By Chet Gresham - @ChetGresham
Updated Aug. 31, 2018.
There truly is no offseason in the NFL, and that applies to fantasy as well. Below, I gather some of the more interesting tidbits from the news and look at them with a fantasy perspective.
Aug. 31 Updates
Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and James White, RBs, Patriots
According to beat reporter Jeff Howe, Sony Michel's Week 1 status is iffy. It appears the Patriots would rather give him some extra time for his knee to fully heal, which would help put Rex Burkhead and James White squarely in the fantasy picture to start the season.
Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson, RBs, Seahawks
Rashaad Penny had his cast removed on Wednesday and is on track to play Week 1. His injury and Chris Carson's play have kept Penny firmly behind Carson. Penny has also put on a few pounds while injured, so it feels like he's far enough behind Carson at this point that he's strictly a bench player, at best.
Lamar Jackson and Joe Flacco, QBs, Ravens
Lamar Jackson had another good preseason game Thursday night, scampering for yet another rushing touchdown. After a poor start, he's come on strong during the summer and would be a top fantasy quarterback if given playing time. Joe Flacco is doing his best to hold Jackson off, and with a good defense and running game, he might be able to do that.
Ed Dickson and Nick Vannett, TEs, Seahawks
Seattle tight end Ed Dickson could start practicing next week, but it's probably too late to get him ready for Week 1. When he's finally healthy, he should take over the starting tight end job, but until then, it looks like Nick Vannett will hold it down. Vannett would need to get into the end zone to have any fantasy appeal, and I wouldn't want to bet on that happening.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Saints
The Saints traded the Jets for Teddy Bridgewater, giving up a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. This trade puts Bridgewater in a good spot, as Drew Brees is 39 years old and will at some point be finished with the game. Bridgewater is very much worth an add in dynasty leagues.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks
Doug Baldwin let it be known that his knee is around 85 percent healthy and that he'll need to manage it all season. That sucks. Baldwin was one of my top fantasy targets this year until his injury, and I was sorely hoping he'd come back at 100 percent. Baldwin is a fantastic route runner, and if he can stay healthy enough to be on the field, he should have a decent fantasy season. Those "ifs," however, aren't what you want from an early-round pick.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks
Tyler Lockett signed a 3-year extension with $20 million guaranteed. That's a decent chunk of change for a player who has never quite lived up to his promise, but Lockett does still have that upside, and this is the year when he'll be given the best chance to prove his worth. Add in the fact that Doug Baldwin will manage a knee injury all season, and Lockett should get a nice boost in fantasy.
Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida, RBs, 49ers
Both Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida were seen working on the side at practice. The hope is that both will be ready for Week 1, but Alfred Morris did show well in their preseason dress rehearsal, so the 49ers could ease McKinnon and/or Breida back a little more slowly. If things go as they want, Morris won't be needed, but right now, nothing is definitive in this backfield, which is scary for fantasy.
George Kittle, TE, 49ers
George Kittle returned to practice on Tuesday, although he mainly worked on the side. It's still a good sign and should get him on track to play Week 1.
Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor, WRs, Eagles
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Alshon Jeffery will miss "at least" the first two games of the season. The good news, if you can call it that, is that Jeffery won't be going on the PUP list and will be eligible to return whenever he is ready. His absence will push Nelson Agholor to No. 1 on the depth chart and make him a must-start in most leagues.
Aug. 28 Updates
Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles
Carson Wentz still hasn't been cleared for contact, according to coach Doug Pederson. With an early Thursday night game, Wentz will need to be cleared quickly to be able to start Week 1, so it's looking more and more likely that Nick Foles will lead the way against Atlanta.
Marqise Lee, WR, Jaguars
Marqise Lee will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. I've moved Keelan Cole up to my No. 1 Jaguars fantasy receiver, with Donte Moncrief and Dede Westbrook behind him. Cole proved last season that he could play in this league, and I feel good about his prospects now that Lee is out of the picture. Cole is the only Jacksonville receiver I would target in most drafts.
Josh Allen, A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman, QBs, Bills
Bills coach Sean McDermott says he has yet to decide between Josh Allen, A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman to start for Week 1. At this point, it doesn't seem to matter, but Peterman has looked the least awful. Any way you look at it, you'll want the Ravens on your DFS team Week 1.
Delanie Walker, TE, Titans
Delanie Walker has been out over a week with a foot injury, but he says he is "very confident" that he'll be playing Week 1. Walker has played through injuries more often than not, so I believe he'll play.
