James White’s Role Expanding?
The news of the week has clearly been the surgery Dion Lewis underwent, and the impact it has on the Patriots running backs. All reports out of New England (and even straight from Belichick) have James White seeing not only an increased role in the passing game, but an increased role as a runner.
New England loves to pigeon hole their backs as running game or passing game backs. We never got how White ended up a passing down back, he clearly was more than that at Wisconsin. If White can get carries in addition to the third/passing down role we assumed he would have, he could jump into the top 10-15 backs in PPR leagues through the first half of the season.
Ryan Tannehill Continues to Impress Under Gase
Adam Gase is going to make Ryan Tannehill a better player, there is no denying that fact. What we were impressed with in their 2nd preseason game was not only his accuracy, but the way Gase got him moving in the pocket.
A converted receiver, we all know Tannehill can move, but despite averaging over 5 YPC, over his career he has averaged just 225 rushing yards and 1 rushing touchdown per season. We could see that yardage number more than double, and the touchdowns jump to Cam Newton levels if Gase uses Tannehill the way he did in week 2. If this is the case, Tannehill could be a major sleeper in an already deep QB pool. Stop drafting QB’s early!
Jordy Nelson Back and Practicing
Jordy Nelson was back at practice for the Packers this week, just under a year removed from his 2015 knee injury. He’s been limited to non contact and individual drills, but appears to be in line to make his first appearance of the season against the Jags in week one.
It’s 100% clear that ACL injuries are no longer what they once were. Players can come back from an ACL injury and be close to 100% within a calendar year. Nelson’s return will have a massive impact on Aaron Rodgers production, as well as Randall Cobb who returns to a role that saw his finish as a top 10 receiver two season ago, and Eddie Lacy who looks like he’s ready to have a career year.
Abdullah, Tate, Ebron All on Their Way Back
The Lions have been one of our favorite ‘sleeper offenses’ all offseason. They are committed to playing uptempo, and Stafford had one of the best stretches of his (or any QB ever…) career last season when he finished the season averaging over 270 YPG with a 17/1 TD/Int ratio over his last 6 starts under new OC Jim Bob Cooter.
We expect Stafford, Golden Tate, Eric Ebron, Marvin Jones, and Ameer Abdullah to all have career years this season, and it’s lining up for everyone to be healthy and active for the season opener against the Colts.
Loaded Positions a Fantasy Mess Around the League
There are several position groups that look solid on paper, but are essentially fantasy irrelevant at this point. This includes: the Titans receivers, Seahawks running backs, Ravens receivers, and Ravens running backs.
In all four position battles, if one guy were to emerge as the leader, he could be a top 10 play. However, there are just too many names to take a shot early on any player in any of these groups.
Mariota clearly loves Tajae Sharpe, but Matthews has also looked solid, and Walker and Wright have both had 94 reception season in the past two years. For fantasy purposes, Delanie Walker is clearly the pass catcher to own here, but even his value has to be dipping given the fact that this is a run-first offense with four legitimate threats in the passing game.
Ladarius Green Denies Headache Reports
This has to be one of the more frustrating preseason injuries ever… We have no idea if it’s headaches or an ankle, but Green is yet to fully practice, and won’t play again in this week’s preseason game.
The problem is, he has top 10 tight end potential in this offense, but could never play football again if it is in fact headaches. He could also be done for good if he takes a shot anytime throughout the season.
I would consider him a high-end TE2, and worth a shot late in your draft, but would absolutely not draft him thinking he’s going to be your top tight end this season.
Bruce Ellington is Back and a Monster Sleeper
We have been covering this all offseason, but Bruce Ellington is a legitimate threat to hit 100 receptions in Chip Kelly’s offense this season. Torrey Smith will hit big plays, and arguably be the better DFS player, but Ellington is in line to have a monster PPR season.
He returned from missing the past 2 preseason games with minor hamstring and ankle injuries, and has a built a great rapport with quarterback Blaine Gabbert. He’s currently going in the late rounds of fantasy drafts, and along with Marvin Jones, is a receiver we would ‘go get’ in the middle of your draft.
Jamaal Charles Way Ahead of Schedule
Jamaal Charles is already doing everything outside of contact in Chiefs practices, which puts him way ahead of schedule. Should we be surprised? He returned from his last major injury in 2012 to rush for over 1,500 in 2013 and then have one of the best fantasy seasons ever in 2014.
I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on Charles in the 13-19 pick range. Andy Reid has been very clear that he’s not only coming back to his starting job, but he’s coming back to a full workload. Just make sure you grab Charcandrick West sometime around the 11th round.
Ezekiel Elliott Back at Practice
Ezekiel Elliott returned to Cowboys practice this week, after missing 2 weeks with a hamstring injury. We all know what Alfred Morris is, a solid not spectacular 2 down back… the fact that he has looked so good running behind the Cowboys offensive line should give you an idea of what Elliott could do this season.
If he gets to 300+ carries like we have heard repeatedly this offseason, Elliott will finish as the league’s top running back. Even in a time share or 3rd down role in this offense, I don’t think you can miss on Elliott this season.