A lot happened in Week 3 of the preseason, and that doesn’t even include the seismic injury in Minnesota and a few other news items that moved the needle this week. As we head into the final round of fantasy drafts, here are some of the final “adjustments at the line” that you should be making:
Kansas City: Charles was a late 2nd/early 3rd pick on my board already, anticipating a slow start and more Spencer Ware. Ware was already a priority handcuff around the 12th/13th round. While this news seems discouraging on the surface, it basically matches reasonable expectations about Charles coming into the season.
Miami: Adam Gase’s fingerprints are all over the Miami offense. The uptempo, high percentage passing game should feed Jarvis Landry and Arian Foster. The offense functioned much better with Foster, and he should hoover up targets as the team looks to minimize hits on Ryan Tannehill. Kenny Stills is clearly ahead of DeVante Parker in the wide receiver rotation and there are signs that Parker is in the doghouse. He’s redraft kryptonite anywhere near his ADP.
Jacksonville: The bad old Jaguars showed up in Week 3 of the preseason, which would point towards another pass heavy year, and more TJ Yeldon than Chris Ivory. Breaking ties in favor of Allen Robinson, Blake Bortles, and Yeldon looks wiser in light of the first team debacle against the Bengals.
Tennessee: It’s just preseason, but the Titans’ crisp execution and internalizing of “smashmouth” football on offense has been very impressive. Tajae Sharpe is looking like the #1 receiver, and even in a low volume pass offense (the Titans have only passed 41 percent of the time in the preseason), that can equal a fantasy impact. Demarco Murray is back in his element and potentially worth a fifth-round pick. Derrick Henry is translating very well and could be huge if Murray goes down, although he is clearly running behind him.
Houston: The offensive line is having trouble opening holes for Lamar Miller, but the passing game is looking renewed with an infusion of young talent, which should help Miller’s scoring opportunities and preserve his volume. He’s still in a mini-tier with Mark Ingram II behind Ezekiel Elliott and David Johnson, but Brock Osweiler’s performance against the Cardinals helped offset pessimism about the line.
Indianapolis: The Colts are putting Andrew Luck in the line of fire way too often, and the defense looks like it is made out of papier mache. Frank Gore, TY Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Phillip Dorsett all look like potential values at their ADP and should stay on our target list, but we have to be ready to pull the ripcord if early contests against Detroit and Tennessee go south.
Pittsburgh: The offense looks smooth running through Ben Roethlisberger, who is pushing the issue downfield less often and settling for easy yards to Jesse James and Eli Rogers. James is sitting down in the same spaces that Heath Miller occupied for so many years, and while he doesn’t offer any more after the catch than Miller, he looks like he will be the lowest priority for defenses. Rogers is creating separation in the short zones and giving Roethlisberger another underneath target to use if teams overplay the downfield passing game. If Roethlisberger “takes what the defense gives him”, James and Rogers should some big PPR days over the course of the season.
Cleveland: Robert Griffin III might have a short shelf life if he is left out to dry in the pocket, but in the meantime, he’ll be throwing deep and giving Terrelle Pryor and Josh Gordon (once he returns in Week 5) lots of opportunities to make our fantasy week on one play. He’ll either be injured or a fantasy revelation and deserves QB2 consideration in a QBBC.
Baltimore: The Ravens are going to go pass heavy and Joe Flacco appears to be ready to pilot Marc Trestman’s offense after coming back from major knee surgery. The volume will be there for a receiver or two to emerge for fantasy, but Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman are healthy, there could be a four wide receiver rotation. The backfield is looking like a three-player rotation with Justin Forsett, Kenneth Dixon, and Terrance West, and Buck Allen playing more while Dixon heals from an MCL sprain. If there’s going to be a breakout back from this group, it will be Dixon, with his energy and all-around game, but as long as everyone stays healthy, it will be a tough group to project week-to-week. Crockett Gillmore is the only healthy tight end, and while he has the skills to be a low TE1 in that role, his history indicates that he’ll be headed for the injury report soon, too.
