With preseason games 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.
The Pittsburgh Steelers shocked the football world by activating running back Rashard Mendenhall from the PuP list. Many expected the ball carrier to miss the first six games of the season, but obviously the timetable has moved up. Pittsburgh has a week four bye, so there is have an extra week built in for an early October return. In a report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert chimed in on his expectations for Mendenhall's return. Per Colbert, "Whether he plays in those first six weeks we don't know ... But obviously, we feel there's a chance that could happen. Be it Week 5 or Week 6, that could be a difference." Interestingly, this activation comes roughly one week after Colbert stopped just short of guaranteeing Mendenhall would begin the season on the PuP. Until the powerful rusher gets back into the lineup, expect Isaac Redman to see the most touches. Redman, himself, has suffered through injuries the past week. A recent MRI showed that he will not require surgery on his hip and groin injuries, and will be out a week or so. The Steelers will be careful with Redman until Mendenhall comes back to the lineup. Keep in mind that Mendenhall is a free agent after the season and will be motivated to have a banner year.
It was far from a surprise last week when Adam Schefter reported that Detroit Lion tailback Jahvid Best was likely to begin the season on the PuP list. It is a scary thought that Best is still not cleared from the concussion that ended his season last year. If Best misses the first six games of the year, paired with the Mikel Leshoure two-game suspension, the stage is set for Kevin Smith to start the first two games of the season. Even Leshoure is still battling to come back fully from his Achilles injury. If it is not too late, Smith is a great player to buy low. But, beware, he has a long injury history of his own. Detroit is rumored to have ex-Packer Ryan Grant on speed dial if the injuries get any worse.
Mike Jurecki, of XTRA 910 Arizona, recently reported that Arizona Cardinal tailback Beanie Wells is still having trouble cutting in practice. This follows reports that Wells has looked "tentative" in practice. He is still coming off "minor" knee surgery and has been slow to get back on the field. Piling on to the situation is the strong play of backfield mate Ryan Williams. Williams looked strong in Friday night's game with a touchdown and 25 rushing yards on five carries. He is the superior talent and could be in for a big season even with the poor play of the offensive line and the team's quarterbacks.
Former Bengal Cedric Benson took his time choosing a team after Cincinnati let him walk early in the offseason. This past week, Benson signed a one-year deal with the Packers for the veteran's minimum of $825,000 including no bonus money. Interestingly, Benson said he had other offers, but it appears no team was willing to offer more than the veteran minimum for the aging plodder. But, for Green Bay, Benson is a big upgrade over James Starks. It was Starks' poor performance against the Saints a week ago that led the team to pursue Benson.
The New Orleans Saints have been able to find undrafted free agents who can make plays. This season, Travaris Cadet is proving to be an all-around threat, whether as a running back, receiver, or returner. He has shown enough that New Orleans cannot release Cadet and hope to slip him through to the practice squad. So, the team has two choices. It can either place him on injured reserve with a phantom injury (yes, this happens often) or keep Cadet over Chris Ivory, who has struggled through training camp. The hard running Ivory has not been able to find running lanes and has fumbled way too often.
After signing for too much money in San Francisco, wide receiver Mario Manningham has been a forgotten player in fantasy circles. Grant Cohn, of the Press Democrat, reported last week that Manningham has "looked like the receiver cornerbacks have the most difficulty covering" throughout training camp. This came right after Matt Maiocco opined that Manningham and Randy Moss would share playing time when the team is in two-receiver sets (which is often). Further, the news from 49er camp has been that Moss will only play 20-25 snaps per game. This means Manningham would pick up the rest. This is a run-oriented offense with a game manager at the quarterback position. It would be difficult to make a case for Manningham being fantasy relevant this season.
After being plagued by injuries throughout most of training camp, it was not a shock to see the Cincinnati Bengals release wide receiver Jordan Shipley. So, where will he land? Brian Broaddus of DallasCowboys.com said he "(gets) the feeling" the Cowboys are interested in the slot receiver. With a bevy of young receivers on the roster, none of whom have stepped up, Shipley would be a great addition to the Dallas lineup.
Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area has often stated his opinion that first-round receiver A.J. Jenkins will frequently be inactive on game days. Maiocco said it again Saturday. In a run-oriented offense with several veteran receivers ahead of him on the depth chart, this could be a "redshirt" season for the speedy and raw Jenkins.
Another player who was expected to miss the first six regular season games is Detroit Lion rookie receiver Ryan Broyles, who has already returned to the field. The former Oklahoma Sooner even caught two passes for 26 yards in Friday night's preseason game. The big news is that Broyles is playing just nine months after tearing his left ACL. The emergence of Titus Young could lead to a quiet rookie campaign, but Broyles could make a big impact next year while working in the slot.
After winning a silver medal in London, former Florida Gator star Jeff Demps voiced the desire to continue his football career. After weighing the pursuits of several teams, Demps signed with New England. It will be interesting to see how the undersized (5'7", 190 pounds) returner/slot receiver/running back will be utilized in the pass-happy Patriot offense. The return game has been lacking for New England so this move could help immensely. Do not expect much in terms of fantasy production. But, Demps is a dynamic player whose speed will be on display.
The Dallas Cowboys received some scary news last week when superstar tight end Jason Witten was sidelined with a lacerated spleen. He was told to remain out of action for the next week or two before it would be known whether he needed surgery. Witten has played through injuries during his career, but this is serious. There is a legitimate chance that the big tight end will need to undergo surgery around the end of August, keeping him off the field for the first few weeks of the season. Making the situation worse for the Cowboys, Witten's backup John Phillip has missed time with an ankle injury. Also, the two starting wide receivers – Miles Austin and Dez Bryant – have been nicked up this preseason. It could be a long season for those in "Big D".