32 Things To Learn For Fantasy Football From Week Three Preseason NFL
All of the “serious” preseason football has been played; we aren’t going to see anymore starting players on the field after week three preseason games. The to-the-decimal projections here on RotoExperts have continued to be updated to the meaningful playing time shifts from preseason week two action, as well as bigger news items like the injury to Lamar Miller and Andrew Luck’s retirement.
Grinding through the preseason week three games has given us insight on how a few starting offenses plan on lining up in 2019 and the major news over the weekend has shifted the outlook for more than a few NFL teams. While the overall efficiency of offenses in the preseason is not always that important, just figuring out who is considered part of the first-team offense definitely matters.
32 Preseason Week Three Important Fantasy Football Takeaways
– Eagles: We have been telling RotoExperts subscribers about JJ Arcega-Whiteside, the second-round pick from Stanford, for months now. While he doesn’t have an immediate role in Philadelphia, he will be the next man up in the event of any injury and had the best performance of anyone in the preseason with nine targets, 104 yards and a touchdown.
– Jaguars: By far the biggest takeaway from this game is that it appears Leonard Fournette does have a role on third downs and in the passing game. If that role holds true for 16 games, Fournette can be a league-winning player without actually being an elite player. Dede Westbrook was the clear top wide receiver when Nick Foles was in the game and seven targets in limited playing time including two deep targets. We love Westbrook in 2019 and week three preseason helps confirm that position.
–Jets: Ty Montgomery continued his solid-if-not-spectacular play as the Le’Veon Bell facsimile for the Jets first-team offense, Robby Anderson averaged 30 yards per target and the team basically looked like we expect them to look like. My biggest takeaway is that this offense can function without giving the ball to Le’Veon Bell the ball on half their snaps and that Bell is likely in for the lightest workload of his career.
–Falcons: Ito Smith continued to be the primary spell back for the Atlanta Falcons when Devonta Freeman came off the field (though Brian Hill did get a few snaps with Matt Ryan). This entire preseason has screamed “fade Devonta Freeman” and we will continue to do so.
–Ravens: Marquise Brown was active for the first time and received three targets, turning all of them into receptions for 17 yards. Just being on the field at all in the prseason is pretty big for Brown’s future fantasy value. Justice Hill had his worst game of the preseason but didn’t play at all in the second half so I would imagine that his role as the rotational back with Mark Ingram should slowly grow throughout the year.
–Packers: The Packers/Raiders game was played in Canada on an 80-yard field due to the incompetence of the NFL planning ahead of time. Jake Kumerow again scored a touchdown, Trevor Davis continued to make his case to make the team over the injured J’Mon Moore and underperforming Equinimeous Saint Brown. Dexter Williams has been bad in every Packers preseason game and for my money, may not make the 53 behind Tra Carson.
–Bengals: Damion Willis has reportedly earned the third WR job with John Ross and Tyler Boyd as A.J Green recovers from injury. C.J Uzomah’s 54 yards and a touchdown on two receptions are interesting as someone who has been drafting Tyler Eifert late in many drafts. Further, Rodney Anderson looking healthy and spry less than a year removed from tearing his knee is a massive positive indicator for his NFL future.
–Washington: Derrius Guice is back! Last year’s third-round pick for Washington who tore his ACL before the beginning of the season started for the team in week three preseason and had 11 rushes for 44 yards. If Guice can get through the next few weeks without any setbacks, he has a chance to be a legit “sleeper” at the running back position though playing for such a bad team is going to limit his upside.
–Cardinals: Hakeem Butler hurt a bone in his hand and was placed on the IR the same day that KeeSean Johnson looked like the best wide receiver on the Cardinals. Johnson secured all seven of his targets for 85 yards, primarily with the first-team offense. Johnson seems ahead in the pecking order of Andy Isabella, yet their ADP’s do not match that reality.
–Raiders: With Doug Martin released, Josh Jacobs is now on track to be one of the ten best running backs in fantasy football and should be drafted as such. The Raiders have no clear answers at wide receiver behind Tyrell Williams and Antonio Brown. Keelan Doss has looked like the best candidate for the third WR all preseason and continued that with 4-52 against the Packers. I would add him in deeper dynasty formats.
