Week 3 of the preseason is a big one for both NFL teams and fantasy football owners. For teams, it’s dress rehearsal time and the final tune-up for starters before Week 1. For those in fantasy leagues, it’s the week that drafts begin to really roll, and it’s one last chance to check out your sleepers, watch for injuries, update your rankings, and finalize your cheat sheet.
Before your draft begins, it’s important to have the latest news about all the important players. We’ve rounded up all the injury updates (Odell Beckham Jr., Andrew Luck, Leonard Fournette), sleeper candidates (DeVante Parker), potential handcuffs (Wendell Smallwood, Devontae Booker), position battles (Blake Bortles/Chad Henne), and everything else you need to know before your 2017 fantasy football draft.
DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2017 fantasy football cheat sheet
Odell Beckham Jr. injury update: Will he play in Week 1?
Beckham suffered a sprained ankle after a low hit in Week 2 of the preseason against the Browns, and he could miss one or two weeks of the regular season, per report. Beckham told reporters a few days after the incident that he thinks he’ll be “alright” for the season opener, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he misses it.
Despite the injury, we haven’t moved Beckham down our big board yet. He’s still a first-round pick and a top-three WR.
Andrew Luck injury update: Unlikely for Week 1
Multiple reports from Colts beat reporters from training camp believe it’s unrealistic to expect Luck to be ready for the regular season opener. Some also believe that he may be out longer than just one game.
Luck’s fantasy value continues to drop in each week, and he shouldn’t be targeted in fantasy drafts until the late-middle rounds. His absence has a large effect on players like T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Jack Doyle. Scott Tolzien would most likely be the starter until Luck can come back.
Leonard Fournette injury update
Fournette hasn’t played in Jacksonville’s past two preseason games, and he’ll most likely be ruled out of their final tune-up because of a foot injury that dates back nearly two weeks now. Fournette expects to be ready for Week 1 of the regular season, but it’s worth noting that his foot injury is on the same foot that caused him problems last year at LSU.
We haven’t lowered him in our RB rankings, but it’s fair to wonder if Fournette will see fewer carries early in the season.
2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL RANKINGS:Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Top 200
Jordan Matthews injury news: Expected to play in Week 1
Nearly 15 minutes into his first practice with the Bills, Matthews suffered a chip fracture on his sternum. At the time, it was doubtful if he would be ready for Week 1, but head coach Sean McDermott said he is “making great progress.” Matthews has been doing individual drills and working with quarterbacks after practice, and he’s now expected to be ready for Week 1.
Matthews should function as the No. 1 WR for the Bills, especially after the retirement of Anquan Boldin. This also slides rookie Zay Jones into the WR2 spot. With a more clear timetable for return, there’s no need for worry about drafting Matthews, especially in PPR leagues.
Le’Veon Bell holdout update
Expectations are that Bell will report to Steelers’ camp shortly after the third preseason game, and even if he doesn’t play in Pittsburgh’s final exhibition contest, he’ll be fully ready to go in Week 1 of the regular season.
He’s still our No. 2-overall player.
LeGarrette Blount a fantasy bust? Wendell Smallwood a sleeper?
Blount and Smallwood both went out with the first team offense on Thursday. Blount rushed four times for 19 yards, and Smallwood rushed four times for 28 yards. The Eagles’ running back committee is crowded, with Blount, Smallwood and Darren Sproles all expected to share reps out of the backfield. Sproles was held out of the game and will most likely not play a snap in the preseason, although he is expected to be used heavily in the offense.
Blount is coming off one of his best seasons with the Patriots, posting career-highs in touchdowns (18), rushing yards (1,161) and carries (299), but he most likely won’t receive nearly the amount of carries this year as he did last year. Sproles should continue to lead the Eagles backfield in receptions, and Smallwood will most likely be a mix-and-match player of sorts. Rookies Corey Clement and Donnel Pumphrey could also be in the mix at various points throughout the season. Be cautious when drafting an Eagles RB this year.
DRAFT STRATEGY AND TIERS:Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST
Sleeper DeVante Parker rising in rankings; Jarvis Landry falling
In Miami’s dress rehearsal game, Parker and Jay Cutler showcased their chemistry, while Jarvis Landry and Cutler showcased their non-chemistry. Parker caught two passes for 78 yards on Thursday and was targeted four times in Week 2. Landry caught two passes for 18 yards on Thursday, but it was from backup Matt Moore and not Cutler.
