The Top 10 could be the Top 12 or Top 15 every week. Here are some quick thoughts on some of these late cuts from the feature:
- Unanswered Questions About Aaron Jones, Rookie RBs, and Pass Pro: The Packers rookie didn't see a single pass pro rep against Dallas. With Aaron Rodgers ability to buy time, it wasn't as necessary. The same could be said for Kareem Hunt, whose assignments in this phase of the game are limited to no more than a handful a week, tops. Alex Smith takes a lot of sacks, but his legs are also a potential mitigating factor. With the college game infiltrating the NFL with greater regularity (see below) perhaps pass protection will become less important for backs in certain offenses. That said, Charcandrick West caught two touchdowns in the red zone because he's the more reliable blocker, and the red zone's compressed field and time requirements demand a savvy pass blocker at RB.
- What Marlon Mack and Tevin Coleman Have in Common: Both have great burst and generate downhill power from the momentum of their acceleration. Both can catch the football. And both entered the NFL as much better space runners than between-the-tackle producers. Mack had big moments, but his pass protection, maturity between the tackles, down-and-distance awareness, pad level, and ball security were problems at South Florida. He hasn't passed these tests yet. Mack will be a much-discussed fantasy investment this week. My early take? Think Coleman as a rookie and second-year player but with lower expectations with production and weekly consistency.
- Joe Flacco Healthy: Returning from a back injury that limited his summer work, Flacco looks back to normal. He unleashed a 58-yard bomb to Mike Wallace and made Russell Wilson-like throw while twisting and falling away from contact that contorted Flacco as he finished his throw. If he can make that play in the second quarter and then deliver that 58-yard bomb, there's little to worry about.
- Brice Butler Watch: He didn't do much in the box score and Dez Bryant and Dak Prescott are making incremental progress with their communication issues. However, Prescott has often looked to Butler this fall when he's in trouble and Butler has delivered. He may never ascent to every-week fantasy starter, but he's worth monitoring as a preemptive addition if things go "New York Giants" with the Dallas corps.
- Don't Write off Thomas Rawls Yet: He missed a pass protection that got Wilson smacked in the second quarter of the Rams game, but he also displayed the burst and cutback ability that is a much better fit for the outside zone game that has been the Seahawks offense than what Eddie Lacy has to offer. I'm speculating, but something may be amiss behind the scenes with Rawls if he's not earning more touches within the next two weeks.
- Devin Funchess Update: I'm not ready to say Funchess is the primary receiver in this Panthers offense, but I was so wrong about him. His route running is improving beyond that of an "above-the-rim" receiver. He's not a polished route guy yet, but he's good enough to produce in this offense that is designed to work him open with misdirection, bunch sets, and rub routes. Last week, I considered Funchess a guy you can rely on for 40-60 yards a week with a touchdown as a potential bonus that pushes him into WR3-WR2 ceiling weekly. The Lions defense has improved, but it's not good enough to amend this outlook on Funchess after his two-TD weekend. Still, I'm encouraged.
1. Doug Martin hit the Ground running
Martin was my preseason focal point for many fantasy drafts. I spend many weeks explaining why Martin's spring and summer were leading to a strong 2017 when he returned from suspension. The Patriots defense is an easy opponent, Martin did exactly what a top back does when he faces this step down in competition.