- Christopher Harris, Fantasy
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Who here thinks the Jacksonville Jaguars don't know what the heck they're doing, at least when it comes to quarterbacks?
Does anyone else remember how giddy the Jags were in 2003, when the Vikings failed to get their pick in on time, and Jacksonville raced up to the podium and scooped up Byron Leftwich? As it turned out, the reason Minnesota was so tardy with its pick was that the Vikes were deeply immersed in trade talks with the Ravens, who wanted to jump up in front of the Jags and select Leftwich. Instead, the Ravens selected Terrell Suggs (whom Jacksonville said it would've taken had it failed to get Leftwich). I'll bet the Jags' front office isn't quite as giddy about that turn of events four years later.
I have very little problem with Jacksonville cutting Leftwich loose. It's the timing that's messed up. Jack Del Rio went out of his way this spring to declare Leftwich his starter, expressing none of the doubt that evidently riddled him late last week. Heck, I can understand that: part wishful thinking, part power of positive reinforcement. But don't you imagine the Jags could've gotten something interesting for Leftwich during this year's draft? And wasn't there some time just in this past month when Del Rio and his coaching pals started to consider that David Garrard would make a better starter -- and save the team a bunch of money to boot? And didn't that make them think, "Gosh, maybe we'd better take a look at Garrard against first-team defenses?" As it was, Leftwich started each of Jacksonville's preseason games and Garrard saw zero snaps against opposing teams' starters. And now he's the field general.
Good luck with that.
Other News and Notes:
• Things are getting a little nutty in the Detroit backfield. At first, it looked for all the world as though Kevin Jones would be put on the physically unable to perform list and miss the season's first six games in favor of Tatum Bell. But little by little the past few days, word has leaked out of Lions camp that Jones' surgically repaired foot wasn't a hindrance and that it was concerns about his fitness and readiness to face contact that were giving Detroit pause. Now, the Lions have elected not to put Jones on the PUP list, and they won't rule out his playing in Week 1 against Oakland. It remains to be seen whether that's smoke screen talk, but Bell's fantasy value takes a plunge, regardless.
• Who in the world is Kenton Keith? He's the official handcuff to Joseph Addai (at least for now)! The Colts unexpectedly cut DeDe Dorsey and Clifton Dawson this weekend, handing Keith the backup running back job in Indianapolis for the time being. Keith is a CFL veteran with exactly zero regular-season NFL carries. Don't be stunned if Indy tries to find a veteran backup before its Thursday tilt against the Saints. (Paging Corey Dillon?)
• First, we heard that Rodney Harrison going to miss four games for the Patriots because of a suspension related to trying to procure human growth hormone. Now, Richard Seymour is going to begin the season on the PUP list, meaning he'll be out for the team's first six games (a far bigger blow than Harrison's absence). Between these defensive absences and Randy Moss' lingering hamstring issues, things look substantially less rosy in Foxborough these days.
• Michael Turner appears to have avoided serious injury in his preseason-game mishap last week. After leaving with what appeared to be a potentially serious ankle injury, Turner is back running at full speed in Chargers practices. He'll be LaDainian Tomlinson's backup.
• Didn't I tell you Selvin Young was good? Now, the Broncos claim Young has vaulted past Cecil Sapp and Mike Bell on their running back depth chart and is the official backup to Travis Henry. As always in Denver, these things are subject to change, and my guess is that Young, an undrafted rookie out of the University of Texas, won't wind up being fantasy-relevant but will do just enough to mess with the value of everyone else in the Broncos' backfield. Still, he has to be on your fantasy radar screen.
• Stop drafting Priest Holmes. He has been placed on Kansas City's PUP list, meaning he, too, will be out for at least six weeks, and to all evidence, the Chiefs have no intention of ever activating him.
• I think you know this, but just in case: Charlie Frye has won the Browns' starting quarterback gig, and will be in there Week 1 against Pittsburgh. Brady Quinn almost certainly will win the job at some point later in the season.
