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.
The saga of Andrew Luck’s shoulder injury is finally getting some clarity. The Colts have been less than transparent about the situation. With Luck officially removed from the PuP list to begin the season, it means that the team expects their star passer back in the next six weeks. Luck underwent surgery for a torn labrum in January and has been slow to recover. Sure, there could be more to the injury than what we know. But, at this time, we expect Luck to be back in the lineup later this month. If we see anything to the contrary, he will show up again in this column. To address the lack of talent and depth at the position, Indianapolis traded wider receiver Phillip Dorsett to New England for third-stringer Jacoby Brissett. While Scott Tolzien may start the opener, the acquisition of Brissett should indicate that Tolzien does not have a strong hold on the backup role behind Luck once he is healthy. Indianapolis, keep an eye on Chester Rogers emerging as the third receiver behind Hilton and Moncrief. For New England, this means two things: The Patriots did not have faith in Brissett long-term and the team is placing a priority in retaining Jimmy Garoppolo to be the successor to Tom Brady. Dorsett will compete for snaps and is far from certain to be a starter in a talented receiving corps.
The Denver Broncos were hoping that second-year pro, Paxton Lynch, would step up into the starting role this offseason, but he did not play well. When re-watching the Broncos preseason games, Lynch looked far from comfortable in the pocket and was not consistent throwing the football. He injured his shoulder and now will miss the first few games of the season. The job is firmly in the hands of Trevor Siemian. He will be backed up by Brock Osweiler. Osweiler became available after the Browns released him. With Lynch and rookie Chad Kelly out of action, the Broncos had few other options. On Osweiler, it was far from a surprise to see Cleveland release him. No one in the NFL or watching at home believed the Browns when the news was dispersed that Osweiler was the leader to be the week-one starter. We have all seen the tall, inaccurate passer in action. But, the trade was still a good one for Cleveland. The team received a second-round pick in next year’s draft to take on the $16-million salary. The Browns will go into the season with rookie DeShone Kizer starting and Cody Kessler holding the clipboard on the sideline.
Viking quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is making progress. NFL writer, Tom Pelissero tweeted over the weekend, “It's official: the #Vikings are placing Teddy Bridgewater on PUP to start the season, per sources.” This means that Minnesota will have roughly half the season to activate him or Bridgewater will revert to injured reserve. With this being Sam Bradford’s last year under contract, the Vikings need to find out if Bridgewater or Bradford can be the long-term option.
The loss of Spencer Ware is expected to hurt the Kansas City Chiefs running game. He suffered a torn PCL and LCL in his right knee and will miss the 2017 season. Further, Ware is a longshot to be ready for the 2018 season opener, his last season under contract. Rookie Kareem Hunt will pick up the baton and anchor the Chiefs running game. The rookie is talented but Kansas City likes to run the ball often enough that depth will be a problem. Neither Charcandrick West nor C.J. Spiller is viable options should anything happen to Hunt.
Fantasy owners should be cautious when relying on the Seattle Seahawks running backs. Last week, Pete Carroll, a known double-talker, said, “You start with those two (Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls), but then C.J. Prosise brings some stuff and Chris Carson is really exciting … if a guy takes over and it’s obvious, I got no problem with that either. We are pretty wide open." Basically, Carroll is calling Lacy and Rawls starters with the other two mixed in. This looks like a week-to-week mess as long as all four ball carriers remain healthy.
San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan knows running backs and fantasy owners rely on Shanahan’s feel for the running game. So, when the coach called out rookie Joe Williams for his fumbles, fantasy owners should have taken notice. Shanahan said, "If you can’t hold onto the ball it’s very tough to play in this league … He’s had a few of them (fumbles). So that definitely is alarming. Something we have to get fixed." This is one of the reasons fellow rookie Matt Breida is the backup to Carlos Hyde. Breida is a player should be rostered in most leagues given Hyde’s injury history. Unhappy with his progress, San Francisco stashed Joe Williams on injured reserve to give him a “redshirt” year. The 49ers also claimed rookie Jeremy McNichols off waivers after he was released in Tampa Bay and placed him on the practice squad. The 49ers appear to be accumulating struggling young running backs in hopes of reviving their careers.
Fantasy owners were shocked to see an Ian Rapoport tweet that the Buffalo Bills waived Jonathan Williams. He was the lone legitimate back behind LeSean McCoy and leaves a large void. We expect Williams to eventually land a new job, one that might be better for fantasy purposes, even though he passes through waivers unclaimed. There are few places worse for fantasy productions.
After the injury to rookie T.J. Logan and release of Chris Johnson, Kerwynn Williams is now the backup to David Johnson. Williams is worth stashing in most dynasty leagues given the heavy workload the Cardinals give their stud running back. He is a big step above third-string Andre Ellington at this stage in his career.
