The NFL’s regular season continues to draw near and while many were focused on Monday’s solar eclipse, fantasy footballers were busy making final preparations for their upcoming drafts. Here’s the latest news from around the league.
In a surprise move, veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin announced his retirement from the NFL after 14 seasons with the Cardinals, Ravens, 49ers, Lions and, ever so briefly, the Bills. Boldin may never point out the exact reason he’s decided to call it a career just a little shy of two weeks with the team, but who can really blame him. During his short time in Buffalo, the Bills dealt away top receiver Sammy Watkins and top cornerback Ronald Darby in a clear move towards the future. Although Boldin was set to earn all the snaps and targets he could handle, the typical veteran in Boldin’s shoes simply wants to win, and that clearly wasn’t happening with the Bills in 2017.
Now, Buffalo is left with an injured Jordan Matthews and rookie Zay Jones as the projected top wideouts, both fitting more of a slot receiver role. Mix in the fact that the team is nearly manufacturing a quarterback controversy between incumbent Tyrod Taylor and rookie Nathan Peterman and the Bills once again look doomed for the short-term.
Giants Get a Scare
The final game of Week Two of the preseason pitted the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns and the Giants came out on the short end, in more ways than one. Not only did they lose the game, but the team’s top two receivers were both forced from the game in the first half and needed X-rays. Most notably, WR Odell Beckham took a nasty shot to his knee area from the Cleveland defender and struggled to get off the field. He was seen limping and repeatedly kneeling as he made his way towards the locker room. Eventually, Beckham was cleared of a concussion and X-rays on his ankle came back negative, though the team did announce OBJ’s injury as a sprained ankle. Beckham will require further tests, but was seen walking without struggle on the sideline in the second half. This should be a good sign. We don’t know nearly as much about the veteran Marshall, who required an X-ray after evidently suffering a shoulder injury. It is unclear when the injury occurred or how serious it is, but the former Jet would be a major loss for the G-Men.
Siemian Claims the Job
Although it’s not much of a surprise at this point, the Denver Broncos made things official Monday, naming Trevor Siemian the team’s starter in what was referred to as a “permanent decision.” The former seventh-round pick has now claimed the starting job over disappointing first-rounder Paxton Lynch in back to back seasons and it is fair to wonder if Lynch is simply a bust. The Broncos will likely be looking for QB help next off-season barring major improvement from Siemian this year.
Fournette Still Out
Jaguars rookie RB Leonard Fournette remains sidelined with a mysterious foot injury and has already been ruled out for the team’s Week Three preseason game. Fournette claims he will be ready for Week One of the regular season, but this is becoming concerning for fantasy owners who invested high draft capital into the rookie back.
Eagles Backfield Shakeup?
The Eagles brought in former Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount, who led the league in rushing touchdowns a season ago, to add some stability and power to the depth chart. Instead, Blount has struggled through preseason action and now some concerns regarding his weight are coming to the forefront. There are even rumors Blount might not make the team’s final 53-man roster. These issues have opened the door for second-year back Wendell Smallwood to move up the depth chart and he could even win the starting gig by default. I continue to look for veteran Darren Sproles to be the top fantasy producer, at least in PPR leagues, but Smallwood could be worth a shot late in drafts.
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Bell Back Soon?
A new report suggests Steelers star RB Le’Veon Bell will return to the team and end his holdout soon after the team’s Week Three preseason game. This would mean he would miss all of training camp and all four preseason games, considering starters almost never see action in the preseason finale, but there is still little reason to worry about Bell. Despite his extended absence from the team, fantasy players have remained confident he would be there when it counted, making him a top two pick in the majority of drafts.
I already mentioned Fournette showing confidence that he would be on the field for Week One, but he’s not alone. Injured receivers Marqise Lee of the Jaguars and new Bills WR Jordan Matthews each also suggested they expected to be ready to go by Week One. Also, WR Mike Wallace mentioned he expects his QB Joe Flacco to be ready for Week One. … Cardinals WR John Brown (quad) returned to practice on Monday. … Based on Jets HC Todd Bowles recent comments, the team is not certain veteran RB Matt Forte (hamstring) will be ready by Week One. This could be big news for Bilal Powell. … Lions TE Eric Ebron, battling a hamstring injury, remains out of practice. He’s missed nearly three weeks of action. … Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins has missed over a week of practice due to a hand injury, though it is reportedly not considered serious. … The Redskins activated Jordan Reed (toe) from the PUP list. … Chiefs rookie RB Kareem Hunt “tweaked” his ankle in the team’s game against the Bengals, but HC Andy Reid didn’t seem concerned.
Rams rookie WR Cooper Kupp continues to play well, putting himself in the running for a starting job across for new Ram Sammy Watkins. Kupp caught six balls for 70 yards and a touchdown in Week Two. … Bruce Ellington hasn’t been with the Texans long, but he is making a quick impact. He hauled in four passes for 93 yards and could steal a roster spot from an underperforming WR. … Rams QB Jared Goff also looked good last week, something we can rarely say. He threw for 160 yards and the touchdown to Kupp, giving fantasy players a glimpse of hope for the Rams offense under new HC Sean McVay. … Colts rookie RB Marlon Mack made some big plays, totaling 59 yards on just seven touches. He might be the playmaker the team has needed for years to pair with the reliable Frank Gore. … While Patriots RB Mike Gillislee continues to miss time with an injury, another new face in the backfield is making an impact. Former Bengal Rex Burkhead, an Evan Silva favorite, racked up 70 yards and a score on ten touches, playing a very active role in the passing game. … Rookie RB Christian McCaffrey continues to impress as he rolled to over 70 yards and a score on five touches. Veteran Jonathan Stewart continues to see the majority of the early down work, which could limit McCaffrey’s volume in the early going. … A pair of young Seahawks players have impressed. WR Kasen Williams once again popped, this time with the first-teamers. He found the end zone, along with a 2/28 stat line. Also, rookie RB Chris Carson isn’t letting a crowded backfield slow him down, rushing for 27 yards on six carries, adding a reception for 17 yards. With none of the big names ahead of him staking claim to the job, Carson makes for a tough cut as roster decisions loom.
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