NFL Hot Takes: August 16th
Dan Malin breaks down all of whats hot in the news and gives us his sizzling takes on each and every situation around the NFL
Andrew Luck ’s Ankle and Calf
Well this just stinks on ice. A week ago it sounded like a simple calf strain, but as the weekend came and passed and we entered a new week, it looks like the injury is to his ankle and calf. I’ll refrain from Colts and Calf jokes for the time being. The good news is that if you’re drafting later this month then you’ll at least have a decent understanding of Luck’s status. The bad news is there is still the possibility of Luck missing portions of September. The Colts have done everything to protect their franchise quarterback so they won’t risk further injury if they don’t have to. Jacoby Brissett could fill in as the starter if Luck isn’t ready to go for Week 1, but hopefully it doesn’t come to that. For now, it’s still somewhat early and I’m not operating under the assumption that Luck will miss time. But it does sound like there will be a decision on Luck’s status by next week and the Colts will have a starter named after the third preseason game. If a hot take is needed, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Colts are trying to downplay the injury to Luck. They’ve got one of the best offensive lines in the league and their defense could surprise some people. Jacoby Brissett probably starts the first game or two of the season, there’s your hot take!
Who Ya Got: D.J. Moore or Curtis Samuel ?
So the general assumption is that one of these two will have a pretty decent breakout in 2019. Devin Funchess departs and leaves behind 79 targets from 2018, and 111 from the year before. Greg Olsen has had trouble staying healthy and he’s totaled just 76 targets over the last two seasons. So the Panthers definitely need someone to step up in the passing game because Christian McCaffrey can’t do it all himself. There will be a concentrated effort to feed D.J. Moore the targets. He was Carolina’s first-round pick in 2018 and he did total 55 catches on 82 targets for 788 yards. That’s not awful for a rookie. Curtis Samuel has been making some noise as well. The 2017 second-round pick has been getting rave reviews for his route running abilities. For fantasy purposes, D.J. Moore is currently going as an early sixth-round pick according to Fantasy Football Calculator and Samuel is going two rounds later. It’s entirely feasible the Panthers get both involved a little more. Cam Newton ’s shoulder seems fully healed and he just might be able to throw for over 4,000 yards for the first time since his rookie season. At their current ADP’s, Samuel is more appealing.
Kalen Ballage Will Be A Top 24 Running Back
Every year you hear about guys being Top 24 at their position and the significance of that ranking. Simply put, if you’re a Top 24 wide receiver or a Top 24 running back, you’re startable on a weekly basis. Kalen Ballage has been moving up draft boards from Round 14 in mid-July to Rounds Nine or Ten in more recent drafts. In Wednesday night’s Mock Draft Army Kalen Ballage actually went one pick before Kenyan Drake in Round Five. That’s an insane reach, but one that could pay huge dividends. Currently, Kenyan Drake is in a walking boot. The Dolphins believe Drake will be in a boot for a couple weeks, but they’re still optimistic he’ll be ready for Week 1. Last season Drake was a Top 20 running back in PPR formats and now that Adam Gase is gone, there could be more opportunities in Ballage’s future and even prior to Drake’s injury, Ballage was getting first team reps. Expect Ballage’s ADP to keep rising as long as Drake remains in a walking boot. Opportunity won’t be the big concern for Ballage. Rather the offensive line, which projects to be one of the worst in the league, is the only factor that could keep him from reaching his potential.
Where Does Jadeveon Clowney Go?
If you missed it earlier this week, Jadeveon Clowney was traded to about eight different teams and while it didn’t necessarily set Twitter ablaze, it was pretty funny to take in considering it was all a farce. But the Texans don’t seem like they want to sign Clowney to a long-term deal even though they have the cap space to do so. Clowney’s done a good job of staying relatively healthy the last three seasons (he’s only missed three games) as he has amassed 24.5 sacks, 53 tackles for loss, and four forced fumbles. Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com highlights a few teams that could potentially trade for Clowney. The most interesting teams he lists are the Redskins, Seahawks, and Jets. Washington is in a holdout dispute with Trent Williams and as we mentioned earlier, the Texans have cap space. Those two sides seem like a good fit and Williams’ holdout is unlikely to end. Clowney is only 26 years old while Williams is 31 so the Texans may need to throw in a couple of mid-to-late round draft picks to get this deal done, but Adam Schefter even tweeted that Washington had no interest in trading Williams so that just throws another wrinkle into the theory.
Where Has Josh Jacobs Been?
