Dynasty News and Implications #6
By Jeff Tefertiller
August 11th, 2010

The training camps are now in full swing and the news is starting to pick up in a big way. This article can serve as a place to catch you 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.

Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz is known for his hyperbole. Just one week into training camp, Martz has deemed Jay Cutler an ideal fit for his offense. "What we do really fits him. He has that Kurt Warner awareness," said Martz. It is very apparent that Cutler will have some monster games this year. But, there is a fear that he could implode at any time. The Chicago passer is very streaky, but could put up a great season with a few clunkers mixed in. The young receiving corps should give Cutler plenty of big plays after the catch.

Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie was quoted last Wednesday as saying that the Kevin Kolb era would have began last year had the Eagles received an enticing trade offer for Donovan McNabb before the 2009 season. This is huge news after coach Andy Reid's outward support for his long-time quarterback. "Donovan, coming off the ACL, maybe didn't have the league-wide [market] value," Lurie explained. It is good to see that the top of Eagle organization supports Kolb.

Matt Stafford is a player to watch this season after a rocky rookie season. Chris McCosky of the Detroit News describes Matt Stafford's accuracy in drills as "astounding." He is undervalued this year the injuries in 2009. The Lions have upgraded the receiving options with the acquisition of Nate Burleson and Tony Scheffler. Stafford could emerge as a Top 12 fantasy option this season. He has big upside at a great price in dynasty leagues.

Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman is garnering support from his teammates. Running back Derrick Ward believes Freeman is progressing very well. Let's remember that Ward was in New York during Eli Manning's early years. "The kid is light years ahead of any quarterback I've seen going into his second year," said Ward. "I don't want to get his head too big, but he is very grounded for a franchise quarterback." This is high praise from Ward. Freeman is a player to acquire now when his price tag is low.

While he was a flop with the Bills, J.P. Losman has a chance to play this season. Starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is nursing a sore hamstring. His injury history means that either Losman or the struggling Charlie Whitehurst should get a shot to play this year. According to SI.com's Jim Trotter, "observers contend" that Losman is beating out Whitehurst to be the team's backup quarterback. There are two things to note from a dynasty perspective. First of all, Hasselbeck is already nursing a sore hamstring. There is little chance he makes it through the season. Secondly, Losman may get an opportunity to beat out Whitehurst even though the team has a lot invested in the ex-Charger. Losman was not horrible in the UFL last year. Either way, expect the Seahawks to address the position in next April's NFL Draft ... maybe even local product Jake Locker.

Peter King dropped a nugget last week when he stated that "nobody in San Francisco" considers Nate Davis a great prospect. Many have been on the Davis bandwagon for some time. It might be time to cut the cord if he does not show well in the preseason games.

After signing his contract, it did not take long for Buffalo Bills talented rookie C.J. Spiller to start getting the hype. A couple of days after inking the deal, NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reported that first-round pick C.J. Spiller would soon begin running with the Bills' first team, and is already the primary option on both kickoff and punt returns. Expect the situation to be very fluid, but with Fred Jackson garnering the most carries. If Spiller is the primary returner on punts and kicks, there is NO WAY he can be the primary tailback as well. This sets up the opportunity to buy Jackson on the cheap. While Spiller will be moved around the formation, Jackson will be the workhorse.

Two of the New York City major newspapers (New York Daily News and Newark Star-Ledger) reported that Ahmad Bradshaw is running with the first team in every drill. This is huge news if the trend continues. Bradshaw taking most of starters' reps ahead of Brandon Jacobs is big news. Bradshaw reportedly looks to be at full strength and shows no signs of the offseason surgeries to both feet and his right ankle. His injury history is a major concern. Also, this could set up a great situation to buy Brandon Jacobs inexpensively. The reports had Bradshaw "cutting sharply" and "darting" through defenders in live drills. New York running backs coach Jerald Ingram attempted to squash the Bradshaw love. He indicated that in-game situations and matchups will dictate the team's primary ball carrier this season. "No one is really the starting running back," Ingram said. "We are not going to get hung up on who is the starting running back. It is who does what when that play is called. Just like we saw with the New Orleans Saints a year ago, we are going to put that guy, who does what best, in that situation." This looks like a situation to buy very cheaply or stay away.

