2016 NFL Preseason Recap and Fantasy Football Notes: Week 3

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

2016 Preseason Notes: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4
2016 Fantasy Football Stock Pages: Preseason Stock Week 1 | Preseason Stock Week 2 | Preseason Stock Week 3 | Preseason Stock Week 4 | Training Camp Stock

Jaguars 26, Bengals 21

  • The season nearly ended for the Bengals in the third exhibition game. A.J. Green began limping around on a non-contact injury. Green tried to run a route on the next play, but that was a futile effort, as he could barely move. It appeared as though Green could be out for the year, but the Bengals announced that they don’t believe his knee issue to be serious. Of course, the Cowboys said the same of Tony Romo, but it appears as though Cincinnati has averted disaster.

  • Andy Dalton was on the field for less than a half of action. Dalton was just fine, going 6-of-10 for 77 yards and a touchdown. His only blemish was an overthrow of a backup tight end in the end zone on the opening possession. Otherwise, it was a pretty nondescript evening for the fantasy QB2.

    Here were Dalton’s targets:

    Giovani Bernard: 2
    Tyler Boyd: 1
    A.J. Green: 2 (1 end zone)
    Jeremy Hill: 1
    Brandon LaFell: 1 (1 end zone)
    C.J. Uzomah: 3
    James Wright: 1

  • It was a bit disappointing to see Tyler Boyd catch just one pass for nine yards in this contest while working with the starters, especially with Green going out early. Boyd’s a promising receiver, but it could take him a while to become a consistent option for Dalton.

  • Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard each scored touchdowns. Hill’s was a short scamper into the end zone after he was stuffed twice at the goal line. Bernard, meanwhile, scored on a slip screen.

    Both Hill and Bernard had quality runs, especially the latter. Bernard made a nice spin move on a gain of eight and then displayed great patience on an 11-yard spurt. He registered 27 yards on three carries to go along with two catches for 25 receiving yards. Hill mustered 21 yards on eight attempts and also chipped in with a 28-yard reception. Hill, who will continue to be the primary back, had a poor YPC because of three attempts at the goal line.

  • No one should be worried that Geno Atkins is going to have an off year. Atkins dominated Jacksonville’s offensive line, particularly tackle-turned-guard Luke Joeckel.

  • With Blake Bortles’ front struggling, he managed to lead his offense to just three points. He did have a touchdown wiped out because his target didn’t report as eligible, but he was also nearly picked on a throw to Allen Hurns. Bortles went 10-of-16 for only 52 yards. That’s a disappointing total considering how many passes he attempted, and Bortles agrees, as he told NBC’s sideline reporter, “We did pretty bad.” Bortles would’ve fared better with improved protection, but his M.O. thus far has been to struggle early in games and then post ridiculous yardage in garbage time. That may repeat again in 2016.

    Here were Bortles’ targets:

    Rashad Greene: 1
    Allen Hurns: 4
    Chris Ivory: 1
    Marqise Lee: 1 (1 end zone)
    Marcedes Lewis: 1
    Hayes Pullard: 1 (1 end zone)
    Allen Robinson: 3 (1 end zone)
    Julius Thomas: 2 (1 end zone)
    T.J. Yeldon: 3

  • Allen Robinson had a disappointing stat line, catching just two passes for 10 yards. However, he drew a pass interference flag in the end zone during the second quarter. His numbers obviously would’ve looked a lot better had he scored a touchdown on that play.

  • For the third game this preseason, T.J. Yeldon started over Chris Ivory. Despite this, Ivory continues to be drafted before Yeldon, which makes zero sense. Yeldon made a big mistake in this contest, fumbling on a screen, but the positives outweighted the negative. He made a nice juke on his first reception, a gain of eight. He then showed off a terrific cut to pick up 23 yards on the ground. This followed what appeared to be an amazing catch along the sidelines, but replay review saw that he couldn’t get a second foot inbounds. Yeldon gained 34 yards on five carries, while Ivory was far less effective, mustering only four yards on four attempts.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: Where is Al Michaels? Seriously. I know he just did the Olympics, but didn’t Mike Tirico do that as well? I’m asking you. I have no idea because I didn’t watch the Olympics. I definitely know that Michaels isn’t covering a “sport” where fat guys walk on hills like Jim Nantz, so why hasn’t he been part of the broadcast?

    Nevertheless, why do I get the feeling that NBC would prefer Tirico to do its broadcast with Cris Collinsworth? Don’t get me wrong, Michaels is a living legend, but Tirico is the best in the business right now, and I have no idea what he’s going to do for NBC until Michaels retires.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Texans 34, Cardinals 24

  • I really wanted to see Carson Palmer in action because he struggled in the first two preseason games. Would this continue, or could Palmer redeem himself in the dress rehearsal?

    Unfortunately, we didn’t see much of a sample size, as Palmer was on the field for just one quarter. He opened with an interception that was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Vince Wilfork, and ultimately closed with another pick, this one taken back for six. Palmer’s second interception was a great play by linebacker John Simon, who disrupted a screen, tipping the ball by extending his arm way out and then snatching it and running the other way into the end zone. It was an amazing play by Simon, but Bruce Arians wasn’t a fan. He chided Palmer when the veteran went back to the sideline. Adding injury to insult, Palmer was hit hard by Devon Still on the play, chipping his tooth in the process.

    Carson Palmer finished 5-of-9 for 64 yards and two interceptions against the Texans. None of his throws were overly impressive, and most of his yardage came on a 40-yard toss to an open Darren Fells. Outside of that pass, Palmer was 4-of-8 for 24 yards and two picks. Palmer hasn’t looked good this preseason, and I would stay away from him in fantasy drafts. Maybe I’m overreacting to meaningless games, but Palmer is 36 and has an extensive injury history. I’d rather be safe than sorry.

    Here were Palmer’s targets:

    Jaron Brown: 1
    Darren Fells: 3
    Michael Floyd: 1
    David Johnson: 2
    J.J. Nelson: 2 (1 end zone)

  • David Johnson was on the field for two drives, but he made it count. He was given six carries, turning them into 28 yards and a touchdown, which featured a great cut. He also caught a pass, but didn’t gain a yard. Johnson is the clear No. 1 back in Arizona and is well worth a mid-first-round pick.

  • Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown were both out, so there isn’t much to say about Palmer’s receiving corps. Michael Floyd saw one target, catching what turned out to be a 10-yarder.

  • Even if Palmer has regressed, he needs to stay healthy because his Drew Stanton has been enduring an even worse preseason. Stanton spent the afternoon firing passes behind his receivers, and Bruce Arians couldn’t have been happy about Stanton seeming unprepared to play on his first possession.

  • While Carson Palmer struggled, Brock Osweiler lit up Arizona’s secondary. Osweiler was firing accurate lasers for the most part, and when he wasn’t, he was lofting precise touch passes downfield. Osweiler went 11-of-13 for 146 yards and a touchdown, and he was actually even better than those numbers indicate. One of Osweiler’s incompletions was a perfect bomb to Will Fuller, who dropped the ball despite it hitting him right in his hands. Had Fuller caught it, he would’ve scored an 84-yard touchdown, bringing Osweiler’s numbers to 12-of-13 for 230 yards and two touchdowns – all in less than one half of action! Osweiler is not being drafted in most fantasy leagues, but I’d rather have him than some other signal-callers being selected in the late rounds.

    Here were Osweiler’s targets:

    Stephen Anderson: 1
    C.J. Fiedorowicz: 1
    Will Fuller: 4 (1 end zone)
    Ryan Griffin: 1
    DeAndre Hopkins: 2
    Braxton Miller: 3
    Lamar Miller: 1
    Jaelen Strong: 1

  • DeAndre Hopkins saw just two targets, but wasn’t on the field the entire time with the starters. He caught both passes for 31 yards. On one of the receptions, Hopkins juked cornerback Mike Jenkins so badly that Jenkins sustained a leg injury and had to be carted off. He literally broke his ankles!

  • Will Fuller was trending on Twitter for a while during his matchup versus Arizona, perhaps for two reasons. Fuller dropped a perfect pass that would’ve gone for an 84-yard touchdown. However, Fuller made up for it by snatching a 26-yard touchdown on what would be Osweiler’s final throw of the afternoon. Fuller finished with three grabs for 67 yards and a score. If he can get over his drop issues, he can evolve into a great No. 2 receiver. I wouldn’t draft him this year, but only because a game like this will escalate his ADP. I would happily take him in the final couple of rounds though.

  • I found it interesting that Osweiler went to Braxton Miller on a third and fourth down of the opening drive. Miller saw just one target after that, however. He hauled in all three passes for 29 yards.

  • Lamar Miller didn’t have any running room against the Cardinals. He was given four carries, and he was able to only muster just as many yards. He did manage to find the end zone once, however, so that’s at least a silver lining.

  • Tyler Ervin had just three touches in this contest, but he looked amazing in his brief action. He showed off his blazing speed on a carry of 11 yards and a reception of 20. He’s going to see work on third downs this season.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: People can be very mean on the Internet. Here’s an example of this, as many on Twitter are not fans of Joe Buck’s announcing:

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Vikings 23, Chargers 10

  • This was our first chance to see the Vikings’ new stadium, and it looks great. There’s natural indoor sunlight and retractable windows, which is nice. They’ve also ditched toilet paper in the bathrooms in favor of the three shell system. If this confuses you, you can always curse at the swear machine and use the penalty slips as toilet paper. Just a heads up if you plan on going to a Vikings game.

    The Minnesota players look just as great. We all know how dominant the defense is. Teddy Bridgewater also had a solid showing, going 12-of-16 for 161 yards and a touchdown. He was nearly flawless as the numbers indicate, though he did make a couple of mistakes. For example, he overshot Charles Johnson in the end zone early on and then took a sack because he held on to the ball too long. However, Bridgewater made up for it with numerous precise throws despite not having protection from Matt Kalil, who sat out. Bridgewater also had a great juke on Adrian Phillips, which embarrassed Phillips’ unborn grandchildren.

    Here were Bridgewater’s targets:

    Stefon Diggs: 5
    Charles Johnson: 3 (1 end zone)
    Zach Line: 1
    Jerick McKinnon: 2
    Kyle Rudolph: 5

  • Adrian Peterson didn’t play because he never takes the field in the preseason, allowing Jerick McKinnon to start again. McKinnon made some nice runs. His first big one was a 35-yarder in which he burst through a huge hole. Right after that, he made a brilliant spin move to gain 11 yards. McKinnon gained 56 yards on eight carries.

  • Stefon Diggs was Teddy Bridgewater’s primary receiver in the dress rehearsal, which was hardly a surprise. Diggs tied for a team-high five targets, hauling in all of them for 71 yards. This was just in one half of action. With Bridgewater’s offensive line improved, he’ll have more of an opportunity to connect with Diggs.

