The third week of the 2012 preseason has concluded in the National Football League, which means that most teams has staged their "dress rehearsals," with the starters seeing their most extensive action of the exhibition campaign.
Those dress rehearsals also gave fantasy football enthusiasts a valuable glimpse into the regular season plans and potential futures of some NFL franchises, so let's take a look at some players who saw their fantasy stock rise or fall over the weekend.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks: There's likely no player in the NFL whose fantasy stock took a bigger leap over the past week than third-round rookie Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks.
After Wilson threw for 185 yards and rushing for 58 more against the Kansas City Chiefs, head coach Pete Carroll saw all he needed to see, naming Wilson the Week 1 starter and sending his fantasy hype machine into hyperdrive.
If the Falcons continue their high-flying ways into the regular season, Ryan appears set for a career year, and the argument can certainly now be made that Ryan has the most fantasy upside of any passer outside the top five.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: The Maurice Jones-Drew holdout continues to drag on, and Rashad Jennings continues to perform well in his stead, gaining 57 yards on 13 carries against the Baltimore Ravens.
Head coach Mike Mularkey told Gene Frenette of The Florida Times-Union that he "expects" Jennings to be the Week 1 starter for the Jaguars, and with Jones-Drew still not in camp and Jennings a capable replacement, he's shot into consideration as a viable fantasy RB3.
Eric Decker, WR, Denver Broncos: It appears that fantasy drafters who have been drafting wide receiver DeMaryius Thomas as though he will be the top wideout for Peyton Manning in Denver may have jumped the gun a bit.
Third-year wide receiver Eric Decker reeled in four passes for 38 yards in Denver's third preseason contest, with two of those catches going for scores, and as the possession target for Manning in the Mile High City Decker is an interesting WR2 play, especially in point-per-reception fantasy leagues.
Aaron Hernandez, TE, New England Patriots: It's been a very good week for New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who recently inked a $41 million contract extension that will keep him in Beantown for the foreseeable future.
Not only that, but Hernandez led all New England receivers in targets Friday night, and with Greg Bedard of The Boston Globe going so far as to say that "Aaron Hernandez has ascended to Brady’s No. 1 option," fantasy drafters using a first round pick on Rob Gronkowski may have bet on the wrong horse.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers: The Carolina Panthers backfield can be a very frustrating situation for fantasy owners, and while that situation may have cleared up a bit at least in the short term that's of precious little comfort to the fantasy owners of Jonathan Stewart.
The 25-year-old running back injured his right ankle in the Panthers' win over the New York Jets Sunday, and while the injury isn't believed to be serious it makes the prospects of counting on Stewart as a Week 1 starter risky at best.
Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons: The Atlanta Falcons' offense has been running on all cylinders in the preseason, but they've left at least part of the offense largely unused, much to the chagrin of his fantasy owners.
Running back Michael Turner has averaged fewer than three yards a pop on 18 carries in three preseason contests, and while Turner's 10 carries for 35 yards last week was actually his best game of the preseason if the Falcons keep throwing it like crazy the ninth-year pro will be sorely pressed to live up to his RB2 price tag.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald is one of the most talented players in the NFL at his position, and after looking at his five catches for 91 yards against the Tennessee Titans, you may be wondering how I could say his stock is down.
The simple fact is that most of Fitzgerald's production came on one long pass, and right now the Cardinals' quarterback situation is as bad as any in the league. Sure, Fitzgerald has shown the ability to produce with iffy quarterbacks in the past, but given the mess under center in the desert the ninth-year veteran is now easily the riskiest of the top-five fantasy wideouts in 2012.
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