Steelers battle QB, Pierce shines for Texans, rookie receivers injured

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The news: Mark Kaboly of The Athletic has reported that Kenny Pickett’s superb pre-season performances could lead to him being named a starter.

What does it mean in fantasy: For the first time since Ben Roethlisberger was drafted in 2004, the Steelers have no quarterback clarity at the start of the season. When Pittsburgh signed Mitch Trubisky in free agency, he was expected to be the starter, but the team selected Pickett No. 20 overall in the draft. Pickett showed steady improvement throughout training camp and in preseason games. Pittsburgh’s final preseason game against the Detroit Lions on Sunday could determine the Steelers’ Week 1 starter. For fantasy purposes, the winner will be on the streaming radar.

Go further : Pickett has a 142.5 quarterback rating so far in the preseason with three touchdowns and just three misses on 22 retirements. Moreover, the rookie performed much better under pressure than Trubisky. Considering the Steelers’ 31st-ranked pass block success rate last season, that’s significant.


The news: Dameon Pierce shone in the Texans’ preseason finale on Thursday night.

What does it mean in fantasy: Pierce had the opportunity to get some reps with the first-team offense and exceeded expectations with 37 rushing yards and a touchdown on six attempts. He’s the RB38 in our live draft trends, but Pierce’s average draft position is expected to rise after this performance. Despite being underutilized during his college career at the University of Florida, Pierce has become one of the most talked about fantasy football sleepers of the preseason.

Go further : The Texans had the league’s worst rushing game last season, finishing with 1,442 rushing yards and 3.4 yards per carry.

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Field Yates breaks down Dameon Pierce’s fantastic value despite Houston’s attack.


The news: Bucs coach Todd Bowles said Thursday that Tom Brady will start Saturday in the preseason finale against the Colts.

What does it mean in fantasy: After his absence from training camp, Brady will immediately return to action. For the GOAT, it would be his first preseason game, his first time with Julio Jones, and his first time behind the remade offensive line. The Buccaneers offensive line is the one that concerns me the most and should also concern you as a fantasy manager. Brady is the QB8 of our live draft trendsand although he has plenty of playmakers at his disposal, I would rather wait until later to sign a quarterback with a similar advantage, like Russell Wilson (QB11), Trey Lance (QB13) and Derek Carr (QB14).


The news: Drake London is still out of training due to his knee injury.

What does it mean in fantasy: The coaching staff didn’t seem too concerned about London’s injury 11 days ago. Fantasy managers shouldn’t panic yet. London was selected eighth overall in the NFL Draft. There’s no reason for the Falcons to rush him. Kyle Pitts and London will lead Atlanta’s passing game. In fantasy leagues, rookie is a solid flex option.


The news: Antonio Gibson is expected to be the Commanders’ leading kick returner this season

What does it mean in fantasy: The fantastic managers who targeted Gibson in drafts must have wept in unison after coach Ron Rivera announced it publicly. Despite going for 1,331 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, Gibson looks unlikely to be Washington’s starter in 2022. Maybe he’ll be more of a receiver out of the backfield after totaling 42 receptions for 294 yards and three touchdowns last season. Gibson is the RB23 in our live draft trendsbut I would prioritize Elijah Mitchell (RB24), Devin Singletary (RB25) or Miles Sanders (RB26) over him.


The news: Treylon Burks left practice early Wednesday and did not practice Thursday.

What does it mean in fantasy: The Titans traded AJ Brown to the Eagles in exchange for the pick they used to select Burks in this year’s draft. Fantasy managers have high expectations for Burks, but those hopes have yet to be met by the rookie. It’s a shame because the Titans have 351 targets available at the start of the season. Burks is worth hiding on your bench, but Robert Woods is the Titans receiver you want to target. He’s the WR47 in our live draft trends.


The news: The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia has reported that OJ Howard could be a cut candidate for the Buffalo Bills.

What does it mean in fantasy: Howard was signed this offseason and was expected to join starter Dawson Knox in two tight sets or operate solo when Knox was resting. Due to outstanding performances by two underrated tight ends, Tommy Sweeney and Quintin Morris, Howard could play for his spot in the Bills’ final preseason game. Knox is currently the TE12 in our draft trends, making it a great option for those who prefer to wait to tackle the position.


The news: Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims has requested a trade.

What does it mean in fantasy: After being selected by the Jets in the second round of the NFL Draft two years ago, it’s clear Mims isn’t a core part of the new training regimen’s plan and wants a fresh start elsewhere. As a 2020 rookie, he had 23 receptions for 357 receiving yards, showing flashes of what he’s capable of. After that season, the entire coaching staff that drafted him was fired, and Mims never earned the trust of new head coach Robert Saleh. At just 24, Mims is known for his contested catches and could find himself on the fantasy radar again in just the right spot.


Today on ESPN.com/Fantasy and in the ESPN Fantasy app

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Matt Bowen’s 18 favorite draft targets

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Lance B. Holton