Shark Bites

6:08pm EDT 8/16/19

The NFL has conditionally reinstated Patriots WR Josh Gordon, according to both Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport. He can rejoin the team on Sunday for meetings, conditioning work and individual drills, according to the statement released by the league. The statement doesn’t say whether Gordon is eligible to play in games yet — but Schefter confirms that he’s “ready to go for the regular season.” Of course, fantasy drafters need to be wary of the potential for relapse. Gordon performed like a WR2 after joining the Pats during last season, though, and remains a high-upside fantasy prospect. His return crushes the sleeper prospects of guys like N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers and Maurice Harris. QB Tom Brady obviously gets a boost. Check out our updated projections for all of the Patriots.

Patriots RB Damien Harris is dealing with a "minor" hand/wrist injury, according to insider Jeff Howe. That explains why the rookie didn't play in last week's preseason opener. It doesn't sound like Harris is in danger of missing the start of the season, but the missed practice time hurts his chances of earning a significant role out of the gate. Sony Michel's role as lead ball-carrier seems safe to open the season.

Patriots TE Matt LaCosse sprained his ankle in the preseason opener and has been ruled out for the 2nd exhibition, the Boston Globe's Jim McBride reports. Based on the injury video, Dr. David Chao believes LaCosse has a high-ankle sprain and might not be ready for the start of the season. He had been the favorite to serve as New England's lead TE during Ben Watson's 4-game suspension. That job could now go to Stephen Anderson or Lance Kendricks. It's a situation to avoid in fantasy drafts.

The Boston Herald's Kevin Duffy writes "it's pretty clear" that RB Sony Michel remains the Patriots' lead ball-carrier. Rookie RB Damien Harris drew some early-summer buzz but "hasn’t received many practice reps over the past week," per Duffy. Michel, meanwhile, has avoided a setback with his troublesome knee and even flashed improved pass-catching ability. He's turned into a nice value at his recent RB26 ADP.

Patriots WR N'Keal Harry suffered a lower-body injury in Thursday night's preseason opener. He remained on the sideline for the rest of the game, which usually means the injury isn't serious. The Boston Herald's Kevin Duffy hears, though, that Harry will "likely" miss some practice time. The rookie is expected to be ready for Week 1, but he was already seemingly behind Phillip Dorsett and Jakobi Meyers on the depth chart (in addition to Julian Edelman). Harry remains a high-end prospect but won't be an early-season fantasy option.

Patriots insider Evan Lazar notes that RB Sony Michel has been seeing more work in the passing game in camp over the past few days. "The second-year running back ran routes out of the backfield and motioned out wide a few times as well," Lazar adds. Michel caught just 8 of 14 targets in 16 games (including playoffs) last year. But he turned in 22- and 26-catch seasons at Georgia. If he can even get up to 20 to 25 catches this season, it'd help his weekly reliability in fantasy lineups -- and obviously boost his PPR value.

Patriots WR Josh Gordon has applied for reinstatement, according to SiriusXM's Howard Balzer. Gordon was suspended indefinitely in December for again violating the league's substance abuse policy. Since then, New England re-signed him as a restricted free agent, and Gordon was reportedly working out with QB Tom Brady. We'll see where this goes, but you could do worse than Gordon as a late-round flier. He posted a 40-720-3 line in 11 games with the Patriots last year, ranking 28th among WRs in PPR points over that span.

Multiple Patriots beat writers have named Maurice Harris the team's best WR early in camp. Julian Edelman, of course, has been sidelined with his broken thumb. That's left Harris and Phillip Dorsett to take the majority of the 1st-team snaps. Rookie N'Keal Harry has been working mostly with the 2nd team. Harris was briefly a thing last year, coming out of nowhere for a 10-124 outing in Week 9 and following that up with a 5-52. But he corralled just 2 of 13 targets over his final 5 outings. The former undrafted free agent has nice size at 6'3, 205 pounds but is a subpar athlete and totaled just 81 catches across 4 college seasons. Harris still feels like a long shot for reliable fantasy production this year -- but there's opportunity in New England, especially if Harry proves unready for an immediate role. We'll continue to monitor this depth chart.

9:07am EDT 7/27/19

Patriots RB Sony Michel (knee) has been activated from the PUP list and will practice on Saturday, director of player personnel Nick Caserio said. Michel missed spring workouts after undergoing another knee surgery. Now we'll see if he can hold up and hold off rookie Damien Harris over the next month. Michel's ADP is sitting in the middle of the 5th round in DRAFT best balls over the past week.

The injury that has Patriots WR Julian Edelman sidelined for the start of training camp is a broken thumb, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The injury reportedly occurred when Edelman was playing catch 3 weeks ago. Rapoport confirms that Edelman is fully expected to be ready by Week 1. We probably won't see him this preseason, though, which could help us get him at a discount in fantasy drafts.

