Well, it’s finally that time of the year.
After 214 days of waiting, NFL Football is back on Thursday night, when Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys take on Tom Brady and the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
While we’ve been drafting our fantasy football leagues for the past month or so, there’s been a lot of shuffling across the league, resulting in many players’ stocks to jump up. Before the season starts, let’s dive into some of those risers.
James Robinson (RB – JAX) and Gus Edwards (RB – BAL)
While these two have seen their stock rise under unpleasant circumstances, they are climbing up weekly big boards nonetheless. After second-year back JK Dobbins succumbed to a season ending injury last week, Edwards projects to be the new RB1 for the year. While he is now a great option, I would personally sell high on him, as he has never been a bell-cow type running back. Expect him to share some of the carries with Ty’Son Williams and Justice Hill, as well as mobile quarterback Lamar Jackson. Still, he is undoubtedly now a starting caliber running back in any league. I am a little higher on Robinson, who is no longer handcuffed to star rookie RB Travis Etienne after his season-ending injury. Last year, he finished as RB7 in standard leagues. Expect him to come close to or exceed that mark again, as the duo of Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde should not take away too many of his carries.
Mac Jones (QB – NE)
We knew Jones was going to start at some point, but Week one? The plan was to develop “Mac and Cheese” under the tutelage of former MVP Cam Newton, but that all changed when Newton got cut from the team this past week. It came as a bit of a shock, as he started every preseason game with the first team. But now, it seems like the Pats are going with the sink-or-swim method for their rookie signal-caller. In terms of Jones’ fantasy outlook, I see his ceiling this season as a high end QB2 with a low floor, so in any two quarterback league this may be the time to take a risk and scoop him up.
Jerry Jeudy (WR – DEN) and Courtland Sutton (WR – DEN)
These two, along with the rest of the Denver pass-catchers, saw their fantasy value tick upward after the team announced that Teddy Bridgewater would be the new starting quarterback. While he’s no Patrick Mahomes, Bridgewater will provide a significant upgrade over last season’s starter Drew Lock. While Lock flashed potential in 2019, he struggled with consistency in 2020, posting a QBR of over 70 just twice in 13 games. With the Panthers last year, Bridgewater consistently led the offense to high scoring games, despite lacking his superstar running back Christian McCaffrey, as well as a decent offensive line. He should be in an even better position than last year, and should feed his receivers plenty of fantasy points en route to a playoff push.
Rhamondre Stevenson (RB – NE)
While it does feel weird putting two Patriots players in a rising fantasy value list, especially a running back, it’s definitely justified. People don’t typically look at preseason stats as an indication of regular season play, with a few exceptions (Dak Prescott comes to mind). Stevenson had been tearing it up, accumulating 161 yards after contact, 216 rushing yards total and five touchdowns, which led all running backs in the preseason. He was also very efficient, with a second-best 85.5 PFF grade overall. Stevenson is built like a typical Bill Belichick back, so expect him to thrive early in his career, with hopefully more longevity than his predecessor Sony Michel. Damien Harris and James White are still above him on the depth chart but as the season goes on, don’t be surprised if Stevenson carves himself a bigger role, especially at the goal line.