Perception from NFL workforce reporters: Imagine the excitement on Saquon Barkley, Brandon Aiyuk, George Pickens?


No person has a extra stacked lineup of fantasy football analysts and NFL workforce reporters than ESPN. It is the uncommon “backfield by committee” that’s truly an excellent factor for fantasy soccer managers.

Each Tuesday this preseason, Mike Triplett will ask our NFL Nation reporters a sequence of questions in regards to the week’s greatest tales to assist along with your draft prep. This week’s roundup focuses closely on breakout candidates reminiscent of Brandon Aiyuk, George Pickens, Romeo Doubs and Dameon Pierce. However we additionally gauge the arrogance degree in stars coming back from accidents, like Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley.

Atlanta Falcons

Will Kyle Pitts be well worth the thirty third general decide (the place he went in ESPN’s latest mock draft)? Or ought to we be anxious about his ground with the shortage of expertise round him?

Pitts ought to completely be in consideration for that vary. Marcus Mariota goes to be the beginning quarterback, at the least within the brief time period. However whether or not it is Mariota or Desmond Ridder, the chance for quarterback runs is there, which in idea might assist Pitts if it sucks in a defender whereas he is on a brief or intermediate route. And I would not fear an excessive amount of in regards to the expertise degree on the different ability positions. Rookie receiver Drake London will command consideration throughout video games, as will working again Cordarrelle Patterson, who can line up wherever within the formation. Additionally, do not forget that coach/playcaller Arthur Smith can use Pitts in a mess of locations. There’s going to be sufficient questions and intrigue with different gamers to keep away from a triple-team scenario. And if it ever did get to that, it most likely means Pitts is within the midst of a particular season. — Michael Rothstein

Carolina Panthers

How assured ought to fantasy managers be that Christian McCaffrey will return to kind and preserve a heavy workload this season? Sufficient to make him the primary or second general decide in drafts?

This might be an enormous yr if McCaffrey delivers on the coaching recommendation he received from Marshall Faulk — whose sixth and seventh seasons have been a few of his most efficient. Keep in mind, McCaffrey’s accidents the previous two seasons have all been of the soft-tissue selection, so nothing with a long-term impression. The Panthers additionally plan to be smarter on how they relaxation McCaffrey through the week and use him in video games. If he can play 14-17 video games, he ought to once more be one of the productive backs within the league. Simply in case, although, put D’Onta Foreman in your roster for insurance coverage. — David Newton

Denver Broncos

You wrote final week that Courtland Sutton is emerging as a go-to target for Russell Wilson in strain conditions. Ought to Sutton positively be a better fantasy precedence than Jerry Jeudy? (They have been drafted as WR18 and WR19 within the newest mock)

With Tim Patrick’s season-ending knee harm, Sutton’s and Jeudy’s roles will solely be extra outstanding, particularly within the crimson zone. Wilson has proven in coaching camp he’ll transfer the ball round to search out the matchups he likes. However he is additionally proven in practices and the joint exercises with the Dallas Cowboys that when he actually wants a completion or has been moved off his spot by the go rush, he’ll search for Sutton. There may be all the time the query of whether or not these tendencies will maintain up in video games. Jeudy is just too good a route-runner — and Wilson has spent loads of time working with him — to not be an element (Jeudy typically attends the quarterback conferences). Consider it as early Peyton Manning with the Broncos in 2012 when Demaryius Thomas was clearly Manning’s go-to man, however Eric Decker led the workforce in touchdowns. Or in 2014 when Thomas was once more the go-to possibility and Julius Thomas led the workforce in touchdowns. If each are wholesome during the season, they’re each going to seemingly have their finest years. — Jeff Legwold

Green Bay Packers

Romeo Doubs has been producing as a lot fantasy buzz as any rookie within the NFL this summer season. How huge of a task do you assume he might play, and the place does he slot in alongside Allen Lazard and the now-healthy Christian Watson, amongst others?

