Week 3 of the Preseason brought out two kinds of strategies from
teams across the league. Some showed their cards, allowing starters
to find their groove while other teams kept their studs on the bench.
We begin with the two teams we’ll see in action in just ten
Concern for the Eagles offense is growing
as Nick Foles turns in an uninspiring performance.
1. Opening Night may be an Offensive
Next Thursday, we are supposed to be treated to two of the best
teams in the NFC duking it out to open the 2018 regular season.
One can never fully trust the preseason in terms of acquiring confident
insights, but it is safe to say at this point that the Eagles and
Falcons have looked awful on the offensive side of the ball in August.
The two teams combined to score 6 points in the third week of the
preseason and through three weeks, the Falcons are averaging just
over 5 points a game while the Eagles have netted a whopping 11
points per game.
Carson Wentz hasn’t seen the field for Philadelphia, nor has
his top receiver, Alshon Jeffery. In Atlanta, there has been no
sign of Julio Jones or Devonta Freeman. Maybe these two teams will
magically get in synch in time for next Thursday’s tilt, but
opening night is feeling like a 13-10 contest with minimal fantasy
impact. Proceed with caution with these two teams, particularly
if Nick Foles draws the start. He’s been underwhelming in
the pre-season (16-26, 171 yds, 0 TDs, 2 INTs) and hasn’t
resembled the guy who was the Super Bowl MVP.
2. The Chiefs Offense Could be a Fantasy
As noted in the opening paragraph, it has been staggering the number
of teams who have basically kept their starters in mothballs for
fear of injury. One team that has taken the opposite approach is
Kansas City, where Patrick Mahomes has been given a license to throw,
throw, and throw some more during the preseason. Mahomes totaled
196 yards this past weekend on 18 completions with 8 of those completions
going to Tyreek Hill. If you haven’t drafted yet, move Hill
up into your top 10 at WR as it is becoming evident the Chiefs are
ready to feature him in a big way while the connection with Sammy Watkins (1 rec, 15 yards) continues to struggle. As for Mahomes,
his ceiling looks high, particularly in leagues that don’t
penalize heavily (or at all) for interceptions. He is likely to
throw 15-20 picks during the season, but he’ll also have games
where the yardage totals are staggering. Get onboard now if you
can and consider Mahomes a borderline QB1.
3. Adrian and Alfred May Have Something
Left in the Tank
We shared with you last week that Washington wasn’t pleased
with their RB options in the post-Derrius Guice universe. In response,
they signed a 33-year old Adrian Peterson and threw him right into
the frying pan last Friday night. Peterson responded favorably,
running decisively for 56 yards on 11 carries. No one expects the Peterson of old to re-emerge, but perhaps low-end RB2 numbers are
possible for at least the first month or two of the season.
In San Francisco, where injuries have depleted the RB corps, veteran
Alfred Morris took advantage of his opportunity to the tune of 84
yards on 17 carries. While the performance won’t put Morris
on the fantasy radar in a major way, it will likely keep him on
the opening day roster. And, it could make him a good handcuff for
Jerick McKinnon owners in deep-rostered leagues.
4. Noise From Detroit’s Former Tight
If you’ve been playing fantasy football long, you know it’s
hard to trust Eric Ebron. To date, Ebron has entered several seasons
with “breakout” hopes only to see those hopes dashed
by uneven performances and injuries. So, Ebron finds himself in
Indianapolis and while he’ll share the field with Jack Doyle,
his performance vs. the 49ers raised some eyebrows. Ebron caught
5 passes for 54 yards - the most impressive being a 15-yard TD strike
from Andrew Luck. Maybe Indy was just checking down to Ebron so
as not to tip their hand for the season opener… or maybe Ebron
finally can have that career year many have predicted for so long.
The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Consider Ebron
the Indy tight end with the greatest ceiling, but also the lowest
floor. If you’ve drafted a trustworthy TE1, he would make
an ideal choice as a high upside TE2.
