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Published: Sept. 1, 2014 at 07:34 p.m.
Updated: Sept. 2, 2014 at 03:21 a.m.

Fantasy stock watch

As the NFL gears up for the regular season, we take a look at some key players' fantasy stock. Find out who's worth starting in their season openers and who you might want to keep on your bench during Week 1, or avoid drafting altogether.

10 Photos Total

  • Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots 10

    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots

    Gronk has finally been cleared to play in New England's season opener against the Dolphins and said he's excited and ready to go. Coming off an ACL tear, the elite fantasy tight end may not play on every snap, but as long as he's out there when the Patriots are in the red zone, fantasy owners should be rewarded for taking a risk on him during drafts.

  • Wes Welker, WR, Denver Broncos 9

    Ric Tapia/NFL

    Wes Welker, WR, Denver Broncos

    Welker's career is certainly in question after he suffered his third concussion in less than a year. Although the Broncos say the 33-year-old is making good progress going through the league's protocol following such an injury, we can't help but worry about his future. There's too much risk with his current Round 6 ADP and there's a good chance he misses playing time this season.

  • Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati Bengals 8

    Tom Uhlman/Associated Press

    Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

    The rookie running back was featured in the Bengals' final preseason game. He collected 90 rushing yards on 20 carries and added six receptions for another 70 yards, showing his versatility. Cincinnati released BenJarvus Green-Ellis, which solidified Hill's position as a complementary back to starter Giovani Bernard. Hill could see 200 carries in his rookie season and is worth a spot on fantasy rosters.

  • Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills 7

    Vincent Pugliese/Associated Press

    Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills

    The rookie wideout injured his ribs twice during the preseason and failed to make any real impact in a game after making eye-popping plays during training camp practices. Quarterback EJ Manuel is struggling with his own issues, and the news that the Bills signed Kyle Orton and did not name Manuel a team captain raises some questions about their confidence in the second-year signal-caller -- all leading to a down arrow for Watkins.

  • Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6

    Bill Wippert/Associated Press

    Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Tampa Bay's backfield lost some depth this preseason with Mike James and rookie Charles Sims going down with injuries after whispers of the Bucs moving toward a committee backfield this year. Coach Lovie Smith recently referred to Martin as the team's "bell cow" and said he "hasn't missed a beat" so far, which is music to fantasy owners' ears. Martin should see three-down work and is a capable pass-catcher, which adds to his value.

  • Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants 5

    Scott Boehm/Associated Press

    Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants

    Big Blue's offense has had a tough time during the preseason, and more importantly, Eli Manning has struggled. New Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has implemented a scheme that the team hasn't been able to tackle yet, a red flag for Cruz's fantasy value. Cruz didn't catch a pass until New York's third preseason game. He should see a lot of targets, but be wary of him at his current Round 5 ADP.

  • Ben Tate, RB, Cleveland Browns 4

    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    Ben Tate, RB, Cleveland Browns

    With the Browns likely to lean heavily on the run game this season, Tate should see a heavy workload out of the Cleveland backfield early on. At the start of training camp, it seemed Tate was in a competition with rookie Terrance West for the job. Coach Mike Pettine has said that West has some work to do as he learns the game at the NFL level, which means Tate is the clear-cut starter and should be the Browns' workhorse in an offense whose passing game has been weakened by the loss of Josh Gordon.

  • Tavon Austin, WRs, St. Louis Rams 3

    G. Newman Lowrance/Associated Press

    Tavon Austin, WRs, St. Louis Rams

    When Sam Bradford was lost for the year after re-tearing his ACL in a preseason game, the value of the Rams' receiving corps took a dive. Not that it was high to begin with, but this was supposed to be the season that Bradford reinvigorated his offense that ranked 27th in the NFL last year in passing. Austin is currently listed as one of the top two wideouts on the squad along with Kenny Britt, but they shouldn't be considered more than late-round fliers in fantasy.

  • Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs 2

    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

    Kelce got a lot of work with the first team in the Chiefs' final preseason game, lining up in two-tight end sets with Anthony Fasano. Kelce's preseason has been impressive to say the least, totaling 193 yards and two touchdowns on 11 receptions. With the lack of other options in the Chiefs' passing game, the second-year tight end is well worth a stash as a potential breakout candidate.

  • 49ers Defense 1

    Jim Mahoney/Associated Press

    49ers Defense

    San Francisco's defensive unit will be without star linebacker Aldon Smith for the team's first nine games due to a suspension, and inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman will likely be out until at least midseason as he rehabs a knee injury. Just a few days after the NFL announced changes on the league's penalties relating to domestic violence, defensive end Ray McDonald was arrested on such charges. His punishment may not be immediate, but he will no doubt miss time this season. The 49ers are currently the second defense coming off draft boards, but the unit is a shell of itself from a year ago and is no longer a reliable fantasy option in 2014.

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