It has been called “dress rehearsal” week over the years
as Week 3 of the preseason typically features extended playing time
by the starters. Some teams stick to that mantra and play starters
most if not all of the first half, while others take a more cautious
approach. It’s the former that we’ll focus on in this
final review of preseason action. We begin with the Saturday night
news that rocked the fantasy football landscape …
Football Via the AFC South is Forever Changed
No, it didn’t happen on the field, but Andrew Luck’s
retirement announcement sent shock waves throughout NFL circles
and into the alternate world of fantasy football as well.
We learned last week that the Colts are capable of moving the
ball up and down the field without Luck (at least during the preseason),
but I think the Colts of 2019 will still resemble who they were
last season more than the disastrous year of 2017. Why? Two words:
Reich didn’t get enough credit for Luck’s remarkable
comeback last season and his offensive scheme simply runs circles
around anything Chuck Pagano ever implemented. Will T.Y. Hilton’s
value dip a bit? Sure. Is Marlon Mack going to be the same productive
player with Luck gone? Probably not. But, don’t turn your
back on the Colts altogether. There is one player who I think
will suffer most and we’ll get to that in a minute.
Meanwhile, back on the field, the Texans lost Lamar
Miller for the season with a torn ACL. The fallout will likely
be a free agent signing (Jay
Ajayi maybe?) and an increased role for Duke
Johnson. More than that, it probably means more throws per
game from Deshaun
Watson. After a fairly pedestrian preseason in terms of news,
these two events from Saturday night really resounded.
2. The Best Man for the Job in San Francisco May Have Been There
Anyone that got to see Matt Breida play last season for the 49ers
was left to wonder at times “Why don’t they just feature
this guy all the time?” Instead, San Francisco used the
past two off-seasons to try to find a different lead back. Jerick McKinnon was signed in 2018 followed by the signing of Tevin Coleman
McKinnon is currently nursing injuries and Coleman touched the
ball 10 times Saturday night for a meager 21 yards. In the meantime,
Breida was…well, Breida. As in 75 total yards on just 9
touches including a touchdown reception courtesy of Jimmy Garoppolo.
I think when the dust settles, assuming the 49ers don’t
let preconceived notions interfere, Breida will end up as the
best RB to own this season in San Francisco. He’s no change
of pace back…he’s the real deal…and he should
be climbing in your rankings as your draft day approaches. As
for the aforementioned Garoppolo, his performance on Saturday
(14-20-188, 1/0) was encouraging, too.
3. Plenty of Undervalued Wide Receivers Ready to Strut Their Stuff
Sticking with the positive, it was hard not to notice how some
of the WRs being drafted in the middle rounds looked really good
this past weekend. We’ll give you three to watch as you
look to formulate your team.
First, consider bumping Dede Westbrook up in your pre-draft rankings.
Westbrook is a precise route runner and demonstrated chemistry
with Nick Foles on a drive that produced four receptions and a
Also of note was the long completion from Sam Darnold to lead
WR Robby Anderson on Saturday vs. New Orleans that resulted in
a TD shortly thereafter. Anderson is probably getting less love
than he deserves because we’ve become accustomed to downgrading
Jets because they’re…well, the Jets. Don’t fall
for it. Anderson is going to be targeted a ton this season with
the Jets still looking to find their WR2 and missing TE Chris Herndon for the season’s first four games.
Finally, Russell Wilson engineered an early TD drive for Seattle
vs. the Chargers that included 50 yards of receiving by newly
minted WR1 Tyler Lockett. With no other experienced receivers
to lean on including tight ends, Lockett is going to be Wilson’s
go to guy. For our money, he, Anderson, and Westbrook are all
examples of guys being drafted too late.
4. Nice Debut for Guice
Last week, we talked up Adrian Peterson and I still believe Peterson
has more gas in the tank than people realize. That being said,
Derrius Guice toting the ball 11 times for 44 yards this past
weekend was a big deal. It means he’s ready to start contributing
right off the bat for a team that must run the ball well to stay
competitive this season. Look for a timeshare between the two
ball carriers with a little Chris Thompson sprinkled in on passing
downs. But, make no mistake: Guice looks healthy and has the same
kind of upside as Miles Sanders in Philadelphia. You can select
him around the sixth round of redrafts without fear of getting
little return on your investment.
5. Bad Quarterback Play in Tampa: What Does it Mean?
In the Friday game between Cleveland and Tampa Bay, both Baker
Mayfield and Jameis Winston completed less than half their passes
and failed to get their teams into the end zone despite 45 combined
pass attempts. Does this mean it’s time to downgrade both
heading into your Labor Day weekend drafts? Nope. Yes, Tampa Bay’s
offensive line is suspect and yes, Mayfield has to be careful
not to buy into his press clippings too much after a solid performance
the week before, but while many teams used Week 3 as a dress rehearsal,
these two teams did not. No Mike Evans. No Odell Beckham Jr. No
starting caliber running backs. Simply put, both quarterbacks
did underachieve, but neither was operating with a full arsenal.
