Market Report: Week of August 23

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Market Report: Week of August 23

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 Scott Barrett’s 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

INJURY UPDATES FROM PAST MARKET REPORTS

Dak Prescott (QB, Dal) — ESPN’s Adam Schefter raised some eyebrows when he said on a studio show that Dak isn’t fully back and “he may not be back all season long,” but all indications are that Prescott is making steady progress off of his right latissimus strain. He threw 50 passes before Dallas’ third preseason game on Aug. 22 and he ramped up his work during 11-on-11 drills on Aug. 25, with multiple passes traveling 20+ yards. OC Kellen Moore said on Aug. 26 that Dak is no longer on a pitch count. I hope you bought the dip after Schefter’s opinion got some traction last weekend and with the general negative buzz around Dak this preseason.

Stefon Diggs (WR, Buf) — Diggs returned to practicing in full pads just shy of three weeks since he first left practice with the injury. HC Sean McDermott was never concerned about the injury and he can still be safely drafted early in the second round.

Kenny Golladay (WR, NYG) — Golladay is still nursing a hamstring injury that he suffered at the beginning of training camp after he was expected to get back into the fray by mid-August. Golladay resumed straight-line running at half speed on Aug. 11 and he’s still working off to the side at practices. He’s having a less than ideal start to his Giants’ career after appearing in just five games last season.

Will Fuller (WR, Mia) — The Miami Herald reported that Fuller is expected to be ready for the season, which begins in Week 2 for him as he serves the final game of his six-game suspension. Fuller left Miami’s first training camp practice on July 28 with a lower-body injury and he started running routes again on Aug. 24.

Curtis Samuel (WR, Was) — Samuel’s Washington career got off to an inauspicious start. He opened camp on the active/PUP list with a groin injury he initially suffered during off-season workouts in June before landing on the reserve/COVID-19 list in late July. He reverted back to the PUP list on Aug. 9 after he was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list, and the team activated from the PUP list on Aug. 15. HC Ron Rivera said on Aug. 25 that Samuel will finally return to practice next week. Samuel’s ADP has dipped by about a round in August to 104.4 (WR46) but it’s looking like he’ll be ready for the season opener.

Elijah Moore (WR, NYJ) — Moore returned to practice on Aug. 24 but it now looks like HC Robert Saleh will hold Moore out of New York’s final preseason game. He ended up missing 12 days with a quad injury he initially suffered on Aug. 12. The Athletic’s Connor Hughes believes Moore has a “chance to be great” and we agree with that assessment. The best news is that his ADP (122.5, WR53) dipped a bit because of his injury and because of Corey Davis’ strong start to the preseason.

Mike Williams (WR, LAC) — Williams returned to individual drills on Aug. 25 after he initially picked up his hip flexor injury in an Aug. 11 practice. He still has plenty of time to be ready for Week 1, but he doesn’t have the best track record of staying healthy and playing well through injuries. It could take third-round pick Josh Palmer a little time to carve out a fantasy significant role this season, but he’s become a late-round target of mine in best ball formats because of his strong camp and with Williams already ailing.

Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman (WRs, Bal) — Hollywood is into his fourth week of missed practices after he picked up a hamstring at the very start of training camp. Brown was cleared for conditioning drills back on Aug. 7 so it’s a bit concerning he hasn’t progressed enough to practice yet. Meanwhile, Bateman appears to be ahead of his 6-8 week timeline off of his core muscle surgery as he’s been cleared to run routes on Aug. 22. It at least looks like Bateman could avoid starting the season on the injured reserve and he could return by the end of September.

Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry (TEs, NE) — Smith returned to practice on Aug. 23 off the minor ankle injury he suffered during an Aug. 15 practice, which kept him out the rest of the week. Henry still hasn’t returned to practice after he picked up a “non-serious” shoulder injury on Aug. 8.

UPGRADES

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

Quarterbacks

Carson Wentz (Ind) — Wentz returned to practice on Aug. 23 in limited fashion just three weeks after his initial surgery — LG Quenton Nelson (foot) and C Ryan Kelly (elbow) also returned to practice. Wentz was given a bizarre 5-12 week timeline at the time of his surgery in early August and his recovery appears to be on the shorter end of the timeline. HC Frank Reich said last week that Wentz would ideally get at least two weeks of practice before playing in Week 1. Wentz is giving himself a chance to play in the season opener by returning to practice this week and, at the very least, he’ll be back by some time in September if he doesn’t have any setbacks. The Athletic’s Bob Kravitz wrote there’s every reason to believe that Wentz will be ready for the season opener. We were hesitant to draft Wentz before his foot surgery and we’re still avoiding Wentz in drafts even with his recovery ahead of schedule. (Updated 8/24)

