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.
After Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went down with the knee injury in the Week-6 loss to the Dolphins, there have been many reports about when the star passer may return. After the pitiful play of Landry Jones in the loss to New England Sunday afternoon, and the bye week this coming week, Roethlisberger could return anywhere between Week 8 or Week 10. He has shown a high pain tolerance in the past and could return earlier versus later.
With Brian Hoyer fracturing his left forearm in last Thursday night’s loss to Green Bay, Matt Barkley was thrust into duty … and it was unusually ugly. He has already undergone the surgery to repair the arm. On Monday, Adam Schefter tweeted, “Bears HC John Fox said QB Jay Cutler has been cleared to play from thumb injury.” This was convenient for the struggling Bears to have Cutler now available. The coincidence is enough for us to question whether Cutler has been ready for a while but pushed aside as Hoyer was playing well. The original timeline had Cutler returning two or three weeks ago. Maybe, Chicago was evaluating Hoyer for the 2017 job. Well, he was placed on injured reserve Monday, possibly ending his season. So, Hoyer makes a cheap acquisition in quarterback-premium leagues.
The saga of Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy, and his injured hamstring, has been well-documented. Before Sunday’s game, beat writer Mike Rodak reported that McCoy "does not look close to 100 percent when cutting and exploding." The veteran back later said that he felt pain in the hamstring while running a pass route in the third quarter. It is inconceivable as to why the organization would risk re-injury to their star. He was obviously not ready to play. With a big game against the Patriots looming this week, playing McCoy against Miami may cost him multiple weeks.
It was disappointing to read of Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin not being able to take the field when the Buccaneers returned from the bye week. Beat writer Scott Smith tweeted, “Dirk Koetter said RB Doug Martin suffered an injury setback a week ago. Does not have a timetable for return. --- Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said he is not sure when Doug Martin will return.” Yes, Jacquizz Rodgers has played well in Martin’s place. And, even Peyton Barber had a big game against the San Francisco rush defense Sunday. But, Martin is the superior player to each.
On Monday night, Dolphins tailback Arian Foster announced his retirement from football. While he has not been the same the past few years, this is quite the surprising news. An undrafted free agent in 2010, Foster's gliding running style and thoughtful personality have been good for the league. In terms of fantasy, this means Jay Ajayi will be unthreatened for touches in the Miami backfield.
The mysterious knee injury to Patriots running back Dion Lewis has left many fans and fantasy pundits wondering when he may return. The Boston Herald reported last week that it is "certainly possible" Lewis’ return "isn't imminent." Lewis would add a spark down the stretch, even with the way LeGarrette Blount and James White are playing. Lewis would add an explosive dimension to the pass-happy offense.
The injury to Packers running back Eddie Lacy drew media coverage all last week. First, Ian Rapoport tweeted, “#Packers RB Eddie Lacy is seeking a 2nd opinion from Dr. Robert Anderson in NC, source said. Should be weeks, but he'll know how much soon.” Then, beat writer Ryan Wood tweeted, “Hearing IR is possibility for #Packers RB Eddie Lacy. Could be one way to open roster spot for Don Jackson. Lacy could return later in fall.” Adam Schefter added, “RB Eddie Lacy needs foot surgery and Packers will place him on IR today, per source.” So, when Lacy was placed on injured reserve, it was no surprise. He will be out until late in the season, at the earliest. James Starks should return in two or three weeks. The versatile Ty Montgomery played great on Thursday night against the Bears, offering more as a receiver than runner. He and Starks will be a solid combination. Back on Lacy, ESPN reported that Lacy played close to the "255 to 265 pounds" he played at last season. Let’s remember that this is the last year the tailback is under contract and was instructed to play at a reduced weight. We doubt he will be back in Green Bay for the 2017 season.
At a time where there is few bell cow running backs in the NFL, many had high hopes that Jamaal Charles could return from his ACL injury in time to carry fantasy owners to titles. After playing in Week 6 victory over the Raiders, we had high hopes that the veteran tailback would soon resume his starting role. But, after practicing all week after the game, Charles experienced swelling in his surgically-repaired knee. Beat writer Terez Paylor tweeted, “#Chiefs coach Andy Reid says Jamaal Charles' knee "acted up" after the last game and was "up and down" throughout the week.” This left Charles as questionable against the Saints. Sunday morning, Jay Glazer reported, “Charles underwent MRIs on both of his knees this week and both knees are ‘sore.’" That cannot be good news. So, it was surprising to see Charles suit up and play a couple of snaps, carrying the ball once. The savvy dynasty owners will pick up Charcandrick West as he could see an expanded role if Charles is unable to regain health in his knees. Salary cap expert, Joel Corry, tweeted Monday, “The better Spencer Ware plays, the worse it is for Jamaal Charles' future in KC. His cap number & salary are both $7M in 2017.” Could Ware play well enough that the Chiefs send Charles packing?
