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Nick Chubb, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ezekiel Elliott in Aug. 22 NFL Fantasy Roundup

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2019

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb warms up before an NFL preseason football game between the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Browns, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Ron Schwane/Associated Press

Another week, another roundup of fantasy football-relevant news as you prepare for drafts. Information is power, people—keep yourselves informed.

              

Nick Chubb

Here's some good news for fantasy players who are targeting Nick Chubb—he should see his role increase in the passing game. 

"I think he's going to be special like he was last year," Cleveland running backs coach Stump Mitchell told Mary Kay Cabot, Josh Gunter and John Kuntz of Cleveland.com. "He'll be used a little more in the passing game than he was last year. Nick just continues to improve on the skill set that he has, and I think he has a fantastic skill set."

Chubb won't be the sort of player you can wait around to take. His average draft position in ESPN fantasy leagues is 25.7, while in Yahoo drafts he's coming off the board at 11.4. Suffice to say, if you want to guarantee yourself Chubb, you'll need to use a second-round pick to snag him. 

The major cause of concern, of course, is that Kareem Hunt will be back with the team during the second-half of the season after he serves his eight-game suspension. So while Chubb likely will put up RB1 numbers in the first eight games or so, it's possible he'll find himself stuck in a platoon situation down the stretch. 

That is probably keeping him from being selected higher. But for players who do snag him, it sure sounds as though he'll make a major impact early on. 

                                     

JuJu Smith-Schuster

JuJu Smith-Schuster is set to see an increase in production with Antonio Brown in Oakland. But another reason he could see his numbers go up is his added emphasis on improving as a deep threat in Pittsburgh's offense. 

"Being able to catch the deep balls down the field, those go balls, those free balls that they send down the field where I've got to go make those plays," Smith-Schuster said, per Kevin Gorman of TribLive.com. "That's what I've focused on a lot, catching the ball over the shoulder and being able to be a threat on the outside."

As Gorman noted, Smith-Schuster already "led the Steelers with 111 receptions for 1,426 yards and five catches of 40 yards or longer, ranking in the top six in the league in all three categories." So he's already a pretty safe bet to be a WR1 this season. 

But the fact that Smith-Schuster has identified an important area of his game to improve upon is a great sign for both fantasy players and the Steelers.

"That just shows the growth of what he wants and desires to be," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "I think that's awesome. If you asked him the question, 'What do you want to improve on?' And he says, 'Nothing, I'm good.' That's when you have issues, right?"

Indeed. Smith-Schuster is primed to have a monster season. It isn't much of a surprise he has an ADP of 17.4 in Yahoo leagues. He'll come off the board quickly in all formats.

                       

Ezekiel Elliott

It wouldn't be a fantasy roundup without an update on Ezekiel Elliott's contract holdout. Ed Werder of ESPN provides the latest news on that front:

Ed Werder @WerderEdESPN

Sources: The most recent offer in negotiations between holdout Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys came from the team. Elliott has been offered a contract making him one of the NFL’s 2 highest-paid RB. That would suggest team offering more than LeVeon Bell and less than Todd Gurley.

To read between the lines, if the Cowboys offered Elliott a contract that would make him the second-highest-paid running back in the league, and he hasn't accepted it, that means Elliott is gunning to be the highest-paid player at his position.

That shouldn't come as a huge surprise. Elliott has averaged over 1,000 rushing yards and 11 total touchdowns in his first three seasons, numbers that would be even higher had he not been suspended for six games in 2017. He's also been the focal point of Dallas' offense in that time, and the Cowboys would go from being a Super Bowl contender to a fringe playoff team, at best, without him. 

So Elliott will seek major dollars. The fact that the Cowboys are reportedly offering him top-two running back money is a good sign that the sides should eventually work out an agreement. If the reports coming from plugged-in reporters such as Werder were that Dallas and Elliott were far apart, fantasy players would probably want to avoid Elliott in the early rounds out of fear of a protracted holdout.

As it stands, Elliott remains risky for fantasy players with earlier drafts. For everyone else, it's a wait-and-see situation. 

             

Odds and Ends

The Arizona Cardinals signed Michael Crabtree on Thursday.

NFL @NFL

.@AZCardinals agree to one-year deal with WR Michael Crabtree. https://t.co/7J2dEkfnNz

He probably isn't a player you want to draft, given his mediocre 2018 season (54 receptions for 607 yards and three touchdowns), but if Arizona ends up having a dynamic offense under Kliff Kingsbury, Crabtree could be a player worth monitoring for a future waiver addition. 

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com broke down some training camp surprises for every NFL team, a solid read for any fantasy player. Among the notable sections, he analyzed a few Baltimore Ravens of note:

"First-round pick Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown isn't in line to be a starter to open the season, if he's playing at all. His recovery from a Lisfranc foot injury has been slow, while fellow rookie Miles Boykin and veteran slot receiver Willie Snead are the early-season favorites for snaps at wideout. No team figures to play with two tight ends on the field more often, with Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle and Hayden Hurst rotating."

LeSean McCoy is also worth taking a flier on. As Rosenthal wrote: "Perhaps this shouldn't be a surprise, but there is little doubt LeSean McCoy will be on the Bills roster in Week 1. T.J. Yeldon hasn't played well enough to even make the team, and there's zero buzz of interest elsewhere."

Rosenthal also noted Jacksonville's top three wideouts heading into the season are Chris Conley, DJ Chark Jr.—who has "reportedly taken a big leap after a quiet rookie season"—and Dede Westbrook.

Here's a bit of running back advice from Rosenthal coming out of Kansas City:

"In theory, it should be a surprise that the Chiefs might burn the $800,000 signing bonus they gave to running back Carlos Hyde by potentially cutting him. But since that possibility was forecast in this space a month ago, the bigger surprise is that I'd rather draft rookie Darwin Thompson in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts than take Chiefs starting running back Damien Williams in the top 40."

Rosenthal doesn't envision rookie wideouts Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler will play a major role in Arizona's offense this season, while New Orleans undrafted receiver Emmanuel Butler is a name to remember.

Oh, and Washington's Jordan Reed is healthy this summer and has been the team's "most explosive player in camp." But Reed's injury-plagued career always makes him a risk, so keep that in mind.