Articles by Brian Fraze

A listing of all the articles written by Brian Fraze for the RotoWire Blog.

Sunday NFL Preseason Notes

Jonathan Stewart (RB) – X-rays on injured ankle negative
Head coach Ron Rivera doesn’t believe he suffered a high ankle sprain. It sounds like Stewart avoided a worst-case scenario from the injury he suffered in Sunday’s preseason game, but his availability for Week 1 is in question.

Hakeem Nicks (WR) – (foot) practices nearly at nearly 100 percent Sunday
There’s some chance he even sees action in the team’s final preseason game, but either way, he should be ready to go for the season opener.

Shonn Greene (RB) – Rushes 13 times for 47 yards and caught three passes for eight yards during Sunday’s loss to Carolina.
Greene had one 18-yard burst up the middle when the blocking was sharp, but he struggled to make anyone miss – or to move the pile – on his own. He needs a lot of things go to right on any play. On the positive side, the Jets want to run a conservative offense and there isn’t a dynamic back that’s pushing Greene.

Stephen Hill (WR) – (finger) has team-high five receptions for 68 yards during the Jets preseason loss to Carolina on Sunday night.
Hill looks like New York’s clear No. 2 receiver and a possible fantasy sleeper, though he did leave one play on the field – a poor drop in the second quarter handed Carolina a gift interception. Keep an eye on him as the JEst don’t have much behind him at WR.

Santonio Holmes (WR) – (ribs/back/hamstring) had one reception for eight yards in Sunday’s preseason loss to Carolina.
Holmes didn’t take too many snaps (or too many hits), but at least he got through the game without incident. For all his flaws, the Jets desperately need him to play well when the regular season opens.

DeAngelo Williams (RB) – Seven carries for 28 yards during Carolina’s preseason game against the Jets.
Williams and teammate Jonathan Stewart put up almost identical stats which tells you all you need to know about how these guys will be used during the regular season. They’re both great backs but the timeshare they’re involved in remains a killer for their fantasy values. However, Stewart did go down with an ankle injury on Sunday which may have opened the door for Williams to thrive if the injury keeps Stewart down for an extended period of time.

Cam Newton (QB) – Completes 6-of-15 passes for 60 yards and one touchdown and also runs for 16 yards on two carries with a lost fumble during Carolina’s preseason win over the Jets on Sunday night.
Newton hasn’t looked particularly impressive at any point in the preseason and on Sunday night he was average at best. It’s possible that a sophomore slump is on the horizon, but we think when the real games start you’ll see the real Cam Newton.

Russell Wilson (QB) – Named the Seahawks’ starting quarterback for Week 1.
Wilson has officially earned the job after completing 36-of-56 passes for 464 yards, five touchdowns and one interception while rushing for more than 100 yards during the preseason. In fact, he leads the NFL with a 119.4 quarterback ranking this preseason. Matt Flynn failed to impress this summer after signing with Seattle, and he now has an elbow injury. That, combined with Wilson’s outstanding play, has the 23-year-old set to be behind center.

Michael Vick (QB) – Says Sunday that he’ll be ready for the regular-season opener.
Vick took a nasty shot to the midsection during Monday’s preseason game, but Vick threw a 50-yard pass to DeSean Jackson during Sunday’s practice "with ease." It sounds like he’ll be ready for the Browns on Sept. 9.

Vernon Davis (TE) – Catches just one pass Sunday in Denver but he made it count as it went for 44 yards and a touchdown in the 49ers’ preseason victory.
Davis and starting quarterback Alex Smith have always had a good rapport and we don’t expect that to change this year. Davis could approach career numbers now that the team has improved its wide receiving corps, which will help draw off the constant double-teams Davis sees.

Alex Smith (QB) – Completes 5-of-7 passes for 69 yards with one touchdown during the 49ers preseason win over the Broncos on Sunday.
Smith had much better protection on Sunday getting sacked only once and he looked much more comfortable in the pocket because of it. He’s not going to put up super-star numbers but if he can stay steady and avoid turnovers like he did Sunday then the 49ers stellar defense will have more opportunities to turn the tide.

Willis McGahee (RB) – 27 yards on seven carries and 14 yards on one reception during Sunday’s preseason loss to the 49ers.
McGahee looks ready for the regular season and the exciting part for the veteran is that Peyton Manning finally looked like the Peyton of old. If Manning can keep it up McGahee should see more room to run as teams go smaller trying to defend the pass.

