Shark Bites

The Broncos on Saturday released S T.J. Ward. The move has been rumored in recent weeks and saves the team his $4.5 million salary for the season. We'll see whether Denver tries to re-sign the veteran at a discounted rate. But the move could also indicate that the Broncos are ready to let Justin Simmons start in his place.

Broncos RB Devontae Booker (wrist) is targeting a Week 3 return, according to insider Troy Renck. Booker was back at practice on Wednesday with a brace on the fractured wrist he had surgery on in late July. He'll have an opportunity to carve out a role once he's back to 100%. But between the injury, a disappointing rookie season and a crowded Denver depth chart, it's tough to spend a draft pick on Booker.

RB Theo Riddick (wrists) sported a red non-contact jersey and was limited to individual drills as the Lions opened training camp on Sunday. He missed all of spring workouts after undergoing surgery on both wrists early in the offseason. It looks like he's on track to be ready by Week 1, but we'll keep an eye on his progress. Riddick has racked up 133 catches over the last 2 years -- most among RBs.

Broncos HC Vance Joseph announced that RB Devontae Booker will undergo surgery to repair his fractured wrist on Friday. He's expected to miss 6 weeks, which would have Booker back a few days before Week 1. Joseph expects him to be ready for the start of the regular season. Still, the missed camp and preseason time will make Booker a non-option in fantasy lineups early on.

Broncos RB Devontae Booker has been diagnosed with a fractured wrist. The injury reportedly occurred during OTAs in June but wasn't discovered until Booker had it looked at when he reported to training camp on Wednesday. Insider Mike Klis hears the injury might cost Booker the "first game or 2 of the regular season." Pro Football Talk has a similar timeline, with Booker out "up to 6-8 weeks." It's a tough break for a guy who seemed to be building momentum and making a push for the starting job. He's now a long shot to make a fantasy impact before October at the earliest. Booker's injury strengthens C.J. Anderson's grip on the lead role and removes 1 hurdle between Jamaal Charles and a return to fantasy relevance.

The Broncos grabbed Michigan TE Jake Butt with the 1st pick of the 5th round. Butt’s college career was marred by a pair of right ACL tears — the 1st as a freshman back in 2013 and the 2nd this past December. Those sandwiched a productive career that saw him post a 51-654-3 line in 2015 and a 46-546-4 in 12 games last season. The senior-year performance earned him the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top TE. Butt wasn’t able to work out in the pre-draft process but looks like a mediocre athlete on film. (He averaged a middling 11.9 yards per catch at Michigan.) But he has good size at 6’5, 246 pounds, is an advanced route runner and has strong hands. He profiles as a shorter-range target in the pros. Think Heath Miller. Butt said back in March that he could be rehabbing the latest torn ACL until anywhere from July to October. Don’t expect a fantasy impact this year, but this could be Denver’s starting TE by 2018.

The Broncos selected Florida State DE DeMarcus Walker in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft. Walker racked up 25 sacks and 33.5 total tackles for loss over the past 2 seasons, including a career high 16 sacks in his senior campaign. He figures to play DE in Denver's 3-4 front.

Lions RB Theo Riddick had surgery on both wrists, according to insider Dave Birkett. Riddick missed the final 4 games of last season with the issue, but we don't know exactly when went under the knife -- or exactly what the surgery repaired. Birkett says, though, that Riddick is expected to be a full participant in OTAs. As long as that's the case, there won't be any reason to worry about his 2017 outlook. Riddick finished 18th among RBs in PPR points in 2015 and 8th in PPR points per game last year.

Chargers HC Anthony Lynn is excited about RB Melvin Gordon's potential. “I’ve watched some tape on him,” Lynn said. “Man, he has some upside. He did a hell of a job from his rookie year to his sophomore year. And I told him we can take this to another level. We’re going to do some things running-wise that I can think can help him.” Lynn has no head-coaching experience. But he played 6 seasons of RB in the NFL and has spent the last 17 years coaching. He helped the Bills to back-to-back #1 finishes in rushing yards the past 2 seasons. Prior to that, he was with the Jets, who ranked top 6 in rushing in 4 of Lynn's 6 seasons. There's certainly room for Gordon to build on his breakout 2016 campaign under Lynn's tutelage.

