Sat Aug 17 11:45pm ET
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman (17) makes a touchdown catch in front of Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton (20) in the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels (38) runs the ball as Kansas City Chiefs defensive back D'Montre Wade (40) tries to tackle him in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) is hit as he plays against the Kansas City Chiefs in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes passes in the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30) runs away from Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Alex Okafor (97) in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Matthew Wright wears a "DD" sticker on the back of his helmet before a preseason NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Pittsburgh. The team will wear the stickers to honor receivers coach Darryl Drake who died last week. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
PITTSBURGH (AP) Mason Rudolph guided a long first-half touchdown drive to perhaps nudge ahead of Josh Dobbs in the race to be the backup behind Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 17-7 on Saturday night.
Rudolph finished 10 of 15 for 77 yards while Dobbs completed 6 of 11 for 95 yards with a red-zone interception on a night the Steelers (2-0) opted to keep several key starters on the sideline, from quarterback Roethlisberger to Pro Bowl offensive linemen David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey to rookie linebacker Devin Bush.
Kansas City coach Andy Reid suggested Patrick Mahomes would play most of the first half.
The reigning NFL MVP - who directed a touchdown in his lone drive in Kansas City's preseason opener last week - did little during two series of work following a thunderstorm that forced the opening kickoff to be pushed back nearly an hour.
Mahomes completed just 2 of 5 passes for 11 yards, a far cry from his previous visit to Heinz Field, when he threw for six touchdowns in a Week 2 win last September that served as a harbinger of the season to come.
Mahomes' best play during his cameo may have been his decision to slide during an 8-yard scramble, something he didn't do a week ago when he lowered his shoulder against Cincinnati rather than step out of bounds.
Chad Henne found Mecole Hardman for a 17-yard touchdown late in the first half for Kansas City (1-1), which managed a lone touchdown a week after putting up 38 against the Bengals. Hardman, a second-round pick, has two touchdowns in two weeks and his rapid emergence could give Reid another option to play with in what could be the NFL's most potent offense.
Pittsburgh chose to give the 37-year-old Roethlisberger the night off. Rudolph, a third-round pick a year ago who is hoping to supplant Dobbs as the top backup, was given the start instead. Playing with a group that included Pro Bowl running back James Conner and star wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, Rudolph struggled early to gain some momentum.
It wasn't until Rudolph found himself playing with the reserves that he started to get going. He directed a 14-play, 89-yard drive in the second quarter, a series that ended with a 14-yard sprint to the end zone by Jaylen Samuels.
Dobbs started off brilliantly, hitting Washington for a 40-yard gain. He couldn't sustain the momentum, thanks in part to an interception in the end in which he overthrew Diontae Johnson. The ball sailed into the arms of Kansas City's Charvarius Ward to cut short a scoring chance late in the first half.
Johnson, a third-round pick, ended up scoring in the fourth quarter when he made a diving grab in the end zone on a heave from fourth-stringer Devlin Hodges.
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Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree is entering the season with a significant amount of pressure after Pittsburgh opted to pick up his fifth-year option but have not approached him about signing a long-term deal. Dupree provided a spark, sacking Mahomes and Henne and knocking down a pass.
A difficult week that began with the sudden passing of wide receivers coach Darryl Drake at age 62 ended with the Steelers making sure Drake's legacy won't be forgotten.
Coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert and their wives attended Drake's funeral in Gallatin, Tennessee. The wide receivers took the field for warmups with shirts emblazoned with the phrase ''Shut out the noise,'' the credo Drake adopted for his group for the 2019 season.
Dozens of Steelers knelt for a prayer shortly before kickoff and the team will wear ''DD'' stickers on their helmets this season and a moment of silence was held just before the national anthem.
The Chiefs didn't escape Heinz Field unscathed. Safety Tyrann Matthieu left with a shoulder injury. Wide receiver Deon Yelder went down with a knee injury and Marcus Kemp exited with a knee injury. Linebacker Breeland Speaks suffered a knee injury in the second half and did not return. Quarterback Chase Litton was taken out in the final seconds after taking a hard hit shortly after releasing a pass.
