College Football Pick’em
Start or Sit (NFC Home Games)
Talking the business of sports
A ruptured Achilles used to be something of a death sentence for a professional athlete’s career, but Cam Akers shocked the world by returning just five months after surgery last season, and now James Robinson is looking to do something similar coming off his own season-ending injury last season. And he remains on track for a Week 1 debut as he continues to make progress in his recovery.
Robinson took another step forward this week, participating in full-team drills, albeit still sporting a non-contact jersey even in scrimmage sessions with the Falcons this week. However, coach Doug Pederson told reporters this week the goal is to have him ready for Week 1.
You don’t want to stress his body, but at the same time, he needs to get enough work where he’s possibly ready to go for Washington if that’s the case,” Pederson said.
Robinson has been splitting reps with Travis Etienne on the first-team offense, and seeing as Etienne has been splitting reps with Snoop Conner in the preseason, it seems fair to assume Robinson will slip into that role once the games start. He won’t be a full go for Week 1, in all likelihood, but Robinson looks like he’s going to have a role early on.
Expectations should be fairly muted, given how tough that injury tends to be to come back from, however Robinson’s ADP is still RB47 at 126.4 over the last week at NFC drafts, so there’s still very little risk to scooping him up in the ninth or 10th round and potentially having a starting-caliber back at some point. There might not be RB1 upside like he had pre-injury, but Robinson remains one of the better sleeper values around these days.
Smith suffered an avulsion fracture in his knee in which the hamstring tendon pulled off the bone, and he will have surgery to repair the injury Friday. That puts him out until December at the earliest, and potentially the entire season, a significant blow for the Cowboys line. Smith, the starting left tackle, has struggled to stay healthy in recent years, playing just two games in 2020 and then missing six in 2021. Rookie Tyler Smith, the team’s first-round pick out of Tulsa, has been fighting for a starting job at left guard in training camp, but it’s possible he slides over to one of the tackle spots – or the Cowboys, who are third in cap space, could look to make an addition via trade or free agency. Either way, this is bad news for a line that has had injury issues over the past few years. You’re not downgrading Dak Prescott or Ezekiel Elliott just because of this, but it makes their jobs tougher, for sure.
J.K. Dobbins didn’t practice Thursday
Dobbins still isn’t 100% certain for Week 1, as he has yet to take part in full 11-on-11 drills at practice, and it isn’t clear if his absence Thursday was planned or if he is dealing with some soreness. It’s something to keep an eye on, because Dobbins is coming back from a pretty serious injury and it’s at least possible he won’t be at full speed for the start of the season – and possibly beyond then. Dobbins has plenty of talent – he rushed for 6.0 yards per carry as a rookie – but he probably doesn’t have RB1 upside in an offense that will likely split carries even when he is healthy. He’s a solid RB2 when healthy, but you probably need to make sure you have an alternative plan ready just in case he isn’t ready to go – Ameer Abdullah is quickly becoming one of my favorite early-season PPR fill-in options who is available for free in drafts.
Coach Ron Rivera said as much when asked Thursday, referencing Gibson’s experience with the job and the work he has put in during training camp. While that doesn’t preclude a significant role on offense, it’s worth noting that only three players over the past decade have had even 150 carries and 15 kick returns in a season – only two over the past 30 years have had 200-plus carries and 15 kick returns. It’s exceedingly rare that a player serves as a primary kick returner and a big part of a backfield, so Gibson has history working against him there. Brian Robinson Jr. figures to be a significant part of the Commanders backfield either way, so either Gibson is splitting early-down work with Robinson while J.D. McKissic remains the passing-downs guy or, in the better scenario for Gibson’s value, McKissic is a reserve piece and Gibson handles the passing game work. At this point, I’m not taking any of those three inside of the top 90 in drafts.
Burks was spotted on the sidelines riding a stationary bike, but we don’t have any details as of Thursday afternoon. Burks’ first training camp has been a bit of a frustration, as he has dealt with minor nagging injuries and conditioning issues going back to offseason programs. He has failed to lock up a starting role in the offense and figures to open the season in a rotation behind Robert Woods and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine. Burks remains a viable late-round stash with upside, but if you draft him, do so knowing you’ll likely need to be patient – if it makes you feel any better, remember A.J. Brown didn’t play more than 50% of the snaps in a game until Week 5 of his rookie season.
Make picks for your chance to win guaranteed weekly and season prizes, plus the $100K jackpot.
© 2004-2022 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.
CBS Sports is a registered trademark of CBS Broadcasting Inc. Commissioner.com is a registered trademark of CBS Interactive Inc.
Images by Getty Images and US Presswire