Fantasy 5: Robert Griffin III, Christine Michael look good in preseason action

Week 2 of the preseason offered some flashes from some guys with question marks, says Jeff Ratcliffe. Plus more preseason action.

| 1 month ago
(Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

(Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

Fantasy 5: Robert Griffin III, Christine Michael look good in preseason action


The Fantasy 5 is a regular feature that takes a look at the five most important NFL news stories for fantasy football players, giving you the advice you need to improve your team.

Week 2 of the preseason is underway, and while we didn’t have any “Ameer Abdullah 2015” moments, there’s still a lot of interesting developments from Thursday night’s games. Here are the five biggest takeaway for fantasy football purposes:

1. Big night for Robert Griffin III.

The much-maligned former first-rounder had himself a game – or a half of a game – on Thursday night in the Browns’ Week 2 preseason contest against Atlanta, completing 6-of-8 passes for 96 yards and two scores. Griffin also posted 36 yards on the ground. The play of the game for Griffin came in the first quarter when he hit Terrell Pryor for a 50-yard score on a ball that traveled 45 yards in the air.

While it isn’t time to get excited about Pryor, Griffin’s performance does deserve our attention. He graded out as the top quarterback in Thursday night’s contests, and displayed some of the ability that made him a breakout player back in 2012. Of course, it’s the preseason, but Griffin is still trending in the right direction. With deep threats Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon on the outside, the Browns are set up for big-play upside. Griffin still isn’t worth drafting in one-quarterback leagues, but he should be considered a priority streamer.

2. Christine Michael gaining momentum.

With Thomas Rawls likely sidelined until at least the Seahawks’ final preseason game, Michael has seized his opportunity with the first-string offense. He racked up 55 yards on 10 totes in Thursday’s preseason tilt against the Vikings. The brings his preseason total to 99 yards, which is currently second among all running backs.

He hasn’t been spectacular by any means, but Michael’s solid performance so far in the preseason bodes well for him at least earning a complementary role to Rawls in the regular season. And with Rawls still slow to recover and rookie C.J. Prosise falling behind after missing much of the offseason, Michael could be in store for an even larger role earlier in the season. That being said, it isn’t time to move Michael into the “draftable” category just yet. We’re still in wait-and-see mode with Rawls. At this point, it’s wise to move Rawls down your draft board to a mid-pack RB2 and only draft him at a value if he falls into the fourth round or later.

3. Marvin Jones shines.

Facing his former team, Jones racked up 65 yards on four catches and tied with Alshon Jeffery for the highest-graded performance among wide receivers on Thursday night. Jones led the Lions with five targets – Golden Tate saw four targets – and had catches of 19 and 32 yards. He looked every bit as explosive as Detroit beat reporters have touted throughout the preseason.

Jones is currently going 36th among wide receivers in average draft position, a full three rounds later than Tate. While Tate is still the favorite to lead the Lions in receiving, Jones is shaping up to be the better fantasy value of the two. He’s likely to provide a strong return on investment at his current ADP.

[Is it time to consider jumping a little early on Jones in drafts? Take a spin with PFF’s new Draft Master tool to figure out the best approach, plus get recommendations on the players you should target in every round of your draft.]

4. LeGarrette Blount rock solid in the Pats’ second preseason game.

The veteran running back played just 15 snaps on Thursday night, but the Patriots fed him the ball. Blount racked up 11 carries for 69 yards and a score. He has now scored in both of New England’s preseason contests. Blount also graded out as Thursday’s top running back according to our analysis team.

Dion Lewis remains sidelined as he recovers from the torn ACL that ended his 2015 campaign. He’s expected to avoid the reserve/PUP list when the season starts, but Lewis isn’t guaranteed to be on the field in Week 1.

There were points in the offseason where it looked like Blount might not make the Patriots’ 53-man roster. However, his performance so far in the preseason has squashed those rumblings. While Blount isn’t a good bet for a heavy workload when Lewis returns, his weekly upside makes him a good value at his current ADP in the late ninth round as the 43rd running back being selected.

5. Rookie Tyler Boyd continues to make waves.

Another strong performance was turned in on Thursday night by the Bengals rookie wide receiver, as Boyd caught two balls for 38 yards and a score. His touchdown came on a 12-yard strike from A.J. McCarron, but the real highlight of the night was Boyd’s diving 26-yard catch along the sideline in the first quarter. Boyd’s performance graded out just behind Jones and Jeffery as the No. 3 receiver for the night.

Boyd isn’t necessarily a dynamic receiver, but he’s an extremely polished route-runner who has good size. He figures to serve as the Bengals’ primary slot receiver. Perhaps more importantly, his name seems to be continually coming up. Glowing reports from the Cincinnati beat and strong performances in both of the Bengals’ preseason games bode well for his 2016 prospects. He’s currently a late-round option, but his ADP has climbed a full round over the last month. Boyd is a good bet to finish second among the Bengals receivers in fantasy scoring, but his upside is somewhat limited in a Bengals offense that tends to lean heavily on the run.

| Director of Fantasy

Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is one of the most accurate rankers 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.

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