With training camps in full swing, dynasty owners are 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.
As if there was much doubt, Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey stated strongly last week that Ryan Fitzpatrick is the team's starting quarterback. Per Gailey, "He is our quarterback, and will be ... I don't see any change there in the foreseeable future." The Bills are "all in" with Fitzpatrick even after finishing poorly the last two seasons. The harsh Buffalo weather and multiple receiver injuries did not help much, but Fitzpatrick played poorly, too. The strong start to the 2011 should give fantasy owners hope that Fitzpatrick can put up big numbers in the Gailey offense.
Many eyes are on the Miami Dolphins offense this preseason. Who will emerge as the week one quarterback? Well, at this point, it seems as though David Garrard has the lead. He has seen much more time with the starters, which is a good predictor. The new coaching staff wants to give the starter the most reps in order to increase his level of comfort in the offense. First, Sports Illustrated's Peter King reported that the 34 year old Garrard was "terrific consistently through practice," and "in general, looking extremely comfortable in his first time running a West Coast offense." King added that he was "told" Garrard outplayed both Matt Moore and Ryan Tannehill all offseason. After visiting the Broncos and the Dolphins, King said Garrard was more impressive than Peyton Manning. This is difficult to believe – especially given the dearth of receiving talent in Miami. The next day, beat writer Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post reported that it is "probably safe to say that the job is Garrard's to lose." At this point, Matt Moore looks to be the team's third string quarterback, with Garrard and rookie Ryan Tannehill battling for the starting gig. As we have predicted for several months in this column, Garrard will start week one but Tannehill will start several games.
Many observers expected the Denver Broncos to have either Adam Weber or Caleb Hanie be the primary backup to Peyton Manning, and the team would bring rookie Brock Osweiler along slowly. Partially due to the other two falling flat, and partly because of his strong play, Osweiler looks to be the QB2 according to Denver Post beat writer Jeff Legwold. Much of the Osweiler talk this offseason has been around the improvement in his throwing motion, adjusting from the sidearm style he employed at Arizona State to a more traditional throwing motion. The second round pick should be rostered in every dynasty league given the nature of Manning's 2011 neck injury.
Dynasty owners are not the only ones growing impatient by the concussions of Detroit Lion tailback Jahvid Best. Best has not been cleared to practice and Lions' coach Jim Schwartz stated that his speedy back will not be cleared to practice any time in the near future. Per Schwartz, "The only thing I will say is we're measuring Jahvid in weeks, not days ... He's not day-to-day." This story on MLive.com has to be a wake up call for dynasty owners. We are a month away from the season opener and the play-making Best cannot practice ... and the team has no idea when he will be able to join the team on the field. Add in the Achilles injury and two-game suspension for Mikel Leshoure and it looks like Kevin Smith will begin the season as the Detroit starter for the season opener. With such a prolific pass offense, the Lions' tailback is able to put up big fantasy points. Both Leshoure and Smith are relatively cheap in dynasty leagues.
The Green Bay Packers do not rely on the running backs for much ... other than picking up the blitz for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Even so, starter James Starks has not played well early in Packers camp. Packer beat writer Bob McGinn informed, "Starks hasn't made strides as a pass blocker or ball carrier ... He just doesn't carry himself like a reliable, top-flight player." This report in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel went on to include how Alex Green has been more impressive as a runner even though he is coming off a knee injury. With Rodgers healthy and under center, there is not much upside for the Green Bay rushers, but Green is the player to own. He is the superior receiver and will add a new dimension to the passing game. The only thing Starks had on Green was pass blocking so expect a change in the starting lineup by midseason if Starks continues to struggle.
New York Jet running back Bilal Powell is a favorite of several Footballguys.com staffers. ESPN New York recently reported that the youngster is "having a nice camp, even getting some reps with the first team." This comes on the heals of a report a couple weeks ago that Joe McKnight could make an impact as a scat back (Reggie Bush role). It appears that the coaching staff is not sold on Greene as the uncontested starter and these reports indicate the team is searching for one of the three to step up and assert a hold on the starting job. Until then, expect Greene to start and be the plodder he has been so far in his short career. New York looks to be a team set up for failure so a tumultuous season could see a youth movement with the young running backs seeing plenty of snaps by midseason.
