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 are not meant to be an exhaustive look at all the recent happenings around the league.
The Russell Wilson injury on Thursday night rocked the fantasy community. Wilson has not missed a game due to injury throughout his college or professional career. After Wilson injured his finger, he played a little but it was obvious something was off. The television close-up shots showed enough that the injury was substantial. At first, the team thought it was a badly sprained finger. The X-Rays after the contest did not show a fracture so Wilson sought consultation with hand specialist Dr. Steven Shin. Dr. Shin diagnosed the injury as two-fold: 1) mallet finger (extensor tendon rupture) at the DIP joint (near the tip of the finger) and 2) a fracture-dislocation at the PIP joint (middle of the finger). He is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks. Ian Rapoport tweeted Sunday morning, “From @GameDay Kickoff: #Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is targeting Week 10 against the #Packers to return, which would be best-case scenario after having 3 pins inserted into his middle finger for an impact fracture – one of two injuries on that finger.” By then, the Seahawks are likely to be far outside of playoff contention. Until Wilson returns, it will be veteran Geno Smith at the helm. After Wilson exited, Smith completed 10-of-17 passes for 131 yards, one touchdown, and a pick. The irony with Geno Smith is deep for New York Jets fans as he is the team’s former quarterback and New York holds Seattle’s next year’s first-round pick from the Jamal Adams trade. The Jets are cheering for Smith to play poorly. Further complicating the situation, Wilson is expected to ask for a trade again this coming offseason.
Last week, Ian Rapoport reported that Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield suffered a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder against the Houston Texans in Week 2. Per Rapoport, Mayfield can play through the injury without surgery. This injury could explain Mayfield’s struggles this season. In deep or SuperFlex leagues, Case Keenum is a player to stash as the Browns have a solid offense.
After weeks of pronouncing Andy Dalton the unquestioned starting quarterback, Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy finally announced Justin Fields as the starter moving forward. He is making this change trying to keep his job, not through conviction in Fields. The switch in play-calling duties to Bill Lazor helped Fields in Week 4 and there is hope for the youngster. He looks the part and will need experience. The Bears beat the Raiders, even without strong play from the rookie.
The Saquon Barkley ankle injury looked gross Sunday. It occurred when he stepped on the foot of a defender. The injury is similar to a basketball ankle sprain where it balloons up after taking off the shoe and looks worse than it really is. Barkley was on crutches after the game, but thankfully, X-Rays were negative for a fracture. We expect him back in three or four weeks. Until then, expect Booker to lead the Giants running game.
Antonio Gibson told reporters last week that he has a stress fracture in his shin, but has been able to play through it so far. This explains a lot as he has not looked like the 2020 version. The issue for Gibson and the Football Team is that it will limit his fantasy upside while posing a risk of missing the remainder of the season at any given time. Further, this is the type of injury that will not go away without surgery or long-term rest. He will get neither while playing every week. In shallow leagues, see if J.D. McKissic is available on the waiver wire or cheap. He could be a season-winning addition.
One of our sleepers for 2021 was Tennessee Titans tailback Darrynton Evans. He is slated to return from injured reserve in the next week or so. With the targets Jeremy McNichols is racking up, Evans could be a flex starter most weeks, even with Derrick Henry healthy. If the bruising Henry ever misses time, Evans could step into a massive workload.
The New Orleans Saints offense is a mess. The team cannot find a consistent running passing attack. After letting Latavius Murray go in the preseason, Tony Jones was expected to step into a large role as Alvin Kamara’s complement. Jones injured his ankle last week and should miss another two or three games. Picking up Saints tailbacks is ill-advised as Taysom Hill vultures too many red-zone carries. It is best to sit this one out and let your league mates fight over the Saints’ scraps.
Beat reporter, Ray Fittipaldo, was the first to give an update on Steelers star receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. He tweeted Sunday afternoon, “Tomlin said Smith Schuster is being evaluated at the hospital for his shoulder. Monday, Adam Schefter confirmed the bad news, “ Steelers’ WR JuJu Smith-Schuster dislocated his shoulder, is undergoing surgery later this week and is expected to be sidelined about four months, which likely would end his season, per source.” This is a rough outcome for the young pass catcher. He signed a one-year deal last offseason and will be entering free agency coming off an injury and lower numbers than desired with the Pittsburgh offense floundering.
