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Preseason Observations: Week Three

As part of the premium content package, we’ll be reviewing each week of the preseason and sharing our observations, thoughts and analysis all the way up until the regular season. As you know, the preseason may seem meaningless to the novice fantasy football player, but it’s essential for the dynasty league owner. After all, this is where we unearth sleepers, see the future stars and make long-term evaluations for our precious roster.

Let’s go through the week and the relevant events.

Green Bay

Cedric Benson made his debut and rushed for 38 yards on just six carries and also added a reception for another ten yards. Benson was the buzz after game with multiple outlets saying he looked spry and nimble and that it looks like his presence could give the Packers the boost they’ve been looking for from the running game. James Starks is reportedly on the roster bubble, but if he gets cut, it would still be a surprise. Benson could be a sneaky RB3 with good upside this season.

Cincinnati

The Bengals are still looking for someone to step up opposite AJ Green and it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen before the regular season. Marvin Jones likely solidified himself a roster spot with another strong performance. Andy Dalton didn’t look great in what amounted to being a dress rehearsal, but he should be fine.

Jacksonville

Blaine Gabbert enjoyed another performance that wasn’t dreadful and that’s a step in the right direction. Justin Blackmon continued his solid preseason with four catches for 72 yards. Simply put, he looks the part right now. Meanwhile, Rashad Jennings kept Jags fans forgetting about MJD with 57 yards on 13 carries. If anyone sees Laurent Robinson, be sure to tell him he plays for the Jaguars now and needs to show up.

Baltimore

For the Ravens, Joe Flacco lit it up with 266 yards and two scores. Torrey Smith had eight catches for 103 yards, proving he’s not just a one trick pony. The story for the Ravens continues to be Bobby Rainey, who continues to push Bernard Pierce for the backup job to Ray Rice. Rainey had three catches for 73 yards and a touchdown, while Pierce struggled to 35 rushing yards on ten carries.

Arizona

This team is dead in the water if they can’t get their quarterback situation straightened out. Kevin Kolb and John Skelton have both had moments of greatness, but many more moments of ineptitude. If neither of these two figure it out, it’s going to be a long season in the desert. Can Matt Barkley or Logan Thomas just come in now? Meanwhile, keep your eye on William Powell – he could make the team after a strong performance featuring 71 rushing yards and a score on only seven carries.

Tennessee

Titans fans can breathe a big sigh of relief as Jake Locker looked very solid, throwing for 134 yards and two touchdowns while going 11-for-20. The comparisons to Donovan McNabb as a solid quarterback with supreme athletic ability but an innacurate arm seem to be pretty close. Kendall Wright continues to look the part as he posted 44 yards and a score on four catches. Chris Johnson wasn’t so good as he posted only 27 yards on 13 carries. It’s no time to worry, though.

Philadelphia

The Eagles pulled most of their starters early, but it didn’t seem to phase Nick Foles, who went 12-for-19 for 146 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. Foles has shown a strong arm, great accuracy and complete control of the offense. It’s downright shocking how well he played and if you own Michael Vick and don’t have a great QB2, Foles should be on your roster. Damaris Johnson had another strong outing and is making a case to make the team.

Cleveland

Brandon Weeden has been inconsistent the preseason and that continued as he went just 9-for-20 for 117 yards and no scores. He takes what’s given, but hasn’t been overly impressive thus far. Josh Gordon had three catches for 50 yards, showing his progression is no joke. Meanwhile, Greg Little had just one catch for three yards. This offense needs Trent Richardson back quickly or it has little hope of keeping up with their opponents. On the bright side, Mohamed Massaquoi played and didn’t leave with a concussion.

Atlanta

Just another day at the office for the Falcons offense which looks as explosive as anyone’s out there. Julio Jones may be the only receiver who could come close to Megatron this season as he just look unstoppable. Michael Turner continues to look like he’s running in molasses and it will be a surprise to nobody if he turns into a flex play at best this year. Matt Ryan capped off his preseason in fine form, going 18-for-26 for 220 yards and a touchdown.  This preseason, Ryan has gone 45-for-60 for 549 yards (9.2 YPA), with three touchdowns and just one interception. For as much as they’ll throw this year, he may be a darkhorse candidate for fantasy MVP – he certainly has the supporting cast to get that done.