Jameis Winston (NO) — HC Sean Payton, in a widely expected move, named Winston the team’s starting quarterback over Taysom Hill. Winston sealed the gig with his excellent performance — and Hill’s putrid performance — against the Jaguars in their second preseason game. The Saints’ top receiving options (Alvin Kamara, Marquez Callaway, Tre’Quan Smith, and Juwan Johnson) get a boost with Payton’s decision to go with Winston to open the season. New Orleans will lean more pass-heavy with Winston than they would with Hill in the lineup, and Kamara averaged 7.4 targets per game with Drew Brees as the starter (11 games) and four targets per game with Hill as the starter (four games). These receivers will also be targeted downfield as Winston was the only quarterback to have an average depth of target of more than 10 yards in 2018 and 2019. Winston has been the odds-on favorite to open the season as the starter ever since he re-signed with the Saints in March, but the more pressing question is will he be able to stay out of Payton’s doghouse if he starts to put the ball in harm’s way — he owns 121 INTs and 3.5% INT rate in 70 career starts. Winston is worth a look in the late rounds in two-QB/Superflex formats since he’s earned the right to start early in the season, but Hill could be a thorn in his side in the red zone and Payton is unlikely to give him the longest leash if he’s start to turn the ball over. (Added 8/27)

Mac Jones (NE) — Cam won’t be allowed into New England’s facilities after the unvaccinated Newton went to a medical appointment outside the area, which triggered a five-day wait until he can return to the team — he returned to practice Thursday. The Athletic’s Jeff Howe wrote that it would be a “stunner” if Newton didn’t open the season as the starter after their second preseason game, but Cam’s misstep may have cracked open the door a little more for Jones to grab the job in this QB competition. The NFL Network’s Mike Giardi reported that the organization was frustrated with Cam’s situation and a window of opportunity had been opened for Jones, and on Aug. 24 HC Bill Belichick agreed that Jones had a good opportunity ahead of him. Longtime beat writer Tom Curran believes Jones is now the favorite to be the Week 1 starter after carving up the Giants in joint practices. We’re not exactly dying to draft either of these quarterbacks for fantasy but this is still an important competition to follow because of the implications it will have on the receiving corps and Damien Harris. New England’s skill players project to be more fantasy-friendly if Jones is seeing the majority of quarterback snaps. (Updated 8/26)

Teddy Bridgewater (Den) — The Broncos named Bridgwater their starting quarterback for the upcoming season after he outplayed Drew Lock in the preseason and training camp. Bridgewater has started 12 or more games in a season just three times in six seasons, and he hasn’t ever been more than a low-end QB2 from a fantasy perspective. He averaged just 16.1 FPG (QB23) in his best season with the Panthers in 2020, but he at least showcased his mobility more than ever by ranking 11th in QB rushing FPG (3.9). Bridgewater will have a loaded receiving corps at his disposal but HC Vic Fangio primarily chose the veteran signal-caller to keep the offense on schedule and to avoid putting their potentially elite defense in bad spots. Bridgewater is nothing more than a low-end QB2 option in two-QB/Superflex formats. (Added 8/25)

Running Backs

Alvin Kamara (NO) — I’ve had Kamara as my #3 pick ever since news about Michael Thomas’ ankle surgery came out in late July, and recent events should lock him in as the best option after Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook in PPR drafts. HC Sean Payton named Jameis Winston the team’s starting quarterback over Taysom Hill. Winston is a pocket passer compared to the mobile Hill, which should lead to more targets for Kamara. He averaged 7.4 targets per game with Drew Brees in the lineup last season and four targets per game with Hill as the starter for four games. New Orleans also isn’t pleased with how 31-year-old Latavius Murray has performed in August and Payton could give the #2 RB role to 2020 UDFA Tony Jones Jr., who has three career carries to his name. Kamara is going to see heavy targets with Thomas out of the lineup and Winston named the starting quarterback, and he could have a path to more carries with uncertainty behind him in the backfield. He’s the clear third-best option in my eyes as we head into draft season the next two weekends. (Added 8/26)

