Preseason Week 3 is generally regarded as the dress rehearsal for the regular season, and we certainly saw more from starting quarterbacks than in previous exhibition weeks. Here’s a QB-heavy look at some of the numbers that matter from the third full slate of fake games.
Matthew Stafford 11-15-173-2—Zero appearances for Calvin Johnson this preseason and yet there’s still plenty to be giddy about in Detroit. Golden Tate (3-91-1) was a favored target in this weekend’s dress rehearsal, and with Megatron’s return imminent perhaps Stafford is ready to return to the rarified air of the elite fantasy quarterbacks. Better still, how won’t have to do it alone; even if Joique Bell never returns from his offseason knee and Achilles’ tendon surgeries the Lions have Ameer Abdullah (3-8 rushing, 1-21 receiving) and UDFA Zach Zenner (8-85-1) pushing the backfield. Don’t be surprised if some of Detroit’s backfield depth winds up on another roster after cutdown day.
EJ Manuel 7-8-170-2—Speaking of quarterback battles, Manuel was not about to give up the Bills’ starting gig without a fight. In fact, in perhaps the strangest quirk of the entire preseason all of Buffalo’s quarterback options looked good: from Matt Cassel (6-7-38) to Tyrod Taylor (12-13-122 plus 1-20-1 rushing) to Matt Simms (5-5-65-1). Despite the options, Rex is planning to roll with Taylor as the starter. Must have been the touchdown run.
Alex Smith 16-18-171-2—Another shockingly competent—heck, downright impressive—performance for Smith, including another touchdown to a wide receiver (Jeremy Maclin, who went 7-65-1 on the evening). Before getting too puffy about Smith, however, note that backup Aaron Murray (15-20-146-2) had just as much success against the Titans’ defense.
Sam Bradford 10-10-121-3—“In Chip We Trust” is looking as if it will pay off big, as Bradford was perfect in running the Philly offense in Preseason Week 3. His night included a beautiful touch pass to Darren Sproles (2-41-1 receiving) and a pair of tight end touchdowns, one each to Trey Burton (4-21-1) and Brent Celek (1-7-1). The distribution is worth noting if you’re investing heavily in Philly wide receivers—or want to snag Zach Ertz upon his return.
Nick Foles 10-11-128-1—The other end of the big offseason trade wasn’t quite perfect, but he gave the Rams everything they were hoping for—including a 44-yard TD to Chris Givens (2-63-1). Foles’ importance increases if Tre Mason (4-12) remains sidelined, as neither Isaiah Pead (6-18) nor Bennie Cunningham (5-5) looked capable of holding serve until Todd Gurley is ready to go.
Ryan Tannehill 15-19-145-1—Tannehill continues to look every bit ready to take that leap forward to the upper tier of fantasy production. Moreover, Tannehill looks like he’ll be bringing Jarvis Landry (5-84) along for the ride.
Josh McCown 17-23-117-2, 3-20 rushing—With Johnny Manziel sidelined by a sore elbow, McCown used his opportunity against his former team to underscore his position as Cleveland’s starter. Still hard to view him as a fantasy contributor, but McCown has surprised before.
Kirk Cousins 20-27-190-1-1—Whether it was RG3’s performance or Cousin’s strong performance, Jay Gruden named him the Week —nay, the entire season-long—starter. It certainly helped that Washington’s offensive line didn’t surrender a sack this week. A strong ground game will also aid the cause, which may mean we see more Matt Jones (7-57 plus 1-17 receiving) than Alfred Morris (7-4 plus 2-6 receiving) sooner as opposed to later.
Darren McFadden 4-37, 1-6 receiving—McFadden capitalized on opportunities provided by the elite Dallas offensive line, running untouched for much of his 37 yards. His showing will likely earn him more touches and shuffle the expected ratio between he and Joseph Randle (6-15, 1-8 receiving)… at least until McFadden’s next injury.
Ty Montgomery 2-71, Jeff Janis 3-72-1—The battle for WR3 snaps in Green Bay remained a tie, though both Montgomery and Janis may see extra work if the shoulder injury to Randall Cobb (keeps him out for any length of time. If that’s the case, overzealous fans of the Packer offense may just move Davante Adams to the first overall pick.