Shark Bites

The weather for today's Steelers-Browns game doesn't look quite as bad as it appeared it might be 24 hours ago. Light rain is expected throughout with winds of 10-20 mph. We'd try to avoid the kickers in this game and use the weather as a tiebreaker for passing-game pieces. But we're not adjusting our projections.

Cleveland could see heavy rain throughout the day Sunday along with potentially strong winds, according to multiple reports. That obviously has a chance to impact Browns-Steelers, especially the passing games. We'll keep an eye on the situation heading toward the 1 p.m. ET kickoff. Try to have an insurance option available behind players such as Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster and Browns QB Tyrod Taylor.

Steelers TE Vance McDonald (foot) is out for this weekend’s opener against the Browns. He practiced on Wednesday but was sidelined the past 2 days, so he might have suffered a setback. Consider McDonald week-to-week for now. TE Jesse James starts for the Steelers in a plus matchup. He’s a deep-league streamer and DFS flier.

Rams ILB Mark Barron missed practice Thursday and said he's "not certain" whether he'll be ready to play Monday night, according to Rich Hammond of the Orange County Register. Barron is listed with an ankle injury, but Hammond tweeted that Barron's "still coming back from injuries." He participated little in training-camp practices and sat out the preseason. We saw Barron put in limited practice work all last year, too, but he would play full time on Sundays. We'll see where this situation goes, but you're best off going in another direction for your Week 1 IDP lineup. Corps mate Corey Littleton gets an upside boost if Barron sits out. Ramik Wilson would likely start in Barron's place after filling in during the preseason.

Steelers TE Vance McDonald (foot) did not practice on Thursday after putting in a limited workout on Wednesday. We'll see if he suffered a setback or if Pittsburgh is just managing his reps. Either way, McDonald shouldn't be in your Week 1 fantasy plans.

Steelers TE Vance McDonald (foot) was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday's practice. He'd been sidelined since injuring that foot in late July. GM Kevin Colbert said a couple of weeks ago that he expected McDonald to be ready for the opener, and it at least looks like he has a shot. Still, he'd be tough to trust in fantasy lineups -- despite a plus matchup against the Browns.

Steelers WR James Washington left Saturday's preseason game with an abdominal injury and won't return, the team announced. We'll see how significant an issue it is in the coming days.

Steelers GM Kevin Colbert expects TE Vance McDonald to be ready for the start of the season. It's the first real update we've heard on McDonald since he went down with a foot injury on July 29. He's been sidelined ever since, so it's tough to see him making an early-season impact even if he's healthy. We've bumped McDonald down the TE rankings. He's now more of a in-season waiver-wire target than a late-round draft option.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is out of the concussion protocol, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac reports. It's still unclear whether Big Ben actually sustained a concussion in practice earlier this week, but it's a non-issue now. With an ADP sitting in the 10th round, Roethlisberger is 1 of a handful of solid QBs values late in drafts.

Update: ESPN's Adam Schefter hears that Roethlisberger did not sustain a concussion.

ESPN reports that Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger entered the concussion protocol after taking a shot in Tuesday's practice. We have yet to see confirmation that he actually suffered a concussion, but that seems likely at this point. Of course, we've still got plenty of time before the regular season for that to be a non-issue. We'll see how the Pittsburgh QB progresses.

It's been 2 weeks since Steelers TE Vance McDonald went down with a foot injury. He still hasn't returned to the field, and we still don't know much about his status. "Nothing's changed," HC Mike Tomlin said Sunday. "When it does change significantly in terms of progress toward return to play, I'll update you guys." If McDonald was dealing with a serious injury, we'd likely have heard about it by now. But all this missed time is bad news for a guy in just his 2nd season with the Steelers. McDonald will be tough to trust in early-season fantasy lineups if he doesn't get back on the field soon.

Steelers RB James Conner left Sunday's practice early with a groin injury, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. We've seen no indication of the severity, though the report didn't make it sound overly serious. Conner reportedly finished the workout watching from the sideline with ice on the problem area. We'll see how quickly the 2nd-year back returns to the field.

Colts rookie WR Deon Cain suffered an ACL tear in Thursday night's game against the Seahawks and will miss the rest of the season. The 6th-round pick had been building buzz since the spring and appeared en route to immediate impact on the offense. His injury likely solidifies Ryan Grant's status as the #2 wideout and leaves opportunity for WR Chester Rogers -- along with other new targets such as TE Eric Ebron and rookie RB Nyheim Hines. Cain remains an attractive dynasty stash. He turned 22 this week.