For a first-rounder he’s been kept under wraps pretty well. Josh Jacobs has done a great job so far of avoiding the cameras of HBO while avoiding Oakland’s first preseason game. But he finally made a brief debut Thursday night in Oakland’s preseason game against Arizona. For the former, Hard Knocks has had plenty to highlight with Antonio Brown ’s feet, Jon Gruden’s speeches, and HBO/Oakland’s general effort to shove Derek Carr down our throat. So Jacobs has avoided the narrative for the most part, but he hasn’t escaped fantasy discussions as he is in line for a majority of the carries. Currently Fantasy Alarm has Jacobs projected for 200+ carries and 20 catches on 30 targets. If he’s on the receiving end of 12-15 touches per game he’s set up to be a solid RB2. And in his preseason debut, Jacobs ran for 21 yards on four carries and looked pretty good as Oakland’s first team drove down the field for a score.
Darwin Thompson Will Be A Fantasy Diamond In The Rough
This take is a bit reactionary, but there isn’t as much to work with as last week since players are done pitching fits about their helmets. But on Thursday night just before Preseason Week 2 kicked off, an article from The Athletic’s Nate Taylor predicted that Carlos Hyde would not make the Chiefs final roster. The reasoning behind it was simple in that Hyde had a poor showing in Kansas City’s first preseason game rushing for two yards on two carries, but he did score a touchdown. Taylor does note that saying Carlos Hyde won’t make the roster is a hot take in itself, but if this were the case it would give Kansas City a backfield of Damien Williams , Darwin Thompson, Darrel Williams , and Tremon Smith who is transitioning to running back from defensive back. This would be a big surprise because a week ago Andy Reid notified the media that he’d love to go with a running-back-by-committee. Going without Hyde and a committee approach would be very bold, but regardless of whether Hyde is on the roster or not, Darwin Thompson could benefit greatly from a committee and he’s currently going in rounds 11-13 of 12-team drafts. Thompson was a mere sixth-round pick in April’s draft, but he has been getting first team goal line reps. Keep an eye on his ADP because he could be a player you target during your draft.
Darren Waller … More Like Darren BALLER
I’m not a father, but I’m definitely not running short on cheesy dad jokes. Darren Waller is dealing with a minor shoulder injury, but he’s still practicing and progressing with the Raiders in training camp. Waller isn’t a well-known name, but he’s being viewed as a sleeper at the tight end position. Waller only had six catches last year, but with Jared Cook now in New Orleans there will be plenty of opportunities for Oakland’s tight end to get targets. Cook received 101 targets last year, which isn’t a realistic expectation for Waller with Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams now in Oakland. But in deeper leagues, Waller could be a tight end worthy of drafting in the late rounds and if he can even get 65-70 targets, he has some deep league upside. In Thursday’s game against Arizona, Waller caught one of his two targets for seven yards.
Austin Ekeler Is A League Winner
They don’t call them hot takes for nothing, right? The longer Melvin Gordon holds out the more confident you should be in Austin Ekeler . Yes, Justin Jackson will still be in the mix, but pending an injury, Ekeler will be in line for a very nice workload and he’s currently being drafted in the sixth-to-seventh rounds of a 12-team league. Last year when starting in Gordon’s place, Ekeler saw 17 touches per game and on the season he averaged 5.2 yards per carry and 10.4 yards per reception on 39 catches with 53 targets. If Gordon wants to accumulate another year towards free agency he can still show up before the Chargers Week 11 game. And depending on where the Chargers are at they could either ease him in to the offense or just stick with Ekeler and Jackson. But even then the Chargers will have nothing to lose with Gordon and could run him into the ground if they so choose. But Ekeler stands to be a key part of the offense if Gordon’s holdout reaches into the regular season and Justin Jackson could see anywhere from eight-to-a-dozen touches per game. But regardless of format, Austin Ekeler could be a fantastic RB2/Flex option.
Time To Pump The Brakes On Arizona?
It hasn’t been the most glamorous start for Arizona’s rookie quarterback and head coach. It appears they’re quickly realizing that a poor offensive line could make things difficult even for a potentially explosive offense. Murray finished 3-for-8 with just 12 passing yards and four rushing yards. Not to mention he was sacked twice. Despite the sacks he did show the ability to scramble, which should lead you to believe that he can make plays with his legs. Matt Harmon made a decent argument in Murray’s favor comparing his preseason performance to Cam Newton ’s preseason numbers in his rookie year back in 2011. And even if the Cardinals fall behind in games to start, this will present garbage time production for Murray and Co. For now, take it with a grain of salt. If the offense looks bad in next week’s game then maybe Murray gets downgraded just a little bit. Currently he’s being drafted way too high as it is as the ninth quarterback off the board according to Fantasy Football Calculator.