Sony Michel, RB, Patriots
Sony Michel returned to practice today. His return is good news for his availability Week 1, but doesn't assure him touches with Rex Burkhead and James White going through more practices this summer. Michel should be the best runner between the tackles, but that won't be enough to give him prominent usage in a Belichick offense. Just the fact that Michel has returned to practice will likely boost his ADP, which is annoying, but I'd rather have him practicing than not, and he has the most upside of all the running backs.
Will Fuller, WR, Texans
Will Fuller's hamstring injury shouldn't keep him out of Week 1, according to coach Bill O'Brien. Fuller has had trouble staying healthy, so this latest injury sent up red flags, but he can put that behind him with a strong showing out of the gate.
Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants
Saquon Barkley has returned to practice and will be ready for Week 1. This lines up with what we've been told about his hamstring injury and puts him on track to be fully healthy and ready to take his 20+ touches.
Josh Gordon, WR, Browns
Hue Jackson says Josh Gordon will play, but not start, in Week 1. I guess this means Gordon will be on something of a snap count or that Gordon is being punished for looking out for his mental health. If it's the first, we might need to push him down the Week 1 rankings, but if it's a "punishment," he will likely see plenty of work after not starting. I expect it's more about his lack of work with the team, but it will still be hard not starting him in most redraft leagues against a weak Pittsburgh secondary.
DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins
DeVante Parker's finger has yet to heal enough to be cleared to catch a football. It looks like he'll be cutting it close for Week 1. If he can't make it, Albert Wilson should be in line for a significant uptick in snaps against the Titans.
Ryan Switzer, WR, Steelers
The Raiders traded Ryan Switzer to the Steelers, while also putting Griff Whalen on IR. Both players competed for slot duties, so that opens up room in Oakland for another receiver to get some snaps. Right now, we may see Amari Cooper line up in the slot more often than anticipated, which is good news for his outlook, as he'll be able to find mismatches there. Whoever does see an uptick in snaps won't be fantasy viable, so I'd instead give Jared Cook and Jordy Nelson a little boost in targets.
Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins
Jordan Reed hasn't played this preseason, but coach Jay Gruden says he is on pace to play Week 1. Conditioning appeared to be his major hurdle, so the lack of preseason work was probably more to keep him healthy than anything else. We know how good he can be when healthy, so if you have him on your team, sit back and take the ride.
Rishard Matthews, WR, Titans
The Titans removed Rishard Matthews from the PUP list after for some reason making his offseason knee surgery top-secret information. The Titans extended his contract during that period, so they must not have any concerns about his recovery. Second-year receiver Corey Davis will take up a more significant chunk of targets this season, which will hurt Matthews' upside, but he remains a solid fantasy player at his ADP.
Jay Ajayi, RB, Eagles
Jay Ajayi has now been sidelined for over a week with a "lower-body" injury. He has been given days off before due to his balky knee, but this is a little excessive. The Eagles play on Thursday, so he'll need to get back to practice soon to show he is ready to go. This injury reinforces the fact that Ajayi does have a long-term knee issue and that Corey Clement is a much-needed handcuff.
Eric Decker, WR, Retired
Eric Decker announced his retirement, thinning the likely receiver pool for New England. Decker didn't look like he was going to make the team, but this does keep Phillip Dorsett firmly in your draft-day fliers.
Evan Engram, TE, Giants
Evan Engram suffered a concussion in the third preseason game but was seen running on the side of practice on Sunday, which is an excellent sign for his availability come Week 1. Draft him as you usually would.
Tre'Quan Smith, WR, Saints
Saints rookie receiver Tre'Quan Smith has made some noise this preseason with 11 receptions for 147 yards and a touchdown, while Cameron Meredith has had a setback physically. Smith is worth a flier in deeper leagues on a strong offensive team like New Orleans.
John Kelly, RB, Rams
John Kelly has put up substantial numbers this preseason with Todd Gurley being held back for the season. Kelly has quickly earned himself the backup job and would be a reliable fantasy play if Todd Gurley were to miss any time.
Aug. 24 Updates
Charles Sims, RB, Bucs
Tampa Bay running back Charles Sims has been placed on IR. His spot on the final roster wasn't secure as it was, so this isn't massive news for fantasy, but it does give UDFA Shaun Wilson a better shot of moving up the ranks, and with the veteran Sims gone, Peyton Barber also has a better chance to play on all three downs because Ronald Jones has been looking shaky as a receiver so far.
Marlon Mack, RB, Colts
Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich says it isn't a "slam dunk" that Marlon Mack will be ready for Week 1, but still believes he will be prepared to go. We'll need to see him practice in full before we can confidently say he'll see time on the field against the Bengals for their first game. There is no clear running back to target after Mack right now, as Christine Michael, Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines all would likely see work in his absence, but when drafting, I'd probably look to Wilkins over them all, especially with Hines' inability to hold onto the ball this preseason.
