2014 NFL Preseason Recap and Fantasy Football Notes: Week 2

**** NOTES FOR EVERY GAME WILL BE UP AS SOON AS I WATCH THEM **** Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

2014 Preseason Notes: Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1
2014 Fantasy Football Stock Pages: Preseason Stock Week 4 | Preseason Stock Week 3 | Preseason Stock Week 2 | Preseason Stock Week 1 | Training Camp Stock

Redskins 24, Browns 23

  • Browns’ head coach Mike Pettine hinted that a decision on who the starting quarterback will be would be announced on Tuesday. Based on what he saw on Monday night, I have no idea how he’s going to make his choice.

    Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer rotated every two drives, with the latter drawing the start. I’ll get to him later because I’d rather focus on Manziel, who disappointed after a promising debut at Detroit last week. Battling a first-string defense for the first time, Manziel struggled, going 7-of-16 for 65 yards and a touchdown, which came in the fourth quarter versus the backups.

    Manziel’s first drive was a mess. He threw way behind Jordan Cameron, and then was sacked by Ryan Kerrigan, who easily beat Mitchell Schwartz. Manziel’s second possession was even worse; he threw at the feet at Josh Gordon and then proceeded to pass behind Gordon. He managed to fire a precise completion to Andrew Hawkins while on a bootleg, but he then threw wide of Jordan Cameron on a short pass.

    Manziel had issues with accuracy, but his main problem was diagnosing blitzes. He had no idea where any of the Redskins were coming from, which resulted in incompletions and other miscommunications. Manziel also had problems scrambling. He tried to do so on a couple of occasions, but took some sacks.

    Manziel finally got on the scoreboard when he threw a screen to Dion Lewis, who ran into the end zone. However, Manziel did this versus the Redskin second- and third-stringers, and yet he still had Gordon at his disposal.

    Here were Manziel’s targets (starting unit only):

    Jordan Cameron: 2
    Josh Gordon: 4
    MarQueis Gray: 1
    Andrew Hawkins: 1

  • Manziel didn’t play well at Washington, so Brian Hoyer may still have a chance to start. However, Hoyer struggled as well. His numbers were much uglier than Manziel’s, as he went just 2-of-6 for 16 yards, but then again, he didn’t have the luxury of playing into the fourth quarter with Gordon still on the field.

    Things were ugly early on with Hoyer, as the offensive line screwed up. The Browns opened with an errant snap and a false start, and Hoyer then proceeded to throw behind Jordan Cameron. Hoyer also passed low to Hawkins and then missed the former Bengal wideout in the end zone.

    Here were Hoyer’s targets:

    Anthony Armstrong: 1
    Jordan Cameron: 1
    Josh Gordon: 1
    MarQueis Gray: 1
    Andrew Hawkins: 2 (1 end zone)

  • As mentioned, Gordon was on the field in the fourth quarter. It’s unknown if that was because he’ll be out for a while, or if he made some mistakes early. Gordon dropped a pass and also had some communication issues with the quarterbacks. Perhaps Gordon is just distracted by his appeal. It would be nice if the NFL stopped dragging its feet with this decision and just gave Gordon an appropriate suspension of 2-4 games.

  • If Gordon is suspended, Cleveland’s top fantasy player will be Ben Tate, who rushed for 51 yards on 10 carries. That stat line is a bit misleading because 19 of those yards came on a third-and-forever draw in which Washington was playing pure pass. Still though, Tate ran pretty well. He’ll be an RB2 as long as he can stay healthy. Terrance West, meanwhile, gained 31 yards on eight attempts.

  • Of the three prominent quarterbacks in this game, Robert Griffin was easily the best one. Of course, Griffin didn’t have much competition. He did some good things, but he and his offensive teammates made some mistakes to keep the first string off the scoreboard.

    Griffin was sharp early on against the Browns until he threw an interception. He telegraphed a pass to DeSean Jackson, allowing Joe Haden to easily pick it off. He then was whistled for two false starts and also limped around a bit after a short run. Griffin turned out to be OK, but it was just a reminder of how injury-prone he is.

    There were some positives though, as Griffin hit Jackson for a 23-yarder in the first quarter. He also heaved an awesome deep ball to Andre Roberts for a gain of 48 yards. Griffin finished 6-of-8 for 112 yards and the pick. One of his incompletions was a Roy Helu drop.

    Here were Griffin’s targets:

    Pierre Garcon: 2 (1 end zone)
    Roy Helu: 1
    DeSean Jackson: 3
    Jordan Reed: 2
    Andre Roberts: 1
    Darrel Young: 1

  • DeSean Jackson is worth noting because he was seeing his first action as a Redskin. He started well, catching a 23-yard pass along the sideline and then taking a quick out and turning it into an 11-yard gain. However, Jackson dropped a pass, and Griffin’s interception was thrown Jackson’s way. The former Eagle is a very inefficient, injury-prone receiver who is completely overrated. Avoid drafting him.

  • Alfred Morris had a rough outing, gaining 29 yards on 11 carries. Those numbers aren’t horrible, but Morris dropped a toss in the backfield, resulting in a lost fumble. Morris was also stuffed on four consecutive plays on the goal line in the second quarter. The play-calling was strange, and the Redskins will be in for a long season if Jay Gruden decides to ignore Griffin’s dual-threat ability on some of the most important plays of the game.

  • One final note on this game that I missed: Manziel flipped off the Redskins in the third quarter, as shown here:

    This is yet another example of Manziel not really getting it, but if he can play well, all (or at least most) will be forgotten.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Panthers 28, Chiefs 16

  • The Panthers have had a troubling offseason. The top three receivers all left the team, while most of the offensive linemen retired. There was even some trouble with Cam Newton, who underwent ankle surgery. I was looking forward to this game to see how Newton would perform in his first game back.

    Newton ended up having a mixed performance. He went 4-of-9 for 65 yards without the services of Greg Olsen. He led his team down the field twice, setting up a pair of Jonathan Stewart touchdown runs. However, he also should have been intercepted. He telegraphed a pass that Derrick Johnson tipped. Two Chiefs then collided while trying to catch the ball.

    Newton had some issues for various reasons throughout this contest. He had Kelvin Benjamin open downfield in the first quarter, but he overthrew him. He also had lots of pressure in his face. His new offensive line did not hold up well versus the Chiefs’ pass rush. Newton improved as the game progressed – he hit Benjamin for an 24-yard dart in the middle of the second quarter – but this could be a long season for Newton if his blocking doesn’t improve. It also doesn’t seem as though Newton is moving around as well as usual; he didn’t scramble downfield once. This is to be expected, given the surgery, but it’ll impact his fantasy output.

    Here were Newton’s targets:

    Jason Avant: 3
    Kelvin Benjamin: 2
    Jerricho Cotchery: 1
    Ed Dickson: 2
    DeAngelo Williams: 1

  • DeAngelo Williams started and received all of the touches out of Carolina’s running back position in the first quarter. He was OK, gaining nine yards on three carries. However, there was a surprise in the second quarter when Jonathan Stewart took the field. I didn’t expect Stewart to play, let alone run very effectively. He looked great on his first attempt, tallying 17 yards. He also had a powerful touchdown run later and added a second score. I got a bit excited about drafting Stewart in the late rounds, but then I remembered how injury-prone he is. Still, it’s a stock up.

  • Kelvin Benjamin saw two targets from Newton, catching one of them (24 yards) and getting overthrown on the other. He ultimately finished with two grabs for 41 yards. He’s Newton’s top option, but he’s not a recommended fantasy addition because he’s a rookie.

  • As for the Chiefs, FOX color analyst John Lynch spent the first quarter of the telecast complaining about how Alex Smith wasn’t getting enough credit. Smith lived up to Lynch’s expectations early on, beautifully fitting in a ball perfectly through a tight window to Dwayne Bowe for 10 yards. He then hit Bowe for an 18-yard gain as he got hit.

    Smith struggled at the game went on, but only because his blocking didn’t hold up. The Panthers swarmed him relentlessly in the second quarter. One of the players who sacked him was Luke Kuechly, who apparently has been working hard to improve his pass-rushing ability. It seems like it’s paid off.

    Here were Smith’s targets:

    Donnie Avery: 6
    Dwayne Bowe: 6
    Knile Davis: 4
    Anthony Fasano: 4
    Cyrus Gray: 1
    Junior Hemingway: 1
    De’Anthony Thomas: 2
    Kyle Williams: 1

  • Don’t be discouraged by Dwayne Bowe’s one-game suspension. He looks fantastic. Bowe is in the best shape of his life, and his hard work this offseason is paying off. He was targeted six times against the Panthers, and he managed to haul in five of those balls. One catch was an impressive one, and Bowe fought hard for the first down.

  • Donnie Avery tied Bowe with six targets. Unlike Bowe, he was very inefficient. He caught just one pass for 15 yards. Meanwhile, the best catch of the night may have come from Anthony Fasano, who made an incredible, one-handed grab over the middle of the field for 13 yards.

