10 Things We Learned about Preseason Week 3

  1. Never Trust The Rams offense

For a hot second the Rams looked good in week 2 of the preseason, but then they went back to the typical old rams, horrible offensively. Jared Goff is not the answer. He looked just downright awful. I’m hesitant to draft any players for the Rams simply because of Jared Goff. Sean McVay is a great offensive coordinator, but he’s not a magician.

  1. Brandin Cooks Stock Has Risen

Unfortunately Julian Edelman tore his ACL this past week. He will be tough to replace and I see the Patriots spreading his targets out. Brandin Cooks will be the primary beneficiary of this injury. Most analysts have moved him into the top 10 for wide receivers. I happen to agree, he’s the most talented wide out Tom Brady has had since Randy Moss. Cooks is now in for a career year.

  1. Kareem Hunt Is Going To Be Legit

Man, I’m excited about Hunt. I’m mostly just excited that the Chiefs backfield has finally been figured out, but it came at a cost—Spencer Ware’s PCL. Hunt has looked explosive the entire preseason and now he will get his shot. Fantasy owners should be excited and alert. Hunt is now going in the 4th-6th rounds. Andy Reid always produces a top fantasy running back when he commits to a solo back. Pick Hunt and pick him fast.

  1. Brian Hoyer Could Be A Legit Fantasy Candidate

Kyle Shanahan + Brian Hoyer = Fantasy dominance. Most of the time when people talk about Hoyer it’s jokingly, but let’s take a look at his stats from this past week. He went 12-17, with 176 passing yards, and 2 touchdowns. Let’s not forget that he did this against a potentially top 5 Vikings defense! Hoyer has never really been that bad. I think he’s proven himself to be a solid back up to stream maybe once or twice. Shanahan is a genius when it comes to offenses and quarterbacks so it only makes sense that Hoyer’s numbers would be fantasy worthy, right?

  1. Jamaal Charles Still Has A Hear Beat

Charles showed he still has some spark left in him. The Denver Broncos will have to incorporate him into the offense now since he showed flashes of greatness. He had 4 carries for 27 yards, which came out to 6.8 yards as his average per carry. He added 2 catches for 15 yards as well. C.J. Anderson will get the bulk of the carries, but Charles should see an increase workload over time. I expect him to eventually get 8-12 touches per game.

  1. Cam Newton Will Be Fine

Newton only needed 1 drive and 2 throws to show the world that he’ll be ready for week 1. Newton went 2/2 with 1 touchdown to Kelvin Benjamin. He looked back to form and I wouldn’t expect anything different. He will return to his prestige fantasy numbers and finish among the top 5 for quarterbacks this season. I consider him a steal in the later rounds.

  1. Charges Offense Looks Scary

I was thoroughly impressed with the Los Angeles Chargers offense. Rivers looked great, Gordon looked good, and their WR core looked on point. We will see if their defense allows them to contend this year and hopefully they don’t have any serious injuries. If these 2 circumstances pan out then they will be serious contenders for the division. I love Rivers and Gordon this year as fantasy players. Rivers will throw close to 30 touchdowns and I believe his interceptions will go down significantly.  Additionally, Gordon will had RB1 numbers to the team. Chargers looking good!

  1. Pump The Brakes On Kirk Cousins?

I’m so frustrated and disappointed with the Redskins offense. It’s looked so out of sync. Kelley had a decent game, but Cousins and everyone else looked bad. I’m starting to think that we need to pump the brakes on Cousins and Terrelle Pryor. It doesn’t even seem like Cousins is trying to target him. Crowder seems to be the better value so far. I’m getting nervous when it comes to drafting Redskins this year. Maybe everyone else should be as well.

  1. Saints Backfield Still Undetermined

AP and Mark Ingram went back and forth on carries and no one out-shined the other. They both averaged poor numbers and didn’t get anywhere. I expect these two to duke it out for the first couple weeks to see who will be the prime ball carrier. My heart is telling me AP, but only time will tell. Be aware of the split backfield, I don’t see these two being more than flex plays the first couple games.

      1. Browns Look Better Than Anticipated

The Browns/Bucs game wasn’t anything to special, but DeShone Kizer has possibly put the Browns back on the map. His numbers weren’t the greatest, but he showed that he’s got a strong arm and can get the ball downfield. Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt will have fantasy relevance now and should be good pick-ups in the late rounds. Let’s not forget the running game, Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson look ready to roll. My only fear is that Duke Johnson is looking a little too good and he might cut into Crowell’s workload. Take Johnson as a hand-cuff late if you can.

