We scour the news around the NFL to bring you what matters most to you and your dynasty team: the most current news on players, both superstars and the relative unknowns, and analysis to decipher the respective situations. These are many of the major stories and not meant to be an exhaustive look at all the recent happenings around the league.
It was a sad Thursday afternoon in the dynasty community as the news of Deshaun Watson’s knee injury started to make it the national media. First, Ian Rapoport tweeted, “Sources: #Texans QB fear Deshaun Watson suffered a torn ACL in practice today. A non-contact injury. MRI coming to confirm. Awful, awful.” Then, Adam Schefter tweeted, “Deshaun Watson went down on a normal drill, running a read option, on a grass field, per source. Didn’t yell, trainers took him off field.” Thankfully, this injury is not the knee that was injured in college. It is a huge loss for fantasy owners, fans, and the Houston Texans. Former NFL executive, Joe Banner, later tweeted, “Watson injury is a huge break for Browns. Texans first and second round picks likely just got a lot higher.” Sadly, he is correct. Not that Cleveland was rooting for the superstar quarterback to suffer injury, but Tom Savage should not be mentioned in the same sentence (or paragraph) as Watson. He is a poor backup quarterback while Watson was playing at an elite level. The injury likely means the Texans lose most of the rest of the games this season. How good was Watson this year? Check out this tweet from Albert Breer, “Texans QB Deshaun Watson's year ends with him leading NFL in TD passes (19), 5th in passer rating (103.0), and 2nd in yards/attempt (8.3).” Also, the injury will take a toll on the fantasy output of the Texans pass catchers.
The Indianapolis Colts finally made the move to place Andrew Luck on injured reserve. This move was long-expected since Luck had not practiced in a few weeks. Ian Rapoport reported that Luck's shoulder "stopped getting better" a couple of weeks before the move. Jay Glazer reported that Luck is still in pain and is seeking other opinions on his surgically-repaired shoulder. While still only 28 years of age, many expect the star passer to be ready for the 2018 season, but it is far from a sure thing. On ESPN’s NFL Live last Thursday, Steve Young said, “I’m super worried about Andrew Luck and his future.” We usually see injuries as opportunities to buy low, buyers need to factor into the price the risk that Luck never plays again or is not able to play at the same level as before the injury.
Before the NFL Trade deadline, the Patriots traded away quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers in exchange for San Francisco’s second-round draft pick in 2018. The 49ers wanted to include quarterback Brian Hoyer into the deal, but the Patriots balked because it would impact the compensation picks New England expects to receive. So, Hoyer was released. New England signed him. Hoyer is a former Patriot and will serve as Tom Brady’s backup, a role he has played in the past. Field Yates tweeted out the Hoyer contract, “Brian Hoyer's deal with the Patriots: 2017: $476K, 2018: $900K, 2019: $3M ($1.5M guaranteed)---It also includes some offseason workout bonuses.” The other aspect to consider on this trade is the reasoning for both San Francisco to trade for Garoppolo and New England’s willingness to trade the “quarterback of the future” away. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the Patriots traded Garoppolo because they "couldn't come close to a contract extension.” For the 49ers, we see the move as a lack of faith that either the incoming rookie the team prefers will not turn professional this year or the team did not like the quarterbacks available in the draft. If either is true, then this is a great deal to get a quarterback the team likes for a second-round pick. As for New England, maybe the team did not “love” Garoppolo as much as they have constantly stated. Either that or the team did not think they could keep him under contract until Brady retires. At those salaries, Hoyer offers cheap insurance.
Last week gave us another surprise after coach Bruce Arians spoke to the media about running back David Johnson. After saying just two weeks ago that Johnson should be back by Thanksgiving, Arians told reporters that he doubts Johnson plays again this season but is staying optimistic. The truth is that it may depend on if the Cardinals are still in playoff contention. If not, there is no reason to rush Johnson back.
