Thoughts on Preseason Week 2
The second week of preseason is now done. As always, don’t lose your head. Preseason is merely one tool among many that you can use to inform your drafting decisions. Having said that, here’s what I saw this week.
Ravens vs. Dolphins
- Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace, and Danny Woodhead played for the first time this preseason. Unfortunately, Joe Flacco did not, and things didn’t look encouraging with backup Ryan Mallett under center.
- In Jay Cutler’s first showing as a Dolphin, he was unrelentingly average.
- Devante Parker looked
impressiveadequate in limited snaps, with a 16-yard catch and another nullified 31-yarder. Still, I have a hard time buying until I see sustained performance.
- Miami’s line looked awful—in completely unrelated news, Jay Ajayi had two carries for minus-two yards.
Bills vs. Eagles
- Starting pro-bowl left tackle Jason Peters sat out this game, and as a result the offense looked atrocious. LeGarrette Blount gained zero yards on his first four carries. Ouch. Carson Wentz was under pressure on every play, and it showed.
- On the other hand, the Philly defense looked solid.
- On the Bill’s side, with Sammy Watkins gone and Jordan Matthews injured, Anquan Boldin showed us all that he is no longer suited to play WR1. Boldin was so bad in fact, that he retired following this preseason game.
- Zay Jones started to show some flash, with three receptions for 42 yards and a near TD. Still, his wheelhouse is the slot, and I believe Jordan Mathews will get first shot at slot duties when his sternum heals.
Buccaneers vs. Jaguars
- I was the only person in America to watch this game. I did this so you didn’t have to. You’re welcome.
- Jameis Winston showed little against the Jags second-team defense. He had one particularly ugly interception in particular that was called back.
- Doug Martin had five carries for 30 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 11 yards. Not too shabby.
- Jags rookie receiver Dede Westbrook was a monster, with 6 grabs for 131 yards. He showed incredible physicality, consistently winning contested catches and breaking tackles. Keep your eye on him in deeper leagues.
Vikings vs. Seahawks
- The Vikings looked better across the board after an abysmal week one.
- Dalvin Cook in particular looked completely different from a week ago. He broke a bunch of tackles and had one really nice (and fairly violent) rush up the middle for a large gain. He should be creeping up your draft board.
- Russell Wilson completed 13-of-18 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. Not too shabby. Unfortunately— and this is really bad – starting left tackle George Fant suffered a season-ending injury in this game. For a team that already projects to have the worst line in the league this year, this is very bad news.
Panthers vs. Titans
- Christian McCaffrey continues to impress, with 3 carries for 33 yards, a touchdown, and 2 catches for 39 yards. The numbers were not a fluke, McCaffrey earned every one of those yards.
- Marcus Mariota was sharp, going 6 of 8 completions for 61 yards and a score. Better, that was without Corey Davis, Eric Decker, or Rishard Matthews.
- Derrick Henry had two TDs, but his game wasn’t all puppy dogs and and sunshine. He had an atrocious 30 yards on 16 carries, and was stuffed twice at the goal line. I personally am not worried about DeMarco Murray’s role when he returns.
Colts vs. Cowboys
- It’s really difficult to get anything useful from a Colts team without Andrew Luck behind center. It’s like watching a different team.
- Dak Prescott and the rest of the Cowboys first team looked dominant, marching 95 yards down the field for a touchdown on their first series.
- The competition to replace Ezekiel Elliott for 6 games is heating up, as both Darren McFadden (9 rushes for 59 yards) and Alfred Morris (9 rushes for 49 yards) had good games. Rod Smith also had a good game (7 rushes for 53 yards). Anyone who gets the bulk of the carries in this backfield is going to produce behind this offensive line.
Chiefs vs. Bengals
- Alex Smith will not be ceding time to Patrick Mahomes this year. He looked sharp for the second week in a row, going 8 of 9 for 83 yards and a touchdown.
- The Bengals looked and smelled like hot, wet, garbage.
- Joe Mixon had a pathetic 16 yards on 6 carries (Jeremy Hill had 28 yards on the same number of carries). This offensive line is indeed bad.
