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Volume 19, #71 -- Sunday Night, July 2nd, 2017

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Hi Folks,

Good Monday to you. We've got the News and Notes you need but first a message from our British friends at Newcastle Brown Ale who're imagining what might have been...

Now let's get to it.

J


1. PIT - Le'Veon Bell 'good with everything' during contract negotiations

Source: Jeremy Fowler - ESPN.com

Jeremy Fowler, from ESPN.com, reports Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell is not sweating contract negotiations. "I'm good with everything, just taking it day to day for real," Bell told ESPN about how he is approaching the process.

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Bell is currently slated to play under the franchise tag in 2017. That tag will pay him a one-year deal worth over $12 million this year. Like all franchise-tagged players, Bell wants long-term security instead. The Steelers and Bell have until July 17th to work out such a contract. If/when signed, Bell should be the highest paid running back in the NFL.

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2. HOU - QB Tom Savage in line to start?

Source: Houston Chronicle - John McClain

Houston Texans QB Tom Savage is ahead of QB Deshaun Watson in 'how he functions with the offense' heading into training camp, according to head coach Bill O'Brien.

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Make sure to understand this is standard July coachspeak. This kind of talk is to be expected as Savage is a veteran with limited starting experience while Watson is a rookie. However, Savage is not an exciting option as a starter and we think Watson wins the job eventually even if he begins the regular season as a backup.

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3. MIA - QB Ryan Tannehill says knee is a non-issue

Source: Barry Jackson - Miami Herald

Barry Jackson, from the Miami Herald, reports Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is going to wear a brace this year but his knee is a non-issue. "One hundred percent," he said. "We've been running our full gamut of run plays, and that includes zone read, play action, inside zone, outside zone power, we really have it all."

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A severe knee sprain in Week 14 against the Cardinals last year knocked Tannehill out for the rest of the season. He didn't have surgery and he's fully recovered according to multiple reports. Earlier reports this year said Tannehill would be more of a pocket passer moving forward. With a full season and a better grasp of the offense in year two under Adam Gase, it wouldn't be a shock to see him Tannehill finish as a top-15 fantasy quarterback. He's getting drafted at QB22 late in 12-team PPR leagues at this time.

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4. TB - QB Jameis Winston pumped to have O.J Howard

Source: NFL.com - Max Meyer

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston said TE O.J. Howard is going to do 'amazing' things for the offense. 'This is the fastest, most athletic 6-6, 255 guy I've ever seen in my life,' Winston said Saturday, July 1. 'It's unreal.'

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We're pumped to see how it works out for the Bucs this year. It will be a headache for fantasy owners when considering TE Cameron Brate. A breakout player in 2016 (TE6 in standard leagues), Brate will see his numbers negatively impacted with the addition of Howard and WR DeSean Jackson. The Bucs are going to have a high-powered passing attack, but they may use a TEBC - which will likely come with a level of frustration for fantasy owners.

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5. CLE - DeShone Kizer noticeably improved in spring

Source: The Cleveland Plain Dealer - Mary Kay Cabot

Cleveland Browns QB DeShone Kizer made the 'biggest leap' of all the team's quarterbacks during off-season practices, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot. Kizer has a better deep ball and his accuracy and touch have improved under head coach Hue Jackson and quarterbacks coach David Lee, according to Cabot.

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Kizer is the quarterback of the future, and the Browns are trying to give him the Dak Prescott treatment. The Browns have built a strong offensive line in front of Kizer, and now it's up to him to see if he can beat out Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler for the starting job. Kizer is big, mobile and has a strong arm -- think of him like a poor man's version of Daunte Culpepper. We'll see if the Notre Dame rookie can get his roll on in training camp.

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6. DAL - Noah Brown's versatility praised

Source: The Dallas Morning News - Kristi Scales

Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown is an 'all-around guy,' according to offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. 'He's an outside receiver with a big frame,' Linehan said. 'He's kind of got a 'tweener' size when it comes to receiver. He's got a little bit of a TE element to his game as far as his size and the matchup and the people he's blocking.'

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Brown is one of the most intriguing late-round picks from the 2017 NFL draft. A broken leg caused him to miss all of the 2015 season in college with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Because of that time missed, Brown entered the NFL draft as a redshirt sophomore, with just 14 total games of experience. The Cowboys took a chance on Brown in the seventh round, and at 6'2" 222 pounds he's a large target who can dominate at the point of the catch (search YouTube for his highlights from the game against OU). Brown has suction cups for hands and is a big possession receiver competing for a roster spot with the Cowboys. We've got him in deep dynasty leagues as a developmental prospect.

