No one will argue that Peyton Manning's neck ailment is the talk of the town in fantasy land, while the return of Chris Johnson from a holdout and Arian Foster's injured hamstring are also notable for owners who are still to draft their teams. But with NFL teams cutting their rosters over the weekend and depth charts being updated around the league, there were plenty of other events that will have an effect on drafts -- and Week 1 of the season.
Rex Grossman to lead the Redskins: NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reports that Grossman, not John Beck, will be under center for the Skins in Week 1. Before the Grossman jokes start, consider these numbers. In his three starts last year, Grossman threw for an average of 280 yards with a combined seven touchdowns. When you consider that this week's opponent, the Giants, are riddled with injuries on defense, well, Grossman doesn't look terrible as a potential one-week option -- especially for fantasy owners who will likely be without Manning.
A big workload for Peyton Hillis?: The Browns signed Brandon Jackson to serve as their change-of-pace and third-down back, but he's been lost for the season with a case of turf toe. The leaves Hillis and Montario Hardesty, who is coming off missing his entire rookie year with a knee injury. As a result, Hillis is now in line to see a lot of touches -- despite the desire of coach Pat Shurmur to lighten the load. That's good in some respects, as Hillis will be the bell cow, but it also makes him more vulnerable to breaking down late in the season.
Matt Cassel in doubt for Week 1?: The Kansas City Star is reporting that Cassel has a rib injury and could be in danger of missing the opener against the Bills. If that's the case, fantasy leaguers should expect a huge dose of Jamaal Charles against a Bills defense that was dreadful against the run in 2010. What's more, Thomas Jones could even be a viable flex starter. Cassel was able to practice on Monday, however, so this is a situation to watch in the days to come.
Cedric Benson released from prison: The most prominent member of the Bengals offense, Benson was released from prison this weekend after serving five days of a 20-day sentence. While his time spent in the pokey doesn't affect his fantasy appeal, the fact that he's playing behind a questionable offensive line and a rookie quarterback in Andy Dalton is cause for some concern. Benson did average a respectable 4.1 yards per carry in the preseason, but I'd still avoid using him as more than a borderline No. 2 or 3 fantasy option against the Browns.
Maurice Jones-Drew's new handcuff: The Jaguars placed Rashad Jennings on injured reserve with a knee injury, so one of fantasy football's most valuable handcuffs is now off the board. In his place, Deji Karim will step in and becomes the back to grab if you land "Pocket Hercules" in drafts. Karim, who runs and plays a lot like Jones-Drew, is also worth adding off the waiver wire in deeper leagues for fantasy owners who have already held their drafts. Fullbacks Montell Owens and Brock Bolen will also see increased roles in the backfield, but neither has fantasy appeal.
Cardinals add veteran Chester Taylor: With Tim Hightower in Washington and Ryan Williams out for the season due to a knee injury, the Cardinals added Taylor to serve as their new third-down back behind Beanie Wells. While LaRod Stephens-Howling is also in the mix, I'd put my money on Taylor being the featured back if Wells suffers some sort of ailment that causes him to miss time. Taylor, who turns 32 in late September, is far past his prime and won't make a major impact, but he's still worth a look in deep leagues if you need to handcuff Wells.
Kendall Hunter passes Anthony Dixon:49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has named Hunter, not Dixon, the No. 2 back in the team's backfield rotation behind Frank Gore. The rookie of out Oklahoma State was a beast in the preseason, averaging 6.6 yards per carry. When you consider that Gore isn't the most durable back in the world, there's a good chance that Hunter could see a prominent role in the offense at some point in the year. He's clearly worth a look in the late rounds of deeper leagues, especially if you've drafted Gore in the earlier stanzas.
Kerry Collins to start for Colts: With Manning expected to be on the shelf, the graybeard Collins will be at the helm of the Colts offense. It's the first time a quarterback other than Manning has been under center for the team since 1997, when Harbaugh started against the Vikings. Clearly, the value of most of the team's wideouts takes a hit with Manning out, but I'd still start Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai. However, I wouldn't lean on Collins unless I'm in a two-quarterback league -- despite the favorable matchup.
Tony Moeaki put on injured reserve: One of the more popular sleepers at the tight end position, Moeaki has now been lost for the season with a torn ACL. His absence won't make a huge fantasy impact, as he's was drafted as no more than a No. 2 option, but his absence does hurt Cassel's value. With Leonard Pope now the favorite to start, Cassel loses a reliable playmaker in the pass attack. Of course, that could also mean more targets for Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston.
Seahawks going with Tarvaris Jackson: Despite the fact that he was unimpressive in the preseason, Jackson has still been named the starter for coach Pete Carroll in Week 1. The veteran quarterback has shown little in his career to warrant a major role in fantasy leagues -- in fact, the 49ers defense should be considered a solid option for owners who play the matchups on a week-to-week basis. Outside of Jackson, there isn't a lot to like in the Great Northwest with Marshawn Lynch and Sidney Rice the closest thing the team has to viable fantasy starters.