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.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold started the season on fire, but has not played well of late. Darnold fractured his scapula in Week 9 and is expected to miss four-to-six weeks, according to coach Matt Rhule. He was placed on injured reserve late last week. Sunday morning, Adam Schefter tweeted, “Carolina Panthers operating as if Sam Darnold will be out for the season while giving Cam Newton a chance to win the 2022 starting job, per sources.” P.J. Walker has been his backup this season. An ex-XFL star, Walker has not shown well this season. So, with playoff hopes slipping, the Panthers signed Cam Newton Thursday. Playing a reduced role, he helped Carolina deliver an upset win over the Arizona Cardinals. We expect Newton to face his former coach, Ron Rivera, and the Washington Football Team in Week 11. While he was unspectacular in New England, Newton represents a material upgrade for the Carolina skill-position players.
Last week, we discussed the possibility of Washington Football Team quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick returning this season. Sunday morning, Ian Rapoport ended all speculation with a tweet, “Washington Football Team QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is not expected to return this season because of the hip injury he suffered in September, sources say.” The injury occurred in Week one against the Los Angeles Chargers. Fitzpatrick is a free agent after the season and the team must decide the future of Taylor Heinicke. If the season ended today, the Football Team would be well-positioned for a top quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft. But, to his credit, Heinicke played well in the upset victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday.
Green Bay Packers star tailback, Aaron Jones, went down with a knee injury in the third quarter of the victory over the Seattle Seahawks. He was quickly declared out for the remainder of the contest and was teary-eyed when exiting the blue medical tent on the Packers sideline. After the contest, he was reported to have a sprained MCL, pending further testing. Monday morning, Adam Schefter tweeted, “MRI revealed that Packers’ RB Aaron Jones has ‘a mild’ MCL sprain and he is expected to be out 1-2 weeks, per source.” Green Bay fans can exhale now. Jones will be back soon. The Packers have a bye in Week 13, so we expect the team to take a conservative approach and give Jones an extra week of rest before returning in Week 14. So, expect A.J. Dillon to have a prominent role the next two weeks against the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams. Dillon will get a heavy workload against these two teams as they are key for the team’s pursuit of the top-seed in the NFC playoff chase. Patrick Taylor appears to be Dillon’s backup.
After his negotiated release from the Cleveland Browns, Odell Beckham Jr signed with the Los Angeles Rams last Thursday. The Rams are loading up for a Super Bowl run. Ian Rapoport offered more context on Beckham’s contract when he tweeted, “The #Rams gave WR Odell Beckham Jr Jr a 1-year deal worth up to $4.25M, source said.
— $500K signing bonus
— $750K for the rest of the season
— Another $3M available in team-based incentives for how they finish the regular season and the postseason.” So, it is a $1.25-million deal with incentives. On the plus side, if he hits all of these incentives, Beckham will make more with the Rams than he would have if he had stayed in Cleveland. As for fantasy, we are hopeful Beckham can seamlessly transition to his new team. Jordan Schultz tweeted more clarity on the situation, “Sources: Odell’s final 2 teams came down to the #Rams and #Packers (who remained his preferred destination). Not once did OBJ feel like GB was all-in. On the flip side, he spoke w/Sean McVay, who was able to creatively detail the multitude of ways he’d maximize OBJ’s talents.” We expected Van Jefferson and Robert Woods to see diminished pass targets with Beckham in the lineup. But, Woods was injured on Friday. Per Adam Schefter, “Robert Woods hurt his knee at practice Friday. He went down, got up, finished practice, conducted interviews with the media after, nobody thought anything wrong…and then tests discovered later that he tore his ACL, per sources.” So, Woods got hurt on the same day his team signed Beckham. It is reminiscent of the “Even Steven” episode of “Seinfeld”. Van Jefferson will be the WR3 with Cooper Kupp and Beckham the main two pass-catchers. Woods is an unheralded blocker and will be missed more than most expect. He does the little things to help the offense.
The Julio Jones impact on the Tennessee Titans has been much less than expected. He has been hobbled for much of the season. Saturday, Ian Rapoport tweeted, “The #Titans have placed WR Julio Jones on Injured Reserve. He’s out three games.” Veteran Marcus Johnson stepped up in the victory over the New Orleans Saints as the defense was focused on stopping A.J. Brown. In the game, Johnson topped his season totals of receptions (5) and yards (100). He makes a speculative add in fantasy leagues with the Texans next up on the schedule.
Fantasy managers are anxious to see Tampa Buccaneers wideout Antonio Brown back on the field. Tom Pelissero tweeted an update on Thursday, “#Bucs coach Bruce Arians to me last night on @SiriusXMNFL on WR Antonio Brown, who hasn't played since an ankle injury in Week 6: ‘He’s got a bone spur that aggravated it. He was out of the boot (Wednesday). He was doing some walking exercises. We’ll see how that goes.’" After the easy win against the Washington Football Team this week, Tampa Bay will look to get the star receiver back in the lineup down the stretch.
When Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Chase Claypool left the Monday night game, his injury was feared to be season-threatening. Good news. Expect Claypool to only miss a few games. Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth will see expanded roles while Claypool is sidelined. Also, James Washington becomes a spot fantasy starter.
Josh Reynolds was full of promise when drafted by the Los Angeles Rams out of Texas A&M. He never lived up to the promise and was allowed to exit this offseason. Reynolds signed with the Tennessee Titans, hoping to fill the role voided by Corey Davis. It never materialized and was exacerbated by the acquisition of Julio Jones. Reynolds was waived by the Titans last week and was claimed by the Detroit Lions where he is reunited with quarterback Jared Goff and general manager Brad Holmes. The Lions have little talent so Reynolds could step into a larger-than-expected role.
In the heartbreaking loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Monday night, Chicago Bears tight end Cole Kmet seemed to emerge. The second-year player was heavily targeted down the stretch. Coach Matt Nagy said last week that Kmet has "taken that next step." Nagy said, “He’s at a point where I think you’re starting to see some more targets go his way … I love where he’s at. I love his mentality, and I think he’s going to keep growing.” With Justin Fields playing much better, Kmet is a player who could help fantasy managers win titles down the stretch.
As if the New York Jets did not have enough struggles, the team placed starting tight end Tyler Kroft on injured reserve last week with a chest injury. The team expects Kroft to miss approximately four games. In his stead, Ryan Griffin will get a few starts. With all the changes on offense, a viable fantasy tight end starter is unlikely to come from the Jets this season.
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