Only time will tell us how long Ryan Mathews will be out but my recent 10-team mock draft has him going in the third round. A talented player for sure, whoever is willing to pull the trigger on Mathews will have a mid-first-round talent on their hands when he’s at full strength.
21. Cam Newton (ADP 2.10) -
The Panthers will run the football a decent amount with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. While Newton is likely to see a reduction in his point production from his rookie season, he is clearly one of the top five quarterbacks on draft day.
22. Brandon Marshall (ADP 3.06) -
Marshall and Jay Cutler look like they never missed a beat over the past three years in the Bears' second preseason game against the Redskins. This offense will be explosive and Chicago will erupt with joy over finally having an elite passing attack.
Not only will Marshall open things up for the rest of the passing game, he’s back as one of the top ten fantasy receivers, even in standard scoring leagues.
23. Jordy Nelson (ADP 4.03) -
Even before Greg Jennings suffered a concussion that held him out for a few weeks, Jordy Nelson was worthy of being the first Packers receiver off the board in fantasy drafts. Nelson will have another strong season and is a legit WR1 with Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback.
24. Steven Jackson (ADP 3.01) -
It’s only preseason but Sam Bradford looked very good against the Chiefs, leading the Rams down the field with possession receivers Steve Smith and Danny Amendola. If Bradford and the passing game can bounce back, it will mean good things for Jackson and we could see him perform like a low-end RB1.
Going in the third round, Jackson has fair value and is worth a pick in this range.
25. Ryan Mathews (ADP 3.03) -
At this point I would take Jamaal Charles over Mathews as the Chiefs' star running back seems to have his lateral quickness, coming off a major knee injury. Mathews is worth a third-round pick, but you will likely have to wait on him for at least two weeks to open up the season.
Backs like DeAngelo Williams, Kevin Smith and Donald Brown are good options to pick up as your third or fourth running back to fill out your roster until Mathews is back. Even Ronnie Brown is worth a look in the later rounds, but he’s expected to be in a committee.
26. Jamaal Charles (ADP 2.07) -
The Chiefs are primed for a big season on the ground and Charles appears to have his explosion or “mojo” back after his unfortunate knee injury last September. Peyton Hillis will also have a big year and will likely see most of the goal-line touches.
Still, Charles has the upside for elite RB1 production so give him a look as the first Kansas City running back off the board and a terrific second-round pick, let alone a third-round pick.
27. Andre Johnson (ADP 3.04) -
Still one of the better talents at the receiver position, Andre Johnson just needs to stay healthy. Johnson probably isn’t worth the risk (depth at the position), unless you get to a point where you’re willing to wait on the rest of the running talent left on the board, in the third round.
28. Darren Sproles (ADP 4.01) -
A knee injury has brought up some recent concerns about Sproles, a player that suffered major knee problems early in his career. At this point it looks like everything is fine, so consider Sproles a respectable fourth-round pick in standard leagues.
29. Larry Fitzgerald (ADP 3.01) -
Outside of Calvin Johnson and maybe Andre Johnson, no one can deny that Fitzgerald is one of the top three skilled receivers in the game. Unfortunately, Kurt Warner isn’t his quarterback and the Cardinals have one of the worst pass blocking lines in the leagues, particularly at the tackle positions.
This is a big problem and I’m avoiding Fitzgerald in all leagues as anything more than a fifth-round pick. Receiver is loaded this year, so go with someone in a better situation a round or two later and take a running back at this point.
30. Doug Martin (ADP 4.08) -
LeGarrette Blount’s groin injury wasn’t as bad as it appeared last week, but Martin is still pulling away from him. Look for Blount to be in the mix—assuming he’s not pressing to stay active in the RBBC and that being why he’s returning to the practice field so quickly.
A re-aggravation would mean curtains for Blount’s chances to put a dent into Martin’s early-season value. If anything should happen to Blount, Martin would be a steal in the late third to fourth round.