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Volume 19, #97 -- Friday Night, July 28th, 2017

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Hi Footballguy,

Good Saturday to you. I hope you're into a nice Weekend and I hope you have a bit of time today as we've got a boatload of new content for you (again). Plus the News and Notes so let's get to it.

J

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D. FREE FEATURE - Player Faceoff: Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland
Two staffers go head-to-head and discuss Isaiah Crowell.

E. Footballguys Players Championship
The 2017 season brings a mid-stakes $250,000 Grand Prize, $2,000 in league prizes, and championship round payouts all the way down to 700th place. The overall prize pool exceeds $2.0 million. We have live draft commissioners to ensure that every draft runs smoothly and all prizes are placed in our industry-exclusive attorney escrow account.

Here are open draft times available this weekend (all times Eastern):

Saturday, July 29th: 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 9pm, 10:30pm Sunday, July 30th: 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 9pm, 10:30pm

F. MS Fantasy Football Event In Washington, DC
Join David Dodds on August 26th in Washington DC for 4+ hours of FF discussion. $25 ticket benefits the MS Society.

G. Player Faceoff: Derek Carr, Oakland
Two staffers go head-to-head and discuss Derek Carr.

H. Player Faceoff: Doug Martin, Tampa Bay
Two staffers go head-to-head and discuss Doug Martin.

I. Player Faceoff: Amari Cooper, Oakland
Two staffers go head-to-head and discuss Amari Cooper.

J. Player Faceoff: Brandin Cooks, New England
Two staffers go head-to-head and discuss Brandin Cooks.

K. Player Faceoff: Jeremy Maclin, Baltimore
Two staffers go head-to-head and discuss Jeremy Maclin.

L. Player Faceoff: Julius Thomas, Miami
Two staffers go head-to-head and discuss Julius Thomas.

M. Preseason Watch List: NFC North
Our Jason Wood with a detailed look at the key questions facing each team in the preseason. In this one, he breaks down the NFC North.

N. WR3 By Committee: PPR
Our Jeff Pasquino dives into finding a Third Starting Wide Receiver in PPR Leagues by Committee for 2017.

O. Player Spotlight: DeSean Jackson
Our Alessandro Miglio takes a closer look at DeSean Jackson's fantasy prospects.

P. Player Spotlight: Martavis Bryant
Our Phil Alexander with a detailed look at Martavis Bryant's fantasy prospects for 2017.


1. CIN - TE Tyler Eifert fully healthy

Source: The Cincinnati Enquirer - Paul Dehner Jr.

Cincinnati Bengals TE Tyler Eifert claims he has been healthy for a 'couple months' and is cleared the start of training camp after undergoing back surgery in December.

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This is much better than last year, when his ankle surgery recovery stretched into the season. A healthy Eifert might hurt AJ Green's ceiling, but it certainly helps Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati offense's prospects. Fingers crossed that he makes it through camp healthy.

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2. DEN - RB C.J. Anderson in great shape

Source: The Denver Post - Nick Kosmider

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson is in his best shape "in three or four years," according to head coach Vance Joseph.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ FOOTBALLGUYS VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

Anderson has been primed for big years in the past, but there always seems to be a nagging injury or issue that holds him back. Jamaal Charles and Devontae Booker (once he is recovered from his wrist injury) should also play roles in the backfield, making it harder to get excited about Anderson's prospects this year. His ADP has been steadily dropping in the offseason, so at least his price is more affordable than it was last year.

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3. LAC - Mike Williams may avoid surgery

Source: ESPN.com - Eric D. Williams

Los Angeles Chargers WR Mike Williams (back) will likely open training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, but the team is optimistic he can avoid surgery.

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It's still difficult to picture Williams at or near the top of end of his range of outcomes carrying this back problem into his rookie camp. Surgery is obviously still a possibility, and if it comes to pass, Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams will get upgrades.

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4. TEN - QB Marcus Mariota to be limited early

Source: TitansOnline.com - Jim Wyatt

Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota (leg) will receive limited snaps during the early part of training camp, according to head coach Mike Mularkey.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ FOOTBALLGUYS VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

This is likely just to be cautious, as all signs have pointed to a full offseason recovery for Mariota. He could be a strong QB1 that you can get outside of the top 8 quarterbacks in your draft.

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5. PIT - Le'Veon Bell to face consequences?

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Ray Fittipaldo

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell will face consequences for not signing his franchise tag tender and missing training camp, according to head coach Mike Tomlin. 'There is no question we are a group that values the team-building process,' Tomlin said Thursday, July 27. 'And doing it in this setting, so yes, there is value, and yes, there are consequences for not being here. That's the reality of it.' Pittsburgh cannot fine Bell for his absence because he has not signed his tender. 'They're untold as we sit here,' Tomlin said, when asked about the nature of those consequences.