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7. CIN - WR A.J. Green focused on winning

Source: NFL.com - Jeremy Bergman

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green said he wouldn't mind seeing fewer targets this season if it means the other receivers are contributing and the team is winning.

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Fantasy owners are focused on winning when they add Green in drafts. Green is going off the board at WR5 (1.10) in 12-team PPR leagues. It's fair to project him for 90-plus catches in the Bengals offense this year. The other receivers have been upgraded (hello John Ross!) but Green is still the main weapon in this offense.

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8. NFL - RB Matt Jones hires new agent

Source: Drew Rosenhaus on Twitter

Washington running back Matt Jones has signed Drew Rosenhaus as his agent.

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It's likely Rosenhaus will help Jones secure his release from Washington. Too bad the superstar agent can't help Jones hang onto the rock. The starter to begin 2016, Jones fumbled the job away and only appeared in seven games last year. Jones is big (6'2" 231 pounds) but runs like a finesse back. He'll have a new home at or near the start of training camp.

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9. BUF - DE Shaq Lawson expected to be more comfortable

Source: The Buffalo News - Vic Carucci

Buffalo Bills DE Shaq Lawson is expected to be more comfortable in the team's new 4-3 defensive alignment because he will be lining up at defensive end. Lawson never felt truly comfortable as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 defensive alignment.

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Lawson was limited to 10 games during his rookie year in 2016. The first-round pick had a shoulder injury coming out of Clemson and he had a minor knee procedure this offseason. The team needs him to have a breakout season and avoid any sort of sophomore slump in 2017. Lawson has a powerful lower body and violent striking hands. The best part of his game can be featured as an edge-setting defensive end.

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10. NYG - Three Giants WRs may compete for one spot

Source: NJ.com - James Kratch

New York Giants WRs Travis Rudolph, Roger Lewis and Darius Powe likely will be competing for one roster spot during training camp if the Giants decide to keep six receivers on the 53-man roster.

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Lewis only had seven catches for 97 yards last year but two of them went for touchdowns. Rudolph was undrafted out of Florida State this year and could be the one to watch here. He's a refined route-runner and quickly plucks the ball out of the air with strong hands. Powe is larger (6'3") than the other two, he's smart and he's fast. In college at Cal, Powe was a favorite target of Jared Goff and a known touchdown hog.

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11. BUF - OLB Lorenzo Alexander to be strong-side LB in '17

Source: The Buffalo News - Vic Carucci

Buffalo Bills LB Lorenzo Alexander will be a strong-side linebacker in the team's 4-3 defensive alignment this season under head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier after serving mostly as a pass-rushing outside linebacker last year under former head coach Rex Ryan.

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Fantasy owners in IDP leagues need to take note here. Alexander is unlikely to have as many pass-rushing snaps, but he's a full-time linebacker and could see his tackle total rise from the 50 tackles he had last year.

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12. PHI - Greg Ward Jr. proving his worth

Source: NJ Advance Media - Matt Lombardo

Philadelphia Eagles WR Greg Ward Jr. showed reliable hands during OTAs and minicamp, and Matt Lombardo of NJ Advance Media believes Ward should at least be able to secure a spot on the practice squad.

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Ward is converting from quarterback to wide receiver in the pros. At 5'11" 185 pounds the star athlete for Houston is built in the mold of a Julian Edleman (Patriots) slot receiver. Ward has been making some highlight catches in practice, but he'll need to show route-running ability to make the 53-man roster. We think he's a practice squad guy who we are monitoring in super deep dynasty leagues.

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13. DEN - Chad Kelly to throw in a couple weeks

Source: NFL.com - Max Meyer

Denver Broncos QB Chad Kelly (wrist) said Friday, June 30, that he expects to start throwing in a couple weeks with the goal of being ready by training camp.

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Kelly is a fine developmental prospect for the Broncos, and he was head coach Vance Joseph's favorite quarterback in the 2017 NFL draft. This 'Mr. Irrelevant' is far from that, and for fantasy owners he's well worth rostering in dynasty leagues. Kelly is unlikely to do much this year as Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian compete for the starting job in 2017. Next year, Kelly could have a chance to win the job if neither Lynch or Siemian impresses this season.

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That'll do it for today, Buddy. Thanks for reading and have a great 4th tomorrow.

Peace,

J