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Wednesday Stampede

The first round of cuts have happened and teams have begun figuring out who will be able to contribute this year – as well as who they will try to sneak onto the practice squad.

A couple of straggling cuts:
Chiefs: waived OT Ken Shackleford and placed WR Kevin Robinson (knee) on the PUP list.
Lions: K Dave Rayner and DE Claude Harriott were released.
Redskins:re-signed LB Danny Verdun-Wheeler and waived WR Burl Toler.
Texans: placed OL Scott Jackson (foot) on injured reserve, ending his season.

Here’s this mornings round-up of news.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Rookie defensive lineman Derrick Harvey has finally signed and will report to camp. His 33 day holdout will probably kill any IDP value he had this year and while he will have a shot to start, probably will be rotated in and out of the game too much and have too steep a learning curve to contribute in a big way. Missing the whole of camp will set him back this year, though he will become an impact player down the road.

Baltimore Ravens
Let’s check the damage out at QB – Troy Smith has been out with tonsillitis. Joe Flacco is raw, with a big arm but much to learn. And now, according to the Carroll County Times , there is a fear that Kyle Boller could be done for the year with a fairly serious shoulder injury. The first set of MRIs taken don’t look good and if Boller goes down, some lucky journeyman QB may get a phone call. Vinny Testeverde anyone? Best bet is that if Troy Smith can get back on his feet, he’s the guy, but I don’t love this group of QBs and wouldn’t even want them as parts of a QBBC. Not thrilled with the WRs or Todd Heap either, in part because of this sort of stuff. Ray Rice may be the only fantasy option here and you can expect him to wear down towards he end of the season – assuming McGahee doesn’t just show up and take his job back.

Tennesse Titans
Everyone is talking about rookie Chris Johnson and the immediate impact he can have here this year and consequently, everyone is also talking a lot of gloom and doom regarding LenDale White. As we spoke about on last week’s Drive Block (and if you missed it, check it out on ITunes, or to the right of this column), it may not be a bad thing for White to split carries. I don’t think it will happen week 1 and furthermore, I don’t think Johnson’s strength is running between the tackles. White will get a lot more of those carries – Johnson will see a lot of his work on the outside and in the receiving game. Plenty of value for both. In fact, with that core of WRs, Johnson may end up splitting out wide more than the Titans are thinking right now.

Both are good fantasy options – Johnson as a marginal #2 or a #3 with huge upside and White as a #2 who may taper off later this season. And of course, if you’re looking to clear a buffet, well, White’s your #1 pick. (That was for Cecil.)

Indianapolis Colts
Is it time to get nervous? Had you been nervous already about Manning? No? Well then, suck on this: According to a report on the Associated Press, Manning won’t begin fully practicing until next Wednesday. While he’s been doing limited work the past week, he hasn’t been running them fully and certainly hasn’t had any contact.

It’s not as bad as it sounds. First of all, we’re talking Peyton freaking Manning – he could miss OTAs, minicamps, Preseason and most regular season practices and be just fine (excuse the hyperbole). Secondly, this is The Franchise here – they will handle him like a China Doll until they have to throw him into a game and be cautious with him. Now, will he miss Week 1? Maybe. And that’s why if you got Manning in your draft, it better be no earlier than the second and you’d better get a quality back-up – something you never had to worry about before. Don’t bother with Sorgi – he’s a mess. I think you need to be looking at someone at least in the Garrard area and I would be tempted to reach for a guy in the Roethlisberger range instead. Worst comes to worst, he’s quality trade bait. But if Manning takes an extra week or two, you will be happy you have him. Problem is, he’s goign to cause you to go too early for your backup.

And for that reason, this may be the year to let Manning pass you in the 2nd and go another direction.