Patriots WR Julian Edelman is expected to be sidelined for "about 3 weeks" with a left thumb injury, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. That timeline would have Edelman back on the field by mid-August. So barring a setback, the injury shouldn't be an issue by the time Week 1 rolls around. We'll keep an eye on him, but we're not adjusting Edelman's projections right now. His absence leaves N'Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris, Dontrelle Inman and Braxton Berrios as New England's top 5 WRs to open training camp.

The Patriots are placing WR Demaryius Thomas on the active/PUP list to begin training camp. That means he won't take part in on-field drills initially. It's no surprise, given that Thomas suffered a torn Achilles' tendon in Week 16. We'll be curious to see how soon Thomas can make his way into camp workouts and whether he can avoid the regular-season PUP list. Landing on that would mean missing at least 6 games.

The Patriots are placing RB Sony Michel on the active/PUP list to begin training camp. ESPN's Mike Reiss reports that means Michel has yet to be cleared for on-field activities. Michel, of course, is working back from offseason knee surgery. His progress will be a key training-camp story, along with how rookie Damien Harris is performing (and his role).

The NFL Network's Michael Giardi hears that Patriots RB Sony Michel is "progressing quickly" from his arthroscopic knee surgery. Michel has already resumed running "full tilt," Giardi adds. It sounds like Michel will be ready for training camp after missing the offseason program. But durability remains a significant concern for the 2nd-year back, who tore his ACL in high school, had knee surgery last August and then missed 2 games with knee trouble as a rookie. RB Damien Harris reportedly impressed this spring with Michel sidelined.

Patriots RB Sony Michel had arthroscopic knee surgery this offseason, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic. Michel had been missing workouts without explanation. It's not yet clear which knee had the operation, but his left has been the problem since he tore the ACL on that side in high school in 2011. Michel also had a "minor" procedure on the knee last August that cost him the preseason and the regular-season opener. And he later missed 2 more games with an issue in the same knee. Howe reports that this latest surgery is also "minor" and that Michel's expected to return for training camp. But it looks worrisome from here that Michel is averaging a knee surgery a year so far. We've already been low on the 2nd-year Patriots RB, who might be in for a move further down the rankings given positive reports on rookie Damien Harris and Rex Burkhead so far.

Patriots TE Ben Watson has been suspended 4 games for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. Watson admitted in a Facebook post that he took a banned substance after he announced his retirement earlier this offseason. The Pats knew of the impending ban when they signed Watson, so it shouldn't impact his odds of making the team. But it makes him pretty much undraftable in fantasy drafts. Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Matt LaCosse figure to open the season atop New England's TE depth chart.

The Patriots have signed WR Dontrelle Inman to a 1-year deal. The 30-year-old caught 28 balls in 9 appearances with the Colts last year and has a 58-catch season on his resume back in 2016 with the Chargers. In New England, Inman will compete with Phillip Dorsett, Demaryius Thomas and Maurice Harris for snaps behind Julian Edelman and 1st-round rookie N'Keal Harry.

TE Ben Watson has inked a 1-year, $3 million deal with the Patriots. The 38-year-old has remained effective, posting a 74-825-6 line with the Saints in 2016, a 61-522-4 with the Ravens in 2017 and a 35-400-2 back in New Orleans last year. He spent his first 6 NFL seasons with the Patriots, including 3 under current OC Josh McDaniels. Watson will battle with talented but oft-injured Austin Seferian-Jenkins for targets this season. It's worth noting that ASJ's 1-year deal is for less than a million bucks. Consider Watson the early favorite.

The Patriots grabbed Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham in the 4th round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Stidham started his college career at Baylor, completing 75 of 109 passes (68.8%) for 1,265 yards, 12 TDs and 2 INTs in spot duty. He then transferred to Auburn, where he started the past 2 seasons. Stidham turned in an impressive 2017, completing 66.5% of his passes and averaging 8.5 yards per attempt. But his numbers sunk across the board this past year: 60.7% completion rate and 7.6 yards per attempt. Stidham will be the latest to attempt to become Tom Brady’s successor in New England.

The Patriots added Alabama RB Damien Harris in the 3rd round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The #1 RB in the 2015 recruiting class led talented ‘Bama backfields in rushing in each of the past 3 seasons: 1,037 yards in 2016, 1,000 in 2017 and 876 this past year. He leaves school with a strong 6.4 yards per carry (half a yard better than Josh Jacobs) and also totaled 52 catches across his 4 years on campus. Harris isn’t a flashy back, but he packs a punch at 5’10, 216 pounds and registered a solid 46th percentile SPARQ score at the Combine. The pick feels a bit redundant for the Patriots, who have Sony Michel coming off an impressive season as lead ball-carrier. But Michel has a long injury history, including a knee injury last August that cost him the season’s first 3 games.

 
 
 

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