The box scores from preseason games are meaningless. However, tracking the depth chart changes and injuries that go on at training camp is invaluable.
As we approach the one-month mark of camp, we can begin to see who is emerging and who is falling behind. Move these guys up your draft boards.
Rookie Ameer Abdullah announced himself to the mainstream NFL world in the first preseason game, jumping off the screen with freakish lateral quickness and unique burst. Meanwhile, Joique Bell (knee, ankle) hasn’t practiced with his teammates since the 2014 season. At the very least, Abdullah will be in an even timeshare with Bell come Week 1. There’s upside for a lot more though, as Bell is clearly not healthy and is coming off back-to-back sub-4.0 YPC seasons anyway. Abdullah's ADP is unfortunately spiking thanks to his performance, but he is still worth a fourth-round pick as a versatile, explosive and athletic specimen.
Taking option 3
Kenny Stills is gone, Jimmy Graham is gone and Marques Colston is on his last legs. That means whoever wins the No. 3 receiver for Drew Brees is going to get his chances, even if this version of the Saints’ offense will be far more conservative than what we’re used to. The man who has bubbled to the front of the competition is Brandon Coleman, who has been lining up with Colston and Brandin Cooks in three-receiver sets throughout training camp. A raw but intriguing 6-foot-6 prospect with 4.5 speed, Coleman has drawn Colston comps from Sean Payton. Deep leaguers need to have him on their radars.
Tyrod Taylor is a sub-average NFL thrower. But he’s an elite runner, as evidenced by his 36-237-0 rushing line over his last 280 preseason snaps and 9-65-1 production in his only real regular season chance (2012 Week 17). With E.J. Manuel on the mat, Taylor only needs to beat out Matt Cassel for the Week 1 starting job in Buffalo. If that happens, he’ll be an underrated fantasy asset thanks to those legs. Remember that Tim Tebow was fantasy’s No. 18 quarterback in 2011 even though he only started 11 games. And Tebow makes Taylor look like Joe Montana when it comes to throwing.
More NFL Camp Risers
1. Eddie Royal, Bears – Tearing up camp and now has clear path to tons of targets with Kevin White (shin surgery) down.
2. David Cobb, Titans – Set to earn some first-team reps after looking powerful and decisive in preseason opener.
3. Kamar Aiken, Ravens – Continues to soak up first-team reps. Only behind an injured rookie in Breshad Perriman and a 36-year-old Steve Smith.
Chris Johnson is beyond the point of making a significant impact on an NFL roster. But the fact the Cardinals brought him back from the grave is another sign they’re not fully content with Andre Ellington as their every-down runner. Just a few months ago, Bruce Arians used a third-round pick on an Ellingtonish back in David Johnson. Ellington can still have plenty of value in PPR formats, but expect 12-15 touches per game instead of the 20.5 he received last year.