As we approach the end of the preseason, it is essential to be up to date on the latest fantasy football news. Over the past few days, we have had a few significant events that have impacted the fantasy world. Here is a recap of those events and how they impact fantasy drafts.
Travis Etienne OUT for the Season
Etienne was a rookie I was very high on coming into this year. He was going to have work in the backfield and through the air. However, we will have to wait a year before seeing him on the field after going on IR with a foot injury. Now James Robinson takes back over as the primary ball carrier for the Jaguars. While Robinson does jump up, draft boards do not expect the top five back he was last season. Last season Robinson was the only show in town on offense, but now there is much more talent surrounding him. He will not have a nearly 100% snap percentage at running back. Carlos Hyde will factor in and take some carries away. Robinson will be a solid RB2 for fantasy rosters because he is talented and will be the primary ball carrier. Hyde is a high-end handcuff should anything happen to Robinson.
The player who benefits most from the Etienne injury, in my eyes, is Laviska Shenault. Many experts were on the breakout train for Shenault going into preseason. I was not; I was low on Shenault because much of what Shenault is great at (underneath work and YAC) was going to go to Etienne. However, now Shenault can be the gadget player in this offense and will get manufactured touches in the open field where he can use his athleticism. I now see a path for a true breakout season for Shenault.
Sony Michel Traded to the Rams
The Los Angeles Rams traded two late-round picks to acquire Sony Michel. This move has many experts significantly lowering Darrel Henderson in their rankings; however, I am not greatly worried. Henderson did drop a few spots in my rankings but is still a high upside RB2 in my mind.
Henderson was never going to be a 20 plus rush a game back. He will gain most of his value through the receiving game while receiving a majority of the groundwork. This does not change with the addition of Michel. Michel is a solid back but does not present the upside Henderson does for a team. Michel will get the goal line and short-yardage work, but Henderson is still the primary fantasy back in this offense. The players this does affect are Xavier Jones and Jake Funk. Both players were contending for the backup role and could have had fantasy value, but unfortunately, now that Michel is in, neither will hold much value.
On the Patriots side, this locks in Damien Harris as a high-end RB2 for me. Along with some news about the QB situation in New England, Harris looks primed to dominate the touches in the backfield and will have the goal-line work to have touchdown upside. Rhamondre Stevenson also benefits from this move as he is now the clear early-down backup to Harris. Should anything happen to Harris, Stevenson walks into a very viable fantasy role.
Multiple Quarterback battles have been settled.
We seem to have the answer to a few of the quarterback battles that have been going on this preseason. Since we were just discussing New England, we will start there where it looks like Mac Jones will be the starting quarterback for the Patriots. While this is not "official," it has all but been confirmed. Mac himself is a low-end qb2 who could be used as a streaming option in the right matchup. The players who benefit most from this are Jakobi Meyers and Jonnu Smith. With Mac Jones starting, there will be a more consistent passing game in New England. Meyers already was one of my favorite late round draft picks due to his resume from last year. From week seven onward Meyers was a top 24 receiver averaging over seven targets a game with Cam Newton as his quarterback. Now with a more accurate quarterback throwing him the ball Meyers could have a massive breakout season this year. Meyers and Smith will be the leaders in the receiving game and are considerable values in drafts right now.
In Denver, we do have an official starting quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater. We saw last year what Teddy could do for fantasy. He will be an accurate quarterback who can provide fantasy value to the wide receivers he is throwing to. Teddy falls into the QB2 range and will be a streaming option. The biggest beneficiary of this news is Jerry Jeudy. Bridgewater will be able to take advantage of Jeudy's excellent route running and hit him when he gets open. Jeudy is now primed for a massive year two leap and is a WR2 with upside. Courtland Sutton, on the other hand, may not benefit as much from Bridgewater starting. Teddy is not a QB who will push the ball downfield consistently, and that is where Sutton shines.
Finally, in New Orleans, it looks like Jameis Winston will be the starting quarterback for the Saints. Unfortunately, there is not much fantasy value here. Hill would have been a more viable fantasy quarterback due to his rushing upside, but with Winston, the lack of receiving options and an elite defense could lead to a lackluster fantasy season for the New Orleans QB.