Market Report: Week of August 30

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Market Report: Week of August 30

Our Training Camp Market Report is intended to be a one-stop shop for the most important news from around the NFL during training camp. I’ll post a new Market Report every week during August to help our subscribers to keep the pulse of what’s happening in the fantasy marketplace. I’ll update this article on a daily basis during the week so make sure to check back for the latest training camp buzz.

This article will focus mostly on news, beat reports, and injuries coming out of team practices. Be sure to check out our Preseason Reviews for key takeaways on player performances and playing time implications from preseason action.

Note: All ADP data used in this article is courtesy of our partners at the NFFC and the data is used from drafts in the last 14 days.

CATCH UP ON PREVIOUS TRAINING CAMP MARKET REPORTS

Market Report: Week of Aug. 9

Market Report: Week of Aug. 16

Market Report: Week of Aug. 23

NOTABLE SKILL PLAYER MOVEMENT

Quarterback

Cam Newton (cut by NE), Brian Hoyer (NE PS, cut by NE), Will Grier (Dal, cut by Car), Ben DiNucci (Dal PS, cut by Dal), Garrett Gilbert (NE PS, cut by Dal), Trace McSorley (Bal PS, cut by Bal), Jake Fromm (Buf PS, cut by Buf), Brett Hundley (Ind PS, cut by Ind), Josh Johnson (NYJ PS, cut by NYJ), Jake Luton (Sea, cut by Jax)

Running Back

Wayne Gallman (Atl, cut by SF), Royce Freeman (Car, cut by Den), Xavier Jones (cut by LAR), Jordan Howard (Phi PS, cut by Phi), Peyton Barber (Was PS, cut by Was), Corey Clement (Dal, cut by NYG), Devonta Freeman (cut by NO), Rodney Smith (cut by Car), Gerrid Doaks (Mia PS, cut by Mia), Ameer Abdullah (Min PS, cut by Min), Jaylen Samuels (cut by Pit), Darwin Thompson (TB PS, cut by KC), Jason Huntley (Phi PS, cut by Phi), Dexter Williams (cut by GB), Javian Hawkins (cut by Atl/Ten), Alfred Morris (cut by NYG), Artavis Pierce (cut by Chi), Reggie Bonnafon (cut by Car), Josh Adams (NYJ PS, cut by NYJ), Pooka Williams (Cin PS, cut by Cin), Patrick Laird (Mia PS, cut by Mia), Devine Ozigbo (Jax PS, cut by Jax), Caleb Huntley (cut by Atl), D’Onta Foreman (cut by Atl), RB Trayveon Williams (cut by Cin), Trenton Cannon (cut by Car), Qadree Ollison (cut by Atl)

Wide Receiver

John Brown (cut by LV), Tyron Johnson (Jax, cut by LAC), Trinity Benson (Det via Den), Travis Fulgham (Phi PS, cut by Phi), Collin Johnson (NYG, cut by Jax), Breshad Perriman (Chi, cut by Det), Keke Coutee (Ind PS, cut by Hou), David Moore (cut by Car), Phillip Dorsett (cut by Jax), Equanimeous St. Brown (cut by GB), Dez Fitzpatrick (cut by Ten), Cornell Powell (cut by KC), KhaDarel Hodge (Det, cut by Cle), Riley Ridley (cut by Chi), Isaiah Wright (cut by Was), Seth Williams (cut by Den), Dazz Newsome (cut by Chi), Antonio Gandy-Golden (cut by Was), Geronimo Allison (cut by Det), Isaiah Ford (cut by Mia), KeeSean Johnson (cut by Ari), Richie James (cut by SF), Trent Taylor (cut by Cin), WR Vyncint Smith (cut NYJ), Isaiah Coulter (cut by Chi/Hou), Sage Surratt (cut by Det), Keith Kirkwood (cut by Car), Chris Hogan (cut by NO), Alex Erickson (cut by Hou), Travis Benjamin (cut by SF), C.J. Board (cut by NYG)

