Dynasty News and Implications #5
By Jeff Tefertiller
August 4th, 2010

The training camps opened this past week for teams and the news is starting to pick up in a big way. This article can serve as a place to catch up on the week's news as it relates to dynasty leagues . 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.

Matt Moore is a player to watch. He is not under contract for next season and will get the 2010 year to prove he merits an extension. It was news this week when Darin Gantt of the Rock Hill Herald wrote that "the gap between Matt Moore and the rest of the [Carolina] passers is considerable." The team has rookie Jimmy Clausen and youngster Hunter Cantwell as reserves. If Moore plays well this coming season, the Panthers will have a difficult decision as to the young passer's fate.

The Denver running backs did not have a good weekend. Both Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) and Correll Buckhalter (back) went down with injuries. Moreno's is much more serious. The Denver Post reported that Moreno will miss three weeks due to "minor fraying" in his right hamstring. This timetable should allow for the Denver starter to be available for the opening game. With his history of injuries, this is not a good way to begin the preseason. Buckhalter is expected to resume practicing in roughly a week. The Denver Post reported that Buckhalter sustained trauma in his back and spine areas, causing numbness on Sunday. This was a real scare for him. Team doctors do not believe it is a concern for the long term. Expect Buckhalter to be at full strength by the start of preseason.

The Miami Dolphins received good news this past Friday when coach Tony Sparano deemed running back Ronnie Brown "100 percent healthy and ready to go" for the start of training camp. Brown's foot was a concern for fantasy owners coming into the training camp after he sustained the Lisfranc injury last season. He has found it difficult to remain healthy throughout an entire season.

One of the hotly discussed players this offseason has been Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs opened training camp with Thomas Jones as the starting tailback, and Charles as the backup. The Kansas City Star suggests that Charles' placement with the second-team offense at Chiefs camp is coach Todd Haley "using psychology to motivate" Charles. But, at the same time, the paper notes that Jones "looked as strong and quick as ever" in early drills. The story even goes on to suggest that Jones "might really be ahead of Charles at this stage." ESPN.com's Bill Williamson had a different take on the situation. He calls the Charles' listing as the RB2 on the depth chart "no big deal." Williamson expects the former Texas Longhorn to be the Chiefs' feature back as long as he "doesn't suddenly fall off the face of the earth." This may be the last time to buy Charles on the cheap in dynasty leagues. "This is a blossoming star," said Williamson of Charles. "The Chiefs will use him."

Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak called second-year running back Arian Foster "mature beyond his years" and predicted he will be tough to unseat atop the depth chart. Now, this could be just a ploy to motivate rookie Ben Tate or the Texans really could be high on Foster's prospects. But, the coach has been beaming about the young ball carrier. "We are not going to have a battle about how he tries to give his effort or how he meets (expectations)," Kubiak said. "That's over. It's all about football with him. He got his chance and he is going to be a fine player. We are all excited to see what he's doing right now. We're looking forward to it." With Foster practicing as the starter, this has left Steve Slaton to work mostly with the second team. The good news for Slaton is that he opened training camp practice without a red non-contact jersey. This means that Slaton is good to go after a very serious neck injury and surgery. At this point, Slaton seems to be in line for third down duties as the change of pace back.

Nick Eatman of DallasCowboys.com surprised many this past week when he said that Marion Barber is the starting tailback "as of right now," plus added "and it doesn't really look like it's going to change anytime soon." The demise of the bruising Dallas back has been overstated with the love Felix Jones has garnered this offseason. Barber is a steal in dynasty leagues after playing through a quadriceps injury last season.

New Seattle running back Leon Washington participated in the Seahawks' first practice of training camp Saturday. This is good news for the Seahawks. Many believed he would be slowed to return from the nasty compound leg fracture injury from last season. The ex-Jet passed all of his benchmarks this offseason and looks to be ready for the opening game. A healthy Washington could impact the playing time of Justin Forsett. At this time, he is a player to target on the cheap, just because of his big upside.

