No person has a extra stacked lineup of fantasy football analysts and NFL group reporters than ESPN. It is the uncommon “backfield by committee” that’s truly a great factor for fantasy soccer managers.
Each Tuesday this preseason, Mike Triplett will ask our NFL Nation reporters a sequence of questions concerning the week’s largest tales to assist together with your draft prep. This week’s roundup focuses closely on breakout candidates comparable to Brandon Aiyuk, George Pickens, Romeo Doubs and Dameon Pierce. However we additionally gauge the arrogance degree in stars coming back from accidents, like Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley.
Will Kyle Pitts be well worth the 33rd general decide (the place he went in ESPN’s latest mock draft)? Or ought to we be frightened about his ground with the dearth of expertise round him?
Pitts ought to completely be in consideration for that vary. Marcus Mariota goes to be the beginning quarterback, not less than within the brief time period. However whether or not it is Mariota or Desmond Ridder, the likelihood for quarterback runs is there, which in principle may assist Pitts if it sucks in a defender whereas he’s on a brief or intermediate route. And I would not fear an excessive amount of concerning the expertise degree on the different ability positions. Rookie receiver Drake London will command consideration throughout video games, as will operating again Cordarrelle Patterson, who can line up anyplace within the formation. Additionally, remember that coach/playcaller Arthur Smith can use Pitts in a mess of locations. There’s going to be sufficient questions and intrigue with different gamers to keep away from a triple-team state of affairs. And if it ever did get to that, it most likely means Pitts is within the midst of a particular season. — Michael Rothstein
How assured ought to fantasy managers be that Christian McCaffrey will return to kind and preserve a heavy workload this season? Sufficient to make him the primary or second general decide in drafts?
This could possibly be an enormous 12 months if McCaffrey delivers on the coaching recommendation he bought from Marshall Faulk — whose sixth and seventh seasons have been a few of his best. Keep in mind, McCaffrey’s accidents the previous two seasons have all been of the soft-tissue selection, so nothing with a long-term influence. The Panthers additionally plan to be smarter on how they relaxation McCaffrey throughout the week and use him in video games. If he can play 14-17 video games, he ought to once more be one of the productive backs within the league. Simply in case, although, put D’Onta Foreman in your roster for insurance coverage. — David Newton
You wrote final week that Courtland Sutton is emerging as a go-to target for Russell Wilson in stress conditions. Ought to Sutton undoubtedly be a better fantasy precedence than Jerry Jeudy? (They have been drafted as WR18 and WR19 within the newest mock)
With Tim Patrick’s season-ending knee damage, Sutton’s and Jeudy’s roles will solely be extra outstanding, particularly within the pink zone. Wilson has proven in coaching camp he’s going to maneuver the ball round to search out the matchups he likes. However he’s additionally proven in practices and the joint exercises with the Dallas Cowboys that when he actually wants a completion or has been moved off his spot by the go rush, he’s going to search for Sutton. There may be all the time the query of whether or not these tendencies will maintain up in video games. Jeudy is simply too good a route-runner — and Wilson has spent loads of time working with him — to not be an element (Jeudy typically attends the quarterback conferences). Consider it as early Peyton Manning with the Broncos in 2012 when Demaryius Thomas was clearly Manning’s go-to guy, however Eric Decker led the group in touchdowns. Or in 2014 when Thomas was once more the go-to choice and Julius Thomas led the group in touchdowns. If each are wholesome throughout the season, they’re each going to doubtless have their finest years. — Jeff Legwold
Green Bay Packers
Romeo Doubs has been producing as a lot fantasy buzz as any rookie within the NFL this summer time. How large of a job do you assume he may play, and the place does he slot in alongside Allen Lazard and the now-healthy Christian Watson, amongst others?