  • Kyle Rudolph tied Stefon Diggs with five targets in one half of action against the Chargers. Rudolph looks healthy for a change, and if he stays that way, he could be a borderline TE1. Rudolph logged three receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown. His only blemish was a lost fumble in the second quarter.

  • Moving on to the Chargers, Philip Rivers didn’t play as long as Bridgewater, getting pulled in the middle of the second quarter. Rivers had a decent showing considering he was battling what is probably the NFL’s top defense. Rivers went 5-of-9 for 54 yards and an interception that wasn’t his fault, as a pass intended for Keenan Allen popped into the air.

    Here were Rivers’ targets:

    Keenan Allen: 2
    Travis Benjamin: 3
    Melvin Gordon: 1
    Hunter Henry: 1
    Tyrell Williams: 1

  • Keenan Allen didn’t have the best showing in this contest, seeing just two targets from Rivers. He didn’t catch either pass, and one actually turned into an interception. I’ll give Allen a mulligan for this, as I still expect a big year out of him.

  • Travis Benjamin made a nice play in this contest, converting on a leaping catch on a slip screen, and then dashing for 17 yards. Benjamin led the Chargers with three targets from Rivers, coming down with two of them for 32 yards.

  • Melvin Gordon grew up idolizing Adrian Peterson. He wears No. 28 for that reason, and he even trained with Peterson this offseason. Thus, it was cool to see him have a huge game at Minnesota. Gordon opened by carrying defenders for a gain of seven and then proceeded to dash for a 39-yard touchdown. The play was set up by a great audible by Philip Rivers, but Gordon then used his impressive speed to zoom past the Minnesota defenders in the open field. Gordon tallied 51 yards and a touchdown on just four carries. Now completely healthy, Gordon seems poised for a huge year.

  • On the other end of the spectrum involving San Diego running backs, Branden Oliver tore his Achilles. It was a gruesome play in which the camera actually caught the Achilles snapping. Look it up if you want to feel horrible about life.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: This was a FOX broadcast, so we weren’t going to get many errors. What I want to focus on is FOX’s new show featuring Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe.

    I do some work for FOX Sports on occasion, so I have to say that I’m disappointed that they’re stooping to ESPN’s level by allowing a troll to host a TV show. I can’t see it working out, either. I feel like everyone is worn out by Bayless. And as for Sharpe, I don’t think I’ve understood a single thing he’s ever said, so yeah, that’s kind of a problem.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Broncos 17, Rams 9

  • The prevalent story entering this game was that Trevor Siemian was getting the start over Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch. It was an indication that if Siemian didn’t completely screw up, he would start the regular-season opener against the Panthers, save for an amazing Lynch performance.

    The Broncos didn’t give Siemian any sort of chance to screw up early because they ran on the ball on the first six offensive plays of the game. C.J. Anderson carried five times, with Devontae Booker getting the sixth rush. Denver went three-and-out on both possessions, as running on the Rams’ dominant front is difficult, so it was clear that the Broncos would have to change their strategy.

    Siemian attempted his initial throw with a minute remaining in the first quarter. He didn’t start all that well, though Demaryius Thomas hurt him with a drop. Siemian led Thomas out of bounds on a deep pass, giving his stud wideout no chance to catch the ball. Siemian completed some quality passes after beginning 2-of-5 for 14 yards, but then was intercepted on an underthrow on a deep shot to Cody Latimer. Siemian was later nearly pick-sixed when a backup safety broke in front of the ball past Emmanuel Sanders.

    Siemian finished 10-of-17 for 122 yards, one touchdown and the interception. He didn’t play poorly, which, as mentioned, was the only requirement of him. It’ll be a surprise if he isn’t named the starter for the regular-season opener, especially after Mark Sanchez didn’t even take the field in the dress rehearsal.

    Here were Siemian’s targets:

    Virgil Green: 3 (1 end zone)
    Jordan Norwood: 1
    Emmanuel Sanders: 5
    Demaryius Thomas: 8

  • As for Paxton Lynch, it was disappointing that he didn’t get any work against the Rams’ starting defense. He battled backups again, but didn’t blow anyone away with some mediocre play.

    One of Lynch’s first attempts was a throw short of the first-down marker on a third-and-5. On the next drive, he floated a bad pass out of bounds on third down with a player open to move the sticks. Lynch then overshot Jorday Taylor downfield and fired behind his target on another third down. Lynch finished by nearly getting picked on a short throw to a running back.

    This was a big step backward for Lynch, who performed well in the first two preseason games. He went 6-of-13 for only 57 yards, and once again, this came against the Los Angeles backups. This is yet another reason to believe that Siemian will get the nod.

  • I mentioned earlier that Anderson saw a ton of work. He played the entire first half, gaining 50 yards on 11 carries. However, those numbers are misleading, since he rushed thrice for 35 yards when the Rams inserted their backups at the end of the second quarter. Anderson was stuffed twice in short yardage.

  • Booker didn’t have much success running either, mustering only 13 yards on eight carries. Ronnie Hillman was actually Denver’s best runner on the evening, sprinting for 45 yards and a touchdown on just five attempts. Hillman displayed a full array of nifty moves, and he should be able to win the No. 3 running back job over Kapri Bibbs.

  • Demaryius Thomas led the Broncos with eight targets. He only caught four of them for 63 yards, but one of them was a sick, one-handed catch downfield for a gain of 43. Emmanuel Sanders, meanwhile, turned his five targets into three grabs for 45 yards. Sanders also drew a pass interference flag.

  • Like the Broncos, the Rams will be rolling with a veteran over their first-round rookie quarterback. Case Keenum performed well for the most part, as he was the best quarterback on the field on this particular evening. Keenum went 8-of-12 for 77 yards. Nothing was overly spectacular, but he was accurate for the most part.

    There are two items of note regarding Keenum. The first is that Aqib Talib crushed Keenum as he was stepping out of bounds at the beginning of the second quarter. The second is that Keenum was nearly picked right afterward on a shot to Tavon Austin. The errant pass was dropped by Kayvon Webster.

    Here were Keenum’s targets:

    Tavon Austin: 1
    Kenny Britt: 4
    Malcolm Brown: 1
    Tyler Higbee: 1
    Lance Kendricks: 3
    Brian Quick: 2

  • As for Jared Goff, he was worse than Paxton Lynch, as the numbers indicate; he went just 4-of-12 for 45 yards. However, it needs to be noted that unlike Lynch, Goff battled a starting defense. That’s right – he was staring down Von Miller and company, and it wasn’t pretty.

    Goff actually made a couple of nice throws for 14 and 19 yards versus Denver’s first-string defense; the 19-yarder was a laser to Pharoh Cooper, who made a terrific one-handed catch, atoning for his drop in the first preseason game. However, Goff was just 2-of-7 for 33 yards versus the Denver starters. He showed poor awareness on one occasion, sliding short of the first-down marker on third down. He then nearly lofted a pick-six, but Darian Stewart, who baited Goff into the throw, inexplicably dropped a ball that sailed right into his arms.

    Making matters worse for Goff, he was yanked early for the second time in three games because he was hit hard. He got up slowly after a fierce hit in the third quarter and was replaced by Sean Mannion. I’ve mentioned this on countless occasions, but one of the reasons why every team we spoke to wasn’t particularly high on Goff was his durability concerns. They can’t be surprised at all that Goff has been knocked out twice in three contests. The Rams have to feel troubled by this, given what they endured with Sam Bradford earlier in the decade.

  • New rich man Tavon Austin saw just one target against the Broncos, catching nothing. Austin has not enjoyed a quality preseason. In fact, he has no catches and just three total yards on one carry. I’m sure the Rams will find ways to get him the ball during the regular season, but it’s difficult to have faith in Austin right now, especially after how bad Jared Goff has looked through three preseason games.

  • Todd Gurley did not suit up, allowing Benny Cunningham to start. Cunningham once again had a solid showing, gaining 22 yards on six carries – an impressive feat versus Denver’s defense. Cunningham will be needed to be added immediately if Gurley were to sustain an injury.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: This was a Broncos telecast, meaning Ron Zappolo was involved. Zappolo, whom I’ve made fun of ad nauseum over the past several years, screwed up once again, referring to Virgil Green as “Victor Green.” Still, Zappolo only screwed up one name, which has to be considered a victory for him.

    Believe it or not, I’m not the only one who criticizes Zappolo. Take a look at these hilarious tweets I found just by searching “Ron Zappolo:”

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Giants 21, Jets 20

  • The Giants’ starting offense hadn’t scored a single point in the preseason entering this contest, so their fans were obviously hoping for some sort of life from their team under a new coaching regime. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t find what they were searching for.

    New York’s starting unit was once again blanked on the scoreboard. In fact, the Giants’ starters, according to play-by-play guy Ian Eagle, have either gone three-and-out or turned the ball over on eight of their 12 possessions this preseason. Eight out of 12!

    Eli Manning went 10-of-15 for 65 yards and an interception in this game, with his pick coming on a play in which Odell Beckham Jr. displayed a major case of alligator arms. Manning told the media that he didn’t blame Beckham for doing that, given that this was just a preseason contest, and Beckham would’ve gotten crushed otherwise. Manning also had another possible pick when he carelessly fired a ball into double coverage toward Victor Cruz, but it was dropped by a Jet defender.

    I’m not ready to drop Manning in my rankings. This might just be a case of Ben McAdoo not caring about the preseason. However, there is legitimate concern with the offensive line, which hasn’t been able to block anyone this August.

    Here were Manning’s targets:

    Jerell Adams: 1
    Odell Beckham Jr.: 4
    Victor Cruz: 2
    Larry Donnell: 2
    Rashad Jennings: 2
    Sterling Shepard: 1
    Will Tye: 1
    Shane Vereen: 2

  • Beckham logged just one catch for eight yards, which is disappointing considering that he saw a team-high four targets. Beckham, as mentioned, was responsible for an interception because of alligator arms. Otherise, Manning simply couldn’t connect with him because of the immense pressure he dealt with.

  • Sterling Shepard saw just one target in the dress rehearsal. He caught it, a reception of just one yard. I like Shepard, but he’s being way overdrafted at his 8.03 ADP. If the Giants continue to have blocking issues, Shepard simply won’t do much until that’s fixed.

  • Speaking of blocking issues, Rashad Jennings got absolutely nothing on the ground. Literally. He had minus-1 yards rushing on six carries. Manning would’ve been better off sneaking every play than handing the ball off to Jennings!

  • Rookie running back Paul Perkins saw some action toward the end, generating eight yards on four carries. It’s difficult to justify drafting him until the final round or two considering the state of the offensive line, but I don’t think he’s a horrible final-round investment.

