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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.
Fantasy players took note last week when top beat writer Jim Wyatt, of the Tennessee Titans' official website, relayed that new offensive coordinator Arthur plans to "ride" tailback Derrick Henry in the final season under contract. We have seen this play out before. Team drafts a running back high in the draft and wants to get as much out of the investment before permitting said player to exit in free agency, then gain a compensatory pick in return. This is the same scenario that Melvin Gordon is in. Still just 25 years of age, Henry is primed to build off his strong 2018 finish. We expect Tennessee to run a conservative, ground-oriented offense centered around Henry. Yes, it is possible the team brings the bruiser back after the season, or even franchises him, but he must play well and show durability in 2019. Given Marcus Mariota’s struggles, it is easy to see why Henry is the focal point of the offense.
We are always concerned about running backs adding weight in the offseason. After playing at 208 pounds last year, Ronald Jones II is now up to 221 and seems to like the added bulk. Per Jones, "I’ve put on a lot of pounds of muscle … I’ve been training with my guy, eating four or five meals a day, protein shakes right after workouts. I’m bigger." With Peyton Barber as the only competition for touches on the current Buccaneers roster, Jones has a big opportunity to emerge as the team’s top back. Beat reporter Rick Stroud has gushed about Jones all offseason. Recently, he was clocked at 4.48 in the 40-yard dash which adds faith in his training regimen. However, last week, PewterReport.com estimated that Barber would be the pass-catching back and draw close to 45 targets. This would be bad news for Jones’ fantasy upside if it holds true. In the Bruce Arians offense, there is fantasy upside for whichever tailback can seize the role.
A few days after Buffalo Bills general manager Billy Beane was extolling the virtues of veteran LeSean McCoy, Albert Breer reported that some around the league expect the team to cut or trade McCoy. Buffalo has signed Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon and drafted Devin Singletary, so McCoy must play much better this season just to see the field. Moving on from McCoy would save the organization a hefty $6.4 million. The offensive will be conservative and try not to put quarterback Josh Allen in many obvious passing situations. Going off last year’s play, Gore is the superior back, even though he is several years older than McCoy.
With some still pushing the receiving-game fantasy upside of Jalen Richard, long-time beat reporter Vic Tafur recently stated that he expects Richard to lose a good chunk of his targets to rookie Josh Jacobs. After seeing 68 pass targets in 2018, we expect Jacobs to be a three-down back, thus limiting Richards’ role. Tafur points out in his story that coach Jon Gruden compared Rishard to Raiders great Charlie Garner and envisioned a similar role for the Richard BEFORE selecting Jacobs with the 24th pick in the NFL Draft. Since then, the accolades have silenced. Richard is more of a handcuff than a player with “stand-alone” value in dynasty leagues.
As many expected, Cincinnati Bengals sixth-round tailback Rodney Anderson is likely to open the season on the reserve/PUP list as he recovers from the knee injury that cut short his final season at Oklahoma. He surprised the masses by declaring for the NFL Draft given the ACL tear came in his second contest of the 2018 season. By going on the PUP list, Anderson is certain to miss at least the first six games of the season. His absence should give fellow-rookie Trayveon Williams an easy path to the RB3 role. Given the injury histories of both Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard, Williams could see the field sooner than later.
The Tyreek Hill news dominated the fantasy content last week as the NFL announced that it will not suspend the Chiefs wide receiver. The league conducted a four-month investigation and came away empty. While some of the quotes are concerning the NFL did not find sufficient evidence to suspend the star. Whether we agree with the verdict or not, Hill is back as a bona fide elite fantasy option. After the news, Yahoo's Terez Paylor reported that the team remains interested in giving Hill a contract extension. He is entering the final year of his rookie contract and the team does not want Hill to walk. The organization had so little confidence in Hill’s status that Mecole Hardman was drafted in the first round of the draft, possibly to be Hill’s replacement. If Hill gets a new deal, expect strong language protecting the team if another abuse situation arises. Mike Florio opined Saturday that Kansas City may look to trade Hill. This would be an interesting move considering that the team hung onto him throughout the ordeal and now would not want to keep him long-term. Given the plethora of off-field issues, it is difficult to imagine many teams would be clamoring to give up valuable assets and a big contract to the dynamic playmaker. This is surely a situation to monitor.
While videos surface of Emmanuel Sanders running and cutting like he is almost back to full strength from his Achilles’ injury, he told reporters that he is definitely not going to push it at the start of training camp. He looks like a safe bet for Week 1, barring a setback. Local media, Andrew Mason, tweeted a quote from John Elway last week, “Elway: ‘Emmanuel looks good. Will start practicing on the first day but be worked into full work slowly.’” Piling on, NFL Network's James Palmer said that he expects Sanders to be "full go" in 2-3 weeks. It is great news that he avoided the active/PUP list to begin camp. With Cortland Sutton struggling early in camp, Sanders appears to be the team’s top receiver for 2019 if he can avoid a setback.
One player to consider stashing in dynasty leagues is Martavis Bryant. Bryant is still just 27 years old has never struggled on the field. ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported last week that Bryant has applied for reinstatement with the NFL. According to the report, Bryant has been working with both the NFL and the Players Association on steps he needs to take to address his mental health situation. If you are seeking a player to stash in a deep dynasty league, Bryant is available on almost every waiver wire and has proven talent. Plus, he is a free agent. By the time a team signs him, it will be too late to scoop off the waiver wire for free.