I know some of you drafted this weekend, but I know a whole bunch more of you are (smartly) waiting until this weekend to draft. That's the right call, because, while we managed to once again mostly avoid any significant injuries in the final week of the preseason, there was still some news from this weekend that shook up different parts of the draft board.
A few things happened that might even have repercussions all the way up in the first round range, and rather than waste a bunch of time on a long intro – loyal readers know, wasting a bunch of time on a long intro is my favorite thing to do – we're going to get right to it this week.
Well, not right to it. Because I want to make sure you check out my Preseason Week 3 Winners and Losers columns, and if you're cramming for your draft, our Draft Day Cheat Sheet is right here with links to absolutely everything you need to know to draft, from myself and the rest of the FFT team.
Okay, now let's get to it. Here are 10 things we know now that we didn't know even a week ago:
10 Things We Know
1. Josh Jacobs belongs in the first round
Jacobs ended his holdout over the weekend, agreeing to a new one-year contract with the Raiders that gives him a small boost over his $10.1 million franchise tag. This always seemed to be the likeliest outcome, and it's basically what Saquon Barkley did about a month ago, and it puts Jacobs on track to play in Week 1. And he should be a first round pick once again – and you can argue he always should have been. Jacobs was the No. 3 RB in total scoring and per-game scoring last season, and I think we're going to see very similar usage in 2023. Maybe the offense as a whole takes a step back, or maybe the delay in signing leaves him more susceptible to an early-season injury – there's always risk with these things. But he's a 25-year-old back who produced as an elite player in this offense – an offense that has been in the top-five in PPR points by running backs in eight of the past 11 seasons, dating back to Josh McDaniels' time in New England. This is a profile we should be betting on, and I'm glad I grabbed him in the second and third rounds when I could.
2. We'll know where Jonathan Taylor belongs tomorrow
Okay, so I know I made a promise in the subject line about things we know, and this is technically about one we don't know. But, this is a really important one! Taylor is an elite talent, and we're less than two weeks away from the start of the season and we don't actually know where he's going to be playing in 2023. The likeliest outcome? The Colts can't find a suitable trade partner, he gets cleared to play, and plays out the last season of his rookie season, unhappily. That's not the only outcome, of course – he could get traded, or he could continue to try to force his way out of a situation where he's clearly unhappy, in a way that affects his performance all season. There are some really ugly downside scenarios, though as we saw with Barkley and Jacobs, there just isn't much a player who is under contract can do with all that unhappiness besides complain and maybe hold out during training camp. Taylor is falling in drafts, down to 26.8 in NFFC ADP over the past week, but I still think he could very much be a first-round player. Hopefully we'll know where he's playing by tomorrow, because I'd happily draft him in the second round once we have some closure here.
3. The rookie QBs are getting their chance
And that's official, as Texans coach Demeco Ryans revealed the worst-kept secret in the NFL Sunday as he finally named C.J. Stroud the starter for Week 1. Stroud, the No. 2 pick in this year's draft, will be joined in the Week 1 starting lineup by Bryce Young (Panthers, No. 1 overall) and Anthony Richardson (Colts, No. 4 overall), and while Young and Stroud hope to give a couple of rudderless franchises reasons to be excited on offense, Richardson is the one Fantasy players need to be excited about. Dave Richard wrote about why , but here's the TL;DR version: Richardson is, potentially, an elite rushing QB. We saw Justin Fields finish as QB6 in per-game scoring last season while passing for 149.5 yards per game with 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 15 games; if you can rush for 900-plus yards at the QB position, you don't need to throw the ball all that well to be a good Fantasy option. Stroud and Young will hopefully help elevate the offenses they're in; we're hoping Richardson can elevate yours. He should be drafted as a top-12 QB in all leagues.
4. Rachaad White is the clear RB1 for Tampa
As I wrote about in my Preseason Winners column, I was skeptical about White coming into training camp, but we've been given no reason to doubt his role. Whether he'll be good enough to overcome what figures to be a pretty mediocre offense remains to be seen, but he's going to get a real chance to be a three-down contributor for the Buccaneers, and that makes him a viable RB2 for Fantasy. I've got him as RB23 in my latest rankings, and I wouldn't quibble much if you moved him up as high as RB20.
