Click here for the AFC version of this article
Dak Prescott has a muscle strain that caused the Cowboys to shut him down for a few weeks and conduct multiple MRIs. I don’t care how much reassurance the team wants to give the fanbase about Prescott’s condition, it stinks of something that he will play through, but at less than 100% and probably deteriorating as the season goes on. Prescott is too risky to take at ADP, take Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, or Aaron Rodgers instead… This takes the shine off of Ezekiel Elliott in the mid-first and Amari Cooper in the third, and when combined with Dalton Schultz cutting into Blake Jarwin’s opportunity, it takes Jarwin off of the late-round tight end target list… CeeDee Lamb looks like he’s the truth. The Prescott situation takes the edge off of his unknown upside, but I won’t talk anyone out of taking him in the third, or even late second… Michael Gallup is also having a great summer. He was underpriced at ADP so the Prescott issue doesn’t remove him from our target list.
New York Giants
The big fish free-agent addition Kenny Golladay (hamstring) and first-round pick Kadarius Toney (various) have done little in camp. Golladay is on the all ten-foot pole team… Saquon Barkley (knee) has been proceeding on schedule and looks to be on track to play Week 1, even if it’s a limited workload. His ADP has fallen enough to make him a puzzling proposition when weighing his raw talent vs. the situational factors that could hold him back. I probably won’t take the plunge but get it when others do… Sterling Shepard could be a garbage time star and he should have value as a safe WR3/Flex in PPR leagues. Consider him a free square late in PPR drafts.
It looks like Zach Ertz is going to stick around and he has been heavily involved in camp, so Dallas Goedert might not even be the most valuable fantasy tight end on the roster even though Ertz was a non-factor last year. Neither is worth drafting… Boston Scott, Jordan Howard, and fifth-round pick Kenneth Gainwell all appear to have some sort of role in the backfield, so there’s no clear backup to draft behind Miles Sanders… Jalen Hurts hasn’t exactly seized the mantle of franchise quarterback. With Joe Flacco lurking, it feels like there is a greater than zero percent chance Hurts gets pulled at some point if he has extended struggles… Devonta Smith is already over his knee sprain, but Quez Watkins has been the story among the wide receivers. Travis Fulgham has flopped in his bid to be the #3 receiver. There may not be a consistent wide receiver week-to-week once again this year.
Antonio Gibson has been the subject of a lot of hype about his role increasing in the passing game, perhaps to Christian McCaffrey proportions, but we haven’t seen it manifest on the preseason field. He’s still a leap of faith with a large potential reward in the second… UDFA Jaret Patterson has stolen the show in the preseason and is sure to make it as the #3 back. He and J.D. McKissic would likely be in a committee if Gibson were to go down… Curtis Samuel is back from the groin injury that affected him since June, although third-round pick Dyami Brown impressed while he was out and Adam Humphries rekindled his chemistry with Ryan Fitzpatrick so along with the freshly extended Logan Thomas, this is going to be a more crowded passing game than we’re used to below Terry McLaurin in the target pecking order.
Justin Fields did everything he could to win the starting job, but Andy Dalton will still be the Week 1 starter. That’s probably for the best with the offensive tackle spots unstable and the Rams up in Week 1. Fields showed off his legs in the preseason and he’s a priority QB2 worth a pick around the 10th round… There’s still no timetable for Tarik Cohen to return from ACL surgery, which means that Damien Williams is the injury upside backup and deep PPR league value, and David Montgomery is a rock-solid RB2 in the fourth… Darnell Mooney has been treated as an established starter and he’s the best situated to take advantage of Fields’ deep ball once the rookie takes over. He’s a priority bench wide receiver pick as soon as the ninth. Marquise Goodwin has come on to seize the slot role to add more emphasis on speed in the passing game.
DAndre Swift missed some time with a groin injury but should be healthy heading into the season. There has been nothing to change the belief that this will be a hot hand backfield, which makes Swift a bit risky at ADP, but a possible hit on ascending youthful talent… Tyrell Williams has been the #1 wide receiver, whatever that is going to be worth in this offseason. T.J. Hockenson will be a more fundamental player in the passing game, and he should easily lead the team in catches as long as he stays healthy.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling has garnered a ton of praise this summer and could become an upside WR3/Flex play with peaks that justify the valleys. Allen Lazard appeared to be ahead of Valdes-Scantling last year, but Valdes-Scantling is the late-round Packers receiver to target this year… Seventh-round pick Kylin Hill has impressed all summer and will be the #3 back going into the season. File the name away just in case injuries strike the Packers backfield.
Irv Smith was one of the most outstanding players in camp and should more than justify his ADP even though he will share tight end targets with Tyler Conklin. He should be a target if you like to wait on tight end… Justin Jefferson looked like a player ready to build on a historic rookie season until a shoulder injury sidelined him, but he should be fine to start the season. We just have to hope for no aggravations during the season. The injury was to his left shoulder… the Vikings were without their top quarterbacks for about a week at the open of camp because of covid regulations that reminded us that player availability changes close to game day are probably not a thing of the past.
