– Le’Veon Bell had his suspension reduced from four to three games. This should bump him up from his current ADP of 15.6 and will make his owners very happy. Keep in mind though that most leagues run their regular season for 13 weeks and missing three games is pretty significant. His owners should feel good if they come out of Week 3 with a 2-1 or 3-0 record and being 1-2 isn’t the end of the world with Bell set to return Week 4 against Kansas City.
– Trevor Siemian, not Mark Sanchez or Paxton Lynch, looks as if he’s in line to be the Week 1 starter for the defending Super Bowl champions. Siemian will start Saturday night and has received first team snaps all week in practice. Having being with the team last season Siemian more familiar with the offense than the other two quarterbacks and Denver is still in “win now” mode considering how good their defense is. If Siemian shows he can effectively run the first team offense Saturday he should leapfrog Sanchez when the next depth chart is released. Owners is two-quarterback leagues and super-flex leagues should pay close attention Saturday and grab Siemain now if possible.
A look at the news from camps around the league:
– Kamar Aiken and Mike Wallace are listed as the starting wide receivers for the Ravens. Aiken has been one of my favorite targets, in some draft still on the board after the tenth round. He caught 50 passes for 611 yards and three touchdowns over the final eight games of last season showing the type of upside he has. With both Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman banged up it’s likely Aiken and Wallace open the season as the top-2 receivers. Javorius Allen was listed as the No. 2 running back behind Justin Forsett ahead of Terrance Williams and rookie Kenneth Dixon. Sans an injury it’s unlikely Allen unseats Forsett to start the season but Forsett has never been seen as an every down back and this should develop into some type of timeshare.
– As expected, Julian Edelman returned to practice Wednesday after suffering what appeared to be an injury to his surgically repaired foot. It’s important to note that while Edelman can be a PPR monster the injury bug looms over his head and he’s never had more than seven touchdowns in a season. While it appears he avoided any type of injury it was a reminder of his past and should knock down his value a little if you haven’t had your draft yet.
– It appears the Bills will have to wait until next season to see what second round pick Reggie Ragland can do. It was confirmed this morning he does have a torn ACL and will miss the entire season including the Super Bowl. First rounder Shaq Lawson is expected to miss the first month or so of the season so the Bills will have to rely on their defensive depth immediately. Those in IDP leagues can safely cut Ragland.
– Jimmy Graham came off the PUP list and participated in practice Wednesday. His stock has plummeted so much he now should enter the “sleeper/undervalued” conversation in fantasy circles. He’s available after the 10th round in most draft and isn’t going for anything more than a few bucks in auction leagues. While it will be hard to predict consistency from the 29-year-old it’s worth noting he got at least eight targets in six of the 11 games he played in last season.
– Don’t be alarmed if you don’t see many significant players on the Steelers’ offensive side play in Friday night’s opener. Just about every one of the Steelers significant fantasy contributors – Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown – are all expected to sit this one out. Chalk this up as the team being cautious and trying to evaluate some of the players on the bubble.
– Matt Forte is expected to miss the first preseason game due to his hamstring injury. Given his mileage (over 2,000 carries) it obviously isn’t a good sign that he’s already banged up this early in the season. With Chris Ivory now in Jacksonville it would be Bilal Powell who stands to gain the most from any time missed in the regular season by Forte. The next two running backs on the depth chart – Khiry Robinson and Bernard Pierce – are both recovering from injuries as well.
– After Thomas Rawls the Seattle backfield remains something of a mystery. In Rawls’ absence Christine Michael has been receiving first team reps and looks good according to his coaches. C.J. Prosise was expected to work as the third-down pass-catcher but a hamstring injury has kept him out since the first day of training camp. Therefore it could be Alex Collins stepping into the mix as the third-down back giving his receiving ability displayed at Arkansas last season. It appears if Prosise can get over the hamstring injury he would have the most upside of the trio after Rawls but the clock is ticking.
