Walt, you need to put Texas LT Connor Williams on this list. Dude is going to be one of the best LT's in this class. He'll be a JR this year, but former TE with outstanding movement and pass blocking skills. Dude is a stud and Freshman All-American. First time in a while I've been excited for our Offensive line.
An hour before kickoff, Adam Schefter reported that Matt Leinart's job is in jeopardy. Anyone who watched this game knows why.
Leinart was terrible at Tennessee. He was 4-of-6 for 28 yards, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Looking bored and uninterested, Leinart failed to complete a pass longer than 10 yards. Of his two attempts that went longer than 10 yards through the air, one was way behind his intended target, while the other was so off the mark that the ESPN crew speculated that the intended receiver ran the wrong route. He didn't.
Leinart was interviewed in the second half and blamed his poor play on the fact that the Titans "blitzed every down." Poor Matty. Forum member EllijayFalconsFan commented, "Leinart looks like a snobbish rich kid wondering why he is having to work for something for the first time in his life." I couldn't have said it any better myself.
Missing Larry Fitzgerald and Early Doucet, the Cardinals couldn't muster a first down on their first three drives. Derek Anderson entered on the fourth possession and immediately moved the chains. In fact, Anderson completed a 37-yard pass to Stephen Williams, which was eerily similar to Leinart's second long incompletion. Unfortunately, Anderson reverted to drunk mode later on the drive, completely missing two receivers in the end zone.
Anderson finished 11-of-19 for 105 yards. He wasn't nearly as good as those stats indicate, but he was still better than Leinart. I have to say that I was disappointed that Ken Whisenhunt didn't play rookie John Skelton, who had an unbelievable comeback last week. Skelton is probably the best quarterback on the roster right now. I'll never understand why the Cardinals didn't just trade for Donovan McNabb.
To the chagrin of all Chris Wells owners, Tim Hightower started at Tennessee. Not only that; Wells didn't even receive a touch until the 8:22 mark of the second quarter. I'm not buying that Hightower will keep receiving more touches than Wells. However, it's really disconcerting that Ken Whisenhunt trusts Hightower more because of Wells' deficiencies in terms of catching the football and being a third-down back (pass protection).
Vince Young played really well against the Cardinals, going 9-of-13 for 128 yards. He also had one carry for 10 yards. He's a solid QB2 this season.
I talked to someone a few hours before the Arizona game with inside knowledge of the Titans. He told me that Nate Washington has had an unbelievable training camp, and suggested that I should monitor him tonight for fantasy purposes. I didn't think much of it; after all, Nate Washington is Nate Washington. Man, was I wrong. Washington was definitely the best receiver on the field. He saw six targets and caught three balls for 44 yards. Washington's upside remains limited because the Titans have a run-heavy offense, but he is definitely the receiver to own on Tennessee.
While Nate Washington thrived for the Titans, Kenny Britt struggled against the Cardinals. Britt caught only one pass for eight yards, and drew a delay-of-game penalty by senselessly kicking the ball out of bounds. Based on what I've heard from a Titans source, Britt has spent far too much time partying it up this offseason, which was the reason why he was out of shape going into training camp. Stay away from Britt for the time being.
Dolphins 27, Jaguars 26
Preseason games are meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but the Miami and Jacksonville offenses struggled so much last week that they almost had to come out and really improve themselves. Mission accomplished.
Chad Henne was brilliant at Jacksonville, going 11-of-14 for 151 yards and two touchdowns. He was nearly flawless, as he suffered two drops from Davone Bess and Brandon Marshall. Henne remains a high-upside QB2 with Marshall starting to come on.
Here were Henne's targets:
Davone Bess: 3
Ronnie Brown: 1
Anthony Fasano: 2
Brian Hartline: 2
Brandon Marshall: 4
Lousaka Polite: 1
Ricky Williams: 2
Chad Henne targeted Brandon Marshall a team-high four times. Marshall finished with four grabs for 65 yards. He dropped a pass early on, but made up for it with a 37-yard sideline grab from Chad Pennington.
A scary moment in this game - David Garrard was hit hard in the second quarter and had to leave the contest. Fortunately, he just had the wind knocked out of him. Garrard missed a wide-open Maurice Jones-Drew early on, but was able to finish 6-of-8 for 79 yards and a touchdown.
Here were Garrard's targets:
Greg Jones: 1
Maurice Jones-Drew: 1
Marcedes Lewis: 1
Mike Sims-Walker: 3
Mike Thomas: 1
Troy Williamson: 1
This game was delayed for nearly two hours because of thunderstorms. When the teams finally took the field, the few fans remaining in the stadium had to listen to a 14-year-old kid sing the national anthem. Forum member Wraith offered two reasons why Jacksonville ownership allowed this to happen:
1. Because Wayne Weaver did not want to pay anyone.
2. Or because this way the 14-year-old's family would attend the game, tripling attendance for the Jaguars game.
I was in an awful mood while watching this contest (just received terrible personal news), so I didn't listen to the inept Dolphins TV announcers intently. However, I did pick up the following exchange between Bob Griese and Dick Stockton. Take a look at how out of it Stockton was:
Griese: When I was playing football, we had one 300-pound lineman in the NFL. One! In 2000, there were 300 300-pound linemen. Guess how many 300-pound linemen there were this year?
Griese: There were 345 guys who were 300 pounds or more!
Great guess, Dick Stockton. You were just a tad off.
Rams 19, Browns 17
Sam Bradford saw a ton of action in this contest because A.J. Feeley sprained his thumb on the first drive. Feeley could miss the next preseason contest, which is a shame because he actually played very well at Cleveland. Feeley was 5-of-6 for 45 yards and a touchdown, and his only incompletion was dropped by Mike Karney.
