The big news in our last update dealt with the Martavis Bryant suspension (appeal since denied) and bad vibes out of Washington for Robert Griffin III (inevitable benching since confirmed), and a handful of other smaller items.
We got through a big drafting weekend this past weekend, but the news didn’t stop as a few impactful things came to light, requiring another projections and rankings update this week. Lets get to it. News and notes first, and then the ranking changes.
Michael Floyd is working his way back from dislocated fingers that required surgery early in training camp. HC Bruce Arians is optimistic Floyd will be back Week 1. Floyd is a worthwhile risk as a WR5 on your team. It just might be difficult to justify starting him any given week.
Devonta Freeman returned to practice after missing multiple weeks with a hamstring injury. There is no clear indication which player will start or dominate carries – if anyone – between Freeman and Tevin Coleman. This situation looks like a mess.
Dennis Pitta placed on the PUP list. Only thing mildly surprising here is he wasn’t put straight on IR, the reports of his recovery are so grim.
Released Fred Jackson. Fans can’t believe it, and fantasy players equally question the decision. There even appears to be some grumblings that not all of the Bills coaches were onside with this call by the GM. Regardless, FJax is out there ready for some other lucky team to pick him up. It will have some domino effect on that team, but keeping mind he is 34, it shouldn’t be a huge impact.
The Bills named Tyrod Taylor their starting QB as expected.
The Panthers acquired WR Kevin Norwood from the Seattle Seahawks in a trade. Rookie Devin Funchess does not seem to be doing much to establish himself as the projected starter in the absence of Kelvin Benjamin. I don’t mind Funchess as a rather late, hope for the best upside pick, but this is mainly a stay away from situation.
Alshon Jeffery continues to miss practice with a “day-to-day” calf injury. No adjustment yet but it is getting a bit worrisome. The way Bears receivers are limping around, Martellus Bennett may top his 90 catches from last season … and then promptly ask for a big raise.
Duke Johnson is sidelined with a concussion. The team may have issues with Isaiah Crowell, but they may have no choice but to get him there to play unless they sign someone else. It is always a possibility even at this late stage. Seems fantasy players are shying as far away from Browns backs as possible right now.
RB Joique Bell returned to practice after a long layoff (longer than fantasy players feel very comfortable with, this time of year) and now represents a bit of a value where he is getting drafted. Even with rookie Ameer Abdullah wowing people, Bell should be a regular contributor on a good offense as long as he can stay healthy.
Green Bay Packers
Randall Cobb is expected to play Week 1 even with his shoulder he injured in preseason.
Did you know T.Y. Hilton has a concussion? Its true, and he is in the league’s concussion protocol, but he is trending in the right direction with positive reports he’ll be ready Week 1. No alarm bells to sound but something to keep tabs on.
If you saw the comment from my recent draft recap, you know how I feel about this one. After a quiet few weeks with the idea TE Julius Thomas would be back for Week 1, now he requires surgery on his hand and will miss 3 games. If you are desperate for a TE to start the season, give Marcedes Lewis a go.
Kansas City Chiefs
TE Travis Kelce also went down with an ankle injury, but this one looks minor as reports indicate he could play if it was the regular season.
New England Patriots
Tom Brady decision expected end of this week. No sense commenting any further on this story until that happens.
New Orleans Saints
Brandon Coleman has apparently won the WR3 job for the Saints. I did draft him the other night, but WR3 on the Saints is still pretty far down the pecking order for catches, in recent years. Still, if Marques Colston is truly at the end of the line there is a nice opportunity for Coleman if he can take advantage.
New York Jets
TE Jace Amaro placed on IR. Was not going to be a fantasy factor anyway, but he has enough name recognition I thought I should mention it.
In no surprise at all, the Raiders released RB Trent Richardson. That was a short ride.
The Steelers lost another kicker. Garrett Hartley was placed on IR. Between this and the suspensions, it is almost like the fantasy Gods are trying to tell us something about Pittsburgh.
Kirk Cousins is the Redskins starting QB. God help diehard ‘Skins fans.
Last night I took part in the third of three leagues I signed up for in the Footballguys Players Championship (FPC) hosted by the Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC). I know, confusingly similar acronyms, but on the plus side, there is a $300,000 grand prize in the overall championship. Not that I expect to win the top prize among 7,500 teams, but I do expect to win at least one of these three leagues that awards $1,500 for first place. Two of three would be dandy.
In the previous two drafts, I had the 12th pick and the 2nd pick. This time the 5th pick, which is pretty good in my humble opinion. Here are some of my takes from the draft. Note for Draft Buddy customers, you can download each of the completed Draft Buddy files I used in these drafts so you can review the entire draft.
Let me start by saying that even though we have Adrian Peterson as the top RB on our board, I already got him in the draft where I had the second overall pick, so I felt perhaps I would diversify with this league. Leaving AP outside my Top 5 for this draft, I made a short list of Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy, Jamaal Charles and Rob Gronkowski for my first pick.
