20 Biggest 2018 NFL Preseason Fantasy Football Risers & Fallers

Aug 27, 2018 6:27 AM EDT
  • With the NFL regular season one week away, Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon and Matthew Freedman have updated The Action Network Fantasy Football Rankings.
  • In Week 3 of the preseason, many teams play their first-team units for an extended time and use players how they intended to use them during the year.
  • Now that Week 3 is over, we can identify the players whose fantasy prospects for 2018 have most risen and fallen this preseason.

A little more than a week ago, Adrian Peterson was just an unsigned 33-year-old who averaged 3.1 yards per carry over the past two seasons. Now he’s on the Redskins and being drafted in some leagues as if he’s the second coming of latter-day John Riggins.

The fantasy life comes at ya fast, and it’s important to pay attention to the biggest fantasy football takeaways of the preseason.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the 20 biggest risers and fallers in value over the last week, based on our recent updates to The Action Network Fantasy Football Rankings.

Note: I could talk about players such as Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey — but I’m not going to. We all like him and have given him a slight bump, but in this piece I’m focusing on players whose rankings have risen or fallen by at least 10 spots. (Scoring is point per reception. Overall ranking is provided; climb/decline noted in parentheses.)


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Preseason Fantasy Risers

1. RB Adrian Peterson (Washington Redskins), 142 (+59)

This one shouldn’t be a surprise. Signed in the wake of the season-ending injury to Derrius Guice (knee), Peterson had a robust 56 yards on 11 carries vs. the Broncos in Week 3. In “competition” with Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine (ankle) for carries, Peterson looks likely to open the season as the early down grinder in Washington.

2. WR Keelan Cole (Jacksonville Jaguars), 130 (+55)

No. 1 wide receiver Marqise Lee (knee) was carted off the field in Week 3 with what is widely assumed to be a season-ending injury. As an undrafted small-school rookie last year, Cole led the team with 748 yards receiving and could emerge now as the top pass-catching option.

3. WR Dede Westbrook (Jacksonville Jaguars), 147 (+46)

Cole has competition for the No. 1 job in Jacksonville. An underdrafted fourth-round selection last year, Westbrook has massive upside thanks to his speed (4.34-second 40 time) and the Biletnikoff-winning ability he displayed as a senior at Oklahoma (80-1,524-17 receiving, 10-101-0 rushing, 1 punt-return touchdown).

4. RB Peyton Barber (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), 91 (+32)

Entering the preseason, almost everyone assumed that second-round rookie Ronald Jones II would be the starter, but he’s had a poor showing over the past three weeks (18 yards on 18 rushes), while the veteran Barber has played well (87 yards on 15 rushes) and seen most of his action with the first team. In the final five games of 2017, Barber averaged 12.0 fantasy points on 18 touches per game as the lead back.

5. RB Chris Carson (Seattle Seahawks), 93 (+27)

Barber is to Jones what Carson is to first-round rookie Rashaad Penny (finger), who has missed the past two weeks with an injury and now is clearly behind Carson to start the season. Although he missed most of his first year with a leg injury, Carson was solid in his three starts (43-169-0 rushing, 6-49-1 receiving).

6. WR Donte Moncrief (Jacksonville Jaguars), 177 (+24)

Moncrief is another receiver who could benefit from Lee’s absence. Over the past three years, Moncrief has averaged 0.73 touchdowns per game in his 15 outings with quarterback Andrew Luck. Of course, Blake Bortles isn’t Luck.

7. RB Jordan Wilkins (Indianapolis Colts), 183 (+21)

Second-year speedster Marlin Mack (hamstring) was the assumed lead back entering the preseason, but he’s now dealing with an injury and no lock for Week 1. With Robert Turbin (suspension) out for the first month, all the rookie Wilkins has to do to earn a sizable early season role is beat out Christine Michael.

