Preseason Stock Watch Part 1
In case you’ve been living under a rock, THE NFL IS BACK! We’ve seen two weeks of preseason games and while the games themselves don’t count, they can provide valuable information to fantasy owners as we try to evaluate talent and draft our teams. Here are some players whose stock is rising or falling as a result of the first two weeks of action.
It seems that “C-Mike” perennially wins the offseason. He is always hyped as a powerful athlete who looks good in camp. However, for one reason or another, he hasn’t been able to put it all together on the field, until now.
In the absence of injured starter Thomas Rawls, Michael is making an impact running with the first team offense. Michael has racked up 99 yards on 17 carries. With Rawls’ continued absence, and only rookies C.J. Prosise and Alex Collins to challenge Michael for work, it’s no wonder he has gone from being undrafted in most leagues to an 11th Round pick. Though his cost has risen, I still advise you invest in this stock because once he posts a stat line like this in the regular season I promise he won’t be so cheap.
Tennessee Titans Offense
Before the preseason, the Titans were a team with a crowded backfield and a muddled WR corps. However, through two preseason games, we have seen the coming out party of Mike Mularkey’s “exotic smashmouth” offense. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry have combined for 26 carries, 218 yards, and 2 TDs, with a yards per carry of 8.4. This has boosted owners’ confidence that both Murray and Henry will have fantasy value independent of the other.
Not to be outdone, rookie WR Tajae Sharpe’s value has risen as well. With a trade sending Dorial Green-Beckham to Philadelphia and the lingering hamstring injury to Kendall Wright, the rookie has 8 catches for 103 yards. Adding to confidence that Sharpe is the real deal is that these numbers were not of the 4th quarter or 4th string variety. Several of his targets came from Marcus Mariota with the first team offense. Most notably against Carolina on 3rd down, when Sharpe made a tough catch in traffic to move the sticks. Sharpe has gone from an unknown to someone who should be on your radar.
The TE position has become progressively thinner as the offseason has gone on. Injuries to Tyler Eifert, Ladarius Green, and Eric Ebron have left some owners looking for alternative values at the position. It looks like the answer may lie in Denver Broncos TE, Virgil Green. Green has served as a security blanket for the Broncos’ struggling QBs. With both Mark Sanchez and Trevor Semien in at QB, Green has pulled down 7 catches for 83 yards. While these numbers aren’t superstar worthy by any means, they do represent a quality option at the position that you can grab late in your drafts.
I’m sure you’ve heard by now but “Fat Eddie” is not so fat anymore as he spent the offseason reportedly working with Tony Horton of P90X. However, many fantasy players are still feeling burned from Lacy’s disappointing 2015 and have been hesitant to believe the hype until they see it.
In his first two games, Lacy has looked large and in charge. Though perhaps slightly less large than last year, Lacy appears to have gained some power. Lacy has 13 carries for a bruising 69 yards and a TD this preseason, looking like the Eddie Lacy who finished as a top 10 RB in 2013 and 2014.
Brought in to fill the impossibly big hole Calvin Johnson’s retirement left in Detroit’s offense, Marvin Jones has performed admirably, as some expected. With 5 catches for 81 yards, Jones looks much more like an equal to Golden Tate in this offense and perhaps he will even fill the #1 role by the time the season starts, with Tate filling the underneath role, racking up yards after the catch. Both WRs should do well in Jim Bob Cooter’s scheme, but even with Jones’ ADP skyrocketing (up almost 2 rounds in as many weeks) he is still far cheaper to acquire than Tate who is being drafted 3 rounds earlier.
Dion Lewis’ stock drop is not due to his abilities on the football field, it instead comes from his inability to get on the field. Originally believed to be an RB2 with RB1 upside for 2016, Lewis has been held out of training camp and the first two preseason games. Now it appears as though he is destined to start the year on the PUP list, or even IR as he needs to undergo a second surgery on his repaired ACL which he injured in November of last year. This is disastrous news for a player who had so much potential this season. Lewis who was once a surefire pick in the top 4 rounds of fantasy drafts, has been reduced to a very high risk mid-to-late round flyer in redraft leagues.
Washington Redskins RBs
This offseason it appeared as though Matt Jones would be the workhorse back in the Redskins offense. However, rumblings of Keith Marshall led some owners to discount Jones’ value. In preseason action Marshall has shown that he is not quite ready for the NFL scene, at best he has been inefficient and impatient as a runner posting a mere 25 yards on 15 carries. This would be good news for Matt Jones except Jones hasn’t exactly been stellar in his limited work. Now Jones is dealing with an AC joint sprain he suffered in the game against the Jets.
This is not a situation that inspires confidence, and I expect pass catching back, Chris Thompson, to siphon off his fair share of touches. It might be best to avoid this backfield altogether, if possible.
Forsett’s fantasy stock has dropped through really no fault of his own. In fact, John Harbaugh has complimented Forsett on having a strong camp. The detrimental effect comes from the runners behind him on the depth chart. Terrence West has enjoyed something of a renaissance as a member of the Baltimore Ravens while rookie Kenneth Dixon is delivering on his rookie hype. With these two upstarts in addition to adept pass catcher Javorius “Buck” Allen, the Ravens depth chart is beginning to look crowded. It is also worth noting that the Ravens carry FB Kyle Juschyck on the roster. So while it may be a longshot, Forsett could not only be losing carries to his fellow backs but now there are even whispers that he could be on a roster bubble.
While I personally think the roster bubble talk is overblown, the competition for carries is not. Forsett has maintained value in leagues because he is a “starting RB” however if West and Dixon continue to perform as well as they are, Forsett may become just another guy in the Ravens backfield.
For more be sure to check out The Fantasy Footballers most recent preseason recap in Episode #247.