Fantasy football drafts are ongoing across the nation and the NFL Preseason's second week of action is largely put to bed. Starters saw more snaps this week than they did a week ago, but most didn't play too much into the second quarter.
Next week will help answer more questions, as most starting lineups will play into the third. While starters remained limited, there was plenty of solid football action to enjoy -- and, more importantly, plenty of thoughts to come away with.
If you missed my fantasy football thoughts from the first week of preseason play, you can access them here.
Here's what caught my attention from a fantasy football perspective during the second week of NFL action:
Matt Ryan continues to shine in preseason
Matt Ryan (18 of 21, 174 yards, one touchdown) finds his way in this category for the second consecutive week. He looked sharp against the Cincinnati Bengals and its obvious the Atlanta Falcons aren't going to be shy about putting the ball in the air early and often. He's moving up my fantasy football draft board and he should be moving up yours, too.
My fears around Jamaal Charles and his surgically repaired knee are just about over. He looked close to his old self once again, rushing for 17 yards on three carries. He's going to split time with Peyton Hillis (5-11-1), who continues to look pretty solid behind the Kansas City offensive line. There should be enough rushing attempts between these two for them both to be fantasy relevant each week.
Jay Cutler looked good slinging the pigskin for the Chicago Bears. Hitting 7 of 13 passes, Cutler threw for 122 yards. His chemistry with receiver Brandon Marshall is as sound as ever; really looking forward to seeing these two play this season. Cutler is a high-end QB2 entering the year; if the offensive line can keep him upright (and the Bears did a good job hiding their deficiencies here against the Redskins) he should play to QB1 potential.
Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden has looked so explosive in his first two preseason games. I'm almost giddy about his potential ... then I remember he's going to limp off the field any second now. I'm all in on DMC this year, but every part of me knows I'm going to regret it around Week 8. He finished with 34 yards on nine carries and added a 17-yard reception.
Toby Gerhart looked good for a second consecutive week for the Minnesota Vikings. He's running strong and seeing the field well. I'm not buying the whole Adrian Peterson (knee) will be close to 100 percent for Week 1 thing....
Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck didn't have the same showing against a tough Pittsburgh D that he did against the Rams in the first preseason game, but the numbers weren't that bad -- he finished hitting 16 of 25 passes for 175 with two picks and rushed once for a questionable 1-yard touchdown. He still pushed the ball down field aggressively, largely made good decisions with the football (one of the picks was on the receiver, not Luck) and showed good control of the offense. I'm OK with the growing pains; this guy is going to be a special quarterback quickly.
Andy Dalton (8/14, 125 yards, one touchdown) looked sharp and showed nice touch on some deep balls. He hit A.J. Green, another guy I can't have on enough fantasy football teams this year, on a nice 50-yard touchdown and just over-shot him on another at the back of the end zone. He's still QB2 material, but I'm seeing strides as he enters his second year.
Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson (10-46-2) looked strong running on the outside against the Bucs Friday. Part of it was Johnson, part of it was a bad Buccaneers run D; either way, it's encouraging to see the Titans using Johnson in space. With the lack of feature backs, Johnson is definitely back in RB1 conversation and should bounce back this year.
Calvin Johnson (5-111-1) is simply amazing, but you should already know that. He and quarterback Matthew Stafford are very much on the same page again. The two hooked up on a pretty 57-yard reception and followed it shortly later with a well timed 18-yard touchdown. As John Madden would say: Boom! If you were to ever take a receiver in the first half of the first round, he's the only guy I wouldn't argue with.
I recently listed Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson (3-43-0) as one of my six receivers to target late in fantasy football drafts. He had some big catches Friday. The dude is simply fun to watch; he hurdled yet another defensive back. Once his suspension is over, he's going to be a key part of this offense. Snag him as your WR4 or WR5.
Greg Olsen (2-33-0) is largely ignored in fantasy football drafts, which is a mistake. Snag him as your TE2. Remember, Jeremy Shockey isn't in town anymore and Ben Hartsock isn't going to compete for a lot of targets.
Andre Johnson is healthy (for now) and it showed Saturday, as he caught two passes for 49 yards, including a 43-yard reception. He looked like the Johnson of old. You know, the dominating healthy Johnson who isn't always limping off the field. Hopefully it stays that way.
Word has it that Drew Brees guy is pretty good. He looked the part again Friday, which should be the norm regardless of the day this year. In limited play, he just hit 10 of 13 passes for 133 yards and an 8-yard score to Devery Henderson (4-31-1). Yup, he's still QB1 material in your fantasy football draft.