Doubs already appears to have developed some chemistry with Aaron Rodgers, who hasn’t hesitated to throw his means in follow. At this level, it is arduous to think about him being any decrease than No. 4 on the depth chart. And relying on the packages, he might be WR2 or WR3. Lazard has been in the WR1 spot more often than not, whereas Sammy Watkins has gotten a stable quantity of reps with the starters as properly. Randall Cobb traces up nearly solely the slot, as all the time, in three-receiver units. Doubs is properly forward of Watson at this level, however there’s loads of time for Watson to make up floor. Gone are the times of the Packers having a star No. 1, however they could have extra choices than ever. — Rob Demovsky

Houston Texans

You wrote that rookie Dameon Pierce regarded just like the Texans’ finest working again, even earlier than his spectacular preseason debut. How huge do you assume his function might be this season — and the way quickly might he emerge as RB1?

By the primary month of the season, Pierce might take over the beginning job. Former Colt Marlon Mack has probably the most manufacturing of the group, which additionally options Rex Burkhead, however Pierce has probably the most explosiveness, and it is solely a matter of time till Texans offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton makes Pierce the lead again. — DJ Bien-Aime

Indianapolis Colts

You wrote final week about why the Colts are (gasp) prioritizing their Super Bowl hopes over fantasy football by planning to cut back Jonathan Taylor’s workload. Do you continue to assume he needs to be the No. 1 general decide in most fantasy drafts? And will Nyheim Hines be on extra fantasy radars?

There may be nonetheless good cause to select Taylor No. 1 general due to his propensity for large performs. Even with fewer touches — and I do anticipate his touches to be decrease — Taylor has the potential to take advantage of these alternatives. He recorded explosive performs (10-plus yards) on 15.1% of his runs final season. Amongst 1,000-yard rushers, solely Nick Chubb had a better price (18%). And, do not forget, Taylor was twelfth amongst working backs with 9 yards per catch, so he can do injury within the passing sport, too. — Stephen Holder

New York Giants

Saquon Barkley has drawn some impressive reviews early in camp, however some fantasy managers will likely be understandably hesitant to purchase in. How assured ought to they be that he can return to kind?

Barkley has regarded one of the best he has in years. Each quarterback Daniel Jones and coach Brian Daboll used the phrase “explosive” to explain what they’ve seen. And it matches what’s on the market on the sphere each day. As well as, the power of the Giants’ offensive line seems to be its run-blocking, Barkley needs to be extra concerned within the passing sport this season, and there is not a lot depth behind him. So his workload will likely be enormous … so long as he is wholesome. That is the query: Are you able to belief him to remain wholesome? — Jordan Raanan

New York Jets

Breece Hall and Elijah Moore have each drawn lots of buzz early in camp. How huge of a task do you anticipate every to play this season? And does Zach Wilson’s harm have an effect on both participant’s worth?

Corridor and Moore have the power to be RB1 and WR1, respectively, by the top of the season. Moore confirmed indicators of changing into that final season from Weeks 8 to 12. In that span, he ranked eighth within the NFL in receptions (28), sixth in receiving yards (382) and tied for fourth in TD catches (4). Then he received harm and missed the rest of the season. Most of that got here with different QBs, not Wilson. That is the query: Will Wilson, who had issues placing the ball in the long run zone, harm Moore’s fantasy worth? It is a chance. Corridor is splitting carries with Michael Carter, and that figures to proceed. However Corridor’s exterior velocity intrigues the coaches and will lead to an even bigger function because the season progresses. — Wealthy Cimini

Pittsburgh Steelers

George Pickens continued his spectacular summer season with the catch of the weekend. How fantasy-relevant might he be in his rookie season, both early on or as a possible stash-for-later possibility?

Irrespective of who wins the beginning quarterback job, it is protected to imagine Pickens will likely be a big issue within the offense. It is a crowded receiving room with Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, however Pickens has carved out a task along with his spectacular footwork and contested-catch abilities. He is been a favourite goal of each Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph in follow, making him a draft-and-stash candidate on the very least. However his fantasy ceiling is excessive with the Steelers more likely to push the ball down the sphere extra typically than in recent times. He might have a Claypool-like rookie season (9 TD catches) … or higher. — Brooke Pryor

San Francisco 49ers

Brandon Aiyuk has most likely generated as much buzz as any player in NFL camps this summer season — and quarterback Trey Lance generated as a lot buzz as any participant this previous weekend. How excessive ought to expectations be for each?

