Shark Bites

ESPN's Ed Werder reports the Cowboys recently offered Ezekiel Elliott a contract that would make him 1 of the 2 highest-paid RBs in the league. That presumably means Zeke would be making more than #3 Le'Veon Bell but less than #1 Todd Gurley. We'll see if Elliott holds out for even more, but this certainly qualifies as a step in the right direction in negotiations. We're still expecting Elliott to be signed and on the field come Week 1.

The Chicago Tribune's Dan Wiederer believes WR Anthony Miller (ankle) could be limited early on this season. The 2nd-year wideout has been sidelined for almost 2 weeks now with his sprained ankle. And he spent most of the offseason rehabbing from January shoulder surgery. When healthy, Miller remains a good bet to be Chicago's #2 WR. But the durability problems make him just a late-round flier in fantasy drafts.

The Cardinals have signed WR Michael Crabtree. The veteran worked out for Arizona in early August and was reportedly close to signing before the deal fell apart. But it's official now. Perhaps the Cardinals got a little more desperate with WR Hakeem Butler expected to miss the season and Week 1 just a couple of weeks away. Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald are seemingly locked in as Arizona's top 2 WRs. Rookie KeeSean Johnson is the favorite for #3 duties, but it's a fluid situation. Crabtree's spot on the depth chart will be worth monitoring.

The Cowboys "hope" to get WR Amari Cooper back on the practice field next week, according to insider Clarence Hill. Cooper has been sidelined for almost 2 weeks now with plantar fasciitis. But he has no doubt that he'll be ready for Week 1, even if he needs to play through the foot issue. “I mean I played with a lot of foot injuries,” he said, noting that he had this same problem as a sophomore at Alabama and during his rookie season. “So I’m pretty good at playing with foot injuries. But I don’t think I’m going to have to play with it.” Cooper added that the pain has subsided over the past couple of weeks, currently putting his pain level at 3 on a scale of 1-10. The plantar fasciitis adds some risk to Cooper's fantasy outlook, but he's still a fine pick at his mid-3rd-round ADP.

Nate Taylor of The Athletic tweeted Tuesday that Chiefs rookie RB Darwin Thompson "appears to have leaped" over Carlos Hyde on the depth chart. That comes amid reports that Thompson has been splitting 1st-team reps with Damien Williams in practice this week. Hyde, meanwhile, has generated no positive buzz that we've seen. Thompson remains a draft value as of now, with an ADP in the middle of Round 12 in Draft.com 12-team, best-ball drafting this week. But we wouldn't be surprised if he climbs over the next week or so. Beware of reaching for the rookie too early, but the high-ceiling situation will keep him in consideration.

Insider Jay Glazer writes that Rams WR Cooper Kupp might just be better now than before he tore his ACL last November. "All his test scores, coming out of his breaks, agility, quickness, every test timed better than it was before he tore his ACL," according to Glazer. It's another in a long list of glowing reports on Kupp's recovery from that shredded knee. His ADP has climbed to WR21 -- but he's still capable of returning value at that price tag. Kupp ranked 15th among WRs in PPR points per game last year.

Chargers WR Keenan Allen is already back at practice after injuring his ankle last week. "He’s in great shape, explosive and looks really good," HC Ken Whisenhunt said on Wednesday. "In practice today, he looked good again. He rolled his ankle a little bit last week and he was back out there today. I’m really excited about Keenan." Allen won't play in the final 2 preseason games but is clearly on track to be ready for Week 1. He remains a safe pick in the 3rd round of fantasy drafts.

Redskins insider JP Finlay "wouldn't be shocked" if WR Josh Doctson was cut before Week 1. "What I can tell you from sources, they've tried to trade Doctson for two years. They haven't been able to trade him," Finlay said. "The athletic ability is there, but it never all comes together. I wouldn't be shocked if Josh Doctson gets cut when they go down to 53. I don't expect it to happen, but Jay Gruden and the front office made a big proclamation when they didn't pick up that [5th-year] option." Finlay went on to say that Paul Richardson, Trey Quinn and Terry McLaurin are all ahead of Doctson on the depth chart. Doctson is obviously off the redraft radar, and his dynasty stock continues to sink.

Chargers RB Melvin Gordon's holdout is now expected to last into the regular season, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. "Contract talks have not progressed as he hoped," Rapoport says. "The relationship between Gordon and the Chargers is fine. There's a mutual respect. There's just a disagreement over the value of Gordon." We're still 2-and-a-half week away from the start of the season, so we're not convinced that Gordon is a lock to miss games at this point. But with seemingly little progress being made on a new contract, the odds of him sitting out games is certainly growing. Gordon's ADP has sunk into the 4th round in recent fantasy drafts.

