Recent NFL Player News

Charles Sims to serve as Tampa Bay's passing-down back

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Charles Sims is expected to serve as the team's passing-down back, according to the Tampa Bay Times' Greg Auman.

What It Means:

Prior to working his way through an injury-ravaged 2016, Sims operated in this role for the 2015 season, when he rushed for 500-plus yards and caught for 500-plus yards. So, despite the presence of both Jacquizz Rodgers and Doug Martin (three-game suspension), it looks like Sims could be in for a productive 2017 campaign.

numberFire's algorithms project Sims for 291.4 rush yards, 282.1 receiving yards and 2.7 total scores across 109.5 touches in the running and receiving games. He's currently going undrafted in standard leagues, but that makes him a guy to watch at RB56 in our Draft Kit.

LeGarrette Blount expected to be 'big part' of Eagles' offense

Philadelphia Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount will be "a big part of our offense," said head coach Doug Pederson.

What It Means:

Pederson also described Blount as being "a beast of a runner," and it's a resounding vote of confidence in spite of what has been, by all accounts, a pretty dreadful preseason for the veteran back. At least to begin the year, Blount seems locked in as the Eagles' starter and short-yardage option, but that could change depending on the production of sophomore Wendell Smallwood. It also wouldn't be surprising to see Darren Sproles end up leading the backfield in touches. Currently being drafted as the RB25 overall in the middle of the fifth round, per Fantasy Football Calculator, Blount appears to be overvalued in fantasy drafts.

numberFire's models project Blount to rush 166.4 times for 680.7 yards and 4.75 touchdowns this season while adding 11.4 receptions for 64.0 yards and 0.48 touchdowns. He is our 36th-ranked fantasy running back entering the year.

Odell Beckham (ankle) in danger of missing Giants' season opener

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (ankle) reportedly is in danger of missing the first week or two of the regular season due to a high ankle sprain he suffered on Monday night, per ESPN.

What It Means:

Beckham took a hard hit to his lower half while making a catch in Monday's preseason game versus the Cleveland Browns. While X-rays came back negative, an MRI confirmed the diagnosis of an ankle sprain. With less than three weeks until the season opener on September 10, Beckham may not have enough time to recover before the tilt versus the Dallas Cowboys. Expect an increase in targets for Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard if Beckham is out.

Our models project Beckham as the third-best wide out in fantasy for 2017 with 1,359.4 yards and 10.9 touchdowns, if he plays a full 16 games.

Source: ESPN

Steelers' Le'Veon Bell tweets he'll end holdout, return on September 1

On Tuesday night, Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell tweeted "9-1-17" to a fan asking when he'd rejoin the Steelers.

What It Means:

The Steelers reportedly never feared that Bell would hold out into the regular season and miss any meaningful games, so this is somewhat expected. But now we know the exact date Bell will be back in Pittsburgh with the team, which is good news for Steelers fans and fantasy football owners alike.

Our numberFire models project Bell for 1,389.7 rushing yards and 10.0 rushing touchdowns on 295.3 rushing attempts in 2017, plus 85.0 catches for 712.9 receiving yards and 3.5 receiving touchdowns. He's our number-two overall player in fantasy this year.

Russell Shepard expected to open year as Panthers' third receiver

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Russell Shepard is expected to open the season as the team's third receiver, according to Bill Voth of Panthers.com.

What It Means:

Shepard, a favorite target of the Panthers' quarterbacks in training camp, is the favorite to open the season as the team's slot receiver due to rookie Curtis Samuel missing a good portion of training camp and not playing in either of the first two preseason games. Shepard caught 23 passes for 341 yards last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Shepard is projected for just 20.9 catches, 308.2 yards, and 1.8 touchdowns in 2017, by our models.

Kendall Wright working as Bears' first-team slot receiver

Chicago Bears wide receiver Kendall Wright caught 2-of-3 targets for 9 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's second preseason game versus the Arizona Cardinals.

