It's midweek, so lets' take a quick look at what's happening around Fantasyland and how it affects fantasy drafts. Knowledge is power, and the NFL slows down for no one. Trust me; it's been nothing but long nights the past few weeks.
Let's play it by ear, but NFL Network's Michael Lombardi says the Titans are willing to open the bank to pay RB Chris Johnson what he wants. On the flip side, The Tennessean's Jim Wyatt, who covers the team daily, says there has been no breakthrough and nothing has changed. All I know is this: Johnson is not with the team, nor is he practicing, and every day he's out, his fantasy stock drops. I'm not drafting him, but there comes a point where, if he drops into the late second round, you have to consider it.
Mixed reports are coming out on RB Arian Foster and his aggravated hamstring. ESPN's John Clayton says he could miss 3-4 weeks, but he's basing that on an MRI finding that Foster posted on his Twitter account. ESPN's Dr. Michael Kaplan says it could be a Grade 1 or 2 injury, with swelling and bleeding. Why don't we wait for the team to come out and comment on it directly? It's one doctor looking at one image without the back story. I'm not discounting the story as much as we need to hear from the team directly. Maybe I'm not concerned because I view Vikings RB Adrian Peterson as the top overall pick. Maybe you should, too.
In this day and age of instant communications, I found it surprising some fantasy owners made the assumption Colts QB Peyton Manning was good to go. When you see only a headline, it's easy to read something into what's not there. The Colts activated Manning from the PUP list, and while he's been throwing and increasing his workload, he's only practicing on a limited and controlled basis with a scripted routine. He's not able to play right now, and no decision has been made on his Week One status.
In good news, RB Maurice Jones-Drew will make his debut Thursday, and it can't come soon enough. When he plays, everyone around him lifts his game, but right now, fantasy owners only care about M.J.D. Look for the team to use him in roughly 15 to 16 plays. We hope he shows enough to prove he's healthy and ready to go.
The 49ers activated WR Michael Crabtree (foot) from the PUP (physically-unable-to-perform) list, allowing him to practice. He's missed time with a broken left foot and had surgery on it before camp. He's not in game shape, has no chemistry with the quarterback and plays as if he doesn't care. Nevertheless, he's slotted to be the team's No. 1 receiver based on his lofty top-10 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft. Obviously, I'm not high on him, but in part it's because he's yet to get a full training camp in. Compound that with his attitude, and it's clear why he's been a failure so far. He's not 100 percent and is still rehabbing, making his Week One status unknown.
The Rams signed Mark Clayton to a one-year deal, which begs the question: What is his role and what does it mean for the starters? It probably means there's not a roster spot for WR Danario Alexander, but don't worry if you own Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson or Mike Sims-Walker. Clayton's not 100 percent from the torn patellar tendon in his right knee, so whether active or not in Week One, he's not ready.
In minor fantasy news the Seahawks lost TE John Carlson for the season with a torn labrum in his shoulder. The team was hoping to use him and newly signed Zach Miller in two-TE sets. For the Seahawks that would have been great, but fantasy owners saw it differently, with two players eating into each other's numbers. This gives Miller a boost, but until the team fixes its QB problems, he's not worth drafting.
The Saints took steps to make sure they have a placekicker for Week One by signing John Kasay, formerly of the Panthers. Kasay had an 86 percent kicking rate in 2010 and is as reliable and battle-tested as they come. He'll stand in until Garrett Hartley returns from a hip injury suffered in the third preseason game. It's not surprising the Saints aren't talking about the extent of the injury.
Elsewhere around the league
It doesn't matter what a player says, when you have millions on the line in the form of a potential new contract, you find that extra "oomph" to take you to the next level. It's not good or bad; it's just who we are. I find it a little disappointing when a player gets a new deal. I'm happy for him financially, because this is the most brutal legal sport in our country, but I love it when a player is hungry and plays like it.
I'm sure 49ers RB Frank Gore is not as hungry as he was yesterday after agreeing to a three-year extension worth $21 million with $13.5 million guaranteed. Despite all this money, I'd still be crying after comparing the deal with Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams' five-year $43 million contract with $21 million guaranteed!
While I believe it was a poor business decision to give QB Michael Vick a $100 million deal with such a small sampling, I'm happy at how he's turned his life around. Sure, he's young and is no saint, but neither am I nor are you. It's time to get off your high horse and let it go. Only $35.5 million is guaranteed, and he owes creditors $18 million. You figure out the math on the $100 million quarterback. This does give the team long-term security and will avoid any distractions in season.
Bengals RB Cedric Benson has begun to serve his 20-day jail sentence and, with good behavior, will serve only seven days. This will not affect his fantasy stock or his status with the Bengals. They'll still be horrific when he returns.