The final news roundup of the year covers Ezekiel Elliott’s status and the shocking retirement of Andrew Luck. Keep track of all the fantasy news this season here.
HOU RB Lamar Miller suffers torn ACL.
We had gone through most of preseason action without a significant injury to a notable fantasy option, but Miller unfortunately went down last weekend with a torn ACL, which creates a big hole in Houston’s backfield. The team has yet to make another move at the position, so Duke Johnson will be locked into the biggest workload of his career and is worth considering as early as the fifth round of fantasy drafts. Rookie Karan Higdon is also a name to keep in mind.
IND QB Andrew Luck announces his retirement from the NFL.
Arguably the most stunning story in the history of sports, Luck—a Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback in the prime of his career at just 29—announced his retirement just a couple of weeks before the start of the regular season. Injuries simply took a toll on the superstar passer, and the Colts will now move forward with Jacoby Brissett as their starter. The news is obviously a blow to Marlon Mack, T.Y. Hilton and the rest of the Indy offense, but they might actually remain good values in fantasy drafts.
Redskins announce WAS QB Case Keenum as their Week 1 starter.
Keenum was fully expected to start the year under center because of Colt McCoy’s health and Dwayne Haskins’ inexperience, but it’s good to have clarity when evaluating Washington’s skill-position players. Most of all, this is probably good news for Trey Quinn as an overlooked option out of the slot.
Undrafted rookie CIN WR Damion Willis earns starting job.
2017 first-round pick John Ross dealt with a hamstring injury throughout camp, so Damion Willis—an undrafted rookie out of Troy—took advantage of the extra opportunities and will open the season as a starter alongside Tyler Boyd while A.J. Green (ankle) is out of the lineup. Willis is on the radar for a good Week 1 matchup against Seattle.
MIA RB Kenyan Drake (foot) returns to practice.
When Drake injured his foot and was in a walking boot, his status for the opener looked shaky, but his return to practice this week should put him on track to suit up against the Ravens. Kalen Ballage didn’t run away with the starting job based on preseason action, so the two will likely form a split that leans in Drake’s direction to start the season—though Ballage is expected to handle goal-line and short-yardage work.
HOU WR Keke Coutee (ankle) “not hopeful” for season opener.
The Texans have been rumored to be looking for receiver help, and if reports are to be believed, the durability concerns for Coutee and Will Fuller are certainly a factor. Houston will need all the firepower they can get when they open the year against the Saints on Monday Night Football, but it sounds like Coutee cannot be relied upon. Fantasy owners drafting this weekend may want to avoid the second-year receiver.
SF RB Jerick McKinnon (knee) has another setback.
General manager John Lynch told a local radio station that McKinnon’s return to practice “was not encouraging,” and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the knee troubles land the 27-year-old on injured reserve again. Hopefully McKinnon can somehow turn a corner in his recovery, but it’s looking like Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida will lead the backfield in 2019; both have RB2 potential.
CLE RB Kareem Hunt undergoes sports hernia surgery.
While not a huge deal because Hunt is suspended for the first eight games of the season and will be fully recovered by Week 10, this is another reason to believe Nick Chubb won’t relinquish workhorse status down the stretch this season. We don’t think Hunt is worth rostering, but on the bright side, this injury could allow you to stash him on IR.
MIA QB Ryan Fitzpatrick named starter over Josh Rosen.
The Dolphins seemed to have the only true quarterback battle of the summer, but Fitzpatrick took an early lead and never looked back. It’s possible the franchise wanted to preserve Rosen by allowing the veteran to take on the tough September stretch (v BAL, v NE, @ DAL, v LAC) before a Week 5 bye, but Fitzpatrick starting should be a positive for DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki, and the entire offense.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expects DAL RB Ezekiel Elliott to miss regular season games.
According to ESPN, Jones said the team is operating as if Zeke will not be there for the opener and that “he’s going to miss games.” Perhaps the Hall of Fame owner is negotiating through the media, but the more likely explanation is that he truly believes Dallas can win some games early and force Elliott to rejoin the team before his perceived value dips too much. Zeke is looking like a risky first-round investment, while Tony Pollard needs to be moved up boards.