Dustin Keller (TE) – Left Sunday’s game in the first period with a right hamstring injury.
Keller had a 24-yard catch before departing. The Jets are probably just taking it safe here, but the team can’t afford to lose any significant targets, given the spotty receiving depth.

Eric Decker (WR) – Leads the Broncos with four receptions for 38 yards and two touchdowns during Denver’s third preseason game Sunday against San Francisco.
Decker and starting quarterback Peyton Manning really seem to be forming a good rapport with one another and with Demaryius Thomas likely to see the majority of the double-teams from week-to-week it could be Decker who sees the most one-on-one coverage and reaps the rewards.

Peyton Manning (QB) – Completes 10-of-12 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns during Denver’s preseason loss to the 49ers.
Manning was brilliant in his third start with his new team and finally looked like the Manning of old. His two touchdowns were both thrown to Eric Decker while his two incompletions were a dropped pass and a throw-away on a play that should have resulted in pass interference. Even more important was that Manning took some huge hits in the game and bounced right back up after both which bodes well for his surgically repaired neck.


 

Sunday NFL Preseason Notes

Antonio Brown (WR) – Two receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s pre-season game against the Colts.
Brown made an 18-yard catch on a third-and-11 to extend a Pittsburgh drive, then scored on an impressive 57 yard catch-and-run. The Steelers have to be pleased with Brown’s performance thus far, particularly with Mike Wallace still holding out.

Ben Roethlisberger (QB) – Completes five-of-nine passes for 81 yards, one touchdown and one interception during Sunday’s preseason game against Indianapolis. He finished with an 83.3 passer rating.
All in all, nothing special and nothing terrible from Roethlisberger as the Steelers essentially know what he’s capable of once the regular season rolls around. The majority of Big Ben’s passing yards Sunday came on a 57-yard touchdown toss to Antonio Brown, who gained most of the yards after the catch, but appears to be a favorite target of the QB, especially with Mike Wallace still not with the team.

Reggie Wayne (WR) – Catches six passes for 74 yards during the Colts’ preseason game against Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Wayne showed an impressive rapport with Andrew Luck on Sunday as the veteran wideout became Luck’s go-to target after Austin Collie left the game with possible concussion symptoms. If Collie misses considerable time, any fantasy value Wayne may have should get a significant boost.

Andrew Luck (QB) – Completes 16-of-25 passes for 175 yards, no passing touchdowns, and two interceptions, and adds a one-yard score on the ground in Sunday’s preseason loss to Pittsburgh.
All in all, it was another solid effort for the rookie, who showed an impressive ability to bounce back by leading a touchdown drive after throwing a pick-six to Ike Taylor. Luck will have normal bumps in the road as a rookie, especially considering the o-line isn’t one of Indianapolis’ strengths, but he does have some fantasy upside.

Austin Collie (WR) – Being evaluated for concussion symptoms and did not return to Sunday’s preseason game against the Steelers.
Collie left the game after taking a high hit, and it doesn’t look good for the 26-year-old. If Collie has indeed suffered another concussion, it would be his fourth in less than two years. He could miss significant time.

Brandon Jacobs (RB) – (Knee) MRI revealed "no major damage".
There’s no set timetable for his return, but it looks like Jacobs avoided major injury after Saturday night’s preseason game. The 30-year-old is listed as the team’s fourth running back, but the 6-foot-4 bruiser has been known to be a vulture at the goal line.

Jermaine Gresham (TE) – Sprained knee
The injury that Gresham suffered Thursday is being called a sprained knee. Until we know more details regarding the severity of the sprain, we’ll classify Gresham as day-to-day, but this close to Week 1, it’s fair to wonder if the tight end will be ready (or at full strength if he is) for the Bengals’ season opener.

Vincent Brown (WR) – (Ankle) expected back for the second half of the regular season.
Brown broke his ankle while making a touchdown grab during Saturday’s preseason game, and he had surgery Sunday. It was originally reported that Brown would miss at least eight weeks, but a return for the team’s Week 9 game would put his recovery at just over 10 weeks. There are reports that the 23-year-old wideout may have suffered slight ligament damage along with the broken ankle.

