Here We Go Football Fans!!! Here We Go!
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In the NFL Preseason Notebook, I will provide a weekly recap of the most relevant news during each week of preseason games. I will tackle all of the weekly top stories. Plus, I break down each position and provide the players that provided the most important fantasy highlights.
I have been waiting to say this for a long time, let's get to the NFL game action.
NFL 2017 Preseason Week 1 Fantasy Football Notebook
Four Downs-The Top Four Fantasy news stories from Week 1
NFL suspends Ezekiel Elliott six games
The NFL dropped a major bomb when it announced that it was suspending Dallas Cowboys' running back Ezekiel Elliot for six regular-season games after it was determined that Elliot violated the league's Personal Conduct Policy. Ezekiel and his team will likely announce his appeal on Tuesday. A hearing has to be scheduled within 10 days after they got the notice that Ezekiel was suspended.
The fantasy implications of this suspension are plentiful. Elliott was considered a top-three fantasy running back in both standard and point-per-reception formats before Friday’s ruling. He has since fallen from anywhere to the second to fourth round in drafts conducted since the announcement.
The former Buckeye led the NFL in rushing as a rookie, and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be just as productive when he returns to the field this season. It is difficult to justify ranking Elliott any higher, considering he’ll likely only get eight or nine chances to contribute to your fantasy team, depending on when your playoffs start. There is also the cost of having him on your roster for half the season while providing zero production. That makes Elliot worth a fifth or sixth-round pick at best, which makes him a very risky pick in the second or third round.
If you do draft Elliot, you cannot wait too long to draft his backup Darren McFadden. He is expected to be the featured running back in Elliot's absence. McFadden averaged 4.6 yards per rush behind the Cowboys' elite line in 2015. He should have enough in the tank to be a solid RB2 until Elliot returns.
Bills trade Sammy Watkins to Rams, acquire Jordan Matthews
The Buffalo Bills rocked the Fantasy world this week by making two trades that will have a major impact on the wide receiver position with the season fast approaching.
The Bills announces that they have traded wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams along with a 2018 sixth-round pick in exchange for cornerback E.J.Gaines and a 2018 second-rounder.
In a corresponding but separate move, the Bills send cornerback Ronald Darby to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for wide receiver Jordan Matthews and the Eagles' third-round pick in 2018.
The Fantasy implications are plentiful:
Sammy Watkins, WR, Los Angeles Rams
Watkins is injury-prone and missed half the year last season. His penchant for injury zaps his fantasy potential, and now he is going to a Rams suspect offense and a QB downgrade in Jared Goff. Yeah, no thanks!
Jordan Matthews, WR, Buffalo Bills
Matthews is a big receiver who has an excellent opportunity to step into a No. 1 role. He brings a large frame with an excellent catch radius. The timing of the deal will result in a slow start for Matthews. His upside as a PPR monster and likely the top TD scorer with the Bills cannot be ignored.
Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams
Goff was awful as a rookie last season. The Rams' offensive line needs to be a whole lot better if Goff is to succeed. Watkins will help Goff but to what level? Goff can't get any worse, can he? Goff won't be a fantasy factor whatsoever this season.
Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
I believe that Watkins' best fantasy asset will be to open up space around the line of scrimmage for Gurley. Hopefully, the presence of Watkins will result in less stacked fronts at the line which allows Gurley to run more freely.
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills
Losing Watkins means losing the big-play downfield element. Matthews is more durable and reliable but deep balls are not his specialty, which will cost Taylor those huge games but may lend him to be a more consistent quarterback.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills
New OC Rick Dennison's history of targeting running backs and trade of Watkins has left a huge hole in the offense. McCoy's role as a pass-catcher will increase significantly and he will probably lead the Bills in receptions.
Who are winning the key running back battles after Preseason Week 1:
Overreaction is paramount in the preseason. Every player looks like to be the next superstar after one highlight.
As we head into the 2017 NFL season, there are key running back battles across the NFL which will loom large in the fantasy world. Let's take a look at the ones which fantasy needles have moved:
Cincinnati: Jeremy Hill vs. Gio Bernard vs Joe Mixon
Jeremy Hill started the game and had seven rushes for 26 yards.
Joe Mixon showed tons of promise. He is a talented, versatile back who flashed his ability on several runs including an 11-yard catch.
Jeremy Hill didn't do anything to separate himself while Mixon looked like an every down back that the Bengals always wanted.