Broncos HC Vic Fangio expects TE Noah Fant to be ready for Week 1 after spraining his ankle in Monday night's preseason game. The rookie was targeted on 3 of QB Joe Flacco's 11 attempts in that one, catching 2 for 7 yards. If healthy, Fant looks set to open the season with a significant role in this passing game. He's on the TE2 radar.

Eagles insider Jimmy Kempski writes that RB Miles Sanders has "quelled concerns about his ability in pass protection and as a receiver out of the backfield." The rookie hasn't caught a pass through 2 preseason games but did have a nice blitz pickup in the 2nd exhibition. Passing-game usage has been our biggest concern with Sanders' 2019 fantasy production. We're still not expecting huge receiving numbers, but we did just boost his projections there.

Bears HC Matt Nagy believes he "probably gave [RB Tarik Cohen] a little bit too much" last season. ‘‘And when you mentally drain them, it pulls them back physically," Nagy explained. Cohen played 46% of the Bears' offensive snaps in 2018, averaging 6.2 carries and 5.7 targets per game. We currently have him projected for 5.4 carries and 5.1 targets per game this year, so we're buying a reduced workload. The offshoot here is that less work for Cohen could mean more work for rookie RB David Montgomery.

The Cowboys on Tuesday activated DE DeMarcus Lawrence from the PUP. He had missed all of training camp after April surgery for a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The joint had reportedly bothered him for 2 seasons. We'll keep an eye on reports of his progress, but Lawrence returning a couple of weeks before the start of the season is a good sign that the star pass rusher will be able to help the Dallas defense and our IDP lineups.

Bengals HC Zac Taylor expects WR John Ross (hamstring) to be ready for Week 1. The oft-injured wideout has been sidelined since early July with his latest ailment. If healthy, he figures to serve as Cincinnati's #2 WR until A.J. Green is ready to return from his ankle injury. It'll still be tough to consider Ross more than a DFS flier, though. He's been completely unreliable through his first 2 NFL seasons.

The Chargers have signed WR Dontrelle Inman, who was released by the Patriots over the weekend. Inman spent the first 3+ seasons of his career with the Chargers, including a 58-810-4 2016 campaign. With nothing behind Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Travis Benjamin on Los Angeles' WR depth chart, Inman could quickly emerge as the #4. Even then, though, he'd need an injury to 1 of the guys in front of him to have a shot at fantasy value.

Patriots WR Demaryius Thomas was activated from the PUP list on Tuesday. He's spent the offseason rehabbing last December's torn Achilles. The 31-year-old looked like a player in decline even before that injury, so we're not betting on him making much of an impact in 2019. Of course, Josh Gordon's return did nothing to help Thomas' chances.

Raiders WR Antonio Brown was on the field for Tuesday's practice with a certified helmet, according to HC Jon Gruden. “He’s all in. Ready to go," Gruden said. Brown filed another grievance against the NFL on Monday. But, at least for now, it looks like he's willing to play with a legal helmet while that situation is ongoing. Hopefully this is our last update on HelmetGate.

Broncos QB Drew Lock suffered a "bad sprain" to his right thumb in Monday night's preseason game against the 49ers, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Lock doesn't need surgery, but he's expected to be sidelined into the regular season, reports insider Mike Klis. Lock wasn't threatening QB Joe Flacco's starting job anyway, and this injury kills any chance he had to hit the field early this year.

Cardinals WR Hakeem Butler is sidelined with an avulsion fracture in his hand, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. (An avulsion fracture occurs when a tendon or ligament pulls off a piece of the bone.) The team is reportedly considering placing Butler on IR. The rookie has been buried on Arizona's depth chart and was a long shot for 2019 fantasy value anyway. He remains an intriguing stash in dynasty leagues.

The Athletic's Zak Keefer tweets that there's "no guarantee" that WR Parris Campbell (hamstring) is ready for Week 1. The rookie has been sidelined for about 3 weeks now with his bum hammy, and HC Frank Reich hinted on Tuesday that Campbell won't practice this week. He was buzzing early in camp and should emerge as the Colts' #3 WR quickly once he gets healthy. But it doesn't look like Campbell will be an early-season fantasy option.

 
 
 

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