– Not surprisingly, Corey Coleman has been a standout at wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns. Both the Browns and Ravens seem to be forgotten in fantasy drafts and the fact is someone is going to be carrying and catching the ball for both teams. While the Josh Gordon news seems to have dominated the media as of late it’s important to note that Coleman and Robert Griffin worked together extensively in the offseason and both played at Baylor. There is little competition pushing Coleman for the No.1 wide receiver spot (at least the first four weeks) and there’s a case to be made that both him and Gordon could be fantasy relevant come Week 5.
– The Eagles had a mixed day at practice as Ryan Mathews returned from an ankle injury and completed some drills during practice. However, Jordan Matthews took a hard shot to his knee and was down for several minutes. Right now it’s being listed as a bad bruise that would be the best case scenario for the big wide receiver. The Eagles are extremely thin at wide receiver (Nelson Agholor is the #2, Rueben Randle #3) so any injury holding Matthews out would be a big blow to the Eagles offense.
– Sterling Shepard continues to receive high praise from everyone including the coaching staff, players, media, water boys and concession workers. It appears he’s almost a lock to open the season opposite Odell Beckham and is a great mid-round pick. There aren’t a lot of other dependable receiving options for the Giants and Shepard certainly will see softer coverage as long as Beckham is on the field. Beckham (leg) was seen sprinting at practice yesterday and appears to be ready to return in the near future.
– Matt Jones returned to practice Friday after missing Thursday to get some additional rest. Jones is expected to be the feature back in the Washington offense and is one of my favorite mid-round picks especially if you pick wide receivers early. He has little in the way of competition (Chris Thompson should be utilized as a change of pace back) and Alfred Morris defected to the Cowboys. Don’t sleep on him come draft day.
– On an unrelated fantasy but topical football note, Montee Ball was sentenced to serve 60 days in a correctional facility stemming from domestic violence incidents. Another sad NFL story; don’t expect to see or hear of Ball in the NFL ever again.
– Matt Barkley was dealt to the Cardinals for a conditional seventh round pick suggesting that Tim Tebow won’t be on ESPN doing college football analysis this fall. It appears Tebow will be kept on the roster and used a few plays per game in Chip Kelly’s offense. The takeaway here is that Sam Bradford/DeMarco Murray may lose out on a few scoring chances this season. It’ll also be interesting to see how Kelly plays extra points (possibly affecting Cody Parkey’s value) with the new rule in effect. It’s possible Chip could go for two more than the average coach and utilize Tebow in that role. It’s worth noting that Tebow went 11-for-17 for 189 yards, two touchdowns and one interception Thursday, possibly leading to Friday’s trade.
– Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch became reunited (never felt so good) in Seattle. Jackson signed a one-year deal indicating the team might not have a ton of confidence in Christine Michael (who is reportedly being shopped by Seattle). Jackson is a known as a great leader and locker room guy who may have been signed not only for what he can do on the field but off the field. In related news, Pete Carroll refused to give a timetable for Robert Turbin’s (ankle) return indicating that he may be out for multiple weeks.
– It seems like too much has been made of the drought Alex Smith had throwing a TD pass to a wide receiver and it’s bound to carry into the season. That being said, don’t forget about Jeremy Maclin this season. He’s being downgraded too much with his move from Philadelphia to Kansas City and the person to blame here could be Dwayne Bowe and not Smith. At a minimum Maclin should be seen as a flex option in most leagues with the likely ability to have nice WR No.2 stats.
Here’s a look at the notes from Friday’s camps and games:
– Everyone’s trendy tight end sleeper pick, Zach Ertz, had surgery to repair a core muscle and will miss the entire preseason. The Eagles are hopeful that he’ll be ready for Week 1 but that isn’t a given at this point. The team has also stated this is not a sports hernia which is good news. Brent Celek would benefit the most should Ertz miss any time and Trey Burton would be thrust into more action as Chip Kelly loves to use two-tight end sets.