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Treylon Burks - Titans, WR
Burks finally gets some nice preseason redemption after his name was dragged through the mud all summer. From the asthma to him not being in shape and all the way to him playing into the fourth quarter of a preseason game, we can now breathe a small sigh of relief. In the team's final preseason game, Malik Willis connected with Burks early and often, finding him twice in the first quarter. On Burks' final target, he ran a delayed drag route before catching a well-thrown ball from Willis and running it in for a 14-yard score.
The reality is, Burks wasn't awful this preseason like the sloppy-bodied, non-athletic, couch-potato quarterbacks made it seem. I had Burks in the "stock down" portion of this article a few weeks back simply because that's how the fantasy community swung the pendulum. I also noted that he'd been running wide open on routes and to give the kid some time.
Still, give the kid some time, he'll be fine.
Michael Carter - Jets, RB
It was reported last week that Carter would still be the Jets' RB1 despite them drafting Breece Hall in the second round of the draft. It held true when Carter got the start against the Giants in the preseason finale. Carter handled the first two carries while Hall would take the next two. The drive ended after Carter caught a 10-yard reception and fumbled the ball away. Despite this, Carter came in again with the starting group on the team's next series.
Just a few weeks ago Carter was considered an afterthought, but he's now a late-round value in fantasy drafts with people still believing Hall would be a workhorse out of the gate. Shout out to our very own Denny Carter, who about a month ago said this could be a possibility. The team is said to like both backs' skill sets and doesn't consider either the set third-down back. A running back-by-committee at its finest.
Cole Kmet - Bears, TE
In a fantasy field starved for more breakout candidates at tight end, seeing a potential value player catching a touchdown can do wonders for their ADP. Justin Fields connected with Kmet three times, including a 24-yard touchdown, in the Bears' final preseason game of 2022. The Bears are a team in need of pass catchers outside of Darnell Mooney, and many are hoping Kmet can fill that void. Kmet is looking to build upon a season in which he caught 60 receptions, 612 yards and no touchdowns.
The connection and chemistry between him and Fields are clear and could help the offense take its next steps. The Bears aren't expected to be playoff contenders this season and should be in a decent amount of situations where they have to throw the ball. From a fantasy perspective, this should bold well for the Fields-Kmet connection this season.
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Cam Akers - Rams, RB
What's real is real, even if it's one of my favorite players. Without taking a game snap so far in 2022, Akers stock is indeed falling. A few weeks ago coach Sean McVay said that he has “two starters” at running back in Akers and Darrell Henderson. I quickly called B.S. on this since he said the same thing last season about Henderson and Sony Michel.
This time around, however, there's an injury involved.
Both Henderson and Akers had been dealing with soft tissue injuries recently. Both Akers and Henderson have recovered, the former even getting in a full practice in when McVay said he's “not quite” ready yet. The Rams will open the season nine days from the time this column is posted and Akers is definitely on track to play Week 1. When fully healthy, I expect Akers to lead the Rams' backfield because this is what McVay has actually shown us. Coming off of a soft tissue injury will make that hard for at least the first couple of weeks, however.
I'm still very much in on Akers — it'll just be a slower start than expected.
Breece Hall - Jets, RB
If one guy's stock is up, the other has to be down. If you're reading this and still drafting Hall as your fantasy team's RB2, then please stop now! I know, second-round draft capital, 4.39 speed, size, catching ability, all that good stuff. NFL coaches don't care about our fantasy teams though. Remember all the Michael Carter hype from last season? Well, some of that has carried over into 2022. As stated above in the column, for now at least Hall and Carter will work as a tandem. Hall didn't start in the Jets' last preseason game and didn't do much to show that he should. He carried the ball five times and gained 13 yards. While he ran a solid amount of reps with the starters, Carter outpaced him in first-team snaps 57% to 43%. A third-to-fourth-round pick up until this point in fantasy drafts, he should be drafted three rounds later as a committee back on a bad team.
The future may be bright, but the future is not the present.
The whole Patriots offense
I am outright SCARED to draft any players connected to the Patriots offense right now. I would probably make an exception for Rhamondre Stevenson in PPR leagues and that's even starting to look like a stretch. In consecutive weeks the Pats' starting offense has struggled against backups from the Panthers and Raiders. In their preseason finale against the Raiders, the line had trouble holding up and, when it did, Mac Jones was throwing the football right into a linebacker's chest. I can't see any late-round value in any of the Patriots' receivers as I don't believe they'll bring any consistency. Instead, I'd take flyers on guys like Parris Campbell, Alec Pierce or any Packers wideout. Whoever the hell is calling plays for the Pats better get it together quick, fast and in a hurry. The Dolphins are ready to wipe the floor with them in Week 1.