Here we are at last! It’s time to find out how many of our decisions were good ones. After that, we will turn our attention to covering for the ones that were not. The goal for this week, though, is to get off to a good start.
It has been a fairly quiet stretch since the last preseason games, but there are a few interesting happenings to be aware of. This is what I’ve seen.
The biggest news of the last two weeks is probably the trade that sent Isaiah Simmons to the Giants. From an IDP perspective, the move could have a bigger impact in New York. As for the Cardinals, it removes any possible doubt about Budda Baker and/or Jalen Thompson. Thompson, in particular, slid a lot further than he should have in many drafts.
The Cardinals claimed K’Von Wallace off waivers. With the release of JuJu Hughes, Wallace should be the backup at both positions.
The team will be without Myjai Sanders to start the season. He landed on IR while recovering from a hand injury. He is expected to return at some point but will miss at least four games.
Keep an eye on seventh-round pick Demarco Hellams. He had an impressive preseason, proving himself as both a dependable run defender and a playmaker on passing downs. There has been some speculation that Hellams could have a role early on, but it would likely take an injury to either Jessie Bates or Richie Grant to make Hellams relevant this season.
The fantasy impact is minimal, but Baltimore’s defense took a hit when Tyus Bowser landed on the Non-Football injury list to start the season. That makes Jadeveon Clowney the team’s best, or at least most proven, edge defender for at least the first four games.
It was expected that Von Miller would not be ready for the start of the season. There is now concern that he might not be ready by week five when he’s eligible to come off the PUP list. Between that news and the team shipping Carlos Basham to the Giants, things could be looking up for Greg Rosseau, Leonard Floyd, and maybe even A.J. Epenessa. The number of players in the edge rotation was a limiting factor for IDP value with Buffalo defensive ends last year. For as long as it lasts, these three guys should see a bigger share of the snaps than they did previously.
The Panthers played a lot of defensive starters in the third preseason game, including the entire secondary. What they showed over those few series was good news for those with Jeremy Chinn. He continued to work as the third safety in big nickel looks. The good news is that Carolina uses a lot more of that personnel package.
The team started Deion Jones and Kamu Grugier–Hill at li9nebacker against the Lions. It appears that was been the final opportunity for both in a battle for the last linebacker spot on the roster. Jones lost and was released. The Panthers cleared the water a little at safety with their final cuts as well, parting ways with Eric Rowe.
Joseph Ossai suffered a high ankle sprain a couple of weeks ago and is not expected to play in week one. The reality is that Ossai could miss a few weeks with this injury. While he is out, rookie first-round pick Myles Murphy should slide into the rotation, spelling Trey Hendrickson.
We haven’t even started the season, and the Browns already have injury issues. Jacob Phillips is on IR, and they have six starters battling injuries. Among them are Myles Garrett with a sore foot and Grant Delpit with an arm issue. Both starting corners could show up on the injury report as well. Greg Newsome has been dealing with a sore groin since mid-August, and Denzel Ward remains in concussion protocol less than a week before the game. Ward was out of practice on Monday, stirring concern for his availability versus Cincinnati.
Dallas placed rookie DeMarvion Overshown (knee) on IR and, somewhat surprisingly, parted ways with Jibril Cox among their final cuts. That leaves a clear picture of Damone Clark joining Leighton Vander Esch as the starting linebackers. What we need to see in week one is if either of them stays on the field in all of the sub-packages. Dallas was one of the few teams to have no linebacker, with an 80% share of the playing time in 2022.
Donovan Wilson is working his way back from a calf injury. He began practicing on a limited basis on August 31st and should be available to face the Giants.
In the last EOTG update, I noted that Tracy Walker was working with the backups while rookie Brian Branch sat out with the starters. Shortly after that update was posted, we learned what is going on in the Detroit secondary. C.J. Gardner Johnson has been moved to full-time strong safety, making room for Branch to play the slot. Look for Branch to have a role similar to the one that made L’Jarius Snead and Patrick Ramsey IDP stars last year. This news does nothing to hurt the value of Gardner Johnson. If anything, it could serve to make him a little more consistent.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers expect to have Rashaan Gary in uniform for week one, but they plan to ease him back into action after the knee injury. Gary will be on a pitch count early in the year.
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