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.
We are left wondering why the San Francisco 49ers traded a very high second-round pick for Jimmy Garoppolo when coach Kyle Shanahan keeps inserting rookie C.J. Beathard into the lineup. Beathard started again started against Seattle on Sunday. Earlier in the week general manager John Lynch would not commit to a timetable for the veteran passer starting and said it was up to the coach. Lynch went on to say, "You guys obviously know what we think of Jimmy in terms of why we brought him here … But we also think highly of C.J. [Beathard], enough to trade up to the third round to get him." Beathard has not been good so fans are pining for Garoppolo. The fans got their collective wish when Beathard injured his knee late in the contest against the Seahawks. One thing slowing his debut was learning Shanahan’s deep playbook. The coach did say that the team expects to franchise-tag free-agent-to-be Garoppolo. The coach said, “The franchise tag made it an easier decision to trade for him. We’ve got six games left and we’re going to have next year. Quarterbacks are expensive. And that's not that big a deal to us." Garoppolo will make $25 million if he is franchised. Considering the price of franchise quarterbacks, the 49ers made a great move trading for Garoppolo. The team will get the 2018 season to evaluate his performance enough to sign long-term. In Sunday contest, Garoppolo completed both of his passes, including a touchdown toss on the last play of the game.
As reported by ace beat writer, Darren Urban, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was pessimistic when discussing the possible return this season of quarterback Carson Palmer and tailback David Johnson. Both of these stars are on injured reserve. Arians told reporters, "None of the guys on IR have made expected progress in rehab, so as of today, no one is expected to return this season." Many were hopeful that Johnson may return by Thanksgiving but that has come and gone. He broke his arm in Week 7 and now has no schedule for return. There is a point coming soon that it will not be worth the risk to rush Johnson back to the field with no hope for a playoff berth.
Beat writer Mike Triplett was the first last week to report on Mark Ingram II’s possible free agent status in 2018, not 2019. According to Triplett, “Mark Ingram II would become a free agent if he's named first-team All-Pro. He's a bit of a long shot. But if he does in the next 6 games what he's done in the last 6, he'll finish with 1,442 rushing yards and 16 TDs.” After the showing Sunday against the Rams, we do not expect Ingram to make First-Team All-Pro, but he will be incentivized down the stretch.
We always get concerned when a player misses multiple weeks with a concussion. This is the case for two players on this list, most notably Devonta Freeman. He could not progress out of the concussion protocol after two weeks, so we are concerned. Sure, he may play in Week 13, but it is far from certain. Even if so, additional concussions are scary and could be career-threatening.
We laughed last week when reading about the Browns coaching staff – notably run game coordinator Kirby Wilson – say that the team wants to keep Duke Johnson Jr on the field "as much as possible because we believe so strongly in him as a playmaker." The reason that this is laughable is that the coaching staff misused/underutilized Johnson all of last season and for the first ten games of 2017. Now, with Corey Coleman healthy and Josh Gordon back from suspension, sure, this is a good time to get Johnson involved in the offense. Even with the public statements to keep the elusive pass-catching back involved in the offense, Johnson rarely touches the ball fifteen times. Against the Bengals, Sunday, Johnson had just six carries and five pass targets. We would hardly call this “we believe so strongly in him as a playmaker” level of touches. Laughable.
Keep an eye on Andre Ellington in PPR (Points per Reception) leagues. Ellington was claimed by the Texans after getting waived by the Cardinals. He will slot in behind Lamar Miller once up to speed with the Houston playbook. \With rookie DOnta Freeman was lost for the season with an Achilles’ injury, Alfred Blue played behind Miller Monday. He should soon be replaced by Ellington. The latter is much more talented, especially as a receiver. The one caveat is the middling quarterback play of Tom Savage.
In a non-event, the Dallas Cowboys waived Darren McFadden this past week. Yes, he should land elsewhere in the NFL, but this move speaks volumes about where Dallas sees McFadden at this point in his career. Alfred Morris has played sub-average football and still was able to push McFadden aside. If you are tempted to pick McFadden up off your fantasy waiver wire, remember that he could not even make the game-day roster with Ezekiel Elliott suspended.
Another player missing multiple games with the effects of a head injury is Sterling Shepard who missed the Thanksgiving night’s game against Washington with migraines. Head injuries are all unique and can last for weeks. Without Shepard in the lineup, Tavarres King was New York’s best receiver.
Josh Gordon has received the final clearance from the league to play this week. Even though he has not played in years, we are inserting Gordon into some lineups in his initial action. Not that we believe much of what he says, but Browns head coach Hue Jackson told reporters this past week that he wants the receiver to play "as much as possible" in his Week 13 return.
We are truly sad to see Cardinals speedy receiver John Brown constantly slowed by injuries. Currently, a turf toe injury has kept him off the field. Brown has missed extended action with various injuries throughout his short career. Rookie Chad Williams saw more action Sunday with Brown sidelined. He did not accomplish much but saw extended snaps.
It was great to see Carolina tight end, Greg Olsen, playing Sunday. He was activated from injured reserve last week after recovering from a foot injury. His activation is timed with Curtis Samuel’s placement on injured reserve. Olsen’s presence should move Ed Dickson back to his blocking tight end position as he regains conditioning. But, on Sunday, Olsen re-injured his foot early in his first action since Week 2. He missed most of the contest and created a stir that the foot was seriously injured. The good news is that the Charlotte Observer reported the foot has been “deemed ok.”
Last week, Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said that rookie Adam Shaheen will continue to get opportunities with Dion Sims returning to the field. Loggains said, "We do not want to slow down Adam’s progress that way … And he has earned the play time the last two weeks." The coaching staff raved about the rookie throughout training camp and now is playing Shaheen more with the injury to Zach Miller. Given that Shaheen is transitioning from small-college football, it has taken him much of the season to get up to speed at the NFL level.
The tale of Martellus Bennett this season has been sordid and convoluted. He was placed on injured reserve and released by the Green Bay Packers a few weeks ago after declaring he would retire after the season. However, the New England Patriots claimed Bennett hoping to nurse the shoulder injury through the season without surgery. This is the same shoulder injury (torn rotator cuff) that the Packers claim Bennett failed to disclose before signing him to a large contract. Now, the Patriots hold Bennett’s rights for 2018, along with a hefty salary.