Sat Aug 24 11:28pm ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) breaks away from New Orleans Saints' Marcus Davenport (92) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)
New York Jets' Ty Montgomery (88) runs away from New Orleans Saints' Colton Jumper (51) for a touchdown during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)
New York Jets' Robby Anderson (11) stiff-arms New Orleans Saints' Marcus Williams (43) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) throws a pass during the first half of the team's preseason NFL football game against the New York Jets on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws a pass during the first half of the team's preseason NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell runs onto the field for the team's NFL preseason football game against the New Orleans Saints on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New Orleans Saints' Michael Thomas (13) catches a pass for a touchdown in front of New York Jets' Tevaughn Campbell (35) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees throws a pass during the first half of the team's preseason NFL football game against the New York Jets on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Drew Brees threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Michael Thomas to cap his only drive in his preseason debut, and the New Orleans Saints defeated the New York Jets 28-13 on Saturday night.
Brees didn't take a snap in the Saints' first two exhibition games, but Sean Payton gave the 40-year-old quarterback a brief regular-season warmup in this one. And, Brees and the starting offense breezed down the field.
Alvin Kamara had a 25-yard catch on third down, and a 20-yard grab by Thomas two plays later got the Saints (2-1) down to the 23. On third-and-6, Brees found Thomas in the back-right corner of the end zone with a perfectly placed ball over cornerback Tevaughn Campbell's head for the touchdown.
Brees finished 4 of 6 for 68 yards and was done for the night, along with the rest of the offensive starters, and was replaced by Teddy Bridgewater.
Sam Darnold's night for the Jets (1-2) lasted quite a bit longer as the second-year quarterback played midway into the second quarter, despite three projected starting offensive lineman - center Ryan Kalil and guards Kelechi Osemele and Brian Winters - sitting out.
After a sluggish start - and Darnold taking a hard shot from Trey Hendrickson to end his fourth drive - the starting offense got things going against the Saints' backup defense.
On third-and-5 from the Jets 40, Darnold connected with Robby Anderson down the left sideline for a 41-yard gain. After two runs by Ty Montgomery and a defensive holding call on Terrell Williams Jr. put the ball at the Saints 2, Darnold threw a pretty swing pass to Montgomery for a touchdown that cut the Jets' deficit to 10-7 with 8:22 left in the first half.
That was it for Darnold, who was 8 of 13 for 97 yards and the score. He was replaced by Trevor Siemian, who appears to be a lock as Darnold's backup.
Saints rookie wide receiver Deonte Harris returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown with 7:27 left, giving New Orleans a 23-13 lead. Harris, out of Assumption College, avoided a diving tackle attempt by punter Matt Darr before sprinting into the end zone.
Kalil was expected to make his debut with the team, but the team decided to have him sit out while he continues to get into football shape and learn the playbook. Jonotthan Harrison started again in his place.
Kalil, who played 12 seasons with Carolina, came out of retirement earlier this month and signed a one-year, $8.4 million deal with the Jets.
''(Last) Sunday night was his first night in pads, so he's only had really three practices,'' general manager Joe Douglas said before the game. ''So, we felt the smart thing to do was to hold him out. We'll re-evaluate it next week. Again, we're 15 days away from the opener, so we feel good that's he's going to have plenty of time to be ready for Week 1.''
JUST FOR KICKS
Jets kicker Taylor Bertolet - whose roster spot is uncertain - bounced back after missing two extra points last week, making field goals of 48 and 56 yards and converting on his one extra-point try.
Bridgewater was 15 of 26 for 143 yards before giving way to Taysom Hill in the third quarter. The do-it-all Hill ran for what appeared to be a go-ahead 8-yard touchdown late in the third, but it was wiped out by a holding call on Patrick Omameh. The Saints had to settle for a 38-yard field goal by Wil Lutz that put New Orleans up 16-13 with 2:36 left in the quarter. ... Lutz was also good from 39, 40 and 34 yards, but was wide left on a 43-yard attempt.
Saints: LB Josh Martin left in the third quarter with an apparent right arm injury.
Jets: S Brandon Bryant suffered a head injury in the third quarter after being called for unnecessary roughness for leading with his helmet on a play.
Saints: home vs. Miami on Thursday night.
Jets: at Philadelphia on Thursday night.
