Dynasty Implications #3
By Jeff Tefertiller
July 20th, 2010

The training camps are opening in the next couple of weeks and the news is starting to pick up. This article can serve as a place to catch up on the week's news as it relates to dynasty leagues as we will look to identify some winners and losers. The focus will be on the players with recent injury issues or change in situations during the past week. Keep a close eye on the Footballguys.com news page for the up to date news.

Could Carson Palmer's arm still not be at full strength? A Cincinnati Enquirer blog quoted a Football Outsiders statistic that could indicate the Bengal passer is not back to his pre-injury health. The statistic was that "only 15 percent of Carson Palmer's throws qualified as 'deep' or 'bomb' last season". At face value, that percentage could be nothing or it could signal that Palmer does not possess full faith in his once-powerful arm. With such high hopes on the Cincinnati air attack, this is definitely something to monitor.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have picked up the option in Josh Freeman's contract which will guarantee his rookie deal runs a full five seasons. While this only affects the last year of the contract, the move is a great show of faith in the team's quarterback. The club is looking to build the offense around the young passer.

There was an interesting bit of news reported on the Jacksonville Jaguars team web site. Vic Ketchman said that he expects the team to draft their quarterback of the future in next year's NFL Draft. I wonder what David Garrard thinks of the "news". He will be 33 next spring and the team would be wise to address the position sooner versus later. It also helps that the 2011 draft class should include a few good quarterback prospects. It is not as though the Jaguar quarterback is worth a lot in dynasty leagues, but this might be the time to sell Garrard if he is not your starter.

As though fantasy owners could not figure it out, Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt was reported as saying that he plans on running the ball more in 2010. Who wouldn't with the downgrade at quarterback from Kurt Warner to Matt Leinart? Whisenhunt added that much depends on the quality of quarterback play he gets from Leinart and/or Derek Anderson. Well, um, yeah. Does the coach really expect the quarterback play to remain the same as last year? The net effect should be more rushing attempts for the Cardinal offense as the team tries to keep Leinart from imploding. Expect to see more touches from Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower this season.

With the mess surrounding Michael Vick, there was an interesting article this week by Mark Eckel of the Trenton Times. Eckel reports that Eagles rookie quarterback Mike Kafka is "bright enough and skilled enough" to be the long-term backup to Kevin Kolb very soon. With the uncertainty of Kolb in his first season as a starter, Philadelphia is likely to bring in a passer with experience if something were to happen to Vick. There is no way the Eagles would roll into the season with just Kolb and Kafka. While Kafka is a good fit for Philadelphia's short passing game, he has plenty of room to develop before being relied upon for much of a role. Kafka does make a great stash in deeper leagues.

Tennessee rookie passer, Rusty Smith is an intriguing prospect. Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger said Smith had "amazing" vision. He is a good quarterback to stash in the deepest of leagues with the team already rostering Vince Young, Kerry Collins, and Chris Simms. Expect one of the three to be released and Smith to be developed slowly.

Former Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw has never been accused of being bashful. But, Bradshaw's recent comments about Panther rookie Jimmy Clausen were eye-opening. It is Clausen's throwing motion and delivery that felt the brunt of Bradshaw's analysis. He said, "I didn't like him in college and I don't like him now." Bradshaw continued, "I hear great things about him, but he's not my kind of guy. I don't like his motion. I think he's too slow. He played for such a big institution, I just thought he was way too slow with his delivery, way too much shoulder action. Physically, in the way he threw a football, I just didn't like him." WOW! I wish Bradshaw would learn to speak his mind more often. Seriously, Clausen does have plenty of his game to work on, but may see his opportunity arise in the next year or two. Carolina starter, Matt Moore, is in the last year of his contract and the club will want to know what they have at the position before making an investment in Moore for the future.

NFL.com reported Monday that the Tennessee Titans and superstar Chris Johnson have worked out a short-term solution to the contract impasse. The length of his current deal is to be unchanged with extra money added for 2010. This is good news for those worried about a Johnson holdout.

