Here is a recap of key NFL news and notes since our last update a week ago, and to get us ready for Week 1 of preseason games. These items will factor into our latest projections and rankings changes. The starters shouldn’t play a lot in this opening week of preseason, but regardless, fingers crossed no major injuries!
Free Agents of Interest
The Cardinals apparently made a contract offer to free agent RB Chris Johnson. They’ve got injuries in the backfield, so this might be a lets get through the preseason signing (if he agrees to sign), or it could be more significant, an indication the team is not that happy with or confident in Andre Ellington?
Karlos Williams is a new name to keep some tabs on out of the Bills backfield. Fred Jackson is banged up and Williams apparently passed Bryce Brown on the depth chart. The Bills are expected to run a lot, and you’ll want to know next man up if Shady isn’t up to that much workload.
RB Joseph Randle seems more secure in the starting spot than he did a couple of weeks ago, as he’s impressed while Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar are injured. If Randle doesn’t play much in the preseason take it as a good sign the team is saving him for the carries that matter.
TE Eric Ebron is getting positive reports out of camp. We’ll see how active he is in the Lions preseason games, but it is interesting to note how excited fantasy players were about this guy as a rookie, and how completely disinterested they are now. I haven’t drafted him yet – not a lot of leagues will there be a need to draft a second or third TE, which is where he’s getting drafted – but smells like a value pick with nice upside potential.
New York Giants
Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) is expected to play in the Giants first preseason game, while Victor Cruz (patellar tendon) did more work in a scrimmage versus the Cincinnati Bengals that initially expected, and Rueben Randle (knee tendonitis) is hobbled missing practice and might play in the first preseason game. No projection changes, but a quick update of these key receivers.
New York Jets
A week after we upgrade Geno Smith based on positive reports out of training camp, he gets his jaw broken in the locker room from the fist of a previously unknown linebacker. Ryan Fitzpatrick now takes the season projections and Smith drops down in the rankings to our unranked but still on the fantasy radar section.
TE Zach Ertz received a compliment for improved blocking recently, but Brent Celek is still around and more than likely the better of the two, which could once again limit snaps for Ertz. I only really bring this up because I drafted Ertz earlier this week and feel like I reached a bit on him. I took him at TE7 at the top of the 9th round. Buyer’s remorse, I would have been better served going RB or WR there and grabbing Delanie Walker (drafted TE10, bottom of 11th) or Jason Witten (TE11, bottom of 12th). In fact, I did take Witten and wonder now if he’s going to start for me more than Ertz.
K Shaun Suisham is done for the year with a torn ACL from last week’s Hall of Fame game. Former New Orleans Saints K Garrett Hartley was signed. If you are drafting early, especially in a draft-only (no waivers, no roster moves) league, double-check the job security of your targeted kicker before taking one.
St. Louis Rams
On the heels of a handful of “he’s progressing well” reports, the latest on RB Todd Gurley is he won’t be active to start the season, and Tre Mason likely to open the season as their unrivaled starter. This narrative makes a lot more sense given the severity and timing of Gurley’s injury and required rehab. We’ve got them projected with identical carries and we’ll stick with that. Not keen on drafting either guy really. Gurley is going way too high. This news might cool it off a bit, but he’ll continue to go too high for us.