Dynasty News #6
By Jeff Tefertiller
August 18th, 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.

It should not have come as a surprise when Adam Schefter reported that the Bengals have gotten multiple calls about Carson Palmer's availability, and have told whoever is calling that they are not interested in trading him. Many will not consider this "news" but is another indication of Cincinnati' owner Mike Brown's stubbornness.

The running game in Miami looked horrible against the Atlanta Falcons Friday night. Beat writer Omar Kelly said after the game, "I personally leave the Phins exhibition opener SUPER concerned about the offensive line. Either they can't run block or these backs are weak." Dolphins rookie tailback Daniel Thomas gained just five yards on four carries. With a poor quarterback situation, the Miami offense should expect a crowded box to run through. Fans will miss the Ronnie-Ricky combo before the start of the regular season.

Detroit Lions rookie running back Mikel Leshoure was lost for the season after he tore his left Achilles' tendon in Monday's practice. The former second-round pick has had the surgery and now faces a full year of rehab after suffering possibly the most severe injury in sports. The team will miss the hard-nosed running of the rookie. None of the Detroit running backs showed well in the preseason opener. Jerome Harrison was the first ball carrier to replace starter Jahvid Best. But, Best, Harrison, and Mike Bell only totaled 25 yards on 15 carries. With the injury history of Best, Harrison could emerge as a sleeper this season.

Washington Redskins beat writer John Keim reported that rookie Roy Helu "needs a lot of work" in his blitz pickup. Helu was overdrafted in rookie drafts and will struggle to see the field unless Ryan Torain continues his injury-prone ways AND Tim Hightower cannot fix his fumbling problem. Even then, fellow rookie Evan Royster might pass Helu.

After meeting with free agent wide receiver Steve Smith, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin said that the receiver's recovery from knee surgery "is going to be a long haul." So, Smith went straight to division rival Philadelphia and signed a one-year deal ... and even got $2 million in guaranteed money. The funny part is that after Smith signed with the Eagles, the Giant organization cried and whined that they thought they were promised a chance to match any offer. Really? After Coughlin's comments? This signing is a direct response to the illness of Jeremy Maclin. Maclin has yet to practice and it is unknown when he will be able to join the team. For now, the reports are that the Eagles do not anticipate Smith remaining on the PUP list when the regular season starts. Coach Andy Reid estimated that Smith will not be ready to practice for three or four weeks. Yes, that may be overly optimistic, but his signing was a great move.

Jim Trotter, of Sports Illustrated, reported that newly signed Rams' wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker has had a "strong camp" and "appears to have developed a nice rapport" with Sam Bradford. Trotter spent a week with the team and opined that the injury-prone pass catcher was "the closest thing to a No. 1 receiver on the Rams' roster.". Making the situation even muddier, many expect free agent Mark Clayton to re-sign with Saint Louis. The former Raven is coming off a patellar tendon tear and worked out for the team last week. The Rams have upgraded the receiver corps in a big, and cheap, way. But, let's still remember the injury history of Sims-Walker, Clayton, Donnie Avery, Danario Alexander, and the rest of the team's group of wideouts.

First-year Redskin wideout Leonard Hankerson has struggled with drop passes throughout training camp. Rich Campbell of the Washington Times said, "the frequency at which he drops passes is a bit stunning." Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Hankerson is talented and could take a huge leap onto the scene if he can cure the issue. The rookie can make plays after the catch ... if he can ever catch the ball.

Another rookie pass catcher struggling is Jonathan Baldwin in Kansas City. He has struggled against press coverage while dealing with a hamstring injury early in camp. The reports have not been kind for the rookie. Nick Wright of radio station 610 in Kansas City stated, "When he's been jammed, I haven't seen him catch one." It may take him a while to see the field. The tough part to understand is how a big receiver is manhandled by smaller defensive backs.

