While there’s still one game to be played in the second week of preseason action, we are are highlighting the top performances in advance. Should anything jump out from Monday night’s contest between the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns, we’ll amend the list.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was brilliant, tossing a pair of TDs, and Tennessee’s Derrick Henry found the end zone twice, but neither player made our list. Wilson showed gamers he is fully healthy after last year’s battered campaign. Unfortunately, his starting left tackle was lost for the season. Henry scored on 17-yard and 1-yard rushes but finished with 18 yards on his 14 other carries. Interesting numbers, for sure, but nothing consequential for drafters.
10) Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills: The Bills will forge ahead without Sammy Watkins. Jordan Matthews being on the mend, and now the retirement of Anquan Boldin, leaves Taylor’s outlook as a projected QB2 on shaky terms. The veteran quarterback turned in an awful performance against the Philadelphia Eagles by tossing a pair of interceptions on a dismal 8-for-18 passing. Taylor averaged 2.9 yards per attempt on his 53-yard showing. It is tough to articulate the level of ineptitude it takes to average 2.9 yards per attempt. Think long and hard if you are considering Taylor as a fantasy backup.
9) QB Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys: No Ezekiel Elliott meant no problem at all for Prescott. He finished with 106 yards, including a 32-yard Dez Bryant touchdown, on 7-for-8 passing. The ground game looked capable with Darren McFadden, Rod Smith and Alfred Morris each averaging north of 5.0 yards per carry on 25 combined carries. Prescott’s inclusion is simply a reminder to fantasy owners that life without Zeke will be fine.
8) RB Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings: Against Seattle’s top defense, Cook averaged 5.7 yards per tote on his seven carries. He added one catch for 10 yards. These stats are not earth-shattering in any context, yet he made the list? Cook has benefited from running with the first-team offense the entire offseason while Latavius Murry (ankle) was on the shelf. These reps were immensely important for a rookie. Reacting rather than thinking is vital to enable a running back’s true talent to show through. Cook is a risk-reward RB2 target for gamers who load up on wideouts.
7) QB Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams: Last year’s No. 1 overall draft choice was quite effective, going 16-for-20 passing. He threw a 23-yard touchdown to rookie Cooper Kupp (6-70-1 is encouraging). Goff ended his appearance with 160 yards through the air and no turnovers. While he isn’t a fantasy commodity of his own, Goff’s promising performance helps ease concerns of LA’s fantasy prospects — Todd Gurley, Kupp, Robert Woods, Tavon Austin and Tyler Higbee — struggling because of his incompetence.
6) WR Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars: A fourth-round rookie with first-round talent has to be on the radar of fantasy owners, even if he begins his career buried on the depth charge. Westbrook has a chance to find his way into the starting lineup this season, although it could take some time. Allen Robinson is the only receiver of this group firmly entrenched; Allen Hurns is coming off a down year and an injury this summer, whereas Marqise Lee suffered a high-ankle sprain last week and may not be ready for the opener. Westbrook’s 131 yards on six catches only help his cause. For the sake of fairness, this came from Brandon Allen and not Blake Bortles. Any opportunity to showcase what a player can do is a chance to earn more playing time. Westbrook is a fringe flier for brazen gamblers.
5) RB Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs: A recurring theme this week is the focus on rookie running backs. Hunt may have the best shot at producing draft value. Leonard Fournette, Cook and McCaffrey are all high picks with matching expectations. Hunt has much less fanfare and could be in the conversation of Offensive Rookie of the Year when all is wrapped up. Hunt’s versatility and sneaky athleticism was showcased by his modest 8-40-0 line on the ground, plus a 3-catch, 23-yard aerial effort. Charcandrick West outdid him (7-113-0), but we have seen what West is as a pro. Spencer Ware remains in the picture as the presumed starter come Week 1, yet it may not last long. At a minimum, Hunt will be a regular part of the rotation.
4) RB Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts: The rookie rushed five times for 45 yards and chipped in 14 more on two grabs — hardly eye-popping stats, but he was the lone bright spot in this backfield (arguably the whole offense). Mack’s explosive play will be a welcomed addition to the backfield, and there is an increasing chance Father Time visits Frank Gore during season. Mack is a fine gamble for late-round upside.
3) RB Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints: For the second time in as many weeks, the rookie looked every bit as explosive as billed. Kamara rushed five times for 61 yards, powered by a 50-yard touchdown jaunt. He added 22 yards on a single catch. Kamara will be sprinkled in between Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram needing breaks, but this kind of dynamic playmaking ability will force Sean Payton to create more chances for the former Volunteer. Kamara is a handcuff as well as a speculative pick in his own right.
2) RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers: The prized rookie has lived up to expectations thus far. Against Tennessee, the former Stanford Cardinal ran three times for 33 yards and a 17-yard score, displaying his versatility with 39 yards on a pair of catches. For whatever it may be worth, Jonathan Stewart was bottled up (4-8-0) against first-team competition. Be completely happy with investing as early as a third-round PPR choice in McCaffrey this draft season.
1) QB Tom Savage, Houston Texans: One week can make all of the difference: Rookie first-round Deshaun Watson looked very much the part in Week 1 of the preseason. This past weekend … eh, it was a mixed bag. He completed 102 yards worth of passing, fueled by a 63-yard dump-off to D’Onta Foreman, on a lowly 3-for-10. Savage, however, for the second straight game was nothing short of brilliant. The Pitt product said he isn’t going let anyone take his job, and, boy, has he ever delivered on that promise! Through a pair of preseason games, Savage hasn’t turned over the ball while completing 17-for-20 passing for 167 yards and a score. He is a fringe QB2 but shouldn’t harm the fantasy worth of Houston’s weaponry, which is a huge plus after Brock Osweiler sacrificed DeAndre Hopkins’ 2016 season to the fantasy gods.