Yes, most expect Chris Wells to be the starter in Arizona and get most of the carries. But, "not so fast" as a certain college commentator might say. After lining up as a starter in 2009, Tim Hightower has continued to run with the first-team offense in the majority of drills to begin the Cardinals' training camp. It is worth noting that Hightower, not Wells, worked with the Cardinals' first-team offense in goal-line drills last Wednesday. Wells looks to have all of the potential needed to be a great back, but do not discount Hightower with the way the coaching staff is using him. There could be more going on in the situation which we cannot see on the outside.

There was big news in regard to the Lions' backfield. Beat writer Tom Kowalski opined that he expects last year's starting tailback Kevin Smith to be close to full strength by the start of the season. This could throw a major wrench into Jahvid Best's touches as a rookie. Smith does not possess close to the talent of Best.

Darren McFadden has been trying to shake the "injury-prone" label since entering the NFL. He was held out of both Raiders practices Saturday with a tight hamstring. There's no indication as to the severity of the injury, but McFadden needs the reps in order to not give ground to Michael Bush.

While this is not necessarily "news", but Maurice Jones-Drew has selected Texans running back Arian Foster as his fantasy sleeper for 2010. "I really like Arian Foster," said the Jaguar star. "I think he's a good running back, especially in their system, the Denver system. And I watched him in college too. It's his style -- in that zone system, a bigger back (6-foot-1, 229 pounds) who can get a cut and get his shoulders square. He's going to be a force to be reckoned with. I really like him and I've got some sources, too."

Making his recovery from the nasty compound leg fracture, Leon Washington saw his first action in team drills this past Thursday. Washington "showed his considerable speed immediately" on a pass out in the flat. This is a strength for the shifty back. The Seahawks got a steal on draft day in acquiring Washington. He was able to come back and play in Sunday's scrimmage. Washington has been able to make cuts and jukes without any problems. While it is unknown which role Washington will be used, he could impact the fast-rising Justin Forsett. Coach Pete Carroll recently indicated the ex-Jet could be "special" so Washington could be a great player to target before word gets out that he is back to full health.

Pittsburgh rookie running back Jonathan Dwyer is reportedly getting recognized for all of the wrong reasons at Steelers training camp. Dwyer reported to camp much heavier than expected, and then injured his hamstring on the first day of camp. This is not a good way to impress coach Mike Tomlin. Upon returning to action on Friday, Dwyer struggled with blocking and goal-line drills. While there is considerable upside in the former Georgia Tech star, he will need stark improvement in order to see the field much in year one.

There were many who worried how Brandon Marshall would fare in Miami after leaving the pass-happy Denver offense. Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel eased anxieties when he reported that Marshall has been "everything he's advertised to be" in the Dolphins' first week of camp. He was reportedly "unstoppable" in red-zone drills this past Wednesday. Marshall has been consistently abusing the Dolphins' pair of very good young cornerbacks in Vontae Davis and Sean Smith.

There are some who expect a great season in Detroit for Calvin Johnson with quarterback Matthew Stafford now healthy. Johnson's numbers took a tumble when Stafford was out of the lineup last year. But, the athletically gifted pass catcher has been "pretty much unstoppable" in training camp despite "excellent" coverage by new Lion cornerback Chris Houston. According to beat writer Tom Kowalski, the Lions are forcing the ball to Johnson in the redzone, and he's making the catch "almost every time." In order to keep the defense guessing, he's running more than just fade routes. After a rough season in 2009, Johnson could rebound to have another Top 5 finish.

The hip injury to Vikings receiver Sidney Rice is concerning. SI.com's Don Banks reports that two of the three hip specialists Rice consulted this offseason recommended he undergo surgery. WOW! This is not good news. Rice never went under the knife. Banks followed this up with saying there is "some building skepticism" at Vikings camp in regards to Rice's injured hip. Banks suggested that Rice's decision to bypass surgery may be related to his desire for a new contract since his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is hoping to secure Rice a long-term deal. Rice opened training camp on active/PUP list. He confirmed Monday that he's still experiencing pain in his injured hip. "It's still there ...the lingering pain and stuff ... but it's something I'll be able to work through," he said. Rice would not disclose the exact nature of the injury. The uncertainty at the quarterback position, when combined with this injury, should make dynasty owners nervous about the future value of Rice.

