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Jake Gordon | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer


Training Camp Report - AFC
News, Notes and Post-Game Report for Preseason Week 2
8/18/14


Week One | Week Two | Week Three | Week Four | NFC - Week Two

AFC WEST: DEN | KC | OAK | SD
AFC SOUTH: HOU | IND | JAX | TEN
AFC NORTH: BAL | CIN | CLE | PIT
AFC EAST: BUF | MIA | NE | NYJ

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos

All systems are Ďgoí for Peyton Manning and the passing game in Denver. The aerial assault on the 49ers resulted in fantasyís top quarterback completing 12-of-14 passes for 102 yards and one touchdown before retiring for the night. Leading the way in the receiving game were Julius and Demaryius Thomas. Julius Thomas has benefited most from Eric Deckerís departure, not Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders missed this weekís game with a thigh injury. Manning has a long, successful history with creating productive fantasy tight ends and if early indications are correct, Thomas should fully capitalize on that opportunity in 2014. C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman combined for 16 touches, 65 total yards and one score. Montee Ball (appendectomy) is on schedule to play in the season opener but the team remains cautious as he continues to build his strength following surgery.

Kansas City Chiefs

Fantasy star Jamaal Charles sat out of the teamís second preseason affair for simple precautionary reasons regarding a bruised foot. Nothing to be alarmed about here as the Chiefs know the fate of their season lies in Charlesí ability to stay healthy. In his place, Cyrus Gray and Knile Davis handled the bulk of the work with Davis getting the start. The pair accounted for 19 carries and 74 yards on the ground. The passing game was anchored by Dwayne Bowe and Travis Kelce. While Bowe is a familiar name with limited fantasy appeal, Kelce is not on many fantasy radars this season. He is still behind Anthony Fasano on the depth chart but is being used in two tight end formations. Kelce has recovered from a knee injury that sidelined him for his entire rookie season and hauled in his first touchdown catch against the Panthers. He offers more pass catching ability than Fasano and on a team in need of more weapons in the passing game it wouldnít be a surprise to see Andy Reid find ways to get the big 6í6Ē target on the field more in 2014. As a fantasy TE2 with upside he is worth monitoring over the final weeks of the preseason. His ADP should be on a steady climb this week.

Oakland Raiders

After last weekís ugly outing, the teamís fantasy options played better in the second week. But they still showed plenty of flaws. Prior to leading the team down the field for a score, Raiders quarterback Matt Schaub was average at best. He will need to show continued development with this offense to counted on as anything more than a low-end QB2 for fantasy purposes. Rookie QB Derek Carr played well against the Lionsí reserves but left the game with sore ribs and a concussion. X-rays were negative but he likely wonít play again until the fourth week of the preseason. The passing game saw Rod Streater, Greg Little and James Jones snare two receptions apiece. Until Matt Schaub figures things out, it will be hard for fantasy owners to trust any of Oaklandís receivers. Darren McFadden (27 yds) did more with his eight carries than Maurice Jones-Drew (12 yards) did with his six as the two continue to split carries.

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers decided to use Philip Rivers sparingly this week and did not play RB Ryan Mathews. Mathews received a vote of confidence from Head Coach Mike McCoy after fumbling the ball on a goal line dive during the teamís first preseason game. In all likelihood, the coaching staff wanted to give their lead back a little rest while Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown were tested. In the first half of play, both running backs contributed on the ground and in the passing game. Ryan Mathews is the fantasy back to own in San Diego but with Woodhead and Brown around, Mathews could see his touches decrease slightly in 2014. With Kellen Clemens under center for much of this game, the passing attack was highlighted by a 13-yard touchdown strike to Keenan Allen.