Tight End

Chris Herndon (Min via NYJ), Jacob Hollister (Jax, cut by Buf), Kahale Warring (cut Ind/NE/Hou), Kenny Yeboah (cut by NYJ), Thaddeus Moss (Cin PS, cut by Cin), MyCole Pruitt (cut by SF), Jordan Matthews (cut by SF), Matt LaCosse (NE PS, cut by NE), Darren Fells (cut by Det)

INJURY UPDATES FROM PAST MARKET REPORTS

Dak Prescott (QB, Dal) — Dak remains on track to be ready for the NFL’s season-opening game against the Buccaneers on Sept. 9, and owner Jerry Jones proclaimed before their final preseason game that Dak was good to go after letting it rip at practice last week.

Tarik Cohen (RB, Chi) — The Bears placed Cohen (ACL) on the PUP list to open the season, which will keep him out for at least the first six weeks of the year. Damien Williams will play in some passing situations behind David Montgomery with rookie Khalil Herbert filling the RB3 role.

Brandon Aiyuk (WR, SF) — Aiyuk hasn’t practiced since he picked up a “slight” hamstring injury last week. The 49ers could be just playing it conservative with Aiyuk with the season just about a week away but it’s an issue to watch heading into Week 1.

Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney (WR, NYG) — Golladay is trending in the right direction to play in Week 1 after sitting out most of August with a hamstring injury. He’s back to running routes at full speed in practice this week and he returned to full practice on Sept. 3. Rookie Toney also returned to practice on Sept. 3 off of his undisclosed injury.

Marquise Brown (WR, Bal) — Hollywood finally returned to practice on Aug. 30 after sitting out more than a month with his hamstring injury. Brown was cleared for conditioning drills back on Aug. 7 and he finally progressed enough to return to practice.

DeVante Parker (WR, Mia) — Parker has been bothered by a soft-tissue injury throughout training camp, but he shed his non-contact jersey at practice on Aug. 31. He appears on track to play in Week 1 and he won’t have to go against Stephon Gilmore in that contest. Parker has become a nice value with his ADP plummeting to 130.7 (WR57) in recent weeks.

Marvin Jones and D.J. Chark (WRs, Jax) — HC Urban Meyer said on Aug. 31 that both Jones (shoulder) and Chark (finger surgery) will be ready to play against the Texans in Week 1.

Mike Williams (WR, LAC) — Williams returned to practice on Aug. 31, three weeks after he initially picked up his hip flexor injury.

Rashod Bateman (WR, Bal) — Bateman will miss at least the first three games of the season after the Ravens placed him on the injured reserve for his core-muscle surgery. His recovery has been going well so he’ll be a player to consider adding off the waiver wire before Week 4.

Noah Fant (TE, Den) — Fant hasn’t practiced since he suffered a lower-leg injury in the second preseason game, but he’s expected to return to practice next week before their season opener against the Giants.

UPGRADES

Players whom we’re feeling more optimistic about based on training camp reports and injury news.

Quarterbacks

Mac Jones (NE) — Jones, New England’s 2021 first-round pick, is the team’s new starting quarterback after the team released Cam Newton. Cam’s fate was decided after Newton, who is unvaccinated, went to a medical appointment outside the area two weekends ago, which triggered a five-day quarantine. The organization was clearly frustrated with Cam’s situation while Jones carved up the Giants in joint practices last week when his window of opportunity opened even more. We’ve not so affectionately called Bill Belichick “Belitricks” in the past for the way he’ll divide up playing time with his skill players, but he made a very fantasy-friendly decision by naming Jones his starting quarterback. Jones will slot in as a fringe QB2/3 option in two-QB/Superflex leagues and he’ll be off the radar in most season-long formats since he doesn’t bring anything to the table as a runner. The bigger fantasy upgrades come for Damien Harris and the Patriots receiving corps now that Newton, The Fantasy Blackhole, is out of the picture since Jones is a competent passer and he won’t vulture rushing touchdowns at the goal line. (Added 8/31)

