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.
We have written frequently about the concern for Andrew Luck’s recovery from shoulder surgery. However, we have not written much about Cam Newton. He is slow to return from his shoulder injury. Last week, Dianna Russini of ESPN tweeted, “Cam Newton's shoulder recovery is going to be a major storyline heading into this season. It could really be a problem for them. #Panthers.” While he is throwing. The arm strength is not back to normal. This is a story to monitor.
One of the bigger storylines this past weekend is the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback situation. After a poor performance against Tampa Bay on Thursday evening, many are opining that Blake Bortles could soon be benched. Beat writer Ryan O'Halloran said that "it would make perfect sense" for the Jaguars to cut their starting quarterback. At face value, this does not make sense to send the quarterback from the starting lineup to the bench. But, when taking a deeper look, it is clearer. Bortles will have a guaranteed $19 million salary if injured this season. The only guarantee is for injury. For those that might remember, this is like how Washington treated Robert Griffin III. Bortles was the third overall pick in the 2014 but has seen his stock steadily falling. Tom Coughlin has stated that he wants to rely on the running game more and throw less frequently. Therefore, the team invested a high pick in running back Leonard Fournette. O’Halloran has gone on record as saying he thinks Chad Henne will be under center for the season opener.
When the Ezekiel Elliott suspension was announced, the fantasy community was sent clamoring for Darren McFadden. Beat writer Todd Archer said last week that he thinks the Cowboys will utilize a committee approach to the position while Elliott is sidelined. McFadden is expected to share time with Alfred Morris and possibly Rod Smith. McFadden is the best of the trio in pass protection so he should see the most snaps but Morris has looked like the better runner this preseason. Given the quality of the Dallas offensive line, the back who gets the most touches will be a fantasy starter.
One of the lesser-discussed stories of the preseason is the performance of Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin. Few are talking about the play of Martin. Yes, he was injured and unproductive last year but looks to be in great shape. Martin will miss time at the beginning of the season due to a suspension. Beat writer Rick Stroud tweeted about the suspension, “#Bucs RB Doug Martin told ESPN he spent 45 days in a drug rehab center after violating the NFL's policy on Performance Enhancing Drugs.” As crazy as it sounds, Martin has a chance to finish in the top five players at the position.
A not unexpected disappointment for fantasy owners has been the play of LeGarrette Blount, now in Philadelphia. Outside of a few games his rookie season in Tampa Bay, Blount has not played well when wearing any uniform other than a Patriots jersey. Beat writer Jeff McLane recently wrote that Blount "hasn't exactly stood out" so far in Eagles camp. He looked slow in the Thursday night preseason game as well.
One tailback we are avoiding in fantasy leagues is Paul Perkins. Beat reporter Jordan Raanan seemed to echo this sentiment in a recent article. Raanan wrote that Perkins "hasn't blown anyone away" so far in training camp. Coach Ben McAdoo chimed in after the preseason opener. McAdoo said, "He has to make him miss and he has to run him over … We have to at least get a first down on that play (referring to a seven-yard run early in the game)." On early downs, Perkins is splitting first-team snaps with Orleans Darkwa. Darkwa has been a staff favorite and is worth a stash in deeper leagues. Also, Raanan wrote last week that Shane Vereen will have a big role. Overall, the situation appears to be a mess for dynasty owners so tread lightly and do not invest much into the position.
Last week, Ian Rapoport reported the Chargers are hoping for an October return of rookie receiver Mike Williams. The first-round pick has been "sprinting on the treadmill and on the practice field," according to Rapoport. If you believe in his talent, Williams makes a solid buy-low opportunity as many are concerned about his back injury.
Much has been made about the injury of John Brown. Brown missed significant action last season with the effects of sickle-cell trait. Last week, both Brown and coach Bruce Arians spoke on the issue. Arians said, "If he can’t run long enough (after he returns) … you’ve got to replace him." The sickle-cell trait slows the healing of injuries and the altitude of Arizona does not help matters, either. Even though the grizzled coach has chastised every receiver on the team outside of Larry Fitzgerald and Jaron Brown, rookie Chad Williams will be thrust into a bigger role very soon if John Brown continues to miss time.
Dynasty owners are anxiously awaiting the commissioner’s ruling on Cleveland wide receiver Josh Gordon. In an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Roger Goodell is quoted as saying Gordon’s status is "not under active consideration." He went on to say, "At least hasn't made it to my desk." Time is running out for this season. As a believer in humanity, we are still optimistic about the still-young receiver making it back onto the field.
Beat reporter Jeff Dickerson wrote last week that he believes rookie tight end Adam Shaheen will have a "sizable role on offense." Dickerson said of the second-round pick, "If Shaheen proves he can block … he’ll play a lot in the regular season." Shaheen is transitioning from Division II Ashland but is quickly getting up to speed. His improvement could push Zach Miller off the roster.
One player who has seen his star fall this training camp is Indianapolis tight end, Erik Swoope. Swoope recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and his status is week to week. He might end up on fantasy waiver wires but is a player to stash. The Colts traded Allen away because the team believes in the youngster.
A tight end to watch this preseason is converted quarterback Logan Thomas. Beat reporter Vic Carucci said last week that Thomas "showed the most athleticism and best hands" among all Buffalo tight ends so far in training camp. Carucci did concede that Thomas' "blocking wasn't great." We expect Charles Clay to still be the starter this season and Thomas to contend for the job in 2018. As we see with incoming rookies at the position, transitioning to the NFL is difficult even for those playing the position for ten years. Thomas has a chance to be good. It will take time. I expect him to be the 2018 version of Rico Gathers.