Fantasy Football: What We Learned From Week 2 of Preseason
For those who were here last week for my recap of the first week in preseason, it was fun, but we’re going to do something different going forward. While I’d love to write multiple sentences on every player, there is now just too much action taking place to talk about everyone like I did last week. Instead, I’ve taken notes on every game and will be doing quick-hitters on all fantasy relevant players. If you’d like to hear the players discussed in long-form, we try to hit on most players on our FantasyPros football podcast (click here for it). Check it out if you haven’t yet, as it’s one of the best ways to consume fantasy content. Until then, let’s talk about what happened in the second week of preseason. Keep in mind that there is still one more game tonight between the Giants and Browns, but this is the bulk of what happened.
As it turns out, Jay Cutler did play and looked pretty good for a guy who was retired just a few weeks ago. He likes DeVante Parker and likened him to a faster Alshon Jeffery. Tyrod Taylor didn’t quite look the same without Sammy Watkins on the field, as he threw two interceptions in limited playing time. Blake Bortles was even worse and may lose his job. Seriously, the Jaguars have stated they are opening up a quarterback competition between him, Chad Henne, and Brandon Allen. Patrick Mahomes looks solid, but so does Alex Smith. The only way Smith loses the job this season is if he loses control of the offense, something he hasn’t really done in his four years there. As for the Colts quarterbacks, let’s just say that Andrew Luck needs to return, and soon. Until then, the Colts pass catchers are essentially unplayable. Speaking of unplayable, the Steelers better hope that Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t retire after this season, because Josh Dobbs has been brutal.
The Cowboys let Dak Prescott play for two series and he showed no signs of rust while completing 7 of 8 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. The Jets decided to let Christian Hackenberg start at quarterback… let’s just say that didn’t go very well. Bryce Petty is likely to be Josh McCown‘s backup when the season starts. Deshaun Watson scored another rushing touchdown, but didn’t look as great throwing in Week 2 while completing just 3 of 10 passes. Tom Savage actually played very well, completing 8 of 9 attempts for 98 yards and a touchdown. This is likely his job to start the year. Trevor Siemian is going to start for the Broncos, as Paxton Lynch just doesn’t look the part at all. Mike Glennon‘s stat sheet looks better than his actual performance, which was filled with bad decisions. It’s going to be difficult to keep Mitch Trubisky (who looked solid, again) off the field if this continues. Jared Goff looked like the guy most expected him to be when he came into the NFL, as he completed 16 of 20 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. Maybe Sean McVay can make things work after all?
Maybe there was a reason LeGarrette Blount wasn’t signed for a long time, as he’s looked very slow this preseason, totaling just 17 yards on nine carries through the first two weeks. On the flip side, Doug Martin has looked phenomenal, so you shouldn’t worry about him getting the starting job when he comes back. Dalvin Cook continues to get all the snaps with the first-team offense while Latavius Murray is out. This is going to be a timeshare in some ways, but one that Cook will lead. Thomas Rawls sat out this week, which should’ve allowed Eddie Lacy to start. Instead, Chris Carson took more reps with the first-team offense than Lacy did, and posted better results. It seems Lacy has an uphill battle to make a fantasy impact right away. Christian McCaffrey had his play-making skills on full display as he touched the ball just five times, but totaled 72 total yards and a touchdown. The Panthers need to find a way to keep him involved at all times.
Derrick Henry took every snap with the first-team offense and scored two touchdowns while DeMarco Murray sat out. Meanwhile Spencer Ware played the first snap of the game, but gave way to Kareem Hunt for the remainder of the half. The Chiefs stated, “they wanted to see how Hunt would handle playing with the first-team offense.” He responded with 63 yards on 11 touches (5.7 yards per touch), which got everyone excited. Ware has averaged 5.7 yards per touch… over the last two years, during the regular season. Don’t give up on Ware so fast. Joe Mixon continues to split snaps with Jeremy Hill, and we haven’t even seen Giovani Bernard yet. This is looking like a three-headed monster to start the year. Another rookie who may make an impact later in the season is Marlon Mack, who showed off his big-play ability totaling 45 yards on five carries, including two runs of 13 yards or more. The Colts had just eight runs of 15-plus yards on the entire 2016 season. He brings a different dimension to that offense.
