August 31st Fantasy Football Stock Update

RB Steven Jackson UP

Isaiah Pead has failed to lock down the #2 back job behind Steven Jackson. He will split the role with follow rookie Daryl Richardson. This is good and bad news for Jackson’s fantasy stock. The good news is that there’s no immediate threat to his workload and he should see the type of carries he’s used to so long as he’s healthy and running well. The bad news is that there’s no obvious handcuff should he get hurt so you’re taking a big risk with Jackson that he doesn’t get hurt or decline. History suggests he might have one more good year in him so he’s worth that risk in a weak running back class outside of the top-10 backs.

RB Isaiah Pead DOWN

Pead failed to win the #2 back job behind Steven Jackson. He’ll split the role with Daryl Richardson. Pead is undraftable right now as is Richardson, but if Jackson does get hurt, it’s worth monitoring them. The Rams will run a lot so there might be enough carries to go around for one or both to emerge as a startable fantasy player in that situation.

WR Nate Washington DOWN

Kenny Britt will only be suspended 1 game. With Britt back and Kendall Wright coming in, Washington almost definitely won’t have another 1000 yard season, but he’s improved from 2010 as a football player and his quarterback situation has been upgraded so even if he has fewer targets than in 2010, he should exceed his 2010 production. He’s a nice late round “handcuff” for Britt because he’ll see plenty of targets should Britt get hurt again.

WR Kenny Britt UP

I’ve maintained all along that Britt has the ability to be a top-10 wide receiver with Jake Locker throwing him the football. He has caught 56 passes for 1146 yards and 12 touchdowns over his last 13 full games over the last 2 seasons. Now he’s only getting suspended 1 game and should be healthy enough for a starter’s workload by week 2. He might not become a top-10 receiver this year with the uncertainty about the knee and the one game he’ll miss, but he definitely has the upside and he’s worth the risk as a WR2/flex type in the early mid rounds.

TE Jason Witten UP

Jason Witten will reportedly be a game time decision for week 1 as he tries to come back from a lacerated spleen suffered a couple of weeks ago. This is much better news than his original prognosis, which was doubtful for week 1. At the very least, this news should mean that he’ll be in the starting lineup week 2.

An incredibly consistent producer, Witten has between 64 catches for 754 yards and 96 catches for 1145 yards in every season since 2004 and is averaging 5.16 catches for 59.07 yards and 0.31 touchdowns per game in that time period. Over 15 games, that’s 77 catches for 886 yards and 5 touchdowns. That’s not a bad year at all. You can safely draft him as your TE1 in fantasy. Even if he misses one game, tight end is a deep enough position that you can pick someone up off waivers for just one game and get decent production.

RB Jonathan Stewart UP

Jonathan Stewart’s ankle injury seems to be nothing. It looked bad when he was on crutches after the game, but he’s unlikely to miss any regular season time. I’ve put his original projections back.

RB DeAngelo Williams DOWN

Jonathan Stewart’s ankle injury seems to be nothing. It looked bad when he was on crutches after the game, but he’s unlikely to miss any regular season time. I’ve put Williams’ original projections back as well.

RB Isaac Redman DOWN

For more on the Steelers’ backfield situation, click here.

RB Jonathan Dwyer UP

For more on the Steelers’ backfield situation, click here.

RB Rashard Mendenhall DOWN

For more on the Steelers’ backfield situation, click here.

RB Tim Hightower DOWN

Tim Hightower was cut by the Redskins today. He may get signed fairly quickly, but it appears he’s just not the same player he was before his ACL tear and he’s unlikely to get signed anywhere where he can make a draftable fantasy impact. Take him off your board if he was on it.

RB Alfred Morris UP

Alfred Morris is the biggest beneficiary from the Hightower release. Morris was the only one of the Redskins’ 3 remaining running backs to be held out of the preseason finale this week. This is notable because Shanahan, like many other coaches, held out all of his starters. It looks like Morris was being preserved for a week 1 start. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee anything more than that with Mike Shanahan, but if you put a gun to my head and made me pick one of the Redskins’ 3 running backs, Morris would be the one.

RB Evan Royster UP

Royster also gets a stock up with Hightower being released simply because there’s less cooks in the kitchen, but Royster did play in the finale with the 2nd and 3rd team, so it doesn’t look like he won’t be the week 1 starter, but he could easily get a bunch of starts this season. He’s worth a late round flier, if you don’t mind week to week uncertainty.

