NEWS: Josh Gordon blames second-hand smoke; no case ever won due to this excuse.

According to Rotoworld, no drug suspension appeal case has ever been won by a player due to “second-hand” smoke excuse. Browns WR Josh Gordon is reportedly appealing with this stance. From ESPN: “A cornerstone of both of our drug testing programs has always been that you are responsible for what is in your body,” Greg Aiello, NFL senior vice president of communications, said via email Tuesday. “It is stated that way in the policies.”

SMITTY: The threshold limit for illegal substances is there for a reason, so regardless of how, Josh Gordon exceeded the threshold. Even if this was a case of second-hand smoke affecting Gordon’s test, he knew the rules and should have stayed far away from any situation that could have landed him back in a position of getting suspended. While anything can happen, and other arguments/facts could surface, expecting anything less than a 16-game suspension could lead to disappointment. We should know more in days. While you wait, check out our Week 1 Line-Up Rankings.

NEWS: Rob Gronkowski not to play in preseason, but is practicing?

According to BostonGlobe.com, it “would be a surprise to see Rob Gronkowski play in any of New England’s preseason games” in 2014. He is practicing during both 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills.

SMITTY: I don’t think any Rob Gronkowski owners want to see him taking any more hits than he has to, and I highly-doubt the lack of action will impact his ability to pull in touchdown passes from Tom Brady. If healthy all year long, and that’s a big if, Gronk could easily pull in 80 passes for well over 1,100 yards and a strong shot at double-digit touchdowns, if not more like 12+ (and Brady could return to the top 3-5 for fantasy QBs for one more season). If I had to predict a number of games played for Gronk this upcoming season, I’d say 13-14, but anything can happen. Checkout where we have Rob Gronkowski ranked on our Week 1 Power Rankings.

NEWS: Darren McFadden has edge over Maurice Jones-Drew?

According to dallasnews.com, Raiders RB Darren McFadden “has the starting edge” over Maurice Jones-Drew.

SMITTY: Both Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew have plenty of skill, but MJD has some milage concerns, and D-Mac can’t stay on the field. If either back was given starter carries, they might actually surprise, but counting on either rusher as anything more than a high-upside RB3/4 would be a mistake. Looking for Full-Season 2014 Fantasy Football Projections?

NEWS: Lance Dunbar still impressing?

According to dallasnews.com, Cowboys RB Lance Dunbar “continues to be impressive.”

SMITTY: DeMarco Murray has top 15 overall upside heading into 2014, no question, but there are some injury concerns with the dynamic talent. The solution if you plan on investing in Murray in 2014 (or if you own him in dynasty)? Handcuff him to Lance Dunbar. Some will argue that the true back-up is Joseph Randle, who is likely ahead of Ryan Williams, but I love Dunbar’s skill set, and I think he shines if ever forced to carry more weight for the Cowboys in ’14. First off, he is already cemented into that Cowboys’ passing attack, so he has big PPR appeal. If Murray went down, Dunbar would shine if given the shot.

NEWS: David Wilson suffers a setback in practice; Jennings the uncontested starter.

According to reports, Giants RB David Wilson left practice today with a “neck burner” – He will undergo tests.

SMITTY: David Wilson is a tough player to even roster in 2014, despite his insane athletic ability. Rashad Jennings, althouh his ADP is higher than I’d like it, doesn’t have much standing in his way of a decent season in 2014. Andre Williams could steal goal line work, and he is a beast-of-a-runner, but he can’t catch an oversized basketball. He could work on that deficiency, and if he does I’ll be a long-term supporter of his. For now, though, Jennings looks like the Giants’ uncontested workhorse heading into August – See where we have him ranked on our Week 1 Power Rankings.

NEWS: Josh Gordon barely failed drug test?

Update: ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Browns WR Josh Gordon will be arguing in his appeal hearing that his positive marijuana test was “the result of exposure to secondhand smoke.” In the linked video here, ‘secondhand smoke’ is a defense often used and is not likely to holdup.

According to ProFootballTalk, Browns WR Josh Gordon passed “at least 70 drug tests” and “one test barely generated a positive.” Gordon was in Stage III of the league’s testing program, a stage a player never leaves from once they enter it. At Stage III, players must pass up to 10 drug tests per month.

