Fantasy news & notes: Week 1 without Gronk?

I'm not sure there's ever been a tight end handcuff in fantasy but that's what we got brewing right now in Foxborough. Rob Gronkowski is looking more and more like a long shot to play, meaning Martellus Bennett could see a massive uptick in opporunities.

Gronk is dealing with a hamstring injury (remember when he "pulled up" in a joint practice versus the Bears?) and his status for Week 1 is cloudy.

As the force-of-nature tight end told reporters, his condition is "week-to-week" and that his playing time Sunday versus the Cardinals will be a "coach's decision."

Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal reported that Gronk did not travel with the team Friday. NFL Media's Courtney Fallon reported "Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) is not expected to play Sunday vs Cardinals, per source informed." Given all the info, unless this is next-level Belichick-ian maneuvering, it's safe to assume he's not playing folks.

As you can imagine, Martellus Bennett stock is soaring. His ownership is just 51 percent on NFL.com but in most competitive leagues he is likely long gone. If he's for some reason hanging out on the waivers, scoop him up if for no other reason than to pawn him off on the Gronk manager in your league. No mercy. All's fair in love and fantasy, or something like that.

Vance McDonald and Jesse James are two names that don't instill a lot of confidence but are absolutely playable. McDonald built a solid rapport with Blaine Gabbert on the back-half of last year and Chip Kelly is known to utilize the tight end position. "The Road Dogg" Jesse James walks into a solid target share with Heath Miller retired and Ladarius Green on the PUP. Both are wildly available, even in deep leagues.

By the way, even if you don't trade Bennett, he absolutely has stand-alone value. If Gronk is good to go, expect the Patriots to run plenty of 12 personnel. If Gronk is a no go, well, you got yourself a really good starting tight end. Just as a reminder, while Gronk has played a full 16 in two consecutive seasons, he previously has had surgeries to repair a broken forearm, an ACL and twice had surgeries on his back.

Even playing opposite Gronk, Bennett has the ability and is in an offense that could make him a top-15 tight end. If Gronk misses time, Bennett's value sky rockets.

More news and notes:

NEWS: Marshawn Lynch is considering a comeback according to a Pro Football Talk report citing a source with knowledge. The Mike Florio report goes on to say Lynch could target Week 4 or 5 as possible return date.

- Fantasy spin: You're either super excited or smacking your forehead and muttering to yourself, "Stop." There's no in between.

The Seahawks still own his rights so if he came back, Seattle would have the option of bringing him back, trading him or cutting him. If they brought him back, RIP Thomas RawlsFantasy Value. It seems extremely unlikely that Lynch would be okay with a trade unless it was to a team like like his hometown Raiders or some other team on the West Coast but you never know. If it were to happen, big if (and let's be honest here, most likely not going to happen), but if Marshawn came back, whereever he ended up would likely create backfield havoc from a fantasy perspective.

- Bottom line: There's nothing to do except keep tabs on Lynch but let's be real, if the rumblings are for real, you'll be inundated with information both real and half true.

NEWS: Jamaal Charles is considered a "stretch" to play Sunday versus the Chargers head coach Andy Reid told reporters Monday. The team listed him as doubtful Friday.

*- Fantasy spin: *We talked about this last week, but Charles' Week 1 status went from pretty good early this offseason to now unlikely.

Spencer Ware seems to be the guy considering he got a large bulk of the first-team looks in recent weeks. But something to consider: Charcandrick West was the first in line when Charles went down last year and hurt his elbow early in the preseason which kept him out of practices.

Regardless, Ware is the play in Week 1 versus a Chargers defense that was just atrocious against the run last year. The defense allowed 4.8 yards per carry (tied for second worst in the league) and also gave up 17 rushing scores (third worst in the NFL). And oh by the way, Joey Bosa is not expected to play.

- Bottom line: A sleeper pick that could wake early in the season, Ware has a legit chance to be a top-10 fantasy back in Week 1.

NEWS: Cameron Artis-Payne was a healthy inactive Thursday night versus the Broncos.

- Fantasy spin: It was a surprising move given the positive buzz CAP was generating in camp. The reasoning behind benching CAP is likely related to pass protection. While Artis-Payne has improved his pass blocking this offseason, the team probably wanted to maximize the bubble around Cam Newton and that likely meant Fozzy Whittaker and Mike Tolbert.

Still, most expected the second-year Auburn man to get the start if anything were to happen to Stewart. This indicates otherwise and if anything, strongly suggests the team could go to a full committee if Stewart got hurt.

- Bottom line: In deeper leagues if you held CAPPY shares, feel free to release him to the wire.

NEWS: Justin Hunter was claimed off waivers by Dolphins. To make room, the team cut Griff Whalen. The 2013 second-round pick was cut by Tennessee after failing to meet expectations.

- Fantasy spin: Obviously Jarvis Landry will eat but other than that who? DeVante Parker is still dealing with a hamstring injury and Jakeem Grant who has been making preseason noise is all of 5-foot-6 and 165 pounds. Leonte Carroo and Kenny Stills are the only other wide receivers and they are both listed at 6-foot-0 even. Hunter at 6-foot-4 has the size that the team covets opposite Landry but Hunter has a lonnnng way to go.

But as the Miami Herald points out, Hunter is reunited with his wide receivers coach from Tennessee in Shawn Jefferson. It's possible that experience will help ease the Hunter's transition to a new team and playbook.

- Bottom line: Hunter isn't worth a look in virtually any format currently but it's conceivable a change in scenery could be just what the doctor ordered for the athletically-gifted receiver. Keep tabs.

NEWS: Speaking of the Dolphins, Jay Ajayi was left behind in Miami. According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, coach Adam Gase made the call to make him a healthy scratch against the Seahawks.

Per Adam Beasley, also of the Herald, Ajayi was upset this past week because he was demoted to second on the depth chart behind Arian Foster.

- Fantasy spin: In the words of Ron Burgundy, [boy ... that escalated quickly](C:\Users\matt.franciscovich\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook\RDZQUVRG\escalated quickly giphy.gif). Ajayi went from unquestioned starter in Miami to being passed by Arian Foster to then being kicked to the curb by the coaches.

There are serious, serious concerns that Foster will be able to stay healthy given his age, and injury history. Ajayi was largely being drafted as a handcuff but if he's now in the dog house, feel free to drop him.

- Bottom line:Damien Williams is listed as next man up with Kenyan Drake and Isaiah Pead (yes for reals) lurking as well. Drake is mayyyyybe a possibility in PPR formats but all should be avoided. There are much better handcuff options out there if that's your game.

Shameless Cross Promotion:

In a deeper league? The Wiz Kid from Wisconsin, Alex Gelhar has you covered. He dropped his Week 1 Deep Dive waiver wire players here. Find out why he makes a case for RG3 as a deeper-league fantasy quarterback.

If you're interested in playing daily fantasy for the first time but aren't 100 percent sure how it works, Matt Harmon gives you a pretty good walk through here.

Week 1 Like/dislike! Adam Rank explains why he's on board with our colleague Matt Franciscovich and investing heavily in Christine Michael. That plus plenty of wrestling references abound. Peep it here.

Want more fantasy news and notes? Follow James Koh on Twitter: @JamesDKoh

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