It turned out Julio Jones went 1.04 (I like it) leaving me Charles and Gronk to choose from. While many experts love Gronk in the first round, I’m not as much in that camp. I think it is doable. I think in this league in particular with 1.5 points-per-reception (PPR) for TE compared to 1 PPR for RB and WR, it makes sense mathematically, but I just don’t love taking a player first round in a spot where I only have to fill one starter.
Many experts are very much in support of the Upside Down drafting, or later called Zero-RB drafting methodology, forgoing RB in the first, even early rounds, for stud wide receivers instead and stockpiling middle round RB later. The first I read about it is from buddy Matt Waldman (2011), giving credit where credit is due. However, without getting into a lot of detail today, I disagree with that approach. I’ve always found a more balanced approach is best, RB-WR or WR-RB to open things up and leave you best set up to take advantage of players that unexpectedly fall in the draft, no matter what position they are.
First pick, I took Jamaal Charles.
When the second pick came around to me, DeMarco Murray – maybe Lamar Miller – were the only two RB remaining I really loved enough before seeing a big gap between them and the next group at RB. At WR, the current tier of Alshon Jeffery, Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins and even Brandin Cooks was deeper. If I took a WR, Miller might make it back to me. If I took Murray, one of those WR – or Jimmy Graham – was much more likely to make it back to me. So, I took Murray.
Third round, one pick away and a bit surprisingly, Graham and Jeffery were both available, thanks in part to Joseph Randle going 3.01. The team in the 4 spot took Graham, leaving me Jeffery.
After three rounds I’ve got two star running backs, and Alshon Jeffery. I’m happy with that. Lets keep in mind it is a PPR league and I really do want a strong WR corps, so I think given my early picks I have less need to stockpile middle round RB and more emphasis at wideout. Also, keeping in mind TE do earn 1.5 PPR so need to constantly assess where a good one can be had, preferably at good draft value. Two are already off the board, and likely more before the draft gets back to me in the 4th round.
From here, maybe I’ll make some quicker bullet points by round. You can see how my roster took shape in the image above, and again, Draft Buddy users can download my completed Draft Buddy from last night’s draft.
Rounds 1 and 2
- Nothing too out of the ordinary Round 1. Owners in the 4th, 11th and 12th spots all started WR-WR. Interesting that Randall Cobb (2.02) didn’t really get downgraded at all for his shoulder injury. Surprise pick: Brandin Cooks (2.09) but even more surprising: Mark Ingram (2.03). I’ve never seen Ingram go that high. In that owner’s shoes I would have risked he would get back to me in the 3rd, but I don’t have a problem with it, as he may very well could have missed out on him by waiting.
- Joseph Randle (3.01) seems quite high given very recent news item about full-blown RBBC in Dallas, and Darren McFadden looked better than Randle in the last preseason game.
- Not surprisingly, Greg Olsen, Travis Kelce (who I really like, but maybe not in this league since I already have Charles) and Martellus Bennett all went this round after Graham went.
- First QB taken, Andrew Luck at 3.07. Still too early for me with all of the non-QB starter spots to fill.
Rounds 4 and 5
- These rounds make me happy I went RB-RB to start. While there are certainly going to be some RB that pan out, you are still picking through many, “geez, I don’t know” options. Melvin Gordon (4.09) – maybe he hits, maybe he doesn’t. Todd Gurley (5.03) – seems really optimistic for this year. C.J. Spiller (5.11) – already sidelined, think very early bullish forecasts on Spiller are still causing him to get drafted high for my taste.
- I took Davante Adams 4.08. Great offense, great QB, their best not injured WR right now. Definitely prefer to run with a less proven Adams in his situation than injured Emmanuel Sanders (4.04) or injured likely out Week 1, and doesn’t find the end zone much anyway, Julian Edelman (4.12).
- My 5th round pick was a tough one. Jarvis Landry – high receptions but limited big plays and strong supporting cast to share with, good offense and QB – vs. Sammy Watkins – super talent, bad offense and QB. I said to my wife Sarah, “Bills WR?” to which she turned up her nose, and I knew she would do that so a bit of a leading question. It was more likely Watkins might make it back to me in the 6th round, so I took Landry, who I seem to like more than most.
Rounds 6 and 7
- I was thinking Watkins obviously. Or Charles Johnson as a potential breakout candidate. I was thinking Arian Foster as I loved my start and at this point if he comes back in the Week 4-6 range, could be a huge boom to the bottom line. None made it to my 6.08 pick. Johnson actually went late-5th. Watkins was close, at 6.05.
- In the meanwhile, Jason Witten and Kyle Rudolph both went, driving down the available good tight ends, and only one of the first four teams drafting after me had a TE at this point, so I added Delanie Walker (6.08).
- Only QB I mentioned so far is Andrew Luck, but Aaron Rodgers also went in the 3rd, Ben Roethlisberger in the 6th, then Matt Ryan (7.01) and Drew Brees (7.04). Ultimately, this turned out to be one of the oddest order of QB I’ve seen drafted this year. Five QB are gone but Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning are still available? I would not normally take a QB this early but since no players were really standing out for me as must-haves, and Wilson looks like exceptional value, I tag Wilson.