As for Bradford, the stat line (6-of-14, 24 yards) indicates that he struggled. Were those numbers accurate in terms of his actual play on the field? Yes and no.
The good: Bradford's completion percentage should have been better. He suffered through two drops. He also should have had a touchdown; rookie safety T.J. Ward committed a very obvious pass interference penalty in the end zone that inexplicably wasn't called.
The bad: Bradford should have also tossed two interceptions. He was nearly pick-sixed when Eric Wright jumped in front of Donnie Avery on his first attempt. Bradford's second throw was also a dropped interception. Things could have gotten really ugly early on for the No. 1 overall pick.
Steven Jackson had just four carries at Cleveland, but turned those attempts into 20 yards. He ran really hard and looked great. My concern remains his offseason back surgery and the fact that he always seems to miss a handful of games every year. Draft him at your own risk.
To call this a sloppy game for the Browns would be an understatement. They committed five fumbles in the first quarter alone.
Two of Cleveland's five first-quarter fumbles were credited to Jake Delhomme, but he was responsible for only one of them (the other was a botched snap by Alex Mack). Delhomme played really well for the second week in a row, going 12-of-16 for 127 yards and a touchdown despite not having the services of No. 1 receiver Mohamed Massaquoi. It's really amazing to see Delhomme play so well after his disastrous 2009 campaign.
Jerome Harrison did not have a good second preseason game. He gained just 13 yards on five carries. More importantly, he fumbled the ball TWICE on his first two carries. It was pouring in Cleveland, but there's still no excuse for that. This type of performance could give Eric Mangini more of an incentive to use Montario Hardesty once the rookie runner is healthy again.
A pretty nondescript game for Colt McCoy. McCoy saw two drives. On the first, he looked tentative and took two sacks. On the second, he failed to complete both of his passes. However, neither incompletion was his fault. One throw came when McCoy was hit. The other pass was a screen that was dropped.
Buccaneers 20, Chiefs 15
The big news coming out of the Buccaneers-Chiefs game was that Josh Freeman injured the thumb on his throwing hand when he hit it against an opposing player's helmet. Freeman's thumb will be in a splint in the next 2-3 weeks, but he's expected to be ready for the opener. I'm giving Freeman a stock downgrade because he's young and needs the preseason reps, but if you liked him as a high-upside QB2, don't let this injury deter you from drafting him in the final couple of rounds.
I'm going to capitalize the following because it's very important: GET MIKE WILLIAMS ONTO YOUR FANTASY ROSTER! Williams is an unbelievable receiver who does nothing but make awesome catches. Williams had three receptions for 44 yards against the Chiefs. On one of the incompletions thrown his way, Williams made an unbelievable leaping catch from Josh Johnson, but the defensive back pushed him out of bounds while still in the air. Williams, one of the favorites to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, is going to have a huge season.
Cadillac Williams had only two carries for seven yards against Kansas City, but that's a good thing. Raheem Morris is set on Cadillac being his every-down runner and was anxious to get him out of the game to prevent an injury from happening.
Matt Cassel completed most of his passes (14-of-19 for 125 yards and a touchdown), but as you may expect, none of those throws went very far. Cassel's longest completion was for 17 yards to Dexter McCluster, and even that was a short pass that McCluster turned into a long gain. As long as Cassel is under center for the Chiefs, their offense will be really limited.
Here were Cassel's targets:
Dwayne Bowe: 5
Chris Chambers: 3
Jamaal Charles: 3
Mike Cox: 1
Jeremy Horne: 1
Thomas Jones: 2
Dexter McCluster: 1
Leonard Pope: 2
It was nice to see Dwayne Bowe become more involved on offense a week after doing nothing. Bowe caught three balls (out of five targets) for 33 yards at Tampa Bay. Coming off a great offseason, Bowe could have a solid WR2-worthy year.
Let's take a look at two running backs. You tell me which one is better:
Running Back A is old and slow. He ran for 29 yards on eight carries. He also fumbled and dropped a pass.
Running Back B is younger and quicker, and capable of going the distance on any play. He ran for 26 yards on just five carries. He also chipped in with three catches for 23 receiving yards.
Unless your name happens to be Todd Haley, it should be obvious that Running Back B (Jamaal Charles) is the superior option over Running Back A (Thomas Jones). Unfortunately, Haley just doesn't understand simple logic and continues to go with Jones as his starter. The good news is that Haley is finally beginning to crack: "Jamaal was running closer to where we want him." Closer? Really? What does Charles have to do, average 50 yards per carry? And even then, will Jones still be your starter?
Ugh. So frustrated. Of course, something that Buccaneers TV announcer John Lynch said didn't help matters:
"I said 3-4 earlier, and some people might not know what I was talking about. A 3-4 defense has three down linemen and four linebackers."
Umm... I'll go out on a limb and say that anyone watching the second quarter of a preseason game knows what a 3-4 defense is. Come on, John. You're better than that.
49ers 15, Vikings 10
This game was all about one man. If you don't know whom, my tweet (@walterfootball) says it all: "OMG Brett Favre OMG OMG Favre OMG OMG Favre OMG OMG OMG Favre Favre ankle Favre OMG Wrangler OMG Brad Childress Favre Favre Favre."
For all the hoopla, Favre was on the field just one drive that lasted four plays. He completed a 13-yard pass to Adrian Peterson, but took a nasty sack on a 49ers blitz. With no Sidney Rice or Percy Harvin, there was no sense in Favre playing much anyway. He'll see much more action next week.
Adrian Peterson looked great despite rushing for just 17 yards on six carries at San Francisco. He had a 13-yard gain, and actually led the Vikings with 25 receiving yards on three catches (great for his PPR prospects). Peterson played a bit more than I would have liked him to, but I didn't see anything that would keep me from spending the No. 1 overall pick in my fantasy draft on him.
