Shark Bites

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.

Patriots QB Tom Brady (right hand) put in a limited workout Thursday, when New England had it's 1st practice ahead of the Super Bowl. The QB also had his stitches out this week and seemed to have no trouble getting through the conference-championship win over the Jaguars. There should be no reason for injury concern here.

Patriots RB Rex Burkhead (knee) is active for today's game against the Jaguars. He still has yet to put in a full practice since returning from his knee sprain, but New England clearly has a role in mind for him in the AFC Championship game. RB Mike Gillislee (knee) is inactive after entering the day questionable. Having Burkhead back in the lineup threatens the goal-line role for RB Dion Lewis, but Lewis still figures to easily lead the backfield in touches.

Patriots QB Tom Brady (hand) is active for today's game against the Jaguars. Multiple reports had him throwing the ball well in Friday's practice, so use Brady as you normally would in fantasy football lineups today.

Patriots RB Rex Burkhead (knee) is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars after a limited week of practice. With all the hubbub about QB Tom Brady’s injury, we haven’t heard anything about Burkhead’s status. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport did report back on Monday that Burkhead is expected to play. We’ll find out for sure around 1:30 pm ET on Sunday.

Patriots QB Tom Brady (hand) is officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s AFC Championship against the Jaguars. He returned to a limited practice on Friday, although it’s entirely unclear how much he did. Brady was allowed to speak to the media afterward but stopped short of guaranteeing that he’ll play this weekend. Of course, the Pats haven’t told us anything about the injury. Brady was reportedly injured in a collision with a teammate during Wednesday’s practice. NBC Sports Boston’s Mike Felger hears that Brady received 4 stitches for a cut around 1 of his knuckles. We’d be shocked if he didn’t start Sunday’s game, but how big an issue the injury will be is anyone’s guess.

Patriots QB Tom Brady (thumb) didn't practice on Thursday, according to the team's official injury report. He was spotted on the field for warmups with a glove on that injured throwing hand. We don't know much more about the injury at this point, but we'd be shocked if Brady didn't play against the Jaguars this weekend. Check back tomorrow for another update.

The Boston Herald's Karen Guregian reports that Patriots QB Tom Brady "jammed" his throwing hand when he ran into a teammate during Wednesday's practice. X-rays on the hand revealed no structural damage, per Guregian. Colleague Jeff Howe hears that Brady will play against the Jaguars on Sunday, "barring an unexpected setback." We'll continue to keep a close eye on this one.

Patriots RB Rex Burkhead (knee) remained limited on Wednesday. He was limited all last week before missing the Titans game. Burkhead is reportedly expected back for Sunday's AFC Championship, but it'd be nice to see him get in a full workout on Thursday or Friday.

Patriots QB Tom Brady was listed as limited in Wednesday's practice with a right (throwing) hand injury. He didn't meet with the media afterward because he was with the team's medical staff. It's possible that he was injured during practice today. We'll look for further updates.

Patriots RB Rex Burkhead (knee) is expected back for Sunday's AFC Championship game against the Jaguars, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Burkhead was limited in practice last week and was close to playing on Saturday night vs. Tennessee, Rapoport adds. New England got 181 total yards and 2 TDs from RBs Dion Lewis and James White in the win over the Titans but will certainly welcome back Burkhead's versatile skill set.

 
 
 

Dominate Your Fantasy Football Draft

Turn your phone into a draft weapon with our FREE APP

Download on the App Store Download on Google Play