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On Second Thought

Sigmund Bloom looks at fantasy situations that require a second view after camp and the preseason

We spent all summer getting our minds straight on all of the 2017 fantasy outlook across the NFL, only to have a month of news and play out of training camp and the preseason make us question our starting assumptions and adjust to the sneak previews of the new reality. When we reflect in hindsight, there are July/August developments that end up being red herrings and twists that end up rewarding fantasy players who are drawn to the converging forces that create success and punish fantasy owners who ignore the warnings coming from situations that will fail to meet even basic expectations. How should we proceed when considering all of this new information?

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New England

Chris Hogan was the consistent #3 receiver, a standout camp performer and increasingly looking like a core part of the pass offense before Julian Edelman went out for the season with a torn ACL. Mike Gillislee has missed practices on and off with hamstring issues.

Action: Make Hogan a part of your draft plan in the 7th-9th round range, knowing that he can be a high ceiling WR3/flex for you with the potential to be an everyweek WR2. All four of the New England backs have potential to lead the backfield in touches and post 15+ fantasy points in any given week, and there could be more two-back sets with Edelman out. Gillislee was previously the most expensive back, but considering the relatively even distribution of talent and tactical value, the best angle here is to buy the cheapest back or two in your draft, usually Rex Burkhead (who looked like Christian McCaffrey on a touchdown catch and run) and Dion Lewis (who has looked like 2015 Lewis).

Buffalo

Sammy Watkins was traded to the Rams and the team traded for Jordan Matthews. Tyrod Taylor has reportedly been uneven in practice and not much better in games, topped off with a concussion in the third preseason game. Anquan Boldin retired less than two weeks after signing with the team. Left tackle Cordy Glenn’s foot received treatment and rest and could be a problem in season.

Action: Fade the whole Bills offense. The team has to be viewed as one potentially playing for next year, which greatly lessens Taylor’s appeal. Matthews, Zay Jones, and Charles Clay could have sporadic value, but this is clearly not going to be fertile fantasy soil. LeSean McCoy is getting tough to stomach in the first.

Miami

Ryan Tannehill was lost for the season and Jay Cutler signed out of retirement to start for the Dolphins. Jay Ajayi suffered a concussion but returned to action.

Action: Replace Tannehill with Cutler on your late-round streaming quarterback list. Upgrade Devante Parker and downgrade Jarvis Landry based on fit with starting quarterback play and momentum within the organization.

New York Jets

Christian Hackenberg failed to take hold of the starting quarterback job. Bryce Petty outplayed him but suffered a knee injury in the third preseason game. Quincy Enunwa was sidelined for the year with a neck injury. Matt Forte was sidelined with hamstring issues but returned for the third preseason game. 

Action: Add Robby Anderson to your end game target list as the #1 receiver for this “offense”.

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Houston

Will Fuller is out 1-2 months with a collarbone injury. Deshaun Watson never threatened Tom Savage’s hold on the starting quarterback job.

Action: Be more open to DeAndre Hopkins at or near ADP as a potential target vacuum while Fuller is out. In very deep PPR leagues, add Bruce Ellington to your end game list. Don’t expect this ofense to outperform expectations with the safe, but boring Savage at the helm.

Indianapolis

It looks like Andrew Luck will miss Week 1 and there have been no reassurances about when he will be ready. Marlon Mack has translated in the preseason and should secure a role in the backfield to open the season.

Action: Luck and TY Hilton could be values at dropping ADP if everything returns to normal by Week 4-5, but there are too many other winning propositions to pursue to prioritize them unless Hilton falls to the fourth and Luck to the 10th. Keep Mack on your waiver wire watch list.

Jacksonville

Blake Bortles has lost the confidence of the team and the team flirted with Chad Henne as the Week 1 starting quarterback. They eventually decided to stick with Bortles.

Action: Chad Henne can’t be seen an upgrade in any way, shape, or form. No matter how this quarterback situation settles out over time, it will cap the upside of this offense. Avoid Allen Robinson and Leonard Fournette at ADP.

Tennessee

Corey Davis suffered a hamstring injury cost him most of camp and the preseason. Eric Decker has been sidelined with an ankle issue. Both are targeting a Week 1 return.

Action: Target Davis, who dominated early practices, at a depressed ADP.

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Baltimore

Breshad Perriman has a significant hamstring injury and Danny Woodhead also has a hamstring issue. Javorius Allen has garnered praise with his performance this summer. Joe Flacco is dealing with a back problem and has been put in bubble wrap, but is expected to be ready for Week 1. Dennis Pitta is out for the year with a hip injury.

Action: Add Javorius Allen to your end game target list, lower the heat factor on Woodhead as a mid-round target and break ties against players in the Ravens shaky offense.

