Emmanuel Sanders Fantasy Value Trending Up After Impressive Preseason Debut
By Dan Israeli
After tearing his Achilles tendon in practice last December, Emmanuel Sanders returned to the football field in Week 2 of the preseason Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers. The 32-year-old WR caught one pass for five yards and added a 19-yard rush.
More important than his stat line, Sanders said he felt 'great' after the game, and any doubts about his Week 1 availability for the regular season can now be hushed. It's an amazing turnaround for such a serious injury that occurred just a little over nine months ago.
Now that Sanders has proven he's ready for game action, it'll be interesting to see where the nine-year vet fits in the Broncos' passing hierarchy. Denver would probably love for second-year WR Courtland Sutton to take the reins as the team's No. 1 option after coming off a fairly disappointing rookie year. Despite his issues with efficiency (50 percent catch rate), Sutton did, however, average an impressive 16.8 yards per catch in 2018.
After Sanders and Sutton, 2018 standouts DaeSean Hamilton and Tim Patrick also figure to be in the mix for more regular playing time. Hamilton excelled in the slot last season, and if he continues in that role this year, it could limit Sanders' opportunities to play inside in three-wide receiver sets. Patrick will likely be the fourth wide receiver on the depth chart, even though he arguably outplayed Sutton down the stretch last season.
Despite a potential Sutton breakout, along with Hamilton and Patrick fighting for more snaps, the arrow is certainly pointing up for Sanders' fantasy stock in 2019. With new quarterback Joe Flacco running the offense, Sanders should be the favorite to lead the team in targets, thanks to his reliability and ability to get open in the short to intermediate areas of the field.
While his age and chance of injury re-aggravation are both relevant, Sanders is currently being drafted as the WR46, according to FantasyPros.com's average draft position (ADP). While his ADP may increase a little, Sanders could still be a very attractive option, especially in PPR leagues, if he is able to maintain his health for an entire season.
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