Saquon Barkley (NYG) — Saquon saw his first live practice reps on Aug. 26 since tearing his ACL last season. He took four reps in 7-on-7 drill and four reps in an 11-on-11 drill while still donning a non-contact red jersey. He’s been limited to individual drills since the team activated Barkley from the PUP list on Aug. 9 and the Giants held him out of team drills in joint practices with the Browns last week. Barkley continues to make steady progress toward playing early in the season and he has a solid chance to play in Week 1 if he doesn’t encounter any setbacks. The bigger concern could be the development of second-year tackles Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart as New York’s offensive line has struggled in training camp. Barkley has fallen out of the first round over the last two weeks (12.1 ADP, RB9), but he has league-winning upside as only Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook own the all-around touch ceiling that Barkley has if healthy. (Updated 8/26)

David Montgomery and Damien Williams (Chi) — Tarik Cohen remains without a timeline for a return as he struggles to get back to full strength off his torn ACL from last September. Cohen is a candidate to start the season on the PUP list, which would keep him out for the first six weeks of the season. The Bears are moving forward with Montgomery as their feature back with Williams slotting in a “version of Cohen’s role.” Montgomery has a chance to see plenty of volume as he did last season but his ADP (32.8, RB17) hasn’t changed much since the start of training camp. Montgomery and Williams (157.8, RB53) are players to target at their friendly ADPs since they both have fantasy-friendly roles for as long as Cohen is out of the lineup. (Added 8/23)

James Robinson (Jax) — Travis Etienne suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury during Jacksonville’s second preseason game, and the Jaguars officially ended his season by placing him on injured reserve. He joins Los Angeles’ Cam Akers (Achilles) as the second running back being drafted inside the top-50 picks to have his season cut short by injury. Akers has the most difficult injury for a running back to come back from but Etienne will have his work cut out for him to return to his top form. At least he’ll have a full 12 months to recover from his injury for the start of the 2022 season, but this is still a major blow to his short-term (obviously) and long-term outlooks. Jacksonville’s three-man backfield has turned into a two-man rotation with J-Rob taking on most of the early-down and passing-down work with Carlos Hyde mixing in behind him. We’ll see if HC Urban Meyer plans to add Laviska Shenault, Dare Ogunbowale or a free agent RB (Duke Johnson?) to the mix to take on some of the role Etienne was slated to have as change-of-pace/passing back in this attack. Robinson has top-12 potential if he’s able to carve out a massive touch floor like the bell-cow role he had last season when he finished as the RB5 in FPG (17.9), but he has more downside this season if Meyer is dead set on rotating his backs and finding a third option to serve in a receiving role. Robinson had been an overdrafted player (69.3, RB28) all off-season long and his owners have been bailed with news that Etienne is done for the season. J-Rob should start to be drafted about 35-45 picks into drafts as a mid- to low-end RB2. (Added 8/24)

Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, and James White (NE) — Harris has seemingly been the unquestioned #1 runner in New England all off-season, and the Patriots solidified his standing after they finally traded Sony Michel. The Rams acquired Michel from the Patriots for fifth- and sixth-round picks in the 2022 draft and those picks will convert to a fourth-round pick from the Rams if they get a fourth-round compensatory pick (I know, a bit confusing). Harris is now the clear top early-down back with White in his typical passing-back role and rookie Stevenson earning a promotion into Michel’s old role as a change-of-pace runner. Harris, like every other fantasy-relevant player in New England’s offense, has a better chance to put up production if the fantasy blackhole Cam Newton is on the sidelines in 2020. Harris isn’t going to be a prolific receiver with soaking up most of the opportunities, but he has more potential in the passing game with Mac Jones since the rookie will look to check the ball down more than Cam does. Harris will also have more touchdown upside if Jones is on the field after Cam scored 12 rushing touchdowns last season to bring his career total to 70 scores in 140 games. Harris is priced as the RB32 but his ADP (85.8) will continue to rise with Michel traded, Darrell Henderson falling, and Travis Etienne done for the season. Harris has the chance to be a solid RB2 since he has by far the best chance to lead this backfield in carries and rushing touchdowns. White’s ADP (155.9, RB52) and his role won’t really change much but he at least has one body removed from the backfield, while Stevenson should be a late-round target (176.2, RB58) since the Patriots clearly trust him after an impressive start to his career. (Added 8/25)

Sony Michel (LAR) — Darrell Henderson picked up a “mild thumb sprain” during an Aug. 23 practice but the injury isn’t expected to affect his availability for the team’s season opener. However, as I predicted in this space yesterday, the injury was enough of a scare for the Rams to beef up the depth in their backfield since they have just two unproven options behind Henderson in Xavier Jones and Jake Funk. The Rams acquired Michel from the Patriots for fifth- and sixth-round picks in the 2022 draft and those picks will convert to a fourth-round pick from the Rams if they get a fourth-round compensatory pick (I know, a bit confusing). Michel actually played his best on a per-touch basis in 2020 by averaging 5.7 YPC and 16.3 YPR, but he handled 86 touches for 563 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns — he previously averaged 237.5 touches per season in 2018-19. Henderson should still slot in as the team’s top option, but HC Sean McVay has made it clear he doesn’t completely trust Henderson — based on performance and/or durability — multiple times. They drafted Cam Akers in the second round in 2020 after they selected Henderson in the third round the year before. McVay then phased Henderson out of the offense last season with Akers excelling, and now they essentially traded a fourth-round pick to have Michel split work with him.

