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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.
Cam Newton spent last week in a walking boot and missed the game against the Arizona Cardinals. It is uncertain the exact nature of the foot injury or the duration of his absence. Kyle Allen is locked in until Newton returns. Allen is physically gifted and put up decent numbers Sunday, leading the Panthers to victory. Throwing four touchdowns in a road victory should give all confidence in Allen’s ability. Allen played better in the game than Newton the first two contests. On interesting item from the Cardinals game is both starting quarterbacks were on the same Texas A&M. Speaking last week coach Ron Rivera discussed the decision to start Allen over rookie Will Grier, "I think Kyle's more than ready … I think he's got a really good arm, makes good decisions. He just needs to speed himself up a bit … Just needs to speed himself up a bit". Grier made this decision easy for Rivera with his awful preseason play. The Panthers invested a third-round pick in him and hope for development, but it is Allen until Newton is healthy.
Coming off the drubbing against division-rival New England, the 0-3 New York Jets are anxious for the return of Sam Darnold under center. He has now missed two games with mononucleosis and is not expected to miss another game due to an early bye, returning Week 5. Luke Falk played after Trevor Siemian endured the gruesome injury against Cleveland last week. Starting Falk in a lopsided contest was just not fair but the youngster played admirably. Back to Darnold. He talked to reporters regarding his Week 5 return, "I'm not going to promise anything because I don't know exactly where this mono thing is going, but that's the goal that the doctors and I have set." Starting the season in a hold, there is little chance of a playoff run. The team will likely be winless for several more weeks with games against the Eagles, Cowboys, and Patriots next up on the schedule before heading to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars in Week 8. The team should be 0-6 by then and may struggle to win half of the remaining 10 games.
Last week, the Indianapolis Colts waived quarterback Chad Kelly, and he passed through waivers unclaimed. Kelly has ample support in the fantasy community. The youngster played well in preseason and will get another chance as long as he stays out of trouble. He is expected to land on a practice squad and continue to develop. Kelly’s ability to make the Colts was inhibited by the big contract given starter Jacoby Brissett and the unusually large deal given Brian Hoyer. The Andrew Luck retirement pushed the franchise into investing in Brissett and locking him down for a few years.
After his strong performance late in the 2018 season and playoffs, fantasy players had hopes that tailback C.J. Anderson would be viable after he signed with the Lions. However, Anderson could never get untracked in Detroit and was released last week. The team knows what they want at the position and moved on and cut losses after doing the same with Theo Riddick in the preseason. The team claimed Paul Perkins in a related move. Hopefully, Kerryon Johnson and Ty Johnson will see more snaps and touches. These are two talented backs and need expanded roles.
Expect Tyreek Hill to return soon from injury. Last week, beat reporter Adam Teicher tweeted that Hill "(doesn't) look like a guy who is going to be out much longer." The schedule gets easier for the Chiefs with the Lions, Colts, Texans, and Broncos next up on the schedule with the two toughest of those contests – Indianapolis and Houston – played at Arrowhead. Kansas Cityhas built quite the receiving corps and should be considered the favorite in the AFC.
The Antonio Brown saga seems to be in racing toward a conclusion after the New England Patriots released the receiver Friday. The team released a statement: "The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown. We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel that it is best to move in a different direction at this time." Reflecting on his exit from Pittsburgh, refusal to be traded to Buffalo, erratic behavior in Oakland, and new concerning reports since signing in new England, it is doubtful Brown plays again this season. It is our opinion that the team expected Brown to be placed on the “exempt” list and released Brown to avoid paying him a bonus. At 31 years of age, Brown may not have many more chances left. Oakland and New England are two of the more forgiving franchises. Adam Schefter discussed Brown’s chances to return this season on Twitter, “Antonio Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus said tonight he already has had communication ‘with a few teams that are interested’ in his client and that ‘want information regarding his legal situation and the NFL investigation.’” He added, “But while Antonio Brown’s agent said he had had communication ‘with a few teams that are interested’ in his client, other people around the league believe that until the NFL’s investigation is resolved, a deal for the free-agent WR is not likely to happen.” This is where we fall. The other 29 teams will seek to learn from the mistakes of Oakland and New England. Jason McIntyre chimed in on the Schefter tweet, “Nobody with a pulse believes there’s an NFL team inquiring with Rosenhaus about Antonio Brown. Guy is more toxic right now than Chernobyl.” This is the correct take. But the caustic situation has established a buying season for risk-taking owners. His release leaves Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman, and Phillip Dorsett for Tom Brady to target. Plus, Gordon and Edelman were nicked up against the Jets. Fantasy players should target Jakobi Meyers as each of those three receivers has missed considerable time in their respective careers. He was the talk of training camp and could emerge down the stretch. Also, tight end Ben Watson comes back soon (Week 5) and should instantly be inserted into the starting lineup. Watson looked good in preseason and has fantasy upside, especially with the plethora of injuries and disappointments at the position early this season.
We wrote last week that Seattle receiver David Moore was expected back soon from his shoulder injury. Last week, coach Pete Carroll confirmed as much. Moore practiced much of last week but was unable to play. He should be plucked off the waiver wire in most dynasty leagues as DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are far from durable. Moore should slot in the starting lineup, displacing Jaron Brown.
After the Ben Roethlisberger elbow injury, the Steelers made another move, promoting rookie Diontae Johnson to the starting lineup at the expense of Donte Moncrief. This move was much-discussed Friday after Johnson excitedly told reporters he was starting “from here on out.” His presence on the outside allows JuJu Smith-Schuster to work in the slot where he excels. The trio of Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Johnson are viable weapons for Mason Rudolph. When asked about Moncrief last Thursday, Offensive Coordinator Randy Fichtner commented, "I had a coach a long time ago say you have to put the word receive into receiver." Ouch! Moncrief was horrible the first two weeks of the season. The training camp and preseason buzz was a mirage. Moncrief is the same player in Pittsburgh we all saw in Jacksonville and Indianapolis. He was even inactive in the loss at San Francisco. The Steelers are invested in the three youngsters (all on cheap rookie contracts) and will look to develop the trio.
In a less-discussed deal, the Oakland Raiders acquired wide receiver Trevor Davis from the Green Bay Packers in exchange for a 2021 sixth-round pick. Davis was buried on the Packers depth chart but will get an opportunity in Oakland as a receiver and returner. Davis flashed in the third preseason game against the Raiders, catching 5 passes for 78 yards and a score. He is a player to monitor as there is little competition for snaps opposite Tyrell Williams.
The Browns placed David Njoku on injured reserve last week after the athletic tight end broke his wrist in the loss to the Jets in Week 2. Demetrius Harris is the fantasy player to roster but is far from a reliable fantasy option. Cleveland does not target the position often and Harris is expected to be sporadic at best for fantasyland. Njoku is a candidate to return later in the year and makes a great player to buy low after only hauling in 4 passes for 37 yards and a touchdown on the season. Those numbers all came in the opener against Tennessee.