The second week of the preseason is all about the follow-up.
Can the Week 1 stars keep it going in the second game? For someone like Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry, that answer is yes. Unfortunately for the New Orleans Saints, the same can’t be said of wide receiver Michael Thomas.
Much like after the first week, I’m not making snap judgments. You still need to consider the small sample sizes, level of competition and lack of game plan that goes into a preseason game. In addition, many key players never saw the field.
With half the preseason behind us, I’ll check back in on some intriguing average draft positions, suggest five more players to watch and give you another tip of the week. Plus, you’ll get a preview of my next Big Board update with some players who’ve improved their rankings.
Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers
Key players who didn’t see the field: QB Carson Wentz (PHI), RB Wendell Smallwood (PHI), WR Jordan Matthews (PHI), QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT), WR Markus Wheaton (PIT), RB Le’Veon Bell (PIT), RB DeAngelo Williams (PIT), WR Antonio Brown (PIT), TE Ladarius Green (PIT)
WR Sammie Coates, PIT
Coates had another uneven effort in the team’s second preseason game. He was called for an offensive pass-interference penalty in the first quarter, but followed that up with an excellent toe-tapping catch in the second quarter. Coates finished with two receptions for 30 yards on four targets.
Cincinnati Bengals at Detroit Lions
Key players who didn’t see the field: WR Brandon LaFell (CIN), TE Tyler Eifert (CIN), TE Tyler Kroft (CIN), RB Ameer Abdullah (DET), TE Eric Ebron (DET)
Bengals Passing Game
Days after Cincinnati found out LaFell tore a ligament in his hand, the team's focus shifted to rookie WR Tyler Boyd, and he didn’t shy away from the extra attention. QB Andy Dalton’s second attempt of the night looked wide of Boyd’s catching radius, yet he made a fantastic diving catch for a 26-yard pickup.
Boyd added a 12-yard touchdown on the final play from scrimmage of the first half to total two receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown. WR A.J. Green climbed the ladder to snag a high Dalton pass for a 15-yard gain as part of a two-reception, 22-yard performance on two targets.
Lions Passing Game
It looks like the Lions are making a point to get the ball out quicker, and QB Matthew Stafford did a good job of that in this game. On the team’s opening drive, Stafford completed passes to WRs Anquan Boldin, Golden Tate and Marvin Jones.
In fact, Jones had receptions on three straight plays and wound up with four receptions for 65 yards on five targets. Tate wasn’t far behind with 41 yards on three receptions. Getting the ball out quick might be a necessity for Stafford since Detroit’s offensive line is a weakness.
Atlanta Falcons at Cleveland Browns
Key players who didn’t see the field: WR Josh Gordon (CLE), WR Corey Coleman (CLE)
Much like we saw in the first preseason game, the Falcons used RBs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman with the first-team offense. Freeman did a better job squeezing through cracks for extra yards, as neither player got much help from the offensive line.
Freeman’s best run was a 19-yard touchdown that saw him make a defender miss at the line of scrimmage before running to daylight for the score. Freeman racked up 42 yards and a touchdown on four carries while Coleman managed just 16 yards on five carries.
Browns Passing Game
QB Robert Griffin III had a confidence-building performance against the Falcons thanks to proper execution of what should be the blueprint for this offense. In an effort to simplify decisions and cut down on unnecessary risks, Griffin was making shorter, quicker throws for the most part. But he still took some calculated shots down the field.
On the second drive, he hit on one of those to WR Terrelle Pryor for a 50-yard touchdown. It was Pryor’s only reception. Later, Griffin cashed in on a 29-yard touchdown to TE Gary Barnidge with a well-placed pass and an even better catch. For the night, Griffin completed six of eight attempts for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
Chicago Bears at New England Patriots
Key players who didn’t see the field: WR Eddie Royal (CHI), TE Zach Miller (CHI), WR Julian Edelman (NE), QB Tom Brady (NE), RB Dion Lewis (NE), WR Danny Amendola (NE), TE Rob Gronkowski (NE)
RB Jeremy Langford led the way for Chicago with eight carries for 55 yards and a touchdown in addition to one reception for eight yards on his only target while playing 25 snaps. He did his best to follow his blockers and push forward for additional yards on multiple occasions.
His best run went for 34 yards and included some good blocking up front followed by Langford making a few cuts to make some defenders miss. He scored a five-yard TD on the next play. RB Jordan Howard didn’t see his first action until the end of the third quarter. He wound up with 46 yards on 11 carries.
