With 11 teams having played preseason games last night, there won’t be much in the way of news from team practices today, but as always, there’s plenty of injury updates, and what would the preseason be without some Antonio Brown news-
• If you thought things got weird with Antonio Brown last year in Pittsburgh, things seem to be getting complicated in Oakland right now. At first, he was expected to return to practice soon, but Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that the absence isn’t related to his feet- instead Brown has filed a grievance with the league because he hasn’t been allowed to wear his preferred helmet. Apparently, the league outlawed certain helmets because they were deemed unsafe, but veterans were to be provided a one-year grace period to make the change. A further update to this story by Schefter mentioned that if Brown can’t wear the helmet, he won’t play anymore. All that said, if he returns with a couple weeks of practice with Derek Carr, I’d feel better about the duo being able to build enough chemistry to keep him on my draft board as a low-end WR1. That said, I believe the drop off from Ben Roethlisberger to Carr is drastic and limits Brown’s ceiling from the elite performer we’ve seen in the past. Who knows how this story will unfold, but those drafting this weekend may consider taking a similarly-ranked WR instead of Brown.
• Another week, another report that Andrew Luck will continue to miss time with the calf injury that he’s been dealing with since May. It wasn’t that long ago when we kept hearing that he’d be back from a certain shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a year of action. Sure, he may be back, as reported, when Week 1 rolls around, but now that he’s gone a few months without significant improvement, it may be wise to lower him within the tier of QBs you’d draft him within.
• Another veteran dealing with an injury is Amari Cooper, who has now missed five-straight practices with a heel injury. The good news, however, is that he was able to do rehab work on the side, and the Cowboys don’t expect the injury to linger into the season. Since he’s doing some work, I’m keeping him stable on my draft list as a strong WR2.
• Over in Green Bay, Jamaal Williams has now missed nearly two weeks with a hamstring issue, and the player who stands to benefit the most is Dexter Williams, who the Packers selected in the sixth round of this year’s draft. If the rookie can impress in camp, he could be a great backup option to Aaron Jones, as Dexter has 86th-percentile explosiveness to go with 78th-percentile agility. If Dexter Williams begins to emerge as the backup, he’ll be a great pick late in fantasy drafts.
• It now makes sense why Antonio Callaway was spending time with the second-string offense during training camp- news broke today that he’s been suspended for four games due to him violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. The beneficiary, at least in the short term is Rashard Higgins, who is just about a lock to be on the field whenever the Browns go to their three WR set. Higgins will likely be the fourth option in the passing game, so his potential target share may not be exciting, but he could be worth a roster spot in deep fantasy leagues.
• It’s a slow day since most teams are either getting a day off after a game while others are preparing for a game, so we can talk about a backup QB. Nate Sudfeld broke his wrist in Thursday’s game and he’ll be sidelined about six weeks, which means he’d be ready to go early in the season. That said, should Carson Wentz suffer a preseason injury that forces him to miss a game early in the season, the Philly offense could be in trouble if they need to turn to a third-stringer.
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