Shark Bites

Panthers QB Cam Newton resumed throwing last week for the 1st time since March 30 surgery on his throwing shoulder, according to the team website. Newton said the joint is not yet 100%, citing stiffness. But he also said "there's no doubt" he'll be 100% by training camp. If Newton's fantasy value relied more heavily on his passing, we might be more concerned with this situation. But accuracy has never been a strong point for the star QB. The biggest issue here might be the threat of further hits on the repaired joint. Of course, we've baked the general injury risk of Newton's running into his ranking. We'll see how his summer goes.

Panthers HC Ron Rivera expects QB Cam Newton (shoulder) to throw off to the side during next week's minicamp. He'll be about 11 weeks removed from surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder. It doesn't sound like he's a full-go yet, but he might be by the time training camp opens in late July. Newton could use the practice reps with new weapons Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel.

The Patriots spent a 3rd-round pick Friday night on a potential sleeper for the edge. Youngstown State DE Derek Rivers racked up 37.5 sacks and 56.5 total tackles for loss over his 4 college seasons. That included 13 sacks as a sophomore and 14 as a senior. Rivers might need to bulk up from his 248 pounds to be ready for a regular edge role in New England, and we'll see whether the Patriots plan to align him at DE or OLB. But the Pats clearly aren't concerned about his lower level of college competition. This will be a high-upside target for IDP dynasty rookie drafts.

Panthers GM Dave Gettleman said QB Cam Newton is “on schedule” to participate in training camp. He played the final 4 games of last season with a partially torn rotator cuff and underwent surgery on his right shoulder on March 30. Per the Panthers, Newton should resume throwing around late June. We’ll track his progress throughout the summer as he tries to rebound from a disappointing 2016.

On the same day they signed Bills RFA RB Mike Gillislee to an offer sheet, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Patriots signed RB James White to a 3-year extension. The Super Bowl star would have been facing unrestricted free agency at the end of the 2017 season but is now under contract through 2020. With White, Dion Lewis and the additions of Rex Burkhead and Gillislee (unless the Bills match), New England's backfield is looking quite crowded. It's a high-value situation, but the committee could prove tough to predict week to week for fantasy football owners. All 4 RBs carry some late-round intrigue -- especially in early best-ball drafting -- though White's new deal might threaten Lewis the most. We'll be watching this situation develop into and through the summer.

The Titans this week dumped veteran CB Jason McCourty. The 29-year-old (30 in October) spent 8 seasons in Tennessee but lost 16 games to injury over the past 2 years. He's likely to find a new landing spot fairly easily in a league always hungry for solid CBs. We'll see whether that new home keeps McCourty in a full-time role and supports his consistent IDP value.

Panthers QB Cam Newton will undergo surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder on March 30, the team announced. The injury reportedly occurred in Carolina's Week 14 game against the Chargers. Newton completed just 10 of 27 passes for 160 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT in that one. He played in the final 3 games, completing 50.9% of his passes and averaging 245 yards, 1.3 TDs and 1.7 INTs per game. It certainly seems like the injury impacted his play, but it doesn't explain Newton's struggles prior to Week 14. He completed only 54.7% of his passes and averaged 238 yards, 1.3 TDs and .7 INTs in 11 games before the injury. The Panthers hoped rest and rehab would heal Newton's shoulder, but he was still experiencing pain when he resumed throwing earlier this month. So he'll go under the knife. Newton will resume throwing 12 weeks after surgery (late June) and is expected to be ready for the start of training camp. We'll track his recovery.

10:07am EDT 3/18/17

The Bucs have signed K Nick Folk. He'll compete for the starting job with K Roberto Aguayo, who's coming off a disappointing rookie campaign that saw him convert just 71% of his FGs. Folk has bested that mark in 7 straight seasons.

The Patriots signed RB Rex Burkhead. He joins Dion Lewis and James White in the backfield. (RB LeGarrette Blount remains a free agent.) Burkhead was mostly a special-teamer in Cincinnati but flashed when given a bigger opportunity this past year, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 8.5 yards per catch. That included a 144-total-yard, 2-TD outing against the Ravens in Week 17. At 5'10, 210 pounds, Burkhead is the biggest of New England's top 3 backs (5 pounds heavier than White). He could be a sneaky option for early-down work, although stealing significant passing-down action from White and Lewis will be tough. As usual, we'll need to keep a close eye on the Patriots' backfield this summer.