Patriots Passing Game
The Patriots gave QB Jimmy Garoppolo 45 snaps in the second preseason game, in which he completed 16 of 21 attempts for 181 yards and a touchdown. Behind an offensive line that still has some questions, Garoppolo did a good job hanging in the pocket.
Almost all of his throws came in the short and intermediate areas, including a nice TD pass in traffic at the end of the first half. Other than one near interception, he didn’t make any significantly bad decisions.
Consider this a positive outing for Garoppolo.
Oakland Raiders at Green Bay Packers
RB Eddie Lacy, GB
While I don’t want to overreact to any running back finding his way through a huge hole with ease, it’s different in Lacy’s case because we didn’t see enough of that in 2015.
The weight issues he had look like they are in the rearview mirror.
Lacy’s first carry of the game went for 20 yards because he saw a big hole and was quick to take advantage of it. All of Lacy’s carries came on the team’s opening drive, and he didn’t have any go for negative yardage. With nine carries for 45 yards and a one-yard TD, Lacy now has two strong performances to start the preseason.
The Raiders came out of their first preseason game with plenty of optimism surrounding their backfield.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t follow that up against the Packers.
Latavius Murray managed just 19 yards on six carries and a reception for minus-four yards while playing 15 snaps with the starters. Rookie DeAndre Washington’s hype from last week cooled off with just eight yards on five carries and a catch for minus-one yard on three targets in 17 snaps that didn’t begin until the third quarter.
Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks
RB Christine Michael, SEA
Another week without Rawls in the lineup meant another week for Michael to get the spotlight—and once again, he delivered. At times, it looked like he was shot out of a cannon when coming out of the backfield, showing a quickness we’ve rarely seen from him in three previous seasons.
He was fast to the outside and pushed the pile between the tackles. Michael was in the game for 17 snaps and rushed for 55 yards on 10 carries and caught his only target for nine yards.
New York Jets at Washington Redskins
RB Matt Jones, WAS
Jones was having a good first quarter, slashing through the Jets defense and pushing for extra yards, but his night ended prematurely when he was tackled on his shoulder after going out of bounds. He left the game and didn’t return and was later diagnosed with an AC sprain, the team announced on Twitter.
Head coach Jay Gruden has since said Jones won’t play for the rest of the preseason, but the running back has made “great strides” in his recovery, per the team’s Twitter account. Jones finished the game with seven carries for 31 yards.
Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys
Key players who didn’t see the field: RB Ezekiel Elliott (DAL), RB Darren McFadden (DAL)
Dolphins Passing Game
The Dolphins played QB Ryan Tannehill for nearly half the game (31 snaps), and he finished with 162 yards and two TDs on 12 of 20 attempts. Downfield passing has been a problem for Tannehill, but he made a great throw rolling to his right for a 55-yard completion to WR Kenny Stills. They connected later in the game on a 13-yard TD and then a three-yard TD on a great touch pass.
Tannehill’s numbers should have been better, but multiple drops plagued him. If he can replicate his performance in this game, he’ll be on his way to a productive season. WR Jarvis Landry led the way with four receptions for 33 yards on seven targets. Second-year WR DeVante Parker hauled in two of his four targets for 16 yards.
Even though head coach Adam Gase has done nothing but heap praise on RB Arian Foster, there’s been no on-field evidence to back it up. Foster didn’t prove anything when he ran for negative-five yards on his only two carries against the Cowboys, working after RB Jay Ajayi but still with the first-team offense.
Speaking of Ajayi, he didn’t do much better with 19 yards on six carries. Neither player had a reception, and Ajayi had the only target between the two. Ajayi played 20 snaps to Foster’s nine.
Cowboys Passing Game
We got our first look at Tony Romo this preseason, albeit a short one. He attempted just five passes but completed four for 49 yards, including two to TE Jason Witten (2 receptions, 24 yards, 2 targets) and one to WR Dez Bryant (2 receptions, 46 yards, 1 TD, 2 targets). He exited the game after RB Alfred Morris capped off the second drive with a 15-yard TD run.
Romo gave way to last week’s superstar, QB Dak Prescott. Prescott brings a different look than Romo because of his mobility, which was on display during a broken play that wound up as a 20-yard TD run for Prescott.
He looked comfortable throwing the ball all over the field and seems to be willing to make any throw, even if his completion percentage is low. In addition to completing 12 of 15 passes for 199 yards and two TDs, Prescott had three rushes for 28 yards and two TDs in his 35 snaps.