  • Manning isn’t the only quarterback struggling in New York, as Ryan Fitzpatrick had an underwhelming showing as well. Fitzpatrick was nearly picked right away, as he flung a careless pass while under pressure from Olivier Vernon. He then was even more reckless with the ball, getting strip-sacked in the red zone by Snacks Harrison. Fitzpatrick’s next drive featured a whiff of Eric Decker, who was wide open along the sideline, and then he made an embarrassingly high throw to an open Robby Anderson.

    Fitzpatrick did manage to finish his evening on a strong note, finding Decker for a touchdown on a back-shoulder throw, but it was a pedestrian evening nonetheless. Fitzpatrick finished 9-of-16 for 76 yards and that score. Fitzpatrick didn’t have Brandon Marshall, who was a healthy scratch, but he is going to need to play much better if he wants to convince the front office that he’s worth a long-term deal.

    Here were Fitzpatrick’s targets:

    Robby Anderson: 2
    Eric Decker: 5
    Matt Forte: 3
    Jalin Marshall: 3
    Bilal Powell: 2
    Zach Sudfeld: 1

  • Decker paced the Jets in targets with five, yet came up with just one catch for 22 yards. That happened to be a touchdown, but it was still a disappointing evening for Decker, who had to deal with Fitzpatrick’s woeful accuracy.

  • Matt Forte started for the Jets and saw 10 carries compared to Bilal Powell’s four. That’s the good news for Forte. The bad news is that his 10 attempts went for only 28 yards. Still, it’s not completely discouraging, as it’s nearly impossible to run against the Giants because of the two behemoths they have in the middle of their line.

  • There’s apparently a roster battle between undrafted rookie receivers Robby Anderson and Jalin Marshall. Anderson had the bigger night (4 catches, 65 yards, TD), but Marshall (3-30) did more with the starters. He also made a terrific catch on a pass from Fitzpatrick.

  • Let’s discuss Christian Hackenberg. The second-round rookie hadn’t played in the preseason prior to this contest, but he finally took the field, as Todd Bowles actually remembered that he was on the roster.

    Hackenberg went 6-of-16 for 105 yards, one touchdown and an interception. That stat line will tell you that Hackenberg was inaccurate, but that was hardly the case. Hackenberg had two of his passes dropped. One attempt was thrown away. He also made some very nice completions. For instance, he fired an 11-yard dart to Zach Sudfeld to pick up a third-and-10. He then made very accurate passes of 26 and 27 yards and displayed nice touch on his scoring pass. He was so good on his first drive that the Jets color analyst shouted, “Dare I say a star is born!?”

    Hackenberg, however, threw an interception on the next possession that effectively gave the Giants the win. Hackenberg simply didn’t see the Giants defensive lineman dropping into coverage. Hackenberg tried to lead a game-winning drive after that, but heavy pressure forced an incompletion on the final fourth down of the contest.

    Overall, I’d say this was a solid first performance from Hackenberg. I was ready to criticize him once I initially saw that stat line, but he was much better than those numbers indicate.

  • I have to mention Leon Hall’s concussion. The Giants cornerback was dinged so bad that he walked toward the Jets’ sideline before being told by the officials to go the other way. Pretty scary stuff.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: The first six minutes of this game featured the best broadcasting I’ve heard from preseason guys all year. Seriously. Why? Because both of the announcers’ mics were off! The telecast was completely silent, save for sound effects. It was awesome!

    Of course, the color analyst began saying stupid stuff when the communication issues were fixed. That includes this gem:

    “The fourth preseason week is like a bye in the playoffs!”

    Ugh, why couldn’t the mics have been broken the entire night!?

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Eagles 33, Colts 23

  • The Colts struggled last year because Andrew Luck dealt with multiple injuries. He’s healthy now, yet Indianapolis’ starting offense could barely muster anything in this contest, producing just three points in one half of action.

    I wouldn’t say Luck is the problem. Rather, his offensive line was woeful in this contest. The Eagles have a great defensive front, but Indianapolis’ inability to protect Luck was worrisome. Four of the five starting linemen played, with only the right tackle sidelined, yet Philadelphia put an immense amount of pressure on Luck. The Indianapolis quarterback was sacked right away on the first drive following two ineffective runs, as Le’Raven Clark was easily beaten. Two possessions later, Luck was pressured, rendering him unable to get the ball to an open Donte Moncrief way downfield. Luck then missed T.Y. Hilton on a fourth-down try because he was hit as he released the ball.

    Luck finished 13-of-18 for 134 yards. The numbers aren’t bad, but the Colts failed to generate consistent drives, always sputtering because Luck didn’t have time in the pocket.

    Here were Luck’s targets:

    Phillip Dorsett: 2
    Josh Ferguson: 3
    Frank Gore: 1 (1 end zone)
    T.Y. Hilton: 6
    Donte Moncrief: 5
    Erik Swoope: 1
    Robert Turbin: 1

  • T.Y. Hilton led the Colts in six targets, catching three of them for 38 yards. Hilton figures to be a fantasy WR2, but he could post WR1-type numbers if Luck’s protection somehow manages to improve.

  • Donte Moncrief was one target shy of Hilton on passes from Luck, but he ultimately finished with six grabs for 58 yards because he played with the backups. I don’t know why the Colts kept him on the field with Scott Tolzien, as he’s an important part of the offense. Moncrief got open once for what should’ve been a long touchdown, but Luck was pressured so heavily that he couldn’t locate him.

  • Frank Gore was given four carries, which he turned into six underwhelming yards. Robert Turbin was the next running back to take the field, but Josh Ferguson was mixed in. Ferguson managed four yards on five attempts, but he was a factor in the aerial attack, logging three catches for 28 receiving yards. It’s tough to recommend Ferguson as a late-round sleeper because Turbin could be Gore’s primary backup.

  • While the Colts sputtered, Philadelphia’s offense was clicking, looking very smooth for the most part. The Eagles had some issues early, as Sam Bradford took a loss of 15 yards on a sack because Brandon Brooks whiffed on a block. Bradford then was picked when a ball hit Nelson Agholor right on the hands, popping high into the air and into the arms of an Indianapolis defender.

    Bradford was nearly flawless after that. He was battling one of the worst defenses in the NFL – the Colts are really going to miss Vontae Davis – but he was impressive nonetheless, as he finished a near-flawless 17-of-20 for 167 yards, two touchdowns and the aforementioned interception. Two of his incompletions, including the pick, were drops. The other was Dorial Green-Beckham’s fault (more on that later). It’s a shame Bradford is so injury-prone, as it’s difficult to feel optimistic about his 2016 outlook.

    Here were Bradford’s targets:

    Nelson Agholor: 1
    Trey Burton: 5
    Brent Celek: 1
    Zach Ertz: 5
    Chris Givens: 1
    Dorial Green-Beckham: 3 (2 end zone)
    Josh Huff: 2
    Wendell Smallwood: 1
    Darren Sproles: 1

  • Dorial Green-Beckham played some snaps with the starters at Indianapolis and had a mixed evening. It began poorly, when Sam Bradford took a shot toward him in the end zone. Green-Beckham stopped a bit for a second, causing the overthrow. However, Green-Beckham was better after that. He caught a short pass and bounced off a defender to pick up 11 yards. He then caught a 4-yard touchdown on a fade over the top of a scrub Indianapolis corner. Those were Green-Beckham’s only catches on the evening, but it was evident that the potential is there. With Nelson Agholor struggling, Green-Beckham could emerge as Philadelphia’s No. 2 receiver. I wouldn’t draft him in any 12-man fantasy league, but Green-Beckham will definitely be on the radar for a possible waiver-wire addition.

  • Zach Ertz had a solid showing, tying the team lead with five targets. He caught all five for 25 yards. He’s in the conversation as a mid-round TE1 flier, especially in PPR leagues.

  • Ertz was tied with fellow tight end Trey Burton. His five targets went for 35 yards and a touchdown. Burton, who is very athletic, will definitely have some sort of a role in Philadelphia’s offense, though he’s not currently recommended as a fantasy option.

  • Josh Huff led the Eagles in receiving yardage (60) on two catches. He also scored a rushing touchdown. I wouldn’t read much into this, as Huff is just a gadget player who saw only two targets from Bradford.

  • Ryan Mathews didn’t get much of a workload, but he made his three carries count, gaining 31 yards. In the second half, rookie Wendell Smallwood took the field. He gained 11 yards on two tries, but then was knocked out with a concussion.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: I love Mike Mayock, but he had a major gaffe when he was discussing Doug Pederson and his success in Kansas City. He claimed the Chiefs won a playoff game because of “two- and three-tight end sets and Jamaal Charles.” No. The Chiefs won a playoff game because Brian Hoyer had a mental breakdown – and Charles wasn’t even on the field!

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Titans 27, Raiders 14

  • These teams are slated to meet in the third week of the regular season, so neither coaching staff was going to reveal anything. However, with two young quarterbacks looking to prove themselves, this was bound to provide an entertaining first half. Neither signal-caller disappointed.

    Marcus Mariota played exactly one half. He had some great moments, but also made a couple of mistakes. For example, he opened with a throw behind Tajae Sharpe and then undershot another attempt toward Sharpe downfield. However, Mariota still maintained a YPA of more than 10, going 9-of-16 for 170 yards. This was helped with a 60-yard completion to Sharpe, who ran away from defenders after making a great catch. Mariota also had a great play himself when he rolled left to escape pressure, converting a third-and-9 with a completion to Andre Johnson.

    Mariota has enjoyed a mostly positive preseason. Now armed with a seemingly potent receiver in Sharpe, Mariota seems poised for a strong sophomore campaign. He’s definitely worth taking as a QB2 with upside.

    Here were Mariota’s targets:

    Anthony Fasano: 1
    Derrick Henry: 1
    Andre Johnson: 5 (1 end zone)
    Rishard Matthews: 2 (1 end zone)
    Dexter McCluster: 2
    Tajae Sharpe: 4
    Phillip Supernaw: 2

  • Another preseason game, another dominant performance by Tajae Sharpe. Though Sharpe caught just one pass for 60 yards at Oakland, he could’ve had a much greater stat line had Marcus Mariota connected with him on a throw in which Sharpe torched David Amerson. It would’ve gone for a long touchdown. It’s evident that Mariota loves targeting Sharpe, who saw four targets. Sharpe made one mistake when he didn’t come back to the ball, which allowed a Raider defender to break up the pass, but he was great otherwise. I’ve been recommending Sharpe as a sleeper for several weeks now, and I’ll be targeting him in every single league I’m in.

  • Andre Johnson led the Titans with three receptions for 65 yards. He saw five targets and looked half-decent for his age. However, it’s a little discouraging that the Titans couldn’t find a better second option for Mariota than the decrepit Johnson.

