Fantasy Football News and Notes 10-3-13

News and Notes from Thursday Night's "Red Zone" Radio Show

Fantasy News and Notes 10-03-13:
BYE WEEKS: Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington
Tampa Bay released Josh Freeman today. This was like a nasty divorce with irreconcilable differences for the Bucs to swallow over $6 million in owed salary. Freeman isn't likely to be out of a job for long though. While teams may not have been willing to trade a draft pick for him and take on his salary, he is now free to sign with anyone for anything. It would be very surprising if he doesn't find a home soon either to eventually compete for a starting position for a team like the Raiders, Jets, Jaguars, or Vikings, or as a top veteran backup for teams like the Packers, Broncos, or 49ers.
Running Backs
Stevan Ridley hasn't practiced the last two days because of what is now being referred to as a knee issue. Yesterday it was considered a thigh bruise so I'm not sure what to think exactly here and the Patriots aren't exactly forthcoming with information. I hesitate to say he is in danger of missing week 5 but if he doesn't practice tomorrow I wouldn't expect him to play. LeGarrette Blount would likely be the lead RB for the Patriots if Ridley can't play and Brandon Bolden, although limited with his own knee issue, would serve as the 3rd down RB.  
Ahmad Bradshaw is not going to play week 5, and could end up on injured reserve as early as next week. Bradshaw has now gotten two opinions on his neck injury and reports are that he is likely to require season ending surgery. Nothing is hard fact as of this moment, but for the present, Donald Brown is the new handcuff to Trent Richardson and Bradshaw is likely to be taking up a roster spot on your bench.  
Still no official word yet from St. Louis about who will be their starting at RB in week 5 against Jacksonville. Media speculation is that Daryl Richardson is not likely to start after 3 awful games. It appears that the Rams are leaning towards either Isaiah Pead or Zac Stacy as their starter. The other rookie, Benny Cunningham, doesn't appear to be in the mix. For what it's worth, I've been writing it and saying it since the NFL draft: Stacy is the best Rams RB and I am hoping they will finally give him a legitimate chance to run with the football. But in reality, it's unknown who will be the Rams starting guy. Too bad given the juicy matchup against Jacksonville's league worst fantasy run defense.
While Darren McFadden hasn't been practicing and won't play week 5 because of a hamstring injury, Marcel Reece has been able to put in limited practices despite his knee injury and it now looks like he stands a decent of being able to play Sunday night. But with it being a night game, I would just recommend not chancing Reece. The only thing this does is cast serious doubt on the chances for Rashad Jennings to be more than a desperation play as a flex or RB3. If Reece is active, he and Jennings will split up the rushing duties.
After sitting out yesterday's practice, Kansas City's Jamaal Charles returned today. Charles has a listed "toes" injury but he is fully expected to be fine for week 5. Start him as you normally would.
After being a surprise participant in practice yesterday, the Jets Chris Ivory was unable to practice today. Ivory is still at least another week away from returning from his hamstring injury and likely a couple of weeks.
Mark Ingram still isn't practicing for the Saints because of a listed toe injury. He is unlikely to be active this week. I think Ingram is droppable in re-draft style leagues.
Wide Receivers
Brandon Marshall was held out of today's practice because of a foot issue. Marshal missed yesterday's practice but it was believed to just be a day of rest. This means it could be something more. The Chicago media doesn't seem to be concerned about Marshall possibly being in danger of missing week 5 so unless you see it in my Saturday news and notes, you should be fine considering Marshall as you normally would.
Danny Amendola practiced in limited fashion again today. We still have no idea if he's going to play this week though. In a bit of a surprise move, the Patriots signed free agent WR Austin Collie. I don't know if that is an indication Amendola or teammate Aaron Dobson aren't going to be able to play this week or not, but it certainly lends credence to the thought that one or both are going to miss week 5. Dobson was limited again today because of his neck injury.  
As expected, Eric Decker returned to practice today and should be fine for week 5 despite a minor ankle injury.
Miles Austin was held out of practice again today because of his hamstring injury. It's likely Austin is going to miss his second consecutive game. Terrence Williams is likely to start in his place and Dwayne Harris will be the Cowboys #3 WR this week.
I've got conflicting information regarding Jacksonville's Cecil Shorts. On the Jaguars official website he's listed as having been limited today, but on the NFL's official practice report, he is listed as not having practiced today. I haven't seen a lot of concern in the Jacksonville media about Shorts so I suspect that as long as he can practice in limited fashion tomorrow he'll be fine for week 5. But if he doesn't, he could end up being questionable on the Jaguars injury report. Keep an eye on him.    
Lance Moore missed practice again today with a hand injury. Moore is not expected to play week 5. Robert Meachem appears to be starting in his place for New Orleans but the higher upside probably lies with Kenny Stills. Not that I'd recommend starting either.
Baltimore's Marlon Brown missed practice again today. Brown has a hamstring injury and his status for week 5 now has to be considered questionable. While teammate Jacoby Jones put in a second consecutive limited practice again today, he is not expected to be ready to return from his knee injury. But maybe he'll be back in week 6? And after being limited yesterday, Brandon Stokley missed today's practice because of his thigh injury. The Ravens may be thin at WR this week and Tandon Doss could end up starting opposite Torrey Smith.
Tennessee's Kenny Britt was able to put in a second consecutive full practice today despite having neck and rib injuries. Britt realizes he needs to perform if he is to either be traded or cash in on free agency in 2014. While he's got the talent to be fantasy relevant, he's clearly behind Nate Washington and Kendall Wright in the Titans WR pecking order.  
The Jets are expected to be without both Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill Monday night. Holmes is likely out 3-4 weeks with a hamstring injury while Hill still hasn't been able t practice since suffering a concussion week 4. Jeremy Kerley and Clyde Gates will likely start for the Jets Monday night.
Among WR's who were either held out of practice today, or were limited, but are fully expected to be fine for week 5, that list includes: Detroit's Calvin Johnson (not injury related); Houston's Andre Johnson (leg); Atlanta's duo of Julio Jones (knee) and Roddy White (ankle); and New England's Kenbrell Thompkins (shoulder)
Tight Ends
Rob Gronkowski was limited again in practice today. No word though on whether he'll be able to play week 5 or not. Expect it to come down to a game time decision and I would say that until we hear that he's definitely playing, just plan on keeping him on your fantasy benches for now. In other Patriots TE news, the team released preseason phenom Zach Sudfeld today. I wrote on Tuesday that Sudfeld was to be dropped from fantasy teams as he has been horrible in the regular season, but I meant it in fantasy leagues. I didn't think Bill Belichick would take me seriously for his NFL club.
Vernon Davis was limited again today in 49ers practice but he is fully expected to be fine for week 5 even if his hamstring isn't 100%. He played through it last week and was okay. 
Seattle's Zach Miller popped up on today's injury report as having missed practice with a hamstring issue. His status for week 5 is uncertain at current time and I hope you weren't counting on him for your week 5 starting lineups. 
Denver's Matt Prater was listed as limited in practice today because of a calf injury on his kicking leg. It's currently unknown if this is something that puts his week 5 availability in jeopardy or not. If Denver signs a kicker between now and Saturday afternoon, that will be a sign for Prater owners to have a replacement ready.