- Although Martavis Bryant getting drafted two spots later I may have strongly considered had I thought of him. He was down my cheatsheet given the most recent projection update.
- More proof I’m glad I went RB early as Giovani Bernard and Danny Woodhead are getting drafted. I’d rather set my team apart at this stage with a Walker, Wilson, or regularly contributing WR, than be scraping together points from low-use RB who can be very good in short spurts but be tough to rely on them over the course of the season.
Rounds 8, 9 and 10
- QB curiosity continued. Peyton went at 8.12, but Sam Bradford (9.03) and Teddy Bridgewater (9.07) went within spitting distance of him. Cam Newton still hasn’t been drafted and ultimately went QB16 at the top of the 14th round. Pretty baffling. Since I had Wilson I was determined to not spend very much at all on a second QB, but some great values there. All the more reason to not spend a 3rd round pick on Luck or Rodgers.
- Still some good WR picks in here – Steve Smith, Roddy White (although getting a bit skeptical of him) – and RB picks are sketchy. LeGarrette Blount, who I’ve drafted numerous times already this year, could be good but could also be extremely frustrating to try to figure out what weeks to start him (after his suspension).
- Given importance of the position and limited options with true upside, took Julius Thomas. He seems below the radar now since we haven’t heard much about him lately, but Jaguars offense seems to be clicking and JT appears in line to return Week 1.
- At this point, I still only have 2 RB, so time to add some depth. DeMarco’s backup Ryan Mathews went 8.09 immediately after I took Thomas, so hitting on a starter at this point will be tough. Darren McFadden is available, every Cleveland RB is available. What if Arian Foster isn’t back as optimistically as recent news reports? What if he comes back and gets hurt again? I do think Alfred Blue is the clear guy to own over Jonathan Grimes and Chris Polk, so I tag Blue who should start first part of the season and gives me time to work the waiver wire for other RB options to emerge.
I guess I will cut it off there for the commentary. While not an optimal high stakes, win the big overall prize strategy, I did handcuff Jamaal drafting Knile Davis in the 11th round. I feel good about the team, I might as well take out a little insurance on my top RB.
As usual, got sniped by a pick or two on a few guys, but its always going to feel that way. What I’ve learned is you can’t have every player you want, there are only so many roster spots available. I think I got some underrated, quality upside depth at decent value, and this team has a good shot to compete for the league championship, and maybe more!
Here is a major news and notes recap since our last update plus the separate Jordy Nelson injury fantasy impact. The all important Preseason Week 3 starts tonight, and this is a heavy draft weekend. Our projections and rankings will be updated soon reflecting this latest news.
HC Bruce Arians is confident WR Michael Floyd will be ready to play Week 1 of the regular season. There is no timetable for his return.
WR Breshad Perriman is recovering very slowly. He’s falling into do not draft (in redraft) territory, not worth the risk.
Tyrod Taylor seemed to win support for the starting QB job after the Bills last preseason game. It looks like all three could rotate in with the starters in the team’s third preseason game.
The Broncos cut K Connor Barth. We don’t even rank kickers at our website. I suppose we should, but kickers really just annoy me. At any rate, don’t draft Barth. Brandon McManus is the Broncos kicker.
Getting a little worried about Emmanuel Sanders status to open the season since he continues to miss practice and preseason games with a hamstring injury. We already have him down with an avoid icon in our rankings.
Green Bay Packers
We updated earlier this week for Jordy Nelson’s knee injury sidelining him for the season. Randall Cobb received a slight bump while Davante Adams really becomes a player to target. Andrew Luck would seem to now own the tiebreaker over Aaron Rodgers for top spot in our QB rankings.
Arian Foster rehab news is getting better, as the timetable for his return continues to shrink. The latest, a possible early season return in the range of Weeks 2 to 4, and based on the injury, he should be pretty much a full-go on return. That would mean we have Alfred Blue too high and Foster too low in our projections and rankings prior to the update accompanying this post.
New England Patriots
New York Giants
Tap the brakes on all the positive Victor Cruz rehab stories. He is dealing with inflammation in his calf and now looks to be eased back in to regular playing time, even though he remains confident he will play Week 1.
Steelers get slapped with another suspension, and it is another big one. WR Martavis Bryant gets 4 games for substance abuse. He is appealing, so we are waiting to hear the outcome of that, but Markus Wheaton moves up and Bryant drops in anticipation of missing at least a couple of games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
WR Mike Evans suffered a hamstring injury and the team is going to hold him out for the remainder of the preseason. It doesn’t appear overly serious but he wouldn’t be my first choice amongst similar ranked receivers in the same tier. Hamstring injuries can linger.
The relationship between QB Robert Griffin III and the Redskins organization is heading down a rocky road again. He got beat up in their last preseason game. It doesn’t matter to me where the blame lies, but hard to imagine he plays 16 games at this rate, and the upside we might have thought could return, appears to be gone. Moving down.