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans

Despite returning to practice on Wednesday, RB Arian Foster (hamstring) and WR Andre Johnson (hamstring) sat out of Houstonís second preseason contest. As a result, both players are seeing their fantasy stock decline. In the backfield, the team performed a mini makeover by releasing Andre Brown and Dennis Johnson, elevating Jonathan Grimes and Alfred Blue and signing veterans Ronnie Brown and William Powell. Considering the fact that Foster hasnít played in a game yet and the deck has just been reshuffled, this backfield is a mess for fantasy owners to figure out right now. Jonathan Grimes, who got the starting nod against the Falcons, appears to have the best chances of starting the season as the primary backup to Foster but rookie Blue may also share those duties. If this stable of running backs is not already in a RBBC, then they will be if and when Foster misses time during the regular season. At this point, fantasy owners and Houstonís decision makers will just have to keep watching practices and games to see how the backfield depth chart ultimately plays out.

Indianapolis Colts

Trent Richardson failed to average 3.0 yards per carry yet again and it is time for fantasy owners to worry. Richardsonís inability to flourish at this point in the preseason is awfully telling of a running back that was traded away by the same team that drafted him third overall. If he isnít more productive in the teamís third preseason matchup, the Colts may have to re-evaluate their plans on giving Richardson such a large workload. As a result, Ahmad Bradshaw continues to have a fantasy pulse. Even with his injury history, Bradshaw could find a way to double-digit touches in a productive offense making him a potential RB4 in deeper formats. The lack of an effective running game would also result in plenty of opportunity for Andrew Luck to sling the ball around the field in 2014. Up to this point, the second year passer has looked extremely sharp and ready to climb into the top 5 fantasy passers. Playing without starters T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne, Luck connected on 12 of his 18 passing attempts with one touchdown. Hakeem Nicks led the way in the receiving game catching all five passes thrown to him. DaíRick Rodgers posted a touchdown for the second straight week. If any of three wideouts above Rodgers on the depth chart were to miss any time, he would become a worthwhile waiver wire claim in deeper formats.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Head Coach Gus Bradley started off the week by reinforcing Chad Henneís status as the starter and ended it by saying Blake Bortles would get time under center with the first team offense in the Jagsí next outing. This looks more like a head coach ramping up the competition level on a team that needs to change its losing ways while also providing a confidence boost to its highly touted rookie quarterback. Henne has not done anything to lose the job and fantasy owners should still plan on him leading the team to open the season. The good news here is that with both quarterbacks playing well the chances of Jacksonville providing fantasy owners with multiple assets in 2014 remains strong. In the running game, Toby Gerhart (hip) saw his first game action of the preseason carrying the ball six times. He will get a longer look in next weekís game but appears to be healthy and ready to start shouldering the load in 2014. Fantasy owners should keep an eye on the depth chart behind Gerhart where Jordan Todman and Storm Johnson are not giving the coaching staff much confidence. However, former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is having a great preseason. Based on performance, he should not only surpass the other two on the depth chart, but also see the field on a handful of snaps each game.

Tennessee Titans

Shonn Greeneís knee problems resurfaced this week after he exited the teamís second preseason tune up. This time it was a hyper-extension to the same left knee he had two surgeries on a year ago. Though the injury occurred to his left knee, Greene didnít feel it was severe enough to be a huge issue moving forward. He is officially considered day to day but his lengthy injury history suggests that this could affect his running ability into the start of the regular season. Greene was a fringe fantasy player coming into this week, but his ability to vulture touchdowns served as a dark cloud over Bishop Sankey. Keep an eye on Greeneís status to see if his latest knee ailment lingers and whether Sankeyís fantasy value needs to be bumped up. Jake Lockerís first real showing of the preseason saw him connect on eight of ten passes, including a back shoulder throw to Justin Hunter for a four-yard score. After getting a pass in last weekís rainy affair, Locker seemed to show plenty of confidence in leading the team down the field. Much more work needs to be done before trusting Locker to consistently guide this offense down the field but the early signs are positive. Hunter is doing his part in becoming a potential fantasy breakout player in tallying over 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns on four receptions. Meanwhile, Dexter McCluster was used as a scat back option akin to Danny Woodheadís role a season ago to complement the traditional ground game.

AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens

Bernard Pierce provided the Ravens with the type of performance against the Cowboys that could lead to a tough situation for fantasy owners. As the season nears, so does the two-game suspension to incumbent starter Ray Rice. Pierce, who started the game, took a delayed handoff 30 yards down the field. Rice did manage to peel off a nice 18-yard run on one of his two carries before leaving with a shoulder injury. The injury was deemed to be minor after X-rays came back negative. Fantasy owners should treat this backfield as a true time-share with the expectation that one runner may earn more carries by midseason based on performance. With two weeks of low-end RB1 status, Riceís minor shoulder injury and price tag about three rounds cheaper, Pierce currently represents the better value between Ravensí running backs. WR Deonte Thompson helped his cause to make the team this week by returning a kickoff that highlighted his electric speed. He could make the team as a fifth receiver but adds more fantasy appeal to Baltimoreís return game.

Cincinnati Bengals

Andy Dalton and company torched the Jets secondary this week. Completing all eight of his passes, Cincinnatiís starting quarterback threw for 144 yards and two touchdowns. How much of that success can be contributed to a poor New York secondary is unknown but Daltonís performance gives fantasy owners a little more to think about when trying to project him coming off a career year in 2013. Capitalizing on Daltonís day was Mohamed Sanu, who has seen his stock rise since Marvin Jones had a pin surgically placed into his left foot. With Jones having missed plenty of time earlier in training camp with an ankle injury and now a foot issue, Sanu has gotten plenty of time with the first team. He will likely enter the season as the starter opposite A.J. Green and carries WR4 value in the late rounds of your draft. A timetable for Jonesí return has not been set, however head coach Marvin Lewis said this week that it wasnít severe even though some have speculated he could be out up to eight weeks. If Jonesí return is earmarked closer to six or eight weeks, the team would likely consider placing him on the PUP list so fantasy owners should get more clarification in the coming weeks.

Cleveland Browns

In a week where trade rumors regarding Brian Hoyer swirled following the teamís signing of Rex Grossman, Browns Head Coach Mike Pettine tipped his hand prior to Monday nightís tilt against the Redskins by saying Brian Hoyer was in the lead for the battle to become the teamís top quarterback. Hoyer is slated to start with Manziel coming off the bench to play a series or two with the offensive starters. Barring a collapse, Hoyer will begin the season at quarterback. Barring excellent results in the ĎWí column, Johnny Manziel will be waiting in the wings as the chants for change become louder. Regardless of who winds up under center, the team is not providing much in the way of weapons for the passing game. Miles Austin, four years removed from being a fantasy WR1, is slated to open the year as the teamís top wide receiver with an already injured Nate Burleson behind him on the depth chart. Expect opposing teamís to focus most of their attention on Jordan Cameron until further notice.

And then there is the whole Josh Gordon suspension case where the NFL is taking a rather lengthy time in reviewing Gordonís appeal of a 16-game suspension before making a final decision on his status for the 2014 season. Everyone is waiting and the latest rumors suggest a decision could be made later next week. Unless you play in a league with a slot for suspended players, Gordon will cause his owners to burn a roster spot for a lengthy amount of time before seeing any return. That is a steep price to pay for a guy who may not even play this year.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger looked good in leading a no huddle attack by tossing two touchdown passes against the Bills. Nonetheless, much of the fantasy news surrounding the Steelers this week focused on the ground game where Head Coach Mike Tomlin indicated that both LeíVeon Bell and LeGarrette Blount would get plenty of work in the teamís offense this season. This comes in stark contrast to the way the team used Bell a year ago when he was among the league leaders in touches per game. Adding more fuel to the speculation was LeíVeon Bellís self-admission that he would probably lose some goal line touches to his bigger counterpart. Donít panic. There is no reason to speculate that a perfectly healthy Bell could all of a sudden lose forty percent or more of his carries, including goal line duties, over the course of one week during the preseason. A more logical analysis of the situation would be exactly what Tomlin has explained to the media:

ďBoth guys are going to get their share but I want both guys to have the lead dog mentality, and in order to have that and do that you gotta see them for spurts of extended period of time. But don't read too much into it, we're just still growing and developing in terms of our division of labor.Ē

This sounds like a team that wants to make a commitment to the running game and knows it will need more than one guy to carry the expected load and less about bringing in a veteran running back to ďstealĒ carries. In fact it can be argued that Blountís presence will only improve Bellís chances of holding up under a heavy workload that will include plenty of targets in the passing game. While Bellís fantasy value as a second round pick should remain relatively unchanged, Blount could see his touches approach the 150 mark making him a potential top 50 running back in 2014.


AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills

Bills rookie receiver Sammy Watkins suffered bruised ribs after being hit by fellow rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier early in the teamís win against Pittsburgh. Buffalo doesnít expect the injury to keep Watkins off the field too long so donít adjust your rankings unless new information changes the prognosis. However, EJ Manuel clearly felt the absence of Watkins from the passing game, failing to throw a touchdown pass once again. Thatís three straight games without a touchdown for a quarterback still struggling to show he can stay healthy consistently lead the offense. Preseason or not, the Bills need some sort of a passing attack to keep opposing teams from loading up against the run. Without Watkins on the field, Manuel hit plenty of check downs as the offense struggled to consistently move the ball down the field. Robert Woods led all Buffalo receivers with 49 receiving yards on three receptions and would be the best fantasy option in the passing game if Watkins were to miss any time.

Miami Dolphins

Mike Pouncy continues to recover from June hip surgery and the Dolphins continue to struggle without him. Miami failed to open up many running lanes or protect the quarterback in their latest effort of the preseason. Lamar Miller mustered up three yards on three carries and everyone else that followed had similar issues. Moreno (knee) was cleared for contact this week and should see the field next week after a full week of practice. Ryan Tannehill was good but not great in a game that saw him pressured and sacked. Matt Moore made a strong case to be the teamís backup quarterback by racking up 158 passing yards on 13 completions. An eight-year veteran, Moore has been dealing with a sore shoulder throughout training camp and has only played in three games since starting twelve for Miami in 2011. As insurance, the Dolphins also brought in Brady Quinn this week to compete with Moore. Quinn completed all four of his pass attempts but only netted 22 passing yards.

New England Patriots

Tom Brady wasnít perfect in his first action of the preseason but he did show the same type of efficient style that weíve come to expect from the Patriots. Brady finished the night going eight of ten passing with one touchdown and a miscommunication that led to a pick six for the Eagles. Brady figures to have plenty of options in 2014 and should be seen as a good but not elite fantasy quarterback entering 2014. Ryan Mallet bounced back from a rough outing a week ago playing the entire second half and Jimmy Garoppolo chipped in with two touchdown passes to put a bow on what was a quality performance by New Englandís quarterbacks. Of more significance was seeing Stevan Ridley fumble on his last play in the game. Whether he was ďbenchedĒ or simply finished his scheduled amount of work that night is not known, however any fumbles from this point forward would likely result in him becoming an early resident in Bill Belichickís doghouse for the start of the season.

New York Jets

Chris Johnson led the teamís rushing attack against the Bengals but it was Bilal Powell breaking off the longest run and finding the end zone. In what should be a RBBC, Johnson will have the most chances to make plays but he wonít get the volume of work as other running backs. Chris Ivory (ribs) did not play but is not expected to stay sidelined for very long. Additionally, Head Coach Rex Ryan has not named a starting quarterback yet but all signs point to Geno Smith being the guy when the curtain is lifted on the Jetsí 2014 campaign. He posted 98 passing yards after going 10-for-13 in the game and didnít throw a single touchdown pass. However, he did lead the team on three scoring drives and did not have top passing threat Eric Decker (quad) available. David Nelson, Jeremy Kerley and Stephen Hill are vying to start opposite Decker and none of them separated themselves this week.

NFC Report - Wk 2