  • Jamaal Charles didn’t play in this contest. De’Anthony Thomas rotated in and out of the game, but Knile Davis saw most of the action with the first team. Davis opened with an 11-yard gain, thanks to good blocking. He finished with 30 yards on nine carries to go along with three grabs for 26 receiving yards.

  • Rookie quarterback Aaron Murray was trending on Twitter (@walterfootball) for a bit, thanks to his first pass. It was a 43-yard touchdown to Travis Kelce down the seam. Unfortunately, Murray then cooled off when he telegraphed an interception, which A.J. Klein picked off. Murray finished 5-of-9 for 81 yards overall.

  • FOX Sports handled this telecast, so it was more professional than the local broadcasts. However, John Lynch had this gem after Kelce’s score:

    “Fantasy football teams are going to be signing this guy up!”

    No, they aren’t. No one in 12-team leagues is going to have Kelce on their roster. He doesn’t even start for the Chiefs. And how do fantasy teams “sign” guys up, anyway?

    Once again, I don’t think Lynch should be a color analyst until he learns about fantasy football. Most people watch football for betting and/or fantasy purposes. Appropriate analysis if he liked Kelce enough would be, “I know Kelce won’t be drafted in 12-team leagues, but he’s someone to monitor on the waiver wire if he emerges as Kansas City’s starting tight end.” Lynch is being useless otherwise by handing out irrelevant and incorrect fantasy info.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Broncos 34, 49ers 0

  • The 49ers specifically scheduled this game at 1 p.m. locally, and Jim Harbaugh had his team dress together in the locker room for the first time this offseason. The reason is because the 49ers were playing in their new stadium for the first time. The building itself was great, and the team made all of the preparations for the fans – but they appeared to forget that they actually had a football game to play.

  • Colin Kaepernick didn’t see much action, as he was on the field for just two drives. He went 5-of-9 for just 39 yards. He missed by just a bit on a couple of this throws. He nearly hit Brandon Lloyd for a deep touchdown, but the ball sailed a bit past him. Kaepernick was also slightly off on an attempt to Stevie Johnson.

    Here were Kaepernick’s targets:

    Anquan Boldin: 1
    Michael Crabtree: 1
    Carlos Hyde: 1
    Stevie Johnson: 1
    Brandon Lloyd: 3 (1 end zone)
    Vance McDonald: 1
    Bruce Miller: 1

  • Lloyd was the only 49er starter to receive more than one target. He saw three balls come his way, but caught only one of them for just seven yards. Lloyd did beat a corner down the field, but Kaepernick overshot him by a few inches.

  • Frank Gore was absent last week, but saw a bit of action in this contest. He had a powerful, 9-yard gain to open up, and then he picked up the first down on his next carry. He touched the ball just twice, tallying 12 yards on his two attempts. Carlos Hyde entered immediately after him, registering 11 yards on four carries.

  • Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin both saw just one pass go their way, so there’s nothing worth mentioning there. In fact, the only other note I have for San Francisco’s starting offense is that the normally reliable Phil Dawson missed field goals from 55 and 44 yards. The former whiff is understandable, but Dawson looked frustrated when he blew the 44-yarder. It’ll be interesting to see if Dawson and other kickers have trouble kicking in this new stadium.

  • With Kaepernick seeing limited action, we had the misfortune of watching Blaine Gabbert extensively. Despite getting great coaching from Jim Harbaugh, Gabbert still looks like a complete failure. He went 8-of-14 for 40 yards and a pick. He also had another interception dropped. Gabbert, who completed nothing but short passes, has shown no signs that he belongs in the NFL. The 49ers should be embarrassed that they surrendered any sort of draft pick for him. I don’t see how they can justify using a roster spot on him.

  • As you might be able to tell from the score, the Broncos had much more success on the offensive side on the ball. Peyton Manning, who didn’t have an injured Emmanuel Sanders at his disposal (minor thigh problem), misfired on just two passes. He overthrew Ronnie Hillman in the flat and then just missed Andre Caldwell in the end zone, but he hit everything else. He finished 12-of-14 for 102 yards and a touchdown.

    Manning dissected the 49ers with ease, but if he weren’t one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, I’d tell you to not read much into the performance. That’s because San Francisco looked completely unprepared. The defenders seemed confused on multiple plays, and they blew assignments as a consequence. They just didn’t seem focused at all, which was disappointing.

    Here were Manning’s targets:

    C.J. Anderson: 1
    Andre Caldwell: 1
    Ronnie Hillman: 2
    Jordan Norwood: 1
    Demaryius Thomas: 5
    Julius Thomas: 3 (1 end zone)
    Wes Welker: 1

  • Demaryius Thomas dominated Manning’s targets, netting five, while all other players but two had one or fewer. Thomas hauled in all five balls for 37 yards. Manning’s sole touchdown went to Julius Thomas in the second quarter.

  • With Montee Ball still out, Ronnie Hillman received all of the first-quarter touches from the running back position. He rushed for 19 yards on four carries and was targeted twice in the passing game. C.J. Anderson, who returned from his concussion, didn’t see action until the second quarter, though he did play with the starters. Anderson gained 29 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. He also caught two balls or 11 receiving yards.

  • Second-round rookie Cody Latimer has reportedly enjoyed a great camp. He caught only one ball in this contest, but it happened to be a 33-yard touchdown. Brock Osweiler dropped in a perfect ball to him in the end zone. Osweiler looked good, going 10-of-13 for 105 yards and that score.

  • I didn’t watch this live because I was behind from Saturday’s games. As this was going on, BCB from the forums sent this Facebook message to me:

    Mark this down: 30 seconds left in half, ref has the worst call in a while. Called penalty on defense, said offense, pointed to defense, then said 10 yards, then decided it was half the distance. All in like four seconds. It was glorious.

    BCB described it perfectly. And of course, the official was the senile Walt Coleman, who is still somehow employed as an NFL official.

  • I did eventually catch this game, thanks to the magic of DVR. The 49ers’ announcers weren’t very good. The color analyst spent time complaining about how no one is giving Gabbert a chance. “He’s been in so many systems, and he took shotgun snaps in Missouri,” he whined. So, how does that explain that he’s absolutely terrified of getting hit?

    The two announcers were pissed at the Bud Light trivia question as well. It asked: “What is the oldest stadium in the NFL?” I guessed Lambeau Field. They thought it was the Oakland or San Diego stadiums. Minutes later, the answer was revealed: Lambeau Field.

    They were not pleased. “That’s not right, Lambeau Field had renovations,” one argued. “Yeah, we’ll get that fixed; it should say oldest field,” the other added. Umm… the Bud Light trivia question asked for the oldest stadium; not the oldest field. Derp dee derp.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Steelers 19, Bills 16

  • The Bills traded their 2015 first-round pick for Sammy Watkins, so you can bet the front office was terrified when the stud wideout held his side and winced in pain when the first pass was thrown to him on the opening drive. Fortunately for Buffalo, Watkins’ ribs are fine, according to Ian Rapoport.

  • E.J. Manuel didn’t have Watkins for most of the time he was in the game as a consequence. Manuel was on the field for the entire first half, but he struggled while the first-team Pittsburgh defense was playing against him. Manuel went 17-of-27 for 148 yards and an interception, but most of his completions and yards came versus the backups.

    Manuel was even worse than the stats indicate. He skipped the pass to Watkins. He missed an open Robert Woods for a first down on a third down. He telegraphed his pick, which was snagged by Ryan Shazier. He threw behind Chris Hogan. He had two miscommunications with his targets. Manuel can have good moments, but he still needs a ton of work to be a viable starter in this league.

    Here were Manuel’s targets:

    Scott Chandler: 6 (1 end zone)
    Anthony Dixon: 1
    T.J. Graham: 3
    Chris Hogan: 2
    Fred Jackson: 7
    Sammy Watkins: 1
    Mike Williams: 1
    Robert Woods: 6 (1 end zone)

  • Both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson were given six carries at Pittsburgh, yet Jackson outgained Spiller, 27-16. Jackson was more prominently featured in the passing game, as he had seven targets compared to none for Spiller. Jackson snagged all seven balls for 28 yards. The Bills want to split touches between Jackson and Spiller evenly, so you’d have to be insane to spend a third- or even a fourth-round pick on the latter.

  • Robert Woods led all Buffalo receivers in targets with six. He hauled in half of them for 49 yards. Woods is not going to be a viable fantasy option until Manuel improves or a superior quarterback is acquired.

  • Scott Chandler also saw six targets go his way. He made four catches for 40 yards, but he should only be considered in rare two-tight end leagues. He’s not even worth rostering in regular formats because he offers no upside, and TE2s like him are a dime a dozen.

  • While the Bills couldn’t do much against the opposing first-string defense, the Steelers’ top unit moved the chains quite easily. Ben Roethlisberger was nearly flawless, going 8-of-11 for 128 yards and two touchdowns. One of his incompletions occurred because LeGarrette Blount slipped.