Mikel Leshoure (RB) – (Hamstring) hopes to play in Saturday’s preseason game against the Raiders after taking part in a full practice Sunday.
Leshoure, who will miss the first two games of the regular season due to suspension, was a full participant in practice Sunday for the first time since straining his left hamstring on the second day of training camp. "I definitely want to get my feet wet a little bit with at least one preseason game. Get some reps under my belt,” Leshoure said. "I know I don’t want to get thrown into the fire Week 3 coming straight into it. I’m glad that I’m healthy and hopefully able to get something in this week." Leshoure added that the team is easing him back into practice, but his "hamstring feels good." It appears he may be well enough to make his NFL debut Saturday.

Jerome Simpson (WR) – Vikings may begin scaling back Simpson’s reps in Friday’s preseason game against the Chargers.
Minnesota is set to begin preparing others for Simpson’s three-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Simpson has looked good this offseason and has a pretty firm grip on the team’s No.2 WR position, but it’s important to remember that he can’t be counted on for production until Week 4 in 2012.

John Carlson (TE) – Decision to be made soon on whether or not to play Carlson (knee) in Friday’s preseason game against the Chargers.
Carlson sprained his MCL in practice early on in training camp, but it looks like he’s close to being ready for action. The 28-year-old tight end missed all of last season with a torn labrum, but Carlson did go for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns while only missing one game from 2008-10. That being said, Kyle Rudolph has the No.1 TE spot licked down for the Vikings at this point.

Ryan Tannehill (QB) – Works with the first unit during the walk through Sunday.
This might not mean much of anything but it’s worth noting. Tannehill hasn’t overly impressed with his performance to date, no one else has either, but he does have command in the huddle and complete grasp of the playbook, and that may be enough for the coaching staff to name him the starting QB come Week 1.

Darrius Heyward-Bey (WR) – (Shoulder) does not practice Sunday.
Heyward-Bey suffered a minor shoulder injury during Friday’s preseason game, but it sounds like he’ll return to practice in short order.

 

Sunday NFL Preseason Notes

Roberto Wallace (WR) – Works with first team Sunday.
Wallace was the receiver chosen to replace Chad Johnson with the first team in practice Sunday. Wallace has always had the talent to be a starting receiver in the NFL, but consistency and durability have been a problem. That being said, the Dolphins poor depth at WR gives Wallace his best chance to be a starter so far in his NFL career. Keep an eye on Wallace as he could be 2012 fantasy sleeper.

Ryan Tannehill (QB) – May start the second pre-season game versus Carolina on Friday.
This certainly would not have happened without the injury to David Garrard. The Dolphins may want to figure out in short order if their 2012 1st-round pickTannehill can handle the starting job from day one, as incumbent starter Matt Moore has not impressed in training nor preseason so far. The next two weeks both in the games and practice will go a long way towards letting the coaching staff know in which direction they should go.

Chad Johnson (WR) – Released by the Dolphins Sunday.
The release comes in the wake of Johnson being arrested for domestic violence on Saturday. It was Johnson’s first arrest in his 11-year career, but he’s been known for his off-field antics more than his play on the field lately, so the Dolphins decided to part ways with him. This move could signal the end of Johnson’s NFL career unless some other team is desperate to take a chance on him.

Jeremy Maclin (WR) – Limited participant at practice Sunday.
Maclin sat out this past Thursday’s preseason opener with a hamstring injury that he suffered during warmups, but his return to the field Sunday — albeit in a limited fashion — is a good sign, nonetheless.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis (RB)  –  (Foot) will miss Thursday’s game against Atlanta.
With Bernard Scott dealing with a hand injury, look for the likes of Brian Leonard, Cedric Peerman, Aaron Brown and Dan Herron to see extra reps Thursday. We’ll await further details regarding Green-Ellis’ injury before pushing the panic button though. Until then, consider him day-to-day. Green-Ellis will be counted on by the Bengals to replace and even improve upon Cedric Benson’s 1,000-yard+ production the past few season and could be in line for his best fantasy (and real-life) season ever in 2012.

Torrey Smith (WR) – (Ankle) was back at practice Sunday after missing just one day of work.
Initial reports that Smith’s injury was minor ended up being more accurate than the subsequent speculation that he might miss a few weeks. In any case, his return to the field is a piece of good news for a Baltimore passing attack that has been stung of late by injuries at the tight end position.