Both possess two of the most talented receiving corps in the league.
Some would say the best two. As such, take it with a grain of
salt and keep both QBs stationary in your rankings.
6. Ebron’s Career Year is Now Officially In the Rear View Mirror
Earlier, we told you not to panic as an owner of Hilton or Mack.
But, if you’re an Eric
Ebron owner, you need to understand that Ebron’s production
from last season won’t be returning any time soon. Luck’s absence
will have something to do with that as will all the wide receiver
Beyond that, there’s a guy named Mo-Alie Cox who is poised to
become a real weapon in Indy’s offense. Reports during the offseason
suggested that no other Colt demonstrated the rapid growth/progress
shown by Alie-Cox and his 36-yard reception over the weekend served
as a reminder of what he can be. If you’re operating in a keeper
or dynasty league, you might want to invest in Alie-Cox late in
your draft. Ebron will still put up decent numbers during the
season’s first half, but could get overtaken no later than November.
7. The Giants May Be Savvy After All
They say where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Well,
three consecutive plumes of preseason smoke have us convinced
that Daniel Jones may eventually evolve into the Real Deal in
the Meadowlands. Jones’ three-game cumulative totals amount
to 25-30 passing (over 80% completion percentage), 349 yards,
and two touchdowns versus zero interceptions.
It’s fairly clear that if the Giants want to keep pace
with other teams, Jones will eventually have to become the answer.
I’m not saying Jones should be drafted in your fantasy league.
Nor am I saying he’s the second coming of Patrick Mahomes
(who looked great in limited preseason action this weekend by
the way). What I am saying is that the ridicule New York received
after making Jones the No.6 overall pick is looking very much
unjustified. Guys like Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, and Evan Engram may have greater value during the second half of the season
assuming Jones eventually takes the reins. Keep that in mind before
dismissing them on Draft Day due to the Eli factor.
8. A Worse Offense Than Washington May Exist Deep in the Heart
Hey, at least the ‘Skins can run the football. The Miami
Dolphins are looking like a ship without a rudder on the offensive
side of the ball and as of this article going to press, a starting
QB for the team has still not been chosen.
The running back moving up draft boards this summer (Kalen Ballage)
managed only 17 yards vs. the Jaguars on Friday night despite
getting a decent amount of work (12 carries).
The tendency is to remember what Ryan Fitzpatrick did in Tampa
Bay last season and translate that to the team on the other side
of the Florida coast, but remember: Tampa had Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard. Miami doesn’t have
anyone that talented and the rumor over the weekend was that they’re
shopping Kenny Stills.
No matter who the signal caller ends up being, staying away from
Miami on draft day is very much in order. They are Washington
South, but without the two solid running backs to fall back on.
9. Minnesota Is a Hard Team to Figure Out
On paper, the Vikings look like an offense that’s built
for speed. Two experienced wide receivers who are clearly above
average in every category and a quarterback with a propensity
for volume. And yet, in a true dress rehearsal for the season
opener, Kirk Cousins was 3-13 passing the ball for less than 3
yards an attempt. And, that came against a defense (Arizona) that
was absolutely shredded by the Raiders the week before.
What Minnesota should be from week-to-week and what they are
remain at odds and the preseason has only served to reinforce
that. What they can draw as encouragement is an 85-yard gallop
to glory by third-year RB, Dalvin Cook. If that’s the kind
of burst Cook can exhibit this year, perhaps the rest of the offense
will get its act together. If not, expect a lot of inconsistency
in Minnesota for a team that may be more of a paper tiger than
the genuine article.
10. Preseason Legends Abound
Finally, as the preseason draws to a close, one final shout-out
to guys that have made a name for themselves during the month
of August. This week, it was Jakobi Meyers (again), J.J. Arcega-Whiteside
(WR- Philadelphia), and KeeSean Johnson (WR-Arizona) that fit
Together, the trio combined for 22 catches for 263 yards and
a TD. Meyers and Johnson are worthy of selection very late in
drafts while Arcega-Whiteside is just trying to crack the 53-man
roster. Still, production is production and no three wide-outs
did more to help their respective teams in rehearsal week than
The fourth week of preseason doesn’t yield much in terms
of fantasy insight, so next stop is Packers-Bears one week from
Thursday. Much to the delight of fantasy football enthusiasts
September is on its way.