When it comes to fantasy football prognostication, making grand pronouncements following the first round of preseason games is about as useful as drafting a backup place kicker. Still there were a handful of players who continued to elevate their stock despite limited work and others who took a step back.
Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins: For whatever reason, Morris has become an afterthought in the conversation about top-10 RB1s, yet all the guy has done in two seasons is rush for 2,888 yards and 20 touchdowns despite a mediocre offensive line and while playing with a quarterback who last season was nowhere near 100 percent healthy.
In the latest ADP from Fantasy Pros, Morris, who looked sharp against the Patriots’ first-team defense Thursday, is ranked 22nd overall behind the likes of Arian Foster, Doug Martin, Giovanni Bernard and Montee Ball. Foster and Martin are coming off significant injuries; Bernard is in line to share carries with perhaps two other players; and Ball has never been a featured runner.
Morris has not missed a game in two seasons and is all but assured something in the neighborhood of 300 touches as the undisputed No. 1. The possibility of a career season is there too, assuming Robert Griffin III is at full strength and DeSean Jackson makes defenses reconsider stacking the line of scrimmage.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints: The rookie had 55 yards and a touchdown in his debut while lining up outside and in the slot. That’s a clear indication offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, Jr. intends to target Cooks frequently. It’s no wonder given his big-play ability and New Orleans’ search to fill voids left by the departures of Darren Sproles and Lance Moore.
Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers: With starting RB Frank Gore 31 years old, it’s worth looking at who will be the primary backup in the 49ers’ power running attack. That player is Hyde, who had 39 yards on five carries in his first game. Hyde (132 ADP) is a must-handcuff for Gore owners and emerging as a worthy pick regardless in the later rounds, especially with injuries to Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James.
Bernard Pierce, RB, Ravens: While all eyes were on Ray Rice’s first game since the now infamous off-field domestic incident, Pierce handled most of the work as he prepares to become the lead runner while his teammate is suspended for the first two games of the regular season. Pierce’s 10 carries for 37 yards and a touchdown did nothing to diminish his value.
Broncos DST: The Broncos obviously have no problems scoring, but their Super Bowl loss exposed a defense that had issues establishing pressure. They were tied for 13th in sacks during the regular season, but the addition of DeMarcus Ware, who terrorized the Seahawks last week, makes Denver a DST1 that could be among the top five in the league.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks: The latest reports of Bellevue police seeking to question Lynch about allegations of assault and personal property damage aren’t affecting his stock just yet, but the potential fallout bears watching in the coming weeks given Lynch’s spotty off-field history that includes a misdemeanor gun charge and pleading guilty to reckless driving after being charged with DUI.
Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints: While Thomas did not make the trip to play the St. Louis Rams for unspecified reasons, Khiry Robinson and Mark Ingram combined for 106 yards and two touchdown on 13 carries. Throw in that Thomas is third on the depth chart, and it’s becoming clear last season’s receptions leader among running backs is falling way behind in the competition for touches.
Marvin Jones, WR, Bengals: After finishing last season with a flourish that included 130 yards in a first-round playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Jones began moving up fantasy draft boards until Coach Marvin Lewis revealed Monday the team’s No. 2 WR will miss a few weeks following surgery to insert a pin into his fifth metatarsal.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Vikings: Rookie QBs are picked mostly for keeper leagues, and heading into the first preseason game, Bridgewater was in the dynasty draft conversation among a group that includes Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel. Bridgewater clearly was the least impressive of the bunch, completing 6 of 13 passes for 49 yards and fumbling against the Raiders.
Cowboys DST: As if Dallas’s defensive and special teams unit could be any farther off the charts for fantasy owners, the latest news regarding the suspension of CB Orlando Scandrick adds to the misery. The Cowboys already shed Ware because of salary cap implications and lost starting LB Sean Lee to a second straight season-ending injury, meaning their defense could be historically bad this season.
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