  • DeMarco Murray appears as though he’s going to have a big bounce-back year. Murray looked great in his dress rehearsal, gaining 40 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Murray’s best run was a 17-yard burst which featured a great cut to avoid David Amerson. Now in a system that actually fits his skill set – nice try, Chip Kelly – Murray should thrive in Tennessee.

  • Derrick Henry actually led the Raiders in rushing, tallying 49 yards and a touchdown on 12 attempts. Some of his work came against backups, but Henry did play versus starters for once. However, the important take-away is that Henry’s first carry came in the second quarter when Murray was done for the night. Henry looked great, moving piles with ease, but it’s going to be the DeMarco Murray show for the time being.

  • As for the Raiders, Derek Carr opened with a perfect downfield pass to Michael Crabtree for 41 yards. He also made a beautiful connection to Amari Cooper for a touchdown.

    Carr, playing into the third quarter, went 12-of-18 for 169 yards and two touchdowns. He should’ve thrown a third score, but he overshot an open Clive Walford in the end zone. That was his only poor throw of the evening.

    Here were Carr’s targets:

    Amari Cooper: 3 (1 end zone)
    Michael Crabtree: 4 (2 end zone)
    Johnny Holton: 1
    Latavius Murray: 3
    Jamize Olawale: 1
    Jalen Richard: 1
    Seth Roberts: 1
    Lee Smith: 1
    Clive Walford: 1 (1 end zone)
    DeAndre Washington: 2 (1 end zone)

  • Amari Cooper had a nice showing in the third preseason game, hauling in all three of his targets for 52 yards and a touchdown, which was a very impressive reception that he made while falling to the ground. The catch was actually reviewed, but Cooper trapped the ball against his helmet.

  • Michael Crabtree led the Raiders with four targets, but managed to snare just one of them for 41 yards. Crabtree appears to be entrenched as a fantasy WR3.

  • Oakland’s running back competition is interesting. Latavius Murray started against the Titans, but gained nothing on two carries. He also caught two balls for 19 receiving yards. DeAndre Washington was mixed in with the starters and was much more impressive. He generated 55 rushing yards on eight carries and also caught a touchdown. There was a scary moment in which Matt McGloin got Washington lit up on a fierce hit from Sean Spence, resulting in a fumble returned for a score, but Washington would turn out to be OK. Washington is one of my favorite Fantasy Football Sleepers.

  • I don’t understand why Matt McGloin is still Oakland’s No. 2 quarterback. McGloin was unprepared when inserted into the game in the third quarter, and then he went on to go 8-of-13 for only 71 yards and an interception. He was nearly picked off on another occasion. Connor Cook was much better, albeit in limited action. He went 3-of-6 for 51 yards. He also was intercepted, but that was off a deflection.

  • If you have time, check out a catch some guy named Johnny Holton made in the fourth quarter. He made a one handed grab to secure a ball that was behind an opposing player’s back. The play-by-play guy referred to it as Odell Beckham-esque.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: I was left scratching my head when color analyst Dan Fouts said the following during the replay review of Cooper’s touchdown:

    “This is going to make a lot of Raiders fans upset if this play is overturned.”

    Umm? Duh… Why make such an obvious statement? It would be like saying, “The sun is imploding and all life will soon end on Earth. This is going to make a lot of humans upset!”

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Ravens 30, Lions 9

  • It always sucks to lead off a recap with an injury report, but that’s unavoidable in this instance. That’s because new tight end Ben Watson tore his Achilles on the first play against the Lions. Watson was signed over from the Saints and was expected to be an impact player for Joe Flacco, but he’ll have to wait until 2017 to do that now. The silver lining is that Crockett Gillmore is not much of a downgrade from Watson. In fact, they might just be equally talented players, as Watson did nothing as a receiver prior to working with Drew Brees. Flacco is a good quarterback, but he’s not Brees.

  • Speaking of Flacco, he was 279 days removed from his previous game action prior to this contest, so it was understandable that he had some jitters. Those showed when he overshot Mike Wallace on his first pass. Flacco also looked rusty when he made an errant throw to Wallace, as the two had a miscommunication.

    Flacco played well otherwise though, as he went 11-of-16 for 94 yards. He’s not worth a fantasy roster spot in 12-team leagues, as he obviously means more for the Ravens in real life than he does to any fantasy owner.

    Here were Flacco’s targets:

    Kamar Aiken: 3
    Jeremy Butler: 1
    Kenneth Dixon: 2
    Justin Forsett: 2
    Crockett Gillmore: 1
    Kyle Juszyzck: 1
    Mike Wallace: 6

  • Mike Wallace led the Ravens with six targets, but he managed to snatch just half of them for 37 yards. He would’ve had a bigger night had Flacco connected on a deep pass to him, but multiple signal-callers haven’t been able to hit the inefficient Wallace deep over the past several years. Flacco also had a miscommunication with Wallace. I wouldn’t count on Wallace being a consistent producer.

  • I’d rather take a chance on Kamar Aiken than Wallace; Aiken logged two catches for 24 yards on just three targets. Aiken is a more efficient player than Wallace.

  • Justin Forsett started against the Lions, but he rotated with Kenneth Dixon, who was given the second carry. The Ravens reportedly will split touches amongst their running backs this year, rendering this a situation to avoid. Forsett gained nothing on two carries, though he did catch a pair of passes for 14 receiving yards. Forsett is only worth considering in PPR formats.

    As for Dixon, he was another Raven who sustained an injury. Dixon went down on a goal-line run, as his left knee bent awkwardly while he went down to the turf. Dixon was helped off and didn’t put any pressure on his leg. It’s a shame, as Dixon had been enjoying a good offseason thus far. In fact, one of the Baltimore color analyst remarked that Dixon had been “zooming up the depth chart.” If he turns out to be healthy, I’m going to add him to the Fantasy Football Sleepers list.

  • Matthew Stafford didn’t have a strong performance in the preseason dress rehearsal, going 14-of-23 for only 95 yards and an interception. He did endure some drops from Golden Tate and Ameer Abdullah, but his pick was horrible – it was forced into tight coverage toward Anquan Boldin – and he nearly had another interception that was dropped. Stafford had some positive moments in other exhibition contests, so I don’t think I’d read too much into this.

    Here were Stafford’s targets:

    Ameer Abdullah: 1
    Anquan Boldin: 5
    Michael Burton: 1
    Marvin Jones: 7 (2 end zone)
    Theo Riddick: 2
    Golden Tate: 6
    Cole Wick: 3

  • Marvin Jones led the Lions in targets against the Ravens. It’s been three preseason games now, and I’ve come away being more impressed with Jones than Golden Tate three times. I would definitely slot Jones ahead of Tate in non-PPR leagues. Jones caught three passes for 25 yards in one half of action, but he was close to coming away with a greater stat line.

    As for the other Detroit wideouts, both Tate and Boldin each logged three receptions for 29 and 22 yards, respectively. As mentioned, Tate dropped a ball.

  • Ameer Abdullah took the field for the first time this preseason, gaining 16 yards on four carries. Abdullah dropped a pass, but managed to score a touchdown when he got to the edge easily. However, that was overturned by a holding penalty.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: The Ravens had three people in the booth. I’m not sure who said this, but one guy commented, “Jim Caldwell and John Harbaugh are good friends, except for the next three hours!”

    Right. I’m sure two lifelong friends are going to begin hating each other because of a preseason game.

    I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked to hear this analysis, given that this was what the three guys were up to the entire first quarter:

    Based on how enthralled that one dude is with that pizza, I’m shocked he even knew which teams were playing in this game.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Chiefs 23, Bears 7

  • Chicago fans can’t possibly feel optimistic about this upcoming year, if this game is any indication for how the regular season will go. The offense, now without Adam Gase, looks absolutely horrible.

    Jay Cutler simply looks lost without Gase. He was atrocious against a Kansas City defense missing its best player, going 6-of-15 for only 45 yards. That’s a YPA of three yards. Three! Somewhere, Brodie Croyle is laughing and trying to convince people that he can be an upgrade at quarterback for Chicago.

    The sad thing is, Cutler’s numbers were inflated because some of it came against the Chiefs reserves in the second half. Cutler was just 2-of-7 for 11 yards in the opening half, which is when he went up against the first-stringers. Not all of it was Cutler’s fault – Alshon Jeffery was guilty of a bad drop; Kevin White ran a bad route; the offensive line struggled – but Cutler was largely inaccurate for the most part, and he failed to identify blitzers at times. Sadly, Cutler was even sacked on a Hail Mary attempt right before halftime despite the Chiefs sending just a couple of pass-rushers.

    Here were Cutler’s targets:

    Ka’Deem Carey: 2
    Alshon Jeffery: 6
    Marc Mariani: 2
    Tony Moeaki: 1
    Kevin White: 4

  • The good news for Alshon Jeffery is that he saw a team-high six targets. The bad news is that he caught just two of them for 18 yards. Jeffery could’ve had a much better afternoon, but was guilty of a deep drop. Jeffery could’ve gone the distance for an 80-yard touchdown, thanks to Marcus Peters slipping and falling.

  • Kevin White had a rough performance against the Chiefs. He saw four targets, but hauled in only one ball for three yards. He was guilty of a drop and ran a poor route on one instance.

  • Jeremy Langford handled most of the workload, gaining 17 yards on six carries. He made a nice 10-yard run, but didn’t have much room otherwise.

  • Before moving on to the Chiefs, I wanted to acknowledge Connor Shaw’s horrible leg injury. The Bears’ third-string quarterback sustained what seems to be a very serious leg malady and is currently at the hospital. Hopefully he’s OK and makes a speedy recovery.

  • Moving on to a team that actually looks functional, it was the usual dinking and dunking for Alex Smith, who went 20-of-30 for 181 yards. He also led the NFL in rushing, picking up 25 yards on the ground on two scrambles.

    Smith made two great plays in this game. He picked up 17 yards on a nifty third-and-14 scramble on the second drive. Later, he managed to connect with Travis Kelce for a terrific 15-yard completion while getting crushed by two defenders. Smith appeared to be in pain afterward, and his next pass was thrown straight into the dirt. I tracked how Smith performed after that hit, and he was 7-of-13 for 66 yards following that play. Cause for concern? Perhaps, but he does have two weeks to recover.

    Here were Smith’s targets:

    Chris Conley: 6
    Demetrius Harris: 2
    Tyreek Hill: 1
    Travis Kelce: 3
    Jeremy Maclin: 7 (2 end zone)
    Anthony Sherman: 2
    Ross Travis: 2 (1 end zone)
    Spencer Ware: 4
    Albert Wilson: 4

  • Jeremy Maclin appears as though he’s bound to have another solid season. He saw seven targets in one half of action, catching five balls for 44 yards. He was targeted twice in the end zone, but Smith couldn’t connect with him.

