Stock Up: the following guys have moved up our rankings over the past week.
Charlie Whitehurst, QB, Seahawks
He’s outplayed QB Tarvaris Jackson in each of Seattle’s first 2 preseason games. HC Pete Carroll is sticking by T-Jax for now, but that could change in a hurry if he continues to struggle. Whitehurst is a good bet to start at least a handful of games this year, but he’s still not a fantasy option.
Kerry Collins, QB, Colts
Collins was coaxed out of retirement to sign with the Colts as Peyton Manning insurance. He’s a recommended handcuff for Manning owners. Collins is still a capable passer, tossing 32 TDs against 23 INTs with the Titans over the past 3 seasons. He’ll have a lot more to work with if he sees playing time with the Colts.
Vince Young, QB, Eagles
VY looked more comfortable in Philly's offense in Thursday night's game against the Browns. He connected on 9 of 12 throws for 58 yards, adding 24 yards and a score on the ground. There's been talk this week that Young was behind QB Mike Kafka on the Eagles' depth chart. But this performance -- plus the fact that Kafka didn't even see the field Thursday -- makes it pretty clear that Young is QB Michael Vick's backup.
Ray Rice, RB, Ravens
Rice got all 3 goal line carries with the 1st-team offense in Thursday night’s game against the ‘Skins. 2 of those came from inside the 5, and Rice punched in the 2nd one for a 3-yard score. RB Ricky Williams will function as a change-of-pace back, but Rice appears to be the man in the money zone
Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys
No player has generated more buzz around the Draft Sharks office over the past few weeks. Garnering praise from everyone in the Cowboys organization – and then looking electric in preseason action – Jones has jumped up more than 10 spots in our rankings to #13 among RBs. He’s one of our favorite RB2s.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns
With Brandon Jackson (toe) out indefinitely, and Montario Hardesty failing to impress in preseason action, Hillis' role as feature back is as safe as ever. He's a lock for 20+ touches per game early in the year.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants
The Giants talked all offseason about needing to get Jacobs more carries this season. It looks like they’re ready to follow-through on that plan. Jacobs and RB Ahmad Bradshaw split carries in the team’s 2nd preseason game this past Monday. Jacobs looked impressive on his way to 48 yards and a score on 6 carries. Bradshaw is still the lead back in New York, but Jacobs will see enough action to make him a rock-solid RB3.
Tim Hightower, RB, Redskins
Hightower had another impressive showing in Thursday night's game against the Ravens. He carried 9 times for 56 yards, highlighted by a beautiful cut-back run that went for a 37-yard score. Hightower is now averaging a stellar 6.8 yards per carry this preseason. The o-line is opening some gaping holes, and Hightower is hitting them decisively. But the biggest takeaway from Thursday's game was that Hightower was the only RB to see action with the 1st-team offense. He’s the clear feature back and could post RB2 numbers.
James Starks, RB, Packers
We didn't learn a whole lot about Green Bay's RB battle in their 3rd preseason game Friday. Starks and Ryan Grant split 1st-team snaps. But Starks looked like the much more dangerous back to us. Grant may open the season as the lead back, but we're betting that Starks finishes with more touches. Still, splitting carries on a pass-first offense, he's just a RB3.
Montario Hardesty, RB, Browns
With Brandon Jackson (toe) out indefinitely, Hardesty is Cleveland's clear-cut #2 RB. He'll need to show more than he did in Thursday night's preseason game if he wants to see much action though. Hardesty managed only 15 yards on 5 carries. He's still just a late-round flier for now.
Delone Carter, RB, Colts
Colts beat writer Phillip Wilson believes that Carter has locked-up the team's #2 RB job. Through 3 preseason games, Carter has totaled 81 yards on 17 carries. RB Donald Brown, meanwhile, has managed only 28 yards on his 11 carries. If nothing else, Carter looks like the handcuff for Joseph Addai owners. And the rookie could have some standalone fantasy value if he wins goal line duties.
Ben Tate, RB, Texans
Tate exploded for 95 yards and a TD on 9 carries in his preseason debut last Saturday. He also caught a ball for 13 yards. Durability is an issue for Tate, but there's no question that this guy has the talent to do some damage. He's still behind Derrick Ward in the race for Houston's backup RB job, but it might not take him long to move into the lead.
