The late nights are catching up with me, but before we know it, football will officially be here! Many fantasy football drafts are done, and still many more to go. There was a lot of news and value changes – some big, some small – as a result of Week 3 NFL preseason games, including another concussion for Wes Welker and another ACL tear for Sam Bradford. Without further adieu, here are the notes to accompany our newly updated player projections and cheatsheet rankings.
A new copy of Projection Pal with the updated projections will be available shortly for Draft Buddy users.
WR Sammy Watkins was inactive for the Bills less than stellar preseason performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has sore ribs. The wilder E.J. Manuel looks, and now this, the more difficult it is to get excited about Watkins to start the season.
All this while it was looking promising Bernard Pierce would open the season as the starter while Ray Rice sat out, suspended. If Pierce impresses during his short stint, then who knows what could happen. However, Pierce suffered a head injury in preseason action against the Washington Redskins. They are not calling it a concussion, which is positive, but there is some added risk here.
Cam Newton has a hairline fracture to one of his ribs. Sounds painful! But, I expect Cam will tough it out and start Week 1. We aren’t adjusting our already low ranking, but fantasy owners will surely be wincing every time he takes off to run for the next little while. This puts a small damper on the Kelvin Benjamin hype building from the Panthers last preseason game.
After a lackluster Week 2 preseason game by both quarterbacks, the Browns named Brian Hoyer their regular season starter, and Johnny Manziel will sit, learn and bide his time. For the significance of the news, there won’t be much of a rankings change. Hoyer jumps from Tier 8 to the bottom of Tier 7, while Manziel holds steady.
WR Wes Welker suffered a concussion in the Broncos Week 3 preseason game on a hit by safety D.J. Swearinger of the Houston Texans, and on a poor decision by Peyton Manning to throw it to him in heavy traffic. Welker’s value now plummets. The team line is they hope he is cleared to play Week 1, but on his third concussion in recent memory, don’t count on it.
K Matt Prater is suspended for the first four games of the season. Great offense, but still, just a kicker. The Broncos have a bye in Week 4, so he can return prior to Week 6. Maybe pick him up off waivers before Week 5 if your kicker isn’t cutting the mustard.
Green Bay Packers
TE Brandon Bostick has a slight fracture of his fibula and will be on the shelf at least a few weeks into the regular season. Some more clarity of the tight end situation in Green Bay through attrition. It won’t be Bostick and it won’t be Colt Lyerla, out for the season. Richard Rodgers appears to be the guy if you have to have a piece of this action. Andrew Quarless, who is not good (for fantasy), but a veteran, is still kicking around.
UDFA RB Damien Williams is ahead of Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee on the depth chart. Considering what little we’ve seen from Knowshon Moreno so far, and it is late in the preseason, this is somewhat significant. A name to keep in mind.
Update – I started to write this prior to the Dolphins-Dallas Cowboys game – Moreno ran 10 times for 64 yards. Nice stat line.
TE Charles Clay is expected to play in the Dolphins third preseason game. Keep on eye on it. We’ve got him down the rankings from a bunch of places since he’s been sitting out with a knee injury. Update – he did play, so that is good news.
New report the Vikings just officially named Matt Cassel their starting QB. Don’t draft Cassel. Drafting Teddy Bridgewater is highly speculative in redraft leagues unless it is of the 2QB variety or with exceptionally deep rosters.
New England Patriots
RB Shane Vereen is rising up boards with his continued strong preseason play. He looks good. I was ready to take him in the early 4th round in a draft on Saturday night (some keepers in play, but not a lot) when he was snapped up a pick before me.
New York Giants
WR Odell Beckham Jr. missed the Giants third preseason game with a hamstring injury. This is the same hamstring he’s dealt with most of preseason. He’s behind the curve now and probably shouldn’t be drafted in most redraft leagues unless they use fairly deep rosters.
RB LeSean McCoy sprained his thumb during the team’s Week 3 preseason game. Doesn’t look serious but wanted to mention it.
Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount are in trouble with police – charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and Bell is also being charged with driving under the influence, since it was his car and he was behind the wheel. Nice job, L.B. and L.B. No news on punishment from the team or league right now. Should be minimal, and potentially take a while, so no change in rankings really but understand there is an element of risk hanging over Bell in particular.
St. Louis Rams
Much to the chagrin of our own Dave Stringer, die hard Rams fan, QB Sam Bradford was diagnosed with a torn ACL and is out for the season. Backup Shaun Hill takes over. NFL AM on NFL Network can’t help themselves bringing up the flimsy parallel between this and the Trent Green-Kurt Warner circumstances from 1999. Stealing a line from another oft-annoying network, “C’mon Man!”
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Since our last update, rookie Charles Sims hurt his ankle in practice and will miss significant time. Although the Bucs still have decent depth behind Doug Martin in Mike James and Bobby Rainey, they will lean more on Martin. Fantasy owners were down on Martin all preseason for different reasons, including more even splitting the workload in Tampa than we would hope for from an RB1. Now that is off the table, he should move up in drafts. We consistently had him higher than most, currently RB8, so no move necessary in our rankings.