Ravens v Eagles
Joe Flacco (3-7, 23 yards 2 int) and the Baltimore offense looked bad in this game. Part of this the reason was that the Philly defense is just really good(and their starting 3 linebackers weren’t playing!). With Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond III now patrolling the secondary the Eagles could cut down on the big pass plays that plagued them last year and push to be a top 3 fantasy defense once again. As far as the Baltimore offense goes they really need Breshad Perriman to get healthy and develop into a number 1 WR. Justin Forsett (5 car. 29 yards) will get a lot of work but might be easy to stop without a strong passing game.
Sam Bradford (3-5, 35 yards) played in his first game as an Eagle after his second ACL tear. He took a huge shot to his knees from Terrel Suggs and got up no worse for wear. This offense looked in mid-season form and as Bradford gets more comfortable I think he’s only going to get better. He looked decent for a guy who essentially hasn’t played in two years.
Both Ryan Mathews and Demarco Murray scored tds and Darren Sproles saw a lot of work. I expect Murray to be the leader of this trio but the fantasy points will be spread out, there will be lots of frustrating weeks for Murray owners. Murray and Mathews both scored in this game.
Rams v Titans
Marcus Mariota (5-8, 59 yards) looked a lot more solid in this game, the first game jitters were gone. He had a first quarter td dropped and was really accurate on almost all his throws on the night. I still wonder about the upside in a non-option offense for Mariota but he’s at least looking like he can exist in the NFL as a pocket passer. I’m not super excited about the receivers in this offense but Mariota looked for Kendall Wright (2 rec. 15 yards) on a lot of his throws. It’s possible Mariota could really turn Wright into a fantasy stud this year.
The Rams offense looked really unoriginal and out of synch in this game. They talk about getting Tavon Austin (0 catches) the ball in space and then make almost zero attempt to make this happen. The Rams look like they will be running the ball a lot. If Tre Mason (3 car 6 yards) is going to be getting the bulk of the carries until Todd Gurley is back then he should be a good early season fantasy play.
Panthers v Dolphins
Miami’s offense looked pretty solid in this one. Lamar Miller (2 rec. 38 yards) is the clear starting back in Miami and was running with his typical burst in this one. The running backs in Miami are a big part of the passing game and so even a slight uptick in carries for Miller could mean some big games. Damien Williams (1 rec. 11 yards and a td, 4 car. 14 yards and a td) looks like the clear backup/third down back now as well. Williams looks a lot like Miller and is a great receiver himself. If Miller goes down and Williams inherits his volume he could be a big play.
The Dolphins passing game is going to include a lot of 5-10 yard passes. The fins have a nice group of smaller but quick WR who can thrive in this sort of quick hitting scheme. Jarvis Landry (4 rec. 20 yards) might come close to 100 catches this year but his yards per catch numbers might not be too spectacular. I’d also predict a nice bounce back for Jordan Cameron who might be their best red zone option.
Life without Kelvin Benjamin began this week for Carolina’s offense and the future doesn’t look good. Cam Newton threw a pick 6 in his game and had some bad drops by his receivers. I think you could actually see an uptick in running for both Cam and Jonathon Stewart this season due to the injury. Rookie Devin Funchess didn’t play but Carolina really needs him to step up once the regular season starts.
Packers v Steelers
Jordy Nelson went down in this game looks done for the season. This is big for daily fantasy because some of his production could be replaced by cheaply priced options on DraftKings. Both TE Richard Rogers (3 rec. 30 yards and a td) and WR Jeff Janis (2 rec. 25 yards) are decent options to see an uptick in production and both had multiple catches in this game. Janis has very comparable metrics to Nelson and definitely has the ability to develop into the same kind of down field threat that Nelson is/was. You’ll want to see who the starting WR3 is in this offense because that player could be big (and cheap) for fantasy many weeks.
As far as other starters go: Randall Cobb could push for 100 catches with Jordy out and Eddie Lacy, who looked great in this game, might also get a few more passes.
There’s not a huge amount to report in Pitt. The starters all played for a few series and looked good. Out of all the offenses in the NFL this one should look the closest to what you saw last year. Antonio Brown will see a ton of targets and Martavis Bryant will continue to get a lot of deep balls and red zone looks thrown his way. After he serves his suspension, I also expect Le’Veon Bell to be one of the highest volume backs in the league both from a passing and carries perspective. There will be some big fantasy days for these players in 2015.