  • Chris Conley appears as though he’s going to be a decent NFL receiver. Taken in the third round last year, Conley already had the raw talent, but now he’s learning how to play football. Conley finished second in targets with six against the Bears. He caught two passes for 30 yards, but should’ve drawn a holding call. It’s just a shame that Conley has a limited quarterback throwing to him.

  • Travis Kelce caught all three of his passes for 37 yards. He’s going to be a middling TE1 again, but he’s being drafted a bit too early for my liking.

  • Jamaal Charles was absent again, allowing Spencer Ware to draw another start. Ware looked good versus the Bears, rushing for 24 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. He also caught all four of his targets for 26 receiving yards. I like Ware as a late-round flier, as it’s unlikely that Charles will be on the field for all 16 games.

  • I had some concern with Derrick Johnson because of his age (33) and injury history, but Johnson was unbelievable in this game. He seems poised for a great season.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: The broadcasting crew was fine, save for the color analyst repeatedly saying, “He’s very decisive in his decisions.” This guy must hail from the redundancy department of redundancy.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Steelers 27, Saints 14

  • Ben Roethlisberger was seeing his first preseason action in this contest. Based on how well he performed, he may never play in the first two weeks of the exhibition ever again.

    Roethlisberger showed a bit of rust on half of the first drive. For instance, he threw behind Jesse James on his first attempt, had a miscommunication with DeAngelo Williams and then overshot Eli Rogers along the sideline. However, he caught fire after that, mercilessly torching New Orleans’ secondary. The Saints simply had no answer for Roethlisberger, who appeared to be in mid-season form.

    Roethlisberger finished 12-of-17 for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Keep in mind that he did this in less than a quarter of action! Translate this over an entire game, and Roethlisberger would’ve thrown for 592 yards and eight scores. That’s absolutely insane.

    Here were Roethlisberger’s targets:

    Le’Veon Bell: 1
    Antonio Brown: 4
    Jesse James: 4 (1 end zone)
    Eli Rogers: 4
    Markus Wheaton: 2
    DeAngelo Williams: 2

  • Surprise, surprise, Antonio Brown dominated his first preseason game. Playing just two drives, Brown abused New Orleans’ secondary, catching all four of his targets for 87 yards and a touchdown. Brown is the consensus No. 1 overall pick in fantasy leagues this summer.

  • Eli Rogers is definitely worth noting for what he did at New Orleans. Pittsburgh’s new slot receiver, Rogers tied the team lead in targets from Ben Roethlisberger. Though he caught just two balls for 17 yards, he did so in less than a quarter of action. It appears as though Rogers is definitely going to be a factor in Pittsburgh’s offense this upcoming season, and he’s definitely worth a look as a late-round flier in PPR leagues.

  • As for the other young receivers, Markus Wheaton caught two balls for 40 yards, but he managed just one reception for four yards when Roethlisberger was still in the game. Meanwhile, Sammie Coates has completely fallen off the map. He was great at OTAs, but that hasn’t translated to the field. Coates was nowhere to be seen with the starters against the Saints. He caught a 56-yard pass in this game, but did so in the second half with Landry Jones.

  • Jesse James caught Roethlisberger’s other touchdown, finishing with four grabs for 25 yards. It’s difficult to recommend him as a fantasy option, however, as Ladarius Green could return at any moment.

  • As with Roethlisberger and Brown, Le’Veon Bell was seeing his first preseason action. He also looked good, gaining 21 yards on the ground (three carries) and 37 more through the air (five catches), though he did lose a fumble late in the first quarter when Jones was under center. If Bell weren’t suspended, he would be the No. 1 overall selection in fantasy this year.

  • Some potential bad news for the Steelers: Defensive end Cameron Heyward sustained an ankle injury in the second quarter and will undergo an MRI on Saturday. Heyward is one of the top defensive players on the roster, so his absence would be huge.

  • Drew Brees played just one more possession than Roethlisberger did, but he didn’t nearly have as much success. It wasn’t really his fault that he was only able to lead one touchdown drive though. For instance, a 26-yard completion to Coby Fleener was wiped out by a Terron Armstead hold. The Saints just couldn’t get out of their own way for a while, but eventually got on track.

    Brees went 9-of-12 for 78 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers would look a lot better if he were 10-of-13 for 104 yards and a score, but the Fleener reception was nullified by the Armstead penalty. It’s worth noting that the Saints announcers discussed that Armstead wasn’t nearly 100 percent coming off an injury. This could certainly hurt the Saints in the early going this season.

    Here were Brees’ targets:

    Travaris Cadet: 1
    Coby Fleener: 2
    Josh Hill: 1
    Mark Ingram: 2
    Willie Snead: 4 (1 end zone)
    C.J. Spiller: 4

  • I can’t believe I’m writing this, but C.J. Spiller actually looked good in the third preseason game. Though he was demoted to fourth on the depth chart a few weeks ago, Spiller saw plenty of action with the first team, showing great burst on his four carries, which he turned into 20 yards. He also caught three passes, featuring a great spin move to break away from a defender. As for Mark Ingram, he had 17 nondescript yards on seven attempts.

  • Willie Snead made a terrific catch in this contest that had him trending on Twitter. It’s worth a look if you haven’t seen it; he managed to snatch a ball over two defenders in the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown. Snead caught all four of his targets for 58 yards and the score. As the Saints announcers said, Snead is a guy who just won’t go away.

  • Fleener caught just one pass for four yards, but as mentioned, he had a 26-yard reception negated. He saw just two targets from Brees on three drives. I feel like Fleener is being overdrafted.

  • Michael Thomas caught only one ball in this game, but didn’t do so from Brees. However, he contributed on the scoring drive with a drawn defensive hold on William Gay.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: These announcers may have been knowledgeable about the Saints, but they had no idea what they were talking about when discussing the Steelers. For instance, they called DeAngelo Williams “a newcomer to the team,” and they referred to Jesse James as “Jesse Rogers.” Also, the play-by-play guy kept talking about how the Steelers may sit Roethlisberger because he was so impressive – and he was doing so when Landry Jones had already checked into the game!

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Redskins 21, Bills 16

  • Most teams play their starting quarterbacks an entire half at the very least during the third week of the preseason. Seattle even had Russell Wilson on the field deep into the third quarter. The Bills, however, have not taken this approach. In fact, Tyrod Taylor was on the field for just two possessions.

    Taylor really didn’t get a chance to do much. He went 2-of-5 for only 11 yards. Lacking LeSean McCoy, Taylor was pressured heavily. I can imagine that with all of the injuries that his team has incurred, Rex Ryan simply didn’t want to risk Taylor’s health. And I can totally understand that.

    Here were Taylor’s targets:

    Jim Dray: 1
    Sammy Watkins: 2 (1 end zone)
    Jonathan Williams: 1
    Robert Woods: 1 (1 end zone)

  • As mentioned, McCoy was out. Reggie Bush started and managed to find some holes, picking up 17 yards on three carries. Rookie Jonathan Williams tallied 42 yards and a touchdown on 11 attempts, but most of that came on a 37-yard burst in the third quarter when the Washington starters were long gone. Still, it was an impressive run, as Williams broke two tackles and then left the Redskin defenders in the dust.

  • Given that Taylor threw just five passes, there isn’t much to say regarding Buffalo’s receiving corps. Sammy Watkins led the way with two targets, but couldn’t come up with a reception.

  • I wish I could discuss Cardale Jones as well, but that’s not possible because he didn’t play because of a sore shoulder.

  • Let’s focus more on the Redskins, as Kirk Cousins played the entire first half. Cousins definitely got off to a rough start, as he was nearly picked by Brandon Spikes on an underthrow and then launched an interception toward Rashad Ross, though it’s difficult to completely fault him because Corey White had amazing coverage on the play.

    The crowd began to boo Cousins when he hurled a pass behind Ryan Grant. I don’t know if that fueled Cousins or not, but he played much better after that. Still, Washington’s offense couldn’t get going right away, as Jordan Reed and Pierre Garcon combined for three drops, while DeSean Jackson couldn’t get both feet inbounds on a deep reception. Cousins, however, managed to catch fire, hitting Reed, Garcon and Grant for touchdowns in the second quarter.

    Cousins finished 12-of-23 for 188 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Cousins endured three drops and began slowly, but he improved as the evening progressed. However, it should be noted that the Bills didn’t bother dressing any of the starters in their secondary.

    Here were Cousins’ targets:

    Vernon Davis: 5
    Pierre Garcon: 4 (1 end zone)
    Ryan Grant: 5
    Maurice Harris: 2
    DeSean Jackson: 5
    Jordan Reed: 5 (1 end zone)
    Rashad Ross: 1

  • DeSean Jackson led the team with four catches for 56 yards in preseason dress rehearsal against the Bills. He did this on five targets, with the fifth being a deep completion in which he couldn’t get both feet inbounds. Jackson’s long gain was a 39-yarder in which he avoided some defenders and then turned on the jets. Redskins color analyst Joe Theismann noted that Jackson has been in great shape this offseason, even packing on six pounds of muscle. Jackson has been overrated for a long time, but he has suddenly become a forgotten man. He’s being drafted relatively late, so I think he has some value.

  • Jordan Reed caught two passes for 28 yards and a touchdown, but he should’ve pieced together a much bigger evening. He dropped two passes and had a 9-yard reception wiped out because of a penalty.

  • With Matt Jones out for the third preseason game, Robert Kelley started and was very impressive. Kelley, who has been talked up by the coaching staff and media throughout the entire preseason, tallied 51 yards on 12 carries. He did this without breaking free for a double-digit gain, so he was consistent in picking up positive yardage. Kelley looked strong as a runner, shedding numerous tackles. He also did very well on blitz pick-ups, which is absolutely huge, as it’ll give the coaching staff more trust in him. I’m going to recommend Kelley as a late-round target in your fantasy drafts. Jones isn’t all that great, and he doesn’t have an extensive track record of starting. Kelley has upside, and he could potentially post RB2 numbers if he were ever to become the starter for whatever reason.

  • Potential bad news for the Redskins: Ryan Kerrigan sustained a groin injury in this contest. He’s scheduled to have an MRI soon.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: The Redskin broadcast had numerous issues throughout the evening. Theismann referred to Tyrod Taylor as “Tyrod Smith,” while sideline reporter Clinton Portis told the audience to “look out for Robert Marsh.” I checked to make sure, and there’s no player named Robert Marsh on either roster.

    The telecast also experienced some technical difficulties. It attempted to post some sort of graphic, yet this was on the screen instead:

    Seconds later, the feed cut out, and the Bills’ broadcast began. Sounds like the Redskins have some major problems posting gifs and jpegs. I bet Robert Marsh was responsible.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Packers 21, 49ers 10

  • Aaron Rodgers was set to see action for the first time this preseason. Rodgers played, but was on the field for two possessions. Still, that’s better than nothing, though I can’t imagine Packer fans were thrilled with watching Joe Callahan for three quarters!