Michael Lombardi recently made the move to the NFL Network and NFL.com. He believes Knowshon Moreno could "set the league on fire this season" as long as he stays healthy. This is a shock to those who watched Moreno struggle as a rookie. Moreno was outplayed by Correll Buckhalter for much of the 2009 season. Without Brandon Marshall in the lineup, defenses will be focused on stopping the run. Kyle Orton does not have much to work with in the passing game. Moreno will need better burst through the holes. He looked slow and calculating as a rookie. The good news is that the Broncos get six games against AFC West opponents.

Kent Babb is arguably to top Kansas City Chief beat writer. This past week, Babb opined that he expects Jamaal Charles to be the centerpiece of the offense. After the very strong finish to the 2009 season, it is easy to see why Babb thinks this way. Charles is easily the best play-maker on the Chiefs' offense. The Chief coaching staff has to find ways to get the ball into Charles' hands, especially in space where his speed is such an asset. Veteran newcomer, Thomas Jones, will have a role in the running game. But, expect the ex-Patriot coaches to understand the talent they have in Charles. After the Jones arrival, this might be the last time to buy Charles on the relative cheap.

There has been much debate the last two weeks about the role of Detroit rookie running back, Jahvid Best. A week after Tom Kowalski expressed that he thought Best would be the feature back in Detroit, there was a conflicting article by Detroit News' Tim Twentyman. Twentyman wrote that he expects Detroit to use a committee attack at running back with Jahvid Best in the "Reggie Bush role". To be fair, Kowalski is revered as the best of the Lion beat writers. What this tells us is that Best's role is still undefined and is likely dependent on the progress of Kevin Smith returning from his nasty knee injury. Best is a big play back, with many skills. But, the question for him might be whether he can hold up under a huge workload, which also limits Bush.

One of the most informative articles of the week focused on the Chicago Bear running game. The Chicago Tribune ran a statistic that Matt Forte averaged 4.5 yards per carry on 132 rushing attempts out of the I-formation last season, as opposed to a 2.7 average in one-back sets. This makes sense. Most tailbacks run better with a fullback leading the way. The bad news is that new offensive coordinator, Mike Martz, rarely uses a lead clocking back. Forte will battle Chester Taylor (who will be paid $7 million this season) for touches in the Chicago backfield. Taylor is still playing at a high level and will push Forte for carries. This situation is a mess for fantasy owners. The addition of Harvey Unga in the NFL Supplemental Draft only makes the situation more murky. There is good news for fantasy owners. Martz rarely stays in a place for more than a year or two so if you are a big Forte fan, there will be ample time to buy at a reduced price as his owners will soon be frustrated.

Deji Karim is a name to remember. Vic Ketchman of Jaguars.com had an interesting take on the rookie. He said rookie Deji Karim could be used to "keep (Maurice) Jones-Drew fresh" as the reserve. Ketchman further said that Karim "could turn out to be one of the sleepers of this year's draft." The good news is that the team finally has depth at the running back position after hitting on Karim and 2009 draft pick Rashard Jennings. For those not familiar with Karim, he was a high school teammate with Sam Bradford. Like Jones-Drew, Karim is short but not small. He is quick and elusive. Many are unfamiliar with Karim after playing at Southern Illinois. If the Jaguars decide to lessen Jones-Drew's role, Karim could see extended action as a rookie.

Albert Breer of the Boston Globe is a very good New England Patriot beat writer. He reported last week that during a radio interview, Wes Welker said that he is trying to work his way from rehab mode to training mode during his workouts. This is bigger news than it appears. The chance of a setback is one of the biggest fears for a player returning from injury. Also, the better shape Welker is in when he is deemed healthy, the sooner he can return to the lineup. "It's doing well," Welker said. "Kind of plugging along, and trying to get in more of a training mode than a rehab mode. It's been going good so far, just taking it a day at a time." There is a chance Welker can return early in the season, possibly week one.

Jason LaCanfora reported that the Panthers remain hopeful that Carolina star receiver Steve Smith will be back for the final preseason game. Smith fractured his arm in a flag football game a few weeks ago and should return on time. The only worry is that the injury could impede Smith's time to work with new quarterback Matt Moore. With Jake Delhomme now in Cleveland, the diminutive wideout could be in for a big year. He and the young quarterback had a great connection in the games Moore started down the stretch.