The Rams could have an ugly backfield committee this season with Henderson operating in the 1A role and Michel liberally mixing in behind him as the 1B, and I wouldn’t roll out Jones and/or Funk carving out passing-down roles. ESPN’s Adam Schefter even suggested to our John Hansen that Michel could be the lead back in this backfield. Henderson’s current ADP (48.7, RB21) should fall by a couple of rounds and he’ll be an RB3 that I’ll be mostly passing on unless he starts falling into the eighth round. Meanwhile, Michel’s ADP (237.4, RB71) is set to skyrocket but he should still settle into an affordable spot, and I’d rather take my shots on Michel if his ADP stays in the double-digit rounds. He’s shown some signs of life last season and this preseason and McVay has been reluctant to go all-in on Henderson through two-plus seasons. (Added 8/25)

Tony Jones Jr. (NO) — Murray is making his second straight appearance in “Downgrades,” which is never a good sign for a player’s prospects before the start of the season. Murray has been put on the roster bubble by multiple Saints’ beat writers and we received further confirmation about his status in the Saints’ backfield during the second week of the preseason. HC Sean Payton told the Monday Night Football broadcast, “If you’re asking me today, my #2 running back is Tony Jones.” Jones has shown some juice with 12/106 rushing in the first two preseason games and he played with the starters on Aug. 23 while Murray has looked sluggish with 9/12 rushing in the first two weeks. The Saints are on the league’s most cap-strapped teams and they could save $3 million by releasing Murray before the season starts. Murray should be avoided in drafts the rest of the summer while Jones should be a late-round target just in case he establishes himself as the clear #2 option behind Alvin Kamara. (Added 8/24)

Wide Receivers

Jerry Jeudy (Den) — The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider wrote that Jeudy is heading into the season as the team’s #1 WR ahead of Courtland Sutton with the fourth-year WR still ramping up to full strength off of his ACL injury from last September. Kosmider added that Jeudy might well be the #1 WR even if Sutton was at full strength, which speaks to how well Jeudy has performed in training camp. The Broncos also named Teddy Bridgewater as the team’s starting quarterback over Drew Lock. Jeudy is a much better fit for Teddy’s playing style in the intermediate and underneath areas of the field while Sutton is better suited for Lock’s downfield, gunslinger approach. Jeudy is no longer a bargain at his current ADP (63.3, WR27) but he’s a player we’re still actively targeting since he has the potential to make a big leap in his second season. (Updated 8/25)

Robby Anderson (Car) — Anderson and the Panthers came to terms on a two-year, $29.5 million contract extension, which will keep in Carolina through the 2023 season. The deal includes a hefty $20.5 million guaranteed, which indicates Anderson will continue to be a huge part of this passing game in 2020 and beyond. His fantasy fortunes will be determined by Sam Darnold this season but he’s at least reasonably priced as the WR31 with an ADP of 73.8. (Added 8/24)

Odell Beckham (Cle) — OBJ’s recovery from ACL surgery has been much quieter than the recoveries for Saquon Barkley and Joe Burrow this August, but he appears on schedule to return in Week 1. He took his first 7-on-7 reps on Aug. 25 before getting work in during11-on-11 situations the next day. OBJ could be on a snap count early in the season as he works his way back into playing shape, and he’s no bargain at his current ADP (67.2, WR29). (Added 8/26)

Corey Davis (NYJ) — Davis has been the biggest beneficiary in Jets’ training camp since second-round selection Elijah Moore picked up a quad injury on Aug. 12, which has kept him out of practice ever since. Davis’ targets from Zach Willson have ramped up in the last two weeks, which has translated into 6/88 receiving on 10 targets while he’s run just 13 routes. Both Davis (11.2, WR51) and Moore (122.3, WR53) could go down as major values at their current WR5 ADPs if Wilson’s hot start to the preseason translates into the regular season. (Added 8/23)

