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Be wary of Wayne, rookie WRs for fantasy football

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If Josh Gordon is suspended for the season, does Miles Austin get a boost? -- @marmond23 (via Twitter)

Marcas Grant: Not especially. If Gordon is unavailable this season there's a chance Austin could see more targets, but don't expect him to suddenly jump into the role of a No. 1 receiver. If anyone sees a boost from a potential Gordon suspension, it's Jordan Cameron. The fourth-year tight end came into his own with a big 2013 season in which he was second on the team in both targets and receptions. If there is a Browns receiver who could benefit, it might be Andrew Hakwins. The former Bengal seemed poised to break out last season, but missed the first eight games of the year with an ankle injury. The hardest part about forecasting the Browns receivers is that only two wideouts from last year's team are still on the roster -- Gordon and Travis Benjamin. It will be worth watching this group in the preseason to see how things shake out.

Is anyone of Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans or Brandin Cooks a viable WR3 this season? -- @jdomp89 (via Twitter)

M.G.: We have repeatedly warned readers about the dangers of rating rookie receivers too highly since very few of them produce even top 15 numbers in their freshman campaigns. But the Sammy Watkins hype train has picked up plenty of steam over the first few days of training camp. If there's a player in that group to consider as a WR3, it's the rookie from Clemson. That's not to knock Evans or Cooks -- both of them have landed in situations that seem to fit their respective skills. Cooks especially has the chance to be a deep sleeper as a slot receiver in the Saints offense. It's just that I wouldn't count on either of them as either more than a fourth or fifth option this season.

Why is Reggie Wayne rated so low this year with Andrew Luck being so hot? -- @YaBoiRilez (via Twitter)

M.G.: The reason can be summed up in three little letters: ACL. Players returning from a major knee injury generally take a full season to get back to where they previously were. It's something many of us forgot after Adrian Peterson's miraculous recovery. That concern grows when you take into account that Wayne will turn 36 later this season. On top of that, the Colts have added another weapon to the passing game with Hakeem Nicks coming over in free agency. Plus Indy will have a healthy Dwayne Allen and an improved (hopefully) Trent Richardson. There are going to be plenty of mouths for Andrew Luck to feed this year and some of that food is likely to come off of Wayne's plate.

Who should I franchise in a PPR league: Doug Martin, Arian Foster or Jimmy Graham? -- @jshuuaa10 (via Twitter)

M.G.: Foster is probably your best bet here. While it's tough to consider throwing Graham back into the draft pool, the dual-threat nature of the Texans' running back means he can score in multiple ways -- not just as a pass-catcher. It's understandable if owners are worried about injuries, but Foster has been pretty durable throughout his career and will be just 28 this season. Thinking optimistically, he will be rested after missing the bulk of last season which should alleviate any fears over the heavy workload he's carried the past few seasons.

Is picking Jimmy Graham in the second round a good idea? -- @Pico0710 (via Twitter)

M.G.: It's not a good idea ... it's an excellent idea. Based on last season's numbers, Graham would have ranked as the fourth-best receiver and the sixth-best running back. Right now, Graham is head and shoulders above anyone else at the position and would function essentially as an extra wide receiver on your fantasy roster. While I wouldn't advocate it, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Saints tight end come off the board at the end of the first round in some drafts. But if he's still hanging around in the second round, go get him.

Trent Richardson and C.J. Spiller both used to be top 10 picks in the draft but have fallen. Are they worth a risk at RB2? -- @EthanHandles (via Twitter)

M.G.: They definitely both come with some risk, but if there's a player I feel more confident in this season, it's Spiller. The Bills running back says he's fully recovered from a nagging ankle injury that hindered him last season. Spiller (along with Fred Jackson and Bryce Brown) will be asked to lead a running game that can take pressure off of quarterback EJ Manuel. I expect that Richardson will be a pleasant surprise after a dreadful 2013, but I wouldn't recommend drafting the Colts rusher as more than a third option.

Could Ray Rice bounce back to a RB1 and be a great late round value? -- @cwsircy (via Twitter)

M.G.: Most anything is possible, but that's not one that I'm counting on this season. First, Rice is expected to be suspended for multiple games at the start of the season due to his recent off-field issues. Moreover, Bernard Pierce is expected to take a bigger slice of the running back workload this season. The Ravens have also beefed up their passing game with the addition of Steve Smith and the return of Dennis Pitta, who missed 12 games last season. That last part could be big with Gary Kubiak taking over the offensive coordinator duties. Of course, this all presupposes that the Ravens have solved the offensive line problems that plagued their running game for much of 2013. If that hasn't been fixed, then it won't really matter who Baltimore puts in their backfield.


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How high should Bishop Sankey be targeted? Seems like a big volume guy. -- @NutNutBaby (via Twitter)

M.G.: Right now, Sankey is coming off the board in the sixth round of most NFL.com fantasy drafts, which might be a little high but not terribly so. If you're targeting Sankey, it's worth keeping in mind that he won't be a true featured back in Tennessee. As Jim Wyatt of The Tennesseean points out, Dexter McCluster will function as a pass-catcher out of the backfield while Shonn Greene threatens to take precious goal line carries away. Sankey has a chance to be the best rookie running back available, but he'll have competition in the Titans backfield.

What are your thoughts on the type of year Robert Griffin III is going to have? -- @Reecek15 (via Twitter)

M.G.: Things are looking up for RGIII heading into the new season. He has a new head coach and offensive coordinator and a new playmaker in DeSean Jackson. Even better, he's had a full season since his most recent major knee surgery and is reportedly looking as good as ever. Head coach Jay Gruden helped turn Andy Dalton into top five fantasy quarterback and I think you'll have a hard time finding anyone who considers Dalton to be a more talented player than Griffin. All of those things add up to RGIII landing back among the top 10 players at his position this season.

Doing offensive and defensive players this season. Who is the first defensive player I should take and which round? -- @19MakeItReyna90 (via Twitter)

M.G.: There's no consensus No. 1 defensive player to target in IDP leagues, but undoubtedly it should be a linebacker. The problem is that a handful of the top players at that position won't be available to you. NaVorro Bowman, Sean Lee, Sean Weatherspoon and Kiko Alonso will miss either most or all of 2014 with various injuries. Furthermore, Daryl Washington is suspended for the entire season after another violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. There are still a few names worth targeting, including Luke Kuechly, Paul Posluszny and Vontaze Burfict. If you're feeling particularly saucy, you can go after J.J. Watt, who is the current top stud among IDP defensive linemen. Either way, you're not thinking about any defensive players until the mid-to-late rounds.

Bonus question: When is NFL Fantasy LIVE going to be on? -- @rikku0809 (via Twitter)

M.G.: I'm glad you asked. Beginning August 11, you can find NFL Fantasy LIVE on the interwebs at NFL.com and the new NFL Now app. Then beginning September 1, we'll be back on NFL Network. In the meantime, you can find us writing here everyday.


Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com and a man who isn't above a little shameless self promotion. Tweet him about fantasy football or whatever else is on your mind at @MarcasG.

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