The league has suspended Bengals OLB Vontaze Burfict for the 1st 5 games of the season, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The ban stems from an illegal hit on Chiefs FB Anthony Sherman earlier this month, but the severity undoubtedly comes from previous infractions for Burfict in the same category. He missed the 1st 3 games of last season for a shot to the head of Steelers WR Antonio Brown in the playoffs the year before. Burfict will reportedly appeal the suspension, but IDP owners will have to plan for now as though Burfict will miss the 1st third of the fantasy season. That's a big blow for a high-ceiling fantasy option that had been enjoying perhaps the best camp and preseason of his career. LB Vincent Rey would likely start in Burfict's place and provide a high-upside IDP option. Burfict's absence also adds upside to OLB Nick Vigil and MLB Kevin Minter.
"Without being asked about Kevin Minter specifically, Calais Campbell and Jerraud Powers raved about how the ILB played in camp." That's what Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic reported Friday. It's easy to look past Minter after an empty rookie year and a lackluster 1st turn as a starter last year. But the Cards made him a 2nd-round pick 2 years ago after Minter closed out his 3 seasons at LSU with 130 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 4 sacks in his final year. Keep him in mind as a late sleeper in your IDP draft.
Cardinals LB Sean Weatherspoon has missed both preseason games so far and is expected to miss the 3rd as well, according to the Arizona Republic. Someone asked HC Bruce Arians on Monday what he needed to see from Weatherspoon before the regular season: "I need to see a lot, haven’t seen anything yet. That’s very discouraging right now, to not know where he’s at as a football player, having missed most of last year and all of this camp.” Weatherspoon missed all of last season with an Achilles' tendon tear. A hamstring injury has been the big problem this summer. Arians said ILBs Kevin Minter and Kenny Demens have played well so far. They would start if Weatherspoon doesn't prove ready for the regular season. The whole Cardinals LB corps looks pretty iffy for IDP use in fantasy football.
The Cardinals listed FS Tyrann Mathieu and SS Tony Jefferson as starters in their initial depth chart Monday. Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com says that SS Deone Bucannon and FS Rashad Johnson "have been running with the first unit" in practice. "In the end, all four get a lot of snaps," Urban adds. Given that situation, it might not matter who actually starts. At the same time, a rotation will limit fantasy-scoring opportunities for the IDP prospects. That has suppressed all Arizona DB projections in our 2015 IDP rankings. Elsewhere on D, the Cards list OLB Lorenzo Alexander, ILB Sean Weatherspoon, ILB Kevin Minter and OLB Alex Okafor as starters. We're not excited about any as IDP factors. Weatherspoon would carry the most upside, but he needs to show that he still has his old quicks even after last June's Achilles' tendon tear.
Cardinals LB Kevin Minter has missed the past 5 days with a pectoral injury and could be in for more sideline time. Mike Jurecki of 910 AM in Phoenix reports that the team is considering keeping him out of the remaining 2 preseason games to allow the injury to heal. If that doesn't work, Minter reportedly might need surgery. The down time won't make it easy for him to stake a claim to sub-package work. It's a tough development for a guy who entered the offseason as an intriguing IDP sleeper. Minter still carries upside, but he looks a lot riskier now than he did a month ago and has slid down our 2014 IDP rankings. If Minter misses regular-season time, newly signed LB Desmond Bishop could step into the lineup.
Mike Jurecki of Fox Sports 910 AM in Arizona reports that the league has suspended Cardinals LB Daryl Washington for the entire 2014 season. Washington recently pleaded guilty to assault charges stemming from a 2013 incident in which he allegedly broke an ex-girlfriend's collarbone. Washington, of course, missed the 1st 4 games last season because of a suspension under the league's drug program. We're happy to see this jerk get benched for the year so that we don't have to bother passing over his talent in IDP drafts. Second-year LB Kevin Minter looks like the only clear starter inside for the Cards, who could look to the free-agent market for some help.
UPDATE: Turns out Washington's suspension actually comes from another violation of the league substance abuse policy. He admitted in a statement that it pertained to marijuana use. Regardless, he remains an ass who will need to become less ass-y if he hopes to continue an NFL career.