2021 NFL Preseason Recap and Fantasy Football Notes: Week 2

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

2021 Preseason Notes: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3
2021 Fantasy Football Stock Pages: Preseason Stock Week 1 | Preseason Stock Week 2 | Preseason Stock Week 3

Saints 23, Jaguars 21

  • Trevor Lawrence played the entire opening half in the second preseason game. He had some bright moments, but struggled for the most part.

    Lawrence’s pedestrian play wasn’t all his fault because he had issues with pass protection. The Saints dominated the trenches, forcing Lawrence into Alex Smith-type passes where he made short tosses on third-and-long. Lawrence also had a potential interception dropped by a Saints defender when he targeted Laviska Shenault in the red zone.

    As mentioned, there were some positives. Lawrence made an accurate throw to Shenault while rolling left, showing good touch on a 15-yard connection. He also put together a good drive at the end of the first half, but that was when the Saints pulled their starting defense.

    Lawrence finished 14-of-23 for 113 yards. He also scrambled once for nine yards. It wasn’t a promising showing for the No. 1 overall pick, but he didn’t have D.J. Chark, who sat with a finger injury. Chark said he’ll be ready for the opener.

    Here were Lawrence’s targets:

    Tavon Austin: 1
    Phillip Dorsett: 2 (1 end zone)
    Travis Etienne: 1
    Luke Farrell: 1
    Carlos Hyde: 1
    Marvin Jones: 4
    Laviska Shenault: 7 (1 end zone)
    Laquon Treadwell: 1

  • With Chark out, Shenault led the Jaguars in targets with seven. He caught five of them for 36 yards. I liked Shenault as a sleeper earlier in the summer, but his ADP has risen of late. Marvin Jones, meanwhile, led the Jaguars’ starters in receiving yards with 41 on four catches.

  • James Robinson once again saw more touches than Travis Etienne. In the second preseason game, Robinson started and was given five carries, which he turned into 13 yards. Etienne, meanwhile, saw two touches, which transformed into just four yards. He left early with a foot injury, but he was barely being used prior to getting hurt.

  • Moving on to the Saints, Taysom Hill started the first preseason game and then was replaced by Jameis Winston. Both struggled in that affair, but things were different in the second exhibition contest. Winston started and was amazing. He misfired just once, going 9-of-10 for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Both of the scores were deep bombs to Marquez Callaway. Winston looked like a completely different quarterback, and the year off he spent learning from Sean Payton and Drew Brees seems to be paying dividends. With Hill disappointing once again after Winston left the game, it seems almost certain that Winston will be the starter in Week 1.

    Here were Winston’s targets:

    Marquez Callaway: 5 (1 end zone)
    Deonte Harris: 1
    Juwan Johnson: 1
    Tony Jones: 2

  • Hill, as mentioned, wasn’t very good. He barely completed half his passes, going 11-of-20 for 138 yards and a touchdown. He took a bad sack because he held the ball too long, as he sometimes showed hesitancy in the pocket. He would’ve thrown an interception if a Jacksonville defender didn’t drop the ball. He also fired a bad pass behind his tight end.

  • Marquez Callaway was the star of the second preseason game. He torched the Jaguars’ starting secondary, catching five passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns in less than a half of action. The scores were both deep receptions. The first was a 43-yarder in which he was being knocked down by rookie cornerback Tyson Campbell. The second, a 29-yard gain, was a one-handed grab after Callaway beat Shaq Griffin. With Michael Thomas out, and Jameis Winston likely to start, Callaway looks like a possible fantasy WR2.

  • Latavius Murray may not make the Saints’ roster. Sean Payton said that Tony Jones is currently his No. 2 running back. Jones started ahead of Murray against the Jaguars and had an 11-yard burst in the opening quarter. He rushed for 24 yards on five attempts, though he dropped a pass. Murray, meanwhile, mustered just six yards on four carries.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: ESPN has tabbed Steve Levy to be the Monday Night Football announcer, which doesn’t seem like a good idea. It’s obvious he’s not a football guy because he often never mentioned who carried the ball or caught a pass, and he seldom told the audience how many yards a play happened to be. He seems like a nice guy, but he should stick to hockey. It’s embarrassing that ESPN hasn’t been able to find a viable replacement for Mike Tirico all these years.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    49ers 15, Chargers 10

  • Trey Lance had a brilliant start to his NFL debut last week, but crashed as the evening progressed. This performance was the opposite. Lance struggled early, but did some things very well on his final few drives.

    Lance entered the game on the second possession and continued to play until midway through the third quarter. A couple of his early incompletions were because of a pressured throw-away and a drop by Deebo Samuel, but he then tossed an interception on a high throw to Mohamed Sanu. It could be argued that Sanu should have caught the pass, but Lance could have used better ball placement. Besides, he got lucky later when two Charger defenders dropped a pair of potential interceptions. Lance could have finished with a disastrous stat line had the San Angeles players been able to take advantage of those bad throws.

    That said, Lance had some great moments as well. He showed terrific touch on a perfect 41-yard pass to Trent Sherfield. He later delivered an impressive 12-yard dart to Richie James while scrambling left and contorting his body in Patrick Mahomes-like fashion. This eventually led to a touchdown strike to Travis Benjamin.

    Lance finished 8-of-14 for 102 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also scrambled once for eight yards. Lance could have thrown three picks in this contest, but a trio of his incompletons were either drops or throw-aways. Lance remains a Josh Allen-type project. He’ll struggle like Allen did in his rookie campaign if he’s thrust into action this year, so it might be best to allow him to learn on the sidelines like Mahomes did in Kansas City.

