Mid Preseason Report

Updated: August 30th 2017

There have been 33 preseason games played which have given us a nice preview of what the 2017 season could be. Several players have already flashed potential while others are starting to make owners very nervous. Here is a list of players that have caught my eye (for good or bad) and what I think it means for their regular season.

↑ 2nd Round Rookie Risers

Alvin Kamara and Jamaal Williams have been impressive while running with their first team offenses in their first two games. Both have shown they can burst through the middle as well as make plays in the passing game. Hopefully, their usage hasn’t been a mirage due to other players (Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram for New Orleans and Ty Montgomery for Green Bay) not being in the lineup. Regardless, both are in high scoring offenses that should benefit their specific skill set, Kamara through the passing game and Williams with frequent goal line carries. Depending on where they were selected in your rookie draft it might be worth it to inquire what their costs would be now. After the usual crew (Fournette, Cook, McCaffrey, Mixon) these two RBs might have the highest floor for 2017.

↑ McCaffrey the Real 1.01?

It was an interesting quandary as to who should be chosen with the first pick in rookie drafts. Early in the offseason, it was Dalvin Cook but a poor combine dropped him from the pole position. Leonard Fournette was then the next man up and he along with Corey Davis have been the most consistent 1.01 in drafts May through July.  But now that the pads are on and the tackles are real it might have been a steal to get Christian McCaffrey at 1.03 or 1.04. He looks like he will fit perfectly with the Panthers play style and we haven’t even seen how defenses will react to read plays with Cam Newton under center. I expect Jonathan Stewart to have a role but this could be an even better complementary backfield than Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill was in Cincinnati. With his skills in the passing game, McCaffrey looks like an easy candidate for 60-70 targets and should be pushing 1,000 total yards. In PPR leagues that’s more than what I would want out of my 1.01 selection.

↓ LeGarrette Blount

LeGarrette Blount is the most Patriots system player. No other player could go from 18 touchdowns with one team to a potential cut candidate with a different team. With reports suggesting that Blount is slightly overweight and has shown that he might not be a good fit for Doug Pederson’s stretch and shotgun run game it really wouldn’t be a surprise to see him not on the roster week 1. Even if he does stay with the Eagles it will be difficult to expect a consistent weekly total. His value will solely be on whether or not he scores a touchdown in a given week. Unless you play in standard leagues Blount is a player that will likely have Matt Asiata-like value.

↑ Corey Clement

With the news of Blount and maybe even Wendell Smallwood not being roster locks for the Eagles, it makes sense to try and find who the next man up will be. Darren Sproles will always be the satellite back and will be more featured on passing plays. That leaves Corey Clement, the UDFA rookie out of Wisconsin as an interesting option for deeper leagues. He looked good running against a strong Bills defense (4.2 yards/carry and a TD) last week. While he’s unlikely to be used day 1 this may be a Rob Kelley like situation where by midseason he’s pushing for the most touches of the more traditional RBs. He is worth monitoring for now and if either Blount or Smallwood don’t make the roster he might be worth adding.

 

↓ All Indianapolis Colts

I’m tired of this “will he, won’t he” game that the Colts have been playing with Andrew Luck and his shoulder injury. At some point, his lack of presence in practice and in preseason games suggests that he is not healthy and will be missing some games. How many is anybody’s guess at this point but it’s hard to trust any Colts players with the possibility of Scott Tolzien running the offense. T.Y. Hilton is the only player that should hold some consistency week-to-week but even he takes a mild hit. If you haven’t already sold Dante Moncrief I’m not sure what you’re waiting for. His touchdown dependency is a scary thing to bet on and without Luck in 8 games the last two seasons the offense has only averaged 17.5 points a game (Tolzien’s only game they scored 7 points!). Even with a rumor that Brock Osweiler may be on the Colts radar for a trade that shouldn’t get people excited about what the Colts will have going on this season.

↑ Zay Jones

Sometimes a player’s situation just trumps all the previous biases you have against him and you go from avoiding to actively seeking to acquire. Jordan Howard was that player for me last year and Zay Jones looks like he will be my 2017 choice. Sammy Watkins is gone, so is Anquan Boldin, and Jordan Matthews is JAG (Just A Guy) material. A player who is no stranger to being the first option in his offense, he had 158!! receptions last season at East Carolina, Jones is the definition of a possession receiver who just also happens to have 4.45 speed. While I’m less optimistic about long term value because of the history of the Bills and their run first offensive scheme, Jones should be one of the most targeted rookies in 2017.

Changing of the Guard

Updated: December 4th 2016

Hopefully, everyone’s waistbands held up on Thanksgiving and you kept all your fingers and toes if you were brave enough to go out on Black Friday. The NFL has its own dark day where feelings are hurt and human dignity can sometimes be called into question. I am referring to the “Black Monday”, a day when coaches are released following the final week 17 games. For those of you who follow hockey hopefully any coaches who are released are left with a little more dignity than Coach Gerard Gallant of the Florida Panthers. Yikes.

