Tyler Eifert is a popular sleeper heading into this season, and if he’s able to stay healthy for a full 16-game slate he has top-five fantasy tight end potential. Staying healthy, however, has been an issue thus far in Eifert’s career and he gave another scare during Thursday’s practice when he went up for a pass and landed flat on his back. Eventually Eifert walked off under his own power, and the team later Tweeted that Eifert merely had the wind knocked out of him. Bullet, dodged.
Fallout from the season-ending knee injury to Kelvin Benjamin continues. For starters, Devin Funchess moves up fantasy draftboards—from undrafted to as early as the seventh or eighth round on the heels of the Benjamin news. The upside to Funchess is that he simply steps into what Benjamin did last year—though those are pretty lofty expectations. Tight end Greg Olsen might actually be the team’s top target, but he’s already a top-five tight end so there isn’t much room to bump him up. Carolina’s filler options—Jerricho Cotchery, Ted Ginn, etc.—aren’t much for fantasy, and while the team says they aren’t looking for outside help you can expect to see names like Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker and Santonio Holmes associated with the Panthers. That’s a big fantasy “ugh,” though the one intriguing name bandied about is a guy who currently lives in Charlotte and has yet to officially slam the door on a comeback. Randy Moss, anyone?
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The Falcons could get both members of their running back competition back in time for Friday’s preseason tilt. Both Devonta Freeman and rookie Tevin Coleman returned to practice this week, and with Antone Smith also dinged up there are carries to be had. After a glimpse at both of the top two candidates expect to see plenty of undrafted rookie Terron Ward, who has taken advantage of all the injuries to build a case for making the team—if not in Atlanta, maybe as a guy a running back-depleted team snags late in training camp.
Not that the Joseph Randle hype train is running amok, but now we know for sure: it’s a committee approach behind the elite Dallas offensive line. Darren McFadden admitted enough in a local radio interview, indicating that while he still wants to be the No. 1 guy, “you know we’re going to split carries.” In fact, McFadden’s best shot at touches might be as the Cowboys’ third down back, given that he’s big enough to hold up in pass protection compared to the diminutive Randle. Of course, McFadden will need to stay healthy—as well as improve on a 3.4 yards per carry average over the past three seasons.
Finally, a couple of exhibition games on the docket for tonight. In Cleveland you can see some of the most tepid quarterback play in the league with Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor battling for the Bills while Josh McCown looks to hold off Johnny Manziel for Cleveland. You can also check out plenty of backup running backs, some of whom might even wind up with fantasy value given that both teams love to run the ball. A lot.
In Washington look for Ameer Abdullah to continue making a mockery of all those reports out of Detroit that Joique Bell is still the starter. If he’s as dazzling here as he was last week, it will be extremely difficult to keep the Nebraska rookie off the field. On the Redskins side of the ball you can size up another rookie runner, Matt Jones, and his prospects at carving out a role in the Washington backfield.