I have to criticize Brad Childress for playing Sage Rosenfels in this contest. Rosenfels really impressed last week at St. Louis, and Childress could have used him as trade bait down the road. Well, Rosenfels stunk it up against a legitimate defense, going 2-of-7 for 11 yards at San Francisco. Good luck dealing him now, Chilly.
Alex Smith was 9-of-13 for 88 yards against the Vikings. Did he play as good as those numbers indicate? Absolutely. Smith, who opened 5-of-6 for 59 yards on the first drive, was missing Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. He deserves a ton of credit for moving his team down the field despite having to throw to the likes of Ted Ginn, Nate Byham and Dominique Zeigler.
Speaking of Ginn, he caught two passes for 65 yards, including a 60-yard bomb from Nate Davis. However, Ginn dropped two balls as well. Al "Mike" Michaels and Cris Collinsworth remarked that the 49ers coaching staff is really exciting about Ginn. As I heard this, I posted on the forum, "'We have never seen a guy who drops passes like this! Wow!'" If that's not excitement, I don't know what is.
Nate Davis looked good in relief of Alex Smith. Playing the entire second half, Davis went 7-of-16 for 114 yards. He has a great arm and good mobility, and displayed quick decision-making. I'd like to see him compete for a starting job somewhere (possibly in San Francisco) in 2011. Mike Singletary, however, disagrees. He criticized Davis' work ethic after the game, citing that Davis struggled with protection schemes. There's no doubt that Davis is raw, but he has a ton of potential.
I'd be remiss if I didn't thank Joe Webb for earning me $500. With seconds remaining in the game, the three-point-favorite 49ers led 13-10. Webb dropped back into his end zone and was tackled for a safety, earning me a victory on my five-unit play. Forum member Leelee said that I can no longer complain about bad luck, but I was actually on the opposite end of this last year when Hunter Cantwell cost me five units in Week 1 of the preseason. So, luck and I are even as far as I'm concerned.
Hello, my name is Walter, and I'm a degenerate gambler.
Raiders 32, Bears 17
The Raiders struggled offensively last week, so their fans had to be thrilled to watch Jason Campbell take the opening possession 81 yards for a touchdown.
Campbell had an up-and-down game. First, the good: Campbell was 5-of-5 for 89 yards on the opening drive. He made several accurate deep throws, leading the Raiders downfield with ease. The bad: Campbell was 5-of-15 for 81 yards the rest of the half. He also tossed an ugly interception in which he was pressured and couldn't step up into the pocket, which forced him to throw behind Zach Miller.
Here were Campbell's targets:
Michael Bush: 1
Rock Cartwright: 1
Yamon Figurs: 1
Johnnie Lee Higgins: 1
Zach Miller: 6
Louis Murphy: 6
Marcel Reese: 1
Todd Watkins: 1
With Chaz Schilens and Darrius Heyward-Bey out of the lineup, Louis Murphy was the only Oakland receiver to be targeted more than once at Chicago. Murphy actually saw six balls thrown his way in one half, and he came up with three grabs for 53 yards. Murphy dropped a pass, but was otherwise pretty impressive. He's worth a shot as a late-round flier.
Jason Campbell targeted Zach Miller six times against the Bears. Miller came up with three catches and 32 yards. On one play, Miller dragged multiple defenders more than five yards down the field. He's a very good TE1.
Darren McFadden was out at Chicago, allowing Michael Bush to see all of the first-team carries. He ran for 26 yards on eight attempts and received two goal-line touches. Bush looked good, running with power and breaking tackles - something McFadden is incapable of.
This is going to be a long season for Jay Cutler if Saturday's game is any indication. Cutler went 7-of-15 for 99 yards and a touchdown, which is actually really impressive if you factor in that he was under pressure on almost every play. Cutler was sacked a whopping five times in the first half alone. Kamerion Wimbley had four of those sacks, as he beat left tackle Chris Williams twice. Thanks to Mike Martz's idiotic/non-existent pass protection schemes, there's a good chance Cutler will get hurt sometime this year.
Here were Cutler's targets:
Devin Aromashodu: 1
Devin Hester: 2
Johnny Knox: 4 (1 in end zone)
Greg Olsen: 5 (1 in end zone)
Chester Taylor: 2
Garrett Wolfe: 1
It was really surprising to see Greg Olsen lead the Bears in targets (5) against the Raiders because tight ends are usually not a part of Mike Martz's offense. Olsen finished with three catches for 26 yards.
Johnny Knox was once again Chicago's most productive receiver; Knox had a 22-yard touchdown and saw four targets.
Devin Aromashodu was a non-factor for the Bears in their second preseason contest. Aromashodu saw just one target, which came with 18 seconds remaining in the first half.
I can't believe I'm saying this because he was so terrible last year, but Matt Forte was great against the Raiders. The big play that everyone saw was an 89-yard score in the first quarter, but Forte also had gains of 12 and eight yards, finishing with 109 yards on five carries in one quarter of work. Unlike last season, Forte looks quick and in shape.
Chicago's special teams were anemic on Saturday night. The Bears screwed up two kicking opportunities because of botched snaps; muffed a punt that led to a Raiders touchdown; and had a punt blocked for a safety. Mike Martz's special teams always blew in St. Louis, and it's apparent that he brought his bad vibes to the Windy City - even though he has nothing to do with Chicago's special teams.
Jets 9, Panthers 3
This game was hard to watch - in more ways than one. First of all, these teams really struggled to move the chains. The Jets had minus-7 passing yards after one quarter, and their first-string offense managed just 31 yards on 24 plays. One of the New York announcers called this a "sloppy, mental error-ridden football game for both sides."
