Shark Bites

ESPN's Mike Reiss considers RB Rex Burkhead the early favorite for goal-line duties in New England. "Burkhead filled that role at times last year, so he'd be more likely to get the initial nod over [RB Sony] Michel, who had 12 fumbles in college and might need to prove himself from a ball-security standpoint before the team gives him that responsibility," Reiss writes. Burkhead was good near the end zone last year, converting 4 of 7 carries inside the 5-yard line into TDs. We wouldn't rule out Michel here -- he's a 215-pounder who scored 16 times at Georgia last year -- but losing goal-line work would obviously cap his fantasy upside. As usual, the Patriots backfield will be 1 to monitor closely when training camp gets underway.

Colts RB Robert Turbin has been suspended 4 games for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. The 7-year vet ran with the starters this spring and drew some positive buzz. But he owns a career 3.8 yards-per-carry average and faces a bunch of backfield competition from Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins. Turbin wasn't a great bet for fantasy value even before this 4-game ban. His roster spot might now be in jeopardy.

The NFL officially announced Bucs QB Jameis Winston's 3-game suspension for violating the personal conduct policy. Winston issued a statement and made no mention of appealing the ruling. "I now look forward to putting this behind me and I will continue to work hard every day to be a positive influence in my community and be the best person, teammate and leader I can be," Winston wrote. So he'll miss the first 3 games of the season against the Saints, Eagles and Steelers. He'll return for Week 4 before going on a Week 5 bye. It makes Winston undraftable in standard-sized, lineup-setting leagues -- but he still makes sense as a late-round QB2 or QB3 in best ball. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is the favorite to start those first 3 weeks but will likely only be an option in 2-QB leagues. Fitzpatrick should at least be able to keep the Bucs offense on track. Tampa averaged 24.5 points in the 4 games Fitzpatrick saw extensive action in last year.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Michael Cohen recently spotted Packers WR Randall Cobb with a walking boot on his right foot. Cobb called the boot "temporary," and a team source told Cohen that there's no concern about his availability for the start of the season. This obviously bears monitoring, though, with training camp about a month away. Cobb has been a nice value in early drafts, with an ADP sitting in the 8th round. For now, we'd still be comfortable taking him there.

Update: Cobb's injury is to his ankle and might limit him at the start of training camp, Cohen reports.

Patriots WR Malcolm Mitchell admitted that he's unsure if he'll be ready for the start of camp. Mitchell has a long history of knee issues dating back to his college days. He hurt his right knee late in the 2016 campaign, missed all of this past season and is evidently still being bothered by the issue. Mitchell finds plenty of opportunity this year with Brandin Cooks gone and Julian Edelman suspended for 4 games. But he can't capitalize if he's not the field. Jordan Matthews looks like the better late-round flier in the Patriots' WR corps right now.

The NFL is expected to suspend Bucs QB Jameis Winston 3 games for violating its personal conduct policy, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The ban stems from a March 2016 incident when Winston allegedly groped an Uber driver. Charges were never filed against Winston, but the NFL has taken a hard line in these situations since the Ray Rice debacle. Schefter does add that "the league still has not notified Winston of its official decision, and the circumstances surrounding it still could lead to an increase or decrease of the three games." So this doesn't sound officially official yet. But fantasy drafters should be planning for now on Winston missing the first 3 games of the season vs. the Saints, Eagles and Steelers. It's a blow to his best-ball value and makes him tough to draft in standard-sized lineup-setting leagues. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is in line to start while Winston serves his suspension. Fitzpatrick was serviceable in 5 appearances last year, completing 58.9% of his passes with 7 TDs vs. 3 INTs. He's unlikely to be more than a QB2 option -- especially with no teams on bye during those first 3 weeks -- but is at least capable of keeping the Bucs' skill-position guys afloat.

Jeff Cameron of ESPN Radio 97.9 in Tallahassee, Fla., reports that Bucs QB Jameis Winston and his "camp" expect a league suspension over 2016 charges that Winston groped a female Uber driver. Winston's crew reportedly expects "a maximum of 3 games." Guess we'll see about this case, which surrounds an ongoing investigation. Obviously, any missed time would alter Winston's fantasy outlook. Losing the 1st 3 weeks would cost him a trip to New Orleans plus home matchups with Philly and Pittsburgh. Those defenses ranked 5th, 8th and 7th, respectively, in Football Outsiders' pass-D efficiency last season.