Cleveland Browns
Derek Anderson’s concussion is still affecting him, according to Profootballtalk.com . Apparently he is still sensitive to light and feelign some other after effects. Not uncommon after getting your bell rung – I’ve had a few concussions and it can take a little while to get your head back together. He’ll sit this week – I’d say for sure, though the team is hedging – and could miss week 1. Watch Brady Quinn closely – if Anderson sits for Week 1, it could be a rough week for all the growing team of studs the Browns have: Edwards, Winslow, Lewis and even potential impact players like Donte Stallworth. We can only hope that Quinn is ready for Prime Time and that the O-line plays like I hope it will. I think the studs in Cleveland will play well with Quinn, but until I see more of him, he makes me extremely nervous. Completing 14 passes for 106 yards is ok, but he only put together one scoring drive and started out slow. He’s got work to do and as much as I was not sold on Anderson as joining the Elite Fantasy QBs, I know Quinn isn’t there yet. Still, he has the weapons and the tools. I wouldn’t play him – but I will gamble that he keeps Edwards & Co. valuable.

Carolina Panthers
We have a DJ Hackett sighting! Yes folks, the high-upside but oft-injured WR is running on the sidelines! Huzzah! He may even be ready for week 1! In all seriousness, the Panthers need him to be if they are going through with the Steve Smith suspension. He’ll start opposite Muhsin Muhammad during the two game sit-down and would have a great deal of value to start the season off. But once again, his health has been his downfall. Hackett is very talented but he just can’t stay on the field. I have loved his upside for several years but am now far too concerned with his injury history to rely on him, nor grab him as an overall #3 or 4 WR – if not just use him for bench depth. One day he may show us what he is capable of. But I have to say, I am dubious whether he will be able to sieze the opportunity before him early this season.

Grab him late – he has the upside – but be prepared to have him on the bench more often than your lineup.

That’s it for now – remember tonight at 9pm EST/6pm PST The Thundering Blurb Fantasy Football Podcast will be coming at you on BlogTalkRadio.com and we’ll catch you up on the news and notes going int othe final preseason games.

Back more later with news and some straggling cuts….

Thursday Morning Stampede

You can tell we’re getting to the end of camp and towards proper football when the news deluge becomes a trickle as it has the last few days.

Answers we are still waiting on:

  • Will Steven Jackson report? Owners in many drafts are banking on him not holding out but with conflicting reports about whether the sides are even talking, it makes me nervous. The longer this goes on without significant movement, the riskier a top 5 (maybe even 10) pick becomes.
  • Will Jason Peters report? I will say it again – an offensive tackle is just as integral to a good running game as anyone else involved. Peters is the best o-lineman in Buffalo and it’s bad enough he was holding out, but now the team is racked by injury. The value of Marshawn Lynch and that whole offense could hinge on Peters coming back to the fold but like Jackson, no real progress has been made.
  • How bad is the 49r QB situation? It looks pretty grim and what does that mean for Gore? Keep in mind that Gore has put up good numbers in awful offenses before. How much will Martz control the overall offense vs HC Mike Nolan? Does it matter who wins the job with that group?
  • Can Tarvaris Jackson progress? It probably won’t matter to Peterson that much, but should to the rest of the team. The Vikes are very close to Super Bowl status. If Jackson can take a significant leap forward, utilize Berrian and Rice to their potential and give Peterson even more room than the O-line does on a play-by-play basis – I would tap them as heading to Tampa Bay.
  • Will McFadden live up to the hype? People are still kicking themselves for undervaluing Peterson last year and so McFadden has occasionally gone way too early in drafts this year. Peterson was/is a freak and was in a much better situation O-line-wise than McFadden is. we;ve seen soem good play but what does it mean so early? It’d be nice to have been blown away but I am not yet. I still want to know what he can do, an answer I will only get during the season.
  • What effect will Favre have on the Jets? Here’s an answer we’ll get a glimpse at this weekend when he makes his preseason debut, but from a fantasy perspective there are some questions that will take a few regular season games to answer. Will he open up the offense give Thomas Jones room to run? Will Cotchery and Coles see their numbers go up? Will he be Favre from 2007 or 20006? A lot of owners – myself included – are betting heavy that he has increased the value of this team.
  • Who is catching balls in Seattle/Jacksonville/Carolina? You could throw in a few other teams but these three will have more value than most of the others you could name. Steve Smith is suspended for two games – will it affect his season overall? Can DJ Hackett stay healthy or is it already too late? Who will fill in as the #2 across from Burleson in the injury decimated Seattle WR corp? Or Jacksonville? As we find these things out, some Hail Mary picks at the end of drafts could have huge value.