Last year's top receiver, Mike Thomas, has struggled throughout training camp this year for the Jaguars. The Florida Times Union reported that Thomas will be Jacksonville's fifth receiver when rookie Justin Blackmon finally signs. This means that he is behind Blackmon, Laurent Robinson, Lee Evans, and second-year receiver Cecil Shorts on the depth chart. Last October, Thomas signed a three-year contract which included $9 million in guarantees so he is likely to either ride the bench or be traded. The new Jaguar coaching staff has loyalties to Blackmon and Robinson, not Thomas. He is a safe drop.
The Minnesota Vikings wanted to improve the middling wide receiving corps of 2011. The team started by selecting Greg Childs and Jarius Wright in April's NFL Draft. In addition, Jerome Simpson was signed to add speed to the lineup. The Vikings were not happy with the lack of plays from Michael Jenkins and need to give Christian Ponder options in the passing game. ESPN 1500 Twin Cities reported that last week that Childs "has always been the in-house favorite" to be in the lineup while Simpson serves his three-game suspension for the marijuana arrest. Childs was a play-maker at Arkansas before injury and finally looks to be back to full strength. But, there is BAD news for the rookie. He suffered a devastating knee injury in practice this past weekend. The situation is setting up for Simpson to play a big role when he joins the team in week four.
The Texans team web site (HoustonTexans.com) recently reported that rookie receiver Keshawn Martin has been "one of the most impressive players" in camp. The fourth round pick has seen action with the starters while Andre Johnson has been sidelined with the groin injury. Martin has stood out to the coaching staff. Coach Gary Kubiak said, "I think he's showing that he's capable of doing it ... (He's) very professional in his approach ... Doesn't say a word, just works, and he's going against (Jonathan) Joseph every day. That will make you good real quick." Martin is available on many dynasty waiver wires. He is a smallish pass catcher who is best suited for the slot, but that is a position Houston needs most. Martin will battle Lestar Jean for playing time. Given the injury history of both Johnson and Kevin Walter, the pair of young receivers might be worth stashing. In other news, third round rookie DeVier Posey has been a big disappointment from the camp reports.
The New Orleans Saints drafted wide receiver Nick Toon even though he suffered through a foot injury in his senior year in college. Now, the rookie missed Sunday's Hall of Fame Game due to a foot injury. It is not a good sign. Even though the Saints "expect" him back in a week or two, do not be surprised if Toon lands on injured reserve at some point early in the season (or before).
In a surprise move, the Dallas Cowboys activated rookie receiver Danny Coale from the PUP list. The fifth round pick is coming back from a foot injury and hopes to be the team's third receiver. Coale was thought to be the favorite for the job when drafted, but the injury slowed his development. Laurent Robinson showed last year that the position can still put up fantasy points so this is a situation to monitor in preseason.
The Washington Redskins improved the receiving options for rookie passer Robert Griffin III. Even so, NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah reported that when he visited Washington's training camp, tight end Fred Davis was "clearly" the most impressive skill player on the field. Jeremiah is a former scout with several organizations and is knowledgeable. He said, "If he (Davis) can stay healthy and out of trouble ... Davis should make a strong push for Pro Bowl consideration in 2012." Given his 2011 suspension, the Washington Times reported last week that Davis is being drug tested 2-3 times each week. The tight end said, "I feel I know the decision I made is not something I'm going to do ... I think you've got to talk to yourself about it at the end of the day." With the quarterback upgrade after a strong 2011 season, Davis is undervalued in dynasty leagues because of the suspension. He could easily finish as a Top 3 fantasy player at the position this year.
Another young player who could burst on the scene this year is Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph. Head coach Leslie Frazier raved about Rudolph's talent in a recent ESPN article. The coach said, "The way he can catch the football is second-to-none. His catching radius is amazing ... If Christian gets it close to him, he knows that Kyle is going to come up with the football." A few days before that report, Michelle Beisner, of NFL Network, said Rudolph has been the MVP of training camp. The second-year player has seen extra reps in camp with fellow tight end John Carlson on the shelf for a few weeks with a MCL sprain. Rudolph is a player to acquire if you can get him on the cheap. There is plenty of upside as the young tight end could emerge as a fantasy starter by season's end.