    Rodgers got off to a slow start. He seemed off, as his passes were not on the mark. For instance, he had an open Davante Adams on one occasion, but missed him. However, Rodgers caught fire on his second possession, leading the team down the field and into the end zone.

    Rodgers finished 6-of-9 for 60 yards and a touchdown despite not having Jordy Nelson at his disposal. His numbers could’ve been better, as a 48-yard Adams reception was wiped out by a Randall Cobb offensive pass interference.

    Here were Rodgers’ targets:

    Jared Abbrederis: 1
    Davante Adams: 2
    Randall Cobb: 3
    Jared Cook: 2
    Trevor Davis: 2
    Eddie Lacy: 1
    Richard Rodgers: 1
    James Starks: 1

  • Eddie Lacy has played well this preseason, and that continued in the dress rehearsal. Lacy, who gained 45 yards on seven carries, had a 21-yard burst where he impressively broke outside when there was nothing in the trenches. Lacy’s next attempt, a 6-yarder, saw him break tackles despite having no running room. It may seem scary to draft Lacy this year, given how much he struggled last season, but he appears to be back to his former self.

  • I want to mention Adams, who, as mentioned, had a 48-yard reception wiped out. Adams was trending on Twitter for a while because that play featured a ridiculous juke move. It’s a shame that the gain was wiped out. Adams, unfortunately, dropped a deep touchdown from Joe Callahan. Cobb, by the way, snatched all three of his targets for 30 yards and a touchdown.

  • Jared Cook stands out in the box score because he caught four passes for 54 yards. However, only two of his five targets came from Rodgers. Cook and Rodgers never got into a rhythm, but then again, Rodgers was on the field for just two possessions. Cook could still post TE2 numbers.

  • I’ve joked that Joe Callahan seems like some Packer fan who won a sweepstakes to play this preseason, but he has performed well at times. Callahan went 16-of-24 for 167 yards and a touchdown in this contest, seeing some action versus the San Francisco starters. Though he doesn’t really know what he’s doing yet, there’s definitely some potential, as he’s shown some zip on his passes with decent accuracy. I found it interesting that Packers color analyst Rich Gannon said that the Packers would roll with Callahan as the No. 2 quarterback if Brett Hundley were to struggle to return from his ankle injury.

  • Moving on to the 49ers, Blaine Gabbert didn’t play very much either. As with Rodgers, Gabbert was on the field for just two possessions. Naturally, he was not nearly as impressive, though he didn’t really do much. He went just 2-of-3 for 14 yards, with his sole incompletion being an overthrow of Quinton Patton downfield. He also picked up 15 rushing yards on two scrambles.

    Gabbert’s usage was strange. Shouldn’t Chip Kelly have given Gabbert more reps, since he’s playing in this offense for the first time? It’s not like Gabbert was coming off an injury like Rodgers. Having him on the field for only two possesions makes little sense, but then again, Kelly doesn’t quite grasp simple NFL concepts.

    Here were Gabbert’s targets:

    Garrett Celek: 2
    Quinton Patton: 2

  • Colin Kaepernick entered the field on San Francisco’s third drive and was peppered with boos from a frustrated crowd. He played the rest of the opening half and was absolutely dreadful. Dead-Arm Kaep went 2-of-6 for only 14 yards. He did manage to move around well, adding 18 rushing yards on four scrambles, but his passing was awful. He should’ve been intercepted by Sam Shields at one point. Packers color analyst Rich Gannon mentioned that Dead-Arm Kaep was once again struggling to process information, something that has been a major problem for him since the 2014 campaign.

  • The only 49er starter to show well was Carlos Hyde, who had a great run for 27 yards when he broke a run by impressively bouncing outside. Hyde was given four carries, generating 30 yards in the process. Unfortunately, Hyde left early with a concussion.

  • Jeff Driskel and Christian Ponder played quarterback for the 49ers in the second half. Driskel made some nice throws, and even though he was 4-of-8 for 43 yards, he was the best quarterback on the 49ers’ roster in this contest. Driskel endured three drops, so he easily could’ve been 7-of-8. He’s better than Dead-Arm Kaep at this point and should be the No. 2 signal-caller. In fact, I could see him starting some games this year. Ponder, meanwhile, floated a weak interception in the final frame. He finished 1-of-3 for 11 yards and the pick.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: I have a new drinking game for you. Watch any Packer preseason game, and drink every time Rich Gannon says “has to step up.” I guarantee you’ll have liver damage by the second quarter.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Buccaneers 30, Browns 13

  • Jameis Winston played poorly last week, but I didn’t bother dropping him in my rankings, reasoning that the Buccaneers didn’t look particularly prepared to play that contest. I also wanted to remind everyone that Winston was horrific in the season opener last year and then went on to have a great rookie campaign.

    Not only did Jameis Winston rebound in the preseason dress rehearsal; he was completely dominant, as the Browns stood no chance of stopping him and the rest of Tampa’s offense. Winston went 16-of-25 for 259 yards and two touchdowns in slightly more than a half of action. The thing is, Winston’s numbers would’ve been even better had Mike Evans managed to maintain his balance on a 49-yard reception, which was a beautiful touch pass. Evans inexplicably drifted out of bounds, which was a shame because he would’ve scored an 85-yard touchdown had he managed to remain on the field. Winston’s first touchdown, a throw to Charles Sims, was a very nifty play, as Winston danced around pass-rushers beautifully, buying enough time for himself to find Sims. Winston is being drafted late, but he has a good chance of posting QB1 numbers.

    Here were Winston’s targets:

    Peyton Barber: 1
    Mike Evans: 6 (1 end zone)
    Adam Humphries: 5
    Vincent Jackson: 8 (1 end zone)
    Brandon Myers: 1
    Austin Seferian-Jenkins: 1
    Charles Sims: 4 (2 end zone)

  • Mike Evans had a big night against the Browns. He caught five passes for 115 yards and a touchdown in slightly more than a half of action. Evans nearly had a second score – an 85-yarder – but he lost his balance and drifted out of bounds. Most importantly, Evans didn’t drop any passes, which was a big problem for him last year. With Jameis Winston in great shape, Evans is set to have a huge season.

  • Vincent Jackson led the Buccaneers in targets with eight, catching four of them for 78 yards. It was a nice outing, but Jackson isn’t going to be consistent enough to warrant anything but a late-round pick – and even then, you’d probably want someone with more upside.

  • Doug Martin wasn’t on the field with Winston the entire time, leaving the game early in favor of Sims. Martin managed 18 yards on four carries. Nothing special, but nothing poor either.

  • Roberto Aguayo was being booed on a daily basis throughout the week after struggling through two preseason games. Aguayo managed to silence the critics for now, converting both of his attempts, including one from 48.

  • While Winston has improved throughout the preseason, Robert Griffin definitely regressed this week. Griffin got off to a good start, connecting with Josh Gordon on a 44-yard pass in which Gordon torched Brent Grimes with a double move. However, Griffin dealt with a lot of pressure as the game progressed. He threw a ball away recklessly on one instance and then nearly fumbled right after that. Griffin appeared to be shaken on ensuing possessions; he was way off target on an attempt to Terrelle Pryor, and then he took a sack because he held on to the ball too long.

    Griffin finished 8-of-14 for 119 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers aren’t bad, and Griffin certainly didn’t perform poorly. However, he definitely took a step backward, and the offensive line has to be a concern.

    Here were Griffin’s targets:

    Gary Barnidge: 3 (1 end zone)
    Corey Coleman: 3
    Josh Gordon: 2 (1 end zone)
    Andrew Hawkins: 1
    Duke Johnson: 1
    Terrelle Pryor: 3
    Randall Telfer: 1

  • Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon saw action for the first time this preseason. Coleman didn’t officially catch a single pass, but he had a 9-yard reception wiped out by a Terrelle Pryor offensive pass interference. As for Gordon, he caught two balls for 87 yards and a touchdown. Gordon made a great adjustment on his 43-yard score and earlier beat Brent Grimes with a double move on a 44-yard grab. There were rumors that Gordon was out of shape, but he looked fine in this contest. He could have a big year once he returns from his suspension.

  • I mentioned Pryor earlier. He took a step backward after a big outing, logging just two receptions for 15 yards. With Coleman and Gordon back, Pryor simply didn’t get the targets (3), and he didn’t catch a deep ball again.

  • Speaking of receivers, rookie Rashard Higgins was guilty of a horrible drop in the third quarter. Higgins, like Coleman, didn’t log a single reception.

  • Isaiah Crowell handled most of the workload, gaining 39 yards on eight carries. Duke Johnson was mixed in here and there, managing 22 yards on three attempts. As expected, Crowell was not a part of the passing game, while Johnson was. This is what you should expect from the Cleveland runners all year.

  • Browns punter Andy Lee was trending on Twitter, and for good reason. On a Buccaneers punt return, Lee had a chance to force the player out of bounds, but didn’t move a muscle; he just stood there and watched. Lee’s lucky this was just a preseason game; if he pulled something like that in real action, Cleveland’s front office would consider cutting him.

  • Rookie quarterback Cody Kessler had a middling showing. He completed five of six attempts, but for only 27 yards. None of his passes traveled very far, and his throws seemed to lack any sort of zip. Of course, this is what everyone expected from Kessler, who should’ve been drafted in the late rounds.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: CBS broadcasted this game, but Jim Nantz didn’t join Phil Simms. Nantz is instead covering some boring “sport” this weekend where fat guys walk around on hills. Sounds like something pleasant to fall asleep to.

    As for Simms, he said a few “interesting” things. He predicted Mike Glennon would replace Carson Palmer in Arizona (Glennon went 2-of-7 for 13 yards tonight), and he stated that Derek Anderson should still be Cleveland’s starting quarterback. I just don’t know anymore.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Patriots 19, Panthers 17

  • Jimmy Garoppolo was set to start this game, but Tom Brady was expected to be sprinkled in at some point. Surely enough, that’s exactly what happened. Garoppolo played slightly more than a quarter, then ceded to Brady for a few drives before the 2-minute warning, when Garoppolo reentered the game. Garoppolo finally exited in the middle of the third period.

    So, how did Garoppolo fare in the most important preseason contest? Not very well, actually. Garoppolo went 9-of-15 for only 57 yards, giving him a dreadful YPA of 3.8 that Brodie Croyle would even scoff at. Of course, stats don’t tell the whole story, so was there anything in which the Patriots can be optimistic about? In a word, no.

    Garoppolo was nearly intercepted early on by Luke Kuechly because of a miscommunication with Julian Edelman, who seemed to stop short on his route. Garoppolo then made a big mental blunder, dropping back 16 yards for some strange reason, only to throw the ball away while still in the pocket. He was flagged for an obvious intentional grounding call. A bit later, Garoppolo passed way too high for Chris Hogan, then fumbled while under pressure, but was fortunate enough to see a teammate recover the ball.