Lions WR Kenny Golladay flashed with 17.0 yards per catch as a rookie, including 5 grabs of 40+ yards. He rolled that momentum into spring workouts, earning praise from the media, coaching staff and teammates. "I saw freakish catches, man," WR Golden Tate said of Golladay's spring. "Some real freakin' freakish catches. Kenny's still a young guy trying to figure it out, but he's moving at a great pace. If he can just keep the mentality he has coming in, he studies, and just tries to get better every day, I'm telling you, this guy can be dominant. He's a WR1 kind of guy." Golladay will open the season as Detroit's #3 WR but could siphon targets from both Tate and Marvin Jones. This is also a Lions offense that's ranked top 12 in passing yards in 8 straight seasons, including a 6th-place finish last year. So there's plenty of production to go around. Highlight Golladay as an upside target in the double-digit rounds of fantasy drafts.

Colts QB Andrew Luck threw in practice last week for the 1st time in about 8 months. Insider Albert Breer reports that Luck is now "deeper into his rehab without a major hiccup" than he's been since undergoing surgery on his throwing shoulder in January 2017. He's traveled this offseason to Los Angeles to work on his mechanics and to Amsterdam to learn about alternative training techniques, according to Breer. Luck still hasn't thrown in 11-on-11s, and his reps will be closely monitored when training camp opens. But he certainly seems to be trending in the right direction. Luck's ADP is sitting in the 11th round as the 17th QB off the board. He's a fine shot to take at that price tag.

Bryan Broaddus of Cowboys.com singled out WR Michael Gallup and TE Blake Jarwin when asked to name which pass-catchers have been in sync with QB Dak Prescott this spring. Dallas' WR and TE corps will look much different this season after the departures of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, who combined for 44.4% of the team's targets last year. Gallup, a 3rd-round rookie with an impressive combination of athleticism and college production, has a shot to emerge as the Cowboys' #1 WR in 2018. And Jarwin is in the mix for a significant role with Rico Gathers, Geoff Swaim and Dalton Schultz as his only competition. We'll be keeping a close eye on this pass-catching group all summer.

For the 2nd straight year, the NFL has suspended Cowboys DT David Irving for the 1st 4 weeks of the regular season. Per multiple reports, this suspension comes under the league's substance-abuse policy. (Last year's was for PEDs.) Irving spent much of this offseason away from the team or working off to the side, with coaches revealing only that he was working through some "personal" issues. In his absence, former Raiders DT Jihad Ward saw reps with the 1st team. Ward could step in for Irving early this season if his intriguing play carries over into padded practices. Irving, meanwhile, posted big IDP numbers after missing the 1st quarter of last season. So he should remain on IDP radars. Whether he'll make sense in your league will depend on your scoring, lineup settings and roster depth.

When asked about 2nd-year RB Elijah McGuire on Thursday, Jets RBs coach Stump Mitchell compared the former 6th-round pick to a hall of famer. “He has the skill set to be a LaDainian Tomlinson, if he was given that opportunity,” Mitchell said, per the New York Post. Frankly, that's a laughable comparison. It would be for just about any RB, given that Tomlinson ranks among the best ever. But Mitchell's opinion could put McGuire more in the mix for touches this season than we might have expected. Mitchell added that he "told David Johnson the same thing" about his skill set, when Mitchell coached Arizona RBs. Mitchell added that McGuire doesn't face such an opportunity with the Jets, but Isaiah Crowell might be the only RB locked into a big role. We're far from excited about McGuire, but we'll be curious to see if he generates any training camp buzz.

Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the Raiders "fear potential NFL discipline might be imminent" for WR Martavis Bryant. Gehlken said the team refused to comment but that it is "awaiting final word on the situation" which is "believed to pertain to the NFL's substance-abuse policy." Bryant, of course, already lost the whole 2016 season to a drug suspension. So it's hard to imagine any further discipline in that area would be light. If Bryant goes down for a significant stretch, then Jordy Nelson would likely get pushed back outside from his slot role. That would leave Seth Roberts and Ryan Switzer to compete for snaps inside. We'll see how this one plays out.

Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins have been garnering the fantasy attention in the Colts backfield. But insider Stephen Holder warns not to rule out Robert Turbin. "If there’s one thing this offseason has shown, it’s that Turbin seems to have an important place on this football team," Holder writes. Turbin has been getting a bunch of 1st-team snaps this spring. But we wouldn't consider that a surprise considering Mack is sidelined after shoulder surgery and Hines and Wilkins are rookies. Still, HC Frank Reich talked up Turbin's "size and power and strength" this week. Holder believes Turbin is in line to play a short-yardage, goal-line role in what will be a full-blown committee backfield. It'll certainly be a situation to monitor when training camp opens, but we're not ready to call Turbin an option in fantasy drafts.

Bills WR Zay Jones is on track to be ready for the start of training camp, HC Sean McDermott said Thursday. Jones had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder in January and then another procedure on his knee in May. That followed a dreadful rookie campaign that saw him haul in just 27 of 74 targets (36.5%) for 316 yards and 2 scores. There's plenty of opportunity in a thin Bills WR corps, but Jones has a lot to prove.

Cowboys HC Jason Garrett expects WR Terrance Williams to be ready for the start of training camp next month. He underwent surgery earlier this offseason to repair a Jones fracture to his foot. That's an injury that's caused complications and setbacks for plenty of guys, so we'll be keeping a close eye on Williams when he hits the field. There's still a boatload of opportunity for him in a passing game that lost WR Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten. But it's been a rough offseason for Williams, between the foot injury and a May arrest.

Bengals HC Marvin Lewis admitted on Wednesday that TE Tyler Eifert is uncertain for the start of training camp. It sounds like he's still recovering from October back surgery. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported in February that Eifert had been medically cleared -- and he was on the field for OTAs. But Lewis claims Eifert hasn't endured a setback. “There’s no reason to get him jostled,” Lewis explained. “Just ease his way into things. No setback. We’re trying to make sure we manage everything they want him to do." We'll see what Eifert is able to do when camp opens in late July. He remains 1 of the biggest injury risks in fantasy football.

The Saints on Wednesday agreed to a deal with RB Terrance West, according to NFL.com’s Herbie Teope. The move followed a tryout that reportedly included multiple veteran backs — plus DeMarco Murray declining an invitation. West has averaged a mere 3.9 yards per carry career and appeared in just 5 games last season for a Ravens offense seeking backfield answers. New Orleans clearly felt the need to tap a veteran to help fill the early Mark Ingram void. We’ll see if West can work his way into fantasy relevance. If nothing else, he’s in the right place for it.

Bucs WR Chris Godwin lined up on the outside with the 1st-team offense during Tuesday's minicamp session, according to Pewter Report's Trevor Sikkema. Mike Evans was the other outside WR, with DeSean Jackson in the slot. This is clearly Tampa's most dangerous 3-WR grouping (despite how reliable Adam Humphries has been) and would make Godwin a potential breakout candidate this year. He closed his rookie campaign with 10 catches for 209 yards and a score over the final 2 weeks and has been buzzing all spring. We'll continue to watch how this WR corps shapes up. Jameis Winston, meanwhile, continues to look like 1 of the most undervalued QBs in early fantasy drafts.

Bengals TE Tyler Eifert did not participate in Tuesday's minicamp workout. This wouldn't earn a Shark Bite for most guys, but Eifert isn't most guys. He's missed 41 games over 5 NFL seasons and had back surgery in October and surgery to remove a cyst on his knee in November. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported in February that Eifert had been medically cleared. It's unclear what's keeping him sidelined now. "As time goes on when we start to play football then we will have an idea of where he is," HC Marvis Lewis said Tuesday. We'll continue to keep a close eye on Eifert. He's lasting until the 11th round of recent best-ball drafts.

 
 
 

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