RB Roy Helu UP

Helu would seem to be 3rd on the Redskins’ running back depth chart as of right now. Not only did he play in their final preseason game, but he didn’t see much action early in the game with the 2nd team. The Redskins have expressed their doubt in him as a lead back and see him more as a change of pace back, though for what it’s worth, he’s the best pass catching back remaining on the roster now that Hightower got cut. He could also get a few starts knowing Shanahan, but I’d rank him 3rd of the Washington running backs right now.

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Bengals sign Jeff Faine as insurance for Kyle Cook

After center Kyle Cook saw a foot specialist early in the week, the Bengals brought in Jeff Faine for a visit as insurance for Cook, whose initial prognosis did not look good. After the Bengals signed Faine, Cook’s prognosis isn’t looking any better. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, “indications are” he’ll miss a “large amount of time,” possibly even the whole season.

Cook had a down year last season after signing a 4 year, 14 million dollar extension last offseason, but he was ProFootballFocus’ 10th rated center in 2011 and he’s overall had a solid career. He’ll definitely be missed, especially if the replacement is Jeff Faine. Faine was released by the Buccaneers in March and tellingly hadn’t made a single other visit this offseason. Though I suppose the move was necessary because their other option was 2010 7th round pick Reggie Stephens, who had yet to play an NFL snap. The Bengals don’t really seem to believe in him.

Faine is heading into his age 31 season and was ProFootballFocus’ 31st ranked center out of 35 last season, especially struggling as a run blocker. The Bengals have also lost left guard Travelle Wharton for the season and 2011 4th round rookie Clint Boling will start in his absence. He played just 172 snaps last season and really struggled. Injuries on the interior offensive line are yet another reason why the Bengals will regress off their 9-win season this year.

If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (standard league, draft day Sunday at 3 PM ET, 2 spots left). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2

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Steelers’ rookie Sean Spence tears ACL, LCL, and dislocates kneecap

This is not a good year to be a Steelers rookie. 1st round selection David DeCastro tore his MCL last week and 3rd round selection Sean Spence tore his ACL, LCL, and dislocated his kneecap in the Steelers’ final preseason game. Unlikely DeCastro, who will be kept on the roster in hopes of playing in December and later, Spence looks like an obvious candidate for IR, which means we won’t see him at all today.

What originally looked like a very strong draft class for the Steelers has taken some hits. DeCastro and Spence have been hurt, while 2nd round pick Mike Adams really struggled on the blindside this preseason. DeCastro should be fine long term, but Spence is an undersized player at 5-11 231, so he can’t afford to lose any speed. A favorite of mine during draft season for his speed, coverage abilities, and hustle, Spence was ticketed for a big special teams role as a rookie and could have emerged as a coverage linebacker later in the season. With marginal starting middle linebacker Larry Foote heading into his age 33 season in 2013, middle linebacker will be a primary need of the Steelers’ this offseason.

If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (standard league, draft day Sunday at 3 PM ET, 2 spots left). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2

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Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson to split backup duties for Rams at running back

The St. Louis Rams used a 2nd round pick on Isaiah Pead in the 2012 NFL Draft, but it’s a different rookie running back who has outperformed him this preseason and Training Camp, Daryl Richardson, a 7th round pick out of Abilene Christian University. In the preseason, Richardson rushed for 126 yards on 31 carries, as opposed to 108 yards on 35 carries for Pead, who has reportedly frustrated the coaching staff with his unwillingness to run north/south. As a result, according to Fox Sports Midwest, the pair of rookies will split backup duties behind Steven Jackson.

It’s good news for Steven Jackson that Pead was unable to pose a serious threat to his workload. Definitely getting into the twilight of his career, Jackson is 29 years old and has 2138 career carries. However, he’s a very talented back and history suggests that he might have one more good season in him. I did a study on how elite running backs age. I took all of the top-25 all-time leading rushers who have played in the last decade and found that the average one has his last 1000 yard season in his age 30 season at 2602 carrier carries. Jackson currently 32nd all time in rushing yards and 1180 yards outside of the top 25 so he fits in this class of players, though I’d call him slightly below the average of the group. It wouldn’t be ridiculous and unprecedented for him to have one more big season.

However, it’s also possible he won’t and the fall could be hard for him. After the players in my study had their final 1000 yard season, they average just 169 carries per season at 3.5 yards per carry and just 5 touchdowns, so they’re really a non-factor as a back. If that happens, the Rams better hope that Pead and Richardson can be ready for significant snaps. In fantasy leagues, Jackson does have some upside outside of the first 3 rounds because of how weak this year is for running backs, but he’s got a clear downside and there’s no true handcuff for him anymore with Pead and Richardson sharing backup duties. This news is good news for his fantasy value because as long as he’s healthy, he should get the kind of workload he’s used to, but also bad because, if he gets hurt, there’s no obvious pickup to replace him with.

