Since Week 4 pre-season games do not matter as very few fantasy-relevant players see the field, I thought it would be a good idea to answer the questions I asked last week. Between the games that were on live over the weekend, and the replays on the NFL Network (found it great that you can DVR a game and watch the whole thing in less than an hour), I watched almost all of the games.
Miami at Philadelphia - Which receiver is Jay Cutler’s favorite? DeVante Parker. Who is the number one receiver in Philly? Zach Ertz. Cutler does not hesitate to throw deep, completing a 72-yard pass to Parker and drawing a pass interference call. One pass led to a Jay Ajayi one-yard TD run and the other led to a one-yard Cutler-to-Thomas TD pass. Wentz spread the ball around to Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and Zach Ertz. This Eagles offense looked good with Wendell Smallwood in the backfield.
Carolina at Jacksonville - How do Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey mesh? Too early to tell. Does the move to Chad Henne help Allen Robinson? NO, and it was short-lived anyway. Cam played one series, completing short passes to Christian McCaffrey, Jonathan Stewart and Kelvin Benjamin but threw nothing downfield. Stewart was the primary back. The move to Henne did nothing for the Jaguars offense, so they decided to go back to Bortles. This offense has the makings of a huge mess.
New England at Detroit – Does Brandin Cooks catch anything short? Not really. Can Ameer Abdullah be a primary back? YES, if you believe he can stay healthy. With Julian Edelman suffering a torn ACL, the value of Cooks and Chris Hogan go up. I challenge you to guess the game-day rotation of the Patriots running backs – Mike Gilislee, James White, Dion Lewis, and Rex Burkhead will drive fantasy owners batty all season. Draft them only in a best-ball/draft champion type of format where you do not have to guess from week to week. On the Lions side, Matthew Stafford did not look great. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones made some impressive catches and dropped some easy passes. Abdullah was heavily involved in the running and passing game – it is all about health with him.
Kansas City at Seattle – Can Patrick Mahomes overtake Alex Smith at QB? Not sure it matters with the lack of quality wide receivers in KC, but Mahomes plays like an NFL veteran. Does someone emerge as the primary back in Seattle? With Rawls and Prosise still out, Lacy ran hard in limited action. Spencer Ware leaves with a right knee injury and is done for the season, moving Kareem Hunt up to Round 3/4. Russell Wilson looked sharp.
Buffalo at Baltimore – Is Zay Jones legit? Eight targets certainly makes him appear to be legit. Does Jeremy Maclin have anything left in the tank? No way to tell at this point, honestly.
New York Jets at New York Giants – Can Bilal Powell and Robby Anderson become dominant fantasy scorers for a really bad team? I would bet on a lot of garbage time points. Can anyone on the Giants run the ball? No, so expect a healthy dose of Eli Manning.
Arizona at Atlanta – How is Carson Palmer’s arm strength? There were no real downfield throws, mostly short to intermediate. Is there a Falcons receiver worth rostering after Julio? There was nothing in the Falcons offense that made me want to say yes. Cardinals receiver John Brown looked healthy, but for how long? Brittan Golden looks good for Arizona, but he will likely be a late rotation wide receiver once Fitzgerald plays. The Falcons looked completely out of whack on offense when all the starters were in.
Indianapolis at Pittsburgh – Can Marlon Mack emerge as a back that takes some plays away from Gore? Sure looks like it will be all Gore as long as he can handle it. Mack did play on some third downs with the first team. With Bell still out, is there a legit number two that will play in the regular season? There was not here. Terrell Watson, James Conner and Knile Davis all had carries. Fitzgerald Toussant is also in the mix. It will be a long season for the Colts if Luck misses time. That may sound obvious, but if Luck is out, I will scratch just about every Colt off my list.
Cleveland at Tampa Bay – Does Deshone Kizer take the helm and run with the job? Sure looks like it. Which tight end is more involved between Brate or Howard? I see Winston trying to use both. Cleveland is kind of interesting. Something tells me they won’t be as bad as many people think. While I have no real interest in Kizer, I can see guys like Isaiah Crowell and Corey Coleman posting good numbers. The Bucs offense will have days where they are dynamic and unstoppable. But they will probably have others that leave you scratching your head. I fear it might be one year too early before Winston puts it all together.
Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams – Is Cooper Kupp for real? Kupp was out with a minor injury. Is there a legit backup to Melvin Gordon? Branden Oliver is the clear number two. Keenan Allen looks great catching passes for the Chargers, with Travis Benjamin as a deep threat. Malcolm Brown and Justin Davis would both be in play should something happen to Todd Gurley.
Houston at New Orleans – Is there a number two receiver in Houston? Bruce Ellington was by far the best player on the field in the first half. Does Michael Thomas move to the elite class of receivers? There is a ton of short pass volume in the Saints offense, and it appears that most of it will go to Thomas.
Oakland at Dallas - Is Marshawn Lynch finished? YES, he is done. Does Alfred Morris or Rod Smith have any value? The short answer is NO. Cordarrelle Patterson is an intriguing third receiver for the Raiders. DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard appear to be the future of the Oakland backfield. Lynch looked slow. Cole Beasley will again be an overlooked PPR number three fantasy receiver who will go overlooked in drafts due to lack of “upside.”
Green Bay at Denver – Can Montgomery hold up to 15 touches per game? Only four touches for Montgomery, but he did get the goal line carry. Does Trevor Semien have value as a QB2? There was not much to like. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams will battle for carries as the 2nd and 3rd backs. Wide receiver Jordan Taylor looked good with Semien.
Chicago at Tennessee – Do I really want to spend a late first round pick on Jordan Howard? NO. Can Henry take enough carries away from Murray to be relevant? I think Tennessee is going to try. It was depressing to see Cameron Meredith go down for the season. The Bears really do not have much in the way of a receiving group. You can take a flyer on Kevin White, but there is no reason to have a high level of confidence. Tennessee looked so bad on offense that their starters were forced to play into the 3rd quarter. First round pick Corey Davis was supposed to be a new toy for Marcus Mariota, but his hamstring has kept him off the field.
Cincinnati at Washington – Even if Mixon does not start right away, is he worthy of a 4th round pick? If the Bengals get off to a good start, then it will be hard for Mixon to overtake Hill. Can Terrelle Pryor be a real number one receiver? If this game was a real indicator, it could take some time.
San Francisco at Minnesota – Can Carlos Hyde be a top producer? He sure looked the part. No question – Dalvin Cook is for real. But he did not look great against San Francisco. Murray will not really push him.