Lee Evans was traded by the Buffalo Bills to the Baltimore Ravens for a 2012 fourth round pick. The Baltimore Sun confirmed that the Ravens plan to use Lee Evans as a vertical field stretcher, allowing Anquan Boldin to focus on "short and intermediate routes." Many may see the trade as the Ravens wanting to improve the wide receiver corps. If we remember, the team was bragging on their first-year pass catchers since the lockout ceased. But, the timing of the trade is interesting. The deal was struck the day after the first preseason game and the two rookies (Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss) poor showings. Doss played better of the two, but the addition of Evans was to fill the void occupied by Derrick Mason. Though Doss was better, it is not saying much. The Baltimore Sun opined that Smith "didn't look comfortable running routes, especially going in and out of breaks or cuts" in the preseason opener. This screams of Smith's raw speed and raw route running. The team WANTED the rookies to take a step forward in their development. It did not happen and now they have Evans. Do not expect much from any of the wide receivers in Baltimore. It is an ugly situation.

A sleeper to watch is Victor Cruz in New York. He had a big preseason last year and has improved. Expect Cruz to vie for the slot receiver role, the opening left by Smith signing in Philadelphia. He has gained a lot of support after playing well so far in camp. Cruz has little competition for the position and could garner a lot of pass targets with the Giants letting tight end Kevin Boss walk in free agency.

Terrell Owens will be able to find work after he recovers from his ACL surgery. The never-bashful Owens posted a video of himself doing footwork drills on a field ladder and breaking into a sprint. He had the knee surgery in April and is hoping to be able to play early in the season. The one thing to remember is that veteran players' contracts are guaranteed after week one so teams may be waiting until then to sign the aging wide receiver. After all, he will be 38 years old in December. Owens makes for a great "buy low" opportunity for dynasty owners needing a short-term player. But, temper expectations until October. It will take time to get into shape and learn the offense of whichever team is willing to accept the headache Owens brings.

Many dynasty owners had Carolina Panthers young wideout David Gettis listed as a sleeper this season. But, he tore the ACL in his left knee this past week. Brandon LaFell and newly signed Legedu Naanee will now battle for the opportunity to line up opposite Steve Smith. Let's keep in mind that Naanee played with current coach Ron Rivera last season in San Diego.

This may be the time to acquire Indianapolis reserve tight end Jacob Tamme. Starter Dallas Clark will wear a brace on his surgically-repaired wrist all season. Clark has a tough time staying out of the training room. Tamme was awesome after replacing the veteran in 2010.

Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan shocked fans and fantasy owners last Friday night when he stated that tight end Chris Cooley will miss "at least" the next few weeks of camp due to his recurring left knee injury. But, this is really no surprise since Cooley has missed so much time already. This is the same knee that was surgically repaired last winter and has needed draining several times so far in camp. Cooley owners would do well to overpay for Fred Davis. Davis is very athletic and could make a big splash if Cooley misses much time.

After low-balling Zach Miller, the Oakland Raiders did well to sign Kevin Boss. Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times said that he expects the ex-Giant to "at least double" the 30 receptions per year averaged while in the Big Apple. With a young group of receivers, expect quarterback Jason Campbell to target the veteran tight end often. The one knock on Boss is his inability to stay healthy, but he makes for a great fantasy reserve off the waiver wire.

Ravens' tight end Dennis Pitta is very athletic, and underappreciated by the fantasy community. It surprised many when he continued to take snaps with the first team even after the return of Ed Dickson. The former BYU star can make plays after the catch. He left many impressed with his 47 yards on four catches in the preseason opener. The two young tight ends could split time at the position, but Pitta is the dynasty one to own ... especially while your leaguemates think Dickson is the starter.

Former basketball player at Stanford, and now currently a tight end for the Cleveland Browns, Evan Moore has starred in training camp. Ben Watson is coming off a big season and the team drafted a rookie at the position, but Tony Grossi of The Plain Dealer stated that Moore has been the MVP of Browns camp so far. While the upside might not be huge in the near future, Moore is a player to watch. He could develop into a Dallas Clark clone.

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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