The real fun begins in less than a week when the 2016 NFL regular season kicks off. But the preseason has had its share of drama, showcasing depth chart surprises and confirming starting statuses. Below are six players whose stock has been altered over the past three weeks. Which players have stood out the most to you? Add your thoughts to the comments section below… and get ready for some (fake) football!
Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers
Those who’ve been following my work know that I’ve been greasing the wheels on the Gordon hype-train since April. Demonstrating his rebound potential, the second year RB has scored in two of three preseason outings.
That’s quite an improvement over his scoreless rookie campaign, especially considering he was one of just two backs to score via the air and on the ground over the last three weeks. Showing no ill effects from his recent microfracture surgery, Gordon continues to be a solid value in the late-fifth to early-sixth rounds of twelve-team exercises.
Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns
What rust? The controversial wideout grabbed both of his targets for 87 yards and a score in the regular season dress rehearsal. Demonstrating soft hands and seamless footwork, Brown appeared comfortable and in command.
While this positive showing justifies his fifth round price tag, there remain plenty of question marks surrounding the offense and player. A shoo-in to close out 2016 a top-thirty producer, Gordon is best owned by managers unafraid of paying full price.
Virgil Green, TE, Denver Broncos
The most exciting part of following the QB battle in Denver has been watching Green emerge as a legitimate weapon. A freak athlete, the 28-year-old has always boasted oodles of upside, but a lack of consistency and a loaded depth chart have prevented him from breaking out. If the preseason is any indication, however, 2016 looks to finally be the year that Green makes some noise.
Acting as a binky for the ultra-conservative Trevor Siemian, Green reeled in all three of his targets for 14 yards and a TD in the team’s third preseason contest versus the Rams. Basically free in fantasy drafts, the Broncos starting TE is an ideal late round grab for owners who like to wait on such a deep position.
Sammie Coates, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
While Coates had a good go of things in Week 3 of the preseason, it appears to be too little too late. Outplayed by Eli Rogers throughout camp and the preseason, the Auburn product failed to capitalize on a massive opportunity. Despite being in possession of size, youth, and an impressive athletic profile, Coates is still raw and struggling with focus. In an offense that has a reputation for coaching up green talent, the twenty-three year old remains a provocative dynasty prospect, but is currently off the redraft radar.
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Minnesota Vikings
The first wide receiver selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, Treadwell appeared to have red zone potential in an offense desperate for a weapon in possession of his size and skill set. Struggling to make the transition to the pro level, however, Treadwell has fallen behind Charles Johnson on the team’s depth chart. Additionally, he’s toiled in the shadow of Stefon Diggs, who has emerged as Minnesota’s No. 1 receiver.
Of course with Teddy Bridgewater now lost for the season, the entire receiving corps has taken a hit. Journeyman Shaun Hill is expected to open the season under center for the Vikes. In an already run-focused offense, this puts additional pressure on 31-year-old Adrian Peterson and at least temporarily slows whatever momentum Diggs had heading into the fall.
From a fantasy perspective, this has given Jerick McKinnon’s value a boost. Brimming with upside, the team’s RB2 has averaged at least 5.2 YPC and produced a minimum of 83 rushing yards in each instance in which he’s tallied more than 15 totes. Currently available in the thirteenth round of twelve-team exercises, managers shouldn’t fret over reaching into the eleventh or twelfth rounds to stash AP’s handcuff.
Baltimore Ravens Backfield
What a mess! Before Kenneth Dixon suffered an MCL tear in Week 2 of the preseason, the rookie shone with the first-team offense. Rushing for 41 yards on six carries, it appeared as though the LA Tech alum might give Justin Forsett some competition for the starting gig. Expected to sit for the first four weeks of the season, Dixon still has a shot to unseat Forsett, but the chances are obviously slimmer.
Of the cadre of Ravens’ RBs, Terrance West appears to be the only one with a clear-cut role. Looking faster and more decisive in Baltimore, West has been praised by OC Marc Trestman, has consistently shone in short yardage situations, and was rested (along with Forsett) in Baltimore’s fourth preseason contest. His absence from Thursday night’s lineup speaks volumes about the team’s expectations for the former Brown. The only Baltimore RB worth grabbing (most particularly in standard formats), West is a solid stash at RB55 overall.
Follow Liz on Twitter @LizLoza_FF.