August 30, 2013
|Looks like David Wilson is in line for some extra work to start the season.|
• Most teams escaped the final preseason game without significant injury. The Giants were among those who weren’t so fortunate, losing Andre Brown to a broken leg. Sounds worse than it is; Brown indicated that it’s just a small crack in his fibula, and the early prognosis is that he’ll only miss four to six weeks. It is, however, the same leg Brown broke last year and the injury will do nothing to help him shake the “injury-prone” label. Meanwhile, David Wilson–who has just three games with double-digit in his NFL career and has never seen more than 15 in a pro game–is shooting up fantasy draft boards as he’s expected to take over most of the carries ticketed for Brown for the next month-plus.
• Check out the final pre-season Off Tackle – “All In Fantasy Players For 2013“.
• The 49ers also lost a running back in the preseason finale as LaMichael James sprained his MCL. No word yet on the degree of severity, but James’ injury leaves recently activated Kendall Hunter as the sole backup to Frank Gore and Kyle Williams and Quinton Patton as San Francisco’s primary return men.
• An impressive training camp and preseason thrust Zach Sudfeld into the fantasy football consciousness; now he and Michael Hoomanawanui will hold down the tight end position in New England until Rob Gronkowski returns as the team released veterans Jake Ballard and Daniel Fells. View the Ballard/Fells release as an endorsement of Sudfeld’s ability–and also as a sign the team expects Gronk to be back sooner rather than later. The late-September timetable suggested earlier in training camp looks to be holding true.
• After a solid showing in Week 3, the assumption was that the starting quarterback job in Oakland was Terrelle Pryor‘s to lose. Pryor may have done just that in the preseason finale, going 3-for-8 in a 22-6 loss to the Seahawks. Dennis Allen indicated after the game he knew who he would name the starter but intended to wait “until the appropriate time” to announce his decision. Matt Flynn sat out the preseason finale with a sore arm, but Allen said he is expected to be available for Week 1. Fortunately, the Raiders’ quarterback decision has little or no impact on the vast majority of fantasy leagues.
• Matt Leinart signed with the Bills just in time to get in three practice sessions; then he proceeded to look awful against the Lions, completing 3-of-11 passes for 11 yards. No surprise, then, that Leinart was released by the Bills Friday. With E.J. Manuel still recovering from a knee injury, it looks like the Bills will be rolling with undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel at quarterback in Week 1.
• Finally, the Buccaneers announced that major offseason acquisition Darrelle Revis will play in Week 1. Revis saw no preseason action as he works his way back from the ACL injury that wiped out his 2012 season, and odds are he won’t be dramatically tested by the Jets in the season opener. Still, those of you banking on major fantasy production from the Jets WR1 should temper those expectations given that they’ll spend the afternoon on Revis Island. Yes, all two of you.
August 29, 2013
|Barkevious Mingo will not be one of the players hitting the field tonight.|
• There’s a full slate of preseason games on the docket tonight, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone of fantasy note playing as most regulars will get the night off. That includes Browns’ first-round pick Barkevious Mingo, who suffered a bruised lung earlier this preseason and isn’t expected back until Week 2. Still, when you consider that the injury wasn’t a sprained ankle but a bruised freaking lung, a Week 2 return doesn’t seem so bad.
• Check out the final pre-season Off Tackle – “All In Fantasy Players For 2013“.
• While Mingo won’t be available for the Browns’ season opener, Cleveland’s opponents expect to have their first-round defender available. Dion Jordan returned to practice this week, and Miami coach Joe Philpin told Dolphins fans “you’re going to see a lot” of Jordan “in the next couple weeks.” Jordan doesn’t have to hit the ground running, as Miami has Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon starting at end, but his return would give the Dolphins a formidable array of pass rushers.
• Undrafted rookie running back Michael Ford isn’t pushing Matt Forte for playing time, but he could carve out a job as a reserve and return man in Chicago. So if you’re watching NFL action tonight, how Ford and Armando Allen play is one of the more intriguing situations to watch.
• While most regulars are sitting out tonight, the Packers may try to get a peek at Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, who have been limited by injury this preseason. Don’t blink or you might miss them.
• How much rookie Quinton Patton plays–or doesn’t play–for the 49ers in the final fake game might be indicative of where he falls in the 49ers’ passing game pecking order. Patton missed training camp with a finger injury but was already working as San Francisco’s third receiver last week. If he makes a token appearance in Week 4, he may be slotted for bigger and better things in the regular season.
