Patriots TE Ben Watson has been suspended 4 games for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. Watson admitted in a Facebook post that he took a banned substance after he announced his retirement earlier this offseason. The Pats knew of the impending ban when they signed Watson, so it shouldn't impact his odds of making the team. But it makes him pretty much undraftable in fantasy drafts. Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Matt LaCosse figure to open the season atop New England's TE depth chart.
TE Ben Watson has inked a 1-year, $3 million deal with the Patriots. The 38-year-old has remained effective, posting a 74-825-6 line with the Saints in 2016, a 61-522-4 with the Ravens in 2017 and a 35-400-2 back in New Orleans last year. He spent his first 6 NFL seasons with the Patriots, including 3 under current OC Josh McDaniels. Watson will battle with talented but oft-injured Austin Seferian-Jenkins for targets this season. It's worth noting that ASJ's 1-year deal is for less than a million bucks. Consider Watson the early favorite.
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 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.
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.
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.
Patriots RB Rex Burkhead (neck) is active for today’s game against the Vikings. He shouldn’t be in fantasy lineups in his 1st action since Week 3, but we’re curious to see how much work he steals from Sony Michel and James White.
Patriots WR Julian Edelman's ankle injury is "not considered serious," ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. "He's not expected to miss much, if any, time," Schefter adds. Edelman is helped by New England's Week 11 bye. It sounds like he has a shot to be ready come Week 12. We'll keep an eye on him when the Pats return to practice next week.
Patriots WR Julian Edelman left in the 4th quarter of Sunday's game in Tennessee with an ankle injury. He's officially questionable to return -- but don't expect to see him back out there with New England down big. We'll look for an update on Edelman's status.
Patriots RB Sony Michel (knee) is active for today’s game against the Titans. It’ll be his 1st action since Week 7, which adds some risk to his outlook. But Michel racked up 316 yards and 4 TDs on 67 carries in his last 3 healthy games, so there’s clearly RB1 upside here.
The Patriots expect RB Sony Michel to return for today's game against the Titans, according to multiple reports. He missed the past 2 weeks with an ankle injury. We'll see if WR Cordarrelle Patterson has worked his way into a larger share of rushing duties going forward, but you'll find Michel inside starter range in our Week 10 RB rankings.
Patriots RB Sony Michel (knee) was limited in practice all week and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Titans. It’s the same boat he was in last week before ending up inactive. But ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Monday that Michel is "likely" to return this week. We'll find out for sure by noon ET on Sunday. The rookie will be a risk/reward RB2 if active.
Patriots RB Rex Burkhead (neck) returned to practice on Thursday, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss. Burkhead appears on track to play when 1st eligible in Week 13. He figures to be 3rd in the backfield pecking order, though, behind James White and Sony Michel. We'd leave Burkhead on the waiver wire for now outside of deep fantasy leagues.
Browns LB Jamie Collins missed Wednesday's practice with a sprained ankle but is expected to return Thursday, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. We'll keep an eye on Collins' status heading into the weekend.
Patriots RB Sony Michel (knee) was limited in Wednesday's practice. He was limited all last week, too, so this doesn't tell us much. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported earlier this week, though, that Michel is "likely" to return for Sunday's game against the Titans. We'll see if he's able to get in a full workout Thursday or Friday.
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