Running Backs

Saquon Barkley (RB, NYG) — HC Joe Judge said on Aug. 31 that no decision has been made about Barkley’s availability for the season opener as they want to see how he performs in practice this week. Barkley is clearly heading in the right direction to play against the Broncos on Sept. 12 with his workload ramping up this week, and he crossed a major hurdle on Sept. 3 by participating in contact drills for the first time since his surgery. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler confirmed what’s become clear over the last couple of weeks that Barkley has a strong chance to play in Week 1. We’ve been steadfast with our projection of Barkley in the mid-first round all summer long, and he’s become a major value at the end of the first round with his ADP dipping outside the top-12 players (13.3, RB9). (Updated 9/3)

Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell (Phi) — The Eagles had one of the deepest running back rooms entering training camp, but the new coaching staff felt confident enough in Sanders, Boston Scott, and Gainwell to move forward with just three backs with the team moving on from Jordan Howard, Kerryon Johnson, and Jason Huntley. Sanders is the clear top runner left in the backfield and he won’t have to worry about Howard vulturing goal-line carries. Gainwell has gained some major momentum in August and our Adam Caplan believes he has the potential to catch 40+ passes given Sanders’ issues in the passing game — we recently highlighted him in Mr. Relevant. I’ve been mostly off of Sanders this summer but his ADP (42.5, RB 18) has fallen into a more palatable mid-fourth-round range if I’m pressed to take a back. (Added 8/31)

Gus Edwards and Ty’Son Williams (Bal) — Dobbins, a consensus third-round fantasy pick, will miss the entire 2021 season after he suffered a torn ACL in Baltimore’s final preseason game on Aug. 28. HC John Harbaugh made it clear on Aug. 30 that it wouldn’t be one back doing the heavy lifting to replace Dobbins. “The way we run our offense, we want to roll backs. We want to play multiple backs…It's not like it's gonna be one running back that takes all of the reps for us. We need three backs active every game, we're gonna need a back or two on the practice squad that's ready to go, so that's kind of how we operate.”

Edwards will now lead the new committee in Baltimore with Williams and Justice Hill as the top two backs currently behind the Gus Bus. Josina Anderson reported that the Ravens weren’t expected to pursue free agent Todd Gurley, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they kick the tires on their former back Mark Ingram since no veteran player is off limits for the Texans. Either way, the Ravens don’t appear to be sold on Hill so they’re likely to bring in some reinforcements in the next week. As our Graham Barfield pointed out in his preseason recap, Baltimore loves Edwards — they gave him a brand new 2-year, $10M contract this summer — and he’s been among the league’s most efficient backs over the last two seasons. Among the 65 RBs with 150+ carries since the start of 2019, Edwards ranks tied for third-best with Nick Chubb in YPC (5.2) and he leads the league in first downs per carry (33%). Since the Dobbins news first broke on Aug. 29, Edwards has been drafted as the RB23 with an ADP of 53.4 while Williams is now the RB71 at 222.1 and those ADPs will continue to rise. I’m fine with Edwards’ at that price, but I’ll likely be out if he starts to sneak into the teens at running back since he’s a limited receiver — he’s averaging .4 catches per game for his career — and Harbaugh wants to use multiple backs. The Ravens also put in an unsuccessful waiver claim for Royce Freeman so the Ravens are looking to upgrade their backfield. (Updated 9-3)