Regardless, there will be at least one head coach, if not multiple, that will not be with their current teams in 2016. Others might narrowly avoid the guillotine but will be on thin ice for next season. I have pulled together a list of four coaches that I think should be let go in the next month, two that could be let go and three others who could be surprise cuts either this year or next.

Guys Who Gotta Go

John Fox, Jeff Fisher, Chuck Pagano, Gus Bradley

John FoxJohn Fox – The writing has been on the wall for a couple of weeks now and it looks like both he and Jay Cutler have worn out their welcome in Chicago. Management seems content with letting them as well as Alshon Jeffrey and starting fresh with a new crew. A new coach should be welcomed but there is a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball before anything fantasy relevant returns to the windy city. It’s a real knock on Jordan Howard who looked like he could be a decent player if there was enough around him.

 

Jeff-FisherJeff Fisher – Why does this guy still have a job!? For those who have read my articles in the past know I don’t hold back on Fisher and his questionable coaching status. He was almost given an extension early in the season but that seems to have been pulled off the table with their recent slide. Unlike Howard’s outlook with a coaching change, there can only be good things that can happen to Todd Gurley’s value with Fisher removed. Ideally, GM Les Snead should look to bring in a coach who is defensive minded and focuses on controlling the clock and running the ball on offense.

**Editor’s note Fisher and Snead have been given contract extensions which can only suggest that the Rams are okay with presenting their fans a mediocre product. If you have Todd Gurley you should be selling him before the start of next season.**

 

Chuck PaganoChuck Pagano – Some thought that Chuck wasn’t going to make it through last season but he was given a second chance to work things out with GM Ryan Grigson. The team still has no offensive line to protect their hundred million dollar QB and their defense is suspect at best. Unless the Colts make a miraculous playoff run this season I don’t see how Pagano and potentially Grigson keep their jobs heading into 2017. Hopefully, the new regime comes in and invests more into protecting their QB before his career becomes a “ya but” legacy.

 

Gus Bradley – When people said they expected Allen Robinson to regress from 2015 I have a hard time believing that they meant this bad. He has been a ghost for most of this season and borders on droppable in a redraft. Blake Bortles himself has dropped from his top 5 fantasy season last year but maybe this is just numbers returning to the average. However, the reason Bradley should be gone by season’s end though is the defense and the failure to move forward. The team has been a sleeper to win the AFC South the last two years and Shahid Khan has spent a small country’s GDP on free agents in Bradley’s tenure to try taking advantage of a weak division. Another well below .500 season should be the final straw for Bradley.

Wouldn’t Be Surprised

Marvin Lewis, Mike McCarthy

Marvin LewisMarvin Lewis – It would be sad to see this be the season that Marvin Lewis is finally let go. His recent successes and the strong core of players he has built up over the last 5 years made the Bengals one of the most consistent teams in the AFC. However, without having a playoff win to his record, and given the big of a step back this season it may finally be the time to remove the second-longest tenured coach in the league. A change of coaches shouldn’t hurt the value of the Bengal’s players but there could be growing pains next year with a new style of offense to learn, something Dalton has had the benefit of avoiding thus far in his career.

Mike McCarthy – Similar to Lewis McCarthy has been one of the most successful coaches over his time in Green Bay, but not all jobs are judged evenly. Title Town expects Super Bowl contenders and the Packers are far from that this year. The return of Jordy Nelson proved that there still isn’t something right in the clubhouse and it may come down to a coaching change to try and liven up the team. With Aaron Rodgers in town, the team would still be considered “in the hunt” for 2017 but they have serious rebuilding work everywhere else if they want Rodgers to ever wear the belt again.

Surprising but Understandable

John Harbaugh, Sean Payton, Mike McCoy

John HarbaughJohn Harbaugh – Four years removed from a Super Bowl victory and the Ravens have fallen out of the elite class in the AFC. Last year was a huge disappointment and this year, while the record might not be that bad, it isn’t up to the standards of what they are expected to do year in and year out. The offensive coordinator was let go earlier this season and it hasn’t improved in recent weeks. He’s likely to keep his job with a chance still at the playoffs but maybe it is time to move on to the next phase. The Ravens could turn out to be in a year what the Bears are now, a team with minimal talent and a mediocre QB that is leeching all the cap space.

Sean PaytonSean Payton – What a ride it would be since 2005 with a top 10 offense year after year and a Super Bowl trophy to hold high. But the defense has been historically bad for years now and it likely isn’t going to be fixed before Drew Brees is gone in what everyone expects to be next season. Brees moving on would likely force the team to look to start fresh with their coaching staff too and would be a fitting end to the Payton-Brees Era in New Orleans.

Mike McCoyMike McCoy – The Chargers this season read like a heart monitor and for many of its fans they may have had to be hooked up to one. With so many puzzling losses early in this season, failing to capitalize on Phillip Rivers in his prime the last couple years and the looming move to Los Angeles next year the Chargers could be looking to make a splash move.

Who do you think will be let go this season? Let me know @naandrews19.