What It Means:

Wright was working with the first team offense, ahead of Victor Cruz, as two of his targets came in the end zone from starting quarterback Mike Glennon. The veteran wideout has the talent to succeed as the Bears' slot receiver but loses fantasy value with the inconsistent Glennon as his quarterback.

Our models project Wright for 39.8 catches, 522.2 yards, and 3.1 touchdowns in 2017. He is our 69th-best receiver in standard leagues.

Ted Ginn Jr. unimpressive so far for Saints this preseason

New Orleans Saints receiver Ted Ginn Jr is still without a catch this preseason on 2 targets so far.

What It Means:

Ginn only played in the preseason opener -- as the Saints rested most veterans on Saturday -- but put on a poor show in the contest, dropping one of the two targets he received. The veteran wideout is currently listed as the number two receiver in New Orleans, behind Michael Thomas and ahead of Willie Snead. He is expected to play the role of deep threat in the Saints' offense.

Ginn is our 52nd ranked wide out in standard leagues with projections of 50.2 receptions, 711.8 yards, and 4.3 touchdowns for 98.2 fantasy points.

Eagles' Torrey Smith burns the Dolphins during joint practices

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith impressed the coaching staff with two big plays he made during Monday's joint practice with the Miami Dolphins.

What It Means:

Smith burned Dolphins cornerback Byron Maxwell on a long pass from Carson Wentz and also made a spectacular diving catch in the middle of the field, showing his versatility. While he is still catch-less this preseason, Smith will see extended time, as well as the rest of the starters, in Thursday's third preseason game.

Our models peg Smith as a WR63 with 39.3 catches, 573.8 yards, and 3.3 touchdowns this season.

ArDarius Stewart grabs 2 catches for 23 yards in Jets' second preseason game

New York Jets receiver ArDarius Stewart was on the field for just 17 snaps in Saturday's second preseason game, catching 2 passes for 23 yards.

What It Means:

After seeing 32 snaps in the preseason opener -- the most of any Jets' wideout -- Stewart didn't make into the game until after halftime. The third-round pick from Alabama is currently fifth on the Jets' 2017 depth chart but has a chance to move up in a relatively weak receiving crew.

Stewart is projected, by our models, for 46.8 catches for 582.7 yards and 3.1 touchdowns in 2017. He is currently our WR64 with 76.3 fantasy points.

Seattle's Tyler Lockett nearly ready for game action

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett is nearing a return to action and may play in Friday's third preseason game versus the Kansas City Chiefs.

What It Means:

Lockett has been practicing in full and was a game-time decision heading into the Seahawks' second preseason game on last Friday. The third-year wideout is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a broken leg that he suffered in Week 16 last season.

Our models project Lockett as the 57th-best receiver in standard leagues with 42.7 catches, 585.7 yards, and 2.7 touchdowns in 2017.

Cole Beasley's rapport with Dak Prescott getting stronger for Dallas

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley continues to build a stronger rapport with quarterback Dak Prescott.

What It Means:

Beasley and Prescott had strong chemistry in 2016 as the diminutive receiver led the Cowboys in receptions with 75. Prescott told reporters the duo's rapport is getting stronger this summer, as Beasley continues to work as the team's slot receiver and second biggest receiving threat.

Beasley is projected, by numberFire's models, to take a step back in 2017 with Dez Bryant healthy. Our algorithms see Beasley recording 57.5 catches for 698.0 yards, and 3.9 touchdowns in 2017.

49ers' Pierre Garcon could thrive in Kyle Shanahan's offense

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garcon enjoyed a career-year with 113 catches and 1,346 yards the last time he was in a Kyle Shanahan-run offense in 2013.

What It Means:

Garcon was one of Shanahan's first targets after being named head coach of the 49ers. While the 31-year-old wide out is not expected to post over 100-catches, he does enter the 2017 season as the clear number one receiving option in San Francisco.