While splitting time with Devonta Freeman this season, Falcons running back Tevin Coleman has excelled. But, in the overtime loss to San Diego Sunday, Coleman injured his hamstring and did not return to the contest. He has battled a variety of injuries throughout his short career. Coleman has not been a quick healer. Freeman could see his production rise if Coleman misses time.
Many fans and fantasy owners noticed that Cardinals receiver John Brown missed the Sunday night game against the Seahawks. The injury was reported as a hamstring, but there is more to the story. Brown has pain in his leg that stems from a sickle-cell trait which has kept the speedy pass catcher sidelined. Coach Bruce Arians said that the team doctors are working on a solution, but is definitely a situation to monitor. The coach told reporters Monday afternoon that he expects the speedy receiver back in the lineup this week. The situation is complicated by the ACL injury to Jaron Brown. If both Browns are out, J.J. Nelson makes for a great dynasty stash. Michael Floyd has yet to show any type of consistency in the last year of his contract.
While it was first reported that Jets receiver Eric Decker was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, we found out last week that the veteran was also dealing with a hip injury. That is a nasty combination. So, Decker underwent hip surgery last Tuesday and will have his shoulder repaired at a later date. At the earliest, Decker can return to the practice field next summer. He will be 30 years of age at that time. Local beat writer Ralph Vacchiano tweeted late last week, “Eric Decker (hip surgery, shoulder surgery) might not be ready for the start of the 2017 season.” What a dose of cold water. While the naysayers are out in force, this makes a great time to throw out offers for the injured Decker.
Last week’s game may be the last in the career of wide receiver Vincent Jackson. First Ian Rapoport tweeted, “#Bucs WR Vincent Jackson played through an injury to his ACL on Sunday & received no medical attention. Realized later it didn't feel right.” Then, beat writer Rick Stroud tweeted, “#Bucs place WR Vincent Jackson on IR with a torn ACL in his left knee--- Turns 34 and hits free agency after this season. Wonder what's next for him.” Stroud followed that up with a later tweet, “#Bucs @VincentTJackson is in the final year of his contract that paid him $9.77-million. At 33, could mean the end of an outstanding career”. While journeyman Cecil Shorts started in his stead Sunday against the 49ers, it was Russell Shepard who stepped up and had a big game. Shorts played more than Shepard but was less effective with his snaps. But, the loss of Jackson should mean even more targets for Mike Evans going forward.
Washington could wait no longer, the team had to place rookie receiver Josh Doctson on injured reserve late last week. Doctson has been occupying a roster spot all season while barely stepping on the field. He was battling an Achilles injury even before putting on the uniform for the first time in training camp. The injured reserve designation means the rookie will miss a minimum of eight weeks, and likely the remainder of the season unless his team makes a deep playoff run.
With all of the injuries to the quarterback and wide receiver positions, Devin Smith has been a forgotten man for the New York Jets. Smith was a high draft pick, then injured in consecutive seasons. He practiced last week and could step into a starting role opposite Brandon Marshall very soon. We are excited to see if Smith still has his elite speed after two leg injuries. If so, he could be a fantasy darling the last half of the season.
The growing role of second-year player C.J. Fiedorowicz has been noticeable of late. His offensive coordinator, George Godsey, had this to say, "He's starting to contribute, coming up big multiple weeks in a row now with some multi-catch games. He's defining his role a little more." We expect Fiedorowicz to be fantasy-viable very soon. He is definitely a player to roster in dynasty leagues.
Ladarius Green’s comments had us hopeful he would return soon after becoming eligible last week. But, in an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Green said he did not have a timetable to return to practice. We have very low expectations for Green to play this season. If training camp, preseason, and seven weeks into the season were not enough for him to recover from ankle and concussion issues, and is not able to practice at this point, why should we expect him to return to the field in the final ten weeks? Green is expected to practice over the bye week, but we are still very hesitant about him playing.
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