Preseason Week 3: News and Notes

31 Aug 2016 - 4:41pm | Roto Coach | Updated: 29 Jul 2017 - 12:21pm | Likes: 1 Like 
Preseason Week 3

 

Return of the Dak

 

It took Tony Romo less than a preseason half to sustain a significant back injury-one likely to keep him sidelined for at least the first six games of the NFL season. Playing behind arguably the league’s best offensive line, and with weapons like Dez Bryant and “can’t miss” running back Ezekiel Elliott at his disposal, the fantasy football world has seemingly flipped for rookie quarterback, Dak Prescott. Prescott appeared here two weeks ago after putting up an impressive performance in his first preseason game, one that frankly caught nearly everyone by surprise. Through parts of now three preseason games, the rookie has amassed 454 yards and 5 TDs through the air and has another 53 yards rushing and two scores on the ground (seven carries). With that statline it’s a little difficult not to be impressed. But, this is still the preseason and we are still talking about a fourth round rookie who has yet to see some of the more exotic defensive schemes or blitz packages that NFL defensive coordinators dream up from week to week. Not to take anything away from Prescott, but at the moment it’s pretty vanilla out there. Look, the kid might be special but let’s not induct him into the Hall of Fame just yet. Like with any player, there will be growing pains. And at the quarterback position those growing pains tend to be magnified. He’s worth rostering in any format given the situation and supporting cast, but for me he’s not a guy you can count on quite yet.

A Bridge Over Troubled Water

Stories like the injury to Teddy Bridgewater this week are the worst part of football. He’s a promising young player who seemed to have a bright future ahead of him, but now we’re left wondering what sort of impact this will have not just on 2016, but on his career in general. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Vikings lost their young quarterback to a dislocated knee and a torn ACL on Tuesday. By all accounts it was a gruesome injury and the road to recovery will be a long one. The Vikings now enter the season with Shaun Hill as their starting quarterback so expect plenty of trade chatter in the coming days. Colin Kaepernick has put San Francisco in quite a predicament; Mark Sanchez was already trade bait; Cleveland doesn’t seem to want to keep Josh McCown around if they can get something back for him; and Aaron Murray hit the trade block on Tuesday as well. Even Mike Glennon or Geno Smith could probably be pried away from the Bucs or Jets respectively for the right price. It’s also worth noting that the Rams could ship off Case Keenum and just live with the Jared Goff growing pains or the Eagles could maybe be talked into trading Sam Bradford. Given his choice, it seems Doug Pederson would rather roll with Chase Daniel anyway. The possibilities are nearly endless and the situation merits watching, particularly in 2QB leagues. From a fantasy impact perspective, the guys who take the biggest hit here are Charles Johnson and Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell is good receiver without elite athleticism, and he would have benefited immensely in his development from playing with an accurate quarterback like Bridgewater. Johnson is a player that does his damage by getting behind the defense, and one has to wonder how much 36 year old Shaun Hill has left in an arm that wasn’t exactly a rocket launcher to start with. I expect Stefon Diggs’s value will take a hit, but I’m not sure that’s a sound assessment of the situation. He’s more of a space player who can still be productive under a lesser quarterback as the first receiving option in this offense. But the obvious benefactor here is Adrian Peterson. Now 31 years old, the Vikings put Peterson to work with more than 350 touches last season-the fourth time in his career he’s eclipsed that mark. The last time he did it was in 2012, when he finished just nine yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing mark. And for those who think the entire league will just stack the box to account for Peterson and make whatever weak quarterback the Vikings trot out beat them, that’s probably a sound assessment. Yet lest we forget, it was Christian Ponder who spent the 2012 season under center for Minnesota.

What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been

Running back Christine Michael was a second round pick for Seattle in 2013 and spent that first preseason running around, over, and through third and fourth string defenses. But he never reached the point where Seattle felt comfortable moving him ahead of Robert Turbin on the depth chart and so his regular season work as both a first and second year player, even when Marshawn Lynch took a breather, was severely limited. Flash forward to 2015 and Michael’s development was very much in question around the Seahawks organization last preseason. So much so that Seattle grabbed aging veteran Fred Jackson and traded Michael to Dallas shortly before the start of the regular season. In limited work he failed to impress, and by November he was back on the street again. Reeling from injuries the Redskins opted to roll the dice, but Michael hardly even played and by Christmas he was a free agent again. That’s when the Seahawks, decimated at the running back position, came calling. Michael played the final few weeks, including the playoffs, and showed enough to earn a one year contract from Seattle this offseason. And while Seattle swears second year back Thomas Rawls is their starter and primary ball carrier, he’s still coming off a major ankle injury and has yet to have a carry in the preseason. And how about Michael? Well, he’s just doing preseason Christine Michael things again, averaging over 6.5 yards per carry on a couple dozen totes this preseason. If he can keep it up he’s going to force his way onto the field with regularity in 2016, and maybe even take Rawls’s job.

Quick Hits

  • With Kendall Wright lost to another hamstring injury, the door is open for Rishard Matthews in Tennessee. A solid receiver when given the opportunity, Matthews struggled to see consistent targets in a crowded Miami receiving corps, but when he did the production was always there. With Dorial Green-Beckham now in Philadelphia and Wright on the shelf, Matthews looks poised to start opposite rookie Tajae Sharpe to open the season. Underrated since coming into the league in 2012, Matthews probably needs to be owned in all formats until we see how the targets shake out over the first few weeks for the Titans. It’s not inconceivable that he could be the top receiver in this Tennessee offense by the end of September.

  • The Washington Redskins backfield still remains a mystery. Rookie speedster Keith Marshall hit injured reserve with a sprained elbow and is done for the season. Matt Jones is nursing a shoulder injury and may not be cleared for Week 1. And while Chris Thompson remains in the mix as the third down back, and at this point may be the most reliable of all the options in this backfield, it’s undrafted rookie free agent Robert Kelley who just keeps performing. He’s a plodder to be sure, but to date he’s run well when given the chance, been solid in blitz pickup, and he’s even caught the ball out of the backfield. He’s a sneaky stash candidate in what has quickly become a very thin backfield.

  • Bruce Ellington was sent to IR this week and his season is over. Once a darling of the dynasty community, he’s again been shelved with a major injury and might never fulfill the potential so many saw in him. Worse still, the 49ers are left with Torrey Smith, Quinton Patton, and Jeremy Kerley as their top three receivers. Pay attention to the final round of cuts, as even Chip Kelly’s ego isn’t big enough to believe he can get it done with this group at receiver. Then again, it appears they’ll be catching passes from Blaine Gabbert so who knows if it even matters at this point.

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