Denver: CJ Anderson looks like the player who won leagues for us in 2014, not the disappointment who couldn’t put it together for most of 2015. The offense is going to slant very run heavy, and the defense will keep the Broncos in game scripts that will feature Anderson as much as they possibly can. Taking Anderson in the third and Devontae Booker in the late rounds is a good way to address RB1 later or get a strong RB2 locked down. Virgil Green looks like he might be just behind Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas in terms of targets. He should be on our late-round tight end target list.
Oakland: DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard both looked dynamic and they might share the backup role behind Latavius Murray. Richard’s strong performance makes it tougher to pick one handcuff to Murray, but it also gives another path to Murray losing touches and the Raiders offense embracing more spread looks and quickness at running back. I’m still not sure Murray will hold off the youngsters all season and return value on his 3rd/4th round ADP.
Dallas: I’m not worried in the least bit about Ezekiel Elliott in the wake of Tony Romo’s back injury. Dak Prescott’s running ability can offset the loss of Romo’s passing ability to keep defenses honest. Dez Bryant has moved down to late first/early second after reassuring us by looking more like his old self this summer and Jason Witten/Terrance Williams should be off of our late-round draft board.
Philadelphia: Sam Bradford actually looked good, as did Ryan Mathews, but how much of that was the flimsy Colts defense. Bradford being viable puts Dorial Green-Beckham on our late-round radar. He seems to have a role by default, especially in the red zone, and a fresh start could be everything for him mentally. Mathews is still a tough sell with his injury history, but he looks good now and if the Eagles are competitive, he’ll be a solid RB2.
Washington: Rob Kelley actually looks competent, running with power and urgency, and enough burst. Washington’s running game wasn’t going to produce a surprise RB1, but Kelley can get the yards that are there and should be on the waiver wire speed dial list if the team doesn’t bring in a veteran back in light of Matt Jones’ injury.
Minnesota: This offense was already going to be conservative, so Adrian Peterson’s stock remains unchanged. Jerick McKinnon deserves more work as both a runner and receiver out of the backfield and looks better than ever. Stefon Diggs was a fast mover up my board, but his chemistry with Shaun Hill is unknown, and he becomes much less of a priority unless he’s falling to the 9th/10th round. Laquon Treadwell’s dynasty stock takes a hit with Bridgewater’s long-term future cloudy. It’s possible that the Bridgewater injury deflates the team as a whole, and they open with Tennessee, one of the hottest teams in the preseason, then follow with Green Bay and Carolina.
Green Bay: Jared Cook had a big role with the first-team offense, and he converted it to very good production against San Francisco. We’ve been taken in by him before, but having the best quarterback of his career on a team without an established third option in the passing game is a recipe for late-round tight end success.
Chicago: Kevin White sounds like he is still mired in rookie camp purgatory after a lost rookie year. He’s probably not a threat to Alshon Jeffery being the clear top option in the passing game to open the season. Much like Devante Parker, he’s only a bench stash, and one that will require patience. The Bears offense has been underwhelming and not exactly a place to look for breakout players anyway.
Tampa Bay: He’s being drafted near his ceiling again, but Mike Evans looked like a player capable of hitting and pushing through that ceiling in the third preseason game. The Bucs appear to be going more aggressive and uptempo on offense, and Evans was able to make the kind of unfair plays downfield that we expected when he was drafted #7 overall in 2014. Vincent Jackson also looked good and a steal at his current 10th/11th round ADP considering his situation and track record.
Arizona: The offense has looked putrid, but John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald haven’t been out there, and all signs point to them being ready for Week 1. Palmer was rough in Week 3 of the preseason last year, and the offense was fine. Don’t overreact to this development.
San Francisco: This offense just looks bad outside of Carlos Hyde, and he suffered a concussion in the third preseason game. The passing volume is non-existent, making Torrey Smith and Vance McDonald tough sells, and it’s hard to know how much play Hyde will get if the 49ers fall behind. The game script issues that plagued Hyde before the injury issues ended his season aren’t going anywhere, and they face Los Angeles, Carolina, and Seattle to open the season. Stay far away.