Steelers running back LeVeon Bell has been suspended three games by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
The running back was facing a four-game suspension but appealed to the league. Though Bell will be eligible to practice and play with the team through the preseason, he will miss the team’s first three regular-season games against the Washington Redskins, Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles.
This will boost Bell's projections, but he's still a little dicey as a 1st round pick since he'll miss the first three games of the year. He has extra value in leagues where more than half the teams make the playoffs. He's also recovering from MCL and PCL tears but recently declared himself 100 percent, for what it's worth.
49ers WR Bruce Ellington has been perhaps Blaine Gabbert's favorite target this summer, and he seems ready for big season after a series of minor injuries -- hamstring strains, ankle sprains -- slowed his development over the past two seasons.
Ellington, however, didn't practice much this week -- another ankle sprain -- and he is iffy for the Broncos game.
Ellington has risen in our rankings and is a nice late-round flier, especially in PPR formats.
Eagles beat writer Reuben Frank (CSN Philly):
I don’t care if I write this every week, I really like Kenjon Barner. He just looks like a football player to me. Sometimes you see guys put up big numbers in the preseason but you don’t really expect them to ever carry it over into the regular season. Barner hasn’t done anything since he got here in 2014 to make me think he can’t play in this league. He runs hard, slashes through traffic, has a terrific feel for the defenders around him and is tough enough to run through guys (rushing stats: 7 for 35 vs. the Bucs, 6 for 41 Thursday night). He’s explosive in the return game, picks up the blitz, getting better as a receiver. We all know Ryan Mathews’ injury history. We all know Darren Sproles is a gifted player but not equipped for double-digit carries. We haven’t even seen Wendell Smallwood play yet. It’s pretty clear Barner has to be this team’s No. 2 back. Not only that, he needs to have a role on offense as well.
Reuben Frank of CSN Philly:
Paul Turner has been the Eagles’ second-best wide receiver this preseason, the best if you consider that Jordan Matthews has been out a couple weeks. Turner has done what you hoped Nelson Agholor and Josh Huff would do. Make plays. Flash. His highlight-reel one-hander from Chase Daniel for 23 yards to set up a touchdown in the third quarter is the kind of play we’ve been waiting to see Agholor make. Turner is an undrafted rookie free agent from Louisiana Tech, and Agholor is a second-year first-round pick, but Turner is flashing in a way that Agholor hasn’t. This team is desperate for wide receivers. So far, one guy is making plays. Not only does Turner deserve to make the team, he’s quickly showing that he deserves to play.
Turner may be worth a look late in drafts. The Eagles are hurting at receiver and the new regime isn't going to show favoritism to Agholor if someone else is outplaying him.
Olsen has back-to-back top 5 finishes in both formats, and hasn’t missed a game in eight seasons, so he’s one of the safest options available at his position. The back spasm is worth monitoring, however.
Mike Reiss on TE Martellus Bennett: I subscribe to the theory that with defenses paying extra attention to Rob Gronkowski, it will open up more opportunities for Bennett. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Patriots run more than 80 percent of their offensive snaps with both tight ends on the field, so it won't be a matter of playing time for Bennett as much as how defenses decide to handle the dual threat at the position. It also helps that Jimmy Garoppolo and Bennett have seemed to develop a rapport in the preseason.
Eleven tight ends played 80 percent or more of the snaps in 2015, so if Bennett reaches that sort of playing time, he'll have a good shot at posting TE1 numbers given the overall production of New England's offense. He also has top five upside if anything were to happen to the injury-prone Gronkowski.
Charles was playing at an elite RB1 pace prior to tearing his ACL in Week 5. Our injury expert, Russell Manalastas, predicts that Charles will be limited in camp and good to go for Week 1, and that his recovery is an opportunity to get him at a discount. The Chiefs found solid contributors in Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware (recommended handcuff and attrition play), so Andy Reid could elect to reduce his workload in an effort to keep him healthy. So far, it looks like Charles is on track to play in Week 1.
Jenna Laine on the Bucs' TE situation:
Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate has shown great chemistry with Jameis Winston and been one of the most consistent pass-catchers in training camp, receivers included. He's not going to get much yardage after contact, but he's still shown he can consistently catch passes in traffic and in the end zone, along the sideline (he's done a great job keeping his feet in bounds) and is terrific on back-shoulder fades. We could see Brate become what Nick O'Leary was for Winston at Florida State, so he's a potential fantasy sleeper pick.
Brate has slowly been moving up our rankings as the positive offseason news continues like a drumbeat. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is doing better of late, but it appears that Brate is poised to see the most snaps at the position.
