Browns WR Josh Gordon has been cleared to participate in walkthroughs, HC Hue Jackson said Friday. "Josh Gordon will be at practice every day, but you are asking if he will be practicing. Probably - again he is into the second phase of where I want him to be,'' said Jackson. "He'll definitely be involved in walk-throughs now. How much he does will be in proportion of what I see and where he is." Jackson added that he'd be open to playing Gordon in the preseason finale, presuming he's allowed. This situation remains murky -- and we're just about 2 weeks away from the start of the season. Gordon remains an extremely risky pick at his late-4th-round ADP.
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.
Browns HC Hue Jackson said there's "a chance" WR Josh Gordon plays in the opener against the Steelers. "Obviously, we're just going to take it one step at a time," Jackson added. "His focus is going to be on meetings and conditioning, and then we'll just kind of go from there. Hopefully, we can get him up and running by the first game." Gordon rejoined the team on Saturday but isn't yet allowed to practice -- and there's "no timetable" for when that will chance, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. Throw in a new QB and a new offense, and there are still at least a few hurdles to clear before Gordon is a fantasy factor again.
Browns WR Josh Gordon tweeted Saturday just after noon that he's ready to "humbly return to being a member" of the Browns. The announcement comes a day after Cleveland's 2nd preseason game against the Bills. We have to assume he'll rejoin the team for practice in the coming week. We'll see if Gordon's ready to play in the "dress rehearsal" 3rd exhibition Thursday against Philadelphia. We'll also have to see what his extended absence means for his depth-chart standing. Of course, Gordon's return is obviously good news for both the Browns offense and the fantasy outlook for 1 of the league's most physically gifted receivers. His ADP has remained a bit high for our tastes, but Gordon's draft-day evaluation comes down more to where (if at any point) you feel comfy taking the risk.
Update: According to NFL PR guy Brian McCarthy, Gordon is allowed to attend practices and meetings but cannot yet participate in practice. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports that Gordon is still in the league's "jointly negotiated substance abuse program." Gordon remains a risky pick in fantasy football drafts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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