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.
On Thursday, Ian Rapoport tweeted, “#Eagles QB Carson Wentz isn’t expected to play for a few more weeks... and everyone is OK with that. Nothing more important than the health of the face of the franchise.” This should push the quarterback’s return into October. The reporter added that Wentz would have already been back in the lineup by now had he only torn his ACL, but the damage to the LCL has prolonged the recovery. The difficult part for the fantasy community is reconciling reports like this and one two days prior (from Rapoport) quoting coach Doug Pederson saying Wentz is “close” to returning. This is likely coachspeak as he is excited to have his starting quarterback back on the field. Also, the victory over Atlanta last Thursday should encourage caution from the Philadelphia organization. With upcoming games against the Buccaneers, Colts, and Titans on the schedule, the Eagles may be targeting a Week 5 matchup against the Vikings for young quarterback’s return. Then, Sunday morning, Chris Mortensen reported Wentz had yet to be ruled out for this week’s game. The reporter said, "He has reached that threshold in being able to protect himself … So, sooner than later on Carson Wentz." We would still take the over on games missed as Philadelphia wants to ensure their star quarterback is available for the stretch run.
Fantasy owners are more concerned by Marcus Mariota’s poor play against Miami than the seemingly-minor elbow injury suffered in the loss to the Dolphins. The entire Titans offense looked to be worse for wear after the elongated rain delay. It will take time for the quarterback and the new Tennessee coaching staff to get in a groove. He makes a solid buy low until then.
After releasing Davis Webb, the Giants are promoting the idea that the team is happy with fourth-round rookie Kyle Lauletta as the backup behind declining veteran Eli Manning. Coach Pat Shurmur said of the situation, "I like the fact that he’ll decide what he’s looking at, see it and pull the trigger … He’s very decisive in what he does. He’s a gamer of sorts, and we’re looking forward to working with that." In rebuilding mode, New York may see what they have in the rookie if Manning continues his steep decline.
Lost in the Le'Veon Bell saga is the three-year contract extension the normally-thrifty Cardinals organization gave star running back, David Johnson. The deal could garner Johnson $39 million and the deal includes $30 million in guarantees. Johnson wanted a three-year deal, so he could possibly cash-in again at age 29 years of age. To do so, he will need to play better than what Johnson showed against Washington Sunday.
While getting questioned about the usage and rotation of his running backs after Thursday night’s victory over the Falcons, coach Doug Pederson said of Jay Ajayi, "Jay was nursing a little bit of a lower-body injury for a couple weeks and I just wanted to make sure he was good and get him into the flow of the game … Moving forward, we’ll see him more." The pair of touchdowns salvaged the fantasy outcome, but fantasy players came away from the game confused about Ajayi’s usage as he and veteran Darren Sproles evenly split the majority of the snaps, with Corey Clement sparsely mixed in. Given the three soft matchups next up on the schedule, the range of fantasy outcomes for Ajayi is wide. The team may rest him to save the well-documented knees for a playoff run. Or, the coaching staff may rely on the running game even more with the poor play by quarterback Nick Foles.
Jenny Vrentas tweeted Friday morning after talking to Alshon Jeffery before the Thursday night contest against Atlanta, “A few notes from last night: Alshon Jeffery said he has ‘a couple more visits with the doctor’ before he can return. ‘Some days I feel great, and some days ... a shoulder injury is pretty tough,’ he said. Asked if he was still a few weeks out, he nodded.” So, fantasy players need to temper expectations for a return to the field anytime soon by the Eagles receiver. The team may be targeting his return to coincide with that of the starting quarterback. Expect Philadelphia to lean on the strength of its defense with the play-making Jeffery on the shelf. Compounding the Jeffery absence is the move to place Mack Hollins on injured reserve. Hollins provided speed and was starting to move up the depth chart before suffering a sports hernia. With these two players out of action, keep an eye on DeAndre Carter. He played more than expected in the opener and has ability.
Ian Rapoport tweeted Sunday night, “#Seahawks coach Pete Carroll tells reporters that WR Doug Baldwin suffered an MCL sprain that knocked him out of today’s loss to the #Broncos. Opposite knee from his previous injury.” Baldwin had his knee rolled up on and went to the sidelines. He tried to gut it out and play but was eventually ruled out. We now know why. On Monday afternoon, Adam Schefter tweeted, “Seahawks’ WR Doug Baldwin has a Grade 2 partial MCL tear, per source. Team still trying to figure out how much time he will miss.” Footballguys own, Dr. Jene Bramel, followed it up with a tweet of his own, “Mid-grade MCL sprain for Doug Baldwin. Could easily be 4-6 week recovery. Seahawks have Week 7 bye. Possible to return before bye but may play a role in decision-making if it's a close call.” We will learn more as the weeks progress, but the ligament team is far from ideal.
A receiver who has been quiet this past offseason is DeVante Parker. He was not playing well in training camp before breaking his finger August 12. Parker is not likely to return for another week or two. We are all aboard the Kenny Stills hype-train and the speedy receiver could put up solid fantasy WR2 numbers. Many in the fantasy community forgot about Stills after the Dolphins signed Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola in the offseason. But, these same pundits overlooked the fact that neither of these newcomers is overly talented. Parker could emerge later in the season if he gets his act together. The injury and poor camp provide a solid “buy-low” opportunity.
The most plugged-in Browns reporter is the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot. Last week, she reported that Cleveland will check back in with free agent Dez Bryant this week. The reason for the delay is the contract of a player on the roster for Week 1 has his salary guaranteed. If Bryant signs this week, such guarantees are gone. This is a team amassing talent at the receiver position with Josh Gordon back on the field and adding Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway in the offseason.
Keep an eye on Cameron Meredith in New Orleans. He was a healthy scratch and was replaced in the lineup by Austin Carr. Last year’s ACL tear and the slowness to get up to speed with the Saints offense are the likely candidates. Given the upside of the New Orleans receivers, this is a situation to monitor.
One receiver we were excited to see after a disappointing rookie season was Curtis Samuel. He missed the opener after requiring a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat. While some say it was a minor procedure, it is only “minor” if performed on someone else. We are rooting for Samuel to return quickly. He has immense upside due to his physical traits. After missing action in 2017 with an ankle injury, he could surprise as the Panthers seek to spread the football around.
Training camp darling, Jake Kumerow, was placed on injured reserve last week with a shoulder injury. The team waited until it made its final roster cutdown before making this move, possibly indicating a 2018-return of the receiver. If so, Kumerow is eligible to return for Week 9. Green Bay has little talent behind the top three receivers, and there is an opportunity for Kumerow to emerge late in the season if Adams, Cobb, or Allison is injured.
Adam Schefter reported Sunday that Martavis Bryant is facing a one-year suspension from the NFL. This would be the talented receiver’s third suspension in his brief career. Oakland looks obtuse for yielding a second-day draft pick on the receiver. He has since been released from the Raiders roster.
Greg Olsen re-injured his right foot in the Panthers win over the Cowboys. After the game, Olsen sported a walking boot to protect the foot. We like the upside of rookie Ian Thomas as Cam Newton likes targeting the tight end position. At 33 years of age, Olsen’s health is declining rapidly.
Delanie Walker was carted off the field in the fourth quarter of the loss to Miami. Ian Rapoport tweeted Sunday night, “#Titans TE Delanie Walker suffered a dislocated ankle in today’s loss vs the #Dolphins, I’m told. There was also an associated fracture. His season is almost certainly over, a tough injury for an underrated and productive player.” This is a rough injury for such a talented player. Youngster Jonnu Smith will take Walker’s spot in the starting lineup.