Welcome to another season of “5 Up/5 Down” with your host, Dan Collins. An entertaining process of training camp battles, preseason games, injuries and roster cuts have led to Week 1 of the NFL season. The time has finally come for some meaningful NFL football as teams are dreaming of a possible Super Bowl trophy, while others are dreaming about who to take at No. 1 in the 2018 Draft (looking at you, New York Jets). Let’s dive in!
Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Hunt started off as the rookie pick “with potential” in coach Andy Reid’s running back-friendly offense as the third option behind Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West. After Ware’s knee injury and a shaky preseason from West, Hunt is now “The Man” in the Kansas City running attack. Reid’s offense is centered around a solid run game due to his game-managing quarterback Alex Smith not offering a whole lot from his position. Expect Hunt to get plenty of touches and opportunities for big points early in the season, especially in the opener against New England on Thursday Night.
Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks
I’ll stick with the running back theme and move to another rookie runner in line for a big possible opportunity. Seattle’s most impressive runner through training camp has not been Eddie Lacy or Thomas Rawls, it has been seventh-round pick Carson. He has looked very impressive in the preseason while other Seattle running backs have been unhealthy. He is a player worth a roster spot if you need a running back and has gained the confidence of the coaching staff.
Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Another rookie running back as a late-round sleeper? Andrew Luck is going to be out Week 1, and likely a few more weeks. The Indianapolis offense cannot rely on Scott Tolzien’s arm or the run game through grizzled veteran Frank Gore. Tolzien has shown in the preseason that he is more of a game manager, and Gore is a slower back who is a pounder. Indianapolis needs someone to step up and be a gamebreaker for the offense to keep the defense on its toes. Mack has shown flashes in training camp and preseason games as a player who can make big plays. I expect offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski to create some plays to get Mack in open space.
Kendall Wright, WR, Chicago Bears
Cameron Merideth’s injury has opened the door for Wright to be the go-to receiving option for this Chicago offense. Mike Glennon and/or Mitchell Trubisky will need somebody to rise up and be the No. 1 option. Kevin White has not shown any promise, Victor Cruz was released, and Markus Wheaton is just a deep threat. Wright in the slot can be a multiple look target in this offense. He is a wide receiver worth keeping an eye on or a bench spot on your squad.
Pierre Garcon, WR, San Francisco 49’ers
Let’s play a game: Name a San Francisco wide receiver besides Garcon. Unless you are a fan or watched a game this preseason, you likely can’t answer this question. Garcon will be an unquestioned No. 1 target in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. A proven veteran that Brian Hoyer can count on. He will surprise a lot of people with the numbers he puts up this season.