Quez Watkins (Phi) — Watkins has been a training camp riser and he’s recently been promoted ahead to the team’s slot receiver role in three-WR sets between DeVonta Smith and Jalen ReagorTravis Fulgham and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside are on the roster bubble. Watkins showed off his 4.35-speed on a 79-yard touchdown in Philly’s first preseason game, and he credited his improvement in route-running from working with Calvin Ridley this off-season. Watkins is a player to consider in deeper formats and he could potentially be a thorn in the side for the likes of Smith, Reagor, and Dallas Goedert this season. (Added 8/26)

Donovan Peoples-Jones (Cle) — DPJ has emerged as the team’s #3 WR more than halfway through training camp, edging out Rashard Higgins and KhaDarel Hodge for snaps in three-WR sets. OC Alex Van Pelt said DPJ can be plugged in at all three WR spots too. It’s not exactly a fantasy-relevant spot to hold down since the Browns used 11 personnel at the third-lowest rate (44%) last season, but it’s important to know the WR depth chart in Cleveland. DPJ is off the radar in all but the deepest season-long formats, but he’s a player to keep in mind off of the waiver wire if there’s an injury in front of him at any point this season. He could get a little extra run early in the season if the Browns ease Odell Beckham into the lineup, who just saw his first practice reps on Aug. 25. DPJ could be an under-the-radar min-priced player to consider in a popular game-stack against the Chiefs in the season opener. (Updated 8/27)

Tight Ends

Gerald Everett (Sea) — Everett has quickly struck up a relationship with QB Russell Wilson this summer, both on and off the field. The Seattle Times’ Adam Jude wrote that Everett is the #1 TE in Shane Waldron’s offense, whom he played under in Los Angeles, and he’s already becoming a favorite target for Wilson. Russ also said the two have “spent a lot of quality time together,” mostly bonding over their Christian faith. The tight end position position is paper-thin after the first 15 TEs and we’re grasping for any signs of potential when we get 150+ picks into drafts, but it looks like Everett has a chance to make some noise as a late-round pick (172.5, TE19). (Added 8/27)

Juwan Johnson (NO) — Adam Trautman has been one of the biggest fallers in the tight end ranks since the preseason started, and that was before he picked up an injury in their second preseason game. Trautman has been taken out off the field in passing situations for Juwan Johnson during the preseason, and Johnson is headed toward a Jared Cook type of role in this passing attack. Trautman then needed to be carted from the sidelines with a foot injury in the second preseason game, but it looks like he escaped with a minor injury that will keep him out 1-3 weeks. Third-string TE Nick Vannett also suffered a knee injury, which will keep him out 2-4 weeks. Trautman has gone from a potential emerging fantasy option this summer to a player to avoid in fantasy drafts at his current ADP (163.2, TE 17) in a matter of two weeks. Johnson is a former WR and he’s listed as one on many of the drafting services, but he’s now worthy of a late-round flier on fantasy platforms that have him with TE-eligibility. He’ll also get a small boost with HC Sean Payton naming Jameis Winston the team’s starting quarterback. (Updated 8/24)

DOWNGRADES

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

Quarterbacks

Cam Newton (NE) — Cam wasn’t allowed to be in New England’s facilities after the unvaccinated Newton went to a medical appointment outside the area, which triggered a five-day wait until he can return to the team — he returned to practice Thursday. The Athletic’s Jeff Howe wrote that it would be a “stunner” if Newton didn’t open the season as the starter after their second preseason game, but Cam’s misstep may have cracked open the door a little more for Jones to grab the job in this QB competition. The NFL Network’s Mike Giardi reported that the organization was frustrated with Cam’s situation and a window of opportunity had been opened for Jones, and on Aug. 24 HC Bill Belichick agreed that Jones had a good opportunity ahead of him. Longtime beat writer Tom Curran believes Jones is now the favorite to be the Week 1 starter after carving up the Giants in joint practices. We’re not exactly dying to draft either of these quarterbacks for fantasy but this is still an important competition to follow because of the implications it will have on the receiving corps and Damien Harris. New England’s skill players project to be more fantasy-friendly if Jones is seeing the majority of quarterback snaps. (Updated 8/26)

Drew Lock (Den) — The Broncos named Teddy Bridgwater their starting quarterback for the upcoming season after he outplayed Lock in the preseason and training camp. Lock is likely to see action at some point this season unless Bridgewater turns into a quarterback he hasn’t been through the first six seasons of his career. Still, Denver’s decision to go with Bridgewater to start the season is a strong indication the organization is ready to move on from the 2019 second-round pick. Denver’s plans could obviously change if Lock would step into the lineup and excel, but the Broncos will likely be looking for a new starting quarterback once again next off-season, which will be their 11th since Peyton Manning retired in 2015. (Added 8/25)

