32 Things To Learn For Fantasy Football From Week Two Preseason NFL
Preseason continues to matters for those who are serious about winning their fantasy football leagues. Not every team flashed their true colors in week two preseason action but there was plenty to take away from a fantasy football context. 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 reinstatement of Josh Gordon.
Grinding through the preseason week two games has given me some insight as to how teams plan on deploying their borderline players and there are a few backfields where the coaches are giving us relatively straightforward answers on how they plan on deploying their running backs in 2019. 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 Two Important Fantasy Football Takeaways
– Eagles: Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard alternated drives in the first quarter before giving way to Wendall Smallwood. While Miles Sanders continues to receive glowing reports from practice, there is not any on-field evidence to suggest that he is going to have more than 50% of the backfield work in Philadelphia to himself.
– Jaguars: The team chose again to not play Dede Westbrook, force at least one deep target to D.J Chark and featured some of the worst backup running back performances I have ever seen. Thomas Rawls, Alfred Blue, and Devante Mays all averaged less than three yards per carry and looked even worse than that. The sooner Ryquell Armstead is back from a concussion, the sooner he will win the backup RB job.
–Jets: Ty Montgomery is now a top-150 pick in fantasy leagues. He has fairly clearly won the backup running back job over Trenton Cannon (six carries, six yards) and Elijah McQuire (2.4 yards per carry) and is likely to be used on the field at the same time as Le’Veon Bell as the Jets are relatively thin at pass-catcher with Chris Herndon suspended.
–Falcons: Ito Smith had more carries, yards, targets, receptions, and touchdowns than Brian Hill which seems sort of obvious but Ito Smith’s ADP continues to slide while Brian Hill is now often drafted in the DRAFT Best Ball Championship. We will continue to advocate drafting Ito Smith while he stays this cheap as he is fairly clearly the top complementary back to Devonta Freeman.
–Ravens: I would love to dedicate more space to Justice Hill, but you already know that he is going to win you your league. The biggest takeaway from the Ravens offense in week two preseason action is that Mark Andrews played the third-most snaps of tight ends while Lamar Jackson was in the game. Andrews has a pretty healthy ADP (north of 110 overall on DRAFT) but at this point in time, he looks more like a part-time player than someone who will lead the offense in targets.
–Packers: Jake Kumerow is not a favorite of ours here at RotoExperts due to substandard athleticism but he looks like the favorite to be the fourth wide receiver for one of the better and higher-volume passing offenses in the NFL. Kumerow posted five targets with Deshone Kizer and gained 52 yards and continues to draw rave reviews from Aaron Rodgers (which we know is important).
–Bengals: I have to admit, early in offseason, I was interested in the Bengals as a “sleeper” offensive unit. After that point, A.J Green has gotten hurt, Trayveon Williams and Rodney Anderson have been unable to get on the field, we haven’t seen Tyler Eifert yet, and John Ross is also battling through a hamstring injury. The biggest takeaway from this game is likely Giovani Bernard is locked into the handcuff role to Joe Mixon.
–Washington: Adrian Peterson got all but one carry with the starting unit in Washington when Case Keenum was in the game. If the markets were more efficient, Derrius Guice and Peterson’s Average Draft Position’s would be much closer. The upside with this offense entirely rests with Dwayne Haskins having an above-average rookie season and we are not wagering on that despite a strong showing in this game.
–Cardinals: The Cardinals looked BAD. They punted on all of Kyler Murray’s drives, took some awful penalties and generally vindicated the hater’s viewpoint that Kliff Kingsbury’s offense is not ready for the NFL. Kingsbury’s offenses finished in the top 10 of total plays ran three of his five seasons in the FBS despite not being successful, winning teams. The value in this offense will remain even if the Cardinals are not winning games.
–Raiders: NBC Sports Bay Area reported that Jon Gruden was pleased with Josh Jacobs’ work in the game against Arizona. “We’re really excited about him,” Gruden said Thursday. “I wanted to keep him in and he wanted to stay in, but I thought we had seen enough.” Jacobs getting all of the running back work with the first team indicates that he has some three-down workhorse potential which is baked into our rankings and projections.
