Tue Aug 20 5:24pm ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Murray struggled last time out
It is hard to believe, but we are already halfway through the preseason schedule. There are just two weeks left before some real football. But before that happens, there is a lot to be decided. Below is the latest look from around the league, taking a closer look at the preseason games in Week 2 and what it means to fantasy owners.
Rookie quarterback Kyler Murray had a decent first game but had a rough showing his second time out. Murray was just 3-of-8 for 12 yards and was sacked twice. He missed on some throws and looked tentative in the pocket. It shouldn’t be a huge a surprise he had some struggles, though. He is a rookie and is playing in an offense that isn’t the best. Fantasy teams might want to temper their expectations a little with the rookie quarterback.
Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders played in his first game of the preseason, trying to return from his torn Achilles’ tendon. Sanders looked good in his return, showing off the speed from past years. He ran once for 19 yards and caught a pass for five yards. Sanders is making a strong recovery and should be ready for Week 1.
Patriots rookie running back Damien Harris got a big workload in the second preseason game and did well with his chances. He had 14 carries for 80 yards and caught four passes for 23 yards. Harris could be playing his way into a role with the Patriots for the coming year. There could be a logjam at running back for the Patriots this year with several quality options on the team.
Former rugby star Christian Wade continues to make plays with his chances. He ran twice for just four yards but had a reception for 48 yards. It seemed like he might be a long shot to make the roster at first but Wade is playing well. He could crack the roster to start the year and eventually carve out a speciality niche with the team.
Cowboys rookie running back Tony Pollard is alleviating some of the worries about Ezekiel Elliott holding out. Pollard had a great game his last time out, rushing five times for 42 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a pass for nine yards. He is proving capable in a starting role, which could make it harder for the Cowboys to cave in to Elliott’s demands. We’ll see.
Patriots rookie receiver Jakobi Meyers continues to make his presence known. He led the Patriots in receiving again, catching six passes for 82 yards. He is outplaying first-round pick N’Keal Harry despite not even being drafted. Meyers is making a strong case to not only make the roster but earn playing time for a shallow receiving corps.
All the talk in Steelers camp is Donte Moncrief currently is the starter opposite JuJu Smith-Schuster. James Washington is making a push, though, especially after his last preseason game. Washington had four receptions for 78 yards. Don’t discount Washington for the starter’s job just yet. He still has a legit shot to earn it before the preseason is over.
The Bills signed receiver Cole Beasley this offseason to take over a slot receiver role with the team. He seems to have quickly become a favorite target of Josh Allen. Beasley had five receptions for 44 yards their last preseason game. Beasley could really rack up the receptions in this offense.
Bucs tight end Tanner Hudson had another huge game, finishing with six receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. He has been the talk of camp for the Bucs but still isn’t even guaranteed a roster spot because the team is deep at the position. He is a player to keep an eye on, though, if he makes the team. He could push Cameron Brate for the No. 2 job.
San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had a preseason debut to forget. He was 1-of-6 with an interception. This comes after reports of Garoppolo throwing five interceptions in practice earlier in the week. He obviously has a ways to go to get back to his old self, returning from a torn ACL. He could have some issues early in the season.
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Five Hot Starts: Week 3
Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Tyler Eifert caught three passes for 36 yards and a touchdown in Week 2 against the Titans, showing why the Jaguars brought in the oft-injured tight end this offseason. But Eifert is a huge risk in Week 3 against a Dolphins Defense that's struggled this year but has managed to shut down opposing tight ends, allowing 2.2 fantasy points per game to the position through a pair of games. Eifert is a risky deep league streaming option on Thursday night.
The Los Angeles Chargers have named quarterback Justin Herbert their Week 3 starter. Herbert was a last minute replacement in Week 2 after Tyrod Taylor (ribs) was injured during pregame routines. The rookie held his own against the Chiefs with 311 passing yards and 14 rushing yards. He also threw and ran for a touchdown while throwing one interception. He joined Otto Graham and Cam Newton as the only players ever with 300-plus passing yards and one rushing touchdown in a debut. Herberts insertion as the teams starter should help benefit all position players for the Chargers as he is less mobile than Taylor. Herbert will face the Panthers and could be considered in leagues with two quarterbacks. If Herbert has another good week, its possible that he could replace Taylor at the top of the depth chart, even with head coach Anthony Lynn saying that Taylor would remain the starter when healthy.
