Training camps have been underway for over two weeks. Every day that passes bears the fruit of camp reports which have been the foundation for steady player drumbeats. As we head into Week 1 of preseason football, those drumbeats will be put to the test of live games played. This article will be a weekly series during the preseason that discusses players trending up. The following are five players to watch as the second week of preseason games begins.
WR Michael Thomas, New Orleans
It has been nearly two years since we have seen Michael Thomas play a regular season game. Thomas ruptured his deltoid ligament (mechanism in the ankle) in Week 1 of 2020 and has been jumping through hoops to get back on the field. Still, he has been making steady progress through training camp and successfully participating in team drills. Thomas is 29 years old, questioning how much mileage his ankle has left in it. However, he is only two years removed from posting over 1700 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Going in the seventh round of drafts, Thomas is still a value. If he can play a single preseason game, his ADP will skyrocket, and the bargain window will have shut. All indicators point to a comeback for Thomas. Who are we to deny fate? The public waits with bated breath.
WR Jalen Tolbert, Dallas
Rookie wide receiver Jalen Tolbert has been a steady bright spot during Dallas Cowboys training camp. Veteran James Washington has been Tolbert's primary competition for snaps, but Washington unluckily suffered an injury and will be missing valuable training camp snaps. Meanwhile, Tolbert and quarterback Dak Prescott have been establishing solid chemistry daily. Amari Cooper has been traded to the Cleveland Browns, and Michael Gallup is still working his way back from an ACL tear. Tolbert's only competition for targets would be CeeDee Lamb and Dalton Schultz. Suppose Tolbert can continue putting together a good training camp and show well during the coming preseason games. In that case, he has a golden opportunity to become a weekly WR2 during his rookie year. He is being drafted at the beginning of the fifteenth round. He needs to be a priority addition to fantasy teams at his current ADP in 2022.
RB Tyler Badie, Baltimore
Baltimore Ravens rookie running back Tyler Badie's name has yet to begin the rounds in redraft circles. Starting running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards began training camp on PUP, leaving the running back snaps to be presumably absorbed by Badie, Justice Hill, and veteran Mike Davis. Historically, Justice Hill has rarely been considered a regular part of the game plan. Mike Davis is 29 years old and was largely ineffective as a starter with the Atlanta Falcons in 2021. Last season, Badie made a name for himself at Missouri, where he rushed for 1600 yards and 18 touchdowns while catching 54 balls for over 300 yards. He has the profile to be a complete back in the NFL. Nobody knows how Dobbins' and Edwards' injuries will endure the rigors of the regular season once they come off of PUP. (Dobbins was just activated this week) But if Badie shows well during the preseason and earns the trust of his team, then his name will be one well worth remembering. Expect to see him prove his value by getting plenty of snaps during preseason games.
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