Green Bay: Ty Montgomery vs. Jamal Williams
Ty Montgomery started but had three carries for ZERO yards and one catch for eight yards.
Jamal Williams rushed four times for 14 yards. Had a couple of nice runs in their TD drive.
Montgomery has a hold of the No.1 job but I don't think it is a strong hold.
Kansas City: Spencer Ware vs. Kareem Hunt
Spencer Ware started the game and is clearly the lead back right now. He received the goal-line work and was catching passes out of the backfield.
Kareem Hunt jumped to No.2 on the depth chart and he only took one snap with the first-team offense. Looks to be locked into the backup role. For now.
Ware seems to have a firm grasp as the starter at the moment, but we do have four weeks until the regular season.
What is the latest on Andrew Luck? Cam Newton?
Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
The Andrew Luck saga continues. With the regular season four weeks away, we still have no idea if/when Andrew Luck will be playing. Luck has been on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list all training camp as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.
On Sunday, however, Colts owner Jim Irsay addressed the media and gave an update of sorts about Luck's injury, saying he's throwing — but not all the way — and will be ready for the start of the season — but maybe not Week 1.
"I can’t say that unequivocally he’ll be ready for the Ram game, but I can say I feel very confident that he’ll be ready to start the season," Irsay told reporters (via Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star). "Now that may not be the Ram game, but to start the season, yes."
Irsay said that Luck is throwing again, but not all the way because they've put restrictions on how hard he can throw.
It would also be more reassuring if the Colts had a better idea of when Luck will be able to play. Even if he recovers fully by Week 1, he'll have missed training camp and preseason. There will be rust to shake off, and he won't have any in-game throwing experience on a surgically repaired shoulder. Another huge concern is the Colts' offensive line. Is that line capable of protecting the franchise quarterback? What happens when he takes a huge hit on the shoulder or lands on that shoulder?
The Colts' alternative to Luck is Scott Tolzien. Yikes! He is an NFL journeyman who has started only three games and threw a total of 128 passes. Time is ticking on getting Luck on the field and the Colts' season.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
The news regarding Cam Newton is positive. Newton was just throwing in team drills this past Sunday. The Panthers are being very cautious with Newton, who is coming off surgery in late March to repair a partially torn rotator cuff.
Coaches, teammates and the medical staff all believe quarterback Cam Newton and his surgically repaired shoulder will be good to go Week 1 in San Francisco. There’s been no sense of panic from coach Ron Rivera or interim general manager Marty Hurney in regards to Newton.
After the first week of camp, there was concern about the range of motion in Newton’s shoulder, and team officials didn’t want the 2015 league MVP to develop poor throwing habits while overcompensating for the shoulder. They were afraid that Newton pushed himself too hard, so the Panthers have been gradually increasing his activity.
Besides building arm strength, the biggest thing for Newton between now and Week 1 will be working on his timing with his receivers and running backs, particularly new weapons McCaffrey and Samuel.
It is doubtful that we see Cam Newton in a preseason game, but the Panthers want to make sure he is ready for Week 1 and the plan seems to be on point.
NFL Preseason Week 1 Position Highlights
Blaine Gabbert, Arizona Cardinals
Unexpected nice showing from Gabbert. While he may not get the backup role in Arizona, with play like this, he might hook on with another team.
Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots
Garoppolo connected on 22 of 28 pass attempts for 235 yards and two touchdowns and zero picks. He looked like he should be starting for an NFL team this season. He made all of the throws and commanded the offense.
Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
Henne looked better than Bortles, which I know isn't saying much but still. He went 5/6 139 yards and a TD. If Bortles struggles again this season....
DeShone Kizer, Cleveland Browns
Kizer looked better than either Kessler or Osweiler, he finished 11/18 for 184 yards and one touchdown.He showed off his big arm on two long pass plays to help lead the Browns to a win. (holy cow, did I just say a Browns win?)
Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears
The biggest surprise of the preseason so far was the success of Mitch Trubisky. He finished the game 18/25 for 166 yards and one touchdown. The Bears simplified the game plan and almost every pass was a roll out which required him to survey only half the field. Still, he was impressive and as bad as Mike Glennon looked in the game, we may see Trubisky this season.
DeShaun Watson, Houston Texans
Watson shined in his NFL debut and looked poised and in control, and he led the offense. Flashed his athleticism on his 15-yard TD run. One game doesn't win the job, but he showed something positive, which bodes well.
