NFL preseason Week 2 is nearly a wrap, and there aren’t as many worthwhile takeaways for fantasy football purposes as we’d like to see. Most teams rested key players, and a lack of play-calling complexity doesn’t give a fair measure of the level of competition.
Nevertheless, we still have a handful of performances to examine in relation to fantasy football drafting as it enters the stretch run.
Note: We will provide an update after Monday Night Football, as needed.
(MNF update) New Orleans Saints quarterbacks: Jameis Winston received the start and was brilliant, leading the team to consecutive touchdown drives with a pair of scoring bombs to Marquez Callaway. Winston’s final stat line was 9-for-10, 123 yards and the two TD passes. He didn’t turn it over. But neither did Taysom Hill, who connected on 11 of his 20 throws for 138 yards and a red-zone score to WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey on an eight-play drive. The theme all offseason has been simple: When Winston isn’t turning it over, he gives this offense the best chance to be explosive. As long as he plays at a high level, it is better for all of the fantasy components. One has to believe the decision for Sean Payton becomes all that much easier after this contest. Saints sidebar: Callaway will be a red-hot fantasy buy in upcoming drafts, and rightfully so … there is an opportunity to be seized for the WR1 share of targets while Michael Thomas is out.
San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks: Veteran Jimmy Garoppolo (3/6, 15 yards) wasn’t awful, despite throwing an interception that was not entirely his fault. The pass intended for Brandon Aiyuk sailed a little too high but was still catchable. It deflected into the hands of rookie corner Asante Samuel Jr., and that was the end of Jimmy G’s night. Rookie Trey Lance came in to lead the Niners to a pitch-and-catch score in the late first half, and he returned in the third quarter to laser a pass in for his second TD throw of the contest. Garoppolo’s seat has to be getting a little warmer.
RB Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots: Two preseason games have netted the rookie four rushing touchdowns. Stevenson (15-66-2) looks every bit the part of a capable fantasy commodity. It wasn’t all rosy, however, as he was credited with a fumble lost. The real question will be just how much action he sees in a logjam of a backfield. If nothing else, Stevenson will make the 53-man cut day awfully interesting in New England.
New England Patriots quarterbacks: Both Cam Newton and rookie Mac Jones were sharp in a decimation of the Philadelphia Eagles. The former ended his night with 103 yards and a score on a nearly perfect 8-for-9 passing. Jones turned in 146 yards and didn’t turn over the ball. He finished with 13 completions on 19 attempts.
Washington Football Team running backs: Second-year back Antonio Gibson put any fears of his toe injury to rest with a spry effort in limited time. He tallied 47 yards on nine touches, snagging a pair of passes. The primary backup job could belong to Jaret Patterson after a 16-71-1 day on the ground. The rookie pitched in another 25 yards as he landed all three targets sent his way. Peyton Barber totaled four yards on as many touches and may have slide into the fourth spot on the depth chart after the extensive, successful showing by the slightly undersized Patterson.
QB Zach Wilson, New York Jets: The No. 2 overall pick completed all but two of his 11 throws for 128 yards and a pair of touchdowns vs. the Green Bay Packers on Saturday. Wilson looked decisive, poised, and ready to carve up any second-string defense the league has to offer. For as exciting as it may be to watch a Jets offense offer a spirited showing, it has to be taken in with measured perspective. The Packers hardly played anyone of consequence, and Wilson faced vanilla scheming. That said, even this kind of performance is a step in the right direction as far as Jets quarterbacking goes. He remains no better than a QB3 in 2021 leagues but has given dynasty leaguers a little glimpse of what could be ahead.
WR Corey Davis, New York Jets: Wilson threw 11 times, and six of them ended up going toward Davis. The former Tennessee first-rounder snared four passes for 70 yards, gaining chunks of 14, 24 and 27 yards. The two have shown a hint of chemistry thus far, helping build confidence in Davis’ stock as a WR3.
WR Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals: Maybe there’s something to watch here, but it’s not going to be a deal-breaker for devout believers in Chase shining as a rookie. He dropped two passes from backup Brandon Allen in this one, and a third pass, slightly errant, couldn’t be corralled. Objective outlooks of Chase should leave room for mistakes and rust — he is a rookie who didn’t play last year, after all.
RB Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins: Following a slide in ADP after news of a three-pronged backfield approach, Gaskin may have ended his skid with a pair of touchdowns by land and air. His 10 touches produced 71 yards of offense against a suspect Atlanta defense. The rest of the backfield didn’t play poorly by any stretch, and it’s unlikely Gaskin will see more than 12-15 touches on a given week, but it very well could be enough to return at least flex results each week.
Denver Broncos quarterbacks: Teddy Bridgewater received the start in this one and methodically marched the team to a scoring drive, showing a connection with second-year receiver Jerry Jeudy (2-40-0). The Broncos later turned to Drew Lock with the twos, and it didn’t go so well for the young quarterback. He protected the ball, although the backup offensive linemen didn’t hold up their end of the bargain for Lock himself. It will be interesting to see which quarterback starts in Week 3 of the preseason. Don’t expect a starter to be named prior to that contest.
Washington Football Team quarterbacks: It was an uneven performance by Ryan Fitzpatrick (7-for-13, 96 yards), whereas Taylor Heinicke definitely didn’t hurt his chances in the starting quarterback battle. The former Panther racked up 80 yards through the air and another 26 on the ground, completing 11 of his 13 attempts. Neither quarterback did enough to ice the other in the competition, so onward we go one more week before gamers get a firm answer.
QB Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins: Efficiency was the name of Tagovailoa’s game in this contest. He completed 11 of his first dozen throws and led the team to a pair of quick scores. Only two of his throws went for more than 10 yards through the air, though, and he showed command of the offense throughout the first half. The hope here is the return of Will Fuller and maturation of Jaylen Waddle can help open the offense. Through the past two weeks, Tua has done enough to warrant midrange QB2 optimism.
Chicago Bears quarterbacks: The return of Buffalo Bills backup Mitchell Trubisky overshadowed the duo of Andy Dalton and Justin Fields in this one. The Chicago pair combined for 20 of 36 passing, totaling 226 yards, one score and an interception. Andy Dalton accounted for both the TD and pick, as well as 146 of the yards. He has wrapped up the Week 1 starting spot, per head coach Matt Nagy. Amassing 46 yards on four carries, Fields’ athleticism continues to be his saving grace; it’s only a matter of time before Dalton falters and the rook gets his number called.
TE Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger was dealing against the Detroit Lions, finding the rookie tight end on a pair of short scoring strikes. Freiermuth saw one more target near the stripe from Mason Rudolph on a pass that was far from an easy grab. While veteran Eric Ebron is the starter and led the team in yardage in this game (59), it’s nice to see Freiermuth show some utility for gamers in dynasty formats. Another silver lining is Ebron has been all too acquainted with injuries in his career.