Are we really heading into Week Five of the NFL season or is this the NFL offseason? Of course it’s Week Five, but with the last rookie holdout finally signing his rookie contract and the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets pulling off a pretty big trade it has the feeling of August, not October.
The rookie previously mentioned is obviously San Francisco 49ers’ first round draft pick wide receiver Michael Crabtree and the trade we are referring to has the Cleveland Browns sending wide receiver Braylon Edwards to the New York Jets for two players and two draft picks.
As you prepare your lineup for Week Five of fantasy football action the Bruno Boys are here to analyze the above news along with some significant NFL injuries and study the potential fantasy football impact of it all.
Cleveland Browns trade Braylon Edwards to the New York Jets
In a rare mid-season NFL trade the Cleveland Browns sent wide receiver Braylon Edwards to the New York Jets for wide receiver Chansi Stuckey, linebacker Jason Trusnik and two undisclosed draft picks.
Edwards, who had a breakout year in 2007 when he had 80 receptions for 1,289 yards with 16 touchdowns, appeared to be the team’s franchise wide receiver, but he has underachieved ever since.
Last season, he posted a pedestrian 55 catches for 873 yards with just three touchdowns, which were well below expectations after his Pro-Bowl ‘07 season. This season hasn’t started out any better as he has only managed 13 fantasy points through the first four games of the season.
His final undoing in Cleveland may have been the recent news that he allegedly hit a man outside a Cleveland night club, although no charges have been filed at this point.
A fresh start might be exactly what Edwards needs, not to mention he is going to a Jets team that is in a much better position offensively than the Browns. It should also help that the offensive system in New York is very similar to the offensive system that Cleveland head coach Eric Mangini brought to the Browns this season, so the transition could be fairly smooth for a midseason trade.
The Jets have now added a potential standout wide receiver to compliment their rookie franchise quarterback Marc Sanchez, a solid running game and a passing attack that features wide receiver Jericho Cotchery and tight end Dustin Keller.
With Edwards' role in New York’s offense still undefined, he should not be thought of as more than a WR3 at this point, but fantasy owners should be thrilled at the upside for Edwards as a result of this trade.
This trade could have a fantasy impact on other players from both clubs as well. Adding a weapon to the Jets should only help Mark Sanchez’s transition into the NFL, he should still be considered a QB2 from a fantasy standpoint, but with the weapons he has at his disposal he is a solid one week replacement when the matchup is right.
The addition of Edwards should also help draw some coverage away from both Cotchery and Keller in the receiving game. Cotchery remains a WR2, while Keller remains a low-end TE1, but the addition of Edwards gives them both additional potential.
From a Cleveland standpoint this is likely addition by subtraction. There have not been reports that Edwards was a cancer in the clubhouse, but everyone knows he was not happy and a team that has been as abysmal as the Browns over the past couple of seasons needs to be a happy family if they are going to right the ship.
Losing Edwards definitely will not help the quarterback situation in Cleveland, whether it remains Derek Anderson or reverts back to Brady Quinn. It is never good for a quarterback to lose his top wide receiver, but the situation is so bad in Cleveland that neither quarterback is worth a fantasy roster spot with or without Edwards.
The biggest positive impact that this trade will have from a Cleveland Brown standpoint is for rookie wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and the newly acquired Stuckey, who should both get more opportunities now than their previous situations afforded.
Massaquoi is coming off a game in which he had eight receptions for 148 yards, but he remains no more than low-end WR3 until he shows he can do this on a consistent basis. Stuckey also remains a low-end WR3 until his role in the Browns’ offense is defined.
This appears to be a good trade for both teams over the long haul, but keep your fantasy hopes reserved until we can see what each offense looks like after this trade has a few weeks to shape up.
Michael Crabtree finally ends holdout, signs six-year deal with 49ers
Michael Crabtree and the San Francisco 49ers have agreed on a six-year deal with a reported $17 million guaranteed, which has finally ended a six-month holdout. Crabtree was a standout wide receiver from Texas Tech University who in two seasons in college had 231 receptions for 3,127 yards with 41 touchdowns. He was the 10th overall pick in this past April’s NFL draft.
The 49ers are one of the surprise teams in the NFL this season at 3-1 and they have done it with a solid defense and a good running game. The signing of Crabtree will eventually give San Francisco the No. 1 wide receiver they have been looking for, but that will likely not come until next season.
After missing all of training camp, the preseason and the first four weeks of the regular season it will take time for Crabtree to get acclimated with the 49ers offense. His fantasy value will be marginal this season, but he has the potential to be a fantasy standout as soon as next year.
Donovan McNabb practices Wednesday, expect to start Week Five
After missing two games with broken ribs Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb returned to practice Wednesday and said that he expects to play this week when the Eagles take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is not fully recovered from the injury, but said he expects to play with a protective jacket on to protect the ribs.
McNabb has proven over the years to be one of the toughest quarterbacks in the game and has played through pain many times. If he is indeed able to go on Sunday, McNabb should be considered a must-start QB1 this week against a Tampa Bay defense that is ranked 17th against the pass this season.
Eli Manning has plantar fascia injury, misses practice Wednesday
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning sat out Wednesday’s practice while resting his injured heel that has been determined to be an injured plantar fascia.
Manning admitted that this injury has bothered him occasionally over the past couple weeks, but nothing like the pain he felt in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. The pain was so bad that he couldn’t walk on it and was forced to hobble around the field.
This injury is a bit of a concern to fantasy owners who were counting on Manning. He has been very good this season, exceeding expectations in most cases, but Manning has said that he might not play if he can’t go at 100 percent.
The Giants training staff could not assure him that he can’t do further damage to the injury by playing this week. If you were planning on using Manning this week, you should line up another option.
There is a good chance that he will be a game time decision. If he is able to go this week, he is worth using as a low-end QB1 against an Oakland Raiders defense that is ranked 11th against the pass.
Calvin Johnson misses practice Wednesday with leg injury
Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson missed practice Wednesday with an undisclosed leg injury. He missed the end of Detroit’s Week Four loss to the Chicago Bears after the leg tightened up on him. No further details have been given on the injury or his status for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fantasy owners should keep a close eye on this situation. Lions’ head coach Jim Schwartz will likely keep very quiet about Johnson’s playing status for Week Five, just as he did with running back Kevin Smith heading into Week Four.
Schwartz does not like to give the opposing team the upper hand by fully disclosing the seriousness of an injury to a key player. We are optimistic that Johnson will be able to go this week, but you should keep an eye on whether or not he practices the rest of the week. If he is not back on the practice field by Friday, it is a good sign he will not play. If he is able to play, he should be in your starting lineup this week against the Steelers.
Cedric Benson nursing hip injury, questionable against Baltimore Week 5
Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson missed practice on Wednesday and is officially listed as questionable for the team’s Week Five matchup with the Baltimore Ravens. Heading into Week Four Benson missed practice time with a knee injury, but was able to play against the Cleveland Browns.
Benson has been a workhorse for the Bengals this season and is finally starting to live up to his potential as a former first round pick of the Chicago Bears. He has carried the ball 84 times during the first four games this season, and if he continues to log that many carries, he will likely be banged up most of the season.
So far he has not missed any playing time, and he is performing at a very high level. He has 367 rushing yards on the season with two touchdowns for a Bengals team that is currently 3-1 and tied with the Ravens for first place in the AFC North. If Benson is able to go this week consider him a low-end RB2 or flex player against the league’s No. 1 rush defense.
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THIS ARTICLE WRITTEN BY BRUNO BOY LARRY JOSEPH.