Arizona Cardinals at San Diego Chargers
Key players who didn’t see the field: WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARI), WR John Brown (ARI), QB Philip Rivers (SD), TE Antonio Gates (SD)
RB Melvin Gordon, SD
Gordon’s first run of the day was his best, a 12-yard scamper to the outside after he couldn’t find any room inside. He struggled to get anything going the rest of the way and ended up with just 18 yards on six carries.
Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans
Key players who didn’t see the field: TE Greg Olsen (CAR), WR Kendall Wright (TEN)
Panthers Passing Game
QB Cam Newton reconnected with WR Kelvin Benjamin on his first two completions of the game and then threw a 10-yard pass to WR Ted Ginn Jr., who proceeded to run through and past the defense for a 61-yard touchdown.
Newton stuck around for four series and played into the second quarter. If you’re invested in Newton, this was exactly the type of game you wanted to see, especially since he ran the ball just two times for two yards. There’s no need for Newton to put himself anywhere near danger. He completed eight of 12 passes for 162 yards and a TD.
Benjamin’s two receptions totaled 29 yards. Second-year WR Devin Funchess caught two of four targets for 19 yards.
Titans Passing Game
The excitement associated with QB Marcus Mariota has been tempered under head coach Mike Mularkey and his offensive scheme. What’s not in question is the connection between Mariota and WR Tajae Sharpe, as the two connected six times on six targets for 68 yards.
Following the trade of WR Dorial Green-Beckham, the door is wide-open for Sharpe to carve out a consistent role in this offense, and he’s well on his way to doing just that. Mariota’s only blemish of the day was an interception, but he battled back to finish with 104 yards and a TD with nine completions on 10 attempts. He added a pair of rushes for 13 yards.
Unlike last week, RB DeMarco Murray got exclusive work with the first-team offense and rookie RB Derrick Henry was relegated to second-team duty. Thirteen of Murray’s 20 yards on the ground came on an excellent run with multiple cutbacks to maximize yardage. Unfortunately, he was held to two or fewer yards on four other attempts and didn’t have a target.
Henry took over for Murray about halfway through the second quarter. The level of talent he faced may not have been as high as last week, but he was just as impressive with great cuts, power and vision to create space and gain extra yards. He led the team with 31 yards on five carries.
New York Giants at Buffalo Bills
Key players who didn’t see the field: WR Victor Cruz (NYG), WR Sammy Watkins (BUF)
I’m grouping QB Tyrod Taylor with Buffalo’s running backs because there’s not much else to talk about thanks to the Giants’ ineptitude on offense and Watkins' absence. On the second drive, Taylor kept a play alive with his legs and then dropped one in the bucket on a 59-yard hookup with TE Charles Clay. He should have had another big play on a similar throw to RB Reggie Bush, but Bush couldn’t catch the well-placed ball.
RB LeSean McCoy snagged a bullet pass from Taylor for a 13-yard score on Taylor’s final play of the afternoon. The QB had seven completions on 10 attempts for 132 yards and a TD while adding just two rushing yards on one carry.
McCoy didn't get anything going on the ground (5 carries, 0 yards), but his TD catch was part of a four-reception, 58-yard effort on four targets. No back took a firm grasp of the backup job. RB Mike Gillislee ran just once for six yards, and rookie RB Jonathan Williams had a one-yard TD but just 17 yards on eight carries and two receptions for 11 yards on two targets.
Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts
Key players who didn’t see the field: QB Joe Flacco (BAL), WR Breshad Perriman (BAL), WR Steve Smith (BAL), WR T.Y. Hilton (IND)
Questions remain about the leader of Baltimore’s backfield, and they weren’t settled in this game. RB Justin Forsett got the start and managed just five carries for 11 yards without a target. RB Terrance West didn’t get his first touch until the start of the second quarter and remained in the mix the rest of the way. He had 33 rushing yards on nine carries and two receptions for 18 yards.
RB Kenneth Dixon’s first touch on offense didn’t come until the team’s second drive of the second half. He grabbed his only target for 12 yards and added 22 yards on seven carries.
Colts Passing Game
Our first glimpse of QB Andrew Luck was positive. The Colts seemed content to get shorter passes out of Luck, as he had just two completions go for more than nine yards. Luck looked in firm control of the offense, going 8-of-8 for 71 yards. He also had 12 yards on two carries.
