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.
On Sunday, beat writer Bob Condotta had a report from Seattle General Manager John Schneider regarding the status of running back Thomas Rawls. Schneider said that his starting back would be out for approximately another month. This puts his return around the end of October. Rawls is out of action with a broken fibula and has been replaced in the lineup by Christine Michael. We expect the duo to form a powerful 1-2 punch down the stretch this season.
We expect Ravens tailback, Kenneth Dixon, to return to the field this week. He sprained his MCL and is now practicing and should be a factor in the Baltimore backfield. Justin Forsett has been tentative and lacks explosiveness. While Terrance West has been better than Forsett, Dixon will likely seize the starting role within the next few weeks. Give West credit, he played very well in the loss to the Raiders.
In a report late last week, Panthers coach Rob Rivera stated that he expects running back Jonathan Stewart to miss four weeks of action. If so, the veteran runner should miss two more games. Cameron Artis-Payne and Fozzy Whittaker have filled in for Stewart but have failed to carve out a permanent role. Artis-Payne will continue to handle almost all of the carries and Whittaker is dangerous as a receiver.
A player dynasty owners should look to stash is Eagles tailback, Wendell Smallwood. There were numerous reports about him excelling in training camp so when he played well in mop up duty against the Steelers in Week 3, expectations were heightened. He is now viewed as the primary backup to injury-prone Ryan Mathews. Head coach Doug Pederson was effusive in his praise of Smallwood’s performance against the state-rival. Pederson said, "He's the same type of runner that we felt he was coming out of college and what we saw in preseason … He's a big, powerful guy. He's a downhill guy. He's a one-cut runner. He did a great job for us." Beat writer Tim McManus went on to say that Smallwood would see “plenty of opportunities” this season and "and those opportunities will likely grow if he continues to produce like he did against the Steelers." Smallwood makes a great buy in dynasty leagues.
Lions running back Dwayne Washington was slated for a larger role in the Detroit offense after the loss of Ameer Abdullah. Washington, himself, had to exit the Week 4 matchup against Chicago after his foot was pinned beneath him on a second-quarter carry, causing foot and ankle injuries. Fan favorite Zach Zenner could see his role increase if Washington misses extended action.
The Seattle Seahawks signed running back C.J. Spiller to a one-year contract last week. He might see more opportunity until Thomas Rawls and rookie C.J. Prosise get back to full health. However, from what we saw of Spiller in New Orleans the last two years, we do not expect him to make an impact in the Pacific Northwest. The short touchdown catch Sunday did not improve our view of Spiller at this point in his career. At this point in his career, Spiller is slow and not elusive as a runner and receiver.
There were rumblings of a serious injury to Sammy Watkins’ foot. He was rested and the foot was still not right. The reports were that the injury was just a matter of pain management. Watkins could not accelerate the way the talented the budding star should. Late Friday afternoon, Ian Rapoport tweeted, “The #Bills have placed WR Sammy Watkins on Injured Reserve, putting him on the shelf for at least 8 weeks. They claimed Justin Hunter.” Rapoport followed that tweet up with, “There is no surgery scheduled for #Bills WR Sammy Watkins, though he will visit Dr. Robert Anderson to be sure. Finally just rest & rehab.” Watkins has a Jones fracture that was not showing signs of improvement. So, now, Watkins has until Week 12 to allow his foot to heal and Rapoport reported that Watkins does not need surgery, just rest and rehabilitation.
The story of Eric Decker’s shoulder injury sprung up the middle of last week but the news keeps getting worse. Decker has a partially torn rotator cuff and stated to reporters on Saturday, "I don’t expect myself to be 100 percent at some point … It’s just getting to where it’s manageable and I can still play the same game that I need to." When coach Todd Bowles as asked if the injury was season-ending, he responded that he was unsure. Decker is going to miss several games at the minimum and could miss the remainder of the season. On Sunday, Adam Schefter reported that Decker's shoulder injury was "worrisome enough" for the Jets to consider placing him on injured reserve. This injury should thrust Quincy Enunwa into fantasy lineups. The lack of tight end for the jets should give Brandon Marshall and Enunwa ample targets for fantasy owners. The only worry is another Ryan Fitzpatrick meltdown.
