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Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams
In 2013, Stacy became a fantasy football star through circumstance. Circumstance has once again reared its ugly head. With Sam Bradford out for the season with a torn ACL, the Rams could be forced to lean more heavily on their young running back. Stacy picked up 250 carries in 12 starts last season. That number could get closer to 300 in 2014.
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Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Oakland Raiders
Jones-Drew entered the third week of the preseason as the Raiders' No. 1 running back and likely cemented his status as the starter with a big performance. It's still worth being wary of how much Darren McFadden will cut into MJD's carries, but Oakland's newest running back is looking much more like the Jones-Drew of old rather than an old Jones-Drew.
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Shane Vereen, RB New England Patriots
Vereen continues to assert himself as the best all-around back in New England's backfield. He has already made himself a significant part of the Pats' passing game and with Stevan Ridley always one fumble away from the bench, Vereen has the chance to pick up a fair number of carries as well.
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Knowshon Moreno, RB, Miami Dolphins
Despite an offseason that saw Moreno miss plenty of time on the field after knee surgery, the free agent back impressed his coaches in a big way with a rousing performance against the Dallas Cowboys over the weekend. The idea that Moreno could jump into a starting role after just one preseason game might say more about how the Dolphins feel about Lamar Miller, but fantasy owners should look a gifted RB in the mouth.
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Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers
The Niners offense hasn't looked particularly good this preseason, but it hasn't quite spread to Hyde. The rookie has looked bright in just about all of his work in San Francisco's contests. Frank Gore will still see the bulk of the carries, but Hyde has become a solid handcuff with the potential to steal touches as the season wears on.
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Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
Griffin's performances have gotten progressively worse through the preseason, culminating in an utterly forgettable game on Saturday. Perhaps the transition to a new offense is taking longer than expected. Maybe the idea of RGIII as a pocket passer has yet to take hold. Whatever the reason, Washington's anointed starting quarterback has generated a reasonable amount of worry.
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Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
First it was breaking in a new receiving corps. Then it was dealing with the aftereffects of offseason ankle surgery. Now its reports of a fractured rib. The hits just keep on coming for Cam Newton. That's an alarming number of red flags for a player whose fantasy totals have dropped each season he's been in the league.
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Toby Gerhart, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
While Blake Bortles and some of the Jaguars young receivers have stood out, Gerhart has been fairly ordinary. The presumed workhorse running back has gained a pedestrian 3.19 yards per carry during the preseason -- including against the same Bears defense that was shredded by Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks running game. Getting Beast Mode-like opportunities doesn't exactly make you Beast Mode.
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EJ Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills
Manuel started to put things together near the end of his appearance last weekend, even if it was against a second team defense. Hopefully that can spark the confidence of a player who looks as if he's suffering from a lack of it. Manuel has been erratic so far this preseason, which could have a ripple effect across Buffalo's fantasy prospects.
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Matt Prater, K, Denver Broncos
The fantasy draft value of a kicker -- even one in the Broncos offense -- is always a precarious thing. When that kicker is facing a four-game suspension, it makes him a no-go. Prater was fantasy's second-highest scoring kicker last season, but it will be Mitch Ewald handling things for the time being. We'll revisit this after the suspension ends.