Secondly, I guess the NFL Network knew these offenses would suck because they replayed the game only once - at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning. I took note of this and recorded the game on my nifty VCR.
Mark Sanchez was 5-of-10 for a laughable 12 yards at Carolina - and he was even worse than advertised. Sanchez should have thrown a pick on an attempt to Braylon Edwards. He also really struggled to identify the blitz, causing Panther defenders to frequently flood the backfield (Sanchez was sacked twice on the opening drive).
Shonn Greene caught a pass, which is encouraging for his PPR prospects, but struggled otherwise, gaining 10 yards on six carries. LaDainian Tomlinson had superior numbers (26 yards on three attempts) to go along with two receptions, though it should be noted that 20 of his 26 yards came on one carry.
Matt Moore was nearly as bad as Mark Sanchez, going 6-of-17 for 57 yards and an interception. The pick was an ugly duck thrown into double coverage. Moore also nearly had a second interception on a pass across his body over the middle of the field. He had one nice throw - a 26-yard completion to Kenneth Moore along the sideline. I just don't think it's fair to judge Moore yet; he's missing his only competent receiver in Steve Smith. He didn't stand a chance against Rex Ryan's ravenous defense without his Pro Bowl wideout.
DeAngelo Williams continued to look great this preseason, rushing for 26 yards on six carries against the Jets. His only blemish was a dropped pass.
Jimmy Clausen went 9-of-22 for 72 yards and an interception, playing the entire second half. The pick was a bad throw - Clausen didn't see Jets corner Drew Coleman - but his completion percentage is misleading. Clausen threw five passes away because he was under relentless pressure. Rex Ryan didn't hold back with his patented blitzes, and Carolina's offensive line scrubs simply had no answer. Clausen did a great job moving around and avoiding the pass-rushers; he even scrambled for a 14-yard gain.
TV Announcer Ineptness Alert! I quoted the Jets announcers earlier. I'll do it once again here. I thought this was a funny exchange:
Announcer 1: "And that was James EE-head-dee-go-bo with the tackle."
Announcer 2: "James Idedigbo (pronounced correctly) did a good job there."
I thought it was hilarious how Announcer 2 shrugged off Announcer 1 and corrected his pronunciation. Way to prepare for this game, Announcer 1!
Cowboys 16, Chargers 14
It took the Cowboys nearly 10 quarters, but they finally scored an offensive touchdown this preseason. Tony Romo hooked up with Miles Austin for a 9-yard score with 2:12 remaining in the first half at San Diego, ending the long end-zone drought.
Despite this, however, the team was very sloppy. Pass protection was an issue on quite a few plays. Austin and Jason Witten both dropped easy catches. Roy Williams slipped on a route. The Cowboys just looked like they were out of it.
Tony Romo was just 4-of-11 for 30 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Romo obviously didn't play well, but he wasn't as bad as those numbers indicate. His offensive line couldn't pass protect; he suffered two drops from reliable receivers; and his pick came as he was hit.
Here were Romo's targets:
Miles Austin-Jones: 6
Martellus Bennett: 1
Roy Williams: 3
Jason Witten: 1
So much for Felix Jones being the featured back this year. Marion Barber started at San Diego and played the entire first drive. Jones was in on the second possession, then Barber and Jones again. It appears as though the two runners will rotate series for now. It's hard to like either back all that much right now.
Sean Lee is a monster. Keith Brooking left the game early with a minor shoulder injury, allowing Lee to play most of the contest. Lee recorded eight tackles, including one in which he shed the lead fullback and tackled a running back for a loss on the same play.
Who the hell needs Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill? Philip Rivers was nearly flawless, going 11-of-15 for 125 yards and an interception.
Here were Rivers' targets:
Malcom Floyd: 6
Antonio Gates: 2
Ryan Mathews: 1
Legedu Naanee: 3
Darren Sproles: 4
Vincent Jackson has absolutely no leverage right now because Malcom Floyd played like a legitimate No. 1 receiver against the Cowboys. He opened the game with a leaping 16-yard reception along the sidelines. In all, he was targeted six times, converting those passes into three catches for 47 yards.
I said this last week, but Ryan Mathews is a stud. He showcased both power and quickness on his runs against the Cowboys, collecting 53 yards on 12 carries. He also received two goal-line carries. He didn't convert officially, but I thought he broke the plane on his second attempt. Nevertheless, like LaDainian Tomlinson last year, Mathews will have the opportunity to pile up tons of scores in San Diego's high-octane offense.
Lions 25, Broncos 20
The Lions' offense was impressive last week at Pittsburgh, and the unit took it to another level on Saturday. Matthew Stafford was brilliant at Denver, going 13-of-18 for 130 yards and a touchdown. Stafford was in complete control, showing great accuracy and command of the offense, especially when Detroit went no-huddle at the end of the first quarter. Stafford also enjoyed great pass protection, though that's probably because the Broncos don't have a legitimate pass-rusher in the wake of Elvis Dumervil's injury.
Here were Stafford's targets:
Jahvid Best: 2
Nate Burleson: 3
Bryant Johnson: 2 (1 in end zone)
Calvin Johnson: 4 (2 in end zone)
Maurice Morris: 1
Brandon Pettigrew: 1 (1 in end zone)
Tony Scheffler: 3 (1 in end zone)
Kevin Smith: 2
While Stafford and most of the starters played the entire first half, Calvin Johnson understandably saw less action. Still though, he was able to haul in two catches for 34 yards and a touchdown off his four targets. Stafford looked his way twice in the end zone in one quarter of action.
Jahvid Best once again shined for the Lions. The electrifying rookie rushed for 49 yards on just eight carries, and also had two catches for 10 receiving yards at Denver. He touched the ball on the the first two plays of the game. More importantly, he was taken out of the contest after just one quarter (most of the starters played the whole half), which goes to show that Jim Schwartz thinks so highly of him that he doesn't want to risk injury. If Best can stay healthy, he's going to have a huge season.
