Preseason Week 3: What We Learned (2019 Fantasy Football)
The NFL preseason is both fascinating and terrifying. We are so starved for football after not seeing it for six months (sorry AAF, you don’t count) that we tend to overreact to what we see in games that do not matter. This phenomenon is also known as the Ameer Abdullah Corollary after the former Lions running back infamously ripped off one impressive run in the 2015 preseason that spiked his ADP three rounds despite the fact that he was never actually good at football.
There are only three things I really pay attention to in preseason games:
- Who is playing with the starters?
- How do players coming off an injury look?
- Do any starters just look absolutely terrible?
I don’t care about player performance. I don’t care who wins these games. I don’t care who lit up a fourth-string defense.
In the modern NFL, only two weeks of the preseason really matter. Teams have always rested every starter in Week 4 of the preseason. This is the third week of the preseason; the “dress rehearsal” as it is commonly referred to as. This dress rehearsal isn’t what it used to be a decade ago when every team played its starters for at least a half. Some teams just don’t care about the preseason at all and sit their starters in this week’s game as well. For others, this is the last chance we have to learn anything about projected starting lineups and player usage. Here are my final preseason observations.
*Note: Not every team is listed because we simply didn’t learn anything new about some of them.
New York Giants
Wayne Gallman got the start and Rod Smith worked in a bit. There is no singular handcuff to Saquon Barkley, but if for some reason you are interested in a Giants’ running back that isn’t Barkley, it’s probably Gallman.
Devonta Freeman played for the first time this preseason and looked healthy. Ito Smith entered the game second and had his best showing of the preseason. Despite a push from Brian Hill and Qadree Ollison, Smith is locked in as the backup for now.
Marquise Brown made his preseason debut and looked healthy. Despite concerns over his ailing foot, the Ravens’ first-round wide receiver looks poised to play in Week 1.
D.J. Chark sustained a concussion, putting his Week 1 status in doubt. He is nothing more than a late-round dart throw and this shouldn’t change that. If Chark can get cleared in two weeks, he looks poised to start in three-receiver sets alongside Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley.
New England Patriots
The Patriots running back rotation looks to be Sony Michel as the clear lead back, who should see around 50% of the snaps with James White and Rex Burkhead equally sharing backup duties at around 25% each. White looks to be very overvalued in fantasy drafts, but he will, of course, have his weeks, while Damien Harris is not going to have any value unless Michel goes down.
Jakobi Meyers and Phillip Dorsett started at wide receiver, but that means nothing. Julian Edelman will be ready for Week 1, Josh Gordon is going to start if he’s ready, and if not, the WR2 could be just about anyone.
For reasons I cannot begin to comprehend, Jordan Reed was playing in the second quarter of a game that doesn’t matter. He suffered yet another concussion. I have lost track of how many this is (the answer is seven). His career may very well be over and Jay Gruden should be fired.
For reasons I cannot begin to comprehend, Cam Newton was playing in a game that doesn’t matter. He sprained his foot and is in a walking boot. Hopefully, it is not a lisfranc injury or his season might be over. If Newton can’t play, it’s a massive downgrade for all Panthers’ skill position players.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With Mike Evans sitting, we can’t be certain about the Bucs’ WR3, but the evidence points to Breshad Perriman. It is difficult to envision him having any value even if something happened to Evans or Chris Godwin, but in deeper leagues for those wanting a piece of this offense, it’s Perriman.
Jameis Winston was getting pressured and hit constantly. This offensive line looks really bad. Bruce Arians left the starters in for an unacceptably long time.
Kerryon Johnson played every snap on the first series. C.J. Anderson played every snap on the second series. Johnson started the third series and eventually gave way to Anderson in the red zone, where Anderson played every snap. For those of you deluding yourselves into thinking Kerryon is the guy, I am sorry. He should be, but he’s not. This is going to be a straight-up timeshare. Johnson will be the lead at around 50%, but Anderson is going to be heavily involved with Ty Johnson mixing in as well.
LeSean McCoy started and dominated first-team snaps before giving way to Frank Gore. Devin Singletary is more worthy of a dart throw than the useless Gore, but this depth chart looks like McCoy-Gore-Singletary. For what it’s worth, McCoy still looked pretty quick. I do not believe Singletary saw the field in the first half.
The Cardinals’ offense looked better in this game, but nothing happened that should inflate anyone’s ADP. KeeSean Johnson was heavily involved and looked quite good. He is more worth a late-round flier than Andy Isabella at this point.
Dalvin Cook’s ADP is going to spike half a round based on his long touchdown run.
Credit to Bill O’Brien for immediately pulling all the starters after Lamar Miller tore his ACL. Unfortunately, it was too late for Miller. Duke Johnson should see an increased role, but someone else will be involved. Predicting whether it will be Damarea Crockett, Karan Higdon, or someone else is another story.
San Francisco 49ers
Kansas City Chiefs
Damien Williams’ long touchdown reception should spike his ADP, justified or not. Williams dominated snaps with the first team. He is the clear lead back.
Andrew Luck retired. I have been saying for weeks he would not play in 2019. At no point did I think he would not play ever again (he still may return). This is an obvious downgrade for all Colts’ players.
Once again, James Conner operated as the clear three-down back with Jaylen Samuels only entering the game when Conner needed a breather. Samuels is arguably the best handcuff in the league, but that is all he appears to be – a handcuff.
Derrick Henry didn’t play, but we still got a good look at the Titans’ running back depth chart. Henry is going to be the early-down guy with Dion Lewis as the satellite back plus. If something were to happen to either of them, Jeremy McNichols appears to have locked down the RB3 role.
For some reason, Tajae Sharpe, who is not one of the 100 most talented wide receivers in the NFL and maybe is good enough for the XFL, is projected to start alongside Corey Davis with Adam Humphries in the slot. It shouldn’t be long before A.J. Brown or Taywan Taylor pushes Sharpe to the bench because Sharpe is one of the worst football players I’ve ever seen.