• Finally, the cost of Mason Crosby keeping his job in Green Bay is roughly $1.6 million. That’s the pay cut Crosby took off his base salary to stay with the club after last season’s debacle. Crosby’s new salary is fully guaranteed, assuming the Packers don’t replace him prior to the start of the season. Plus, he can make up the $1.6 mil through roster bonuses and incentives–giving the Packers some sort of security that he kicks better than last year’s 63.6 accuracy percentage. The last two years of Crosby’s five-year, $14.75 million contract remain unchanged, with base salaries of $2.65 million next year and $2.8 million in 2015.
August 28, 2013
|Brandon Marshall revealed his hip may continue to be an issue.|
• The most interesting news as we churn towards the start of the season involves Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Tuesday Marshall indicated that his surgically repaired hip might be limiting his performance, and teammate Martellus Bennett confirmed Marshall’s frustration with where he’s at in his recovery from his third hip surgery in the past four years. Wednesday Marshall was excused from practice, though coach Marc Trestman said it was for “personal reasons”, not necessarily injury-related. It’s a bit disconcerting, but since Marshall has played in two preseason games and hasn’t missed any practice time it looks to be a blip on the radar–for now.
• The Bears must not be too worried about Marshall, as they’re apparently willing to trade one of their other top receivers. Earl Bennett, who has been limited for the past month by a concussion, is reportedly on the trading block. While Bennett has been sidelined, seventh-round pick Marquess Wilson has impressed coaches and may be the leading candidate for Chicago’s third-receiver work. Of course, Bennett is a former college teammate of quarterback Jay Cutler, and any deal might be yet another reason for Cutler to make the “I just ate a lemon” face he’s so famous for.
• Those spending an early pick on Eddie Lacy certainly weren’t broken up about DuJuan Harris going on IR, but Packers coach Mike McCarthy was apparently banking on Harris as part of a one-two punch at running back. Lacy would certainly move to the fore in Green Bay’s backfield plans, but it remains to be seen if he’ll assume most/all the duties or if McCarthy is still envisioning a second man in–and who that second man might be.
• Former Packer Graham Harrell, released last weekend, has signed on with the Jets. Harrell may just be in town to add depth for the preseason finale, which Matt Simms will start and injured Mark Sanchez, injured Greg McElroy, and rookie Geno Smith likely won’t play in. There’s a definite opportunity for a quarterback to step up in New York; whether Harrell gets the chance–or can even do so, operating with such limited familiarity with the playbook–is another question entirely.
• Maybe it’s official, but there’s still the Dr. James Andrews hurdle to clear. However, that hasn’t stopped the Redskins from indicating what everyone expected: Robert Griffin III will be their starting quarterback in Week One of the regular season. RG3 is expected to receive official clearance from Andrews in an exam on Thursday.
• Finally, spending a late-round kicker pick on Mason Crosby may work out for you after all. The Packers released Giorgio Tavecchio Monday and kicked newly-signed Zach Ramirez to the curb on Tuesday. Crosby, meanwhile, converted all 14 of his field goal attempts during practice. Now he has to wait out any late cuts of veteran kickers; otherwise, the job of tacking on points for one of the more prolific offenses in football is all his–unless he replicates last season’s sorry accuracy, in which case he’ll be an ex-Packer sooner rather than later.
August 27, 2013
|Rashad Jennings becomes McFadden’s handcuff with the loss of Latavius Murray.|
• With three games in the books, the preseason has now come down to how to pare a roster–first to 75 by Tuesday, then by 53 for the regular season. Odds are no one on your fantasy team has been released, but there are some notable roster moves nonetheless. The first comes from Oakland, where rookie Latavius Murray will miss the season with an ankle injury. Murray was potentially the handcuff to oft-injured Darren McFadden; now that job goes by default to Rashad Jennings.
• While Lamar Miller is (finally) being declared the winner in the Dolphins’ backfield battle, neither he nor Daniel Thomas will have to worry about fullback Jorvorskie Lane stealing goal line looks as Lane was cut Tuesday. The Dolphins also cut guard Lance Louis, who is still recovering from an ACL injury.
• The Carolina backfield thinned a little, at least temporarily, when the Panthers officially placed Jonathan Stewart on the PUP list. The earliest he’d be available is October 20, but that’s far from a sure thing. DeAngelo Williams heads up Carolina’s new-look RBBC, with Mike Tolbert and rookie Kenjon Barner in the mix as well.
