Tue Aug 16 4:52pm ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
New York Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton waits to take the field before an NFL preseason football game against the New York Giants, Aug. 14, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. Becton will more than likely miss the entire season because of another injury to his surgically repaired right knee, coach Robert Saleh announced Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Becton was having a second evaluation after suffering a chip fracture to his kneecap, Saleh confirmed, during the second play of 11-on-11 team drills Monday. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Mekhi Becton's third season with the New York Jets is officially over before it even started.
The starting right tackle was placed on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday with a chip fracture in his right kneecap suffered during practice on Aug. 8.
Becton traveled to Los Angeles for a consultation with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed arthroscopic knee surgery on quarterback Zach Wilson to repair his torn meniscus. Becton is expected to have surgery and will miss the upcoming season, which the Jets believed would be the case.
The move Tuesday came as the Jets got their roster down to the mandated 85-player limit. They also waived wide receiver Rashard Davis, offensive lineman Derrick Kelly, defensive end Tim Ward and defensive back Luq Barcoo.
It will be two consecutive lost seasons for Becton, the No. 11 overall draft pick in 2020, who dislocated his right kneecap and had cartilage damage in the knee in the opener at Carolina last year. He missed the rest of the season.
Becton was adjusting to moving to right tackle this summer after previously playing on the left side when the latest injury occurred during the second play of 11-on-11 team drills. The initial prognosis was optimistic, but an MRI later that day revealed more damage to the knee than first expected.
George Fant was projected to play left tackle after filling in for Becton last season. But Becton's injury prompted the Jets to sign five-time Pro Bowl selection Duane Brown to a two-year, $22 million deal. Brown, who has played left tackle his entire career, will remain there with the Jets while Fant will slide to the right side.
The San Francisco 49ers released defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche on Tuesday. Nkemdiche was only with the team for three weeks before being shown the door at training camp. The 27-year-old will try to latch on with another organization before the start of the regular season. Nkemdiche was originally a first-round selection by the Arizona Cardinals in 2016 out of the University of Mississippi. He played in nine games for the Seattle Seahawks last year, recording 15 tackles (seven solo) and a pass defensed. In his five-year NFL career, Nkemdiche has racked up 59 tackles (33 solo), 10 tackles for loss, 11 QB hits, 4.5 sacks, three passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery for a touchdown in 38 games (six starts).
The Tennessee Titans claimed defensive back Lonnie Johnson Jr. off waivers from the Kansas City Chiefs on Tuesday, according to a source. The Chiefs waived Johnson on Monday, but he'll quickly latch on with the Titans. Kansas City acquired the 26-year-old cornerback from the Houston Texans in May for a 2024 conditional seventh-round pick. The 26-year-old former second-round pick in 2019 had 55 tackles (38 solo), three interceptions and six passes defensed in 14 games (seven starts) in 2021 in his third year in Houston. Johnson will provide Tennessee with defensive back depth heading into the 2022 regular season.
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson's arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday was deemed a success, according to a source. There were no surprises from the original diagnosis. The Jets won't put Wilson back on the field until he's 100 percent healthy. There was a chance that the 23-year-old needed a full meniscus repair, which could have kept him out for the entire season, but instead he only needed a meniscus trim. He could be back on the field in two to four weeks and be ready for the regular season, but fantasy managers shouldn't get their hopes up. San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo remains available in a trade, but the Jets don't appear intent on making a move. They have confidence that veteran Joe Flacco can fill in under center until Wilson is ready to return.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) missed training camp practice on Tuesday due to a sore knee. It's not great to see Smith-Schuster injured after he missed most of his final season with the Pittsburgh Steelers due to injury, but it's likely that the Chiefs are just being cautious with him. The 25-year-old will be a starter in his first year in KC and should see a lot of work out of the slot, giving him a lot of fantasy upside as a WR3 with quarterback Patrick Mahomes now throwing him the pigskin. The former second-rounder was a Pro Bowler in 2018 when he had his only 1,000-yard season. The Chiefs are expected to spread the ball around more in 2022, but if healthy, Smith-Schuster will be a big part of their passing attack.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receivers Mike Evans (hamstring) and Russell Gage (leg) will not take part in joint practices with the Tennessee Titans this week, according to head coach Todd Bowles. Chris Godwin (knee) is also still out while recovering from a torn ACL last year, so veteran Julio Jones, Tyler Johnson, Cyril Grayson Jr., Breshad Perriman, Jaelon Darden and Scotty Miller will see more repetitions. Evans usually deals with hamstring injuries this time of the year, but he's been extremely durable in his eight-year career and has eight 1,000-yard seasons. He's an easy top-10 fantasy wideout in 2022. Gage was a popular breakout pick in fantasy football before the Bucs signed Jones this summer. However, he's still worth a late-round flier with Godwin questionable for the start of the season.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle was present on Tuesday but didn't take part in training camp practice for undisclosed reasons. Even if Waddle is dealing with an injury, it's likely to be a minor one that won't keep him off the field for long. The 23-year-old second-year wideout didn't play in the team's preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Saturday. In his rookie campaign, Waddle impressed with 104 catches on 140 targets for 1,015 yards and six touchdowns in 16 games played. The addition of All-Pro receiver Tyreek Hill will take valuable targets away from Waddle and lower his fantasy ceiling, but the former sixth overall pick is still a plenty attractive WR2 for fantasy managers in a Dolphins offense that's expected to take a big step forward.
