It was a busy Thursday for fantasy-relevant news. Let’s immediately get down to it.
Martavis Bryant Suspended
Steelers WR Martavis Bryant will miss the first four games of the regular season for “multiple” failed marijuana tests and per Ian Rapoport, Bryant’s appeal is already in the “latter stages”.
Martavis’ average draft position has stagnated slightly over the past month partially due to an elbow infection that required surgery in early-August and a preseason depth chart listing Markus Wheaton ahead of Bryant in 2-WR sets. Regardless, Bryant is now in the boom-or-bust WR3/4 range. We’ll see where the market prices him in the coming days, but I’d bet Bryant’s ADP slips past the eighth round.
Markus Wheaton now becomes the defacto No. 2 WR in Pittsburgh until Bryant returns Week 5. Before Martavis Bryant was activated in Week 7 last year, Wheaton played 80-plus percent of the snaps in 5-of-6 games. During that span, he saw 38 targets and posted an abysmal 24-277-0 line. Wheaton certainly could have improved this offseason, but I wouldn’t get overly excited. He’s still bumped up from a WR5/6 in fantasy to a low-WR4 on the news.
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Arian Foster Update
Per ESPN Houston’s Jayson Braddock, Texans RB Arian Foster “has been in Houston … and expectations are for him to return to the field in some facet by Week 2-4.”
Foster’s groin injury has been a little tricky to figure out to say the very least. Initial reports indicated Foster’s groin was “torn off of the bone” leaving him on the shelf at least 3 months. A few days later on August 8th - once Foster had surgery - optimism grew that he may only miss 4-6 weeks with a “sports hernia” procedure.
We’ll likely never know the full extent of the damage to Foster’s groin but we can be reasonably confident he’ll avoid the PUP list and subsequently not sit the Texans’ first eight games. If we operate under the theory that Arian Foster will miss anywhere between 2-5 games, he’s a no brainer in the 6th-8th round of upcoming fantasy drafts. According to a fantasy running back bust rate study done by numberFire’s JJ Zachariason last year, 42.2% of running backs drafted in the RB31-RB48 range fail to finish in the top-48 at the position. Since drafters typically have such a low rate of success in that ADP range, I’d much rather take Foster’s floor over RBs that are fairly unlikely to pan out.
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“No Timetable” For Breshad Perriman’s Return
I’m officially concerned about Breshad Perriman’s Week 1 availability. He has not practiced since July 30th with a sprained PCL (knee) and will more than likely miss the entire preseason with the ailment. I’m a big believer in Perriman’s opportunity, as the Ravens’ genuinely have zero depth at receiver beyond 36-year-old Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken. We’ll see how this situation plays out, but for now Perriman is best suited as an upside WR4/5. His average draft position has nose-dived nearly 25 overall spots in the past three weeks as a result of his absence from practice.
E.J. Manuel Randomly Named Starter … For Week 3 Preseason Game
I’m fully aware this reads like an “Onion” headline. In an odd turn of events in the Bills’ QB battle, HC Rex Ryan named Manuel the starter for Buffalo’s regular season dress rehearsal. I’m not sure if Rex Ryan is trying to play mind games with his QB stable or if he’s already decided on a starter and just isn’t releasing that information at this time. Whatever the reason may be, the consensus has been that Tyrod Taylor and Matt Cassel are clearly head and shoulders above Manuel for the Bills’ starting job. It’s hard to grasp Rex Ryan’s thought process here.
Rams Still Taking it Easy With Gurley
This isn’t surprising at all, but Todd Gurley is still not involved in blitz-pickup drills at practice. Just nine months removed from an ACL-tear, Gurley is receiving some team work but likely won’t be a “full-go” at any point before Week 1. His average draft position has slid nearly a full round in the past three weeks, dipping from the mid-4th to the early/mid-5th round.
Aaron Rodgers “isn’t quite sure” who the Packers’ No. 3 WR will be. … After losing the Texans’ QB battle to Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett overslept Thursday’s practice. … Panthers HC Ron Rivera hinted Devin Funchess will see most of the snaps at the “X” receiver with Kelvin Benjamin out this year. … 10 year veteran Miles Austin “hasn’t stood out enough” in Eagles camp. … NFL.com reports Chris Johnson is expected to make the Cardinals’ final 53-man roster. … Emmanuel Sanders (hamstring) is expected to return to practice next week. … Baltimore signed SS Will Hill to a one-year extension. … The Bills are still “optimistic” LeSean McCoy (hamstring) will be available Week 1. … Finally, Falcons rookie RB Tevin Coleman (hamstring) will make his first career appearance and is slated to play in Saturday’s preseason game.