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.
Not that Brian Hoyer is a star by any means, so many expected Jay Cutler would return to the starting lineup when he returns from injury in a few weeks. But, Jason La Canfora reported before Sunday’s games that Cutler has fallen out of favor with some of the coaches on the Bears' staff. At this point, it is difficult to ascertain whether this was said for motivation directed at Cutler or if for real. Coach John Fox had this to say, "I am not going to get into speculation … Jay [Cutler] is not healthy." For Cutler, this is far from a statement of support. The Bears will likely drag out his return as long as possible to allow the situation to play itself out. Let’s remember that the veteran Cutler has no guarantees left on his contract after the season so his tenure with the Bears could be over after Week 17. According to La Canfora, “Coach John Fox wants fewer turnovers out of the quarterback position." With so many franchises in dire need of a quarterback, we predict a trade of Cutler out of Chicago and Hoyer stays as a mentor to an incoming rookie.
The San Francisco quarterback situation has been a soap opera since coach Chip Kelly arrived. With starter Blaine Gabbert playing so poorly, it was obvious that a change was coming. The miserable showing last Thursday night against the Arizona Cardinals expedited the change. After that contest, Adam Schefter tweeted, “Chip Kelly on 49ers' QB situation: 'We're going to look at everything'”. The excuse all along was that backup Colin Kaepernick was not practicing well in order to push Gabbert. Several beat writers have reported that Kaepernick is not a good practice player. There was even a report by beat writer Matt Maiocco that there is "some support" in the locker room for Christian Ponder to take over at the helm. But, the underlying situation was revealed late last week when the 49ers re-worked Kaepernick’s contract. Most were perplexed by the move. Why would a backup quarterback need his contract re-negotiated? The answer is quite simple. Kaepernick was held out of the lineup because he had a clause in his old contract that if seriously injured in the 2016 season, the 2017 salary was guaranteed. The team did not want to be on the hook for next year’s salary. Now that Kaepernick has a new deal without the injury guarantee for 2017, he likely is the Week 6 starter, even if Kelly has yet to announce it, yet. But, Maiocco’s comment still stands. If Kaepernick flounders, Ponder might see action. At the end of the day, San Francisco will select a quarterback high in next year’s NFL Draft and all three of these passers could be playing elsewhere … if at all.
With the way rookie quarterback Dak Prescott is playing, the Dallas Cowboys may have a difficult decision once Tony Romo returns to practice. ESPN Cowboys beat reporter Todd Archer recently reported, "Tony Romo might be able to return Week 8 against the Eagles.” In the article, coach Jason Garrett was quoted as saying, "A lot of his rehab is off the field, it’s doing work for his back. It’s in the training room … The next step for him is to throw the ball. He’s thrown it a little bit this week already. He’ll continue to do that." In an article on DallasCowboys.com, owner Jerry Jones stated, “Tony is our No. 1 quarterback. We’re going to have the luxury of being able to, I think, see them both … I don’t want to presume that Dak is going to be necessarily healthy, I don’t want to presume anything like that. But I welcome the opportunity of having Dak playing at this level and Tony back in excellent health. It’s going to be really special for the Cowboys.” The Cowboys hold a 4-1 record and the team will need to handle the situation very carefully.
Beat writer Greg Auman recently tweeted that Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin has yet to resume practicing but may over the upcoming bye this coming week. Martin is out with a hamstring injury and the Buccaneers desperately need him back to anchor the running game. He will be welcomed back with open arms. Charles Sims was placed on injured reserve Monday with a knee injury. Martin will get a full workload once healthy.
Latavius Murray missed Sunday’s game against San Diego with a turf toe. Ian Rapoport tweeted, “#Raiders declared RB Latavius Murray out with a turf toe injury. He tried to go, trying out different shoes and whatnot. But wasn’t to be.” The Raiders beat the Chargers without Murray and his replacements (Washington and Richard) played well enough. This situation looks like a full-fledged committee going forward, even when Murray returns.
Cardinals veteran back Chris Johnson was placed on injured reserve this past week. Johnson requires surgery for a sports hernia. The veteran could return late in the season. He was replaced by Andre Ellington as David Johnson’s backup. Ellington is a valuable pick up in most leagues.
Second-year running back Karlos Williams carried high expectations into the 2016 calendar year. The combination of showing up to training camp overweight and a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy were not well accepted by the team. This led the Buffalo Bills to release Williams. Many were intrigued by the thought a return of Williams back to Buffalo after the four-game suspension was over. After some reports saying Williams was on the verge of returning to his former team, it was announced later in the week that Williams’ workout with the team was canceled by the team. This leaves us leery of a Williams return to the NFL if his former team does not even want to work him out.
After being a healthy scratch the week before, the Baltimore Ravens released running back Justin Forsett this past week. With rookie Kenneth Dixon finally back to action, Forsett’s services were no longer need or wanted. Even though Forsett had not played well this season, he should land with a new team very soon. But, expectations should be tempered for an over-thirty-year-old tailback who dances too much behind the line of scrimmage. Dixon played Sunday in the loss to Washington wearing a big knee brace. Expect Terrance West to dominate touches for at least the next few weeks.
The Vikings held star wideout Stefon Diggs out of the game against the Texans this past Sunday with the bye week coming in Week 6. Minnesota easily beat Houston and now Diggs has another week to recover from his groin injury. Adam Theilen excelled with Diggs out. We expect the budding star to be ready for Week 7.
Michael Floyd is slowly getting phased out. He played roughly one-third of the snaps last Thursday. As we noted in the last couple of weeks, Jaron Brown is slowly passing Floyd on the depth chart. Something is amiss. Floyd had a great stretch run to end last season but is now on the outside looking in. Floyd was unable to haul in any of the three Drew Stanton targets. The former first-round pick still is just 26 years of age. He will be a free agent at the end of the season and could be a solid buy while fantasy owners are frustrated over his lack of production. When asked about Floyd, Arizona coach Bruce Arians said, "He’s trying to make too many things … Pressing too much right now."
First-round pick Josh Doctson is still out of action with the Achilles injury. Washington hopes the rookie can avoid a trip to injured reserve as he rests the injury. On Sunday morning, Ian Rapoport tweeted that Doctson will need "a few more weeks." He should be healthy around Week 10 and could be a solid dynasty buy as Doctson’s owners become restless.
The saga of Bengals tight end, Tyler Eifert, and his recovery from injury should be a made for television movie. While looking to be on track to play this past Sunday against the Cowboys, Eifert hurt his back in practice. The team is hoping the star tight end will be available this coming week as Cincinnati travels to New England to face the Patriots. We should know more about the severity of Eifert’s back injury by the middle of this week.
We got an update on the prognosis of Packers’ tight end Jared Cook, and his injured ankle, last week. ESPN reported that Cook is expected to miss four-to-six weeks after injuring the ankle in Week 3. Richard Rodgers has failed to assert himself in Cook’s stead.
Last week, Ian Rapoport tweeted, “The #Ravens are placing TE Maxx Williams (knee) on Injured Reserve, knocking him out for at least 8 weeks.” Williams was a second-round selection in last year’s NFL Draft and needed to work on his fundamentals coming out of college. This injury is not going to help his development. Dennis Pitta continues to defy the odds and excels even after two fractured hips. Is it too soon to call Williams a bust?
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