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.
Late last week, Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy told reporters that rookie quarterback Justin Fields cracked some ribs in Week 11 and there is no timetable for his return. Fields will be out for another game or two. Andy Dalton played well in the come-from-behind Thanksgiving victory over the Detroit Lions. He will likely start again this week. At this point, Fields might be best to sit until next year. A new regime will be in place and – hopefully – ready to invest in the youngster’s success. He has flashed enough promise to attract young offensive-minded head coach candidates.
Dalvin Cook was already playing with a torn labrum in one shoulder and injured the other shoulder in the loss to the San Francisco 49ers. While the Vikings have been mum on Cook’s status, he is likely to miss a few games. Sure, he could try to play through the injury and risk further damage. Alexander Mattison would see the bulk of the snaps if Cook misses time. Also, keep an eye on Kene Nwangwu, a rookie who has impressed since returning from injured reserve. Minnesota is still in playoff contention and will try to get their star back on the field as soon as possible. The next three games are against the Lions, Steelers, and Bears, three very winnable games. If the Vikings can take care of business these next three weeks, garnering an 8-6 record, Cook’s presence would be needed in the remaining three contests against the Rams, Packers, and Bears to finish out the season. A 10-win season is not out of the realm of possibilities so Minnesota needs to be careful with Cook in the short term.
After just coming back from injury, Christian McCaffrey left the lopsided loss to the Miami Dolphins with his left foot in a walking boot. On Monday, the team announced he would miss the remainder of the season. Chuba Hubbard will see the bulk of the carries but do not discount the role of Ameer Abdullah. He will have a prominent role in the passing game. Since signing with the Panthers a few weeks ago, Abdullah has impressed the Carolina coaches. Abdullah will be fantasy-viable in deep leagues. Since joining the Panthers in Week 8, Abdullah has garnered 20 targets, only behind D.J. Moore (37) and McCaffrey (25). He will have a much larger role than most realize. As for McCaffrey, he is now on injured reserve and fantasy managers are left wondering if he can hold still up for an entire season. The jury is still out. Expect him to slide in dynasty rankings and redraft leagues in the offseason. Joel Corry tweeted interesting context for how we should view McCaffrey, “Christian McCaffrey was an ironman (92.3% offensive playtime in 2018 & 2019) prior to becoming the NFL's highest-paid running back in April 2020. Since then, he has only played 10 games.” There is upside as the Panthers will upgrade the quarterback position this spring and the organization has acquired great talent on both sides of the ball.
Beat reporter, Rich Cimini was the first to report that New York Jets rookie tailback Michael Carter II was placed on injured reserve Saturday with an ankle injury. He will miss at least the next two games. Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson, and recently-signed-from-the-practice-squad Austin Walter leading the running game in the victory over the Houston Texans Sunday. Walter makes an attractive stash as he had 10 touches, including a touchdown, in his first action. He is a 5-foot, 8-inch, 202-pound back from Rice. Given the limited ceiling of both Coleman and Johnson, Walter could emerge in the upcoming games against the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints.
The Houston Texans made the surprising choice to keep Rex Burkhead over Phillip Lindsay, and the latter was released. He was claimed off waivers by the Miami Dolphins last week and could threaten Myles Gaskin’s touches. With Malcolm Brown on injured reserve, the Dolphins have had a turnstile at the position. Duke Johnson Jr has been the RB2 the past few weeks but Lindsay seems poised to challenge for touches immediately. While Gaskin should be looking over his shoulder, it is concerning that Lindsay could not dent a weak Texans running back depth chart. As for the Texans, Burkhead is a player to stash down the stretch. David Johnson missed a few plays in the loss to the New York Jets. The depth chart is empty outside of Johnson and Burkhead.
Saturday, the Tennessee Titans placed superstar receiver A.J. Brown on injured reserve. He will miss the next three contests and can return in Week 15. For an offense already without Derrick Henry, Brown’s loss will be felt. We will learn about Julio Jones’ health very soon. He was placed on injured reserve a couple of weeks ago. Making matters worse, fellow receiver, Marcus Johnson, was placed on injured reserve last week, too. Johnson has had some big games. It will now be up to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Chester Rogers to carry the passing game. In desperation mode, the Titans signed Golden Tate to the practice squad. The Indianapolis Colts are within striking distance and the Titans will need to win a few games down the stretch without its marquee stars.
Monday morning, Ian Rapoport tweeted an update on Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Dan Arnold, “#Jaguars TE Dan Arnold suffered a grade 2 MCL sprain, sources say, knocking him out 4-6 weeks. Based on the calendar, the injury could be season-ending.” He will likely finish the season on injured reserve as there are only six more weeks left in the season and the team’s record should reinforce the decision to let him heal thoroughly before returning. In the meantime, James O'Shaughnessy will step back into the starting lineup. He has sneaky upside on a team void of playmakers in the passing game.
The New Orleans Saints offense misses quarterback Jameis Winston more than most predicted. The team played on Thanksgiving without tailbacks Alvin Kamara and the offense looked incapable of moving the ball consistently. A few days before that contest, starting tight end Adam Trautman was placed on injured reserve after spraining his MCL. Trautman is an intriguing fantasy prospect if New Orleans can solve the quarterback problem. Many thought Juwan Johnson would have been the player to replace Trautman in the lineup but it was veteran Nick Vannett who played. Vannett even caught a touchdown late in the contest. Vannett is not a fantasy option unless desperate.
As though the Pittsburgh Steelers were not inert enough on the offensive side of the ball, tight end Eric Ebron was placed on injured reserve last Saturday. Ebron has seen a decline in his level of play but still adds a weapon for the struggling Ben Roethlisberger. Rookie Pat Freiermuth caught a touchdown pass in the blowout loss to the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.
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