The Patriots grabbed Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham in the 4th round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Stidham started his college career at Baylor, completing 75 of 109 passes (68.8%) for 1,265 yards, 12 TDs and 2 INTs in spot duty. He then transferred to Auburn, where he started the past 2 seasons. Stidham turned in an impressive 2017, completing 66.5% of his passes and averaging 8.5 yards per attempt. But his numbers sunk across the board this past year: 60.7% completion rate and 7.6 yards per attempt. Stidham will be the latest to attempt to become Tom Brady’s successor in New England.
The Patriots added Alabama RB Damien Harris in the 3rd round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The #1 RB in the 2015 recruiting class led talented ‘Bama backfields in rushing in each of the past 3 seasons: 1,037 yards in 2016, 1,000 in 2017 and 876 this past year. He leaves school with a strong 6.4 yards per carry (half a yard better than Josh Jacobs) and also totaled 52 catches across his 4 years on campus. Harris isn’t a flashy back, but he packs a punch at 5’10, 216 pounds and registered a solid 46th percentile SPARQ score at the Combine. The pick feels a bit redundant for the Patriots, who have Sony Michel coming off an impressive season as lead ball-carrier. But Michel has a long injury history, including a knee injury last August that cost him the season’s first 3 games.
The Patriots spent a 3rd-round pick in the NFL Draft on edge player Chase Winovich from Michigan. Winovich outproduced 1st-round teammate Rashan Gary, including 34.5 tackles for loss over the past 2 years. He then blew up the Combine with the class' 6th-best speed score, the 3rd-best 3-cone time and the top short-shuttle time. He also ranked 4th in the class among EDGE players in Pro Football Focus' pass-rush win percentage and 2nd in run-stop percentage. We'll see whether Winovich settles in as a DE or LB for New England, but there's clearly IDP upside either way.
The Patriots selected Arizona State WR N’Keal Harry with the 32nd pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. The #1 WR in the 2016 recruiting class led the Sun Devils in catches and receiving TDs as a true freshman. Then he busted out for 82 grabs, 1,142 yards and 8 scores as a sophomore. The catches and yards both ranked top 14 in the country. Harry posted a 73-1,088-9 line this past season, accounting for 32.0% of Arizona State’s receptions, 37.6% of the receiving yards and 47.4% of the receiving TDs. Those market shares rank 4th, 6th and 5th among the 48 WRs invited to this year’s Combine. The 6’3, 225-pounder ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash with a 38.5-inch vertical in Indianapolis to earn a 75th percentile SPARQ score. The tape shows a guy who’s dominant in contested situations and dangerous after the catch. Harry was the #1 player in our Pre-Draft Dynasty Rookie Rankings and will very likely stay there in the post-draft list. He has a clear path to 2019 fantasy value in a WR corps consisting of Julian Edelman, Demaryius Thomas and Phillip Dorsett.
WR Phillip Dorsett has re-signed with the Patriots on a 1-year deal. The former 1st-rounder evolved into a short-range target in New England last season, hauling in 76.2% of his targets but averaging just 9.1 yards per catch. He has a shot to take on a bigger role in 2019 with Chris Hogan a free agent and Cordarrelle Patterson off to Chicago. But we'd bet on the Pats making some additions to their WR room.
The Patriots have placed an original-round tender on restricted free agent WR Josh Gordon. That means he'll get a 1-year, $2.025 million contract from New England if he doesn't sign elsewhere. And signing elsewhere seems unlikely for Gordon, whose status remains uncertain following his latest drug-program violation. The Browns originally spent a 2nd-round pick on Gordon in the supplemental draft, so it looks like any new team would have to give such a pick to New England to sign Gordon.
The Patriots have reached a deal to acquire DL MIchael Bennett from the Eagles for a mere swap of picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. Philly gets a 2020 fifth-rounder in exchange for a 2020 pick in Round 7. New England gets a veteran D-lineman capable of playing on the edge or inside. Bennett played the large majority of his snaps in edge spots for the Eagles last year. Pro Football Focus credited him with 68 total pressures, tied for 5th most among edge players. And that came with Bennett turning 33 in November. He has played all 16 games the past 2 years and 6 of the past 7 years. Bennett hasn't posted big sack numbers -- reaching 10 just once and never exceeding that total. But he's a real-life asset and capable of DL2 production. He'll help a New England front 7 that might yet lose DE Trey Flowers to free agency.