  • Jimmy Garoppolo started this game and played one lengthy drive. Garoppolo moved the team down the field, but the possession concluded with an interception. However, the pick wasn’t Garoppolo’s fault because the ball bounced off Brandon Aiyuk’s hands. Garoppolo’s final stat line was 3-of-6 for 15 yards and the interception.

    Here were Garoppolo’s targets:

    Brandon Aiyuk: 3
    JaMycal Hasty: 1
    Kyle Juszczyk: 1
    Charlie Woerner: 1

  • Brandon Aiyuk didn’t have a strong performance against the Chargers. He caught just one of his three targets for three yards. He drew a holding penalty, but he was responsible for Jimmy Garoppolo’s interception. This is a small sample size, but I expected better play out of Aiyuk.

  • I was hoping to see Trey Sermon play in this game, but he sat with an ankle issue. Wayne Gallman (15-72) and JaMycal Hasty (19-58) shared the workload with Sermon and Raheem Mostert sidelined.

  • Speaking of rookie running backs, Larry Rountree did some impressive things in this game. The stat line may say otherwise – eight carries, 12 yards – but Rountree looked good. He easily converted a third-and-1 with a 7-yard run, and he moved the pile on a second-and-5 with a 6-yard burst. He did good work in the passing game, catching four balls for 15 receiving yards, which doesn’t include an 8-yard reception negated by an illegal low block.

  • Another Charger rookie, Josh Palmer, thrived last week, but didn’t do much in this game. He caught his lone target, which happened to be a 3-yard touchdown. Palmer has nice potential, but the Chargers have announced that Justin Herbert will not be playing at all this preseason, so it’s impossible to tell what he could be accomplishing with the talented, second-year signal-caller.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: The Charger play-by-play announcer called Wayne Gallman “Wayne Gallum.”

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Browns 17, Giants 13

  • This was a completely useless game for fantasy purposes. I had a family event earlier in the day, which is why this post is so late, but I’m glad I didn’t miss anything. Baker Mayfield, Daniel Jones, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Austin Hooper and Evan Engram all sat.

    The one fantasy-relevant player who participated in this game was Donovan Peoples-Jones. The young receiver has enjoyed a strong training camp. He didn’t play much in this game, as he caught his only target. It was a 13-yard reception that he made despite the pass being behind him. The announcers noted that Peoples-Jones wasn’t overthinking things this year. Still, he’ll need one of Beckham or Landry to get hurt in order to be a viable fantasy option in Cleveland’s run-heavy offense.

    Outside of that, there’s not much else to discuss. Cleveland’s fourth-string running back, John Kelly, looked good, running for 58 yards and a touchdown on nine carries, but he may not make the team. Giants receiver David Sills hauled in three of his five targets for 31 yards and a touchdown, but he’s on the roster bubble as well.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Colts 12, Vikings 10

  • It was impossible for both starting quarterbacks to play in this game because Carson Wentz is injured, but Kirk Cousins was able to start for the Vikings at least.

    Cousins, however, didn’t have the best performance. He completed 5-of-7 passes, but for only 23 yards. He didn’t have Justin Jefferson or Dalvin Cook at his disposal, but the offensive line was the true problem. The Christian Darrisaw-less blocking unit had major issues blocking the Broncos last week, and that was once again the case in this contest. Cousins was under siege on a high percentage of his drop-backs, so he had to toss checkdowns as a result.

    Here were Cousins’ targets:

    Ameer Abdullah: 1
    Brandon Dillon: 1
    Alexander Mattison: 2
    Irv Smith Jr.: 2
    Adam Thielen: 1

  • Cook was sidelined, so Alexander Mattison drew the start in the backfield with Cousins. Mattison didn’t get a single carry, however. He was targeted twice, and he caught both passes for 16 yards.

  • Third-round rookie quarterback Kellen Mond played the entire second half. He did not have a good performance, to put it nicely. Things were ugly for him early, fumbling the ball on his first snap. His initial pass was an overthrow. His best attempt, a 25-yarder he completed while getting hit, was negated by a hold. That completion would’ve helped his meager stat line: 6-of-12, 61 yards.

  • Speaking of bad quarterbacking, the Colts continued to hold their competition between Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger. The former started last week versus Carolina, so it was Ehlinger’s turn to get the nod. Ehlinger’s stats were even worse than Mond’s: 8-of-13, 70 yards, two interceptions. However, both turnovers were the results of deflections. The first, taken back for six, was tipped at the line of scrimmage, while the second was a deflection by a defensive back.

    Eason didn’t fare much better. He went 16-of-27 for 132 yards. He didn’t throw an interception, but he would have if a Minnesota defender didn’t drop the ball. Eason also fired behind a receiver on third down. At one point, he heaved a pass that was so ugly that the Vikings’ play-by-play announcer commented, “That had some wounded duck on it.”

    The Colts have to be discouraged that both quarterbacks played far worse than they did in the preseason opener. I’ll say this: The Colts better hope Wentz can return soon because they won’t win many games with either Ehlinger or Eason.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: The Vikings’ play-by-play guy seemed to favor Ehlinger over Eason. He constantly shouted things in Ehlinger’s favor, like, “Ehlinger can run, look out!” He also pronounced Ehlinger’s name “Ehlin-GURRRR!!!” In fact, he sometimes just called him “Sam,” as if they were old, college buddies.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Titans 34, Buccaneers 3

  • Tom Brady played for a bit in the preseason opener, but he and the rest of the Buccaneer starters rested for this game. Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown and Julio Jones were nowhere to be seen either. I remember the good, old days when almost every preseason game used to mean something…

    While all meaningful fantasy players sat out, we got a good look at second-round rookie quarterback Kyle Trask, who played the entire second half. Trask started off well, but got worse as the evening progressed.