Chiefs: Host San Francisco next Saturday.
Steelers: Expect to give Roethlisberger his only reps of the preseason next Sunday when they visit Tennessee.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe made two catches against Jacksonville on Thursday night but still managed to accrue 70 yards in the process. It was the best showing of the season for the 24-year-old despite the lackluster play of the Titans offense against a dominant Jaguars Defense that recorded nine sacks. Nonetheless, Sharpe hasn't done enough to earn a place on anything outside of 14-man rosters, with that even being a stretch at the moment.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Adam Humphries caught six of his nine targets during the loss to Jacksonville on Thursday, finishing with a game-high 93 yards. After an uneventful two weeks before this one, the fifth-year man finally came to life against a tough Jaguars Defense that bombarded quarterback Marcus Mariota by recording nine sacks on the night. Though the 26-year-old hasn't done enough to earn his way on to fantasy rosters in most formats, fantasy owners will want to keep an eye on his progress in the weeks ahead.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry rushed for 44 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries during the loss to Jacksonville on Thursday. As the Jaguars Defense recorded nine sacks while limiting the Tennessee offense to just seven points on the night, Henry provided the only source of hope for a comeback early in the fourth quarter. Nonetheless, the 25-year-old has been a consistent producer by scoring in each of the team's first three games. Look for him to keep it going against the Falcons in Week 4. He should continue to keep his must-start designation, at least for now.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota couldn't get things going in the loss to Jacksonville on Thursday. Though Mariota managed to throw for 304 yards, things were miserable for the 25-year-old as the Jaguars Defense recorded nine sacks on the night while limiting the Titans' offense to just seven points. After starting off the year with three touchdown tosses against the Browns in Week 1, Mariota hasn't really done much to appease fantasy owners. He will look to get back on track in Week 4 in Atlanta against the Falcons.
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay has been reduced to nearly equal snap count share with colleague Royce Freeman. That being said, it truly is a toss-up between which running back will see more production in Week 3 as they will likely receive the same volume once again. The Broncos face off with the Green Bay Packers, who have not had an overly intimidating run defense to start the year in 2019. If you absolutely need to play Lindsay in a deep league flex role, especially in PPR setting, he most likely will suffice with decent production, but don't expect anything crazy.
Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman has seen significant time in the start of the 2019 season compared to where he ended last year. Freeman and teammate Phillip Lindsay have been sharing time out of the backfield and neither of them has been able to have a standout game yet this year. Therefore, it can be expected they will share duties once again in Week 3. If you need a player to throw in due to injuries in a deep league, Freeman poses an option with the potential of a breakout game or a few touchdowns looks to get some points on the board.
Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant has shown signs of promise to start the year, but he still needs to prove himself before he can be trusted to put up consistent numbers week-to-week. That being said, we have yet to see signs that Fant can have a breakout game and he should stay on waivers and benches in most leagues for Week 3.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Daesean Hamilton has been a disappointment to start the 2019 season. He has struggled the last two weeks, and there is no reason that owners should give him the benefit of the doubt to flip the script against a stout Green Bay Packers Defense. If Hamilton is still on your bench in hopes he can figure things out, keep him there this week and out of your starting lineup.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton has put up a solid start to his 2019 campaign, most likely to the satisfaction of many owners. However, his Week 3 matchup makes him a tough play, as the Green Bay Packers Defense has locked down most receivers outside of their opposing team's number one target. With Emmanuel Sanders most likely getting the highest target share in Week 3 for the Broncos, Courtland Sutton and company are likely to struggle, much like Anthony Miller and Stefon Diggs have when their teams faced the Packers in previous weeks. If able to avoid putting Sutton in your lineup this week, it is probably a safe choice.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders looks to follow-up a strong Week 2 performance as the team heads to Green Bay for a matchup with the Packers. While the Packers Defense has been a strong collective unit in 2019, they don't necessarily have a lockdown corner that Sanders will be matching up with all game. With that being said, it may be hard to see Sanders having a league-leading game, but he should have no problem getting solid receptions and yardage, making him a solid flex play in most 10 and 12 team leagues.
Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco has kicked off his campaign in the mile-high city with a slow start, currently producing low-end QB2 numbers. The narrative will stay the same for Week 3, as he lines up against a strong Green Bay Packers Defense who have held the likes of Mitch Trubisky and Kirk Cousins in check the previous two weeks. Avoid Flacco this week in all leagues.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook caught five of his nine targets in Week 3, finishing with 46 yards while also adding four rushing yards. This was Westbrook's highest yardage total of the year, and while he found the end zone in Week 1, it's still been a tough start to the season for the promising wideout. His value in standard scoring leagues is virtually nonexistent right now, though his target share does give him upside still in PPR. It's not quite time to panic and drop Westbrook, but fantasy owners should be concerned by his usage.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has been solid throughout the first two weeks of the season, but he hasn't done anything spectacular. In Week 3, he'll likely continue to be quarterback Jacoby Brissett's favorite target, but he still has a limited ceiling. It only takes one play for him to have a big week. As a result, he's a must-start. After a very grim outlook following the retirement of quarterback Andrew Luck, Hilton has proved that it doesn't matter what QB is throwing him the ball.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark found the end zone for the third week in a row, hauling in four catches for 76 yards in Thursday's win over Tennessee. Chark is becoming the favored end zone target for rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, and that mixed with his speed has made him a valuable fantasy option who is able to produce even with a fairly low target total. If he's still on waivers in your league, it's time to add the second-year wideout.
Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines has been held mostly in check for the first couple weeks of the season. In Week 3, he has more upside than we've seen thus far. Starting running back Marlon Mack has been battling an injury all week, and the Colts will likely have to put up points to keep up with the Atlanta Falcons. If Mack is unable to go or is limited in any way, Hines earns strong flex consideration as a result. In PPR formats, he's a strong possibility.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew threw a pair of first quarter touchdowns in Thursday's win over the Tennessee Titans. He ended up with 204 passing yards on 20-for-30 passing and also added 18 rushing yards on four carries. It was a solid game for Minshew, though one of those touchdowns was made easy by the Jaguars starting a drive at the Titans' seven-yard line. Minshew is making crisp throws and avoiding mistakes so far in his Jaguars tenure and looks like a solid QB2 at this point.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette had 11 carries for negative-eight yards at one point in Thursday's win over the Tennessee Titans, but a 69-yard run late helped him finish with the game with 15 carries and 66 yards. He also added six receptions for 26 yards. Fournette was having a nightmarish game before that long run, and fantasy owners should feel discouraged despite the final stat line. Fournette and the Jaguars' offensive line just couldn't create room for him to run.
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack is his team's lead back. He's far and away the best player at his position on his team. In Week 2, he was stifled by the Tennessee Titans. In Week 3, he has a matchup that is advantageous for him to have a good outcome. The Atlanta Falcons got ran over by the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1, and the Colts have an even better offensive line. With the speed to hit a big play at any time, Mack belongs in lineups this week with a good amount of confidence.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett has been quietly steady through the first two weeks. In the team's Week 3 matchup, he has another positive matchup. The Atlanta Falcons Defense has a lot of speed, but they haven't been shutting opponents out through the air. Unless Brissett gets an amazing matchup, he'll consistently be a QB2, but he has a lot of upside this week. This game has some shootout potential, and Brissett could benefit as a result.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Tavon Austin (concussion) remains in the concussion protocol, but head coach Jason Garrett said he is improving. Austin doesn't have a very good chance of being cleared for Sunday against the Dolphins at this rate. He's not much of a fantasy consideration as mainly a kick returner and gadget player on offense, although the Cowboys could use him a little more when he returns with Michael Gallup out two to four weeks.