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Volume 19, #46 -- Wednesday Night, June 7th, 2017

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Hi Folks,

Good Thursday to you. We've got a killer new Gut Check column from our Matt Waldman plus the News and Notes you need so let's get to it.

J

SITE NEWS

A. Gut Check No. 398: Tight Ends In Fantasy-Rich Offenses
Our Matt Waldman builds a profile of tight ends in fantasy-rich passing offenses.


1. BAL - TE Dennis Pitta waived/injured

Source: Houston Chronicle - Aaron Wilson

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) was waived/injured Wednesday, June 7.

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That's likely a wrap for his pro career. Hip injuries kept him from staying on the field, but Pitta fought back hard to get back in 2016 and had a great season with 86 catches. The Ravens clear up $2.5 million in cap space with this move and could be in the market for guys like WR Jeremy Maclin or WR Eric Decker.

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2. NYG - Odell Beckham seeking new deal

Source: ESPN - Adam Schefter

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr.'s absence at organized activities, though no one in his camp has admitted it, is directly related to his desire for a new contract, according to sources.

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It's not a holdout until mandatory work is missed. These OTAs are voluntary so it's not a really big deal...yet. Beckham has a cap hit of $3.3 million in 2017, and he's under contract through 2018 at a tremendous value as he's still on his rookie deal. His current average annual salary ($2.6 million) ranks 59th in the NFL at the WR position per Spotrac.com. Which means he's ridiculously under paid.

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3. NE - WR Brandin Cooks impressive at minicamp

Source: Boston Herald - Jeff Howe

New England Patriots WR Brandin Cooks has been one of the breakout performers during minicamp this week and his speed has set him apart from his teammates, in the opinion of the Boston Herald's Jeff Howe.

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Cooks will add a dimension to a pass offense that was already very difficult to slow down. His fantasy ceiling isn't as high as it was in New Orleans because of the myriad of options in New England, but he is still a high weekly ceiling WR2 and he certainly enhances the value of Tom Brady.

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4. MIA - OC optimistic about TE Julius Thomas

Source: ESPN.com - James Walker

Miami Dolphins TE Julius Thomas has the chance to be a 10-touchdoown player if he can stay healthy, according to offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen.

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Thomas is back with Adam Gase, and he could be a valuable fantasy asset once again in this offense. He was a fantasy favorite working with Gase in Denver, and Thomas could improve upon the production he had in two years with Jacksonville. Thomas just needs to stay healthy as the fourth-round pick in 2011 has never played a full 16-game season as a pro. Projecting him for around 40 catches and 5-7 touchdowns is not out of the question.

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5. ARI - WR Andre Ellington going back to RB

Source: The Arizona Republic - Kent Somers

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington is moving back to running back, and the team will be looking for him to have a tougher running style, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

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Well that didn't last long. Ellington was moved to wide receiver this offseason to make the most of his quickness, agility and speed in the open field. When John Brown is healthy, Jaron Brown as the no3 wideout and rookie Chad Williams impressing, Ellington gets moved back to the backfield. Having a tougher runner style just isn't in his DNA, and Ellington should only be used in space.

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6. BAL - Baltimore will meet with WR Jeremy Maclin

Source: ESPN - Adam Schefter

Free-agent WR Jeremy Maclin (Chiefs) is scheduled to meet with the Baltimore Ravens after finishing his meeting with the Buffalo Bills, according to a source.

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Maclin has a few suitors out there including the Ravens and the Bills. There's not much proven talent behind Mike Wallace at the WR position in Baltimore. Adding Maclin would make sense as he could start and become a reliable target for QB Joe Flacco.

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7. BUF - WR Jeremy Maclin leaving Bills visit

Source: ESPN - Adam Schefter

Free-agent WR Jeremy Maclin (Chiefs) has finished his visit with the Buffalo Bills Wednesday, June 7, and is scheduled to meet with the Baltimore Ravens next, according to a source.

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He's leaving with options as Maclin is scheduled to visit with the Ravens. The Bills could use some proven talent behind Sammy Watkins, and Maclin would likely be an upgrade over guys they added earlier this offseason like Corey Brown and Andre Holmes.

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8. TB - QB Jameis Winston great with tight ends

Source: Florida Football Insiders - Roy Cummings

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston has the fifth-best passer rating when targeting tight ends since he entered the league three years ago, according to Pro Football Focus. However, he is third-worst in the league when targeting other positions.

