The fastest climber on fantasy draft boards following the second round of preseason games has been Justin Hunter, and it isn’t even close. The Tennessee Titans wide receiver had 111 yards and two touchdowns, including a 64-yarder, on four catches Friday night, and his Fantasy Pros 157 average draft position (ADP) is due for a significant bump.
In his second season, Hunter flaunts a fine wide receiver pedigree from the University of Tennessee. The Volunteers have produced such luminaries at the position as Alvin Harper, Carl Pickens, Robert Meachem and Donte Stallworth. Now Hunter (6-foot-4, 201 pounds) appears in store for a breakout season if QB Jake Locker can stay healthy.
Hunter may even push Kendall Wright for the No. 1 job by season’s end, so look to draft him as a low WR2/high WR3 with upside.
Robert Turbin, RB, Seahawks: Conventional wisdom suggests Christine Michael is the handcuff to Marshawn Lynch, but Turbin ran for 81 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries Friday night. Michael, meantime, put the ball on the ground, and although Seattle recovered, no coach is inclined to give volume carries to a player who is inattentive to ball security.
The competition bears watching throughout the rest of August, but for now, Turbin’s value in the later rounds could be a boon if Michael doesn’t produce in Week 3, which traditionally is the most important game of the preseason.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings: Rudolph has career-season potential given first-year offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s track record for featuring the tight end. A 51-yard touchdown reception from Matt Cassel provided the highlight of the night during Saturday’s preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals, and Rudolph finished with four catches for 89 yards.
Don’t be surprised if Rudolph (94 ADP) leads the Vikings in receptions and touchdowns this season.
Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers: Vincent Jackson is the clear No. 1 in Tampa Bay, but QB Josh McCown was able to go deep frequently last season in Chicago thanks to two top-level WR1s in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. At 6-5, 225 pounds, Evans (119 ADP) has the physical tools to become the second big-play threat for the Bucs behind Jackson. The No. 7 overall pick had two catches for 59 yards Saturday night.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles: With first-team WRs Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper sitting out, Matthews had nine catches for 109 yards Saturday against the Patriots. Even though Matthews was working primarily against New England’s reserves, the rookie continues to push for playing time in Coach Chip Kelly’s frenetic offense and is a high value pick at his current 175 ADP.
Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots: Ridley’s fumbling issues continued in the second quarter Friday night, and Coach Bill Belichick removed him to get a look at James White. The rookie did little to suggest he’s threatening either Ridley (80 ADP) or Shane Vareen (63 ADP) for touches, but at this point, Vareen has the edge because we know how little tolerance Belichick has for mistakes.
If Ridley’s fumbling problems persist, avoid drafting him until the final rounds with tempered expectations even in an offense that could be on the rise should TE Rob Gronkowski plays a full season.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: The bombshell for fantasy owners came before kickoff of Saturday night’s preseason game against the Bills when Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin announced Bell and LaGarrette Blount as co-starters. Then Bell said after the game he expects Blount to receive most of the goal-line carries. If that’s indeed the case, Bell is considerably overvalued with an ADP of 18.
Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals: An ailing shoulder forced Hill from Saturday’s preseason game, and the rookie wound up with three carries for 16 yards. After the game, Hill tweeted he was fine, and Coach Marvin Lewis didn’t seem particularly concerned either, but the aftermath is worth paying attention to in case the shoulder becomes a nagging issue.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: Even before his off-field issues prompted the NFL to issue Bowe a one-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, the Chiefs’ No. 1 WR had been on a downward trajectory. Expect Donnie Avery to become the featured wide receiver, although that’s not saying much given QB Alex Smith’s limited arm strength.
Raiders RBs: Oakland continues to be a wasteland where promising careers go to die. Darren McFadden is Exhibit A in that regard with one injury after another, and although he had a touchdown Friday night, he’s still behind Maurice Jones-Drew, who finished with six carries for 12 yards. Jones-Drew (86 ADP) is a late-round pick with not much upside, and McFadden (125 ADP) is even more of a risk.
More Fantasy Football