In Hilton's absence, Indy started Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett, but still used a lot of three-wide receiver sets. Moncrief caught both of his targets for 25 yards only to be topped by Dorsett’s three receptions for 37 yards on three targets.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Jaguars
Key players who didn’t see the field: RB Doug Martin (TB)
Buccaneers Passing Game
QB Jameis Winston had an ugly start to this matchup—and that’s putting it nicely. He failed to complete his first seven passes and was picked off on his seventh attempt. Winston composed himself and led the team on a 14-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a four-yard TD to WR Mike Evans.
Evans had two receptions for 18 yards and a TD on five targets. Winston went 3-of-10 for 28 yards with a TD and an interception. He added 15 yards on a pair of carries.
Jaguars Passing Game
Efficiency is a focus for QB Blake Bortles this season, and following a slow start in this game, that’s exactly what he was. The Jaguars didn’t put points on the board during their opening drive, but Bortles found RB T.J. Yeldon for a 14-yard TD to give them an early lead.
On the next drive, Bortles threw a perfect touch pass into the waiting hands of WR Allen Hurns for a 24-yard score. Fourteen points on three series was efficient enough for Bortles, who wound up 8-of-10 for 85 yards and a pair of scores. WR Allen Robinson led the team with four receptions for 34 yards on five targets. Hurns’ TD catch was one of his two receptions on three targets totaling 29 yards.
The even split between Yeldon and RB Chris Ivory was on display in this game. Yeldon’s TD was the biggest play between the two. Ivory rushed six times for 25 yards, and Yeldon added 15 yards on two rushes in addition to his TD reception. Expect this to be a frustrating split for fantasy barring an injury to one of the two.
New Orleans Saints at Houston Texans
Key players who didn’t see the field: WR Brandin Cooks (NO), WR Willie Snead (NO), RB Alfred Blue (HOU)
WR Michael Thomas, NO
With Cooks and Snead out of the lineup, Thomas got a chance to start and build on his excellent showing in the first preseason game against the Patriots. He failed to do that with just one reception for five yards on two targets. The other target intended for Thomas was picked off, and he may have been to blame by running a terrible route.
Texans Passing Game
Brock Osweiler had an up-and-down performance against the Saints. His decision-making was questionable at times, his accuracy was a problem and he didn’t try to do much down the field or outside the numbers. That could be all the Texans ask of him this season, but you’d like to see more consistent play, especially since he didn’t attempt a lot of tough throws.
He hit WR Will Fuller for a 19-yard TD on his best throw of the day. Fuller posted four receptions for 73 yards and a TD on eight targets as he makes his case for significant playing time this year. WR Braxton Miller, who got the start, caught three of four targets for 34 yards. Osweiler completed 12 of 19 passes for 124 yards with a TD and an interception.
Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Rams
Key players who didn’t see the field: TE Tyler Higbee (L.A.)
QB Jared Goff, LA
Goff entered the game early in the second quarter in relief of Case Keenum and played the rest of the way. Goff’s first pass was in the hands of WR Brian Quick, but Quick couldn’t handle it. On the next play, Goff was sacked and lost a fumble. His pocket awareness wasn’t good at other points and his decision-making continues to be a problem, although it’s understandable for a rookie QB.
Goff didn’t take any shots down the field and seemed to be looking for short passes all the time. His numbers reflect that with 82 yards and a TD on 8-of-12 passing. Goff has a long way to go, so Keenum starting Week 1 and beyond makes a lot of sense.
San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos
Key players who didn’t see the field: QB Colin Kaepernick (SF), WR Bruce Ellington (SF), TE Jeff Heuerman (DEN)
The quarterback situation is one of the worst in the league, so the 49ers have to rely on RB Carlos Hyde to play a big role this season. He held up his end of the bargain in this game with 28 yards and a four-yard TD run on six carries.
Broncos Passing Game
All concerns about Denver’s wide receivers as it pertains to fantasy are warranted based on the ugly quarterback competition happening, and this game didn’t help matters.
Trevor Siemian got the start ahead of Mark Sanchez. Siemian completed 10 of 14 passes for just 75 yards. He kept everything short for the most part and favored throwing to the right side, which may have led to his interception. Sanchez ended up with more yards (120) on the same amount of completions (10), but he attempted more passes (17) and lost two fumbles and took three sacks.
The door is open for rookie QB Paxton Lynch to win the starting job. He had 26 attempts and completed 15 passes for 113 yards with a pair of TDs and an interception. He also took three sacks. If you’re looking for a positive, tight end Virgil Green hauled in all four of his targets for 57 yards and could play a consistent role as a safety valve to these QBs.
