My Preseason Player Watch List for Fantasy Football

In my previous entry, I spent time discussing some things regarding the preseason and fantasy football. To follow that up, I’d like to look at specific player or position situations that are worth tracking as we get closer to your 2017 draft day.

Quarterback:

Quarterback issues don’t just affect that player, but also the fantasy offense as a whole.

Andrew Luck (Indianapolis) had shoulder surgery this offseason. At full health, he’s likely one of the top 5 QBs drafted this season. While he’s currently expected to be ready for week 1, he’ll miss most, if not all, of the preseason. This can hurt the other fantasy players for the Colts, particularly the ones that don’t have a lot of experience (Kamar Aiken, Jack Doyle). Wait for more updates on Luck’s situation before committing too far in this offense.

Cam Newton (Carolina) is also recovering from a shoulder procedure, and so far the reports are fine there as well. However, this team is bringing in two rookie pass catchers (RB Christian McCaffrey and WR Curtis Samuel) as well as potentially tweaking its offense to reduce Newton’s workload. Hopefully, he can get some practice in before week 1.

New York Jets: This situation is also worth monitoring despite the QBs being a total mess. I’m not interested in owning him, but if veteran Josh McCown is named the starter, it’s a potential boost to all of the pass catchers and their offense as a whole. If they go with a younger arm, I may stay away from this offense altogether.

Running Back:

This is the most volatile position in fantasy, so any insight that you can gain about starters or potential handcuffs can be crucial for draft day.

Cincinnati Bengals: Rookie Joe Mixon is getting a lot of love this offseason, but don’t forget that Jeremy Hill is still there for, at a minimum, potential goal line work. Also, Gio Bernard is recovering from a torn ACL. While Mixon is probably the best talent, it’ll be interesting to see if Bernard is active to start the season and how the touches seem to be trending in this backfield.

San Francisco 49ers: Carlos Hyde has received nothing but negative attention since Kyle Shanahan was hired as the coach. This has led many to speculate that rookie Joe Williams could end up being the guy there. It’s also important to note that Tim Hightower was signed there.

Other situations involving an incumbent back and a rookie that are worth monitoring: Kansas City (Spencer Ware and Kareem Hunt), Washington (Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine), Green Bay (Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams)

Denver Broncos: C.J. Anderson is still the starter, but Jamaal Charles has been cleared to play, so his name value will certain garner interest in the fantasy community. Further, Devontae Booker has suffered a significant injury, so there are a lot of moving parts in this situation for now.

Along those same lines, the New Orleans Saints brought in Adrian Peterson and drafted Alvin Kamara. They still have Mark Ingram as well, so there’s plenty to monitor in their RB camp.

Minnesota Vikings: This could be the trickiest one of all. Latavius Murray was signed to a hefty contract, but then the team traded up to draft Dalvin Cook in round two. With both players being new to this system (and Murray still battling ankle issues), it’s worth noting that Jerick McKinnon is still on the roster as well.

New England Patriots: Good luck sorting through this. Even if you do decide on which of the four New England backs (Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, James White, Dion Lewis) you want to own, their weekly game planning could mean that none of them carry any consistent value.

Dallas Cowboys: This gets interesting if Zeke Elliot is suspended. Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris, and now Ronnie Hillman are all on the roster, and this is clearly a good RB situation.

Wide Receiver:

This is usually the deepest position in fantasy, but you should still be aware of certain situations.

Washington Redskins: This team’s top two wideouts from 2016 are gone, so there’s plenty up for grabs in this strong passing attack. Terrelle Pryor (best talent), Jamison Crowder (knows the system), and Josh Doctson (young and athletic) are vying for those targets. As of now, it’s important to note that Crowder is a slot receiver, but the Redskins are already saying that he’ll be the number two (behind Pryor), which means he’ll stay on the field in running situations as well.

Baltimore Ravens: This team is also replacing a lot of targets, and now they may have to figure out how to do that without Joe Flacco for now. It’s hard to tell how things will fall between Jeremy Maclin (best talent), Mike Wallace (knows system), and the athletic Breshad Perriman.

The Tennessee Titans fall under a similar pattern with Eric Decker (talent), Rishard Matthews (system), and Corey Davis (athlete). Their roles are yet to be determined overall, however.

Chicago Bears: A mysterious QB situation and multiple unproven receivers, including two dealing with injury (Kevin White and Cam Meredith) make for a mess right now, but some fantasy production can come from here during the season.

Los Angeles Chargers: Keenan Allen is returning from a torn ACL and first round draft pick Mike Williams is dealing with back issues, which could certainly affect his development for 2017. Tyrell Williams is still a viable fantasy play until more clarity is offered here.

Tight End:

This position becomes trickier each season, and this year is setting up to be no different.

Los Angeles Chargers: Hunter Henry is the new, shiny toy, but Antonio Gates is still around. Their usage this season will certainly be up for debate heading into draft day.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston loves throwing to tight ends, but can he manage two of them? Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard are competing for targets in a very crowded offense.

Los Angeles Rams: This may be for deep leagues, but new head coach Sean McVay is good with TEs, and his struggling young QB could use one. Unproven players Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee are battling for that spot.

Things will probably keep shifting as the preseason moves along, but more clarity at these spots can go a long way towards sorting out my cheat sheet for draft day.

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