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Thursday 20th Jul 2017

St. Louis at Cleveland

Brandon Jackson looked good, not that it matters. He’s going to get hurt. Montario Hardesty is going to stay hurt, as that is his normal condition. Trent Richardson is a stud but costs a first-round pick and questions surround his knees. Dion Lewis is not a big back, but he’s quick enough, shifty, with enough moves up his sleeve to make defenders miss now and then. The Eagle castoff is the handcuff of choice for Trent Richardson owners and pickpockets looking to steal a lotto ticket with modest upside. Sam Bradford looked great, delivering pass after pass accurately, and was rewarded with drops from his receivers. I like Tavon Austin but he’s going in the sixth round of late and that is too rich for my blood. Chris Givens in the 12th is more likely to yield a profit.

Jacksonville at Miami

I’m a huge fan of Lamar Miller. He displayed the most explosiveness of all the backs I scouted this weekend; great acceleration, top end speed, change of direction. Yet he’s still inexperienced in pass protection and the early returns on the offensive line aren’t great. It’s still early and these things change as lines need time to gel, but Ryan Tannehill was under the gun frequently against the Jags. Mike Wallace is a nice asset to have to spread the field, remove defenders from the box and open up running lanes, but unless the former Steeler has time to run his routes and the sophomore out of Texas A&M has time to set and throw, it’s all for naught. As much as I love Miller and his RB1 upside, spending a third-round pick (and rising) is a somewhat risky proposition.

New York Jets at Detroit

If you think Chris Ivory can withstand the rigors of being a workhorse in the NFL, I’ve got some swampland in Florida that… well, you know the cliché. As a part-timer averaging about 10 carries a game, he was only able to stay on the field for 24 of the Saints' 48 games over a three-year stretch. The Jets apparent faith in him and his late fifth-round ADP puzzle me. If you roll the dice expecting snake eyes, you better draft the entire stable in New York (his handcuffs are cheap). Bilal Powell is serviceable, much cheaper (20th round), and has a decent chance of having more totes on his stat sheet when December rolls around. Powell is not elite, but he’s quick and shifty enough out in space to make a defender miss, and he’ll get what’s blocked. He also looked decisive with his cuts, not dancing around in the backfield. He’s an efficient runner. There’s not a ton of upside here given the dearth of offensive weapons. Speedster Stephen Hill has potential but has been quiet up to this point. On the other hand, the Motor City has something to get excited about. They have four capable backs, but I have a feeling the brass wants Reggie Bush to be the bell cow. The veteran looks to be on a mission, and his legs look bigger to me than I’ve ever seen them. He remains somewhat of an injury risk, but the former Dolphin looks comfortable running between the tackles, sprinting to the perimeter or lining up in the slot. He’s poised to be a PPR monster and the big plays should return with arguably the most prolific receiver in NFL history at wideout. Remember all the lanes that opened up for Bush in Miami back in 2011 when Brandon Marshall wore the same colors? Those dried up last year with the mercurial receiver’s departure to the Windy City, but those lanes should open up and then some this year with Stafford at the helm and Megatron on the loose. If Reggie manages to stay on the field for 16 games, he could have a career year in Motown. The only buzzkill are the three capable backs behind him. Joique Bell will certainly get touches. Mikel Leshoure’s yards per carry impresses no one, but his legs are incredibly strong, making him a pile mover in the red zone and thus a potential touchdown vulture, not to mention the chronicles of Theo Riddick and his abilities.

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