Dynasty News and Implications #9
By Jeff Tefertiller
August 27th, 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.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported (like he did a few weeks ago) that "the door has been opened" for Matt Leinart to lose his starting job. This came before the Monday Night game against the Titans. "There's not a lot of confidence in that locker room that Leinart is going to be their long-term quarterback," says Schefter. Even though Schefter named Derek Anderson as the Cardinals' most likely alternative, it is best to avoid (or sell) either Cardinal passer if you can find a buyer. The 2011 starter is not likely to be on the current roster.

The Broncos signed starting quarterback Kyle Orton to a one-year, $9 million contract extension through 2011. The deal includes $5.5 million in guarantees. This is good news for Denver and their fantasy options. Orton has been playing very well so far this preseason and is a great (and cheap) depth quarterback in dynasty leagues.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell when a quote is just fluff, a motivational ploy, or just a sincere quote. When Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians compared Rashard Mendenhall's skills to those of Marshall Faulk and Edgerrin James, it is good news. While this could just be fluff, Mendenhall needs a strong season in order to solidify his status as a future stud in the league. "He is a good combination of both those guys," Arians said. "He has that kind of skill set. There is no doubt he can do what those two did." Arians had experience with both backs serving on the Colts coaching staff from 1998-2000.

No player has increased in value this preseason more than Houston tailback Arian Foster. His coach, Gary Kubiak, was quoted as saying he believes Foster is "becoming a hell of a football player." The injury to Ben Tate and hard work in practice has led to his coach's support. "The way he practices and prepares, the way he goes about his business with blitz pickup, he's going to be a good one," added Kubiak. "He did a 360. ... Something clicked. He's doing everything we're asking him to do." ESPN's Paul Kuharsky confirmed that the Texans "definitely" consider Foster to be their starting running back this season. This is a precarious situation in dynasty since the starting job could be just for this season. Steve Slaton will likely be utilized as a change-of-pace back, primarily on passing downs.

Many times, it is the beat writers who provide the best insight into a situation. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette opined that running back Jonathan Dwyer is now on the bubble for a roster spot. As good as Foster has been in training camp and preseason, Dwyer has been on the other end of the spectrum. In addition to hamstring and shoulder injuries, Dwyer also felt the wrath of his coaches and has yet to show that "football is important to him all of the time, not just once in a while." The rookie needs to show coach Mike Tomlin that he cares able football or he will be cut and either signed by another team or to the practice squad.

This past week has given us much news, especially involving the New York Giants run game. Jason La Canfora reported that he thought Ahmad Bradshaw was a legitimate candidate to open the season as the Giants' starting tailback. La Canfora said he "would not be surprised if Bradshaw is getting starting carries" to start the year. Both backs are now healthy and Bradshaw has looked much better than Brandon Jacobs so far in preseason. SI.com's Peter King confirmed the report when he said that he believes Bradshaw will "exceed or come very close to" the number of carries for Jacobs this year. Dynasty owners should avoid the pair with each having durability issues and the possibility of the team bringing in a starter next year.

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy says he believes backup running back Brandon Jackson is capable of being "an every-down back" if Ryan Grant misses time. While this might be an embellishment, it is good to see the coach have faith in Jackson, who seems to have turned the corner. "He's a complete football player," said McCarthy. "If we had to play all three downs with him, I wouldn't even blink." With Grant's concussion issues, this is a situation to monitor. Jackson is a player to buy on the cheap if possible.

Kareem Huggins has skyrocketed up dynasty rankings after a strong preseason. He has surpassed RB3 Clifton Smith and is close to leaving primary backup Derrick Ward in the dust. Of the Buccaneer running backs, Huggins has been the most impressive (by far) in preseason. While the upside might be limited to a pass-catching, change of pace role, the youngster has talent.

It was not big news when veteran Ladell Betts signed with the New Orleans Saints last week. He was signed to fill a role, though, and could become valuable. Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune expects Betts to "assume the No. 3 back role" once he's fully healthy from last year's knee injury. The RB3 in New Orleans has been a fantasy option the past two years.

Jets rookie ball carrier Joe McKnight has reportedly been "at times, difficult to coach" in training camp. HBO's Hard Knocks has shown McKnight making too many mental errors and unwilling to run between the tackles. At this point, the former Trojan needs to flash some talent in order to get meaningful touches this season.

