Denver players who have talked with Wes Welker over the past two days remain encouraged by his progress. Coach John Fox has not ruled out the star slot receiver for the Sept. 7 opener.
"He's doing fantastic in the process (of the league's concussion protocol)," Fox said. "We take it one day at a time. But he had another positive day."
Offensive coordinator Adam Gase admitted that he will review the playbook to determine whether certain plays for Welker are adding danger. Welker's receptions are often in high-traffic areas, where he's bracketed by multiple defenders. Welker ducked to the ground after catching a 9-yard pass Saturday as Swearinger delivered the hit. Welker's head snapped to the turf, and when he rose to his feet he left the game.
He still has to pass protocol but it's a great sign he's showing improvement. Drafting Welker at this point presents a great risk for your fantasy team so owners need to be prepared in case he misses time. That could include a late selection of Cody Latimer, who we think eventually would emerge should Welker miss time now or in the future.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 5:55pm
Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 12:12pm
Romo went through individual drills during the portion of practice open to the media.
Romo will not play Thursday against the Denver Broncos, and the Cowboys won't have a full practice again until Saturday as they up their preparation for the Sept. 7 opener against the San Francisco 49ers.
“I can’t give a level. It’s just a concussion,” Fox said. “I don’t think there’s part concussion, half concussion. Either you’re concussed or you’re not, the way I understand it.”
While it might seem like a small distinction, it’s actually quite important (even as John Harbaugh was describing Bernard Pierce as having a mild concussion). Getting coaches to accept the seriousness of head injuries is a huge step, as for too long, there was a “rub some dirt on it,” element to the business.
But since this is Welker’s third concussion in 10 months, the Broncos have no choice but to take it seriously. Fox added that Welker was in good spirits and didn't sense Welker was hinting about retiring. However, just the fact it was even a topic of conversation is a pretty scary thing - fantasy football aside. From a fantasy perspective, owners should make sure they back themselves up with an extra WR in case Welker misses time. We think Cody Latimer has a better upside than Andre Caldwell going forward, but both could contribute in various packages. Emmanuel Sanders could end up moving to the slot.
Monday, August 25, 2014, 12:57pm
Romo and the starters had five possessions in the first half of Saturday’s game, a 25-20 loss to the Dolphins. They gained 110 yards, punted three times and came away with two long field goals from Dan Bailey to take a 6-3 lead into the locker room against a team not considered a defensive juggernaut. Romo was 10 of 18 for 87 yards.
Romo is not expected to play in Thursday's game in AT&T Stadium. As the final of the Cowboys' four preseason matchups, the tuneup against the Broncos isn't expected to feature veteran starters in the lineup.
“It’s been an honor to play for the Arizona Cardinals,” Feely wrote on Twitter. “Michael Bidwill, thank you for your leadership and friendship. AZ will still be home!”
Chandler Catanzaro, a rookie out of Clemson, has been competing with Feely through training camp and the preseason. Catanzaro has made all of his field goals in the preseason, while Feely missed a field goal in Sunday’s preseason game.
Feeley could end up landing in Denver where Matt Prater is suspended the first four games, or perhaps Philadelphia where the Eagles may have lost confidence in Alex Henery.
The sobering reality, however, is that Welker has suffered three concussions in 10 months, all serious enough to force him to exit a game. He will undergo the mandated concussion protocol and must be cleared by the Broncos' medical staff and an independent doctor before practicing.
"I believe he's going to be good," said receiver Demaryius Thomas, who spoke to Welker on Saturday.
Welker makes a living on underneath routes that turn him into a human pinball, as the story puts it, and it's a frightening number of concussions in a short period of time. Welker has potential to put up huge numbers, especially in PPR leagues, but the treat of losing him for weeks at a time means you need to back yourself up. Andre Caldwell and Cody Latimer could be guys to keep an eye on as possible pickups, with the rookie Latimer having a higher upside.
Sunday, August 24, 2014, 4:20pm
Until shuffling onto the mile-high stage, Sanders had not achieved the statistical milestones that separate prolific wide receivers from the vast pack of pass-catchers. Sanders had never posted a 1,000-yard season; his career high of 740 yards was accomplished last year. He'd never even had a 100-yard game; a six-catch, 98-yard effort in a 55-31 loss at New England last Nov. 3 was the closest he'd come.
But Sanders has raw tools: speed, quickness, and good hands. His production trended in the right direction during his four Steelers season. And his skill set could project to the outside or the slot, depending on how the Broncos used him.
Saturday brought tangible evidence that the projection will become reality. He exploded downfield and got open deep, catching touchdown passes of 67 and 29 yards.
Sanders could be in store for a bigger role with the news that Wes Welker has apparently suffered another concussion. He's ranked 27th on our list but we have him trending up. He's currently getting picked in the 7th round of 10 team leagues, but you may need to take him earlier than that.
Sunday, August 24, 2014, 1:58pm
While he was only on the field for one drive, with eight total touches, Ball’s presence was felt.
But, as Head Coach John Fox said, “We got him in and out quickly.”
