FANTASY PLAYS: Summer work makes players look more draftable

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Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon catches a pass during practice at the NFL football team's training camp facility, Wednesday, June 13, 2018, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

So (insert name of NFL beat writer) says (fill in name of player) is having a tremendous offseason. This could be the year (repeat name of player) breaks out.

Every team has that player who tears it up in the offseason. Be it rookie minicamp or organized team activities, some scribes that follow each team gush over a player or two whose prowess in a helmet and shorts makes him look like he's about to leave the feeder road of mediocrity toward the highway to Canton. That doesn't always translate into success once the games count, but summers often sprout fantastic picks for fantasy football players:

JOSH GORDON (WR, Browns): Yes, him. Gordon is participating in OTAs for the first time in his career and looks like a changed man, especially off the field. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor has the arm strength to wing it and if Gordon's past is behind him, he'll be a potential top wideout that will be picked as WR3/flex in most leagues.

JORDAN MATTHEWS (WR, Patriots): Matthews' draft value took an unexpected hike after news that Julian Edelman could be suspended the first four games of the regular season. He could start opposite Chris Hogan and would be a name to stash off near the end of the draft.

KENDRICK BOURNE (WR, 49ers): Bourne averaged 16.1 yards per catch last season and has developed a strong rapport with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. San Francisco does not have a clear WR1, which means Bourne will have every chance to compete for the role.

AARON JONES (RB, Packers): Jamaal Williams enters training camp atop the depth chart but averaged just 3.6 yards per carry last season. Jones, however, averaged 5.5 yards per attempt and looks significantly bigger than he was at the end of 2017. Consider this a race to watch.

PATRICK MAHOMES (QB, Chiefs): He had a strong outing the first day of OTAs and has already found a deep ball connection with Sammy Watkins. Risky, yet teasing with potential, Mahomes is a late round consideration who could be gold in leagues that use two quarterbacks.

IF AT FIRST...

Miguel Cabrera owners spent Wednesday scrambling for possible options upon learning the news of the Tigers first baseman's season-ending surgery for a ruptured biceps tendon sustained on Tuesday night.

A waiver wire name to consider would be Rays rookie first sacker Jake Bauers, who hit his first big league homer on Monday night. While Bauers won't replace Cabrera's .299 batting average and .395 on base percentage, he will offer the element of power that had been declining in Cabrera's bat.

If Bauers isn't there, Yuli Gurriel can be an option. Entering Wednesday, Gurriel was batting .297 but his drop in power (two homers in 212 at-bats) and OBP (.318) makes the Astros starter a risk. Still, Gurriel is streaky enough to get his power groove back.

FANTASY LOVE

LeBron James' possible departure from the Cavaliers would be a fantasy windfall for Kevin Love. Fantasy basketball players should keep in mind that Love averaged at least 20 points and 12 rebounds as the cornerstone of the Timberwolves from 2010-14. If James leaves, Love becomes a mid-to-late second round pick.

As for James, his fantasy value would take a significant hit should he leave Cleveland. While he'd obviously remain an elite player, the need for James to put up monster numbers on a nightly basis would lessen, especially if he were to end up with either the 76ers or Rockets.

___

This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com

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