Christian McCaffrey leads top five preseason fantasy NFL risers

Jay Asser 30/08/2018
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Fantasy NFL is kind of like the stock market – players’ values rise and fall as time goes on.

That’s especially true in preseason as it’s our first look at players before the games count for real. Even a small sample size can significantly affect players’ values, resulting in them being drafted several spots higher or lower than originally expected.

Here, we pick out five players who’ve seen their stock rise throughout August.

Christian McCaffrey

The Panthers running back was always being picked within the first three rounds of drafts, but with how often he’s been on the field during the preseason, he’s shot up near the first round. It looks like the second-year playmaker could be a workhorse and consistently receive 20-plus touches per week, making him a hot commodity.

Marquise Goodwin

The more we’ve seen of Goodwin with Jimmy Garoppolo, the more it’s becoming clear he’s the number one receiving option in the 49ers offence. The two have displayed their strong chemistry in the preseason, with Goodwin hauling in seven grabs for 119 yards. In Kyle Shanahan’s system, the wideout has the chance to flourish as a go-to threat.

Carlos Hyde

The Browns backfield hasn’t been a reservoir for fantasy production in recent years, but Hyde looks like he could change that this season. In three preseason games, the running back has looked light on his feet and burst through holes to rack up 108 yards and a touchdown on 17 rushes. Exciting times in Cleveland.

Trey Burton

There’s excitement building with Burton because of the way he’s been used so far in the Bears offence. Head coach Matt Nagy was the offensive coordinator in Kansas City last year and he’s brought some of the same concepts they used with Travis Kelce to Chicago, which could see Burton have a breakout year.

Josh Gordon

Gordon didn’t even have to play a snap in the preseason to see his stock go up. All he had to do was return from his absence and start practicing with the Browns again for people to take notice. We saw what he’s capable of in 2013. That upside is just too tantalising to not reach for.

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How the Teddy Bridgewater trade affects the New Orleans Saints and New York Jets

Jay Asser 30/08/2018
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Teddy Bridgewater has revived his value this preseason, and now he could be the heir to Drew Brees in New Orleans.

The Saints traded for Bridgewater on Wednesday, sending a third-round pick to the New York Jets for the quarterback, while also receiving a sixth-rounder in return.

Brees will turn 40 in January, and although he’s still one of the elite signal-callers in the league, New Orleans may feel his end is coming sooner than his current ability suggests.

The veteran signed a two-year deal with the Saints in March, which means Bridgewater would have to wait for his chance to be a starter again.

Bridgewater played 29 games for the Minnesota Vikings in 2014 and 2015, but suffered a gruesome knee injury in 2016 that kept him out for the entire season. After making one appearance since the injury last season, he signed with the Jets in March.

New York went on to draft Sam Darnold with the third overall pick, leaving Bridgewater in a quarterback battle with the rookie and veteran Josh McCown.

Through three preseason games, Bridgewater performed the best of the trio as he completed 28-of-38 passes for 316 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for a passer rating of 104.7.

A former first-round pick, Bridgewater has unquestioned talent and pedigree, but his injuries have stunted his development early in his career. If healthy and given the opportunity, he could be the franchise quarterback many viewed him as coming out of the draft in 2014.

Bridgewater will immediately assume the back-up role with the Saints, who have Tom Savage, Taysom Hill and J.T. Barrett also on the depth chart.

The Jets signed Bridgewater to a one-year, $6 million deal in the offseason, so New Orleans would have to re-sign him after this season – likely without seeing him play significant snaps.

In trading a third-round pick, however, the Saints are all but making it clear their intention to keep hold of Bridgewater past this season.

For New York, this clears the path for Darnold to be the team’s starter from Week 1.

McCown, who was the starter last year, hasn’t played in the past two preseason games and offers the Jets little in the way of upside.

In three preseason appearances, Darnold has completed 64.4 per cent of his passes with two touchdowns and an interception for a passer rating of 83.9.

He’s at times looked like a quarterback with immense talent, and at others looked like a rookie getting his feet wet.

Now, he’ll be in the spotlight from day one and have his chance to sink or swim.

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What Aaron Rodgers' record-breaking extension with the Green Bay Packers means

Jay Asser 29/08/2018
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Aaron Rodgers is once again the richest quarterback in the game.

Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers agreed on Wednesday to a record-breaking four-year, $134 million extension, which could be worth up to $180m and features $103m in guaranteed money, according to reports.

Aside from setting a record in terms of the total value of the contract, guaranteed money and annual salary ($33.5m), the deal is also set to keep Rodgers in Green Bay through the 2023 season, when he’ll turn 40.

The last time Rodgers was the highest-paid quarterback was in 2015, when he was still on his five-year, $100m extension. Since then, several quarterbacks have surpassed him, with Matt Ryan the latest to set a new benchmark with his five-year, $150m extension with the Atlanta Falcons back in May.

It’s appropriate that Rodgers, who is widely considered the best quarterback in the league, is once again at the top of the hierarchy. It’s unclear how long his run will last though.

Usually, when NFL stars ink record deals, it paves the way for another player to top the mark down the road. But when it’s players who are considered the best at their position signing those deals, they become harder to beat.

In terms of ability, no quarterback in the league has a leg to stand on when it comes to arguing they deserve more money than Rodgers. Age is the only factor working in favour of other quarterbacks, who can point to more years of service in contract negotiations. Still, it could be some time before anyone jumps Rodgers, especially with $3.5 million separating him and Ryan, allowing players to continue one-upping each other without dethroning the Packers star.

For Green Bay, the contract gives the franchise peace of mind as they know they have their leader locked in for several seasons to come. But it also comes with some risk due to Rodgers’ injury history and his age by the time the deal ends.

Rodgers has suffered two major injuries in his career, with the first coming in 2013 when he fractured his collarbone and missed seven games, and the other coming last year when he similarly broke his collarbone and sat out nine contests.

The risk with his injury history isn’t about how his previous ailments will affect him going forward, but rather how his playing style will age.

Both of those injuries came when Rodgers was roaming outside the pocket, trying to make a play. Part of what makes Rodgers so dangerous is his mobility and ability to strike from anywhere on the field. That also puts him in the way of danger at times, which he’s so far mostly avoided, but could catch up on him as he ages.

Rodgers hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down in his mid 30s, but quarterbacks have been known to fall off a cliff without notice.

In all likelihood, Rodgers should follow in the path of Tom Brady and Drew Brees as a quarterback who remains sharp in his old age.

His monster deal won’t make it any easier for the Packers to put the best pieces around him, but that’s a more than reasonable price to pay for a player who makes them Super Bowl contenders year in and year out.

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