by Jared Smola
Stock Up: the following guys have moved up our rankings over the past week.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
The Falcons have been promising a more up-tempo, vertical passing attack all offseason. That's exactly what we saw in their first preseason game. In 1 quarter of action, Ryan went 9 of 13 for 155 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. He looks to be in midseason form, and WR Julio Jones is a stud. Ryan is now our 6th-ranked QB.
Matt Flynn, QB, Seahawks
Flynn has been named Seattle's starter for their preseason opener. It's confirmation that he's ahead of QBs Tarvaris Jackson and Russell Wilson. Barring a face plant, Flynn will be under center come Week 1. He's just a low-end backup in fantasy though.
Brandon Weeden, QB, Browns
Weeden has officially been named Cleveland's starting QB. No surprise there. The rookie had a shaky debut, completing 3 of 9 passes for 62 yards. He was picked off and lost a fumble. It figures to be an up-and-down season for Weeden, making him a weak fantasy option.
John Skelton, QB, Cardinals
Skelton is moving up by default. Kevin Kolb was pathetic in the exhibition opener before suffering a rib injury. Skelton started the team's 2nd preseason game and went just 3 of 6 for 35 yards and an INT. But Kolb was even worse, going 1 of 5 for 21 yards. The Cardinals are in trouble at QB.
Donald Brown, RB, Colts
With Delone Carter having a disappointing camp, Brown is tightening his grasp on the lead role. The Colts want to run plenty this year to protect rookie QB Andrew Luck, so Brown could be busy.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Chiefs
Hillis looked spry in the preseason opener, rushing 4 times for 41 yards. He added an 11-yard TD reception. The Chiefs want to pound the ball on the ground this year, so there should be plenty to go around for both Hillis and Jamaal Charles.
Cedric Benson, RB, Packers
Benson has joined the Packers backfield. We're tentatively expecting a committee with him and James Starks, but Ced-Ben could emerge as the lead back. He doesn't have much burst left -- averaging less than 4 yards per carry the past 2 years -- but he should find more running room in Green Bay. Still, he'll be sharing the workload on a pass-heavy offense. His ceiling is capped at low-end RB2 production.
Evan Royster, RB, Redskins
It's not Roy Helu in Washington's starting lineup right now. Not even Tim Hightower. Nope -- it's Evan Royster. He's been receiving the majority of the 1st-team reps in practice and worked with the starters in Thursday's preseason opener. Last year's 6th-round pick looks like the favorite to open the year as the Redskins' lead back, although how long that lasts is anyone's guess.
Montario Hardesty and Brandon Jackson, RBs, Browns
These guys would figure to split the backfield work if Trent Richardson's bum knee forces him to miss regular-season action. Hardesty projects as the early-down guy, with Jackson serving as a change-of-pace and 3rd-down back. Neither would be more than a low-end RB3 or flex.
Ronnie Brown and LeRon McClain, RBs, Chargers
HC Norv Turner has already confirmed that Brown will serve as the lead back with Ryan Mathews out of the lineup. He's well past his prime, though, and would only be a RB3 or flex option in fantasy. McClain will also see an increased workload, potentially serving as a short-yardage and goal line option.
Vick Ballard, RB, Colts
Ballard has moved up to #3 on Indy's depth chart -- behind Donald Brown and Mewelde Moore, but ahead of Delone Carter. The 5th-rounder rookie is a power runner who fits well in HC Chuck Pagano's system. Ballard is worth monitoring over the next month. He could potentially capture a red zone role.
Bilal Powell, RB, Jets
Jets insider Rich Cimini recently called Powell the best RB in camp. Cimini believes Powell has a chance to overtake Joe McKnight for the #2 RB job. That'd make him an intriguing flier behind the mediocre Shonn Greene.
Chris Rainey, RB, Steelers
Rainey worked in with the 1st-team offense in Thursday night's preseason opener, catching an 8-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger. He later busted off a 57-yard TD on a quick screen. This dude can fly. And it looks like the Steelers are serious about using him in a change-of-pace role. Rainey is a nice late-round fantasy pick, especially in PPR formats.
Julio Jones, WR, Falcons
It's tough not to be giddy about Jones at this point. He's been ripping up training camp and then went out and posted 109 yards and a score in just a quarter of action on Thursday night. He's a physical freak on a burgeoning passing game. Jones is now our 4th-ranked WR, and we're considering moving him even higher.
Brandon LaFell, WR, Panthers
LaFell continues to garner breakout predictions from everyone in and around the Panthers. He's reportedly improved his route-running and developed excellent chemistry with Cam Newton. We're willing to bite at his current 12th-round ADP.
Terrell Owens, WR, Seahawks
Owens inked a 1-year deal with the Seahawks after a lights-out workout this past week. That impressive play has continued in training camp. He's working at Sidney Rice's flanker spot, though, so he may not be in the starting lineup when Rice is healthy. We're still in wait-and-see mode on T.O. at this point. But at least he has a job.
Danny Amendola, WR, Rams
Amendola is back to 100% after last year's arm injury and has re-emerged as the top option in the passing game. He's just a couple seasons removed from an 85-catch campaign and could be a PPR asset again in 2012.