SMITTY: There are all kinds of speculation pieces being written right now, some of which make sense, some of which don’t. PFT seems to have a good grasp on this situation. Essentially, PFT explains that urine samples are routinely divided into two bottles, an “A” bottle and a “B” bottle. If the “A” bottle generates a positive result, then the “B” bottle is also tested. Shockingly, the “B” bottle doesn’t have to independently generate a positive. Instead, the substance abuse policy reads that the “‘B’ bottle Test only needs to show that the substance, revealed in the ‘A’ bottle, is “evident to the ‘limits of detection’ to confirm the results of the ‘A’ bottle Test.” As PFT creatively explains, “In English, close counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and “B” bottles.” In Gordon’s case, the “A” bottle test showed “a concentration of 16 ng/ml, only one nanogram per milliliter above the limits of 15. The ‘B’ bottle showed a concentration of 13.6 ng/ml — less than the threshold.” So, because the “A” bottle test was labeled “A” and not “B”, and because the “B” bottle was labeled “B” and not “A”, a positive result was delivered, which commands a minimum ban of one-year. We will certainly keep you updated as more info rolls in! While you wait, check out our Full-Season 2014 Fantasy Football Projections?

NEWS: Ray Rice looks good in practice?

According to baltimoresun.com, Ravens RB Ray Rice has “looked good” during training camp and has “looked like the Ray Rice of old.” Rice is suspended for the first two games of the 2014 NFL season.

SMITTY: I love Bernard Pierce, who gets two games to shine all by himself in Weeks 1 and 2, but Ray Rice certainly has a shot at regaining some of his previous form. He is only 27, only has 1,431 regular-season carries to his name, and only has one season with 300+ carries… no one on that Baltimore roster rushed well last season, so assuming last year’s disappointments on the ground in Baltimore were more due to the offensive line/team issues isn’t off-base. The tricky part with owning Rice is worrying about Pierce shinning in those first two games. You have to own both of these runners in 2014 if you want to play it safe, but the duo makes for a sneaky-good RB2.

NEWS: Josh Gordon hires the attorney that represented Richard Sherman.

According to Adam Schefter on Twitter, Browns WR Josh Gordon has hired the attorney that helped Richard Sherman win his suspension appeal back in December.

SMITTY: Josh Gordon, and his fantasy owners, will be hoping for a half-season reduction, but most sources close to the situation fully expect Gordon to be handed the 16-game ban. Expect an update in 7-10 days – We will keep you posted! Until then, get ready for your draft and check out our Full-Season 2014 Fantasy Football Projections, where we are really starting to like Charles Johnson as a nice 2014 sleeper candidate.

NEWS: Nick Foles holds all-time record with 2INTs in 2014; Jeremy Maclin looking fantastic?

Eagles QB Nick Foles currently holds the NFL record for least amount of interceptions (2INTs) in a season where at least 25TD passes were thrown. According to other reports, Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin looks ‘fantastic’ right now in practice.

SMITTY: Nick Foles has a lot of believers, but for some reason he also has a lot of doubters still. The guy is proven. If you think 2INTs/11 games in a high-octane, fast-moving offense isn’t proof enough, I can’t help you. If you aren’t impressed with his all-time (tied) NFL record of 7TDs in one game, I cannot help you. If you aren’t seeing consistency developing here after the guy was on a 16-game pace (through 11 games) for 4,200 passing yards, 39 passing TDs, 300+ rushing yards and 4 rushing TDs (and Pro Bowl MVP last year), I cannot help you. Well, maybe I can if you give our Upside Board a read. The loss of DeSean Jackson worries me zero given the additions of rookie Jordan Matthews, Darren Sproles and return of Jeremy Maclin. Riley Cooper and Zach Ertz are also high-upside guys without question. Toss in the fact that Foles now has arguably two 60-reception receivers in both LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles, this is arguably the best group of receivers/rushers in the league. Looking for Week 1 Power Rankings on all the players above?

NEWS: Marshawn Lynch fined $30k per day; Christine Michael on par with explosiveness of Adrian Peterson?

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch is being fined $30k per day, and the team can also go after some of his signing bonus. If a preseason game is missed, the team can go after a full game check. The CBA is now designed so players have little leverage when holding out.

SMITTY: Again, I fully expect Marshawn Lynch to report sooner rather than later, but he is near 2,000 total carries, so the future in Seattle is Christine Michael, who could be starting as early as 2015; I also predict that he will crank out top 5 fantasy running back numbers per start if his number is called in 2014. ESPN’s Louis Riddick recently said on ESPN that he personally scouted Michael at Texas A&M, and the strength coach at the time told him that he trained both Adrian Peterson and Christine Michael, and that Michael is on par with the “functional athletic explosiveness” of Adrian Peterson… this, among many other things, is why you want to read our 2014 Bold Predictions (aka our Upside Board). Read it now if you haven’t already!