News: ESPN reports Rob Gronkowski will undergo back surgery on Tuesday. It will be his fifth surgery since last November but the first on his back. It is believed that Gronk will need 12 weeks to recover and rehabilitate. Gronkowski is also rehabbing from his latest forearm surgery, performed on May 21. The Patriots "don't know" when he'll be back. Analysis: Twelve weeks from Tuesday, June 18 is September 10, two days after the Patriots' Week 1 game at Buffalo. This means he's unlikely for any portion of training camp and the preseason. It also means he's a lock to begin the summer on the Physically Unable to Perform list, which opens him up to missing the first six weeks of the season if he's still on the list by Aug. 31. It's worth noting that if this were to happen he'd only be available to Fantasy owners for three of the first 10 weeks of the season because of the Patriots' Week 10 bye. How Gronkowski responds to the surgery will play a major role in whether or not he misses any time at all but the Patriots might choose to take a cautious approach after rushing him back from his forearm injury last year. If you're taking Gronkowski before Round 3 on Draft Day you're taking a major risk.
News: Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe said earlier this offseason that his goal is "to lead the league in receptions and touchdowns," but that didn't fly with the coaches in Kansas City, according to the National Football Post. The report says some of the coaches for the Chiefs "had to have a word" with Bowe about his stated goal. The report says they appreciate Bowes enthusiasm and ambition, but they want him to understand Andy Reids offense doesnt work that way. Reid likes to spread the ball around to multiple targets and take what the defense gives them. The report adds Reid "wont be looking to use Bowe the way the Lions use Calvin Johnson." Analysis: We still expect Bowe to play at a high level this season, but this report is telling. That said, even if the Chiefs do plan to spread the ball around, who else is quarterback Alex Smith going to trust? Donnie Avery? Jonathan Baldwin? Dexter McCluster? Bowe is a difference maker, and he should post dominant stats. While he might not be Calvin Johnson he's still worth trusting as a standout No. 2 Fantasy option. Plan on drafting him as early as Round 4.
News: Arian Foster told FOXSports.com he would "more than likely" be ready for training camp after straining his calf in late May. Its just a small calf strain," he said of the injury. "News is dry in the offseason, so it made headlines." Analysis: Foster has been using a hyperbaric chamber to help him heal from the injury. Foster will play this season after taking on over 400 carries last year between the regular season and postseason. Throw in catches and we're talking over 450 touches. That's a lot for a running back; usually players with that much work in a year do not fare as well the following season. That's why adding Ben Tate with a Round 7 or 8 pick is a must if you take Foster with a Top 5 pick.
News: With Willis McGahee now gone after being released, the Broncos could start Ronnie Hillman in Week 1 with rookie Montee Ball eventually taking over the starter's role. The Colorado Springs Gazette predicts that Hillman is the starter for the season opener. Ball assumes the position by the end of September, and Knowshon Moreno remains a significant contributor in part because he's the most reliable pass-blocker and protecting quarterback Peyton Manning is priority No. 1. Analysis: We predict Hillman and Ball will share playing time early in the season with Moreno being a solid reserve. Pass protection will be a huge issue for all the Denver running backs, but Hillman has a year of experience under his belt after playing plenty as a rookie in 2012. We consider Hillman a key reserve for Fantasy owners in standard leagues, and a potential No. 3 option in PPR formats. Plan on drafting Hillman with a mid-round pick in all leagues.
News: ESPN reports Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez "could" be ready for the start of training camp as he continues to make progress from offseason shoulder surgery. Hernandez only did individual work during offseason practices. Analysis: Hernandez is taking extra care with the intention of playing 16 games this season. He could always come off the PUP list after camp starts and be more than ready for the start of the season. Hernandez has never played more than 14 games in a season and was in only 10 games last year. Hernandez scored five touchdowns and caught 51 passes for 483 yards in those 10 games last season, showing his potential to be dominant many times. Over the last two seasons (24 games) Hernandez has averaged 5.4 catches per game but for just 58.04 yards per contest. He's also scored a touchdown, on average, once every two games (12 touchdowns). That's enough to make Hernandez the third- or fourth-best tight end you can draft this summer assuming there are no further setbacks. Ultimately expect him to get picked around 50th overall.