Keshawn Martin, WR, Texans
The rookie has been impressive since being drafted in the 4th-round this past April. Martin has reportedly become the favorite for the Texans' #3 WR job. At 5'11 and 188 pounds with lightning quicks, Martin is built to play in the slot. Of course, he still doesn't come with much upside on Houston's run-heavy offense.
Dwayne Allen, TE, Colts
It looks like Allen will have a bigger pass-catching role than initially thought. The Colts are planning on running lots of 2-TE sets this year to get both him and Coby Fleener on the field. Allen is set to play in a "move" role, lining up all over the field. ESPN's John Clayton even says that Allen has been more impressive than Fleener in camp so far. The Clemson product still probably isn't worth a look in redrafts at a deep TE position, but he's worth monitoring as a potential in-season pickup.
Stock Down: the following guys have moved down our rankings over the past week.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Cardinals
Kolb's preseason debut couldn't have gone much worse. He went 1 of 4 with an INT before leaving with bruised ribs. QB John Skelton got the start in the team's 2nd preseason game. Kolb then entered with the backups and proceeded to go 1 of 5 for 21 yards. He's off to a brutal start, and the starting job is slipping through his grasp.
David Garrard, QB, Dolphins
Garrard is set to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery today and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. The longer end of that spectrum would get him back just a few days before the season-opener. Garrard was looking like the favorite to be Miami's Week 1 starter, but this injury will give Matt Moore and rookie Ryan Tannehill a chance to capture the job. The entire situation should be avoided in redraft leagues.
Tarvaris Jackson, QB, Seahawks
As expected, Matt Flynn has emerged as the favorite to start at QB for the 'Hawks. Jackson is still in danger of being released if rookie Russell Wilson shows well in preseason action.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers
Mathews suffered a broken clavicle on his first preseason carry. He underwent surgery and is expected to be sidelined for 4-6 weeks. He'll likely miss at least the first game of the season, and maybe as many as 3. The good news is that this isn't an injury that will linger. We still have Mathews ranked 9th at RB and would nab him in the mid-to-late 2nd round of 12-team drafts.
Trent Richardson, RB, Browns
Richardson underwent knee surgery on Thursday to clean out a loose particle that was causing him soreness. It was considered a minor, proactive procedure, and Richardson is expected back on the field in about 2 weeks. Still, it's the 2nd surgery on that knee in the past 7 months. Durability is starting to become a concern here already. It wouldn't be surprising if Cleveland limited Richardson's workload early on.
Roy Helu, RB, Redskins
Helu is currently being Shanahaned. Although most observers have called him the best back in camp, he's working with the 2nd-team offense behind Evan Royster. The team is reportedly worried about Helu's durability. For now, he looks like nothing more than a change-of-pace option. That could change quickly though.
James Starks and Alex Green, RBs, Packers
Starks has had a brutal August, and Green is still working his way back from last year's torn ACL. The Packers told us all we need to know about these 2 RBs when they signed an over-the-hill Cedric Benson. Green Bay now has a crowded backfield -- and there aren't many carries to go around anyways.
Delone Carter, RB, Colts
Carter is listed 4th on Indy's initial depth chart. The new coaching staff has no allegiance to last year's 4th-round pick, and Carter has clearly had a disappointing camp. He still has a good chance to serve as Donald Brown's primary backup this season, but Carter is barely worth a look in redrafts right now.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos
Moreno is way down at #4 on the team's initial depth chart -- behind Willis McGahee, Lance Ball, and Ronnie Hillman. Moreno's roster spot is in jeopardy, and he's off the fantasy radar at this point.
Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys
Austin tweaked his hamstring last Saturday and is still sidelined. It's especially concerning after he dealt with dual hamstring injuries in 2011. The team is calling this minor "tightness," but Austin's health will be worth tracking closely over the next month.
Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets
Holmes' shaky offseason continued when he suffered a chest contusion in practice last weekend. He's yet to return to practice. This follows Holmes being out of shape in June minicamp, being one of the last players to arrive for training camp, and then struggling with general soreness over the past couple weeks. It's fair to question his "want-to" at this point. Holmes has plenty of talent, but he's a risky fantasy pick without much upside on New York's run-heavy attack.
Jordan Shipley, WR, Bengals
Shipley hasn't regained his quickness after last September's torn ACL. He's buried on Cincinnati's depth chart right now, and insider Joe Reedy believes his roster spot is in jeopardy. Shipley is off the fantasy radar.
Greg Childs, WR, Vikings
Childs tore the patellar tendon in both his knees in practice last Saturday. He had already torn the right one back in college. The rookie is obviously done for 2012, and his football future is in serious jeopardy.
Ed Dickson, TE, Ravens
Dickson sprained his shoulder in the preseason opener. He's expected to be ready for Week 1, but he'll be sidelined for most of the time until then. That'll cost him a chance to take over a bigger piece of the pie from TE Dennis Pitta, who's been out with a broken hand.
Zach Miller, TE, Jaguars
Miller is dealing with a pectoral injury and is considered questionable for Week 1. This guy has intriguing talent but has never been able to stay healthy. Ignore him in fantasy.