New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen believes that wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) will be ready for Week 1 of the regular season. "When the ball kicks off for real, Mike Thomas is going to be ready to go, and we're excited about that," Allen said. Thomas missed all of the 2021 season due to an ankle injury, but he's been practicing at training camp and is on track to be ready for the start of the regular season. The 29-year-old was the best pass-catcher in the league before injuries struck in 2020, but fantasy managers shouldn't expect him to return to that level in 2022. He could become quarterback Jameis Winston's top target, but the offense also includes first-rounder Chris Olave and veteran slot man Jarvis Landry. Thomas' stock is on the rise as a low-end WR2/high-end WR3 with upside.
The Washington Commanders still like running back Antonio Gibson a lot and he can provide big plays, but the team wants him to be more consistent in the way he runs and to be more "one-cut and go." Gibson gets himself in trouble when he becomes indecisive about when or where to cut, which leads to the ball swinging away from his body and causes fumbles. If Gibson continues to have fumbling issues, the Commanders can turn to rookie Brian Robinson and pass-catching back J.D. McKissic. Gibson had a poor first preseason showing and also fumbled, so Robinson could become just as intriguing, if not more, in fantasy football drafts to begin the 2022 season.
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said that linebacker Roquan Smith, who is still seeking a new contract and has asked to be traded, will travel with the team to Seattle to face the Seahawks in their second preseason game. Smith won't play on Thursday, but Eberflus described him as "engaged." The 25-year-old All-Pro's future with the team remains in doubt, but when on the field, he's the No. 1 target at the linebacker position in IDP leagues. The former first-rounder has had 100-plus combined tackles in all four of his NFL seasons, and he finished 2021 with a career-high 163 tackles (95 solo), three sacks, 12 tackles for loss, four QB hits, an interception returned for a touchdown and three passes defensed in 17 games.
Dynasty | Packers rookie receiver Christian Watson is well behind fellow rookie Romeo Doubs Dynasty Analysis: Doubs remains one of, if not the best, offseason rookie stories of 2022 while Watson has yet to get his feet under him due to injury. Now back in camp, Watson is still running well behind Doubs and veterans Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins and even Randall Cobb, putting him no better than WR5 at his juncture. Watson, a size-speed freak, still has plenty of opportunity to show his value and athleticism but dynasty player's looking for rookie-year production are likely going to be disappointed. He is listed as DLF's WR47 and should eventually benefit from learning the position on the end of Aaron Rodgers' passes, though his prospects are brighter in 2023 and beyond.
Dynasty | Regardless of who is under-center, Steelers rookie receiver George Pickens figures to be a significant factor this season Dynasty Analysis: Pickens wasn't expected to be relied upon in his rookie season but injury opened up an opportunity and the first-year player drove through it with authority. Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool still figure to be starting but Claypool's injury issues and play have been less than stellar, possibly opening up further snaps for Pickens. Once expected to have a diminished role in 2022, Pickens, DLF's WR43, now factors prominently this year and beyond.
Dynasty | 49ers receiver Brandon Aiyuk has been the team's most consistent offensive performer this offseason Dynasty Analysis: Reports out of San Francisco have been mixed on Aiyuk's status with some claiming he's still in Kyle Shanahan's offense, while most reports are that the head coach has been effusive in his praise of the third-year receiver's work ethic and focus. All expectation is that Aiyuk remains a starter and could be considered the team's WR1 due to Deebo Samuel's "hybrid" role though the safer and more logical role suggests Aiyuk as the WR2. Averaging 58 receptions and 785 yards over his first two seasons, the stars seem aligned for DLF's WR34 to have a career-best season in 2022.