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5 RB’s Who Are Fighting to Survive

  1. Jamaal Charles

 

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Charles will make his debut in week 3 of the preseason against the Green Bay Packers. Mixed reports have come out of Denver. Some say that he looks like he’s in great shape and that his knees are holding up and others say that he walks with a little bit of a limp and looks old. Additional reports coming out of Broncos camp state that if Charles doesn’t do well in this upcoming game that he will be cut from the team.

I honestly can’t see this happening. C.J. Anderson has been injury prone, Booker is out, so who else would be left that could do damage? All Charles needs to accomplish is one good run on Saturday night against the Packers and the team, front office, and city of Denver will call for his name to be the starter. I believe he will manage to show some type of spark when he gets out there. Nonetheless, Charles is on the bubble and judgement day is coming for him.

 

2. LaGarrette Blount

 

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A similar situation is happening with LaGarrette Blount. Lets be real, Blount has looked bad so far in practice and in preseason. Reports have come out that Blount is overweight, which isn’t surprising and the gap of him being the starter is closing.

The Eagles cut Ryan Matthews anticipating that Blount would assume the role and be more productive. Well he hasn’t show that thus far. Last preseason game against the Buffalo Bills, Blount had 5 carries for 8 yards. In week 1, against the Packers, he managed 9 yards on 4 carries. I know its just preseason, but a guy who scored 18 touchdowns last year should have a little more success. Doug Pederson has come out and stated that Blount is going to be a crucial piece to their offense, which puts me at ease a little bit. However, Philadelphia’s backfield has been crowded for a little bit now and even Wendell Smallwood is being talked about like he’s going to get the job. Maybe the Eagles are running a misdirection play on the media here, but whatever the case is, I still haven’t fully committed to Blount just yet.

 

3. Spencer Ware

 

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Kareem Hunt has looked amazing. He got time with the starters last preseason game and dominated his touches. He had 8 carries for 40 yards and 3 receptions for 23 yards. He looked very impressive. Ware will mostly be named the starter at the beginning of the season, but they drafted Hunt for a reason and he’s already ahead of West on the depth chart. Hunt will chip away at stealing touches from Ware this season, especially if Ware played like he did towards the end of last season. I would be extremely cautious about drafting Ware in fantasy drafts this season. If you do take him, make sure to get Hunt as a Handcuff.

 

4. Rob Kelley

 

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I hate to be writing about this since I’m a Redskins fan, but Kelley has looked downright awful. He  averaged 1.0 YPC against the Packers. He had 9 rushes for 9 yards, which is absolutely pitiful. He hasn’t looked like he’s improved at all this offseason and doesn’t seem to have any chemistry with the offensive line. Samaje Perine will take the job from Kelley, it’s only a matter of time. He’s had a little trouble holding on to the football, which is why Kelley will be the opening day starter, but the Redskins will soon realize that they can’t move the ball on the ground with Kelley. Perine and Thompson look much better than Fat Rob. Ideally as a Redskins fan, I would like Perine to be the early down back and Thompson to take over the 3rd down duties. Then next season the Skins can hand the reigns off to Perine.

 

5. Jonathan Stewart

 

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Everyone knows how I feel about Stewart. He’s become irrelevant in the Panthers backfield. McCaffrey has stolen the job and the hearts of everyone in Carolina. Stewart will be named the starter as well, but will only be involved on first downs. Second and Third downs will go to McCaffrey and since Newton loves to line up in the shotgun formation, McCaffrey has to be in. Stewart did have a productive season last year, but the Panthers are looking to take some pressure off Newton and Stewart doesn’t provide that. His time as a NFL starter is fading. On the brighter side of things, since he won’t get as many touches this season he most likely will be healthy and able to play 16 games. However, he will only be a serviceable back-up, so only draft him as a handcuff to McCaffrey.

A new era has begun in Carolina…

5 Things We Learned From Preseason Week 2

  1. Christian McCaffrey is the Real Deal

 

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I’ll be honest, I was slight doubter about McCaffrey dominating carries in Carolina, but he’s proven me wrong. Week 1 of the preseason was a solid outing, but in week 2 of the preseason he sealed his fate. He rushed 3 times for 33 yards and a touchdown and hauled in 2 catches for 39 yards. Jonathan Stewart will probably be listed as the starter on the depth chart, but Stewart will only be managing the first down carries. McCaffrey has shown that he can run north and south, not just east and west. Cam Newton is most likely going to line up in the shotgun formation for the majority of the offensive plays and McCaffrey compliments that formation extremely well. McCaffrey truly has shown that he can do it all. In mock drafts he’s been going around the 3rd-4th rounds, which I believe is the correct ADP for him. If you have a zero running back strategy or are looking to draft running backs a little bit later, I would be ok with grabbing McCaffrey as your RB1. He’s got great upside and will definitely make the most of the touches he’s given.

