For the second day in a row, we have quite a few injury updates that need to be considered when drafting. Not only will we look at the important player news from today, but we’ll handicap how it might impact the fantasy impact of those players.
• Puff pieces and injuries are the most common training camp reports, but when ESPN.com’s Tim McManus reported that DeSean Jackson has been an impossible matchup at Eagles camp, that gives us something to think about. Particularly, with Carson Wentz being an excellent downfield passer, Jackson gives him the best deep weapon he’s had, and it wouldn’t be surprise if Jackson put up a big season, especially since the offense is loaded with weapons and it’ll be tough to consistently double team the veteran WR. His late ADP is largely based on the fantasy community viewing D-Jax as a boom-or-bust weekly play, but in this offense, he may not need more than a handful of targets per week to be a strong fantasy producer.
• Another week, another Andrew Luck injury update- he won’t practice again this week as he recovers from calf and ankle injuries. The longer this injury lingers, the more risk he presents in fantasy drafts. In deep leagues, it might not be a terrible idea to handcuff Luck to Jacoby Brissett if you want to make sure you have a Week 1 (and maybe beyond) starter. I’ve moved Luck down my board yet again, since I’m unwilling to take the risk, and he’s now my QB9.
• Obviously, we don’t put much stock in preseason performances, but after multiple reports of Jimmy Garoppolo having a very uneven training camp, including a day when he threw five picks, his one-for-six passing for zero yards and an interception in Monday’s preseason game is at least something to be aware of. Sure, it’s possible that he’s trying some things, knowing it’s smart to take risks when they don’t count, but if that’s not his intention, this could be a concern. That said, he’s being drafted as a QB2, and as the QB in Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system, his upside may outweigh the risk at his ADP.
• Since everyone is anxiously waiting to see how the RB competition in Tampa Bay shakes out (OK, maybe not everyone!), Ronald Jones returned to practice today after hyper-extending his knee in Friday’s preseason game. Actually, it’s possible this weekend’s preseason game could provide a little clarity as to whether Jones or Peyton Barber will emerge as a leader in the team’s RB competition. I recently drafted Jones at roughly pick 130 in a draft, and at that price, he’s worth a flier.
• Since being acquired by the Texans, Duke Johnson had been sidelined with a hamstring injury, but he returned to practice today, marking his first practice with his new team. If it was any position other than RB, I’d be very concerned, but since he’s primarily a receiving back, it still could take him quite a while to acclimate to the offense. If he’s still on the board after roughly 100 picks, I’ll begin to consider drafting him in PPR leagues, but the wait would be at least 20 picks later in standard leagues.
• Browns’ backup RB Dontrell Hilliard returned to practice after missing a few days with a hamstring injury. His quick return to action seems to indicate that the injury was minor. Don’t dismiss him as being a solid pick late in fantasy drafts, especially knowing that the team was comfortable enough to trade away Duke Johnson, leaving Hilliard as the backup until Kareem Hunt returns in Week 10. After seeing Hilliard’s rushing and receiving ability in the preseason, he could see enough snaps spelling Nick Chubb that he could be a situation flex play. And if Chubb gets hurt, he’d be in for a big role in a potentially explosive offense.
• It’s fair to wonder how much Demaryius Thomas has left in the tank, especially as he tries tom return from a late-season Achilles injury, but he was wearing pads at today’s practice, and was activated from the PUP list. That said, aside from a very late pick in leagues with deep benches, Thomas is a difficult player to recommend taking in drafts.
• After an offseason mostly consumed by recovering from Lisfranc surgery in January, it’s not surprising that Marquise Brown hasn’t had a smooth transition into the Ravens offense. Coach John Harbaugh said that Brown is adjusting to the speed and mental aspects of the game while also stating he was confident he’d know how to use the rookie early in the season. If anything, this sounds as if he’ll be eased into the WR rotation as the season begins. As the season progresses, he’ll likely see an increase in snaps and usage, so if drafting him in fantasy, it may not be wise to have plans to start him early on. But even when he returns, the fact he’s playing in what expects to be a run-heavy offense potentially limits his touches and upside.
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• Another exciting rookie who’s had his preseason impacted by injury is Parris Campbell, who continues to miss time with a hamstring injury. He’s expected to miss the rest of this week, and in the meantime, Deon Cain continues to have an impressive camp. Of course, Cain is more of an outside WR while Campbell is a classic slot WR, but it’s not like the Colts would have any hesitation about moving T.Y. Hilton into the slot if Campbell isn’t fully comfortable in the offense. At this point, Campbell should be taken as a late-round dart throw.
• Moving over the Broncos, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post is reporting that Noah Fant’s foot injury isn’t considered serious, and although he didn’t return to Monday’s game, he doesn’t appear in danger of missing regular-season time. Based on this report, draft him as you normally would.
• When the preseason hype train gets rolling, it’s tough to derail, but the Patriots’ official site is reporting that Jakobi Meyers is “seemingly a lock” to make the 53-man roster. For some, that may sound like great news, but notice that the report speaks nothing about him being a candidate to play heavy snaps. Should he make the team, it still could take a series of events for him to see enough work to be a consistent fantasy factor.
• Despite being selected in the fourth round of his year’s draft, Hakeem Butler wasn’t making much of a splash in Cardinals’ camp, and after he suffered an avulsion fracture to his hand, it’s possible the rookie is placed on injured reserve. Since he didn’t seem to be making much of a push to be a big part of the offense, it’s possible that the team makes this a red shirt year for him.
• During the Monday night game, Drew Lock left with a thumb injury, but fortunately, he escaped with a sprain that’s expected to keep him sidelined for the start of the regular season. Even though Joe Flacco will start the season as the Denver QB, Lock could easily take over if the team gets off to a bad start. Not that anyone is looking to draft Lock, but in two-QB leagues where the waiver wire is completely bare at QB, Lock may be worth a depth stash in leagues with deep rosters.