Kansas City v Arizona
The Chiefs starters played a bit in this game. Alex Smith (6-10, 42 yards int, 1 car. 16 yards rushing) didn’t do a whole lot but it was telling that on a couple different plays he actually attempted passes of greater than 15 yards. Smith completed zero td passes to his WR’s last years and you can tell the Chiefs do not want a repeat of that feat this year. Look for Albert Wilson and Jeremy Maclin, and once he’s healthy Chris Conley, to all be sneaky DFS options this year.
The Kansas City passing option that will probably be the best week in, week out performer though is likely Travis Kelce (2 rec, 15 yards). Andy Reid had a strange obsession with giving Anthony Fasano playing time over Kelce last season, but with Fasano gone Reid should now give Kelce all the snaps he can handle. It was telling that 2 of Smith’s 6 completions in this game went to Kelce and could foreshadow a huge Fantasy season ahead for both players.
In Arizona Carson Palmer played one series and went 4-4 for 74 yards passing. It was important because it was his first action since an ACL tear last season. Palmer’s first play was a quick out to speedy John Brown (1 rec. 14 yards). The Cardinals love Brown and even though he’s not exactly huge or a redzone target, in this era of the NFL small-returner type WR’s have had plenty of success (see Antonio Brown). If the Cardinals start designing plays for Brown and make it a priority to get him 5+ targets each game in screens or quick slants he could make for a pretty reliable ppr play.
There’s been a lot of talk about avoiding Andre Ellington (2 rec. 59 yards, 3 car. 3 yards and a td) due to concerns that the Cardinals will limit his workload. However until David Brown gets healthy the Cardinals do not have another quality back on their roster. Ellington will get a lot of work in the pass and run game until that time. As we saw in this game, as long as he’s healthy he can produce big plays.
Houston v San Francisco
Houston appears to be going with Brian Hoyer (2-4, 67 yards and a td) as their starter. He played one series and then gave way to Ryan Mallett (10-11, 90 yards). I’m personally not fans of either of these guys and my advice would be to stay away most weeks. Bill O’Brien seems content on running the ball 30+ times a game anyways and neither of these QBs have shown they can be efficient fantasy producers in a low volume passing offense.
It’s sort of a shame that Houston doesn’t have better QB’s because Cecil Shorts (1 rec. 58 yards and a td) and DeAndre Hopkins are one of the most intriguing, athletic duos in the NFL. A healthy Shorts took a short slant 58 yards to the house in this game. That is what Cecil Shorts can do, turn a short gain into a td in a blink of an eye. Many people forget how explosive he can be since he was injured and ineffective in Jacksonville last year but the talent is still there. Ditto for DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins made some circus catches last season and came up with a great catch on a two point conversion in this game. Hopkins would be massive for fantasy if he were in a higher volume passing offense but in Houston he’ll be up and down with some massive games and some duds.
Alfred Blue (9 car. 59 yards) looks like he is in the lead to be the head back for Houston. I think Blue is probably a little bit of an underrated power back and he did hold up well when given big volume last year. The problem with Blue for fantasy is that he’s one-dimensional, he doesn’t catch many passes and most of his plays come from volume or short red zone rushes. In games where you know Houston won’t be behind all game Blue might be worth a look, but I still feel as if his upside is going to be fairly limited most weeks.
Colin Kaepernick just missed hooking up with Torrey Smith on a long TD in this game. Unfortunately that might be a popular phrase amoung writers this season. Kaepernick looked about the same to me, his arm is still a canon but he’s a little bit too indecisive, a little bit too inaccurate and is going to be frustrating many games for fantasy. There is always potential for some big games with Kaepernick and pairing him with Torrey Smith some weeks could pay huge dividends, but I would never want to rely on Kaepernick and the SF to win me a 50/50 league.
Tampa Bay at Minnesota
Jaemis Winston (9-19, 131 yards, int) looked awful in this game. You can attribute this to rookie jitters I guess but this wasn’t the same kind of bad luck/miscues that plagued Marcus Mariota. Winston floated passes, threw behind receivers and just looked bad. If you read my draft breakdown on Winston http://playbook.draftkings.com/nfl/nfl-draft-breakdown-nfc-south/ you probably knew I was already expecting this. Unfortunately Winston’s poor play is likely going to make Mike Evans or Vincent Jackson pretty ineffective many weeks, although there will likely be plenty of garbage time in the Bucs future.
The Bucs RB position is going to be frustrating for fantasy football too. Doug Martin is still there and played like the starter but Charles Sims and Bobby Rainey both played right after him and looked about as good. If one of these backs got a full starters compliment of carries I’d be interested but if all three are going to get work I’d stay away, there’s just not enough talent here to expect big games on small workloads.
Teddy Bridgewater (7-8, 86 yards) continues to impress me. He’s now completed 12/14 passes in the preseason and just looks comfortable at the quarterback position. He’s accurate, moves well in the pocket and he has some very nice receiving weapons. Kyle Rudolph was once again the recipient of two passes from Teddy and so this looks like it could be a consistent ppr connection going forward. Rudolph isn’t going to get much yardage after the catch but he’s big enough to be used as a redzone target.
I worry there won’t be enough targets to make both Mike Wallace (1 rec. 2 yards) and Charles Johnson (zero targets) consistent fantasy options, however in games where Minnesota gets behind you could see one or both go off. Bridgewater doesn’t have a huge arm but he is accurate on his downfield throws. This is a passing offense you can target in games where Minnesota will be forced to do more than just hand the ball off the Adrian Peterson 30 times.
Colts v Eagles
The Phillip Dorsett (4 rec. 51 yards) train has left the station. Dorsett played with the starters in this game and it was evident quickly that the Colts have every intention of using this kid in as many different situations as possible. Dorsett took a couple quick screens and made nice gains simply from his speed and ability to get outside quickly. He also made a couple nice catches on deeper crossing patterns. Dorsett is the real deal. He had some massive games in college and has great speed. I think Dorsett is someone to target early in the season as an under owned, WR option in this offense. I prefer him to the somewhat over-hyped Donte Moncrief and think long term he’ll be the one getting consistent targets (and producing). You can read my NFL breakdown on Dorsett here: http://playbook.draftkings.com/nfl/nfl-draft-breakdown-afc-south/
There was another highly rated rookie WR in this game. Nelson Agholor (3 rec. 57 yards and a td) started on offense for the Eagles and also looked pretty darn good. Agholor caught a badly overthrown quick screen from Mark Sanchez and took it 30 yards or so to the house. I was pretty impressed with the speed he showed. It’s quite plausible that Agholor actually does end up getting a lot of the fantasy points Jeremy Maclin left behind (assuming he gets good play at the QB position). That being said the true number one in this offense is Jordan Matthews (2 rec. 44 yards). Matthews looked semi-dominant in this game and would have had a TD of his own except that the Sanchize over threw him. Matthews had gotten a couple yards of separation and would have waltzed into the endzone.
I know the Eagles will be running lots again this year but I’m still scared of how this RB rotation will work. Ryan Mathews (2 car. 18 yards) played briefly in this game and looked good. I know Demarco Murray is top dog but Mathews is going to play more than people think, and probably be effective when he does. The yards and fantasy points might get split too much for either to be a consistent, weekly option.