It surprised many to see that Detroit Lions tailback Kevin Smith was cleared to practice on the first day of training camp. Smith "was considered to go on the PUP," explained coach Jim Schwartz, "but he's been here an awful lot and he's done an awful lot and he's recovered well. He was able to go in and go pretty much without any limitations." It was an ACL tear that cut short Smith's 2010 season. If fully healthy, his presence will mean fewer carries for rookie Jahvid Best.

The battle to become Steven Jackson's backup in St. Louis is hotly contested. On Sunday, Rams general manager Billy Devaney singled out Chris Ogbonnaya when asked about the situation. So, Ogbonnaya has the early lead to be Jackson's primary reserve right now. Devaney had this to say about the youngster, "But the guy we all have confidence in, too, and he showed flashes last season, is Chris Ogbonnaya." He added, "He's got really good hands and he's a hard runner."

Before rookie Ryan Mathews signed his rookie deal, the Chargers gave fullback Mike Tolbert the first-team reps at tailback. San Diego beat writer Kevin Acee deemed Tolbert a "player to watch" because he "can run, is explosive and can catch." The Chargers reportedly plan to "significantly" increase his usage as a ball carrier. Later in the week, Acee predicted 80 carries for Tolbert for this season, likely on short yardage and goal line situations.

One of the rookies getting the most attention in dynasty leagues this offseason is Green Bay rookie running back James Starks. But, his injury history is a major red flag. Starks missed the entire 2009 season so when he injured a hamstring on May 20, it was a worry. Given that he has yet to get back on the field, valuable time is wasting away. Starks has a lot of innate talent, but the latest injury puts him way behind.

With the Chargers and star receiver Vincent Jackson in a stare down, Jason La Canfora reports that the Redskins and Seahawks still have interest in trading for Jackson. This is not "new" news, but the rationale is very indicting on some other wide receivers. La Canfora said that Washington believes Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly were "again offseason flops," and "both face a real possibility of being cut." WOW! That is a shocker for a team with just Santana Moss and the aging Joey Galloway at the wide receiver position. Let's remember that La Canfora is a former Redskins beat writer so this report has merit. In Seattle, Jackson would give the Seahawks a play-maker opposite rookie Golden Tate with possession receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the slot. But, the NFL analyst did concede that the Chargers do not plan to trade Jackson at this time. To me, Washington is the favorite with the way the Redskins have traded their draft picks in order to upgrade the level of talent.

It would not be a weekly "Dynasty News & Implications" article without a Wes Welker update. Welker came off the active/PUP list Sunday. This came after he was able to run a full route tree off to the side of Patriots practice Friday. Most are in awe of the recovery and comeback of Welker. New England owner Robert Kraft said, "I think his DNA is different."

Could Kansas City Chief wide receiver Dwayne Bowe finally be out of coach Todd Haley's doghouse? It appears so. The coach has praised Bowe often, lately saying he is "encouraged" with where Bowe is right now. Coach Haley even stated that he expects Bowe to be "one of those young players that takes a step this year." This is high praise considering their icy relationship since Haley's arrival. And the coach is not alone in his gushing compliments on the young receiver. Josh Looney of KCChiefs.com said that Bowe has been "extremely impressive" and "drop free" in practices since the start of OTAs. He worked out with Cris Carter and Larry Fitzgerald at Fitzgerald's summer camp a few weeks ago. Could Bowe be finally turning the corner?

It was good to see that Donald Driver returned to full contact practices Saturday for the first time since the end of last season. He had surgeries on both knees this offseason, leaving many to wonder about his outlook for the the 2010 year. "[Both knees] felt fine," Driver said. "I didn't have any problems cutting today." The knees are a worry with Driver's age (35 years old). This could be the year his production takes a nosedive.

There has been much speculation about who will be the top receiver in Chicago this season. It was Johnny Knox who was targeted more than any other Bear receiver this past weekend. His speed should be a major asset in the Mike Martz offense. Knox has a bona fide chance to crack 1,000 yards this season.

Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Caldwell confirmed Sunday that Anthony Gonzalez will not begin camp on active/PUP list. This is good news. He has finally been medically cleared after numerous setbacks last year. Gonzalez could never get on track after the knee injury and surgery early in the season. Colt quarterback Peyton Manning chimed in with positive reviews of Gonzalez. The two worked out together in Tennessee over the summer. Manning said, "I thought he looked good, thought he looked quick. He had a good burst on all his routes." Gonzalez can be had on the cheap with the strong seasons last year by Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie.

