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.
In a recent Kansas City Star report, undrafted rookie quarterback Tyler Bray has impressed Chiefs brass so far in training camp. He has passed Ricky Stanzi – not that this was unexpected – but has shown maturity and has had his head on straight. For those not remembering, Bray slipped out of the draft due to maturity issues and questionable decision making off the field. Bray is worth a look in deep dynasty leagues. If he has any ability, Bray should pass Chase Daniel on the depth chart by next summer.
Last week, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Steelers are looking for rookie tailback Le'Veon Bell to be their "workhorse." It was painfully obvious last season that neither Jonathan Dwyer nor Isaac Redman were anything other than complementary backs. This is why Pittsburgh targeted the former Michigan State star … to carry the load. Coach Mike Tomlin spoke of Bell getting the start against the new York Giants last weekend, "I think he has earned that … I think how he is running the ball speaks for itself." The team is wanting Bell to step up and be "the guy" and run away with the job.
Green Bay Packers rookie runner Eddie Lacy did not play in Friday night's preseason opener versus the Cardinals due to a hamstring injury. The rookie left practice early last Wednesday, and he has missed a lot of valuable practice time since.
Last week, ESPN NFC East blogger Dan Graziano stated something that most knew but still did not want to accept. Graziano said that the Giants' best pass-protecting running back will "get the bulk of the carries." Last year, Andre Brown excelled in this area while the upstart David Wilson struggled. Many fantasy owners are high on Wilson's chances to break out this season. He is able to make big plays, but needs to improve in this area in order to get on the field more. The flip side is that Brown could be a great value trade target for a RB3 with high touchdown potential.
Two weeks after the Tampa Times projected second-year tailback Michael Smith to backup Doug Martin, the Pewter Report predicted that Smith will not make the final roster. The signing of Peyton Hillis could make this even more difficult for the speedy runner. Keep an eye on the hyperextended left knee of Hillis. It was an injury he suffered last Thursday against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Kansas City Star reported last week that rookie tailback Knile Davis has dropped "numerous passes," in addition to mishandling many kickoff returns. This could be problematic in Andy Reid's West Coast Offense. If Davis struggles, Shaun Draughn could get an opportunity to play behind Jamaal Charles.
A player to watch this preseason is New York Giants rookie runner Michael Cox. The Newark Star-Ledger, Giants said the seventh round pick has shown "dazzling and explosive" running skills in training camp. Cox will vie for the third running back job with Da'Rel Scott and Ryan Torain.
Philadelphia Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin had surgery last Tuesday on his torn ACL, less than two weeks after suffering the injury. The impending free agent will look to recover quickly and prove good health by the beginning of free agency.
WGR 550 Buffalo reported last week that undrafted rookie receiver Da'Rick Rogers is "holding (himself) back with moments of weakness in the mental side of the game." Rogers has all of the physical tools but slipped out of the NFL Draft with similar struggles on the field and poor decision making off the field.
Last week, San Diego Chargers starting receiver Danario Alexander tore his right ACL and is done for the season. It is a sad ending to the 2013 season for Alexander who had a strong ending to the 2012 campaign after coming back from multiple left knee surgeries.
ESPN New York reporter Rich Cimini recently called Stephen Hill the Jets' most improved player this summer. Hill was very raw coming out of Georgia Tech, but is a big, athletic receiver who will add another element to the Jets passing game. His ceiling is sky high as Hill is still just 22 years of age and has plenty of room for improvement. Dynasty owners are encouraged to buy Hill this season with hopes of a strong 2014, assuming the quarterback play improves by then.
Potential fantasy sleeper receiver Joseph Morgan tore his meniscus and ACL, leaving a void in the New Orleans Saints receiving corps. After the injury, the New Orleans Times-Picayune called rookie Kenny Stills the Saints' WR3 "until further notice." We discussed Stills in last week's column and feel he has the potential to make a fantasy impact as early as this season. But, one thing to remember when discussing the Saints receivers, Nick Toon is the backup for Marques Colston while Stills will see time as the third receiver and will serve as Lance Moore's backup.
There was a shocking news blurb in CSN Bay Area last week about the San Francisco 49er wide receiver position. Beat writer Matt Maiocco opined that last year's first round pick A.J. Jenkins "has (not) done enough on the field" to earn a spot on the team's final roster. It would be an upset if Jenkins was cut, but not out of the realm of possibilities at this point. Marlon Moore started last Thursday's preseason opener. Jenkins mishandled the one pass that came his way. When asked about Jenkins' play in the game, head coach Jim Harbaugh said, "uh, could have been better." Ouch! Mario Manningham is a name to watch. He should be healthy and on the field in the next few weeks.
A rookie to watch in preseason action is Buffalo Bills rookie wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett stated in a BuffaloBills.com article that the speedy rookie has "just been awesome" so far in training camp. Per Hackett, "I think what he’s done out here up to this point, I don’t think anybody expected." Goodwin possesses world-class speed but was not able to develop as a receiver at Texas. There is opportunity for Goodwin to play early this season if he can show improvement.
Following the Baltimore Ravens preseason opener last week, receiver Deonte Thompson was spotted in a "soft boot" with an ankle injury. This is a big blow for the Baltimore offense who is looking for players to step up at the receiver position following the trade of Anquan Boldin and season-ending injury to tight end Dennis Pitta. Thomson injured his ankle in the first half of the contest and will be evaluated further this week.
Even though he was fighting for a roster spot, it was sad to see veteran Plaxico Burress get hurt, and now he has played his last down of football. Burress tore his rotator cuff and had surgery last Monday. We wish him the best in his post-football career.
Bad news is on the horizon for Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen. After a stellar rookie season, many have high hopes for the athletic tight end. Beat writer Mike Chappell reported that Allen will have a second opinion on an injured foot. There are few details at this time but the words "second opinion" and "foot injury" are never good when used in the same sentence.
According to beat writer Sheil Kapadia, second-round pick Zach Ertz has been "as good as advertised" in training camp. In the Philly Mag: Birds 24 article, Kapadia predicted Ertz will wind up leading the Eagles' tight ends in catches and yards. The rookie tight end is moving around the formation in order to best take advantage of mismatches.
The Boston Globe recently reported that rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld has begun running "exclusively with the first unit" at Patriots camp. Sudfeld has played very well. Beat writer Ben Volin calls Sudfeld "potentially the best tight end on the field." Yes, Rob Gronkowski is still out with the back injury, but Sudfeld could see major playing time. In a related story, the paper states that Jake Ballard has fallen behind Daniel Fells and Sudfeld on the depth chart. Multiple reports out of Patriots training camp say the ex-Giants tight end could be on the outside looking in for a roster spot. Once a hot dynasty pickup, Ballard has not been the same after knee surgery.
With starting tight end Heath Miller expected out for the beginning of the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers projected Matt Spaeth as the week one starter. But, now, Spaeth is out for eight to ten weeks with a Lisfranc foot sprain. This could position youngster David Paulson to be in the starting lineup until miller is back.
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.