Fantasy 5: What to make of Justin Forsett, Ravens backfield
We’ve arrived at the starting line of a 17-week marathon. Following this weekend’s mandatory roster cuts, teams are now down to 53 players. In the wake of all the moves, we have one final opportunity to assess the fantasy landscape before the season starts.
1. Justin Forsett cut… maybe
Many speculated that the Ravens would move on from Forsett given the veteran’s contract and the play of the other running backs on the roster, and that’s exactly what Baltimore did over the weekend. However, it’s expected Forsett re-signs with the Ravens, potentially at a discounted price. He’s a good bet to be the Week 1 starter.
Fantasy owners will need to proceed with caution here. If Forsett is in fact the “starter,” he’s still likely to be part of a committee that will see Terrence West getting early-down touches and Buck Allen working in on passing downs. Kenneth Dixon is dealing with a knee injury, but is expected back in a month. He’ll be another mouth to feed. While it’s easy to remember Forsett’s 2014 fantasy production, he’s a long-shot to match those numbers this year. His low fantasy ceiling isn’t ideal. Fantasy players would be better served taking a stab at West or stashing Dixon.
2. The fantasy fallout from the Sam Bradford trade
The biggest news of the weekend wasn’t a roster cut, but rather when the Eagles shipped Bradford to Minnesota in exchange for a 2017 first-round pick and a 2018 conditional fourth-rounder. The move follows Teddy Bridgewater’s season-ending knee injury.
The trade makes a lot of sense for the Vikings, who are in a playoff window and didn’t want to enter the season with Shaun Hill as their signal caller. This is going to be a conservative offense with a run-heavy approach, and the needle doesn’t really move for Adrian Peterson. He remains a top-end RB1 with Jerick McKinnon still a priority handcuff. However, the receivers boost right back up to where they were with Bridgewater. Stefon Diggs is the best fantasy option entering the season, but he shouldn’t be considered more than a WR4 option.
Bradford’s exit paves the way for the Carson Wentz era to start a bit earlier than anticipated in Philly. Wentz is dealing with a rib injury he suffered in the Eagles’ first preseason game, but he’s expected to start in Week 1 if he’s recovered. If not, Chase Daniel will get the nod. Regardless of who is under center, the Eagles skill position players take a hit from a fantasy standpoint. Jordan Matthews is no better than a WR3 option, Ryan Mathews slides back to a fringe RB2, and Zach Ertz falls to a back-end TE1.
3. Ronnie Hillman waived
In an expected move, the Broncos cut Hillman this weekend. The former third-rounder out of San Diego State flashed fantasy potential at times, but was never particularly effective on the field. C.J. Anderson is now cemented in as the lead back with rookie Devontae Booker backing him up and Kapri Bibbs earning No. 3 duties.
At this point, Hillman may not be long for the NFL. Those holding out hope in dynasty leagues may be better off moving on from Hillman. However, Booker’s fantasy stock continues to rise in both dynasty and re-draft formats. The rookie gained momentum throughout the preseason and is likely to see work in passing situations to open the season. If Anderson was to go down, Booker would become a very interesting fantasy option. He’s a strong handcuff option.
4. J.J. Watt back in Week 1?
IDP owners might be able to breathe a sigh of relief, as it appears Watt will be back on the field for the Texans’ Week 1 contest against the Bears. Watt underwent surgery for a herniated disc in his back in mid-July. Remarkably, he hasn’t missed a game in his five-year NFL career.
For fantasy purposes, Watt’s injury caused him to slide back to the pack among defensive linemen. For the longest time, it was Watt and then everyone else, but a case could certainly be made to have Khalil Mack ranked ahead of Watt entering this season. While Watt getting back on the field is certainly positive news, fantasy owners should keep in mind that he isn’t likely to be 100 percent early on. There could be a few down games to start the season, so be prepared to weather the storm. If he has a bad game or two, don’t overreact and drop him.
5. Other roster moves to know from the weekend.
The Titans moved on from former first-rounder Bishop Sankey, who was then signed to the Patriots’ practice squad. Tennessee also cut ties with perennial fantasy disappointment Justin Hunter. The Dolphins took a flier on the receiver, but Hunter isn’t likely to surface on the fantasy radar any time soon. New England released Aaron Dobson and Keshawn Martin, which means Danny Amendola must be trending in the right direction to be back on the field in Week 1. The Patriots will use Amendola along with Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan in 3-wide sets.
Cleveland waived promising RB Terrell Watson, which now cements Raheem Mostert as the Browns’ No. 3 back. Mostert is a dynamic player who is worth a dynasty roster spot. Paul Turner made it through initial cuts only to be released on Sunday to make room for speedster Bryce Treggs. San Francisco acquired Rod Streater from the Chiefs. Chip Kelly’s squad enters the season with one of the least inspiring receiver corps in the league.
Troymaine Pope was waived by the Seahawks, but he now finds himself as the Jets’ No. 3 running back after Khiry Robinson was waived/injured. The Jets also released Jace Amaro who then landed with the Titans. His fantasy arrow continues to point down. Orleans Darkwa beat out Andre Williams for the Giants’ backup running back duties. The backup-needy Chargers claimed Williams.
The Bears cut ties with long-time kicker Robbie Gould and signed journeyman Connor Barth, who lost out to Kai Forbath for the Saints’ kicker job. Jhurell Pressley didn’t make the Vikings 53-man roster, but he was quickly claimed by the Packers. With John Crockett waived/injured, Pressley is now the Packers’ No. 3 running back.