Week 1 of the Preseason is a time for over-analysis and hyperbole. Still, there are still legitimate cases to be made for players who are both rising and falling in terms fantasy stock. Here is what I saw this weekend and who is moving up (and down) my rankings.
Darwin Thompson (RB) – Kansas City
After just one season of Division I football at Utah State, Thompson was selected in the 6th Round of 2019 by the Chiefs and it looks like they may have found a diamond in the rough. Saturday night against Cincinnati, Thompson parlayed six touches into 51 total yards including this 29 yard touchdown reception:
🗣 Touchdown Kansas City!
— NFL (@NFL) August 11, 2019
With Damien Williams sidelined and Carlos Hyde being a 28-year old grinder who is averse to catching passes, Thompson has a chance to not only make the 53-man but also contribute. He showed good vision and was the most exciting player on the field not named Pat Mahomes or Mecole Hardman:
— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) August 11, 2019
Essentially free in drafts, that won’t be the case over the next week. Hopefully you were smart enough to grab him already.
Tony Pollard (RB) – Dallas Cowboys
With Zeke Elliott dug in with his holdout, Tony Pollard has emerged as the potential running back to own in Dallas. Pollard is a rookie out of Memphis who lined up all over the field for the Tigers on his way to All-American honors in 2017. His versatility alone would likely be enough to earn him a roster spot but Elliott’s absence has paved the way for Pollard to generate buzz in camp. Jerry Jones has been quoted as saying Pollard is “capable of carrying the whole load” and Dak Prescott has also been effusive in his praise.
Saturday night, Pollard played just one series against the 49ers and that was with the first-team offense. That might be a sign the Cowboys already have him in their Week 1 plans. Either way, he looked solid if unspectacular against San Francisco:
If Zeke is not playing Week 1, here is the main guy #Giants will see week 1. Rookie RB Tony Pollard, fans are very high on him. Here is every carry he had the first drive of the game pic.twitter.com/KDyyBjOug8
— Justin Penik (@JustinPenik) August 11, 2019
If Zeke does end up sitting out, Pollard would present an intriguing option with some league-winning appeal. We are still almost a month away from this becoming a reality but at this point last year James Conner was a relative unknown who had a 12th Round ADP.
Like Thompson, Pollard’s ADP will be on the rise this week. Unlike Thompson, Pollard currently has a fairly clear path to a significant workload. If you are a Zeke owner, you should be determining what it will take in order to get Pollard on your roster.
Nick Chubb (RB) – Cleveland Browns
Chubb’s inclusion on this list has nothing to do with his performance in camp. The news here is that with the trade of Duke Johnson to Houston, the Cleveland backfield is now Chubb’s to own for the first eight games. While it shouldn’t be a surprise that Chubb will be a three-down workhorse, getting Johnson out of way makes that role entirely secure.
Somewhat of an underrated pass-catcher, Chubb had 17 receptions over his final seven games in 2018 to go along with 593 rushing yards. After being drafted in the later part of the 2nd Round, his ADP is already starting to climb:
Playing in a loaded offense with plenty of firepower, Chubb is now a shoo-in RB1 for me. While he will no longer come at much of a discount, he jumps above Melvin Gordon, James Conner, and Dalvin Cook in my rankings.
Preston Williams (WR) – Miami Dolphins
Williams is a bigger receiver (6’5/215) who caught 96 passes last year at Colorado State. He began his career at Tennessee as a 5-Star recruit but wasn’t invited to the Combine after an arrest for domestic battery. As an UDFA, the odds here are long but the Dolphins don’t exactly ooze talent at the skill positions. Thus far Williams has been turning heads in camp and he made some splashy plays against the Falcons:
Wow. Preston Williams. 😳
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) August 9, 2019
— NFL (@NFL) August 9, 2019
I took him with my last pick in a Razz Bowl qualifier last week as a lottery ticket. In deeper leagues I think he is worth the flyer as a stash.
