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Jake Gordon | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer


Training Camp Report - AFC
News, Notes and Post-Game Report for Preseason Week 3
8/25/14


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

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

Wes Welker suffered his third concussion in nine months this weekend and fantasy owners need to push him down their rankings. How far he slides is based on how quickly he progresses through the leagueís protocol. That alone may be a chore because the team isnít likely to even try and get him back onto the practice field until the regular season is set to open. The additional risk of him missing more time from a concussion upon his return should also be factored in. Bottom line here is that Welker plummets to the WR5 range and Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders get boosts.

Montee Ball returned to practice and started for the Broncos this week. He was featured on the teamís opening drive and did well both rushing and receiving. He looks primed to reclaim his place atop the depth chart and has enormous upside in Denverís offense. The recent announcement of the suspension of kicker Matt Prater for the first four games of the season certainly shakes up the kicker rankings. The Broncos have a bye in week four so it will certainly make another kicker fantasy relevant for the first month. Rookie Mitch Ewald has not looked good so the team will probably explore other options in the next week as cuts are made. Prater is amongst the top kickers being drafted but an adjustment needs to be made. If most leagues play thirteen weeks of fantasyís regular season, then Prater will be missing roughly a third of the fantasy season. Additionally, he will likely cost his owner a valuable roster spot during a time when undrafted fantasy gems are making a name for themselves.

Kansas City Chiefs

Jamaal Charles rested after sustaining a bruised foot late in the week. The injury would not have kept him out of a regular season game and he is expected to be back at practice next week. With Charles out, Knile Davis was given the starting nod. Davis has failed to step up this preseason when given the opportunity and the door could be cracked for Cyrus Gray to gain more carries if called upon. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is facing a one game suspension to open the year, but was also having issues catching the football due to a sore finger. The lack of a big target on the outside has left Andy Reid using his two tight ends in the passing game. Anthony Fasano and Travis Kelce combined for nine receptions on eleven targets to lead the team with 90 receiving yards combined. This is something fantasy owners may want monitor in leagues where two tight ends are needed.

Oakland Raiders

When Oakland secured the services of Matt Schaub they were hoping to get a seasoned veteran capable of leading a balanced offensive attack. Three weeks into the preseason and there are very few signs of even a mediocre passing offense. Schaub managed 110 passing yards despite completing less than half of his passes and failed to notch a touchdown once again. Matt McGloin played decent with the reserves and would be in the mix to replace Schaub during the season. Meanwhile, rookie quarterback Derek Carr was cleared to play following a concussion the week prior but sore ribs kept him on the sideline. The dismal play under center is crushing the already minimal fantasy value of receivers James Jones, Rod Streator and Greg Little. Outside of a 40-yard touchdown scamper by Maurice Jones-Drew, the running game was equally woeful. MJDís run was impressive and he looks like the lead dog at the moment so fantasy owners should be taking the former Jaguar ahead of Darren McFadden.

San Diego Chargers

Philip Rivers has his fantasy ticker pointed up again after a solid outing Sunday night against the 49ers. The Bolts quarterback went nine-of-ten passing for 85 yards before retiring to the sidelines for the rest of the evening. The Chargers ranked fourth in passing yards per game in 2013 and the team should be even deeper this year. Rivers also connected with his favorite target Antonio Gates for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Gates still has value in deep standard leagues as a TE2 but expect Ladarius Green to emerge as San Diegoís best fantasy tight end by the end of the season. A potential three-headed RBBC is emerging in the backfield between Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown, sapping the fantasy value of all involved. Head coach Mike McCoy has voiced confidence in Mathewsí ability to lead the way for the Chargers but the situation does not favor a repeat of last seasonís success.

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans

Arian Foster continues to fall in drafts, including the FFToday Staff league, yet his immense upside continues to intrigue those willing to take the risk. Head coach Bill OíBrien told the Houston Chronicle Sunday that Foster might see the field in the teamís final preseason showing. OíBrien sure sounds like a coach that knows his top player is going to be at full strength to open the season but how much of the workload will he be given if the team feels the need to limit his preseason work? Alfred Blue, Jonathan Grimes and Ronnie Brown all saw a few carries this week. Grimes also added a 1-yard touchdown run and figures to be the best handcuff option for Foster investors. Ryan Fitzpatrick completed less than sixty percent of his passes and finished the game with a 4.7 average yards per attempt. Based on what weíve seen so far this is not going to be a fantasy friendly passing game.

