Shark Bites

Patriots QB Tom Brady played the entire 1st half of Thursday night's preseason game against the Eagles. He finished 19 of 26 for 172 yards and 2 TDs -- 1 to WR Chris Hogan and 1 to RB James White. Brady had been limited in training camp with a back issue but looked no worse for wear in this one. He remains 1 of the top QBs in fantasy football -- and worth a look if he gets into the 7th round of fantasy drafts.

Saints WR Cameron Meredith has missed several straight days of practice -- along with the 1st preseason game -- while dealing with an undisclosed injury. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that the issue is not Meredith's surgically repaired left knee, but that's all we know. Meredith on Tuesday tweeted, "So many obstacles on my path, trying to test my perseverance." We'll see if any further info on his situation comes out and/or when Meredith returns to the field. Until then, it might be a good idea to back off him in best-ball drafts a bit. Rookie Tre'Quan Smith, on the other hand, gains late-round intrigue as long as Meredith remains sidelined.

Update: Meredith returned to practice Tuesday, according to Nick Underhill of The New Orleans Advocate.

Patriots RB Rex Burkhead missed the preseason opener and the last 2 practices with an undisclosed injury. We'll see how long he remains sidelined, but it's worth noting after he struggled staying healthy last year. Burkhead missed 4 games with a rib injury and 3 more (including a playoff game) with a sprained knee. RB Sony Michel remains out with his knee issue, leaving James White, Jeremy Hill and Mike Gillislee as New England's healthy backs. Hill out-played Gillislee in the preseason opener and has reportedly gotten more 1st-teams reps since.

Patriots QB Tom Brady is dealing with a sore back, according to the Boston Globe. He's reportedly been limited in training camp for about a week. "Not much cause for concern," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweeted. Brady, of course, has been remarkably durable throughout his career. He hasn't missed a game due to injury since his torn ACL in 2008. Brady turned 41 earlier this month, though, so any issue like this is worth monitoring.

Browns GM John Dorsey admitted before Thursday night's preseason opener that he has no timetable for WR Josh Gordon's return to the team. Asked if he's still confident Gordon will be back soon, Dorsey gave a non-answer: "We’ll see when he gets there." Insider Mary Kay Cabot reported earlier this week that Gordon was "getting closer to returning," but Dorsey seems much less optimistic. Gordon becomes a riskier and riskier fantasy pick the longer he's away from the team. His recent ADP is still sitting in the early 5th round.

Browns insider Mary Kay Cabot hears that WR Josh Gordon is "getting closer to returning" to the team. He's now missed about 2 weeks of camp as he continues to train and work on his mental health in Gainesville, Florida. Cabot's report adds that the Browns are "confident" that Gordon "will be back soon." There's still no concrete timetable here, though, and we're now about a month from the start of the season. Gordon remains a high-risk pick in fantasy drafts right now -- albeit one with plenty of upside. His ADP has dropped from 42nd overall pre-suspension to 50th overall since the start of August. That's still too rich for our tastes.

Patriots rookie RB Sony Michel will require a "procedure" for a knee injury he suffered in practice Wednesday, according to The Athletic's Jeff Howe. The recovery is expected to cost Michel the entire preseason and might keep him sidelined "into the start" of the regular season. That's obviously terrible news for the fantasy outlook of a rookie back, especially one competing with Rex Burkhead and James White for backfield snaps and touches. We'll see how sharply Michel's ADP falls. He'll likely need to get to the Round 8 range or so in 12-team drafts to be worth the risk. Burkhead, meanwhile, should climb from an ADP that has already been ascending. Don't be surprised if we start to see him regularly go in Round 4.

Update: ESPN's Mike Reiss reports that Michel had fluid drained from the knee and that the situation "is not expected to affect Michel's availability for a significant portion, if any, of the regular season." We've moved Michel down our RB rankings and Burkhead up, but we'll keep watching for any further updates on this issue.

Saints WR Cameron Meredith (knee) avoided the PUP list and is ready for the start of training camp. He's nearly 12 months removed from tearing his ACL and MCL and has had a smooth rehab. Meredith is the favorite for #2 WR duties in New Orleans -- a role that would give him a good shot at WR3 fantasy production. He's a value at his 12th-round ADP.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Browns WR Josh Gordon is staying away from training camp right now as he deals with "mental health and anxiety" issues. He's reportedly struggled with anxiety for a while and previously turned to drugs and alcohol to help cope. Schefter hears that the Browns do expect Gordon to report, but that there's no exact timetable for that to happen. Already a risky fantasy pick at his 4th-round ADP, Gordon should be hands-off at that price tag right now.

Browns WR Josh Gordon announced on Monday that he'll miss the start of training camp as "part of [his] overall health and treatment plan." Gordon, of course, has long battled substance-abuse issues. He added, "I am not only doing great physically but mentally as well ... I am excited to start the season and I have every intention of being ready and available to join my teammates soon to help bring winning football to our fans." Gordon didn't reveal when he'll report to the team, though. This will obviously be a situation to monitor closely. And it's a reminder that Gordon carries tons of risk at his 4th-round ADP.

Saints WR Cameron Meredith is happy with his recovery from last August's torn ACL and MCL and expects to be ready for the start of training camp. “On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s almost a 10. I haven’t had a setback along the recovery process,” Meredith said. “I’m gaining strength day by day, month by month. I’m excited to see how soon I can get back… But the main objective for me is to do as much as I can with the trainers to get ready for the season. My goal is to try and get back to training camp. As long as there aren’t any setbacks or anything like that, it shouldn’t be a problem.” Meredith can use all the reps he can get in HC Sean Payton's offense and with QB Drew Brees. If he's healthy and comfortable in the offense, he has a good shot to emerge as the Saints' #2 WR -- a role that would make him a major fantasy factor. Meredith is well worth a shot at his 12th-round ADP.