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
Wentz played only on the first drive and he made it count. He looked excellent. Poised and good command of the offense. This was all without their starting receivers. Great to see Wentz looking improved from last season. Let's hope that continues.
Corey Grant, Jacksonville Jaguars
Grant was superb in last season's finale and looked very impressive on taking their first offensive play for a 79-yard touchdown run. Grant has a trio of backs in front of him, but these type of performances cannot be totally ignored.
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
Kamara got the starting nod at running back. He flashed his speed and fluid moves on a 22-yard run leading to a four rushes for 35 yards. Displayed burst and looks like he will have the pass-catching role out of the backfield. Great name to keep in mind in PPR leagues.
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
Carolina made a point to get McCaffrey some work on the ground, as he had seven carries for 32 yards. Panthers ran him on a variety of plays and looks to have at least a time-share with Jonathan Stewart. Someone to watch on what kind of role the rookie develops into.
D'Onta Foreman, Houston Texans
The rookie displayed his big-play potential with a 41-yard run in the second half on his way to 76 total rushing yards. He doesn't have a role yet with Miller and Blue eating up the carries. Another player to monitor on his role in the preseason.
Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys
McFadden played all 19 snaps with the first-team. He would be solid fantasy RB2 for the Cowboys' first six games.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
Mixon looked like the real deal in his first NFL action. He looked impressive on an 11-yard catch, for which he ran past multiple defenders, breaking tackles to achieve, as well as 31 yards on the ground, picking up an average of 5.1 yards per carry. I believe that Mixon will be the main back there by mid-season.
Alfred Morris, Dallas Cowboys
Somewhat of a forgotten man in Dallas. He rushed seven times for 42 yards and looked like someone who should share carries with McFadden in the first six regular season games. Fantasy owners should remember his name on draft day.
Samaje Perine, Washington Redskins
Coming into the preseason as a sleeper favorite, Perine impressed with an 11-yard run but then he failed miserably. He fumbled the ball, then dropped a pass on the next play. Looks like Rob Kelley has a strong hold on the starting RB job for now.
Robby Anderson, New York Jets
Anderson is the Jets' No.1 wideout by default after Quincy Enunwa's season-ending neck injury. He caught three passes for 71 yards and will be a sneaky fantasy pick.
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers
Benjamin looked great in out jumping All-Pro Jonathan Joseph for his TD. Hopefully, he can continue proving his critics wrong, including me.
Kenny Britt, Cleveland Browns
Good News: Britt was targeted in the red zone on consecutive plays. Bad News: Britt didn't look in sync with Osweiler which led to some horrible looking attempts in the red zone.
Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
Golladay fortified an early case for late-round flier as the Lions' third receiver with his 3/52/2 line. The Lions utilized 3+ receiver sets on 81 percent of their plays in 2016, third-most in the NFL.
Austin Carr, New England Patriots
Austin Carr was impressive in catching five balls for 44 yards and a TD. He has been a highlight of Patriots' camp although Carr has a crowded group of talented receivers ahead of him. You never know with the Patriots. Keep an eye on him.
Rico Gathers, Dallas Cowboys
The former basketball player continues to impress. He caught 4 balls for 47 yards and another TD, making it two this preseason so far. While he has a long way to go to make a fantasy impact, Jason Witten is on his last legs and they need to groom someone.
Jacob Hollister, New England Patriots
Another undrafted free agent that is lighting up the Patriots camp. If Gronk gets hurts again....
Kicker & Defense
Roberto Aguayo was cut by the Buccaneers, who drafted him in the second round in 2016 draft. Aguayo finished last in the NFL in field goal percentage last season. The Buccaneers finally had enough and let him go. Hopefully, he finds more success with the Bears.
The Steelers' T.J. Watt looked impressive in his NFL debut. The edge defender had three tackles, two sacks, and a pass breakup, showing the relentlessness and athleticism that fits perfectly in the Steelers' scheme.
The Browns' No.1 pick Myles Garrett made an outstanding debut against the Saints. While his stats did look unremarkable, his presence made the Saints double-team continuously throughout the game. His chase down of running back Alvin Kamara on a 22-yard run displayed his passion and effort that a number one pick should exhibit.
|2017 Fantasy Football Position Previews|
|Quarterbacks||Running Backs||Wide Receivers||Tight Ends|
For more F6P preseason coverage please visit our 2017 Draft Kit section.
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