I’ll be back later with any news that shows up plus a few things that we definitely know coming to the end of Training Camp.

Monday Stampede

Of course, more things happened this weekend than merely the Willis McGahee injury I mentioned last post.

Let’s go over some of them.

Seattle Seahawks
Bobby Engram injured his shoulder in the game this weekend, in a way that didn’t give me all that much pause at the time. Turns out it was much worse than it looked – Engram cracked his shoulder and will be out now for somewhere between 6-8 weeks, best case scenario with him returning for week 3. How likely that is certainly is a good question with Engram being 35 and not as spry as he once was. This leaves Burleson at the 1 spot still and a veritable free for all in the 2 spot with Courtney Taylor, Ben Obomanu and Logan Payne. Payne and Taylor have been banged up but nobody has the full edge yet. Keep an eye – one of these guys could have huge upside as the number 2. On the other hand if they all falter, things will be tough on Hasselback and Burleson owners.

Pittsburgh Steelers
First off, reports from the weekend that Daunte Culpepper was signed by the Steelers were mistaken. I suppose one aging and inneffective QB a weekend is the limit for QB signings. Byron Leftwich – he of the release so slow my 3 year old can count to 100 before he gets the pass off – was signed for very little and will open as the #2 behind Big Ben. The minimal cap amount tells you three things, one you already knew – 1) They don’t expect to need him, so neither should you. 2) They can cut him at any time, meaning his long term prospects are almost exactly what they were before Batch went down. 3) That little money reminds you just how little interest there is in this guy. Again, rather than draft him to back up Big Ben, pick up even a marginal starting QB (Trent Edwards, JaMarcus Russell, Matt Leinart) instead.

Tampa Bay Bucaneers
The bucs are still dangling Chris Simms out there and there is interest – but most teams appear to be waiting for him to get cut. Sure, the Bucs could keep him on the roster, but word is that the rift between he and Chuckie Gruden is far too wide – so it wouldn’t stun me if he was outright cut if another team didn’t deal for him. Incidentally, the Cowboys supposedly had scouts at the Tampa Bay game this weekend and may still be in play to trade for him.

New York Jets
As a known Jets fan with a new Favre jersey on the way (NFL.com WHERE IS MY JERSEY?) it should come as a suprise to nobody that I was goaded by my fellow owners in the local league I play, in an attempt to get me to reach for Favre as my QB – it started in round 3 and went until he was picked by someone else in round 10 . As I know you really don’t care a whit for my league, I merely mention it to illustrate this point I have said many times already – Favre’s biggest effect on Fantasy will be for his supporting cast, not himself. It’s not to say Favre will not do well – he might. However, the difference in expectations between what Penningon/Clemens can do with a ball and what The Favre does are pretty significant. Thomas Jones, Cotchery, Coles, Leon Washington – those are the guys who will reap the benefits of success more than Favre himself. I’ll throw out Dustin Keller as well – the kid is just tearing up Training Camp and may get a lot of looks along the sidelines. Favre will be no more than a solid QB2. Any Jets fans (or Favre fans) out there, let them yell – just keep picking value and ignore the taunts.

Carolina Panthers
Steve Smith suffered a concussion in the preseason game this weekend and while it won’t matter longer term (especially since he will miss weeks 1 and 2) he probably won’t play in Thursday’s game against the Eagles. It’s nothing more than that, but at this point we’ll see a lot less of our usual veterans and considering Engram, McGahee and now Smith’s injuries, it’s all the better for most Fantasy Teams. By the way, reports from Panthers camp are that the thought that rookie Johnathan Stewart will easily replace DeAngelo Williams from the starter’s job when he returns from his toe injury might have been premature. First, Stewart has missed a ton of camp and even working every day in rehab and reading playbooks will not replace reps lost in camp and preseason games. Second, Williams has allegedly redoubled his efforts this off-season and is far more dedicated than he has been in the past. Thirdly, HC John Fox loves his vets and doesn’t hand anything over to rookies, as Williams’ Dynasty owners are very aware. The longer Stewart is out and the better Williams can do in camp, the closer to a regular RBBC this will be, so I hope you drafted accordingly.

That’s all for now – back with more later….