Sat Aug 24 4:52pm ET
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018 file photo, Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs against the Detroit Lions during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in Detroit. With rookie Alexander Mattison at the top of the candidate list and Ameer Abdullah returning after a late-season arrival last year, the Minnesota Vikings are looking for another running back to emerge as a reliable complement to Dalvin Cook. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez, File)
Arizona Cardinals defensive end Zach Allen (97) pressures Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, right, during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) runs from Arizona Cardinals linebacker Dennis Gardeck, right, after making a reception during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs from Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo (95) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Arizona Cardinals place kicker Zane Gonzalez (5) kicks a 32-yard field goal in front of Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes, left, during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook celebrates with teammate CJ Ham (30) after scoring on an 85-yard touchdown run in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs from Arizona Cardinals defenders Tramaine Brock (20) and D.J. Swearinger (36) during an 85-yard touchdown run in the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins runs off the field during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray throws a pass during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Dalvin Cook had an 85-yard touchdown run for Minnesota, the highlight of an otherwise rough first half by the first-team offense during a 20-9 victory by the Vikings over the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday.
Cook scored early and Mike Boone crossed the goal line late, as the Vikings totaled 190 yards on 29 carries. The ground game was by far the best development of an afternoon when Kirk Cousins went just 3 for 13 for 35 yards while taking two sacks and Kaare Vedvik missed field goals from 43 and 54 yards.
Rookie Kyler Murray, the first overall pick in the draft to whom new coach Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals have turned to lead the reconstruction project, was relatively sharp while going 14 for 21 for 137 yards over the five possessions against a Vikings defense that was almost at full strength. Three of the drives ended with a successful field goal by Zane Gonzalez, a result that surely made the Vikings envious.
Vedvik, who has been given an extended evaluation as both a kicker and a punter, made both of his extra point attempts, at least, while incumbent Dan Bailey took the afternoon off. Matt Wile punted six times for an average of 47.3 yards, leaving no more clarity about the specialists than when the month began.
Cousins was under frequent pressure and had multiple passes knocked down at the line, including one deflection by rookie Zach Allen, who had a half-sack. Another Cardinals draft pick, KeeSean Johnson, stood out on the other side of the ball with seven receptions for 85 yards on seven targets.
One of the most discouraging aspects of the performance for Kingsbury and his staff were the 14 penalties for 111 yards, including two false starts called on backup quarterback Brett Hundley in a three-snap stretch late in the second quarter for apparently lifting his leg to signal a receiver to start his motion.
THE LONG RUN
The Cardinals were last in the league last season in rushing defense, allowing an average of nearly 155 yards per game that was bumped up by the Vikings here last Oct. 14 in a 27-17 victory fueled by a career-high 155 rushing yards from Latavius Murray.
Cook made the Cardinals look bad again, when he took a handoff to the left and veered right behind a key seal block by new right guard Josh Kline. The new zone blocking scheme directed by offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, senior offensive adviser Gary Kubiak and offensive line coach Rick Dennison ought to be a good fit for Cook with his keen cutback ability. The touchdown run was the longest in a preseason game in Vikings history, topping a 76-yarder by Jordan Todman in 2012.
Cardinals: New WR Michael Crabtree, the 11th-year veteran who signed with the team earlier this week, did not suit up. Neither did CB Patrick Peterson, the eight-time Pro Bowl pick facing a six-game suspension to start the regular season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancers.
Vikings: DT Linval Joseph, who joined the team for practice this week for the first time since offseason shoulder surgery, was held out of the starting lineup, as was SS Harrison Smith. On offense, WR Adam Thielen rested, and RT Brian O'Neill stayed on the sideline again, after returning to the field this week following a three-week absence because of a right arm injury.
Cardinals: Play at Denver on Thursday night in their final exhibition game. The regular-season opener is Sept. 8 against Detroit.
Vikings: Play at Tennessee on Thursday night in their final exhibition game. The regular-season opener is Sept. 8 against Atlanta.
Five Sleepers: Week 3
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (hip) is listed as questionable for Week 3 against the Patriots. Tight end Darren Waller (knee) is also questionable. Both players were able to get limited practice sessions in on Friday after not being available earlier in the week and should be able to suit up Sunday. At first glance, it seems like a tough matchup for Jacobs, though New England ranks just 20th in rush DVOA. It's always a nerve-wracking experience starting a player against a Bill Belichick-defense, though Jacobs is currently seeing a ton of volume in this offense. If he's playing, you're starting him.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins (concussion, neck) is questionable for Week 3 against the Ravens while running back Darrel Williams (ankle) will suit up. Watkins was able to practice in full on Saturday after getting in a limited session on Friday, so he's heading in the right direction. The veteran receiver is a risky start against Baltimore's tough secondary, considering he registered just one catch in Week 2 after posting a 7-82-1 line in Week 1. Williams will likely take a backseat to rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire and won't have much fantasy value in Week 3.
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) has been placed on the injured reserve by the team on Saturday. This means he'll miss the Cowboys' next three contests, which includes a big matchup against the Seahawks in Week 3. Rookie corner Trevon Diggs is also banged up with a shoulder injury, so this secondary is now far from healthy. It's bad news for Dallas because they'll be tasked with slowing down a red-hot Russell Wilson on Sunday. It's a safe bet to expect a lot of points to be scored in this game. Nearly every skill-position player should be started in this contest.
Detroit Lions cornerback Desmond Trufant (hamstring) has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals. Trufant was able to get in a couple limited sessions after not participating in Wednesday's practice, though it appears he is not quite ready yet. It's a blow to a Lions' pass defense that has surrendered five passing touchdowns in two games. Cardinals wideout DeAndre Hopkins will now likely go toe-to-toe with rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah, which is a boost to Hopkins' already elite fantasy value this week.