    Seventy-six of Roethlisberger’s 128 yards were mostly on Antonio Brown. The PPR machine caught an intermediate pass and turned on the jets to take it to the house. However, Roethlisberger’s second touchdown was a thing of beauty on his part, as he fired a great pass to Markus Wheaton in the back of the end zone.

    Here were Roethlisberger’s targets:

    Dri Archer: 1
    Antonio Brown: 3 (1 end zone)
    LeGarrette Blount: 1
    Heath Miller: 3
    Lance Moore: 1
    Markus Wheaton: 3 (1 end zone)

  • I mentioned Antonio Brown’s touchdown in which he zoomed past the Buffalo defense for 76 yards. This prompted one of the Steelers’ announcers to shout, “Boom goes the dynamite!” Brown figures to be a top-10 fantasy receiver this year.

  • Markus Wheaton tied for the team lead among starters with three targets versus Buffalo. He hauled in two of them for 15 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. Wheaton’s not much of a fantasy option at the moment, however. He needs to show a lot more.

  • I’m excited to see how the Steelers use rookie Dri Archer this year. We caught a glimpse of it, as Roethlisberger’s first attempt was a short pass to the speedy back. Archer managed just four yards on that play. However, he sped by Buffalo’s second-string unit in the third quarter. He caught a screen and turned it into a 40-yard gain. The Bills needed a miraculous tackle on the sideline to prevent the touchdown.

  • Two notes on other young Steelers:

    – Ryan Shazier had a great game. He made a number of plays early on and then intercepted a Manuel pass when he made an awesome break on the ball. However, he slipped on one play while trying to tackle Chandler, allowing the Buffalo tight end to have a huge gain.

    – On the other end of the spectrum, Landry Jones continued to show why he’s the worst quarterback in the NFL. Jones was a mess once again, going 2-of-5 for 53 yards, an interception and a lost fumble. He was cheated of a completion because of a drop by Martavis Bryant (2 catches, 18 yards), but he was otherwise pathetic. He struggled immensely against the pass rush. The Steelers need to cut Jones as soon as possible so Mike Tomlin can go back to winning consistently in the preseason and making degenerates money.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Texans 32, Falcons 7

  • The Falcons were a nice bounce-back candidate heading into this season. They endured so many injuries last year, so if they could stay healthy, they’d be in contention for the NFC South title. They did go to the NFC Championship two years ago, after all. Unfortunately, the team lost Sean Weatherspoon earlier, and now it’ll be without Sam Baker. The injury-prone left tackle suffered a torn patella tendon at Houston.

    If there’s some sort of a silver lining, it’s that the Falcons spent the sixth-overall selection on Jake Matthews instead of a pass-rusher, so they have someone to take Baker’s spot. Still though, it makes the offensive front substantially weaker, as there will now be a hole at right tackle.

  • Matt Ryan’s stock obviously takes a hit because of Sam Baker’s season-ending injury. It won’t kill his fantasy value or anything, but he’s a bit less appealing. Ryan went 3-of-7 for 37 yards at Houston. He could’ve had a much bigger evening had Julio Jones not dropped a pass down the field along the sideline.

    Here were Ryan’s targets:

    Patrick DiMarco: 1
    Julio Jones: 4
    Roddy White: 3

  • Julio Jones didn’t play last week, so Atlanta fans must have been happy to see him on the field. They were temporarily, at least. Jones did not have a good outing, as he caught just one of the four targets thrown to him for 29 yards. Jones dropped a pass downfield and then allowed a Houston defender to knock the ball loose on another possible reception. Jones was most likely rusty though, so I’m not going to drop him in my fantasy rankings.

  • Steven Jackson once again sat out, so Jacquizz Rodgers drew another start. He managed 13 yards on seven carries. As was the case last week, Antone Smith was the next back in, and he was solid for the second-consecutive contest, mustering 27 yards on eight carries despite taking a huge loss when Jadeveon Clowney blew him up in the backfield.

    The best Falcon running back, however, was fourth-round rookie Devonta Freeman, who led the team with 31 yards on the ground on six carries. Freeman was able to break some tackles on his runs. On one attempt, he spun away from a potential tackle to score a 23-yard touchdown, but the play was nullified by a hold.

  • Had Baker not torn his patella tendon, I would have led this recap with Jadeveon Clowney. The No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft wasn’t on the field for very long, but he made a huge impact. On one play, he burst into the backfield and absolutely destroyed running back Antone Smith for a huge loss. Clowney immediately followed that up with a sack of Ryan when he easily ran around Baker. The currently injured Falcon absolutely had no chance.

  • As for Houston’s offense, the team was once again without Arian Foster and Andre Johnson. Mike Thomas, who had a quality outing last week, was also absent. With nothing much to work with, Ryan Fitzpatrick was surprisingly effective, going 9-of-12 for 97 yards and a touchdown despite enduring a drop from DeAndre Hopkins. The level of competition has to be factored in – Atlanta allowed Ryan Tannehill to be perfect last week, after all – but this performance has to be encouraging because Fitzpatrick was coming off such a dreadful outing.

    It should be noted that Fitzpatrick’s usage was a bit unconventional. He exited the game at the beginning of the second quarter, giving way to rookie Tom Savage. However, Fitzpatrick reentered in the final couple of minutes, as Bill O’Brien apparently wanted to see his starter in the 2-minute drill. Fitzpatrick made his coach proud, leading the team into the end zone against Atlanta’s starting defense, though one of his passes on the drive was an underthrown ball to someone named Uzoma Nwachukwu.

    Here were Fitzpatrick’s targets:

    C.J. Fiedorowicz: 1
    Jonathan Grimes: 2
    DeAndre Hopkins: 3
    Keshawn Martin: 1
    Uzoma Nwachukwu: 2 (1 end zone)
    DeVier Posey: 3 (1 end zone)

  • DeAndre Hopkins has had trouble separating in training camp. He didn’t have a good performance in this contest, as he dropped a pass. He caught his other two targets for 19 yards.

  • As mentioned, Arian Foster was out versus Atlanta. Jonathan Grimes started and actually looked pretty good. He rushed for 42 yards on nine carries and caught three balls for 25 receiving yards. One of his runs was very impressive, as he broke three tackles on a scamper versus Atlanta’s No. 1 defense. Grimes is worth a late-round selection, given Foster’s durability issues.

  • Rookie quarterback Tom Savage didn’t get to do much. He went 4-of-5, but for only 8 yards. He threw nothing but short passes (as the stats will tell you), and he also had some incompletions wiped out because of penalties. The Texans struggled to pass protect when he was in the game.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Vikings 30, Cardinals 28

  • Teddy Bridgewater was a major disappointment in his preseason opener. I gave him a “C” for it in my Rookie Quarterback Grades page. After this contest, Minnesota fans have to be feeling much more optimistic about their first-round rookie signal-caller.

    Bridgewater went 16-of-20 for 177 yards and two touchdowns, and he was just as good as those numbers indicate. He was a bit jittery in the pocket on his first drive, but he made a number of nice throws, including one play in which he did a great job of navigating the pocket to avoid pressure and converting a 13-yard completion. Bridgewater then lofted a perfect pass to Adam Thielen on what should’ve been a 23-yard touchdown, but Thielen dropped it.

    With the crowd chanting “Teddy! Teddy! Teddy!” Bridgewater threw two touchdowns to give his team the lead in the fourth quarter, one of which was a pretty fade pass to Rodney Smith. As he led his team down the field, he hurled a terrific throw to a target on the sideline that stopped the clock in the final half-minute. He did pass behind one of his receivers, and he underthrew a target downfield (the ball was still caught), but this was a very promising performance overall.

  • Despite Bridgewater’s performance, Matt Cassel remains the overwhelming favorite to start. He was just as good as Bridgewater, going 12-of-16 for 153 yards and a touchdown. He really only made one mistake when he overshot Cordarrelle Patterson by a bit on his opening drive. Cassel could’ve even had a better evening, as Kyle Rudolph dropped a touchdown pass.

    Here were Cassel’s targets:

    Matt Asiata: 2
    Greg Jennings: 2
    Jerick McKinnon: 1
    Cordarrelle Patterson: 3
    Kyle Rudolph: 5 (1 end zone)
    Jerome Simpson: 2 (1 end zone)

  • Kyle Rudolph dropped a touchdown against the Cardinals – the ball went right off his fingertips – but he otherwise had a big outing. He caught four balls for 89 yards and a touchdown, which was a gain of 51 yards. Rudolph is going to have a huge season with Norv Turner as his coordinator.

  • You may notice that Cordarrelle Patterson had just two catches for nine yards. He was on the field for the entire first half, so this may seem like a disappointing stat line. However, Patterson was battling Patrick Peterson for most of the evening, and Cassel did overthrow the dynamic wideout by a bit, so don’t be discouraged.

  • Adrian Peterson sat out once again. Matt Asiata started, but did nothing but plod for 19 yards on 10 carries.

  • The box score says that Anthony Barr registered a sack and a forced fumble, but this is a bit misleading because he was able to do so against Arizona’s second-string offensive line. Everson Griffen was much more forceful up front.