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While this is unlikely to keep Bell sidelined during the season and we should trust him to be in top shape when he does report, it doesn't help the long term prognosis for his contract situation with the team.

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6. TEN - WR Tajae Sharpe may go on PUP list

Source: TitansOnline.com - Jim Wyatt

Tennessee Titans WR Tajae Sharpe (foot) will not participate in practice Saturday, July 29, and is a candidate for the Physically Unable to Perform list, according to head coach Mike Mularkey.

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Sharpe has gone from possible starter at this time last year to fighting for the #3 wide receiver spot. This won't help his cause.

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7. ATL - RB Devonta Freeman discussing extension

Source: NFL Network - Michael Silver

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman is talking with the Falcons about a possible five-year contract extension that would make him one of the highest paid running backs in the NFL.

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Freeman has earned it and he is more deserving of a long-term deal at market value than Tevin Coleman, who is a free agent in 2019. Freeman's upside is limited by Coleman, but he is still a low-first/early-second round quality pick almost sure to deliver despite sharing with the speedy back from Indiana.

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8. BAL - QB Colin Kaepernick still an option for BAL

Source: ESPN.com - Jamison Hensley

Free-agent QB Colin Kaepernick (49ers) is still considered an option for the Baltimore Ravens but part of the decision will depend on QB Joe Flacco's (back) status.

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Kaepernick will only be necessary if it looks like Flacco's back isn't getting better and could affect him in season. He should get signed at some point once teams get a good look at their backup situation or a starter injury happens in camp or the preseason.

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9. ARI - WR John Brown could miss up to a week

Source: The Arizona Republic - Kent Somers

Arizona Cardinals WR John Brown (quad) is expected to miss a few days and perhaps may be a week with a quad injury, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

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Not what you wanted to hear if you are banking on a rebound for Brown, but his ADP is still well outside of the top 4-5 rounds where you get your sure starters, so he was likely underpriced considering his range of outcomes. As long as he returns within a week, this shouldn't greatly change our approach to Brown in drafts.

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10. TB - RB Jacquizz Rodgers expected to rise to occasion

Source: ESPN.com - Jenna Laine

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Jacquizz Rodgers is being counted on to 'step up' for the first three games of the season while Doug Martin serves the remainder of his PED suspension from last season, according to ESPN.com's Jenna Laine.

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Rodgers is available in the second half of drafts and should start the first three games against at least a few weak run defenses based on last year's performances. He's a free strong flex play at his current ADP.

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11. HOU - Deshaun Watson 'ahead of schedule'

Source: SI.com - Albert Breer

Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson's pace in picking up the offense has 'impressed everyone in the building,' according to SI.com's Albert Breer, who added 'the big thing is that while he makes rookie mistakes, he's done well not to repeat them.'

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This is positive news on Watson's development, but Tom Savage has also drawn praise and he'll be the starter in Week 1 barring a dramatic change in this situation. Watson will stay on our waiver wire watch list unless we hear signs that he is pushing Savage to start.

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12. PIT - QB Roethlisberger unsure about playing past 2017

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Ed Bouchette

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has yet to commit to playing beyond this season.

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This isn't really a change in status, but it does remind us of the early offseason drama about Roethlisberger's status this year and in the future. The team drafted Josh Dobbs in the fourth round to develop behind backup Landry Jones to address the eventual retirement of their long-time starter.

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13. JAX - Leonard Fournette shines as receiver

Source: ESPN.com - Mike DiRocco

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette impressed as a receiver out of the backfield during both individual and team drills Thursday, July 27, according to ESPN's Michael DiRocco.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ FOOTBALLGUYS VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

Fournette is a better receiver out of the backfield than advertised, so he could approach 30-40 receptions as a lead back. He has a high floor in terms of projected workload on the ground, and any involvement in the passing game enhances his upside.

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14. ARI - RB David Johnson expects big numbers

Source: The Associated Press - Bob Baum

Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson believes he can reach 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards this year because of how much he has improved as a receiver. 'I would have had it last year if I didn't mess up on those routes,' Johnson said. 'I missed so many routes last year.'

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No matter how you cut it, Johnson is worth a top two pick this year. If John Brown is healthy, it might reduce his targets a small amount, but if Johnson is accurate about his improvement as a route runner, it won't matter.

