Slowly, but surely, things are starting to come into view for NFL teams and fantasy football with only one preseason game left for the starters to get ready.
There wasn’t much to take away from the first week with most regulars either not playing or only appearing for a series or so. This past weekend was a bit different as we saw a little more from the notable names.
One of the more interesting storylines this season will be Matthew Stafford and how he’ll look without Calvin Johnson. Most fantasy football rankings have him far down the list even though he finished 2015 on a tear and as a top-10 QB in the last half of the year with Jim Bob Cooter in charge. While the Lions didn’t get a touchdown and failed to convert a third down, Stafford’s 8-of-11 line for 113 yards is notable (in one quarter of action) as well as his rapport with new receiver Marvin Jones. Jones made a couple of nice grabs and finished with four catches for 65 yards. Again, that’s in just one quarter.
In that same game, Tyler Boyd is lining himself up to be the top guy opposite of A.J. Green, after catching two balls for 38 yards and a touchdown.
Elsewhere, Jimmy Garoppolo had a good showing for the second straight week, passing for 181 yards and a touchdown after 168 yards the previous game. A lot of people are dropping Patriots receivers down lists by large margins because Tom Brady will be out, but if Garoppolo can continue to be decent, there’s no reason to discount those guys. Keep in mind, Garoppolo is having success without Rob Gronkowski right now.
Also in the quarterback market, Robert Griffin III continues to turn heads, this time with a 6-of-8 line for 96 yards and two touchdowns. While he’s had success in the preseason, there’s still plenty of doubt surrounding this offense. But as seen in the first two games, he can launch the ball with accuracy and he has a few options to catch those attempts. So far, that’s been Terrelle Pryor.
One of the more talked about running backs of the preseason has been Christine Michael, as he supposedly turned a new leaf this offseason. So far, the numbers back that up as Michael has 17 carries for 99 yards in the first two games. This is relevant because C.J. Prosise is still hurt and Michael has taken over the No. 2 role behind Thomas Rawls. Prosise was a popular sleeper option a month ago, but Michael has taken up that tag in recent weeks as he’s suddenly ranked the No. 45 RB over at FantasyPros in late August.
One player who hasn’t gotten attention is new Dallas RB Alfred Morris. While Darren McFadden rehabs his elbow, Morris has been stealing the No. 2 role behind Ezekiel Elliott. For a guy who’s seemingly being forgotten, Morris could be a factor in fantasy this season behind the Cowboys offensive line. And we positive Elliott can stay healthy for the entire year?
Morris looked stout against the Dolphins, going for 85 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
In the same division, Kenjon Barner has taken up backup duties with Wendell Smallwood missing the first two games. While Darren Sproles will see plenty of action, expecting Ryan Mathews to play a full season is a mistake. Barner could easily be a starting running back at some point this year and he’s going undrafted in most leagues.
Barner looked plenty able against the Steelers, rushing for 41 yards and a TD on just six carries.
In that same game, Eli Rogers made more noise in the race to be Pittsburgh’s No. 3 wideout. Rogers finished with four grabs for 39 yards, while Sammie Coates had two for 30. Coates has had an up-and-down August and Rogers’ rise will be something to watch in the next game.
Also with the Steelers, Landry Jones may not be the answer at backup quarterback. If Ben Roethlisberger can’t stay healthy, that would in turn hurt Antonio Brown’s value if Jones can’t show any improvement from a year ago.
Speaking of backup QBs, the Cowboys may finally have their guy.
Dak Prescott again was electric and led his team to a 41-14 win over the Dolphins. He finished with four total touchdowns, completing 12-of-15 passes for 199 yards, while rushing for 28 yards. His mobility is something Dallas’ previous backups haven’t had. This is relevant because if Tony Romo gets hurt again, the values of the players around him (most notably Dez Bryant) won’t fall as much as last year.