Fantasy owners generally begin taking notice of preseason performances in the second week of action, where some starters play a full half. The third game is always the most important, but we were not without takeaways from Week 2 play.
10) WR Jake Kumerow, Green Bay Packers: Two straight weeks, the former Cincinnati Bengal made it happen down the field. He now has touchdowns of 52 and 82 yards, catching six balls in this first two outings. Green Bay’s trio of rookie receivers are all behind Kumerow at this point, leaving Geronimo Allison his only direct competition for PT. Kumerow, 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, will see snaps as a deep threat with select plays called for his skill set, assuming he makes the roster, which seems like a certainty at this stage. Tuck his name into the “watch list” category for now.
9) WR James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers: When all that stands in the way of a receiver from being fantasy relevant is Justin Hunter and Darrius Heyward-Bey, gamers should be champing at the bit to get shares of said player. Washington could be a downfield asset in the mold of Martavis Bryant and contribute splash plays. Despite the excitement, figuring out when to play him will be a challenge. Too many mouths for this offense to feed will make his target share slim and erratic. Like Kumerow, stash away his name in case of an injury.
8) RB Wayne Gallman, New York Giants: The injury to Saquon Barkley emphasized the need to handcuff Gallman, and this notion was only further strengthened by the second-year back going for a pair of scores on just seven touches. He ran one in from 11 yards and snared an 8-yard TD grab. The Giants realistically could work in Gallman more than some gamers expect in effort to keep Barkley fresh.
7) Cleveland Browns RBs: Last week, we included Browns quarterbacks in this space for their impressive group effort. This time around, the running backs, specifically Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb, crack the list. The veteran went for a cool 7.1 yards per carry on his nine handles, finishing with 64 yards and a touchdown. His rookie counterpart manufactured 53 yards on 11 totes and a score of his own. Duke Johnson even got in on the action and ripped off an 18-yarder. Cleveland’s line looked better than expected, albeit against last year’s worst defense of fantasy running backs … in a preseason game, no less. The passing game also is improved enough to keep the opponent honest, and there is nothing wrong with adding Hyde or Chubb in the middle of a draft as a flex.
6) RB James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers: Le’Veon Bell held out last year and was marvelous. This go of it he returns to a new offensive system with a rookie playcaller. And Bell is a year older, coming off a huge workload. It may not be pretty. Conner helped prove he could be a capable replacement in the event of a disaster, logging five carries for 57 yards and a touchdown against mostly first-team defensive players. He is an absolute must as a handcuff.
5) WR Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals: Drawing Odell Beckham comparisons is lofty praise. Kirk is a quick learner, as we saw during his collegiate days, so there is at least one fair connection to OBJ. The Cardinals wanted Brice Butler to start, but an injury has held him down. Kirk produced a 4-49-1 line against the New Orleans Saints, with the touchdown coming off the arm of fellow rookie Josh Rosen. The Texas A&M standout still faces competition for No. 2 job against JJ Nelson and Chad Williams, however. All things considered, the intrigue of Kirk alone makes him a more desirable fantasy addition late in drafts.
4) WR Taywan Taylor, Tennessee Titans: The second-year wideout scored twice in Week 2, racking up 95 yards on his four catches. The downfield weapon made a splash in the 2017 preseason with a knack for acrobatic receptions. Taylor is running with the starters opposite Corey Davis since Marcus Mariota favorite Rishard Matthews has been sidelined for three months with an undisclosed injury. Don’t sleep on Taylor emerging as a season-long asset.
3) TE Trey Burton, Chicago Bears: I’ve called him a sleeper all offseason, and his connection over the weekend with Mitchell Trubisky vividly illustrated why gamers need to own this breakout tight end. The duo hooked up for four receptions and 45 yards worth, including a 7-yard touchdown. This offense relies on the position, and he will become a young quarterback’s best friend. Furthermore, gamers will fall in love with Burton’s ability after the catch.
2) RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers: Two quick points theme his inclusion. McCaffrey is already in midseason form, and Norv Turner will unleash the beast. This isn’t last year’s boring offensive design. The former Stanford star raced for a 71-yard score but still averaged a hearty 5 yards per clip on his other four carries. This was in addition to his four snags for 28 yards. He’s ready to take over.
1) QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs: Following an uninspiring 2018 debut, Mahomes returned to show off his arsenal, launching a pass that traveled 68 yards before reaching Tyreek Hill on the way to a touchdown. More important to fantasy than the occasional bomb, last year’s first-rounder pick displayed a grasp of the offense, despite throwing an interception. He completed eight of his 12 attempts and showed his athleticism with 16 yards on two carries. The connection to Hill is exactly what Andy Reid has coveted during the Alex Smith era. Mahomes is No. 1 for a simple reason: Find that kind of upside with three home run weapons elsewhere in the second half of a fantasy draft. He will give you some bad (the INT) but plenty of good to make up for it.
Honorable mentions: RB Chris Warren (Raiders), RB John Kelly (Rams), QB Chad Kelly (Broncos), WR Calvin Ridley, (Falcons)