of course, are almost always over-optimistic about injuries. But this still qualifies as the most positive piece on Gurley's status this offseason. He'll be the most closely watched player in training camp, and we'll hopefully have a better idea of his 2019 outlook by the time we get to late August.

49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo (knee) expects to be a full-go for the start of training camp. “The rehab process has gone really well. Knock on wood. We haven’t had any setbacks," he said of his recovery from last September's torn ACL. "OTAs went about as well as I could have hoped for and now for training camp hopefully we’ll be full go with team drills and all that stuff. We’re moving in the right direction. We’ve just got to keep going day by day and keep stacking them together." Garoppolo was a limited participant in OTAs and, barring a setback, should be 100% for Week 1. He's going much later in drafts this summer than last, with an ADP currently sitting in Round 12. He's a fine value at that price.

Colts insider Kevin Bowen calls Devin Funchess the "heavy, heavy favorite" to be the team's #2 WR this season. That's been our belief since Funchess inked a 1-year, $10 million deal with Indy back in March. The addition of 2nd-round rookie WR Parris Campbell clouded the picture a bit, but Campbell is expected to serve in a part-time role this season. Funchess is coming off a rough 2018 campaign in Carolina. But he went for 63-840-8 the previous year, is still just 25 and has that 6'4, 225-pound frame that should make him a red-zone weapon for a Colts squad that racked up 39 passing TDs last season. Funchess is a nice value at his current WR56 ADP.

Panthers QB Cam Newton (shoulder) is expected to be a full participant when training camps gets going later this month, according to the Charlotte Observer's Brendan Marks. That's been the goal of Newton's rehab from January shoulder surgery all along -- and the process has gone smoothly by all accounts. Barring a setback this summer, Newton deserves to be 1 of the first 7 or 8 QBs off the board in fantasy drafts. He's a value at his current 9th-round, QB11 ADP.

Ryan Mink of the Ravens' website calls RB Mark Ingram the team's "clear featured back." That's been our presumption all offseason, despite the addition of rookie Justice Hill and the returns of Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon. Baltimore inked Ingram to a 3-year, $15 million deal this offseason after he had another strong year in New Orleans. Ingram averaged 4.7 yards per carry in 2018, his 4th straight season at 4.6 or better. He ranked 14th among 47 RBs in yards after contact per attempt and 20th in Pro Football Focus' Elusive Rating, which measures a runner's effectiveness beyond the blocking he receives. Atop the depth chart for the run-heavy Ravens, Ingram has a shot to best his current career-high of 230 carries this season. He's a fine value at his mid-4th-round ADP.

Per Vic Tafur of The Athletic, there’s a “growing sentiment” that Raiders RB Josh Jacobs won’t report to camp with his fellow rookies on July 23. The issue is reportedly over Jacobs’ signing bonus. We’ll keep an eye on this situation, but for now, we’re not altering any projections.

Update: Jacobs signed his contract on July 10.

NFL Network's Mike Garafolo hears that a suspension is not expected for Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott after Tuesday's meeting with Commissioner Roger Goodell about an incident with a security guard at a Vegas music festival back in May. Garafolo described the meeting as more of a "warning" to Elliott, who's been no stranger to off-field drama. We're keeping Zeke at 16 games in our projections -- and he remains a top 2 pick across fantasy formats.

 
 
 

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