• The Jaguars weren't done when they cut Leftwich; they also traded last year's fourth-rounder, promising running back Alvin Pearman, to the Seahawks for a draft pick. That means LaBrandon Toefield makes the Jags. But more importantly, it gives talented Pearman a new lease on life, as he was always going to be buried deep behind Maurice Jones-Drew. Now, he has a real chance to be the third- and passing-down back in Seattle and, as such, needs to be on the radar screen in deeper leagues.
• Chris Cooley signed a six-year contract extension with a $14 million signing bonus this weekend. He'll be Washington's tight end for the foreseeable future.
• Defensive lineman Marcus Tubbs tore his ACL and is out for the season. That's terrible news for the Seahawks run defense, which suffered mightily when Tubbs was lost for the year after Week 7 in 2006.
• Wasn't Aaron Glenn supposed to be a starter in the Dallas secondary? Oops. The Cowboys cut him. With Terence Newman hurt, Anthony Henry and Jacques Reeves would appear to be the Week 1 starters. Upgrade Plaxico Burress.
• Alvis Whitted didn't survive the cuts in Oakland this weekend. A decent receiver who finally received his chance to start amid the Raiders' Art-Shell-related chaos last season, Whitted never fulfilled his promise. He's 32, and probably won't surface as a viable fantasy option again.
• Buffalo made it official by releasing Shaud Williams; as I mentioned a couple of days ago, rookie Dwayne Wright out of Fresno State has made the Bills as the team's third-string rusher. Wright isn't your typical third-teamer, in that he's no little scatback. He's 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, and I still say he's a name to know. Marshawn Lynch is certainly the man of the future in Buffalo, but the future doesn't always last very long in the NFL. Don't pick up Wright yet, but keep an eye on him.
• Ryan Grant could be another deep-league rusher to know. Grant, an undrafted back out of Notre Dame in 2005, severely cut his hand a couple of years ago in a "nightclub incident" (the details of which I don't know) and required extensive surgery. He's healthy again, though, and rushed 18 times for 90 yards and a score this preseason for the Giants. There wasn't room on New York's roster, and Grant likely would've been cut, but the running-back-starved Packers swooped in and traded for him. With Noah Herron lately suffering a knee injury and Brandon Jackson and Vernand Morency yet to prove they can stay healthy and/or effective, Grant could be added to the mix. He's not big, but he's not small (6-foot-1, 218 pounds), and he's not blazingly fast, but you never know.
• Tampa Bay released their seventh-round pick, Kenneth Darby out of the University of Alabama, whom I've seen getting picked in (very) deep leagues, such as my 16-teamer. The Bucs will go with a running back depth chart of Carnell Williams, Michael Pittman, B.J. Askew and Earnest Graham. Meanwhile, Carolina released ever-promising '05 second-rounder Eric Shelton, a huge (246-pound) kid out of Louisville who never stopped teasing. Antonio Pittman, the running back drafted by the Saints in the fourth round out of national runner-up Ohio State, was another surprising cut from this weekend, as was former Texans back Wali Lundy, last seen stealing carries from more experienced rushers in 2006 in Houston.
• Verron Haynes, ever Pittsburgh's third-down back and potential handcuff to Willie Parker, et al, also was cut this weekend. The Steelers believe in Parker as an every-down back, for sure, and they'll use Najeh Davenport, Gary Russell and Carey Davis for depth.
• Not that you were in a rush to draft the Falcons' kicker, anyway, but just in case: It's not Billy Cundiff. The former Cowboys kicker was cut by Atlanta this weekend, and Matt Prater, lately of the Dolphins, will handle boot duties for the Falcons. A guy you just might have been interested in drafting was Martin Gramatica, who was supposed to be the kicker in Dallas, but he's on injured reserve with a bad hamstring and will miss the season. Nick Folk will be the kicker in Big D, for a potentially explosive offense. Oh yeah, and Dave Rayner got cut in Green Bay in favor of rookie Mason Crosby.
Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com.
You can e-mail him here.