Dynasty News #5
By Jeff Tefertiller
August 7th, 2011

The training camps are now in full swing. The news is beginning to ramp up as the excitement for a new season builds. The series of articles will look to keep you in the loop on some of the recent news as it relates to dynasty leagues. We will identify some winners and losers. This is not an exhaustive list, but will include some of the bigger news. Keep a close eye on the Footballguys.com news page for the up to date news.

The back injury to Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard will have an effect on dynasty leagues. The good news is that the Jaguars are calling the passer "day to day" after an MRI revealed no serious problems. If he misses game time, rookie Blaine Gabbert will be thrust into action. While the first-year player is a better pure passer, he could have a longer transition coming from Missouri's spread offense than many expect. Wide receiver Mike Thomas would be the biggest beneficiary of the quarterback change. Gabbert will start games this year, but Garrard is expected back in the next couple of weeks. Now is the time for Gabbert to take advantage of the increase in practice repetitions. He has great size, a big arm, and is able to move around in the pocket. These are traits that look great in practice but the jury is still out until he proves it in game action. Keep an eye out for practice reports on the rookie. When Garrard gets back under center as the starter, it might be the ideal time to buy the former first round pick in dynasty leagues.

Many in the football community knew that the market was VERY soft for Donovan McNabb. In fact, it is amazing that the Washington Redskins were able to get anything in return for the aging passer. It should have come as no surprise when Pro Football Talk reported this past weekend that McNabb's contract with the Vikings is for one year and $5 million. Minnesota was only willing to give him a one-year deal as the team prepares rookie Christian Ponder to be the long-term starter. While some may see the deal as an opportunity to increase his market, the lack of weapons in purple will constrain any upside. Further, there is a strong likelihood that the rookie will play some this season even if the veteran stays healthy.

Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune is one of the better beat writers in the nation. He is someone fantasy owners should pay attention to. So, when Acee said that he expects undrafted rookie quarterback Scott Tolzien to make the Chargers' final roster, it should open eyes. The rookie from Wisconsin has the physical tools to be a pro. Here is what Acee had to say, "This kid is sooo smart, so accurate, gets rid of the ball so quick ... He's Drew Brees without having to be forced into playing so soon." While invoking the name of Brees will get people's attention, the thought of the undrafted rookie impressing should be a welcome sign as the Chargers have tried unsuccessfully to groom a young quarterback behind Philip Rivers.

After starting training camp on fire, Darren McFadden fractured an orbital bone around his eye and is out two of action for weeks. Backfield mate Michael Bush just reported to the team after signing his one-year tender so McFadden is at no risk of falling behind. He is coming off a career season and is looking to duplicate the feat.

One of the most likely candidates for comeback player of the year is Green Bay running back Ryan Grant. This past week, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel confirmed the notion that Grant would be the Packers' first-team tailback after holding the role so far throughout camp. He will be pushed by second-year player James Starks. A bulked up Starks has been running with the second team. The Journal-Sentinel expects the team to play both and ride the "hot hand". Grant has seen his value slip after the Packers won the Super Bowl without him and is a great target for dynasty owners needing a cheap RB2.

After injuring his hand in last Wednesday's practice, Washington running back Ryan Torain underwent surgery the next day that involved four screws being placed into his broken left hand. Yes, this is the same player who seems to have squatter's rights in the training room. The injury was officially diagnosed as a fractured third metacarpal. Hand injuries for ball carriers are not to be taken lightly. He is expected to be out of action 7-10 days, but that estimate could double. We now have a glimpse as to why the Redskins were so eager to acquire Tim Hightower via trade. Rookie Roy Helu could emerge as well. After the trade to acquire Hightower, coach Mike Shanahan confirmed that the former Arizona Cardinal would compete for the starting tailback job. He now gets his opportunity. Hightower might be the sleeper in the situation while many clamor for the rookie.

After losing his rookie season to a knee injury, Cleveland Browns running back Montario Hardesty has not been able to practice with any consistency. Some are wondering aloud whether Hardesty has encountered a setback in his recovery. Many regular readers of this column will remember our take that the July signing of Brandon Jackson was an indication of the team's belief in Hardesty instead of Peyton Hillis. One of those speculating on the situation, Scott Petrak of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, said he suspects Hardesty may have encountered a setback with the surgically-repaired knee. Although Browns head coach Pat Shurmur has insisted all along that Hardesty is just following the team's plan, Petrak reported that the second-year back "didn't look right" while running sprints off to the side. For those believing in the "Madden Curse", Jackson makes an interesting stash, especially in PPR leagues.

While I know many like the long-term sleeper appeal of New Orleans tailback Chris Ivory, his injuries have to be a concern. Ivory underwent surgery last Friday to repair a sports hernia ... while he was still recovering from a Lis Franc foot surgery. There is no question that the powerful runner will begin the season on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list. Before the hernia surgery, Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune stated his belief that Ivory is "a ways away" from returning to practice just from the foot injury. He was still limping after conditioning drills, more than six months removed from Lis Franc surgery. The Lis Franc surgery was to repair a fracture in his foot. This is serious business for running backs. It is too early to write him off, but it might be 2012 before we see Ivory play a role in the Saint offense and the drafting of rookie Mark Ingram cannot help his chances.

