Dynasty News #7
By Jeff Tefertiller
August 23rd, 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 was good to see SI.com's Andrew Lawrence's report that Maurice Jones-Drew is back to pre-injury form. Lawrence said that the stout rusher's surgically repaired knee was not affecting his play in training camp. This is great news. The writer went on to say Jones-Drew's "burst, cutting, and acceleration" have been on display in limited practices. The best part is that he does not have any pain in the knee. The Jaguar back has lost a ton of value in dynasty leagues and could be poised for a rebound season. When healthy, Jones-Drew is considered one of the elite fantasy running backs in football.

As though the injury bug was not bad enough before Friday night, the injury to rookie Ryan Williams was gruesome. Arizona Cardinal coach Ken Whisenhunt revealed after the preseason game that Williams had a torn patellar tendon. This was later confirmed by the local beat writers. Surgery is expected early in the week and then a LONG rehab. The knee injury is potentially career-threatening and his 2012 return is not a given. Such a big blow for a talented runner. Yes, the dynasty value of Beanie Wells will climb on the news, but only due to situation and not how he has looked in the first two preseason games. The Cardinal running attack is in bad shape. A player to watch is LaRod Stephens-Howling. The quick runner was a backup behind LeSean McCoy at Pittsburgh and could take on a scat back role for the Arizona offense.

Sometimes it is difficult to know when New York Jets coach Rex Ryan is giving information and when he is just tossing out hyperbole to throw everyone off. But, I did believe him last week when he insisted LaDainian Tomlinson "can still be an every-down back." Fantasy owners should see this as news. Ryan was quoted as saying, "if something were to happen to Shonn on a regular basis, then L.T. would go in there ... but ....it fit us better that (Tomlinson) would be in more of a third-down specialist, a reserve back, and let Shonn take the brunt of the snaps." The coach has faith in the veteran tailback and the absence of comments regarding youngsters Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell speaks volumes. The coach likes his veterans. Also, think about this from the viewpoint of protecting Mark Sanchez. Tomlinson is a very good blocker. The Jets need their young passer to stay upright.

Leon Washington is a forgotten player in fantasy leagues. He signed with the Seattle Seahawks last year while recovering from a broken leg. The injury is now fully healed and the team hopes to take advantage of Washington's explosiveness. Expect a bigger role this year as he pushes Justin Forsett for touches. Coach Pete Carroll had this to say, "We love what he does, but think he just needs reps in this zone scheme that we're running and so he can show us where he's special and unique in our stuff." He is a sleeper to watch in preseason.

The Green Bay Packers have a loaded backfield. The selection of Alex Green may complicate matters. Coach Mike McCarthy said this week that Green "seems to handle the third-down concepts and responsibilities seamlessly so far." He could take snaps away from Grant and Starks. "I am very impressed the way he handles third down ... It's a tough down for a running back in our system." This will not happen overnight. Look for Green to slowly play more and more as the season progresses.

The saga of Jeremy Maclin occupied much of the news this past week. His "illness" started when Maclin showed up to Eagles camp with a "lack of energy" and "weight loss" in late July. His weight was down 15 pounds but has been cleared to run and lift weights, not practice as of late last week. Most believe he will be in the lineup for the season opener but how effective can he be? The team trainer let it go that the young receiver is dealing with inflammation after lymph-node surgery. So he had a mono-like illness and doctor operated on the lymph nodes? That does not seem like something easy to come back quickly from and regain stamina. After all of the nasty internet rumors, it is good that Maclin is not more seriously ill.

The Sacramento Bee ran a story over the weekend that San Francisco wide receiver Michael Crabtree is not expected to resume practicing for "a couple of more weeks" while recovering from his foot injury. He has shed his walking boot, and seen walking well on the practice sidelines. Without the clearance to run and get into football shape, Crabtree's early-season effectiveness will be in question. With Alex Smith expected to be under center, the upside is limited already. Now, he is a player to watch from afar.

One player who has quietly been burst onto the fantasy radar is Tampa Bay Buccaneer wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe. For those who do not remember, he was signed last season after the Cincinnati Bengals let him go. The St. Petersburg Times reported last week that Briscoe has "taken control" of the starting job opposite Mike Williams. Yes, this is the job most had Arrelious Benn penciled into while he recovers from the ACL injury. Briscoe is available on many waiver wires and could make a big impact as quarterback Josh Freeman develops.

In the knucklehead rookie segment of the article, we submit Kansas City Chief wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin. He has struggled so far in camp. Many remember him sliding on draft day due to reports of a poor attitude while at Pittsburgh. Baldwin cracked his thumb, something needed for a professional wide receiver, when he decided it was a good thing to take on the very yoked Thomas Jones in a locker room fight. The reports out indicated Baldwin's poor attitude among the veterans to pair with his inability to beat the jam off the line of scrimmage. He is still young and maturing but this is not a way to stay out of Todd Haley's doghouse. Baldwin needs to ask Dwayne Bowe about the canine casa after his extended stay a couple of seasons ago.

No, the Cleveland Browns are not known for the prolific pass offense led by Colt McCoy. But, a player to watch is Jordan Norwood. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported that the diminutive receiver has claimed the team's' slot receiver job. He is only 5'11 and 180 pounds dripping wet. But, the Browns need Norwood's play-making ability. A few days earlier Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur said he sees a lot of similarities between Norwood and Danny Amendola, a player who caught a lot of balls in the slot last year in Shurmur's St. Louis Ram offense.

The Denver Post posted a quote by coach John Fox that jives with Fox's reputation from his days in Carolina. The coach said he wants more running plays this season and "less Kyle Orton-Brandon Lloyd." You mean the conservative Fox wants to run the football? You betcha. Yes, there are several on staff that still like Lloyd as a fantasy option and will point to the big seasons by Muhsin Muhammad and Steve Smith during Fox's tenure with the Panthers. But, the Fox of recent years likes to run the ball and will play games as close to the vest as possible. It is impossible to compare the fantasy upside of the passing game in 2011 to that of 2010 when Josh McDaniels was at the helm.

Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times is the latest Raider beat writer to pile onto the Denarius Moore bandwagon. Corkran opined that the rookie "not only is the best wide receiver on the field, oftentimes he is the best player, period." Yes, Jacoby Ford and Louis Murphy have not practiced in a while, but this is high praise. "It has reached the point where this isn't some one-week wonder, flash in the pan or fluke ... The man can flat out play." Things will be different when the other receivers are back in the lineup. But, now is the time to buy Moore. His value will only go up. After all of the glowing reports the past few weeks, Moore is not a fluke by any means.

Nashville Tenneessean beat writer Jim Wyatt said this week that he believes tight end Jared Cook will lead the Titans in receptions this season. While the comment looks absurd at first, it has merit. Chris Johnson is still holding out, and Javon Ringer, his backup, is not the same caliber of receiver. The speedy Kenny Britt is the only other option. Can he stay out of the police blotters? Wyatt set the over/under at 62 catches for Cook, which is totally reasonable. The shocking part is that for the Tennessee offense if the leading receiver only has 62 receptions. If this story tells us anything, it should be that quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is in for a LONG season.

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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