    Quite simply, Garoppolo has been very unimpressive this preseason, and the Patriots could be in trouble. It seems like it’ll be challenging for them to go 2-2 in Brady’s absence.

    Here were Garoppolo’s targets:

    LeGarrette Blount: 3
    A.J. Derby: 1
    Aaron Dobson: 2
    Julian Edelman: 1
    Chris Hogan: 5
    Keshawn Martin: 1
    James White: 1

  • As for Brady, he didn’t have the best outing either. He opened with a perfect 33-yard touchdown to Hogan and then saw A.J. Derby drop a pass – that would’ve been Rob Gronkowski in real action – but he then nearly had an interception dropped by Kurt Coleman on what was a terrible throw.

    Brady went just 3-of-9 for 76 yards and a touchdown. Keep in mind that Brady looked like Brady Quinn last summer during the preseason, and then he went on to have a great year. Whether he had help from something is an interesting debate, but the fact remains that Brady could once again have a big year once he returns from his suspension.

    Here were Brady’s targets:

    Martellus Bennett: 4 (1 end zone)
    A.J. Derby: 1
    Aaron Dobson: 2 (1 end zone)
    Julian Edelman: 2
    Chris Hogan: 1 (1 end zone)

  • Don’t read anything into Tyler Gaffney starting over LeGarrette Blount. Gaffney is on the roster bubble, and Bill Belichick probably just wanted to see what Gaffney could do with the starters. Blount, who appears to be in good shape, gained 26 yards on five carries. His one blunder was a fumble on a reception, but he managed to recover the loose ball. I don’t know what he was doing catching passes anyway.

  • Chris Hogan led the Patriots in targets with six, catching five balls for 62 yards and a touchdown versus Cleveland. And this was with Julian Edelman on the field! I’d draft Hogan late, but it needs to be noted that Danny Amendola (as well as Rob Gronkowski) was out for this contest.

  • Julian Edelman struggled against the Panthers. He saw three targets, catching just one pass for six yards. He screwed up on a play, nearly causing an interception, and he didn’t appear to be particularly effective. I was left wondering if he’s worrying too much about staying healthy. Edelman is bound to get injured at some point, so I’d stay away from him.

  • Something odd happened in this game – Stephen Gostkowski whiffed on a 30-yard field goal! He was wide right. Gostkowski also missed from 52. I wouldn’t read too much into it, but it was still strange.

  • Before moving on to the Panthers, some notes on Jacoby Brissett, who has gotten better with each preseason game. Brissett completed all nine of his throws for 85 yards and a touchdown in this contest. It goes without saying that he was very accurate, though one of his longer passes, a 20-yarder, was to a guy who was wide open in the middle of the field. Still, it’s remarkable that he played this well despite being awful in the opener.

  • Brady and Garoppolo weren’t the only quarterbacks who struggled in this contest. Cam Newton actually had a dreadful performance, going 13-of-29 for 100 yards and two interceptions. And if you think that’s bad, Newton played two drives against the New England backups!

    Newton opened poorly, sailing a pass way over Kelvin Benjamin’s head. He did the same thing on the ensuing drive and then fired an interception toward the same receiver, as he released the ball off his back foot. Newton followed that up by nearly getting Ed Dickson killed with a high pass. A terrible interception later – this one was tipped, but Newton mistakenly launched it into heavy coverage – Ron Rivera temporarily benched Newton in favor of Derek Anderson. Newton reentered a bit later and was better, but the Panthers couldn’t get going because a couple of drops by Ted Ginn and Dickson.

    I wouldn’t read too much into this. Newton just had an off night. It happens. Besides, Greg Olsen wasn’t in the lineup. It’s hard for any quarterback to succeed without his top target!

    Here were Newton’s targets:

    Cameron Artis-Payne: 1
    Kelvin Benjamin: 7
    Brenton Bersin: 2
    Ed Dickson: 4 (1 end zone)
    Devin Funchess: 5 (1 end zone)
    Ted Ginn: 6
    Mike Tolbert: 1
    Fozzy Whittaker: 1

  • Benjamin led the Panthers in targets with seven, but managed to log just three receptions for 27 yards. Newton sailed some passes over Benjamin’s head, including one throw that was an interception. However, Benjamin made a great leaping snag for a gain of 11, and he also had a 17-yard reception wiped out by pass interference.

  • The box score says Devin Funchess saw 10 targets, but only half of those were from Newton. With Newton struggling, there isn’t much to read into from this game.

  • Jonathan Stewart didn’t see much action, getting only three carries. He gained 23 yards, all of which came on one burst. It appears as though Stewart might actually start well for the first time in a long while.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: Nothing overly major from the Panthers’ broadcasting crew, but there were a few minor things:

    1. The play-by-play guy kept pronouncing Jimmy Garoppolo “Jimmy Gar-APP-olo.” Dude, there’s no second “A” in the name!

    2. The narrator said the NFC Championship was eight months ago. It was actually seven months ago. #Math.

    3. The color analyst said something strange: “He beats the janitor into the film room.” Uhh… what’s the janitor doing in the film room? You better hope he’s not a spy for another team!

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Seahawks 27, Cowboys 10

  • After Tony Romo missed all of 2015, the last thing the Cowboys wanted to see was an injury to their long-time quarterback in the preseason. But that’s exactly what happened at Seattle. On his second drop-back, Romo was tackled awkwardly from behind while scrambling away from pressure. He went down and grabbed his back, appearing to be in great pain. Romo left the game permanently. The Cowboys’ broadcast said Romo’s back was tight, but the camera caught him grimacing throughout the entire first half. Romo might be fine in terms of his Week 1 status, but if his back is truly bothering him, then he won’t be as effective as he could be. If there’s a silver lining though, it’s that Romo’s ADP could drop substantially.

    Here were Romo’s targets:

    Terrance Williams: 1

    There are actually two silver linings, and the second would be Dak Prescott’s presence rather than that of Matt Cassel and Brandon Weeden. Prescott had been terrific through two preseason games thus far, leading his team to scoring drives on nearly every possession. This game would prove to be a great test for Prescott, as he would be playing without Dez Bryant versus what could be the best defense in the NFL.

    Prescott got off to a good start, firing a nice third-down conversion on the series Romo left the game. However, he overshot Cole Beasley to end the drive. Prescott did a couple of nice things throughout three quarters, including a 2-minute drill that concluded in a field goal. It needs to be noted that Prescott was hit a lot for the first time. Dallas’ offensive line had held up before, but Seattle’s pass rush was doing a great job of knocking Prescott around. Despite this, Prescott didn’t seem rattled, though he settled for shorter throws than he attempted the previous two weeks.

    Prescott finished 17-of-23 for 116 yards and a touchdown. One of his incompletions was a deep drop by Terrance Williams. It says a lot that this was his worst performance thus far, but once again, he was taking on one of the top defenses in the NFL without his No. 1 receiver.

  • If it weren’t for Tony Romo’s back injury, the major story regarding Dallas’ dress rehearsal would’ve been Ezekiel Elliott’s debut. Much was expected of the fourth-overall pick, and he definitely did not disappoint. One of Elliott’s first carries was a 9-yard run that he broke outside with some impressive speed. He then had another 9-yard burst and then showed terrific vision with a 13-yard scamper. On the next drive, Elliott spun off a Kam Chancellor tackle to gain eight. Elliott was given just seven carries, but turned them into 48 yards. He could have a huge year, and it’s quite evident how high his talent level is, but it’s still too risky to take him a first-round fantasy pick.

  • With Bryant out, Prescott’s primary options were Cole Beasley (4 catches, 30 yards), Terrance Williams (1 catch, 11 yards) and Jason Witten (1 catch, 17 yards, touchdown). Beasley also drew a defensive hold that should’ve been a 25-yard pass interference, as he was hit when the ball was in the air. Williams, meanwhile, drew harsh criticism from the Cowboys announcers on his drop for not fighting for the ball. Williams left the game with a hand injury, though X-rays came back negative.

  • The Seahawks needed a good offensive showing after sputtering through two preseason contests. The offensive line has been a major issue, with Russell Wilson getting pressured mercilessly last week versus the Vikings. Wilson was under duress in this contest as well, but less so. Then again, there’s a major defense between the Minnesota and Dallas defenses!

    Wilson was nearly picked on an early throw, firing wide of Paul Richardson. However, he made up for it later, eluding pass-rushers and finding Tyler Lockett downfield for a gain of 27 yards, which set up a touchdown to Paul Richardson on the next play. Wilson once again had an ugly miss in the third quarter versus Dallas’ backups, failing to connect with Doug Baldwin for a potential touchdown. He managed to get his team into the end zone on the next possession though, thanks to a play in which he made an impressive spin move to find Lockett for the score.

    Wilson finished 16-of-21 for 192 yards and two touchdowns, though not all of that came against Dallas’ starters. Wilson was 3-of-5 for 59 yards and a score versus the backups, so that means Wilson managed to go 13-of-16 for 133 yards and one touchdown while playing the first-stringers. That’s still solid, though I have to question the wisdom of utilizing Wilson deep into the third quarter. The Seahawks weren’t going to learn anything by playing their starters against the Cowboy backups, and they were also risking injury in the process. How stupid would they have looked if Wilson tore his ACL on one of his runs?

    Here were Wilson’s targets:

    Doug Baldwin: 6
    Jermaine Kearse: 4
    Tyler Lockett: 3 (1 end zone)
    Tanner McEvoy: 1
    Christine Michael: 1
    Paul Richardson: 3 (1 end zone)
    Will Tukuafu: 1
    Brandon Williams: 1
    Luke Willson: 1

  • It was no surprise to see Baldwin targeted heavily. Baldwin saw six balls go his way, catching four of them for 29 yards. He could’ve had a much bigger night, but Wilson missed him for a touchdown when they were battling Dallas’ backups.

  • It was disappointing to watch Lockett receive just three targets from Wilson in more than a half of action, but he made the passes count; Lockett snatched all three for 41 yards and a touchdown. That said, Jermaine Kearse’s four targets have to be disappointing for all Lockett owners. I’m not moving Lockett down my rankings though.

  • Christine Michael’s stats look great – seven carries, 58 yards – but don’t be fooled; much of what Michael did came against the Cowboys’ backups. In fact, Michael had four rushes versus the starters, managing just 11 yards on those touches. Thomas Rawls will receive the majority of the workload.

  • Speaking of Seattle running backs, C.J. Prosise saw some work for the first time. Prosise opened with an 11-yard run in the first quarter, but did so on a third-and-20 draw that the Cowboys were more than happy to allow. Prosise finished with 23 yards on four carries, with the rest of the yardage coming against the Dallas backups. He looked good, but it’s difficult to tell if that’ll translate to real action. Regardless, he’s the No. 3/third-down running back right now.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: This is a shot of the Cowboys’ preseason announcers. Seriously, how odd does this look?