The Falcons Defense had a surprisingly strong showing in Week 2 against the Eagles in their home opener, sacking quarterback Carson Wentz three times while also forcing two interceptions and holding the Eagles to 20 points in the game. This week, the Falcons go on the road to face the Colts, who don't have quite as much offensive upside as the Eagles, but still pose a threat to score 20+ points any given week, especially at home. The Colts have two turnovers through two games and have allowed five sacks, but they've faced very solid defenses: the Chargers and Titans. While the Falcons could force a turnover and end up with a few sacks, they are far from a safe bet to hold the Colts under 25 points and you should be able to find better streamable defense options on the waiver wire.
Atlanta Falcons running back Ito Smith has shown some positive signs through two games this season. He's carried the ball ten times for 63 yards, good for 6.3 yards per carry, which is far superior than the average of Falcons lead running back Devonta Freeman, who is averaging just 2.2 yards per carry. Still, it's hard to imagine the Falcons getting away from Freeman after just two games. Freeman has carried the ball about twice as much as Smith so far this year and that should continue in Week 3 against the Colts. Smith is a good stash in deep leagues, especially for Freeman owners, but he should remain on benches until further notice.
Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant should have the opportunity to put up some points in Week 3 against the Colts. After not attempting a kick in Week 1, Bryant had two field goal attempts and three extra-point attempts in Week 2. He hit all three of his extra-point attempts and went 1-for-2 on field goals, both of which were 50-yard attempts. The Falcons have one of the top offenses in the league and should provide ample opportunities for Bryant going forward. He's a low-end starting kicker option until further notice.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu has nine catches on 13 targets through two games, which is encouraging to see. However, he's been primarily targeted on short-yardage plays. He has just 73 yards on those nine catches, good for only 8.1 yards per reception. Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are the big playmakers in the Falcons' passing game and that should continue to be the case as long as both are healthy. Sanu is a potential starting option in deep PPR leagues as a worst-case scenario, but it's hard to rely on him to get more than about four catches for 40 yards.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper has been heavily utilized by quarterback Matt Ryan so far this year. Through two games, Hooper has been targeted 15 times and has caught 13 of those targets for 111 yards. He's been mostly targeted on short routes. His yards per reception average is only 8.5, making him a more valuable asset in PPR leagues, but he's still start-worthy in non-PPR leagues given his high usage and the lack of depth at the position. Expect him to get at least six targets this week against the Colts with a solid chance to score his first touchdown of the season.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley has gotten off to a good start in 2019, with 12 targets through two games. But Conley is also dealing with a hip injury and faces a Titans Defense that has mostly held opposing wide receivers in check to start the season, a pair of things that don't bode well for his success on Thursday night. Conley has been the team's most consistent threat on a per play basis, but it'll be tough to trust him against the Titans this week. Start him in a deeper PPR league since he should get a good percentage of the team's targets, but be aware that Conley could wind up busting this week.
It's been a nightmare start to the season for Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman. Through two games, Freeman has carried the ball 19 times for just 41 yards, while adding six catches for 54 yards. The receiving numbers are a nice little boost, but his 2.2 yards-per-carry average is atrocious. The Vikings and Eagles, Freeman's first two opponents, have strong rushing defenses so you can attribute some of his struggles to that but still, you'd like to see something a bit more inspiring before continuing to put him in your lineup. What makes Freeman worthy of an RB2 start is his workload, which should continue to be safe. He should have at least 12 touches against the Colts in Week 3 and if he can breakthrough with a few longer runs, you'll be happy with the results this week.
