Fantasy Football: Players Who Increased Their Stock This Preseason
The preseason offers fantasy general managers a mixed bag of results. Starters are used sparingly, which makes it rather difficult to identify how certain players will be utilized in the regular season. Even so, exhibition contests provide insight that is otherwise not viewable in OTAs or practice. It is often preached to take preseason action with a grain of salt, but more often than not a few names tend to stand out from the crowd. In this article, I will recap five skill position players who have increased their fantasy stock the most leading up to the beginning of the 2018 NFL schedule.
Written off after an offseason change of scenery from San Francisco to Cleveland, Carlos Hyde has silenced his critics this preseason. The Ohio State product finished as the PPR RB8 in 2017, while posting a career-high in attempts (240), rushing touchdowns (8) and receptions (59). With Duke Johnson and Nick Chubb in the Browns backfield mix, all of those feats will be difficult to replicate let alone surpass in 2018 for Hyde. Regardless, Carlos is poised to lead the team in rushing volume and is being overlooked as a back-end RB2 in virtually all scoring formats. This preseason alone, the 27-year-old has 17 carries for 108 yards and a touchdown. Durability is the main concern regarding Hyde’s fantasy outlook, as he has missed 14 regular season games since entering the NFL in 2014. Otherwise, he has been a reliable if not stellar asset on an annual basis for fantasy purposes.
So far this offseason, Royce Freeman has arguably generated the most praise and buzz among all rookies. Yes, that even includes Saquon Barkley. Deservedly so, Freeman has made the most of his workload this preseason by scoring a rushing touchdown in three consecutive weeks. The 22-year-old tailback certainly owns the pedigree to succeed at the next level, as he registered at least 1,300 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns in three of his four collegiate seasons at Oregon.
The lone obstacle standing in Freeman’s path of featured back status in Denver is Devontae Booker, as he appears to be the preferred passing-down option alongside rookie Phillip Lindsay. In fact, Booker recorded more snaps (15) than that of Freeman (10) in the Broncos Week 3 preseason contest. At this point, it’s a matter of when not if Freeman dominates volume among his peers. His third-round ADP reflects that belief, as he is arguably now being drafted at his potential ceiling in value. Regardless, Royce is in an excellent position to contribute as a rookie and should be viewed as a rock-solid RB2 with upside in 2018.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Jake Kumerow has emerged as a legitimate weapon for the Green Bay Packers this offseason. For those who are unaware of his background, he is a former UDFA that has spent time on various practice squads including Cincinnati and New England dating back to 2015. Aaron Rodgers has consistently advocated Kumerow’s work ethic, and it has come to fruition with 3-76-1 (Week 1) and 3-114-1 (Week 2) receiving lines this preseason. It is worth noting that the wide receiver sustained a sprained SC joint in his shoulder, but he figures to have a sound chance at making Green Bay’s 53-man roster at this point given his recent success. Kumerow warrants a roster spot in all dynasty leagues, but is not currently on the redraft radar. Nonetheless, he is a name to monitor leading up to the regular season as a possible sleeper.
Fresh off a four-year, $32 million contract this offseason, it is clear that the Chicago Bears plan to make Trey Burton an integral component of Matt Nagy’s new offensive regime. Locked into Travis Kelce’s role as the “U” tight end/receiver in the Windy City, Burton should have no problem surpassing his current career-high marks in receptions (37) and receiving yards (327) this upcoming season.
If his usage in Chicago’s third preseason game was any indication, it is actually reasonable to expect Trey to surface as a top-five tight end in fantasy scoring. In the contest, the Florida product tallied four receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown on 5 targets as Mitchell Trubisky’s favorite weapon. The 26-year-old tight end is an appealing target in the middle rounds of drafts and is now a popular commodity to own in dynasty leagues thanks to his emergence late last season with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The term retirement is simply not in Adrian Peterson’s vocabulary, as his refusal to hang up the cleats has led to a new opportunity with the Washington Redskins. After rookie sensation Derrius Guice tore his ACL, Jay Gruden and company realized that Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine were less than ideal replacement level options to complement passing-down back Chris Thompson. Enter Peterson, an old but reliable veteran who should immediately become fantasy relevant if he makes Washington’s final roster. After his performance in Week 3 of the preseason that seems like a foregone conclusion, as Adrian earned 11 carries for 56 yards rushing. Even at 33 years old, Peterson figures to offer at least flex value in 2018.