Donald Brown (RB) – TD reception on Sunday.
Brown had just two yards on two carries, but added a 63 yard touchdown reception Sunday against the Rams.
On the Colts first play from scrimmage, Andrew Luck dumped the ball off to Brown, who darted up the field with blockers in front, then cut from right to left and outran the defense to the end zone. Brown has the skills to be a top 20 fantasy (and real-life) running back this season as he should be the starter from the get-go.

Sam Bradford (QB) – (Ankle) completed 7-of-9 passes for 57 yards Sunday against the Colts.
The number one overall pick in 2010 and the Offensive Rookie of the Year looked sharp in limited action, but is little more than a QB2 at best given the supporting cast around him in St. Louis.

Austin Collie (WR) – Caught three passes for 45 yards and a score in the Colts’ preseason opener Sunday.
Andrew Luck targeted Collie five times, indicating the duo could connect often this season, especially if Collie can burn zone defenses like he did on his touchdown catch. Collie could be an intriguing WR3 fantasy option in 2012 if he can stay healthy as the Colts should be throwing a lot.

Cedric Benson (RB) – Signs one-year deal with the Packers on Sunday.
With James Starks dealing with a turf toe injury and Alex Green working his way back from ACL surgery, the Packers are looking for healthy bodies to run the football. Depending on how long Starks’ turf toe injury lingers, Benson could have an impact in the offense if he can prove more reliable and durable than Green and Brandon Saine. Monitor his progression throughout the rest of the preseason, but Benson is certainly worth a late flier now that he finally has a place to hang his helmet. Benson probably won’t put up huge numbers in 2012 unless injuries and poor play are a factor with the Packers’ other running backs.

Sunday NFL Training Camp Notes

Matt Forte (RB)-  Has right thumb examined during practice, may lose goal-line carries in 2012.
Forte did not return to practice after having his thumb examined. The thumb ailment doesn’t sound too serious, but we’ll keep an eye on the situation as training camps continue to heat up. As for the goal-line situation, the writing has been on the wall since Michael Bush‘s signing this offseason, and training camp has all but confirmed it. Bush has been lining up in goal-line drills all camp and got the coaches’ seal of approval in short-yardage situations. Although Forte struggles near the goal-line, he is still one of the better all-around backs in the league and will remain a focal point of the Bears offense. When drafting in the coming weeks, however, make sure to note that the presence of Bush will hinder Forte’s scoring potential.

David Garrard (QB)- Would have to perform poorly during preseason to lose the starting QB job.
The Dolphins still maintain that they won’t decide on a starter until the third preseason game, but it’s becoming increasingly clear to everyone that Garrard has outperformed Matt Moore in training camp. This is a bit of surprise given how good Moore looked last season and that Garrard sat out all of 2011 with a back injury but Moore is a better game than practice player so this battle is far from over.

Robert Meachem (WR)- Chemistry with Philip Rivers’ is improving.
Malcom Floyd and Vincent Brown have been Rivers’ favorite targets through the early stages of training camp, Most people assume that Meachem will end up starting opposite Floyd, with both well ahead of Brown on the target list, but the fact is that Meachem is the new guy in camp and definitely has some catching up to do. With Vincent Jackson gone, the wide receiver corps is undergoing a major overhaul this year, so we shall see who actually leads the pack when the games start, but Meachem’s $29 million contract all but assures he will be heavily in the mix.

Kenny Britt (WR)- Has looked good while doing his rehab work of late.                                                                                                                    "He is doing good. We have him on a great program…and he has responded to it," coach Mike Munchak said. "He is running hard and next week he’ll start doing more things and running. But we are happy with where he’s at."Munchak added that the plan is to increase the intensity of Britt’s workouts this coming week. "He is progressing as well or better than we hoped," Munchak said of the wideout, who continues to bounce back from surgeries on both knees. "Now it is just a matter of how quickly over the next two weeks when he starts doing more cutting and changing of direction, how he’ll respond to that." That all sounds good, but Britt still has a possible suspension hanging over his head in the wake of his off-field issues.

