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.
Last week, Indianapolis coach Frank Reich asserted that star quarterback Andrew Luck was close to throwing a football again. We are coming up on the 18-month mark since Luck appeared in NFL action. The team expects him back in the lineup for Week 1, but that is looking less likely as each day passes. The key will be to avoid setbacks as Luck adjusts to a new coaching staff and new receivers outside of T.Y. Hilton.
A few days ago, Mike Garafolo reported that Arizona is expected to extend the contract for star tailback, David Johnson this summer. Coming off a lost 2017 season, Johnson is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Johnson is due less than $2 million this year and the team will look to avoid using the franchise tag on a running back in 2019. One potential snag in this theory is Johnson’s recent absence from offseason training practice with an undisclosed injury. Beat writer, Kent Somers, stated that the injury is not believed to be serious. The injury history and devalued position should enable the Cardinals to get Johnson at a discount if a new deal is struck.
The Browns have collected offensive weapons this offseason. Adding running backs Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb to incumbent Duke Johnson Jr should translate into heartburn for fantasy owners. Clarity on the position was created when Cleveland signed Johnson to a three-year extension through the 2021 season with $7.7 million guaranteed. Coming off a 74-catch season, the scatback should be penciled in for a third-down and passing-game role the next few seasons. This should leave Hyde and Chubb to battle for early-down work this season and Hyde likely allowed to walk in 2019.
Even though the Seahawks drafted Rashaad Penny in the first round of the NFL Draft, it would be unwise to discount Chris Carson. Carson flashed last year before missing time with a broken leg and high ankle sprain. Coach Pete Carroll raved about Carson, "He hasn’t missed one snap of anything … He’s just looked so fit and just so cut and quick and explosive and all of that. He’s the guy that just stood out in that regard." At this point, the two young running backs should split touches. The Seahawks are expected to run the ball more this season as Paul Richardson Jr and Jimmy Graham exited in free agency and only Jaron Brown and Brandon Marshall were signed. Marshall’s contract is a one-year deal, light on guarantees. It is a one-year “prove it” deal. At 34 years of age, he is not a sure thing to make the Seattle final roster. Doug Baldwin is the lone passing-game weapon slated for “fantasy starter” status.
After missing the 2017 season with a torn ACL, Julian Edelman will face a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy for performance-enhancing drugs. At 32 years of age, Edelman was looking at a big season, showing up to camp in great shape. The issue for the Patriots is that Danny Amendola departed in free agency and Brandin Cooks was traded to the Los Angeles Rams. The team has little depth at the position. Chris Hogan, Kenny Britt, and Jordan Matthews highlight the New England receiver corps. Rookie Braxton Berrios will likely need time to develop and learn the system, so he is unlikely to make a difference the first four games of the season in Edelman’s absence. The suspension should allow dynasty owners in points-per-reception (PPR) leagues to trade for Edelman on the cheap. We did not mention Malcolm Mitchell above as he has been absent from practicing so far in OTAs. The Edelman suspension provides a great opportunity for Mitchell if he is healthy and ready to go. Taking a big-picture view, tight end Rob Gronkowski and tailbacks James White and Sony Michel may be the only fantasy-viable players to begin the season.
One second-year receiver not getting much hype this offseason is Kenny Golladay. In an injury-shortened rookie year, Golladay flashed potential fantasy upside with good routes and a strong red-zone presence. While Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr remain in Detroit, Golladay will be established as the third receiver. This should enable dynasty owners to get Golladay at a discount. There is one under-reported stat about Golladay’s rookie season that should illuminate his upside. As a rookie, he had more receiving yards (477) than snaps (473) even while playing the third-receiver role behind two high-performing pass catchers. He profiles as a player who could develop into a receiver in the mold of Alshon Jeffery or Brandon Marshall.
Raw coming out of LSU, rookie D.J. Chark Jr has been limited to special-teams duty so far in OTAs. With so many receivers in a run-first offense, expectations should be tempered for the rookie. Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole, and Dede Westbrook all look to be ahead of Chark for the near-term. Fantasy owners are not encouraged to invest many resources in the Jaguars passing game with poor quarterback play and an emphasis on the running game.
Rookie Mike Gesicki is a conundrum for dynasty owners. After a lackluster collegiate career, Gesicki tested off the charts at the NFL Combine. The strong offseason performance was enough to propel him to the second round of the NFL Draft. The Miami Herald ran a report last week that said the youngster looked “lost at times” during OTAs. Given the difficulty of the transition to the professional level for most tight ends, this is not a time to be concerned, but it is something to monitor. Ex-Bronco A.J. Derby and fellow-rookie Durham Smythe will offer competition for Gesicki. With the departure of Jarvis Landry, the Miami tight ends could be utilized more than in the recent past.
Jets rookie tight end Chris Herndon was arrested for DUI a few days ago after causing a serious accident. Herndon was a fourth-round pick in April and has upside to start in New York this season. The Jets have little talent at the position and Herndon offers the potential for big plays after the catch. He will be subject to discipline from the NFL. In tight end-premium leagues, the situation offers an opportunity to buy at low price.
After the retirement of Jason Witten, dynasty owners were all-in on Rico Gathers. Gathers is a converted basketball player who missed last season after suffering a few concussions in training camp. A couple of weeks ago, Dallas coach Jason Garrett squashed the Gathers hype, saying, “He needs to play more football … We could practice five times a day and that wouldn't be enough for him and a lot of our younger players, just because they need so much work.” Veteran Geoff Swaim is the early favorite to start, but he is more of an in-line, blocking tight end than a fantasy option. Youngster Blake Jarwin is the sleeper to watch as many owners are focused on rookie Dalton Schultz.