Those of you that used a third-, fourth-, or fifth-round pick on Joseph Randle in your fantasy drafts are likely hanging on every nugget of news that comes out on the Cowboys’ running back situation. And the latest one to hit the Rotoworld Player News page isn’t one that sounds glowing for Randle.
Randle is listed as the starter on the Cowboys’ latest depth chart, but it sounds like it’s merely in name only because Randle simply may just take the first snap of Sunday night’s showdown with the Giants. While Randle is the “starter,” both coach Jason Garrett and executive VP Stephen Jones admitted they have no idea who will get the first carry Sunday night. Jones said Tuesday that the starter “will likely be determined in practice this week.” And Garrett said he envisions “a lot of people” contributing to the success in the backfield, strongly hinting at a committee approach.
Word out of Valley Ranch is that the Cowboys feel Darren McFadden may be their best all-around back. That may be true, but as we’ve seen, McFadden can’t stay healthy and hasn’t been very effective when healthy recently. Lance Dunbar is the only one with a clear role in this backfield as the third-down back, and that’s not a big enough role for Dunbar to return anything more than RB3/4 numbers. Ideally, we’d like to see one of Randle, McFadden, or newcomer Christine Michael to emerge as the lead dog, but it’s not going to crystalize in time for the opener for us to feel confident putting any of them into our lineups. Randle might not be a bad tournament play in daily leagues behind a strong offensive line and against a woeful Giants defense, but he’s not a cash-game option.
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In Other News…
The Saints’ newest offensive toy — C.J. Spiller — missed the entire preseason after undergoing a knee scope in mid-August. He’s been sidelined four weeks, and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports Spiller will miss the Week 1 opener against the Cardinals. That leaves Mark Ingram as the clear No. 1 runner for New Orleans, with Khiry Robinson and possibly Tim Hightower mixing in to give Ingram a breather. Ingram should flirt with 20 carries. Spiller is expected back for Week 2 against the Bucs.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport dropped another nugget Tuesday evening, reporting Rams rookie Todd Gurley, despite being “live” at practice this week after ditching his no-contact jersey, will not play the first three weeks of the season. That would give him around 10 months of recovery. With Gurley out for the opener and Tre Mason (hamstring) missing practice Tuesday, it could be the Benny Cunningham show in the Rams’ backfield. He’d be backed up by Isaiah Pead.
The Bears and super-sly (he thinks) coach John Fox have been extremely hush-hush regarding Alshon Jeffery’s (calf) status, only saying their star receiver is day-to-day. Well, this day-to-day ailment has turned into a month-long ordeal. Reportedly, Jeffery is “progressing well” and “the hope” is he’ll be ready for Sunday’s opener against the Packers. If not, Martellus Bennett and Eddie Royal become very interesting in a game with a high over-under where Jay Cutler will likely be throwing a lot. Bennett would particularly become a strong play at a weak tight end spot.
Rookie Tevin Coleman is listed as the Falcons’ starting running back on their official Week 1 depth chart. Devonta Freeman has battled a hamstring injury all summer and says he’s about 90 percent. Coleman battled a hamstring issue of his own during camp, but played in two preseason games, rushing for 58 yards on 12 carries and breaking long gains of 15 and 26 yards. He’s extremely boom-or-bust as a runner, but has the capability of breaking off a long one at any moment. Coleman won’t be recommended as anything more than an RB3 against the Eagles’ stout run defense Monday.
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Quarterback & Running Back Slants
Cardinals waived RB Marion Grice with an injury settlement. … Dolphins signed Jonas Gray to their practice squad. … Rookie David Johnson is listed as the Cardinals’ No. 3 running back behind Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson on this week’s depth chart. … RBs coach Anthony Lynn hinted LeSean McCoy will be the Bills’ goal-line back. McCoy (hamstring) practiced in individual drills Tuesday. … Bryce Brown will have to earn a job on special teams before making his way into the picture on offense for the Bills. … Free agent QBs Josh Johnson and Thad Lewis worked out for the Eagles on Tuesday. … NFL suspended free agent RB Jonathan Dwyer three games. … Taiwan Jones is listed as Latavius Murray’s backup on the Raiders’ latest depth chart. Roy Helu, who missed a ton of camp with a hamstring injury, is the No. 3. … Will Johnson will serve as DeAngelo Williams’ backup Thursday night against the Patriots. … The Lions listed Joique Bell as their starting running back with Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah as Nos. 2 and 3, respectively. Abdullah will quickly pass Riddick and share time with Bell. … Karlos Williams is the Bills’ No. 2 running back. … Newly-signed Fred Jackson will play Week 1 against the Rams. … Duke Johnson remained in the league’s concussion protocol as of Monday. … Bills re-signed Matt Cassel. He’ll be the No. 2 quarterback with E.J. Manuel getting the raw end of the deal as the No. 3. … Ravens re-signed RB Terrence Magee. … Rashad Jennings is listed as the Giants’ starter. … The Giants and contract-year QB Eli Manning are still discussing an extension. … T.J. Yeldon is listed as Jacksonville’s starter.
Wide Receiver & Tight End Slants
Third-round WR Sammie Coates isn’t expected to see much, if at all, of the field early this season. … Free agents WR Shaq Evans and TE Joseph Fauria, along with a host of others, worked out for the Giants Tuesday. … Coach John Harbaugh doesn’t believe Breshad Perriman’s (knee) return is “tremendously far down the road.” He’s tough to own in redraft right now since Perriman missed all of his rookie camp and preseason. … Michael Floyd is listed as the starter ahead of John Brown on the Cardinals’ Week 1 depth chart, but the sense is it’s in name only. Floyd is expected back at practice this week after dislocating his fingers last month. … Jeff Janis is behind both James Jones and Ty Montgomery on the Packers’ latest depth chart. The signing of Jones let the air out of Janis’ balloon a bit. … Chiefs cut WR Junior Hemingway with an injury settlement. … NFL suspended free agent WR Mike Williams three games. … Kenny Stills was listed as the starter ahead of Rishard Matthews on the Dolphins’ latest depth chart. Matthews had been ahead of Stills in the preseason. DeVante Parker is listed with the twos. … Zach Ertz (groin) has reportedly been cleared to practice. His status for Week 1 is uncertain. … Rookie Maxx Williams has shed his no-contact jersey at Ravens practice. He’s behind Crockett Gillmore on the depth chart. … Saints waived WR Nick Toon with an injury settlement. He should get another chance elsewhere. … Free agent Hakeem Nicks worked out for the Saints on Tuesday. … Terrelle Pryor is listed as a fourth-team receiver on the Browns’ depth chart. Dwayne Bowe was listed as a third-stringer. … Bills waived rookie TE Nick O’Leary. … Heath Miller is expected to take on a bigger pass-game role with Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant suspended. … Scott Chandler is expected to play a bigger role with Brandon LaFell (foot, PUP) sidelined. … Roddy White (elbow) returned to practice Tuesday. … Coach Ken Whisenhunt expects both Justin Hunter and Dorial Green-Beckham to be offensive contributors.