Miles Austin (WR)-  leaves Saturday’s practice with a hamstring strain, will be held out for at least a week.
On the plus side, the Cowboys do not think that Austin’s current hamstring woes are as bad as the ones that kept him out of six games in 2011, but they do plan to proceed with caution. As a result, Austin’s availability for the team’s Aug. 13 preseason opener is in question. Kevin Ogletree worked with the Cowboys’ No. 1 offense during Sunday’s walk-through, but coach Jason Garrett noted that Dwayne Harris and Andre Holmes will also get added reps in Austin’s absence.

Sam Bradford (QB)- As of Saturday’s practice, ankle still isn’t 100 percent healthy.
Bradford isn’t walking with a limp and overall appears to be getting around fine. "It’s close," Bradford said. "I think it’s as good as it’s going to feel. It’s something that we’re managing right now. I’ve been able to take every snap so far without any setbacks and I think that’s a positive sign." Bradford suffered a severe high ankle sprain in Game 5 last season, and the fact that he is still dealing with lingering effects is somewhat troubling. That said, barring an aggravation, it’s the sort of issue that he should be able to manage and continue to play through going forward. Hopefully the ankle situation will not not effect Bradford’s numbers too much in 2012.

A.J. Jenkins (WR)- Lack of an immediate impact can be partly attributed to the fact that he’s still getting up to speed with the offense.
On Wednesday, wide receivers coach John Morton yelled at him for running the wrong route during a press-coverage drill. On Friday, he was out of position before the snap and backup quarterback Scott Tolzien stepped back from under center to move him into the right spot. Former Illinois head coach Ron Zook offered his endorsement of Jenkins citing a difficulty in transition from high school to college, but as an intelligent and hard-working player, finally broke out in his junior year. As a result Jenkins may not see the field, or fantasy radars, much in 2012.

Felix Jones (RB)- Shoulder has looked fine in practice
He’s been bouncing off defenders while maintaining his usual quickness It always seems like a matter of time until the next injury hits Jones, but for the moment he appears to be in good shape. He’ll likely get 10-12 touches a game this year behind DeMarco Murray and could be quite productive in that role- though he should be no more than a late insurance RB pick in fantasy drafts for the 2012 season at this point.

Blaine Gabbert (QB)- Completes 10-of-13 passes for 91 yards and one touchdown during Friday night’s team scrimmage.
Later during red zone drills, Gabbert directed five consecutive touchdown drives as well. While it’s hard to get too excited about Gabbert’s performance in his red no-contact jersey, the Jags can use all the good news they can get when it comes to the improvement of their sophomore quarterback. The majority of reports out of training camp are encouraging where Gabbert is concerned. It’s worth noting that the passing offense looked fluid even without first-round pick Justin Blackmon. We will see if this all translates to better success in 2012 for Gabbert but after last year its nowhere but up, just probably not anything fantasy-worthy at this point.

Sunday NFL Training Camp Notes

Sidney Rice (WR)- Has not been cleared for contact yet
Rice is practicing in training camp, but only on a non-contact basis. It’s not clear whether clearance for contact is especially imminent. Rice, who has had trouble staying healthy the last two seasons, could have some fantasy value this year if he can stay on the field given that he may be part of a better Seattle passing attack in 2012.

Austin Collie (WR)- Expected to start opposite Reggie Wayne at wide receiver in 2012                                                                                  With Pierre Garcon now in Washington, Collie is the logical choice to fill in as a starter out wide. The precise and reliable Collie has a major red flag due to his concussion history, but he could be a very nice fit for Andrew Luck when on the field. That being said, he may not generate a ton of fantasy points in 2012 so keep expectations low here.

Matt Flynn (QB)- Takes first-team reps in Sunday’s practice.                                                                                                                                  The starting quarterback spot is shaping up to be a three-way competition for the Seahawks. Flynn is battling Tarvaris Jackson and Russell Wilson in camp for the top spot. Aaron Rodgers‘ former backup is considered the front-runner to win the starting gig as of now and based on his brief showing so far in the NFL could have the most near-term upside of the three.

Kendall Wright (WR)- Wright (shoulder) was absent from Sunday’s practice, as he remains unsigned.                                                       The Titans have big plans for Wright, evident by the fact that they took him 20th overall in the 2012 Draft. As a rookie, it is vital that Wright is able to get on the practice field sooner rather than later, especially with Kenny Britt (knee) banged up.

