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.
Andrew Luck has been a weekly fixture in this column, even before his shoulder recovery made the national radar. Most of the national NFL reporters have been active in “reporting” opinion on Luck’s recovery. Colts general manager Chris Ballard discussed the situation with Tom Pelissero on NFL Network last week. Afterward, Pelissero tweeted, “#Colts GM Chris Ballard told me all indications are Andrew Luck won't start season on PUP. Play Week 1? Still TBD … Luck has progressed in throwing program past 2 weeks, rebuilding motion, strength. #Colts don't want franchise QB skipping steps or rushing.” While it is possible Luck will not be ready for Week 1, there is not too much concern, yet. With a mediocre Scott Tolzien behind Luck on the depth chart, the Indianapolis receivers will not meet expectations until Luck is back in the lineup.
The Ryan Tannehill knee injury set the table for a rabid news cycle last week. Tannehill has a torn left ACL, according to the Miami Herald. He re-tore the ligament on August 3. Now, the quarterback is on injured reserve. This injury led coach Adam Gase to reach out to former quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler had retired and was set to be a broadcaster this season. That was before his former Broncos coach called. The veteran passed his physical with Miami, even his shoulder which was surgically repaired late last year. We expect Cutler to be in the lineup for the opener against Tampa Bay. For his efforts, Cutler will earn at least $10 million. We are not sold on the veteran’s ability to step in without much practice this summer. In two-quarterback and superflex leagues, Matt Moore makes a great stash.
In a surprising turn of events, the Browns beat reporters believe that the starting job – at least for the opener – is Brock Osweiler’s to lose. Pat McManamon reported that the Texans’ free agent flop took all the first team snaps in practice. This is more of an indictment on Cody Kessler. DeShone Kizer will pass Osweiler in short time. The rookie is talented and the Browns are making him earn everything. We were surprised to hear Adam Schefter say on the radio that Cleveland is not interested in trading the tall passer. This could be posturing to up the value of Osweiler. We are taking this stance until we see Osweiler successfully play in extended action. He was horrid on Thursday night against New Orleans while Kizer showed much promise.
With Ezekiel Elliott suspended for the first six games of the season, expect the Dallas star to put up a fight. Adam Schefter reported Saturday that Elliott is "ready for a long battle" regarding his suspension. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones supported the commissioner’s office on the Tom Brady suspension. Now, we are intrigued how the other owners will support the league office.
The Atlanta Falcons gave out a new contract to running back Devonta Freeman last week, extending the star’s contract through the year 2022. Freeman will get $41.25 million for five extra years, including $22 million guaranteed and a $15 million signing bonus. The new deal will keep Freeman in Atlanta through age 30 when he will become expendable. Also, this new deal puts Tevin Coleman in a precarious position wanting a new deal with his franchise unlikely to shell out two big contracts to running backs.
With the focus on Eddie Lacy and his weight, the focus of the offseason, Thomas Rawls has quietly emerged as the starter in Seattle. The Seattle Times' Bob Condotta reported last week that Rawls "appears to be the clear No. 1 back" right now. Rawls has always exuded talent but has struggled with injuries. We expect these two ball carriers to split carries once the season begins, but Rawls is the younger, cheaper option.
There are some training camp reports we take with more validity than others. Last week, beat writer Jim Owczarski wrote that he believes running back Jeremy Hill will "start all season" unless he "is injured or is absolutely terrible." That sounds like a strong endorsement except that Hill has been terrible for much of his career. Even fellow reporter Katherine Terrell said that she expects the same. If nothing else, this news should lower the dynasty price tag of Giovani Bernard and rookie Joe Mixon. Bernard is still coming back from injury. But, when we take a step back and digest these reports, there is little reason to suspect that Cincinnati will not use the second rounder liberally instead of the plodding Hill. Coach Marvin Lewis spoke of the situation to the media last week. He praised Mixon, but said he is anxious to see Mixon in pass protection. Lewis said, "And then he is going to get an opportunity to protect the quarterback … The rest of the stuff he does very naturally, like running or catching. But (I want to see) his pad level, and making sure his tracks are correct. Those are the things we are going to continue to evaluate and make sure he gets up to speed on and stays consistent." Once Bernard is back healthy and Mixon proves his pass protection chops, we will not hear much of Hill.
Fifth-round rookie Jeremy McNichols was slow to join Tampa Bay while recovering from an injury. In the last two weeks, the rookie runner has been called out by a member of the coaching staff for not knowing the offense. This time, it was head coach Dirk Koetter who said McNichols "needs to get in his playbook." With Doug Martin suspended to begin the season, the Buccaneers could use McNichols in the lineup. But, it is looking more and more that Jacquizz Rodgers will be starting while Martin is sidelined.
The trades last Friday sent the fantasy community on its collective edge. First, Sammy Watkins is traded to the Los Angeles Rams. Then, The Bills acquire Jordan Matthews to “replace” Watkins. For the Rams, the move is an investment in quarterback Jared Goff. The young offense gets a young star in the making. The team will need to sign Watkins long-term. In Buffalo, Matthews is a poor substitute for Watkins. He and Boldin will play inside and rookie Zay Jones will play outside. Of these trades, Jones is quietly the main benefactor. Nelson Agholor was playing over Matthews in Philadelphia and will continue in the slot role. Two things are clear in these trades: 1). the new Rams regime is putting their collective stamp on the team, and 2). the Bills are clearing the team of players needing new deals. There is a chance that Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy are gone before the start of the 2018 season.
Keep an eye on the Doug Baldwin foot injury. Ace beat reporter Sheil Kapadia wrote about the injury. Kapadia wrote, “During a 710 ESPN Seattle interview, Pete Carroll said that WR Doug Baldwin has a strained upper foot and is going to be fine. Carroll said that Baldwin could play Sunday if the Seahawks had a regular season game but the team will be cautious and hold him out.“ Foot sprains can linger and create problems so this is definitely a situation to monitors for dynasty owners.
The Jets were dealt a severe blow when Quincy Enunwa was injured in practice and placed on injured reserve with a bulging disk. First Eric Decker was released. Now, Enunwa out for the year. There is not much left of the wide receiving corps of New York. The Jets team twitter account tweeted, “Bowles: Enunwa has a bulging disk. A second opinion will likely indicate surgery and a 6-9 month recovery. Told it's not career threatening.” Robby Anderson and rookie ArDarius Stewart are favorites to be the top receivers for fantasy owners. It may not matter with Christian Hackenberg expected to be under center for more than half of the games. This offense could threaten for most anemic of all time.
After signing with the Buffalo Bills last week, Anquan Boldin has entrenched himself in the slot for the Bills. The slot is where Boldin excelled in Detroit in 2016. His presence will limit the year-one upside of rookie Zay Jones. This will make him a strong buy option after a slow start. The team gave Boldin $2.75 million and another $1.25 available in incentives. He makes a solid stash in PPR leagues, especially if Sammy Watkins gets kicked up again.
An off-the-radar tight end is Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Seferian-Jenkins flamed out early in his career but seems committed to his craft. Beat reporter Connor Hughes said last week that the tall tight end has dominated during New York’s training camp. On a Jets offense void of weapons, we like Seferian-Jenkins as a player to watch in preseason and stash in tight end-premium leagues. He is suspended for the first two contests and will be difficult to hold until Week 3. But, the athleticism and size are enough to warrant a long look.