The Philadelphia Eagles traded a fourth-round pick for running back Jay Ajayi. Ajayi had been on the outs with Miami coach Adam Gase this season but the trade was still a surprise. For the Eagles, why would they make such a move? Adam Caplan, who is close to the team, tweeted, “Blount's inconsistency was part of why #Eagles made this deal. Ajayi's addition alleviates that issue. He'll be the main RB going fwd.” While Gase is looking for players who will buy into his system, the Eagles are looking to win the Super Bowl. Ajayi is still under contract a couple more years at a reasonable price. We expect Philadelphia to give him at least twenty carries per game down the stretch.
Keep an eye on the return of Baltimore tailback Danny Woodhead. Beat reporter Jeff Zrebiec tweeted last week, “Ravens announce that RB Danny Woodhead has officially returned to practice from IR. Not eligible to play until Nov. 19 game vs. G.B.” Woodhead will be a welcome addition to the Ravens offense.
Another injury on Thursday was the sudden placement of Pierre Garcon on injured reserve with a neck injury. Beat writer Henry Wofford was the first we saw to tweet the news, “Breaking news 49ers GM John Lynch says WR Pierre Garçon will be placed on IR with a neck injury.” This is a huge blow for a struggling offense that just traded for a quarterback. Garcon had played very well this season and was on pace for 80 receptions for 1,000 yards. The injury leaves Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor and Aldrick Robinson vying for targets. These three will get ample garbage-time numbers down the stretch.
Adam Schefter was the first we saw report the trade of receiver Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills. Schefter tweeted, “Panthers traded WR Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo for 3rd and 7th round picks, per source. Benjamin rejoins HC Sean McDermott, GM Brandon Beane.” This will turn out to be a poor trade for Buffalo given that the team acquired a 2nd-round pick for Sammy Watkins then gave most of the draft capital back for Benjamin. For Carolina, it is the reality that both the offense is better without Benjamin in the lineup and the team has little hope for a run at the Super Bowl this year. The Panthers brass are framing the trade as a way to get Curtis Samuel on the field more, but the coaching staff had used the speedy rookie sparingly the first eight weeks of the season.
Beat reporter Mary Kay Cabot was the first we saw to break the news of the NFL reinstating Josh Gordon. Cabot tweeted, “#Browns Josh Gordon reinstated by Roger Goodell on a conditional basis, #Browns announce.” Adam Schefter added more context, “Browns WR Josh Gordon conditionally reinstated. He’s eligible to practice on November 20th, be on the 53-man roster November 27th.” So, how bad have the Browns been with Gordon out of action? ESPN Stats & Info tweeted crazy numbers on the Gordon’s absence, “Browns WR Josh Gordon has been conditionally reinstated. Cleveland has started 8 QBs and won 4 games since Gordon last played in Dec. 2014.” Wow! Eight quarterbacks and four wins in almost three full seasons. For Gordon, this is likely his last chance. He was suspended in college for failing multiple drug tests and had to enter the NFL Supplemental Draft. In the NFL, Gordon has been suspended four times for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Few receivers are as talented as Gordon. We are excited to see him on the field again. This situation has the makings of an amazing redemption story.
Beat reporter Sal Capaccio tweeted last week that tight end Charles Clay might play this week against the Saints. Clay has missed several games with a knee injury and the Bills could use his play-making ability in the lineup. Keep an eye on his practice participation this week.
For those dynasty owners hobbled by all of the injuries to the tight end position this year, keep an eye on C.J. Fiedorowicz this week. Last week, coach Bill O’Brien told reporters that the young tight end has a good chance to play this week against the Rams. The insertion of Savage under center will limit the upside of Fiedorowicz, though. Fiedorowicz will not have much competition for tight end targets as fellow tight end Ryan Griffin is week-to-week with a concussion.
We were hopeful that rookie tight end Jake Butt would be able to play this season, but the Broncos placed the youngster on injured reserve this week, ending his season. Butt is still less than a year removed from the ACL team in Michigan’s bowl game. Unless Denver addresses the quarterback position, Butt will be difficult to roster over the summer.