Dynasty Implications
By Jeff Tefertiller
July 7th, 2010

This was a weekly feature during the 2009 season. With the training camps right around the corner and the news starting to pick up, we will be reviving the series. We will look to identify some winners and losers for dynasty leagues. The focus will be on the players with recent injury situations or change in situations during the past week.

For a less than average NFL starting quarterback, 49ers passer Alex Smith has been in the news a lot this offseason. The big question is whether or not the team will look to keep the former first overall pick going forward. Footballguys friend Matt Maiocco, from CSNBayArea.com, reported this past week that ex-NFL Scout Dave Razzano has never been a believer in QB Alex Smith. Razzano is a well-respected NFL talent evaluator. He said, "I had him (Smith) rated as a non-starting player." But, Razzano is a huge believer in the prospects San Francisco's third quarterback Nate Davis. "When I evaluated him, I thought he was the same guy as Mark Sanchez," Razzano said. "I thought they were very similar. But you have to put a guy on the field and let him play. There's a reason Ball State was, like, 12-1 or 13-1 for the first time ever. And now they're back to winning two games. That guy was a heck of a quarterback." When Davis came out of college, many questioned his intelligence and his release point. His learning disability is now well documented and should not hinder Davis' chances going forward. The release point may be a different issue. He is very athletic and can make plays with his feet. This is a huge year for Smith as the 49er front office could very well move in a different direction for 2011. If so, only Davis and veteran David Carr would remain. If San Francisco struggles, the team may want to take an extended look at the youngster. Davis is one of those players who could either be a viable starter or be out of league before his rookie contract is complete. In dynasty leagues, he is a great player to take a chance on. Davis is a better risk than some of the retreads (Delhomme, Hasselbeck, Trent Edwards, etc.) whom we foolishly expect better results than in the recent past.

With the coaching change in Seattle, and the acquisition of Charlie Whitehurst, many wondered about the job security of Matt Hasselbeck. Alex Marvez, from FoxSports.com, reported that the starting gig is Matt Hasselbeck's to lose. It is too soon to predict the demise of the veteran. Even though the Seahawks have invested quite a bit into Whitehurst, Hasselbeck will enter training camp as the "unquestioned starter". He has worked with the new coaching staff to get up to speed in the new offense after playing in the Mike Holmgren West Coast Offense for so many years. The offensive line will be improved with the selection of tackle Russell Okung in April's NFL Draft. Hasselbeck is unlikely to ever be a fantasy factor ever again, but could play well enough to garner a future pick via trade for his fantasy owners. His injury history is a concern, as is the lack of a legitimate running attack.

There are several layers to the recent arrest of Cincinnati Bengal running back Cedric Benson. Benson claims he was attacked in an Austin nightclub. But, it was Benson whom the the police arrested. Bengals beat writer Joe Reedy does not think that Cedric Benson will be suspended by the league for his recent assault charge, which is good news for fantasy owners. Reedy is a top beat writer and should have a good pulse on the situation. Benson is facing a Class A misdemeanor for his role in the May fight. This altercation could not have come at a worse time for the Cincinnati ball carrier. Benson is in the final season of the two-year contract signed after the release from the Chicago Bears. There was talk of a possible three-year extension. Either Benson is less intelligent than anyone thought, getting into a fight with a new contract in the works, or is truly a victim. Time will tell.

The Washington Redskin running game will be anchored by veterans Clinton Portis and the newly-signed Larry Johnson. Redskin beat writer Rich Tandler surprised many when he said that he believes Johnson could see significant early-down work this season. Tandler's rationale is that Clinton Portis appears in line to be the third-down back, leaving Johnson many of the first and second down carries. While Tandler is a good beat writer, this situation is way too early to predict with any degree of certainty. Coach Mike Shanahan is known for fostering an effective running game. He will get the most out of lesser backs. One interesting point to note, per Tandler, is that Johnson has roughly $9 million in incentives in his contract. He has plenty to play for.

The biggest saga of the week has been with San Diego wide receiver Vincent Jackson. He has been officially suspended three games for violating the league's Personal Conduct Policy. The suspension stems from Jackson's two DUIs. Jackson has said he will not appeal the decision. The Charger pass catcher said this week that he was expecting a four-game ban, so the lesser punishment was welcomed. There was one interesting point that came to light. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that even if Jackson follows through with his holdout threat, the suspension will start in week one anyway. The edict from Roger Goodell was expected. In fact, the news of the suspension is actually a good thing for fantasy owners. It is one less unknown variable. Now, the Jackson story is focused solely on his holdout and possible trade. The receiver has stated that he is prepared to miss most of the season if not given a new contract. This has led the swirling of trade rumors. The Chargers say they are not actively shopping Vincent Jackson, nor are they interested in dealing him. Could San Diego General Manager A.J. Smith just be playing hardball in order to up the ante for a potential trade? Oh, sure. It is quite possible. But, Smith is known for not relenting. Period. The one thing to remember is that Jackson is a free agent in 2011 so the Chargers will get nothing other than a compensatory pick if they overplay their hand. Also, it is easy to play hardball in the middle of the summer. It is another thing entirely when the team misses their play-making receiver and the situation is a constant distraction. For dynasty owners, the Jackson saga serves as a great time to buy ... even if it means hanging onto him for a year without production. But, there is still hope of a trade. Potential landing spots are Seattle, Chicago, and Washington. There might be more, but these are the three that have been reported.