–Bills: Cole Beasley is someone that our projections have overlooked for a large portion of the offseason but he started off the Bills first quarter with four receptions on the opening drive from Josh Allen. Beasley is not a league-winning style of player but for larger leagues (14+ teams) he could offer late-round weekly value in PPR formats if he is Josh Allen’s primary checkdown target.
–Panthers: Curtis Samuel and D.J Moore both saw three targets in the facsimile first-team offense with Kyle Allen, with one deep target to each. Neither connected on their deep target but I am encouraged to see the two of them carve out roles as the top pass-catchers in the Panthers offense. The battle for backup running back has continued and all three RB’s in contention averaged more than 4.4 yards per carry.
–Bears: The Bears were one of the few teams that showed absolutely nothing in week two preseason. David Montgomery, Mike Davis and Tarik Cohen all did not play, the same as Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller. Javon Wims seems like a lock to make the team as the fifth wide receiver but we don’t consider him super useful for fantasy football. Cordarelle Patterson not playing in this game is a positive sign for his usage as a first-team offensive player in 2019.
–Giants: The competition to the Giants WR2 job with Golden Tate is still wide open. Cody Latimer and Benny Fowler both made strong cases playing with Daniel Jones and Eli Manning in the first quarter. Latimer had a great deep catch with 60 yards and two targets while Fowler ended the first drive (with Manning at quarterback) with a touchdown reception. These guys are likely going with the last pick in your draft and have the potential to see 30+ targets in the first four weeks of the season.
–Buccaneers: The split between Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones has started to crystallize itself and has them both cemented in as values at their ADP. Jones and Barber each had two carries with Jameis Winston in at quarterback and were not targeted. Dare Ogunbawale is the third back and as a non-athlete style player, does not really threaten the snaps of Barber or Jones.
–Dolphins: Preston Williams’ stat line looks uninspiring in this game but he was close to a spectacular, one-handed touchdown grab where his foot was barely out of bounds. Kalen Ballage didn’t play in this contest which shouldn’t be surprising given Kenyan Drake’s injury. Ballage is locked in as the top running back for the Dolphins entering the season.
–Browns: The competition past Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry is far from over. Rashard Higgins had a quality game, securing all 4 of his targets from Garret Gilbert for 34 yards but D.J Montgomery, Jaelen Strong, and Derrick Willies also all had strong games while playing with the first/second-team offense mashup. We prefer Higgins the most of this group with Antonio Callaway suspended but it is possible he is not locked into his role.
–Colts: Nyheim Hines has less of a ceiling than we thought originally. While Jacoby Brissett was in, Marlon Mack took 14 snaps and Hines took one. Hines also only had one carry and no targets. For the time being, Marlon Mack is the only game in town in the Indy backfield which is a fairly large signal. Last year, almost no running back was more game-script dependent than Marlon Mack. If he works more in the passing game (one target in preseason week two), he could be closer to a second-round value.
-Patriots: Damien Harris played well BUT… he received 14 carries and 4 targets in a game that none of New England’s important players were playing in. Harris’ ADP right now is largely bad if he is not in the immediate plans for New England which his usage in this game implies. The Patriots backfield is going to be Sony Michel/James White/Rex Burkhead to start the season.
-Titans: Jeremy McNichols is officially starting to worry me a bit as someone who is heavily invested in Dion Lewis. McNichols was a stud at Boise State who flamed out with four different NFL teams before seemingly finding a role with the Titans. As Derrick Henry is still not healthy, McNichols handled nine touches in this game against the Patriots and had a 30-yard touchdown scamper called back. It is not impossible that he is eating into Lewis’ role as a complementary back.
–Chiefs: Stick a fork in Carlos Hyde. After Damien Williams played the first five snaps with the starters, Hyde got a series with Patrick Mahomes and promptly fumbled. After the fumble, Hyde was forced to stay in with the second-stringers before Darwin Thompson came in and averaged 7.5 yards per carry. Mecole Hardman also played well in this game with a 17-yard touchdown reception. Brett Veach mentioned on the broadcast how the Chiefs are actively trying to invest in speed on offense, evidenced by Thompson and Hardman. Both are targets of mine in the DRAFT Best Ball Championship.