If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (standard league, draft day Sunday at 3 PM ET, 2 spots left). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2

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Ankle injury to Chiefs’ Derrick Johnson could be “significant”

Already missing Tamba Hali for the opener with suspension, this is not what the Chiefs wanted to hear. According to the Kansas City Star, the ankle injury suffered by Derrick Johnson in the Chiefs’ preseason finale “could be significant” and he could be “doubtful” for week 1. It’s head scratching why Johnson was even out there in a game normally reserved for well…reserves. Missing Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson would obviously be a big loss for them week 1. Hali was ProFootballFocus’ 4th ranked rush linebacker last season and responsible for 12 of the team’s 27 sacks, while Derrick Johnson ranked 4th at middle linebacker. Without those two, their depth at linebacker is awfully suspect.

They may find themselves overmatched defensively against a Falcons offense that has looked incredibly explosive this preseason. Matt Ryan is completing 75% of his passes for an average of 9.2 YPA and 3 touchdowns to 1 interception in the preseason this year and looks poised for a breakout year in a new downfield offense, surrounded by explosive weapons like Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez. The Chiefs don’t have the type of offense that can play well from behind so if the Falcons are able to open this up into a shootout, it could be game over for this team week 1.

If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (standard league, draft day Sunday at 3 PM ET, 2 spots left). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2

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Cowboys’ Jason Witten to be game time call week 1

Though original reports said he’d be doubtful, the Cowboys now feel that Jason Witten will be a game time call for their week 1 clash against the Giants next Wednesday, according to the Cowboys’ official website. Witten lacerated his spleen in the Cowboys’ 2nd preseason game against the Raiders, but took it easy for a few days and it healed without surgery. Witten is now trying to work his way back for the Cowboys’ early week 1 game and it sounds like things are going well. Witten, one of the toughest and most durable players in the league, hasn’t missed a game since 2003, his rookie year, when he missed only one game with a broken jaw.

Even if Witten doesn’t end up suiting up week 1, this is very good news. It very likely means that Witten will miss one game max and it sounds like he will almost definitely be out there week 2, actually 11 days after their week 1 opener against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. An incredibly consistent producer, Witten has between 64 catches for 754 yards and 96 catches for 1145 yards in every season since 2004 and is averaging 5.16 catches for 59.07 yards and 0.31 touchdowns per game in that time period. Over 15 games, that’s 77 catches for 886 yards and 5 touchdowns. That’s not a bad year at all. You can safely draft him as your TE1 in fantasy. Even if he misses one game, tight end is a deep enough position that you can pick someone up off waivers for just one game and get decent production.

If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (standard league, draft day Sunday at 3 PM ET, 2 spots left). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2

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Only a one game suspension for Titans’ Kenny Britt

Kenny Britt got suspended today, but he was probably pretty happy about it considering it could have been a lot worse. After getting arrested for the 9th time in his still brief NFL career (since 2009) this offseason, this time for DUI, some predicted a 4 game suspension was a strong possibility for Brett. However, Adam Schefter, who is almost always right, believed it would be a shorter suspension, in the neighborhood of 1-3 games. Britt has to feel lucky that his suspension was on the lower end of even that as Roger Goodell handed down a suspension of just one game for Britt today.

The Titans definitely lucked out here, especially since Britt probably wouldn’t have been able to full go for week 1 anyway after two offseason knee surgeries. Britt should be closer to full strength by week 2 and be able to handle a starter’s role, so they really aren’t going to be missing him for much more than they already would have. Britt was activated off the active/PUP list this week and began practicing.

He’s coming off a torn ACL and had 3 knee surgeries this offseason, but he has caught 56 passes for 1146 yards and 12 touchdowns over his last 13 full games over the last 2 seasons. Still not yet 24 (turns 24 in September), the former 1st round pick still has all the potential in the world. If he can get his act together, stay out of trouble, and stay healthy, Britt has the talent to be a top-10 receiver in the league, especially with Jake Locker throwing to him. Remember, his quarterbacks in the past have been Vince Young, Kerry Collins, and Matt Hasselbeck.

He probably won’t reach top-10 status this season, with the 1 game suspension and the knee injuries, but he could definitely have that kind of year in 2013 if things go right for him between now and then. For 2012, Britt is a WR2/Flex with upside and a steal in fantasy leagues at his current ADP in the 7th round (which I suspect is about to shoot up). As for the Titans as a whole, I feel the same way about them that I did about the Lions last season (for more on why, click here).

If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (standard league, draft day Sunday at 3 PM ET, 2 spots left). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2

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