With fellow quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the mend from a sore throwing shoulder, Blaine Gabbert is quickly emerging as the clear favorite to win the 49ers starting job, according Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. Coach Chip Kelly has yet to name a starting QB for the team’s first preseason game on Saturday, but it certainly looks like Gabbert will get the call with Kaepernick limited at Friday’s practice. Gabbert appeared in eight games last season, throwing for just over 2,000 yards (7.2 YPA) and a 10:7 touchdown-to=interception ratio. Even if Gabbert is named the team’s starter, he will likely continue to be drafted outside of the top 20 quarterbacks in all formats. Gabbert could provide value in deeper leagues with adequate weapons at his disposal in newcomer / vertical-threat Torrey Smith, the emerging Bruce Ellington and big-bodied target, Vance McDonald.
- Speaking of the Niners, third-year wideout Ellington is expected to have a prominent role in this offense and could be on the precipice of a breakout. Ellington lined up in the slot with the first-team offense in Friday’s joint practice with the Texans. He caught a 15-yard touchdown pass and looked comfortable in what is likely a new role for him. Ellington is currently a late-round flier MyFantasyLeague (MFL) drafts with an average draft position of 187 in over 1,500 completed drafts. His ADP has risen a full round, up to 174 in over 600 MFL drafts that have taken place since August 1. His stock should continue to rise with a good preseason.
- Tyrod Taylor hopes to build on his successful first season as the Bills’ starting quarterback, and the team has rewarded him with a six-year contract extension per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Taylor impressed in his 14 games last season, throwing for 3,035 yards and 20 passing touchdowns with only six interceptions. Taylor added four rushing scores and his 568 rushing yards ranked second to only Cam Newton (636 RuYds) among all signal-callers last season. Taylor is an underrated draft day selection, typically drafted after the first 15 quarterbacks are off the board. He is an ideal option in SuperFlex (2 QB) leagues and could easily earn QB1 status in 12-team leagues.
- Fourth-year running back Terrance West has been steadily rising up the Ravens’ depth chart over the last couple of weeks. West ran the ball nine times for 25 yards, hitting paydirt twice in Thursday night’s preseason opener, at the very least, cementing himself a roster spot. The Ravens’ held out veteran back Justin Forsett to give West, Javorius “Buck” Allen and rookie Kenneth Dixon a look. West was agile on Thursday, showing off some fancy footwork and quickness. West’s August ADP is rising and will receive an even greater bump after the two touchdown performance. Nevertheless, it appears that the Ravens backfield is looking at a platoon situation with four running backs who can potentially be effective. It could well be a situation to avoid.
- Jets’ wideout Quincy Enunwa had a nice showing in Thursday’s preseason opener against the Jaguars as he hopes to win the job as the team’s third receiver behind Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Enunwa appears to have made noticeable improvements from his rookie season and has looked polished in camp. He played in 12 games last season, catching 22 of 46 targets for 315 yards. The sophomore out of Nebraska has yet to catch a career touchdown in the NFL.
- Former second-round pick Cody Latimer took a step closer towards securing the third wide receiver job for the Broncos after an 82-yard performance, catching seven-of-eight targets in Thursday night’s preseason opener. Latimer was a big disappointment last season after watching and “learning” from the sidelines in 2014. Latimer is battling Bennie Fowler and Jordan Norwood for the job and could use another solid outing next week to secure the gig. Fantasy drafters shouldn’t get too giddy for Latimer even if he wins the job as the team will likely deploy three-receiver sets much less often than in previous seasons.
- Sticking with the Broncos, sixth-year tight end Virgil Green hopes that 2016 provides him the opportunity to emerge as a reliable option in a Mark Sanchez-led offense. Green caught all three of his targets for 26 total yards in the Broncos’ preseason win on Thursday. He is listed as a co-starter with rookie Jeff Heuerman and is better known for his efficient blocking more so than his offensive prowess. Green is currently only being drafted in deep leagues, if at all, with a MFL average draft position of 275.
- Jeff Janis (hand) was listed as inactive for the Packers’ preseason opener against the Browns on Friday. Janis is famous for his miraculous hail mary touchdown grab with time expiring in last season’s NFC Championship Game against the Cardinals. It would appear that Janis deserves a fair shake at a relevant role in this offense, but at times seems like persona non grata with Davante Adams and Jared Abbredaris receiving praise from Aaron Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy, respectively. Janis’s fantasy stock has taken a slight tumble over the last couple of weeks. It’s a situation worth monitoring given the potential fantasy value a number-three wideout from the Packers can provide.
- Finally, in late Friday news, Browns’ running back Isaiah Crowell suffered a shoulder injury while Giants’ rookie receiver Sterling Shepard left his evening tilt in the first half due to a sore groin. Crowell’s x-rays came back negative and after the game Crowell quipped “I’m good. I’m perfect”. Crowell should be fine for next Thursday’s game against the Falcons. No official updates on Shepard yet though it appears to be minor, per Dan Duggan of NJ Advance Media, who spoke to Shepard after the game.