8. TE Eric Ebron (Indianapolis Colts), 141 (+19)

Luck has looked healthy this preseason, and in the past he’s supported two fantasy tight ends. Ebron will lose targets to starter Jack Doyle, but the Colts have little at wide receiver after T.Y. Hilton, and Ebron has the athleticism and opportunity to function as a glorified slot receiver.

9. TE Trey Burton (Chicago Bears), 97 (+18)

Burton is expected to play the Travis Kelce role in head coach Matt Nagy’s offense, and his promising running mate Adam Shaheen (foot, ankle) is out indefinitely with injuries, which could result in even more usage for Burton. He sat out Week 3 with the starters (because they played in the Hall of Fame Game), but in Week 2 he had a 4-45-1 receiving line on five targets.

10. WR Geronimo Allison (Green Bay Packers), 181 (+10)

The Packers drafted three wide receivers this year.

Even so, Allison has maintained his spot on the depth chart as the No. 3 wide receiver. In his six career games with at least four targets from Aaron Rodgers, Allison has averaged 12.0 fantasy points per game.

Preseason Fantasy Fallers

1. WR Marqise Lee (Jacksonville Jaguars), Unranked (-113)

Lee was the No. 1 receiver in Jacksonville, but most analysts are expecting the 2012 Biletnikoff Award winner to miss the season after his Week 3 injury.

2. RB Rob Kelley (Washington Redskins), Unranked (-46)

In his 16 NFL starts, Kelley amassed 894 yards and nine touchdowns on 213 carries and 24 targets. Evidently that wasn’t good enough for the Redskins, who brought in Peterson. Kelley is now nothing more than a weak Peterson handcuff.

3. TE Hayden Hurst (Baltimore Ravens), 197 (-35)

The athletic first-rounder entered the preseason with some hype: Hall-of-Fame tight end-turned-general manager Ozzie Newsome drafted him, and the Ravens have available targets and an unsettled receiving depth chart. But Hurst (foot) is now reportedly dealing with a stress fracture and doubtful for Week 1, and third-rounder Mark Andrews could establish himself in the offense while Hurst is out.

4. WR Martavis Bryant (Oakland Raiders), 196 (-29)

Bryant is a talented receiver who averaged 14.4 fantasy points per game in his first two seasons, but he regressed last year (50-603-3 receiving), and he has just two receptions this preseason with the Raiders. He looks like the No. 3 receiving option at best in Jon Gruden’s offense.

5. RB Marlon Mack (Indianapolis Colts), 120 (-28)

Although Mack showed potential last year with 583 yards and four touchdowns on 93 carries and 33 targets, he’s unlikely to see heavy usage this year, especially now that he’s uncertain for Week 1 with an injury.


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6. RB Ronald Jones (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), 126 (-27)

A second-round selection does not a lead back make. I think that’s how the poem goes.

7. WR Tyler Lockett (Seattle Seahawks), 134 (-24)

For a time, No. 1 receiver Doug Baldwin (knee) was uncertain for Week 1, so Lockett saw his draft stock increase as a post-hype contract-year injury fill-in candidate — but HC Pete Carroll said last week that Baldwin will “for sure” be ready to start the year. As a result, Lockett’s price has dropped.

8. RB Nyheim Hines (Indianapolis Colts), 155 (-24)

A talented NC State fourth-rounder, Hines at one point looked like a potential beneficiary of Mack’s absence, but he dropped the ball. Literally. Three fumbles in three games. His 13-19-0 rushing stat line also hasn’t endeared him to fantasy players.

9. RB Rashaad Penny (Seattle Seahawks), 107 (-21)

Last year Penny led all of the Football Bowl Subdivision with 2,248 yards rushing in 13 games. This isn’t last year.

10. WR Dez Bryant (Free Agent), 150 (-19)

Now that Josh Gordon has returned to the Browns, there’s just one team that really needs a player like Dez: The Dallas Cowboys.

Credit:

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Adrian Peterson

Follow Matthew Freedman on Twitter
@MattFtheOracle

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