FANTASY PLAYS: RB battles that could lead to split carries
There are a host of running back battles that will continue through the second week of preseason games that will eventually be resolved by either a clear winner or some sort of committee that fantasy owners dread.
BRONCOS: Incumbent Devontae Booker had just two carries in Denver’s preseason opener while rookie Royce Freeman ripped off a nifty 23-yard touchdown run. Booker should see more touches Sunday against the Bears, but Freeman is gaining momentum and should overtake Booker as the Broncos‘ lead back. Consider Freeman in the middle portion of the draft, especially in point-per-reception (PPR) leagues.
EAGLES: LeGarrette Blount’s departure to the Lions opens the door to a host of touches near the goal line. Jay Ajayi will be a huge sleeper if Philly entrusts him with the bulk of the red zone touches, but Super Bowl hero Corey Clement will be a factor as well. How the Eagles plan on using Darren Sproles could snatch touches from both, as this sets up to be an annoying committee situation.
JETS: Bilal Powell could be a late-round sleeper as he places an iron grip on the starting job. Powell opened camp in a battle with Isaiah Crowell, but Crowell suffered a concussion in the exhibition opener against the Falcons, giving Powell — who has 128 catches over the past three seasons despite starting only 16 games — his best opportunity to become a lead back.
TITANS: Expect a timeshare with Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis, with Lewis being the better choice in PPR leagues. Henry’s physical style of running makes him a good play in non-PPR formats, but both will have their red zone touches limited by the presence of quarterback Marcus Mariota and tight end Delanie Walker.
REDSKINS: With Derrius Guice lost for the season, Rob Kelley tops the depth chart for now, but second-year back Samaje Perine will push him. Neither factor in PPR formats, as Chris Thompson should be ready to go after breaking his fibula in Week 11 last season. Thompson will be the pass-catching back. If he regains his speed, fantasy owners should be confident in grabbing him in the middle rounds.
For a variety of reasons, there are an abundance of saves available for fantasy baseball owners to nab off waiver wires. Pedro Strop of the Cubs will be the team’s ninth inning stopper while Brandon Morrow remains on the disabled list, while the Nationals are turning to hard-throwing youngster Koda Glover after the loss of Sean Doolittle and Kelvin Herrera. A.J. Minter hammered down his 11th save on Wednesday and will hold the Braves‘ role of closer even when Atlanta gets Arodys Vizcaino returns from the DL at month’s end.
The situation to watch is with the Dodgers, as Sean Alexander has faltered in replacing injured All-Star Kenley Jansen. Kenta Maeda could get a look the role, with Caleb Ferguson and J.T. Chargois also factoring in the process.
JAZZ FOR THOSE MOVIN’ ON UP
Look for Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell to become a top-20 caliber fantasy player this season. Projected as a fourth or fifth round pick in early draft rankings, Mitchell’s impressive postseason run will be a precursor to a leap toward superstardom.
Mitchell averaged 24.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 11 playoff games in his rookie season. Heading into his second year, Mitchell, who also shot nearly 91 percent from the free throw line in the playoffs, is only lacking an improved 3-point shot from emerging as a value pick if selected outside the top 30.
- AFC South
- Denver Broncos
- New York Jets
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Tennessee Titans
- Washington Redskins