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 the recent happenings around the league.
There are few players in the NFL as polarizing as Bears passer Jay Cutler. With Brian Hoyer out a few weeks with a broken forearm, Cutler is forced back into the lineup. There had been murmurs that Chicago was going to stay with Hoyer even when Cutler was injured so the Bears locker room is awkwardly uncomfortable. It is hard to believe that Monday night’s game against Minnesota was Cutler’s 100th start in a Bears uniform. The Chicago Tribune ran a pair of articles that caused us to take notice. First, Brad Biggs said that he does not expect the team to retain Cutler for the 2017 season, which would clear $14 million in salary cap space. The quarterback is 33 years of age and has not been consistent the past few seasons. Coach John Fox is a conservative coach who does not like Cutler’s mercurial nature or his penchant for turnovers. Later in the week, Mike Mulligan reported that Fox told friends "he was done" with Cutler. The big win over Minnesota Monday night will likely not be enough to patch the marriage. Even with the strong game, the next game may be an implosion. There will be a free agent market for the veteran quarterback given the poor level of quarterback play across the league. As we wrote in this column a few weeks ago, we expect the Bears to go with Hoyer and a rookie next season.
The Broncos offense missed having C.J. Anderson in the lineup against the Chargers Sunday. Anderson was injured in the victory over the Texans. The injury was a torn meniscus. He had surgery last week to repair – not trim – the meniscus. Adam Schefter reported Friday afternoon that Anderson would be placed on injured reserve. There is a chance for a late-season return, though. Anderson tweeted Friday, “Was an amazing fun year all I can do is rest up get back for the playoffs and if not get back and grind 4 next season.” The bad news for Denver fans is that the play of rookie Devontae Booker was an obvious step down from that of Anderson. For an offense predicated on running the football, this is not good news.
Few stories in the NFL have been as mysterious as the knee injury of Dion Lewis. We got a little clarity last week when CSN New England's Tom Curran reported Lewis' surgery was a "clean-up" procedure to repair a patella stress fracture. This stress fracture was a setback for Lewis as he recovered from his ACL injury. The good news is that the shifty ball carrier practiced last week for the first time. With New England on bye this week, we will know much more about Lewis’ progress in the next week. His addition would give a spark to an already-prolific offense. While James White has played well, Lewis is much more explosive and a threat as a receiver.
Many dynasty owners have wondered about the prognosis of Seattle tailback Thomas Rawls. Beat writer Sheil Kapadia gave an update late last week. Kapadia wrote, “Pete Carroll on RB Thomas Rawls: ‘We're still a couple weeks away. We won't know until he starts to do the workload and all of that. But now we've got to get him in shape again and get him right. And we'll take our time doing that so that once he's back, he'll hopefully be coming back for good.’ Rawls suffered an injury to his fibula in Week 2.” Rawls could assume the starting role once healthy and in shape. Christine Michael has played well and rookie C.J. Prosise has the speed to add another element to the Seahawks offense. In fact, Prosise led Seattle in receiving yards (80) against New Orleans Sunday. Carroll will soon have a full stable of backs to run the ball.
Arian Foster was a great fantasy back for several years. Foster was undrafted out of Tennessee who burst onto the scene by his gliding, one-cut running style. He was a perfect fit for the Houston Texans offense. But, the 30-year old has always been a guy who beats to his own drummer and had strong convictions. So, when Foster announced his retirement from football last Wednesday, we were surprised … but should not have been. Coach Adam Gase told Mike Garafolo, "His [Foster’s] body wasn't responding the way he wanted it to.” In his own style, Foster released a statement on his retirement, "There comes a time in every athlete's career when their ambition and their body are no longer on the same page … My father always said, 'You'll know when it's time to walk away.' It has never been more clear than right now." The retirement was timely as the Dolphins were entering their bye week and now have time to assess the backup behind Jay Ajayi. We expect Damien Williams and rookie Kenyan Drake to play behind Ajayi, with Williams the handcuff and Drake the change of pace back.
On Sunday, Adam Schefter reported that Dr. James Andrews will be examining Jamaal Charles’ knee this coming week. Schefter cited coach Andy Reid as his source. Charles has been dealing with swelling and soreness in both knees. The concussion to Spencer Ware, combined with Charles’ knee issues, could mean a full complement of touches for Charcandrick West against Jacksonville this week. Kansas City is thankful to have quality depth at the running back position.
It was a surprise to see Packers versatile star Ty Montgomery miss the game with an “illness.” Players play through illnesses. But, ESPN's Josina Anderson later reported that Montgomery has been dealing with a "kidney-related" ailment. Fellow ESPN reporter, Rob Demovsky, reported that the issue is related to his sickle cell trait. While his absence from the lineup might have been precautionary, Montgomery’s practice participation needs to be monitored.
Beat writer Mike Jurecki tweeted Monday that Arizona receiver J.J. Nelson is now starting over Michael Floyd. Jurecki reported that this news was confirmed by coach Bruce Arians. It is not surprising given that Nelson played the most snaps of the Cardinals receivers against the Panthers Sunday. With Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown nicked up, Nelson could see another decent game this week. But, the news is most disturbing for Floyd, and his fantasy owners. The bright side is that he will be a free agent after the season. Nelson has the wheels to stretch opposing defenses. He and a healthy Brown will be open up the middle of the field for Fitzgerald … that is, when they all get healthy.
Another Houston Texans great retired this week. Receiver Andre Johnson called it quits after 14 seasons in the NFL. The former third overall pick of the 2003 NFL Draft had a great career, but is no sure thing for Canton. There are many great pass catchers in his generation and some thought to be first-ballot Hall of Famers will be snubbed.
Great to see Steelers tight end Ladarius Green practicing this week. The first practice will initiate a 21-day clock for him to be activated from the PUP list. But, the practice is good news for a Pittsburgh team desperate for a win coming off the bye week. With the Steelers receivers struggling, other than Antonio Brown, we expect Green to split time with Jesse James, at least for a while, in two-tight end sets. It is best to see how Green’s ankle and head hold up in game action before inserting him into a fantasy lineup.
Denver traded a fifth-round pick to New England for tight end A.J. Derby. Derby starred in the preseason for the Patriots but had no chance to see the field behind Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. Given how good teams, like Denver, rarely trade away draft picks, dynasty owners should take the move as the Broncos really like Derby. Most may not remember, but Derby was a quarterback at Arkansas so he is still developing as a tight end. Expect him to need a couple of weeks to get up to speed. We recommend stashing Derby. He has fantasy TE1 upside.
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