There were 16 preseason games played beginning on Thursday, and we watched them all so you don’t have to. Who stood out? Did anyone make a case for a starting role? Let’s dig right in.
Note: For links to all of the weekend’s games, scroll to the bottom of the page.
Saints vs. Vikings
New Orleans Saints
Teddy Bridgewater got off to a strong start and seemed well in command of Sean Payton’s offense throughout the first half. He went 6/7 for 43 yards on the Saints opening drive, and ended his night 14/19 for 134 yds and 1 TD. While Bridgewater certainly won’t have much chance for fantasy relevance this season, if Drew Brees were to miss time, Bridgewater may be worth a dart throw in this high-powered Saints offense.
Taysom Hill started and played the entire 2nd half for the Saints. He finished the night 8/14 for 80 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. He also carried the ball six times for 45 yards. He looked great on a handful of designed runs, and also on some not-so-designed runs. He struggled to be patient in the pocket for the majority of the night, and while he struggled with his accuracy, he did make some quality, accurate throws. He threw a nice TD strike to TE Dan Arnold. Hill would later throw a pick-six through no fault of his own when Arnold bobbled a well-thrown pass directly into the defense’s waiting arms. Taysom took some hard hits, but it’s hard to worry about that when he’s out blocking punts and making big hits on special teams. Unlike Bridgewater, Taysom will definitely offer some fantasy relevance this season – when he vultures TDs from your Saints’ fantasy players.
Alvin Kamara flashed in limited work, finishing with 4 carries for 11 yards and 2 catches for 15 yards. Kamara also had a TD called back due to a holding penalty. No surprise that he didn’t see much time in the Saints first preseason game.
Latavius Murray looked comfortable in his new role replacing Mark Ingram in New Orleans. Murray finished with 3 carries for 14 yards and added 3 catches for 22 yards. We also saw work from Saints’ RBs Dwayne Washington, Jacquizz Rodgers, and undrafted rookie Devine Ozigbo – all competing for the RB3 job behind Kamara and Murray.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Michael Thomas had himself a quiet night, finishing with one catch for 7 yards in limited reps. Second-year WR Tre’Quan Smith split reps with Ted Ginn Jr. in the Saints first-team offense. Smith finished with 2 catches for 16 yards, including a tough, contested catch over the middle.
Saints’ rookie Lil’Jordan Humphrey drew notable cheers from the crowd for his first catch for 9 yards, and then lit the Superdome on fire with his second catch: a 33 yard catch-and-run TD strike from Taysom Hill. He’s already becoming a fan favorite in New Orleans, but he is not at all a lock to make the 53-man roster. He’ll need to continue to flash to lock down a roster spot.
Special Teams Bonus
K Wil Lutz finished 4/4 on FGs, including a 52 yarder that he absolutely drilled. KR Deonte Harris flashed on kickoff returns averaging 30 yards per return on 3 returns. Harris may be worth keeping an eye on in extremely deep leagues that reward return yards.
Kirk Cousins made the most of his only series of the night, going 4/4 for 65 yards and a TD pass. Cousins opened the night with a nice play action strike to Stefon Diggs that was called back due to holding. Cousins looked comfortable in the pocket, completed all 4 of his pass attempts to 3 different receivers, and even scrambled for a 10 yard first down. He capped his lone drive with a 1 yard TD pass to Alexander Mattison that was set up by an impressive 34 yard strike to Adam Thielen down the right sideline. The pass to Thielen was originally ruled a TD before it was overturned on replay. Sean Mannion got off to a rough start, going 0/1 with a three and out on his first series. He shook off some rust and played better to end the half, finishing 7/13 for 102 yards and a TD. The second half saw action from Kyle Sloter (6/7, 62 yards, TD) and Jake Browning (2/3, 18 yards).
We saw Alexander Mattison open the game as the Vikings’ feature back. While Mattison did finish with a 1-yard TD reception, he was mostly uninspiring on the ground: gaining just 30 yards on 9 carries (3.3 YPC). Mattison projects as the primary backup to Dalvin Cook, but lacked explosiveness throughout the night. Mike Boone flashed with a 64 yard TD run in the second half, but otherwise only had three carries for six yards. Ameer Abdullah also impressed, finishing with 4 carries for 63 yards including a 40 yard run. While Abdullah looked great for most of the night, he did lose a fumble as well. Undrafted rookie fullback Khari Blasingame finished with 3 catches for 28 yards and a TD.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Adam Thielen had a fantastic 34 yard sideline catch during the Vikings’ opening series. It was originally ruled a touchdown before replay review showed him being down at the 1 yard line. It would be Thielen’s only catch of the night. Stefon Diggs didn’t show up on the official stat sheet; having his only catch called back due to holding. TE Kyle Rudolph had 2 nice catches on the Vikings’ first drive – a 10 yard and a 20 yard reception. Backup TE Tyler Conklin had a nice 34 yard catch and run in the 2nd quarter on a screen play. Rookie WR Bisi Johnson had a couple of nice catches in the 2nd quarter, including an 18 yard TD reception.
— Corey Saucier
Featured image by Nathan Mills (@NathanMillsPL)