Taysom Hill (NO) — HC Sean Payton, in a widely expected move, named Jameis Winston the team’s starting quarterback over Hill. Winston sealed the gig with his excellent performance — and Hill’s putrid performance — against the Jaguars in their second preseason game. Winston has been the odds-on favorite to open the season as the starter ever since he re-signed with the Saints in March, but the more pressing question is will he be able to stay out of Payton’s doghouse if he starts to put the ball in harm’s way — he owns 121 INTs and 3.5% INT rate in 70 career starts. Winston is worth a look in the late rounds in two-QB/Superflex formats since he’s earned the right to start early in the season, but Hill could be a thorn in his side in the red zone and Payton is unlikely to give him the longest leash if he’s start to turn the ball over. Hill isn’t worth a draft pick except in the deepest formats since he should move back into his Swiss Army knife role for the offense, but he’ll be a priority add off of the waiver wire if Winston coughs up the job at any point this season. (Added 8/27)

Running Backs

Travis Etienne (Jax) — Etienne suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury during Jacksonville’s second preseason game, and the Jaguars officially ended his season by placing him on injured reserve. He joins Los Angeles’ Cam Akers (Achilles) as the second running back being drafted inside the top-50 picks to have his season cut short by injury. Akers has the most difficult injury for a running back to come back from but Etienne will have his work cut out for him to return to his top form. At least he’ll have a full 12 months to recover from his injury for the start of the 2022 season, but this is still a major blow to his short-term (obviously) and long-term outlooks. (Added 8/24)

Darrell Henderson (LAR) — Henderson picked up a “mild thumb sprain” during an Aug. 23 practice but the injury isn’t expected to affect his availability for the team’s season opener. However, as I predicted in this space yesterday, the injury was enough of a scare for the Rams to beef up the depth in their backfield since they have just two unproven options behind Henderson in Xavier Jones and Jake Funk. The Rams acquired Sony Michel from the Patriots for fifth- and sixth-round picks in the 2022 draft, and those picks will convert to a fourth-round pick from the Rams if they get a fourth-round compensatory pick (I know, a bit confusing). Michel actually played his best on a per-touch basis in 2020 by averaging 5.7 YPC and 16.3 YPR, but he handled 86 touches for 563 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns — he previously averaged 237.5 touches per season in 2018-19. Henderson should still slot in as the team’s top option, but HC Sean McVay has made it clear he doesn’t completely trust Henderson — because of performance and/or durability — multiple times. They drafted Cam Akers in the second round in 2020 after they selected Henderson in the third round the year before. McVay then phased Henderson out of the offense last season with Akers excelling, and now they essentially traded a fourth-round pick to have Michel split the work with him.

The Rams could have an ugly backfield committee this season with Henderson operating in the 1A role and Michel liberally mixing in behind him as the 1B, and I wouldn’t roll out Jones and/or Funk carving out passing-down roles. ESPN’s Adam Schefter even suggested to our John Hansen that Michel could be the lead back in this backfield. Henderson’s current ADP (48.6, RB21) should fall by a couple of rounds and he’ll be an RB3 that I’ll be mostly passing on unless he starts falling into the eighth round. Meanwhile, Michel’s ADP (237.4, RB71) is set to skyrocket but he should still settle into an affordable spot, and I’d rather take my shots on Michel if his ADP stays in the double-digit rounds. He’s shown some signs of life last season and this preseason and McVay has been reluctant to go all-in on Henderson through two-plus seasons. (Updated 8/25)

Michael Carter (NYJ) — The Athletic’s Connor Hughes believes the Jets will deploy a three-man backfield with Carter, Ty Johnson, and Tevin Coleman sharing snaps and even La’Mical Perine could see goal-line snaps. GROSS. Carter’s ADP (77.2, RB30) has been falling ever since he played with the second-team offense in their second preseason game as Johnson and Coleman split the starter’s reps. Carter has seen plenty of time with the starters dating back to the start of off-season workouts, but OC Mike LaFleur wants to use a committee backfield like the ones he worked with in San Francisco. Carter still has by far the most upside in the backfield with his pass-game ability and he’s the player we want to own, but his ADP is going to have to slide a bit to consider selecting him 100+ picks into drafts. Johnson (258.3, RB112) and Coleman (173.6, RB58) are both basically free picks late in drafts, but Johnson has more upside of the two options.