When Jerry Jeudy first suffered the high-ankle sprain early in the season, the prognosis was a 4-to-6-week absence. We, in the fantasy community, are optimists so we saw it as a 4-week absence. Coach Vic Fangio told reporters last week that he “hopes” Jeudy will is able to return after missing six weeks. This would mean he can return in the next few weeks. The Broncos have a banged-up receiving corps with K.J. Hamler out for the year and even Courtland Sutton gimpy with an ankle injury he suffered in last week’s practice.
If it is not one thing, it is another for Miami Dolphins receiver Will Fuller V. He started the season on suspension and has suffered through hamstring and chest/ribs injuries before breaking his finger in last week’s game. The Dolphins placed Fuller on injured reserve so he will miss at least three games. At least he will have Tua Tagovailoa back under center when he returns.
Quintez Cephus has been the best receiver for the Detroit Lions this season. Not much was said about him after the game but Tom Pelissero tweeted an update Monday, “#Lions WR Quintez Cephus suffered a broken collarbone Sunday, source said. It'll be an extended absence and potentially season-ending for Cephus, who has been a bright spot in Detroit's challenging start.” As though Jared Goff’s job was not already difficult enough. Cephus makes for a solid “buy” if he misses significant time. The youngster is a player.
As though the Seattle Seahawks were not impaired enough by the Russell Wilson injury, rookie receiver Dee Eskridge was placed on injured reserve last week. This is a team in a bad spot with a losing record, playing in a tough division, and now without the All-Pro quarterback. We were hoping to see the youngster this season.
The Houston Texans seem to enjoy throwing away draft picks for some unknown reason. A few weeks after giving the Chicago Bears a fifth-round pick for Anthony Miller and a sixth-round pick, the team released Miller. Getting dumped by the Texans is about as low as it can be so there must be something going on. Miller has on-field talent and can make plays. He was signed to the Jacksonville practice squad Monday but is getting a look for the Steelers active roster with Smith-Schuster out for the season.
Jacksonville offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell told reporters last week that Laviska Shenault Jr will have a bigger role in the offense with D.J. Chark Jr sidelined for the season with a fractured ankle. This did not play out against the Titans. Shenault was not used in the slot enough, a place where he flourishes. Chark is now on injured reserve after getting carted off the field a couple of Thursdays ago in the game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Stud beat reporter Matt Maiocco broke news on San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle last Saturday, “Source: #49ers are placing TE George Kittle on injured reserve due to his calf injury.” He was replaced on the field by Ross Dwelley against the Arizona Cardinals but it did not matter as quarterback Trey Lance did not play especially well. He will miss two more games and can return for the Week 9 contest against the Cardinals in the rematch.
Monday morning, Ian Rapoport tweeted an update on Arizona Cardinals tight end, Maxx Williams, “#AZCardinals TE Maxx Williams is feared to have suffered a major, season-ending knee injury on Sunday, source said. Williams, who has emerged as an important target for QB Kyler Murray, took a hard shot to his right knee and was quickly ruled out.” We expect the undefeated Cardinals to trade for a tight end. Jimmy Graham and Zach Ertz come to mind as trade targets.
Beat reporter Gene Frenette tweeted last week, “Meyer says he loves TE Dan Arnold, did well in limited role vs. Bengals.” This is something to keep in mind as Arnold’s role grows in the Jacksonville offense. He has a shot to be a fringe fantasy TE1 as the season progresses. Arnold is already well-incorporated in the Jaguars offense and will see his role increase. He had eight targets against Tennessee and could approach 10 targets weekly.
Beat reporter Mike Klis broke news last Saturday, “Per source, Broncos are placing TE Albert Okwuegbunam on short-term IR (hamstring). Out minimum three games. He clears roster spot for CB Ronald Darby who will be activated off IR (hamstring). #9sports.” Okwuegbunam is a good receiver and is missed in the lineup with the plethora of injuries to the wide receivers. He also will be fantasy-viable if Noah Fant were to miss action with injury as the season progresses.
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