Lance Moore is now healthy and is making an impact in training camp. New Orleans beat writer Mike Triplett said that Moore has been the star of Saints camp so far. He has taken advantage of both Marques Colston (knee) and Robert Meachem (toe) out of action while on the Active/PUP list. Moore could make an impact this season.

Peter King said the Panthers' coaches "love" rookie Brandon LaFell. King has strong praise for LaFell after visiting Panthers camp. He says that LaFell is making "big-time catches" and "drawing oohs" from the local crowds. Panther beat writer Darin Gantt said LaFell looks "like a kid who could put some serious heat on Dwayne Jarrett."

A big question to be answered for dynasty owners is the wide receiver starting opposite Mike Sims-Walker. The battle is between second-year players Mike Thomas and Jarett Dillard. Thomas entered camp with the lead and it has increased of late. Dillard sat out practice this past week with a stress fracture in his left foot, originally sustained in June. This is unrelated to his injury last season, a broken right ankle. The stress fracture is an injury which could linger. Dillard hopes to return in "a couple of weeks," but is quite a bit behind Thomas at this point.

It was a welcome sight to see Atlanta Falcons slot receiver Harry Douglas return to practice last Friday. He was slow to return after injuring his knee last year. Some expect Douglas to add another dimension to the Falcon offense. There are even comparisons to Patriot slot receiver Wes Welker.

Albert Breer from the Boston Globe reported that New England rookie receiver Taylor Price is "really jumping off the page" at Patriots camp. "He's consistent catching the ball away from his body, looks fluid in routes, and is always in control," writes Breer. "Doing it in practice is a big difference from doing it in a game for a rookie receiver, but this kid's potential is obvious." Price is definitely a player to watch this preseason. He could be a play maker.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been beaming about the improvement of Brandon Tate during the offseason. Tate is turning heads in his quest to start outside opposite Randy Moss. He is finally healthy after sustaining a knee injury in October of 2008.

The health of Houston tight end Owen Daniels is a trending topic right now. Despite a recent setback in his recovery from a torn right ACL, Daniels stated this past Sunday that he will "be ready to go for September." This was good to hear after the setback. "I think we’re just getting everything right to be ready for Week 1," he said. "That’s been the plan all along. ... I’ll be out here running next week; just doing the bike for now and working back into things. But I feel really good. I feel really good." Daniels has experienced more than his share of knee injuries throughout his college and professional careers. The setback may make it less expensive to acquire Daniels, but he is not without risk.

New Orleans tight end Jeremy Shockey is already sidelined at training camp with "soreness" in one of his knees. This is not good news with Shockey's injury history. "He had (the knee) looked at," said Saint coach Sean Payton. "We'll just get him some treatment and get him back as soon as possible." Could New Orleans have seen this coming with their selection of Jimmy Graham in April's NFL Draft? By most reports, Graham has been impressive so far in camp. While he has much to learn, this might be the time to target the former Miami Hurricane basketball player.

It was a good site to see Detroit tight end Brandon Pettigrew activated from the PUP list on Sunday. Pettigrew was impressive as a rookie before being lost for the season with a knee injury. He is a player who will only get better over time. In dynasty leagues, you may have to hold him for a couple of years before he emerges as an every-week fantasy starter.

One of my favorite sleepers this year is New York Giants tight end Kevin Boss. Boss has been sidelined for most of the offseason with an ankle injury. After not getting the appropriate healing with just rest, he had his ankle operated on relatively late in the offseason. But he has recovered more quickly than expected. On Sunday, Boss passed his conditioning test and was cleared for the start of training camp. He should improve in year two as a starter.

Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Zach Miller has finally been activated from the PUP list. He recently said that the "mysterious" foot injury which had sidelined him for the entire offseason was a mid-foot sprain. He is now back at practice and expecting a strong second season. Miller is still transitioning to the tight end position after playing quarterback at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Miller has big-time speed and the Jaguars will want him on the field as another weapon for quarterback David Garrard.

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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