The fantasy world loves nothing more than watching an athletically gifted underdog rise from the cellar of a depth chart to claim a significant role in an NFL offense, and no two players have the potential to fit that bill better than running back Christine Michael and quarterback/wide receiver Terrelle Pryor. Both of these players were on the prowl for repeat performances after successful preseason openers, and neither disappointed fantasy fans on Thursday night as Week 2 of the NFL preseason got underway.
After stacking up an impressive 44 yards on seven carries last week, Seattle running back Christine Michael stormed out of the gates on Thursday night and tallied another 55 yards on ten chances as he continues to barge his way into the Seahawks’ backfield rotation. Michael looked quick and decisive yet again, and appears ready to form a dynamic tandem with Thomas Rawls when the regular season begins. Michael has moved his way from fantasy afterthought to late-round target in recent weeks, and could be in for a huge workload if Rawls has additional issues with his ankle down the line. Rawls still figures to be the leader of this backfield, but Michael won’t be kept off the field while performing at a high level.
Former quarterback Terrelle Pryor is also building deafening buzz throughout two weeks of preseason play, as his transition to wide receiver in Cleveland has been seamless to the point of amazement. On Thursday night, Pryor burned by Atlanta cornerback Desmond Trufant and snagged a 50-yard bomb from Robert Griffin III for a score. The touchdown was Pryor’s only grab of the night, but it pushed his preseason yardage total to 107 on just three catches. In an incredibly short span, the Cleveland Browns have managed to turn a garbage heap of an offensive depth chart into a group brimming with excitement as Pryor now looks likely to start in Week 1 alongside speedy rookie Corey Coleman. Once Josh Gordon returns from suspension in Week 5, this crew could become a challenge for opposing secondaries.
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In Other News…
Marvin Jones has received positive buzz this summer as he acclimates himself to a new environment in Detroit. On Thursday, Jones continued to excel with his new team, hauling in four of five targets for a team-leading 65 yards as the Lions fell to the Cincinnati Bengals 30-14 in preseason action. Jones will help fill the cavernous void left by the retirement of Calvin Johnson, and there should be enough targets available in Detroit’s passing game for both Golden Tate (4th/5th round) and Marvin Jones (7th round) to provide healthy returns on their current ADP’s.
Much has been made about the devastation the Pittsburgh offense has suffered due to injuries and suspensions, leaving many to guess which Steelers players would soak up the vacant targets from Ben Roethlisberger. Early in the offseason, the battle for snaps at wide receiver opposite the great Antonio Brown appeared to be between Markus Wheaton and Sammie Coates, but a third name has surfaced and looks ready to join the duo in the octagon. Slot receiver Eli Rogers caught four of five targets for 39 yards on Thursday night, a solid performance after receiving positive reviews from both Ben Roethlisberger and OC Todd Haley in recent weeks. With Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell suspended, and Ladarius Green (ankle, headaches) in great danger of missing time this season, lesser-known options in the Pittsburgh offense will have plenty of chances to shine. Rogers isn’t quite on the redraft radar yet, but a strong finish to the preseason could boost this shifty receiver into PPR league consideration in a high-powered offense.
Chicago running back Jeremy Langford withstood an offseason that saw the Bears draft a rookie running back and suggest that the backfield behind quarterback Jay Cutler may be a committee, but early preseason games suggest that Langford is the unquestioned leader of this pack. On Thursday, Langford ran for 55 yards on eight carries while starting and running with Chicago’s first-team offense, as he did in the Bears’ preseason opener last week. Rookie Jordan Howard and receiving specialist Jacquizz Rodgers were also worked in, but that came after Langford handled the early reps. The primary reason that a wide receiver-heavy start to fantasy drafts is so enticing this season is the allure of mid-round running back depth, and that is highlighted by ADPs like Langford’s current 5th round draft status. A roster with multiple top-tier wide receivers and mid-round running backs that could easily prove to be lead dogs is a fantastic way to build an imposing fantasy squad.
The New England Patriots have been overly protective of dynamic running back Dion Lewis this offseason, as the speedy back still has yet to practice in camp. Despite the missed camp work, Lewis should still be ready for Week 1, according to the Boston Herald. Reporter Jeff Howe believes that the team is exercising caution with Lewis and will make sure he is at full strength for New England’s Week 1 trip to Arizona. Drafting Lewis in fantasy leagues isn’t a move for the weak-minded, but his PPR dominance could once again be on display if he is indeed healthy in September.
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Cincinnati rookie Tyler Boyd reeled in two of his three targets on Thursday night for 38 yards and a score, as the youngster continues to perform and take advantage of the absence of Brandon LaFell (hand). Boyd is a prime late-round fantasy draft target as he readies himself for a potentially large target total. … Greg Olsen is reportedly dealing with a back issue, but a recent MRI came back clean. No reason for panic yet, as Olsen should be in good shape when the regular season kicks off. … Ladarius Green (ankle, headaches) is an extremely dicey bet in fantasy leagues at the moment and the latest update on his potential roster status comes from ESPN Steelers reporter Jeremy Fowler, who thinks that Green could be placed on the injured reserve. Green has yet to practice this summer and his chances of suiting up early in the season are dwindling by the day. Jesse James will take over at tight end if/when Green misses time. … Rams coach Jeff Fisher stated that Case Keenum remains “clearly ahead” of rookie quarterback Jared Goff on Tuesday, however NFL.com’s Steve Wyche fully expects Goff to be under center in Week 1. Fisher is taking an “earn-it” approach with the rookie, who will likely receive the first snap for the Rams back in Los Angeles. … Cameron Brate has been steadily moving up the depth chart in Tampa Bay recently, and ESPN Bucs reporter Jenna Laine believes it is “pretty clear” that Brate has become one of Jameis Winston’s favorite targets in camp. Austin Seferian-Jenkins still looms but has seemingly fallen out of favor with the Tampa Bay coaching staff after attitude issues over the offseason. There is solid touchdown potential for one of these two tight ends, but both will reside in deep TE2 territory in upcoming fantasy drafts. … New Eagles wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham suited up on Thursday night and was targeted twice but did not come away with a reception. The next two weeks of preseason action will illustrate just how much Green-Beckham will be involved early in the season in Philadelphia.