Next week we'll have a full week of preseason football to react to and most of what we'll talk about in this space will likely be game related. The Hall of Fame Game gave us no such luxury. I mean, I'd love nothing more than to tell you JuJu Smith-Schuster sitting out means he's the team's No. 1 receiver, but even I won't reach that far. I'm not even going to point to Najee Harris averaging 3 yards per carry and tell you the Steelers line is probably bad. It probably is, but not because of one game in August.
What I will do is give you my take on some of the prevalent buzz from the past week. Starting with a guy who has fooled us before, but there's too much hype to ignore...again.
Before you accuse me of buying into the hype, know how much I've ignored. I ignored feature articles about Hardman's big summer. I ignored countless training camp highlight videos. And yes, I could have ignored an unofficial depth chart put out the second week of training camp. But at some point it's time to put to the test what the universe is screaming at us. It's happening. Hardman is not just the Chiefs No. 2 receiver, he has the upside to be a Fantasy No. 2 and he no longer needs an injury to make it happen.
Verdict: Believe it.
It really shouldn't be that surprising that that a guy who only played two years of receiver at Georgia, and never even had a 600-yard season, needed a little time to learn to play in the NFL. Hardman has talked this offseason about how this is the first year where he's going in with the expectation of being a full-time player and it sounds like the Chiefs are embracing it.
Now thinking that Hardman is the team's second-best receiver and thinking he matters for Fantasy are two different things. Sammy Watkins has teased us plenty the past three seasons. But Watkins' injuries cloud the truth. The veteran played 35 games with the Chiefs where he played at least 50% of the snaps. He averaged 6.5 targets per game and posted a 17-game pace of 73-995-4. The efficiency was bad, but there was definitely enough volume to matter in Fantasy, especially with Patrick Mahomes as your quarterback.
Hardman has been an efficiency beast, averaging 10.7 yards per target and scoring once every 10 targets. While he probably can't keep that up with increased volume, it should give us hope he'll be more efficient with those targets than Watkins was. At the very least, move Hardman to the top of your upside WR4 targets.
Believe It or Not coming out tomorrow, let's run some polls...— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) August 9, 2021
Mecole Hardman is the Chiefs clearcut No. 2 WR
Samuel is off the Covid list, but he still isn't practicing because of a groin injury that his lingered since minicamp. But coach Ron Rivera said multiple times that he's not worried about it because Samuel is a veteran, knows the offense and they know what he can do.
It's kind of odd for a coach to say he's not worried about one of his players not practicing, especially since Samuel doesn't yet have a timetable for a return. But if the coach isn't worried about him missing practice, I'm not sure why we would be. After all, Samuel played for Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner in Carolina back in 2018. They know him as well as anyone.
Verdict: Don't believe it.
I'm not saying Rivera is concerned, or even that he should be. I'm just saying that I am.
Samuel is a veteran, sure, but he also has about half a season in this league as a successful NFL receiver. He's still never had a 900-yard season and his career 7.1 yards per target is bout as mediocre as it gets. And while Rivera may know him well, Samuel has never played with his Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick is hooking up regularly with Terry McLaurin, Dyami Brown, Logan Thomas, even Adam Humphries in practice.
Maybe once Samuel is well he'll immediately supplant enough of those guys to matter again in Fantasy. But I'm not drafting him in the first eight rounds until I see him on the practice field.
Ron Rivera isn't worried about Curtis Samuel missing training camp and you shouldn't be either— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) August 10, 2021
This one pains me, but like the Hardman reports, there were just too many of them to ignore. The people in the know seem pretty unified in the idea that the Bills would like for Moss to take a step this year, and while I don't believe Moss should be viewed as more likely than Devin Singletary to take that step, my opinion doesn't really matter much.
Move Moss up into the high-end No. 3 running back range and hope he can stay healthy.
Verdict: Believe it.
The thing Moss backers have always pointed to is the end of the 2020 season, and in light of recent reports that seems more relevant to me. From Week 14-16 Moss had 38 carries to Singletary's 25. Then in the team's first playoff game Moss had 11 touches early before leaving with injury. It kinda looked like they wanted Moss to take the job and now it sounds like that's still true.
The question now becomes twofold: How good is that job? Can Moss hold up? As for the first question it depends on whether Moss can take 75% of the touches from Singletary. Last year they combined 270 carries, and 68 targets. Anything less than 75% of that workload is likely to leave Moss in the flex-at-best category, especially if Josh Allen keeps hogging the rushing touchdowns.
As for whether Moss can stay healthy, we hope so, but only time will tell. He did have 267 touches in his final year at Utah, so we know it's at least possible.
Zack Moss is the Bills best running back.— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) August 10, 2021
This is a bit befuddling to me, because Ruggs and Edwards were so uninvolved as rookies. But day after day we've heard rave reviews about the second-year wideouts and rarely a peep about Brown. Then it was reported than Ruggs, Edwards, and Hunter Renfrow have been the primary starters when the team goes three wide.
None of these receivers should be drafted until the double-digit rounds, but it sure sounds like Ruggs and Edwards are the better bets as sleepers than Brown.
Verdict: Believe it.
Brown has been pretty efficient the past two years in Buffalo, but he's also a 31-year-old receiver who has played 16 games once since his rookie year. And the Raiders only gave him $3.75 million on a one-year deal, which isn't exactly the kind of money you give a guaranteed starter.
It's still early enough that Brown could pass Ruggs or Edwards. I wouldn't bet against him becoming Fantasy relevant at some point this season, but for now you should pretty clearly be prioritizing the young guys, just like the Raiders are.
John Brown is behind both Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards, and should be drafted behind them as well— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) August 10, 2021