• Hype or Hollow

    No one has ever won their league based on week 1 preseason analysis and in the greater scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter, but it does leave crumbs. Sometimes those crumbs will lead you astray like when Ja’Maar Chase couldn’t catch in the preseason, but sometimes those crumbs turn into nuggets that eventually help lead you to the promised land in the fantasy playoffs. Preseason hype is all about check marks and the more a player accrues, the better chance he might actually be worthy of a late-round flier that makes the difference in your league. From the first batch of preseason games, we’ve already made some highlights and starred some players that look to be undervalued going into your re-draft leagues.

    Khalil Herbert (RB) – Chicago Bears

    Maybe the forgotten man of the running back depth charts as Herbert looked great with the starters and is being slept on as the RB38 and is going around the 100th pick right now. Herbert is a better version of the departed David Montgomery and looks poised to take on the lion’s share of the workload. He’s got D’onta Foreman and Roschon Johnson breathing down his neck, but he proved last season that he’s got the goods to be the lead-back with 5.7 YPC last season and is starting off this campaign on the right foot (66 yards and a TD on five total touches vs. Titans preseason week 1). The Bears still have o-line issues and a QB who will try and run it himself inside the 10, but Herbert is closer to a sure thing than many of the RBs going ahead of him.  If he has another solid couple of weeks, showing his new-found versatility expect his ADP to be one of the bigger risers out there.

    Tanks Bigsby (RB) – Jacksonville Jaguars

    The recent third-round pick, Bigsby is getting major momentum lately and represents one of the best backup RB options out there. Travis Etienne only has one year under his belt and a recent ACL tear. Bigsby looked the part with nine rushes for 52 yards and a couple more preseason games like this and he’s going to make your whole league groan when you snag him well before his current ADP of RB46 and the 133rd overall pick. If you’re going with a zero-RB strategy, Bigbsy better be the tip of the spear.

    Related Article: Zero RB Strategy and Targets

    Tank Dell (WR) – Houston Texans

    The close cousin of “There can be only one” is “There must be at least one” and with Brandin Cooks leaving for the Cowboys, there is a massive WR vacuum in Houston that needs to be filled. Dell hauled in five-of-eight targets for 65 yards and a touchdown and sometimes when you know, you know. I’m not saying Dell is a surefire lock, but he’s definitely a preseason darling, and that counts for something if you’re currently the WR82 and the 216th pick overall in fantasy. Dell might not be the biggest or the fastest, but he’s got a knack for finding open seams and operating out of the slot is going to bless him with tons of easy looks as C.J. Stroud gets his feet wet. If he does this again next week and starts developing chemistry with Stroud, expect him to be a target monster this season.

    Deuce Vaughn (RB) – Dallas Cowboys

    Everyone has an excuse why Vaughn can’t make it in the NFL, but how many of them have actually watched him play? The specific size differences between him and Darren Sproles are arbitrary, but what isn’t, is how fast Vaughn is flying up the depth chart on the Cowboys. The only barrier between Vaughn and the RB1 role of the run-dominant Cowboys is Tony Pollard and his recently fractured fibula. Pollard is a legit workhorse who should see the majority of carries and receptions, but RBs are a fickle breed and backup RBs are the new bitcoin in fantasy football. Vaughn averaged 6.3 YPC and scored a TD vs. the Jaguars and while he might not be built to withstand 17 games, he could definitely win you a couple weeks if Pollard goes down. The best part is that it costs you nothing in terms of draft capital. Vaughn is going as the RB65 and 221st player off the board right now and while I’m sure GMs will crack a joke when you snag him, if he keeps this up, you will definitely be the one laughing last.

    Quentin Johnston (WR) – Los Angeles Chargers

    Johnston has the best QB of any of the rookie WRs, but he might also have the steepest wall to climb in order to acquire targets. It’s hard to imagine him leap-frogging Keenan Allen or Mike Williams early in the season and Joshua Palmer actually led the team in receiving yards last season. Johnston has a lot of potential and even scored vs. the Rams, but just know that if you draft him, he’s more of a late-season potential stash than anything.

    James Cook (RB) – Buffalo Bills

    Cook is gaining steam as being much more than a third-down receiving back and was actually the Bills’ lead back early on vs. the Colts. Sometimes a player can’t shed his reputation regardless of well he performs and it’s likely what is keeping the Cook train subdued in some fantasy circles. He’s currently the RB32 and 76th overall, but like most RBs, his future production is tied to another RB. If Damien Harris stumbles or gets hurt all that will stand between Cook and a bell cow workload will be 33-year-old Latavius Murray. Cook already scored in his first preseason game and he is not going to be a player that will fall to you in your drafts. If you want him, you are going to have to be proactive about it.

    Anthony Richardson (QB) – Indianapolis Colts

    If Richardson didn’t play a single preseason game, the chatter for him as a late-round sleeper that could easily provide QB1 production would still continue without a hitch. His first preseason game is hardly what he should be judged on, but it was clear that he still has miles and miles to go as a pocket passer, but it was nice to see him commit to the pass and only run twice (12 pass attempts, one INT). He’s still a giant question mark, but the giant is the only part that is inarguable. He’s going as the QB16 right now and if nothing else, you will piss off the rest of the GMs in your league when you take him.

    Russell Wilson (QB) – Denver Broncos

    How the mighty have fallen.  Wilson didn’t exactly quiet his doubters with a 7/13, 93 yards and a touchdown vs. the Cardinals. Everyone is saying the right thing, but actions speak volumes and all signs point to Wilson being cooked. He took 52 league-leading sacks last season and doesn’t have the same Houdini escape-ability anymore or the o-line to protect him. He’s going as the QB18 and while it’s hard to imagine him being worse than last season, there is little room for optimism considering his fantasy outlook.

    Read Next: Suggested Draft Builds, Pick 1


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