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That was the way Winston was in college at Florida State. During his final season with the Seminoles, Winston targeted the TE position more than any other QB in the FBS. He's still heavily targeting the position now in the pros. We'll see if Winston creates great chemistry with rookie TE O.J. Howard. Many saw Howard as the best TE in this rich TE class, and he's got the physical traits that could make him a special player for the Buccaneers.

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9. WAS - QB Kirk Cousins talks pick up

Source: ESPN - Adam Schefter

Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins has had encouraging contract talks recently, which owner Daniel Snyder has gotten involved in, and he expressed an interest in re-signing Cousins.

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Talks may have been more positive lately, but that's because they were so frosty (and basically non-existent) before this offseason. Cousins representation has met with team president Bruce Allen twice in 2017, and that marks the first time they've sat down to talk since Cousins was first slapped with the franchise tag two years ago. There is belief that even if a deal isn't completed by the July 15 franchise tag deadline, one could be completed after the season.

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10. CLE - QB Brock Osweiler impressing

Source: ESPN - Adam Schefter

Cleveland Browns QB Brock Osweiler has impressed in organized team activities, and one player privately predicted Osweiler would be the starter heading into camp in July.

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That's...interesting, but there's a long way to go before the start of the regular season. Osweiler has more experience than Cody Kessler and he's got a stronger arm too. Even if he wins the job, we don't see any of the Cleveland QBs as viable fantasy options.

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11. NYJ - WR Eric Decker medically cleared

Source: ESPN - Adam Schefter

Updating a previous report, New York Jets WR Eric Decker is healthy following offseason hip and shoulder surgeries.

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That means the team can trade him away. Decker is a weapon when healthy. He's got reliable hands, runs good routes and can be consistent in the red zone. Decker should have more than a few suitors, either as a trade target or when the Jets release him.

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12. NYG - RB Paul Perkins may be three-down back

Source: ESPN.com - Jordan Raanan

New York Giants RB Paul Perkins has the skills to become a three-down running back, according to running backs coach Craig Johnson.

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The Giants lack of moves at running back jive with this stance on Perkins, who is still only a mid-round pick in early drafts. Shane Vereen will get some passing down work and rookie Wayne Gallman is a good fit for a shotgun offense, but Perkins will get first crack at this job and if he is as good as the Giants think he is, he'll be a value pick.

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13. ARI - WR John Brown dealing with injuries

Source: NFL Network - Omar Ruiz

Arizona Cardinals WR John Brown (hamstring) is dealing with a hamstring injury, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

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Brown's 2016 was marred with injuries and medical conditions. Hopefully this isn't related to the sickle cell trait that affected his hamstring last year. All of the news had been positive on Brown this offseason until this, so the comeback hype train should slow down a bit. Jaron Brown and JJ Nelson would get first crack at any snaps Brown gives up while he's sidelined, with rookie third-round pick Chad Williams also potentially on the fast track to playing time.

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14. CHI - Mitchell Trubisky running second-team

Source: ESPNChicago.com - Jeff Dickerson

Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky has been running the second-team offense since QB Mark Sanchez (knee) injured his knee last week. With Sanchez not expected back until training camp, Trubisky is set to continue in the role during next week's mandatory minicamp.

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The rookie first-round pick should see a lot of action with the second team while Sanchez recovers. By the time Sanchez is back, Trubisky may have the primary backup role behind Mike Glennon sewed up.

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15. NYJ - Jets reached out to WR Steve Smith

Source: NFL Network - Kimberly Jones

The New York Jets recently contacted WR Steve Smith (Ravens) to gauge his interest in coming out of retirement and playing in 2017, according to the NFL Network's Kimberly Jones.

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I guess it never hurts to ask. But it seems unlikely Smith would want to come back and play for the Jets. They're likely going to tank this year and going 6-10 is probably a pipe dream. If Smith were to return (seems doubtful) it would be for a Super Bowl contender.

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16. DAL - TE Rico Gathers misses practice

Source: The Dallas Morning News - Brandon George

Dallas Cowboys TE Rico Gathers (illness) did not participate in practice Wednesday, June 7, because of an illness.

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Gathers has been an OTA star and could pass Geoff Swaim and James Hanna on the depth chart. The basketball convert has been physically dominant in practices and could become Jason Witten's long term replacement with more experience. He's one to watch in deep dynasty leagues.

