After months of anticipation, the Josh Ferguson … err … Hall of Fame game was canceled due to field concerns, and our first taste of gridiron action has been delayed even further. Don't fret, though, there were still a few fantasy football nuggets to fuel our prolonged angst …
- Thomas Rawls passed a physical and was activated from the PUP list Sunday. The powerhouse back will return to practice Monday and begin cementing himself as the No. 1 running option in the Seattle offense. While the Seahawks bolstered their depth chart around Rawls, the second-year running back showcased his upside in two separate spurts last season, and he projects as one of a few bell-cow backs remaining in the league. There are risks, but there's also league-winning upside. Rawls is worth targeting in the early-middle rounds of drafts.
- Another playmaker activated from the Pup list, Julian Edelman returned to practice earlier than expected Sunday. The elite possession receiver now has plenty of time to return to full speed and be ready for Week 1. Don't overreact to four games without Tom Brady, as Edelman should serve as an underneath option for Jimmy Garoppolo and pile up targets per usual. Just note, Edelman has never played a full season and has a lengthy injury history, including multiple concussions. His per-game numbers will be there, but you might not be able to lean on him when it matters most.
- Ryan Mathews took first-team repetitions as a full participant in practice Sunday. Health permitting, he's the lead dog in the backfield and has flashed high-end upside throughout his six-year career, including last season. Still, his supporting cast in the Philadelphia offense won't offer much help, and Darren Sproles will gobble up most of the work on passing downs. The cheap asking price keeps Mathews of interest, but he's better viewed as a fallback option and not an RB2 target, especially in PPR settings.
- After leaving practice Sunday, Lamar Miller avoided any injury scare and returned to practice after tweaking his ankle. The first-year Texan is climbing draft boards and should be viewed well within RB1 territory. With back-to-back seasons with 16 starts and just 410 total rushing attempts, there is a lot to like about Miller heading into 2016. He is another one of the few running backs set for an every-down role and has limited usage entering his age-25 season. The Houston game script should lean on the defense and running game, which positions Miller for a career-best showing. A top-five finish among running backs is well within reach.
- Encouraging "coach speak" surrounded Alex Smith Sunday, as the fourth-year Chief is having his "best training camp" since joining the club. He's very much outside of starter territory in the majority of seasonal leagues and best left to SuperFlex and two-QB formats. However, those who employ the streamer approach to the position – and you should be willing to float the idea in casual settings – should keep Smith on their radar. He added sneaky value on the ground last season with 498 rushing yards and two rushing scores, and he's generally produced against inferior opponents when expected. He's a middling to low-end QB2 entering 2016.
- Dion Lewis hasn't sustained any setbacks despite remaining on the PUP list. Instead, the goal is keeping Lewis healthy and on the field for all 16 games, so New England continues to be cautious with him. Lewis was a fantasy breakout to start 2015, but he's currently being valued as if his impressive five-game stretch (151 rushing yards with two touchdowns and 28 receptions, 298 receiving yards and two scores) has much longer legs. It rarely pays off to draft a player at his ceiling in the early middle rounds, especially an undersized and injury-prone scat back with just 85 carries and 39 receptions on his resume.
- Those counting on Tyler Boyd to emerge as the No. 2 receiver opposite A.J. Green should temper expectations early on. Boyd has been lining up in the slot with Brandon LaFell and Green working the sideline routes in three-receiver sets thus far. Boyd should leapfrog LaFell at some point this season, as the rookie is a polished route runner who could move the needle in deep PPR formats down the fantasy stretch run. Additionally, dynasty owners should view Boyd as more of a possession receiver than touchdown maven or big-play threat.
- Jamison Crowder is dealing with a minor hamstring injury and is expected to miss a few days of practice and likely sit out the preseason game against the Falcons on Thursday. Crowder will battle for targets in a crowded groups of pass catchers this year, and after he grabbed just two touchdowns last year, the sophomore is off the radar in the majority of seasonal leagues. Crowder did flash enough during his rookie season to tip the scales in deep PPR settings, though, so monitoring his status over the coming weeks is encouraged.
- Marqise Lee made his camp debut Sunday, as the third-year receiver looks to fulfill some of the promise he flashed as a collegiate standout with USC. He'll battle Rashad Greene to be the third wideout on the depth chart, which leaves little fantasy upside given the running game and tight end Julius Thomas will also garner attention in the offense. Still, Lee is likely in a make-or-break season with the Jags, and should he secure the No. 3 job, he's just an injury away from being a major piece of a solid offense. Plus, talent isn't a concern. You're still leaving Lee to the waiver wire in most setups.