Fantasy notebook: Leftwich cut, Keith moves up

NFL teams cut their rosters down to 53 players over the weekend, and several moves had implications in the world of fantasy football. With just three days left until the regular-season opener in Indianapolis (are you ready for some football?), here's our look at 20 players who have seen their value change as a result of the recent personnel movement.

1. Byron Leftwich, QB, free agent: Leftwich went from the Jaguars' No. 1 quarterback to the unemployment line in the past week. Head coach Jack Del Rio went with David Garrard as his starter, and the Jaguars released Leftwich when they couldn't trade him. The Ravens could have some interest, but at this point Leftwich has no chance to start with a new team and now has no value in fantasy football drafts.

2007 fantasy football content schedule

  • Monday: Monday morning quarterback, Rotowire's risers & fallers
  • Tuesday: Fabiano's experts column, Rotowire's value meter and depth chart tracker
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2. Kevin Jones, RB, Detroit: In a surprise move, the Lions kept Jones on the active roster rather then place him on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. The team made this decision because he is fine to practice, but it's uncertain when he'll be back in an actual game. Still, the fact that he'll return within six weeks helps his value and hurts the stock of Tatum Bell, who won't be featured for an extended period.

3. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit:Lions head coach Rod Marinelli told reporters that Johnson has not earned a starting role in the offense -- at least not to this point. The highly-touted rookie out of Georgia Tech should still be in a prominent role all season, and Marinelli's words are more motivation for his stud wideout. He's no more than a No. 3 fantasy receiver, but Johnson has the tools to be special down the road.

4. Randy Moss, WR, New England: A rumor had surfaced out of Boston that Moss could be cut, but that of course didn't happen. Instead, the Patriots released Reche Caldwell. Moss, who missed the entire preseason with an injured hamstring, might not be in playing shape and remains questionable for the regular-season opener against the Jets. He could be in for a really slow start to the season for fantasy owners.

5. Selvin Young, RB, Denver: Young, an undrafted rookie out of Texas, had passed Mike Bell, an undrafted rookie last season, on the Broncos' depth chart. However, the Broncos' official website now has Cecil Sapp listed as the team's No. 2 runner and Young listed fifth. Young is still probably the best handcuff for Travis Henry, but this is why we all love to hate Mike Shanahan's constant depth-chart carousel.

6. Priest Holmes, RB, Kansas City: The Chiefs placed Holmes on the Non-Football Injury List, so he won't be eligible to return until at least Week 6. Of course, it would be a shock to no one if Holmes didn't return at all in what has been a bizarre situation. Michael Bennett will be the best handcuff for owners who land Larry Johnson, and at this time Holmes has no value at all. The end of his career seems close at hand.

7. Kenton Keith, RB, Indianapolis: In what was somewhat of a shocker, the Colts released DeDe Dorsey and Clifton Dawson and will utilize former CFL standout Kenton Keith as the immediate backup for Joseph Addai. In 2006, Keith rushed for a solid 1,037 yards, caught 52 passes and scored five times as a member of the Saskatchewan Rough Riders. He's the lone handcuff for owners who land Addai in drafts.

8. Najeh Davenport, RB, Pittsburgh: The Steelers released Kevan Barlow, Larry Croom, John Kuhn and Verron Haynes, so Davenport is now the unquestioned insurance pick for fantasy owners who take Willie Parker in the first round. Parker is expected to see most of the work -- including goal-line carries -- for new offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, but Davenport will spell Fast Willie to keep him fresh.

9. Kenny Watson, RB, Cincinnati: The Bengals released Quincy Wilson and placed Chris Perry on the reserve/PUP list, which makes him ineligible for the first six weeks of the regular season. That leaves the versatile Watson as the lone legitimate backup for Rudi Johnson. The team added Clifton Dawson, who was released by the Colts, but Watson is the man to add if you have Johnson as your featured back.

10. Michael Robinson, RB, San Francisco: The 49ers released Thomas Clayton and then added him to their practice squad, so Maurice Hicks and Robinson will serve as the two top reserves behind fantasy stud Frank Gore. While Hicks would start if Gore is injured, Robinson would also see his share of carries. That makes it difficult to handcuff Gore, though Robinson has an edge since he'll see the goal-line work.

11. Antonio Pittman, RB, St. Louis: In a surprise move, the New Orleans Saints released Pittman in favor of undrafted rookie Pierre Thomas. However, Pittman wasn't available for long as he landed with the Rams soon thereafter. Fellow rookie Brian Leonard is the current handcuff for Steven Jackson, but Pittman could fill that role if head coach Scott Linehan decides to utilize Leonard more as a fullback once the season starts.

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12. Michael Bush, RB, Oakland The Raiders placed Bush on the PUP list due to an injured leg, so he's out of action until at least Oct. 21 (Week 7 vs. Kansas City). With LaMont Jordan, Dominic Rhodes (who returns in Week 6 from a league-imposed suspension), Justin Fargas and Adimchinobe Echemandu on the roster, Bush could land on injured reserve and seems to have little value outside of keeper and dynasty formats.

13. Brandon Jones, WR, Tennessee: The Titans released Courtney Roby and retained Justin Gage and undrafted rookie Biren Ealy. That's good news for both Jones and Roydell Williams, who should be used in a prominent fashion when the team throws the football. Neither is worth more than a late-round flier, but it should be noted that Jones and Williams are both in their third NFL seasons and should be motivated.

14. Brandon Marshall, WR, Denver: In another wild move, Mike Shanahan has listed Brandon Stokley, not Marshall, as the No. 2 wide receiver headed into the regular-season opener in Buffalo. The more likely scenario has Marshall starting opposite Javon Walker and Stokley in the slot, but Shanahan never shows his cards. Who knows, retired wideouts Ricky Nattiel and Vance Johnson might start for all we know.

15. Jeff King, TE, Carolina: The Panthers placed Michael Gaines on injured reserve with a bad shoulder, so he'll miss the entire season. That makes King the unquestioned starter and a viable low-end sleeper candidate. He was targeted more often in the preseason and will be more involved in the offense of new coordinator Jeff Davidson, so King might be worth a waiver-wire claim if he puts up decent numbers.

16. Alvin Pearman, RB, Seattle: Pearman was dealt from Jacksonville to Seattle for an undisclosed draft choice and could become the team's new third-down back. He'll also contribute on special teams, but he won't pass Maurice Morris on the depth chart so don't think of him as a Shaun Alexander handcuff.

17. Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Cincinnati: The Bengals acquired Fitzpatrick from the Rams for a 2008 seventh-round draft choice and then released Doug Johnson, so the former Harvard standout will be second on the depth chart. If Carson Palmer is ever injured, Fitzpatrick will take over the reins of the offense.

18. Mason Crosby, K, Green Bay: The Packers released Dave Rayner and will utilize Crosby, a strong-legged rookie, as their No. 1 kicker. He doesn't have much draft value, but Crosby is one to watch in the regular season. Rayner should land elsewhere -- the Giants plan to give him a tryout this week.

19. Nick Folk, K, Dallas: Veteran kicker Martin Gramatica was placed on injured reserve with a bad hamstring, so the unknown Folk will handle all the kicking duties for Dallas. The Cowboys will score a ton of points on offense, so Folk could become a useful waiver-wire option once the season starts.

20. Matt Prater, K, Atlanta: The Falcons released veteran Billy Cundiff and handed over the kicking duties to Prater, who was claimed off waivers from the Miami Dolphins. Behind an offense that could struggle to move the football the entire season, Prater should not be on fantasy football radars.

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