    Trask’s first pass was an impressive, 26-yard dart down the seam to Tanner Hudson. Unfortunately, Hudson lost a fumble, and the ball was returned for a Tennessee touchdown. Trask would go on to make a couple of other nice throws. One occurred when he fit the ball through a tight window to convert a third-and-long. The second was a 35-yard bomb to Cyril Grayson down the sideline. Grayson made an acrobatic catch to secure the reception, but it was still a tremendous pass.

    The positives end there, however. Trask fumbled the ball in the fourth quarter, though a teammate of his recovered. The good fortune didn’t last very long because Trask was charged with an interception when his pass deflected off a Titan player’s helmet. Trask then tossed a second pick as a result of an overthrow toward a tight end. Trask easily could’ve been picked a third time, but a Tennessee defender dropped the ball.

    Trask finished 13-of-26 for 131 yards and two interceptions. He enjoyed a nice start, but had a rather pedestrian performance overall. I’m not seeing it with Trask, but perhaps the Buccaneers will be able to develop him.

  • O.J. Howard was the only prominent veteran to play in this game. He caught three passes for 24 yards, but was guilty of two drops. It didn’t seem like he was very interested in playing.

  • Speaking of Buccaneer tight ends, the aforementioned Hudson led the team in receiving with six catches for 74 yards. He was guilty of the crucial fumble, but played very well otherwise. Hudson routinely impresses in the preseason, but never gets a chance because the Buccaneers have so many talented tight ends on the roster. I’d like to see a team in need of a tight end trade for him.

  • No notable Tennessee veterans played, but I’d like to highlight two of their rookies. Second-round right tackle Dillon Radunz was abused in this game, as Tampa rookie Joe Tryon had his way with him. Meanwhile, fourth-round rookie receiver Dez Fitzpatrick sold a play-action fake well by pretending to block and then catching a touchdown. Fitzpatrick hauled in both of his targets for 30 yards and the score. He didn’t have much of a chance to do anything else with Logan Woodside and Matt Barkley playing quarterback.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: When the play-by-play announcer was discussing former Buccaneer John Lynch and his Hall of Fame ceremony, he told his color analyst, Ronde Barber, “I’m sure you’re waiting for the Hall of Fame knock on your door.” I found this interesting because I never really considered Barber a Hall of Famer. He was a great corner in the Tampa-2 system, and he’s certainly close, but I never pictured him being inducted. What do you guys think? Should Barber be in the Hall of Fame?

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Ravens 20, Panthers 3

  • Lamar Jackson didn’t play in this game, but there was good news: We would finally be able to see Sam Darnold play in a Carolina jersey. Unfortunately, he threw just two passes in his debut!

    Darnold went 1-of-2 for 16 yards. His lone completion was a nice ball to Robby Anderson. His sole misfire was thrown out of bounds because of pressure. And there you have it. The analysis of Darnold’s first game with the Panthers.

    Here were Darnold’s targets:

    Robby Anderson: 1

  • The starters who played with Darnold – this does not include Christian McCaffrey, who sat – exited after the first drive, and Will Grier took over. Grier had previously been a dreadful quarterback, but he has apparently made great strides while being coached by Joe Brady. Grier was impressive in this game, going 11-of-14 for 144 yards.

    One of Grier’s best throws was a 36-yard bomb to rookie receiver Terrace Marshall. The LSU product, who played well last week, picked up where he left off against the Colts. He caught three balls for a team-leading 50 yards. It would’ve been great to see him play with Darnold, but we can’t have nice things in the preseason anymore.

  • With McCaffrey resting, rookie running back Chuba Hubbard started. He broke a 9-yard gain on the opening drive to put the Panthers in position to score a touchdown, but he was subsequently stuffed at the goal line. Still, Hubbard looked solid. He rushed for 24 yards on nine attempts. He also caught a pair of passes for 29 receiving yards.

  • As for the Ravens, their passing game was absent in this game, with Tyler Huntley playing the entire evening. However, the two primary running backs saw all the action in the opening quarter. J.K. Dobbins mustered just eight yards on four carries, while Gus Edwards was more impressive, tallying 28 yards on four attempts. He broke through some defenders on a 14-yard burst.

  • Ty’Son Williams, an undrafted rookie from 2020, stole the spotlight in the second half. He was brilliant, gaining 47 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. His score, a 20-yard burst, saw him shrug off multiple potential tacklers. He could steal the No. 3 running back job from Justice Hill.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: The Panthers’ announcer said that Lamar Jackson was under center when the Ravens took their first snap. Jackson did not play. If you’re a professional announcer, how do you not know the difference between Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley?

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Raiders 17, Rams 16

  • There weren’t any starters in this game, as Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr, Darrell Henderson, Josh Jacobs, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Darren Waller and Henry Ruggs all sat. This was a matchup between third-string quarterbacks Nathan Peterman and Bryce Perkins, both of whom played the entire game.

    Peterman is often the Dan Marino of the preseason, but he wasn’t his usual self in this contest. Peterman was 16-of-24 for 172 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, though one of the picks wasn’t his fault because it deflected off his receiver’s hands. Conversely, Bryce Perkins was talked up by the Rams announcers, as they compared him to Donovan McNabb. He wasn’t as great as they made him out to be, but he was very exciting and put the Rams in a position to win the game. He posted solid numbers, going 26-of-39 for 208 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also scrambled nine times for 41 rushing yards. Perkins’ pick was an ugly heave downfield, and he failed to convert a fourth-and-2 because he threw a pass way behind his intended receiver. However, he went through his progressions and delivered plenty of accurate passes. He made a case for himself to be a No. 2 quarterback somewhere.

