Risers and Fallers
Ezekiel Elliott (RISER, RB2) and Tony Pollard (FALLER, RB51) — ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Zeke and the Cowboys are looking close on a deal by the end of this weekend. We’ve longed believed that Zeke and Jerry would work out a deal before the season started, but we had to back off his ranking a bit the last couple days with his holdout approaching close to opening week. He’s back to his #2 overall spot in our rankings with Pollard sliding toward the back end of our Top 150 lists.
Devin Singletary (RISER, RB35), Frank Gore (RISER RB50), and T.J. Yeldon (RISER, RB67) — In a mild stunner, the Bills did in fact cut LeSean McCoy to save $6.4 million when they trimmed their rosters to 53 players. The move significantly raises Singletary’s fantasy value since he has the chance to be the team’s top back, although we’re expecting the Bills to liberally sprinkle in Gore on early downs and Yeldon in passing situations. This could be a messy RBBC early in the year but Singletary will at least have the chance to lead the backfield in touches and snaps. He could eventually carve out an even bigger role later in the year if he impresses with his chances, making him an RB3 with more upside potential than most.
Damien Williams (FALLER, RB28) LeSean McCoy (RISER, RB36), and Darwin Thompson (FALLER, RB58) — McCoy started Saturday as a low-end draft piece with the Bills and he ended Saturday as an intriguing RB3 option. Shady chose the Chiefs and his old Eagles HC Andy Reid over the Chargers and his old Bills OC Anthony Lynn. McCoy’s decision creates a potentially ugly RBBC in Kansas City with Williams and Thompson also potentially mixing in. For those of us who faded Carlos Hyde all summer and drafted Williams in the second round, we got done dirty. I’m still higher on Williams than McCoy because he’s the better player at this point in time but, as they say, the money don’t lie. McCoy received $900,000 more in guaranteed money than Williams received from his new contract last December. I also can’t ignore the fact that this is the second time the Chiefs have tried to find a more conventional early-down back this off-season — I could’ve told them that Hyde was washed up. It’s pretty clear that the Chiefs — and the Dolphins in the past — view Williams strictly as a passing/change-of-pace back. The good news is that this a great offense to be featured as a passing back so Williams still has some upside as a fringe RB2/3. It’s also unclear if Shady still has anything left or if his down 2018 season was a product of the Bills offense. McCoy averaged just 3.2 YPC last season at 30 years old, but he has a great chance to rebound playing in this potent Chiefs offense. Shady is an upside pick if he’s able to turn back the clock to become a feature back for Reid one last time. As for Thompson, I still view him as a swing-for-the-fences pick in the later rounds in case McCoy is indeed well past his prime
Carlos Hyde (RISER, RB54) and Karan Higdon (RISER, RB76) — Duke Johnson has to be pretty happy that Hyde is the running back the Texans targeted on cutdown day — we aren’t downgrading Dookie based on the news. Hyde is a riser simply because he’s now on a roster that is extremely thin at running back. The truth is he can’t play anymore and he’s going to really struggle in Houston behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines — he averaged just 3.3 YPC last season with Cleveland and Jacksonville. Hyde’s best path to fantasy relevance is if he can become the Texans’ goal-line back, which would hurt Duke’s value a bit. The Texans somewhat surprisingly chose Higdon over Damarea Crockett for their third running back spot. Crockett had seemingly outplayed Higdon in the preseason, but Higdon is now a player to keep on if/when Hyde disappoints again.
Kenny Stills (RISER, WR49), Will Fuller (FALLER, WR37), and Keke Coutee (FALLER, WR63) — Deshaun Watson has to be a happy man after the Texans secured him a blindside protector in Laremy Tunsil and another vertical threat in Stills. We already have Watson as the QB2 but there’s not as much distance between him and Patrick Mahomes now. We’ve been higher on Stills than most because of the potential he had to get out of Miami and, boy, did he land in a great spot with the Texans. Coutee is currently battling an ankle injury that could keep out into the regular season and Stills should find his way into the slot immediately. Stills’ downfield presence could limit some of Fuller’s deep passes, and he’ll also serve as insurance in case Fuller continues to struggle staying healthy. With Tunsil at LT, Watson will have more opportunities to target Stills, Fuller, and DeAndre Hopkins downfield, as well.
Preston Williams (RISER, WR64), Albert Wilson (RISER, WR67), DeVante Parker (RISER, WR78), and Jakeem Grant (RISER, WR99) — The Dolphins were able to trade Stills before the season, which clears the way for UDFA Williams and a host of others to see more targets and playing time. I’m still not thrilled to have too many pieces of this bad offense, but Williams is one player I would take a shot with since the Dolphins are tanking the season. They have all the incentives in the world to let Williams take his lumps on the field this year to see if he’s part of their future. The one downside of this trade for these WRs is the fact that Laremy Tunsil is now gone, leaving this O-line in complete shambles. The Dolphins are going to be a wreck this year but at least Williams should get his chances to sink or swim.
D.K. Metcalf (RISER, WR60), David Moore (RISER, WR90), and Jaron Brown (FALLER, unranked) — The Seahawks traded for Jadeveon Clowney on Saturday and that made Brown expendable since they could save $2.75 million by cutting him sign Clowney. The Seahawks also must be confident in the early-season health of both Metcalf (knee) and Moore (shoulder) since it looked like Brown may have been forced into the starting lineup after their injuries.
Seattle Seahawks Defense (RISER, D/ST16) and Houston Texans Defense (D/ST17) — Bill O’Brien and the Texans got absolutely fleeced, trading away DE Jadeveon Clowney for a third-round pick, LB Barkevious Mingo, and LB Jake Martin. I would expect Clowney to get limited snaps in Week 1 and the Seahawks are now on the streaming radar in their season-opening home game against a Cincinnati Bengals that will be without A.J. Green.
Other notable roster moves that help fantasy situations
The Bengals didn’t place A.J. Green (ankle) on the injured reserve, which would’ve been a worst-case scenario. We still don’t have a timeline for his return but at least he won’t miss the first two months of action.
Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson get a small boost with the Seahawks parting ways with J.D. McKissic. Penny has been falling in ADP recently but he’s still in line to see more work than last season because of Mike Davis’ departure. And he’s also a premium handcuff.
James Washington could be in a better position to see the field after the team released their second slot WR Eli Rogers, who rotated with Ryan Switzer quite a bit in the preseason with the starters.
The Patriots cut Demaryius Thomas who saw some time in the final preseason game. That’s good news for rookie WRs N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers as each will be competing with Phillip Dorsett for playing time in 3-WR sets.
Dolphins RBs Kalen Ballage and Kenyan Drake take a hit with LT Laremy Tunsil heading to Houston. I haven’t been actively targeting either of these players to begin with and I won’t be going forward.
Dare Ogunbowale has a chance to be Tampa’s passing back since Ronald Jones continues to struggle in pass protection. The Buccaneers cleared the way for Dare by cutting veteran Andre Ellington.
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