Raiders v Vikings
It sounds strange but the Raiders offense is actually going to be interesting to watch this year, mainly because of two players. Latavius Murray (4 car. 20 yards and a td) might push to be one of the top 5 backs in fantasy this year. Murray is big and looked great in this game. He ripped off 5+ yard chunks with ease and moved the pile for a td once the Raiders got near the goal line. If he starts getting 20+ carries and a few targets in the pass games I don’t see any way he doesn’t have a big year, the talent is absolutely oozing from this player. Amari Cooper (1 rec. 40 yards) handily beat Terrence Newman on a 40 yard catch. Cooper already looks like a veteran on the field and will probably see a ton of targets this year. I worry about his efficiency with Derek Carr at QB but the targets should be there.
Teddy Bridgewater (10-14 and a td) continued his nice preseason form in this game. Bridgewater looks like a 10 year veteran going through his progressions and there has rarely been a moment in the first three games where he has forced a throw or tried to take more than what the defense gave him. When he has thrown the ball he’s also looked insanely accurate. In this game he threw a beautiful 10-15 yard fade to a well-covered Charles Johnson (4 rec. 40 yards and a td) for a td. When Adrian Peterson gets installed in this offense in the regular season the Vikings are going to be hard to stop. With the Vikings surrounding Bridgewater with such good talent Bridgewater could be in for a bigger fantasy season than people realize.
Chargers v Cardinals
The world got introduced to RB David Johnson (13 car. 66 yards, 2 rec. 15 yards) in this game. Johnson looked like a bigger, more powerful version of Andre Ellington (2 car. 12 yards) when running. On one of his first carries he ripped off 12+ yards, with the last 4 or so gained simply by him moving the pile (ie 4 Chargers) past the first down marker. Johnson looks fast and is a great receiver. This doesn’t mean the end of Andre Ellington, but a timeshare is looming here. The Cardinals once again made a point of getting John Brown (3 rec. 39 yards and a td) the ball and once again he ended up in the end zone for a td. Brown might become an Antonio Brown-light sort of weapon this year for Arizona, he’s someone to watch for fantasy.
Honestly there’s not much to take from this game from a San Diego standpoint. Phillip Rivers and Melvin Gordon skipped this game and the Chargers struggled in both the pass and run game. You’ll get a better sense in week 3 of how this offense looks.
Cowboys v 49ers
This was a really pathetic showing the Cowboys. Most of their starters did not play but it’s still a reminder that the Boys’ are not far from being a terrible team. Joseph Randle (7 car. 30 yards) looked OK but Darren McFadden (3 car. 4 yards) looked like he has the past two seasons, washed up. The Cowboys hopes might rest squarely on Randle and if can somehow replicate DeMarco Murray’s production from last year. Hopefully more of the starters play in week 3 so we can get a gauge of whether there’s any hope outside of Dez Bryant in the pass game for fantasy purposes.
San Francisco’s starters didn’t play much either. Neither starting WR caught a pass and Colin Kaepernick only attempted 5 of them before leaving. I foresee another low passing output season from the San Fran offense. Carlos Hyde (7 car. 39 yards) will probably get a good amount of volume. It’s significant to note that he has been involved in the pass game this preseason and the 49er’s seem intent on giving him a starter’s workload.
Jaguars v Giants
The Giants first team offense looked pretty bad in this game. However Eli Manning (4-14 46 yards) is known for being a slow starter so I guess just chalk it up to that. Reuben Randle looks to be out for a while and James Jones (5 rec. 83 yards) got a lot of work in this game and looked decent. If Jones sticks with the team as the second WR he might become fantasy relevant again. The Giants project to be one of the highest volume passing teams this year. Also of note was the Giants RB rotation. Shane Vereen caught a pass for 14 yards in this game but also took three carries. There’s been rumours Rashad Jennings isn’t going to be the lead back and a rotation here seems likely. Vereen could be big if he gets even half the snaps in a high-tempo, passing-based offense.
I’m not big on anything Jacksonville for fantasy, but the one wide receiver on Jax who could really make a fantasy impact this year is Allen Robinson (3 rec. 64 yards). Robinson’s the best of a mostly mediocre group and should be the number 1 target for the equally mediocre Blake Bortles (8-16, 98 yards). Robinson showed his speed on a nice 36 yard completion in this game and is a player who could be huge if he were in a more high powered offense. In Jacksonville he’ll be hit or miss but with the Jaguars potentially facing some serious garbage time situations this season there’s also potential for big fantasy games.