Ryan Williams (RB)- (Knee) is a limited participant early on in Cardinals training camp.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     The good news is that Williams, unlike his backfield mate Beanie Wells (knee), was able to avoid the PUP list. Williams, who missed last year with a knee injury, says he is at about 85 percent. The second-year running back is currently being draft 72 spots later than Wells, making him a much better value potentially. Though Wells is coming off his best season, Williams hs the opportunity to make a splash in 2012 provided he can stay healthy.

Andre Johnson (WR)- Expected to miss a week of practice due to a mild groin strain.                                                                                  While this sounds like a minor injury, it is always worrisome when Johnson, who has missed 12 games in the past two seasons, is having lower-body injuries this early in camp. Johnson has unfortunately become a risk-reward type pick for fantasy leagues now and cannot be valued as a first round pick in most leagues until he can prove he can stay healthy for an extended period.

Titus Young (WR)- Picking up where he left off in minicamp, Young has had a strong showing in training camp thus far.                    While it’s still just practice, Young appears to be gaining a lot of confidence from the Lions with his strong play after there were questions about his on-field temperament. He will be pushing Nate Burleson for the second wide receiver spot opposite Calvin Johnson and should improve upon his solid rookie numbers in 2012.

Tim Hightower (RB)- Receives a scheduled off day Saturday to rest his knee.                                                                                       Hightower is definitely not 100 percent yet, or even close. Expect him to get regular off days throughout training camp and preseason. He may not be fully healthy to start the season which could allow Evan Royster and/or Roy Helu to get a stranglehold on the majority of the backfield carries for the Redskins in 2012.

Leonard Hankerson (WR)- (Hip) has been going full speed at training camp with no limitations so far.                                         Hankerson is recovering from offseason hip surgery. He appears more confident in the playbook and his ability so far in training camp. He is competing for the second and third wide receiver slot along with Santana Moss and Josh Morgan and could win a significant role in the Redskins passing game with his talent.

Michael Crabtree (WR) – (Ankle) misses practice Saturday.                                                                                                                          Crabtree limped off the field with a hurt ankle on Friday and missed the final 20 minutes of practice. However, the ankle wasn’t wrapped in the locker room afterwards and there have been no reports regarding an MRI or x-rays. There were high hopes for Crabtree who came into camp healthy and on time this year after missing the last three years of training camp due to a holdout and a series of injuries. Whatever the issue may be this time, the hope is that it can be resolved quickly otherwise it could be another year of unfulfilled promise for the wideout.

Hakeem Nicks (WR)- Is running and will begin cutting on his foot (which he broke back in May) in a few days.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     So far, Nicks has not endured any setbacks, which means that a mid-August return remains both possible and plausible. "Sticking to the script, like they said," said Nicks, whose original time frame for recovery was 12 weeks. "I definitely want to be out there but go to do the right thing and be smart about it and I don’t want to prolong this injury." As long a Nicks can recover he could put up 1,000+ yards and close to 10 touchdowns in 2012.

Tuesday NFL Notes

Braylon Edwards (WR) – Fined but no suspension: Edwards was fined $50,000 for violating the NFL Substance Abuse policy Tuesday. The key here is that Edwards was able to avoid a suspension, which was thought by many to be a likely outcome. Now that his Week 1 availability is no longer in question, Edwards can get down to the business of trying to establish himself as the 49ers’ top wideout while Michael Crabtree continues to bounce back from his foot woes. Even when Crabtree returns, Edwards could still be the top dog at WR given his better- albeit erratic- track record of the two.
 
Johnny Knox (WR) – Still not a starter: Knox is still behind Roy Williams for the starting split end job on the Bears’ first official depth chart released Tuesday. There were hopes from fantasy owners that the Bears would come to their senses and return Knox to his starting role, but those hopes will have to continue thru the season. The Bears will still try to get Knox involved, but the team’s receiving corps is going to be riddled with inconsistency from a fantasy perspective this year most likely.
 
Roy Williams (WR) – Still listed as a starter: Williams is still listed as the starting split end opposite Devin Hester on the Bears’ first official depth chart released Tuesday. It is hard to figure out what the team is thinking after Knox out-played and out-shined Williams in both the preseason and practice during camp- not mention in 2010. Williams is the big target Jay Cutler has been missing while in Chicago, but after showing up to camp out of shape, the wide out has done nothing to show he is set out to prove his doubters wrong. He’ll continue to be one of the bigger boom-or-bust picks during fantasy drafts, as those who draft hope he can recapture his pre-Dallas glory days when the Bears current offensive coordinator Mike Martz was with him in Detroit.
 
