We scour the news around the NFL to bring you what matters most to you and your dynasty team: the most current news on players, both superstars and the relative unknowns, and analysis to decipher the respective situations. These are many of the major stories and not meant to be an exhaustive look at all of the recent happenings around the league.
Since this is the first installment of the season, and there is much news to cover, we will discuss the big news of the past few days.
The Vikings quarterback situation is the biggest football story of the last month. First, there was the non-contact injury in which Teddy Bridgewater tore his ACL, dislocated his knee, and endured other structural damage in the knee. The injury is severe enough to keep Bridgewater out for the 2016 season and threaten the 2017 campaign. This left 36-year old journeyman Shaun Hill to become the de facto starter for up to two seasons. Fearing the fast-closing window due to the age of Adrian Peterson, the now-desperate Vikings traded a 2017 first-round pick and a 2018 conditional fourth-round selection for Sam Bradford. This seems like a steep price. The fact that the Eagles already paid $11 million of the 2016 salary helped the situation.
With the void left by the departing Bradford, Philadelphia announced that rookie Carson Wentz would start week one for the Eagles. If we remember back to the draft, Bradford was unhappy and felt threatened by the trade up for Wentz, leaving a potential trade a likely option. It just took a desperate Minnesota front office to pursue the rarely available starting quarterback. We do not have high hopes for Wentz this season. He was raw coming into the NFL and only saw 38 preseason snaps. The organization is looking to rebuild and lacks building blocks on offense. A rookie under center and the lack of viable weapons could lead to some pitiful fantasy outings for all of the Eagles skill position players.
Several mainstream media sources are reporting that Dallas quarterback Tony Romo will miss 8-10 games with the back injury. This pessimistic view of the original 6-10-week timetable was established after an MRI was performed. Keep the Cowboys bye in Week 7 in mind as you consider the timetable. An extra week off could help Romo return earlier. Also in consideration will be the team’s record at the bye. If the Cowboys struggle out of the gate, we expect Romo rushed back earlier than expected. Rookie Dak Prescott will start in Romo’s stead. The team also signed Mark Sanchez to a $2.5 million one-year deal immediately after the veteran’s release from Denver. So far, Prescott has seen vanilla defenses and has only been given a plain offense to run. But, we hand it to the coaching staff who has put Prescott in situations to succeed. We expect this to continue. His running ability will help fantasy owners.
After several ominous reports from beat writer Adam Teicher over the past week, coach Andy Reid confirmed to reporters on Monday that he does not expect star tailback Jamaal Charles to play in the divisional matchup against San Diego this week. We were given signs (like the Chiefs keeping Knile Davis on the roster) but the confirmation is solid information for fantasy owners.
Speaking Monday, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said it would be a "stretch" for Jamaal Charles (ACL) to play in Sunday's opener. This will leave Spencer Ware in the lead back role and Charcandrick West subbing in. With the injuries to the Kansas City defense, the game sets up for the Chargers to have a chance to upset.
The all-too-secretive New England Patriots have yet to disclose what is wrong with running back Dion Lewis but placed the quick runner on the reserve/PUP list with a knee injury. Lewis will be eligible to return in Week 7, but there has been no timetable given. Also, New England has a bye in Week 9 and a healthy Lewis for the last eight games may be what the team is expecting.
Beat writer Rich Tandler recently opined that Washington undrafted rookie Rob Kelley has earned regular-season carries behind Matt Jones. Kelley’s emergence is amazing. While he is a big-bodied, between-the-tackles runner, the 5.21 yards-per-carry preseason average is impressive. We expect Kelley to be the obvious handcuff and receiver 7-10 carries per game.
One story that has not received much publicity is the hamstring injuries – yes, injuries – to Miami receiver DeVante Parker. He has tweaked both hamstrings this offseason/preseason, with the most recent injury occurring just last week. This led to beat writer Adam Beasley to report that there are "real questions" about when Parker will return. In his article, Beasley said that he thinks Parker’s health is what led the Dolphins to keep both Griff Whalen (yuck) and Jakeem Grant (the tiny speedster). With the way Kenny Stills played in the preseason, Parker better get back on the field soon if he wants to establish himself as the second option (behind Jarvis Landry) in the Miami passing game.
In this column, we try to bring up the names of dynasty sleepers who are very much worth stashing. One such player is Tavarres King, wide receiver for the Giants. King dominated in the preseason and made the team against long odds. King was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He is very athletic and seems to have made a giant leap in his development. King is penciled in as the WR4 for New York, and a Victor Cruz re-injury would vault King onto the field with regularity as the WR3.
The dynasty value of Josh Doctson has plummeted as training camp played out with the rookie still on the sideline recovering from an Achilles injury. He was not able to run for three months. The great news is that Doctson practiced this past Monday and was running routes against defenders. While it would be premature to expect fantasy points from the rookie, just playing against the Steelers this week is quite the accomplishment. Now is the time to buy low on Doctson, whom some had as the top wideout in the rookie class before it is well-known that he is back on the field.
