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15:49 08/31/2017

Ezekiel Elliott, Martavis Bryant, Andrew Luck, Leonard Fournette among suspended, injured players affecting fantasy football rankings

Ezekiel Elliott, Martavis Bryant, Andrew Luck, Leonard Fournette among suspended, injured players affecting fantasy football rankings

As fantasy football drafts (and Week 1) inch closer and closer, fantasy owners await updates on the status of several big-name players, including suspended guys like Ezekiel Elliott and Martavis Bryant and injured players like Andrew Luck and Leonard Fournette. Figuring out just where to slot these players in your rankings (and which sleepers to target if they miss time) is crucial at this point in the preseason.

We've rounded up the latest information on these players and more so your cheat sheet is prepared heading into your fantasy football draft.

DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2017 fantasy football cheat sheet

Ezekiel Elliott appeal and suspension update

Per report, Mike Florio from ProFootballTalk said that Elliott's appeal will likely go to court and that he has a "very good chance" to play Week 1. Elliott's case was heard on Tuesday morning, and the decision isn't expected until the following week. Florio believes Elliott will take the case to court to file an injunction, which would allow him to play until the legal situation settles everything.

The knee-jerk reaction is that this means Elliott will be available for the beginning of the season, thus pushing him back into the top five among all fantasy players. However, this is not so much the case. Instead, this may mean he misses the latter half of the season, maybe even the fantasy playoffs. This story is far from over, and it's best to continue monitoring the situation as your draft approaches.

In other news, Elliott played in first preseason action last weekend, rushing six times for 18 yards and catching two passes for six yards. He looked fresh and ready to go, and as of right now -- with Elliott suspended six games -- we have him as the No. 19 RB.

Andrew Luck Injury Update: Unlikely to play in Week 1

Another day, another sign of Luck not playing in the regular season opener. On Monday, one Colts beat reporter said it will have to take a "miraculous turn of events" for Luck to start, and on Tuesday, head coach Chuck Pagano said "We're moving forward with the guys we have and the guys who are practicing."

Luck is still on the PUP list, and he hasn't practiced with the team since last year. Coming off shoulder surgery, it would be a tough task for Luck to be game-ready in less than two weeks and barely any practices. He'll almost certainly miss Week 1, if not one or two more games after. If you draft Luck, be sure to draft another QB to cover him when he comes back.

Will Martavis Bryant play in Week 1?

Bryant continues to play and play well in preseason action as he waits to hear a verdict on his reinstatement to the league. In Week 3 of the preseason, Bryant collected five catches on six targets for 23 yards. In Week 2, he caught two of three targets for 20 yards.

Bryant was suspended for all of 2016 for violating the league's substance abuse policy, and he was cleared to participate in preseason action earlier in August. It's been widely expected that he will be cleared in time for Week 1, but he and everyone else in fantasy are still waiting for a decision on his reinstatement. He's our No. 25 WR.

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL RANKINGS: Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Top 200

Leonard Fournette injury update

Fournette has been out for nearly two weeks, battling a foot injury on the same foot that plagued him for much of the 2016 season while at LSU. On Monday, he was seen ramping up his practice reps, and even said he wants to play in the Jags fourth preseason game. Jags coach Doug Marrone said he's "confident" that Fournette will be on the field for Week 1.

These are all great signs that his foot injury won't affect him once the season starts. He sits as a borderline-RB1 right now.

Will Jordan Matthews play in Week 1?

Bills' coach Sean McDermott told reporters he is "cautiously optimistic" that Matthews will return for the regular season opener.

After being traded from the Eagles, Matthews suffered a chip fracture in his sternum 15 minutes into his first practice with the Bills and hasn't seen the field since. If Matthews misses any time, rookie Zay Jones will be the likely benefactor, but it appears Matthews shouldn't miss more than one game. We see him as a WR3 with more upside in PPR leagues.

Vance McDonald traded to the Steelers

McDonald was traded on Tuesday from the 49ers to the Steelers, and he is immediately put into a TE1 battle with Jesse James. McDonald wasn't expected to do too much as a 49er, and his ranking doesn't change much with the Steelers, though he does have more upside given the improvement in his new offense.

With Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has enough great targets to throw to, so fantasy owners shouldn't expect McDonald to suddenly become the "new Heath Miller" or impact the volume of passes Pittsburgh's other receivers will see.

DRAFT STRATEGY AND TIERS: Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST

Joe Flacco expected to play in Week 1

On Tuesday, Flacco resumed throwing for the first time since he suffered a back injury while lifting weights in July. Ravens' coach John Harbaugh told reporters on Monday that he fully expects Flacco to be ready to go for Week 1, and this is the first sign that Flacco will indeed be on the field against the Bengals.

Flacco's return in Week 1 doesn't really affect the way you'll draft quarterbacks, but it does affect the value of Baltimore's receivers. Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace and TE Benjamin Watson should produce more with Flacco than Ryan Mallet as their quarterback. We have Maclin as our No. 33 WR, Wallace at No. 48, and Watson as a TE sleeper pick, especially in PPR leagues.

Tyrod Taylor injury update

After receiving the full vote of confidence as the Bills' starting QB from coach Sean McDermott, Taylor suffered a concussion in Week 3 of the preseason and is currently in concussion protocol.

On Tuesday, McDermott showed some concern that Taylor may not be ready for Week 1, saying they may try to protect backup Nathan Peterman in the preseason finale. Taylor's ranking isn't affected much by a one-game absence if he doesn't recover from his concussion in time. He still sits as an upper-tier backup/possible starter in 12-team leagues.

SLEEPERS: Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | One from each team

Devonta Freeman concussion update

Freeman was cleared on Tuesday from concussion protocol after 15 days, which means he'll in the Falcons' backfield in Week 1.

He's our No. 17 player in standard leagues and No. 12 in PPR leagues. Draft him as you normally would.

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