Reggie Wayne won't be a sexy pick in your fantasy football draft, but the veteran will be one that largely outplays his draft position. The Colts are going to pass a lot under rookie Andrew Luck, and Wayne is going to be on the receiving end of many of them. The Colts were moving him around versus Pittsburgh and Luck is already has chemistry with No. 87.
Bears runner Michael Bush (5-21-2) had two rushing touchdowns against Washington. The first was a 1-yard plunge. The second was a nifty 8-yard run, where Bush showed he can be elusive in addition to being a power back. Look for him to see the strong majority of the rushing scores and short-yardage work for the Bears, which limits the value of Matt Forte.
Broncos running back Willis McGahee looked strong again, rushing for 28 yards on eight carries, including a 1-yard touchdown. Don't ignore him on draft day.
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub looked healthy and pushed the ball downfield. This offense has the potential to be one of the most balanced and dangerous in the league and Schaub is often overlooked during fantasy football drafts.
In the rare kicker comment: David Akers hit three field goals, including two from at least 50 yards out. It's rare I advocate taking a kicker earlier than the tail end of a fantasy draft, but I'm not afraid to go kicker a little earlier -- not a lot earlier, mind you -- than normal for Akers.
Need to see more
A little worried about Carson Palmer
I haven't been happy with Carson Palmer's completion percentage in the first two preseason games. He hit 13 of 24 passes for 107 yards and an interception against the Cardinals Friday. In his defense, the Raiders have struggled keeping their top receivers healthy.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert ripped apart the New Orleans D Friday. He finished the day hitting 13 of 16 passes for 112 yards and two short touchdowns, including a 16-yarder to rookie Justin Blackmon (4-48-1). He won't be on any of my fantasy teams this year, but it's encouraging to see progress out of him considering everyone has written him off for dead.
A week ago I was giddy over the play of Bucs runner LeGarrette Blount. He struggled against the Titans, managing just 11 yards on eight carries and hurt his groin in the process. Rookie Doug Martin, who seems to be running away with the starting gig, had seven carries for 23 yards. I'm still drafting him as a RB4 or RB5, but I'm less comfortable with it than I was a week ago and the injury doesn't help matters.
Arizona Cardinals running back Ryan Williams found the end zone against the Raiders Friday, finishing with five carries for 25 yards and the score. Really need to see more out of him. He's a talented second-year back, but he's recovering from a significant knee injury that will likely prevent his throttle from every going full bore this year.
Christian Ponder had a good showing for the Minnesota Vikings. He hit 10 of 13 passes for 136 yards, including a short touchdown pass. He showed good mobility and control of the offense. Not really in fantasy conversation right now unless you're in the deepest of leagues, but I'm finding more room for optimism here.
Seattle receiver Terrell Owens dropped a 46-yard touchdown pass, which didn't do any favors for quarterback Matt Flynn. Flynn went Owens' direction five times, but none of the passes were completed. Flynn finished hitting 6 of 13 passes for 31 yards, but his numbers could have been a lot better had TO helped his cause.
Speaking of the Seahawks, rookie Russell Wilson continues to look sharp in the preseason. He hit 10 of 17 passes for 155 yards with two touchdowns. He also picked up 33 yards rushing on five attempts. He'll likely be the team's No. 2 quarterback, but it'll be interesting to see what kind of lease Flynn, who is projected to be the starter, has with the offense.
I have a hard time writing this, but Indy running back Donald Brown (6-30-1) has looked really sharp this preseason. He's picking his spots, hitting holes quickly and running stronger than I've seen in the past. Hat tip, Brown, keep it up. He has RB3 value written all over him if he continues strong.
I also liked what I saw out of Chicago rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery (3-62-0). The big guy (6-3, 216) showed some sound moves after the catch. He's a reserve option for your team, but his ceiling just went up a couple of notches.
Raiders receiver Rod Streater (7-43-0) is this year's Denarius Moore. He led the team in receiving and it wasn't even close. Jacoby Ford (ankle) is injured again. Shocker. Moore can't even get on the field. Streater could see a chance for ample playing time this year if he keeps up the strong preseason and training camp. I'm not buying ... yet.
Randy Moss had three catches for 24 yards and saw enough work with the 49ers first-string offense. I still worry this offense isn't the style that will work to Moss' favor as he tries to resurrect his career. I just feel the opportunities for consistent success won't be there on a run-dominated offense.