The big news of the weeks has revolved around the hip of Vikings receiver Sidney Rice. He will miss approximately half of the season after going under the knife to repair a hip injury. Those who love his talent should see this as an opportunity to buy the young budding star. But, there should be caution used as Brett Favre is unlikely to play in 2011.

How impressive is the speedy return of Patriot receiver Wes Welker? Welker wore a knee brace during last week's preseason game and still caught two passes for 20 yards. He was targeted on three straight passes on the opening drive, and took a bit hit on the last pass thrown his way. It is too early to judge his quickness or ability to make a play after the catch, but this is a great sign.

ESPN's Pat Yasinskas reported that Tampa Bay rookie Arrelious Benn is not ready to start. Benn was raw when entering the NFL, and could earn a spot as a starter by midseason. With teammate Mike Williams getting all of the attention, this could be a great time to buy Benn.

Per ESPN Chicago's Michael Wright, Devin Hester has been having issues in practice even though the team has defended him publicly. The Bears gave Hester too much money a couple of summers ago and seem unwilling to admit the mistake. So, this means dynasty owners might look to sell Hester before word gets out. Devin Aromashodu could be the player to buy after being overvalued most of the summer.

San Diego Union-Tribune beat writer Kevin Acee expressed that Legedu Naanee's potential is "almost limitless." With all of the focus around Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd, this is the time to attempt to buy Naanee on the cheap. He is physically gifted and could be a fantasy starter in the not so distant future.

For those owners looking for a cheap fantasy WR3, look no further than new Bengals receiver Terrell Owens. In his first action with the team, Owens caught three balls for 67 yards. While many are looking at Chad Ochocinco to be the primary receiver, Owens might have the better season at a much better price.

Always be careful when reading quotes from Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. He lays the hyperbole on thick. But, according to the coach, Mike Williams has not looked this good since his sophomore year at USC. "He's very hungry," added quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, "and he's been awesome." While it is way too early to start a bandwagon, Williams might be viable in the future. I would not pay much for him, but worthy of a roster spot in deeper leagues.

Oakland Raider head coach Tom Cable indicated this past Monday that receiver Chaz Schilens may need to undergo surgery to repair a knee injury. This is a huge issue. The knee problem developed as Schilens overcompensated for the foot injury which plagued him for the past year. The Raider receiver should be discounted in all leagues until he can prove good health over a substantial length of time.

Many had high hopes for Atlanta rookie wide receiver Kerry Meier after a strong training camp. But, Meier was placed on injured reserve last week, ending his season. He went down in the Falcons' second preseason game. The former Kansas Jayhawks quarterback was playing well as a slot receiver, so this could set him back plenty in his transition to the professional level. It is safe to drop Meier except in the deepest of leagues.

Raiders tight end Zach Miller has easily been Jason Campbell's favorite target in training camp. After being asked about Campbell and Miller, coach Tom Cable said that "those two guys are really starting to develop something, for sure." Campbell has a history for throwing to the tight end in Washington. He helped Chris Cooley become a stud fantasy option and will do the same for Miller.

Dynasty owners play the thin line between age and production. Tony Gonzalez tells Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com that there is roughly a "50-50" chance he will retire after the 2010 season. "It is year to year," Gonzalez said. "I could play another three or four years. I know I could ... Yeah, I'd probably come back but you never know. I'm going to wait." Gonzalez is only under contract through 2011, but is still physically fit. He will continue to be a strong fantasy option, but tough to trust for the long haul.

Through two preseason games, New England rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez has been the most heavily targeted player on the team. Hernandez has a total of 11 targets in just parts of two contests. In the last game, he led the Patriots with four receptions for 46 yards and a touchdown. Hernandez is very athletic and a threat after the catch. His value may never be lower than at the present.

According to beat writer Jim Wyatt, Tennessee Titans young tight end Jared Cook has "struggled with consistency and is having a lot quieter camp than he had last year." Cook has struggled throughout his young career and will need to put it all together in order to get targets over veteran Bo Scaife.

The NFL suspended Bills tight end Shawn Nelson four games for violating the league's Substance Abuse Policy. Bulked up and very fast, Nelson is a beast. I guess we now we now know why Jonathan Stupar was running ahead of Nelson in practices last week. It was not long ago when the Bills were said to have big plans for Nelson. If you believe in Nelson's talent, this is a great time to get him cheap ... or off the waiver wire.

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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