Due to the inconsistent quarterback options for the 49ers, our models modestly project Garcon for 102.4 targets, 62.8 catches, 835.9 yards, and 4.6 touchdowns in 2017, making him our 43rd-best wideout in standard leagues.

Washington's Chris Thompson catches five passes in second preseason game

Washington running back Chris Thompson tallied 52 yards on 5 receptions while also running the ball twice in their second preseason game on Saturday.

What It Means:

While Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine fight for the team's lead-back role, Thompson is solidified as Washington's third-down back. He caught 49 passes on 62 targets in 2016.

numberFire's models project Thompson for 256.0 yards and 2.1 touchdowns on 48.1 carries as well as 40.8 receptions for 318.3 yards and 1.4 touchdowns through the air. He is our 53rd-ranked fantasy running back.

Colts' Robert Turbin continues to hold on to back up job

Indianapolis Colts running back Robert Turbin finished Saturday's preseason game with 32 yards on 8 touches.

What It Means:

After getting the start in place of Frank Gore in the preseason opener, Turbin resumed his role as the second-string back Saturday, putting together an impressive performance. While rookie Marlon Mack has earned himself a role in the Colts' offense, expect Turbin to remain the handcuff to Gore and goal-line back in Indianapolis this season.

Our models project Turbin as the RB68 in standard leagues with 285.7 total yards and 2.0 touchdowns in 2017.

Dion Lewis works with the Patriots' second-team offense in their second preseason game

New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis ran with the second-team offense in their second preseason game on Saturday.

What It Means:

Both Rex Burkhead and James White saw the field before Lewis, but the Patriots' still haven't set a running back depth chart, and Lewis could certainly earn himself more playing time.

numberFire's models project Lewis for 82.5 carries with 359.9 yards and 3.1 touchdowns on the ground as well as 25.3 receptions, 155.4 yards and 0.8 touchdowns through the air in 2017. He is our 54th-ranked fantasy running back, ranking third among Patriots' backs.

Damien Williams leading the Dolphins in carries this preseason

Miami Dolphins running back Damien Williams has rushed 10 times for 29 yards through 2 preseason games.

What It Means:

Williams has been working ahead of all other backs not named Jay Ajayi on the Dolphins' roster and even got the start in the preseason opener with Ajayi sidelined. While his 3.4 career yards per carry average is unexciting, the fourth year back remains the favorite to be the Dolphins' number two back.

Williams is projected for just 53.2 touches this season as the expected back up to Ajayi in 2017.

Joe Williams limited to just four snaps in 49ers' second preseason game

San Francisco 49ers running back Joe Williams was on the field for just four snaps in Saturday's second preseason game.

What It Means:

The 49ers went veteran heavy, by design, on Saturday with Williams and fellow rookie tailback Matt Breida barely seeing the field. Lucky for Williams, neither Kapri Bibbs or Tim Hightower did much with their extra snaps, leaving Williams as the favorite to back up Carlos Hyde this season.

Williams comes in as numberFire's 69th-ranked running back in standard leagues with projections of 61.0 touches, 330.6 total yards, and 1.1 touchdowns for 38.8 fantasy points in 2017.

Jeremy Langford could be on the roster bubble in Chicago

Chicago Bears running back Jeremy Langford could be in danger of not making the 53-man roster come September.

What It Means:

Langford missed a chunk of time at the beginning of training camp with an ankle injury and still has not played in a preseason game. The third-year running back is battling rookie Tarik Cohen, Ka'Deem Carey, Benny Cunningham, and Josh Rounds for a spot in the Bears' backfield behind starter Jordan Howard. He will need a strong showing in the third preseason game on Saturday to secure his place on the roster.

Langford is projected, by numberFire's algorithms, for just 46.1 carries, 177.8 yards, and 1.2 touchdowns in 2017, making him our 75th-ranked running back in standard leagues.