Last Friday, fantasy owners got the long-awaited news that Martavis Bryant has now been fully reinstated. This is a victory for Bryant to get his life back on track. We are now hopeful that Josh Gordon could be reinstated later this month. Bryant has the potential to jump into the top ten fantasy players at the position. Since he has been out of action for such a long time, many have forgotten how good he was lining up across from Antonio Brown. The Pittsburgh offense will be high-powered this year.
With the flurry of activity around the NFL teams paring down rosters, the Los Angeles Chargers made a move that we should all take notice. By activating Mike Williams from the PuP list, it means that the team expects him to return in the first six weeks. With roster spots at a premium, the Chargers are using one on Williams. This should be taken at face value and boost the projections of quarterback Philip Rivers.
The Chicago Bears were expecting big things from Cameron Meredith. His knee injury will cost the young receiver the 2017 season. Meredith tore his ACL and slightly tore his MCL a couple of weeks ago. Still just 24 years of age, Meredith will be a restricted free agent this coming spring and should have a chance to be healthy by training camp. The Bears have little talent at the receiver position and will miss Meredith.
Rookie John Ross is expected to miss a couple of weeks with a sprained knee, according to the Bengals website. While this injury is not as serious as it could be, it reinforces the notion that the youngster will struggle with durability in the NFL. But, if you are a fan of Ross, this injury could offer you a great chance to buy low.
Fantasy owners were surprised when Ted Ginn was starting over Willie Snead in the Saints preseason games. With Snead’s suspension announced Friday, it now all makes sense. The suspension is from a DUI arrest in the offseason. He will miss the first three games of the season and will be a player to target via trade as Ginn will have one or two solid fantasy outings making people forget Snead.
The Cleveland Browns showed that the team was not happy with the depth of the wide receiving corps. First, the team traded a 2018 sixth-round pick to Pittsburgh for a 2019 seventh-round pick and receiver Sammie Coates. Coates was drafted in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft but failed to live up to expectations. He is athletically gifted but has failed to put it all together. Maybe, the trade will provide him a fresh start. Then, the team claimed Kasen Williams off waivers from Seattle. Williams flashed big potential this preseason and was a surprise cut. Holding the first spot in the waiver process, Cleveland claimed him before any other team could have a chance. He and Coates are expected to battle for the third-receiver position.
With the Julian Edelman injury, the talk has been centered around Chris Hogan. But, quietly, the Patriots are hoping for Malcolm Mitchell to emerge into a larger role. He had been sidelined for a few weeks with a knee injury but has now been cleared to practice. Mitchell is a player to watch in the high-powered Patriots offense. He is expected to battle newly-acquired Dorsett for playing time.
The New York Jets traded disgruntled star Sheldon Richardson to the Seattle Seahawks for receiver Jermaine Kearse and a 2018 second-round pick. Kearse steps into a weak receiving corps and could be fantasy-viable. We are betting neither he nor any other Jets pass catcher will be worth starting in fantasy lineups for the first few weeks. The quarterback issues for New York only hinder any chance for a strong fantasy performance. The Jets have a solid chance to end the season as the worst offense in NFL history. We were tipped off that the Seahawks were up to something when the team restructured Doug Baldwin’s contract earlier in the day. The good news is that the receiver is now signed through the 2020 season.
A darling in the fantasy football community, Austin Carr, was waived at the final cutdown. New England was hoping to sneak the slot receiver onto its practice squad. But, the New Orleans Saints claimed Carr. With Willie Snead suspended for the first three games of the season, Carr could be a sleeper by week two. The Saints lack depth at the receiver position after Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn.
The Vance McDonald trade from San Francisco to Pittsburgh left many fantasy owners scratching their head. The 49ers gave McDonald and a fifth-round pick for a fourth-rounder. But, we should read two things into the trade: San Francisco is happy with George Kittle AND Pittsburgh is not happy with Jesse James and Xavier Grimble. The previous regime in San Francisco signed McDonald to a rich, five-year contract extension this past December. The Steelers are looking for help at the position after James has been inconsistent as a receiver, dropping passes and not able to pick up yards after the catch. For fantasy purposes, the Steelers tight end position will be a mess with the two players splitting time. When asked why he made the trade, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said it was because James and Grimble were not "consistently varsity enough."
One tight end to watch early in the season is C.J. Fiedorowicz. The youngster, even without much usage in the preseason, inked a three-year extension late last week, netting $10 million guaranteed. This should speak volumes about his role in the Houston offense. Dynasty owners are encouraged to roster him accordingly.