Arthur Smith has pretty much kept his offense under wraps in the preseason, forcing us to speculate about what’s to come in the season opener against the Eagles. One thing we have learned is that Qadree Ollison is the clear backup to Mike Davis. He has had a good summer and was actually used in the preseason… As for Kyle Pitts, he has been continuing to line up all over the formation and be emphasized in the red zone.
Terrace Marshall Jr has been one of the rookie stars of the summer and he has played himself into the #3 wide receiver role over free-agent signing David Moore. Offensive coordinator Joe Brady knows his game from the time they spent together at LSU. Consider Marshall as one of your late-round picks… Chuba Hubbard has been running as the backup to Christian McCaffrey, but the other options have been banged up. This situation could be unsettled if Hubbard has any hiccups early in the season… The team locked up Robby Anderson with a two-year, $29.5 million dollar extension, clearing up any confusion about how they view him going forward. He’s a slight value at ADP since he is reunited with Sam Darnold after the two had some strong stretches together in the muck and mire of the Adam Gase offense.
Jameis Winston probably won the quarterback job in the second preseason game, which is good news for the passing game. Taysom Hill will still get his gadget plays and Winston’s upside will be low until Michael Thomas returns, but at least we have clarity… Tony Jones has come to possibly take the #2 job in the backfield from Latavius Murray, which should instantly put him on our redraft radar as at least a waiver wire speed dial name… Marquez Callaway has been playing like a #1 all summer in the wake of Thomas’s surgery, and he put the world on notice with a preseason Monday night pre-breakout season game. He’s worth a 9th or 10th round pick… Adam Trautman went down with a lower leg injury in the second preseason game and shouldn’t be on draft boards. Converted wide receiver Juwan Johnson will be the top receiving threat for the Saints at tight end, but he’s not worth a pick.
Giovani Bernard has looked the part of the steady veteran and he has taken over passing downs. He should be the most valuable Bucs back in PPR leagues, and maybe even formats that don’t emphasize passing game involvement because Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette have spotty injury and reliability histories… O.J. Howard isn’t all the way back from his Achilles tear, so Rob Gronkowski could have a nice start to the season if you’re desperate at tight end.
Rondale Moore has looked like the heart-thumping freshman year version of himself, which should add another dimension to this offense. He’s an essential name on late-round target lists…. A.J. Green has been on the comeback trail with one Louis Riddick, saying he looked like “the 2015 version”. Keep him on your waiver wire watch list (that feels weird to type about Green)... the team has looked listless in the preseason and the offensive line isn’t showing signs of improvement. At least they open with Tennessee, Minnesota, and Jacksonville before facing the Rams and 49ers.
Los Angeles Rams
Darrell Henderson won’t play in the preseason as the Rams want to protect their clear #1 back, but he still banged up his thumb in practice this week. It’s a minor injury but a reminder of how quickly things can change. It looks like Xavier Jones and Jake Funk will split work if Henderson goes down… Fourth-round pick Jacob Harris has continued to get thrown in the deep end, and he’ll be the second tight end to open the season ahead of 2020 fourth-round pick Brycen Hopkins. That’s good news for Tyler Higbee, who should go back to dominating tight end targets in what should be a potent offense.
Trey Lance has shown what he can do to unlock the Kyle Shanahan offense, but it appears that he’ll only be mixed in Taysom Hill style to open the season. There could be a longer wait for him to start than Justin Fields because the 49ers open with Detroit and Philadelphia and Jimmy Garoppolo could get off to a hot start. Lance will still probably take over sooner than later and deserves to be stashed away in every league… Raheem Mostert has been put in bubble wrap and he’ll be the most valuable 49ers back to start the season. Taking Mostert and rookie Trey Sermon is a viable strategy as the 49ers should have one of the best running games in the league. Take Sermon if you can only take one… It looks like JaMycal Hasty has passed Wayne Gallman to be the #3 back… Mohamed Sanu will be the #3 receiver, but free-agent addition Trent Sherfield is the backup outside if Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel misses time.
Excitement abounds as Shane Waldron’s new offense will speed up the tempo and disguise the intentions of the play call. Russell Wilson and this whole offense could take off with game-planning as a value enhancer instead of an obstacle to overcome. Get a piece of two of the core of this offense, whether it’s Wilson, Metcalf, Lockett, or Carson.. Rashaad Penny has dropped some weight and looks like he’ll at least split the backup job with Alex Collins. He’s a solid late pick in deep drafts where a lot of backup running backs are taken… Gerald Everett is the clear #1 target among tight ends outside of the top 12. He could be the de facto #3 receiver with second-round pick DWayne Eskridge nursing a toe injury that required an orthotic to be placed in his shoe.