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17. NFL - RB Chris Johnson expects to join a team

Source: ProFootballTalk.com - Josh Alper

Free-agent RB Chris Johnson (Cardinals) said he expects to sign with a team before training camp and hopes to join a contending team.

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The Cardinals could well be that team. Right now they have only roster fringe but underrated Kerwynn Williams and Andre Ellington behind David Johnson, and Ellington was just moved back to running back after an aborted conversion to wide receiver.

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18. LAC - OLB Chris McCain limps off

Source: Los Angeles Times - Dan Woike

Los Angeles Chargers LB Chris McCain (undisclosed) limped off the field Tuesday, June 6, after suffering an undisclosed injury during practice. McCain has been working with the first-team defense during offseason workouts since franchise free-agent LB Melvin Ingram has stayed away from the workouts.

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McCain has seemed like a natural fit at the important LEO rush end position in Gus Bradley's defense. If he is out for an extended period, it could hurt the Chargers negotiating leverage with Ingram.

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19. OAK - Jon Feliciano to undergo MRI

Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal - Michael Gehlken

Oakland Raiders C Jon Feliciano (knee) suffered a knee injury during practice Tuesday, June 7, and was scheduled to undergo an MRI Tuesday, according to a source.

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Feliciano can back up all three interior line positions, so if he team loses him it could be a problem if injuries strike the starters on maybe the best guard-center group in the league. He was in pain and upset when trainers examined him, but eventually walked off of the field under his own power.

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20. NYJ - ArDarius Stewart has thumb injury

Source: ESPNNewYork.com - Rich Cimini

New York Jets WR ArDarius Stewart (thumb) has not practiced much lately because he is dealing with a thumb injury. Stewart is expected to have a key role in the passing game as a rookie.

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Stewart will vie for snaps with fourth-round pick Chad Hansen and attempt to unseat deep threat Robby Anderson as a starter. The coming release or trade of Eric Decker will open up opportunity for the young Jets receiving corps, including 2016 draft picks Charone Peake and Jalin Marshall (after his suspension).

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21. DAL - Jaylon Smith takes part in some drills

Source: The Dallas Morning News - Brandon George

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith (knee) participated in all of the individual drills during practice Wednesday, June 7. He also participated in some special team drills but sat out team drills.

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Smith looked good and could be the team's every down middle linebacker this year if everything goes well. He is still taking some practices off, which is probably a precaution, but could also mean that he's not as close as the workouts suggest. Either way, this is all very positive for the Cowboys, who might have gotten a top 10 player in the second round last year.

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22. DAL - Chaz Green working at LG

Source: The Dallas Morning News - Brandon George

Dallas Cowboys OT Chaz Green worked with the first-team offense at left guard during practice Wednesday, June 7. Green said the team asked him about moving to guard last week.

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La'el Collins will take over at right tackle with Doug Free's retirement. Green can provide some depth at tackle while also vying for a starting guard spot. The Cowboys also lost top run-blocking guard Ronald Leary to Denver in free agency, opening up the spot that Green will possibly fill. The Cowboys remain one of the top lines in the league, but their depth and quality took a hit this offseason.

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23. DAL - ILB Daryl Washington hopes to join Cowboys

Source: ProFootballTalk.com - Charean Williams

Free-agent LB Daryl Washington (Cardinals) said he would like to sign with the Dallas Cowboys.

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Washington has been out of the league for three years, but he's been reinstated by the NFL and is ready to go. The Cowboys need help on the defensive side of the ball, and Washington was an effective starter (and a Pro Bowl player) -- although it was years ago -- for the Cardinals. Dallas has no issue taking chances on players with baggage.

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24. BAL - Baltimore possible for WR Eric Decker

Source: CBSSports.com - Jason La Canfora

New York Jets WR Eric Decker will be traded or released this week. One of the teams the Jets are talking to regarding a possible trade are the Baltimore Ravens.

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The Ravens are in the market for WR help, and that's why they're looking at recently released Jeremy Maclin. That makes Decker a potential addition as well, and expect the Ravens to take a look at him. He missed 13 games in 2016 but when healthy Decker can provide a team with a sound receiver and red-zone threat. He would provide a great complement to WR Mike Wallace in Baltimore.

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That'll do it for today, Folks. Thanks for reading and thanks for being part of Footballguys. We'll see you tomorrow with the Update.

Peace,

J