Typically Preseason Week 3 is the most important August exhibition as far as drawing legitimate conclusions goes. While it’s never wise to take too much away from non-competitive games, they do serve a purpose as far as showcasing young talent goes. I’ve highlighted two rookies and one young dynamo who looked primed to make a legitimate fantasy impact in 2016.
Fuller Wills His Way into Starting Role
The Texans drafted Will Fuller with the 21st overall pick in the Draft this spring hoping that he could be an explosive deep threat to complement DeAndre Hopkins’ more balanced skill set. With 4.32-speed and top-flight acceleration, expectations were high for Fuller going into training camp. So far he hasn’t disappointed—in three preseason games he’s posted seven catches on 12 targets for 140 yards and two touchdowns, and has established himself as the WR2 in the Houston offense in the process. With big-armed Brock Osweiler under center and DeAndre Hopkins drawing the bulk of attention from opposing secondaries, Fuller should have a few really big games in 2016. He makes for a great flier once you have your starting positions filled.
Derrick Henry – Bruising Backup with Tons of Upside
DeMarco Murray is locked in as the RB1 in Tennessee, which isn’t surprising. What IS surprising is that rookie Derrick Henry has matched Murray’s effectiveness during the preseason. Fear not, though—this shouldn’t be one of those dreaded “running back-by-committee” situations. Murray will out-touch Henry every week, but it’s now clear the 6’3”, 247-lb. rookie will have a regular role. His bulk and explosiveness make him the ideal touchdown vulture, particularly late in games when fatigue has begun to set in on opposing defenses. The yardage won’t be there in 2016, but Henry has a very real shot at scoring 8-10 touchdowns assuming he stays healthy.
Stars Aligning for Stripes’ Gio Bernard
While his 2015 fantasy performance was somewhat disappointing depending on what his draft cost was, there were a lot of positive takeaways for Bernard. He played all 16 games and actually amassed 1,202 total yards from scrimmage while also posting career highs in yards per carry (4.7) and yards per reception (9.6). Bernard’s preseason Week 3 performance was a microcosm of what he brings to the table—three rushes for 27 yards and two receptions for 25 yards and a score. He will likely see similar usage in the run game due to the presence of ground specialist Jeremy Hill, but he should have an expanded role in the passing game. With Mohamed Sanu now in Atlanta and Tyler Eifert missing the first 4-6 weeks, Bernard should pick up some more short targets from Andy Dalton.
Each week we will identify three players worth taking a shot on late in fantasy drafts.
DeAndre Washington, RB, Raiders – Dangerous both in the passing game and on the ground. Should have a role complementing Latavius Murray. Low-end flex option with upside.
Breshad Perriman, WR, Ravens – Ultra-talented wideout, finally approaching full health. With nobody excellent ahead of him, the WR1 in Baltimore is his for the taking.
Tajae Sharpe, WR, Titans – With Dorial Green-Beckham traded away, should have starting job locked down. Impressive in preseason, could be top option in Tennessee in the near future.
NFL News – Newly Important Quarterbacks
After an impressive training camp and preseason, Trevor Siemian was officially named the starting quarterback for the reigning Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos on Monday. He managed to hold off Mark Sanchez and rookie Paxton Lynch, and could be a low-range fantasy QB2 given the weapons he has to work with.
With Tony Romo out for the beginning of the season with a fractured vertebrae, rookie Dak Prescott is all of a sudden the starting quarterback in Dallas. While his presence brings down Dez Bryant’s fantasy value, it’s possible Prescott can emerge as a fantasy asset given the terrific line he plays behind, defenses focusing on Ezekiel Elliott, and his ability to run.
Bill Dubiel is a fantasy sports expert at Rotoballer.com