I was high on Jake Locker last year; at one point I said he had the brightest future of all of the QBs taken last year (maybe I shouldn't admit that considering how good Cam Newton and Andy Dalton have looked?) and a big part of me still agrees with that. I dig the Titans let him start versus the Bucs, but I really expected to see a LOT more out of him. He made some bad decisions, including one horrible, cross-body throw that resulted in a pick. He finished 4 of 11 for 21 yards with the INT. Matt Hasselbeck didn't do much, but was effective in a game-manager role by hitting 4 of 5 passes for 29 yards in limited play. UPDATE: The Titans, however, apparently saw enough out of Locker in practice because he has been named their Week 1 starter. He's no better than a mid-range No. 2 fantasy quarterback in my mind right now and he's going to have his bumps in the road.
Maybe the Vikings should use Joe Webb as a running back instead of backup quarterback....
I'm still looking for some statement plays from Jonathan Baldwin, of the Chiefs. He had one catch on three targets, but also lost a fumble. With Dwayne Bowe back from his holdout, I'm hoping to see Baldwin really show he's capable of being the primary target in this passing game. He's available incredibly late in drafts, so his risk remains low.
If the Detroit coaching staff is reading (as they should be, of course), please let Joique Bell run with the first-string offense one day. He consistently looks like a beast in the preseason against backup defenses.
Kirk Cousins looked really good for the Redskins. He hit 18 of 23 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns, but don't expect his strong showing against the Bears to alter the depth chart for the Redskins any time soon. This is Robert Griffin III's team. Griffin didn't look nearly as sharp. He hit 5 of 8 passes for 49 yards and also lost a fumble.
In two preseason games, I still haven't seen what I wanted to out of Robert Meachem with the Chargers. He was the target of two passes from Philip Rivers against Cowboys, with one of them being intercepted. I was a huge fan of Meachem in New Orleans, but his less than dependable hands have lessened my interest. He'll have some huge games with the Chargers; I just also see a lot of inconsistency. I'll give him one more week to change my opinion.
Sam Bradford showed more signs of life, which is a good thing while he rebuilds his confidence. He hit 6 of 9 passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns against the Chiefs, including a 23-yarder to second-year tight end Lance Kendricks. Bradford was high on the radar for many last year, but is largely ignored this year, which might end up being a mistake.
Winning in Arizona may not be winning in fantasy football
Sure the Packers were without running backs James Starks (foot) and Cedric Benson (just signed), but this offensive line doesn't look very good. Oh and there's that whole thing of the Packers not caring to commit to the run, too. I'm punting here.
Dolphins rook quarterback Ryan Tannehill hasn't been great, but he hit 11 of 23 passes for 100 yards without a score or turnover against the Carolina Panthers. He saw his first start in the game and, barring some major turn of events, I expect him to start the season opener. Miami's receivers are largely ignored already as it is, but I still think Davone Bess deserves consideration. He was another name I mentioned in six fantasy football receivers to target late piece.
I wanted to get on board with Colts receiver Austin Collie, who has had a nice training camp. I really did. Luck seems to like him and he's looked sharp in practice. Unfortunately, his durability keeps scaring me away. He left the team's game against Pittsburgh with concussion-like symptoms. Just as he can't stay on the field, I can't buy in.
The Cardinals probably wish they could send Kevin Kolb back to the Philadelphia Eagles. He started the second preseason game, but struggled again. He finished 3 of 6 for 22 yards. John Skelton hit all three of his passes for 23 yards and a score. This appears to be Skelton's job to lose, but that's not a ringing endorsement by any means.
The more I watch of the Redskins running game, the more I think I don't want to have anything to do with it. Alfred Morris (10-34-0) started this week's game a week after Evan Royster (2-20-0) started; Royster worked as the third down back in this one. Roy Helu (Achilles') and Tim Hightower (knee) never took the field. The more I think about this situation, the more I think Mike Shanahan is going to play games all season with his starting backfield.
It was a bad break (pardon the pun) for Chargers receiver Vincent Brown (ankle), who I was quite high on until he suffered a broken left ankle over the weekend. He had surgery and will probably miss at least the first five games. He shouldn't be drafted now, but keep an eye on his progress early in the year.
The more I watch of the New York Jets, the less I want to. There is nothing at quarterback to depend on, as the Tim Tebow distraction is going to be enough to mess with Mark Sanchez all season. The offensive line isn't blocking well at all. Sanchez hit 9 of 11 passes for 59 yards, while throwing a pick six in the process. He didn't look comfortable at all. Tebow looked like he typically does through the air: Rough. He hit just 5 of 14 passes for 69 yards. There is absolutely nothing to become excited about here and this team has disaster written all over it.
Which players changed your opinion or helped solidify what you already thought from their preseason play? Are there any situations you look forward to watching more closely next weekend? Share your thoughts with other fantasy football fans in the space below.
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