With training camps opening this week, dynasty owners need to begin keeping a close eye on all of the football news. This article can serve as a place to catch you up on the recent football news as it relates to dynasty leagues. We will look to identify some winners and losers. Keep a close eye on the Footballguys.com news page for the up to date news.
Many in the New Orleans Saint fan base were worried about the distraction a Drew Brees holdout would bring. Thankfully, the team and its star passer came to terms recently. Brees' contract, the largest in league history, is for $100 million over five years. Chris Mortensen reported that the deal contains $60 million guaranteed and a eye-opening $40 million in the 2012 season. This is a welcomed sign for a team - and fan base - in the middle of the bounty scandal. The stability the new agreement brings bolsters the dynasty value of Brees and his receivers. Another big winner is Aaron Rodgers who should be getting his new deal next offseason. Expect Brees' contract to be the starting point for negotiations and Rodgers to receive a higher average over more seasons, given his youth.
Another getting a new contract was Baltimore Raven star running back Ray Rice. His new five-year contract is very front-loaded, paying him $24 million in the first 12 months, according to a recent article in the Carroll County Times. Given the reasonable salaries toward the end of the contract, Rice has a good chance at playing out the entire deal. He will be 30 years old at the time, but his salary will be less than $4 million. With Rice the focal point of the offense, the Ravens are relieved not to have the turmoil of a potential holdout.
There was one more high profile player getting a new contract, Chicago Bear tailback Matt Forte. Even though he was threatening to hold out, the Bears held all of the leverage. Forte's contract reflects the fact. The four-year deal has a base value of $30.4 over four years, with $17.1 guaranteed. So, the team could release the Pro Bowl back after two seasons without much cost. If so, the money guaranteed (and paid) would be less than if Chicago just slapped Forte with the Franchise tag for the two seasons. The leverage slanted toward the team and Forte knew it. The good news is that the Bear offense should be prolific this season with quarterback Jay Cutler, Forte, and new additions wideout Brandon Marshall and the powerful Michael Bush. Bush's presence could cut into Forte's touches, especially in the red zone. Even so, he should still be considered a fantasy RB1, especially in PPR leagues.
Marshawn Lynch was arrested on July 14, and formally charged with suspicion of DUI. Lynch's white van was observed weaving in and out its lane, nearly hitting two other vehicles, before the California Highway Patrol pulled him over. While many professional athletes drive sports cars, Lynch prefers the passenger van look. Maybe it is because the van can hold more Skittles. Even though Lynch has been arrested in the past, and been disciplined by the commissioner, there is a chance he may not be suspended for this offense. The reason: those past transgressions violated the league's personal conduct code while this falls under the substance abuse policy. So, theoretically, this is Lynch's first breach of that policy, meaning the next would be a suspension. But, it is too early to know what Roger Goodell will do. Adam Schefter reported that a lengthy suspension was not out of question. Then, Ross Tucker tweeted that a league executive told him Lynch's new $31 million contract could void with a suspension. The contract language prohibits a suspension for either conduct detrimental to the team or substance abuse. If this is true, this DUI could be very expensive for Lynch. We will know more very soon.
Detroit running back Jahvid Best still has not been cleared for contact drills. In a story late last week, MLive.com's Anwar Richardson reported that Best's representatives declined to say whether Best was cleared for full practice. One would think that Best, and his people, would be very open if the news was good. Concussions are not something to take lightly. Even if/when he returns to action, the length concussion history has to be a concern. One big hit and Best's career could be over.
With Best still on the mend, the Lions' official website, DetroitLions.com, recently opined that a healthy Mikel Leshoure will see the most carries in the Detroit backfield. Yes, the Achilles' injury is tough to come back from, but on July 16, Leshoure declared his Achilles' tendon "100 percent" entering training camp. Also, remember that the second-year pro will serve a two-game suspension to begin the season so he has a little extra time to get fully healed. Given the injuries to both Best and Leshoure, dynasty owners would be wise to make small offers for Kevin Smith as insurance. Smith played well last season and is still young.
The Washington Times is the latest to report that a healthy Tim Hightower is "positioned to be the starter" for the Redskins this season. Yes, he is just nine months removed from tearing his ACL, but coach Shanahan has faith in Hightower. Per Rich Campbell of the paper, Hightower will lead the Redskins' running back committee if his left knee is proven healthy in camp. In addition, Campbell states that Roy Helu looks to hold down the change-of-pace role after wearing down physically late last year. Campbell even alluded that Evan Royster would be the starter if Hightower was limited by the knee injury. This is not good news for Helu - or his dynasty owners. If we are to believe the beat writer - and we should - Royster might be a great player to add on the cheap. The chances of Hightower being ready by training camp, and not jeopardizing his health by coming back too soon, are very slim.
