Finally, the end of preseason is near and real football is just around the corner. As bad as the preseason is there is nothing worse than week 4. By this time most drafts are finished and third string players, just trying to make the final 53 man roster, are starting. However, week 4 can still be valuable to fantasy owners if you know where to look. RotoWriters will highlight a few players and teams to keep an eye on during Thursdays match ups.
Cam Newton, Kelvin Benjamin, Greg Olsen, & Jerricho Cotchery– Some disturbing news released about Newtons injury from Saturday. Originally it seemed only to be a minor back contusion, but an MRI confirmed a hairline fracture on a rib. Adding that to Newton missing nearly all of the off-season recovering from ankle surgery we can’t expect Newton to be 100% when the regular season starts. The preseason confirmed what many feared as the depleted Carolina receiving core was not entirely on the same page with Newton. Now with the injury news, Thursday will show us if any of the offensive weapons are even viable starting options should Cam miss time this season. If Cam doesn’t play, all of the guys mentioned above will take a major production hit unless we see something special from Derek Anderson when Carolina lines up against Pittsburgh. Newton is not slated to play this Thursday even though he is expected to return in week 1.
Shaun Hill, Zac Stacy, Kenny Britt, & Tavon Austin– If Sam Bradford was your starting QB there was a good chance you weren’t winning this year anyway. With Bradford out Shaun Hill has taken the reigns. Hill proved he is a serviceable QB while in Detroit and while he may not be a fantasy asset, he should still be able to keep Britt and Austin relevant this year. Historically, solid quarterback play paves the way for a more successful running game. Stacy was already in for some tough sledding as being apart of the NFC West but the hill just got steeper with the loss of Bradford. If Shaun Hill can come in and perform, there shouldn’t be a drop off in production from any of the guys above.
San Francisco 49ers-Levi stadium has officially opened and on its historical opening the 49ers scored 0 points. Instead the first 49er touchdown is scored by Vance McDonald on a pass play thrown by…Blaine Gabbert during their second outing at Levi. If that historical footnote isn’t disappointing enough the 49ers have had little else to be proud of during the preseason. The only saving grace has been the emergence of The Ohio St. product Carlos Hyde. Expect Hyde to take over a significant roll as Frank Gore will be turning 32 this season and has 816 total carries over the past three years. Hopefully Colin Kaepernick can develop some sort of passing game Thursday against Houston to justify drafting Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree at their ADP.
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