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 Monday, Browns coach Hue Jackson confirmed that Tyrod Taylor is the team’s starting quarterback. Jackson said, “Do you want me to say it again? …Tyrod is our starting quarterback." Even with top pick Baker Mayfield playing well in camp, Jackson is married to Taylor as his quarterback. Cleveland gave the 65th pick for Taylor and the coach is committed to the veteran. Jackson has a history of valuing veterans over youngsters. Jason La Canfora visited training camp and noted Mayfield’s strong play but stated that Taylor has been even better. Additions like Jarvis Landry, Carlos Hyde, and Nick Chubb should help either quarterback be a viable QB2 in fantasy.
Beat reporter Brady Henderson penciled Chris Carson as the favorite to be Seattle's top running back to begin the season. Even though the Seahawks selected Rashaad Penny in the first round, Carson has been the better back so far, by all accounts. Expect the rookie to slowly work his way into a larger role as the season progresses. For those who believe in Penny’s talent, this should provide a window to buy low. Unless the offensive line improves, the ceiling might be too low for either to be an every-week fantasy starter.
Rookie Derrius Guice should see a large role from the outset, especially after it was reported last week that Chris Thompson does not expect to be fully recovered from last year’s broken leg until November. Sure, Thompson might play, but will not be at full speed. In addition, he must avoid setbacks. Reports from camp also have sophomore Samaje Perine struggling. Guice has a legitimate shot at Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Many in the fantasy community had Jets tailback Elijah McGuire as a sleeper with only Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell competing for touches. But, McGuire broke his foot early in camp and had surgery early this week. He is expected to miss six weeks of action and be ready early in the season. There is a chance McGuire starts the season on injured reserve which will result in him missing the first eight games of the season. Dynasty owners should keep an eye on the waiver wire as McGuire could be dropped by an impatient owner.
Plugged-in beat reporter Jimmy Kempski recently wrote that third-year back Wendell Smallwood has not started training camp well. Kempski noted that – in just one practice – Smallwood missed a blitz pickup, dropped a screen pass, and mishandled a handoff exchange. At this point, Donnell Pumphrey has a lead on Smallwood behind Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, and Darren Sproles. In PPR leagues, do not sleep on Sproles. He is healthy and Kempski has noted the veteran still will have a role.
Last week, the Minnesota Vikings inked receiver Stefon Diggs to a five-year, $72 million extension through 2023. The new contract includes $40 million in guarantees. This deal is great for a receiver who was still playing on a contract commensurate for a fifth-round pick. Diggs has 200 receptions for 2,472 yards and 15 touchdowns in three years wearing purple. Minnesota now has Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Diggs, and Adam Thielen under contract through 2020. The Vikings front office should be commended for identifying a nucleus and locking it up for three seasons as the attention is now turned to locking up the defense.
Adam Schefter was the first to report last week that Doug Baldwin may miss all the preseason with a knee injury. The report stated confidence that Baldwin will be back in time for Week 1, but it is far from certain. The losses of Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson Jr would be multiplied if Baldwin misses time.
Beat writer Ryan O'Halloran said last week that rookie receiver Courtland Sutton "has made plays in every situation" during camp. O’Halloran wrote, "Sutton is developing so quickly … the Broncos, if they haven’t already, should be committing themselves to being a base 11-personnel (three receivers and one running back) offense." After being at Broncos camp two days last week, this writer agrees. Sutton was able to get open and was impactful in the slot and on the outside. The upgrade at quarterback should help the Denver pass catchers, but Sutton’s strong play may limit the upside of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, especially Sanders. The latter seemed to have lost a step – or three – in the pair of practices viewed.
The chorus of accolades from 49ers beat reports has been deafening regarding Marquise Goodwin. Many in the fantasy community discounted Goodwin’s strong connection with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo after last season, but it is alive and well. Just a reminder that Goodwin caught 29 passes for 384 yards and one touchdown in San Francisco’s final five games of 2017 with Garoppolo under center. Beat writer Eric Branch said Goodwin "remains the 49ers’ top wide receiver." Branch added, "It appears Garcon will be supplanted as the No. 1 wideout because of Goodwin’s continued development … not because of any decline on Garcon’s part." Another beat reporter, Joe Fann, tweeted, “Here's my top takeaway from #49ers camp thus far: I'm amazed by the development of Marquise Goodwin over the past year. His route running & hands are vastly improved. He's far more than raw athleticism. He looks like a bona fide No. 1 WR, and he's carrying himself as such.” Now is the time to buy Goodwin shares in dynasty leagues. He could be a solid fantasy WR2 for most of the season at a WR4 price.
Beat reporter John Oehser tweeted last week that second-year receiver Dede Westbrook has "continued to flash" in training camp. Westbrook has been a forgotten player as he was outplayed by Marqise Lee and Keelan Cole last season and the team signed Donte Moncrief to big money in the offseason. Also, D.J. Chark Jr was drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft. But, fantasy owners need to remember that the Jaguars lost their two best receivers in Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. There will be enough targets for Westbrook to shine if he can turn his potential into production.
After Jordan Matthews injured his hamstring and was subsequently placed on injured reserve, the Patriots signed Eric Decker to a one-year contract. What a sad ending to Matthews’ 2018 season after languishing in Buffalo before an injury last year. He was the top receiver in Philadelphia just two seasons ago and has now suffered season-ending injuries in consecutive years. Decker will compete with Phillip Dorsett, Kenny Britt, and Cordarrelle Patterson for snaps behind Julian Edelman (when he returns from suspension) and Chris Hogan. Decker should man the slot while Edelman is out but should not be considered a fantasy contributor. With a fluid receiver situation, New England has given Dorsett every opportunity to emerge. Top-notch beat writer Mike Reiss said Dorsett is "in position to carve out a larger role for himself." The former first-round pick has speed but needs to show consistency. Opportunity is present in the thin receiving corps.
Last week, the Dallas Cowboys placed sixth-round pick Cedrick Wilson on injured reserve after the rookie tore his labrum in practice. He is ineligible to return this season but should be healed for the 2019 training camp. Many in the dynasty community had hopes that Wilson could carve out a role in the wide-open Cowboys receiving corps, but it will need to wait a year.
Long-time beat writer Scott Petrak tweeted last week that tight end David Njoku has dropped a lot of passes so far in training camp. While this is far from alarming, it is another reminder that Njoku has promise but is far from polished as an NFL tight end. The addition of Jarvis Landry to play the slot may be enough to limit the second-year tight end’s upside.
Bryan Broaddus is a great Twitter follow for Dallas Cowboys camp news. He works for the team website but has strong views of what he sees. For several weeks, dating back to OTAs, Broaddus has been touting Blake Jarwin for the Cowboys starting tight end job. We expect Geoff Swaim to be the in-line blocker and Jarwin as the pass-catching tight end. With both Dez Bryant and Jason Witten gone, there are ample targets available. When asked to rank the Cowboys tight ends on Twitter, Broaddus responded, “Jarwin Swaim Gathers Schultz Wells.” Now is the time to check the waiver wire for Jarwin. He could be a high-end TE2 for fantasy.
One sleeper tight end to monitor is Jordan Thomas, a sixth-round pick of the Texans. Coach Bill O’Brien said of the rookie, "He’s really, the first few days here, he’s actually done a decent job blocking relative to being a young player … I think if he can keep improving in that area, he’s good in the passing game, I really like what we’ve got there." This is a wide-open position for Houston and a player like Thomas could emerge in the preseason.