If Jackson is traded, only veteran Malcom Floyd and the inexperienced Legedu Naanee are wide receiver options for the Chargers. Talking about scraping the bottom of the barrel. The depth at the position took a hit after enigmatic Chris Chambers was released in the middle of last season. Now, the Jackson potential holdout exposes the lack of depth. Floyd is a big play receiver down the field, but struggles with consistency. Naanee is still learning the game. He has some upside, but may need further development. This lack of depth at the position has caused most to assume that if San Diego moves Jackson, they will get a young wide receiver back in the deal. Of the two, Naanee might be the dynasty play. Can you really start Floyd with confidence?

This past week, Denver Bronco coach Josh McDaniels surprised many by saying he has always seen Eddie Royal as a slot receiver. He compared the young receiver to New England's Wes Welker. This comes as a positive and a negative for Royal. The move should ensure that Royal sees more pass targets and could rebound this season after a shocking WR100 finish last year. The downside is obvious. If McDaniels has "always" seen Royal as a slot receiver, then why oh why did he not move him to that position last year? Further, could the Denver coach only be saying that now after Jabar Gaffney's huge games to end the season AND after the team drafted Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker? Also, what does this comment say about Brandon Stokley other than "pack your bags"? While there is considerable upside with Brandon Marshall traded to Miami, it might take more than a position change to elevate Royal back to fantasy viability.

One of the more interesting situations to monitor in training camp is the battle to start opposite Andre Johnson in Houston. Even though he was slowed by injury last year, the Texans gave Kevin Walter a nice contract with a whopping $8 million guaranteed. Interestingly, since Walter signed on the dotted line, coach Gary Kubiak has showered praise on youngster Jacoby Jones. At first, Kubiak stated that the two would for the starting job. Then, the coach said that the young receiver has finally matured after inconsistency and immaturity holding him back for the last three years. Also, the team selected speedy returner Trindon Holliday to handle the return duties, allowing Jones to concentrate fully on the receiver position. Many underestimated the development needed for Jones to make a splash in the NFL. He played collegiately at tiny Lane and has needed the past three seasons to transition to the NFL level. It might be another year before Jones emerges fully, if at all, but he has the skills to make a big impact if and when he puts it all together.

Darrius Heyward-Bey is a name that is getting a little buzz this offseason. He has added ten pounds of muscle and seems to finally be taking his position seriously. Heyward-Bey reportedly out-practiced Louis Murphy throughout each of the Raiders' OTAs. He looks to be the opening day starter across from Chaz Schilens. With the huge upgrade at the quarterback position, Heyward-Bey is a great "buy low" candidate in dynasty leagues.

Plaxico Burress is a forgotten name in the world of fantasy football. But, he has re-applied for work release from prison. Burress is currently nine months into his two-year sentence for a felony gun conviction. He previously applied for work release in November, but was denied. The politicians pushing for the harsh sentence for Burress shooting himself in the leg are now not opposing the release. Burress could sneak onto the fantasy radar if released. While he could miss games due to suspension, the ex-Giant star could make an impact this season. He is a free agent. A decision on the latest application isn't expected for several weeks, but Burress is worth rostering immediately on the hope he can be freed. He is very intriguing in dynasty leagues.

Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels, during a fan chat, said that he was looking forward to opening day and his ACL looks "great". While this is all well and good, the athletic but oft-injured tight end has other motives than to encourage the Texan fan base. This statement was posturing for the long-term extension Daniels has been chasing for two years now. So, while it is great for fantasy owners that Daniels should be back to full health to begin the year, his long-term durability and situation are in doubt. The club is waiting for Daniels to make it through the 2010 season healthy before forking over the big money Daniels will command. An interesting tidbit is what quarterback Matt Schaub had to say about Daniels' backup James Casey. "James (Casey) really had a great off-season. Coming in last year from his college system where he played tight end and almost every position on the field - he never really got in a three point stance." Schaub continued, "There was a lot of new stuff that we threw at him. I feel like he really digested it all through the year and then in the off-season really studied hard and I thought he had a great OTA session. I think he's ready to go this season and get more (playing) time." So, Daniels dynasty owners might consider stashing Casey in case the veteran tight end is either injured or does not return to the Texans for 2011.

According to the Detroit News, Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew will be medically cleared to resume full activities later on this month. This is great news, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Even if Pettigrew is cleared for training camp, he still may start camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. With the talent Pettigrew displayed last season, it would be a Matt Millen-esque mistake to rush the second-year tight end back to action. He should be back in the lineup early in the year.

Please feel free to email me at tefertiller@footballguys.com with any questions or comments. Also, I am on Twitter, so feel free to ask me questions there.