What a week it has been. For the most part we should all be happy with the way the games went, with no major injures in any game. It was everything outside of the games that made this such an interesting week. So let’s break down the major events of the week and focus on the fantasy impact.
Jay Cutler signs with Miami: For fantasy impact, this signing is minor as it is unlikely that anyone was taking Ryan Tannehill as their QB1 anyway. You can pencil in Jay Cutler for similar production as Ryan Tannehill, which is around the QB20-25 range. The major fantasy impact comes in how to analyze the rest of the Dolphins. We know that Jay Ajayi will still be the focal point of the team and that he will receive an uptick in receptions out of the backfield. Jay Cutler has always had a running back-receiver type out of the backfield, helping Jay Ajayi meet fantasy expectations. Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker too will perform equally with Jay Cutler. Neither Ryan Tannehill nor Jay Cutler were poised to be a top option at the quarterback position, so not much will change because Jay Cutler is starting for Miami instead of Ryan Tannehill.
Ezekiel Elliott suspended six games: Let’s start off by saying if you already drafted Ezekiel Elliott and didn’t draft Darren McFadden, shame on you. We all knew the suspension was coming, although no one expected it to be six games (which will probably be reduced upon appeal). The lesson is: try to draft your handcuffs late, especially when drafting a running back as high as Ezekiel Elliott. The important thing to consider now is how will you fix the problem of losing Ezekiel Elliott. The first thing to do is to try and trade for Darren McFadden. One word of caution though is that whomever does own Darren McFadden will try to get top dollar for him, so be prepared to walk away if the price gets too high. If you can’t get him now you will be able to get him in a few weeks when Ezekiel Elliott is closer to returning. The other direction you can take is to target another RB and use him to carry you while you wait for Elliott to return. Try targeting Jacquizz Rodgers, Martin is suspended 3 weeks and he could help cover you for a few weeks. Another strategy is to draft a third down pass-catching back like Danny Woodhead, David Johnson, or Shane Vereen. Again, you are only looking to bridge the gap for a couple of weeks.
If you haven’t drafted already, the question becomes when to take Elliott? In my opinion the answer is simply to avoid the problem altogether and don’t draft him. Why give yourself this headache? If he slips to say the fifth or sixth round maybe you take a flier on him but if his suspension is six games and you invest a high draft pick on him, your season will be over before he gets back.
Buffalo rocks the fantasy world: First Buffalo trades Sammy Watkins and then the team adds Jordan Matthews. First the good news, welcome back Jordan Matthews. He has had his problem with dropping the ball but he just went from a clear No. 2 wide receiver to a clear No. 1. He is sure to see more targets in Buffalo than he would have in Philadelphia. You can expect Jordan Matthews to go from a low-third/high-fourth round wide receiver to a mid-second round wide receiver on your team. Mack Hollins is the wide receiver in Philadelphia who benefits the most from the trade and he was fantastic in his first preseason action.
Now for the bad news. Sammy Watkins is going to take a hit. He has always been capable of getting his points no matter whom his quarterback was and this will be the biggest test of that ability. Jared Goff will be far and away the worst quarterback he has played with. Sammy Watkins will be the best wide receiver that Jared Goff has ever played with, unfortunately this will have little effect on his production. Tyrod Taylor also takes a fantasy hit. Sammy Watkins is a game-breaker that brings more to the table and fits Taylor’s particular skill set better than Jordan Matthews does.
Rookie quarterbacks put the veterans on notice: The most impressive thing that came out of the first preseason games is that the rookies came to play and the veterans didn’t. Brock Osweiler and Mike Glennon both played horribly in their first outings this year and Tom Savage was just OK. They better improve this week because DeShone Kizer, Deshaun Watson, and Mitchell Trubisky all looked good. Deshaun Watson went 15-for-25 for 179 yards and 24 rushing yards rushing and a touchdown. DeShone Kizer went 11-for-18 with 184 yards and lead a fourth quarter comeback. Mitchell Trubisky went 18-for-25 with 166 yards and a touchdown. All of these young QBs looked like they were in control of the game and had both the poise and presence that is needed to play quarterback in the NFL. We could see all of three of them start sooner rather than later.