The NFL has finally returned and the daily news train is gaining serious speed with the preseason now underway and injuries hammering teams across the league. Thursday provided no shortage of noteworthy developments, as the Hall of Fame Game got the 2017 party started and the Miami Dolphins may have suffered a debilitating blow to their upcoming season. Buckle up as we break down news and notes from around the fantasy world in Friday’s Daily Dose.
Hall Of Fame Game Light On Big Names
In a 20-18 game that starred such illustrious quarterbacks as Blaine Gabbert and Kellen Moore, the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys broke the seal on the 2017 NFL season in the annual Hall of Fame Game. We didn’t get Dez, Dak, or David Johnson, but a healthy serving of Rico Gathers beats watching the Texas Rangers and Minnesota Twins battle on day 1,250 of the Major League Baseball season. Arizona was led by Gabbert’s 185 passing yards and tight end Ifeanyi Momah’s three grabs for 48 yards, while running backs Kerwynn Williams and Andre Ellington each found the end zone. No significant fantasy insight could be gathered from the Cardinals on this night, unless your local fantasy league is comprised of 46 teams and starts six tight ends.
The main piece of news from the Dallas side of this contest came from the Cowboys backfield. With studly running back Ezekiel Elliott possibly facing league discipline in coming weeks, the backup role behind the second-year back could be valuable in fantasy circles. Thursday night illustrated just how far Alfred Morris is from serving as Elliott’s potential fill-in, as Morris saw plenty of action in this game, handling seven carries for 42 yards. Breaking a preseason huddle alongside EZ Nwachukwu and Blake Jarwin isn’t a great look for a veteran running back, and further cements Darren McFadden’s place behind Elliott as the possible beneficiary in the event that the league office suspends Dallas’ offensive centerpiece. This situation will be heavily monitored at Rotoworld in coming weeks, so stay tuned.
Two Dallas receiving targets played noteworthy roles in the Hall of Fame Game, with Brice Butler leading the team with 78 yards on two catches. Butler has solid ability for a player who provides wide receiver depth in Dallas, but has very little chance to carve out significant targets in the Cowboys’ offense. The most intriguing performance of the night came from tight end Rico Gathers, a former collegiate hooper for the Baylor Bears. Gathers hauled in three passes for 59 yards and a score on the evening and with Jason Witten creeping ever closer to orthopedic shoes and a bingo hall, Dak Prescott could have himself an athletic weapon in the near future.
Tanny In Trouble
Getting through the month of August without suffering serious injury impact is nearly impossible for NFL teams, but the Dolphins were served with the worst injury scenario of all on Thursday as quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a non-contact knee injury in practice. Tannehill partially tore his left ACL last season and opted to skip surgery, a plan that backfired before Miami played a single preseason game.
Reports out of Miami regarding the severity of Tannehill’s injury put Dolphin fans on a roller coaster of emotion that will see more peaks and valleys as doctors continue to survey the situation and outline possible options for the Dolphins and their quarterback. Tannehill underwent an MRI on Thursday, but “Tannehill’s MRI result and perhaps even the player will be examined by more doctors before a final determination is made and a plan for recovery is drawn up,” according to the Miami Herald. While the inevitable news may be days in the distance, the likelihood of Tannehill starting under center in Week 1 can be considered all but non-existent at this point.
So, where does that leave us? Veteran Matt Moore still graces the Miami depth chart behind Tannehill and figures to get the first crack at the starting gig if the Dolphins do indeed need a replacement at quarterback. Moore played four regular season games in 2016, which included his first touchdown pass since 2012, before suffering a Wild Card Round defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers while Tannehill was out. Moore tossed nine touchdowns to four interceptions in five games including the playoff loss and was mostly adequate in his role as a backup quarterback shoved into a starting spot late in the season. Tannehill won’t confuse anyone for Drew Brees, so while the potential downgrade to Moore may ding the Miami skill players for fantasy purposes, their 2017 seasons may not be totally sunk. There is also the potential for Miami to sign a certain former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who may or may not have been in the news over the offseason. Time will tell which direction Tannehill and the Dolphins opt to go as Week 1 draws closer.
News and Notes
Rookie DeShone Kizer is reportedly close to drawing the start at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns in Week 1 of the preseason, which is worth watching as Hue Jackson tries to make sense of his quarterback depth chart. … With Will Fuller (collarbone) on the shelf, it appears that Braxton Miller will man the slot in Houston while Jaelen Strong plays outside opposite DeAndre Hopkins. There will be vacant targets as the season begins for the Texans and one of these players could scoop them up in a hurry. … Cincinnati rookie Joe Mixon could be in for a big workload right off the bat in 2017 according to Bengals.com. Mixon has all the skills to dominate the Cincinnati backfield and could easily be a first-round fantasy selection in 2018. … Washington running back Rob Kelley is “bigger and faster” according to coach Jay Gruden. Kelley will need to hold off rookie RB Samaje Perine in a preseason battle worth keeping tabs on. … Jordan Reed’s troublesome toe has reportedly been an issue since the 2016 season. Drafting Reed in fantasy leagues comes with a season-long sentence of monitoring injury reports and that will continue in 2017. … Latavius Murray (ankle, PUP) believes he is getting close to a return. Murray will need to hustle back before rookie Dalvin Cook sprints away with his workload. … Matt Forte has been out with a hamstring issue all week. Not good news for the aging running back or the future 1-15 New York Jets. … Rookie WR Corey Davis is scheduled to have an MRI after injuring his hamstring. More details to come.
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