Matt Forte (RB) – Contract talks tabled until after season: The Bears will not resume contract talks with Forte until the season is completed. "We’ve decided that we’re just going to focus on the season and that’s something we talked about when we went into the negotiations,” Bears GM Jerry Angelo said. We were hopeful, I’m not saying the door is shut, but right now our focus is going to be on the season. There was a mutual understanding. We visited a few times. In our last meeting we felt like with the season upon us that right now we want to focus and Matt wants to focus on the season and having the great year that we all expect and know that he will.” Translation- look for a big season from Forte as he puts on a contract drive.
 
Blaine Gabbert (QB) – Now No.2 QB: Despite the shocking release of David Garrard, Gabbert will not start for Jacksonville in Week 1. Luke McCown is Jacksonville’s starter, and that’s not likely to change especially soon. The Jags will still try to make a run at the playoffs, and Gabbert probably won’t get a starting role unless they’re close to falling out of that race. McCown has had durability issues in the past though, so an injury to him could land Gabbert on the field sooner than expected.
 
Luke McCown (QB ) – Now the No.1 QB: With Jacksonville’s surprise release of David Garrard, McCown becomes the team’s starting quarterback. McCown had a good run as a three-game starter for the Buccaneers back in 2007, and he’s worth watching in case he proves up to the task as starter, but he’s probably not worth a draft pick in the rather vast majority of leagues, especially since he has had trouble staying healthy in the past. He’s obviously not Jacksonville’s quarterback of the future, either. First-round pick Blaine Gabbert is the designated starter down the road.
 
Jake Ballard (TE) – No.1 TE as of now: Ballard is listed atop the Giants’ depth chart at tight end as of Tuesday. Ballard is a complete blank slate. If injury isn’t the sole reason for Ballard landing at the top of the list, Travis Beckum (ankle) is looking like a big disappointment. Ballard, in any case, doesn’t really have any history as a pass catcher either in the NFL or at Ohio State, so he’s not on the fantasy radar as of now.

Lance Moore (WR) – Does not practice Tuesday: Coach Sean Payton said Moore is the kind of player who doesn’t need practice to get into mental shape for a game. That means he’ll play if he’s at all healthy Thursday, but that determination might not be made until right around game time. Moore’s owners might need to follow this one down to the wire as his groin could keep him out or possibly limit him.

Brian Robiskie (WR) – A starter for now: Robiskie has been named one of Cleveland’s starting receivers for Week 1 as of Tuesday. Robiskie is unlikely to emerge as much of a fantasy option in Cleveland, but it’s good for his own interests to see that he has held off rookie Greg Little to this point despite Little’s athletic advantage. Don’t be surprised if Robiskie falls behind little at some point during the 2011 season.
 
Mohamed Massaquoi (WR) – Listed as a starter: Massaquoi (foot) is listed as one of Cleveland’s starting receivers for Week 1 as of Tuesday. We’ll monitor his foot situation for a bit longer yet, but it looks like he’s basically in the clear. Along with Brian Robiskie, Massaquoi held off rookie Greg Little for a starting spot and if he stays healthy should remain a starter all season.

Greg Little (WR) – Second-string for now: Little is listed as a second-string receiver for Week 1 as of Tuesday. This is not surprising, and probably not all that significant, either. Little was expected to have only a loosely defined role at this point, as he has consistency issues to figure out before he can fully capitalize on his superior athleticism. Mohamed Massaquoi (foot) and Brian Robiskie have shown more reliability to this point, and as a result they have been named Cleveland’s top two receivers. That being said Little has more raw talent than either Massaquoi or Robiskie, so it should only be a matter of time until he takes one of their jobs, probably Robiskie’s, and possibly shows up on fantasy radars by end of the 2011 season.