  • The most interesting aspect of this game was the battle between Jake Funk and Xavier Jones, who are competing to be the backup behind Henderson. Funk started and outgained Jones, 56-29, with both receiving seven carries each. Funk looked good, but Jones was more impressive, in my opinion. First of all, Jones, unlike Funk, did something in the passing game. He caught two passes for 10 yards. Second, Jones had two big plays negated by penalties. One was a 12-yard reception featuring a broken tackle that was wiped out by a block in the back. The second was a 15-yard touchdown where Jones displayed great speed to turn the corner. This was negated by a hold.

  • Rams second-round rookie receiver Tutu Atwell was busy in this contest, catching eight of his 13 targets for 45 yards. However, one of the negatives regarding Atwell is his durability because he’s so small. He got banged up in this game, injuring his ankle, and then got hurt once again after returning.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: I felt bad for a while during this game. I criticized the Rams’ broadcasting crew for having three announcers last week. They had two for this game. I thought I was to blame for jettisoning one person in the crew. However, it turns out that this was not my fault because the one girl announcer had her BFF’s wedding this weekend. I don’t know why she would miss something as important as a preseason game for a BFF’s wedding, but she’ll be back next week.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Broncos 30, Seahawks 3

  • Drew Lock started last week and was spectacular. I never thought I’d ever write that, but it’s true. Reports indicated that Lock was close to clinching the job, but perhaps Vic Fangio will be having second thoughts after what transpired in this contest.

    Teddy Bridgewater got the nod and completed nearly all of his passes. He went 9-of-11 for 105 yards and a touchdown. This includes a fourth-and-5 conversion early in this contest where he hit Jerry Jeudy for a 35-yard gain, setting up a touchdown. Whoever wins this starting job will be a nice streamer in fantasy when battling against weak defenses, thanks to the abundance of talent in the receiving corps.

    Here were Bridgewater’s targets:

    Royce Freeman: 3
    K.J. Hamler: 2 (1 end zone)
    Jerry Jeudy: 2
    Eric Saubert: 2
    Javonte Williams: 2

  • Drew Lock played a bunch once Bridgewater left the game. He went 9-of-14 for 80 yards. However, he didn’t have Jerry Jeudy or K.J. Hamler at his disposal. His big play was an improvisational flip to Seth Williams while escaping pressure. Williams caught the underhanded pass and ran for a 33-yard gain. Lock also made a nice third-down pass to move the chains via a pass to Diontae Spencer.

  • Jerry Jeudy, as mentioned, made a huge play in the opening quarter when he reeled in a 35-yard reception to convert a fourth-and-5. He hauled in both of his targets for 40 yards. K.J. Hamler, meanwhile, snatched one of the two passes thrown to him for two yards and a touchdown. I like both this year in fantasy.

  • Javonte Williams once again was Denver’s starting running back. He did a good job to break a tackle to pick up a first down on one occasion, but he was responsible for a couple of blunders. One was a dropped pass, while another was a fumble at the goal line, which was picked up by a Denver offensive lineman for a touchdown. Williams gained 20 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. He also caught a 5-yard pass. The running back who did the most work in the passing game was Royce Freeman, who snatched five balls for 44 receiving yards.

  • There’s nothing worth noting about the Seahawks. Russell Wilson, Chris Carson, D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett all sat. Alex McGough was the starting quarterback, and he threw a couple of ugly interceptions. Rashaad Penny started with McGough in the backfield, but he couldn’t get much on the ground, mustering just eight yards on five carries.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: At one point, the Seahawks announcers begged Pete Carroll to challenge a touchdown. “It’s a scoring play that’s automatically reviewed, but what’s the harm in challenging any way?” Umm… maybe because it’s against the rules, and Carroll would be penalized for trying to do so!?

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Texans 20, Cowboys 14

  • This game was mostly devoid of fantasy implications even though some starters were in action. This is because Tyrod Taylor barely played, while Garrett Gilbert threw to Dak Prescott’s usual dynamic weapons.

    Taylor completed just two of the five passes he threw, tallying 10 yards in the process. This was too small of a sample size to determine anything, outside of Taylor leaning on Brandin Cooks a bit. Not learning anything isn’t the end of the world because it’s not like Taylor is in consideration in any fantasy league that doesn’t require two starting quarterbacks.

    Here were Taylor’s targets:

    Chris Conley: 1
    Brandin Cooks: 3
    David Johnson: 1

  • As mentioned, Taylor was leaning on Cooks, as the injury-prone receiver was the only player to see multiple targets from his starting quarterback. He caught two of the three targets for 10 yards.

  • I made note that Phillip Lindsay started for the Texans last week. This time, it was Mark Ingram. Yes, Mark Ingram. I don’t know. Ingram actually didn’t look terrible, gaining 24 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, but the Texans would be better off looking at their younger backs. Lindsay eventually entered the game and mustered only two yards on four attempts. David Johnson, meanwhile, didn’t see a single carry, but was given a target, which he didn’t convert.

  • Third-round rookie quarterback Davis Mills played more than half the game. While he saw much more action than Taylor, it’s difficult to gauge his ability as well because he was constantly under pressure. He had to dink and dunk frequently as a result. Still, Mills at least avoided turnovers, which is a plus. Mills went 10-of-16 for 115 yards against the Cowboys.

  • As mentioned earlier, it was Gilbert throwing to the likes of Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. Cooper wasn’t targeted a single time on 13 snaps. He touched the ball once, on a reverse, but fell down for a 4-yard loss. Lamb, meanwhile, snatched one of his two targets for 13 yards.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: I was watching this game and the Dolphins-Falcons contest at the same time on my laptop, so sometimes the audio of the two games overlapped. That created an awkward circumstance once when the announcers of this game were discussing Tyrod Taylor’s injury last year, while the Dolphins-Falcons guys were laughing at something. I heard this: “Then, Tyrod got a punctured lung.” “Hahahahahaha!”

