As is customary in the NFL, Week 1 of the preseason was a bloodbath in terms of injuries to key fantasy players. This week’s version of the ADP-driven article will touch on a handful of players expected to assert themselves into a prime role thanks to injuries above them on the depth chart, and what that could mean for their draft stock.
Injured – Derrius Guice – Torn ACL, Out for season
Guice represented one of the rare, cost-effective running backs capable, and maybe even likely, to exceed their initial projections, as early fantasy drafters were able to capitalize on the uneasiness surrounding the rookie RB’s fall in the NFL Draft, securing what appeared to be a starting running back for a mid-to-late third round pick. That value was completely shattered after news surfaced Guice had torn his ACL following his first preseason carry on Thursday. Head coach Jay Gruden seemed confident the team wouldn’t add any veteran RBs in the immediate future, meaning Kelley or Perine will likely get the snaps on first and second down, with Chris Thompson mixing in as an excellent receiving option out of the backfield. Neither Kelley or Perine impressed in the starting role last season, but with no clear-cut leader in the clubhouse following the injury, I wouldn’t be surprised if both players get a crack at the job as the season progresses. While Kelley is listed as the starter for now, Perine profiles as the more explosive player (based almost entirely on his work at Oklahoma) and thus represents the best chance at capitalizing on the additional reps. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Perine creep into the top 100 by the time September rolls around, but without certainty that he’ll see the bulk of the carries I’m not sure that represents fantastic value. Fumbling issues, health problems and a lack of confidence from his head coach are all working against Perine, and those red flags are enough for me to wait till the later stages to draft him. In a roundabout way, Kelley might actually be the better play for fantasy drafters as he’s likely to come at a depreciated price compared to his teammate, but still fits the mold of a two-down back capable, and I use that word very loosely, or carrying the load.