The ‘Cheetah’ is free to run

So far, just seven teams have had their rookies report to training camp while the Broncos are the only squad with veterans in attendance, so we’ll be taking a quality over quantity approach today.

Draft boards everywhere saw a massive adjustment when James Palmer of NFL Network reported that Tyreek Hill won’t be suspended after the league completed its investigation into allegations of child abuse. Those who drafted early in the summer gained a huge advantage by being able to draft Hill late, but now he’ll go back to being a surefire top-20 selection. In terms of other fallout, rookie Mecole Hardman will go from being a sleeper to a late-round dart throw in deep leagues, as he’ll likely see very limited snaps. Also, for those who had bumped up the projection for Sammy Watkins because of the expected suspension for Hill, be sure to make any needed adjustments- look for Watkins, assuming health, to reprise his role as the third option among the Chiefs’ WRs and TEs.

• When the Ravens made Marquise Brown the first receiver selected in this year’s draft, he was expected to slide right into a starting role, giving him immediate fantasy value. Unfortunately, the recovery from his January 8 surgery on a Lisfranc injury has placed him on a difficult timeline to be ready for Week 1, according to Jeff Zrebic of The Athletic. Between Brown being unable to get the reps he needs to develop in the offense, along with being in what could be a run-heavy squad, it’ll be difficult to select him in redraft leagues that don’t feature deep benches, though he still holds significant value in dynasty leagues, where his value should be largely unaffected.

• Sticking with WRs, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports that Justin Watson was frequently lined up in the slot during OTAs, but with Bruce Arians having stated that he likes Chris Godwin in the slot, Watson is likely preparing to move to the slot on plays in which Godwin is aligned outside. Based on their combine numbers, Godwin has vastly superior agility, which is the main reason he should be favored to be the primary slot receiver. Regardless of how this shakes out, if Watson can move ahead of Breshad Perriman on the depth chart during camp, he could find himself having a prominent role in what should be a high-powered passing attack, and that would make him a worth an endgame pick in fantasy drafts.

• Moving over to the Rams, what would summer be without some weekly chatter about the mysterious knee condition that Todd Gurley is dealing with? In the latest ‘update’, head coach Sean McVay said Gurley’s feeling great and has earned the right to scale back his offseason workload. Gee, thanks coach! We were never going to see Gurley in a meaningless preseason anyway, so this doesn’t give us much information. That said, it’s a continued reminder that there are a range of variables in terms of Gurley’s 2019 season, but the one that seems the most likely is that he’ll be the starter and play, but be taken off the field frequently to manage his reps to keep him healthy for the long term. With seemingly at least one owner in just about every fantasy league willing to take Gurley by the end of the second round, he’ll be one of the riskiest players at his ADP.

• Another RB story is that the Eagles website announced that Darren Sproles will return to Philly on a one-year deal. Even as a 14-year veteran, when he’s on the field, he’s still a playmaker who has enough juice to create big plays. It’s unlikely he sees enough work to be more than a bench option in deep leagues, but even if he sees three-to-five touches per game, they’d likely come at the expense of rookie Miles Sanders on passing downs. If Sanders cannot unseat Jordan Howard for early-down work, the addition of Sproles would reduce the chance of Sanders having the type of dominant year that many fantasy owners are currently expecting. This backfield will certainly bear watching throughout August.

• And to close out today’s news- for those few fantasy owners who’ll need to use Joe Flacco at QB, there’s a good chance he won’t be replaced by Drew Lock this season, as Mike Klis of 9News Denver reports that Denver head coach Vic Fangio doesn’t believe the rookie is an NFL-ready QB. Look for Lock to have a year to learn from the sidelines while Flacco should continue to be a weak fantasy option- his best value would be as a QB3 in superflex leagues.

That’ll do it for today, but by this time next week, the news cycle will be in full swing.

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