  • Arizona’s night was a lot less eventful, as the team wasn’t showcasing a first-round rookie quarterback. Carson Palmer also saw a lot less action than his counterpart. He was pretty sharp despite his completion percentage, going 4-of-8 for 91 yards. One of his misfires should’ve been caught, as Jaron Brown committed a bad drop.

    Here were Palmer’s targets:

    Jaron Brown: 3
    John Carlson: 1
    Andre Ellington: 1
    Larry Fitzgerald: 4 (1 end zone)

  • Third-round rookie wideout John Brown drew all of the acclaim last week for Arizona, but it was Jaron Brown’s turn in this contest. Jaron Brown showed off his talent while breaking three tackles on a 51-yard gain and then making a leaping catch over Xavier Rhodes for 35 yards. Unfortunately, he dropped an easy screen pass in between. As for John Brown, he was mostly silent. His one reception, a 22-yarder, was made as he dived to the ground. He also dropped a pass, which bounced right out of his hands. It would’ve been good for 20 yards or so.

  • A prominent pay-for-content site discussed that Jonathan Dwyer stole a goal-line carry from Andre Ellington last night. This is misleading because Ellington received a carry at the 5-yard line and was in the game on second-and-goal at the 1-yard line on that very same drive. Ellington exited to catch his breath, and Dwyer responded with a touchdown. There should be no trepidation when drafting Ellington this summer; the second-year pro gained five rushing yards on two carries and also logged a 16-yard reception.

  • I mentioned Minnesota’s play-by-play guy last week. He sounded like a WWE announcer in the opener, nearly giving me a heart attack when he shouted “BOOM!!!!!! THE PRESEASON IS UNDERWAY!!!” as the ball was kicked off.

    This guy was a bit more subdued in this contest, but he still went nuts at times. Here are a few soundbites:

    “Look at Teddy, he’s in charge!”

    “The Cardinals are wearing the angry bird logo on their helmets!”

    “He mashed the sternum of Carson Palmer!”

    “Blair Walsh! The extra point! Yes!” (Walsh missed the extra point)

    “The Cardinals thought they came from behind to pin a nasty defeat on the Minnesota Vikings, but they left too much time! They left too much time for Teddy!”

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Giants 27, Colts 26

  • We’ve seen Eli Manning in three preseason games now, and he hasn’t shown any signs that he can still be a functional quarterback. His pass protection is abysmal, but even when he has time, he’s not doing anything with it. Manning was especially brutal against the Colts, going 1-of-7 for six yards. It’s fair to wonder if he’s even a QB2 at this point.

    Here’s a breakdown of how awful Manning performed:

    First drive: Manning underthrew Victor Cruz. Quick three-and-out.

    Second drive: Manning threw high when targeting Rueben Randle, though he was getting hit in the process. He took a sack on third down.

    Third drive: Manning threw low when targeting someone named Larry Donnell. He was then intercepted on an undercut route, but that was negated by a penalty. Manning then finally made a good pass to Victor Cruz, a pretty deep ball, but it was nullified by a penalty. Manning couldn’t maintain his success, however, overthrowing Jerrel Jernigan downfield.

    Fourth drive: Another overthrow by Manning, this time to Cruz. A Colt defender actually got his hands on the ball, but dropped the potential pick.

    And that’s it. Manning had more near-picks than completions. He’s playing like a dying animal. That’s the best I can describe it.

    Here were Manning’s targets:

    Victor Cruz: 4
    Larry Donnell: 1
    Rashad Jennings: 1
    Jerrel Jernigan: 3
    Rueben Randle: 1

  • Victor Cruz has to be given a stock down because of how utterly awful Eli Manning and the team’s offensive line have been this preseason. Cruz was targeted four times at Indianapolis, but only came up with one catch that didn’t count because of a penalty. Manning was 1-of-7 for six yards versus a Colt defense that couldn’t stop the pass last year.

  • Rashad Jennings received most of the first-string work, but couldn’t do anything behind a poor offensive line. He gained just 17 yards on seven carries. He also had a reception, but that was wiped out by a penalty.

  • Andre Williams looks like the better of the two Giant backs. He had the best run of the night with the starters, as he bulldozed over a defender in the middle of the second quarter. Williams mustered 19 yards on eight attempts. While he’s the superior runner, Williams might not be completely trusted because he’s a rookie with deficiencies in the passing game.

  • Andrew Luck would’ve been the superior passer in this contest by default, but he played quite well, especially considering that Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton sat for precautionary reasons. Luck went 12-of-18 for 89 yards and a touchdown. He endured a drop by Coby Fleener and made just two poor passes – both high throws when targeting Dwayne Allen.

    Here were Luck’s targets:

    Dwayne Allen: 2
    Coby Fleener: 3
    Mario Harvey: 1
    Donte Moncrief: 2
    Hakeem Nicks: 6
    Trent Richardson: 1
    Griff Whalen: 5 (1 end zone)

  • Hakeem Nicks doesn’t always give full effort, but he was motivated to stick it to his former team. He caught five balls for 53 yards in less than one half of action against the Giants. Nicks’ best play was his worst; it was a great catch that was followed by two broken tackles and a sprint upfield for a 36-yard gain. This, however, was nullified by a penalty because he flashed some sort of gang sign at a New York defensive back at the end of the run. Nicks later broke another tackle on a 17-yard reception. It was nice to see the Colts heavily utilize Nicks, but keep in mind that he’s third in the pecking order behind Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton.

  • Coby Fleener hasn’t progressed in his career because he makes too many mental blunders. He committed another one in this contest, dropping a pass. He caught just one ball for four yards.

  • Trent Richardson actually led all Colts in rushing with 21 yards on nine carries. He was stuffed on most of his runs, but he had a couple of nice gains. I remain neutral on Richardson; he’s a high-end RB3 with upside because he’ll get lots of opportunities to score touchdowns, but he’ll probably disappoint.

  • With Wayne and Hilton out, rookie Donte Moncrief was able to run with the starters. He saw two targets. One was a 9-yard reception, while the other was a drawn defensive hold.

  • A scary moment for the Colts: Cory Redding seemed injured, as he was on the ground for a while. The Indianapolis announcers sounded completely depressed by this heading into a commercial break, but Redding was able to walk off the field without any assistance. This had to be a great relief because Redding is one of the Colts’ top defenders.

  • Speaking of the Colts’ announcers, it was semi-amusing to see them confuse Rueben Randle with Mario Manningham. It was even funnier when one of them exclaimed, “The Colts are going to win their first preseason game! They deserved this win because they worked so hard!” at the end of the third quarter. Indianapolis was up 23-0 at that point. The team lost, 27-26. Whoops.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Dolphins 20, Buccaneers 14

  • Ryan Tannehill had a great preseason debut last week, so I was most interested to see if he could sustain that success. He did a good job doing so, going 9-of-14 for 110 yards at Tampa Bay. His one big mistake was a lost fumble at the beginning of the second quarter. Gerald McCoy, who was dominant all evening, brushed by the interior of the offensive line to knock the ball loose. Michael Johnson pounced on it to give Tampa Bay possession in Miami territory. That set up a touchdown.

    Most of Tannehill’s incompletions involved Mike Wallace. Tannehill slightly overthrew him early on, but then hit him perfectly, only to see the former Steeler drop the ball. Tannehill and Wallace then failed to connect on an attempt to the sideline. Tannehill was so much more efficient when targeting his other teammates.

    Here were Tannehill’s targets:

    Michael Egnew: 1
    Brandon Gibson: 3
    Brian Hartline: 2
    Jarvis Landry: 1
    Lamar Miller: 3
    Dion Sims: 2
    Mike Wallace: 3

  • Mike Wallace saw three targets from Ryan Tannehill, but he failed to come up with a single reception. Tannehill overthrew him, but Wallace then let a ball bounce right off his chest. Wallace also failed to come up with a grab along the sideline. With Tannehill and Wallace failing to develop chemistry last year and this offseason, it’s fair to wonder if Miami’s offense would be better without the former Pittsburgh wideout. Either way, make sure to avoid him in your fantasy draft.

  • Lamar Miller saw five touches in this contest. He didn’t accomplish much on the ground – three carries, three yards – because McCoy made it impossible to do anything on the interior. However, Miller’s two receptions went for 20 yards, as he impressively slipped a tackle in the open field on one of the catches.

  • I made fun of the pick when it happened, and I still deem it a reach because the Dolphins could have obtained him in the second round, but I was impressed with how Ja’Wuan James looked in this contest. James held his own against the Tampa pass-rushers, and if he surrendered a pressure, I didn’t see it.

  • While Tannehill was coming off a sterling debut, Josh McCown struggled in the opener and needed a rebound performance. He went 5-of-7 for 46 yards and a touchdown in this contest, but he wasn’t all that impressive overall. McCown was nearly picked by Cortland Finnegan on the opening drive, and he held on to the ball way too long on a pair of instances. One occasion resulted in a sack, while the second allowed a Miami defender to knock away a pass intended for Luke Stocker.