Not to throw cold water on the Bilal Powell hype, but New York Jet head coach Rex Ryan suggested Joe McKnight is still in front of the rookie Powell in regards to the backfield hierarchy. "Let's not forget Joe McKnight," Ryan said. "Joe McKnight came a million miles and he's ready to go. So we are going to have some explosiveness out of him and we'll see about this [Bilal] Powell." With the reduced role of LaDainian Tomlinson, McKnight could play a surprising role this season.

The Atlanta Falcons have watched Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood explore free agency this offseason. The team drafted Jacquizz Rodgers to play the third down role and help in the passing game. It was of no surprise when quarterback Matt Ryan talked up Rodgers as a player who has caught his eye so far in training camp. "His knowledge of protections is really good," said Ryan. "He's gonna be the third-down back for us." Dynasty owners should be excited with Rodgers' role but do not be surprised if the team brings in another ball carrier for depth given Michael Turner's age and workload.

Adam Schefter broke the news last week that future Hall of Famer Randy Moss had decided to retire from the NFL. The fact that Moss' agent cited the lack of viable offers thus far in free agency as the reason should give an indication that the situation is still fluid (See Brett Favre retirements #1 and #2). After a few years of underperforming, so many are left with the thought of "what could have been" in terms of Moss and the record books.

As with McNabb above, Braylon Edwards thought he would have a much bigger market for his services than the one that materialized. He signed a one-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers for just $1 million (plus incentives) and no guarantees. The deal illustrates the team's apprehension to Edwards' off the field issues. After a few run ins with the law in the past, Edwards could end up in another courtroom for his role in a Michigan bar fight. Two of his cousins "allegedly" assaulted bar employees with knives and forks. The wide receiver was not arrested at the time because police say they were concentrating on breaking up the fight, but the two cousins have been charged with felonious assault. A statement to police indicated Edwards' involvement, possibly as the instigator. Edwards is still on probation for an assault in Cleveland. It boggles the mind why a free agent, wanting to show a positive image, would get into this type of situation.

The San Diego Chargers re-signed veteran wideout Malcom Floyd to a two-year, $5 million contract. The vertical threat turned down more money from the Baltimore Ravens, but returned to the Chargers. Fantasy owners should expect Floyd to still get enough targets as Rivers loves to throw the ball down the field to his over-sized wide receivers.

Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson singled out fifth-round WR Denarius Moore for his play in the first week of camp. "Wow! He's a tremendous young player," Jackson said. "I mean when you look around, every time you look up, there's No. 17 making a play." Jason Campbell even got into the gushing, "He's so talented, he's so athletic ... Some things you just can't coach, he has about him. He's a guy that can add a lot to our offense this year." Moore will have a chance to see the field as a rookie, but remember that he is seeing more action in training camp with Ford sidelined.

After his ACL injury and subsequent surgery, Tampa Bay wide receiver Arrelious Benn does not expect to play "much, if at all" during the preseason. He is on the fast track after the injury in Week 16 last season. Last Wednesday was the first time Benn practiced in pads this summer and should be ready for the season opener even without any preseason game action. He could sneak onto the scene with all of the focus on Mike Williams.

After enjoying the courtship of several teams, aging wide receiver Derrick Mason has decided to sign with the New York Jets over the Baltimore Ravens. With the Jets having Brad Smith and Edwards sign elsewhere, could the team have been nervous about only having Plaxico Burress at the wide receiver position opposite Santonio Holmes? The answer is "DEFINITELY" especially after Burress is already sidelined with a bum ankle. There is still a question revolving around Mason's eroding ability.

The Seattle Seahawks signed former Oakland Raider tight end Zach Miller to a five-year, $34 million contract, including $17 million in guarantees. The Seahawks have done a great job of accumulating talent with the signing of Miller and wide receiver Sidney Rice. It might be 2012 before dynasty owners reap the rewards, but these are great players to target. Each is very young and an elite player when healthy. Seattle should address the quarterback position in the 2012 NFL Draft giving both Miller and Rice a value boost.

Washington Redskin tight end Chris Cooley was recently seen limping at Redskins camp. Head coach Mike Shanahan confirmed that Cooley's knee is "sore" but stated that the veteran tight end should be back in a week. Cooley is icing the knee to keep the swelling down. For those that do not remember, he had knee surgery last January, after playing last season on a torn meniscus. Fred Davis makes a great insurance policy for those nervous about Cooley's knee.

Per camp reports, New England Patriot tight end Rob Gronkowski has been a "man among boys" so far at training camp. Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald gave a glowing report on the second-year player. "No one has come close to being able to guard him, or contain him ... He's been an absolute beast." Rapoport went so far in his praise to say he would "bet the farm" that Gronkowski makes All-Pro this year. That is easier said than done with Aaron Hernandez stealing targets.

After tight end Zach Miller signed in Seattle, the Oakland Raiders turned their sights to Kevin Boss. The ex-Giant signed a four-year, $16 million contract to switch coasts. Boss is still young and helps ease the sting of losing Miller.

With the offseason now in effect, please feel free to email me at tefertiller@footballguys.com with any suggestions or comments. Also, I am on Twitter, so feel free to ask me questions there. I will also be active in the "wannabee" thread in the assistant coach forum.

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