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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown has had communication 'with a few teams that are interested,' according to agent Drew Rosenhaus Saturday, Sept. 21. Rosenhaus adds those teams 'want information regarding his legal situation and the NFL investigation.' A deal isn't likely to happen until the league's investigation is resolved, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
New England Patriots S Nate Ebner (groin) was added to the injury report Saturday, Sept. 21, and is considered questionable for Sunday.
Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson won't be traded, according to general manager Steve Keim Friday, Sept. 20. 'We're not trading Pat and that's something we've been very consistent with, from (team President) Michael (Bidwill) to myself to coach (Kliff Kingsbury),' Keim said. 'When you look at the kind of player Pat is, and I think arguably the best corner in the National Football League, all you have to do is say, 'Does this make your team better or worse?' And I think to lose someone like Pat Peterson would make us worse.' Peterson remains under contract with the Cardinals through the end of next season when he'll carry a $13.2 million cap hit.
Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (concussion) could be 'weeks' away from a return to the field, according to a source Saturday, Sept. 21. Reed hasn't played yet this season and has already been ruled out for Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears.
Fantasy Spin: Reed is free to drop in all formats with fantasy managers best off streaming the position based on weekly matchups.
Detroit Lions DE Da'Shawn Hand (elbow) was ruled out for Week 3 Saturday, Sept. 21. Hand had been considered questionable.
Detroit Lions WR Marvin Hall was added to the active roster from the practice squad Saturday, Sept. 21. WR Chris Lacy was released from the active roster and DE Jonathan Wynn was signed to the practice squad.
Washington Redskins DL Jonathan Allen (knee), CB Fabian Moreau (ankle), OT Morgan Moses (knee), S Montae Nicholson (foot) and WR Robert Davis (knee) were all full participants in practice Saturday, Sept. 21. CB Quinton Dunbar (knee), QB Colt McCoy (fibula) and LB Cassanova McKinzy (hip) didn't participate. Allen and Dunbar are considered questionable for Monday against the Chicago Bears. McCoy and McKinzy have been ruled out.
Seattle Seahawks DE Ziggy Ansah (shoulder) will make his season debut Sunday, Sept. 22, against the New Orleans Saints. 'Ziggy's ready to play,' Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Friday, Sept. 20. 'Ready to play football. We're excited to see that. It has been a really good process to get him to this where he's in good shape too. He's worked hard and long, so he's in better shape than sometimes when a guy is just coming back. We'll be able to get him a bunch of plays here in this game, and we're looking forward to his participation with us.'
Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (concussion) was ruled out for Week 3 Saturday, Sept. 21. He'll miss Washington's game against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.
Fantasy Spin: Backup Vernon Davis has seven catches for 88 yards and a touchdown through two games in place of Reed this season. Fantasy managers should be moving on from Reed at this point with Davis just one of the viable replacements available on the waiver wire.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen has seen his production capped by Kirk Cousins' rough start, though he secured 5-of-8 targets for 75 yards in Week 2. He has a golden opportunity to break out in Week 3's tilt as the Vikings will face the Raiders and their tissue-soft secondary at home. Thielen lines up everywhere, but he should see Daryl Worley (4.64 40-yard dash) the most in coverage on Sunday. Advantage - Adam Thielen. The Vikings are big favorites (-8.5), which will likely lead to featuring Dalvin Cook and the rushing attack. However, Thielen should still be started as a low-end WR1/high-end WR2 as his 26% target share leads the team and he should be able to torch the Raiders even on limited opportunities. He's also a sneaky tournament play in daily formats as he could go under-owned and has a high ceiling.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs is coming off a Week 2 performance where he caught just 1-of-7 targets, but the catch resulted in a 49-yard touchdown that saved his fantasy day. He had another touchdown called back in the contest. Diggs has been a victim of Cousins' erratic play and low passing volume, but his Week 3 matchup against the Oakland Raiders is enticing. He'll square off against Gareon Conley and the rest of the Oakland defensive backfield, a group that has gotten absolutely ripped by receivers this season. They've allowed a combined 104.9 PPR points to wide receivers through Week 2 (vs. DEN, vs. KC). Start Diggs as a mid-range WR2 in this beatable matchup. His high target share in this offense gives him a decent floor and a high ceiling, which also puts him in play for daily tournaments as a reduced-ownership play.
