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Emmanuel Sanders established the chemistry with Josh Allen to suggest that he can be the second most valuable Bills receiver. Still, he also has had lingering foot issues that remind us why he didn’t make a big impact during his rookie contract with the Steelers. At age 34, it’s certainly possible that his season will be defined more by the foot issues than by the production that comes with playing with yet another top-notch quarterback. Sanders is still a fine late-round pick, but Gabriel Davis is looking more attractive with the possibility that Sanders will break down… Matt Breida has had a good summer and stayed healthy, but so have Devin Singletary and Zack Moss. This running game could improve but will likely remain one of the more underwhelming in the league from a fantasy perspective, and it will be split two, if not three ways.
DeVante Parker was recently activated from the PUP list, and Will Fuller V has missed basically all of camp. While there have been reassurances that Fuller will be okay for Week 1 and Parker hasn’t gotten hurt again (yet). Albert Wilson was generating a lot of momentum early in camp, but he, too, got hurt. Jaylen Waddle has been the healthiest, and he’s the only Dolphin receiver I would consider in drafts near ADP… Myles Gaskin will be in a committee, but he can still be the Dolphins Chase Edmonds. If you go minimal at running back early in your PPR draft, he fits well at his new reduced ADP… Tua Tagovailoa has been the subject of mostly positive news out of camp, but we haven’t seen it translate yet in the preseason. The offensive line is still under construction to an extent, and perhaps expectations are too high for a quarterback put in an enviable position by having his “prove it” year happen in his second season. Maybe things will come together if the receivers can all get healthy simultaneously, but this doesn’t feel like an overachiever offense in the making.
Cam Newton has played well enough to maintain a lead over Mac Jones, who has certainly looked good enough to start if the Patriots had a lesser option than Newton. Whether Newton’s absence in part due to being unvaccinated changes the calculus of this decision is yet to be seen, but barring that skewing the competition or something else dramatic happening, it’s going to be Newton Week 1. He could be a fantasy surprise if a better offensive line, much better weapons, and a full offseason to learn the offense restore more of his game than expected… The Patriots will probably be very good at running the ball, which means that Damien Harris can still have value as the lead back in a committee, although the vision of Newton vulturing touchdowns at the goal line isn’t comforting. Harris has had a great summer, but so has Sony Michel, who will be the 1A, and fourth-round Rhamondre Stevenson, who will test the theory that Bill Belichick won’t play his rookie running backs extensively unless they are a first-round pick. James White doesn’t have competition on passing downs with Rex Burkhead now down in Houston, and he has gotten a few early-down snaps so that he could be the best value in this backfield in PPR leagues. A split Belichick backfield can still yield fantasy value as long as the Patriots are controlling and winning games… Jakobi Meyers has been the best and most consistent wide receiver, which could be important since the marquee tight end signings Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith have already gotten dinged in camp, and Nelson Agholor should play more of a field stretcher role. Along with Sterling Shepard, Meyers could be valuable in deep PPR leagues as a reliable 8-10 point floor player.
New York Jets
Fourth-round pick Michael Carter II has not asserted himself as hoped. Instead, he's playing behind Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson. Considering Coleman's injury history, Carter could still get an opportunity, but Johnson is the deep sleeper here to put on your radar. He has long speed and is meshing well with the underrated Jets line’s transition to the Shanahan style offense under Mike LaFleur… Corey Davis has been the clear #1 receiver for Zach Wilson, which is important because the rookie quarterback will look for the target he’s most comfortable with when the bullets fly. Elijah Moore is still worth a late-round pick, but his leg injury slowed the speed of the hype express he was powering from the moment he showed up at a Jets practice. Denzel Mims has responded to an extent, but in case you didn’t know from earlier this offseason, he’s a backup and not a great fit in this offense.
Deshaun Watson showed up at camp so he wouldn’t get fined, and no one knows what to do next. The Texans aren’t preparing him as the starter, Roger Goodell isn’t putting him on the exempt list or suspending him, the legal authorities are still moving deliberately with their case with no end in sight, and the teams wanting to possibly trade for Watson are waiting all of this out. Will the Texans pay him to stay home? Can they convince him to play for them this year as some have speculated they intend to do? This is unprecedented, so we can’t predict the outcome with any reliability other than the already established belief that he will not play for the team again… The offense will be rough without Watson, assuming he doesn’t play. The running game, which wasn’t so hot last year, could be a three-way committee this year, with Phillip Lindsay getting a lot of early-down work and David Johnson on passing downs with Mark Ingram II mixed in, which spells out stay away… Nico Collins has had a great summer following a great spring. Still, it’s difficult to trust any Texans receiver, including Keke Coutee, who has a chance to get a lot of playing time after the team traded Randall Cobb to Green Bay and Anthony Miller got hurt again.
Colts panic week came and went with two key injuries on the offensive line, foot surgery for Carson Wentz, and a strangely wide 5-12 week timeline for his return. Fast forward a month, and Wentz, Ryan Kelly, and Quenton Nelson are back in practice, and we can restore our Colts fantasy values to where they were before camp started… Michael Pittman Jr is the closest there is to a WR1 in this diverse offense, and Parris Campbell appears to have fallen behind Zach Pascal in three-wide sets to spread out the production even further… Jonathan Taylor has looked like a lead back, and he’s worth the late first/early second even with Marlon Mack healthy coming back from an Achilles tear… Fourth-round pick Kylen Granson hasn’t carried over his spring hype, and Mo Alie-Cox has missed a little time with a knee issue, so it’s not looking like there will be a viable fantasy tight end here, even though the scheme and quarterback like to target the tight end.
