Fantasy Football

News and notes from the NFC

Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Will Witten be ready in time for Week 1?
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Joel Beall

Joel Beall is a writer for FOXSports.com and WhatIfSports.com. He lives with a Golden Tee machine and a jump shot that’s currently broken. Reach Joel on Twitter @FOXSportsBeall.

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Uh-oh. Multiple reports are claiming All-Pro tight end Jason Witten suffered a spleen injury on Monday night against the Raiders. Early word has Witten out for the rest of the preseason, and surgery could put his Week 1 status in jeopardy. The Tennessee product has averaged 89 receptions, 1,014 yards and five touchdowns the past five seasons, and hasn’t missed a regular-season contest since 2003.

Dallas is extremely inexperienced at the position with Witten on the sidelines, as backup John Phillips has just 163 career yards since breaking into the league in 2009, with rookies James Hanna and Andrew Szczerba fighting for a roster spot. If Witten is unable to suit up for the season opener, don’t be surprised if the ‘Boys bring in a veteran presence like Jeremy Shockey. Additionally, a prolonged Witten absence could translate to a dock on the fantasy standing of Tony Romo, as the loss of his primary target hampers his ability to pick apart the middle.

Around the rest of the conference…

NFC East

- In other Dallas news, even with Witten on Monday night, the Dallas offense looked out of sorts, leaving the unit to head back to the drawing board…On a positive note, Dez Bryant’s hamstring issue isn’t as serious as believed. Better yet, when’s the last time “positive note” and “Dez Bryant” have been in the same context?

- It’s not been the easiest of camps for the Eagles. However, Michael Vick’s triumvirate of weapons has stayed out of the spotlight, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Speaking of which, in non-PPR leagues, keep an eye on DeSean Jackson, who could be a steal at his current going rate (average draft position: 71.1).

- I’ve been trying to temper owners’ expectations for Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck this fantasy campaign, but their early preseason success is impeding this endeavor…although it’s slightly off the beaten path, holy cow.

- Though their defense was a major catalyst for their Super Bowl run last winter, fantasy managers may want to hold off on the G-Men D for their upcoming drafts…On the other side of the ball, rookie David Wilson is getting the pub, but it’s another Giants RB that should be on the rotisserie radar.

NFC North

- With Adrian Peterson throwing on the pads, the Vikings back looks more and more like a fantasy steal at his average draft position of 20.8. Granted, there’s definitely risk associated with this selection, but the ceiling of uncovering such a backfield asset at this juncture is too hard to pass up.

- Green Bay’s signing of Cedric Benson has sent the fantasy forum into a tizzy, trying to decipher the running back’s role in the Packers’ explosive attack. However, sounds like we should pump the breaks on those aspirations, as Benson may just be a temporary fill.

- After missing his entire rookie season, it’s nice to see Mikel Leshoure making news on the field rather than off it…Further evidence the Apocalypse is upon us: two Lions are listed as MVP favorites.

- Don’t write-off the Bears defense just yet, as Brian Urlacher plans on playing the season opener. Ranked 11th according to the average draft position tool, Chicago could be a bargain as your last selection…While we are on the subject of bargain buys, rookie Alshon Jeffery is a late-round entity that possesses some major upside.

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NFC South

- The tight end position is exceptionally deep this season, but Greg Olsen is a name that could surprise some people…With Jonathan Stewart’s new extension, as well as the offseason acquirement of Mike Tolbert, look for the Panthers to continue their backfield by committee.

- With the Saints looking for a No. 3 wideout, Courtney Roby is making a case for the job. Personally, a tad skeptical when it comes to Roby’s outlook, as I like Adrian Arrington and rookie Nick Toon as my Saints sleeper pick, but Roby does have a stronger grasp of the offensive scheme than the other two.

- Vincent Jackson has garnered his fair share of accolades in camp, but his biggest contribution will be allowing Mike Williams to roam in the open…Pigskin pundits have been quick to bestow Doug Martin as the main man in the Buccaneers backfield, but such praise may have been premature. In regards to Martin, understand the craze, but I’m always wary of highly-touted rookie runners. (That sound you just heard was every Mark Ingram proprietor nodding in agreement.)

- The Falcons have tweaked their offensive attack under new coordinator Dirk Koetter. This seems like an apropos time to air my apprehension regarding Michael Turner. With an average draft position of 28.1, he’s certainly a value pick, as Turner has produced at least 1,300 rushing yards in three of the past four seasons. Unfortunately, the mileage is racking up, and the Falcons will be featuring more three-receiver sets this season, indicating a move to the air. As a third-round pick, I don’t have an issue with obtaining Turner, but any stage earlier than that could backfire.

NFC West

- Been awhile since we’ve heard Sidney Rice’s name around these parts, but the wideout could be a hidden gem in 2012…“Um, really, you’re putting Jackson on the block, huh? Well, that’s certainly generous of you, but we are trying to win this season, so…”

- Sam Bradford looks to regain his 2010 form in St. Louis, and second-year receiver Austin Pettis could be the beneficiary of such a revival.

- Hold on, Randy Moss actually cares again? Hmmm, almost enticing enough to bump up Moss and Alex Smith in my rankings. Almost…Sounds more and more like the Niners will utilize a split backfield this season.

- Probably the most truthful piece on the Kevin Kolb – John Skelton, ahem, “battle” in the desert.

Tagged: Falcons, Bears, Cowboys, Lions, Packers, Rams, Vikings, Saints, Giants, Jets, Eagles, 49ers, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Redskins, Panthers, Cardinals, Brian Urlacher, Randy Moss, Jason Witten, Tony Romo, Michael Turner, Vincent Jackson, Courtney Roby, Cedric Benson, Tarvaris Jackson, DeAngelo Williams, Kevin Kolb, DeSean Jackson, Mike Tolbert, John Phillips, Dez Bryant, John Skelton, Mike Williams, Mikel Leshoure, Doug Martin, Robert Griffin III, Alshon Jeffery, Robert Griffin

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