Latavius Murray (NO) — Murray is making his second straight appearance in “Downgrades,” which is never a good sign for a player’s prospects before the start of the season. Murray has been put on the roster bubble by multiple Saints’ beat writers and we received further confirmation about his status in the Saints’ backfield during the second week of the preseason. HC Sean Payton told the Monday Night Football broadcast, “If you’re asking me today, my #2 running back is Tony Jones.” Jones has shown some juice with 12/106 rushing in the first two preseason games and he played with the starters on Aug. 23 while Murray has looked sluggish with 9/12 rushing in the first two weeks. The Saints are on the league’s most cap-strapped teams and they could save $3 million by releasing Murray before the season starts. Murray should be avoided in drafts the rest of the summer while Jones should be a late-round target just in case he establishes himself as the clear #2 option behind Alvin Kamara. (Added 8/24)

Tarik Cohen (Chi) — Cohen remains without a timeline for a return as he struggles to get back to full strength off his torn ACL from last September. Cohen is a candidate to start the season on the PUP list, which would keep him out for the first six weeks of the season. The Bears are moving forward with Montgomery as their feature back with Williams slotting in a “version of Cohen’s role.” Cohen’s ADP (214.5, RB67) has been plummeting since the start of training camp and he’s a player to completely avoid in drafts. (Added 8/23)

Wide Receivers

Ja’Marr Chase (Cin) — Chase is going through some early growing pains in training camp and in the preseason as he’s been plagued by drops in both settings. Cincinnati’s No. 5 overall pick admitted after the second preseason game that he’s still adjusting to the timing of NFL action. It’s important to remember Chase sat out the entire 2020 season so this is first competitive action since he won the 2019 National Championship with Joe Burrow at LSU. HC Zac Taylor didn’t shoot down the possibility of rotating Chase and Auden Tate early in the season, but he added that Chase’s “skills will show off here pretty soon.” Chase has reportedly put in extra work this week to correct his recent mistakes, and he’s had his best set of practices this week. Chase has the most potential to be a top-12 fantasy WR among Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd but he’s also the most likely to finish third in production behind the more seasoned WRs. Chase’s ADP (59.5, WR25) should dip after his three drops against the Football Team, which has created a buy-low opportunity if he falls into the late sixth round/early seventh round. (Updated 8/26)

Courtland Sutton (Den) — The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider wrote that Jerry Jeudy is heading into the season as the team’s #1 WR ahead of Sutton with the fourth-year WR still ramping up to full strength off of his ACL injury from last September. Kosmider added that Jeudy might well be the #1 WR even if Sutton was at full strength, which speaks to how well Jeudy has performed in training camp. The Broncos also named Teddy Bridgewater as the team’s starting quarterback over Drew Lock. Jeudy is a much better fit for Teddy’s playing style in the intermediate and underneath areas of the field while Sutton is better suited for Lock’s downfield, gunslinger approach. We’ve viewed Sutton as an overvalued player at his ADP (77.6, WR34) because of Bridgewater, his ACL recovery, and Denver’s loaded receiving corps. Sutton is at least set to get some game reps in Denver’s final preseason game, and he said he doesn’t expect to be on a snap count in the season opener. (Updated 8/27)

Tight Ends

Adam Trautman (NO) — Trautman has been one of the biggest fallers in the tight end ranks since the preseason started, and that was before he picked up an injury in their second preseason game. Trautman has been taken out off the field in passing situations for Juwan Johnson during the preseason, and Johnson is headed toward a Jared Cook type of role in this passing attack. Trautman then needed to be carted from the sidelines with a foot injury in the second preseason game, but it looks like he escaped with a minor injury that will keep him out 1-3 weeks. Third-string TE Nick Vannett also suffered a knee injury, which will keep him out 2-4 weeks. Trautman has gone from a potential emerging fantasy option this summer to a player to avoid in fantasy drafts at his current ADP (157.2, TE 16) in a matter of two weeks. Johnson is a former WR and he’s listed as one on many of the drafting services, but he’s now worthy of a late-round flier on platforms that have him with TE-eligibility. (Added 8/24)

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

Joe Burrow (Cin) — Burrow will see his first snaps of the 2021 season in Cincinnati’s final preseason game, which will be his first live action since his catastrophic knee injury in Week 11 last season. Burrow has reportedly had a rough go of it at times during training camp, which wasn’t totally unexpected, but seeing live action before the Bengals open the season against the Vikings on Sept. 12 is an important step in his recovery. He could struggle out of the gates behind a shaky (at best) offensive line, but his offensive environment could eventually be conducive for QB1 production. (Added 8/25)