Jerick McKinnon disappoints in Vikings' second preseason game

Minnesota Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon rushed 1 time for -6 yards in Friday's preseason loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

What It Means:

McKinnon was making his preseason debut after missing the opener due to a lower leg injury. The disappointing performance, leaves the fourth-year back as the third back on the Vikings, behind rookie Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray, when healthy. Expect him to work primarily on special teams, earning only occasional work as the third-down back in 2017.

McKinnon is projected, by our models, for just 48.3 carries, 192.9 rushing yards, and 0.5 touchdowns in 2017.

Vikings' Kyle Rudolph calls 2016 numbers 'the benchmark for me now'

Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph had a career year in 2016, finishing with 83 receptions, 840 yards and 7 touchdowns. At practice on Monday, Rudolph called those numbers "the benchmark for me now. That's where I want to be from here on."

What It Means:

Rudolph's 132 targets were the most among tight ends in 2016. He finished as the third-highest scoring tight end in standard fantasy football leagues.

Our projections have the 27-year-old Rudolph ranked as a top-10 fantasy tight end for 2017. He's currently going in the 8th round of fantasy drafts, according to Fantasy Football Calculator.

Malcolm Mitchell misses Patriots' practice on Tuesday

New England Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell (knee) missed practice on Tuesday.

What It Means:

After appearing to re-aggravate his knee injury in the Patriots' second preseason game on Saturday, Mitchell was nowhere to be seen during Tuesday's practice. The second-year wideout caught 2-of-3 targets for 13 yards in the loss to the Houston Texans.

Mitchell is projected to take a lesser role in 2017, racking up 29.5 catches, 392.4 yards, and 2.5 touchdowns as a second-string wideout in New England.

Houston's Jaelen Strong appealing his one-game suspension

Houston Texans wide receiver Jaelen Strong will appeal his one-game suspension for marijuana possession.

What It Means:

Strong was arrested in February of 2016 for possession of weed but avoided criminal charges by agreeing to a diversion program. Strong is poised to play a prominent role to start the season for the Texans with Will Fuller out two-to-three months and Braxton Miller nursing an ankle injury. If the suspension is upheld, the Houston receiving corp will be in dire need of help in Week 1 versus the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Our models project Strong for 35.1 receptions, 400.7 yards, and 1.8 touchdowns in 2017, making him our 92nd-ranked wideout in standard leagues.

Tim Hightower performs poorly in 49ers' debut

San Francisco 49ers running back Tim Hightower rushed 3 times for -1 yard and fumbled in his preseason debut on Saturday.

What It Means:

Not exactly the outing the back the 31-year-old was hoping for after missing the preseason opener with a knee injury. Despite the poor performance, Hightower remains penciled into the second spot on the depth chart. If he doesn't do much better in the third preseason game on Sunday, however, he could be in danger of losing his backup job to rookie Joe Williams.

Our models project 62.2 carries, 268.8 rushing yards, and 1.2 touchdowns for Hightower in 2017.

Packers tight end Martellus Bennett building strong chemistry with Aaron Rodgers

Tight end Martellus Bennett scored a three-yard touchdown in the Packers' second preseason game against the Redskins on Saturday.

What It Means:

When asked about his relationship with quarterback Aaron Rodgers this summer, Bennett said, "I have chemistry with everybody," but it's clear that the Rodgers-to-Bennett connection is getting stronger after their first game action together resulted in a score.

After finishing the 2016 season with New England as the 7th-best tight end in standard leagues, our projections once again have Bennett ranked as a top-10 fantasy tight end for 2017.

Source: ESPN

Jamaal Williams starts the Packers' second preseason game

Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams got the start in Saturday's preseason game with Ty Montgomery sidelined.

What It Means:

Williams rushed for only 15 yards on 5 carries but worked exclusively with Aaron Rodgers and the first-team offense. The clear backup to Montgomery in Green Bay, the rookie from BYU, will likely earn some carries even when Montgomery is healthy, ala James Starks.

Williams is projected, by our models, to finish 2017 with 388.8 rushing yards and 3.5 touchdowns but would stand to gain more if Montgomery were to go down.

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