Cincinnati

Giovani Bernard showed up to camp ready for significant work after speculation that he could miss regular season games. John Ross played in the third preseason game after missing most of camp and the preseason. Joe Mixon appears to have the smallest role to open the season of the top four rookie running backs.

Action: Avoid Mixon at ADP but have early season trade offers at the ready.

Cleveland

Brock Osweiler was on display as the ostensible starter, but DeShone Kizer has won the starting job. Corey Coleman has been Kizer’s favorite target over Kenny Britt.

Action: Be more open to Isaiah Crowell, who should benefit from the chances of playing with a running quarterback. Corey Coleman has a better chance of returning value at ADP with Kizer, but Britt should be moved down on our boards after some early summer underrated buzz. Kizer's running ability puts him on our waiver wire watch list.

Pittsburgh

James Conner was reasonably productive but didn’t seize control of the backup situation behind holdout Le’Veon Bell.

Action: Conner has the best chance of turning the Steelers backup job into production if Bell goes down, but we should be open to the possibility of an RBBC mess here.

AFC WEST

Denver

Trevor Siemian will be the Week 1 starting quarterback. Jamaal Charles did enough in the preseason to secure a roster spot after a very quiet summer. Devontae Booker has a wrist injury and will miss the first 2-3 weeks of the season.

Action: Siemian’s style meshes better with Demaryius Thomas in the screen game than Paxton Lynch’s, keep him on your third-round target list. CJ Anderson should have a feature back load early in the season and fits well with an early choice of Ezekiel Elliott, although we should be open to a lot of Jamaal Charles on passing downs. De’Angelo Henderson should be added to our waiver wire watch list.

Kansas City

Kareem Hunt was given a feature back audition in the second preseason game and passed with flying colors. Spencer Ware has a knee injury that is likely a season-ender and at the very least keeps him on the fringe of draftable players, even in deep leagues. Alex Smith had a poor preseason Week 3 after a strong start to the preseason.

Action: Kareem Hunt should get off to a hot start and fits well with an early pick of Ezekiel Elliott. Hunt should go by the fourth round in drafts, Ware isn’t worth consideration until the last rounds and maybe not even then. If the team starts losing close games in the fashion of their playoff departure last year, rookie Patrick Mahomes could replace Smith. If that does come to pass, it would improve the downfield passing game and help Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.

Los Angeles Chargers

Nothing significant has changed from the pre-camp outlook.

Oakland

Nothing significant has changed from the pre-camp outlook.

 

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Dallas

Ezekiel Elliott was suspended for six games by the NFL but has appealed his suspension. Darren McFadden is the clear backup, but has underwhelmed in preseason games.

Action: Bump Elliott down to a late-second round, but still consider him if you are a “bet on yourself” style fantasy player and think you can offset the loss of Elliott for up to the first seven weeks. If you take Elliott, don’t automatically take McFadden at ADP around the 7th/8th. He appears to be in a precarious spot despite the Cowboys outwardly showing a strong belief in him.

New York Giants

Odell Beckham Jr suffered an ankle injury that could threaten his Week 1 availability. Evan Engram has been playing an unusually high number of snaps for a rookie tight end.

Action: Beckham should be below AJ Green and possibly Melvin Gordon with the risk of lost time or a re-injury. Engram should be added to your waiver wire watch list.

Philadelphia

Jordan Matthews was traded to the Bills. LeGarrette Blount has looked sluggish and very ordinary in the preseason.

Action: Make sure Zach Ertz is in your top 10 tight ends. He’s a possible Plan A in PPR leagues. Avoid the Eagles backfield in drafts.

Washington

Jordan Reed spent much of the summer on the PUP list with a toe issue that requires orthotics and sent him to a specialist for a visit. Samaje Perine had a rough open to the preseason, and Rob Kelley was maybe the only bright spot in the offense in the third preseason game. Terrelle Pryor has failed to establish a connection with Kirk Cousins in preseason action.

Action: Add Vernon Davis to your tight end premium waiver wire watch list. Kelley is the better investment if you need immediate production, and Perine is only advisable as a stash in deeper bench leagues. Pryor is no longer a preferred pick at a 3rd/4th round ADP.

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Chicago

Mitchell Trubisky has outplayed Mike Glennon in preseason games, albeit against lesser competition, but Glennon recovered with a strong third game. Cameron Meredith was lost for the season with an ACL tear. Tarik Cohen has flashed and could win the #2 running back job.

