This week in fantasy: Tony Romo gets hurt, Jeremy Hill shines, and fantasy footballers contend with NFL rule change

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Liz Loza
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Will Tony Romo’s brittle back crush the Cowboys? (Getty)
Will Tony Romo’s brittle back crush the Cowboys? (Getty)

Preseason ball is underway… and so are fantasy drafts. But with buzzy nuggets of news emerging on a daily basis it becomes difficult to keep track of what matters and what doesn’t. In an attempt to streamline managers’ FF experience, each Friday I’ll highlight the biggest headlines and explain how they might affect fans of the virtual game.

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HEADLINE:
Tony Romo gets hurt early in third preseason outing.
Three snaps into the Cowboys’ regular season dress rehearsal, Romo went down with an apparent back injury. He later begged to come back into the game, but head coach Jason Garrett made the decision to keep the 36-year-old on the sideline. In his stead, rookie back-up Dak Prescott impressed, completing 17-of-23 passes for 116 yards and 1 TD.

FANTASY SPIN:
Romo will be ready to start Week 1, but I’m not interested in owning him. There are plenty of other similarly priced QBs (Kirk Cousins and Matthew Stafford, to name two) with fewer durability concerns. That said, Prescott has done enough to win me over and quell any fears that the offense may be sunk sans Romo.

Delivering in three straight preseason showings, Prescott has demonstrated poise and anticipation beyond his years. A multi-dimensional player who has shown chemistry with Dez Bryant and can open up lanes for the run game, the fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State may very well end up Dallas’ accidental savior in 2016. Bottom line: don’t worry about Dez or Zeke. They’re still money (go ahead and click the links if you don’t believe me).

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HEADLINE:
The NFL is eliminating the “probable” classification from injury reports.
Previously there existed three classifications listed on injury reports: “probable,” “questionable,” and “doubtful.” The “questionable” tag was reserved for a player who had a 50/50 chance of playing and “doubtful” usually indicated a player was unlikely to suit up. Reportedly, 95 percent of players who were listed as “probable” saw the field. Under the new rule, “questionable” implies a player is “uncertain” to participate (less than 100 percent) and “doubtful” means a player is “unlikely” (less than 49 percent) to get in the game.

FANTASY SPIN:
Confused yet? Well get used it. This is going to be a mega-migraine for fantasy managers. No more setting and (kind of) forgetting. Keeping a close eye on injury reports and inactive players (released 90 min before kick off) will be of paramount importance. Deciding to roll out a less favorable option on Thursday night and assuming that one of your dinged up dudes might not start on Sunday will be a regularity.

Unfortunately, there’s not much that fake footballers can do to combat the new rule. Perhaps league benches will grow in order to accommodate more back-ups, but for right now we’ll just have to grin and bear it.

HEADLINE:
Jeremy Hill expected to have a big year.
Carrying the ball three times for 16 yards in back-to-back preseason outings, Hill is drawing rave reviews. Scoring in the second week of the preseason, the big-bodied bruiser looked confident and determined. Hill recently vowed to work hard in order to return to 2014 form, promising to clean up his fumbling issues.

FANTASY SPIN:
If the preseason is any indication, Hill’s burst is back. Running with a seemingly renewed zeal and power, the 23-year-old is a buzzy bounce back candidate, currently available in the fourth round of 12-team exercises. Our own Dalton Del Don predicted on a recent Facebook Live chat that he expects Hill to finish among the top-three producers at the position, racking up over 1,100 yards and 14 scores. I’m not quite as bullish, but I do think the 6-foot-1 and 235-pound specimen is an awesome value as the nineteenth RB off of the board.

Interestingly, the weeks in which Tyler Eifert was sidelined last year were also the weeks in which Hill received the most totes (22, 19, and 19 in Weeks 13, 15, and 16). Given Eifert’s ankle issues, it’s entirely likely that the Bengals rely heavily on their RB1. While Gio Bernard figures to be the primary option on third downs, Hill remains the favorite to handle the early downs and goal line duties. An RB2 with RB1 upside, Hill is an obvious target for owners planning to load up on wideouts early.

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HEADLINE:
Eagles OC determined to feed Darren Sproles.
When discussing an expanded role in the offense for passing downs specialist Sproles, Eagles’ offensive coordinator Frank Reich admitted that he’s particularly interested in finding ways to “get this guy the football.” Labeling the 33-year-old RB an “original,” Reich added that he was “excited” to use a guy like Sproles.

FANTASY SPIN:
It’s worth noting that Reich was the OC in San Diego last season when Danny Woodhead piled up 80 catches, 755 receiving yards, and 6 TDs. Clearly, the man likes his receiving backs to be over the age of 30 and ultra-productive.

Philly’s lack of receiving talent further points to an uptick of targets for Sproles. Jordan Matthews has a knee issue (though is expected to play Week 1), Nelson Agholor has a consistency problem, Rueben Randle is on the roster bubble, and Dorial Green-Beckham isn’t exactly a quick study. The most reliable offensive weapon may very well be Sproles. Available in the double-digit rounds of drafts (126 overall in PPR), the vet is a steal (and two rounds cheaper than Bilal Powell). Stash and smile, fantasy friends!

Follow Liz on Twitter @LizLoza_FF