Scheduling your fantasy draft is a dangerous game of roulette. If you already had it, there’s a good chance a couple of the owners are considering playing in traffic as we speak.
That’s because we’ve already seen a fistful of very significant injuries happen in preseason games and training camp practices. The safe, three-condom play is to hold your draft roughly 24 hours before the first kick, allowing us to gather all available information and to avoid season-decimating bad luck. For those who haven’t drafted yet, adjusting to these season-enders is crucial.
THE ADAMS FAMILY
Jordy Nelson saw 28.1 percent of the Packers’ targets last year, parlaying that into a 98-1,519-13 season that made him fantasy’s No. 3 wide receiver. The majority of those targets will now go to Davante Adams, a player who was thrown at by Aaron Rodgers 11 times in last year’s playoff game against the Cowboys. The trust Rodgers showed in that game carried over to the offseason, where the former second-round pick was the unquestioned star of the program. Although Adams has some route-running and separation limitations, he’s going to get at least 110 targets from the game’s best quarterback this season. Move Adams into the late-fourth round of your draft board with confidence.
ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS
The Panthers decided to take a sink-or-swim approach with Kelvin Benjamin last season, declining to reduce his playing time despite numerous rookie mistakes. So even though his efficiency was poor, he finished as fantasy’s No. 17 wide receiver on the back of 146 targets (sixth-most in league). Now that Benjamin is with Nelson on the ACL recovery list, the Panthers will be forced to use Devin Funchess similarly. The second-round rookie’s only competition for Cam Newton’s attention will be Greg Olsen, Ted Ginn, Jerricho Cotchery and Corey Brown. Bump Funchess into the eighth round and Olsen into the fifth.
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IT’S A WHITE OUT
The Bears used the No. 7 overall pick on Kevin White, expecting the athletic freak to step right in and replace Brandon Marshall. Instead, he landed on reserve/PUP after undergoing surgery to repair a stress fracture in his shin. Eddie Royal projects as the biggest beneficiary here, as he’ll be on the field in all two-wide sets and has great chemistry with Jay Cutler. When these two were together in Denver in 2008, Royal posted an impressive 91-980-5 line as a rookie. Martellus Bennett and Alshon Jeffery also become higher-upside picks with White sidelined and Marshall in New York.
Deeper injury adjustments
1. Jordan Reed, Redskins – The mismatch-creating Reed finally appears healthy and Niles Paul is done for the year.
2. Leonard Hankerson, Falcons – Kyle Shanahan hand-picked Hankerson to come to Atlanta and back up old/injured Roddy White.
3. Khriy Robinson, Saints – C.J. Spiller’s knee scope doesn’t seem major, but the underrated Robinson is ready to pounce if it is.
Orlando Scandrick’s torn ACL puts significant strain on a Dallas defense that was already on shaky ground. Expect Morris Claiborne and rookie Byron Jones to compete for snaps opposite brutal Brandon Carr, with 2014 UDFA Tyler Patmon in the slot. The Giants and Redskins also feature injured and/or untalented secondaries, giving Sam Bradford even more upside than he already had in Chip Kelly’s offense. Bradford remains the ideal “Wait on QB” target.