The Browns announced Wednesday that they've released LB Jamie Collins. The move provides $9.25 million in cap space ahead of free agency. Collins arrived via trade midway through the 2016 season and then signed a 4-year extension the following January. He made it through just 2 years of that contract. Collins rebounded from losing 10 games to injury in 2017 and played every contest last season. He finished in high-LB3 territory for fantasy purposes. Collins should garner at least 1 more starting opportunity. He'll turn 30 in mid-October.
NESN's Doug Kyed reports that a return to the Patriots is "still possible" for WR Josh Gordon. He's currently serving an indefinite suspension after turning in diluted drug test samples. Gordon is reportedly in a Gainesville-area rehab center, where his treatment is being paid for by the Pats. We wouldn't consider him any better than 50/50 to get back on an NFL field -- but the 27-year-old is still worth stashing in most dynasty leagues.
Saints TE Ben Watson (appendicitis) is out for Sunday's game against the Rams. He's averaged just 2.2 targets per game over the last 5 while playing less than 50% of the offensive snaps, so it's not a major loss. Josh Hill should serve as New Orleans' lead TE this weekend, and TE Dan Arnold figures to be active after being a healthy scratch in the Divisional Round.
Eagles DE Michael Bennett (foot) is questionable for Sunday's game against the Bears. Bennett has played through "questionable" tags for weeks and put in a full practice Friday. Expect him to be in the lineup.
Broncos TE Matt LaCosse (ankle) isn’t listed on the final Week 17 injury report. He’ll return for Sunday’s game against the Chargers but is a weak fantasy play.
Broncos TE Matt LaCosse (ankle) is inactive for tonight's game against the Raiders. He opened the week on the sideline but returned for a pair of limited practices. That leaves the Broncos with Brian Parker -- who has seen 7 targets on the year -- as their top available TE.
Eagles DE Michael Bennett (foot) is active for today's game against the Texans. He has played through questionable tags for several weeks and is fine for usual IDP usage in a high-upside matchup.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport hears that it's "possible" WR Josh Gordon is reinstated for the 2019 season. He's suspended indefinitely and will need to show the league he's clean for a "sustained period of time," according to Rapoport. Frankly, we weren't betting on Gordon ever stepping on an NFL field again. So hearing that he could be back next season is surprising. Still just 27, Gordon is worth stashing in most dynasty leagues.
Patriots WR Josh Gordon announced Thursday that he's stepping away from the team to focus on his mental health. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports that Gordon is facing another indefinite suspension for violating terms of his reinstatement under the substance abuse policy. Don't expect to see him on the field again this season -- and this could spell the end of Gordon's NFL career. It's obviously a significant loss for the Patriots. Gordon has played over 70% of New England offensive snaps since arriving and averaged 6.2 targets per game. WR Chris Hogan would seem like the big winner, but he averaged just 4.7 targets and 2.3 catches over the first 3 weeks before the Gordon trade. We should see some more WR Cordarrelle Patterson, while WR Julian Edelman, TE Rob Gronkowski and RB James White could also pick up an extra target or 2.
Update: Gordon has been suspended indefinitely for violating the terms of his reinstatement under the substance abuse policy. It's the 5th suspension of his NFL career and could result in permanent banishment from the league.
Eagles DE Michael Bennett (foot) is active for tonight's game against the Rams. He has played through multiple questionable tags and is fine to use if you waited for him in IDP lineups.
Eagles DE Michael Bennett (foot) is questionable for Sunday night's game against the Rams. Bennett played through questionable tags each of the past 2 weeks and put in a full Friday practice this week. Expect Bennett to play Sunday night, albeit in a poor matchup for sack upside.
Eagles DE Michael Bennett (foot) is active for today's game against the Cowboys. He delivered 2 sacks in the 1st meeting with Dallas and is an upside option for IDP lineups today.
Eagles DL Michael Bennett (foot) is questionable for Sunday's game against the Cowboys. He opened the practice week with a limited Wednesday workout before sitting out Wednesday and then returning to a full practice Friday. It's a strange progression, but the full-practice finish makes Bennett look likely to play. We'll check his status Sunday afternoon.
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