With the poor play of Shonn Greene, many wonder why the Jets did not bring in another tailback to push the plodding runner. ESPN New York recently reported that Joe McKnight will have a "legitimate role" on offense this season. Maybe, the team is wanting to use McKnight in a "Reggie Bush-type role" this year. The passing game could use a play maker out of the backfield. LaDainian Tomlinson has departed and New York needs all of the weapons it can find. McKnight caught 3.5 passes per game last year and could see his role increase as Greene is not a strong receiver.
In a very sad story, DeSoto (TX) police have decided to move forward with charges against Dallas Cowboy wide receiver Dez Bryant. The charge is only a Class A misdemeanor family violence charge, but the details are disturbing. According to the police incident report, Angela Bryant accused her son of grabbing her by her hair and shirt, hitting her in the face with his baseball cap, and pushing her in the chest. The released 911 call shows a scene out of control and the player's mother thought her life was in danger. Bryant has encountered too many legal issues in his short career for the commissioner not to take a long look at this offense.
Dynasty owners are sick of seeing Tennessee Titans receiver Kenny Britt in the news. First, the Nashville Tennessean reported that Britt recently underwent arthroscopic surgery to his left knee after undergoing two procedures in the past year on his right knee. Chronic knee injuries are never a good thing for speedy, play-making wide receivers. Then, on July 20, Britt was arrested and charged with DUI. This is the receiver's eighth arrest since he became a pro in 2009, including three last offseason alone. If there is a lengthy suspension as many would expect, rookie first rounder Kendall Wright should be the Titans' starting X receiver. Could it be that the Titans knew about Britt's knee (and knucklehead) issues and selected Wright in the draft for insurance? The fantasy sleeper will be Nate Washington once again as fantasy owners are focused on Britt and Wright.
After being slapped with the franchise tag, and no contract extension could be reached, Dwayne Bowe's future with the Chiefs could be in doubt. Jason LaCanfora recently stated he "would be pretty surprised" to see the receiver back in Kansas City after this upcoming season. The team selected Jonathan Baldwin in the first round of last year's NFL Draft and could look to him to fill Bowe's shoes in 2013. Expect a run-oriented attack this year as Matt Cassel is easily the worst quarterback in the division, and toward the bottom of the league.
The Cleveland Browns yielded a 2013 second round pick for Baylor wide receiver Josh Gordon during the NFL Supplemental Draft. It is easy to like the big-play ability of Gordon, but that pick will be a Top 40 selection. The Browns subsequently signed Gordon to a four-year, $5.3 million contract. While Cleveland needs his speed and athleticism, there will be a learning curve for Gordon coming out of Baylor's spread attack after sitting out a year.
One of Footballguys favorite beat writers is Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area. He is a great resource on the San Francisco 49ers. Maiocco recently reported that first-round pick A.J. Jenkins could be inactive on most game days, and we should believe him. With the upgraded wide receiving corps, Jenkins will not be relied upon as other first round picks in year one. Having Randy Moss, Michael Crabtree, and Mario Manningham in front of Jenkins could help him in the long run, allowing Jenkins to develop over time.
Lance Zierlein, of the Houston Chronicle, recently tweeted that he is "buying the hype" on wide receiver Lestar Jean this season. Zierlein said he expects Jean to be the team's first receiver off the bench this season in two-receiver sets. The beat writer noted Jean's "tremendous hands" with "an ability to operate vertically as well." In a run-oriented offense, Houston needs all of the play makers to stretch the field it can get for quarterback Matt Schaub. If Jean does assert himself, expect a growing role as the season progresses.
Barry Jackson, of the Miami Herald, recently reported that the Miami Dolphins are "more convinced than ever" that they have a dangerous weapon in Charles Clay. Clay is a hybrid fullback/tight end from Tulsa. Last season, the team struggled to find a role for the speedy rookie. With few other options in the passing game, expect Clay to be moved around the formation in an attempt to find mismatches. The Dolphins drafted a rookie pass-catching tight end in the NFL Draft (Egnew), so keep an eye on how the tight ends are used in preseason.