–Bills: Is Josh Allen accurate? No. Does he make great decisions? No. Allen was pretty bad in this game, including a horrible interception that Allen was thankfully saved from by a penalty. There are some reasons for optimism and Zay Jones, John Brown and Duke Williams all played their roles perfectly in this game but it was just a great reminder of why the variance for the Bills in 2019 is so massive.
–Panthers: The most notable occurrence in this game was a foot sprain to Cam Newton that seems like it is mostly not a big deal. Given the Cam injury, it is tough to learn much but Reggie Bonnafon was mostly playing as the second-string running back instead of Cameron Artis-Payne who didn’t play at all.
–Bears: Chicago was another team that chose to play any of their meaningful players (and good for them). I would say one thing to note is that Matt Nagy is considering Cordarelle Patterson one of his meaningful players on offense as the former Viking has yet to be active this preseason. With Anthony Miller hampered by an ankle injury, Patterson might play more than expected in the first month of the season.
–Giants: It is time for #DannyDimes. Daniel Jones again looked better than Eli Manning in this game as he went 9-for-11 with 141 passing yards. The Giants organization can’t figure out how to say goodbye to Eli or how to start Jones so this is yet another embarrassing saga for them. Wayne Gallman also seems to have re-earned his role as the primary backup to Saquon Barkley.
–Buccaneers: Every running back nominated for touches for Tampa Bay was bad in this game. Jones and Barber were underwhelming running the ball with the third team offense and Dare Ogunbowale played some first-team snaps as a pass-blocker but was also getting carries in the fourth quarter. Chris Godwin, on the other hand, looks like a guy ready to have a nuclear season (six targets, 52 yards, played slot snaps).
–Dolphins: There is definitely a reason that the team didn’t name Kalen Ballage the outright starter when Kenyan Drake hurt his foot: his game is not perfect. He had only 1.4 yards per carry on 12 rushes and his only receptions were for negative yardage. There is definitely room for Drake to win his role back as he gets healthy over the next two weeks. That said, I think both are still worthy of top-100 picks as the likelihood is that one of them wins the lions share.
–Browns: The Browns offense was not at its’ very best without Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry on the field (and that is to be expected). Rashard Higgins generated seven targets in the starting offense and is a player that I have started to take in the 18th round of Best Ball Championship drafts as it becomes clear he might have just straight up beat Antonio Callaway out for the third WR job. Kareem Hunt was thoroughly underwhelming in this game.
–Colts: Let us talk about it: Andrew Luck retired from pro football. Jacoby Brisset is now the starting QB for the Indianapolis Colts. He comes in as a top 15 fantasy quarterback both in our projections and in my fantasy football rankings due to his ability to rush with the football, the fact that the Colts play indoors (high scoring games), and the relatively talented offense that Brisset is inheriting. Marlon Mack takes the biggest hit from Luck’s absence. as Mack was one of fantasy’s most game script-dependent players in 2018.
-Patriots: Damien Harris left this game with injury though it was reported to not be serious. Jakobi Meyers was again the best player on the field for New England and it seems like he is almost a lock to make the roster. I would caution fantasy owners from going too wild over Meyers as we have seen this happen in the preseason with New England before with Kenbrell Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld.
-Titans: What to even say about this team? Marcus Mariota didn’t complete a pass, Jeremy McNichols continues to look talented but won’t get a shot with the first team unless Dion Lewis gets injured, and none of the units were able to score any points. Dion Lewis, Corey Davis and Delanie Walker are the only draftable Titans players in fantasy football.
–Chiefs: If Carlos Hyde wasn’t off the roster before, he is now. Damien Williams started things off for the Chiefs with a 62-yard touchdown on a wheel route, Darwin Thompson AND Darrell Williams played first-team running back snaps and Hyde had only one carry for one yard. In a somewhat interesting move, on the first two Chiefs drives, it was Sammy Watkins who was playing the pre-snap motion role instead of Tyreek Hill and he also handled an end-around. These are all bullish signals for RotoExperts subscribers.
