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.
Dynasty players were intrigued by the Teddy Bridgewater situation for most of the offseason. With only veteran Josh McCown as competition, Bridgewater signed with the Jets in free agency. Hopes were high that he could quickly become the New York starter once healthy. But, the team traded up and selected Sam Darnold. This left Bridgewater as expendable. Given his cheap, one-year contract, the still-young quarterback had a market for his services. The Jets traded Bridgewater and a sixth-round pick to the Saints for a third-round selection in the next NFL Draft. This is a great payoff for New York in that the team paid very little to sign Bridgewater. It is also a great deal for New Orleans who gets a top-end backup for the season. Plus, let’s remember that Drew Brees is 39 years of age and could retire in the next year or two. We expect New Orleans to lock up Bridgewater for the long-term, thus solidifying a succession plan at a key position. The trade also means an end to Taysom Hill value. The Saints touted him as an heir to the starting gig, but he has a college skill-set which would be difficult to transition to the NFL against fast defenses.
With Bridgewater now in New Orleans, we expect Darnold to start sooner than later. Coach Todd Bowles has been effusive in his praise of the rookie. Bowles said, "Any rookie can only get better by playing … so we’re pleased with the progress he’s making week-by-week. That’s been exciting." The Jets will be pushing Darnold to take the reins and make the team his own.
In a lesser trade, the Packers sent Brett Hundley to the Seahawks for a sixth-round pick. After watching Hundley last season, it is a wonder Green Bay was able to get anything other than a Cracker Jack prize for the quarterback. Hundley was expendable after the Packers traded for DeShone Kizer earlier this year. It is a great spot for Kizer to improve, especially compared to Cleveland a year ago. He makes an interesting stash in deeper leagues, even with the monstrous Aaron Rodgers contract extension.
Another trade happened right before the roster cutdown deadline. Adam Schefter broke the news that Bills quarterback AJ McCarron was traded to the Raiders for a fifth-round pick. So, McCarron becomes the backup for Derek Carr, supplanting EJ Manuel. Buffalo will go with Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen. The Bills quarterback situation has much volatility and will be dicey for fantasy owners of all Buffalo players.
The San Francisco beat reports were all over the breaking news of the Jerick McKinnon injury happening on the last play at practice. Matt Maiocco tweeted, “The #49ers are fearful RB Jerick McKinnon sustained a season-ending knee injury in practice Saturday. He is undergoing an MRI.” Then, Nick Wagoner tweeted, #49ers RB Jerick McKinnon made a cut on the last play of practice, nobody around him and went down. Shanahan says the team is concerned about it. ‘Something with a knee, we'll find out later. We're nervous about it, that's for sure.’” Later, Rapoport tweeted, “#49ers big free agent pickup and starting RB Jerick McKinnon suffered a torn ACL today, source said. His season is over.” This means that Matt Breida and Alfred Morris will shoulder the load for the 49ers. The injury is a tough break for the team trying to break into the elite teams of the NFC.
Savvy dynasty owners have been acquiring Peyton Barber on the cheap this offseason as he looked sharp last season and Ronald Jones II II has been slow to adjust to the pace of the professional game. Coach Dirk Koetter spoke to reporters about the rookie. He said, "I saw it in practice. But we weren’t able to get it going during the game for whatever reason. When his runs came up, we didn’t block them very well, number one, and he wasn’t able to do much with it on his own … Again, when you have bad running plays, rarely is it one guy’s fault. Sometimes it is, but rarely. It’s a combination of things. I know from Ronald’s standpoint, it’s not at all from lack of effort. I know there’s been a little undercurrent out there about him not knowing the playbook and I want to make sure I’m real clear on that. That is not an issue." Considering Barber’s strong preseason and Jones averaging less than one yards per rushing attempt, this quote should come as no surprise.
