We scour the news around the NFL to bring you what matters most for 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 of the recent happenings around the league.
The Bengals were dealt a blow with the broken thumb of quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton injured his right thumb trying to make a tackle after throwing a BAD interception. His replacement, A.J. McCarron, struggled and could not get comfortable in the pocket. He consistently overthrew open receivers and showed no anticipation on his passes. Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Dalton does not need surgery to repair the broken thumb, and that there is hope for a Dalton return in the postseason. For a team that has not won a playoff game in a very long time, Dalton's return will be well anticipated.
The news last week of Mark Ingram II's injured shoulder, and subsequent placement on Injured Reserve, sent shock waves through the fantasy football world. He was one of the more consistent fantasy producers, averaging almost 100 rushing yards per contest. Ingram had surgery last Thursday to repair a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder. He had played through an AC joint sprain the previous two weeks but further injured the shoulder in Week 13. The prognosis is good for Ingram to be healthy for training camp. He will be replaced by C.J. Spiller and Tim Hightower.
In a move that has been expected for several weeks, the 49ers placed running back Carlos Hyde on Injured Reserve with the foot injury which has kept him out of action for the last half of the season. Hyde played well pre-injury and should be healthy by training camp. We expect a rebound season in 2016 under a new coaching regime.
With Marshawn Lynch already sidelined by an abdomen injury, the Seattle running game was centered around rookie Thomas Rawls, and Rawls thrived in this role. Well, in the blowout victory over Baltimore the talented Rawls fractured his ankle and possibly injured ligaments. This is a disappointing end to the rookie's NFL debut season. He should be healthy by OTAs. There is talk of Lynch leaving in the offseason. If so, Rawls could be a top 10 dynasty running back in preseason if healthy.
Another running back with a shoulder injury is Chris Thompson of Washington. Thompson has a torn labrum and could be headed to Injured Reserve any day. Thompson is a talented receiver out of the backfield but has been plagued by injuries much of his short professional career. Pierre Thomas was signed to replace Thompson in the offense.
Many dynasty owners have wondered who was Latavius Murray's backup. It is little-known Jamize Olawale, a hybrid tailback/fullback who came into the NFL as an undrafted free agent rookie four years ago. Well, Olawale signed a three-year contract extension this past week for a total of $6 million. He is a player to roster this offseason until Oakland addresses depth at the running back position.
We were hopeful that rookie Kevin White would be able to play this season. The Chicago Tribune was the first to report that White would not be activated from the PUP list, and is done for the season. White's leg is healthy but could not get into football shape quickly enough. White is a player to buy this coming offseason.
Oakland also locked up wide receiver Michael Crabtree for four more seasons. The 28-year old Crabtree is playing some of the best football of his professional career. The extension should pay Crabtree $35 million over the next four seasons, and includes $19 million guaranteed. Let's remember that Crabtree signed a one-year deal last offseason to show the team - and the rest of the league - that he had plenty left in the tank … and he does. This is a great move for the receiver and the team.
Jets rookie receiver Devin Smith has had bad luck with injuries this season. After missing much of training camp and the early portion of the season due to injury, Smith was just starting to get up to speed in the Chan Gailey offense when he tore his right ACL in Week 14. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had a difficult time throwing deep enough for Smith's speed. He might be a solid buy low over the summer.
One of the more intriguing rookie receivers coming into the season was DeAndre Smelter of the 49ers. Smelter hurt his knee last year, and underwent surgery to repair his ACL last December, but was still selected with the 132nd pick in the NFL Draft. Definitely look for Smelter on waiver wires this offseason. He has little talent in front of him on the depth chart and could splash in 2016.
'Tis the season for contract extensions for soon-to-be free agents. This is the time to lock up talented players before they leave in free agency and to spend cap money as required by the CBA. Cleveland tight end Gary Barnidge signed a three-year extension for a little more than $12 million, with almost half guaranteed. Barnidge has been one of the few bright spots for the Browns offense. Rarely does a tight end “break out” at age 31, but the well-traveled player has enjoyed a strong campaign.
The Chicago Bears placed veteran tight end Martellus Bennett on Injured Reserve this past week with a rib injury. He had been battling the injury for a few weeks. There is a strong possibility that Bennett is not back in Chicago next season. He is owed more than $5 million and was pining for a raise last offseason. While still “only” 28 years of age, Bennett does not have the same nimble athleticism he had in his Cowboys days. Add in the strong play of backup Zach Miller and the team may choose the cheaper Miller. For those unfamiliar with Miller. He was a quarterback at Nebraska-Omaha and played a few injury-riddled seasons in Jacksonville before landing in Chicago.
Ian Rapoport was one of the first to report of the knee injury to Washington tight end Derek Carrier. He tore his ACL and MCL in Sunday's matchup against the Bears. Carrier came to Washington in a trade from San Francisco in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick. The team will be deep at the position, as Jordan Reed is coming off a very good season, Niles Paul should be healthy by the summer, and Carrier could start the season on the PuP list given the timing of the injury.
Last week, we suggested Blake Bell, the former Oklahoma quarterback as a tight end to watch and this week he got the start this week with Vance McDonald out with a concussion and Garrett Celek on Injured Reserve with a high-ankle sprain. Bell caught three passes for 49 yards in the loss to Cleveland. Celek is a free agent this coming offseason so Bell could retain the job into 2016.
Indianapolis tight end Dwayne Allen was injured last year and was hoping for a strong season before cashing a big payday in free agency. He has continued to share tight end duties with Coby Fleener, staying in to block while Fleener runs pass routes. The team will likely only bring one of the pair back, with Andrew Luck's former Stanford roommate – Fleener – the favorite. Many fantasy owners look at Allen as an upside player given his size and speed, but he still makes too many mistakes to be fully trusted.
Another tight end who has not put up the expected fantasy points this season is Larry Donnell of the Giants. He has been out of action since Week 9 with a neck injury and was finally placed on injured reserve. Will Tye will continue to start in his place. Both could easily be supplanted if the team addresses the position this coming offseason.
Feel free to email me (Tefertiller@Footballguys.com) with feedback. Also, I am on Twitter (www.Twitter.com/JeffTefertiller), LinkedIn, and Google+, so you can ask me questions on one of these as well.
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