Articles by Jerry Donabedian

A listing of all the articles written by Jerry Donabedian for the RotoWire Blog.

Pre-Draft News/Rumor Roundup

With Jared Goff and Carson Wentz all but assured of going 1-2 to the Rams and Eagles, we’ve already lost a significant portion of the drama that usually comes along with the NFL Draft.

Fortunately, there are still some interesting storylines to track, as the draft hasn’t really taken shape beyond the top two picks. What’s more, there are still a few teams with unsettled quarterback situations, which could lead to some high-impact trades in the coming days.

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Ideal NFL Draft Landing Spots (For Fantasy Purposes)

Despite all the talk about drafting “for talent over need”, it’s actually quite rare for any team to use a first-round selection to further add to a position of strength. The wiser franchises will de-emphasize positional need as the draft moves to the middle rounds, yet even teams like the Patriots and Packers generally expect their first-rounders to make significant contributions as rookies.

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NFL Free Agency: Best of the Rest

 

While most of the top free agents don’t last more than 48 hours into the league year, there are still a few potential gems that remain unsigned at the two-week mark. None of these guys is a sure thing to contribute to fantasy teams next season, but all three have reasonable upside if they happen to land in the right situation (and maybe catch a few breaks between now and Week 1).

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Friday NFL Notes

Kevin Kolb (concussion) was placed on season-ending injured reserve, putting an end to any hopes that he could return in 2013. The veteran quarterback is reportedly contemplating retirement, as this is the third major concussion that he’s suffered since entering the league in 2007. With Kolb out of the picture, E.J. Manuel (knee) is essentially a lock to start once he’s healthy, but Manuel won’t necessarily be ready for Week 1. Jeff Tuel, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Washington State, will get the start against the Patriots if Manuel isn’t ready by next Sunday.

Dennis Pitta (hip) will likely be paced on IR/designated to return, which would make him eligible to play in Week 9. He isn’t expected to be ready by Week 9 and could very well still miss the entire season, but the Ravens have apparently seen enough progress to at least consider the possibility that Pitta could make a late-season return. Ed Dickson (hamstring), who is filling in as the Ravens’ starting tight end, returned to practice earlier in the week and is looking like a good bet to be ready for Baltimore’s season opener against the Broncos. Should Dickson miss that game, veteran Dallas Clark figures to get the start against Peyton Manning and co.

DeAndre Hopkins has passed through four of the five stages in the NFL’s concussion protocol, and the Texans are hoping that he will be cleared over the weekend, which would allow him to return to practice Monday. Hopkins has a solid grip on the starting wideout spot opposite Andre Johnson, as he’s surprisingly polished for a rookie receiver. He’s looking like a good bet to be ready for Week 1, but in the event that Hopkins isn’t able to go, there could be more targets available for Lestar Jean, Keshawn Martin, and DeVier Posey. The Texans have a speedy group of backup receivers, but realistically, Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels figure to carry the receiving load if Hopkins doesn’t suit up.

Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) will handle an increased workload in practice next week in an attempt to get ready for a favorable Week 1 matchup against the Raiders. Vick Ballard figures to get the starting nod if Bradshaw can’t suit up, while No. 3 running back Donald Brown would likely handle backup duties. Bradshaw is tentatively expected to play, but it won’t be particularly surprising if he isn’t able to go.

Tom Crabtree was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain after leaving the Bucs’ final preseason game with a potentially severe injury. The news isn’t as bad as it could have been, but Crabtree can essentially be ruled out for Week 1 and will likely miss time beyond that. Prior to suffering the ankle injury, Crabtree was expected to serve as the top backup to Luke Stocker, who has just 28 career receptions heading into his third NFL season. Crabtree may be able to push Stocker for the starting job, but we’ll have to wait to find out.

LaMichael James was diagnosed with a sprained MCL and is expected to be out for three weeks. James worked as the 49ers’ No. 2 back throughout much of the offseason and training camp, but fell back to No. 3 once Kendall Hunter (Achilles) returned. Hunter is clearly the preferred handcuff to Frank Gore and should hold some stand-alone value in San Francisco’s powerful rush attack.

Thursday NFL Notes

The Patriots are leaning towards activating Rob Gronkowski from the PUP list, as the superstar tight end supposedly has a chance to return before Week 7. The team will have to make a decision by Friday, but this seems like a pretty easy call if there is any chance that Gronk could be available before he would be eligible to return from the PUP list. While a Week 1 return can seemingly be ruled out, it sounds like Gronkowski has a decent chance to be back a few weeks in to the season. Injury concerns and all, he should probably be one of the first five tight ends off the board in most drafts.

As expected, Robert Griffin (knee) received final clearance from Dr. James Andrews. The Redskins may limit Griffin’s running, and he won’t necessarily have full confidence in the knee at first, but the upside here is tantalizing for fantasy owners and casual fans alike. For what it’s worth, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan previously said that running the ball may actually keep Griffin safe, as the threat of the read-option slows down opposing pass rushers.

Chaos continues to reign in New York, as recent reports say that Mark Sanchez (shoulder) will likely be out for Week 1. Sanchez doesn’t have any structural damage, but a deep bruise in his throwing shoulder may prove to be too much for the veteran to play through. Though the Jets haven’t officially named a starter yet, it seems likely that a healthy Sanchez would get the nod over a healthy Geno Smith. Of course, Sanchez isn’t healthy and Smith is, so this battle could fall to Smith by default. Unless you’re in a two-QB league or a format with 16-plus teams, it’s probably a situation to avoid. Neither quarterback looked good in the preseason, and the Jets lack playmakers on the offensive side.

Moving on to a new injury, the Giants’ Andre Brown fractured his leg in Thursday night’s preseason game against the Patriots. Brown said that the fracture is minor, but even in a best-case scenario he figures to miss the first few weeks of action, and it’s possible that the injury could end his season. David Wilson subsequently gets a nice boost in fantasy value, while the Giants will look to Michael Cox, Ryan Torain, and Da’Rel Scott to find a viable backup. Wilson and Brown were previously slated to split time in the New York backfield, and the supremely talented Wilson is now in line to see more snaps and more touches than he would if Brown were healthy.

Marques Colston (foot) made his preseason debut Thursday against the Dolphins, catching one pass for 18 yards. There are still some questions about how his foot will hold up throughout the season, but Colston should be just fine for Week 1. Nagging foot injury or not, he figures to produce if he’s on the field.