Corey Davis, WR, Titans
The good news continues to be sung out of Tennessee about Corey Davis' summer. According to multiple reports, he has been one of the stars of camp, and he's also being used all over the formation, giving him plenty of opportunities to find strong matchups and stay on the field no matter what offense the Titans run out there. In new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur's offense, Davis should be an asset both on the field and on your fake teams.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills
Sammy Watkins has yet to catch a pass in two preseason games, but Kansas City's offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy says they are starting to get in a rhythm and the fact that Watkins has been learning the playbook from different positions has likely slowed down that rhythm. There's no doubt that Tyreek Hill is the top receiver on the team, but there is still plenty of room for Watkins to keep gaining targets as the Chiefs' offense comes together.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger says the Steelers plan on running the no-huddle offense more than ever this year. The stats show that he's more efficient when huddled up, but that should be offset by the sheer number of plays run and the fact that the Steelers defense should be weak overall, pushing Pittsburgh to score toward the end of games. His home/away splits are tough for sure, but Roethlisberger always has excellent upside with the weapons on his team.
Randall Cobb, WR, Packers
There are conflicting reports on if Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb has been shopped around in the trade market with both Equanimeous St. Brown and DeAngelo Yancey seeing work in the slot. Michael Lombardi of The Ringer says the Packers have put him out there as a trade piece, while NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports the Packers haven't, but instead says that some teams have checked in about his availability. Cobb's high salary and injury history are what fuel the speculation but are also what make it difficult for Green Bay to trade him. If the Packers feel good enough about their rookie receivers, they'd be much more apt to release Cobb and his $9.5 million in salary for this season. If Cobb stays, he's a fantasy asset as the starting slot receiver, and if he is cut, he loses all that value even if he's picked up by an excellent offensive team, while Green Bay's rookie receivers would all get a big boost, with St. Brown leading the way.
Adam Shaheen and Trey Burton, TE, Bears
Adam Shaheen sprained his ankle, and an MRI found "additional damage," but the Bears don't believe it is a season-threatening injury. Shaheen wasn't going to have much value with Trey Burton starting, but Shaheen wasn't going to be a non-factor either, so for as long as he's out, Burton gets a bump in fantasy value.
Wayne Gallman and Jonathan Stewart, RBs, Giants
Wayne Gallman has outplayed Jonathan Stewart this preseason and should be considered Saquon Barkley's backup and the change-of-pace guy. Stewart is old, and his body has been through a lot. It's time to put him out to pasture.
Ed Dickson and Nick Vannett, TEs, Seahawks
Ed Dickson missed all of training camp with a groin injury and looks more than questionable for Week 1. Even if he can get back to practice sooner than later, Nick Vannett will likely start the season as the TE1, and if the injury continues to linger, Vannett could have value in deep, tight end-focused leagues.
Rishard Matthews, WR, Titans
Titans coach Mike Vrabel says that Rishard Matthews is close to returning to practice. We still don't know what his injury is, but I'm leaning SARS. The Titans also just gave him a 1-year extension worth $7.75 million, so unless they are insane, this injury was probably a holdout of some kind instead of SARS. Corey Davis might have leapfrogged Matthews on the depth chart, but Marcus Mariota and Matthews have a good history together, and I expect there to still be fantasy value in drafting Matthews.
Kenny Britt, WR, FA
The Patriots released Kenny Britt, as he has fallen behind due to a hamstring injury. Britt's release should give Cordarrelle Patterson some work with Julian Edelman out for the first four games, but it will likely boost Chris Hogan's target share up some and give Phillip Dorsett some fantasy value to start the season.
Rashaad Penny, RB, Seahawks
Rashaad Penny has packed on some pounds this summer, weighing in at 236 pounds this week after coming in at 220 pounds at the combine. Penny is also dealing with a broken finger but has resumed practicing and should be ready to go for Week 1, although Chris Carson has distanced himself as the lead back for now. Penny will need to step up his game along with shedding some of that bulk if he is to take over the job at some point this season.