 

  1. Dalvin Cook Has Made Latavius Murray Irrelevant

 

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I’ve forgotten who Latavius Murray is… Cook has looked simply amazing. The injury to Murray has let Cook take the position of lead back for the Minnesota Vikings. This past preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks he had 7 carries for 40 yards and 1 reception for 10 yards. No, he didn’t get in the end zone, but the whole offense is centered around Cook. He averaged 5.7 yards per carry against the Seahawks defense! If he can manage to do this in Seattle against Seattle, then he will be more than dominant against the other NFL teams.

In addition, Sam Bradford is basically a doppelganger of Alex Smith and doesn’t like throwing touchdowns or for more than 10 yards per attempt. This means that Bradford will rely heavy on the run game and dump the football off to his safety release, which is Dalvin Cook. This offense might not look good offensively, but the Vikings want to establish that old football mentality of running the football and playing solid defense. Cook will be used a lot and fantasy owners should feel at ease with placing him in your starting lineups.

 

  1. Jared Goff Might Have Some Game In Him

 

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Goff might have been the most surprising performance of preseason week 2. He went 16/20 with 160 yards and 1 touchdown against the Oakland Raiders. The Rams offense looked pretty fluid, which isn’t normal to see. I still have my doubts and concerns with Goff, but this was a step in the right direction. He has all the right tools in front of him with Gurley, Watkins, and a good coaching staff. Maybe we will see why the Rams chose him number 1 overall over Carson Wentz.

However, let’s not jump the gun just yet, this is the Rams we are talking about…

 

  1. Allen Robinson Should Fall In Drafts

 

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I don’t know what the hell is going on in Jacksonville, but I’m staying far away from it. None of the quarterbacks look ready to start. I’ve watch the past 2 preseason games and both Blake Bortles and Chad Henne look dumbfounded after every series. The Jaguars need to move on and cut all quarterbacks on their roster and go sign Kaepernick. Since the quarterback position is so dysfunctional Allen Robinson’s stalk is down. Robinson was going between round 4-6 and now I wouldn’t even consider taking him.

In all seriousness, Bortles probably will start, but he hasn’t even been close to hitting Robinson on any of his routes this preseason. Fournette is the only player on this team that fantasy owners should consider having on their roster. If Robinson falls to you at the 7th round or later, then I would consider drafting him with the high hopes of him bouncing back, but the chances are very slim with this quarterback chaos though.

 

  1. Cutler Will Bring More Fantasy Impact To Dolphins

 

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This was probably the most anticipated performance of preseason week 2. Cutler went 3/6 with 24 yards. Not much, but he looked pretty good. He appeared to know the offense and took a hit on the surgically repaired shoulder and was fine. He actually looks like he wants to play football, which is refreshing. I fully believe that he makes the Miami Dolphins more fantasy relevant that Ryan Tannehill ever could. Defenses won’t stack 8 in the box because they will have to respect Cutler’s deep ball, weather it’s accurate or not, and that maks Jay Ajayi more fantasy relevant than ever. Ajayi value rises because Cutler loves to throw the football to his RBs and Adam Gase will want to go through Ajayi until Cutler gets 100% comfortable in the offense.

Let’s not forget about the rest of the offense. Jarvis Landry will get his typical numbers, but watch out for DeVante Parker. He had 1 catch for 16 yards, but he was actually targeted! Tannehill would look to the deep ball as a last resort. Parker actually has a chance this year to be extremely fantasy relevant. Cutler loves big receivers and will give Parker opportunities down field just like he did with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey. All in all, I never thought I would say this about Cutler, but he makes the Dolphins a better football team.

AFC West

Quarterback: Philip Rivers

 

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Philip Rivers has been one of the most consistent fantasy quarterbacks since 2006. You can almost certainly count on Rivers throwing for over 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. The reason why Rivers is not ranked in the top 10 this season is because of his high interception count last season. Rivers tends to throw on the high side for INTs and he managed to throw 21 last season. I don’t judge the number simply because everyone was injured on his team. Keenan Allen went down, his offensive line was horrible, and Rivers had to try and make a play or extend the play in any way possible. This season hopefully will be different. Melvin Gordon looks great, Keenan Allen is back and healthy, and the Chargers offense as a whole looks ready to bounce back. Rivers ADP is currently around #118. This is good value if your plan is to sit and wait for a quarterback, which I highly recommend doing. This way you can stack your team and still get a quarterback that is going to get you around 20 fantasy points per game. Rivers will be reliable once again.