Jacksonville Jaguars rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. has seen some interesting usage patterns through two games, being used at running back at times. He had eight touches against the Titans last week, finishing with 72 total yards of offense. Shenault seems on the verge of a breakout performance and it could come on Thursday against a Dolphins Defense that's struggled in this young season and will be without corner Byron Jones (groin/Achilles). Shenault's far from the safest option, but fantasy managers wanting to take a big swing on upside this week could use him as a flex option.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense is a strong streaming option for Week 3 against the Broncos. Denver will be starting backup QB Jeff Driskel and has lost key players such as Courtland Sutton and Philip Lindsay for this game as well. Meanwhile, the Bucs' defense has generated two picks, six sacks, and two fumble recoveries in just two games. This week presents a prime opportunity to create some turnovers against a rather depleted Broncos offense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Ryan Succop should be considered a low-end streaming option in this week's clash against the Broncos. Succop has made all six of his extra point attempts on the season but has gone 2-for-3 on field-goal attempts, which includes a miss of over 50 yards. The Broncos have allowed the fifth-fewest points to kickers this season, so Succop should only be considered in deeper leagues.
Cincinnati Bengals WR Auden Tate's agent publicly voiced displeasure with the team when he was inactive in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns, but head coach Zac Taylor praised the receiver on Wednesday, Sept. 23. 'Audie's the man,' Taylor said. 'Auden is all about this team. He approaches things the right way and you hate that he's put in a tough position like that, because all he does is respond the right way and is a total team player.'
Fantasy Spin: Tate was active in the first game against the Los Angeles Chargers and he was not targeted. He has veterans A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and John Ross ahead of him, as well as rookie Tee Higgins. Tate is battling Alex Erickson and Mike Thomas for a role. At this point he has absolutely no fantasy appeal.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard should be considered as nothing more than a backup tight end for this week. In two games thus far, Howard has nine total targets for 47 yards, but six of those targets and 36 receiving yards came in Week 1. It's safe to conclude Howard does not have a stable or large role in this offense as of now. He's best left on the bench for this Week 3 bout against the Broncos.
At some point, Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Keelan Cole will have a game this season in which he doesn't score a touchdown and his final stat line will look fairly pedestrian. But with a plus matchup against the Dolphins on Thursday night, fantasy managers in full PPR leagues should be willing to take a chance on Cole as a flex option. The slot receiver has been a valuable short yardage option for quarterback Gardner Minshew II and while there are games ahead where starting Cole is too risky, this game against Miami is another good opportunity for him to catch five or six passes and find the end zone on a short, red zone look.
2020 has been weird for Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr. The ball is being spread around in Jacksonville, which has left the assumed No. 1 receiver on the team playing a smaller role than expected. But so far, the fantasy results have been fine, as he caught a touchdown in Week 1 (though he had just 25 yards) and then had 84 receiving yards in Week 2. If there's going to be a game that reminds us why we were all so high on Chark ahead of this season, it's Thursday night's meeting with the Dolphins, who are allowing the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Consider Chark -- who, it should be noted, is dealing with a chest injury -- a high-upside WR2 option in Week 3.
Fresh off his first 100-yard game, Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson is set for another solid performance in Week 3, as the Jaguars take on the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night. Robinson's lack of passing game usage limits his overall ceiling, though he did see a larger role as a receiver in Week 2. He's received 32 carries through two games, giving him a high floor due to volume. Expect another game of Robinson receiving a large number of touches and feel comfortable deploying him as an RB2 option for this meeting with a banged-up Dolphins Defense.
Green Bay Packers WR Davante Adams (hamstring) said Wednesday, Sept. 23 that he is feeling better and making progress, but a decision on whether he will play in Week 3 will be made later in the week.
Fantasy Spin: If Adams is forced into street clothes for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints, look for Marquez Valdes-Scantling to see an uptick in targets and fantasy value, with Allen Lazard also seeing an increase in snaps and workload.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR DJ Chark Jr. (chest, back) is listed as questionable for Week 3 against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday, Sept. 24, but it sounds like he might be available. 'I just think we're just being careful,' head coach Doug Marrone said Wednesday, Sept. 23. Chark was injured in Week 2 on a deep pass play.