Dynasty | Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin has participated in 7-on-7 drills over the past two days in camp Dynasty Analysis: Godwin continues to rehab from a torn ACL suffered in December and is still uncertain for week one regular season participation. That said, taking part in 7-on-7 drills is a very positive step and would seem to suggest that the 26-year-old is trending in the right direction to be on the field with the team takes the field to start the season. Coming off a career high (98) in receptions in 2021, Godwin's availability for the start of the regular season would be a huge boon for his fantasy coaches and Tom Brady. He's listed as DLF's WR15.
The San Francisco 49ers have made it clear that they aren't going to ask too much of quarterback Trey Lance in his first full season as the starter. They have a strong defense, plenty of talent at the skilled offensive positions and a good running game. Lance has been inconsistent in training camp, which will likely carry over to the early portion of the regular season, but his upside is hard to deny, especially because he brings a running element that can offset whatever accuracy issues he has. ESPN's Nick Wagoner said expectations for Lance should be kept in check, but he's certainly not a bad QB2 stash in fantasy football for later in the season. The Niners expect the 22-year-old to get better as the season progresses.
ESPN's Turron Davenport believes Tennessee Titans wide receiver Robert Woods should be a higher fantasy priority than rookie Treylon Burks because he'll get plenty of targets as the team's No. 1 wideout. Before his injury last year with the Los Angeles Rams, Woods averaged 132 targets per season. The Titans won't throw the ball as much as the Rams did, but Woods' 1.3 percent drop rate over the last five years (tied for sixth-lowest among receivers with at least 200 targets) and precise route-running will make him one of quarterback Ryan Tannehill's top targets. The 30-year-old veteran is on track to be ready for Week 1 of the regular season, and although he's coming off a major knee injury, his fantasy stock should continue to rise as a WR3/4 as the regular season approaches.
Atlanta Falcons TE Tucker Fisk, LB Rashad Smith, DB Tre Webb and P Seth Vernon were released Tuesday, Aug. 16. The Falcons also placed CB Cornell Armstrong (undisclosed) on the Reserve/Injured list with an undisclosed injury.
Pittsburgh Steelers S Karl Joseph (ankle) and WR Anthony Miller (shoulder) were placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Aug. 16.
Dynasty | Texans running back Dameon Pierce continues to excel and could be starting early in the regular season Dynasty Analysis: With only Rex Burkhead and Marlon Mack ahead of him on the depth chart, there's little reason to not project Pierce as the starter in short order. By all accounts, the rookie has had a fantastic few months and looked the part in his first preseason action. A popular second-round rookie selection, Pierce, DLF's RB38, is looking to be a fine upside-potential back for dynasty coaches looking for a well-valued rookie asset.
Dynasty | Giants contract-year running back Saquon Barkley has looked explosive in camp Dynasty Analysis: The narrative on Barkley all offseason has been about his health, explosiveness and his expected bounce-back season. Truth be told, Barkley has always had the capability and potential but a combination of unavoidable significant injury and poor offensive play has rendered the once-great back to almost to dynasty afterthought status. Barkley's value has been percolating higher once again as hopes rise that 2022 is the year he returns to his rookie-year form. Now in a contract year, the chances of him returning to the team in 2023 seem remote though a big year could bring franchise tag consideration. In any case, 2022 is as true a make-or-break season as can be had for the running back for another stretch of missed games due to injury will likely send him to the dynasty doghouse for good. Saquon Barkley is found as a tenuous-but-rising RB11 on DLF's running back rankings.
Dynasty | Broncos receiver Courtland Sutton should have a career-best season Dynasty Analysis: Both Sutton and third-year receiver Jerry Jeudy are said to be in for big seasons as the addition of Russell Wilson should allow both to finally realize their potential. Sutton has been somewhat of a safety blanket for Wilson thus far in camp and both have established working chemistry. He only has two touchdowns and 18 games played over his past two seasons as injury and poor quarterback play have combined to make for disappointing production. As such, Sutton's ADP has been mired in a slide but has stabilized following the Wilson trade. Playing in his age-27 season, the DLF WR3-valued (WR30) asset may be considered an upside value target for enterprising dynasty coaches but another lost or poor season will send him back to out-of-favor status.