5. The Waters Have Been Tested in Carolina
Again, reading into all things preseason is a tricky business, but
if you’re going to take that plunge, it would seem that Christian McCaffrey has used the preseason to audition for an expanded role
in Carolina. McCaffrey has touched the ball 29 times in August,
including 14 this past weekend vs. the Patriots. The tea leaves
suggest that C.J. Anderson and Cameron Artis-Payne are being looked
at more as change-of-pace backs than a true complement to McCaffrey.
It appears Carolina wanted to see if McCaffrey could handle a true
lead back role, and they appear to have their answer. Along with
Tyreek Hill, McCaffrey has been one of the two standouts of the
preseason on the offensive side of the ball. Much like Hill, he
should be firmly at the back end of the top ten at his position.
In a preseason that hasn’t told us much about a number of
players, this situation has given us plenty to chew on.
6. It’s Barber’s World… but Should You
Down in Tampa, everyone is aware at this point that Peyton Barber
is going to be the Bucs’ starting running back in Week 1.
Yes, Ronald Jones made a nifty 37-yard catch this weekend, but he
also proved once again that running between the tackles is not a
strength at this point (6 carries, 7 yards). Barber, meanwhile,
averaged nearly 7 yards a carry and scored on a 14-yard run to boot.
The battle for starting RB is over for now, but the question remains
- how excited should any owner be about owning a piece of the Tampa
Bay rushing attack? After all, only five other teams ran the ball
for fewer yards last year and only four averaged fewer yards per
carry. It’s always nice to see a RB situation clear up prior
to September, but keep expectations low for Barber - as in low-end
RB3 with limited upside.
7. Injuries and Retirements at WR for
Last year’s AFC Championship Game participants have had
some question marks at the wide receiver position. Allen Robinson
left Jacksonville in free agency, Julian Edelman got suspended,
and early last week, Kenny Britt was waived by New England to
make room for Eric Decker. Now, Decker abruptly retired over the
weekend and Marqise Lee, who was supposed to be Jacksonville’s
WR1 went down with a gruesome knee injury. As a result, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson have become a candidate for
redraft leageis and Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole are seen as
late-round targets with upside. Patterson makes for an intriguing
deep threat in New England, but his value is sure to plummet when
Edelman returns. As for Jacksonville, Westbrook and Cole are draft
considerations, but remember, with Blake Bortles throwing them
the ball, keep expectations modest. Donte Moncrief (3-62 on Saturday)
may have a role to play as well, particularly as becomes more
comfortable with his new surroundings. Stay tuned as these receiving
corps remain fluid in spite of increased clarity.
8. The Bears are Likely to Come Out
of the Gates Sluggish
Matt Nagy’s curious decision to rest his starters in Week
3 of the preseason almost guarantees some growing pains coming
out of the gate for a team that was essentially re-formed over
the offseason on the offensive side of the ball. If any quarterback
needed preseason reps this year, it was Mitchell Trubisky. Breaking
in new wide receivers is always a tricky proposition and in addition
to Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller are fresh
faces in the offense and need time to get with their quarterback.
Look for the team to lean on Jordan Howard in September as the
passing game gets into gear. The problem is… defenses will
recognize this and likely stack the box to limit Howard’s
impact. Nagy’s preseason decisions may leave fantasy owners
scratching their heads through September.
9. The Curious Fascination with Gore
While I admire Miami giving Frank
Gore the respect he’s due and stating that he’s a “co-starter”
Drake, this clearly represents another curious call that played
out over the weekend. Drake is Miami’s most explosive player and
it’s not even close with Drake accounting for 68 yards on only
five touches vs. the Ravens. If the Dolphins are going to do anything
offensively this season, Drake needs to the focal point and that
was proven big-time on Saturday. I’d like to tell you that Drake’s
performance should bump up his redraft stock but until the coaches
better acknowledge the obvious, better keep his value steady as
10. The Deepest of Sleepers
Have you noticed how well Chris Warren, the undrafted rookie and
son of former NFL and fantasy football standout Chris Warren (SEA),
is running during this preseason. The 246-pound bruiser has accumulated
250 yards in August on 46 carries and scored 2 TDs. Warren looks
almost certain to make the team and with both primary running
backs (Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin) on the extreme downside of
their careers, Warren’s a guy to keep an eye on… especially
in leagues that carry 18-20 roster spots.