    Here were McCown’s targets:

    Mike Evans: 1
    Vincent Jackson: 2 (1 end zone)
    Jovorskie Lane: 1
    Doug Martin: 1
    Brandon Myers: 1
    Luke Stocker: 1

  • Some believe that Mike Glennon should have been given a chance to start this year. Glennon was pretty anemic in this contest, going 6-of-12 for 77 yards. He also lost a fumble. Most of Glennon’s yardage came on one play, and several of his throws were way off the mark. McCown has been far from perfect, but he’s clearly the better option right now.

  • Mike Evans saw just one target from Josh McCown, and his most significant moment in this contest came with Glennon under center. Glennon found Evans just as he was getting hit. Evans caught the ball and bounced off Jimmy Wilson, who looked completely helpless trying to tackle him. However, Evans was stripped of the ball before crossing the goal line, and the play was ruled a touchback. Evans finished with two catches for 52 yards.

  • Another former first-round pick, Doug Martin looks like he’s set to have a rebound campaign. He rushed for 24 yards on six carries and also caught a 4-yard pass. Martin showed some nice elusiveness against the Dolphins, evading and slipping through tackles. Charles Sims is no longer available, though he was never much of a threat to take much of Martin’s workload.

  • The Buccaneers’ announcers didn’t embarrass themselves, unlike the other broadcasting teams. Believe it or not, they were actually quite good, though I laughed when Ronde Barber said the following:

    “It was a huge day for him to have a good night.”

    I found this amusing because for a second, I thought he said, “What a horrible night to have a curse.”

  • This was quite the interesting game. There were Castlevania references, and the Dolphins even used a running back named Darkwa Duck. And then, there was this:

    Come on, NFL.com, McCown and Glennon weren’t that bad!

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Jets 25, Bengals 17

  • I wish I had known this during the week, but the Jets had discussed this as a “revenge game” after getting blown out at Cincinnati during the regular season last year. New York ended up winning, but only in pathetic fashion. After all, by the time the Bengal starters exited the game, the Jets were down 17-3. They rallied, but had to do so with their starters against Cincinnati’s backups.

    The Jets did get their “revenge,” however, if they want to call it that, and they did so with malice. Many of their players were flagged for personal foul infractions. This included Willie Colon, who attacked Terence Newman on one play for absolutely no reason. Guard Brian Winters, meanwhile, racked up 50 yards worth of penalties himself.

  • Geno Smith’s numbers are deceiving. He went 10-of-13 for 98 yards and an interception, but most of his yardage and completed passes came once Cincinnati’s first-team defense left the field. Smith was a mess early on, as he threw a poor pick and badly overthrew an open David Nelson downfield. It’s difficult to say if Smith was better than his backup; the former Eagle quarterback just threw short passes for the most part while going 5-of-9 for 70 yards and a score. He also rushed for 16 yards on two scrambles.

    Here were Smith’s targets:

    Jace Amaro: 1
    Stephen Hill: 3
    Chris Johnson: 1
    Jeremy Kerley: 1
    David Nelson: 4
    Bilal Powell: 1
    Greg Salas: 1

  • In all fairness to Smith, he didn’t have Eric Decker at his disposal, as the former Bronco is dealing with a minor quad injury. Stephen Hill started instead and was second in terms of targets received from Smith with three. Hill was a mess, however, catching only one of those balls for 17 yards. He was also flagged for a personal foul. He’s one of the least-efficient receivers in the NFL, and it’s fair to wonder if he’s even going to make the roster.

  • Speaking of inefficient players, Chris Johnson’s stat line of 10 carries, 63 rushing yards is horribly misleading. Cincinnati had Johnson completely bottled up until the team’s starters left the field. Almost all of Johnson’s yardage came against the backups. He’s one of the top players listed on my Fantasy Football Busts page.

  • There’s not much else to say about the anemic Jets, so let’s move on to the Bengals. Andy Dalton was completely perfect, albeit against one of the worst secondaries in football, going 8-of-8 for 144 yards and a touchdown. He lofted a perfect scoring pass to Mohamed Sanu, who easily beat Kyle Wilson. Dalton then followed that up with a bomb to A.J. Green down the sideline. That was close to a second touchdown, but Green couldn’t stay inbounds before he got into the end zone.

    Here were Dalton’s targets:

    Giovani Bernard: 1
    A.J. Green: 3
    Jermaine Gresham: 2
    Mohamed Sanu: 2

  • I praised Dez Bryant beneath this recap, so I might as well do the same for A.J. Green, who accumulated three catches for 69 yards on just three drives. Green is the No. 3 wideout in fantasy this year.

  • Andy Dalton targeted Mohamed Sanu on two of his eight passes against the Jets. Sanu came down with both, tallying 56 yards and a touchdown in the process. It appears as though the Bengals have no choice but to use him in the wake of Marvin Jones’ injury.

  • The Bengals used Giovani Bernard exclusively with their first-string offense. Bernard’s YPC wasn’t very pretty – he gained 22 yards and a touchdown on seven carries – but keep in mind that he was going up against a fierce Jets’ defensive front.

  • Bernard’s backup, Jeremy Hill, was one of two major Cincinnati players to leave the game with an injury. The other was first-round cornerback Darqueze Dennard. Hill had a shoulder, while Dennard was troubled with a hip. The severity of both is currently unknown.

  • Most NFL preseason announcers are terrible, but the Bengals’ crew wasn’t that bad. They only made one glaring mistake, as the play-by-play guy referred to Greg Salas as “Greg Salsa.” That might just be the most eventful thing to happen in Greg Salsa/Salas’ career.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Ravens 37, Cowboys 30

  • At one point, it seemed as though no one would see Joe Flacco play at all. The Cowboys surrendered 14 points because of a botched handoff and special teams, so by the time Baltimore was up 14-7 at the end of the first quarter, the Ravens’ offense hadn’t even taken the field. It was typical Dallas football – the Cowboys always seem to do stupid things to shoot themselves in the foot, and that was once again the case in this contest.

    Dallas’ scoring attack was impressive though, aside from the poor handoff that was taken back for six. Tony Romo went 4-of-5 for 80 yards and a touchdown on two drives, and he should have been perfect because the one incompletion was a James Hanna drop. Romo also had a deep pass to Dez Bryant negated by a hold.

    Here were Romo’s targets:

    Dez Bryant: 4 (1 end zone)
    James Hanna: 1
    DeMarco Murray: 1

  • Dez Bryant is going to have a monstrous 2014 campaign. He looks outstanding, and the Ravens couldn’t do anything to stop him in their preseason matchup. Bryant caught three passes for 59 yards and a touchdown on just two drives. He also made a great catch while falling out of bounds that was wiped out by a hold. Bryant should’ve also had more yardage, as he was incorrectly whistled down when he really was rolling on top of a defender. He’s the No. 2 fantasy receiver this year.

  • As with Romo and Bryant, DeMarco Murray saw his first action of the preseason. He ran very well, gaining 34 yards on eight carries to go along with a 21-yard reception. He could have a big year if he stays healthy, but he’s just too injury-prone for that to happen.

  • It was disappointing to see Terrance Williams go untargeted by Romo, but that’s probably just an aberration. Williams stayed on the field with the backups once Romo exited the contest. He had the misfortune of playing with Brandon Weeden, who was all over the place. Weeden went 10-of-19 for 129 yards and an interception.

  • Flacco played much longer than his counterpart, attempting more than three times as many passes. Unfortunately for Baltimore, Flacco wasn’t very effective, as he went 9-of-17 for 113 yards and a touchdown. He started very slowly, throwing wide of several of his targets. He also waited too long to hit his fullback off a bootleg, and he sailed a pass way over Torrey Smith’s head. However, he got hot during a stretch and led his team on a touchdown drive in the second quarter.

    Here were Flacco’s targets:

    Justin Forsett: 1
    Jacoby Jones: 3
    Kyle Juszczyk: 2
    Dennis Pitta: 2
    Steve Smith: 6
    Torrey Smith: 3 (1 end zone)

  • Despite Steve Smith seeing a team-high (starters only) six targets, he caught just one pass for eight yards. Flacco misfired while targeting him twice, but Smith was also at fault, as he failed to secure the ball on one of his failed catches, allowing a defender to knock it out. Smith is a very inefficient receiver at this stage of his career, and he has no business being on any sort of fantasy roster.

  • Ray Rice didn’t play very much because he suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter. X-rays came back negative, though Rice will have plenty of time to heal either way. Rice showed nice burst on his two carries, gaining 21 yards on them. He wasn’t targeted. Bernard Pierce, meanwhile, tallied 55 yards on seven attempts, though he spent some time playing with the backups.

  • I always look forward to the Cowboys’ broadcasts because their announcers are the worst. Daryl Johnston tries to carry the team, but he either whines about stuff or makes mistakes. For instance, he called Detroit’s Joique Bell “Joyce Bell.” He was better than the other color analyst, some guy named Babe, who exclaimed, “The Cowboys have 184 yards and the Ravens have five yards. If this were fantasy football, the Ravens would be throwing up the white flag!” Right. Because fantasy matchups are determined by team yardage.

