– A judge in Texas (of all places) has ruled that the NFL’s suspension against Ezekiel Elliott will not be ruled and enforced until Week 2 at the earliest. Therefore, Elliott is eligible to play this week on Sunday night football as the Cowboys host the Giants. Harold Henderson, the NFL arbitrator, will still hand down his ruling but at this point it seems unlikely Elliott will serve the full six-games suspension. Elliott is a must-start whenever on the field but faces a tough task against a Giants defense that only allowed only 3.6 yards per carry, the second-lowest mark in the league last season.
– If you have any Dolphins or Buccaneers, get them out of your lineup this week. Hurricane Irma has forced the cancellation in Miami and naturally it makes sense for the teams to make up the game November 19th, when both have a bye.
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– George Kittle will likely open the season as the 49ers starting tight end. Vance McDonald was traded to the Steelers opening the door for Kittle to get to the top of the depth chart. In standard 12-team leagues this news doesn’t mean too much but in leagues that start 2-tight ends it’s worth noting. Vance McDonald will now compete with Jesse James for playing time in the Steel City.
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– Mike Gillislee (hamstring) was a full participant in practice today for the Patriots. With Week 1 less than two and a half weeks away this was a good sign for his owners. Rex Burkhead has been working with the first team in his absence and makes for a nice late round pick even if Gillislee is 100 percent healthy. A fumble or two from Gillislee could land him in the doghouse and Bill Belicheck would have no problem letting Burkhead take over as the main ball carrier in that scenario. Still, it appears to be Gillislee’s job to lose and he’s still a solid mid-round pick as the head of the RBBC in New England.
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– Ezekiel Elliott filed his appeal for his six-game suspension meaning there will be a hearing scheduled within the next 10 days. There’s no guarantee there will be a reduction in his suspension and the ruling may not happen until after the season begins. Despite the suspension he has rarely made past the second round in recent drafts as owners seem to be willing to gamble that Elliott will miss less than six games. Adam Schefter reports that the hearing will be August 29th, which falls exactly on 10 business days of today’s filing.
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-Jay Cutler appears to be the the starter under center for the Dolphins. They paid $10 million for Jay. $10 million…
– C.J. Anderson will play three series this Thursday. Usually first stringers don’t see this much action this early but Jamaal Charles and Devontae Booker will both miss this one thrusting Anderson into a more prominent role. Look for him to sit out one or both of the last two preseason games for the Broncos.
– Jimmy Graham “could” see more goal line work this season. This would make a ton of sense given his size and athleticism. Kudos to the Seahawks coaching staff for realizing what they have on offense.
– Scott Tolzien will start under center for the Colts’s game this Thursday. If you haven’t dropped Andrew Luck from your preseason rankings a bit, you’re being naive. Also, dropping the Colts’ receivers (T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief) a bit is in order as well. Go into the season with less injury risk on your roster, especially given how deep both the quarterback and wide receiver positions are.
– An interesting position battle, both Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls split carries in a scrimmage today. This only means they’re both being considered for the starting RB role. Note that Pete Carroll has always coached outside of the box (except for that stupid SB throw call..) so this seems to be an open battle between the two; expect if they’re healthy for both to get a fair shot once the season opens.
– Cam Newton threw on the sideline today; owners don’t be worried, this is a “handle your QB with white gloves” situation.
– Terrence West sounds like he’s serious about playing football. He reportedly has lost weight while adding muscle, something that never hurts playing football. Now healthy Danny Woodhead will steal some third down/receiving looks but West should be the main ball carrier on the early downs.
– Dan Bailey hasn’t missed a field goal yet in camp. This is according to Cowboys beat writers and makes no mention how many kicks and the distances they’ve been from.
– Demaryius Thomas has dropped 15 pounds in the offseason. Unfortunately this won’t help his quarterback play but the 6-3 receiver should be more agile and able to elude defenders this season. If someone can get him the ball (that Tebow guy was able to), he should be able to get back to the 1,300-1,400 receiving yard range he was in prior to last season.
Training camps rolled on today and as interesting as what happens on the field might be what the coaches have to say about their players. Of course, it’s tough to take what they say seriously knowing they’re going to try and talk up their roster more times that criticize the play of their players. There were some interesting tidbits to hear coming out of camp Tuesday.
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Rounds 4-7 took place Saturday and while these rounds don’t get nearly the attention of Thursday night or Friday, they can be just as important. Just ask Dallas who drafted Dak Prescott in the fourth round and of course the Patriots made the greatest sixth round pick ever in 2000 taking Tom Brady. Let’s see if there’s some diamonds in the rough from these rounds who could make a fantasy impact immediately in their rookie season.
Samaje Perine, Pick 114, Washington Redskins – A quick glance at Saturday’s selections and it could be Perine who makes the biggest fantasy impact this season. The Redskins are reportedly shopping chronic fumbler Matt Jones and while Rob Kelly had a modicum of success it’s not like the Redskins are married to him. Perine is a bigger back capable of handling first and second down duties and then allowing Chris Thompson to maintain his third-down role. If Perine impresses during camp, it’s possible he gets 10-15 carries as soon as Week 1.
Jamaal Williams, Pick 134, Green Bay Packers – Williams should carve out a role immediately complementing Ty Montgomery as the “in-between-the-tackles” runner as the more physical running back between the two. Williams’ off the field incidents pale in comparison to other rookies and he’s not considered at-risk from that perspective. The Packers would be wise to use Williams instantly as Montgomery doesn’t appear to be a workhorse capable of handling 20-plus touches per game. In PPR formats Williams will lose some value as his role likely won’t be to catch many balls out of the backfield. Still, an impressive camp should get him carries immediately in the Packer offense.
Ryan Switzer, Pick 143, Dallas Cowboys – This was the first offensive player taken by the Cowboys and as stated they did pretty well in the fourth round last season. It’s almost too easy to compare Switzer to Cole Beasley but that’s pretty much the type of player he is. Where Switzer could make an immediate impact is in the return game adding value to the Dallas defense/special teams in fantasy. The all-time receiving leader at North Carolina, Switzer had seven career punt returns for a touchdown, one short of the national record.
Jake Butt, Pick 145, Denver Broncos – One of the stories surrounding Butt was that he will collect $543,000 from a loss-of-value insurance policy by dropping to the first pick of the fifth round. The policy kicked in during the middle of the third round and paid Butt every time there was a pick up until he went off the board. By playing in the Orange Bowl and tearing his ACL its estimated Butt lost around $2 million in guaranteed money from getting drafted in a higher spot. Nevertheless, Butt lands in Denver and could find himself in two-tight end sets opposite Virgil Green provided he’s fully recovered from knee surgery.
DeAngelo Yancey, Pick 175, Green Bay Packers – Yancey is seen as something of a project but his ability to stretch the field and be a big-play threat could work with that Aaron Rodgers guy. Yancey could compete for the fourth wide receiver spot and be a home run play on third down. Yancey will need to work on his separation as well as his route running to play at the next level and earn the trust of Rodgers.