We scour the news around the NFL to bring you what matters most for you and your dynasty team: the most current news on players, both superstars and the relative unknowns, and analysis to decipher the respective situations.
The Atlanta Falcons signed quarterback Matt Ryan to a five-year, $103.75 million extension which will take him through the 2018 season. Keep in mind that the budding superstar was slated to make $10 million in 2013, the last year of his rookie deal. Making the deal even better for the passer is that $59 million is guaranteed. Ryan will be 33 years of age when his contract expires. By then, the Falcons offense will look much differently with Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and Steven Jackson all retired.
Many are worried about the calf injury for Houston running back Arian Foster. The Texans star is still on the active/PUP list and there is no timeline for his activation, according to the Houston Chronicle. Per Foster, "I've played through a lot of things, this is just something you can't … I'm just going to take my time. When I feel 100% confident, I'll be back." The concern comes in that Foster is still experiencing soreness eight weeks after suffering the injury in the team's OTAs. But, this injury should allow a savvy dynasty owner to buy Foster at a great price. Many in the fantasy community are worried about his heavy workload the past few years. This is all true. But, this injury should not be reason to downgrade the stellar ball carrier.
Last week, Carolina Panthers tailback Jonathan Stewart said his left ankle has healed well but his right one is "still an issue," according to the Charlotte Observer. Keep in mind that the back had both ankles operated on this offseason and has been nicked up for most of his career. Even if healthy, Stewart will continue to tease fantasy owners as he has the potential to put up big numbers but often comes up short, mostly due to injuries.
The story of Percy Harvin's hip injury garnered much attention late last week. The injury is a torn (or partially torn) labrum. The decision will come soon as to whether the star receiver can play through the injury or will require surgery, which comes with a recovery period of at least three months. The Seahawks have been cautiously optimistic that their new star can avoid the surgery, which would be close to season-ending. Another interesting angle to the story is that the team doctor gave Harvin a (and approved the results of) physical before the trade from Minnesota … and then gave him a huge contract.
Philadelphia Eagles wideout Jeremy Maclin went down Saturday with a non-contact knee injury. It was quickly recognized as a knee injury requiring surgery and the end of his 2013 season. This is very sad news for Maclin. In the last year of his rookie contract, the young receiver stated he would not holdout, but try to play well enough to earn a bigger deal next offseason. Now injured, this will be difficult. Riley Cooper will see increased snaps with Maclin sidelined. While Cooper is a passable player, expect Arrelious Benn to get a chance to shine. He has the play-making ability the Eagles will want to get on the field.
Dallas Cowboys receiver Miles Austin was recently quoted by ESPN Dallas as saying this could be his last season with the Cowboys. This comes after Austin taking a pay cut this offseason instead of a possible release. According to Austin, "There's new people coming into the league. People leaving the league every year. That's just the way the system goes … To be naive of the fact, you're lying to yourself." Dallas drafted Terrance Williams in April's NFL Draft and like what they have in Dwayne Harris. The team is planning for life after Austin and the player knows it.
Many fantasy owners were unaware that Buffalo Bills star receiver Stevie Johnson missed time this offseason with a minor fracture in his L-5 vertebra, as was reported by WGR 550 Buffalo. He is now fully healed and ready for training camp. This will be a season of transition for the Bills offense.
The outlook for the New York Jets keeps getting darker and darker. Last week, when asked, Santonio Holmes declined to say whether he expects to play this season. While not unexpected, the news made for another knell in the Rex Ryan saga. Holmes missed the 2013 season with a Lisfranc injury and now is opening up the idea he could miss the 2014 as well. According to reports out of New York, Holmes still has not been cleared to practice. He is likely to begin the season on the PUP list, missing the first six games of the year … at a minimum. In a connected move, New York signed Braylon Edwards to a one-year deal. The veteran is now 30 years old, but is projected to begin the season in the starting lineup. With Edwards and Jeremy Kerley the team's top two receivers, expect tight end Jeff Cumberland to have a solid fantasy season.
It was no surprise when last year's first round pick, A.J. Jenkins, opened 49ers training camp opposite Anquan Boldin in the starting lineup. Jenkins has speed to burn and could surprise if he can turn his potential into production. He will battle Kyle Williams and rookie Quinton Patton to start in place of Michael Crabtree. It was good to see a Sacramento Bee report that Williams has his explosion back. While undersized and coming off a knee injury, his presence will help the passing game. A player to watch is Mario Manningham. The ex-Giants receiver is coming off surgery to his ACL and PCL. Manningham is believed to be just a month away from returning to practice. Opportunity will arise if he can regain his speed and ability to make plays after the catch.
After wide receiver Brad Smith re-negotiated his contract to remain with the team, Joe Buscaglia, of WGR 550 Buffalo, likes the chances of Da'Rick Rogers to make the Buffalo Bills team. Buscaglia called Rogers a favorite to be on the final 53-man roster when training camp closes. Rogers has tremendous upside if he can put his checkered past behind him. Many predicted Rogers to be a high draft pick, but he went undrafted after several off the field happenings turned into red flags for teams.
A week after placing rookie receiver Kenny Stills on the active/PUP list with a wrist injury, the New Orleans Saints activated the rookie. He is a great dynasty stash but offers little upside in 2013. New Orleans has an aging receiver corps and Stills could use the year to improve his route running and consistency as a receiver.
On Saturday, Baltimore tight end Dennis Pitta collided with a teamate and dislocated his hip. Footballguys own Dr. Jene Bramel suggested a two-three month recovery timetable on Twitter. In a contract year, Pitta was poised for a big season.
Many dynasty owners had high hopes for Denver tight end Julius Thomas just a couple of years ago. He has battled his way back into contention for playing time. But, the bad news for fantasy purposes is that Thomas is working as an in-line tight end, meaning he is asked to block often. If the youngster can gain the starting job, it would be at the expense of Joel Dreessen, not the patch-catching Jacob Tamme. While this is great that Thomas has a chance to start for Denver, he will not be a viable fantasy alternative.
If you have questions of any variety, please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (Twitter.com/JeffTefertiller) or in the Wannabee thread in the Assistant Coach Forum.