It's been a flawless start to the season for Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who has scored touchdowns in each of his first two games and totalled 169 receiving yards. He should continue to produce for his owners in Week 3 as the Falcons take on the Colts. Ridley was targeted ten times in Week 2, which is extremely encouraging given that he's the clear second option in the Falcons' passing game behind Julio Jones. Most weeks, he'll probably be closer to eight targets, but with his explosiveness, that should be all he needs to return WR2 value, amounting to around five or six catches for 80-or-so yards and a strong chance of scoring a touchdown.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark faces a tough Week 3 test against the Tennessee Titans, but his rapport with quarterback Gardner Minshew and his ability to be used as a deep threat make him the Jacksonville wide receiver with the highest upside. He's also got a low floor, and that volatility is likely to be true as long as Minshew remains the team's starting quarterback. In a deeper league, you should start Chark if you need that upside, though it's admittedly tougher to start an upside guy on Thursday night when you haven't yet seen how the rest of your lineup is going to work out.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones has three touchdowns through two games and has been peppered with targets as usual from quarterback Matt Ryan so far this year. He should keep his strong start going this week against the Colts. The Falcons have one of the top passing offenses in the league and they're yet to find any life in their running game, which gives their passing offense more opportunities for production. Jones should see double-digit targets for the third straight game this week, giving him a great opportunity to reach 100 yards and a touchdown.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook has had a rough start to the year. If you remove a 15-yard Week 1 touchdown from the equation, Westbrook's other plays look like this: 10 targets, five receptions, 16 yards. Quarterback Gardner Minshew isn't delivering the ball deep to Westbrook and is spreading out his targets among the team's two other starting receivers, which is severely restricting Westbrook's value. Factor in that Thursday's opponent, the Tennessee Titans, have allowed the 10th-fewest PPR points to opposing receivers this year and things start to look rough again. Westbrook should be on the bench in shallower leagues and should probably be on your bench in 12-plus team leagues as well.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has five touchdowns and five interceptions through two games. He's been over 300 yards in each game this season and has a good chance to keep that streak going this week against the Colts. The Falcons' run game has yet to show any signs of life, forcing Ryan to throw the ball a great amount. Ryan has elite weapons at his disposal, led by Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. While the Colts' passing defense has been adequate so far, they shouldn't scare you away from starting Ryan, who you should be confident putting out there every week as a solid QB1.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette should be considered a strong fantasy start in Week 3. The Jags have made it clear through two weeks that Fournette is the only running back on the team capable of being used offensively -- he played 97 percent of the team's Week 2 snaps -- and the Titans so far are allowing the seventh-most rushing yards to opposing backs. With Gardner Minshew facing a difficult secondary, expect heavy doses of Fournette all game long.
Buffalo Bills running back T.J. Yeldon stands to benefit if the team's No. 2 running back Devin Singletary (hamstring) is out or limited in Week 3, but Yeldon still has too much risk built-in to consider starting. He's yet to touch the ball through two games this year. He likely needs either starting running back Frank Gore or Singletary to miss extended time in order to be added to your radar. For now, he can remain on waivers in all leagues.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley caught all four of his targets in Week 2 and produced 83 receiving yards on the day. It was a significant target decrease from his nine targets in Week 1, but it was nonetheless inspiring to see him turn in a solid performance despite the low target-share. Expect him to be closer to his Week 1 target number this week when the Bills host the Bengals in their home opener. He's a potential starting option at WR3 or flex in deep PPR leagues as he'll have a good chance to catch five or six passes and maybe find the end zone for the first time this season.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Zay Jones hasn't been very involved in the offense through two games, with just seven targets and a total of three catches for 32 yards. John Brown and Cole Beasley have been the center of Josh Allen's attention and while Jones is quite possibly the next option on his radar, it's a big drop-off after that top-two. Plus, the Bills' offense is yet to prove its ability to maintain two fantasy-worthy receivers over the course of a season, let alone three. Jones should remain on waivers in all leagues.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew faces a Titans Defense on Thursday that's been in the middle of the pack so far this year when it comes to defending quarterbacks. The Titans allow the 19th-most fantasy points to opposing passers, and while it's too early to draw major conclusions from that, it's not too early to say this: you should not start Gardner Minshew in a one-quarterback league in a Thursday night game. He has value as a low-end QB2 this week, but we saw in Week 2 against the Texans how Minshew can struggle against better defenses.
Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore turned in a strong fantasy performance in Week 2 with 19 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown. This week, Gore's situation looks even better as the team's No. 2 running back Devin Singletary is nursing a hamstring injury and is currently questionable for the game. The Bills have their home opener against the Bengals in Week 3. Expect the Bills' defense to give the Bengals' offense fits all game long, providing the Bills' offense with ample opportunities with the ball, and ample opportunities for rushing situations to control the clock. Gore should see right around 20 carries yet again with a great chance to equal his output from last week.
The Bills Defense has had a bit of a cakewalk so far this season, opening the year with the Jets and Giants, but the competition doesn't get any more fierce this week. The Bills have their home opener against the Bengals in Week 3. The Bengals are still without star wide receiver A.J. Green and have yet to get their rushing game going, with Joe Mixon struggling mightily so far. The Bills should be able to hold the Bengals to 20 points or less with a good opportunity to force one or two Andy Dalton turnovers. They're a top-end starting option for your defense slot in Week 3.
Through two games, Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown is averaging nine targets and just a shade under 100 receiving yards per game, leading the team in both categories. He should continue to produce strong numbers this week with a favorable matchup against the Bengals in the Bills' home opener. Brown should see at least eight targets in the game, giving him a great chance to produce between 80 and 100 yards and score his second touchdown of the season. Start him with confidence as a mid-tier WR2 or high-end WR3 or flex this week.