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Tom Brady is back with the Buccaneers so all is good in the world and we can finally sleep at night. As we enter the third and final week of the preseason, we will get a clearer picture of what lies ahead. Decisions and moves will be made. A decision was made by former Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin to retire and accept a role with the NFL that includes helping players transition from the game. Griffin made history as the only man in league history to play with only one hand. Football legend Len Dawson, who led the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl win, passed away earlier this week at the age of 87. Dawson has perhaps one of the most iconic pictures in football history. During the first Super Bowl, Dawson is pictured ripping a cig with a bottle of Fresca at his feet while the Chiefs were getting demolished by the Packers. In other news, Sterling Shepard has returned to practice and Michael Gallup is not expected to start the season on the PUP.
Value through the roof
Dameon Pierce put on a show in his final preseason outing, running six times for 37 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers. Pierce started the game, which gives fantasy managers security that he will at least hold down the early-down role. In redrafts leagues, it's likely that you'll now have to reach a round or two if you want to secure Pierce. He's been impressive this whole preseason so this is no surprise, round six or seven is still reasonable. While he does play for one of the league's worst teams entering the season, James Robinson had immediate success as a rookie on a poor Jaguars team. Ideally, you'd like to know he can get third down work, but it may come with time.
Saquon Barkley has had it. He's tired of the critics, the naysayers and the doubters. If I'm annoyed by it, he has to be. In an interview with the ‘2nd Wind' podcast, he had some quotes that you're not used to seeing out of the fifth-year running back. When asked if he felt like he was back he responded, “Do I feel like I'm back? I feel like I'm better.” Barkley said he is clearly motivated to “shut everyone up” on his quest to be great. I don't believe anything, not even Daniel Jones, will get in the way of a Barkley bounce back season.
It's fair to say that injuries have truly robbed us of witnessing his potential so far in his career. Barkley left no question about his draft status in 2018 finishing as the top running back in fantasy as a rookie. After an ankle injury cost him a few games, he slipped to RB7 on a points-per-game basis in his second season, still solid. His third season would be completely wiped out after Week 2 when he suffered a torn ACL with MCL damage. Another ankle injury coupled with running behind PFF's 30th-best offensive line led to a dismal 2021 season. The Giants drafted Evan Neal to pair with their highest graded lineman Andrew Thomas (78.4 per PFF) at tackle. They also brought in Jon Feliciano to help the interior line. In total the Giants will be replacing four starters on the offensive line. Coach Brian Daboll and his scheme will also help Barkley reach new heights. Daboll has already basically said it's “SAQUON SZN”, they will get him the ball in every way they can. His talent and opportunity is why he has a chance to be a top-five back in fantasy this season.
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It was reported this week that Cowboys' franchise left tackle Tyron Smith suffered a torn hamstring and avulsion fracture of the knee and is out indefinitely. It's likely that he will miss multiple months in 2022, a possible December return if at all. It's a devastating blow to a team already dealing with injuries at the wide receiver position. Smith has had a slew of ailments throughout his career including neck, back, ankle and now hamstring injuries. Despite not having played a full regular season since 2015, Smith has eight pro bowl and four All-Pro selections to his name. In 2021, Smith perhaps played his best season (11 games) since 2015 when he received a grade of 91.9 and helped lead the Cowboys' top-ranked offensive line per PFF. While they still have all-world guard Zack Martin, Smith's injury means more since the unit lost Connor Williams in free agency to the Dolphins and released La'el Collins. The line should still be able to manage but rookies Tyler Smith and Matt Waletzko will have to step up fast. The Cowboys have somewhat grown accustomed to Smith missing games over the past six seasons, so I don't see this affecting the skill players in a major way. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott will continue to lead the offense with a hopeful breakout for CeeDee Lamb. Tony Pollard should take another step forward and the team looks to get something out of rookie wideout Jalen Tolbert. Still, it's a crushing blow to lose the guy who protects your quarterback's blind side.
Quarterback by committee?
The Seahawks' coach is so back and forth yet so stern on his stance. We know that the Seahawks will continue to run the ball and run heavy, no matter what. But they have to throw passes sometimes right? the quarterback battle between Geno Smith and Drew Lock is coming down to the very end. Preseason Week 3 is where they lay it all on the line and it's going down. Pete Carroll has implied that the team could potentially use two quarterbacks going forward. This is not usually a good strategy in the NFL, but it likely won't be the case. Lock was set to get his time to shine in Week 2 but he caught COVID and was ruled out. Smith got the start and did what he could, which wasn't much. Lock reportedly outplayed Smith in a recent scrimmage and it caused Carroll to push the “decision” date back. Smith will get the start in the preseason finale before Lock takes over. Carroll has maintained that Smith remains in the lead to win the job, but could a Herculean effort from Lock be enough to win? We shall soon see. Either way expect the Seahawks to go through some growing pains in trying to replace Russell Wilson.