Lee Evans, WR, Bills
Evans hauled in 3 balls for 60 yards and a score in Thursday night's preseason game against the Redskins. He and Flacco seem to have already built some chemistry, connecting 6 times for 128 yards in 2 exhibitions. Evans' deep speed fits well with Flacco's big arm. The ex-Bill is looking more and more like a viable WR3 in fantasy.
Johnny Knox, WR, Bears
He’s still running with the 2nd-team, but all indications are that he continues to out-play WR Roy Williams. We’re expecting Knox to get his starting job back early in the season. He's a recommended bench stash.
Plaxico Burress, WR, Jets
Burress looked surprisingly explosive in his preseason debut last Sunday night. He hauled in a 20-yard pass on the first play of the game, and then made a beautiful diving catch for a 26-yard TD. Plax finished with 3 catches for 66 yards and that score. We're starting to buy into Burress as a WR3 option.
Jabar Gaffney, WR, Redskins
Gaffney has won the team’s #2 WR job. But with some combination of John Beck and Rex Grossman at the controls of the passing game, Gaffney is still an unattractive fantasy option.
Brandon Gibson, WR, Rams
Gibson has reportedly had an excellent training camp and has totaled 108 yards and a score in 3 preseason contests. He appears to have locked-down a starting spot. The Rams still figure to use a rotation at WR though, so Gibson is just a bench guy in fantasy.
Titus Young, RB, Lions
Young, who has practiced just a few times since training camp opened, is already working as the slot receiver with the 1st-team offense. If he can stay healthy, Young is worth a look as a late-round flier. He figures to post at least a couple big games this year with his blazing speed and the Lions' high-octane passing attack.
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jaguars
The rookie had an outstanding training camp and appears ready to make an impact right away. Jags insider John Oehser believes Shorts could make his way into the starting lineup this season. He’s a viable late-round flier.
Ed Dickson, TE, Ravens
Dickson seemingly took control of the team's starting TE job on Thursday night. While both he and Dennis Pitta saw action with the 1st-team, Dickson racked up 57 yards on 3 catches. Pitta, meanwhile, managed just 2 grabs for 16 yards. Dickson is clearly the more dangerous downfield playmaker, and that makes him the better fantasy option. Still, Pitta will continue to be involved, leaving Dickson as nothing more than a late-round flier.
Stock Down: the following guys have moved down our rankings over the past week.
Peyton Manning, QB, Colts
It’s looking more and more possible that Manning (neck) won’t be ready for Week 1. The Colts admitted early in the week that they have no idea when Peyton will be able to get back on the field. And then they went out and signed QB Kerry Collins. We’d consider Manning a 50-50 proposition to be under center for the season opener. He moved down our rankings, although he could turn into a value pick if his ADP plummets.
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs
Cassel completed just 6 of 13 passes for 59 yards in Friday night's game against the Rams. It's been an ugly preseason for him. He's sporting a 44% completion rate and a 4.9 yards-per-attempt average with 0 TDs. This entire Chiefs offense has looked anemic. It's fair to wonder if the departure of OC Charlie Weis will result in this unit taking a step back in 2011. Cassel is looking like an unattractive QB2.
Tarvaris Jackson, QB, Seahawks
He’s been awful through 2 preseason games, completing just 14 of 26 passes for 88 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT. Charlie Whitehurst, meanwhile, has gone 28 of 29 for 212 yards, 1 TD, and 0 INTs. HC Pete Carroll is sticking by Jackson for now, but that may change if he struggles again this weekend.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants
It looks like Bradshaw is going to lose more carries to RB Brandon Jacobs than we thought. The two split carries in last Monday night’s preseason game, and Jacobs actually looked like the better back. Bradshaw is still the featured ball-carrier here, but an increased role for B-Jakes puts a dent in his upside.
Ryan Grant, RB, Packers
He split 1st-team snaps with James Starks against the Colts on Friday night. Starks looked like the more dangerous player. Grant may open the season as the lead back, but we'd bet against him hanging onto that role. He's just a low-end RB3.
