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The news: Mark Kaboly of The Athletic reported that Kenny Pickett‘s superb preseason performances could lead to him being named the starter.
What it means in fantasy: For the first time since Ben Roethlisberger was drafted in 2004, the Steelers don’t have clarity at the quarterback position going into the season. When Pittsburgh signed Mitch Trubisky in free agency, he was expected to be the starter, but the team selected Pickett No. 20 overall in the draft. Pickett has shown steady improvement throughout training camp and in the preseason games. Pittsburgh’s final preseason game against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, could determine the Steelers’ Week 1 starter. For fantasy purposes, the winner will be on the streaming radar.
Going deeper: Pickett has a 142.5 quarterback rating so far in the preseason with only three incompletions and three touchdowns on 22 dropbacks. In addition, the rookie has performed much better under pressure than Trubisky. Considering the Steelers’ ranked 31st in pass block win rate last season, this is significant.
The news: Dameon Pierce shined in the Texans preseason finale on Thursday night.
What it means in fantasy: Pierce had an opportunity to get some reps with the first team offense and exceeded expectations to the tune of 37 rushing yards and a touchdown on six attempts. He is the RB38 in our live draft trends, but Pierce’s average draft position is likely to rise after this performance. Despite being underutilized during his college career at the University of Florida, Pierce has become one of the most talked-about fantasy football sleepers of the preseason.
Going deeper: The Texans had the worst running game in the league last season, finishing with 1,442 rushing yards and 3.4 yards per carry.
The news: Bucs coach Todd Bowles said Thursday that Tom Bradywill start Saturday’s preseason finale against the Colts.
What it means in fantasy: After his training camp absence, Brady will return to action immediately. For the GOAT, this would be his first preseason game, his first time playing with Julio Jones and his first time behind the remade offensive line. The Buccaneers offensive line is the one that concerns me the most and should concern you as a fantasy manager as well. Brady is the QB8 in our live draft trends, and while he has a lot of playmakers at his disposal, I would rather wait until later to draft a quarterback with similar upside, such as Russell Wilson (QB11), Trey Lance (QB13) and Derek Carr (QB14).
The news: Drake London is still not practicing due to his knee injury.
What it means in fantasy: The coaching staff didn’t seem too concerned about London’s knee injury 11 days ago. Fantasy managers shouldn’t panic yet. London was selected 8th overall in the NFL draft. There is no reason for the Falcons to rush him back. Kyle Pitts and London will lead Atlanta’s passing game. In fantasy leagues, the rookie is a solid flex option.
The news: Antonio Gibson is expected to be the Commanders’ primary kick returner this season
What it means in fantasy: The fantasy managers who targeted Gibson in drafts must have wailed in unison after Coach Rivera announced this publicly. Despite totaling 1,331 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, Gibson appears unlikely to be Washington’s starter in 2022. Maybe he’ll be more of a receiver out of the backfield after tallying 42 receptions, 294 receiving yards, and three touchdowns last season. Gibson is the RB23 in our live draft trends, but I would prioritize Elijah Mitchell (RB24), Devin Singletary (RB25) or Miles Sanders (RB26) over him.
The news: Treylon Burks left practice early on Wednesday and did not practice on Thursday.
What it means in fantasy:The Titans traded A.J. Brown to the Eagles in exchange for the pick they used to select Burks in this year’s draft. Fantasy managers have high expectations for Burks but these expectations have not yet been met by the rookie. It’s unfortunate because the Titans have 351 available targets entering the season. Burks is worth stashing on your bench, but Robert Woods is the Titans receiver you want to target. He’s the WR47 in our live draft trends.
Going deeper: text.
What it means in fantasy: Howard was signed this offseason and was expected to join starter Dawson Knox in two tight end sets or operate as a solo tight end when Knox was resting. Due to the outstanding performances of two underappreciated tight ends Tommy Sweeney and Quintin Morris, Howard may be playing for his roster spot during the Bills final preseason game. Knox is currently the TE12 in our draft trends, which makes him a great option for those who prefer to wait to address the position.
The news: Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims has requested a trade.
What it means in fantasy: After being selected by the Jets in the second round of the NFL draft two years ago, it’s clear that Mims is not a vital component on the new coaching regime’s plan and wants a fresh start elsewhere. As a rookie in 2020, he had 23 receptions for 357 receiving yards, showing flashes of what he’s capable of. After that season, the entire coaching staff that drafted him were fired, and Mims never gained the confidence of new head coach Robert Saleh. Only 24 years old, Mims is known for winning contested catches and could find himself on the fantasy radar once again in the right situation.
Today on ESPN.com/Fantasy and in the ESPN Fantasy App
• Mock Draft: 10-team non-PPR
• Fantasy Focus podcast: Double Trouble with the Lions and Bears
•Tristan H. Cockcroft’s best picks for each slot in Rounds 1 and 2
In case you missed it:
Matt Bowen’s 18 favorite draft targets
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