Colts QB Peyton Manning (neck) is going to dominate the news cycle as he's no longer practicing and is doubtful for Week One. This is a dual week in fantasy football with drafts and Week One preparations. Manning brings a slew of problems: How much does he affect the players around him? On draft day how far do you let him drop? If he's out, how valuable are the skill positions — running back, wide receiver and tight end?
You can still draft Manning for value in the middle rounds, but you better back that pick up with someone like Joe Flacco, Matthew Stafford or a Jay Cutler type. As far as the other positions, why risk a high pick to grab WR Reggie Wayne or TE Dallas Clark? Let someone else risk it. Both players are top-tier but not irreplaceable.
If you've already drafted and are laying out your starting lineup, you can't bench Wayne or Clark, but you sure can temper expectations. View Wayne as a No. 3 fantasy receiver and hope Clark becomes QB Kerry Collins' safety valve and his targets don't dwindle. On the flip side, if you love a value, try to buy low from an owner who feels desperate enough to deal his Colts.
Jennings' season over before it starts
When Jaguars' head coach Jack Del Rio refused to talk about Rashad Jennings' knee injury and whether placing him on injured reserve was a possibility, we figured something bad was up. It felt like the player was already done and the team was keeping us in the dark for no reason. Jennings was entering his third season, a year when the transition to the NFL begins to click and the player goes from a young stud to a mature veteran who lives up to his potential. Instead, with Jennings being placed on I.R., we now turn to RB Deji Karim as the handcuff to Maurice Jones-Drew. The irony is that if you look at the Jags' roster, you'll see they have two running backs in M.J.D. and Karim yet three fullbacks. I would imagine they'll sign a tailback — at least for depth — this week. Karim's only value is as a handcuff.
Cassel gets crushed; Moeaki never got it going
Chiefs head coach Todd Haley is catching heat over keeping QB Matt Cassel and TE Tony Moeaki in the final preseason game well into the second quarter. Packers NT Howard Green and his 340-pound frame flattened Cassel. Reports stated he had the wind knocked out of him, with Haley showing no concern. Now he may miss Week One with a rib injury, which also kills the value of WR Dwayne Bowe. If Cassel can't go, his replacement would be Tyler Palko, a journeyman who's never started a regular-season game. Obviously, this would mean lower expectations for all the skill-position players — Jamaal Charles is now a No. 2 fantasy back and Bowe a No. 3 fantasy receiver. The good news is that Cassel is practicing.
The Chiefs lost Moeaki with a knee injury after he missed most of camp recovering from an injury to the other knee. Right or left knee, he's still going on injured reserve, but Moeaki was already dropping in drafts. He couldn't get on the field, and the Chiefs were having a horrible preseason, forcing owners to look elsewhere. There are other tight ends with greater value and upside like Fred Davis, Evan Moore, Todd Heap and Visanthe Shiancoe. Tight ends are deep, so don't think otherwise.
Is it time to go after Foster?
Right now, fantasy owners are doing their best to try to either trade for or trade away Arian Foster (hamstring). Foster for Jamaal Charles, Foster for Tom Brady and Jermichael Finley, Foster for Andre Johnson. The offers are flying, but realize this: The team and Foster believe the injury is just an aggravation and, with rest, he'll be good to go. You have to take advantage of owners who panic. Foster is still day-to-day but the way his owners are panicking behooves us to begin trade talks.
Running backs ...
Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (ankle) is probable and will be ready for Week One. ... Titans RB Javon Ringer (hip) is probable and will be available, but Chris Johnson is back and Ringer's not in game shape. ... Bears RB Marion Barber's calf injury is not serious, but don't play him until we see what his role with the team is, but there's upside here. ... The Browns put RB Brandon Jackson (turf toe) on I.R., ending his season. Look for Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty to take his third-down duties.
We don't know if 49ers WR Michael Crabtree (foot) will be ready for Week One, but we know he's not 100 percent, so sit him until he is. ... Ravens WR Lee Evans (foot) has not practiced with the team since Aug. 27, but head coach John Harbaugh is showing no concern and not filling us in. The Wednesday injury report will tell us where he stands. ... Colts WRs Austin Collie (foot) and Anthony Gonzalez (hamstring) may not be ready for Week One, but keep Collie on your bench until Peyton Manning returns. He has minimal value until then. ... Patriots WR Wes Welker (neck) should be good to go for Week One after dressing and warming up for the final preseason game. He did not play, but all signs point toward him being ready.
Tight ends ...
Redskins TE Chris Cooley (knee) insists he'll be ready to go in Week One, but he has yet to practice and a healthy Fred Davis can get the job done. Dump him and go with a player with more upside, such as Davis, Evan Moore, Visanthe Shiancoe or even Todd Heap (deep sleeper). ... Raiders TE Kevin Boss (knee) may not be ready to play in Week One, so look for alternatives if he's your No. 1, which I hope he's not.
Saints PK Garrett Hartley (hip) is out either 6-8 or 8-10 weeks, depending on which reports you believe. Either way, he's gone, but you do have an alternative in John Kasay, his temporary replacement.