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With the last week of the preseason upon us, we’re getting close to the time when Dave Richard, Jamey Eisenberg and Heath Cummings no longer have to worry about their season-long rankings.
Come Friday, you’ll get an early look at the Week 1 rankings. The draft season rankings will still be available, but time is getting tight. Need to find those value picks right now.
We took a look at the discrepancies in our three experts’ rankings on Monday. Now, let’s get inside their heads a bit more. I put together a quick questionnaire for the three of them, trying to get a sense of any last-minute movements they still might have in store.
1. Which players have moved up the most in your rankings since the start of the preseason?
Heath: Matthew Stafford , Marvin Jones , Michael Thomas
Dave: Marvin Jones, Derrick Henry , Tajae Sharpe
Jamey: Tyrod Taylor , Marvin Jones, Josh Gordon
|REC: 65||YDS: 816||TD: 4|
OK, so we’re all-in on Jones, who has earned rave reviews out of Detroit Lions camp. Jones has played nearly the same number of snaps as Golden Tate in the preseason (68, to Tate’s 69), but has been more involved in the offense, with 12 targets to Tate’s nine. That lines up with what we’ve heard out of camp, which has Jones emerging as the No. 1 option in the passing game. One interesting thing to consider for the Lions is that both Jones and Tate have been playing primarily on the outside, with Anquan Boldin lining up primarily in the slot. That would represent a big change for Tate, who lined up in the slot on 56 percent of his routes last season.
|REC: 111||YDS: 1319||TD: 5|
Dave’s love of Sharpe is well known at this point, and Sharp has impressed in the preseason, ranking among the league leaders in receiving yards to date. He has 12 targets in 57 snaps, per ProFootballFocus.com, and looks like Mariota’s top target in the passing game. The Tennessee Titans want to be a run-first team, but actually ranked just 22nd in their total percentage of running plays last season, so Marcus Mariota may still have to throw the ball 500-plus times this season. That could leave enough targets for Sharp to emerge as a viable Fantasy option this season.
|REC: 24||YDS: 303||TD: 0|
It was fair to wonder if a full year away from the game have slowed Gordon down at all, but he looked pretty good in his lone action so far in Week 3. Missing the first four games obviously hurts, but Gordon was arguably the best wide receiver in football in 2013, so he could be very much worth the wait.
2. Which players have moved down the most in your rankings since the start of the preseason?
Heath: Ben Roethlisberger , Thomas Rawls , Jay Ajayi
Dave: DeVante Parker , John Brown , Frank Gore
Jamey: DeVante Parker, Matt Jones , Frank Gore
We have a near consensus on two players, and we’ll start with perhaps the more controversial. Parker has been one of the more popular breakout picks in the industry this season, after finishing off his rookie season with 445 yards and three touchdowns in his final six games. He still has big upside, but Parker still seems to be running third behind Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills (about whom more later) in the Miami Dolphins ‘ offense. The good news for Parker is, he might be more well-suited than any other receiver on the offense to line up on the outside, so that could give him a path to the field, however his four receptions for 24 yards put him well behind Stills and Landry’s preseason production, despite a relatively even amount of playing time. He just may not be ready to break out yet.
|ATT: 260||YDS: 967||TD: 6|
Gore is actually a bit harder to understand, just because it was hard to ever be too high on him. There has been some talk of limiting the 33-year-old’s workload a bit, but they also don’t have much on the depth chart behind him; are we really worried about Robert Turbin , Jordan Todman or Stevan Ridley pushing him for playing time? Gore seems like he is what he is at this point; one of the lowest upside starting running backs in football, but a starting running back nonetheless.
3. Who is one player you think could move up the most in the final week of the preseason?
Heath: Ladarius Green
Dave: Breshad Perriman
Jamey: Rob Kelley
One would think Green moving up for Heath might also lead to Roethlisberger getting a little boost in the rankings, because he represents probably the biggest unknown for the Pittsburgh Steelers ‘ passing game. We know Roethlisberger will be without Martavis Bryant for the full season and Le’Veon Bell for the first three games, but Green’s status is a total unknown as he recovers from a number of maladies. Green has big-play potential in the middle of the field for the Steelers and could be Roethlisberger’s second or third option in what has become a high-volume passing attack.
