Dose: Justin Hunter Pops OffMonday, August 18, 2014
The second week of the preseason isn't much better than the first one. Sure, starters play more than they did last week, but most didn't play more than a couple series. We still learned some things to use in our upcoming fantasy drafts, and that's what we're here to point out in this Monday's Daily Dose.
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Titans WR Justin Hunter, the 34th overall pick in last year's draft, has been talked up as a big-time breakout candidate all offseason, and was even dubbed "this year's Alshon Jeffery" by Pro Football Focus standout and Rotoworld contributor Mike Clay. His first game action of 2014 last week didn't go as planned, as Hunter caught just one pass for five yards. He was then forced to wear a jersey reading "JAG" on the name plate at practice after his pedestrian play in the preseason opener. We have a feeling Hunter won't be seeing that "JAG" jersey anymore. Hunter popped off for four catches, 111 yards, and two touchdowns on Friday night against the Saints. He reeled in a four-yard TD from Jake Locker before securing a 64-yard catch-and-run score from rookie Zach Mettenberger on a crossing route. Hunter continues to only work in three-wide sets, but he's easily the most talented wideout on his team. Motivation is the only concern. The 23-year-old is primed to explode. Hunter's ADP has already risen five spots from 12.02 to 11.09. He's still la massive value pick. We wouldn't be surprised to see that ADP rise another couple rounds before Week 1.
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Zach Ertz caught 4-of-5 targets for 60 yards in the Eagles' preseason opener last week. He didn't slow down, as the Eagles and Patriots linked up for a week's worth of joint practices before clashing over the weekend in each team's second preseason game. Ertz went on to secure two passes for 26 yards and a touchdown. On his score, Ertz simply barreled through Patriots S Pat Chung on his way to the end zone. Coach Chip Kelly loves big pass catchers. Ertz, at 6'5/250, projects to be a red-zone monster. He's going to see an increase in snaps from year one to year two, and could emerge as Nick Foles' go-to guy. Foles compared Ertz to his former teammate at Arizona, Rob Gronkowski. High praise. All signs point to a sophomore-year breakout for Ertz, who is absolute robbery at his ninth-round ADP.
Fresh off signing a five-year, $36.5 million contract extension, Kyle Rudolph is making GM Rick Spielman look like a smart man. Rudolph caught a 22-yard pass in the Vikings' preseason opener before roasting the Cardinals for 86 yards and a touchdown on four grabs Saturday night. His highlight-reel catch was a 51-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Rudolph is set up for the biggest season of his young career. Tight end-friendly OC Norv Turner is calling the plays. Rudolph dropped weight in the offseason. And he also trained with Larry Fitzgerald during the spring. He's in that same group as Zach Ertz, Ladarius Green, and Travis Kelce as 2014's breakout TE candidates. Rudolph has a real chance to lead the Vikings in receptions and receiving touchdowns. He's a bargain at his current late-eighth-round ADP. If you're not willing to take the plunge early on Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Julius Thomas, or Jordan Cameron, waiting for one of Rudolph or Ertz isn't a bad idea.
The Steelers announced Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount as co-starters before Saturday night's second preseason game against the Bills. Bell got the start and played the first eight snaps before Blount took the next nine snaps. Blount was used in red-zone packages and appeared to be the preferred option in short-yardage situations. If the trend continues, Bell's stock is going to take major hit. Currently being drafted as RB9, Bell carries a ton of risk. He's not a big-play machine and needs the goal-line work to warrant that kind of high selection in fantasy drafts. This is a situation to monitor closely the rest of summer and into the early parts of the season. For now, I wouldn't advise using a high-second-round pick on Bell, instead opting for touchdown scorers like Zac Stacy, Doug Martin, and Marshawn Lynch. Stay tuned.
Depth Chart Quick Slants
Giovani Bernard has played on every single first-team snap so far this preseason, and even saw the goal-line work Saturday, pounding in a one-yard touchdown run. … Travis Kelce once again worked in with the Chiefs' first-team offense Sunday night. He's averaging 22.7 YPR through two preseason games with 2 TDs. … Jonathan Dwyer vultured a one-yard touchdown from Andre Ellington Saturday night. Ellington saw some red-zone work, getting the Cardinals down to the one-yard line before Dwyer received the glory with the score. … Fred Jackson started Saturday's preseason game, and saw all the red-zone and third-down work. … Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson mixed and matched with the first-team offense Sunday night with Montee Ball sitting out. … Richard Rodgers has started each of the Packers' first two preseason games at tight end. … Blake Bortles will receive first-team reps in Monday's practice after a second consecutive promising preseason performance. … The Raiders demoted Andre Holmes to the second-team offense Friday. He played behind James Jones and Rod Streater. … Derek Carr suffered a concussion Friday. … Stevan Ridley lost a fumble Friday night, and was benched again. Coach Bill Belichick didn't seem too concerned following the game, however. … The Browns plan to name their starting quarterback Tuesday.
Injury Quick Slants
Montee Ball (appendectomy) hopes to practice some this week. … Riley Cooper (foot) practiced in full Sunday. … Drew Brees (oblique) has resumed practicing in full. Kenny Stills (quad) also returned to practice. … Brandon Bostick injured his lower leg Friday. … Cecil Shorts (hamstring) returned to practice Sunday. … Jeremy Hill injured his right shoulder Saturday, but says he'll be fine. … Sammy Watkins injured his ribs Saturday. Tests came back negative. … Ray Rice exited Saturday's exhibition with a shoulder injury. X-rays were negative. … Tony Romo played in his first game since back surgery and tossed a 31-yard TD to Dez Bryant Saturday. He's ready to roll. … Sam Bradford made his preseason debut Saturday, 300 days after tearing his ACL. … Bucs rookie RB Charles Sims will miss three-plus months after undergoing ankle surgery. Give Doug Martin a boost in the RB ranks.