Jets vs. Lions
- After a solid week one performance, Kenny Golladay was virtually absent, posting only one catch for 6 yards.
- The Jets offense is so bad. Ugh.
Packers vs. Redskins
- The Packers first team were downright surgical, marching 75 yards and scoring in their only series.
- The Redskins were surgical in the Nick Riviera sense. Their first team offense didn’t even have a first down until their fourth possession.
- Neither Rob Kelley nor Samaje Perine looked that good which means we’ll likely be seeing a lot of Kelley early in the season.
Patriots vs. Texans
- We got to see Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski for the first time this preseason. Gronk Wasn’t targeted (but we already know what he’s capable of), and Brady produced a respectable six completions for 67 yards and a touchdown.
- The real story is Rex Burkhead. Who had a ‘meh’ 7 carries for 20 yards, but who had 3 catches for 50 yards and a 22 yard touchdown. He’s not even the third down back, but such is life with the Patriots. In any case, as long as Burkhead remains free at the end of drafts, it’s long past time to start considering taking him.
- Jalen Strong and newcomer Bruce Ellington formed a one-two punch to gash the Patriots first team secondary. Keep an eye on them if Deandre Hopkins’ hand injury lingers into the regular season.
- D’Onta Foreman was dominant on the ground and through the air. I’ve seen enough to start targeting him in drafts.
Broncos vs. 49ers
- Trevor Siemian showed enough to win the starting quarterback job outright over Paxton Lynch.
- The 49ers looked terrible. Their first team offense was on the field for nearly two full quarters, racking up one 3-and-out and 3 turnovers on four total drives.
- The SF running game the equivalent of a limp-wristed slap. Carlos Hyde (8 for 26), Kapri Bibbs (4 for 6), and Tim Hightower (3 for -1) should be ashamed of themselves.
Rams vs. Raiders
- This game was actually fun to watch, with multiple highlight reel plays on both teams.
- It will take a while yet to see how Sammy Watkins will pan out in LA, but the Jared Goff to Cooper Kupp connection looked downright special in this game. Kupp went 6 catches for 70 yards and one touchdown (he nearly had another but was stopped on the one yard line).
- Todd Gurley looked like his 2015 doppelganger. He was decisive and powerful. I’m suddenly not feeling like I need a shower when I take him in the late second round in mock drafts.
- Derek Carr, Michael Crabtree, and Amari Cooper all picked up where they left off last year, which is a good thing.
- Marshawn Lynch got his first two carries wearing black, going 6 and 4 yards respectively. There’s not much to take away from such a limited sample, but the fans certainly seemed to enjoy it.
Bears vs. Cardinals
- Rookie Tarik Cohen was a pleasant surprise start after Jordan Howard had an ominous sounding but benign corneal abrasion. The kid exploded for a gawdy 77 yards on 11 carries, jumping Kadeem Carey and Jeremy Langford as the change of pace guy and 3rd down maven behind Howard.
- Mitchell Trubisky looked solid again. Mike Glennon’s days are numbered.
- The Cardinals first team phoned this one in. I’m not worried, but…
Falcons vs. Steelers
- Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, and Taylor Gabriel all sat this game. Second year tight end Austin Hooper was literally the only player left to throw to, and he performed well. Keep an eye on him as a late round sleeper pick.
- In the absence of Le’Veon Bell, James Conner had a respectable 20 carries for 98 yards. He was terrible in the passing game, however securing only one of his four targets. Fitzgerald Toussaint was the starter and the nominal Bell backup, so I’d pump the breaks until we see how the Steelers use Conner in preseason game 3.
Saints vs. Chargers
- Both starting QBs sat this game.
- Willie Snead played late into the game, even after other starters left the field. This, paired with the fact that currently he’s behind Ted “Butterfingers” Ginn on the unofficial depth chart has some fantasy owners worried. I’m buying all the Snead I can get this year, and if the preseason causes him to go down in ADP, I call that profit.
- Alvin Kamara had another shifty game. It’s probably time to put him on the late-round sleeper radar.