Get ready for your season with theScore’s 2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit.
The preseason isn’t just a time for NFL clubs to evaluate their talent; it’s a time when fantasy owners become fantasy scouts – watching games, doing research, and forming opinions that’ll guide them on draft day.
Exhibition games may not mean much overall, but they provide us with our first live-action look at rookies and give us a glimpse of veterans in new situations. Knowing when an aging star is on their last legs is just as important as figuring out if a young player is ready for a breakout.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at 12 players whose preseason performance could have a major impact on their draft stock.
Marshawn Lynch, Raiders
The Raiders would be wise to hold Lynch out for most (if not all) of the preseason, but fantasy owners are hoping they’ll get an early look at the former Seahawks star in silver and black. Playing behind one of the league’s best offensive lines, the only question will be whether Lynch can still kick it into Beast Mode, and for how long.
Joe Mixon, Bengals
Mixon is the complete package at running back, but will still need to beat out Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard before he can stand alone in the Bengals’ backfield. It’s possible Hill remains a goal-line weapon and Bernard serves as a passing specialist, so Mixon’s fantasy upside depends on him proving himself worthy of a three-down role over the next month.
Josh Doctson, Redskins
After a lost rookie year, Doctson was flashing his talent early in training camp before a hamstring injury sent him back to the sidelines. The 2016 first-rounder has the talent to eventually emerge as a No. 1 receiver, but he’ll face plenty of competition for targets from Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder, and Jordan Reed.
Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
Putting Luke Kuechly on skates made for a nice viral video, but it was in a one-on-one drill that favored offensive players. McCaffrey needs to prove he can make dynamic plays like that while being chased by 11 defenders to justify his current third-round price tag.
Carson Wentz, Eagles
The Eagles surrounded their franchise quarterback with receiving weapons during the offseason in hopes that he’ll take a big step as a sophomore. This will be our first chance to see how that experiment might play out and gauge whether Wentz could be a fantasy asset in 2017.
Mike Gillislee, Patriots
The former Bills rusher is the favorite to lead the Patriots’ backfield this season, and offers a more complete skill set than LeGarrette Blount, who scored 18 touchdowns a year ago. Still, as enticing as Gillislee might be, it’s always dangerous to put your faith in a single New England ball-carrier, especially with Rex Burkhead, James White, and Dion Lewis capable of carrying the load.
Martavis Bryant, Steelers
Bryant will need to be officially reinstated if fantasy owners are going to get the chance to be wowed by his freak athleticism and receiving skills in the preseason. Get ready for his ADP to skyrocket once the league gives him the go-ahead to get back on the field.
Ty Montgomery, Packers
Can Montgomery handle a three-down workload and are the Packers willing to let him try? That’s what fantasy owners will be hoping to find out in the preseason. Rookie backup Jamaal Williams is already stealing first-team reps and could eat into Montgomery’s touches. It would take one hell of an August for Williams to take over the starting job, though.
Devin Funchess, Panthers
Funchess has locked up a starting receiver role across from Kelvin Benjamin and should be in for a significant target increase. The 23-year-old scored nine touchdowns over his first two NFL seasons despite limited snaps, and could be an intriguing late-round flier for fantasy owners if he keeps it up.
Dalvin Cook, Vikings
After tanking at the NFL combine, Cook has managed to rebuild his fantasy draft stock with a strong performance in OTAs and training camp. It helps that Latavius Murray was sidelined until recently, but Cook is putting himself in position to run away with the lead-back job in Minnesota. Let’s hope that continues when he faces teams other than his own this month.
Austin Hooper, Falcons
Hooper’s production in 2016 left a lot to be desired, but first-year tight ends rarely make an impact. This offseason he’s been working out with Matt Ryan in an effort to build chemistry and incite a sophomore breakout. With a new offensive coordinator in town, it’s tough to guess how much the tight end will be used, but Hooper will have a chance to carve out a bigger role.
Adrian Peterson, Saints
It will be strange seeing AD in a Saints uniform, but how he’s used/performs in the preseason will help fantasy owners make wise decisions on draft day. Mark Ingram should still lead the Saints’ backfield in touches with Peterson serving as a complementary back, unless the latter regains his former superhero-like form and forces New Orleans to make him the unquestioned starter.
Others to scout
- DeVante Parker, Dolphins
- Kareem Hunt, Chiefs
- D’Onta Foreman, Texans
- Alvin Kamara, Saints
- De’Angelo Henderson, Broncos
- Marquise Goodwin, 49ers
- Kenny Golladay, Lions
- Cooper Kupp, Rams
- Paul Richardson, Seahawks
- Nelson Agholor, Eagles
- Evan Engram, Giants
- Deshaun Watson, Texans
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