Steelers TE Vance McDonald rode a cart to the locker room at the end of Sunday's practice after suffering a foot injury. Mark Kaboly of The Athletic cautioned that "we have no idea the severity of it." Leaving on a cart doesn't necessarily mean that McDonald suffered a serious injury. As Kaboly pointed out, the locker room is "far away" from the field. Of course, McDonald has played in just 58 of a possible 80 games through 5 NFL seasons -- including only 10 last year. We'll await further word on the status of his foot before altering our rankings.

Colts rookie WR Deon Cain had a strong spring and has carried that momentum into training camp. He was a standout in Thursday's session, according to the Indy Star's Zak Keefer. HC Frank Reich has noticed. “In this league, you gotta make chunk plays,” Reich said. “He flashes, he’s got a little knack, he’s good against press coverage.” The Colts' #2 WR spot is wide open behind T.Y. Hilton. Veterans Ryan Grant and Chester Rogers still look like the favorites for the job, but there's certainly opportunity for Cain. We'll continue to track his progress.

The Cowboys on Sunday traded WR Ryan Switzer to the Raiders for DT Jihad Ward. It's an interesting swap: Dallas sending a 4th-round pick from last year for a guy who landed in Round 2 in 2016. Dallas clearly decided to go in other directions at WR, while the new Oakland staff apparently didn't feel the same way about Ward. Switzer drew just 7 targets as a Cowboys rookie but closed out 4 years at UNC with a 96-1,112-6. We wouldn't bet on any fantasy relevance in 2018, but there's potential opportunity in 2019 and beyond with Martavis Bryant in the final year of his contract and Jordy Nelson turning 33 at the end of May. Switzer's return skills -- 1 kick-return TD last year, 7 on punts in college -- might be the primary reason for the trade, after Oakland traded away Cordarrelle Patterson. That'll help Switzer stick on the Raiders roster.

The Colts spent an early 6th-round pick on Clemson WR Deon Cain. The 6'2, 202-pounder ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash at the Combine and finished the 3-cone drill in 6.71 seconds. Both numbers rate 77th percentile or better among Combine wideouts since 1999. Cain's production proved inconsistent, though he put up a nice 15.4% career TD rate and topped 17 yards per catch in each of his 1st 2 seasons. He joins a Colts offense with little proven ability behind T.Y. Hilton at WR.

The Steelers selected Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. A 3-year starter for the Cowboys, Rudolph finished his college career with a 63.2% completion rate, 9.4 yards per attempt and 92 TDs vs. 26 INTs. He was especially good throwing downfield. According to Pro Football Focus, Rudolph’s 51.1% adjusted completion rate on deep passes last year ranked 5th in this draft class — ahead of Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson. Rudolph sports prototypical size at 6’5, 235 pounds and has plenty of arm strength. Opponents will point out that he played in a pass-friendly offense with a pair of future NFLers in (fellow new Steeler) James Washington and Marcel Ateman. But there’s some NFL starting potential here. Rudolph, of course, will sit behind Ben Roethlisberger for now. We’ll see if he can develop into his eventual replacement.

The Steelers nabbed Oklahoma State WR James Washington with the 60th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. Washington posted huge numbers in the Cowboys’ pass-friendly offense. He broke out for a 53-1,087-10 line as a sophomore and improved to 71-1,380-10 as a junior. This past year, Washington led the entire country with 1,549 receiving yards and tied for 4th with 13 TDs. He ranked 5th among all draft-eligible players with 3.47 yards per route run, per Pro Football Focus, and won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top WR. Washington goes just 5’11, 213 pounds but plays bigger thanks to hand size, arm length and wingspan all in the 62nd percentile or better among WRs. He also boasts some of our favorite tape in this WR class, flashing technique and craftiness that belies a 21-year-old. This isn’t a great landing spot for Washington, though. He’ll sit behind Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster on the target totem pole in the short term. In the long term, Pittsburgh needs to find a successor to QB Ben Roethlisberger.

The Steelers picked Virginia Tech S Terrell Edmunds with the 28th pick in Round 1 of the NFL Draft. Edmunds posted a 97th percentile SPARQ score in predraft testing and flashed his versatility by playing multiple positions over his 3-year college career. NFL Network's Mike Mayock and David Shaw both called him "physical," while the broadcast touted his ability to cover TEs. There's room for Edmunds to start soon in Pittsburgh.


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