Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire
The NFL preseason is here, and the entire QB List staff watched all the games so you don’t have to. Here, we’ll have the thoughts of each of our QB List writers on the fantasy-relevant things they saw in Week 3’s preseason games. And don’t forget to check out our thoughts on all of Week 1 and Week 2!
Eagles vs. Browns
Whoo boy, what a game. Lot of interesting stuff happened, but I must once again stress, dear readers, that preseason games have very limited value when trying to analyze what a team will do during the regular season.
The Browns defense looked legit on Thursday. The Eagles tried to go for a first down on 4th and 5 from the Browns’ 38-yard line, but Jabrill Peppers made the tackle behind the stick for a turnover on downs. Unfortunately for the Eagles, it didn’t get much better the rest of the night. On the Browns second drive (following the 4th down stand) RB Carlos Hyde had some great blocking and made Jalen Mills miss a tackle to gain 33 yards to the right, and then the very next play RB Nick Chubb had a similar run to the left, though for a smaller gain.
Those would be the two best run plays of the night, but it was very encouraging to see the Browns O-Line blocking well and see the RB’s be able to make plays. I still believe that Hyde is the 1-2 back while RB Duke Johnson, Jr will be the 3rd down back while occasionally splitting out wide, but Nick Chubb is firmly cemented as the Change of Pace (COP) and should see a big opportunity if Hyde were to be injured.
Toward the end of this drive, TE David Njoku made a great effort at a TD by leaping high into the air but was short of the goal line by a couple yards. The takeaway there is that anyone looking for a late round TE should be targeting Njoku. Not only is he being used by the Browns in the Red Zone, but his effort will be rewarded throughout the season.
After a few incompletions including a 4th down attempt by the Browns, QB Tyrod Taylor had quite an injury scare as he landed awkwardly on his left hand.
So the Browns turned it over on downs right at the 1 yard line, but the joke would be on the Eagles when the Browns scored for the first time by getting a safety two plays later. This would be one of only two scoring plays (both were by the Browns) of the entire night. The Browns seemed to play rather conservatively the entire night, so there weren’t too many other highlight plays. WR Rashard Higgins made another big catch and will be someone to keep an eye on in case of injury and K Zane Gonzalez made a 54-yard FG.
QB Baker Mayfield played an overall good game but did have some issues that show why Taylor will likely be the QB for the entire season (assuming no injuries). First, he threw the ball away on 4th down. There was a flag on the play and it looked like maybe he was aware, but he should have tried for a first down so that a penalty would need to be accepted and 4th down replayed instead of turning it over on downs. Second, he had the ball stripped while he was dancing around in the pocket (not necessarily a rookie mistake, but he needs to have better awareness of his surroundings). And third, he had his first interception. The INT came later in the game and he took a pretty hard hit so he was pulled to check for a concussion, and then it was already late in the game so he just sat the rest of it while 3rd stringers finished it out. Anyway, the INT was mostly a great defensive play by the Eagles’ rather than a bad play by Mayfield, so it’s forgivable. Overall, I’m excited for Mayfield to eventually take this team over, but I really want him to sit this season behind Taylor. Hopefully fellow Browns fans will agree.
Unfortunately, there’s not much to write about for the Eagles. They played rather well defensively but QB Nick Foles had a really tough night, demonstrating aptly why he wasn’t signed by another team even after being the Superbowl MVP last season. Foles has had some amazing games with the Eagles but in this game he cooled considerably, throwing 2 interceptions that were entirely his fault, taking a safety after tripping on himself in the end zone, fumbled for a turnover, and only threw for 127 yards with 0 TDs.
Now, of course, this is the preseason and a lot of first stringers didn’t play- namely, RB Jay Ajayi, RB Corey Clement, WR Alshon Jefferey nor WR Nelson Aghalor (not to mention QB Carson Wentz), but it was still pretty disheartening for Eagles fans. K Jake Elliott also missed his lone FG attempt, a 33-yarder.
WR DeAndre Carter looked pretty good, making a couple big plays and having a decent return on a punt. He’ll be someone to keep an eye on while we wait for a final word on Jefferey’s status.
Also, RB Wendell Smallwood played well and I would guess that he is locked in as the 4th RB, especially since RB Matt Jones fumbled for a turnover in the second quarter. Smallwood also caught a couple targets for 14 yards so at least from this game he looks like the final Eagles RB. I doubt we’ll see much of Smallwood while Ajayi, Sproles, and Clement are playing, but for very deep leagues, he is worth at least a bench spot. TE Zach Ertz only had 4 catches for 26 yards, but he looks very good still and figures to be a big part of the offense.. I would have no problem drafting Ertz. Maybe next week we’ll see all the starters save Wentz and get a better idea of how the backfield and passing distribution will look for the regular season.