Catch-up on some key fantasy football news heading into this weekend’s divisional round playoff games, as well as some off-season rumors that could affect your fantasy teams in 2018.
Compiled by Justin Sablich (@JustinSablich)
Antonio Brown To Be a Game-Time Decision Sunday
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (calf/illness) is expected to be a game-time decision this Sunday. According to a source, Brown’s calf is still an issue despite the All-Pro receiver having three weeks off to rest. He was a full participant in practices on Monday and Tuesday before missing practice on Friday with an illness. For what it’s worth, head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters that he isn’t concerned about Brown from a health standpoint. It appears the Steelers will see how Brown feels after warming up before the game on Sunday. If you plan on using Brown in daily leagues this weekend, be sure to check back on his status about 90 minutes before kickoff.
Tyrod Taylor Could Be a Fit for the Broncos
Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor could be a fit for the Denver Broncos, according to the Denver Post. The Broncos made a run at Taylor in 2015 free agency, but he signed with Buffalo for less money. The Bills are expected to move on from him this offseason, and the Broncos could be a strong fit given their quarterback situation and Taylor’s ties to Gary Kubiak. With Paxton Lynch and a top-five pick this year, Taylor would not be more than a placeholder in Denver.
Larry Fitzgerald Not Affected By Retirements
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald stated that the retirements of head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer have not affected his decision on when he decides to retire. This comes in after there was a report that Fitzgerald would not retire until he found out who the new coach is. If Fitzgerald was to return, he would be considered a solid WR2 for the upcoming season despite his advanced age.
Kyle Rudolph Not on Final Injury Report
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (ankle) practiced in full all week and isn’t on the final injury report for the Divisional Round against the Saints. It’s a great sign that he was a full participant in practice all week, but he’s still likely to be less than 100 percent after having extra time to heal up with a first-round bye, and Rudolph has become increasingly risky for fantasy owners as a low-end, touchdown-dependent TE1. The Saints were the second best team at defending tight ends this year, too, in terms of fantasy points allowed per week. Rudolph could be all or nothing this weekend, and if he doesn’t find the end zone, he’ll almost surely disappoint his owners.
Brandon Coleman Ruled Out
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandon Coleman (neck) has been ruled out for the Divisional Round against the Vikings. This is a notable development for the Saints offense as they face a stiff Vikings secondary led by cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Receivers Michael Thomas and Willie Snead will have bigger roles with Coleman sidelined, and perhaps running back Alvin Kamara is more emphasized in the passing attack out of the backfield. Quarterback Drew Brees blew up against the Panthers last weekend, but he’ll have a much tougher go of it this weekend on the road.
Giants Narrowing Coaching Search
Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, New York Giants interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo and ex-Denver Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville are out of the running for the Giants head coaching job, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. Wilks was once considered one of the favorites, largely in part to his connection to general manager Dave Gettleman from their Carolina days. Now it appears that Wilks is going to be back with the Panthers, since he opted not to interview with the Colts and has not seemed much in the running for the Cardinals and Lions gigs. Spagnuolo and Studesville were always extreme long shots. The Giants are reportedly zeroed in on Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, with Josh McDaniels and Pat Shurmur also still in the mix.
DeMarco Murray May Have Played Last Snap With Titans
Tennessee Titans running back DeMarco Murray is dealing with an injury and ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe believes there’s a “decent chance” that he has played his final snap in a Titans uniform. Already ruled out for the Divisional Round, Murray, who has a torn MCL, would be a long-shot for the AFC Championship Game even if the Titans sprang a seismic upset on Saturday night. One month shy of his 30th birthday, Murray slumped to a career-worst 3.58 yards per carry as he played injured in 2017. 23-year-old sophomore Derrick Henry has looked more than capable of taking over the Titans’ workhorse role. If Murray is cut, his entire $6.5 million salary would come off the books, leaving behind no dead money.
Norv Turner Hired as Panthers’ Offensive Coordinator
The Carolina Panthers “agreed in principle” to make Norv Turner their offensive coordinator Thursday, according to a source. This was expected to happen for the last couple of days, and now it looks to be official. It’s somewhat of an odd fit, since Turner typically works with pocket passers instead of dual threats like quarterback Cam Newton. Turner’s offense usually place an emphasis on big plays downfield, too, and the Panthers lack consistent deep threats, although they do have impressive speedsters in Kaelin Clay and Curtis Samuel. Upgrading the receiving corps in the offseason should be a priority for Carolina in order to give Turner more to work with. Improving Newton’s accuracy and efficiency will be one of Turner’s main goals, too.
Matt Forte Likely Out of New York
New York Jets running back Matt Forte is likely out of New York, as ESPN’s Rich Cimini reports Forte’s “days are numbered” with the Jets. Hampered by a knee injury which did not allow him to practice and eventually landed him on injured reserve ahead of Week 17, Forte rushed for just 381 yards and two scores on 103 carries. He did continue to add value in the passing game, but the Jets need to get younger at running back. Cutting Forte will save New York $3 million against the cap.