Atlanta Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell (illness) was placed on the COVID list on Saturday. The number-16 overall pick from the 2020 draft is the NFL's first positive case of the season, as the results came back from a Friday morning test. As of right now, the Falcons have no other positive tests, though this is obviously something to monitor up until kickoff on Sunday. The rest of the team was tested again Saturday morning and those results will come back Sunday morning. From a football perspective, this hurts an already-struggling Falcons' defense that has allowed the fourth-most passing yards in the NFL heading into Week 3.
Dallas Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith (neck) isn't expected to play against the Seahawks in Week 3. Ordinarily, replacing a tackle of Smith's caliber with someone else would be an issue for any offense, but the Seahawks rank in the middle of the league this year in pressure percentage and the Cowboys passing and rushing offense should still be in fine shape in a game that many expect to be a shootout. Don't think Smith's absence means you need to downgrade Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, or any of the team's other options.
Free-agent CB Morris Claiborne (Chiefs) is not actively looking for work but is remaining in shape in case the ideal circumstance to return presents itself.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle (ankle/knee) is set to return on Sunday against the New York Jets. Quarterback Philip Rivers looked to tight end Mo Alie-Cox often in last week's game and with Doyle sliding into the lineup, Rivers should continue to target the tight end position. Doyle might not see the same snap rate we're used to from the reliable veteran, but he's a definite streaming option for fantasy managers who are looking for additional help at a shallow position.
The San Francisco 49ers are promoting running back JaMycal Hasty to the active roster for Sunday's game against the New York Giants. With injuries to their top two running backs, the Niners weren't going to go into Week 3 with only Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson Jr. on the roster. McKinnon and Wilson should see almost all of the work, so don't get too excited about Hasty this week, who'll likely see just a handful of touches at best and shouldn't be on anyone's fantasy radar...yet.
The Carolina Panthers have promoted running back Reggie Bonnafon to the active roster ahead of Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Chargers. With Christian McCaffrey on the injured reserve, making this move seems like an obvious choice. Many expected Bonnafon to be the primary backup to McCaffrey this season, but he was passed by both Mike Davis and Trenton Cannon on the depth chart and wound up on the Carolina practice squad. Don't expect more than a handful of touches at most for Bonnafon, whose addition shouldn't impact Mike Davis's workload.
Philadelphia Eagles DT Fletcher Cox (oblique) is considered a game-time decision for Week 3's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, according to head coach Doug Pederson. He practiced on a limited basis Friday, Sept. 25, after missing the team's first two practice sessions of the week, and is officially listed as questionable on the injury report.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back LeSean McCoy was targeted seven times in Week 2, which is just enough times to make him semi-interesting as a rosterable option in deep leagues. His complete lack of involvement in the run game and 18 percent snap rate show just how risky of an option he is, though, and he should be barely on the fantasy radar in Week 3 against the Broncos. Maybe in a 16-team league, you throw the dart at him and hope the targets continue, but otherwise steer clear of the veteran rusher.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams was unable to make much of an impact during the Thursday night victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He hauled in both of his two targets for seven yards and one touchdown. It was a disappointing game for Williams, but quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick only had 20 passing attempts on the night. It has been a slow start to the season for Williams, but things should pick up next week. He'll get a favorable matchup against the Seattle Seahawks who have one of the worst pass defenses in the league.
Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki was able to score a touchdown for the second time in two weeks during the Thursday night victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Gesicki hauled in one of three targets for 15 yards and one touchdown. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick only had 20 passing attempts in this one, so it was a bit of an odd game. Regardless, Gesicki carries TE1 value into a favorable matchup versus the Seattle Seahawks shaky pass defense in Week 4.
If you thought the Texans and their revamped wide receiver core would feature some wide-open, four-receiver sets this season, you were wrong. Houston hasn't run a single play this season with four receivers and has run just one play without a tight end. This is one of the reasons to stay away from the team's No. 4 receiver, Kenny Stills, in Week 3. Still a talented wideout, Stills is on the field less than half of the time and has just two catches for 16 yards this season. Unless there are injuries ahead of him, Stills is a fantasy afterthought right now.
Las Vegas Raiders rookie wide receiver Bryan Edwards (foot) has been removed from the team's injury report, a sign that he'll be on the field this week against the New England Patriots. With Henry Ruggs III (hamstring/knee) sitting, Edwards will look for a larger role on Sunday. He's been targeted just three times through two games, but did catch both Week 2 targets for 42 yards. The promising young wideout has some appeal in deep leagues this week with no Ruggs, but he remains an incredibly risky play until we see him get a higher target share.
Seattle Seahawks CB Quinton Dunbar (knee) will be 'ready to play' against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3, according to head coach Pete Carroll.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker is clearly still not 100 percent healthy, but did play during the Thursday night win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He caught all five of his targets for 69 yards in Week 3. He'll get 10 days to heal up before his matchup with the Seattle Seahawks next week. Seattle has been horrendous at stopping the pass attack this season. Parker should be a reliable WR2 for that one, assuming he's healthy.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews will look to get back on track in Week 3 against the Chiefs. After a strong start to the 2020 campaign, the 25-year-old caught only one pass against the Houston Texans on Sunday. While that performance certainly left a bad taste in the mouths of fantasy managers, Andrews should remain starting in all formats, especially since his ceiling is higher than most at his position.
Miami Dolphins running back Jordan Howard has been having trouble finding any room to run this season. He rushed three times for one yard and one touchdown in the Thursday night win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Howard has 16 carries for 12 yards on the season, but has three touchdowns as well. Myles Gaskin has become the clear lead back in Miami, so there is little reason to keep Howard rostered in 12-team leagues. He does have a three game touchdown streak, but that won't be enough value to warrant ownership in most leagues.