Football! Actual, live, guys hitting guys in a different jersey football!
With most of the names you know spending the preseason opener on the sidelines, it was an opportunity for some backups to state their case for playing time. The Steelers took an extended look at Dri Archer, the diminutive yet lightning-quick backup to Le’Veon Bell, and had to be encouraged with what they saw. Archer converted a pair of long third downs and was a stumble or two away from breaking off a couple of big plays. On the night he touched the ball 10 times from scrimmage and picked up 57 yards while adding a 34-yard kick return on special teams. He’s not going to reduce Bell’s touches, but the Steelers are sure to find a way to get the ball in his hands a half-dozen times a game.
On the Vikings side of the ledger, rookie tight end MyCole Pruitt and his 34-yard touchdown reception stood out. Between Pruitt and starter Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota tight ends caught six of six targets for 73 yards and that aforementioned score. Tight ends feast in Norv Turner’s offense, and while Rudolph is the unquestioned starter he’s been prone to injury so it’s good to file Pruitt’s name away for future reference.
Ravens receiver Steve Smith announced he will retire after this season. For one more year, however, he’ll be the go-to receiver in Baltimore—and he’s being dramatically undervalued fantasy-wise. It’s also worth keeping an eye on the Baltimore receiving corps to see who emerges as the dynasty guy to have. Early money is on rookie Breshad Perriman, but he needs to get and stay healthy—and demonstrate he can consistently catch the ball as well.
- Be sure to check out “Pre-Season Game Primer.“
It’s one thing to get fired up in practice; it’s another to scuffle with your team’s franchise quarterback. Yet that’s just what happened during the Panthers’ practice Monday, with cornerback Josh Norman taking on Cam Newton. Ultimately cooler heads prevailed, but given the money Carolina has invested in Newton Panthers management couldn’t have been happy with the situation.
Speaking of quarterbacks, the Patriots said goodbye to veteran Matt Flynn and hello to former Cardinal Ryan Lindley—though Bill Belichick didn’t rule out bringing Flynn back. New England has a more pressing need for quarterback depth given the impending suspension of Tom Brady, but there are no indications Jimmy Garoppolo is falling out of favor as the interim solution.
The Bills aren’t limiting themselves at quarterback; in fact, they’re listing three starters on their first depth chart. It’s a warm fuzzy for Tyrod Taylor and E.J. Manuel, though smart money is on Matt Cassel to open the regular season as the club’s game manager. Smarter money is avoiding the situation entirely.
More depth chart news: the Jaguars are listing rookie T.J. Yeldon alongside Denard Robinson atop their running back depth chart. Fantasy owners are warming up to Yeldon and virtually ignoring Robinson—and there’s a very good possibility it won’t be long until Jacksonville’s depth chart reflects a similar attitude.
Chicago first-round pick Kevin White was running on dry land today, which is a big step up for the rookie wide receiver as he tries to work his way back from shin splints. Recent reports have indicated White might start the season on the PUP list, so the fact that he’s actually running is good news for his redraft fantasy value.
Finally, it was a tough day for Pittsburgh kickers in Canton. Former Steeler Jeff Reed was kicked out of the Hall of Fame game crowd for fighting with another fan. To add injury to insult, current Pittsburgh kicker Shaun Suisham tore his ACL on the third-quarter kickoff and will likely miss the entire season. Fantasy owners hoping to snare the guy tacking on points for one of the league’s more prolific offenses now have to wait until the Steelers actually sign a kicker. Among out-of-work kickers, Jay Feely is the most likely to get a call from Steelers Nation.