NFL Game Picks and Survivor Pool Lock: Week 5

Russ Bliss Predicts the Winners of each NFL Game this week

There we go. Week 4 was a LOT better for me in the weekly NFL game picks. I went 11-4 (three losses coming from taking AFC North teams), and that now puts me at a more respectable 40-23 for the season. This is still below the average for me to reach the annual goal of 180 correct by the end of the season so I have more ground to make up. I feel pretty good about this week's picks. But of course, feeling good about them on Thursday morning and feeling good about them come Tuesday morning are two totally different things.
Here are my Week NFL Game Predictions:
Cleveland 21, Buffalo 16
Baltimore 24, Miami 20
Green Bay 34, Detroit 30
St. Louis 27, Jacksonville 17
Kansas City 20, Tennessee 17
New England 27, Cincinnati 23
Chicago 27, New Orleans 24
NY Giants 30, Philadelphia 27
Seattle 20, Indianapolis 19
Arizona 23, Carolina 21
Denver 38, Dallas 27
San Francisco 24, Houston 17
San Diego 26, Oakland 23
Atlanta 24, NY Jets 13
There you have them: my week 5 NFL game picks.
Denver beating Philadelphia was an easy choice for week 4's Survivor Pool lock, and that now makes me 3-1 in the locks. Here are the results each week:
Week 1 (W; 21-17) Indianapolis over Oakland
Week 2 (L; 30-33) Philadelphia over San Diego
Week 3 (W; 45-17) Seattle over Jacksonville
Week 4 (W; 52-20) Denver over Philadelphia
Keeping in the tradition of a true Survivor Pool, I will not use a team more than once. While I see a lot of close games this week, there are two that should be absolute slam dunk choices. And while I am more positive about the Falcons being the top choice for this week, I'd really like to save them for a future week. Therefore, even though the jaded Rams fan in me is screaming "NOOOOO!!!!!" I am going to bank on them against the worst team in the NFL. This could really jump up and bite me, but the Rams are at home, coming off back to back blowout losses. I believe in Jeff Fisher being the guy who will get the Rams turned around, and the 2013 turnaround needs to happen this week. You don't get the worst team in the league visiting your city very often, so he'd better make sure to have this team up for it. The Falcons are the smarter pick, but I am going to save them for the future.
My Week 5 Survivor Pool Lock of the Week is: the St. Louis Rams over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Hopefully I will build on a strong week 4 showing and keep it rolling in week 5. Best of luck to all in your NFL picks this week!