Damien Harris and James White (NE) — The Patriots made first-round pick Mac Jones their starting quarterback after they released Cam Newton. We’ve not so affectionately called Bill Belichick “Belitricks” in the past for the way he’ll divide up playing time with his skill players, but he made a very fantasy-friendly decision by naming Jones his starting quarterback. This entire backfield gets a massive upgrade now that Newton, The Fantasy Blackhole, is out of the picture since Jones is a competent passer and he won’t vulture touchdowns at the goal line. Newton threw for a miserable eight touchdowns in 15 games while averaging a league-low 177.1 passing yards per game all while stealing 12 rushing TDs last season. White could have a bounce-back campaign in a more pass-heavy/pass-friendly attack. White still saw a target on a whopping 31.0% of his routes run (57 of 184) last season, and he should run a lot more routes with Jones at quarterback after he averaged 374 routes per season in 2018-19 with Tom Brady. White is priced as a fringe RB4/5 (152.5 ADP, RB50) but he’ll be a high-floor, low ceiling RB2/3 this season. Meanwhile, Harris now has double-digit touchdown upside since there is no longer a threat of a Cam goal-line package looming. Harris has had a pristine runout the last week with Sony Michel also being traded to the Rams. Harris’ ADP is on the rise (78.8, RB30) and he’ll need to start being drafted in the fifth/sixth round with the running back position getting pummeled recently. (Added 8/31)

Devontae Booker (NYG) — In perhaps a good sign for Saquon Barkley’s availability for Week 1, the Giants released both Corey Clement and Alfred Morris. Booker should be considered the top option if Barkley is still forced to miss action after Clement made some early noise in training camp. Fantasy owners who draft Barkley in the first round can consider Booker with their last pick in the draft if they’re looking to protect their investment early in the season. Barkley is trending toward playing in Week 1 so it’s not a necessary pick, but he’s the handcuff option in the Giants’ backfield. (Update 9/3)

Jaret Patterson (Was) — Patterson will enter the season as the top backup runner behind Antonio Gibson after the Football Team released Peyton BarberJ.D. McKissic will continue to serve as a passing back. Patterson, a UDFA out of Buffalo, did enough to jump Barber on the depth chart after an impressive preseason in which he posted 28/110/1 rushing and 10/70 receiving. He’s on the radar as late-round in extremely deep formats and he’ll be a waiver wire priority if Gibson is forced to miss any action. (Added 8/31)

Wide Receivers

Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell (Ind) — T.Y. HIlton will miss at least the first three weeks of the regular season after he landed on the injured reserve after neck surgery. His surgery apparently went well but it remains to be seen just how long the injury will keep him out. The injury isn’t expected to be a season-ending issue but Hilton’s uncertain timeline mixed with his advanced-football age (31) makes this a clear situation to stay away from. Pittman is now the no-doubt #1 WR heading into the season with Campbell and Zach Pascal duking it out for targets behind him at WR. Hilton’s health this season can’t be taken for granted while Pittman and Campbell will get plenty of opportunities to build a rapport with new QB Carson Wentz. On the downside, Wentz’s status for Week 1 is back to being up in the air after he was placed on the reserve/COVID list this week. Pittman’s ADP (101.7, WR44) is still set to skyrocket into the WR3 range while Campbell is worth a late-round flier (179.2, WR71) if he can fill Hilton’s void as a downfield threat in this passing attack. (Update 9/2)

Jakobi Meyers (NE) — The Patriots made first-round pick Mac Jones their starting quarterback after they released Cam Newton. We’ve not so affectionately called Bill Belichick “Belitricks” in the past for the way he’ll divide up playing time with his skill players, but he made a very fantasy-friendly decision by naming Jones his starting quarterback. The Patriots receiving corps get a massive upgrade now that Newton, The Fantasy Blackhole, is out of the picture since Jones is a competent passer and he won’t vulture touchdowns at the goal line. Newton threw for a miserable eight touchdowns in 15 games while averaging a league-low 177.1 passing yards per game all while stealing 12 rushing TDs last season. Meyers has the looks of a WR3 in PPR formats and he’ll finish even higher if he finds the end zone with some regularity so he’s a must-target at his current ADP (143.4, WR59). (Added 8/31)

Sterling Shepard (NYG) — Shepard is the last man standing in the New York receiving corps. Big free-agent signee, Kenny Golladay, has basically missed all of training camp with a hamstring injury while first-round WR Kadarius Toney has barely been on the field all summer while disappointing the franchise at every turn. Daniel Jones took two more hits in the final preseason game with TE Evan Engram (calf) and WR Darius Slayton (ankle) leaving early with injuries. Shepard has never been the picture of durability with 15 missed games in his last four seasons, but he’s setting up to be Jones’ go-to receiver for at least the early part of the season while Golladay gets back to full health and gets more reps with his new quarterback. Shepard doesn’t offer much upside with his 10.0 YPR the last two seasons, but he should easily beat his current ADP (156.5, WR63) in PPR formats. (Added 8/30)

Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs (LV) — The Raiders are going all-in on their second-year WRs Edwards and Ruggs after they released John Brown, who was their answer to the departure of Nelson Agholor. Our Adam Caplan has been all over this Brown’s camp struggles since training camp opened up, and we’ve buried Brown and elevated Edwards in our projections the last couple of weeks. We’re much more interested in drafting Edwards at his depressed ADP (169.9, WR66) over the overpriced Ruggs (129.8, WR56), but both young receivers will have every opportunity to establish themselves with just Zay Jones behind them on the perimeter for now — they’ll add another WR in the coming days. (Added 8/31)

Josh Palmer (LAC) — The Chargers somewhat surprisingly released Tyron Johnson to get down to 53 players, which is another sign the organization is high on third-round pick Palmer. The Chargers are likely to rotate Jalen Guyton and Palmer at the No. 3 WR role to open the season. It appears that Guyton has the slight leg up in the battle for snaps to open the season after the Chargers rested Guyton in the preseason finale, but Palmer is a player to target late in deeper drafts since he appears to be on the fast track as a rookie. (Added 9/1)

Anthony Miller (Hou) — The Texans left cutdown day with just five WRs on their roster after they surprisingly released Keke Coutee as well as Alex Erickson. Miller suffered a dislocated shoulder early in the preseason but the Texans didn’t place him on the IR so there’s a chance he could be ready to man the slot to open the season. Both Collins and Miller could have paths to significant roles if you’re looking for help late in deeper drafts but keep expectations low in what will be one of the league’s worst passing attacks. (Added 9/1)

Tight Ends

Mark Andrews (Bal) — The Ravens have had one of the worst Augusts in the league, which was topped off when J.K. Dobbins went down with a season-ending ACL injury in the preseason finale. Gus Edwards is the clear biggest fantasy beneficiary from the injury, and Andrews is the other big winner since he’s now the best weapon in their offense, not just in their passing game. The Ravens are perilously thin at running back behind Edwards and there’s a good chance they skew more pass-heavy with the extremely efficient Dobbins and his 6.0 YPA average taken out of the backfield. Baltimore’s top two WRs, Marquise Brown (hamstring) and Rashod Bateman (core muscle surgery), have also missed basically all of training camp, and Bateman’s injury is likely to keep him out for the first couple of weeks. Andrews is currently the TE6 with an ADP of 65.2 but he should be considered as early as the TE4 since Lamar Jackson could need his go-to receiver more than ever in 2021. (Added 8/30)

Jonnu Smith (NE) — The Patriots made first-round pick Mac Jones their starting quarterback after they released Cam Newton. We’ve not so affectionately called Bill Belichick “Belitricks” in the past for the way he’ll divide up playing time with his skill players, but he made a very fantasy-friendly decision by naming Jones his starting quarterback. The Patriots receiving corps get a massive upgrade now that Newton, The Fantasy Blackhole, is out of the picture since Jones is a competent passer and he won’t vulture touchdowns at the goal line. Newton threw for a miserable eight touchdowns in 15 games while averaging a league-low 177.1 passing yards per game all while stealing 12 rushing TDs last season. Jonnu is being drafted as a high-end TE2 (136.3 ADP, TE14) but he has the potential to break out if he’s finally let loose as the potential focal point of New England’s passing game. (Added 8/31)