Chicago Bears DT Bilal Nichols (hand) did not participate in practice Saturday, Sept. 21 and has been ruled out for the team's Week 3 game Monday, Sept. 23. OG Kyle Long (hip) also did not practice Saturday and is listed as questionable. TE Trey Burton (groin), S Eddie Jackson (shoulder) and PK Eddy Pineiro (knee) were limited as are listed as questionable. DT Eddie Goldman (oblique) fully participated in practice and was removed from the Week 3 injury report.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) attracted interest from the Seattle Seahawks after his release from the Oakland Raiders, but that no longer appears to be the case after he was released Friday, Sept. 20, by the New England Patriots. 'We're pretty well set (at wide receiver) right now,' Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said when asked about Brown at a Friday news conference. 'We kind of know where we're going with that.'
Fantasy Spin: With the issues surrounding Brown morphing from bizarre to decidedly more serious, don't expect to see him in the league for the rest of the season.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is leading the league in rushing through two weeks, carrying 41 times for 265 yards (6.5 YPC) and three touchdowns. His 20.5 attempts/game only trails Marlon Mack, and his three runs of 20 or more yards also lead the NFL. Minnesota has run the highest percentage of run plays in the NFL and that is unlikely to change this week as they are 8.5-point favorites at home. The Oakland Raiders have only allowed 98 rushing yards (vs. DEN) and 31 rushing yards (vs. KC) through Week 2, but they haven't faced a running back like Dalvin Cook and the likelihood of seeing 20+ touches yet again pushes him way up the rankings. Consider "Chef" Dalvin a top-tier RB1 in this delicious matchup at home.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Demarcus Robinson had a huge game versus the Oakland Raiders in Week 2. He caught all six of his targets for 172 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. Robinson was one of the most popular pickups throughout the week, but fantasy owners should get ready for disappointment. Robinson will once again be involved in the offense, but Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman will see targets as well. It was rare that Robinson caught all of his targets, and one of them being a 44 yard touchdown due to blown coverage. The Baltimore Ravens secondary isn't much better, but fantasy owners shouldn't expect the same result twice. Robinson is someone to be looked at as a shaky WR2 or a reliable WR3 for Week 3.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce came to play in the Week 2 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Kelce caught seven of his nine targets for 107 yards and one touchdown. The Chiefs offense doesn't seem to ever slow down and that should be the case again in Week 3. The Baltimore Ravens Defense is coming off a game where they gave up 349 passing yards to rookie quarterback Kyler Murray. Earl Thomas should be able to slow down Kelce somewhat, but fantasy owners should expect a TE1 type of performance from him once again.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman was able to make some noise for the team in the victory over the Oakland Raiders in Week 2. Hardman caught four passes for 61 yards and a touchdown in that contest. Tyreek Hill (shoulder) remains sidelined, so Hardman will continue to have decent fantasy value. Demarcus Robinson outplayed Hardman last week, but who knows if that will happen again. The Baltimore Ravens secondary is shaky, so the Chiefs should have no issues on offense. Hardman has WR2 upside, but at worst he's a solid WR3 for Week 3 against Baltimore.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins saw a team-high 13 targets in the victory over the Oakland Raiders in Week 2. However, Watkins hauled in just six of those balls for 49 yards and didn't find the end zone. It was a disappointing game for fantasy owners as Watkins was expected to be much better with Tyreek Hill (shoulder) sidelined. Watkins will get a chance to rebound here against a Baltimore Ravens Defense in Week 3. The same defense that just got carved up by rookie quarterback Kyler Murray last week for 349 passing yards. Fantasy owners can hope that Watkins will fulfill his WR1 potential in Week 3.
Chicago Bears WR Cordarrelle Patterson has a fan in Bears head coach Matt Nagy, who is trying to find the best way to utilize Patterson's speed and play-making ability on offense. 'Now what he's morphed into as a player throughout his (NFL) career, it's pretty unique,' Nagy said. 'As a play-caller it allowed you to be flexible with what you can do. You saw (against the Broncos) we were able to get him on the edge. He's a big dude that's flying around there with a lot of speed.'
Fantasy Spin: Courtesy of a big 46-yard run in Week 2, Patterson only has 51 yards on four touches, including a 3-yard reception, this season, meaning he's most likely to play the role of fantasy vulture -- as he did a season ago in New England -- stealing valuable touches and points from the rest of the Bears' already fringe fantasy cast.
Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy should be looking at a heavier workload for Sunday's Week 3 contest versus the Baltimore Ravens. Lead back Damien Williams (knee) has already been ruled out for this one. McCoy has been battling an ankle issue, so the Chiefs will be cautious about that. Darwin Thompson is going to see some snaps as well, so McCoy isn't overloaded. McCoy is a low-end RB2 for Week 3, but he could have more upside. It all depends on how McCoy's ankle is feeling on Sunday.