One of the aspects that that leads to fantasy success is how do you adjust and make changes during the season. For those of us who draft early in the preseason, some of those adjustments need to happen while we are watching camp and the games. Here are three situations to keep an eye on:
Q. The Philadelphia running back situation?
A. RB Donnel Pumphrey, Philadelphia Eagles
Most people came into the season under the assumption that the starting running back in Philadelphia would be LeGarrette Blount but there are some red flags that say this is a situation worth watching. The first things to consider are the obvious red flags that come with Blount. He is 30 years old and as everybody knows, that is the age when running backs begin to show drastic decline. When you take a look at his fantasy production last year you notice the 18 touchdowns and should ask yourself was that Blount or was that the New England offense? With these two factors being taken into consideration, who will be the one to unseat him as the primary back in Philadelphia? It won’t be Darren Sproles, who is 34 himself and is primarily the third down running back. That leaves Wendell Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey as the next players in line. With Smallwood sitting out Philadelphia’s Week 2 preseason game, he is already at a disadvantage which opens the way for Pumphrey. Pumphrey is the player to watch over the next few weeks as one of the dark horses that could rise into fantasy relevance as he has a legitimate opportunity to carve out for himself a job as the primary ball carrier in Philadelphia. If he performs well Week 2 – he did OK (3 rushes, -3 yards; 2 catches, 20 yards) and can carry that onto the practice field, he could take the job from Blount sooner rather than later.
Q. The Arizona starting wide receiver position?
A. WR J.J. Nelson, Arizona Cardinals
Let’s start off by dismissing the obvious here and say Larry Fitzgerald will be one of the Top-3 wide receivers and should lead the team in targets and catches. With John Brown still not making the field and falling further and further behind, the other two starting wide receiver positions for Arizona are up for grabs. The two players who look like the obvious ones to step in for Brown are Jaron Brown and J.J. Nelson. It will be interesting to see which one of these two becomes the better option. For my money I am going to go with Nelson. I am done with Brown and I just haven’t seen enough of him over the last five years that leads me to believe he will outplay Nelson. Nelson ended the year last year with four games in a row with a touchdown and looked to be emerging as a solid wide receiver. With Fitzgerald’s age and Brown’s health, watch J.J. Nelson become the primary outside wide receiver for Arizona and is definitely a player who can surprise.
Q. The New England running back situation?
A. RB James White, New England Patriots
If you are considering drafting a New England running back, the best advice I can give is to do it as no more than a flex or third running back option. That doesn’t stop this from being an interesting situation to watch. From the moment the Mike Gillislee hype train began he has be seriously overvalued. With the fact that you can never trust a New England running back and that he hasn’t be able to see the field, he is the back to avoid at all costs. Rex Burkhead is the current flavor of the month in this backfield competition. I am not sold on Burkhead and the fact that he is currently sitting on the “top” of the depth chart doesn’t impress me. New England is about performance and results, and the one back who we know has both is James White. White showed how good he can be during the Super Bowl. He should have been the MVP of the Super Bowl and he has built a rapport with Tom Brady. If I had to bet on one New England running back, White is the one on whom I am betting.