–Steelers: James Conner barely left the field when the starting unit was out against the Chiefs, missing only one snap. All of Jaylen Samuels’ and Benny Snell’s touches came with the second-unit after Josh Dobbs had replaced Mason Rudolph. The way things are trending at the moment, I am considering moving Conner up to my RB6 and in the back half of the first-round in redraft leagues. There was some conjecture that Samuels would have a much larger role as a sort of “gadget” player for the Steelers in 2019 early in the offseason but haven’t seen anything yet to backup that hypothesis.
–Lions: YIKES for Kerryon Johnson. Johnson was pulled off of the field for C.J Anderson on three separate third-downs and recorded only one more carry than the veteran. Kerryon has seen a spike in ADP since the release of Theo Riddick but if he is not gaining third-down work or even a majority of the total backfield snaps, his ADP for a slow-paced offensive team is going to look miserable in three months. I am moving Kerryon down a few slots after this performance.
–Texans: DeAndre Carter made the strongest argument for playing as the third wide receiver with Keke Coutee out. The Texans will likely need a third wide receiver for a few weeks while Coutee recovers and Carter had three receptions for 40 yards, all from DeShaun Watson. Lamar Miller and Duke Johnson both didn’t play in this game, solidifying themselves as the top two running backs in the pecking order (not that we didn’t know that).
–Rams: Another week, another no show from Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown. Darrell Henderson looked much better in this contest, completely smoking Jaylen Smith on a wheel route but we have to re-iterate the fact that he is playing in these games is a largely negative signal. He is not a value where he is going in drafts right now, while Malcolm Brown is a massive one. Old draft crush Michael Thomas (not that one) looked good playing with Blake Bortles and is making a case to be the fifth wide receiver for the Rams.
–Cowboys: Say it with me: Tony Pollard is one of the best Zero RB draft targets we have ever seen. Dallas opened up with a 97-yard touchdown drive, capped off by Pollard playing every snap at running back. Dak Prescott seems comfortable in the new Kellen Moore offense and with Amari Cooper struggling with a heel injury, Colorado State’s Michael Gallup was ready to go at WR1. Gallup’s lone target with the starting offense was a deep shot, 30 yards down the field that secured without issue. We are largely bullish on Gallup and will continue to be.
–Saints: Teddy Bridgewater largely struggled in this game, only throwing for 40 yards and turning the ball over. Devine Ozigbo had a big game with a receiving touchdown and eight carries but will be fighting with Dwayne Washington and Jazquizz Rodgers for snaps if/when one of Kamara/Murray gets injured. Perhaps we should have been expecting some fireworks from Tre’Quan Smith that haven’t come yet.
–Chargers: Eight carries for Justin Jackson, only three for Ekeler. They both saw one target in the passing game. ADP suggests that Ekeler is the massive favorite to have this backfield to himself if this Melvin Gordon holdout doesn’t resolve itself but the coaches are telling us something different. Artavis Scott continued to build a case to be the teams’ fourth wide receiver.
–Seahawks: Rashaad Penny just might not have it. The former first-round pick underwhelmed again for Seattle against the Vikings in a game that was supposed to be a little bit of a showcase opportunity for him. Jazz Ferguson saw an absurd-for-the-preseason seven targets while John Ursua got a few chances to show his skills. With D.K Metcalf apparently having preseason surgery, the chances of Jazz and Ursua making the team greatly improved.
–Vikings: The Vikings would have you believe that Chad Beebe has outright won the third-WR job but I am not so sure. That would require Adam Thielen to play on the outside full time and that doesn’t seem optimal. Brandon Zylstra and Olabisi Johnson are both candidates for that role, with Zylstra having the much stronger performance here. Mike Boone received 21 carries and seems like the clear backup to Alexander Mattison.