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15. DEN - RB Jamaal Charles not practicing

Source: 9News.com - Mike Klis

Denver Broncos RB Jamaal Charles did not practice with the rest of the team Thursday, July 27.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ FOOTBALLGUYS VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

The team will take it slowly with Charles, but he has no limitations and will at least have a sizable role as a pass-catching back as long as he's healthy. Charles could surprise and get close to previous form, turning this into a true RBBC, but his workload will have to be managed in any event.

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16. BUF - QB Tyrod Taylor locked in

Source: WKBW.com - Joe Buscaglia

Buffalo Bills QB Tyrod Taylor looked 'comfortable' during practice and was hitting receivers in stride Thursday, July 27, according to Joe Buscaglia of WKBW.com.

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The new regime seemed reluctant to commit to Taylor, so this evaluation period in practice and the preseason will be important. He's a cheap sleeper quarterback available as a QB2 despite low-end QB1 numbers in some systems last year. The Bills pass offense should be improved this year as long as Sammy Watkins stays healthy.

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17. BUF - RB LeSean McCoy dominates practice

Source: WKBW.com - Joe Buscaglia

Buffalo Bills RB LeSean McCoy made practice look 'effortless' Thursday, July 27, according to Joe Buscaglia of WKBW.com, and Buscaglia believes McCoy will 'define the offense in 2017.'

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McCoy is playing close to the highest level of his career going into his age 29 season. That is close to the ledge for backs, but his situation is also very good, making McCoy worth the first-round pick it costs to make him your RB1 this year.

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18. BUF - WR Sammy Watkins looks sharp

Source: WKBW.com - Joe Buscaglia

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (foot) was a limited participant in practice Thursday, July 27, but he didn't look hindered by his surgically-repaired foot during drills, according to Joe Buscaglia of WKBW.com.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ FOOTBALLGUYS VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

We will watching Watkins closely, but there were no clear signs that he was in danger of being limited or out throughout the season during training camp and the preseason last year. Watkins will require faith on the part of his drafters, but he still has first-round upside at a third-round price.

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19. CAR - Christian McCaffrey active in passing game

Source: ESPN.com - David Newton

Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey was targeted on an excessive number of short passes and screens Thursday, July 27, which could indicate there are 'big plans for him.' He even drew a lot of 'oohs and ahs' from fans on the hill overlooking the practice field.

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McCaffrey could exceed 50-60 receptions with emphasis, which is enough to make him a solid RB2 and justify his ADP, but as long as Jonathan Stewart is healthy it will be hard for the rookie to get to RB1 production levels.

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20. CLE - DeShone Kizer making notable progress

Source: The Cleveland Plain Dealer - Mary Kay Cabot

Cleveland Browns QB DeShone Kizer is coming along 'faster than expected,' according to head coach Hue Jackson. He's starting to understand the offense much better compared to organized team activities, when Kizer 'struggled' calling plays. He showed improvement in that regard and Jackson added that he made some good throws and didn't turn the ball over.

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Cody Kessler is a known quantity, so it's just a matter of time before Kizer takes over the position for the Browns. He is one to watch in fantasy leagues because he has running ability that adds to his weekly ceiling, he plays behind a great offensive line, and the Browns will be playing from behind a lot.

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21. WAS - WR Josh Doctson has strong first day of camp

Source: The Washington Post - Mike Jones

Washington Redskins WR Josh Doctson 'showed signs' of why he was highly regarded coming out of college during the first day of training camp Thursday, July 27. With no restrictions, unlike during spring practices, Doctson went all out, displaying great footwork at the line and crisp route-running, as well as good hands. The second-year receiver is 'encouraged' by how good he feels and believes he will have a big season.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ FOOTBALLGUYS VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

Doctson has a tremendous game in the air and his size/speed/athleticism combination is difficult for any defensive back to match up with. Washington's pass offense supported three fantasy relevant wide receivers last year and Doctson could make it three with Terrelle Pryor and Jamison Crowder this year. He's very cheap considering his high ceiling talent and quality surrounding offense.

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22. TEN - Corey Davis not at training camp

Source: TitansOnline.com - Jim Wyatt

Tennessee Titans WR Corey Davis did not report for the start of training camp Friday, July 28, but head coach Mike Mularkey said the team is still working on a contract with Davis.

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It is hard to believe that rookie deals aren't getting done before camp with the little room the CBA gives the deals to vary, but here we are. Hopefully Davis doesn't have a similar situation to Joey Bosa over offset language. Obviously if this extends well into camp, it's not good for Davis's rookie year prospects.

