Michael Fabiano | Tags: Buffalo Bills, Chris Cooley, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Felix Jones, Jacksonville Jaguars, Lee Evans, Matthew Stafford, Maurice Jones-Drew, Steve Johnson, Washington Redskins
Jones-Drew has motivation: Maurice Jones-Drew was back on the practice field this past weekend and didn’t have any issues with his surgically-repaired knee. That’s good news for MJD and fantasy owners alike. However, Jones-Drew has been disappointed with his ranking in fantasy land and is ready to prove “fantasy football gurus” that he’s still an elite runner. (He’s currently No. 8 at his position on NFL.com). The host of his own fantasy show on SiriusXM, “Pocket Hercules” also told me in an offseason interview that he would take himself first overall if he had the chance. While I wouldn’t go that far, it is good to see Jones-Drew back on the field, pain free and ready to silence his critics. Regardless of the league, it will be hard to pass on him in the late first round. I’d still target his backup, Rashad Jennings, in the late rounds as insurance, though.
Chris Cooley’s bum knee: One of the better tight ends in fantasy football in recent seasons, Cooley figured to once again be a No. 1 option in most leagues in 2011. However, knee problems have caused his draft value to slide. Cooley, who had arthroscopic surgery in January, is dealing with soreness in the knee and will miss at least a couple of weeks. In fact, his status for Week 1 could be in jeopardy. If Cooley’s status doesn’t improve, it will be tough to draft him as more than a No. 2 fantasy option. Veteran Fred Davis could also have some early-season sleeper value if he’s thrust into a prominent role, so be sure to keep tabs on this situation.
Stafford impressive in preseason: I’ve made it no secret that I love Matthew Stafford’s potential this year, both on the field and in fantasy land. His first preseason start didn’t disappoint, either, as he completed 6-of-7 passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns against the Bengals. The Georgia product led the offense on two series, the first resulting in a 26-yard touchdown to Calvin Johnson and the second in a scoring strike to Nate Burleson. If he can stay out of the trainer’s room — which has been an issue — Stafford could become one of this season’s big breakout players. On average, Stafford is currently coming off the board in Round 11 on NFL.com.
- Tim Hightower started the Redskins’ preseason opener, rushing for 44 yards on 10 carries. He’s now the clear target of fantasy owners in this backfield, though coach Mike Shanahan’s depth charts have been known to turn at a moment’s notice. Regardless, Hightower now has flex-starter value in all leagues, while the injury-prone Ryan Torain is more of a late-round flier.
- The trade that sent Lee Evans to the Ravens clearly helps the value of the veteran wideout, but it leaves the Bills without a legitimate No. 2 wideout. Donald Jones is the early favorite, but he was unimpressive in his first preseason game and has little value in most leagues. Of greater concern is the fact that Steve Johnson now has no one else to draw defensive attention.
- A popular sleeper on NFL.com, Felix Jones rushed for 23 yards on three attempts and added one reception for 16 yards against the Broncos last week. Though he hasn’t been the most durable runner, Jones is the unquestioned starter in Dallas and has some real upside in what should be an explosive Cowboys offense. I’d grab him in the middle rounds as a flex starter with upside.