For a player like Landry, who depends on receptions and not touchdowns, it’s a little alarming to see Parker become Cutler’s favorite target. This is good news for Parker, though. Many thought he would have a breakout year with now-injured Ryan Tannehill at the helm, but now they should feel even more confident he will with Cutler. Landry falls from a strong WR2 into a fringe WR2.
Jaguars still undecided on Blake Bortles, Chad Henne position battle
Bortles looked much better in the third preseason game, methodically driving down the field twice for two touchdowns against Carolina’s second-team defense. He completed 12 of 16 passes for 125 yards and threw an interception on a two-point conversion. Henne finished 8 of 14 with 73 yards, but he didn’t do much to lose his slight lead on the depth chart. Head coach Doug Marrone has yet to name the starter.
Like we said earlier this week, it remains to be seen who gets the starting job, but it appears Henne might be the slight favorite. For receivers like Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee, it may be better if Henne is the starter. Either way, it’s best to keep monitoring this situation.
SLEEPERS:Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | One from each team
Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise injury updates
Originally, Prosise was expected to play in the third preseason game even with a groin injury, but the Seahawks have ultimately decided to hold him out. Rawls, battling an ankle injury, will also be held out. This leaves Eddie Lacy with a chance to pull ahead of Rawls for the starting spot.
Head coach Pete Carroll stated that Rawls and Prosise would be playing if it was a regular season game, but the excess missed time Rawls has gone through this training camp has prevented him from taking a stronghold over Lacy. Rawls is still expected to be the lead back, but his constant injuries are still a concern. We don’t have either Lacy or Rawls ranked as even RB3’s, but if one can run away with the job, that would change in a hurry.
Is Deshone Kizer a fantasy football sleeper?
The fact Kizer is starting the Browns’ third preseason game doesn’t mean he will start Week 1 of the regular season, but all signs are pointing to him. Most teams use the third preseason game to prepare for the regular season opener, and the Browns have said they are open to trading Brock Osweiler. In two preseason games, Kizer is 19 of 28 for 258 passing yards and a touchdown. On the ground, he’s rushed for 47 yards and touchdown, as well.
In one-QB leagues, Kizer isn’t really worth a draft pick, and in two-QB leagues depending on the size of the league, he may have some bonus value with the additional points he could bring on the ground. Kizer might be worth the look in dynasty leagues, but for now, he’s worth watching before picking up, at least until after he is officially named starting QB and the regular season opener.
Eric Ebron injury update
Ebron continues to miss Lions’ practices with a hamstring injury. He’s been on and off again in training camp since July 31. The Lions, and many fantasy experts, were expecting Ebron to make a jump this year in receptions and red-zone targets with Anquan Boldin gone, but missing a bunch of of practices and games will not help his cause.
He’s still our No. 10 TE, but that could change the longer he’s out.
Devontae Booker, Jamaal Charles battle to be Broncos’ handcuff
Despite recovering from a wrist injury, Booker is listed as the second running back on the depth chart. He participated in practice on for the first time since a July surgery on his fractured wrist, but he isn’t expected to return to games until Week 3 of the regular season.
Charles is in an interesting spot. He is still battling Stevan Ridley for the final RB roster spot, and it was originally thought that with Booker’s injury, Charles would get a chance to play in the regular season to see if there was anything left in the tank. He’s expected to play a lot in this weekend’s preseason game, and it will most likely determine his fate on the team.
Jaelen Strong suspended one game
Strong lost his appeal on a one-game suspension stemming from a 2016 arrest for marijuana. Strong had a chance to see a ton of action with Will Fuller V out for the year with a fractured collarbone and two others still battling injuries in Braxton Miller (ankle) and DeAndre Hopkins (hand). Both are still expected to play Week 1, but Strong will lose a chance to stake claim to bigger role in the offense in Week 1.
Cam Newton returns to the field
Newton returned live game action on Thursday against the Jaguars, completing both pass attempts for 21 yards and a touchdown. It was a good sign to see Newton out on the field, even if most of his plays were handoffs. Newton looks ready for Week 1.
We’re expecting a big bounce-back season from Newton, ranking him fourth among QBs.
Devonta Freeman injury update
Freeman is in the final stages of concussion protocol, according to head coach Dan Quinn. He’s been ruled out of the third preseason game, but he is still expected to be ready for Week 1.
He remains our No. 8 RB.
Cooper Kupp injury news
Kupp looked good with quarterback Jared Goff in the Rams second preseason game, but the connection won’t be seen for the Rams’ dress rehearsal game in Week 3. Kupp will be held out because of a groin injury.
This might affect the recent buzz around Kupp come draft time, but he is still one of our sleeper WR picks.
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