The return of NFL football is less than one week away. That means fantasy football is on the doorstep, and your football Advent calendar should have just six more boxes to open. While preseason games will provide piles of news and stats to digest as we eagerly await the regular season opener, training camps are getting underway around the league and bring notable news of their own as the fantasy world embarks on a march to Week 16. Let’s check-in on the top stories from around the NFL in Friday’s Daily Dose.
Drama In The Steel City
The dream of all Pittsburgh’s offensive weapons being simultaneously healthy/not suspended has eluded fantasy owners and early training camp reports have continued this trend for the Steelers. Studly running back Le’Veon Bell pounded the snooze button before unplugging his alarm clock and skipping the first day of Steelers camp on Thursday. The expected absence is due to stalled contract negotiations between Bell and the team, but fantasy folks shouldn’t sweat a regular season holdout just yet. The coveted top pick in fantasy drafts can still be spent to acquire the services of Bell, who stacked up over 1,800 total yards in 2016 as both a dynamic runner and receiver.
Wide receiver Martavis Bryant was also in the news on Thursday as he attempts to return to game action after a one-year suspension. Just as Bryant’s 2017 outlook was beginning to turn a rosy shade, news from Pittsburgh indicates that Bryant is not yet “fully reinstated” by the NFL. Where this leaves Bryant is anyone’s guess, but he appears to be at least in the area code of a full reinstatement by the league. We think. While he can’t practice or play in preseason games, the panic button should remain on ice for another few weeks as the Steelers await more news from the NFL league office.
Baltimore Digs Deep For New QB
With Joe Flacco nursing a back issue as training camp gets fired up, the Baltimore Ravens added a quarterback to boost their depth chart. The Ravens did not pick up the phone and dial Colin Kaepernick as many assumed, as Kaepernick’s former offensive coordinator Greg Roman is now on Baltimore’s coaching staff. Instead, the Ravens brought in a new signal caller from Kansas City. No, not the Chiefs. You’re not getting rid of Alex Smith that easily, Chiefs fans. Baltimore added QB David Olson, from the Kansas City Phantoms of the Champions Indoor Football League. Olson only played four games of a rough 4-8 2017 campaign for the Phantoms, and his former college coach Jim Harbaugh likely influenced this signing more than a 54% completion percentage in the CIF. Hopefully Flacco gets healthy before the Baltimore skill players begin to plummet in fantasy drafts later next month.
Denver Running Back Update
With Devontae Booker (wrist) hurting, the Denver Broncos threw another log on their running back fire by adding Stevan Ridley on a one-year contract. Ridley has handled just 39 carries in the NFL since 2014 and may see some reps early in camp, although the addition won’t move the needle in fantasy leagues. C.J. Anderson should cruise into lead back status as Week 1 approaches, although the preseason performances of former fantasy hero Jamaal Charles and rookie De’Angelo Henderson need to be monitored.
The Carlos Hyde Saga Continues
News regarding Carlos Hyde’s standing with the San Francisco coaching staff has spanned the spectrum from “Hyde might be demoted to Levi’s Stadium janitor” to “Hyde may take over as 49ers General Manager.” While the previous statement isn’t entirely true, Hyde fans did receive good news on Thursday after rumors surfaced earlier in the week indicating that Hyde may be a surprise cut by the 49ers. San Francisco GM John Lynch stated that Hyde “looks tremendous” and “really dedicated himself” as he attempts to fit into new head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The truth surrounding this situation likely falls in between the last two Rotoworld blurbs on Hyde’s page, but if the fourth-year running back can get rolling in Shanahan’s scheme, there is certainly no reason he can’t break through to RB1 status in 2017 before hitting the open market as a free agent. Hyde’s current fifth-round ADP (MFL) is still reasonable despite recent rumblings of uncertainty regarding his standing with the team.
Injuries Mounting For Reed
Jordan Reed (toe) is up to his usual antics and has found himself on the active/PUP list as training camp begins. A certifiable monster while on the field, Reed has dealt with significant injury issues throughout his career that have returned before the calendar flips to August. On Thursday, Washington coach Jay Gruden dove deeper into Reed’s toe issue, telling reporters that Reed “may have twisted an ankle overcompensating” for the toe injury. Reed is now dealing with toe and ankle problems, and at this pace will be in a full body cast as the Redskins play their season opener. Gruden and the Washington staff will take things very slowly with their star tight end, so a quick return to the field is unlikely. Reed’s fantasy stock will begin to slide as drafts kick off in coming weeks, so stay tuned to Rotoworld for updates on the status of this top shelf fantasy tight end.
Injury News and Notes
Sammy Watkins (foot) will begin practicing normally at the start of camp and has dodged the PUP list. Watkins managed just eight games in 2016 but a preseason free of foot issues would make the Bills receiver a tremendous bounce-back bet in fantasy drafts. … Corey Coleman (hamstring) has been cleared to practice and will begin the process of attempting to live up to his lofty draft position in the 2016 NFL Draft. Coleman recorded just 33 receptions in his rookie season but could emerge if the Cleveland offense moves forward. … Cameron Meredith (thumb) was injured during OTA’s but hit the practice field on Thursday as he works toward repeating a surprisingly productive 2016 campaign. … Rob Gronkowski (back) will reportedly practice “without limits” in camp. The fantasy world’s top tight end will be back to own the end zone in 2017 as long as his troublesome back cooperates. … Jordan Matthews (knee) claimed that he is a “full go” for training camp after worrisome news recently surfaced about the Philadelphia wide out dealing with knee tendinitis. Matthews has new competition for targets in Philadelphia and can’t afford to miss time due to injury. … Sammie Coates (knee) will miss at least two weeks of practice, which doesn’t bode well for his 2017 prospects as he attempts to carve out a role in Pittsburgh.