• Speaking of the PUP list, that’s where the Seahawks officially put Percy Harvin as they pared their roster down to 75. Harvin would be eligible to return to practice after six weeks, but all indications are the team is still hoping for a late season return that would make Harvin a fantasy non-factor in 2013.
• Gronkowski put on IR… wait, what?!? Oh, it’s just Chargers fullback Chris Gronkowski, carrying on the family tradition by hitting the IR with an ankle injury. The Bolts also put wide receiver Mike Willie on IR–no, not because of the hit Jon Bostic laid on him in the preseason, because of a knee injury.
• Speaking of Gronk, New England was atwitter once again when Rob Gronkowski was spotted working with a strength coach on a side field during practice. That, of course, sparked buzz about the possibility of Gronk being ready for the start of the regular season or at least being removed from the PUP list. However, it’s nothing new according to Bill Belichick, who noted that Gronkowski is doing about the same thing he’s been doing every other day of camp. So as far as Gronk’s status heading into the season… yet to be determined.
• While for the most part there won’t be much to watch during the fourth week of the preseason, the Steelers have yet to settle on a backfield rotation. To that end, they expect to give Jonathan Dwyer, LaRod Stephens-Howling, and newly acquired Felix Jones an opportunity to stake their claim to more playing time. Isaac Redman, another RBBC contender, will sit out with a stinger. The expectation is that Redman and Dwyer will head up the committee until rookie Le’Veon Bell is healthy, but a strong showing from Jones could make things interesting.
• Finally, expect Eddie Lacy to continue to rise up fantasy draft boards with the news that DuJuan Harris was placed on IR and will miss the 2013 season with a knee injury. You may recall Packers coach Mike McCarthy insisting that Harris was his starter; now that Harris is out of the picture, look for Lacy to head up a committee–yes, McCarthy says he’s still looking for a “one-two punch”. The Packers now need to figure out who the second man in on the committee will be; until fellow rookie Johnathan Franklin and/or Alex Green emerges, looks like a golden opportunity for Lacy.
August 26, 2013
|Ronnie Hillman’s inability to hold onto the ball may be setting the table for Montee Ball.|
• Adrian Peterson made a preseason cameo Sunday night, but he didn’t touch the ball. And now he’ll be without his Pro Bowl fullback, as Jerome Felton was suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Zach Line, who has scored twice this preseason, might see more work as a fullback in front of Peterson.
• A follow up to the popular “Planning Your First Two Draft Picks” – an updated look at your first three draft picks and beyond for several league scoring types and league sizes. Check out our “Three Round Draft Plans.”
• Ronnie Hillman can’t seem to hang onto the football, which certainly has contributed to his inability to hang on to his spot atop the Broncos’ backfield depth chart. Whether it’s a motivational ploy or the coaches no longer have faith in Hillman, it removes a hurdle from Montee Ball‘s path to fantasy glory.
• A pair of intriguing AFC East receivers were among the first round of cuts as teams slice and dice their way to the 75-man limit Tuesday. The Bills released undrafted rookie Da’Rick Rogers, a talented, athletic prospect who was dismissed from the University of Tennessee following multiple failed drug tests. At this point Rogers’ best bet may be to latch on with a practice squad, prove his head is on straight, and flash the aforementioned talent.
• At the opposite end of the spectrum is Braylon Edwards, who was released by the Jets. It’s possible the Jets–or another team–may look to re-sign Edwards after Week One, when his salary wouldn’t be guaranteed for the entire season. But if he’s not markedly better than Jeremy Kerley, Clyde Gates, Mohamed Massaquoi and Ben Obomanu–all still on the Jets’ roster–there may not be another NFL team interested.
• Perhaps one of the reasons Joe McKnight became expendable for the Jets is that Mike Goodson is expected to report to the team some time in the next 24 hours. Goodson hasn’t been involved in team activities since being charged with myriad felony gun and drug violations. Given that he hasn’t been in camp it’s tough to see Goodson carving out a backfield role any time soon… unless he can play quarterback.
• Finally, the kicker battle in Green Bay thinned by one when Giorgio Tavecchio was released. It’s still a competition, however, because the Packers also signed Zach Ramirez to challenge Mason Crosby for the job. And then there’s any veterans yet to be released. No question the Packers’ kicking situation is fluid.