Tyler Conklin (Min) — Irv Smith will miss the next 4-5 months after meniscus surgery on Sept. 1, which will likely keep him out for the entire 2021 season. There’s a chance Irv could return in the final weeks of the new 18-week season or potentially for the playoffs if the Vikings qualify for the postseason, but he won’t be much help for fantasy in either scenario. Conklin returned to practice this week after missing time with a hamstring injury, and he’s going to have a significant role after Mike Zimmer said on Aug. 30 that their TE depth chart is “not very good.” The Vikings were concerned enough about their TE depth chart that they traded for Chris Herndon on Aug. 31, but Conklin should hold the edge over Herndon since this is his fourth year in Minnesota and Herndon has been trending in the wrong direction since his rookie season in 2019. Conklin actually saw more targets (21 to 20) than Smith in the final four games of last season with Kyle Rudolph done for the year, as he had a 13.7% target share and he ran routes on 60.9% of Kirk Cousins’ dropbacks during that stretch. Conklin is worth a late-round flier in TE-premium and deeper formats since Conklin will have the chance to post mid-TE2 production if he can hold off the underwhelming Herndon. (Updated 9/1)

Tyler Kroft (NYJ) — Kroft is a player to remember at the tail end of TE-premium and deeper drafts after the Jets completely cleared out their TE room on cutdown day. They traded Chris Herndon to the Vikings before releasing Ryan Griffin and Kenny Yeboah — they later re-signed Griffin on Sept. 1. Kroft showed a strong connection with Zach Wilson in the preseason with two touchdowns against the Packers in the preseason. Kroft is unlikely to be consistently fantasy relevant and the Jets could be players for an available tight end like Zach Ertz. (Updated 9/2)

DOWNGRADES

Players whom we’re feeling less optimistic about based on training camp reports and injury news.

Quarterbacks

Daniel Jones (NYG) — The Giants have had some of the worst vibes all August long, and they somehow keep getting worse as the season nears to a start. Big free-agent signee, Kenny Golladay, has basically missed all of training camp with a hamstring injury while first-round WR Kadarius Toney has barely been on the field all summer while disappointing the franchise at every turn. Jones took two more hits in the final preseason game with TE Evan Engram (calf) and WR Darius Slayton (ankle) leaving early with injuries. And multiple reports out of training camp have indicated that the Giants’ offensive line has really struggled, specifically second-year tackles Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart. The Giants still have time to get healthy and to get things moving in the right direction before the start of the season, but the momentum is heading in the wrong direction as we enter September. Jones’ ADP is bottoming out (198.0, QB26) and he’s setting up to be a volatile back-end QB2. (Added 8/30)

Deshaun Watson (Hou) — Watson is still in Houston for now but all sides are using the media to try to gain some leverage. We learned this weekend that the Texans are asking for a king’s ransom for Watson (three firsts and two seconds) and that the Dolphins are the “frontrunner.” No organization in their right minds will give the Texans what they’re currently asking for, which is why the asking price was leaked to try to drive the cost down. The next key deadline for the Texans to do something came and went with teams trimming rosters down to 53 players on Aug. 31. Aaron Wilson is the latest Texans beat writer to state that the organization will keep Watson on the 53-man roster and they’ll make him a weekly healthy scratch. ​​A trade doesn’t seem imminent with the legal process playing out and with the Texans asking for the farm in any trade, and the Texans don’t seem to be in a rush to play him. (Updated 8/31)

Cam Newton (NE) — Mac Jones, New England’s 2021 first-round pick, is the team’s new starting quarterback after the team released Newton on Aug. 31. Cam’s fate was decided after Newton, who is unvaccinated, went to a medical appointment outside the area two weekends ago, which triggered a five-day quarantine. The organization was clearly frustrated with Cam’s situation while Jones carved up the Giants in joint practices last week when his window of opportunity opened even more. Cam didn’t exactly have a bustling free-agent market two off-seasons ago and there’s a real chance he doesn’t latch on with a team for the 2021 season. Organizations won’t exactly be knocking down his door given his current state of play, all of the unwanted attention that comes along with rostering him as a backup quarterback, and his vaccination status. The Cowboys are the one franchise that doesn’t mind any kind of attention they can get and they certainly need a backup quarterback behind Dak Prescott. (Added 8/31)