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23. BUF - Buffalo will have two OL competitions

Source: BuffaloBills.com - Chris Brown

Buffalo Bills OT Jordan Mills will be competing with OT Dion Dawkins for the right tackle job during training camp, according to offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. Dennison also said OG John Miller and OG Vladimir Ducasse will compete for the starting right guard job.

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Right tackle was the sore spot on the line last year, and the Bills hope Dawkins can come out of the gate hot and represent a huge upgrade. If he does, they will be one of the better lines in the NFL.

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24. BAL - TE Crockett Gillmore injuries leg

Source: WNST

Baltimore Ravens TE Crockett Gillmore (leg) suffered an apparent right leg injury in the final minutes of practice Friday, July 28. He spiked his helmet in frustration, and the severity of the injury is unclear.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ FOOTBALLGUYS VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

The Ravens are already down Dennis Pitta (hip) and Darren Waller (suspension) at tight end. Ben Watson, Nick Boyle, and 2016 second-round pick Maxx Williams are the current tight ends, but if this is serious the team could shop for another body (Gary Barnidge?) depending on Watson and Williams' status.

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25. GB - TE Martellus Bennett update

Source: NBC26 - Chris Barriere

Updating a previous report, Green Bay Packers TE Martellus Bennett (ankle) had his left ankle taped and returned to practice Friday, July 28.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ FOOTBALLGUYS VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

The good news is that this is not the same ankle that gave him problems for a good part of 2016 as he played through a cracked bone in his right ankle.

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26. PHI - WR Jordan Matthews practicing again

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer - Zach Berman

Philadelphia Eagles WR Jordan Matthews (knee) is practicing for the second consecutive day Friday, July 28.

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Matthews knee tendinitis doesn't seem to be as big of an issue now that camp has opened. We are watching Nelson Agholor closely, as he had a great offseason by most accounts and fits in the slot, Matthews' home position.

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27. CLE - George Atkinson waived

Source: The Cleveland Plain Dealer - Mary Kay Cabot

Cleveland Browns RB George Atkinson III was waived Friday, July 28. The team also signed free-agent RB Brandon Wilds (Jets). Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ FOOTBALLGUYS VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

Wilds was promptly claimed after the Jets released him to sign Marcus Murphy. Wilds is a rugged between the tackles back who could vie to be the Browns #3 behind Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson.

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28. DEN - OLB Shane Ray to miss 6-8 weeks

Source: NFL Network - Ian Rapoport

Denver Broncos LB Shane Ray (wrist) is scheduled to undergo surgery Saturday, July 29, to repair a torn ligament in his wrist, according to head coach Vance Joseph. Ray is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

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Ray was supposed to have a breakout year with Demarcus Ware's retirement, but this will slow his start, possibly keeping him out for the start of the regular season. Big play specialist Shaq Barrett will get more time while Ray is sidelined.

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29. KC - OLB Tamba Hali on PUP list

Source: The Kansas City Star - Terez A. Paylor

Kansas City Chiefs LB Tamba Hali (undisclosed) was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list Friday, July 28.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ FOOTBALLGUYS VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

Not a good look for a player who just called out the team for not giving him enough playing time. Dee Ford remains entrenched as the starter at outside linebacker opposite Justin Houston.

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30. CHI - RB Jeremy Langford misses practice

Source: Chicago Tribune - Brad Biggs

Chicago Bears RB Jeremy Langford (ankle) did not participate in practice Friday, July 28, because he suffered an ankle sprain during a walkthrough Thursday, July 27.

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Langford might be fighting for passing down snaps with rookie Tarik Cohen and free agent signing Benny Cunningham. He needs to get healthy or Langford could be irrelevant in this backfield this year.

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31. MIA - WR Jarvis Landry to play out rookie deal

Source: 1500ESPN.com - Tom Pelissero

Miami Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry did not receive a contract extension offer from the Dolphins this offseason and is expected to play out the final year of his rookie deal.

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Landry should get paid in free agency next year, but it is unlikely that it will be in Miami with Kenny Stills contract from this year on the books and DeVante Parker looking like a breakout star. This also points to Landry not being the focal point of the passing game this year the way he was in the past. He's overpriced in the third round.

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32. CAR - Curtis Samuel strains hamstring

Source: Panthers.com - Bill Voth

Carolina Panthers WR Curtis Samuel (hamstring) felt tightness in his hamstring after practice Thursday, July 27, and there is no timetable for his return.

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We never want to see rookies missing crucial practice time and otherwise not being ready to contribute. Much more than for veterans, camp and preseason set the tone for rookie performances. This along with the release of Charles Johnson earlier this month sets the scene for free agent pickup Russell Shepard to contribute more early this season.

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

Peace,

J