5. Skyy Moore is going to start for the Chiefs
There's a lot that is still unsettled with the Chiefs, especially with Kadarius Toney still hoping to be ready for Week 1. But it seems pretty clear that Moore has done enough to lock-in a starting job, as he has routinely led the Chiefs wide receivers in first-team reps this preseason. That doesn't mean he'll be a useful Fantasy option, let alone a must-start one, but I'm willing to be aggressive in betting on last year's No. 54 pick in what might be the highest-volume passing offense in the NFL. I don't think Moore is going to be an elite target earner in an offense that is going to spread the ball around, but even an 18% target share would've come out to 118 targets a year ago. 118 targets from Patrick Mahomes? Yeah, I'll rank that guy as a top-36 WR.
6. Clyde Edwards-Helaire could matter for the Chiefs
We got our first look at the full Chiefs backfield in this week's preseason game, and if you were hoping for some clarity, we certainly didn't get that. But it was Clyde Edwards-Helaire who started the game, not Isiah Pacheco. That's not that meaningful, given that Patrick Mahomes didn't even play, but I still think it's noteworthy that Edwards-Helaire, Pacheco, and Jerick McKinnon all got two snaps each. It was Pacheco's first action since undergoing offseason shoulder and hand surgeries, so they could just be working him back in slowly. But I do think Edwards-Helaire will at least be active on game days, which wasn't the case toward the end of last season. I wrote in my Chiefs preview about how slim Pacheco's margin for error as a Fantasy asset already is, and he's one back I don't really have much interest in drafting at pretty much any cost.
7. Marvin Mims is going to matter in Week 1
It's just a question of, "How much?" If Jerry Jeudy isn't able to play through his hamstring injury, Mims is going to be one of the Broncos top two wide receivers, playing on the outside in both two and three-WR sets alongside Courtland Sutton. Sutton should be the top target if Jeudy is out – he has averaged 15.4 PPR points per game in nine games without Jeudy over the past three seasons, compared to 7.7 in 24 games with him – but Mims has a real chance to start his rookie season off quickly, and he's definitely a late-round target in all of my drafts over the next two weeks.
8. De'Von Achane probably won't matter in Week 1
Even before his shoulder injury last week, Achane was consistently running fifth among the Dolphins running backs in preseason action. We liked the landing spot because Achane's speed fit in very well with Miami's offense, and neither Jeff Wilson nor Raheem Mostert looked like particularly overwhelming obstacles on his path to Fantasy relevance. However, at least as of now, it doesn't look like Achane has overcome them. Given Wilson and Mostert's injury histories, it's not unreasonable to expect a point this season where there's a real opportunity in Miami's backfield. The problem is, right now it doesn't even look like Achane is more likely to get that opportunity than Salvon Ahmed. He'll probably get there, and I think Achane remains a decent late-round flier, but you'll likely have to be patient.
9. Adam Thielen belongs on your late-round radar
Generally speaking, you should be shooting for upside with your late-round picks, and Thielen probably doesn't have a ton. It's pretty hard to envision a scenario where Thielen even finishes as a top-20 wide receiver this season, and even a top-30 finish would be a pretty big win at this point in his career. But the latter actually seems like a pretty realistic outcome, one few people seem to be accounting for. Thielen is the only proven target earner in Carolina's offense, and seven of Bryce Young's 24 preseason passes went his way – a 29.2% mark. Is he going to rack up 100-yard games with regularity? Unlikely. But Thielen could be a decent source of 6-66-1 lines, and as a bench WR you can start in a pinch, that has real value. Don't overlook him just because he's old and probably a few hills past over the hill.
10. Michael Wilson has a Week 1 role for the Cardinals
The Cardinals rested their starters this week, and that included Wilson, who seems locked in as one of the two primary perimeter options. At 6-foot-1, 216 pounds, Wilson has size that makes him stand out in a very small Cardinals WR room, and he had a decent production and athletic profile in college – enough to make him a third-round pick despite being limited to 14 games over his final three college seasons. Wilson is a long shot to become a must-start Fantasy option, especially given how poor the QB play figures to be in Arizona. But he's also a talented young player who can be drafted with your last pick more often than not, and there's always the chance he beats expectations and establishes himself as a legitimate playmaker by the time Kyler Murray is ready to come back and elevate the offense. If you're looking for potential big hits late, he's a good target – if Mims, Jonathan Mingo, and a few others are already gone.