Mike Wallace is trying to build off a strong rookie campaign. He is still turning heads. Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said that Wallace is "doing very well" in his transition from a No. 3 receiver to the starting split end. This is a big transition while Wallace tries to fill the big shoes (and production) of the departed Santonio Holmes. Added Hines Ward, "I'm amazed at his growth in his second year, for him to be as poised." Wallace does benefit from his years playing the split end position at Mississippi. He could really emerge in year two.

The starting receiver position opposite Randy Moss has been hotly debated this offseason so it was news when ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss called Brandon Tate the "top candidate" to start. Tate is battling an over-the-hill Torry Holt and rookie Taylor Price for the starting gig. He was a top prospect before injuring his knee in October 2008. A healthy Tate could make an impact while defenses key on stopping Moss and Welker.

Bruce Arians also said that third-round pick Emmanuel Sanders "is ahead of where Mike Wallace was as a route runner." He went on to call Wallace "the best rookie receiver he's had in 12 years" so the praise for Sanders is saying something. Sanders is a player to acquire soon before the word gets out. The Steelers could be starting Sanders and Wallace in a couple of years.

Minutes after rookie Eric Decker left practice with a left foot & ankle injury, fellow rookie Demaryius Thomas limped off with his own left foot injury. This is bad news for the Bronco offense with high hopes for both rookies. Josina Anderson of the local Fox affiliate also reports that was evidence of a previously existing high ankle sprain and a left foot sprain. Could this be an omen for a youngster looking to make an impact? Thomas aggravated his left foot after a fracturing his foot before the NFL Combine. His injury is something to monitor. It came just one day after SI.com's Ross Tucker said Thomas was "the real deal."

Even with the new contract extension for Packer veteran receiver Donald Driver, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel believes Driver's role may decrease as early as this year. He is 35 years old and may need fewer snaps in order to remain healthy through the 2012 season. The recent extension could lead to dropping values for his young teammates, James Jones and Jordy Nelson. That sets up a buying opportunity.

There has been much talk this offseason debating how the Colts will utilize their young receivers. Pierre Garcon is entrenched at the WR2 position, leaving Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez to duel for the slot position. The pair has been splitting time as the WR3 during training camp. There is a very real concern that the two will cancel each other out as the team rotates them in and out of the lineup.

Dynasty owners should be selling Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly as quickly as possible. Both are listed as third-stringers on the depth chart (Redskins.com) released by the Redskins Monday. Santana Moss is the only Washington wideout worth acquiring in the Nation's Capital.

A name to remember for the deeper dynasty leagues is Tampa Bay wide receiver Maurice Stovall. The Tampa Tribune reported that Stovall has emerged as the favorite to start at flanker. Beat writer Roy Cummings is plugged into the team. He quotes wide receivers coach Eric Yarber as saying, "Right now Stovall is with the 1s. He's having a real good camp." While this could just be a motivating ploy for rookie Arrelious Benn, anything could happen. This report came just two days after ESPN's Pat Yasinskas speculated that only one of Michael Clayton and Maurice Stovall will make Tampa's final roster.

Plaxico Burress recently has applied for a work release from prison for the second time. He was rejected earlier in the year. Burress hopes make it back to football because he needs the money. He is expected to get a ruling from the state by the time the NFL season starts. The league has stated that if Burress is granted the work release, his suspension would be lifted. There is no way to tell what kind of shape Burress is in or if a team would take a chance on him. Burress' attorney acknowledged that it is "certainly premature" to predict his client's imminent release from prison. He might be a good player to stash now and see what happens.

CSN Washington reported that Redskins tight end Fred Davis "couldn't be covered" during goal-line drills this past Saturday. With the lack of wide receiver talent on the roster, Davis could see his snaps increase. He is a very good tight end prospect who may be buried behind Chris Cooley for a couple of more years.

It was good to see second-year Detroit tight end Brandon Pettigrew back practicing at least once a day with the Lions and participating in some contact drills in training camp. He still has a "barely noticeable" limp, so the former Oklahoma State star may not be at full strength for a while. He has made good progress, though, and should be ready to join Detroit's starting lineup for the opener.

Keep an eye on young Buffalo tight end Shawn Nelson. Albert Breer, of the Boston Globe, was recently at the Bills camp. He reported that the "coaches seem to have big plans" for the second-year player. Breer observed that Nelson "can really, really move." His athletic ability is off the charts and he could emerge with the lack of talent at the wide receiver position.

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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