A glance at who to target and avoid in your fantasy football draft.
Hyde Has Choke Hold on SF Backfield
Early in the preseason there was talk of Carlos Hyde having to work for the starting job in San Francisco, but now three weeks into the preseason it appears that is not the case. Hyde has been very effective with his preseason touches while his fellow running backs have struggled with any action they've seen. Tim Hightower already has a fumble on his preseason resume and rookie fourth-round pick Joe Williams has disappointed after a strong Week 1. Hyde has feature-back potential, as there isn't really anyone to take touches away in the passing game. While he did miss three games last season, when he was on the field Hyde was extremely effective--he posted a career-high 4.6 yards per carry and ranked in the top 10 in yards after the catch. Hyde is currently the 17th running back off the board, which means he could be a great value pick in the third/fourth round.
Parker Will Benefit From Gun-Slinging Cutler
While Jarvis Landry is still the wide receiver of note in Miami, third-year wideout DeVante Parker has been making the most noise in the preseason. The 6'3" jump ball specialist is the ideal target for the free-slinging Jay Cutler, who is never afraid to launch up a 50-50 ball and rely on his receiver to make a play. Cutler has heaped praise on Parker, calling him a "faster Alshon (Jeffrey)", the similarly shaped Pro Bowl receiver that Cutler peppered with targets in Chicago. Parker finally began to show flashes of his sky-high potential last year, making several big plays especially in the red zone. It's perfectly reasonable to believe that Parker will emerge as the top dog in Miami this year, which would make him a steal at his current ADP (WR33, 69 overall).
Price Way Too High For Melvin Gordon
Melvin Gordon had an outstanding year from a fantasy standpoint in 2016, and his current ADP reflects a widespread belief that he will repeat last year's success. With Danny Woodhead out of the picture, Gordon will be the feature back once again for the Chargers, but he is a prime candidate for regression in 2017. Gordon managed a very pedestrian 3.9 yards per carry last season on 254 attempts, and ranked in the middle/low end of the pack in elusiveness and yards after contact. Much of his fantasy value was predicated on rushing touchdowns (10), and all 10 came within 29 red zone carries--it will be nearly impossible for him to repeat that efficiency. He also received more action in the passing game than he should have once Woodhead, Keenan Allen and Branden Oliver went down with injuries. With all of these factors working against him, there is no chance Gordon returns top-10 overall value in 2017, making him an easy avoid on draft day.
NFL Draft Sleepers of the Week
Doug Martin, RB, TB - Martin would likely be going off the board as a top-10 running back if not for the three-game suspension he is dealing with to start the season. Given the role he'll have in a very good Tampa Bay offense when he returns, he is worth snagging in the 7th or 8th round.
Zay Jones, WR, BUF - The second-round rookie is suddenly the top option in the Buffalo passing game with Sammy Watkins now in LA and Jordan Matthews ailing. He will stretch the field and work in the red zone, and carries more than enough upside to justify taking a flier in the late rounds.
Jason Witten, TE, DAL - The seasoned veteran is still the main safety blanket for Dak Prescott, and his role is locked-in. He offers a reliable floor and will mix in some big games throughout the course of the season.