Doubs already appears to have developed some chemistry with Aaron Rodgers, who hasn’t hesitated to throw his manner in observe. At this level, it is laborious to think about him being any decrease than No. four on the depth chart. And relying on the packages, he could possibly be WR2 or WR3. Lazard has been in the WR1 spot more often than not, whereas Sammy Watkins has gotten a stable quantity of reps with the starters as effectively. Randall Cobb strains up virtually completely the slot, as all the time, in three-receiver units. Doubs is effectively forward of Watson at this level, however there’s loads of time for Watson to make up floor. Gone are the times of the Packers having a star No. 1, however they could have extra choices than ever. — Rob Demovsky
You wrote that rookie Dameon Pierce appeared just like the Texans’ finest operating again, even earlier than his spectacular preseason debut. How large do you assume his function could possibly be this season — and the way quickly may he emerge as RB1?
By the primary month of the season, Pierce may take over the beginning job. Former Colt Marlon Mack has essentially the most manufacturing of the group, which additionally options Rex Burkhead, however Pierce has essentially the most explosiveness, and it is solely a matter of time till Texans offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton makes Pierce the lead again. — DJ Bien-Aime
You wrote final week about why the Colts are (gasp) prioritizing their Super Bowl hopes over fantasy football by planning to cut back Jonathan Taylor’s workload. Do you continue to assume he needs to be the No. 1 general decide in most fantasy drafts? And may Nyheim Hines be on extra fantasy radars?
There may be nonetheless good motive to choose Taylor No. 1 general due to his propensity for large performs. Even with fewer touches — and I do count on his touches to be decrease — Taylor has the potential to profit from these alternatives. He recorded explosive performs (10-plus yards) on 15.1% of his runs final season. Amongst 1,000-yard rushers, solely Nick Chubb had a better charge (18%). And, remember, Taylor was 12th amongst operating backs with 9 yards per catch, so he can do injury within the passing recreation, too. — Stephen Holder
New York Giants
Saquon Barkley has drawn some impressive reviews early in camp, however some fantasy managers will likely be understandably hesitant to purchase in. How assured ought to they be that he can return to kind?
Barkley has appeared the most effective he has in years. Each quarterback Daniel Jones and coach Brian Daboll used the phrase “explosive” to explain what they’ve seen. And it matches what’s on the market on the sphere each day. As well as, the energy of the Giants’ offensive line seems to be its run-blocking, Barkley needs to be extra concerned within the passing recreation this season, and there is not a lot depth behind him. So his workload will likely be enormous … so long as he’s wholesome. That is the query: Are you able to belief him to remain wholesome? — Jordan Raanan
New York Jets
Breece Hall and Elijah Moore have each drawn a whole lot of buzz early in camp. How large of a job do you count on every to play this season? And does Zach Wilson’s damage have an effect on both participant’s worth?
Corridor and Moore have the flexibility to be RB1 and WR1, respectively, by the tip of the season. Moore confirmed indicators of turning into that final season from Weeks eight to 12. In that span, he ranked eighth within the NFL in receptions (28), sixth in receiving yards (382) and tied for fourth in TD catches (4). Then he bought harm and missed the rest of the season. Most of that got here with different QBs, not Wilson. That is the query: Will Wilson, who had issues placing the ball in the long run zone, harm Moore’s fantasy worth? It is a chance. Corridor is splitting carries with Michael Carter, and that figures to proceed. However Corridor’s outdoors pace intrigues the coaches and will end in a much bigger function because the season progresses. — Wealthy Cimini
George Pickens continued his spectacular summer time with the catch of the weekend. How fantasy-relevant may he be in his rookie season, both early on or as a possible stash-for-later choice?
Regardless of who wins the beginning quarterback job, it is protected to imagine Pickens will likely be a big issue within the offense. It is a crowded receiving room with Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, however Pickens has carved out a job along with his spectacular footwork and contested-catch abilities. He is been a favourite goal of each Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph in observe, making him a draft-and-stash candidate on the very least. However his fantasy ceiling is excessive with the Steelers prone to push the ball down the sphere extra typically than in recent times. He may have a Claypool-like rookie season (9 TD catches) … or higher. — Brooke Pryor
San Francisco 49ers
Brandon Aiyuk has most likely generated as much buzz as any player in NFL camps this summer time — and quarterback Trey Lance generated as a lot buzz as any participant this previous weekend. How excessive ought to expectations be for each?