Some are wondering if Alfred Morris could pass Darren McFadden on the depth chart, but all signs are pointing to McFadden being the clear-cut backup, as he’s the only one playing with the first-team offense. Packers rookie Jamaal Williams got the start at running back with Ty Montgomery sidelined with a soft tissue injury. This is noteworthy because Williams has been seeing reps with the first-team offense in practice as well. Samaje Perine bounced back from a sub-par Week 1, totaling 45 yards on eight carries with a 29-yard reception mixed in, while Rob Kelley managed just nine yards on nine carries. Mike Gillislee missed another game with his hamstring injury, which allowed Rex Burkhead to play with the Patriots first-team offense, and post 70 total yards with a touchdown. Texans rookie D’Onta Foreman showed big play ability on his 63-yard catch and run, and then added a rushing touchdown for good measure. He’s making noise, while Lamar Miller plods along.
The Broncos may have found a star late in the NFL Draft when they took DeAngelo Henderson, who has now posted 84 rushing yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, as well as chipping in with three catches for 21 yards. Jamaal Charles needs to get on the field or he’s going to be a cut-candidate. Speaking of missing time, Jordan Howard sat out the Bears second preseason game due to a corneal abrasion, allowing Tarik Cohen to showcase his skills. Over the first two weeks of preseason, he’s totaled 116 yards on 18 carries, and he’s done it against defensive starters. He’s going to have a role immediately in this offense. Todd Gurley looked like a different player in Week 2, posting 50 total yards on nine touches, including a touchdown. If Jared Goff continues to progress, it can only mean good things for Gurley. James Conner received tons of work in his preseason debut for the Steelers (20 carries for 98 yards) in what was a very workmanlike performance, but nothing special. Alvin Kamara, on the other hand, looks great and has totaled 118 yards on just 10 touches this preseason, including a 50-yard touchdown run this past week. Lastly, the Chargers offensive line looks absolutely atrocious.
As mentioned in the quarterbacks section, Jay Cutler seems to like DeVante Parker, as he targeted him on three of his six pass attempts against the Ravens. Meanwhile, the Eagles are trying to make Nelson Agholor a thing again. He played with the first-team offense in three wide receiver sets. Bills rookie Zay Jones made a few solid plays in Week 2 showing off some solid hands, though he’s not likely to see the field in two or three wide receiver sets to start the year. Jaguars rookie Dede Westbrook is a name to watch, as he’s making a bid to start over Allen Hurns as soon as this year, totaling seven catches for 173 yards and a touchdown in the first two games. Dez Bryant made his preseason debut and bullied the Colts cornerbacks for 55 yards and a touchdown on just two series’ worth of work.
The Kenny Golladay hype-train died down in Week 2 when Marvin Jones scored a touchdown, while Golladay played with the second-team offense and caught just one pass for six yards. The rookie who arguably had the best Week 2 of the preseason was Cooper Kupp, as he’s now played with the first-team offense in both games, and it’s translated into eight catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns (though one of them was a fumble recovery in the end zone). Martavis Bryant was on the field for preseason Week 2, where he was targeted three times, hauling in two passes for 20 yards, including a 23-yard catch where he timed the ball precisely and high-pointed it over the defender. Willie Snead played into the fourth quarter for the Saints, which is odd for someone who’s supposed to be a starter.
Similar to last week, there isn’t much news to report on the tight ends, outside of the fact that the Cowboys Rico Gathers was forced to miss this week due to a concussion. 49ers rookie George Kittle played in his first NFL game and looked good totaling three catches for 33 yards and a touchdown. We still have yet to hear how the 49ers really feel about Vance McDonald. The beat reports out of San Francisco this offseason have been atrocious for the most part, as it seems Jon Lynch and Kyle Shanahan are keeping their plans close to the chest. The Ravens continue to mix and match tight ends, though Maxx Williams finally gave us a glimpse of the guy who was taken in the second round of the 2015 draft when he racked up 48 yards on just two receptions against the Dolphins. Lastly, Gerald Everett of the Rams hauled in four passes for 30 yards, as he tries to find his way past Tyler Higbee on the Rams depth chart.