We scour the news around the NFL to bring you what matters most for 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 not meant to be an exhaustive look at all of the recent happenings around the league.
This past week, the Kansas City Chiefs locked up quarterback Alex Smith long term, adding four years and $68 million to his current deal. Smith was already slated to earn $8 million in 2014, so the $68 million is new money on top. This contract represents $45 million in guaranteed cash. The Chiefs brass is betting their collective future on the former first overall pick. This could be a huge mistake. While Smith is a better-than-average quarterback, fans must ask themselves whether he can lead the team to the Super Bowl. The odds are stacked against it ever happening. Yes, the team does have an elite tailback in Jamaal Charles and a solid defense. Yet, without a good wide receiver corps, expectations should be tempered. There is a legitimate chance Kansas City finishes third in the division and lacks the talent of Denver and San Diego.
In a long-expected move, the Houston Texans acquired quarterback Ryan Mallett from the New England Patriots in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2016. This trade reunited Mallett with former Patriots offensive coordinator and current Texans head coach, Bill O'Brien. Mallett's arrival meant a release for Case Keenum. This leaves Houston with Ryan Fitzpatrick, rookie Tom Savage, and Mallett as quarterbacks for the team. Fitzpatrick has been a disaster in training camp and preseason. This trade means Fitzpatrick is on an even shorter leash. Another way to view this trade is that Savage is not ready to contribute. If so, why would Mallett be needed? In the trade, Houston gives a minimal pick to take a chance on O'Brien's former pupil. Keep in mind that Mallett is a free agent after the season, which limited the Patriots' leverage. For a player known to many as a solid prospect, Mallett has attempted a whopping four regular season passes in his three years as a professional. Expect all three quarterbacks to start games this season. The Texans will want to know whether the position needs to be addressed in next year's NFL Draft.
A few weeks after Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kyle Orton retired because he did not want to play for Jerry Jones anymore, the veteran signed with the Buffalo Bills. Jones admitted as much when the team granted Orton his release. Ian Rapoport reported that Orton will make $5 million this season. This leaves fans and onlookers to ask why the team would pay Orton more than several NFL starting quarterbacks, just to back up EJ Manuel. The answer is an easy one: desperation. Buffalo now knows that Manuel is not the answer. Making matters worse is that the Bills gave up their 2015 first round pick in the deal to move up in the 2014 NFL Draft to acquire wide receiver Sammy Watkins. This means the team could be struggling to address its quarterback season for the next two seasons.
After initially doubting running back Doug Martin's ability in the passing game, the Tampa Bay coaching staff has reportedly changed their opinion. Let's remember that the team took Charles Sims with the 69th overall pick in May's NFL Draft. The passing game is a strength for the rookie. Sims is now out with an ankle injury until late in the season. Sure, Sims' injury may have forced the issue, but those who watched Martin in his rookie season know he is a solid pass blocker and pass receiver.
Beat writer Dan Graziano covers the New York Giants for ESPN. Graziano is well connected with the team, and its coaching staff. He reported this week that rookie tailback Andre Williams is "still a bit too raw for them to count on him extensively, at least at the beginning of the season." While this is very true, keep in mind that coaches are very good at using the media to motivate talented players to improve areas of their game. The Rashad Jennings owners see this quote and think Jennings' job is safe. The other way to view it is that once Williams improves in the passing game, he could overtake Jennings. The latter seems more likely. The rookie has looked very good as a runner in preseason. It will be very difficult for the coaching staff to keep him off the field.
In a report this past Monday, the Miami Herald reported that Knowshon Moreno is clearly the Dolphins' lead back over Lamar Miller. Considering Moreno missed much of training camp due to injury, this is more of an indictment on Miller than strong play of Moreno. For dynasty owners, both should be avoided unless very inexpensive. Miami has struggled running the football the past couple of seasons and that trend is expected to continue.
As noted above, coaches use the media to motivate underperforming, but talented, players. Another example of this was when Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine commented to the media about rookie tailback Terrance West. Pettine said, "Some guys kind of say, 'OK, I made it. I'm on the roster,' but to me, they need to accelerate, not decelerate." Transitioning from small school Towson, this should be expected. For now, ex-Texans tailback Ben Tate is the starter with West his backup. Also, undrafted rookie Isaiah Crowell made the roster after a strong preseason. This is a talented backfield and all three should see carries this season. Those believing in his talent should see this news on West, and possibly little use early in the season, as an opportunity to buy on him on the cheap.
This past weekend, New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr, Jr. is still be two or three weeks away from playing in a game. Beckham has suffered with hamstring injuries for most of training camp. It will be very difficult for him to contribute much the first half of the season. This means that Jerrel Jernigan will join Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle in the starting lineup. Quarterback Eli Manning needs to plays better for it to even matter. The veteran passer has been brutal in preseason after an abysmal 2013 campaign.
One of the better NFL team beat writers is Adam Teicher in Kansas City. Teicher reported that tight end Travis Kelce, and his ability for big plays, was the reason the team did not address the wide receiver position in the offseason. While we are very high on Kelce's future, this thought process is flawed. Donnie Avery is the WR2 and Frankie Hammond the WR3, behind Dwayne Bowe. Bowe is suspended for the first game of the season against the Tennessee Titans. So, the team gives the quarterback a ton of money yet cannot sign a moderately priced Kenny Britt or Emmanuel Sanders, and the reason given is because of faith in the backup tight end? Yes, Kelce will have some big games. But, keep in mind that he will share snaps with veteran Anthony Fasano.
Dynasty owners see upside in the Green Bay Packers tight end position. Jermichael Finley was able to be a solid fantasy contributor the past few seasons, before suffering the neck injury. One of the players in contention for the role this year is Brandon Bostick. However, Bostick broke his fibula and is shooting for a return to the field in week two. This means that rookie Richard Rodgers and Andrew Quarless will play on Thursday evening.
Injuries to monitor this week:
Montee Ball: Appendectomy
Ahmad Bradshaw: Neck
Marcus Lattimore: Knee, Hamstring
Allen Robinson: Hamstring
Aaron Dobson: Foot
Odell Beckham Jr: Hamstring
Rob Gronkowski: Knee
Jordan Cameron: Shoulder
Feel free to email me (Tefertiller@Footballguys.com) with feedback. Also, I am on Twitter (www.Twitter.com/JeffTefertiller), LinkedIn, and Google+, so you can ask me questions on one of these as well.