Running Backs

J.K. Dobbins (Bal) — Dobbins, a consensus third-round fantasy pick, will miss the entire 2021 season after he suffered a torn ACL in Baltimore’s final preseason game on Aug. 28. The only silver lining is that Dobbins will have a full 12 months to get back to 100% in time for the start of the 2022 season, but this injury is crushing for him or anyone who invested a pick into the potential breakout back before the start of his second season. (Added 8/30)

Darrynton Evans (RB, Ten) — The Titans placed Evans on the injured reserve to start the season after he appeared to suffer yet another hamstring injury in Tennessee’s first preseason game. Evans played in just five games last season and he finished with just 14 carries because of a hamstring injury. Jeremy McNichols will handle passing-down duties while Evans is out while Mekhi Sargent will give Derrick Henry a breather as a runner (if he needs it). Evans shouldn’t be drafted at this point as the Titans’ organization’s patience with him has to be wearing thin. (Added 9/3)

Wide Receivers

Michael Thomas (NO) — In a not-so-surprising move, the Saints placed Thomas (ankle) on the reserve/PUP list, which will first make him eligible to return in Week 7. The Saints have an early bye this season so Thomas would miss just five games if he returns when he’s first eligible to play. Thomas has the potential to put fantasy teams over the top late in the 2021 season if owners are able to survive the first two months of the season without him. He could also be a wasted pick if he struggles to get healthy and/or if his ongoing tensions with the franchise remain unresolved and he decides not to play. Thomas’ ADP hasn’t dramatically slipped (77.7, WR33) so this is a situation that’s best to avoid at his current price. (Added 8/31)

Curtis Samuel (WR, Was) — Samuel worked off to the side on Sept. 2 and he continues to be bothered by a groin injury he first suffered during OTAs in the early summer, but HC Ron Rivera is “very confident” Samuel will play in the season opener and he’ll rejoin full practices starting Sept. 6. We’ve plummeted Samuel down our projections and he’s still a player to avoid at his current ADP (111.7, WR50). (Added 9/3)

T.Y. Hilton (Ind) — Hilton will miss at least the first three weeks of the regular season after he landed on the injured reserve after neck surgery. HC Frank Reich said prior to the surgery, “He was experiencing some discomfort during the trip to Detroit. Got scans done. It's a disk issue." His surgery apparently went well but it remains to be seen just how long the injury will keep him out. The injury isn’t expected to be a season-ending issue but Hilton’s uncertain timeline mixed with his advanced-football age (31) makes this a clear situation to stay away from in all but the deepest drafts. (Updated 9/2)

Breshad Perriman (Det) — The Lions officially released Perriman after weeks of speculation that he wasn’t long for the roster. Tyrell Williams is locked in as the team’s #1 perimeter WR and rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown has the #3/slot WR position, which leaves Quintez Cephus and Kalif Raymond to battle it out for the #2 spot in this passing game. The Lions also acquired Trinity Benson and a 2023 sixth-round pick for 2022 fifth- and seventh-round picks. He’ll try to crack the lineup as a kick returner and as a downfield specialist. Perriman’s career is on life support after the Lions were willing to eat $2 million in guaranteed money by cutting him despite owning one of the league’s worst receiving corps. The Bears signed him to a one-year deal to be a depth option in Chicago. (Added 8/30)

Tight Ends

Irv Smith (Min) — Smith will miss the next 4-5 months after meniscus surgery on Sept. 1, which will likely keep him out for the entire 2021 season. There’s a chance Irv could return in the final weeks of the new 18-week season or potentially for the playoffs if the Vikings qualify for the postseason, but he won’t be much help for fantasy in either scenario. Tight end is getting extremely thin for fantasy and it’s a position that’s best to avoid streaming if you can ideally land one of our top 8-10 players at the position. (Updated 9/1)

Evan Engram (NYG) — Engram picked up a calf injury in the Giants’ final preseason game, which is never what you want to see from the oft-injured Engram. He actually played in all 16 games last season but he missed 13 combined games in 2018-19. HC Joe Judge said on Aug. 31 that Engram is uncertain for the season opener, and they’re going to evaluate him this week before they decide if he goes on the IR. We’ve been avoiding Engram in drafts (146.0, TE15) and his latest injury scare does nothing to change our minds. He at least worked on a side field in full pads (Updated 9/3)

WATCH LIST

Players who we’re not ready to upgrade or downgrade but their situations demand monitoring based on training camp reports and injury news.