–Steelers: James Conner did not leave the field once when the starting unit was on the field, Big Ben targeted Juju Smith-Schuster on five of his thirteen throws and the Steelers generally looked like they aren’t going to skip a beat without Antonio Brown. Jaylen Samuels worked strictly with the second team and James Washington’s long touchdown didn’t come until the second-team offense was on the field. Vance McDonald saw two targets, both with the first team, but converted neither.
–Lions: The first play the Lions ran ended up being a passing play to Kerryon Johnson! That is great! On their second drive, C.J Anderson came in and also received a target on third down! That isn’t great! Anderson, as gross as it sounds, remains probably the best Zero RB value on the board as the Lions have done everything they can to show us that he is a part of their first-team offense.
–Texans: The only news that matters from this game is that Lamar Miller left the game with a torn ACL. Karan Higdon was the next man up but we expect Duke Johnson to have around 50% of the market share of carries and 12-14% market share of the team’s targets. It is semi-likely that the Texans sign Jay Ayjai or another vet like Doug Martin or LaGarrette Blount but as of now, Duke is one of the best mid-round values at running back and someone worth drafting at peak ADP.
–Rams: Another week, another no show from Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown. John Kelly and Darrell Henderson were the primary running backs with their combined rushes going less than three yards per attempt. Mike Thomas (not that Mike Thomas) had another solid day and for my money, should probably the fourth wide receiver ahead of Josh Reynolds for the Los Angeles Rams.
–Cowboys: Say it with me: Tony Pollard is one of the best Zero RB draft targets we have ever seen. The Tony Pollard show continued as he had an explosive touchdown reception on a screenplay called back due to an offensive penalty. Michael Gallup dominated his cornerbacks in coverage and also had a second touchdown called back by a penalty after fighting through two layers of the defense to get in the endzone. It is hard to contain the enthusiasm over what this Kellen Moore-lead offense is going to look like 2019.
–Saints: Drew Brees played only one drive and Alvin Kamara received every running back touch on that drive before Brees capped it off with a touchdown pass to Mike Thomas. Dan Arnold made a really strong argument to keep his job as rotational TE/Slot WR in the red zone and I think he will make the team at this point. One last thing of note was that “Wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. logged 13 snaps before heading to the bench, while Tre’Quan Smith started in the three-receiver set and recorded 23 snaps before his night ended.” We continue to think Tre’Quan has breakout potential.
–Chargers: For the first time this preseason, Austin Ekeler started the game and had the first 3.5 drives to himself before Justin Jackson came in to spell him. Jackson received one more carry than Ekeler but Ekeler again out-targeted him. Our original thinking was that this backfield would be pretty close to a split between Jackson and Ekeler but things seem to be slow shifting towards Ekeler’s direction, particularly with regard to targets out of the backfield.
–Seahawks: Russell Wilson looked about as spry as he has in the last three-four years and lead the team on a touchdown drive that was capped by… Rashaad Penny and then…CJ Prosise? Despite an offseason of talking about how much Chris Carson was a focal point for their offense, he was vultured by Penny and somehow, CJ Prosise. We do not expect Prosise to make the team but Penny’s role as the goalline back and his three targets in this game are extremely encouraging compared to what we saw from him last week against Minnesota where he was horrible.
–Vikings: Other than Dalvin Cook’s monstrous 85-yard touchdown run, there is very little positive to say about the Vikings offense. Kirk Cousins completed only 3 of 13 pass attempts and they generally looked disorganized against what we expect to be a bad Cardinals defense. In general, there are only four draftable Vikings players: Cook, Diggs, Thielen, and Rudolph. This game didn’t change that.
–49ers: This is the best we have seen of Jimmy G yet in the preseason, with 188 passing yards and a touchdown. More importantly for fantasy, we know their starting offense. Matt Brieda is the primary pass-catching running back (catching an amazing sprawling touchdown on a wheel route) and Marquise Goodwin/Dante Pettis are the primary starting wide receivers. Goodwin is one of the biggest values in fantasy football drafts right now.
–Broncos: Denver played no one meaningful this game. The only player who mattered for them on offense who might become fantasy relevant somehow in 2019 is Jake Butt who is recovering from an ACL injury.