Justin Fields and Andy Dalton (Chi) — HC Matt Nagy reiterated that Dalton will start Week 1 against the Rams on Sunday Night Football after Dalton and the first-team offense had a rough showing against the Bills in their second preseason game. Fields also struggled as a passer with a 4.2 YPA average but he added 4/46 rushing to extend multiple drives. Dalton has failed to average more than 7.0 YPA in each of his last four seasons after averaging 7.5 YPA from 2013-16. He’s objectively been one of the worst starting quarterbacks over the last four years but the Bears continue to plow ahead with their plan to start the Red Rifle in the season opener. It’s possible Nagy is coming to his senses as he announced on Aug. 24 that Fields will start and play about two quarters in the final preseason game. We’ve identified Fields as a potential league-winning pick at his ADP of 127.8 (QB15) even though it may take a few weeks for him to crack the starting lineup. (Updated 8/24)

Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo (SF) — HC Kyle Shanahan said after their second preseason game that their plan to open the season with Jimmy Garoppolo as the team’s starter hasn’t changed. Jimmy G started and played the first series in their second preseason game, which ended in an interception while Lance led the 49ers on their only two scoring drives, albeit against the reserves. Lance may not open the season as the starter, but he’s still a potential league-winning pick (125.3 ADP, QB14) in every format because his rushing ability gives him top-five QB upside as soon as he enters the starting lineup. (Added 8/23)

Deshaun Watson (Hou) — Watson could avoid a suspension from the NFL during the 2021 season as the league looks to avoid stepping into the middle of investigations by the FBI and the Houston Police Department, in conjunction with Harris County District Attorney’s office. Watson may not face a suspension from the NFL this season but the Texans could keep him on the 53-man roster as a weekly healthy scratch — he’s yet to take a meaningful practice snap during training camp. A trade doesn’t sound imminent with the legal process playing out, and the Texans don’t seem to be in a rush to play him. There’s almost no risk taking Watson at his current ADP (205.1, QB28) but there’s also a high likelihood he doesn’t play a snap in 2021. (Added 8/23)

Running Backs

Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams (KC) — The Chiefs’ backfield left their second preseason game worse for wear. CEH left early with what HC Andy Reid described as a “slight” ankle sprain and he added that it didn’t appear to be a high-ankle sprain, which would be a relief since a high-ankle injury derailed the end of his rookie season. Williams also left the game early to be evaluated for a concussion but the team never formally ruled him out, which is a sign he may have passed the NFL concussion protocol. It looks like both CEH and Williams avoided major injuries but we’ll continue to monitor their situations. (Added 8/23)

D’Andre Swift (RB, Det) — Swift has been nursing a groin injury through the early part of training camp. HC Dan Campbell said after the first preseason game that the organization is taking a conservative approach with the injury and that Swift could’ve played if he needed to. Swift returned to practice on Aug. 19 but now Campbell is saying he’s concerned about Swift’s availability for Week 1, which is close to three weeks away. Campbell is talking out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to Swift so it’s not time to panic since he’s back to practicing and he has plenty of time to get ready for the 49ers on Sept. 12. (Added 8/24)

Wide Receivers

A.J. Brown (Ten) — Brown underwent cleanup surgeries on both of his knees this off-season and he’s been sitting out recent practices with a knee injury, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that he’s expected to be ready to play in the regular season. Brown could see his current late second-round ADP dip a bit (23.7, WR8) but it’s not time to panic just yet if you’ve been targeting Brown. (Added 8/23)

Marvin Jones (Jax) — Jones sprained his AC joint during Jacksonville’s second preseason game, but he’s fully expected to be ready to play in Week 1. Jones has easily been Trevor Lawrence’s favorite target during the preseason and his ADP (116.6, WR52) has been on the rise. It’s an injury to monitor to see if it lingers into the season, but he’d likely play this weekend if the Jaguars had a real game. (Added 8/25)

Emmanuel Sanders, Gabriel Davis, and Cole Beasley (Buf) — Sanders has been in and out of practice during the early part of training camp, but QB Josh Allen has shown a quick rapport with the veteran WR during their time together. Beat writer Joe Buscaglia added that the Bills brought in Sanders to start and play a lot, and he expects Davis’ snap share (68%) from last season to dip since he filled in quite a bit for an injured John Brown. Beasley and Davis, who are both unvaccinated, will also be forced to be away from the team facilities for at least five days after they were deemed close contacts of a staff member who tested positive for COVID-19. Davis (158.6, WR63), Beasley (160.4, WR63), and Sanders (168.9, WR67) have seen their ADPs tighten in recent weeks, and Sanders is still a bit undervalued as a WR6. (Updated 8/24)

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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