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Steelers 26, Lions 20

  • It was surprising to see Ben Roethlisberger play in this game because he’s such an old and injury-prone player at this stage of his career, but he was present against the Lions during the opening quarter.

    Roethlisberger absolutely torched Detroit, and that is not an exaggeration. Using some shockingly improved ball velocity, he ripped through the Lions’ secondary by hurling deep strikes to his talented weapons. He went 8-of-10 for 137 yards and two touchdowns, and one of his incompletions was dropped. His best throw was a 43-yard bomb to Diontae Johnson. This version of Roethlisberger looked nothing like the quarterback who dinked and dunked in 2020. I never would have believed it, but watching him in this contest makes me wonder if he’s finally over the elbow injury that plagued his past two seasons. If so, Pittsburgh’s offense could be lethal this year, especially if the blocking is better than expected.

    Here were Roethlisberger’s targets:

    Eric Ebron: 1
    Pat Freirmuth: 2 (2 end zone)
    Najee Harris: 3
    Dionate Johnson: 1
    JuJu Smith-Schuster: 1
    James Washington: 2

  • Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster had interesting stats in relation to one another. Johnson caught just one pass on his lone target, but registered 43 receiving yards. Smith-Schuster caught five balls, but for only 39 yards. That said, the numbers are skewed because all but one of Smith-Schuster’s targets came from Mason Rudolph.

  • Najee Harris had a great showing in his third preseason game. His rushing numbers look bleak – four carries, 10 yards – but he caught a pair of passes for 53 receiving yards, including a 46-yard reception where he made two defenders miss. If Ben Roethlisberger’s arm strength has returned, Harris will be in position for more touches and potential scores.

  • Steelers rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth caught two touchdowns from Roethlisberger, with his dual receptions going for 19 yards. Freiermuth’s stock, however, is suppressed by Eric Ebron’s presence. Ebron, who dropped one of Roethlisberger’s incompletions, caught four passes for 59 yards, but all of that production came with Rudolph at quarterback.

  • As for the Lions, Jared Goff, D’Andre Swift, Tyell Williams and T.J. Hockenson all sat. There were two Detroit rookies worth discussing, however.

    First, Penei Sewell struggled once again. He was beaten for a sack last week, and he was abused by Alex Highsmith in this contest. He doesn’t look comfortable at right tackle. Second, Amon-Ra St. Brown caught two passes for 12 yards. That’s not an impressive stat line, but his quarterbacks were horrendous in this game. The starter, Tim Boyle, threw 15 passes and accumulated just 44 passing yards.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: Emmitt Smith wasn’t announcing this game, but he may as well have been, given this quote: “Who will you be watching on tonight?” The Steeler announcers then had a lengthy discussion about the green dot, which was once a topic of conversation eight years ago.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Dolphins 37, Falcons 17

  • The Atlanta starters were nowhere to be seen, so this recap will focus entirely on the Dolphins. Whereas Matt Ryan sat, Tua Tagovailoa played the entire first half. Tagovailoa picked up where he left off against the Bears last week, save for that one horrible mistake he made when he fired an interception into the end zone.

    Tagovailoa was terrific in this contest. He made quick, decisive, accurate throws throughout the evening, and it seemed as though he had improved arm strength. The announcers made note of this, citing that some of his arm strength had been sapped last year because of the hip injury he suffered in college. That made me wonder why he even played last year.

    Nevertheless, Tagovailoa was perfect for some time, ultimately finishing 16-of-23 for 183 yards and a touchdown. He also scrambled once for eight yards. His longest pass was a 30-yard connection down the seam to Mike Gesicki. It should be noted that Tagovailoa did this versus Atlanta’s backup defense, but he also didn’t have DeVante Parker or Will Fuller at his disposal.

    Here were Tagovailoa’s targets:

    Salvon Ahmed: 3
    Myles Gaskin: 4
    Mike Gesicki: 2
    Jakeem Grant: 3
    Mack Hollins: 5
    Adam Shaheen: 1
    Jaylen Waddle: 3

  • Jaylen Waddle seemed to suffer a bad injury in this game. He tried limping off the field when the Dolphins were in the red zone and ultimately just collapsed. I was expecting the worst, but Waddle returned to action after missing a few snaps. He ended up catching three passes for 21 yards. His lone blunder was a drop.

  • In the preseason opener, the Dolphins shocked everyone by starting Malcolm Brown over Myles Gaskin. Brown saw lots of work, while Gaskin barely touched the ball. This week, it was all Gaskin, with some Salvon Ahmed serving as a change-of-pace back. Brown was nowhere to be seen until the second half. This is a relief for Gaskin owners, though Brian Flores told the media that the running back rotation would be situational based on the opposition.

  • The one Falcon worth discussing is rookie quarterback Feleipe Franks, who has created some hype in the preseason. Franks continued to show off some excellent rushing ability, scrambling thrice for 32 rushing yards. Franks’ passing was a different story, however. Franks went 4-of-9 for 46 yards and an interception, though a potential touchdown of his was dropped. His pick occurred because he stared down his receiver. The worst part of his game in this contest, aside from the interception, was his poor pocket presence. He showed zero awareness and took numerous bad sacks. Head coach Arthur Smith spent ample time yelling at Franks on the sideline.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: The Dolphins’ color analyst had no color. He was incredibly boring; he made Joe Buck sound like Van Wilder. It sounded like he was announcing a funeral.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Jets 23, Packers 14

  • Zach Wilson played well in his first start, and he was even better in this contest. Wilson was able to consistently move the chains against the Packers, thriving in nearly a complete half of action.

