Bills v Browns
This was pretty much an abomination of a game from an offensive standpoint. The Browns offense looked horrid from start to finish. Josh McCown (7-10, 57 yards, 2 int) threw two really bad picks in this game and was essentially under pressure all night. The Browns top receiver, Dwayne Bowe was out for but it’s unlikely he would have made even a small difference. McCown is a very limited, static QB with a below average arm. In an offense without stud wide-outs like Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall where he can’t just throw random jump balls he will struggle. I’ll be targeting the Defense facing the Cleveland offense at every chance I get in daily fantasy.
The Browns running backs had a few decent runs. Both Terrence West (11 car, 42 yards) and Isiah Crowell (5 car, 14 yards) got chances with the first team offenses and both had their moments. Neither of these players are game breakers though and they will be facing stacked boxes almost all year. A timeshare here seems likely and I still haven’t even mentioned rookie Duke Johnson, probably the most talented of the trio, who did not play in this game. I want nothing to do with the Cleveland run game unless an injury occurs and the workload falls squarely to one back.
The Browns wide-outs are also going to be near useless for fantasy. Outside of Dwayne Bowe is Brian Hartline (2 rec, 18 yards) and then a plethora of small wide receivers. The pass game will be muted regardless of whether McCown or Johnny Football is at QB. Speaking of Johnny Manziel (10-18 and a td, 3 car, 19 yards) he moved the ball in one drive against the Bills second team defense but then faltered on the last two drives with the game on the line. Due to the ineptitude of McCown you will probably see Manziel at some point. Manziel’s feet give you hope, and he did make one nice play in this game that’s been repeated on twitter about a million times. However there’s just not enough outside his decent mobility to make him reliable for fantasy, he struggled against the seconds in this game for most of the night. The Browns offense as a whole should be treated as a nuclear waste area for daily fantasy this season, do not go within 100 miles of their players.
Tyrod Taylor (7-10, 65 yards… 4 car, 41 yards) got the start for Buffalo and likely won the starting job. Greg Roman the former 49er OC is running the show in Buffalo and you could see his influence at work. Some read option plays and a power run game were the staples of night for Buffalo and Taylor looked fairly competent executing. Most of Taylor’s passes were of the short variety but he was accurate when he did throw. I don’t think Taylor is ever going to have the massive games that Kaepernick or Russell Wilson have had in similar offenses but there’s potential for some consistency here. Running wise Taylor is on par with those two aforementioned stars but lacks the downfield accuracy and passing ability of Wilson.
One problem with Buffalo will be pace. The Bills ran 14+ plays on the first drive and bled nearly 10 minutes or so off the clock and came away with no points. This should benefit Shady McCoy once he’s healthy and I expect him to get a big workload this season. With so many Bills out for this game it was hard to judge who will get the most work at wide receiver but I think Percy Harvin will see lots of short slants, handoffs and screens in this offense. He might even lead the team in targets (but not yards) over Sammy Watkins.
Based on this game I’d say the Buffalo defense might lead the league in sacks/pressures or come close to it. They have a talented group up front, better than average corners and Rex Ryan, who brought pressure on what seemed like over half the plays in this game. Against a weak offense like this the Bills defense should be fantasy gold.
Detroit v Washington
Another season, another stack of highlights of Robert Griffin III (2-5, 8 yards) getting beaten down in the pocket by opposing D-lineman and ultimately being sent to the locker room. When Griffin was in this game he looked pretty bad. He had almost no time to operate and failed to attempt a pass longer than about 10 yards. You can stop chasing 2012 on Griffin (I chased him all last year). Unless the Redskins start running the read option every play than Griffin is done in Washington. Jay Gruden seems firm on not changing his scheme to favour Griffin’s strengths and I want nothing to do with RGIII as a drop back passer. Griffin looks like he avoided serious injury here (he might even play in the next preseason game) but still, I doubt he survives the entire season as starter.
The backups in this game, Colt McCoy (5-6, 8-yards and a td) and Kirk Cousins (8-12, 91 yards and a td), could have a little value when one of them eventually takes over (due to injury or poor play). Cousins is the better down field passer but McCoy is a little more reliable and can move the ball with his feet. In high scoring games both have potential for a big fantasy point total considering the quality of wide receivers in Washington but inconsistency will reign at QB for Washington, regardless of who is under centre.
I’m really excited about rookie Matt Jones (8 car, 44 yards and a td). I’ve been targeting him in my preseason DFS lineups and write-ups and he’s really paid off. He looks like a faster, more explosive Alfred Morris and I think it’s only time before he gets at least 50% of the carries, and possibly takes over. The run game is the only shot the Skins have at moving the ball consistently.
Desean Jackson is still hurt and Pierre Garcon received one pass in this game. These are two high quality receivers but you have to wait and see who is going to be starting under centre week 1 before playing either of them. At this point, McCoy or Cousins is likely an upgrade for their prospects.
There’s not a ton of news to report for Detroit. The main takeaway from this game for me was that it’s probably time to put the brakes on the Ameer Abdullah (2 car, 7 yards) hype train. Abdullah split carries with Theo Riddick (3 car, 4 yards) and quite honestly both looked about the same to me… pretty average against a stout Washington front 7. When Joique Bell gets back this is a three headed RB monster for fantasy and I haven’t even mentioned Zach Zenner (4 car, 22 yards … 5 rec, 59 yards and a td) who looked like the best RB of the night for Detroit (admittedly playing against second stringers for some parts). If Bell remains out for the regular season Zenner will be in the mix for work, he was borderline dominant in this game and really excelled as a pass catcher too. It will be a guessing game in Detroit for fantasy this year with Abdullah probably being the high upside option but ultimately sharing snaps with up to three other backs.
Golden Tate (2 rec, 21 yards) continues to look really good in this offense. With Calvin Johnson out last year Tate’s fantasy numbers went through the roof and I expect that trend to continue in 2015. Tate is a great runner after the catch (a ridiculous 720 yac last year) and reliable target for Matt Stafford (6-8, 78 yards) who is not afraid to chuck the ball in tough places. Even with Megatron in the lineup Tate is going to be a great weekly option, especially in high scoring affairs. I would really not bother with any other Detroit receiving options this year outside of the two aforementioned players. Eric Ebron is simply not a stud TE waiting to happen and Jeremy Ross and Ryan Broyles looked decent in this game but won’t see enough targets.