We’re kicking off week two semi-NFL football, and fantasy football Twitter is full of reminders that it’s only preseason. Twitter timelines are dominated with warnings of what we should and should not buy into for the coming fantasy football season – here are our preseason takeaways from the Thursday night slate.
The games: PHI @ JAX, NYJ @ ATL, CIN @ WAS, OAK @ ARI
The Cardinals will have some growing pains.
This shouldn’t really come as a surprise when talking about a team that just drafted their new franchise quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick. You expect a year of development, particularly with a shift in coaching staff and a new scheme in place. Fantasy football Twitter was quick to forgive these circumstances though and crown them as the next up and coming offensive treasure.
Kyler Murray had a rocky start in Week 2 – punt, punt, punt, safety. He finished his four drives with a bustling box score of 3/8 for 12 yards, zero touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of 45.8. Offensive drives have never been killed so rapidly – offensive penalty after offensive penalty. Nothing will kill a drive – or your scoring opportunity in fantasy football – quicker than a team losing yardage to lack of discipline.
The Raiders defense did not quite allow room for the signature Kliff Kingsbury air-raid offense on Thursday. Does this mean that the Cardinals won’t get it together? No. However, after a clean Week 1 performance from Kyler Murray, it’s probably become more clear to the masses that he’s inherently risky as the QB8 in 2019 redraft leagues.
Also noted: KeeSean Johnson continues to look like the next man up in the Cardinals receiving corps.
Chase Edmonds is still the most underrated handcuff in fantasy football.
For a guy behind one of the few true workhorse, three-down running backs, Chase Edmonds sure isn’t drafted like it. Part of what makes a handcuff valuable is their ability to step into a significant workload, should the starter be unavailable on game day. After what many consider to be a down season for Johnson, we saw their ADPs climb after the Cardinals took Murray No. 1. But Edmonds is still not going in the range his upside dictates.
Edmonds was drafted in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL draft and saw just 60 rushing attempts in his rookie season. He finished 2018 just behind Johnson at 3.5 yards per carry. The Cardinals have committed to David Johnson with a long term deal, and his role is undoubtedly as secure as you can get in today’s NFL. It leads me to my question, “In an era where we value handcuffs, why on earth aren’t we drafting Edmonds?”
Edmonds is in a position to inherit a massive workload, should anything happen to Johnson. He’s established his pass-catching ability in Kingsbury’s offense, and that can only bode well for filling a David Johnson role. If you’re a Johnson owner, go grab his solidified handcuff. You never know what’s in store for your season.
Miles Sanders looks like the running back we’ve been hoping for.
The off-season has been flooded with reports and concerns that the Philadelphia Eagles would continue to utilize the running back by committee approach. I think we can all say with confidence at this point – if they do, it’s probably a mistake.
Sanders’ hit the ground running, amassing 12 yards on his first carry of the game. To be noted, the offensive line had a tremendous block, but Sanders utilized the blocking scheme well, made nice cuts, and showed burst for days. He looked healthy coming off a hamstring injury that held him out of camp, and the missed reps don’t appear to have swung the pendulum in another direction on the team.
Sanders is currently being drafted as the RB30, and I’m buying in. Some players being taken ahead of him include Tevin Coleman and James White. On a well rounded offense, with a coach who likes to run the ball and one of the best offensive line units in football, the sky is the limit for Miles Sanders in 2019.
The Ravens will run the ball, one way or another. Maybe in a committee.
One thing was abundantly clear as the Ravens offense took the field – they want to run the ball. Whether it be with their young franchise quarterback or their treasure trove of running backs, they will run.
Mark Ingram had the reps on the first drive and looked the part. He runs tough, posting four rushes for 18 yards – hard fought yards at that. Next drive belongs to Kenneth Dixon… mostly. Until Gus Edwards arrives, that is.
In the first two drives, we saw three different running backs. Lamar Jackson capped that second drive with a risky scramble up the middle for 18 yards and a TD, only to be called back with an offensive penalty for an illegal blindside block on Willie Snead. For what it’s worth, just two targets to the running back position in that time. Rookie Justice Hill was the fourth running back on the field but came up with 10 rushes for 49 yards and a TD. He looked outstanding, and there’s clearly a reason the Ravens are hoping to see him get some time on the field.
The Ravens have struck an excellent balance in their game plan that should allow them to exploit opposing defenses while dominating the clock with the run game. It works. Great for the Baltimore offense, but it’s not so great for our fantasy teams. Ingram’s ADP has crept into the fourth round, and Hill is floating around the 10th. It’s a more confusing backfield than we’d like for our fantasy football teams. Best ball may be the safest place to dabble in this backfield, but only time will tell.
Adrian Peterson still looks like Adrian Peterson.
Washington has had an awful bout of luck, mostly pertaining to their quarterbacks, but not exclusively. Derrius Guice, drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft, tore his ACL on one of his very first plays of the preseason. As of August 14, head coach Jay Gruden says that Guice is able to run and make cuts, but is not yet cleared for full contact.
Washington’s rookie running back, one year removed from the ACL tear, is not cleared for full contact. Chris Thompson, their primary receiving back, hasn’t played more than 10 games since 2016. To top it off, Adrian Peterson was signed to a two-year, $5 million contract extension. All of this should point to some production for the vet coming off of yet another 1,000-yard season, right?
Peterson finished the night with four carries for 31, and most of them came on a beautiful breakaway for 26 yards. His ADP currently has him at RB55, and the runners drafted around him have a lower probability of actually racking up some yards. Some names being drafted around him include LeSean McCoy, Duke Johnson, Carlos Hyde, and I’d definitely take Peterson out of this bunch.
Whether it be training camp news or game trends, there are plenty of pieces of relevant information to build a repertoire of preseason takeaways. Don’t scoff at preseason takeaways.