Shark Bites

Patriots RB Sony Michel (knee) was limited in Wednesday's practice. He's been practicing for about a week now but still isn't a full-go. His availability for Week 1 remains uncertain -- but he'll be tough to trust in fantasy lineups even if he ends up active against the Texans on Sunday. RB Rex Burkhead (knee), meanwhile, isn't listed on the injury report and will serve as New England's lead back in the opener.

Patriots RB Sony Michel (knee) returned to practice this week but remains limited. “He’s progressing pretty well,” RBs coach Ivan Fears said. “He’s still under doctors’ care — they haven’t totally freed him up for us to do everything with him, so we’re doing everything we possibly can to keep him up to date. Anything we can do, walkthrough-wise, that’s not going to be a problem ... We’re keeping him up to date, but until he’s totally turned loose, he’s still limited right now.” Michel's Week 1 availability "remains unknown," according to the Boston Herald's Kevin Duffy. We won't be able to trust the rookie in early-season fantasy lineups, but there's still intriguing upside here. Michel is worth a look if he gets into the 7th or 8th round of drafts.

Patriots RB Sony Michel (knee) returned to practice on Monday, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss. It's unclear how much work the rookie got in, but this is at least a step in the right direction. Michel has been sidelined since early August after having a procedure to drain fluid from his knee. Missing so much time figures to leave him with a limited role early in the season -- but he's capable of quickly carving out a significant workload in 1 of the league's most productive backfields. Michel's current ADP sitting in the mid-8th round. He's a risk/reward pick there.

Patriots RB Sony Michel remains sidelined after having fluid drained from his knee in early August. He's now missed 10 straight practices and 2 preseason games, with his last on-field work coming on August 1. Michel's availability for Week 1 remains uncertain, and it's tough to see the rookie playing a significant early-season role after missing so much time. We'll continue to monitor his progress. Michel's ADP over the last week is sitting in the mid-6th round.

Saints TE Ben Watson "still looks like he's in the prime of his career," according to insider Joel Erickson. He's "made eye-popping, contested catches a normal occurrence in his return to the Saints," Erickson writes. Watson is 37 now but racked up 61 catches in Baltimore last season. And he has 3 years of experience in the Saints offense, including a 74-825-6 line back in 2015. There hasn't been much buzz on Watson, but he appears locked in as New Orleans' lead TE. And he's remained dirt cheap, with an ADP sitting in the 16th round.

Patriots RB Rex Burkhead (knee) returned to practice on Sunday. He ended up missing a couple of weeks -- plus the first 2 preseason games -- with what insider Jeff Howe reported is a "slight tear" in his knee. We'll be keeping a close eye on Burkhead over the next few weeks. If healthy, he should open the season as New England's lead ball-carrier. RB Sony Michel remains sidelined with his knee issue.

The Athletic's Jeff Howe reports that Patriots RB Rex Burkhead has a "slight tear" in his knee. "But it’s been deemed a minor injury and something he’ll be able to play through," Howe adds. This remains a murky situation (as usual with the Patriots), and no other media members have reported on Burkhead's injury as of Friday morning. We'll continue to look for updates, but Burkhead obviously comes with plenty of risk in drafts right now. It's completely unclear what's torn in his knee, how effective he'll be playing through it and how long it'll hold up. New England, of course, is still without rookie RB Sony Michel, who had fluid drained from his knee a couple of weeks ago. That leaves Jeremy Hill and Mike Gillislee as the healthy early-down backs. Both guys saw time with the 1st-team offense in Thursday night's preseason game, but Hill again out-performed Gillislee. The former Bengal is averaging 4.8 yards per carry through 2 exhibitions vs. Gillislee's 2.8. Hill is looking more and more intriguing as a late-round flier by the day.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

The Patriots on Wednesday agreed to a 3-year deal to keep RB Rex Burkhead on the roster, NFL Network reports. Burkhead finished top-20 in points per game among RBs in PPR scoring last season. Dion Lewis has left town, and Mike Gillislee looks like less of a factor than anyone expected heading into 2017. We'll see if New England adds any other significant backfield pieces, but Burkhead looks like a solid RB2 in fantasy football drafts at the moment.

The Patriots expect WR Julian Edelman to be ready in time for training camp this summer, according to the Boston Herald. Edelman tore his right ACL in August, timing that seemed unlikely to threaten his 2018 readiness all along. We'll certainly keep tabs on him as the coming season approaches. Edelman's a potentially strong value in early best-ball fantasy football drafts.

Josh McDaniels will not accept the Colts' HC job and instead stay on as the Patriots' OC, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The decision obviously blindsided the Colts, who announced the hiring of McDaniels earlier today and had a press conference scheduled for tomorrow. Per Schefter, the Pats "sweetened" McDaniels' contract -- but McDaniels also had reservations about moving his family from New England. The decision is sure to fuel speculation that HC Bill Belichick is about to step down, but Schefter is adamant that that's not the case. McDaniels' return as OC is good news for QB Tom Brady and the rest of the Pats offense. We'll see who the Colts hire as Plan B.

 
 
 

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