If you did wait this long to select your team, you have the benefit of a full preseason’s worth of action on which to base some of your draft decisions, assuming you were paying attention. Maybe a certain player caught your eye, or maybe a subtle injury occurred that went unnoticed by the rest of your league.
Let’s look at a possible four-round mock draft and then highlight three notable picks who saw their value increase or decrease over the past week.
TE Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots (Round 1, Pick 5)
Tom Brady’s overturned suspension Thursday impacts the Patriots significantly on the field, but also in the fantasy football realm.
Superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski is one of the key beneficiaries of Brady’s early return.
Even assuming Gronk would play four games with Pats backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, many fantasy owners were taking him in the first round. The 6’6″, 265-pound matchup nightmare is not only the most talented tight end by a landslide, but he doesn’t have a stud No. 1 wideout taking away tons of targets, a tempting combination for those drafting in the back half of the first round.
But now, with Brady back to start the regular season, Gronk‘s numbers should be sky-high and be worthy of a mid-first-round pick. If he stays healthy, expect 1,200 receiving yards and anywhere from 12 to 15 touchdowns.
RB Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (Round 1, Pick 8)
Marshawn Lynch has been so dependable the past four seasons (at least 1,400 yards from scrimmage and 12 total touchdowns each year), it’s hard to predict him falling off significantly.
Yes, Beast Mode is 29 and now eerily close to the dreaded 30-year-old barrier, but the main reason I’m predicting a slight dip in production is his circumstances.
First, new Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham is a deadly red-zone threat. He had 51 touchdown catches in a five-year tenure with the New Orleans Saints catching passes from Drew Brees. Seattle doesn’t pass nearly as much as New Orleans, but it’s a fair assumption that Russell Wilson will utilize Graham’s size (6’6″ and 265 pounds) and skills near the end zone, taking away a potential touchdown or two from Lynch.
Second, the Seahawks signed 34-year-old veteran running back Fred Jackson Friday to bolster its backfield depth after incumbent backup Robert Turbin suffered a severe high-ankle sprain Monday. Jackson is an ace pass protector and receiver, but also a strong runner. He’ll be key in keeping Lynch, his friend and former teammate with the Buffalo Bills, fresh and healthy for the Seahawks’ inevitable playoff run.
Lynch will put up very good numbers, just not top-five production.
RB Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts (Round 3, Pick 5)
What’s going on with all the Colts running backs?
Josh Robinson suffered a concussion August 29 in a preseason game against the St. Louis Rams. Indianapolis’ next preseason game Thursday saw Vick Ballard injure his hamstring and Daniel “Boom” Herron hurt his shoulder.
All of a sudden, the support behind starting running back Frank Gore goes from “decent’ to “terrible.”
Now, Robinson should be good for Week 1, per the Herald-Bulletin‘s George Bremer. But Ballard and Herron were the presumed No. 2 and No. 3 backs on the depth chart, and the severity of their injuries hadn’t been released as of Saturday evening.
For the time being, Gore’s fantasy value receives a slight bump. The Colts offense will rely heavily on the passing attack, but the veteran ball-carrier is now the undisputed bell cow of the backfield.
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