Roy Helu, RB, Redskins
The rookie didn’t see a single snap with the 1st-team offense in Thursday night’s game against the Ravens. Tim Hightower is Washington’s clear lead back. Helu might mix in for 6-8 touches per game. We still like this guy’s long-term outlook, but he’s just a late-round flier in 2011 fantasy drafts.
Brandon Jackson, RB, Browns
Jackson is out "indefinitely" with turf toe. ESPN's Adam Schefter hears he'll miss a maximum of 6 weeks, while the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that B-Jax could end up on the IR. Regardless, he should be avoided in fantasy drafts.
Donald Brown, RB, Colts
Brown has been brutal this preseason, managing just 28 yards on 11 carries. Rookie Delone Carter is clearly more talented and will likely start the season as Indy's #2 back. That leaves Brown without any fantasy value.
Clinton Portis, RB, free-agent
If he was still lingering on your fantasy radar, it’s safe to remove him. Portis showed up to a workout with the Patriots “incredibly out of shape.” We doubt he lands a job before Week 1, and he won't be a fantasy factor regardless.
Lance Moore, WR, Saints
Moore will miss the team's 3rd preseason game with a groin injury. HC Sean Payton said his status is "unclear" for the final exhibition. We're guessing that Moore will be ready for Week 1, but consider him a risky pick until we find out for sure.
Roy Williams, WR, Bears
He still has a starting job… for now. Williams had an awful camp and hasn’t been any better in preseason action. Bears WRs coach Darryl Drake confirmed that Johnny Knox is pushing for Williams’ spot. We’d expect Roy to be demoted early in the season, if not sooner.
Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Browns
Massaquoi is still out with a bone chip in his left foot. He's been sidelined since late July and may be in jeopardy of falling behind both Greg Little and Brian Robiskie on the depth chart. Massaquoi is an unattractive late-round flier in fantasy drafts.
Anthony Armstrong, WR, Redskins
He’s been beaten out by Jabar Gaffney for the #2 WR job. Armstrong will still see plenty of action from the slot, but he’s not a recommend fantasy option on Washington’s sub-par passing attack.
Patrick Crayton, WR Chargers
Crayton underwent arthroscopic ankle surgery on Tuesday and is expected to miss 10-14 days. It's a minor procedure, but the missed time could open the door for rookie WR Vincent Brown to win a bigger role. Brown and Crayton will likely end up splitting snaps at the 3rd WR spot. Neither guy is a fantasy option without an injury to Vincent Jackson or Malcom Floyd.
Danario Alexander, WR, Rams
He continues to struggle with that bum knee. Alexander went for an MRI this week. The results came back clean, but it’s still bothering him. He’s not a lock to make St. Louis’ 53-man roster.
Donald Jones, WR, Bills
He’ll miss the remainder of the preseason with the concussion he suffered during last Saturday's game against the Broncos. Jones was looking like the favorite to open the season as Buffalo's #2 WR, but this missed time won't help his cause. He’s not a fantasy option.
Randall Cobb, WR, Packers
Cobb suffered contusions to both knees in the team's 2nd preseason game. He's reportedly in danger of missing the season opener. Cobb will start the year as a return specialist and as the 5th WR. He's more of a dynasty league stash than an option in redraft leagues.
Kevin Boss, TE, Raiders
Boss suffered a sprained knee in the team's preseason game on Saturday. HC Hue Jackson called him "week to week." It sounds like he may be in jeopardy of missing Week 1. Boss was just a low-end TE2 to begin with, and this news makes him even less attractive.
Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens
Pitta seems to have fallen back behind Ed Dickson is Baltimore’s TE pecking order. In the team’s 3rd preseason game, Pitta caught just 2 balls for 16 yards, while Dickson reeled in 3 for 57. Both guys will see snaps this season, but Dickson is the one worth a late-round flier.
Michael Hoomanawanui , TE, Rams
He’s expected to miss at least 2 weeks with a strained calf. It puts his status for Week 1 in doubt. With the speedy emergence of rookie TE Lance Kendricks as St. Louis' primary pass-catching TE, Hoomanawanui wasn't a fantasy option anyways.