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.
An injury to monitor this week is the ankle injury to Miami Dolphins star passer Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa exited in the fourth quarter of Miami’s loss to San Francisco. Teddy Bridgewater was already ruled out with a knee injury, so Skylar Thompson entered the game and threw an interception on the next drive. Sunday night, Tom Pelissero tweeted an update, “#Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered an ankle injury late in today’s loss to the #49ers, could've returned to the game, per sources. The injury isn't believed to be significant, and Tua is expected to start next Sunday night vs. the #Chargers.” With Miami using so much RPO, Tagovailoa needs full mobility to execute the offense effectively. He is the catalyst for the explosive Dolphins offense, and a multi-game absence would hamper the team’s Super Bowl hopes.
Lamar Jackson left Sunday’s game in the first quarter of Baltimore’s victory over Denver. He was replaced in the lineup by Tyler Huntley, who also replaced Jackson in the lineup for four games last season. Coach John Harbaugh told reporters that Jackson’s injury was not season-ending, but expects the star quarterback in “days to weeks”. The injury is believed to be a knee sprain, with a more thorough prognosis coming later this week. For now, Huntley is expected to play a few games and offers weekly fantasy upside with his rushing prowess.
When Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford was concussed a few weeks ago, we did not expect him back on the field this season. Los Angeles has little to play for at this point. It was good to see Adam Schefter tweet last Friday that Stafford has cleared concussion protocol and is now just recovering from a neck injury. This was good news even though we did not expect Stafford back. He was later placed on injured reserve, effectively ending any hope of a 2022 return. Beat writer, Sarah Barshop, tweeted more about Stafford’s status, “Sean McVay said QB Matthew Stafford had a spinal cord contusion. McVay said it’s likely Stafford is done for the season.” The Rams are an aging team with possibly one more playoff run left. They will push all-in for a 2023 playoff run. Los Angeles cannot cut the 34-year-old passer as it would create a $20 million cap hit. So, unless Stafford retires, expect him to be the 2023 starter. He ends the season with a mediocre stat line of 2,087 passing yards and 10 touchdown throws against 8 interceptions. With Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson sidelined, too, there is very little reason to chase John Wolford. The good news is that this injury will allow Stafford time to address the elbow injury that limited him earlier in the season.
Monday morning, Ian Rapoport tweeted a surprise, “Sources: The #Panthers are expected to release QB Baker Mayfield. He'll hit waivers when it's finalized later today.” This is just a formality as Mayfield was not going to be back in Carolina next season so this allows him to potentially find a new home early. A team claiming him on waivers will need roughly $1.3 million in cap space. This is the time of year when cap space is scarce so some teams will not be in the running for Mayfield’s services. He could be an upgrade to many contenders’ backup quarterbacks.
Jimmy Garoppolo’s foot injury was gruesome to view as his ankle got caught under a Miami defender during a first-quarter sack. He was quickly carted to the locker room. Brock Purdy replaced Garoppolo in the lineup and led the 49ers to a victory over the Dolphins. After the game, Garoppolo was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a broken foot. This is a tough scenario for San Francisco as the team has Super Bowl aspirations and Garoppolo was playing well and making good decisions. With Trey Lance also lost for the season, it will be up to Purdy to lead the potent offense this season. Purdy finished the game with 210 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. He was the final pick (a seventh-rounder) in this year’s NFL Draft. Sunday morning, Ian Rapoport tweeted, “Back in 2023? The #49ers and QB Jimmy Garoppolo are both open to his return next season under the right circumstances, sources say. A scenario that seemed unfathomable a few months ago.” This was before the injury. Garoppolo’s return will be predicated on Purdy’s play. The rookie has a chance to play himself into Lance’s long-term backup. Garoppolo did his part, leading the team to a 9-3 record and high hopes for a deep playoff run. While limited with physical abilities, Garoppolo is a heady player who executes coach Shanahan’s offense the way the coach wants it. He may have a free-agent market in the offseason. Sunday night, Adam Schefter tweeted, “49ers are signing QB Josh Johnson off the Broncos practice squad and on to their 53-man roster, per sources. During his 13 years in the NFL, Johnson has been a member of 14 different teams, the most for a player in league history. This will be his third stint with the 49ers ... Josh Johnson was with the 49ers in 2014, again in 2020-2021, and is from Oakland. Now he’s back again.” For now, the rookie has San Francisco’s playoff hopes in his hands. He played well after Garoppolo left. If Purdy disappoints, Johnson could get a look. He has a history with Shanahan and knows the offense. There is also a chance that the 49ers try to claim Mayfield, but he does not seem like the type of quarterback that Shanahan covets.
As we have written several times, free agent Odell Beckham Jr is not a certain thing to play this season. Sure, he is making the rounds and visiting teams. But let’s remember that his timetable for return has been pushed back a few times. After tearing his ACL in the Super Bowl, many expected Beckham healthy by training camp. Ralph Vacchiano was the latest reporter to suggest the talented pass catcher may not make it back for the tail end of the 2022 season. Vacchiano covers the Giants, and his report arose from Beckham’s visit last week. He has torn the ACL twice in two years and is expecting a big payday. Per Vacchiano, Beckham is seeking a multi-year deal paying $20 million per season. Sure, he may get a contract that is in that range but lacking in guaranteed money. Ace beat reporter, Jordan Raanan, tweeted more context on Saturday, “Two things I think on OBJ situation from talking to people and observing:
- Odell wants to be a Giant. The lure of coming to NY, making it a home for his family, and winning in this city is enticing. There’s unfinished biz. It’s a matter of if the Giants want to pay him $$$ he wants.
- The OBJ deal is more about next year than this year. Even Saquon Barkley has said repeatedly that people need to be realistic. He’s coming back from a serious knee injury. No training camp, and no practice yet. It’s already December. Will take time to get in football shape.”
This echoes our thoughts that Beckham is unlikely to play this season but should be good to go for 2023. He visits Dallas this week so expect ample news reports in the coming days.
Ian Rapoport reported this weekend about another Denver Broncos injury, “Source: The #Broncos are placing WR K.J. Hamler on Injured Reserve after he had a setback with his hamstring. That’s a league-high 15 players currently on IR for Denver and the most money on IR, as well.” If the coaching and quarterback were not bad enough, the injuries have been brutal for the Broncos this season.
For those hoping for Philadelphia tight end Dallas Goedert to return for the fantasy playoffs, good news is on the way. Last week, Goedert told reporters that he hopes to return in Week 15 from the should injury that put him on the shelf. This will be the earliest Goedert is eligible to return. The other Eagles tight ends have yet to make a splash. Depending on how next week goes, there is a chance the team eases their star tight end back into the lineup.
As many fantasy playoffs commence, one injury that has not garnered much press this week was the knee injury of Cleveland tight end David Njoku. Njoku has played well, and hopes were high with Watson entering the lineup, but Browns coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters last week that Njoku is currently dealing with a different knee injury than the one from two weeks ago. He was working his way back to full health from an ankle injury when the first knee injury popped up. This is the time of the season when most players are nicked up. Njoku is a great long-term dynasty buy, as Stefanski loves using tight ends and the team has invested heavily in Njoku. The former first-round pick is still just 26 years of age and entering his prime with a big quarterback upgrade coming his way.
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