Nate Burleson caught all three passes thrown to him at Denver, turning those catches into 19 yards. Burleson is the third or fourth option in Detroit's offense, but with defenses focused on stopping Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best, Burleson is going to get open a lot. He could be a decent flex option in PPR leagues.
A few days after signing a $9 million extension, Kyle Orton made the Broncos organization proud by going 16-of-22 for 177 yards, two touchdowns and an interception that wasn't his fault (the ball popped out of third-string running back Lance Ball's hands and into Dre Bly's). With Brady Quinn playing like crap and Tim Tebow still mechanically unsound, Orton's going to keep the job the entire year, making him a decent QB2.
Here were Orton's targets:
Lance Ball: 3
Marquez Branson: 4 (1 in end zone)
Eric Decker: 1
Jabar Gaffney: 7
Brandon Lloyd: 5 (1 in end zone)
Eddie Royal: 3
Matt Willis: 2
Jabar Gaffney saw a whopping seven targets from Kyle Orton in the first half of the second preseason game, grabbing six of those balls for 98 yards. Gaffney came up with a seventh catch, but was slightly out of bounds. He now has been targeted 12 times in two preseason contests. Orton loves looking toward Gaffney, especially in the two-minute drill. Gaffney seems like he'll be what Eddie Royal should have been - a monstrous PPR receiver producing out of circumstance.
Eddie Royal had one catch for eight yards, but lost a 31-yard reception because of an illegal formation. He was targeted thrice early, but Kyle Orton stopped looking his way after the first couple of drives.
Brandon Lloyd had five targets, including one in the end zone. However, he'll be on the bench once Demaryius Thomas is ready to play. Kyle Orton loves Jabar Gaffney, and Eddie Royal is the perfect slot receiver, so Lloyd will be the odd man out.
Who is Marquez Branson, and why did he get four targets against the Lions? Well, with Tony Scheffler gone, someone had to step up for Denver at the tight end position, and it wasn't going to be Dick Quinn. Josh McDaniels doesn't like utilizing the tight end in his offense, so I'd ignore Branson's three grabs, 20 yards and touchdown.
A cryptic quote from one of the Broncos announcers: "Josh McDaniels now 34 years old. Age starting to creep up a bit on Josh."
What does that mean? And why even say that? This depresses me because I'm just six years younger than McDaniels. Is age starting to creep up on me too? Oh man.
Ravens 23, Redskins 3
It's only been two preseason games, but the Donovan McNabb era looks very promising in Washington. McNabb went 11-of-26 for 206 yards and an interception against the Ravens in just one half of action. The completion percentage seems awful, but not if you consider that McNabb endured a whopping five dropped passes by various targets. The pick was his fault though, and he should have thrown a second interception that was dropped by Ravens safety Dawan Landry. All in all, however, McNabb's performance was encouraging. He should be able to post solid numbers in Washington this season.
Here were McNabb's targets:
Anthony Armstrong: 5 (1 in end zone)
Chris Cooley: 4
Fred Davis: 2 (1 in end zone)
Larry Johnson: 1
Santana Moss: 6
Clinton Portis: 2
Mike Sellers: 1
Devin Thomas: 3
Roydell Williams: 1
Based on his body language, Santana Moss seems thrilled to be playing with a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback for the first time in his career. Moss saw six targets against the Ravens, catching four of them for 79 yards. As I've said all summer, Moss could have a career year because he has never played with any signal-caller nearly as talented as McNabb.
Who is this Anthony Armstrong character? In the preseason opener, Armstrong saw two targets and scored a touchdown. Against Baltimore, Donovan McNabb threw to Armstrong five times, including once in the end zone. Armstrong caught four balls for 82 yards, including a 45-yard bomb in which he made a great adjustment to an underthrown pass. He also made an unbelievable catch later when he spun around to snag a ball thrown way behind him.
Armstrong looks like the real deal. He blows by defenders and has great hands. Said Joe Theismann of the 5-10, 180-pound West Texas A&M product, "It's week, after week, after week. If you watched Anthony Armstrong in training camp, he made plays every day."
I'm going to target Armstrong in the final rounds of my fantasy drafts. He could really have a good season because there's no one on the Redskins to take the No. 2 job away from him.
Clinton Portis saw all of the carries in Week 1. The plan was for Larry Johnson to get all of the early work against the Ravens. Said Johnson before the game, "It's my turn."
Fail. Johnson gained four yards on eight carries, and believe me when I say that those numbers actually are better than how he looked. Johnson dropped a very catchable pass and failed to pick up a blitz that led to a sack. He looked sluggish and lethargic. Quite frankly, I was shocked to see this because most people who cover the Redskins predicted that Johnson would lead the team in carries. Now, I'm not so sure he's even going to make the final roster.
Clinton Portis had two carries and two targets thrown his way. He rushed for 14 yards on those two attempts. He didn't look special or anything, but he really outshined Larry Johnson, and now has to be the favorite to lead Washington's sorry running back corps in carries.
Trent Williams did not play like a No. 4 overall pick in this contest. Terrell Suggs completely abused him with both quickness and power, making the rookie tackle look helpless.
In one-and-a-half quarters of action, Joe Flacco was 9-of-16 for 72 yards. The Ravens simply couldn't get things going, as drives ended because of fumbles, penalties and dropped passes. Washington's defense looked great despite not having Albert Haynesworth in the lineup until the second half.
For the second week in a row, Joe Flacco's favorite target was Derrick Mason. Mason managed only two catches for four yards, but was thrown to five times. Despite the addition of Anquan Boldin (1 catch, 21 yards), Flacco just seems most comfortable throwing to Mason, who should continue to be a good PPR option.