Mike Wallace is a wide receiver who could be primed for a big year. Football Outsiders ranked WR the Steelers pass catcher as their No. 1 prospect heading into 2010. He is one of a very select group of former rookies with over 18 yards per catch and 30 plus receptions. This may be the last time to acquire Wallace in dynasty leagues while so many are down on the Pittsburgh offense with the Roethlisberger suspension, Colon season-ending injury, and the departure of Santonio Holmes. But, let's remember that Hines Ward is not getting any younger. Wallace could have a big season as the sole downfield threat in the Steel City.

Chicago Bear beat writer Brad Biggs wrote something last week which corresponded with what many football fans were thinking. Biggs suggested the Chicago Bear organization thwarted Mike Martz's plans to move Devin Hester to the slot because he's being paid like a playmaker and No. 1 receiver. This is humorous to me. As though the organization is so arrogant to pull this foolish move. It does make sense, but is foolish considering coach Lovie Smith is in a contract year, and things could get ugly quickly. Hester would be a good fit in the slot. That position is very productive in the Martz offense. But, the team wants to feel good about the four-year, $41 million contract they gave Hester in the summer of 2008. When the games begin, and jobs are on the line, there is a good chance that Hester will be moved to the slot, with Devin Aromashodu and Johnny Knox split out wide.

Denver Bronco beat writer Mike Klis said something this past week that many dynasty owners already knew, but it was good to see affirmed. Klis reported that expectations for the Broncos' two rookie receivers, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, should be tempered because of their foot injuries. This is spot on. Even though both receivers are now back to full strength, they missed too much of the spring OTAs and rookie camps to make an early impact. Both will see extended action by midseason as the Broncos look to find a replacement for Brandon Marshall.

The Indianapolis Colts could have a full cache of weapons at Peyton Manning's disposal if Anthony Gonzalez can get back to full speed after a tough knee injury early in the 2009 season. After several setbacks last year, Gonzalez says he finally has his speed back. The Colts will have Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, and Austin Collie, in addition to Gonzalez. Garcon and Collie emerged last season and will be difficult for Gonzalez to beat out. Add in tight end Dallas Clark and Manning should have another big season.

Falcon's wide receiver Harry Douglas was thought to be a sleeper last year before going down with an ACL injury. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday that Douglas has yet to be medically cleared to return to action. You can almost scratch his name off any "sleeper" list since Douglas has not even been cleared for non-contact drills. Yes, he could make an impact by midseason, but that is a long ways off.

With so much fluff flowing out of his mouth, it is difficult to take anything Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says at face value. But, the new Seattle coach said that second-year wide receiver Deon Butler was "one of the most improved players" this spring. It is an interesting comment since it is not as though Carroll was coaching the team last year. He has to go by watching tape of the little-used wide receiver. Also, since Carroll replaced most of Jim Mora's coaching staff, he cannot be referring to any development in practices. If he sees the field much on offense this year, expect Butler to play the slot. While it is good to hear glowing things about the young player, a few grains of salt may be needed to filter this news.

The Jacksonville coaching staff has been excited about the development of second-year tight end Zach Miller for some time, but the youngster has battled a foot injury for most of the offseason. Jaguar offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter insists he's still "excited about the role Zach [Miller] can play" in the offense despite missing so much time with the injury. "We think Zach can be that guy, we have high hopes for him," Koetter said. It will likely take another year for Miller to emerge with the current state of the Jaguar passing game.

Mike Klis also stated this week that Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, who is entering the second season of a four-year contract, should be given two more seasons in order to reach the playoffs. There were high expectations after the strong start to the 2009 campaign, but the freefall down the stretch has to be disconcerting. McDaniels' future is now tethered to rookie quarterback Tim Tebow. The soft AFC West should make it very attainable for the Broncos to reward their young head coach with a playoff appearance ... and a new contract before the current deal has expired. This "news" affects the futures of many Bronco players with the way McDaniels is turning over the roster.

Please feel free to email me at tefertiller@footballguys.com with any questions or comments. Also, I am on Twitter, so feel free to ask me questions there.

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