We’re inching ever closer to the 2021 NFL Regular Season, which kicks off in Tampa Bay on Thursday, September 9. With pre-season games drawing to a close as well, we’ll soon have final roster cuts and likely a flurry of moves. But some teams aren’t waiting. Below are a few of the big headlines from this week.
Quarterback Battles Settled
With the regular season fast approaching, a number of teams with open quarterback battles have made final decisions. The Chicago Bears are going with veteran Andy Dalton for Week 1, while the Denver Broncos have chosen Teddy Bridgewater over incumbent Drew Lock. In Jacksonville, Urban Meyer announced No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence will start against the Texans on September 12. Finally, the Saints announced Jameis Winston has won the battle against Taysom Hill to succeed Drew Brees in New Orleans.
With those battles settled only a few teams have yet to confirm their starting selection. The Colts haven’t announced if Carson Wentz will be healthy enough to start, or if backup candidates Jacob Eason or Sam Ehlinger will get the call. In New England, both veteran Cam Newton and rookie Mac Jones have played well but a final call has yet to be made, with the same for former Patriots’ quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco as he battles rookie Trey Lance. Look for those decisions about Week 1 to be made by early next week.
Travis Etienne out of the Year
The rookie running back selected in the First Round out of Clemson suffered a mid-foot injury during the Jaguars’ Monday night game. On Tuesday it was revealed he suffered a Lisfranc injury that required surgery. Etienne was put on IR, ending his season. In terms of dynasty value, that leaves Etienne as a hold. His value has dropped due to injury and the spotty history of backs returning from Lisfranc surgery.
In the near term, it’s a boost to second year back James Robinson, who was RB7 in 2020. He figures to get the bulk of the work in the backfield again, supported by veteran running back Carlos Hyde. It should also be a boost to second-year receiver Laviska Shenault, Jr.
With Cam Akers out of the season and Darrell Henderson, Jr., already banged up, the Rams added to the running back room this week acquiring Sony Michel from the New England Patriots for a pair of picks. Michel was a First Round in the 2018 draft. In three seasons with New England, Michel has rushed for 2,292 yards and 14 TDs. He brings veteran experience and skill to the Rams’ backfield committee.
In terms of fantasy, it’s hard to say what Michel’s exact production will be, though I believe it will still be a committee approach with Henderson and younger backs Jake Funk and Xavier Jones involved at times. Henderson figures to be the lead in the committee, likely finishing in the high-end RB3 range. I think Michel will play something similar to the role Malcolm Brown played for the Rams the past three seasons. In 2020, he rushed for 419 yards and 5 TDs, catching 23 passes for 162 yards. That will give him some deeper flex value, especially if he can build on and surpass that.
Minshew Traded to the Eagles
After “losing” the quarterback competition to Lawrence this week, the Jaguars dealt third-year quarterback Gardner Minshew to the Philadelphia Eagles for a conditional Sixth Round selection. It could go to a Fifth-Round pick if Minshew plays more than 50 percent of snaps in three games. Minshew was 7-13 as a starter in two seasons, including 1-7 in 2020. He threw for 2,259 yards, 16 TDs and 5 INTs in eight starts. Minshew gives the Eagles another experienced option in the quarterback room.
The Eagles’ starter is expected to be Jalen Hurts, who went 1-3 in four starts in 2020. This year figures to be a time to see if Hurts can be the answer at quarterback for the Eagles. Behind Hurts, the Eagles had veteran Joe Flacco and Nick Mullens, who was released to make room for Minshew. The move to acquire Minshew is an interesting move and one that could provide another young quarterback option for the franchise as the Eagles look toward a long-term answer at the position.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.