Don't be concerned about Ray Rice's one target. Rice didn't play much in this contest, as John Harbaugh wisely preserved him.
Saints 38, Texans 20
See, Texans? Maybe you should have drafted Reggie Bush after all (/sarcasm). Bush ran with authority in between the tackles against Houston, gaining 49 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Forum member Whatdoyouwant711 pointed out that Bush may have just wanted to get revenge on the Texans. That's a great point, but we also saw this from Bush in the playoffs this past January. It'll be interesting to see if he continues to play this way going forward. If so, he could be an amazing PPR flex option this year.
Drew Brees was 5-of-10 for 36 yards, but played much better than those numbers indicate. He took some shots downfield that were slightly off the mark and suffered a couple of drops.
Marques Colston paced the Saints in targets from Drew Brees, converting all four of his looks for 49 yards. This was an encouraging game from Colston, who has been banged up recently this offseason.
Lance Moore caught only one pass for six yards, and was not targeted at all by Drew Brees against the Texans - this just one week after leading all Saints wideouts in targets from Brees. This is what New Orleans' offense is all about. One week, a receiver can post career numbers. The next, he might not even make the box score. Brees just has way too many options.
I can't believe I'm writing this, but Chase Daniel looked awesome in this contest. Daniel was 15-of-21 for 182 yards, three touchdowns and an ugly interception. Those numbers don't lie. Daniel showed great intermediate and deep accuracy, leadership and clock management at the end of the first half. Sean Payton is doing an incredible job developing this undrafted Missouri product.
Proponents of a shorter preseason nearly gained more ammunition in the second quarter of this contest. Andre Johnson took a scary to his knee, which looked like it nearly buckled. Johnson was OK - he was on the field for the next play - but his season was inches from being over. I just drafted Johnson No. 6 overall in a PPR league, so I nearly had a heart attack.
Matt Schaub was 8-of-10 for 117 yards. Aside from Andre Johnson (2 catches, 15 yards), Schaub targeted tight end Joel Dreessen more than anyone. Dreessen hauled in three grabs for 55 yards.
The Jacoby Jones hype is all but over. Jones wasn't part of the first-team offense, as Gary Kubiak opted to use him as the punt returner instead. Kevin Walter was the featured No. 2 receiver, and Jones focused on offense primarily in the second half.
Save for one play, Arian Foster had a very good performance. He ran well, gaining 28 yards and a touchdown on six carries to go along with his two catches for 15 receiving yards. The blemish? Foster fumbled, which is a big no-no for Gary Kubiak. However, the fumble was a play in which Foster seemed to lose his footing once he obtained the ball from Matt Schaub. Foster was back in the game on the next drive, so he should be OK for now.
If Foster limits his fumbles, he could have a monstrous statistical season (Steve Slaton played exclusively in the second half). That said, we've seen how quick Kubiak's hook is pertaining to running backs putting the ball on the ground.
Crappy TV Announcers Alert! The Saints broadcasting team was horrendous. It began early on, when they called Andre Johnson "Andre Jackson." In the second quarter, they didn't even acknowledge that the Texans scored a touchdown amid an interview with a very fat man. In the third quarter, they spent 15 minutes (I'm not exaggerating) on LSU football and even later delved into the New Orleans mayoral race.
Forum member Sean McG pointed out that the announcers also stated that the Saints wanted to take Owen Daniels over Carl Nicks in the 2008 NFL Draft. That would make sense if Daniels were actually, I don't know, drafted in 2008.
Packers 27, Seahawks 24
Aaron Rodgers has basically been flawless this preseason. After going 12-of-13 for 159 yards in the preseason opener, he went 8-of-11 for 116 yards and two scores at Seattle. Rodgers' best throw was a 56-yard bomb to Greg Jennings. He played just two series, but that's all he needed; Rodgers looks like he's primed for an MVP-type campaign.
Here were Rodgers' targets:
Jermichael Finley: 5
Greg Jennings: 4
James Jones: 1
John Kuhn: 1
Jermichael Finley saw a team-high five targets from Aaron Rodgers at Seattle, converting those looks into four catches for 48 yards and a touchdown. Finley could easily finish as the No. 1 tight end this year; the only tight ends who should be going before him in fantasy are Dallas Clark and Antonio Gates, and even then, Finley might be the best option.
The second preseason contest was a disappointing one for James Jones. Donald Driver was out, which should have given Jones a chance to do some damage. Unfortunately, Jones was targeted just once - a quick pass at the line of scrimmage that went three yards for a first down. Of course, Aaron Rodgers' two drives are a small sample size, but it still was discouraging.
Matt Hasselbeck was a lot better in the second preseason game than he was last week. He went 11-of-15 for 127 yards and a touchdown, though it's worth noting that some of those numbers came against Green Bay's second-string defense. Still, Hasselbeck's QB2 prospects are encouraging because Charlie Whitehurst really struggled. Whitehurst was 9-of-20 for 73 yards and two picks. The first interception was an ugly toss that was weakly floated toward the sideline. The second was overthrown.
Julius Jones started last week's preseason contest and predictably was terrible. Seattle fans had to be thrilled to see Jones relegated to second-half work. Jones rushed for 14 yards and five carries. He also dropped a pass.
Justin Forsett started the second preseason game. He couldn't get anything against Green Bay's starters, gaining 13 yards on five attempts. Forsett was outshined by Leon Washington, who took a hit for the first time since getting hurt last November. Washington displayed some speed and explosion, totaling 19 yards and a score on four carries. It seems like Pete Carroll will employ the same strategy he utilized at USC - a plethora of running backs will share the touches, but no one will really be the featured back.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh had a rare solid game, catching four balls for 60 yards. Don't get too excited; Houshmandzadeh is a huge injury risk coming off sports hernia surgery.
