Fantasy notebook: Jones won't be on PUP

Reports out of Detroit earlier in the week indicated that injured Lions running back Kevin Jones, who still isn't 100 percent back from a serious foot ailment, would remain on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and miss the first six weeks of the regular season.

So much for those reports.

Rather than keep him on the PUP, the Lions have elected to keep Jones on their active roster, according to the Detroit Free Press. Team officials talked with Jones' surgeon, Dr. Bob Anderson, and the two sides agreed that Jones would be able to contribute within six weeks. Fantasy football owners should have great interest in what the team has done with their talented runner.

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Jones, who suffered a Lisfranc foot injury back on Dec. 10 against Minnesota, was examined by Anderson on Thursday. The prognosis was positive -- the foot has healed well -- but the team will err on the side of caution and give him a few more weeks to get back into playing shape.

The versatile runner has been on a rehabilitation program but hasn't been able to practice with his teammates while on the PUP list. Now that he's on the roster, he can practice when he's able and play when the team feels he is fit enough to see live action.

With Jones on the sidelines for at least part of the season, Tatum Bell will open as the No. 1 starter for Marinelli. He did miss Thursday night's preseason finale against Buffalo with an injured shin, but he'll be fine for Week 1. Bell, who rushed for 1,025 yards last season, has drawn praise from offensive coordinator Mike Martz and could be a valuable asset for fantasy football owners while Jones is out.

Some runners have found immense success in Martz's offense -- NFL Network's Marshall Faulk and Jones included -- and Bell's improved skills as a pass catcher should put him in line for statistical success. Where he loses value is around the goal line, where T.J. Duckett seems destined to vulture touchdowns, so Bell shouldn't be considered more than a No. 3 fantasy back. Once Jones does return, Bell's value will fall that much more as a potential three-headed monster of Jones, Bell and Duckett could become the norm.

Fantasy owners should still target Bell in the middle rounds, but his ultimate value will be in the first few weeks. Jones is also worth a middle- round choice for owners who can stash him on their roster until he returns. Should Bell produce solid numbers while Jones is out, owners might want to sell high and trade him before Jones comes back. When that happens, neither back will be a consistent option.


The final week of the preseason is normally a quiet one for NFL starters, but that wasn't the case with the Tennessee Titans. Head coach Jeff Fisher played his first-teamers into the third quarter in a 30-14 win over the Green Bay Packers, and the results were extremely positive both for Fisher and fantasy footballers.

Vince Young, he of the Madden 08 cover, threw for one touchdown and rushed for another in his second consecutive exhibition contest. He completed 11 of 16 passes (68.7 percent) for 96 yards and rushed for 12 yards on two carries. While the Madden curse looms, Young is still a tremendous breakout candidate and well worth an early- to middle-round selection as a surefire No. 1 fantasy quarterback.

The team's backfield situation seems to have become a bit clearer, as LenDale White started ahead of Chris Brown and totaled 77 all-purpose yards in the game. Now the favorite to open the regular season as the starter, White should be considered in the middle rounds but is still more of a No. 4 fantasy back.

He'll no doubt share at least some of the workload with Brown, however, so fantasy owners shouldn't lean on him for consistent production. He'll face a hard-nosed Jacksonville defense in the regular-season opener, so White won't be more than a flex starter in much larger leagues due to the difficult matchup.

Rookie Chris Henry also saw some work despite the fact that he's nursing an injured hamstring. He rushed for 22 yards on seven carries, but the Arizona product is no better than third on the Titans' depth chart and now warrants little more than a late-round flier in seasonal leagues with 12-plus teams.

While the backfield scenario seems more evident, the wide receivers are uncertain at this time. Fisher continued to start Eric Moulds, but this week it was Brandon Jones, not Roydell Williams, who got the start opposite him. Jones caught three passes for 29 yards and scored on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Young, while Williams didn't record a single catch. Rookie Chris Davis, who retuned a punt 70 yards for a score in the third quarter, got the start in a three-receiver set and is the favorite to open as the slot wideout.

While Davis could help the value of the Titans defense and special teams unit, he has little individual fantasy value at this point in time. Moulds, Jones and Williams are all worth late-round fliers in larger formats, but the latter two posses the most upside in what will be their third NFL seasons.

Ben Troupe, a former fantasy sleeper, returned to action after dealing with an injured ankle. He caught one pass for 11 yards but has lost the top spot on the depth chart to Bo Sciafe. Troupe, who has been the subject of trade rumors, has no draft value. Sciafe didn't haul in a pass against the Packers, but he's still a popular target for Young and should be considered a viable No. 2 fantasy tight end in most formats.


-- Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio named David Garrard, not Byron Leftwich, his No. 1 quarterback headed into Week 1. Del Rio announced that Leftwich would be his starter in the offseason, but that has changed with the team now saying Leftwich will either be traded or released. The offense was much more productive under Garrard in exhibition contests, so he'll be the main man. This is big news for Garrard's value, so consider him in the late rounds.

-- The Denver Post reports that Mike Bell has fallen behind Selvin Young for the second spot on the Broncos' depth chart headed into the team's regular-season opener in Buffalo. The undrafted rookie out of Texas had a solid preseason and is now the better handcuff option for Travis Henry in all fantasy drafts. Head coach Mike Shanahan loves to change his mind on personnel moves, but for now Bell's draft stock has taken a hard fall. In fact, he's worth little more than a late-round flier at this time.

-- Larry Johnson saw his first work of the preseason on Thursday night after an extended holdout. The stud back out of Penn State saw just three carries, but he looked good on a 7-yard run and finished with 12 rushing yards. There's a definite chance he will see less than a full workload in the Chiefs' regular-season opener in Houston, but Johnson should still be active across the board. For owners who still haven't had their draft, L.J. still warrants one of the top three selections even with a less-formidable offensive line ahead of him.

-- Donald Driver was seen on the sidelines of Thursday night's game against Tennessee wearing a boot on his sprained foot. Driver, who hurt his foot last week, is confident that he'll be fine for the Packers' Week 1 battle against the Philadelphia Eagles. The veteran wideout told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that fans didn't need "to worry about anything," but he's still someone fantasy owners should keep tabs on. Barring setbacks, Driver remains a borderline No. 1 or 2 fantasy wideout in most formats.

-- Reports out of Chicago indicate that rookie tight end Greg Olsen sustained a knee sprain in the Bears' preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns. He walked to the locker room on his own power, but Olsen will have an MRI to see if he sustained any structural damage. His status for the regular-season opener in San Diego is in question, and his coaches hope the ailment doesn't keep him out for an extended period. Olsen, who has a pile of potential, is worth a late-round flier in drafts unless the injury is a serious one.

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