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.
Even though he was placed on injured reserve this week after his team was eliminated from the NFL Playoffs, it is good news that Aaron Rodgers will not need another collarbone surgery, according to coach Mike McCarthy. According to the coach, "Aaron's in rest and recovery mode … He has a distinct rehab plan as he moves forward.” With such a tumultuous season, and his age creeping up toward the mid-30s, Rodgers makes a great buy low for dynasty owners this offseason.
It is time to definitively declare that Christian Hackenberg belongs on no fantasy roster, no matter how many quarterbacks start in a given week or teams in the league. The final confirmation came in a NJ.com report last week that Hackenberg is still working with the scout team and not competing with Bryce Petty for starter’s reps in practice. Petty has been awful and if Hackenberg is unable to compete, this speaks volumes. In addition, we expect coach Todd Bowles to remain with the Jets so Hackenberg will need to go to a different team and prove his value. The roster spot is too valuable for these odds. He is doubtful to remain with the team in 2018.
The Minnesota Vikings will have decisions to make at the quarterback position this offseason. Last week, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's beat reporter, Andrew Krammer, wrote that he does not expect the Vikings to use the franchise tag on either Case Keenum or Sam Bradford. Teddy Bridgewater is a free agent, too. Keenum and Bradford should have suitors. Bridgewater, too, if he does not take a team-friendly deal in the offseason. Keenum has played well enough to be an upgrade for some teams or an elite backup behind an aging veteran on others. A multi-year deal for $10 million annually is not out of the question. He has led Minnesota to the division title and has positioned the Vikings as a legitimate threat for the NFL title game. As for Bradford, it comes down to the health of his knee. If he can show that he can be a long-term starter, and his knee can hold up, Bradford could be in line for $15-20 million a season on a 2-3-year season. While many fantasy owners feel burned by the injury woes of Bradford, he has played well when healthy. Let’s not too quickly forget the 346-yard, 3-touchdown performance in Week 1 to beat the Saints 29-19. He has a quarterback rating of 124 for the season. The three Minnesota passers could all leave town in offseason. Rarely does a conference favorite have so much long-term uncertainty at the quarterback position. The Vikings brass will need to choose wisely.
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon III is not playing up to the level many expected after an outstanding 2016. His yards-per-carry average and touchdown rate are down from last year. The only category with an uptick is receiving. Gordon suffered a left ankle injury in the victory over the Jets, Sunday. Los Angeles coach Anthony Lynn revealed Monday that Gordon's left foot is in a walking boot. Lynn said told reporters about the injury, "Ankles can be kind of tricky … He's another guy that's probably going to come down to the end of the week." Gordon is highly questionable to play in Week 17. With Austin Ekeler playing a limited role due to a broken hand suffered a couple of weeks ago, Brandon Oliver could see the majority of snaps at running back this week. He has served as Gordon’s backup with Ekeler injured. The net result may be more pass attempts for quarterback Philip Rivers and targets for Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams.
It is unlikely that Titans ball carrier DeMarco Murray plays in Week 17 after suffering a knee sprain. He has looked especially slow this season and could be sent packing for 2018. The Week 17 contest will give Derrick Henry a chance to show what he can do, even if the opponent is Jacksonville. The Tennessee offense is a mess with poor play-calling and tailback play.
Panthers receiver Damiere Byrd burst on the scene the past few weeks but will be lost for the season with a knee injury. He caught two touchdown passes in Week 15, then had a kickoff return for a score against Tampa Bay, Sunday, before injuring the knee midway through the contest. Byrd’s presence will be missed as he gave Carolina a much-needed speed threat opposite Devin Funchess.
Sadly, Hunter Henry was placed on injured reserve last week with a lacerated kidney. The season numbers are not that desirable, but Henry was a force the last few weeks and Antonio Gates is likely gone after the season. Gates did play well Sunday and could make a strong showing in what could be his final game in a Chargers uniform. Henry makes a great buy in dynasty leagues.
Beat writer Barry Jackson, of the Miami Herald, reported last week that the Miami Dolphins are expected to release tight end Julius Thomas in the offseason. The move would create almost $7 million in cap room. Shockingly, Thomas is still under 30 years of age but has little athleticism and has been far from the offensive threat the Dolphins hoped when giving him the big bucks. A few weeks ago, Miami claimed A.J. Derby off waivers from the Broncos. He should be considered in the starter conversation until additional talent is added at the tight end position. The Dolphins will need to add talent at the skills position this offseason. A running back is needed to complement Kenyan Drake. The receiver position will need depth with Jarvis Landry an unrestricted free agent after the season. And, Miami has little talent at tight end. Coming back from injury, quarterback Ryan Tannehill will need the talent upgrades if the team wants to compete with New England in 2018.