Mike Williams tied Houshmandzadeh for the team lead in receptions with four for 44 yards. Pete Carroll has to be credited for potentially turning Williams' career around. Unlike a few years ago, Williams is not a fat slob; he can actually move around for a change.
Deon Butler needs to be on the field more. The electric 5-10 receiver made a leaping grab and juked a few defenders for a 21-yard gain in the fourth quarter. Butler finished with two grabs for 24 yards. Butler needs to play over someone like Deion Branch, who unsurprisingly dropped a pass in the first quarter.
John Carlson caught only one pass for six yards against the Packers, but the important thing was that he was targeted four times by Matt Hasselbeck. He should be a solid, low-end TE1 this year.
Steelers 24, Giants 17
Eli Manning was out. His backup, Jim Sorgi was out. Brandon Jacobs was out. Hakeem Nicks was kicked out of the game early for throwing a punch at Steelers corner Ike Taylor. Would anyone suit for the Giants' second preseason game?
Even Ahmad Bradshaw was missing at the beginning of the contest, as D.J. Ware started the contest because Bradshaw was late for a meeting. Bradshaw eventually took the field and looked very impressive, gaining 28 yards and a touchdown on just six carries. He's the best back on the Giants right now.
With Hakeem Nicks out early, Steve Smith shined for the Giants. Smith caught two balls for 53 yards, including an awesome leaping 45-yard catch over a Pittsburgh defender.
Victor Cruz caught two passes for 30 yards, but did all of his damage late. When Nicks was kicked out of the game, I was hoping that Cruz would get some playing time, but Tom Coughlin opted to go with Derek Hagan instead. Hagan caught two balls (10 yards), while Mario Manningham had just one reception and was responsible for Rhett Bomar's pick.
Ben Roethlisberger didn't play last week, but started this contest. He tossed an ugly punt-like interception, but was otherwise pretty sharp (6-of-8, 76 yards).
Ben Roethlisberger's favorite target at New York was Heath Miller, who caught all three balls thrown his way for 33 yards.
Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon both played very well. Leftwich was just 3-of-6, but hooked up with Mike Wallace for a 68-yard touchdown bomb. Leftwich also showcased some mobility for a change, breaking out of a sack and running for an 11-yard gain. Dixon played the entire second half, going 7-of-8 for 82 yards to go along with 27 rushing yards off five scrambles.
I'd still go with Dixon as my starter in the first four games because his mobility is such a huge asset considering how porous Pittsburgh's offensive line is.
Bengals 22, Eagles 9
FOX's big draw for this game was a halftime feature where Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens interviewed each other. While the two were very similar on camera - they spent an inordinate amount of time kissing each other's a**es and calling themselves the most dynamic receiving duo in NFL history - Owens and Ochocinco had varying performances on the field.
Prior to the Eagles game, Chad Ochocinco had been having a miserable preseason. That continued Friday night. Ochocinco was able to catch two balls for 29 yards, but was responsible for two interceptions. He ran the wrong route the first time and had the ball pop out of his hands on the second pick. Carson Palmer targeted Ochocinco more than any other player (6 times), so it's actually discouraging that he came up with only two receptions.
Unlike Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens had a solid performance against the Eagles. Owens was targeted four times and came up with three grabs for 67 yards, including a 43-yard fade along the right sideline.
Carson Palmer went 15-of-23 for 169 yards and two interceptions that weren't his fault. Palmer looked a lot better than he did in his first two preseason contests, but still doesn't seem to have the same zip he possessed a few years ago.
Here were Palmer's targets:
Cedric Benson: 5
Andre Caldwell: 1
Jermaine Gresham: 4
Chad Ochocinco: 6
Terrell Owens: 4
Jordan Shipley: 2
Cedric Benson has looked great this preseason. A big development against the Eagles was the five targets he saw. Benson caught all five of the passes thrown his way for 29 yards. With Brian Leonard out, it seems like Benson will be a much bigger part of Cincinnati's passing game.
For the second week in a row, Jermaine Gresham really stood out as a first-team offensive player. Carson Palmer targeted his rookie tight end four times, and Gresham was able to come up with three receptions for 34 yards.
I guess you could say that Philadelphia's first preseason game was a bit of a mirage. Jacksonville's defense has the potential to be epically bad this year, so playing Cincinnati was more of a test for Kevin Kolb. Kolb was pretty average. He made some great throws, particularly to DeSean Jackson. However, Kolb missed some open wideouts, including two in the end zone. The most disconcerting thing was that Kolb was frequently pressured, as his offensive line had problems keeping a four-man pass rush out of the backfield. In total, Kolb went 11-of-17 for 126 yards in one half of play.
Here were Kolb's targets:
Jason Avant: 3
Brent Celek: 1
DeSean Jackson: 8
Jeremy Maclin: 3
LeSean McCoy: 1
Leonard Weaver: 2
A scary moment in the Cincinnati game occurred in the second quarter when Jeremy Maclin incurred a fierce hit from Johnathan Joseph after a reception. Maclin left the game and was diagnosed with a shoulder contusion. The X-rays came back negative, which is great news; I love Maclin as a mid-round sleeper this year.
DeSean Jackson saw a whopping eight targets in his second preseason contest, partly because Jeremy Maclin left the game in the second quarter, and partly because no one in the Bengals secondary could cover him. Jackson hauled in four balls for 74 yards. He's poised for a big year.
I didn't think the Eagles would be able to beat the Cowboys this year because they failed to improve their offensive line enough to keep DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff out of the backfield. I feel even stronger about that prediction now; as indicated earlier, Kevin Kolb was running for his life on more than half of his drop-backs, even when Cincinnati sent just a four-man pass rush.