Fantasy Spin: Chark is a risky fantasy option for Week 3 given the quick turnaround, even if he is able to play. It's better to use a more certain option playing on Sunday or Monday, if you have that flexibility.
Los Angeles Rams rookie running back Cam Akers(rib) left Week 2 early with a rib injury, and he missed practice on Wednesday as a result. If he misses the game because of the injury, obviously you're not playing him. However, if he's active, Akers will be nothing more than an extremely risky RB3/flex in this crowded Rams backfield. Through two games, he's averaging just 3.1 yards per carry and is fighting for touches with Malcolm Brown (pinkie) and Darrell Henderson. Against a Buffalo Bills Defense that should be getting their two best linebackers back in the fold this week, we would be comfortable letting Akers sit on the bench until he's fully healthy with a more firm role in LA.
Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown(pinkie) had a great Week 1, but that feels like a lifetime ago after the performance teammate Darrell Henderson put up last week. While Brown relied on touchdowns, Henderson was putting up big plays. In addition to being outplayed by Henderson in Week 2, Brown is also dealing with a fractured pinkie finger that required surgery, which could hold him back. He missed practice on Wednesday, and that issue could hinder his ball-carrying abilities. This backfield is cloudy with all of the talent they have here, and Brown is going against an aggressive Buffalo Bills Defense in Week 3. Let him hang out on your bench for the week.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II has already thrown six touchdowns in 2020, and he should throw more of them on Thursday night against a beat-up Dolphins secondary. Minshew has been one of the biggest surprises of the young 2020 season, looking like a quality NFL starter and already threatening to take the Jags out of the Trevor Lawrence chase. Consider him a high-end fantasy QB2 on Thursday night with Miami expected to be missing multiple starters in their defensive backfield. Minshew Mania continues.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff showed out in Week 2. He finished as the QB12 on the week, and he has the opportunity to do it again in Week 3. This offense is actively working to get the ball out of his hands quickly to his receivers, and it's working to a good amount of success. In Week 2, he didn't put up a great yardage total, but he was efficient in the red zone. In Week 3, we think he has midrange QB2 upside this week, but this Buffalo Bills Defense gives us cause for pause after they got lit up by Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick last week. With his talented pass-catchers, Goff could still have a good week, but we'd be trying to find other options if they're available in single-QB formats.
Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson lit it up in Week 2, but it's unclear what his role will be heading into Week 3. He contributed nothing in Week 1 and he looked as though he would be the backup in Week 2 prior to the injury to teammate Cam Akers. If Henderson is the lead back in Week 3, we're confident in using him as a starter in a flex spot, but there is no way to predict this backfield right now. Akers and fellow running back Malcolm Brown are both on the injury report as things currently stand. Pay attention to that as the week goes along. If one or both of them look like they will miss the game this Sunday, lock Henderson into your lineups. If they're all playing, fade him until the murkiness clears.
Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen is still looking for huge play heading into the team's matchup with the Falcons in Week 3. Cohen has only 12 carries on the season and 27 receiving yards through two games but will have a favorable tilt against the Falcons. Atlanta is allowing 39 points a game to opponents through the first two weeks and have surrendered four total touchdowns already to opposing running backs. Cohen can break a game open at any time but is fighting for carries with starter David Montgomery and Cordarrelle Patterson. Cohen will be no more than a boom-or-bust FLEX option heading into this weekend's action.
Chicago Bears tight end Jimmy Graham will try and up his production in Week 3 against the Falcons. Graham caught only one pass for 18 yards last week after securing his first touchdown of the season in Week 1. The veteran will go up against a Falcons Defense that has allowed a touchdown to a tight end in each of their first two games and currently are allowing the fifth most fantasy points to the position. Graham can be a weapon in head coach Matt Nagy's scheme but his lack of targets is sinking his fantasy value.
Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery will look to build off a strong Week 2 performance this Sunday against the Falcons in Atlanta. Montgomery delivered 127 all-purpose yards and one touchdown in the Bears win against the Giants and now will face a Falcons Defense that allowing an average of 39 points a game. The Bears offense has been inconsistent through two weeks but the key could be funneling the offense through the second-year running back. The Falcons have already allowed four total touchdowns to opposing running backs, making Montgomery a solid RB2 in Week 3 with a ceiling to post top-10 numbers among his position group.