News: Victor Cruz has signed his restricted free agent tender, ESPN was first to report, meaning he's locked into a one-year deal worth nearly $2.9 million. The New York Daily News doesn't believe Cruz will hold out from training camp but has learned that Cruz is looking for a long-term contract estimated at $9 million per year. Analysis: If Cruz is absent past Aug. 6 then he'd lose an accrued year of work, meaning he'd be a restricted free agent again in 2014. That's unlikely. We suspect Cruz will put on a happy face about this and play some great football this season in hopes of landing a rich deal. That's exactly the kind of motivation Fantasy owners want him to have. With over 80 catches, 1,000 yards and at least nine scores in each of his last two seasons it's a no-brainer that Cruz should settle as a Top 15 receiver worth a pick in Round 3 on Draft Day.
News: On the same day the Packers released linebacker Desmond Bishop, Packer Report has learned the Vikings might make "a strong run" at him. Bishop also told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he's "completely healthy" following a hamstring injury last year. Analysis: Bishop is a gem for Fantasy when he's healthy as he accumulates plenty of tackles with some sacks and other pass defense stats mixed in. Though the clock's ticking on him being a productive defender, he should manage to be a good option if he stays healthy for another year or two. We'll see if he's healthy and where he'll play in 2013.
News: Cowboys rookie Joseph Randle disclosed he actually had two thumb surgeries this offseason, causing him to miss all of the team's offseason workouts. He told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he'll get the cast off in a week and wear a brace. Randle also said he's put on close to 10 pounds since last year. He's expected to be ready for the start of training camp. Analysis: Randle will do all the right things once the cast is off including staying with the Cowboys through July to get caught up on what he's missed. Randle appears to be the primary handcuff to Cowboys starter DeMarco Murray, a fairly valuable spot since Murray has a hard time staying healthy (he was already sidelined once this offseason). Assuming Randle is in camp on time with no issues he has the makings of a late-round sleeper whether you draft Murray with an early- to mid-round pick or not.
News: The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Packers running back DuJuan Harris has no doubt he'll be participating in the first day of training camp. After having a "grapefruit"-sized, noncancerous cyst removed from his lung, Harris expects to be full go July 26. "I'll be ready," Harris said. "I'll be there." For Harris, the removal was a blessing in disguise. He would've never even known about the cyst if not for the routine check-up and now his breathing may improve without the cyst jammed up against his lungs. Harris enters training camp in competition with Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, Alex Green and James Starks. By the postseason a year ago, Harris finished as the starter. In six games, Harris rushed for 257 yards on 62 carries with four touchdowns. Analysis: We're glad Harris is healthy, and hopefully he will be ready to go for the start of training camp. While Lacy and Franklin likely have the edge on Harris to open camp, he could still be a factor this year. Consider him a late-round flier in deeper leagues.
News: Cowboys receiver Miles Austin said taking some time off to rest his hamstrings did him a world of good. He's now expected to be 100 percent for the start of training camp, where he'll likely be spelled here and there. "Theres not many things you can really control," Austin said per the Dallas Morning News. "You can control your effort, but other things are going to happen. I've always been working on my conditioning since I got here. I feel really good right now, hopefully it stays that way." Analysis: It's great that the Cowboys are taking steps to ensure Austin enters the year healthy. Fantasy owners' only concern with Austin should be his health as he's delivered at least decent numbers when given the chance over the last four seasons. That stigma that he's old and worn down will stick with owners on Draft Day, causing Austin to tumble a bit on draft boards. But remember, he started last season with 10-plus Fantasy points in six of his first seven games before waning in November. He's a solid No. 3 Fantasy receiver worth a mid-round pick.