The 49ers have agreed to a 2-year deal with QB Brian Hoyer, a source tells NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Hoyer played reasonably well for Chicago last year, completing 67% of his passes with 6 TDs and 0 INTs in 6 appearances. He's also familiar with HC Kyle Shanahan's offense, having played in it in Cleveland back in 2013. Of course, the 31-year-old isn't San Francisco's long-term answer. This signing makes the 49ers a strong bet to draft a QB this spring. If it's a 1st-rounder, Hoyer might quickly fall to #2 on the depth chart.

Panthers HC Ron Rivera said at the Combine Thursday that he wants to scale back QB Cam Newton's rushing attempts. Rivera hinted at this earlier in the offseason, saying, " “our primary runner cannot be our QB." Newton already set career lows with 90 carries and 359 rushing yards last year. A further decline in volume would make it tough for him to score as better than a lower-end QB1. Newton hasn't hit 4,000 passing yards since his 2011 rookie campaign and has only once topped 24 passing TDs.

12:00pm EST 1/1/17

Titans CB Jason McCourty (chest) is inactive for today's finale against the Texans.

Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower (knee) is inactive for today's game against the Jets. It's a matchup that some New England LB could exploit for IDP value -- perhaps Shea McClellin -- but the fluid playing time makes it a tough situation to mine for your fantasy football lineup. The team D remains a strong play even without Hightower.

The forecast for today's Jets-Patriots game calls for a 95% chance of rain with winds around 10 mph. That wind isn't a major concern, but it looks like this will be a sloppy game. We still don't expect the Pats to have any trouble when they take to the air, but the weather could push them further toward the run if (when?) they get out to a big lead.

The Titans have ruled CB Jason McCourty (chest, shoulder) out for Sunday's game against the Jaguars. That can only help the fantasy outlook for QB Blake Bortles and the rest of the Jacksonville passing offense against an already soft secondary. Of course, if you were planning to use the Tennessee D in fantasy, you were doing so because of the matchup rather than the Titans' talent. So McCourty's absence shouldn't affect your outlook too much. It does bring the floor down a bit.

Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower (knee) and CB Malcolm Butler (hip) are active for today's game against the Broncos. Both entered the day questionable but should be fine to use at their normal IDP levels.

Panthers QB Cam Newton completed just 10 of 27 passes for 160 yards and 1 TD in Sunday's win over the Chargers. He added 31 rushing yards on 8 attempts, as well as an INT. It was Newton's 4th straight game with fewer than 15 completions and a completion rate of less than 49%. Newton's not playing well. The rushing yards marked his highest total in 4 games, though. That aspect is the only thing keeping Newton in starting contention at all.

Jaguars WR Marqise Lee finished Sunday’s loss to Minnesota with 5 grabs (8 targets) and 113 yards. Blake Bortles admitted after the game that the Vikings “did some stuff” to take Allen Robinson away, and Lee capitalized on favorable coverage. He’s emerged as a co-#1 in this offense, drawing 6+ targets in 6 straight. Lee looks like a low-end WR3 prospect next week against a strong Houston secondary.

Geoff Hobson of the Bengals' official website expects RB Rex Burkhead to replace Gio Bernard as the "jack-of-all-trades-third-down back that must catch run, catch, and block." Cincinnati lost a combined 151 targets -- 15.1 per game -- when Bernard and WR A.J. Green went down last week. Bernard accounted for 51 of those (5.1 per game). Burkhead has flashed some pass-catching chops in limited chances, hauling in 19 of 27 career targets (70.4%) for 167 yards (8.8 YPC). He's unlikely to be play a big enough role to turn into a fantasy option, but we'll keep an eye on him in Sunday's game against the Ravens.

Patriots HC Bill Belichick suggested Friday that James White could remain the team's primary passing-down back even with Dion Lewis back in the mix. "I think James White is a good player. What he does is good. Could somebody do it better? I don't know. But it would take quite a bit, I would say, based on where he is and how consistent he's been with what he's done," Belichick said. "It would take somebody playing pretty good to be better than him." White has tallied 29 catches for 258 yards and 3 scores, adding another 107 yards on 26 carries. The Lewis we saw last year was better than White, but it remains to be seen if he'll rediscover pre-injury form. ESPN's Mike Reiss expects the Patriots to take a "conservative approach" to Lewis' return and confirms that White will play ahead of him on Sunday night. White is certainly the better Week 10 fantasy play. We'll see beyond that.

 
 
 

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