    I’ve written this many times, but I believe that all NFL TV analysts should be very familiar with fantasy football. Most people who watch NFL games are either betting or playing fantasy, so why not have analysts who can dish out fantasy advice and tidbits during the telecasts?

    Johnston and Babe both are sub par, but they’re stellar compared to the sideline reporter. I didn’t catch his name, but he had the following exchanges with Tony Romo during a sideline interview:

    – What’s the plan with Dez, he gets one on one, just throw it up to him?
    Well, there’s more detail than that.

    – Did you have any thoughts in your head other than the task at hand?
    No, and I’m not even sure what you’re implying.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Packers 21, Rams 7

  • Neither Aaron Rodgers nor Sam Bradford played last week, so this was an interesting matchup in that we were going to see both signal-callers for the first time this year. As you might imagine, Rodgers was the superior passer.

    Rodgers was pretty much flawless. He misfired just twice, going 11-of-13 for 128 yards and a touchdown. He nearly had a second score to Jordy Nelson, but it was wiped out by a penalty. Rodgers had just one poor throw during his three drives.

    Here were Rodgers’ targets:

    Brandon Bostick: 1
    Jarrett Boykin: 4
    Randall Cobb: 3 (1 end zone)
    Eddie Lacy: 2
    Jordy Nelson: 1 (1 end zone)
    Andrew Quarless: 2
    James Starks: 1

  • Jarrett Boykin led all Packer starters with four targets at St. Louis, catching three of them for 21 yards. Boykin will take James Jones’ role this season, making him a viable fantasy option as a potential WR3.

  • Rodgers’ sole touchdown went to Randall Cobb, who had three receptions for 34 yards. Cobb appears primed for a big season, and he should be able to be a top-10 fantasy receiver if he can stay on the field.

  • Eddie Lacy was on the field for one drive at St. Louis, but he made a huge impact. Never exiting the contest, Lacy ran hard, broke tackles and caught a couple of passes. He gained 25 rushing yards on five carries and hauled in two catches for 22 receiving yards. Lacy is a stud, and it’s conceivable he could emerge as the No. 1 fantasy back this year. There’s a good chance that he’ll lead the league in rushing touchdowns.

  • Meanwhile, Bradford took the field for the first time in 300 days, as the Rams’ play-by-play guy pointed out. He had more of a mixed outing, going 9-of-12 for 101 yards and a touchdown. He made some nice throws, but blew an opportunity for a long score. He had a wide-open Kenny Britt streaking down the sideline, but he sailed the ball out of bounds.

    Here were Bradford’s targets:

    Tavon Austin: 4
    Kenny Britt: 2
    Jared Cook: 1
    Benny Cunningham: 1
    Cory Harkey: 1
    Lance Kendricks: 2 (1 end zone)
    Brian Quick: 2
    Zac Stacy: 1

  • Tavon Austin paced the Rams’ starters with four targets, snagging two of them for 20 yards. St. Louis appeared to go out of its way to get the ball into Austin’s hands, but before you get excited, the coaching staff did the same thing last preseason.

  • Zac Stacy did not have a positive outing. He rushed for six yards on six carries, but that horrible YPC average wasn’t his fault. He simply had no room to run anywhere. There was actually one play in which he successfully spun away from a tackler in the backfield. He lost a yard or two instead of five as a result. Stacy should be able to post better numbers once his offensive line gets healthy.

  • Speaking of the St. Louis offensive front, Greg Robinson was beaten by Julius Peppers on one play. However, Robinson had some positive moments, which included a pancake of a backup defender.

  • Good news, bad news for Michael Sam: The good is that he registered his first NFL sack when he brought down a Packer quarterback in the fourth quarter. The bad news is that he has been vastly outplayed by Ethan Westbrooks. According to the Rams’ announcers, Sam is directly competing with Westbrooks for one roster spot. Westbrooks, a fellow rookie, also notched a sack, but he’s had so many more splash plays throughout the preseason.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Raiders 27, Lions 26

  • Calvin Johnson didn’t suit up, but Matthew Stafford didn’t need him at all to dissect Oakland’s pitiful defense. Stafford went 9-of-10 for 88 yards and two touchdowns, leading his team down the field and into the end zone on two of his three possessions. His sole incompletion was a Reggie Bush dropped screen, while his long score, a 28-yarder, went to Golden Tate. The Raiders had a blown assignment, while new corner Tarell Brown bit on a double move. Tate was wide open for the touchdown.

    Here were Stafford’s targets:

    Reggie Bush: 3
    Kris Durham: 2 (1 end zone)
    Eric Ebron: 1
    Denarius Moore: 1
    Kevin Ogletree: 1
    Golden Tate: 3 (1 end zone)

  • With Calvin Johnson sidelined at Oakland, Golden Tate tied the starters for the lead in targets with three. He caught the trio of passes for 41 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown in which he completely humiliated Tarell Brown with a double move. The Lions went out of their way to get Tate the ball as much as possible, so he could be in for his best statistical season yet.

  • Good news, bad news for Reggie Bush. The good news is that he still saw plenty of touches/targets in this contest despite having yet another mental error last week. The bad news is that he dropped a pass at Oakland. Bush keeps committing these blunders, and he’ll eventually see less playing time as a consequence. He needs to be avoided in fantasy drafts because he’s been going way too early in mocks.

  • Eric Ebron caught two balls for 36 yards, though only one came from Stafford. He’s not going to be much of a fantasy option this year, but he’s someone to watch in 2015 once the casual fantasy players forget about him.

  • The Raiders managed to win this game at the very end, but their starters were completely outclassed. I found it amusing when the Raider announcers exclaimed, “It’s shocking the Raiders are coming out flat again!” No, they’re not flat. They’re just terrible.

    This includes Matt Schaub, who – surprise – tossed another interception. That actually wasn’t his fault because the ball went right through the anemic James Jones’ hands. However, Schaub was almost pick-sixed by Rashean Mathis a bit later. Schaub went 8-of-13 for 87 yards and the interception. He had major issues in the pocket, as the offensive line struggled to protect him throughout the first quarter.

    Here were Schaub’s targets:

    James Jones: 2
    Maurice Jones-Drew: 2
    Marcel Reece: 2
    Mychal Rivera: 2
    Rod Streater: 5

  • The Raiders opted to start James Jones over Andre Holmes against the Lions after giving the latter the nod last week. Jones, who has been an abomination this offseason, continued to struggle. He was responsible for Matt Schaub’s interception because he let the ball slip through his hands. He also dropped a potential Derek Carr touchdown pass in the second quarter. Jones, who finished with two catches for 29 yards, should be avoided entirely in fantasy drafts.

  • Speaking of underachieving receivers, the Raider announcers questioned Rod Streater’s effort in terms of not trying to pick up enough yardage and failing to come back to the football. Streater had just two grabs for eight yards.

  • Oakland’s running backs had a positive showing, at least. Maurice Jones-Drew started and managed just 12 yards on six carries, but he took a screen pass for 22 yards. Shortly afterward, Darren McFadden plunged into the end zone. Don’t read into McFadden getting the goal-line touches; he was simply in the game because Jones-Drew was taking a breather. McFadden did look good though, tallying 27 yards and the score on eight attempts.

  • Some Derek Carr analysis: Carr looked inept last week at Minnesota, but he improved a bit in this contest. He made a nice throw on the sideline in the second quarter and then nearly completed a touchdown pass to James Jones, but the former Packer wideout dropped the ball. That actually wasn’t the only drop Carr endured, as his line of 9-of-16 for 109 yards and a touchdown could have been better.

    Having said that, Carr struggled a bit as well. He overthrew several of his receivers, and he took a sack because he held on to the ball too long. He also showed poor body language after one of the aforementioned drops, and he couldn’t finish the game because he suffered a concussion on another sack.

  • Football fans can be nerds. Here’s proof:

    I don’t know who’s more pathetic: The one dork trying to high-five the cheerleaders, or the other, who is creepily filming them on his phone. At least the second nerd was able to have some “fun” with “himself” later that night.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Saints 31, Titans 24

  • Drew Brees was once again absent, so Luke McCown and Ryan Griffin saw most of the action at quarterback for the Saints. I have to say that I was impressed with Griffin, a second-year pro out of Tulane. He went 13-of-19 for 179 yards and two touchdowns, and he could’ve had a much greater evening had he hit Brandin Cooks on a deep bomb downfield, but he barely missed the rookie wideout. Still, Griffin has potential, and he could be considered as Brees’ replacement once the 35-year-old calls it a career.

  • As for relevant Saints’ fantasy players, Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson once again split carries, with the former getting the start. Ingram was dominant last week, but both looked about even against the Titans. Ingram (5 carries, 19 yards) did a good job of dragging tacklers on some plays, but he dropped a pass. Robinson broke some tackles as well. He gained 11 yards on four attempts, though most of that came on a 9-yard burst.