The knee injury that ended Chargers RB Melvin Gordon's season in Week 14 was a sprained PCL, according to insider Michael Gehlken. Gordon also suffered a hip injury that we still don't know much about. He was in attendance for Pro Bowl practices this past week, though. He didn't play in the game, but the fact that he was on the practice field means he should be a full-go for the offseason program. Gordon enjoyed a breakout 2016 campaign, ranking 4th among RBs in PPR points through his 13 healthy weeks. He'll return as the Chargers' lead back in 2017, although his fantasy value will be impacted by whether free-agent RB Danny Woodhead is re-signed.

The Broncos have hired Mike McCoy as their new OC. It's a homecoming after McCoy spent the 2009-2012 seasons in the same role. His QBs during that stretch ranged from Kyle Orton to Tim Tebow to Peyton Manning. McCoy was able to coax top-15 finishes in total yards and passing yards out of the Orton-led squads. With Tebow in 2011, Denver ranked 1st in rushing attempts and yards but 31st in passing and 23rd in total offense. McCoy's 2012 season with Manning produced a #4 finish in total yards and #2 in points. McCoy struggled as the Chargers' HC for the past 4 years, producing a 27-37 record (although injuries did him no favors). All 4 of those squads led by QB Philip Rivers ranked top 10 in passing yards. McCoy is widely regarded as 1 of the better offensive minds in the game, so this is a nice hire for Denver. He seems to lean toward a pass-heavy attack but has shown the willingness and ability to adjust his scheme. We'll see what he has in mind for this Broncos attack.

The Broncos have hired Vance Joseph as their new HC. The 44-year-old spent the 2016 season as the Dolphins' defensive coordinator after numerous stops as a defensive backs coach in both college and the pros. We'll see who he brings aboard to run the offense.

ESPN reports that Broncos HC Gary Kubiak will likely step down within the next week because of health concerns. Kubiak was hospitalized earlier this season after the game against Atlanta with a "complex migraine," the 2nd time in the past 2 seasons that health issues landed him in the hospital. We'll see who the next coach is and how that might affect everyone's fantasy outlooks. (The QB situation should be particularly interesting, with incumbent Trevor Siemian and 1st-rounder Paxton Lynch on hand.) For today, Denver players might find a little extra motivation in trying to send Kubiak out with a victory -- assuming he has confirmed to them whether he's leaving.

Lions RB Theo Riddick (wrist) is out for Sunday night’s game vs. Green Bay. That leaves Zach Zenner as the likely lead back after he out-touched Dwayne Washington 14 to 8 last week.

Chargers RB Melvin Gordon (knee, hip) is out for Sunday's finale against the Chiefs. He pushed to get back on the field -- needing 3 more rushing yards for 1,000 -- but the team is wisely holding him out. Gordon's absence leaves San Diego with RBs Ronnie Hillman and Andre Williams, 1 of the crappiest backfields in NFL history.

Lions RB Theo Riddick (wrist) remained sidelined on Thursday. Detroit would love to get him back for Sunday night's massive game against the Packers, but it doesn't look like that's in the cards. Riddick's absence would likely mean another game as lead back for Zach Zenner.

Chargers RB Melvin Gordon (hip, knee) returned to practice on Wednesday. It looks like he at least has a shot to play against the Chiefs this weekend. Gordon is just 3 rushing yards away from 1,000.

The Broncos have ruled S T.J. Ward (concussion) and LB Brandon Marshall (hamstring) out for Sunday night's game against the Chiefs. DE Derek Wolfe is also questionable with an illness. He also aggravated a neck injury in Sunday's loss to the Patriots. The team will re-evaluate him Saturday, according to The Denver Post. With most of the league playing that day and just 1 game following Denver-K.C., most IDP owners should probably opt for another D-line option.

Chargers RB Melvin Gordon (knee, hip) has been ruled out for Saturday's game against the Browns. We'll see if he can return for Week 17 to get the 3 more rushing yards he needs to hit 1,000. RB Kenneth Farrow is a good bet for 15+ touches vs. the 31st-ranked RB defense, making him a fine fantasy starter.

Lions RB Theo Riddick (wrist) missed practice again on Friday and looks unlikely to play against the Cowboys on Monday night. That’d again leave lead-back duties to Dwayne Washington, who’s seen 33 touches over the past 2 weeks. He’s totaled just 114 scoreless yards, though, and is no better than a RB3.

 
 
 

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