Tuesday NFL Notes

Frank Gore (RB)- Gets contract extension: Gore agreed to terms on a three-year, $21 million extension, including $13.5 million guaranteed on Tuesday. It is clear the 49ers want and need him to be the focal point of their offense, but Gore turns 28 this season and hasn’t reached the 300-carry mark since 2006, so it is unclear how much longer he can shoulder the load. Still, a three-year additional investment is a modest risk considering the upside Gore brings to Jim Harbaugh‘s run-heavy offense. The 49ers might be lucky Gore didn’t demand a longer contract. The extension might seem like a significant blow to Kendall Hunter‘s dynasty league value, but given Gore’s durability issues, there’s no guarantee that Gore plays out the whole deal. Also, a timeshare between the two will become more likely in the upcoming years.

Zach Miller (TE)- Will be the main man in 2011: With John Carlson out for the year, Miller should see more targets. Miller has a good chance to get back to being a top-10 tight end now that his main competition for playing time and targets is on injured reserve.

Marshawn Lynch (RB)- Won’t play Friday due to ankle issue: Lynch will sit out Friday’s game against the Lions. This is more of a precautionary move by coach Pete Carroll than anything else. Lynch should be ready to go by Week 1, but a bigger concern is his offensive line, which has struggled during the preseason. However, things may be looking up with left tackle Russell Okung (ankle) close to returning.

Marion Barber (RB)- Does not practice Tuesday due to calf issue: The injury is not considered serious, so we will consider him day-to-day until further notice. Still the Bears have a history of not playing any dinged up players in their final preseason game, so Barber is likely be held out Saturday against the Browns. Barber looks to have the No.2 RB job locked up behind Matt Forte for 2011.

Brandon Marshall (WR)- Will not be suspended: Marshall will not be disciplined by the NFL for any potential violations of the league’s personal conduct policy in the wake of an incident of domestic violence at Marshall’s home that occured this past offseason. Marshall certainly comes with potential off-field baggage and his QB situation is not optimal, but he’s healthy and the best and most talented receiving target the Dolphins have, which in itself seems to give him a solid floor as long as he can stay on the field.

Reggie Bush (RB)- Will be Dolphins’ lead RB in 2011: Coach Tony Sparano noted Tuesday that he believes that Bush "…is going to have the most touches and the most carries" in the Dolphins’ backfield this season. That’s obviously dependent on him staying healthy and taking advantage of his golden opportunity, but it’s pretty clear that the Dolphins intend to put Bush — already an asset in PPR formats — in a position to succeed, especially with Daniel Thomas not having been especially impressive thus far. 2011 could, we stress could, actually be the year Bush finally breaks out and approaches 1,000 yards rushing if he can stay healthy and proves he can handle a heavier workload.

Javon Ringer (RB)- Ringer will miss Thursday’s preseason finale due to hip issue: Ringer has been around long enough that his absence shouldn’t prevent him from remaining the Titans’ No. 2 RB behind holdout Chris Johnson, once he’s back at full strength. That being said, Ringer is not a complete lock for the job due to the impressive showing by Jamie Harper this preseason.

Ben Watson (TE)-  Sits out Tuesday’s practice with hip issue: On the plus side, coach Pat Shurmur says that his starting tight end will be back on the field quickly. Watson had a solid year in 2010 and will look to improve on those numbers in 2011 as the team’s pass offense figures to be improved.

Wes Welker (WR) – Misses Tuesday’s practice with neck injury: Welker has been telling his teammates that he feels fine since leaving Saturday’s preseason game against the Lions with a neck injury. That being said there really is no compelling reason for the Patriots to rush him back for Thursday’s preseason finale.
 
Arian Foster (RB)- Able to do some light activity: Foster stretched with the Texans and did some light jogging at practice again Tuesday. Foster will stay in Houston this week to rehab his hamstring, as there is zero upside to him playing in the team’s preseason finale. Still, he seems to be trending in the right direction after tweaking his hamstring this past Saturday. There is no reason knock Foster down your draft boards but just be wary that this hamstring issue has been lingering off and on for a while and could creep up again during the regular season.

Jahvid Best (RB)- Will play in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Bills: Don’t expect to see Best out there too long as he is recovering from a concussion, but assuming no setbacks, his presence Thursday will confirm his health and readiness to lead the Lions’ backfield come Week 1. Best of course has a history of concussion issues not to mention durability concerns in general, but he is clearly the main horse in the Lions backfield and could approach 1,000 yards in his sophomore campaign if he can stay injury-free.