Indianapolis Colts

Another week and not much has changed in Colts camp. Andrew Luck looks dialed into an offense that has not gotten up to full speed yet. The key question for fantasy owners is whether or not the offense will ever ascend to its peak in 2014 so long as T.Y. Hilton is dropping passes and Trent Richardson stumbles his way out of a starting gig. Hilton isnít the same fantasy asset he was year ago when the team didnít have Dwayne Allen and Reggie Wayne available. Allen is not getting much love this drafting season but he led the team in targets this weekend and will probably see his ownership rise as the season progresses. Wayne has worked himself back from ACL surgery and looks like a cagey veteran ready to be his quarterbackís favorite target again. Richardson laid another egg this week. In small windows, he has looked like his former self, but his body of work suggests he is nothing more than a flex option.

Jacksonville Jaguars

For the first time this preseason Blake Bortles played with the first team offense. The outcome was good as he completed 10-of-16 passes and one touchdown after taking over for Chad Henne. The rookie quarterback isnít going to supplant Henne as the teamís week one starter but has shown enough this preseason to shorten up the leash quite a bit. The passing attack remains a bit of a mystery because of injuries. Cecil Shorts (hamstring), the most targeted Jaguar last season, suited up but still doesnít look fully healthy. Rookie Allen Robinson (hamstring) continues to work his way back into the mix but has lost so much time that he may not be a reliable option until midseason. Marqise Lee is slated to be one of the top starters but he failed to impress this week, only catching three passes for 10 receiving yards. The biggest competition to Lee would have been Ace Sanders but his suspension for the first four games of the season leaves him further down the depth chart. Until Shorts can return, the passing game will offer very little to fantasy owners at the outset of the 2014 season.

Tennessee Titans

In his most extensive outing of the preseason, Bishop Sankey provided a glimpse of what his owners can expect moving forward. That is a talented back that will need to earn carries as the season progresses. Shonn Greene got the start while Sankey played in the second half with most of the backups. As long as Greene is healthy, Sankey should be considered more of a RB3 or flex option because he will steal a few carries and most goal line touches. However, the likelihood of the rookie earning more touches in this offense should increase with each passing week. In the passing game, Jake Locker had an efficient and productive third contest. The best stat for Locker to this point is the fact that he has yet to throw an interception. Justin Hunter was not used as one of the teamís top two starters at wide receiver. This is noteworthy as Nate Washington may still be the teamís regular starter opposite Kendall Wright despite Hunterís strong preseason. The 6í4Ē Hunter could become quite the mismatch if used in the slot but his fantasy upside would take a slight hit if he were not used in base formations.

AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens

Joe Flacco played well in what should be a nice passing attack in Baltimore. He racked up 180 yards through the air and connected with veteran newcomer Steve Smith for a score. Fantasy owners should not sleep on the Ravens passing game that suffered from injuries and a poor game plan in 2013. If the running stalls this season, expect Baltimore to air it out with more success in 2014. The end result could yield Flaccoís best fantasy season yet while making him a borderline starter in 12-plus team leagues. One player that would benefit from this would be the aforementioned Steve Smith. With Torrey Smith demanding attention over the top, Smith should continue to be a nice source of receptions for PPR leaguers seeking depth at the position. A popular mid-round selection of fantasy owners, Dennis Pitta played in more snaps this week and had four balls thrown in his direction. Running back Bernard Pierce suffered a concussion this week but he is expected to be ready for Week 1.

Cincinnati Bengals

Mohamed Sanu got a long look with the first team offense with Marvin Jones (foot) out for the next 4-6 weeks. His timing with Andy Dalton was off on a few quick throws but the two were able to connect five times for 70 yards through the air. Sanu could provide flex production over the first month of the year in deep leagues and is going very late in drafts. Giovanni Bernard started and led the Cincinnati in carries despite finding very little room and head coach Marvin Lewis expressing confidence in Jeremy Hillís ability to handle the workload with the first team if needed. Nevertheless, Hill did find the field with the first team at the start of the second quarter. Hill is a nice player to target in the middle of drafts and a potential investment for Bernard owners as he should see roughly ten touches a game with the upside of more if Gio goes down. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict (hamstring) left the game early but it was mostly for precautionary reasons.

Cleveland Browns

Johnny Manziel isnít going to start the season under center despite outplaying Brian Hoyer in their latest competition against the Rams this week. Josh Gordon continues to wait for the hammer to fall on a decision regarding his appeal. There are plenty of opinions and perspectives on this matter, however Gordon isnít a lock to be the same fantasy player he was a year ago if and when he does come back in 2014. The Browns figure to have a better defense and running game this season and both would help take the pressure off whoever is quarterbacking the team at the time. In the backfield, Ben Tate has made it through the preseason healthy. Clevelandís decision to play him very little in the third game is very telling of Tateís role and importance to the teamís offense. He is the unquestioned starter and rookie Terrance West is more likely to be utilized in a more traditional backup role than that of the prevalent RBBCs around the NFL. West has shown flashes of burst that make him a player to watch as he develops into a regular NFL player. However, rushing for 17 yards on 7 carries will only remind Mike Pettine why Ben Tate was signed to lead this backfield.