The Aiyuk buzz has been constructing, for good cause. He has been the workforce’s most constant offensive performer in camp and the rapport he constructed with Lance by way of an offseason spent collectively in southern California isn’t any small factor. It is price noting that Aiyuk had the same begin to camp final yr after which tapered off when he had a hamstring harm late within the preseason. It took some time to get again on observe. However wanting one other harm, it is not outrageous to assume he may lead the workforce in receptions and receiving yards. Alas, it is nonetheless price remaining at the least slightly cautious as a result of it is a workforce that also pays WR Deebo Samuel and TE George Kittle handsomely.

As for Lance, the Niners have made it clear they are not going to ask him to hold the freight for this workforce. They’ve a robust protection and the aforementioned expertise to go together with an excellent working sport. Lance’s camp has include the ups and downs that can most likely be evident this season, particularly early on. The upside is difficult to disclaim, particularly as a result of he brings a working aspect that may offset no matter accuracy points he has. General, expectations for Lance needs to be stored in examine. However he is not a nasty stash for later within the season, as a result of the workforce expects he’ll get higher with each begin he makes. — Nick Wagoner

Seattle Seahawks

You wrote that rookie Ken Walker III could have an enormous function in Seattle’s backfield. How a lot do you anticipate him for use when Rashaad Penny is wholesome? And will he become an every-down again if Penny misses time?

Walker goes to be an even bigger a part of Seattle’s backfield than folks could understand. I might see the Seahawks giving him about as a lot of the load as Penny, even when each are wholesome. Keep in mind, Penny has carried the ball 20-plus occasions in a sport solely twice in his profession. That is, partially, as a result of he is missed so many video games on account of harm, but additionally as a result of he is simply not constructed to deal with a Derrick Henry/Marshawn Lynch-like workload. The Seahawks are going to run the ball loads and so they’re not simply going to depend on Penny to do it.

Pete Carroll had a telling touch upon Walker final week when he raved about how Walker has “turned the web page” from his well-documented struggles with go safety in school. Walker has additionally proven a lot better receiving abilities out of the backfield than you may assume for somebody who had simply 19 catches in three school seasons.

“He might play all three downs and we might really feel comfy with it,” Carroll stated. — Brady Henderson

Tennessee Titans

The brakes received slammed a bit on rookie receiver Treylon Burks’ fantasy hype after his quiet preseason debut. Ought to veteran Robert Woods be the upper precedence in drafts?

Woods needs to be a excessive precedence as a result of he’ll get loads of targets. Earlier than his harm final season, Woods averaged 132 targets per season. The Titans aren’t more likely to go the ball almost as a lot because the Rams did, however Woods’ 1.3% drop price during the last 5 years (tied for sixth lowest amongst WRs with at the least 200 targets) and exact route-running will make him one among Ryan Tannehill‘s favourite pass-catchers. Woods has taken half in full-team follow drills and is on observe to play within the season-opener in opposition to the Giants. Burks, in the meantime, has additionally began to earn Tannehill’s belief due to his skill to win on contested catches. The Titans will give Burks loads of alternatives to get yards after the catch on fast passes off of play-action, particularly when opposing defenses stack the field. — Turron Davenport

Washington Commanders

How safe is Antonio Gibson’s function after he coughed up a fumble and gained simply 2 yards on 4 carries within the preseason opener? And will rookie backup Brian Robinson be increased on fantasy radars?

The distinction for Gibson this season is that Washington has choices if he does proceed to fumble. They will use extra four-receiver units with Curtis Samuel wholesome and the addition of rookie Jahan Dotson. In that scenario, J.D. McKissic could be the working again. In addition they drafted Robinson, who exhibits some promise.

They do like Gibson loads, and he can present huge performs. However they need him to be extra constant in the best way he runs — extra “one-cut and go.” The coaches say Gibson will get himself in hassle when he turns into indecisive about when or the place to chop — and that results in the ball swinging away from his physique, which results in fumbles. So the working type is extra the problem. Backside line: It is a huge yr for Ron Rivera and his program right here, and so they do have decisions. They can not wait for somebody to work out points. So Robinson might be a stable decide late in fantasy drafts simply because it is potential he’ll extra work within the crimson zone. He runs with extra energy and he protects the ball. — John Keim

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