NFL Fantasy News: So much to know, so little time

Ezekiel Elliott, Josh Gordon, Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, Jay Ajayi, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kelvin Benjamin, AJ McCarron… who’s in and who’s out for Week 9?

Thanks largely to the “new breed” of NFL general manager, trade deadline week proved to be more exciting and confusing than ever. But that’s not all the news affecting who is playing and where. There were suspensions, reinstatements, folks back from IR, folks going on IR, quarterback changes, running back changes, and another six-team bye week to deal with. Let’s get it all sorted out so we can set our lineups before kickoff. 

Ezekiel Elliott out of options

Dallas appears set to lose Ezekiel Elliott for the next six weeks as he ran out of appeal options. Dallas owner Jerry Jones says Alfred Morris will be the starter in Dallas but believes both Darren McFadden and Rod Smith will see time. A full-blown committee will make all that speculation about which backup runner to own moot. Smith had a beautiful 45-yard touchdown run in Week 7 and impressed in the preseason. The team says if anyone gets a hot hand, they could take over. That seems to tell us that the zero percent-owned Rod Smith has as good a chance as McFadden or Morris to be the Cowboys lead back before the end of the season. 

Josh Gordon wins reinstatement

Cleveland’s troubled wide receiver will be reinstated and could play as early as Week 11. It is unclear if or how the Browns plan to use him. The odds of him having much impact this season are low, but he is only 27 years old and can still salvage his career if he can follow the conditions of his reinstatement. He would be a desperation add with slim hopes of a late-season game or two of fantasy value. 

Kelvin Benjamin in Buffalo

The newest member of the Buffalo Bills probably won’t impact Thursday night’s game against the Jets, but by Week 10, he should be the number one target in a run-first offense. He still holds at least the same NFL fantasy value in Buffalo as he did with this year’s version of Cam Newton. The Bills tend to throw in the red zone and Benjamin will likely be a popular receiver there for Tyrod Taylor. 

Russell Shepard, Curtis Samuel ready in Carolina

Devin Funchess is Carolina’s number one wide receiver after the Benjamin trade, but owner Marty Hurney justified the move by saying the team wants more speed in the passing game. Funchess already gets eight targets per game. We need to see if Benjamin’s six targets get added to his load or if they get tossed downfield to his faster teammates. 

Jay who?

LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement got the majority of touches in Philadelphia’s Week 8 victory over San Francisco. That scenario is likely to repeat itself this week against Denver. Jay Ajayi might make an appearance but will probably need another week to make an impact on the Eagles’ offense. Blount will probably lose snaps eventually, but Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner are already off the fantasy radar in Philly.

Garoppolo benched already?

After the media crowned Jimmy Garoppolo the 49ers’ starting quarterback as early as Week 10, coach Kyle Shanahan announced that Garoppolo might be on the bench for the entire season. I don’t believe it since the most sensible reason for using a second-round pick now is to get a preview of what Garoppolo can do before blowing off Kirk Cousins in the offseason. Getting the kid under center for a few games, especially given the state of the team, can only help John Lynch and Shanahan in their off-season team-building plans.

Brock Osweiler in for Denver

My suspicion is that Vance Joseph really likes Trevor Siemian. Besides John Elway’s infatuation with Brock Osweiler, the only reason to put the human statue in for the more mobile Siemian is to save his young passer from getting maimed by the Eagles’ pass rush. If Paxton Lynch was healthy, that is a sensible change behind the Broncos porous offensive line. Putting Osweiler behind the line is a surrender flag. Not only can you not play any Bronco wide receiver this week, the Eagles’ highly ranked rush defense is likely to shut down the entire rushing committee, too. Sit every Bronco in Week 9.

What are the odds? Brees, Stafford looking for touchdowns

What kind of odds could you have gotten in the preseason that there would be a week where both Matt Stafford and Drew Brees would play a full game and neither would throw a touchdown pass? It happened in Week 8. New Orleans got such great publicity by adding a defense; they thought they would try to go run-heavy for a week. But Stafford, he really tried to get a touchdown. He threw for over 400 yards and passed into the end zone multiple times, but came up short. Brees faces the generous secondary of Tampa Bay this week while Stafford gets Green Bay. Every receiver on each team is a good play in Week 9.

Cleveland’s muffed trade could cost jobs 

Cleveland Browns’ owner Dee Haslam trusts his football people to do the right thing but is sensitive to anything that makes the Browns look unprofessional. So, Tuesday’s trade battle, which multiple football reporters say was a deliberate effort to cancel out a trade coach Hue Jackson wanted to make, brought Haslam to the front office where he reportedly tore into GM Sashi Brown and others. Jackson worked with quarterback AJ McCarron in Cincinnati and was the main force behind trying to bring him to Cleveland. But in-fighting between Jackson and the front office reportedly led to someone putting the kibosh on the deal.

Teddy Bridgewater coming back?

News that Teddy Bridgewater might be activated next week means exactly that; Bridgewater will be activated. The only other option is to put him on season-ending injured reserve. He needs to be activated to continue practicing. It does not mean he is ready or will be ready to play in an NFL game this season- although the Vikings have not ruled that scenario out. For now, he is not worth adding to your roster unless you really don’t need the spot for someone productive. And don’t drop Case Keenum. Sam Bradford’s knee reports are not very encouraging yet, either. 

Other injury news:

-Joe Flacco cleared concussion protocol and will be behind center for the Ravens Sunday. 

-Jay Cutler practiced without limits and will start for Miami, along with wide receiver DeVante Parker. 

-Corey Davis will play for the Titans this week. With Rishard Matthews and Eric Decker struggling, Davis could be in for a bigger role than expected. 

-Dede Westbrook will play for the Jaguars this week. Marqise Lee could miss the game. With Allen Hurns manning the slot, Westbrook could see considerable snaps outside. 

-Pierre Garcon was adamant his neck injury was not serious enough to cost him playing time, but it has already cost two practices. He is questionable at this point for Sunday. 

-Andre Ellington returned to practice in a limited capacity today and is questionable for Sunday. 

-The Redskins reported four of their starting five offensive linemen could not practice today. All are questionable to play this weekend. The team also ruled out tight end Jordan Reed for Sunday. 

Check back at RealSport for all the latest updates and advice regarding NFL fantasy football. If you have a specific question you want answered, send it to us at [email protected] so we can answer it in Wednesday’s NFL Fantasy Mailbag!

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