    Wilson’s opening drive featured an impressive 24-yard strike to Corey Davis. He later went back to Davis for another long gain, as he bought himself time in the pocket to find his No. 1 wideout along the sideline for a 27-yard connection. Wilson also made a terrific heave to Tyler Kroft on a second-and-long to find the tight end for a touchdown.

    Wilson finished 9-of-11 for 128 yards and two touchdowns. The only incompletion I saw was when Wilson skipped a pass to Davis – more on that later – but he was terrific otherwise. It must be noted that Wilson was battling Green Bay’s backup defense throughout the afternoon – the Packers sat nearly all of their first-stringers – but he still looked great, regardless.

    Here were Wilson’s targets:

    Tevin Coleman: 1
    Jamison Crowder: 1
    Corey Davis: 6
    Tyler Kroft: 2 (1 end zone)
    Jeff Smith: 1
    Trevon Wescoe: 1

  • I was wrong about Corey Davis, apparently. I thought the Jets overpaid him this offseason because he had been a huge disappointment prior to the 2020 campaign. However, Davis has been incredible this preseason, particularly in this game. Zach Wilson targeted Davis six times in less than a half, and Davis hauled in four of those passes for 70 yards. Davis could be a PPR monster this year.

  • There’s a chance Tyler Kroft could emerge as a viable fantasy option this year. The Jets don’t have much else at the position, and Zach Wilson liked throwing to Kroft this preseason. Kroft caught two passes for 36 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Packers.

  • The Jets gave all the rushing opportunities in the first half to Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson. I assumed Michael Carter wasn’t going to play, but he was featured in the second half. While Coleman and Johnson both were mediocre, Carter thrived. He rushed for 52 yards on 10 carries, with his best attempt being an 18-yard burst in which he bounced off several defenders. Carter has the most upside of any Jet at the position.

  • While there were plenty of positives regarding the Jets’ offense, excluding Robert Saleh’s questionable decision to punt on fourth-and-1 at midfield in the opening quarter, the defense was a disaster. Nearly all the starters were on the field, and yet they couldn’t stop a Packer offense piloted by a third-string quarterback who was throwing to backup receivers. The Packers easily moved the chains throughout the first half, so Saleh certainly has his work cut out for him.

    A.J. Dillon was the catalyst for the Packers’ first touchdown versus the Jets’ starters. He was given just four carries, which he turned into 28 yards. The Packer color analyst said it perfectly, “It’s lie bumper cars trying to tackle him.”

  • There were some other young Packers of note. Receiver Malik Taylor has impressed in the preseason. He caught four passes for a team-leading 66 yards, including an acrobatic catch of 21 yards. The Packers don’t have much at wideout aside from Davante Adams, so Taylor has the potential to shoot up the depth chart. The same could be said of rookie Amari Rodgers, who also did well; he caught four balls for 31 yards.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: I mentioned earlier that I saw just one of Zach Wilson’s incompletions. This is because my Internet cut out for about a minute. Some of you might be confused about why I didn’t watch the game on TV. I did not because NFL Network showed the Thursday Patriots-Eagles game instead for some reason. In previous years, I could rewind the live stream on NFL.com’s Game Pass, but they changed it so that’s not possible anymore. Thanks, NFL.com and NFL Network, for being extremely incompetent!

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Bills 41, Bears 15

  • Justin Fields played the entire second half against the Bills. He wasn’t as good as he was versus the Dolphins, but he didn’t perform poorly either. There were some positives and some negatives.

    First, the positives: Fields made an impressive strike in the third quarter to Rodney Adams, which would have converted the first down had Adams not dropped the ball. Fields shook that off and scrambled for 16 yards to move the chains on fourth down. On the next play, Fields launched a 32-yard bomb to Jesse James, showing nice touch on the throw. Fields later connected on a 24-yard pass, but the play was negated by replay review. If it weren’t for the two drops, Fields’ final stats would’ve looked better.

    Fields, however, didn’t recognize the blitz on a couple of occasions, and on one instance, he took an absolutely crushing helmet-to-helmet hit. He also missed a couple of potential touchdowns with some high throws into the end zone. He later fired a pass behind his receiver. Fields began limping around in the fourth quarter after taking an awkward hit in the pocket, but he never left the game.

    Fields finished 9-of-19 for 80 yards. He failed to complete half of his passes, but the two drops played a factor. He also did some great work with his legs, scrambling four times for 46 rushing yards.

  • Andy Dalton started this game and played the entire opening half. It’s unclear why Matt Nagy didn’t give Justin Fields any time with the starters, but Chicago fans weren’t happy. They constantly booed whenever Dalton took the field.

    Dalton was rather mediocre. He completed some short passes, with the exception of a 73-yard touchdown bomb he heaved to Rodney Adams in the second quarter. Dalton, who didn’t have Allen Robinson at his disposal, finished 11-of-17 for 146 yards, one touchdown and an interception. The pick occurred because Adams fell down just as the ball was released.

    Here were Dalton’s targets:

    Rodney Adams: 3
    Damiere Byrd: 2
    Jimmy Graham: 1
    Jesse James: 3
    Chris Lacy: 2
    Damien Williams: 2

  • There’s not much to say about Buffalo’s passing game because Josh Allen didn’t play. Mitchell Trubisky started and looked like an NVP. That’s not a joke, as Trubisky thrived in his return to Chicago. He made quick decisions and released the ball accurately to his Stefon Diggs- and Cole Beasley-less receiving corps. He led the Bills on numerous touchdown drives, doing a good job of buying time in the pocket with his legs.