  • I mentioned Cooks a bit earlier. He had just one catch for 16 yards in this contest, but it was a nice, sideline grab from McCown on the first drive. Griffin also just barely missed him for a downfield bomb. I can’t wait to see how Brees utilizes him.

  • The Titans had no answer for Jimmy Graham, but then again, no team does. The All-Pro tight end caught five balls for 48 yards and two touchdowns, though he was flagged for offensive pass interference on one play. He dunked the ball on both scores, drawing penalties on both instances, which prompted boos from the crowd. One of the infractions ended up hurting the Saints, as the Titans were able to return the ensuing kickoff to midfield. Deciding to flag players for dunking is one of the many dumb things Roger Goodell has done in his tenure, and unfortunately, it doesn’t appear as though the overwhelmed commissioner is going anywhere anytime soon.

  • Some potential bad news for New Orleans: Stud corner Keenan Lewis suffered a leg injury in the second quarter. The severity is currently unknown.

  • The Titans suffered some injuries of their own, as Shonn Greene, Charlie Whitehurst, Michael Oher all left game with various maladies. Greene hyperextended his knee, so he’ll be fine. Oher said he could have returned to action if he were playing in a regular-season game. Whitehurst, who cares.

  • Jake Locker went 8-of-11 for 75 yards and a touchdown. He had a mostly positive outing – his most impressive moment was somehow getting out of a Cameron Jordan sack and then making a play – but he had a dropped interception by Corey White.

    Here were Locker’s targets:

    Justin Hunter: 1 (1 end zone)
    Dexter McCluster: 2
    Taylor Thompson: 1
    Delanie Walker: 1
    Kendall Wright: 5 (1 end zone)

  • The main thing that will stick out in the Saints-Titans box score is Justin Hunter’s stat line. The explosive second-year wideout caught four balls for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Only one reception came from Jake Locker, but Hunter has so much potential that he must be targeted late in fantasy drafts. He could have a big year.

  • Kendall Wright led the starters with five targets, snagging three of them for 20 yards. Wright will be a fine WR3 this year.

  • As mentioned, Greene left the game with a minor knee problem. Before that, he rumbled for 46 yards on nine carries. He had some nice rushes, but he also lost a fumble. If Greene had suffered a more severe injury, it would have been a blessing in disguise for the Titans because that would’ve given them an excuse to start Bishop Sankey. The second-round rookie notched 31 yards on six carries. He was also credited with a fumble, but that wasn’t his fault because there was a botched exchange from the quarterback.

  • Tennessee fans have to be at least a bit optimistic about the offense, but completely worried about the defense. In two preseason games, the first-string stop unit has allowed opening-drive touchdowns to Matt Flynn and Luke McCown. Switching to the 3-4 could end up being a huge mistake.

  • Zach Mettenberger had a very good preseason debut, as I noted in my Rookie Quarterback Rankings page. This was more of a mixed performance.

    The positives: Mettenberger went 20-of-25 for 269 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He began with an awesome back-shoulder throw to Hunter and later went back to Hunter for a 64-yard touchdown strike. As his completion percentage indicates, Mettenberger was accurate, for the most part.

    The negatives: Mettenberger’s interception was telegraphed, and Vinnie Sunseri was easily able to pick it off. Mettenberger also lost a fumble and nearly had another pick by rookie corner Stanley Jean-Baptiste. He also threw behind his intended target on a couple of occasions.

    In total, Mettenberger made some mistakes, but continued to show promise that he could one day potentially start for the Titans.

  • Two notes on the TV crew: First, the usual Saints’ announcers were replaced. This made me sad because we would no longer have 15-minute discussions about sandwiches or the local government. They did, however, continue to promote “Slap Ya Mama,” which made me wonder if some sandy-vagged idiots on Twitter would whine and complain about this in the wake of the Ray Rice incident.

    Also, the Saints’ play-by-play guy was an upgrade over what they had last year, but he still managed to call Justin Hunter “Kendall Hunter.” He also seemed very pro-Saints, which was curious considering that he was the Texans’ play-by-play person last year.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Seahawks 41, Chargers 14

  • It’s never wise to read too much into a preseason game unless you’re looking for fantasy implications, but the Seahawks looked unstoppable. Their first-team offense had four possessions in the first half, and they scored on each of them, posting 24 points on the scoreboard before the 2-minute warning prior to intermission.

    Russell Wilson was in complete command of the offense versus San Diego. He’s had numerous off-the-field distractions this offseason, but it doesn’t appear as though they’ve bothered him at all. Wilson was a near-perfect 11-of-13 for 121 yards along with 31 rushing yards and two scores on the ground. This doesn’t even include a pass-interference call to Doug Baldwin in the end zone as well as a near-passing touchdown to Baldwin in the second quarter. Baldwin made the grab in the end zone, but couldn’t get two feet inbounds. Wilson, for whatever reason, has been severely underdrafted in fantasy mocks this summer. Make sure you obtain him for great value. He figures to be even better in 2014 with Percy Harvin at his disposal.

    Here were Wilson’s targets:

    Doug Baldwin: 3 (2 end zone)
    Phil Bates: 1
    Percy Harvin: 5
    Christine Michael: 1
    Zach Miller: 1
    Robert Turbin: 1
    Luke Willson: 2

  • Percy Harvin led the Seahawks with five targets from Wilson. He caught four of them for 31 yards, and the exception was an uncharacteristic overthrow by Wilson. Most of what Harvin does for Seattle won’t be displayed in the box score, however. He just draws so much attention from the defense and makes everything easier for his teammates. For instance, Harvin was primarily responsible for a 37-yard completion to Zach Miller because he drew the San Diego safety away from the middle of the field. There was no one near Miller as a result. If Harvin can stay healthy this year – a big if – Seattle’s offense will be very difficult to contain.

  • There are two pieces of bad news for Christine Michael fantasy owners and enthusiasts. The first is that Michael fumbled in the first quarter. It came during a very shifty run, and he managed to recover, but ball security has been an issue for him. In the event of a Marshawn Lynch injury, Pete Carroll might be hesitant to lean on him. Second, Robert Turbin ran very well versus San Diego, accumulating 81 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, most of which came on a 47-yard burst. It should be noted that Michael still got some touches after his fumble – he’s lucky Bill Belichick’s not coaching him – but Turbin is clearly ahead on the depth chart right now.

  • While Wilson played nearly the entire first half, Philip Rivers saw much less action. He was on the field for just one possession and had difficulty making adjustments because of the extremely loud crowd noise. Rivers finished 2-of-4 for 20 yards.

    Here were Rivers’ targets:

    Keenan Allen: 1
    Donald Brown: 1
    Malcom Floyd: 1

  • Ryan Mathews didn’t play, so Donald Brown was the starting running back. He rotated in and out of the game with Danny Woodhead (6 carries, 24 yards), who converted a short-yardage try. Brown rushed for 16 yards on four attempts.

  • If you look at the box score, you may notice that Keenan Allen caught a touchdown pass. That’s because most of the first-string offense stayed on the field despite Rivers standing on the sidelines. San Diego played its starters for the entire opening half, but no sort of fantasy determination can be made because Rivers didn’t play very much. Kellen Clemens was under center for the duration of the first half.

  • One thing that was noticeable was D.J. Fluker’s struggles. Fluker had immense problems with Seattle’s pass-rushers, and Clemens was constantly under pressure as a consequence. Fluker had a solid rookie campaign last year, so perhaps this was an aberration. However, it wouldn’t be inconceivable if Fluker endured a sophomore slump. A major reason why Rivers rebounded in 2013 was an improved offensive line, so he could take a step back if Fluker has problems.

  • Tharold Simon, a young Seattle corner, had a 102-yard pick-six in the second half – except it was wiped out by another one of these illegal contact penalties. Despite the name of that infraction, there was barely any contact on the play. In fact, Simon brushing by the receiver he was targeting had no impact on the result. The same can be said for most of the illegal-contact penalties called this preseason. Roger Goodell has made some awful decisions as the commissioner thus far, but this one might be his worst. Not only do these infractions make it impossible for defenders; they also severely slow down the flow of the game. There will be a small group of people who lose interest in the NFL if Goodell doesn’t call this off soon because it makes games drag.

  • The Seattle announcers were up to their old tricks. They are notorious for conducting way too many irrelevant interviews, and the players have mostly caught on to it. I loved Turbin’s reaction to a comment made by one of the announcers:

    “Robert, you were the only non-quarterback with a rushing touchdown tonight!”

    “Heh… yeah… (20 seconds of silence)”

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Patriots 42, Eagles 35

  • The Patriots didn’t have Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Dobson available, but they were seeing Tom Brady take the field for the first time this preseason. Brady showed no signs of rust, going 8-of-10 for 81 yards, one touchdown and an interception on two drives. The pick was taken back for six by Cary Williams, but it wasn’t Brady’s fault; backup tight end Steve Maneri simply ran the wrong route. He won’t have the opportunity to do that once Gronkowski returns to the lineup. Williams, by the way, injured his hamstring on the play and didn’t return.