Miami

It’s going to be a long season for the Dolphins. Ryan Tannehill struggled in his first start, completing just 11-of-27 for 112 yards and one interception. Without anyone added to the receiving corps after the cuts are made in the next two weeks, the only options on this team this year may be Reggie Bush and Davone Bess and it’s hard to expect a ton from either.

New England

It looks like the running back battle between Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley is over as Ridley played exclusively with the first unit and had 87 rushing yards and a touchdown on 16 carries and also added 17 yards on three touches. Vereen had two carries for -3 yards before exiting with yet another injury, this time to his left foot. It looks like Ridley will be the primary option early in the season, but he’s going to be one fumble away from losing playing time, so keep that in mind. The Patriots will still employ a committee, making Ridley a high risk, high reward play most weeks. Ryan Mallett played well and threw two late scores. It would be interesting to see who would enter the game if Tom Brady were to get hurt. Have the Pats seen enough from Mallett to move him ahead of Brian Hoyer?

Tampa Bay

The story here has to be Doug Martin. He started the game and did not give up any work to LeGarrette Blount, which was a bit of a surprise. Martin rewarded the Bucs with 53 rushing yards on 13 carries, 12 receiving yards and a touchdown. It sure looks like the torch has been passed, but let’s see what happens in week one. It’s doubtful Blount just completely disappears. Vincent Jackson also caught three passes for 49 yards – that’s a good omen for Josh Freeman.

Seattle

We’ve talked about Russell Wilson a ton here the past couple of days, but he was obviously the story of the game. He went 13-for-19 for 185 yards and two touchdowns and also added 58 rushing yards on two carries. He was named the regular season starter late Sunday night as the Seahawks decided it was just going to be too tough to keep this kid on the bench now. The other hidden gem the Seahawks may have landed in the draft could be Robert Turbin, who looked explosive en route to 93 yards and a score on just 14 carries.

Kansas City

Ugh. This team got worked over by Seattle in their dress rehearsal. Matt Cassel was very ordinary as he completed 19-of-34 for 168 yards, one touchdown and one interception. There really wasn’t much of anything that went well for the Chiefs, though Jamaal Charles did pick up 32 yards on just six carries.

San Diego

With all the injuries this team has had of late, it was probably wise to rest all their good players and they did just that. Nobody in the running back corps set themselves apart and this is looking like a major committee until Ryan Mathews comes back.

Minnesota

They should have dominated this game against San Diego’s reserves, but really didn’t. Nobody played that well, other than Percy Harvin, who had two catches for 53 yards. This team is going to really struggle offensively without Adrian Peterson.

Chicago

It’s really obvious the only thing holding this team back from being a serious contender is going to be their offensive line. Jay Cutler was running for his life most of the game, but he was still able to finish 9-for-21 for 96 yards and a 21 yard touchdown to Brandon Marshall. There’s no doubt those five linemen are going to determine the fate of this team as they have really struggled to block.

New York Giants

David Wilson stole the show yet again, rushing for 49 yards on just five carries. He also caught two passes for 26 yards, showing great explosion and elusiveness. If Ahmad Bradshaw ever misses serious time, Wilson is going to put up some serious points. As it is, he’s likely earned himself a nice time share. There was a Ramses Barden sighting as he caught three passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. Too little, too late in my book.

Indianapolis

Andrew Luck was solid yet again, this time going 14-for-23 for 151 yards with a pretty touchdown pass to TY Hilton. The Indy running game certainly doesn’t look impressive so far this preseason. Outside of Andrew Luck’s screen pass touchdown to Donald Brown, they really haven’t been able to get much going – it’s a concern for sure. Another concern has been the disappearing act of Coby Fleener. For those expecting early dividends, you may be disappointed.

Washington

RGIII was solid for Washington and showed no hesitancy in unleashing the deep ball. He only had 74 passing yards and a score, but those numbers really don’t do him much justice. At running back, it was rookie Alfred Morris who stole the show with 107 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries. After the game, Mike Shanahan said Morris is certainly in the mix to be the starter in week one. Just shoot us all now.

Pittsburgh

Speaking of running games, the Steelers version is struggling. Isaac Redman had just 24 yards on 12 carries. Pittsburgh also lost rookie guard David DeCastro to a knee injury and that’s not going to help it out a bit. If Mike Wallace doesn’t show up soon, Antonio Brown is going to be targeted a ton – he had seven catches for 108 yards and two scores. Nice.