The epic tale of Josh Gordon is still being told. This past week, we started a new chapter. With him expected back this coming Sunday, expectations were sky high. But, on Friday, the star receiver tweeted out a statement that he would enter rehab. In the statement, Gordon said, "After careful thought and deep consideration I’ve decided that I need to step away from pursuing my return to the Browns and my football career to enter an in-patient rehabilitation facility … This is the right decision for me and one that I hope will enable me to gain full control of my life and continue on a path to reach my full potential as a person." Even though it seems like Gordon has been in the NFL for a decade, he is still just 25 years of age. Sadly, the local beat writers have stated that they expect the Browns to move forward without Gordon. Plus, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Gordon checked himself into rehab for an alcohol problem. He is not expected back with the team, even after exiting rehab. We are all rooting for the wideout to return to the field as quickly as possible. Field Yates tweeted Monday evening, “Browns WR Josh Gordon, who recently checked himself into rehab, will remain on the reserve/suspended list pending further notice.” Dynasty owners should be advised that it is doubtful Gordon is back in the NFL this season.
Arizona beat writer Ken Somers stated last week that receiver Jaron Brown needs to play more snaps instead of Michael Floyd. Floyd did catch a touchdown in the losing effort against the Rams but was ineffective most of the contest. Many will remember the beat writers crediting Brown as the star of training camp this year. He is a great player to stash in dynasty leagues. The snap counts from the game against the Rams validate Somers’ story. Jaron Brown played the third highest amount of wide receiver snaps with 46, compared to Floyd’s 35. Larry Fitzgerald played 72 and John Brown 70.
Kevin White was starting to find his rapport with quarterback Brian Hoyer on Sunday before he fell to an ankle injury. White had been targeted nine times before the third-quarter injury. Jeff Dickerson of ESPN reported that White was in "quite a bit of pain" after the game. We expect the explosive sophomore to miss multiple games. This injury, along with Alshon Jeffery’s nicks and bruises, will put even more pressure on the middling quarterback. This could elevate the expectations for fantasy owners of Eddie Royal and Zach Miller as the Bears face the Colts in Week 5.
Devin Funchess is a player who received plenty of buzz in the preseason but has yet to put together an impressive game this season. Well, he might be limited or on the shelf for a while with a toe injury, worsening his already disappointing campaign. We will learn more about this injury in the coming days but toe injuries can linger for weeks.
Dynasty owners should keep an eye on Miami tight end, Jordan Cameron. He suffered a concussion in the Week 3 game against Cleveland. Considering Cameron’s lengthy concussion history, there is a chance he does not make it back to the field until late in the season … if at all.
We were elated to read where Brandon Marshall plans to mentor newly-claimed tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. If there is someone who has overcome adversity, it is Marshall. He said, "I've been talking to Austin for a week now, even before this even happened … When I saw what he was going through I reached out to him. We've been talking for a while. He is a great talent. When I heard we claimed him I was like 'This is God sent.' If he needs me, I am there. I've already connected him with the right people in the city if he needs them. Guys need second chances. When you make a mistake, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person. You need people to believe in you, and sometimes a fresh start is a good start." This gives hope to the dynasty owners of Seferian-Jenkins.
Coming out of the bye week, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz told reporters that he was cleared by doctors Monday and his displaced rib is now fully healed. Ertz comes back to action in time to face the Lions, a defense which is terrible defending opposing tight ends.
A tight end we loved coming out of college was Maxx Williams. While he was raw and athletic exiting Minnesota, we had high hopes he could develop into a fantasy-viable tight end. Being passed by aging veterans Ben Watson and Dennis Pitta took the steam out of Williams’ dynasty stock, and a knee injury suffered in the first half against the Raiders Sunday may make the youngster droppable in shallow leagues, especially with Pitta playing so well.
Feel free to email me (Tefertiller@Footballguys.com) with feedback. Also, I am on Twitter (www.Twitter.com/JeffTefertiller), LinkedIn, and Google+, so you can ask me questions on one of these as well.