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Fantasy football is just a game, but a game based on another game that has real people and real consequences. We follow these players around like little brothers and sisters, trying to get their attention on Twitter, reveling in their triumphs and despairing in their losses.
Before fantasy football was popularized I believe football fans had less empathy for injured players. You had your team and any player on another team could rot in hell for all you cared. But now, if you have enough fake teams, almost every player out there is either on your team or easily could be on your team. That is the way it is with David Wilson.
As extremely informed consumers of the NFL, we know David Wilson. Twenty years ago only Giants fans would have known Wilson. But we’ve read about him, poured over his stats, watched college plays, preseason and regular season. We’ve drafted him, touted him, felt empathy for him. And after being cleared to play after a scary neck injury, we rejoiced for him and now, now that his career looks like it most likely is over, we mourn with him.
According to Newsday’s Bob Glauber, coach Tom Coughlin said that Wilson had a smile on his face when they talked. The news that he most likely wouldn’t play another NFL game was not going to destroy him. He wrote on his Instagram, “Growing up, ever since I was 8 years old, I wanted to play in the NFL. And I can’t say that I didn’t live my dream, because I did. I played for the New York Giants. I scored touchdowns. I caught touchdowns. I returned kicks for touchdowns and I set records. So I got to do some of the things I dreamed of doing all my life.”
This is a man we can look up to and learn from and I’d like to think that the expansion of fantasy football has given many NFL fans a different perspective on the game. When people lament that fantasy is destroying what it means to be a “real fan” I’ll look at David Wilson and tell them, I’m glad I became a fan of his. That this sport doesn’t have to have one way of enjoying it and that fantasy has allowed me to get to know the teams and players, the good and the bad of the NFL. And that knowledge turns to perspective and layered understanding and fantasy, for all its frivolities, helps us become better fans of the game.
Okay, now on to more, hopefully less sad training camp news. Like appendectomies!
Adam Schefter reports that Montee Ball underwent an appendectomy on Monday, but should be ready for week one. We’ll be watching this timetable closely since the quicker he gets back to practice and can maintain game shape; the more he will be used in the first couple weeks of the season. The good news is that he will recover and he will be the starter, so this news could drop a first round pick into the second round. Don’t be afraid to grab him.
And we’re still trying to discover who the all-important Broncos backup running back is. I wrote about liking Ronnie Hillman here, but there is a lot of camp left and I’ll be bullish on whoever comes out of the battle a winner.
Johnny Manziel got first team reps on Monday, but that was the plan from the start. It’s still a competition, but it very much seems to me that Manziel gets the nod in a tie. He’s just able to do so much more to keep a play alive, even if he hasn’t perfected the playbook.
Seahawks rookie wide receiver Kevin Norwood has been sidelined indefinitely by a foot injury. The Seattle Times reports that his season could be over. Details are sketchy, but Norwood was getting a lot of praise in camp and many draftniks were very high on him.
Josh Gordon’s hearing concluded today, but The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the ruling won’t come for another one to three weeks. Hopefully it will be closer to one than three, but I’m going to take it as a good sign that they have to deliberate this long. I of course could be completely wrong, but I’ll just be optimistic for the hell of it.
Toby Gerhart has “tightness in his hip flexor” according to beat writer Michael DiRocco. And coach Gus Bradley says they are being extra cautious with their bell cow. He didn’t call him a bell cow, but I like the term. Not sure I’d like to be called a cow, but whatever. I’ll take this news as neutral at the moment. I hate to see him getting nicked up because he will be taking a ton of hits this season, but that’s the nature of the game.
The competition between Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew is tough to watch as a fake footballer. Right now MJD is listed ahead of McFadden and it seems like he’ll be the lead back with DMC getting more work in space. It’s not a great fantasy situation, but any player has value at some point in the draft. I’ll lean the MJD side for safety and amount of work, but his upside is low.
The Raiders also have some questions at receiver. They seem to always have talent there, but can’t bring it together. Matt Schaub is not the guy to make receivers better, so needs an Andre Johnson type of talent, which the Raiders don’t have yet. The closest though seems to be Andre Holmes who is listed as their number one receiver right now and he’s the only guy I would want to risk later in drafts. Fantasy favorite Denarius Moore is down the depth chart and could possibly be cut at some point. His talent would land him somewhere else and possibly with a quarterback who could help him.
Donte Moncrief is a name to store away in your sleeper lists. According to ESPN’s Mike Wells, Moncrief is sitting as the Indianapolis Colts fourth receiver, ahead of Da’Rick Rogers and Griff Whalen. He came out of college and the combine high on many observers’ lists for physical ability, but raw in route running and fundamentals. But he’s been looking good in camp and this 4th wide receiver designation looks to be earned. But the real crease for him is the news about Hakeem Nicks so far in camp. Nicks had the day off Sunday, but then got another day off Monday. Beat reporter Stephen Holder found that odd and it’s coming after some not so complimentary remarks from offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. Right now Nicks will need to step up to be a starter. He could easily do that and we know he has ability, but with his knee problems and not being in shape, we could just as easily see him cut and that would leave a big hole at WR3 that Moncrief would be in the lead for.
Arian Foster remains sidelined by what we believe to be a hamstring injury. He talked about contemplating retirement after his back injury last season here. He of course makes a ton of sense and wants to be able to walk away from the game healthy. I don’t blame him.
Bears #3 receiver Marquess Wilson broke his collarbone in practice on Monday and should be out 6-8 weeks. This is bad news for Wilson who had runaway with the #3 job and looked good doing so. This should help Martellus Bennett out some, at least for the first half of the season.
Marvin Jones was activated from the PUP list on Monday and he is still the #2 receiver on their depth chart. That’s good news as it means nothing could have knocked him out of that position, Mohamed Sanu had looked great according to reports and didn’t even make a dent.
Andy Dalton got what appeared to be a billion dollars in the morning and turned out to be “just” 17 million in guaranteed money. He’s getting paid his worth in today’s quarterback friendly league, so that’s that.
Aaron Dobson still hasn’t been taken off the PUP list and time is ticking away on the Pats possible #1 receiver. It’s looking more and more likely that Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins and Danny Amendola will be the starters come week one.
The Patriots rookie running back James White has been getting a lot of goal line work in practice and beat reporter Mike Weiss wonders if he’ll cut into Stevan Ridley’s early down work. This is Bill Belichick and you know he is far from predictable. I for one and dropping Ridley down a bit in my rankings because he scares me.