Trevor Lawrence is still in competition with Gardner Minshew? Urban Meyer was rational enough to cut Tim Tebow, but we’re unsure what he’s doing here. Lawrence is still the likely Week 1 starter, but Justin Fields and Trey Lance are the more likely rookies to matter in fantasy leagues… James Robinson should still lead this team in carries, and he’ll be the starter. If they surprise and remain competitive well into most games, Robinson could be a value pick in 0.5 PPR and non-PPR leagues… Marvin Jones Jr looks like the No. 1 receiver and the one worth drafting from this offense even though he has been third off of the board after D.J. Chark Jr and Laviska Shenault Jr in most drafts.
Anthony Firkser has drawn some praise, but it looks like he’ll be in a specialized receiving tight end role that will create a small margin of error for fantasy… Julio Jones has been a little banged up, but nothing out of the ordinary for him. He remains available at a 3+ round discount from his 2020 ADP… A.J. Brown looks good coming off of two knee surgeries, and he’s worth the second-round pick it will cost to land him.
Lamar Jackson ended up on the covid list again, but hopefully, that confers him the natural immunity to make it through the season since it appears he is unvaccinated… Gus Edwards seems to be closer to a 50/50 committee with Gus Edwards than ADP indicates. He’ll be a solid RB2, especially in 0.5 PPR and non-PPR leagues… Marquise Brown has had a hamstring issue earlier in camp, and first-round pick Rashod Bateman had core muscle surgery and will likely miss the open of the season, which leaves Sammy Watkins as the No. 1. In other words, Mark Andrews is the only pass-catcher we are targeting in drafts.
Joe Burrow didn’t have full confidence in his surgically repaired knee to open camp. Hopefully, we will see him play some in the preseason to reassure us about investing in this offense. There’s a reason for caution here, but Tyler Boyd will be a good pick at ADP even if Burrow doesn’t get all the way back to 100% this year… Samaje Perine had a fumble earlier in the preseason and isn’t as established as the No. 2 as it appeared going into training camp… Ja'Marr Chase has looked like someone spent a year away from football. He probably won’t have a big early impact, although we remember that Chase’s college teammate Justin Jefferson didn’t either, and we all remember how that turned out… C.J. Uzomah is doing well coming back from his Achilles tear. Keep him on your waiver wire speed dial if he starts hot, as he appeared to be a fantasy-relevant tight end before going down last year.
Donovan Peoples-Jones has been one of the stars of camp. He could beat out Rashard Higgins to be the No. 3, and if Odell Beckham Jr goes down again, he’ll get the valuable deep shot off of play-action role. Sooner or later, he will be a starter in this offense and maybe in fantasy leagues… Sixth-round pick Demetric Felton has looked good as an RB/WR tweener and should win a roster spot to open the season… The team locked up Nick Chubb with a three-year, $36.6 million extension. He’s that important and valuable to this team, and he’s worth a first-round pick in fantasy leagues even though he shares the backfield with Kareem Hunt.
The Steelers offensive line didn’t get to put together their projected starting five, but they might have found an adequate group along the way. The gloom and doom could still be justified, but there haven’t been any glaring problems in the preseason… Second-round pick Pat Freiermuth caught two scores from Ben Roethlisberger. He has probably ended Eric Ebron’s fantasy-relevant days… Roethlisberger showed up to camp in uncharacteristically good shape, which is hopefully a sign that his body will be more ready for the rigors of an NFL season at age 39.
The quarterback battle between Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock has gone back and forth with no clear leader going into the third preseason game. Jerry Jeudy would be the most helped by Bridgewater winning and K.J. Hamler by Lock winning. Bridgewater is more likely to hold the job for good than Lock, but Lock was closer to winning than Bridgewater and ties may go to the incumbent… Javonte Williams isn’t poised to exile Melvin Gordon III to a lesser role than him yet, at least not judging by how camp and the preseason have gone. He may still be solid to begin the year as the Broncos open up with the Giants, Jaguars, and Jets… Courtland Sutton didn’t look 100% to open camp, and he probably won’t be his old self to open the season. He’s probably a stay away at current ADP.
Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle have both had good summers. Hardman has made the progress the team hoped for, and he should be a dangerous deep threat in three-wide sets. If Hardman falters, Pringle has been consistent in camp and could inherit a valuable role in a Patrick Mahomes II pass offense. Keep him on your waiver wire speed dial… Jerick McKinnon has had a good camp and could stick with the team. Still, it looks like a three-way committee including Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who suffered a minor ankle injury in preseason Week 2.
Los Angeles Chargers
Donald Parham Jr has been a star of camp. He already has chemistry with Justin Herbert, and a 34-year-old Jared Cook might not be much of an obstacle for him. Keep him on your waiver wire speed dial… Third-round pick Josh Palmer has been a sensation in camp and the preseason, and he’s the clear No. 3 receiver -- a very productive role last year. He could be a hit this year if Mike Williams goes down… The RB2 role behind Austin Ekeler got a little clearer when sixth-round pick Larry Rountree III was behind Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley.
Darren Waller missed over a week of practice with an ankle injury but has returned to practice, and he’s going to be foundational in the passing game. Foster Moreau will be fantasy-relevant behind Waller if the starter misses any time this year… Bryan Edwards has made training camp his domain for the second straight year, and the Raiders have held him out of the first two preseason games like he is a core starter. He should be on your late-round target list. Edwards is keeping John Brown on the bench to open the season.