As with Green, it’s all about health with Perriman. There is no doubting the big-play ability Perriman could bring to the field, but we haven’t even seen him step foot on an NFL field since he was drafted in 2015. He has been practicing, and the Baltimore Ravens have expressed some hope Perriman could see the field in the preseason finale. It might be tough for him to earn a big role right away as he works his way back from knee issues, but Perriman could be the Torrey Smith replacing the Ravens were clearly missing in their listless passing attack a year ago.
|ATT: 65||YDS: 232||TD: 1|
Kelley is not an injured player, unlike the other two, but he is someone who seems to be benefiting from injuries to others this preseason. Not only is Matt Jones dealing with a shoulder injury that has his status for the season opener in question, but so are Chris Thompson and Keith Marshall , leaving Kelley as the lone healthy option left. Kelley has slimmed down from his college days, and Jones doesn’t seem a huge hurdle even if healthy; his mediocre rookie season doesn’t exactly scream “potential.” Kelley leads the team in rushing in the preseason, and could get the starting nod in Week 1 if Jones’ shoulder keeps him out.
4. Who is one player you think could move down the most in the final preseason week?
Heath: John Brown
Dave: Thomas Rawls
Jamey: Thomas Rawls
|ATT: 147||YDS: 830||TD: 4|
The Seattle Seahawks have maintained throughout the preseason that Rawls has a chance to play in the season opener even if he never sees the field, but it’s awfully hard to invest heavily in a player we haven’t seen on the field since he suffered a fractured ankle last December. Rawls’ current ADP (No. 33 overall, RB14), makes him a huge risk, and Fantasy players might be better served discounting him a bit in the final weekend of Draft season.
|REC: 65||YDS: 1003||TD: 7|
Brown doesn’t have the long-term worries of Rawls’ ankle issue, but his preseason issues have been no less concerning. A popular breakout pick, Brown has been dealing with headaches since missing three weeks of training camp with a concussion, and is still going through the league’s concussion protocol. He has some time to get healthy for the opener, but this is a serious concern.
5. Who is one player you have wanted to move up, but couldn’t find a reason to?
Heath: DeSean Jackson
Dave: Kevin White
Jamey: Kenny Stills
|REC: 30||YDS: 528||TD: 4|
Heath might have moved Jackson up if I had published my defense of his value before yesterday. Get to moving, Heath!
White missed all of his rookie season with a shin injury, but still has plenty of upside as one of the first receivers taken in his draft class two years ago. However, he has been thoroughly underwhelming in preseason action so far, logging 71 snaps but pulling in just three catches for 12 yards on seven targets. As impressive as White remains as a prospect, he had to show something this preseason to earn a move up the rankings, and he just hasn’t.
|REC: 27||YDS: 440||TD: 3|
The issue for Stills is that, so far, Ryan Tannehill hasn’t really shown the ability to throw the deep ball consistently. That is where Stills really shines, and the downgrade from Drew Brees to Tannehill explains why his yardage dropped by nearly 500 last season. Stills had just eight receptions on passes that traveled more than 20 yards down the field last season, and that number is going to have to go up for him to take a step forward. The results in the preseason — Tannehill is just 1 for 2 on deep passes — are inconclusive so far.
6. Who is the one player in your rankings you think has the best chance to finish 10 to 20 spots higher than where you currently have him?
Heath: Robert Griffin III
Dave: Devontae Booker
Jamey: Jerick McKinnon
Booker and McKinnon are obvious calls as backup running backs in good situations if they get a chance. If Adrian Peterson or C.J. Anderson goes down, either one could finish as a top-15 back.
Griffin is the more interesting option among the three. He has gotten through three preseason games without an issue so far and has looked pretty good, especially on the deep ball, where he is 5 for 8 with three touchdowns. The Cleveland Browns actually have some big-play weapons in the passing game and Griffin’s running ability has always given him ample opportunities to go off for big plays if he can find them. The question, as always, will be health, and Griffin so far seems to have improved his decision-making when he tucks the ball and runs, something he has done just five times on 67 snaps so far. If he can find some of the spark that made him so good as a rookie, Griffin has top-12 potential.
Source: CBS Sports / 2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Marvin Jones up, DeVante Parker down