    Trubisky finished 20-of-28 for 221 yards and a touchdown. This performance was impressive, but I’d like to remind you that Nathan Peterman looks like Dan Marino in preseason games. I’m skeptical that Trubisky has suddenly evolved into a quality starting quarterback.

  • The big take-away from Buffalo’s offense in the second preseason game was the running back usage. Devin Singletary started over Zack Moss against the Bears and played the entire opening quarter. Moss didn’t even get a touch until the second frame. Both finished with 21 rushing yards, as Singletary scored on a 14-yard burst. He also impressively juked a defender on a reception. It’s unclear if the Bills will continue to utilize these two backs this way, but it appears as though Singletary has reclaimed the upper hand.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: This is something the Bears’ color analyst said: “Justin Fields looks poised here in the second half.” The problem? The color analyst said this before Fields took his second snap! Did Fields somehow look poised while standing on the sideline? Because I don’t think one snap is enough of a sample size to say something like that!

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Redskins 17, Bengals 13

  • Joe Burrow was sidelined once again, as he hasn’t yet fully recovered from the devastating knee injury he suffered against this Redskin team last year. Ryan Fitzpatrick, consequently, was the only starting quarterback to play in this game.

    Fitzpatrick had a mediocre performance. He made some nice throws, including a stellar, 29-yard, back-shoulder connection with rookie Dyami Brown. However, Fitzpatrick was fortunate that a Cincinnati player dropped a potential interception of his, and he also missed an open Adam Humphries for a touchdown. Fitzpatrick finished 7-of-13 for 96 yards. One of his incompletions was dropped.

    Here were Fitzpatrick’s targets:

    Dyami Brown: 2
    Antonio Gibson: 2
    Adam Humphries: 3 (1 end zone)
    J.D. McKissic: 1
    Terry McLaurin: 2 (1 end zone)
    Cam Sims: 1
    Logan Thomas: 3 (1 end zone)

  • Third-string quarterback Kyle Allen told the media that the Redskins plan on using Antonio Gibson like Christian McCaffrey. Gibson, however, wasn’t on the field on third down once again. That said, Gibson looked great. He rushed for 28 yards on seven carries, and he also caught two passes for 19 receiving yards. One catch was a 15-yard gain on a screen where Gibson broke a tackle. I’m a fan of drafting Gibson late in the opening round.

  • With Curtis Samuel sidelined, rookie receiver Dyami Brown was given an opportunity to play with the first-team offense. He dropped an early pass, but made up for it by hauling in a 29-yard, back-shoulder pass from Fitzpatrick. Brown is worth monitoring on the waiver wire in the event of a Terry McLaurin injury. McLaurin, by the way, snatched one of his two targets for five yards.

  • Speaking of rookie receivers, Ja’Marr Chase played the entire opening quarter against the Redskins. Unfortunately, he was dreadful. He saw three targets, and he dropped ALL of them. All three drops occurred on third down, and in two of the instances, he would have helped move the chains. To quote Redskins color analyst Joe Theismann, “Ja’Marr Chase had an opportunity to make a play, but just doesn’t hang on.” It’s too early to panic on Chase, but given Joe Burrow’s inability to remain healthy, as well as the struggles of the offensive line, the No. 5 overall pick from the 2021 NFL Draft isn’t looking very appealing in fantasy.

  • Joe Mixon didn’t see much action, which was a good thing. He rushed for four yards on two attempts, and he also caught an 8-yard pass. Mixon’s best play was a 15-yard reception on a nifty screen, but the play was nullified because of a hold.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Chiefs 17, Cardinals 10

  • While many teams are resting their starters, both the Chiefs and Cardinals played Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray, respectively, for multiple drives. Neither quarterback performed exceptionally well, though it must be noted that both were missing their top receiver.

    Mahomes went 10-of-18 for 78 yards and an interception. It was a frustrating evening for Mahomes, who didn’t have Tyreek Hill at his disposal. Mahomes spent most of his time on the field yelling at Mecole Hardman, who constantly was in the wrong place. Mahomes’ interception was partly on Hardman as well, though Mahomes deserves blame for not throwing away the ball. Mahomes had to escape the pocket because of heavy pressure, and he scrambled right and heaved the ball toward Demarcus Robinson. Cornerback Byron Murphy stepped in front of Robinson and secured the pick. Mahomes should have tossed the ball out of bounds rather than force the issue, but it’s understandable why he was so frustrated.

    Here were Mahomes’ targets:

    Michael Burton: 2
    Clyde Edwards-Helaire: 2
    Mecole Hardman: 6 (3 end zone)
    Travis Kelce: 1
    Byron Pringle: 3
    Demarcus Robinson: 4 (1 end zone)
    Darrel Williams: 1

  • Mecole Hardman led the Chiefs’ starters in targets from Mahomes with six, including three in the end zone. He caught a spectacular touchdown late in the second quarter, as he reached behind him to haul in an underthrown Chad Henne pass. However, this was not a positive night for Hardman. He constantly ran poor routes and was in the wrong locations, drawing the ire of Mahomes, who spent some time yelling at him. Hardman, despite being a freak athlete, doesn’t project to be a good wideout. I don’t expect him to be the permanent No. 2 receiver in this offense.

    The other two options for the No. 2 spot are Robinson and Byron Pringle. Robinson hauled in two of his six targets for 10 yards, so he wasn’t efficient either. The best wide receiver in the Chiefs’ second preseason game was Pringle, who snatched four of his five targets for 63 yards. With Mecole Hardman struggling, I believe Pringle will get a chance to be a big part of the offense this year.

  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire didn’t see much action in this game, but that’s a good thing. He started and ripped off an early, 7-yard run. He ultimately gained 13 yards on three attempts. I like him better than I did earlier this summer because of the Kansas City offensive line.

