Fantasy 5: What Dion Lewis injury means for Patriots’ fantasy options

Jeff Ratcliffe gives his fantasy spin on the five biggest developments of Week 2 of the preseason.

| 10 months ago
(AP Photo/AJ Mast)

(AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Fantasy 5: What Dion Lewis injury means for Patriots’ fantasy options

We’re heading into the two biggest fantasy draft weekends of the year and then it all begins. There’s still time to get some practice in with the PFF Draft Master tool, and don’t forget that you can generate cheat sheets and a draft board to bring with you to the big day.

With things moving quickly around the league, here are the five things you need to know from the weekend:

1. James White and LeGarrette Blount trending up after Dion Lewis surgery news

Bad news came down for the Patriots on Sunday, as it was announced that Lewis will go back under the knife for a cleanup procedure on his surgically repaired knee. Lewis suffered a torn ACL back in November and has been slow to return from the injury. The new procedure will sideline Lewis 8-10 weeks and almost certainly puts him on the reserve/PUP list to open the season. At this point, Lewis shouldn’t be considered anything more than a late-round flier.

In the wake of this news, White stands to assume the receiving back role in the Patriots offense. He isn’t as dynamic as Lewis, but flashed solid ability last season. Over the last five weeks of the season, only four running backs posted more PPR points than White: David Johnson, DeAngelo Williams, Matt Forte, and Devonta Freeman. He also ranked ninth in standard scoring. White now moves up draft boards, but be careful not to overvalue him. Unlike Lewis, White didn’t get a lot of work on early downs. Over that five-week span to close out the season, he carried the ball just nine times. White is now a late-round option who gets a big value boost in PPR formats.

The other player affected here is Blount, who looked very strong in the Patriots’ second preseason game. With Lewis out of the mix, Blount figures to get the lion’s share of early-down carries. Blount now moves up into fringe RB2 territory as a potential work horse for New England over the first half of the season.

2. Jonathan Williams’ fantasy stock rises after Bills cut Karlos Williams

It’s been a bizarre offseason for Karlos Williams. Following an impressive rookie campaign, he reported to offseason activities significantly overweight, and then was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. This story came to a surprising conclusion when the Bills cut Williams on Saturday, after he reportedly gained much of the weight he had lost. At this point, Williams is looking like a lost cause.

While many seem to think that Reggie Bush is now the clear handcuff for LeSean McCoy, it doesn’t make sense for the Bills to use a 31-year-old who is coming off a major injury in that role. Rookie Jonathan Williams makes a lot more sense as the handcuff. He was injured last season, but posted 1,000-yard efforts in 2013 and 2014 at Arkansas, and enters the league with a three-down skill set. He has turned in two solid performances so far in the preseason, with 61 yards and a score on 16 carries. Jonathan Williams is now worth late-round consideration, as he’d become valuable in the Bills’ run-heavy offense if McCoy was to go down.

3. What to make of Dak Prescott’s impressive preseason

The Cowboys look like they have something in Prescott after the rookie posted another strong effort in Dallas’ second preseason game. Prescott went 12-for-15 for 199 yards and two scores to go along with 28 yards and two more touchdowns on the ground. Through two weeks of the preseason, Prescott sits as the No. 2 quarterback according to our PFF grades.

Prescott put up big numbers over the last two seasons with 8,228 passing yards and 56 touchdowns through the air. He also led Mississippi State in rushing last season, with 588 yards and 10 scores. Despite the big numbers, he rarely pushed the ball downfield, attempting a deep pass on a class-low 11.3 percent of his passing attempts. Still, his upside has been on full display this preseason.

This is certainly an exciting development for the Cowboys and for Prescott’s dynasty owners, but there’s really nothing else to see here in the short term. Tony Romo is still locked in place as the starter. The only value Prescott will have in 2016 is if Romo gets hurt again. At that point, Prescott would become a high ceiling QB2.

4. Is Jeremy Langford trending up?

Okay. So Langford posted 55 yards and a score on eight carries in the Bears’ second preseason game, but let’s pump the breaks a little bit here. While the numbers certainly look good, Langford was generally ineffective save for a 34-yard run. So far this preseason, Langford has yet to force a missed tackle and averages just 2.0 yards after contact per attempt. Those were both areas where he struggled in his rookie season, and it looks like that trend is continuing.

The Bears offensive line blocked very well in this weekend’s contest, with Charles Leno Jr., rookie Cody Whitehair, and Kyle Long all earning positive marks for their performance. While this bodes well for Langford, his struggles in other areas is still concerning. Langford was also spotted in a walking boot after the game, but he already shed the boot in Sunday’s practice.

Rookie Jordan Howard saw 30 snaps this weekend, carrying the ball 11 times for 46 yards. Unlike Langford, Howard excelled after contact with an average of 3.3 yards following initial contact. He also forced three missed tackles as a runner. Langford managed seven forced missed tackles in 148 carries last season. At this point, it’s still tough to endorse Langford at his current ADP as the 20th running back being selected.

5. Know the name: Dwayne Washington

Much of the talk in the Lions backfield this offseason has focused on the No. 3 battle between Zach Zenner and Stevan Ridley. At this point it looks like Zenner is the strong favorite for the job, and Ridley appears to have also fallen behind the rookie Washington. ESPN’s Michael Rothstein now projects Washington to make the 53-man roster, with Ridley being cut.

Washington is an athletic back who enters the league with a somewhat minimal college resume, after posting just 267 touches in the last three years. Despite the limited work, Washington racked up 21 combined scores and posted an impressive 5.8 yards per rushing attempt. He has good size (6-foot-2, 226 pounds) and ran a strong 4.44 40 at his pro day. A former wide receiver, he ranked second in yards per route run (2.11) among draft eligible running backs. He also ranked seventh among draft-eligible running backs in SPARQ score.

He’s a long shot to surface on the redraft radar this season, but Washington has been solid so far in the preseason. He saw six carries and found the end zone in the second preseason game. At this point, he’s a name to monitor in redraft and should be stashed in dynasty leagues.

| Director of Fantasy

Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.

  • Danimal

    Dishing on Langford is completely missing the point. He DID break a long run and he WILL get good blocking, at least to start the season. Not to mention he ran as the clear lead dog and taking almost all the 1st team snaps. Im not currently buying many Langford shares but if he gets the lions share of touches again in the 3rd preseason game ill be interested. People forget Devonta Freemans very poor efficiency last year (and his rookie year), Langford is the spitting image of him.