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.

Patriots WR Julian Edelman is facing a 4-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Edelman has appealed the ban, so we'll see if it gets reduced. But fantasy owners should now be drafting as if he'll miss the first 4 games of the season. Edelman is returning from last August's torn ACL but had averaged 9.6 targets per game over the previous 3 seasons. So this is a big opportunity opening up in an offense that's finished top 12 in passing yards in an incredible 16 straight years. WR Chris Hogan is a good bet to serve as New England's #1 WR during Edelman's suspension. Jordan Matthews, Malcolm Mitchell, Kenny Britt, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson will battle for snaps behind Hogan.

Saints HC Sean Payton told NOLA.com this week that WR Cameron Meredith is ahead of schedule in his return from last year's left ACL tear. That's often said of recovering players, but Meredith showed off his progress by taking part in OTA workouts. The Saints gave him $9.5 million on a 2-year contract as a restricted free agent and could turn Meredith into their #2 WR in targets as soon as this year -- if he can avoid setbacks.

Patriots QB Tom Brady will not be in attendance as the team kicks off OTAs on Monday, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. These are voluntary workouts, but Brady has showed up for them in years past. He's reportedly aiming to spending more time with his family this offseason and is presumably preparing for the 2018 campaign with trainer Alex Guerrero. This story figures to be overblown only because it's Brady. He's already committed to playing this year, and skipping May OTAs won't impact his performance.

The Patriots selected Georgia RB Sony Michel with the 31st overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. It’s the first 1st-round RB for New England since Laurence Maroney in 2006. That didn’t work out so well, but Michel has the potential to fare much better. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry across his 4-year college career and flashed pass-catching ability with seasons of 26 and 22 grabs. Michel is electric in the open field with surprising power. The biggest concern is a lengthy injury history that includes a torn ACL and a pair of ankle injuries. This is a exciting landing spot for Michel. New England’s backfield is crowded on paper, but Rex Burkhead, James White, Jeremy Hill and Mike Gillislee are all role players. Consider Michel the odds-on favorite to lead the 2018 backfield in touches.

The Colts plan to switch to a 4-3 base front on defense this season, which will include shifting OLB John Simon to DE. GM Chris Ballard spoke to that Friday and said he expects it to be a positive move for his top 3 edge players. “At the end of the day, even in the 3-4, you’re still in a four-man front," Ballard said, per the Indianapolis Star. "It’s the difference between putting your hand on the ground and standing up. John Simon played in a 4-3 at Ohio State, so he’s done it before. Great effort, he’s strong. He’ll fit in.” Simon tallied 16 sacks and 30.5 total tackles for loss over his final 2 Buckeye seasons. At 6'1, 250 pounds, though, he'll be challenged as a full-time DE -- especially on the right side. We'll see exactly how the playing time breaks down among Simon, Jabaal Sheard and 2017 rookie Tarell Basham. Sheard has played various schemes and delivered 13 sacks over 2 injury-impacted seasons as a 4-3 DE with the Patriots. Basham played 4-3 DE in college and reportedly struggled with the transition to standup rusher last season. There's potential IDP value to all 3. We'll evaluate the situation as we move into summer.

The Bears have declined to match the Saints' offer to WR Cameron Meredith. So he'll head to New Orleans on a 2-year, $9.6 million deal. Meredith is rehabbing from a late-August torn ACL and MCL but flashed back in 2016 with a 66-888-4 line. He's still just 25 and owns a 74th percentile SPARQ score. He should at least settle in as the Saints' #3 WR and could even push Ted Ginn for 2nd on the team in targets behind Michael Thomas.

WR Cameron Meredith has signed a 2-year, $10 million offer sheet with the Saints, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The Bears tendered the restricted free agent at the original-round level. That means New Orleans will owe Chicago no compensation, but the Bears get a chance to match the offer. Meredith missed all of last season after tearing his left ACL and MCL, so we'll need to watch his progress this offseason and see exactly when he's ready for full practice. If Meredith's good to go in plenty of time, he'll be in an interesting situation. New Orleans has been a passing-game party for most of Drew Brees' time there, but only Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara topped 70 targets among Saints last year. Ted Ginn drew 70 to rank 3rd on the team and 2nd among Saints WRs. A healthy Meredith could challenge Ginn's status as the #2 WR and approach Willie Snead's 2016 role. We would bet on a bit more passing from the Saints this year, though also not a total swing back from the 2017 rushing emphasis. Meredith makes for an upside late-round pick in best-ball drafts right now. His arrival adds a bit of risk to Ginn but certainly doesn't kill his value.

The Saints have signed TE Ben Watson to a 1-year deal. The 37-year-old made an impressive return last season from a torn Achilles, hauling in 61 of 79 targets (77.2% catch rate). He averaged just 8.6 yards per catch, though, and doesn't offer much playmaking ability at this point. It's certainly worth noting that Watson has plenty of experience with HC Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees, spending 2013 to 2015 in New Orleans. His arrival could spell the end of TE Coby Fleener's time with the Saints. That'd leave the team with Watson and Josh Hill. We'll see if they add to the position in the draft, but whoever the Saints deploy as their lead pass-catching TE will have some fantasy appeal.

 
 
 

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