Terrance West, RB, FA and Jonathan Williams, RB, Saints
The Saints released veteran running back Terrance West, which will solidify Jonathan Williams' job as the No. 3 back on the team. It also puts Williams in Mark Ingram's role as the lead early-down back while Ingram serves his suspension. The Saints have also never really liked Ingram that much, as they wouldn't give him a bigger role despite his ability, and Williams could continue to see work after Ingram returns. I wouldn't draft Williams with that in mind, but it's not out of the realm of possibilities.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Redskins
Washington signed 33-year-old veteran Adrian Peterson after Derrius Guice's season-ending injury and Samaje Perine's shorter-term injury. Peterson drew praise for his "fantastic physical shape" from coach Gruden, but at this point in Peterson's career, he'll likely serve in a committee with a host of backs if he can make the team.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks
Doug Baldwin ran sprints on the side at practice. We haven't heard anything about his progress from his "sore knee," but this report seems to be a positive bit of information. He reportedly will be ready for Week 1, and seeing him work makes that report seem accurate.
Josh Gordon, WR, Browns
Josh Gordon is back in Cleveland and working on the side. He should be cleared to practice by this weekend. Coach Hue Jackson plans on having him ready to go for the Browns' Week 1 game against Pittsburgh, and I see no reason not to have Gordon slotted into your fantasy lineups if that plan works out.
Delanie Walker, TE, Titans
Delanie Walker had his foot stepped on in practice a week ago and hasn't practiced since. Hopefully, we can get some updated information soon, but for now, some caution in fantasy is preferable.
Aug. 14 Updates
Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants
Saquon Barkley had his leg wrapped after Monday's practice and was diagnosed with a mild strain. It doesn't sound like anything to worry about, but the Giants will likely limit his workload during the preseason. He showed his tremendous ability on his first run in preseason, and fantasy footballers should just hope for a fully healthy Barkley for Week 1.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reports Alshon Jeffery could begin the season on the PUP list. If that were to happen, Jeffery would miss the first six games of the season and would be impossible to draft in most fantasy leagues. The more likely scenario is that he doesn't get put on the PUP list, but does miss a game or two to start the season. If he does miss time, we can bump up Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz. Jeffery's health is a situation to monitor closely.
Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones, RBs, Bucs
Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter said Peyton Barber "is our starter." That jibes with what happened in the first preseason game, but we still have a ways to go before Week 1, and Ronald Jones has time to gain on him. This will likely push Barber's ADP up and Jones' down, which might help you draft both without sacrificing too much draft capital. I don't see Barber holding Jones off all season and expect some kind of committee at least.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills
Delicia Cordon, LeSean McCoy's ex-girlfriend, filed a personal injury lawsuit against him on Monday. McCoy's case is still open and active despite him not being charged, so this situation still has plenty of room to develop into one that keeps McCoy out of games this season.
Jonathan Williams, RB, Saints
According to beat writer Nick Underhill, Jonathan Williams has made a push to be Mark Ingram's replacement while he is out due to his suspension. If he can win the job, he'll face Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Atlanta and the New York Giants. It's a mixed bag defensively, but New Orleans' offensive line and the overall offense would give him good upside for the first month.
Alfred Morris, RB, 49ers
The 49ers signed Alfred Morris after injuries to Matt Breida and Jerick McKinnon. Morris has a great history with Kyle Shanahan, so this was a no-brainer, but also must show that Jay Gruden didn't want him in Washington, as that situation would be much better for his chances of making the team after Derrius Guice's season ended. Morris will likely have trouble making the team as long as McKinnon and Breida are ready to go for Week 1, which is the scuttlebutt right now.
Josh Allen, QB, Bills
Josh Allen was promoted to the second team and will likely continue to see some first-team reps in practice. A.J. McCarron isn't good, so Allen could easily start the season behind center, but the decision will likely be based more on Allen's development than his competition with McCarron. For fantasy, my main take away will be to stream defenses against the Bills.
Rishard Matthews, WR, Titans
Rishard Matthews continues to be seen catching passes here and there at camp, but he's not practicing due to an injury that might as well be the bubonic plague for all we know. That has helped Tajae Sharpe see some work with the first team, along with Taywan Taylor. It feels like Matthews will be back any day now, but that has been the feel for a while now.
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Bears
Initial reports for Mitchell Trubisky haven't been great this camp, as Tribune reporter Rich Campbell says Trubisky has been "uneven" throughout camp. The hope is that Matt Nagy's new, more complicated offense has set Trubisky back, but that with time he'll get in synch with the program. The good news for fantasy is that Trubisky can collect fantasy points with his legs and that Nagy's offense, coupled with a significant upgrade in talent, will help push his fantasy numbers up.
Chad Kelly, QB, Broncos
Chad Kelly has moved ahead of Paxton Lynch on the depth chart after a strong showing in Denver's first preseason game. Kelly has more upside than Case Keenum, but it would likely take drastic awfulness to move Keenum out of the starting job.
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