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.
This has been a calmer week after a super-crazy week leading up to Week 1. Think about the Bradford trade, the Charles and Gronkowski injuries, Rawls illness, and Ajayi coach’s doghouse … just to name a few. We will have updates on a few of these situations plus some new ones.
Robert Griffin III still confidently runs the ball outside of the pocket and does not consider sliding to avoid contact. This has led to several injuries in the past. In the season opener against the Eagles, Griffin tried to run over cornerback Jalen Mills and hurt his left shoulder in the process. He has since been placed on injured reserve, but may return later in the season. Josh McCown will now take over, much to the delight of fantasy owners of the Cleveland skill-position players. We expect to see rookie Cody Kessler before long as the Browns will want to see what they have in the rookie. We are not hopeful that the former Trojan can be successful in the NFL.
Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid discounted the possibility of Jamaal Charles playing for the past couple of weeks. Looking forward, we are not expecting him to be fully healthy until early October. Until then, it will be Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West getting the majority of the carries. These two backs were given contract extensions over the offseason and could be seen as the interim replacements for Charles when he begins to decline. Recovering from the ACL injury, Charles will need to avoid a setback. For dynasty owners, he makes a great player to buy low now as Charles owners will soon grow impatient.
We appreciate how Seattle coach Pete Carroll allows his players to compete for playing time without regard to draft capital, free agent money, or anything else. With Thomas Rawls now past his ankle injury, he looked to be the top ball carrier this past week but was slowed by an illness. So, it was Christine Michael led the Seahawks in rushing with a substantial edge over Rawls. Yes, this is the same Michael who was released by the team a year ago and bounced around the league. He has now turned the corner in a HUGE way, applying the talent and upside we all knew was possible.
Many fantasy owners were hopeful that Jay Ajayi could seize the starting gig once Lamar Miller departed in free agency. But, many reports are now surfacing that depict Ajayi as entitled, sulking, and unwilling to improve himself. These are the reasons why the Dolphins signed Arian Foster and Isaiah Pead and drafted Kenyan Drake. These are the same reasons why the young runner was left behind (embarrassingly so) in Miami while his teammates flew to Seattle for the game against the Seahawks. One of these reports was from beat writer Adam Beasley. Beasley wrote how Ajayi was upset that he lost the starting job to Foster. Coaches wanted him to compete and show that he deserved the starting job. Rather, Ajayi sulked. This is not what coaches want to see so they left him at home for motivation. We do not expect Foster to make it to midseason healthy so Ajayi will get another chance. Will he be ready or will the job go to Pead or Drake or another back on the roster? By the way, The Miami Herald reported Sunday evening that Ajayi was not a lock to be active next week, either. Only the young tailback can turn this around.
One of the underreported fantasy stories was Travaris Cadet playing in place of veteran C.J. Spiller against the Raiders. Cadet played very well in the passing-down back role and could be a sleeper for fantasy owners looking for upside. Spiller was released on Tuesday, making Cadet even more interesting for fantasy owners.
In what will likely prove to be a non-story, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio shook the football world late last week when he reported that retired tailback Marshawn Lynch is considering a return to the NFL. While this would be interesting, we need to consider that Seattle owns Lynch’s rights and the tailback is owed $9 million this season if he plays. Yes, NFL contracts are written in order to be renegotiated so anything is possible. Florio suggested Week 4 or 5 would be when he returns ….so we will know in a couple of weeks.
One of the new contracts issued late last week was to Lions pass-catching tailback, Theo Riddick. He signed a three-year, $12.75 million extension through 2019. Riddick erupted for a monster fantasy outing against the porous Colts defense. Still just 25 years of age, Riddick will be in Detroit through his prime and ready for a new contract at age 28. He has a chance to catch 80 passes again this season and is hoping to carry the ball more frequently as well.
After the way he played in the preseason, it was surprising to see Cameron Artis-Payne inactive in the Panthers game versus the Broncos Thursday night. Many had Artis-Payne penciled in as the backup to Jonathan Stewart, but Mike Tolbert and Fozzy Whittaker played in the role Thursday.
Chargers star receiver Keenan Allen was injured in the opener against the Chiefs and will miss the remainder of the season with a torn right ACL. Still just 24 years of age, Allen should be fine for the 2017 season opener. We consider Allen a “buy” in dynasty leagues.
Manish Mehta was one of the first to report the serious nature of the foot injury to Bills receiver Sammy Watkins, going as far to say (Watkins) "could be shut down for several weeks" because of the issue with his previously-injured foot. While Watkins will try to play through the pain, anything could happen and put him on the shelf for a long while. Foot injuries, especially re-injuries, are serious for fantasy owners.
Denver fans were relieved to see receiver Emmanuel Sanders get a three-year contract extension last week. This contract will take him through this age-32 season, and is a perfect length for both the player and team. The Broncos get continuity at the position with both their starters locked up for a few years and Sanders has a chance to earn one more contract if he is still playing at a high level.
Many observers are getting worried about Dolphins pass catcher DeVante Parker and his balky hamstrings. As evidenced by the Jay Ajayi blurb above, new coach Adam Gase and company are not messing around. They did not draft Parker and could be fine moving forward with rookie Leonte Carroo and free-agent-to-be Kenny Stills lined up as starters with Jarvis Landry. In addition, there have been reports that Parker has not developed enough for the coach’s liking. He could soon be the object of a lesson if nothing improves in a week or two.
Kendall Wright is another free agent after the season who is looking to cash in during free agency. Wright tweaked his hamstring two weeks ago and suffered a setback. Late last week, coach Mike Mularkey stated that he has no timetable for Wright’s return. He will soon hit dynasty waiver wires and makes a great stash until next offseason.
With Pittsburgh receiver Markus Wheaton ruled out a few days prior to Monday Night’s tilt with Washington, we are left to wonder if the shoulder injury is more severe than what has been reported. The Steelers miss Martavis Bryant in a big way. Eli Rogers is a solid slot receiver but is incapable of keeping opposing defenses honest.
While he is a deep dynasty player, Rams receiver Pharoh Cooper has not practiced since injuring his shoulder in the third preseason game. We expect him to be out at least another week or two. This should allow some of the other young receivers more opportunities in practice and in games.
When it was reported that Patriots tight end was not on the team plane Friday, it shook the fantasy community. While listed as “Questionable” on the injury report, most expected the star tight end to still play. The hamstring injury must be worst that we realized. This means that Tom Brady, Dion Lewis, Gronkowski, and two offensive linemen were missing for the contest in Arizona. No wonder why New England struggled on offense in the contest. On a positive note, we expect Gronkowski back to full strength in the next week or two barring no setbacks.
In a surprising development, veteran tight end Dennis Pitta, who came back from hip and finger injuries to barely be ready for Week 1, led the Ravens tight ends in snaps, targets, and fantasy points. Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams combined for one pass target while Pitta caught three passes. Let’s remember that Pitta had not played in a regular-season game in almost two calendar years and has suffered two hip fractures in the interim. No, we do not expect Pitta to make it through the season injury-free. But, this is a great story for the NFL and its fans.
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