Patriots v Saints
Lots of things to take note of for New Orleans. The first is how good Brandin Cooks (4 rec. 117 yards and a td) looks. Cooks caught a short pass early in the game, made a defender miss (I mean completely miss) and gained another 7-8 yards before being thrown out of bounds. Then he took an end around for about ten yards in which he was one missed tackle away from a td. Then he blew by a corner and caught a long 45 yard pass for a td. With Jimmy Graham gone, Cooks is going to be ridiculous for fantasy this year as the Saints are manufacturing touches for him and using him all over the field.
The Saints running game is also of note. Mark Ingram (3 rec. 45 yards) looks good catching the ball out of the backfield, but guess what, so does Khiry Robinson (2 rec. 28 yards), and oh yeah there’s that CJ Spiller guy who didn’t even play in this game. This is going to a three-headed RB monster many weeks and a situation I’d avoid unless it was clear one back was getting the majority of the work (ie the others are injured). There’s potential, especially with Drew Brees passing the ball, but workload is everything in fantasy.
For New England, Tom Brady played a short amount and then let Jimmy Garoppolo (28-33, 269 yards, td, int) take over. Garoppolo looked much better in this game and I personally think there’s potential for him as a cheap QB play early in the season on DraftKings (if Brady is out due to Deflategate). Many of New England’s starters were out and so I wouldn’t get too excited about any of the other performances. Don’t forget, Jonas Gray (7 car. 22yards), who I think looks slimmer this season, might get a lot of work early this season with LeGarette Blount suspended for the first game.
Bears v Colts
The first two plays in this game might be a microcosm for the Bears season. Matt Forte (8 car 24 yards) got tackled for losses or no gains on both plays. Teams are going to stack boxes and dare Jay Cutler (8-9 69 yards) to beat them. Right now Kevin White looks like he’ll miss at least half of the regular season and Alshon Jeffrey is hurt. To make matters worse Marquess Wilson was injured in this game. Matt Forte is still going to be ok for fantasy simply due to sheer volume and his involvement in the pass game but the Bears are going to have trouble moving the ball. This could be a very long season to be a Bears fan.
Everyone is going gaga for Eddie Royal and the extra targets he’ll see as a result of all the Bears WR injuries but the person who might benefit the most is Martellus Bennett (3 rec. 32 yards). Cutler loves his big targets and Bennett already has a good connection with Cutler. Bennett might see double digits many weeks.
The Indy offense started slow in this game but revved it up for a series before the starters left. Andrew Luck (5-9, 71 yards) is going to be huge this year for a couple reasons. One the Colts still don’t look like they can run the ball consistently (even against a weak Bears defense) and two, he has even more weapons now. TY Hilton (2 rec. 52 yards) still looks like the lead dog in this offense, even with Andre Johnson (1 rec. 8 yards) on the field. Luck loves to throw it 15+ yards and Hilton is one of the best deep route runners in the NFL. He got open at will against Kyle Fuller in this game. The Colts also continued to work in Phillip Dorsett (3 rec. 21 yards), another Hilton-like receiver. Dorsett is crazy fast and will probably work in on many three and four WR sets this year, making him a bit of a homerun play for fantasy in this high powered offense.
Broncos v Texans
Well CJ Anderson started this game for the Broncos but once again Ronnie Hillman (8 car. 58 yards) looked like the best RB running the ball. Hillman is now averaging 7.5 ypc in the preseason and looks to be the biggest beneficiary of Gary Kubiaks zone blocking scheme. Anderson is the starter but remember it was Kubiak who, last year in Baltimore, promoted similar style RB Justin Forsett to starter after a game or two in Baltimore.
Peyton Manning played a couple series in this game. It’s hard to read too much into a few snaps but the Broncos might really miss Julius Thomas this year. The Texans were all over Demaryius Thomas (3 rec. 24 yards) in this game and there’s now one less big body for Peyton in the red zone. It’s hard to say but this really looks like a run first team right now.
I really thought the Texans were going to give Ryan Mallet (5-7, 23 yards) some rope in this game and let him try to win the starting job. Mallet looked more accurate than usual in this game and probably has more upside than Hoyer long term, especially given some of the deep play threats on this team. Alas, he was pulled after one quarter and it was announced after the game that Brian Hoyer would be starting week 1 of the regular season. I think this downgrades DeAndre Hopkins—who had zero catches in this game—quite a bit unfortunately.