Michael Thomas has No. 1 receiver potential.
Make no mistake: Brandin Cooks is still the best wide receiver on the Saints. But their second-round pick has been the summer darling thus far, consistently making impressive plays at The Greenbrier and adding a couple more in the preseason opener against the Patriots. Michael Thomas' size, ball skills and run-after-catch instincts should help him contribute significantly as a rookie, and he should continue to grow.
Coach Pete Carroll had a hazy response to questions about Graham's readiness Wednesday, which seemed to dance around the central point: A ruptured patellar tendon is a rough thing to come back from quickly and there is a lot of work involved in doing so.
"We've had no issues at all in the work he's doing on the field," Carroll said, via ESPN.com. "That will continue to increase throughout the next few weeks. Really we're shooting for: Where is he at the start of the season? And we'll evaluate then on how much longer it may take, or he may be ready. We don't know that yet. But he feels good."
Carroll added: "There's some evaluation to be done going into next week, but I don't have any expectations for that right now. We'll just wait and see. We don't have a timetable for this; that he has to meet any schedule at all. We're just working him back, and he's gaining confidence, and it's really important not to have any setbacks. So we're being careful."
This talk will throw some cold water on the good vibes generated when Graham returned to practice. It sounds like it's no sure thing that he'll be ready to play Week 1.
The Giants will be without their Pro Bowl kicker for the season opener at Dallas on Sept. 11.
It was announced on Wednesday that kicker Josh Brown has been suspended for one game for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. It's unclear what Brown did to violate the conduct policy.
Tom Obarski is currently the second kicker in camp. Owners who end up with Brown on the roster should get a Plan B ready for Week 1.
Ezekiel Elliott got two reps, so the lion’s share of the first-team work went to Alfred Morris – who was outstanding. It’s always hard to gauge running backs in training camp, because tackling is not allowed. But Morris seemed to break through to the second and even the third level before he was even touched on most of his runs.
That's what one scout believes. He thinks the combination of a solid offensive line and the presence of a real quarterback will free up Miller to the point where he will be one of the top two runners in football.
I've heard this type of thing before about Miller (and written it). More than a few people in football think he is set for a huge season. Lead the league in rushing? That would be quite a leap, but it's not totally unbelievable. Miller always showed great bursts of talent when in Miami, but because the Dolphins gonna Dolphin, they completely underutilized him. The Texans won't, and I keep hearing from scouts that they think he might have a season for the ages. We'll see.
Miller finished #9 and #5 in the last two seasons in PPR formats, but was underutilized in Miami, which is one reason he signed with the Texans. Consider this: Miller only saw 18-plus carries in three of his 16 games in 2015, while Arian Foster carried the ball 18-plus times in 13 of his last 17 games with the Texans. Foster averaged 22.5 touches per game over that span, and if Miller can maintain the 0.920 FP/touch rate (PPR) from the last two years, he would average around 20.7 FP per game. Last year’s #1 PPR RB (Devonta Freeman) averaged 21.1 FP.
It appears that the "hiccup" that Nelson had in his other knee (reportedly tendinitis) is getting better and that he's close to making his return to practice. Nelson has had three healthy seasons in his last five, and in those years he finished #2, #11 and #2 in standard wide receiver scoring. He’s currently going in the 2nd/3rd round. If he continues to have a healthy offseason then a return to the top 5 is a real possibility.
Baltimore signed Mike Wallace in free agency because his speed complemented Joe Flacco's strong arm. But he has been more than a "one trick pony," a nickname playfully given to him by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.
Wallace has caught passes on fade routes in the end zone. He has pulled in tough catches on back-shoulder throws. He has been a frequent target on underneath routes.
"Mike is awesome," Flacco said. "I think he is going to be a really big hit for us."
"We all know he can run," Flacco said. "But just the way he runs his routes and how good is he at the top of it and coming back to you, and how sure his hands have been. I don't know if I've seen him drop a pass."
Steve L Smith is coming off of an Achilles injury, Breshad Perriman has already had a knee scare, while Kamar Aiken continues to fly under the radar. Wallace finished #74 in PPR formats last season as it turned out that he wasn’t a good fit with Teddy Bridgewater’s deep ball inaccuracy. Joe Flacco can wing it, so his arm would seem to be a good match for Wallace’s deep speed. Prior to last year, Wallace had five straight top-25 finishes, though his age and his production in 2015 has scared most owners away. This is a camp battle to monitor this summer: if Wallace wins a starting job -- and it appears that he will -- then he’ll be firmly on the fantasy radar.