Buffalo

Much like the Bengals, the Bills are going to enter the season without a true second option at wideout and will likely employ a committee of players until someone steps up. Vince Young hit a new low by going 12-for-26 for 103 yards, with two interceptions. How bad was it? The Bills traded for Tarvaris Jackson to back up Ryan Fitzpatrick, making Young the third quarterback at best. What a fall from grace.

Oakland

Carson Palmer’s struggles continued and he’s now gone 33-of-56 for 321 yards, no touchdowns, and four interceptions in his three preseason games. There were two bright spots for Oakland. First, Darren McFadden is still healthy. Second, rookie Rod Streater continued his dominant preseason. We have more on Streater here.

Detroit

Mikel Leshoure made his much anticipated debut for the Lions and promptly provided one yard on five carries. To make things worse, Kevin Smith twisted his ankle. His injury isn’t serious, but again shows how fragile he really is. Matt Stafford injured his hand as well, but it’s not looking bad and it’s also his non-throwing hand. He better get healthy because he may have to throw for 6,000 yards this year to make up for a lack of a running game.

St. Louis

Sam Bradford struggled mightily, going 6-for-17 for 64 yards. It’s hard to blame him because his receivers haven’t been able to get much separation and he hasn’t been protected well. At what point is it going to be smart to be concerned about Isaiah Pead? So far this preseason, he has just 50 yards rushing on 25 carries and 10 yards receiving on seven catches. Fellow rookie Daryl Richardson looks better than Pead at the moment.

Dallas

Kudos to Tony Romo who went 9-for-13 for 198 yards and two touchdowns without the services of Dez Bryant, Miles Austin or Jason Witten. Dwayne Harris was the story of the night as he had 118 yards and two receiving touchdowns. I doubt that sewed up the third receiver job for him, but it likely kept him from getting cut.

Houston

The entire Texans offense looks to be in mid-season form as Ben Tate, Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub all played well. Lestar Jean and Keshawn Martin continue to make plays and will likely each make them during the regular season as well. Looking for a sleeper at tight end?  How about Garrett Graham who has shown steady improvement all offseason and capped that off with four catches for 97 yards to lead the team.

New Orleans

Drew Brees looks to be ready for opening day as he went 17-for-25 for 179 yards and two scores. The roster battle between Chris Ivory and Travaris Cadet seems to be going down to the wire. Ivory won round three with 57 yards on eight carries, though he did lose a fumble. Keep your eye on Cadet. If he gets cut and lands on a running back starved team, he could be worth holding on to.

Denver

He’s baaaack.

Peyton Manning went 10-for-12 for 122 yards, two touchdowns (both to Eric Decker) and no interceptions in just one quarter against one of the league’s best defenses in San Francisco. Ronnie Hillman made his much anticipated debut for the Broncos, but finished with just 29 yards on ten carries. You’re just not going to see an early return on Hillman this year.

San Francisco

Anthony Dixon is on the roster bubble, but he responded with 58 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. It’s going to be interesting to see if that’s enough. Vernon Davis had just one catch, but it went for a 44 yard touchdown. Randy Moss didn’t have a catch and it’s starting to get a little discouraging.

Carolina

The biggest injury of the week may have happened in its final game as Jonathan Stewart was carted off the field with a right ankle injury. X-rays were negative, but he was seen on crutches after the game. It’s early, but that smells like a high ankle sprain to me and if that’s the case, DeAngelo Williams’ trade value just went way up. If Stewart is going to be sidelined for a while, it’s time to truly evaluate your team. If you feel you’re not a contender, Williams would fetch a nice price from a competing team. It’s late on Sunday as we post this, so much is still not known about Stewart’s injury, but be prepared to take action if it’s significant.

NY Jets

The best ticket in town may just be a seat in the end zone, not by the end zone for the Jets this year – they never make it in there, so there’s plenty of space available. The Jets have still yet to score a touchdown this preseason and Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow have both looked, well, not great. With all due respect, they’re getting no help as receivers continue to drop passes and no running back has shown anything special. They have two weeks to turn this around or it’s going to go South in a hurry.

We’ll be back later this week to take a look back at the upcoming mid-week action for week four.

Ken Kelly
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