Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers: We’re a few weeks into training camp and are starting to get a better idea of how some key position battles are playing out. Here’s the latest, with news reports provided by our partners at Rotoballer.com.
Josh Allen, Quarterback, Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills quarterback AJ McCarron suffered a hairline fracture in his collarbone during the preseason game on Friday against the Browns, according to a source close to McCarron. He was competing for the starting job this preseason but is now a candidate to go on the Injured Reserve-designated to return. With rookie Josh Allen replacing McCarron and working with the second-team offense, it appears all but official that the rookie will now be the favorite to open the season as the starter. That might’ve happened without a McCarron injury. Allen has a strong arm but has questionable leadership skills. He’s a great dynasty pick but will still be a weak QB2 in redraft leagues with a suspect receiving corps.
Derrick Henry, Running Back, Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry was involved early on offense Saturday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, totaling four touches for 14 yards. Henry handled all of the running back duties on the first drive and was also a big part of the passing game as the team ran a designed screen for the bruising back. Henry appears ready to take on a much larger role this season, especially in the passing game.
Sam Darnold, Quarterback, New York Jets
The Jets have been privately giddy about Sam Darnold. He’s been the real deal, and barring a deer-in-the-headlights moment in the next couple of weeks, it’d be an upset if Darnold isn’t the team’s Week 1 starter. According to people familiar with the organization, the Jets brain trust is happier with the rookie each passing day. Redskins cornerback Josh Norman was thoroughly impressed with Darnold during joint practices this week. Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater are capable passers, but Darnold is the present and the future and is operating like a veteran quarterback. His stock is seriously rising in redraft leagues as a backup, but he was already the top QB option off the board in dynasty leagues.
Christian Kirk, Wide Receiver, Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk has apparently separated from the pack in earning the No. 2 receiver job, according to head coach Steve Wilks. Although second year pro Chad Williams also impressed, it is Kirk that has caught the eye of Wilks early on. This is good news for Kirk dynasty owners, as his rookie season could pave the way to replace wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Additionally, fantasy owners in redraft should consider Kirk a potential late-round value and a flex option heading into 2018.
Chris Carson, Running Back, Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson, a seventh-round pick in 2017, continues to stand out in training camp. “There’s a difference when Chris Carson runs the ball,” linebacker Bobby Wagner explained. “He just stands out to me. Every time you watch film, whether it’s him out of the backfield or running the ball, he stands out to me.” Carson has emerged as the clear-cut No. 1 back, especially with rookie Rashaad Penny out several weeks with a broken finger. Carson looked solid before breaking his leg and suffering ligament damage to his ankle last year. There is a lot of depth behind Carson, but if he puts up numbers from the get-go, he could remain in a bell-cow role all year. Seattle’s offensive line must cooperate as well, but Carson is an intriguing mid-round pick. Handcuff Penny to him if you can.
Dalvin Cook, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings running backs Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray could split a good chunk of the workload this year, but head coach Mike Zimmer said it’s too early to discuss how the carries will be divided but “they’ll both be factors.” Cook looked great as a rookie but tore his ACL in the fourth game of the season in 2017. It’s likely that Cook will be the starter when the regular season begins, but the Vikes may choose to bring him along slowly and mix in Murray often to keep him fresh. Cook is being drafted as a low-end RB1, so any work he cedes to Murray will be bad news for his fantasy owners.
DeSean Jackson, Wide Receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson was notably absent from the team’s two-minute, end-of-half offense during practice on Thursday. That’s not a good sign for the aging deep threat. Jackson was a disappointment last year in his first season in Tampa, and he’ll also be without quarterback Jameis Winston for the first three games of the season. Add in the emergence of Chris Godwin and you have a player that most fantasy owners will want to avoid. The speedster still created separation last year and saw plenty of targets. He’s worth a late-round pick in standard-scoring leagues.
Ronald Jones II, Running Back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie running back Ronald Jones II botched two handoffs in practice on Thursday. It wasn’t a good showing, and he also struggled in the preseason opener and suffered from some dropped passes. It’s not a great start for the rookie, and Peyton Barber seems locked into an early-down role to open the season. However, Jones has the most upside of this backfield and should gradually steal touches away from Barber and the others as the season progresses. If he continues to botch handoffs and drop passes, though, he could quickly find himself in the doghouse.