 

Running back: Melvin Gordon

 

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Gordon finally had his breakout season; producing: 997 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, with 419 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. His numbers would have been better but he missed 3 games last season. A lot of critics and analysists are hesitant and concerned when it comes to Melvin Gordon and I don’t understand why. Twelve total touchdowns and 1,416 total yards is fantastic and they probably would have been closer to 1,700 total yards if he had played the full season. His YPC have gone up; it went from 3.5 to 3.9, which is pretty good. I understand the concern with the offensive line and the offense in general, but I assure you, the Chargers offense will be extremely productive this season. Don’t be concerned with Brandon Oliver, he’s only on the roster if Gordon ends up getting injured. Gordon is going to receive around 300 touches and fantasy owners can’t pass up on the type of volume. In addition, Anthony Lynn, who was the running backs coach in Buffalo, will focus heavily on the running the football. Melvin Gordon is easily worth a first round pick since he will be the focal point of the Chargers offense.

 

Wide Receiver: Amari Cooper

 

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Honestly I would have gone with Demaryius Thomas, but the quarterback hasn’t been decided in Denver. If Trevor Siemian gets the job then fantasy owners should choose Thomas, he will be the safer bet in an offense that doesn’t have as many mouths to feed.

Cooper is concerning for a lot of fantasy owners. He is the most talented guy in this division, but hasn’t had his full breakout season just yet. A lot of people would say that Michael Crabtree is the number one wide out in Oakland since he gets more targets in the Red Zone.  Their numbers were pretty close last season. Cooper finished with 1,153 and 5 touchdowns and Crabtree finished with 1,003 and 8 touchdowns. Amari is currently going in the second round of mock drafts and Crabtree is going towards the tail end of the fifth or the beginning of the sixth. You could argue that Crabtree is the better fantasy value with where he’s going in mock drafts.

The Raiders have a high powered offense and with the addition of Marshawn Lynch they will have more mouths to feed. I honestly do believe that Cooper will have his best season yet, which is why I have him as the top receiver in this division.

 

Tight End: Travis Kelce

 

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Kelce’s stock has been rising quickly. The loss of Jeremy Maclin helped and the fact that Alex Smith hates wide receivers and only throws to Kelce helps a little bit too. Kelce had his best season last year with 1,1,25 and 4 touchdowns. He is currently going late in the 3rd round or early in the 4th round of fantasy mock drafts. Tyreek Hill has shifted over to the number 1 wide out position, which means that Alex Smith will lean even more heavily on Kelce. He had 85 receptions and 117 targets, and this will increase this upcoming season. Fantasy owners should view Kelce more as a WR2 than a TE1. One of my rules is not to draft a tight end until the 8th round or later, but Kelce will make me think twice in those early rounds. Don’t be so hesitant with taking Kelce early just because he’s a tight end. I expect Kelce to have 1,050 yards and 6 touchdowns.

 

Honor Roll: Tyreek Hill        

 

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I haven’t figured out how I truly feel about Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs are taking a big gamble with giving the reigns of the WR1 position to him after just one season. Hill has the skill set to be a decent WR1, but I’m just not all the way sold on him being a legit WR1. His ADP is currently #50. I do like the value here simply because he will get the targets and the opportunities that a number one wide out should get. Which is why it’s great value in the 5-6 rounds to draft Hill.

One of the comparisons that Hill has received is to Percy Harvin, which scares me. I definitely see similarities, these guys are both considered “All-purpose wide receivers” not volume wide receivers. Only time will tell if Hill can handle the type of volume he is about to receive.

I believe his numbers will be around 700 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. He will add 225 rushing yards with 2 touchdowns on the ground. If fantasy owners could land Hill as their WR2 or even a flex position, then I would consider Hill being a steal.

AFC South Fantasy Preview

Quarterback- Marcus Mariota

 

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This was a very close battle, but we gave the edge to Mariota. The news around Andrew Luck right now is that he might miss some time at the beginning of the season. I’ve heard it could be just 1 game or all the way up to 6 games. Luck does have the easiest schedule in the NFL this year, but this will be Mariota’s year. He put up 3,426 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, and he added 349 rushing yards with 2 touchdowns on the ground last season. Mariota exempted himself from the sophomore slump and looks to continue the momentum. If he didn’t get injured at the end, the Titans would have most likely made the playoffs. Mariota has single handedly turned this franchise around and has made them the team to beat in the AFC South. All experts are pointing towards Mariota having a huge year and possibly being a candidate for MVP. Mariota has all the weapons to succeed. They drafted the young stud wide receiver, Corey Davis and they also managed to get Eric Decker. The Titans defense is good, their offensive line is good, and of course their running backs are fantastic.