    You’d think the crew would give that guy on the right a step stool or something. Not that there’s anything wrong with being short, but it just looks so awkward. I guess it doesn’t help that I’m watching Twin Peaks for the first time right now, and the guy on the right looks like the dancing little man in Agent Cooper’s dream. That gum you like is going to come back in style!

    Speaking of the guy on the right, I was dying when I heard him for the first time. I was expecting a squeaky voice for some reason, but instead, he said the following in a deep tone:

    “Eh yo, let’s get dis on da road!”

    Definitely not the dancing man.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Dolphins 17, Falcons 6

  • There was nearly an enormous injury in the game. Julio Jones drew a deep pass interference flag in the second quarter, but limped off the field. Every single person associated with the Falcons, as well as their fans, had to feel an enormous sense of panic, as a season-ending injury to Jones would’ve completely ruined the entire year, making it nearly impossible for the team to reach the playoffs. Fortunately, Jones was ruled questionable to return. Jones never re-took the field, but he wasn’t expected to. There was no reason to risk his health for a meaningless preseason game.

    Matt Ryan did not play well in Jones’ absence. On the same drive, Ryan threw an interception in the end zone. Safety Reshad Jones read his eyes and jumped the route. Ryan was nearly picked again by Byron Maxwell on the ensuing possession.

    Ryan finished with an underwhelming stat line of 12-of-22 for 129 yards and the aforementioned pick. Ryan didn’t have Jones at his disposal for about half the time he was on the field, and he also helped draw a deep pass interference. However, he was nearly picked a second time, and his red-zone woes continued. Color analyst Cris Collinsworth discussed Atlanta’s struggles deep in enemy territory last year, but they’ve been woeful in that regard ever since Tony Gonzalez retired!

    Here were Ryan’s targets:

    Tevin Coleman: 1
    Devonta Freeman: 4
    Justin Hardy: 3
    Austin Hooper: 2
    Julio Jones: 3
    Aldrick Robinson: 4
    Mohamed Sanu: 4 (1 end zone)
    Jacob Tamme: 3 (1 end zone)

  • Jones caught one of his three targets for 17 yards, while another ball thrown his way resulted in a long penalty. It’s a shame he didn’t get to stay in the game the entire time, but then again, why even risk him in the first place? It’s not like Jones needs much preseason action.

  • Mohamed Sanu snatched half of his four targets for only 16 yards. Sanu won’t be much of a fantasy factor this year. The same can be said for all of Ryan’s weapons outside of Jones. This includes rookie tight end Austin Hooper, who saw two targets on Ryan’s final couple of drives.

  • Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman rotated pretty evenly throughout the preseason dress rehearsal. Freeman was on the field for the entire first drive, then Coleman played the next possession, and so on. Neither looked very good, as the offensive line struggled to open up running lanes versus Ndamukong Suh and Miami’s front. The overdrafted Freeman managed just eight yards on five carrries, and he also dropped a pass and was called for a hold. Coleman, meanwhile, mustered just six yards on three attempts. He was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 try on a run up the middle. I’m not sure why the Falcons ran right at Suh, the strength of Miami’s defense, on such an important play.

  • While Ryan struggled in the dress rehearsal, Ryan Tannehill continued to progress in Adam Gase’s offense. Tannehill threw the ball a whopping 29 times in the opening half alone, managing to complete 20 passes. This only went for 155 yards and an interception, but the pick wasn’t his fault, as the ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Brooks Reed. Tannehill also had a 22-yard scramble and endured a couple of drops. However, he was nearly intercepted on another occasion when he fired a late pass toward the sideline, which Desmond Trufant dropped.

    All in all, this was a successful preseason for Tannehill despite him not having Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey snapping the ball to him. Tannehill actually did see a botched snap in this contest, but Pouncey should be back early in the regular season. We’ll have to see if Tannehill’s preseason success translates to real action.

    Here were Tannehill’s targets:

    Jay Ajayi: 2
    Jordan Cameron: 3 (1 end zone)
    Arian Foster: 2
    Jarvis Landry: 5
    DeVante Parker: 4
    Isaiah Pead: 3
    Dion Sims: 1
    Kenny Stills: 8
    Damien Williams: 1

  • Jay Ajayi started against the Falcons and played the first two drives. He wasn’t horrible – he managed to catch two passes – but he gained only 11 yards on seven carries. Arian Foster took the field on the next drive and was much more impressive than he was last week. Though he managed just two yards per attempt (5 carries, 10 yards), he made some nice cuts and also snatched two receptions for 20 receiving yards. There was some excitement on Twitter, which is great news. Foster’s ADP will rise, which will only help those who recognize that Foster has almost no chance of lasting until November. I still would not touch Foster in the first eight rounds despite this showing.

  • Jarvis Landry’s preseason has been shaky thus far, as he made some mistakes last week. That continued in this contest, as he committed a drop and was flagged for offensive pass interference. Landry logged four catches for 40 yards in exactly one half of action. He’s being taken too early for my liking at 4.03, but I still think he’s going to have a good season.

  • Kenny Stills, through three games, leads all Miami receivers in targets during the preseason. I wouldn’t be particularly excited about Stills, but Ryan Tannehill seems to feel comfortable throwing to him. At the very least, Stills is worth a look as a late-round pick in PPR leagues.

  • DeVante Parker caught two of his four targets for only eight yards in the dress rehearsal. Parker has been underwhelming this preseason, and I stand by my assessment that he’s an overrated fantasy player. Ryan Tannehill prefers throwing to Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills, so Parker is being way overdrafted, despite his talent level.

  • If the Dolphins had another viable tight end, they would’ve benched Jordan Cameron already. Cameron, proving once again to be very inefficient, caught only one of his four targets. He also dropped a ball.

  • There were some injuries in this contest beyond what Jones sustained. Ndamukong Suh hurt his ankle, while first-round safety Keanu Neal was helped off the field. Fortunately, neither injury sounds particularly serious.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: Mike Tirico is one of the best play-by-play guys in the business, so it was nice to listen to him with Cris Collinsworth, who is a great color analyst. I have to say though, it was pretty weird to hear Tirico’s voice with NBC’s trademark football music! With Al Michaels still at NBC, I’m left wondering what Tirico is going to do until the 2018 Olympics. I imagine NBC is going to lock him in a room somewhere and have someone massage his throat for the next 18 months.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2016 Preseason Notes: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4
    2016 Fantasy Football Stock Pages: Preseason Stock Week 1 | Preseason Stock Week 2 | Preseason Stock Week 3 | Preseason Stock Week 4 | Training Camp Stock

    More 2016 Fantasy Football Articles:
    Fantasy Football Rankings

    2016 Fantasy Football Rankings:
    2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - 9/7 (Walt)
    Chet Gresham's Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings - 8/30 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs - 9/7 (Walt)
    Chet Gresham's Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings - 8/30 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers - 9/7 (Walt)
    Chet Gresham's Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings - 8/30 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends - 9/7 (Walt)
    Chet Gresham's Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings - 8/30 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defenses - 6/15 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers - 6/15 (Walt)
    Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings - 5/13 (Walt)
    Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings: Dynasty - 5/13 (Walt)
    Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings: Dynasty - 5/27 (Chet)

    2016 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts:
    2016 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: PPR - 9/1 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Mock Draft Video - 8/31 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Real Draft - 8/29 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Standard - 8/25 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: 2-QB - 8/25 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Mock Draft Video - 8/24 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: PPR - 8/18 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Mock Draft Video - 8/13 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Standard - 8/11 (Walt)
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    2016 Fantasy Football Mock Draft Video - 8/4 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: PPR - 8/2 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: PPR - 7/28 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Mock Draft - 7/21 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football: MFL 10 Draft - 5/13 (Chet)

    2016 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets:
    2016 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 - 9/7 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 PPR - 9/7 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 2-QB - 9/7 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 Touchdown League - 9/7 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Custom - 9/7 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football: Dynasty Rankings - 9/7 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football PPR Rankings - 8/26 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Spreadsheets - 9/7 (Walt)

    2016 Fantasy Football Articles:
    2016 Fantasy Football Stock Report: Training Camp - 9/7 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Mock Draft Simulator - 9/7 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Sleepers - 9/4 (Walt)
    2016 NFL Preseason Recap, Fantasy Football Notes - 9/2 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Preseason Stock - 9/2 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Preseason Quarterback Targets - 9/2 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Waiver-Wire Targets - 8/31 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Busts - 8/31 (Walt)
    Fantasy Football Auction Advice - 8/24 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Round-by-Round Strategy Guide - 8/18 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Daily Fantasy Preseason Week 2 Streaming Options - 8/18 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Draft Queue: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends - 8/17 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Draft Queue: Quarterbacks and Running Backs - 8/16 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Training Camp Notes - 8/10 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Wide Receivers to Avoid - 8/6 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Running Backs to Avoid - 8/5 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football Notes - 7/26 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Late-Round Wide Receiver Targets - 7/21 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Late-Round Running Back Targets - 7/19 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football ADP Values - 7/14 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football: C.J. Anderson Profile - 7/7 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Favorite MFL Players - 6/29 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football: 2016 NFL Draft Fallout: Chip Kelly - 6/23 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football: Marvin Jones Profile - 6/22 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football: Devin Funchess Profile - 6/15 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football 2-QB Draft - 6/9 (Chet)
    Fantasy Football Beginner's Guide - 6/7 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football: Running Back Drafting and ADP - 6/3 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football: Quarterback Drafting and ADP - 6/1 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football: Eli Manning Profile - 5/25 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football: Jordan Matthews Profile - 5/24 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Rookie Dynasty Draft Wrap-up - 5/18 (Walt)
    2016 Fantasy Football: 2016 NFL Draft Fallout - 5/11 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football: MFL 10 Quarterback Values - 4/30 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football: MFL 10 Wide Receiver Values - 4/28 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football: Tight End Strength of Schedule - 4/25 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football: Wide Receiver Strength of Schedule - 4/21 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football: Running Back Strength of Schedule - 4/20 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football: Quarterback Strength of Schedule - 4/19 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football: MFL 10 - 2/19 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Philip Rivers - 2/16 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football: Quarterback ADP vs. Reality - 2/12 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Fallout: Marshawn Lynch Retires - 2/11 (Chet)
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    2016 Fantasy Football Forecast: Dynasty - 1/21 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Forecast: Tight Ends - 1/19 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Forecast: Wide Receivers - 1/14 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Forecast: Running Backs - 1/13 (Chet)
    2016 Fantasy Football Forecast: Quarterbacks - 1/12 (Chet)

    2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 12

    Fantasy Football Rankings - May 9

    NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

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