Cowboys’ faithful received a scare Wednesday morning with the report that their prized fourth overall pick, Ezekiel Elliott, is expected to miss some time dealing with a hamstring issue. Overblown concern dominated fantasy Twitter when the news first broke this morning until the realization surfaced that Elliott’s injury is not that serious and that the Cowboys are simply being cautious with their rookie back. In the meanwhile, veteran Alfred Morris and Darius Jackson (their only two healthy backs) will receive more reps. Elliott is considered a sure fire first rounder in fantasy drafts this year, particularly in PPR formats, despite never playing an NFL snap. His draft stock should take a small dip into the second round (12-team formats) for the time being. Elliott is expected to rank among the league’s leaders in carries this season.
- Redskins’ rookie wideout Josh Doctson is expected to miss more than two weeks of training camp according to ESPN’s Dianna Marie Russini. Doctson evoked concern on Wednesday morning as he was seen walking around the practice facility in a walking boot. Once healthy, Doctson is expected to serve as the team’s number three receiver behind veterans DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. Doctson is currently being drafted as the number 48 WR (WR4/5) in MFL10s with an ADP of 115.84.
- The Rams have not been in contact with their number two running back, Tre Mason, in over seven months. According to a police report obtained by ESPN, Mason was admitted for “evaluation” at a local hospital in late-July after his mother claimed he was “acting unusual and making irrational statements”. Apparently, Mason told officers that “the police were responsible for teaching Al-Qaida how to fly planes”. Right now, the Rams are concentrating on his well-being well ahead of his football career. This unfortunate situation brings undrafted University of Texas rookie Malcolm Brown into fantasy relevance for those of us playing in deeper leagues.
- Chicago Bears’ star receiver Alshon Jeffery was unable to complete practice on Wednesday due to muscle tightness in his hamstring. Head coach John Fox did not provide details on the injury but speculation arose that it may have been related to the heat. Despite the mildness of the report, it’s still a concern for Bears’ fans and fantasy owners. Jeffery missed 27 days of training camp and every preseason game last year due to a left calf muscle strain and only took part in nine regular season games because of a nagging hamstring. Jeffery is currently drafted as a WR1 in the second round of early fantasy drafts and could potentially slip further down if similar reports continue to surface.
- Unfortunately, Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid did not have a timetable for the return of their star back Jamaal Charles who is currently on the team’s preseason PUP list. Charles is the current all-time NFL leader in yards-per-carry, averaging 5.5 throughout his eight year career. Typically a slam dunk first round fantasy pick, Charles is being selected in the mid-second round of 12-team MFL (My Fantasy League) drafts and in the early-third round of the NFFC (National Fantasy Football Championship). Once he is deemed to be at full strength, Charles is expected to resume his role as the team’s bellcow back, though fellow running backs Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West will be called upon to lighten his workload.
- According to a report by CSN New England, newly-acquired tight end Martellus Bennett has received praise from head coach Bill Belichick. Belichick noted that Bennett and fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski are in some ways interchangeable and that both can block and catch the ball downfield. Those worried about Bennett’s target-share with Gronk in the mix need to be reminded of the Patriots’ tight end production in 2011. That season Gronkowski and now-imprisoned tight end Aaron Hernandez combined for 24 touchdowns and 2,237 receiving yards, catching 169 balls on 237 targets. Bennett is just one season removed from leading all NFL receivers with 90 receptions.
- Speaking of tight ends, Cameron Brate, a second-year player out of Harvard, is currently receiving first-team reps ahead of third-year player Austin Seferian-Jenkins. ASJ has been a headache for the Bucs since arriving to the pro level, most recently getting kicked out of a team practice in mid-June and then ranting about it on Twitter. ASJ has not had a particularly bad camp thus far, but has simply been outplayed by Brate. Brate’s ADP this summer places him outside of the top 30 tight ends, but he has been slowly moving up draft lists. As positive reports continue to surface about Brate, he should begin to surpass ASJ in fantasy drafts. Brate actually caught two more receptions (23) than Seferian-Jenkins (21) last season.
- Josh Ferguson, the undrafted rookie back out of the University of Illinois, was listed fourth on the Colts’ depth chart today behind starter Frank Gore and backups Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman. Ferguson received much praise this summer for his quickness and potential contribution to the passing game. Ferguson will have to earn his spot on the Colts’ roster and will likely go through his fair share of lumps over the next few weeks as he attempts to climb up the depth chart. Ferguson has the ability to contribute as a receiver out of the backfield and is a popular late-round flier in summer fantasy drafts.
- The first pick of the 2016 draft, Jared Goff, is currently working with the Rams’ second-string offense as he continues to build up his knowledge of the pro offense. Head coach Jeff Fisher has enabled fifth-year quarterback Case Keenum to run the first-team offense for now. The Rams are heavily invested in Goff as their signal-caller for many years to come, now that they have returned to Los Angeles. It’s only a matter of time before Goff supplants Keenum as the starter this season.
- Finally, in late Wednesday night news, masterful Pro Bowl inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman signed a 4-year, $44 million extension with the 49ers. Bowman led the league with 154 tackles last season after missing all of the 2014 season following a gruesome knee injury that he suffered in the 2013 NFC Championship game.