    As for Brady’s other throws, only one was off. His numbers don’t include a deep ball to Julian Edelman that was whistled pass interference. A few plays later, Brady fired a terrific back-shoulder touchdown to Kenbrell Thompkins on what was essentially third-and-goal at the 15-yard line. Brady has lost a step, but he’s still a mid-range QB1 who has been going much later than he should in fantasy mock drafts.

    Here were Brady’s targets:

    Danny Amendola: 2
    Julian Edelman: 4
    Steve Maneri: 1
    Kenbrell Thompkins: 3 (1 end zone)
    Shane Vereen: 2
    James White: 1

  • The good news in regard to Stevan Ridley is that he had some nice runs en route to a nine-carry, 45-yard performance. The Eagles shut down Matt Forte last week, so the fact that Ridley ran well definitely says something. The bad news, however, is that Ridley fumbled in the second quarter. As you might expect, Ridley was not seen again for the rest of the game. It was just James White (10 carries, 27 yards) and Brandon Bolden (3 carries, 21 yards) after that. White doesn’t appear to be anything special, while Bolden looks like New England’s best pure runner.

  • Jimmy Garoppolo was awesome last week. He took a step back in this contest, but wasn’t that bad. He looked a bit jittery early on, as he nearly tossed a pick on a screen pass. Some of his other attempts were off as well, but he did make a nice sideline throw to Brandon LaFell for a 25-yard gain.

  • Despite two of his top weapons sidelined – Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper were out again – Nick Foles was successful in doing his best Tom Brady impression. Brady was 8-of-10 for 81 yards and a touchdown, and Foles matched those numbers. He didn’t have the pick-six, but then again, one of his tight ends didn’t screw up on a route.

    Foles rebounded from last week’s poor performance, though he did have some issues early. He took a sack on third down of his second drive, as right tackle Allen Barbre, filling in for the suspended Lane Johnson, was easily beaten by Rob Ninkovich. He finished strongly after that.

    Here were Foles’ targets:

    Brent Celek: 2
    Zach Ertz: 2 (1 end zone)
    Jordan Matthews: 1
    LeSean McCoy: 1
    Ifeanyi Momah: 3 (1 end zone)
    Darren Sproles: 1

  • I gave Zach Ertz an up arrow today in my Fantasy Football Training Camp Stock Report, and he did not disappoint in this contest. He made two catches for 26 yards and a touchdown, and one of his grabs was an exceptional, leaping snag. Ertz has breakout potential this year.

  • Jordan Matthews also played well, catching nine balls for 104 yards. He needed to rebound from last week’s dreadful outing in which he dropped three passes, and he more than made up for it with this performance.

  • As for another young Eagle, Josh Huff, who took a kickoff back for a touchdown last week, injured his shoulder on special teams at New England.

  • Here’s something strange from the Eagles’ sideline reporter. He had this to say before the game:

    “All of the women saw these big men in the hotel, and they were thinking, ‘Who are these men?’ That’s what makes it great to be on the road for the first time in a season.”

    Couldn’t agree more. Banging random groupies in hotels is what football is all about.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Bears 20, Jaguars 19

  • I argued last week in the preseason recaps that Blake Bortles should be the starting quarterback for the Jaguars this season, and I mentioned it once again in the Rookie Quarterback Grades page. Bortles thrived in his preseason debut, while Chad Henne struggled so much that he was booed off the field. Henne had to put together a strong performance after last week’s dreadful outing, and he got exactly what he needed.

    Henne went 12-of-17 for 130 yards and a touchdown, and he was as good as those numbers indicate. He was precise on most of his throws and had no issues moving his team down the field. Of course, the quality of opponent has to be factored in. Chicago’s stop unit is one of the league’s worst. There were tons of blown assignments throughout the first half, so Henne was constantly hitting open receivers for big gains.

    Here were Henne’s targets:

    Mike Brown: 4
    Toby Gerhart: 1
    Allen Hurns: 5 (1 end zone)
    Marqise Lee: 4
    Marcedes Lewis: 4

  • As for Bortles, he had a mixed outing after a flawless one. He threw at his receiver’s feet on his first attempt. He was slightly high to a target a bit later. Bortles’ numbers were impressive – 11-of-17, 160 yards – but the passing yardage is a bit deceiving because he padded his stats with an easy deep ball at the end of the first half when Chicago was playing prevent defense.

    Having said that, Bortles made some great throws as well. He showed off his sterling arm strength on a roll-out throw to Mike Brown in the second quarter. He then lofted a beautiful toss that dropped right into his receiver’s hands for a 29-yard gain.

  • There’s no receiver and tight end worth noting for Jacksonville. Allen Hurns led the team in targets, as well as receiving yardage (4 catches, 74 yards), but he probably won’t be starting once Cecil Shorts returns to the lineup to join Marqise Lee. The second-round rookie caught four balls for 27 yards and a touchdown.

  • Toby Gerhart wasn’t very impressive. He managed 19 yards on six carries, though 18 of those yards came on one attempt. There was nothing special about that run, as the offensive line blasted open a huge hole for him. Gerhart looked like a sub-par plodder otherwise. He’s going way too early in fantasy drafts, so you’re best off avoiding him.

  • The Jaguars have some serious center issues. They had a number of errant snaps last week, and they also had one in the red zone at Chicago. Starting center Mike Brewster was also flagged for a hold.

  • Meanwhile, Jay Cutler was responsible for just one incompletion, as he went 7-of-9 for 75 yards and a touchdown. The other misfire came via a Brandon Marshall drop. Cutler was solid throughout the evening, and unlike Henne, he was battling a formidable defense.

    Here were Cutler’s targets:

    Martellus Bennett: 1
    Matt Forte: 3
    Alshon Jeffery: 2
    Brandon Marshall: 3 (1 end zone)

  • While Brandon Marshall caught Cutler’s touchdown (1 catch, 4 yards), Alshon Jeffery had the more eventful night. Jeffery (2 catches, 24 yards) fell down untouched on one of his receptions. Winston Guy, a Jacksonville defender, fell on him with force, and he was whistled for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as a consequence. Jeffery was down on the ground for a while, but he was able to walk off the field on his own power. He didn’t reenter the game, but that was probably just for precautionary reasons.

  • Matt Forte hasn’t been able to run the ball well at all this preseason. He lost five yards on three carries last week, and he dropped two more yards on four attempts against the Jaguars. In total, he has minus-7 yards on seven rushes thus far. Forte will still contribute in the passing game – he caught three balls for 22 receiving yards in this contest – but his inability to be successful on the ground is becoming a concern.

  • I was curious to see how Jared Allen would fare in his debut with the Bears. He didn’t do very well. Luke Joeckel won pretty much every matchup against Allen. It’s unknown if that was the over-the-hill Allen’s ineptitude, or Joeckel’s improvement, or perhaps both.

  • Speaking of Bears’ defenders, rookie corner Kyle Fuller was taken into the locker room in the first quarter. He walked in without any sort of limp or anything, so he’s probably fine.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2014 Preseason Notes: Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1
    2014 Fantasy Football Stock Pages: Preseason Stock Week 4 | Preseason Stock Week 3 | Preseason Stock Week 2 | Preseason Stock Week 1 | Training Camp Stock

    More 2014 Fantasy Football Articles:
    Fantasy Football Rankings

    2014 Fantasy Football Rankings:
    2014 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - 8/30 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs - 9/3 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers - 9/3 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends - 8/27 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defenses - 6/4 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers - 6/4 (Walt)
    Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings - 5/18 (Walt)
    Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings: Dynasty - 8/22 (Walt)

    2014 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts:
    2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: 2-QB - 8/21 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Standard - 8/14 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: PPR - 8/12 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: 3-WR - 8/7 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Standard - 7/31 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: 3-WR - 7/24 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: PPR - 7/17 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Standard - 7/10 (Walt)

    2014 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets:
    2014 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 - 9/3 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 - PPR - 9/3 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 - 2-QB - 9/3 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 - TD - 9/3 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Custom - 9/3 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Spreadsheets - 8/28 (Walt)

    2014 Fantasy Football Articles:
    2014 Fantasy Football Stock Report: Training Camp - 9/3 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football: It's All About Value - 9/1 (Kenny)
    2014 Fantasy Football Sleepers - 8/31 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Busts - 8/31 (Walt)
    2014 NFL Preseason Recap, Fantasy Football Notes - 8/30 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Preseason Stock - 8/30 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Quarterback Targets - 8/30 (Walt)
    FanDuel $1 Million Contest - 8/30 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft Simulator - 8/30 (Walt)
    Fantasy Football Round-by-Round Strategy - 8/17 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football Stock Report: Running Backs - 3/28 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football: Overdrafted Players - 2/16 (Walt)
    2014 Fantasy Football: First-Round Bust History - 2/14 (Walt)
    Running Backs with Most Carries - 2/14 (Walt)

    2024 NFL Mock Draft - April 9

    NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

    Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

    NFL Picks - Feb. 12