There’s no question about RB C.J. Anderson’s spot on top of the depth chart, but behind him is a different story. After Anderson exited with six carries for 30 yards, including a 19-yard rushing TD, it was rookie RB Devontae Booker, not Ronnie Hillman who entered next. The hype for Booker is growing as he continued to contribute with nine carries for 36 yards and a reception for seven yards.
5 Players Who Helped Their (PPR) Rankings
Look for these players to be on the move in my next Big Board update.
5. WR Tajae Sharpe, TEN
Last Week’s Ranking: Unranked
Current ADP: 200-plus, WR80
4. WR Marvin Jones, DET
Last Week’s Ranking: WR34
Current ADP: 82, WR36
3. RB Christine Michael, SEA
Last Week’s Ranking: RB79
Current ADP: 200-plus, RB66
2. RB Le’Veon Bell, PIT
Last Week’s Ranking: RB9
Current ADP: 14, RB6
1. RB James White, NE
Last Week’s Ranking: RB65
Current ADP: 200-plus, RB74
5 ADPs to Watch From Last Week
Let’s take a look at how the ADPs changed from the featured players.
5. TE Martellus Bennett, NE
Last Week’s ADP: 123, TE14
This Week’s ADP: 117.8, TE13
The buzz for Bennett is real, and the lack of depth at TE is a reason he is on the move.
4. RB Thomas Rawls, SEA
Last Week’s ADP: 41.5, RB16
This Week’s ADP: 39.8, RB14
Rawls is getting healthier each day and concerns about him missing regular-season time have disappeared.
3. RB Matt Forte, NYJ
Last Week’s ADP: 37.3, RB13
This Week’s ADP: 40.8, RB15
Forte missed some time with a hamstring injury and turns 31 in December, so his drop wasn’t a surprise.
2. WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR
Last Week’s ADP: 37, WR22
This Week’s ADP: 37.3, WR22
Benjamin's two catches were encouraging, though we'll hopefully see more from him in the coming weeks.
1. RB Eddie Lacy, GB
Last Week’s ADP: 26.3, RB10
This Week’s ADP: 26.8, RB10
Lacy’s had two strong preseason games, but he may not move from this spot, even if I would consider him a good value.
5 New ADPs to Watch
We’re halfway through the preseason, and teams are wrapping up training camps, so look for movement in the ADPs of these players.
5. RB DeAngelo Williams, PIT
This Week’s ADP: 86, RB32
Williams may take a tumble out of the top 40 RBs now that Bell is suspended for three games instead of four.
4. RB Dion Lewis, NE
This Week’s ADP: 45, RB17
Lewis needs another knee surgery and could miss eight to 10 weeks, according to the Boston Herald's Jeff Howe. He might not be worth stashing away.
3. WR Tyler Boyd, CIN
This Week’s ADP: 180.5, WR65
Even though LaFell’s hand injury appears minor, has Boyd flashed enough to jump up draft boards?
2. RB Jeremy Langford, CHI
This Week’s ADP: 65.5, tied-RB24
Langford had a strong performance in the second preseason game but has already been in and out of a walking boot following the contest, per Zach Zaidman of the Chicago Bears Radio Network. Where will he settle in among RBs?
1. RB Matt Jones, WAS
This Week’s ADP: 58.5, RB22
Jones left the team’s second preseason game with a shoulder injury and has been ruled out for the rest of the preseason as a precaution. The Redskins are short on established talent in their backfield, so Jones may stay where he’s at barring the signing of a veteran.
Tip of the Week: Get Some Lottery Tickets
Unless I need to replace a potential starter due to injury (Bengals’ TE Tyler Eifert) or suspension (Patriots QB Tom Brady/Browns WR Josh Gordon), when I hit the double-digit rounds of my draft, my focus moves to upside players I’m willing to take a shot on because they could pay huge dividends. These are your lottery tickets.
Of course, the risk isn’t as high late in the draft, so if I need to cut anyone loose out of necessity or because there are better options available, the decision isn’t so hard.
Last season, my late-round lottery tickets included Cardinals RB David Johnson and Raiders WR Michael Crabtree. To be fair, Johnson didn’t put up huge numbers until the last month of the season, but he did perform well with the limited opportunities he received early in the year. Crabtree ended up as a top-20 fantasy WR, so that hit big.
Some names to consider this year include a pair of Ravens in QB Joe Flacco and WR Breshad Perriman, Raiders RB DeAndre Washington and TE Clive Walford, Colts WR Phillip Dorsett and Broncos RB Devontae Booker.
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