Ronnie Hillman had a good night behind Ball and undrafted rookie Juwan Thompson has made an impression during camp and this week against the Texans and seems to be “becoming a pro” at a rapid pace, the story pointed out. Ball looks like the safe RB1 and it was good to see him get 8 touches in limited time. The Broncos also seem comfortable with their RBs behind Ball.
The violation was alcohol-related. Prater has been in the league's alcohol program since soon after he was charged with driving under the influence Aug. 12, 2011.
The four-game suspension, which is expected to be announced Monday, was part of an agreement reached between Prater's attorney, Harvey Steinberg, and the league, so an appeal is not expected. The NFL had initially threatened a one-year suspension.
Prater should return to be one of the best fantasy kickers in the league, but he won't be available for the first month of the seasons. Owners who have already drafted him should clear a roster spot for another kicker. He's still draftable, but owners would need to draft another kicker to fill in while Prater serves his suspension. If he's still lingering on the waiver wire in Week 2 or Week 3, he will be worth a pickup.
Broncos coach John Fox said Welker suffered a concussion during the team's 18-17 loss Saturday night to the Texans. Welker left the game following a hit to the helmet from Houston safety D.J. Swearinger.
"It was determined it was a concussion," Fox said. "He'll go through the protocol. The biggest thing on him is, of course, player safety. He'll go through the protocol."
As the article states, Welker has had a history of concussions, so this could be a serious situation. It's unclear how this will impact his long-term status. In the short-term, Emmanuel Sanders will likely move to the slot with rookie Cody Latimer and trusted veteran Andre Caldwell competing for snaps on the outside. Caldwell had his moments last season, but we believe that Latimer will eventually see a significant role if Welker is out for any length of time. We'll have more as this situation develops, but if you're drafting this weekend, avoid Welker and target Latimer in the later rounds. Caldwell is also a deep sleeper at this point.
Jets WR Eric Decker had barely played in this preseason. He missed last week’s game at the Bengals with a quad injury. He got just 12 snaps in the preseason opener against the Colts. But he appears to be establishing chemistry in the Jets’ offense just fine. Decker caught three passes for 34 yards, with a long of 27. In the third quarter, Decker caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Michael Vick. Decker actually had just one catch from presumptive starting quarterback Geno Smith. His other two were from Vick. Still, this is the sort of positive game that could put Decker in a good rhythm to start the regular season.
There’s no doubt that Decker is going to see a downgrade at QB going from Peyton Manning to a combination of Geno Smith and Michael Vick. But as the Jets’ clear WR1, he should see enough targets to become a fantasy starter even if his per target production is likely to drop.
Dating back to the beginning of the offseason program, Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins made the kind of improvement expected of young players entering their second seasons. His progress has been consistent and often spectacular. The best indication yet was during three practices with the Broncos. Working against Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib, Hopkins was physical getting off the line of scrimmage and attacking the ball. He didn’t let Talib frustrate him. He took the ball away from Talib more often than not, and the veteran corner gave him his proper respect. Hopkins has improved as a route runner. His ball skills are tremendous. He’s got quick, strong hands. His leaping ability is superb. Watching him work the sideline and the back of the end zone against the Broncos to make one catch after another was amazing.
Hopkins finished as the #50 WR in 2013, posting 52 catches for 802 yards and two touchdowns, a solid season for a rookie wideout playing along an established veteran like Andre Johnson. Since 2000, 1st round rookie wideouts with at least 700 yards receiving have increased their fantasy output by 33% in their second season. If Hopkins sees this kind of increase, he’ll be a very solid WR3.
Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders returned to practice. He has been dealing with a quad injury, and the club wanted him back to get more snaps with Peyton Manning. As did Manning. Sanders hasn't caught a pass in the preseason. His snaps were limited against the Seahawks and he sat out the 49ers game.
The likelihood Sanders will start Saturday increased with Thursday's workout. A Friday evaluation will be the determining factor.
"I didn't have any problem with that so I am extremely happy about that. It's looking good right now," Sanders said. "(Manning) has been talking to me about (playing this week) because the starters usually don't play in the fourth preseason game. This is important. We don't want to go into the regular season with me not having caught a pass from him in the game. So this game is extremely pivotal."
Sanders was the #35 WR in 2013, when he saw WR2 targets (112) for the Steelers. Eric Decker (138) and Wes Welker (111) saw a combined 249 targets as Denver's WR2 and WR3. With Decker gone, Welker (and TE Julius Thomas) could see a bit more work, but Sanders should be stepping into a big role. As OC Adam Gase said, Sanders is a good fit for his system and is versatile to play both inside and outside. He is very quick and is adept at making people miss, so he should thrive in Denver’s screen game.
“Very impressive,” O’Brien said. “(Foster is) a smart player, he’s an instinctive player. … Obviously, when we put him out there, he’s a matchup problem for people. Because he can run routes and he can run all kinds of different routes.”
Foster's health is obviously a concern. He has missed 11 games in the last three years, but did play a full season in 2012 and no longer has Ben Tate to worry about. After finishing in the top 2 in fantasy points per game from 2010 to 2012, he was #19 in that category in 2013. At 27, Foster should have plenty of tread left on his tires, though the injuries seem to be piling up. The team wants to get him more involved in the passing game, which is a good sign for his PPR value. He is a risk-reward pick in the 2nd round.
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