One receiver we expect to make noise sooner than later is Rod Streater. Streater flashed in Oakland before heading to Kansas City this offseason. So, it is notable that the 49ers traded for Streater this past weekend, as if trading for Kerley was not enough. Streater can easily assert himself into the WR3 role in San Francisco. This trade is the 49ers attempt to replace Bruce Ellington who landed on injured reserve.
The slow recovery of Jimmy Graham from a ruptured patellar tendon is not surprising for those in touch with the situation. This is possibly the worst injury for an athletic player to suffer, especially one who relies on his burst to create separation. For this reason, the Seattle beat writers (especially ESPN's Sheil Kapadia) have been advising that Luke Willson will be the Seahawks' starting tight end Week 1. We are not counting on Graham contributing until he practices full speed, and showing his normal explosion. We still remember him easily dunking a football over the goal posts while in New Orleans. The Seattle passing game does not utilize the tight end position as much as the Saints so his fantasy upside is limited, even when healthy.
One sleeper tight end we like is MyCole Pruitt from the Minnesota Vikings. Pruitt is very athletic and should be a fantasy starter within two years. He sprained his MCL in the third preseason game and will be sidelined 2-4 weeks.
The below are interesting tidbits from the transaction wire this past week:
The New York Giants waived former fourth-round pick Andre Williams, and he was picked up by the San Diego Chargers. While powerful, Williams lacks vision and burst to be successful as a professional tailback. The poor Chargers offensive line will not enable Williams to succeed on the left coast.
In a surprise move, the New York Jets waived/injured running back Khiry Robinson. The news finally came out that Robinson re-injured his fractured leg in the final preseason game. This is the leg he broke last November. The move leaves Matt Forte and Bilal Powell at the top of the depth chart and youngster Troymaine Pope lurking on the depth chart. Pope played well in preseason for the Seahawks but was a roster casualty. He could make noise this season if the aging Forte or the oft-injured Powell miss time.
After the team could not find a trade partner, the Denver Broncos released running back Ronnie Hillman. While many may point to his draft stock (third rounder in 2012) or statistics (led the team in rushing of various stretches), his mistakes and always bouncing runs outside provided the death knell for the roster spot.
The Titans must really believe in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. These two newcomers made Dexter McCluster, David Cobb, and Bishop Sankey expendable. All three were released. McCluster will find work as a depth back and special teamer. Cobb was signed to the Steelers' practice squad Tuesday. Sankey, most notable as the first back selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, landed on the New England Patriots practice squad.
Once thought of as a fantasy sleeper this offseason, San Francisco had to place receiver Bruce Ellington on injured reserve this past week with a torn hamstring. His loss is what precipitated the trade for Jeremy Kerley from Detroit. Still, the 49ers receiving corps is the worst in the league with a quarterback situation to match. This will be a long year by the Bay.
In a move that was rumored a month ago, San Francisco waived receiver DeAndre Smelter this week with an injury settlement. He will land on injured reserve after passing through waivers. Smelter has the physical upside to make dynasty owners foam at the mouth, but the injuries have lowered the expectations of him ever making an impact. Even his fourth-round draft status was not enough to save Smelter.
The Houston Texans released veteran receiver Cecil Shorts this past week in a move that will save the team $1.2 million. After the selection of rookies Will Fuller and Braxton Miller in the NFL Draft, Shorts was on the outside looking in for a roster spot. He signed with Tampa Bay this past Tuesday and is reunited with coach Dirk Koetter, whom Shorts played for in Jacksonville his rookie year.
As though the Miami Dolphins did not have enough young, raw receivers to develop, the team claimed Justin Hunter this week after he was waived by the Tennessee Titans. Hunter was a second-round pick in the 2013 draft but never put in the effort to develop as a professional. From the Dolphins perspective, we are left to ponder whether this move is related to the Parker injury (above).
After failing to find a trade partner, the New England Patriots gave up and waived receiver, Aaron Dobson. Seemingly having all of the physical tools, Dobson never lived up to expectations and will struggle to make it long-term in the NFL.
Few knew how raw the German phenom Mortiz Bohringer was until training camp. He was waived and stashed on the practice squad this week. We like his size/speed ability and expect Bohringer to make the 2017 Vikings roster.
In a surprise move, the Cleveland Browns waived speedy receiver Taylor Gabriel. He was claimed by the Atlanta Falcons. Gabriel is an upgrade for the slot receiver position in Atlanta and could displace Justin Hardy.
The Chicago Bears waived slow slot receiver, Daniel Braverman. He failed to separate in the preseason and will land on the practice squad without much hope for a fantasy-viable career.
Without a confirmation of the cause, the Pittsburgh Steelers placed Ladarius Green on the reserve/PUP list. This was expected after the reports of ongoing headaches. Yes, both the team and the player insist the cause was an ankle injury, we still believe the head injury is the culprit. Second-year player Jesse James will start in his place.
Miami waived undersized tight end Thomas Duarte, and he will likely land on the team’s practice squad. Given the lack of talent and consistency at the position, expectations were high for the seventh-round pick from UCLA. He is a good pass catcher and horrible blocker.
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