(The Fantasy 5 is a quick-hit wrap-up of some of the biggest news topics of the day for fantasy football players, giving you advice you need to improve your team.)
Kicking off another Fantasy 5, we’re going to take a look at the biggest news items coming out of Week 3 of the preseason. This has historically been deemed the “dress rehearsal” week for coaches to see their first team units, but we’ve already seen that can vary greatly depending on the coaching staff. Let’s see what we’ve learned from over the weekend:
1. Injury roundup
This item normally gets saved for the end of the F5, but, well, it was a bad weekend for injuries, and that’s what everybody is talking about, so it gets to go first:
- Julian Edelman suffered a non-contact knee injury in the first quarter of the Patriots’ game on Friday against the Lions. Tests on Saturday revealed it looks like a torn ACL on Edelman’s right knee, and his season is over. This is a significant blow to an offense that relies heavily on Edelman as a chain-mover. Danny Amendola should see a bump in usage when the team goes three-wide, but for fantasy purposes, it wouldn’t be surprising for the Patriots to use more “11 personnel.” That would mean an increase in snaps for Chris Hogan, who had a big game on Friday catching 4-of-5 targets for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Hogan should be moved up draft boards immediately.
- Edelman wasn’t the only season-ending injury from this past weekend. Kansas City’s Spencer Ware tore his PCL (and possibly more ligaments) after being tackled early in the first quarter after catching a pass. It elevates rookie Kareem Hunt to the RB1 role, an incredibly productive fantasy role. Hunt should provide immediate RB2 value with RB1 upside.
- The hits just kept coming this weekend, and Chicago’s Cameron Meredith is expected to also miss the season with a possible torn ACL. Meredith is awaiting confirmation on the diagnosis, but it appears the third-year breakout for Meredith might have to wait another season. Poised for a big year in Chicago, the Bears have very little depth to survive an injury like this to a player of Meredith’s pedigree. Kevin White becomes the Bears’ WR1 by default, in what could be a frustrating season for whichever quarterback wins the team’s position battle.
- It was a much lesser degree of injury, but Cincinnati RB Jeremy Hill left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. It looks like Hill’s injury is just something to monitor, but it opens the door just a bit more for rookie Joe Mixon to capitalize on seizing the lead-back duties in Cincinnati. Hill rolled his ankle in the first quarter of Sunday’s game against Washington and was taken out early as a precaution. Giovani Bernard saw his first preseason action Sunday in this three-headed attack. All three running backs were utilized on the team’s opening first drive, but if Hill were to suffer any kind of setback, it looks like Mixon should get the lion’s share of touches. This will be one to monitor prior to Week 1.
2. Rob Kelley captures lead back role in Washington
One of the more interesting camp battles of the summer was the one brewing between Kelley and Samaje Perine to get the lead back role for the Washington Redskins. After yesterday’s performance, it looks like Kelley has secured that role. While the passing game faltered, the Redskins were able to rely on Kelley as one the few positives from their dress rehearsal. Kelley rushed nine times for 57 yards and a score in Washington’s third preseason game. Perine was held to just three rushing yards on two attempts. Last year Kelley posted the fourth-highest elusive rating among qualifying backs (25 percent of team’s rush attempts), forcing 35 missed tackles. Entering his sophomore season, he could be in for a valuable fantasy role in an offense that ranked top-six in red-zone trips per game last year (3.8).
3. Hue Jackson names DeShone Kizer starting QB
If you’ve been watching any Cleveland preseason games, this shouldn’t come as much of a shock. Kizer has been the only one of the three quarterbacks not afraid to push the ball downfield, leading the group with 7.2 yards per attempt. Kizer has taken some unnecessary sacks, but at this point, he looks like he might give the Browns their best chance to win games this year. The second-round pick has some consistency issues to work on, but head coach Hue Jackson has opted to lean on the rookie. On a conference call Sunday, Jackson said, “”This guy has been named the starter, but he still has to earn the right to be the starting quarterback for this team week in and week out. But he has the talent, he has the makeup and he has the things we’re looking for. Now, we just have to go get him and push him onto that next level.”
4. Pierre Garcon to be fed targets
The 49ers passing game looked in midseason form last night against the Vikings, as Brian Hoyer completed 12-of-17 attempts for 176 yards and two passing touchdowns. The main recipient of those passes was free agent acquisition Garcon, who figures to be a major weapon in San Francisco’s passing attack this year. Garcon was fed targets last night, hauling in 6-of-7 for 64 yards. Garcon hooked up with Hoyer regularly on short, high-percentage throws, and has a chance to be a very valuable PPR receiver with an affordable ADP in the seventh round. Our projections have Garcon for 122 targets, 25th-most at the wide receiver position. If Garcon sees the type of volume like he saw Sunday night over the course of four full quarters, he has a very realistic chance to eclipse that number.
5. Tarik Cohen usage concern?
Heading into this week, there were several reports that the Bears may use rookie Tarik Cohen as a multipurpose back this year. At 5-foot-6 with 4.42-second 40 speed, Cohen makes sense as a typical change-of-pace and third-down back, but if we’re led to believe that this third preseason game is the dress rehearsal, perhaps we ought to temper our expectations. Cohen saw the field on just one snap, carrying the ball for five yards. Instead, the team opted to run out every other running back for at least 10 snaps and leave Cohen with just one. Cohen likely wasn’t being drafted in many fantasy leagues, but perhaps we should throw some cold water on him being fantasy relevant. Jordan Howard played on 67 percent of the snaps last year. Only five running backs had a higher percentage. If Cohen were to land the backup duties, there’s not much meat on the bone fantasy-wise barring a Howard injury.