The attributes that I like about Mariota are; He’s extremely smart with the football and he doesn’t turn the ball over. Mariota doesn’t seem to make those reckless mistakes/throws that most other quarterbacks will. All his plays are productive and trustworthy, which always makes fantasy owners more confident. The Titans will be one of the most exciting teams to watch this coming season. I have his numbers being around 3,600 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 325 rushing yards, and 2 rushing touchdowns. Definitely QB1 worthy.

 

Running Back- Demarco Murray

 

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Murray had a hell of a year last season. He totaled 1,287 rushing yards with 9 touchdowns and added 377 receiving yards and 3 receiving touchdowns. This division has other good running backs such as Lamar Miller, Frank Gore, and Lenard Fournette. The Houston offensive line is marginal, Frank Gore turns 50 this year, and Fournette is unproven and plays for the Jaguars. However, I do think Fournette will have a good year, but you get my drift, Murray by far is the number 1 running back in this division. The Titans have the 4th ranked offensive line for this coming season, and Mariota will keep defenses honest with all the outside weapons he has. The one area that concerns is Derrick Henry. He’s going to be the guy there, it’s just a matter of time. On 110 rushes he produced: 490 yards and 5 touchdowns and he averaged 4.5 yards per carry in his first season. He did vulture some production that was supposed to be Murray’s. I think the Titans will continue to slowly feed the young gun this season. I predict that Murray will get 1,100 rushing yards and 9-10 total touchdowns. Still RB1 numbers, but there will be slight decrease due to the increased involvement of Henry.

 

Wide Receiver- DeAndre Hopkins

 

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Everyone would probably pick T.Y. Hilton, but with the news about Luck I wasn’t able to give him the win here. Last year was disappointing for Hopkins. It was the first time he finished with under 1,000 yards receiving since his rookie season. We can’t forget that he added an enormous 4 touchdowns as well.  The Texans always have the same issues every year; their quarterbacks are all terrible. Hopkins had 78 receptions on 151 targets. The volume is going to be there with Hopkins, especially with Will Fuller out for the first half of the season with the broken collarbone. Now, the Texans don’t have a legit WR2, which means that Tom Savage or Deshaun Watson will throw to Hopkins 90% of the time. I think both of the quarterbacks will be a step up from Brock Osweiler and will make Hopkins fantasy relevant once again. Hopkins ADP is currently 29, which I believe is the correct value. He will get 1,050 yards and 7 touchdowns. He will get more touchdowns this season, especially with the one-handed grabs he’s making in practice.

 

Tight End- Delanie Walker

 

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Walker is by far the best tight end in this division. Is it because his name is Walker and lives in Memphis? Probably… Delanie Walker was been a TE1 ever since he arrived in Tennessee. Mariota has great chemistry with him and relies on him a lot. Walker seems to get banged up a bit, but usually manages to play through it. You could argue that Walker was Mariota’s best receiving threat last season, but things will change this season. With the new additions at wide receiver, Walker will be the number 3 option. I believe his numbers will be about the same as last year’s: 800 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. I would have projected more, but Mariota will spread the ball out more this season.

 

Sleeper- DeShaun Watson

 

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It was fun to watch Watson last night in his debut against the Carolina Panthers. He went 15/25 with 179 passing yards. He added 3 rushes for 24 yards and 1 touchdown. I know that it was only his first preseason game and most of his playing time came against 2nd and 3rd stringers.  The thing is he looked great compared to Tom Savage. Savage knows the playbook and is familiar with the system, but can only take the Texans so far. I do think the Texans will end up playing it safe and make Savage the starter, but I believe it will only take about 4 games until Watson is inserted into the starting lineup. Watson is very competitive, which he will prove the rest of the preseason. He is going to make this decision very difficult.

Let’s get back to the fantasy value. Watson could end up being a quarterback to watch from the second half of the season on. He’s competitive, has dual threat capabilities, and has the drive to win football games. He could be a great back-up/streamer option later in your fantasy seasons. Keep an eye on Watson and the waiver wire. Watson, Miller, and Hopkins could be a lethal 3 headed monster later on in the season.