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.
On Saturday, Field Yates tweeted, “Source: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers officially returned to practice today. He’s eligible to play as soon as Week 15. The team has 21 days to activate him to the roster.” Rodgers could be vital for some fantasy in the playoffs. After the victory over Tampa Bay, Sunday, Green Bay is in the playoff chase. Adding Rodgers and Aaron Jones back in the lineup could make the Packers dangerous. The other positive is the poor state of the Green Bay defense should result in high scoring games down the stretch.
Many tongues were wagging earlier in the week when the Giants benched Eli Manning for Geno Smith. The outrage was not because Manning has played great this season because he has not. But, the curious part of the move was a) the timing and b) for Smith and not rookie Davis Webb. If benching Manning is the plan, why not do it earlier? And, if the team wants to replace the veteran who led the Giants to two Super Bowl berths, why not see what you have in Webb. At the end of the day, this is a clear signal that Manning will be gone at the end of the year, just like as coach McAdoo and general manager Reese were sent packing on Monday. The latter has not drafted well at all and McAdoo looks out of his depth on the sidelines. Adding fuel to the fire was Ian Rapoport tweeting on Saturday, “With #Giants QB Eli Manning’s options suddenly open for 2018, his dad Archie tells me: “Eli might say, ‘I’ve had enough.’” Retirement is an option.” At this point, there is little that would surprise but this smells of a father, who used the media to threaten a holdout if not traded to begin his career, using his voice to force his son’s departure from New York. As reported by beat reporter, Jordan, Raanan, Manning told reporters Sunday, "I plan on playing next year." Fantasy owners will need to decide how much the younger Manning brother has left in the tank. If still believing in talent, then Manning makes a great buy-low opportunity as he will likely head to a beneficial situation. The Giants will draft his replacement this coming spring. The new general manager and head coach will want to choose the next quarterback and face of the franchise.
Early Sunday morning, Ian Rapoport tweeted that there is a chance Chiefs rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes plays some this season. Alex Smith must have heard the comment as he played lights-out in the loss to the Jets. Kansas City is on a skid and needs a spark while the Chiefs brass asserts Smith is their quarterback. There is a reason the team actively acquired Mahomes. Now in a three-way tie for the division lead, little would surprise as the Chiefs may soon be in desperation mode. The one aspect to keep an eye on is the downfield passing. Smith was able to put up big numbers Sunday because he targeted Tyreek Hill down the field. The big plays offset the lack of a running game.
Coach speak is thick this time of year. Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told reporters last week that Blaine Gabbert may be the starting quarterback next season if Carson Palmer retires. Yuck. Arians said, "The way he’s playing right now, I’d be very, very comfortable [with Gabbert starting].” All indications are that Palmer will likely retire after the season, and Arians will not have a competent starter. The Cardinals have done a poor job preparing for the future without a young quarterback waiting in the wings. Expect Arizona to draft a passer in the 2018 NFL Draft and use Gabbert as a bridge.
Last week the Packers placed running back Ty Montgomery on injured reserve. Ian Rapoport tweeted later that the running back will undergo surgery on the injured wrist. He first hurt the wrist in Week 4 but tried to play through it. The recovery should be in time for Montgomery to participate in all of the Green Bay offseason activities. Rookies Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams will enable the Packers to have a strong running game down the stretch. The Green Bay front office needs to be commended for the strong corps of players at the position, especially since the trio is very cheap by NFL standards.
A player to monitor down the stretch is rookie tailback, Jeremy McNichols. He was drafted, then cut, by Tampa Bay. San Francisco claimed him and placed him on the practice squad. This week, the 49ers signed McNichols to the active roster. The fifth-round pick is taking the place of Raheem Mostert, who was placed on injured reserve. McNichols will battle Matt Breida for touches behind Carlos Hyde.
Saturday morning, it was announced that Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery signed a new four-year contract extension with the Eagles. The deal is for $52 million ($13 million average) and includes $27 million guaranteed. This means that the next two seasons will be guaranteed. The Eagles made it a priority to acquire more weapons for Carson Wentz this past offseason, and Jeffery was the big acquisition. With Jeffery and Zach Ertz now locked up through 2021, the Philadelphia front office will be lauded for the talent acquired and favorable salary cap status of the team. We do wonder whether Jeffery will be an every-week fantasy starter for those the next two years as an Eagle. This is an offense that spreads the ball around too much for one pass catcher (other than Ertz) to outproduce their dynasty value.
A few weeks ago, we were hopeful of an Erik Swoope return this season. But, according to the Indianapolis Star, Swoope will not return this year. Coach Pagano spoke on the matter, "It’s close, but we would never put him out there unless he could go out there and be 100 percent." Swoope makes a great waiver wire pick up and stash. He flashed potential last season and could displace some of Doyle’s targets in the future.
Andrew Brandt tweeted last Thursday regarding the Packers going after Martellus Bennett’s signing bonus. We discussed this possibility a couple of weeks ago. Bennett failed to disclose the torn rotator cuff when signing with the Packers. Brandt tweeted, “Packers filing grievance to collect unamortized amount of Martellus Bennett’s signing bonus ($4.2 million) due to failure to disclose injury, per @RobDemovsky.” Brandt is a former general manager of the team and predicted this move when Bennett was placed on injured reserve.
In a quiet move last week, the Denver Broncos released tight end, A.J. Derby. He was claimed by the Miami Dolphins, a team desperately needing tight end depth and talent. Derby is close to full health after suffering a shoulder injury earlier in the season. He will play behind fellow ex-Bronco Julius Thomas.
After starting the season on injured reserve due to a concussion, it was sad to see Texans tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz leave the Week-13 contest against Tennessee with a concussion. This is definitely a situation to monitor. With Deshaun Watson expected healthy next season, dynasty owners are encouraged to acquire as many pieces of the Houston passing game as possible. Watson put up gaudy numbers and his receivers should benefit in year two. The analogy of a rising tide lifts all boats should be appropriate as Watson is a rising tide compared to Tom Savage.