Sam Darnold (QB) – New York Jets
This isn’t a sexy pick, but Darnold’s performance Thursday was noteworthy for how little fanfare it generated. He had a terrific first drive against the Giants completing four of five passes for 68 yards and this TD to Jamison Crowder:
— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) August 9, 2019
For the first time out, he looked much better in the face of pressure and was able to move around a little bit in the pocket:
Sam Darnold off to the hot start pic.twitter.com/bxUpY3qDLG
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) August 8, 2019
The Jets added talent offensively and having Le’Veon Bell in the backfield will give Darnold a capable check down option he was sorely lacking last year. While he is nowhere near my top-15 QBs, he could settle in as a nice QB2 in SuperFlex Leagues and could pay dividends for patient dynasty owners who have a solid starter to pair with him. I have no issues testing the water since his current ADP is in the 180-range.
Daniel Jones (QB) – New York Giants
I couldn’t mention Darnold without discussing his QB counterpart from Thursday night. Jones was 5-for-5 on his lone drive finishing with 67 yards and a touchdown pass to Bennie Fowler:
.@Daniel_Jones10 on 🔥
He has started the game 5/5 with a perfect pass to @Beanzz16 for the TD!
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) August 8, 2019
Jones was poised in the pocket and decisive with his throws in exhibiting traits that incumbent Eli Manning no longer possesses. The fact the Giants should have traded down to get Jones doesn’t necessarily mean he is a bad quarterback prospect. Quite the opposite actually and I saw a lot of things I liked when studying film on him back in the spring. I would set the over/under at Jones starting six games this fall, giving him deep dynasty appeal.
Devin Singletary (RB) – Buffalo Bills
Singletary got a lot of run Thursday night carrying nine times for 27 yards and catching all three of his targets for another 21 yards while playing primarily with the 2nd team offense. He is going overlooked even in deeper dynasty formats as his price right now is essentially costing you nothing more than a later round pick.
There are some questions here about his spot on the depth chart and the overall inefficiency of the Buffalo offense but Singletary could make for a nice flex option as the season progresses. If he can be a threat in the passing game, he likely makes LeSean McCoy expendable which would help to solidify his touches on a weekly basis. He is a player to monitor over the next three weeks to see how the Bills want to deploy him. It is also worth monitoring McCoy‘s situation because a trade or outright release would almost assuredly suggest Singletary will have a major role in the offense this season.
Antonio Brown (WR) – Oakland Raiders
Following a bizarre 4 months even by AB’s standards, the Oakland star wideout is making headlines again. First, Brown did not properly protect his feet in a cryogenic chamber causing him to suffer frostbite that has largely kept him away from training camp:
The root of Antonio Brown's feet problems has been revealed.
The star WR has reportedly been suffering from "extreme frostbite."
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) August 7, 2019
Now Brown is threatening to walk away from football altogether if the NFL will not allow him to wear his old helmet. Other notable players affected by this rule are Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers so it isn’t like Brown is the target of some obscure rule. The NFL has taken steps – with the NFLPA’s blessing – to make the game safer and unfortunately for Brown, that means outlawing the model of helmet he wears.
I wasn’t on the AB bandwagon but at this point, Brown is effectively un-draftable for me. The risk here is enormous and I don’t believe the ceiling to be all that high. The quarterback downgrade from Ben Roethlisberger to Derek Carr is massive as is the offensive environment. AB lived off an unsustainable 15 touchdown receptions (regressions alert) in 2018. And really, do you really want to invest in 150 low-quality Carr targets anyway? For AB, life is hard: Wear a helmet.
Dante Pettis (WR) – San Francisco
Word out of 49ers camp is that Kyle Shanahan doesn’t believe Pettis is a lock to start increasing the risk for one of the darlings of the offseason. Combine that with Debo Samuel and Jalen Hurd both looking sharp Saturday night (not to mention the 49ers will be more run-heavy than most) and the Pettis arrow is going the wrong direction. He could be an interesting buy-low opportunity in dynasty as reactionary trade targets are sometimes the best ones but just know there will be plenty of competition for targets.
Thanks for reading – you can find me on Twitter @JasonKamlowsky to talk about anything with fantasy football or baseball. Also be sure to follow @F3Pod and @IDPGuys and check out the content on theffranchise.com and idpguys.org for everything fantasy football related.