Quarterbacks

Jalen Hurts (Phi) — The Eagles sent a conditional sixth-round pick to the Jaguars for Gardner Minshew, who will likely unseat Joe Flacco as the team’s backup quarterback. The Eagles are going to give Hurts, a 2020 second-round pick, a real chance to establish himself as the team’s starting quarterback for the future, and Minshew will be the insurance plan if Hurts’ season goes off the rails. Hurts controls his own destiny with how he plays this season, and he has league-winning potential at his ADP (100.4, QB11) if he shows some improvement as a passer with a better receiving corps and if he runs like he did at the end of last season. (Added 8/30)

Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo (SF) — HC Kyle Shanahan rotated Lance in for Jimmy G on seven of the first 24 snaps (two drives) of their final preseason game, which included a two-yard rushing touchdown. The 49ers have been talking about using an in-game rotation between the two quarterbacks since they drafted Lance in April and it could be their modus operandi to open the season. Shanahan said after the final preseason game, “We’ve got two guys who can play. And we’ve been doing it in practice a little bit, wanted to do it out there in the game. And I think it’s always going to be an option.” Shanahan revealed on Aug. 30 that Lance will miss about a week with a “chip” in his finger on his throwing hand — he wouldn’t reveal which finger — so it’s looking likely that Jimmy G will be the Week 1 starter. GM John Lynch said on Sept. 2 they’d do right by Lance and wouldn’t rush him back. We still think the keys will eventually be passed to Lance at some point this season — he has top-five QB potential if he’s the full-time starter — but it looks like Shanahan will give him certain packages early in the season. (Updated 9/2)

Carson Wentz (Ind) — Wentz’s bid to play in Week 1 hit a snag when he was placed on the reserve/COVID list after he was in close contact with a staff member who tested positive for the virus. Wentz, who is unvaccinated, had to sit out five days before being activated off the COVID list — he could’ve practiced if he was vaccinated. He said on Sept. 2 that he’s optimistic he’ll be ready to play in the season opener. That means Wentz will miss the final week of practice before the Colts turn the page to Week 1 mode after Labor Day, and this week was supposed to be his first time back in team drills since he had foot surgery — he did get in one full-team practice on Sept. 2. HC Frank Reich said a couple of weeks ago that Wentz would ideally have two full weeks of practice before playing, but Wentz is still likely to be on the field in the season opener as long as he’s healthy enough to play. (Updated 9/3)

Running Backs

Mike Davis and Wayne Gallman (Atl) — Gallman landed on his feet in Atlanta after San Francisco released him earlier this week. He immediately becomes the #2 RB behind Mike Davis after the Falcons released Qadree Ollison in a corresponding move. The Falcons are rolling with just two true tailbacks, and Cordarrelle Patterson is the only other option in the backfield and he’ll likely be used as a satellite player in this backfield. Gallman could carve out a weekly role as the #2 RB, and he isn’t the worst pick at the end of fantasy drafts if you’re looking to fade Davis. Gallman is at least a bigger threat (Added 9/3)

Giovani Bernard (TB) — Gio’s status for Week 1 is up in the air after he suffered a “mild” high-ankle sprain. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports he’s expected back but I’m a little dubious about that timeline if it’s a true high-ankle injury — he should be looking at least a 2-4 week absence. HC Bruce Arians also doesn’t need to push him if he isn’t close to full health since he has Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones ready. This is an injury to monitor before next Thursday’s season-opening game. (Added 9/2)

Wide Receivers

None of note.

Tight Ends

None of note.

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 61.5% clip in 2019 and he was a perfect 8-0 on his Best Bets for season win totals in 2020.

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