The Aiyuk buzz has been constructing, for good motive. He has been the group’s most constant offensive performer in camp and the rapport he constructed with Lance by means of an offseason spent collectively in southern California is not any small factor. It is price noting that Aiyuk had an identical begin to camp final 12 months after which tapered off when he had a hamstring damage late within the preseason. It took some time to get again on observe. However in need of one other damage, it isn’t outrageous to assume he could lead on the group in receptions and receiving yards. Alas, it is nonetheless price remaining not less than a little bit cautious as a result of it is a group that also pays WR Deebo Samuel and TE George Kittle handsomely.
As for Lance, the Niners have made it clear they don’t seem to be going to ask him to hold the freight for this group. They’ve a robust protection and the aforementioned expertise to go along with a great operating recreation. Lance’s camp has include the ups and downs that can most likely be evident this season, particularly early on. The upside is difficult to disclaim, particularly as a result of he brings a operating ingredient that may offset no matter accuracy points he has. Total, expectations for Lance needs to be saved in test. However he’s not a foul stash for later within the season, as a result of the group expects he will get higher with each begin he makes. — Nick Wagoner
You wrote that rookie Ken Walker III can have an enormous function in Seattle’s backfield. How a lot do you count on him for use when Rashaad Penny is wholesome? And will he grow to be an every-down again if Penny misses time?
Walker goes to be a much bigger a part of Seattle’s backfield than individuals might understand. I may see the Seahawks giving him about as a lot of the load as Penny, even when each are wholesome. Keep in mind, Penny has carried the ball 20-plus occasions in a recreation solely twice in his profession. That is, partially, as a result of he’s missed so many video games on account of damage, but additionally as a result of he’s simply not constructed to deal with a Derrick Henry/Marshawn Lynch-like workload. The Seahawks are going to run the ball so much they usually’re not simply going to depend on Penny to do it.
Pete Carroll had a telling touch upon Walker final week when he raved about how Walker has “turned the web page” from his well-documented struggles with go safety in faculty. Walker has additionally proven significantly better receiving abilities out of the backfield than you would possibly assume for somebody who had simply 19 catches in three faculty seasons.
“He may play all three downs and we might really feel snug with it,” Carroll mentioned. — Brady Henderson
The brakes bought slammed a bit on rookie receiver Treylon Burks’ fantasy hype after his quiet preseason debut. Ought to veteran Robert Woods be the upper precedence in drafts?
Woods needs to be a excessive precedence as a result of he’ll get loads of targets. Earlier than his damage final season, Woods averaged 132 targets per season. The Titans aren’t prone to go the ball practically as a lot because the Rams did, however Woods’ 1.3% drop charge during the last 5 years (tied for sixth lowest amongst WRs with not less than 200 targets) and exact route-running will make him considered one of Ryan Tannehill‘s favourite pass-catchers. Woods has taken half in full-team observe drills and is on observe to play within the season-opener towards the Giants. Burks, in the meantime, has additionally began to earn Tannehill’s belief due to his capacity to win on contested catches. The Titans will give Burks loads of alternatives to get yards after the catch on fast passes off of play-action, particularly when opposing defenses stack the field. — Turron Davenport
How safe is Antonio Gibson’s function after he coughed up a fumble and gained simply 2 yards on 4 carries within the preseason opener? And may rookie backup Brian Robinson be larger on fantasy radars?
The distinction for Gibson this season is that Washington has choices if he does proceed to fumble. They will use extra four-receiver units with Curtis Samuel wholesome and the addition of rookie Jahan Dotson. In that state of affairs, J.D. McKissic may be the operating again. Additionally they drafted Robinson, who exhibits some promise.
They do like Gibson so much, and he can present large performs. However they need him to be extra constant in the way in which he runs — extra “one-cut and go.” The coaches say Gibson will get himself in hassle when he turns into indecisive about when or the place to chop — and that results in the ball swinging away from his physique, which ends up in fumbles. So the operating model is extra the difficulty. Backside line: It is a large 12 months for Ron Rivera and his program right here, they usually do have decisions. They cannot wait for somebody to work out points. So Robinson could possibly be a stable decide late in fantasy drafts simply because it is attainable he’ll extra work within the pink zone. He runs with extra energy and he protects the ball. — John Keim