Action: There is no obvious pickup in the wake of Meredith’s injury and it hurts the offense as a whole. Kendall Wright had his best season with offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains when they were together during his rookie year at Tennessee, so he’s the best pickup in deep leagues. Kevin White will get a chance at even greater volume, but he hasn’t instilled confidence with his summer. Cohen should be on our waiver wire watch list in case of injury to Jordan Howard. Trubisky could represent an upgrade from Glennon if he is failing early in the season and could create some optimism if the offense is poor with Glennon under center.

Detroit

Kenny Golladay has had a great summer and should be the third wide receiver and a red zone factor. Eric Ebron has been sidelined for much of the summer with a hamstring injury. Ameer Abdullah was a clear lead back in the third preseason game and notched 99 total yards in little over a half

Action: Ebron isn’t worth a Top 10 tight end pick despite increased opportunity, instead be more willing to take Golden Tate or Marvin Jones at ADP. Abdullah has demonstrated the upside to justify a pick at ADP.

Green Bay

Jamaal Williams has emerged as the best situated to contribute early of the three Packers running back draft picks.

Action: Add Williams to your late round high ceiling backup running back target list. Ty Montgomery hasn’t proven that he can hold up for a whole season under a feature back load.

Minnesota

Dalvin Cook has taken control of the Vikings backfield. Adam Thielen appears to have replaced Stefon Diggs as the team’s slot receiver.

Action: If you want Cook, you have to take him in the third round. He has the playmaking ability and underrated surrounding offense to deliver Top 10 running back numbers on that investment. Diggs was going well ahead of Thielen in drafts, but that ADP doesn’t reflect the players similar weekly ceiling and floor if Thielen is playing the slot in three-wide sets.

NFC SOUTH

 

Atlanta

Nothing significant has changed from the pre-camp outlook, although take note that Devonta Freeman suffered a concussion in August. He’s expected to be ready for Week 1.

Carolina

Christian McCaffrey has created buzz with his camp and preseason performance. Kelvin Benjamin has erased the discouraging images of being overweight this spring with his preseason play and form.

Action: McCaffrey won’t be available long after the third round. He could be a hit despite the lofty ADP, but it might take a Jonathan Stewart injury to open the door. Benjamin looks like a value cheap WR2/strong WR3 in the fifth round.

New Orleans

Ted Ginn appears to be the #2 receiver in the team’s eyes, with Willie Snead as the #3. Alvin Kamara had hype-inducing preseason long touchdown run, but his ADP hasn’t spiked accordingly after he sat in the third preseason game.

Action: The ADP gap between Snead and Ginn is hard to justify. Ginn should be a target once you get to the 9th round. Kamara appears to be a small part of the Saints offense right now, but should be a late bench stash or on your waiver wire watch list in the event of a Peterson/Ingram injury.

Tampa Bay

Doug Martin has fulfilled expectations of reports of a return to 2015 form.

Action: Martin might give you RB1 production minus three games for an RB3 price. He’s a good target in the 6th/7th.

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Arizona

John Brown has struggled to get healthy as the specter of his sickle-cell condition was raised again, but bounced back with two scores in the third preseason game. Jaron Brown has emerged as the #2 receiver in his absence.

Action: John Brown might be too risky to take in the 8th/9th, but now he won’t cost that much and should be back on our radar. Jaron Brown ends up on our waiver wire watch list.

Los Angeles Rams

Jared Goff has looked better with his new targets, including Sammy Watkins, acquired in a trade. Rookie Cooper Kupp has been his favorite target.

Action: Watkins isn’t worth the third round pick he cost as the clear #1 for the Bills, but he’s not a bad gamble if he falls to the fifth on talent alone. Kupp has become a consideration in late rounds of PPR leagues. The Rams offense has a much better chance to be functional this year, which makes Todd Gurley a bigger consideration in the second round.

San Francisco

Carlos Hyde has been used as the unquestioned feature back in camp and the preseason. UDFA Matt Breida has been running ahead of fourth-round pick Joe Williams all summer

Action: Talent has never been a question for Hyde, and he produced in a terrible situation last year. He could pay off if he falls to the fifth round and isn’t a reach in the fourth. Take Williams off of your sleeper list now that the post-draft buzz has died down.

Seattle

Thomas Rawls was running ahead of Eddie Lacy before an ankle issue sidelined him. CJ Prosise has missed time with a groin injury. Chris Carson has spent some time with the ones and looked the part. Tyler Lockett is still being brought along slowly coming off of a broken leg and Paul Richardson has run as the #2 receiver.

Action: Any of the top three backs in the Seahawks backfield could pay dividends if injuries knock out one or two of his competitors, but the back you draft is just as likely to be one of the ones that go down. Carson will take patience, but he has appeal as a bench stash. Lockett and Richardson are looking like more of a 2A and 2B, which might make consistent fantasy relevance tough with a resurgent Jimmy Graham and a low volume pass offense.