Pittsburgh Steelers

A bad week for the Steelers was capped off by an underwhelming performance against the Eagles last Thursday night. Plenty of miscommunication in the passing game, off-field issues in the running game and poor play from the offensive line left a lot to be desired for those fantasy owners counting on Pittsburgh. More than a few of Ben Roethlisbergerís passes went astray after their intended targets broke in the opposite direction or never turned their head. This was also the type of game where fantasy owners were reminded of the negative possibilities when Big Ben extends the play. Roethlisberger will need to be efficient in order to maintain his QB2 ranking throughout the season.

If you havenít heard yet, the dynamic duo of LeíVeon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were arrested for possession of marijuana this week. As is the case with their expected roles in the backfield, Bell was in the driverís seat and gets an additional DUI charge. It is the first offense for each player so any eventual punishment from the Commissionerís office should not be overly severe. Mike Tomlin was less than thrilled, working them with the reserves late as ďpunishment.Ē Punishment or not, it was good to see Bell still had his legs late in the game despite not having many lanes to run. Blountís physical style was on display as he rolled up 32 yards on seven carries. Heís going to eat into Bellís workload this season and get some goaline work.

AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills

C.J. Spiller is one of the harder players to forecast and this week only added to the frustration. The former Clemson Tiger got the start and received the majority of the carries producing a solid 4.0 YPC. However, Fred Jackson was also effective on the ground and through the air. Jackson also scored the Billsí lone rushing touchdown casting more doubt into the fantasy upside of Spiller. While Spiller will likely net the most touches in Buffaloís backfield, he is destined to lose fantasy points one way or another. Whether itís Fred Jackson scoring or Bryce Brown getting a series, Spillerís role is too small in an offense that doesnít produce huge numbers to be a consistent fantasy weapon. Sammy Watkins (ribs) was able to practice in non-contact drills this week but wasnít able to play against Tampa Bay. If the rookie is unable to participate in full contact drills this week his week one status may be jeopardy.

Miami Dolphins

Ryan Tannehill looked better against Dallas than his stats (13-21, 119 yds, 1 INT) might indicate but he wasnít close to proving himself anything more than a backup fantasy quarterback. From what he has shown this preseason fantasy owners should feel better about the offense in Miami as a whole but do not overvalue the players within because there isnít any one person likely to carry this team. Based on their respective performances this week, Knowshon Moreno is the favorite to be the most fantasy relevant running back. Moreno is returning to form following a knee injury and carried the ball 10 times for 64 yards. Lamar Miller has improved from last season but has failed when given the chance to carry the full load in the past. Mike Wallace finally started to show signs of life this weekend. Wallace paced the team in targets, receptions and receiving yards to his first solid outing of the preseason.

New England Patriots

Tom Brady was in vintage form picking apart a Carolina Panthers defense this weekend. Connecting on 17-of-21 pass attempts, Brady benefited from Shane Vereenís play-making ability in the short passing attack where the shifty runner took two short passes to the house. Kenbrell Thompkins played well while Brandon LaFell only managed two catches on five targets. The passing game was led by Julian Edelman who posted 99 yards receiving on eight catches. Predicting Edelmanís value for 2014 is a tough assignment given the fact that New England has been playing without Aaron Dobson and Rob Gronkowski. Once these two players are installed into the offense, Edelman may become less reliable as the targets are spread out. Nonetheless, he is a solid WR3 with upside as a WR2 in PPR leagues.

New York Jets

The Jets may have lost the ďSnoopy BowlĒ this week but they got a reassuring performance from Geno Smith, who was then nominated to lead the offense out of the gate this year. Smith was named the teamís starting quarterback over Michael Vick after throwing for 137 yards and a touchdown against the Giants. Helping Smithís cause was free agent addition Eric Decker. The former Bronco caught three of five passes in his first quality outing of the season. The lackluster perception of the Jets offense, combined with Deckerís gradual return to the field has kept his value relatively cheap for a player that should see plenty of targets in the passing game. He ceiling is not nearly as high as it was while with Denver but Decker becomes a bit of a bargain around pick 100, especially in PPR leagues.

NFC Report - Wk 3