Graham Barfield

Football Daily Dose

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Dose: Andrew Luck in Limbo

Thursday, August 10, 2017


The preseason is officially here. With one regularly scheduled game in the books and a full schedule of contests on tap over the next four days, at long last, football is back. As always, we’ll run down the most important news items from the past day in Thursday’s Dose. And this time, we have real football to discuss.

 

Editor's Note: The 2017 Draft Guide provides tiers, projections, ADP reports, mock drafts for many different types of leagues, Sleepers and Busts and much more. Get the NFL Draft Guide now.

 

Preseason Week 1: Panthers-Texans News and Notes

In their 27-17 Wednesday night loss to the Panthers, the Texans rolled out Tom Savage as their starter. It’s preseason and the defenses are not nuanced, but Savage completed all but two of his 11 passes for 69 yards, including an 11-yard strike to DeAndre Hopkins to set up a red-zone trip. First round rookie Deshaun Watson relieved Savage, attempting 25 passes in his NFL debut. Watson played into the fourth quarter, throwing for 179 yards, rushing for a score and absorbing three sacks. Savage may be the Texans’ Week 1 starter, but Deshaun Watson should push for starts early in the regular season. Watson’s mobility -- which was on full display against Carolina -- will help the Texans’ run game and Lamar Miller quite a bit. Tom Savage is a sitting duck in the pocket compared to the spry Watson.

Notably, Texans’ rookie D’Onta Foreman worked in as the Texans’ No. 3 back behind veteran Alfred Blue on Wednesday night. Foreman is not off to a great start in his pro career after being called out by Bill O’Brien for his weight this summer and being arrested on multiple charges. Foreman is working to clear his name of any wrongdoing. Still, it’s notable that Foreman is behind Blue, at least to start the preseason. He’ll need to have an excellent camp to enter Week 1 as the Texans’ No. 2 back behind Lamar Miller. Foreman’s average draft position has fallen from RB55 to nearly RB60 overall since mid-July.

 

On the other side of the ball, Panthers’ No. 8 overall pick Christian McCaffrey made his NFL debut, effectively rotating snaps with veteran Jonathan Stewart to start the game. On the Panthers’ first two drives, Stewart (5 snaps) and McCaffrey (4) split work. McCaffrey ended up carrying the rock seven times for 33 yards while Stewart saw just two totes. It’s only the preseason, but it’s possible Carolina’s usage on Wednesday night suggests that Stewart and McCaffrey could form a near-even rotation to begin the Panthers’ regular season. McCaffrey is definitely a weapon that quarterback Cam Newton has never had on his team before, but there are no guarantees McCaffrey will immediately walk into the lion’s share of the Panthers’ backfield duties in Week 1.

 

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The Headlines

For the first time all offseason, Colts’ GM Chris Ballard openly said he doesn’t know when Andrew Luck (shoulder) will be able to return. Little is known about the severity of the injury and Luck remains without a timeline as he rehabs his shoulder. The saving grace is that the Colts have not signed a quarterback off of the street to potentially bolster their quarterback corps if indeed Luck does miss time. The fact remains that Luck is, day-by-day, becoming a riskier pick in fantasy football. Finally, fantasy drafters are taking note. In fact, since June 1st, Luck’s average draft position has dipped from 53rd overall to 84th in re-draft leagues, per Josh Hornsby’s ADP Application. T.Y. Hilton has shed five spots in re-draft cost while Donte Moncrief has fallen out of the mid-fifth round and can now be selected in the early-seventh based on Andrew Luck’s pending shoulder ailment. Over the past two seasons, Hilton’s per-game PPR output dips by 23 percent when Luck is out of the lineup, while Donte Moncrief’s per-game output falls by a nearly equal 24 percent. Both Hilton and Moncrief will struggle to pay off their re-draft cost should Luck miss multiple weeks.

 

The Titans’ first round selection in the NFL Draft, Corey Davis, has a balky hamstring that won’t go away. Davis hasn’t participated in any training camp practices yet and still has the dreaded “week-to-week” injury designation. With Mike Williams (back) out indefinitely, Zay Jones perhaps shedding a few targets to veteran Anquan Boldin in Buffalo and Davis’ bum hammy, the question begs: Will we have a relevant rookie receiver in re-draft leagues this year?  

Unless this is an outlier year, at least one rookie pass catcher is at least somewhat likely to be relevant. Over the past 10 NFL seasons, we’ve had at least one rookie wideout crack the top-36 PPR scorers each year:

 

YearTop-36 Rookie WRsTop-24 Rookie WRs
2007 1 1
2008 2 1
2009 4 1
2010 1 1
2011 3 2
2012 2 0
2013 1 1
2014 6 3
2015 1 1
2016 2 1
Grand Total 23 12

 

Note that in every season except for 2012, at least one rookie wide receiver has crept into the top-24 scorers as well. With Corey Davis and Mike Williams on the shelf, the rookie wide receiver market is curiously thin and murky for significant 2017 fantasy impacts. Corey Davis is still the first rookie receiver off of the board at WR44 overall.

In a weird bit of semi-transparency but haunting obscurity from the league, Martavis Bryant is now officially allowed to “participate in practice and play in preseason games” but he is not yet “fully reinstated”. What? The NFL finally cleared one of the last hurdles to let Bryant back into the league for the 2017 regular season on Wednesday, but they are still being unclear as to what Martavis Bryant needs to do to actually be fully reinstated to play in Week 1. The pending “process” has to be frustrating for Bryant and the Steelers’ front office, but at least they can get their No. 2 receiver back in camp before Pittsburgh’s first preseason game. With 60 receiving yards and/or a touchdown in 67% (16-of-24) of his games (including playoffs), Bryant has monstrous upside at his fifth-round average draft position. Martavis Bryant’s presence on the field alone in 2017 could tap a level of the Steelers’ offense we have not seen before. Since Bryant’s rookie season in 2014, Pittsburgh has averaged 2.33 offensive points per drive when Bryant is on the field versus 2.06 points/drive when Bryant is out.

 

 

Quick Hits

The Falcons signed RB Devonta Freeman to a five-year, $41.25 million extension through 2022. … Patriots’ RB Mike Gillislee has been sidelined for the past week with a hamstring injury. ... Donte Moncrief (shoulder) returned to practice Wednesday. … The Lions re-signed TE Tim Wright. … First-rounder Mike Williams (back) was back running on Monday. … Finally, Jeremy Langford (ankle) has missed nearly all of training camp.






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