  • Moving on to the Cardinals, Kyler Murray posted a dreadful stat line, going 1-of-4 for two yards. However, he didn’t have DeAndre Hopkins at his disposal, and he saw Christian Kirk drop a pass. He was also under heavy pressure. He was strip-sacked on one occasion when Chris Jones, playing on the edge, easily beat D.J. Humphries.

    Here were Murray’s targets:

    A.J. Green: 1
    Christian Kirk: 2
    Rondale Moore: 1

  • Rondale Moore continued to be used in numerous facets. He handled four touches: one carry that went for nine yards and three catches for 15 receiving yards. He saw five targets, with all but one coming from Colt McCoy.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Patriots 35, Eagles 0

  • Mac Jones played his second preseason game, and he performed even better than he did in his debut. His first pass was nearly intercepted, but Jones shrugged that off and began delivering very accurate passes for the remainder of the evening. Almost all of Jones’ throws were extremely precise, and he navigated the pocket well. He put together a 17-play drive that lasted longer than nine minutes in the second quarter, ultimately finishing 13-of-19 for 146 yards. His stats could’ve been even better, but N’Keal Harry dropped a perfect bomb that should have been a gain of about 30 yards.

    Jones is making a huge push to be the Week 1 starter. Had Cam Newton faltered, there would be a case for Jones to play right away, but Newton has performed well thus far. Speaking of Newton…

  • Newton looked great in his second preseason action. He displayed tremendous accuracy, misfiring only once. He went 8-of-9 for 103 yards and a touchdown. That said, it must be noted that the Patriots had all their starters battling Philadelphia’s backup defense.

    Here were Newton’s targets:

    Kendrick Bourne: 1
    Jakobi Meyers: 3
    Sony Michel: 2
    James White: 3

  • Rhomandre Stevenson dazzled with a 91-yard touchdown run in his preseason debut against the Redskins. He did not break a long rush again, but he certainly did not disappoint in his second contest. An early carry of his went for nine yards, as Stevenson dragged multiple defenders. He then bounced off two Eagles to pick up 11 yards, and in the third quarter, Stevenson scored a touchdown while using good vision to identify the open running lane. Stevenson’s lone blunder was actually a nice play in which he picked up 10 yards, but fumbled at the end. Nevertheless, Stevenson, who rushed for 65 yards and two scores on 14 carries, looks like a terrific running back. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he ends up starting at some point this year.

  • The primary player of note for the Eagles was DeVonta Smith, who was seeing his first preseason action after suffering an injury earlier in the summer. Smith had an underwhelming start, dropping his first two passes. That said, Joe Flacco made some poor throws when targeting Smith, who was beating his defender on every route. Smith ultimately caught two of his four targets for 19 yards.

  • Eagle fans who overpaid for their preseason tickets were not pleased to start this game. There was a cascade of boos heard throughout the crowd before the first snap because they saw that Flacco would be starting. Jalen Hurts did not play because of an illness he suffered earlier in the afternoon.

    Flacco was predictably horrific. He went 10-of-17 for just 83 yards and two turnovers, one of which was a lost fumble on a strip-sack on the initial drive that set up a quick New England touchdown. When Flacco wasn’t giving the ball away, he was throwing checkdowns and bad passes to his receivers.

  • While Hurts was sidelined, Miles Sanders started and was given two carries, which he turned into 13 yards. His big gain was a 10-yard burst. He looked good, albeit in very limited action.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: The clueless Eagles announcers, who seldom mentioned who the intended target was on throws – a major pet peeve of mine – called Kenny Gainwell “Candy Gainwell” and Rhomadre Stevenson “Ramade Stevenson.” I actually began wondering if Gainwell’s nickname happened to be “Candy,” so I did a Google search, which unearthed nothing.

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2021 Preseason Notes: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3
    2021 Fantasy Football Stock Pages: Preseason Stock Week 1 | Preseason Stock Week 2 | Preseason Stock Week 3

    More 2021 Fantasy Football Articles:
    Fantasy Football Rankings

    2021 Fantasy Football Rankings:
    2021 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - 9/1 (Walt)
    2021 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs - 9/8 (Walt)
    2021 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers - 9/5 (Walt)
    2021 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends - 9/5 (Walt)
    2021 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers - 6/9 (Walt)
    2021 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defenses - 6/9 (Walt)
    2021 Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings: Dynasty - 5/9 (Walt)

    2021 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts:
    2021 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts - 9/3 (Walt)

    2021 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets:
    2021 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 - 9/8 (Walt)
    2021 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 PPR - 9/8 (Walt)
    2021 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 Half-PPR - 9/8 (Walt)
    2021 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 2-QB - 9/8 (Walt)
    2021 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 Touchdown League - 9/8 (Walt)
    2021 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Custom - 9/8 (Walt)
    2021 Fantasy Football: Dynasty Rankings - 9/8 (Walt)
    2021 Fantasy Football Spreadsheets - 9/8 (Walt)

    2021 Fantasy Football Articles:
    2021 Fantasy Football Stock Report: OTAs, Training Camp - 9/6 (Walt)
    2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers - 9/6 (Walt)
    2021 Fantasy Football Busts - 8/31 (Walt)
    2021 Fantasy Football Value Picks - 8/31 (Walt)
    2021 NFL Preseason Game Recaps - 8/30 (Walt)
    2021 Fantasy Football Stock Report: Preseason Games - 8/30 (Walt)
    2021 Fantasy Football Round-by-Round Strategy Guide - 8/12 (Walt)

    NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

    2024 NFL Mock Draft - Feb. 21

    Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

    NFL Picks - Feb. 12