As we roll into the second week of the 2016 preseason, fantasy drafts are kicking into full gear and player values are locking in place. While it’s easy to get lulled to sleep with strong player projections, it’s still best to keep an open mind and flexible draft plan at this time of year. In case you missed it, Rich Hribar’s 50 Players To Draft at Cost opened my eyes to certain situations and statistics that caused some personal re-evaluations.
Just like with new information and ways of thinking, fresh news is trickling out of the NFL’s pipes as injury situations and positional battles are shoring up across the league. We’ll cover it all in Thursday’s Dose.
Editor’s Note: For updated rankings, projections, player profiles, positional tiers, mock drafts, sleepers and busts, exclusive columns and plenty more, check out our Draft Guide!
Confirming he is on track to return to form Week 1, the Packers moved Jordy Nelson (ACL) off of the PUP list on Wednesday. He has spent the first two weeks of Green Bay’s camp sidelined with tendinitis in his non-surgically repaired knee. Getting Nelson back is obviously priority No. 1 for the Packers offense this offseason. Since 2012, the Packers have averaged five more points per game with Nelson in the lineup. Subsequently, Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 35 fewer yards and nearly 0.4 fewer touchdowns per game with Nelson off of the field over the past four years. Look for Nelson’s average draft position to creep back into the early-2nd round based on this positive news.
Baltimore is getting 89 back. Steve Smith (Achilles) passed his physical on Wednesday and is now off of the PUP list. He can resume team drills later this week. While Smith’s practice clearance is a welcome sign, keep in mind he just turned 37 in May and suffered a rare “double rupture” of his Achilles in Week 8 of 2015. The cards are stacked firmly against Smith this season and Kamar Aiken and Mike Wallace are slated to be the Ravens’ outside receivers in Week 1. Somehow, Smith is still lingering in the 12th round of fantasy drafts despite fewer projected snaps in 2016 and questionable mobility coming back from a catastrophic injury.
Another beloved veteran returned to practice: Matt Forte (hamstring) joined the Jets’ team drills on Wednesday. Forte was immediately reinserted with the first-team offense in practice. Since he has missed a little more than two weeks of practice, Forte’s average draft position has slightly slipped downward while Bilal Powell’s cost is a skyrocket in flight:
Forte will likely lead the Jets’ backs in snaps, but the recent Powell love is not folly. When Powell saw more than 12 percent of Jets’ snaps nine times in 2015, he caught 2 or more balls in all such games and had 4-plus receptions in 7-of-9 contests. Powell is a great Zero-RB candidate, even though his role is slightly redundant in the New York attack. Forte has caught two or more passes in an otherworldly 87.5 percent of his career games.
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Joe Flacco thinks free agent signee Mike Wallace is going to be a “really big hit” in Baltimore. Flacco said as much about now-Niner Torrey Smith two years ago… In true preseason form, an intern messed up the New Orleans Saints’ online depth chart on Tuesday night, misstating Coby Fleener as the fourth-string TE. The mistake was rectified and Fleener was in fact running with the first-team offense on Wednesday… Redskins’ 7th rounder Keith Marshall has been demoted to the fourth-string offense in recent practices… Colin Kaepernick (dead arm) is still not practicing… Seahawks’ HC Pete Carroll said Wednesday that the Seahawks “don’t know” whether Jimmy Graham (knee) will be ready for their Week 1 opener… Finally, Giants’ kicker Josh Brown received a one-game suspension for a fourth-degree domestic violence charge stemming from a May 2015 arrest.