Doug Baldwin told reporters last week that his injured knee will not be 100% this entire season. While that is startling, few NFL players make it through the entire season at full strength. Baldwin estimates that he is up to “80-85% healthy” so fantasy owners should not have much to be concerned unless re-injury. We love the upside of deep-stash David Moore in case Baldwin misses action. The second-year player is just now rounding into form after needing a year to transition from small-school football.
The Jacksonville Jaguars lost two starting wide receivers in free agency, Allen Robinson, and Allen Hurns. Now, Marqise Lee is lost for the year due to a gruesome knee injury suffered in the third preseason game. The only good news for Lee is that he got a nice contract extension earlier in the offseason. His absence leaves Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, and Donte Moncrief as the Jaguars starters. Keep an eye on rookie D.J. Chark Jr as the season progresses. He offers athleticism and big-play ability. Given his lack of use at LSU, Chark will need time to develop but has upside.
Alshon Jeffery has been battling a shoulder injury for a few weeks. There was hope of a Week 1 return before the Adam Schefter report last week that the veteran receiver will avoid the PUP list but will miss at least the first two games of the season. His absence should thrust Nelson Agholor and Mike Wallace into fantasy options, depending on who is under center. With the way Nick Foles played in the preseason, he would be a difficult player to start in fantasy and will negatively impact the upside of the receivers’ fantasy projections for the Thursday night opener versus Atlanta. The Super Bowl Most Valuable Player has been awful in preseason.
Receiver Ryan Switzer has been passed around the NFL like a dollar bill at a casino. In April, Dallas traded him to Oakland. Hopes were high for the shifty slot receiver, but he is now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Switzer will offer depth as a WR4 and value on special teams. Making this trade more curious was Saturday’s breaking news about a Martavis Bryant suspension. Per a Rapoport tweet, “From @MikeGarafolo and me: #Raiders WR Martavis Bryant is facing another suspension, pending appeal. Explains his release. He was recently informed.” So, the team has known of this suspension for weeks – possibly months – and still trades Switzer. Oakland gave the 79th pick in the NFL Draft for Bryant. This could be why Pittsburgh has been good of late, and Oakland on the other end of the spectrum. This sounds harsh, but let’s consider what one of the better Raiders beat writers had to say on the subject, “There is talk of possible release of Raiders WR Martavis Bryant, source said. They acquired him in April for third-round pick. Months of internal fear followed about his standing with league. Despite reports to contrary, that fear is real and persists.” The new Raiders regime gave up a second-day pick for a player with a tenuous status with the league and then release said player. Bryant was released later on Saturday. The commissioner’s hammer is coming for Bryant.
On Saturday, Ian Rapoport tweeted, “Source: The #Bills are releasing former first-round pick WR Corey Coleman, who the acquired from the #Browns. A few weeks just not enough time to grab a roster spot. He’s looking for another fresh start.” This puts Coleman looking for a receiver-needing team to latch onto … but maybe too late for now. The prevailing perspective is that a receiver-deficient team like Buffalo releasing a former first-round pick is newsworthy. May, just maybe, Coleman has issues we – as fans – are not privy to in the locker room and on the field. There is something amiss.
For those in deep leagues, Ravens fourth-round pick Jaleel Scott was placed on injured reserve with a severe hamstring this past week. The rookie was not ready for the NFL so spending a year on the shelf should be good for his future. Scott was not having a great camp before the injury. Given the lack of quality receivers in Baltimore, the youngster has a shot to make a splash next year.
One of our favorite tight end sleepers, Troy Fumagalli, will begin the season on injured reserve, according to beat reporter Troy Renck. The rookie flashed great hands in camp before missing the preseason games due to a sports hernia. Deeper dynasty leaguers should keep an eye on the Fumagalli situation as he could easily be a fantasy factor next year. Stellar beat reporter Mike Klis tweeted, “The only updates on Broncos' official 53-man roster: TE Troy Fumagalli was placed on the kind of IR where he will not be eligible to return. So no practice all year. And Jordan Moore was waived/injured. #9sports.” Disappointing news for the rookie tight end.