Jason Peters really embarrassed himself. He was whistled for a couple of penalties, prompting Twitter user Moving the Sticks to joke, "2 penalties on Peters. He doesn't need preseason. The guy's in midseason form."
Bills 34, Colts 21
Whenever the Bills have played in Toronto, they haven't shown much effort or desire to win. Can you blame them? They're forced to play one of their home games in an unfamiliar, foreign environment every year. I wouldn't give it 100 percent either if I were in their shoes.
On Thursday night, the Colts looked like the Bills have in years past. They were sloppy and seemed like they were unprepared to play. They were penalized on the first two plays of the game. Their receivers dropped passes. Peyton Manning nearly tossed a couple of interceptions in addition to his actual pick. It's not really surprising that the Colts didn't give it their all. They were playing on a short travel week, and were missing Dallas Clark and Pierre Garcon.
Manning was 8-of-15 for 91 yards, one touchdown and an interception. As mentioned, the pick wasn't his fault; Anthony Gonzalez had the ball pop out of his hands and into Terrence McGee's. McGee made an impressive diving catch and got up to return the pick for a 73-yard score.
That being said, Manning should have thrown two more interceptions. He looked unfocused and unprepared for this contest. We won't see an effort like this out of Manning during the regular season unless, of course, he's been hanging out with Jack Del Rio all offseason.
Joseph Addai started the Toronto game. He saw plenty of early action (2 carries, 13 rush yards, TD; 2 catches, 23 rec. yards), which included a pretty 26-yard completion down the sideline. He left the contest early, as it seemed like the Colts were trying to preserve him - which is definitely a good sign.
Donald Brown looked a lot better in the Toronto preseason contest than he did in the exhibition opener. He gained 23 yards on four carries to go along with a 7-yard reception. His only blemish of the night was a dropped pass.
Buffalo's offense really showed a vast improvement over how it looked in Washington. Of course, this was going to happen by default because the Bills couldn't move the chains at all against the Redskins.
Trent Edwards went 5-of-8 for 93 yards and a touchdown. Most of Edwards' yardage came on one play, as he found Lee Evans deep for a 70-yard score. Evans was wide open, as Melvin Bullitt completely blew a coverage - one of many mental mistakes by the Colts on Thursday night.
Edwards was otherwise pretty average. There were naturally several short throws, and one of his attempts should have been picked off. Then again, receiver Steve Johnson dropped what would have been a 25-yard completion, so that must be noted as well.
Brian Brohm replaced Edwards in the second quarter, and went 14-of-21 for 125 yards. I thought he was pretty solid; I didn't see anything special aside from a nice 26-yard fade to Chad "Training Camp All-Star" Jackson, but I also didn't see anything from Brohm that indicated that he's any worse than Trent Edwards.
C.J. Spiller is awesome. He put the Bills on the scoreboard on the opening drive against the Colts with an electrifying 31-yard run in which he made three defenders miss. With the help of another nice 12-yard spurt, Spiller finished the contest with 54 yards and the aforementioned score on just 10 carries. Spiller should be a solid RB2 this year, especially in PPR formats. However, don't expect a season resembling Chris Johnson's 2009 campaign; Buffalo's offensive line is terrible and really pales in comparison to Tennessee's front. The Bills also lack a dual rushing threat at quarterback to keep defenses honest.
Patriots 28, Falcons 10
If you were to tell me in January that Wes Welker would be playing in the second preseason game in the wake of his horrific knee injury in the 2009 finale, I wouldn't have believed you. Lo and behold, not only did Welker start; he saw three targets on the opening drive. Welker caught two of those passes for 20 yards. He also took some nasty hits, yet was able to get up quickly.
Having said all that, I still wouldn't take Welker unless he really fell in my fantasy draft. I think he's coming back way too early. I hope I'm wrong, but it'll be a surprise if he doesn't re-injure himself.
Tom Brady really looked like he was in rhythm at Atlanta. He went 10-of-12 for 85 yards and a touchdown. One of his two incompletions was a 56-yard bomb to Randy Moss that should have drawn a pass interference penalty. It really looked like a play straight out of 2007 - Brady aired it out well, and Moss beat two Atlanta defensive backs. Brady seems primed for a rebound season.
Speaking of rebounding, Fred Taylor looked like he was 27 years old again against the Falcons. Running quickly and spryly, Taylor gained 54 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. He also had a 13-yard gain wiped out because of a holding penalty. It would not be surprising at all if Taylor paced the Patriots in carries this season. New England's backfield is still a situation you should avoid, but taking a late-round flier on Taylor wouldn't be a bad idea.
Brandon Tate was on the field often with the starters at Atlanta, but wasn't targeted. In fact, the only significant thing he did in the first half was fall down when he chest bumped Aaron Hernandez in the end zone following a Hernandez touchdown. Tate had an impressive 15-yard reception in the third quarter, but tonight was pretty discouraging overall.
Aaron Hernandez saw two targets from Tom Brady in the second preseason game (three from Brian Hoyer), including a touchdown in the second quarter. Hernandez looks great; he could be a big part of New England's offense this season. I wouldn't draft a rookie tight end, but Hernandez's progress is worth monitoring if you want to replace your struggling/injured tight end.
Matt Ryan had a decent outing. He went 8-of-13 for 76 yards. He started well, but like many quarterbacks this preseason, struggled a bit as he approached the red zone.
Another positive review for Michael Turner. Turner ran well (8 carries, 32 yards) against New England, but the big news is that he caught two passes. In three preseason quarters this summer, Turner has three receptions, compared to just five catches all last regular season. Turner is making a serious push to be No. 5 on my overall 2010 fantasy football rankings (ahead of Frank Gore).