Veterans Adrian Peterson and Alfred Morris proved they had something left in the tank, Royce Freeman scored his third consecutive touchdown and Christian McCaffrey put the final touches on locking up his workhorse role this season as we prepare for week three’s takeaways.
Rounding out the final week of fantasy-relevant preseason games, here’s the final edition of preseason takeaways for the 2018 season.
Like last week, players that failed to be mentioned did nothing of significance to help or hurt their 2018 fantasy football outlook. Let’s get to the takeaways.
NFC East Preseason Takeaways
33-year-old Adrian Peterson turned the clock back a few years in his preseason debut with the Washington Redskins. His first carry on the first play of the game was a seven-yard gain up the gut of the Denver Broncos defense.
In addition, during his second drive, Peterson planted his foot and set himself up for a sound cutback that went for a 13-yard gain. For good measure, Peterson was able to plant his foot and explode on another carry which went for a six-yard gain. To round things out, Peterson had a crucial 10-yard plus run on 4th and inches.
Checking in on Adrian Peterson’s debut with Washington pic.twitter.com/VqzEXSzhqq
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 24, 2018
— Charley Casserly (@CharleyCasserly) August 25, 2018
My takeaway is that Adrian Peterson, with Samaje Perine injured and Rob Kelley not stepping up in his absence, will have a chance to secure the running downs role in Washington’s offense early in the regular season. In fact, I’d be surprised if Peterson wasn’t the starter week one, and he’ll have an opportunity to produce a solid stat line.
To be clear, Washington’s offensive line is ranked 12th going into the season by Pro Football Focus. Peterson will be in the RB2 range when my final rankings update comes out. You can check out my current rankings here.
NFC West Preseason Takeaways
Morris debuted with the San Francisco 49ers week three of the preseason, carrying the ball 17 times for 84 yards. Morris’ two best seasons came under now-49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan, rushing for a combined 2,888 yards for 20 touchdowns on 611 carries.
— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) August 28, 2018
Free agent signing Jerick Mckinnon has proven in four seasons he can’t handle a workhorse role, averaging less than 4.0 YPC the last two seasons in Minnesota on 309 carries. My takeaway is that Mckinnon, when healthy, assume the passing downs role for San Francisco, being intermingled in the rushing attack. In addition, Morris should an opportunity to capture the running downs roles, especially if Matt Breida isn’t ready week one.
Alfred Morris ran hard all game — 17 carries, 84 yards, 4.9 YPC
49ers backfield is very banged up and far from set in stone pic.twitter.com/xNQWfQ7tlC
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) August 25, 2018
AFC West Preseason Takeaways
Royce Freeman Takeaway Tidbit (Freeman carried the ball five times for 26 yards and a touchdown. The problem is Head Coach Vance Joseph named Devontae Booker his starter for week one.)
24 yard touchdown run by Royce Freeman pic.twitter.com/XGnys0fv9V
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 25, 2018
AFC North Preseason Takeaways
Carlos Hyde Takeaway Tidbit (Carlos Hyde solidified himself as the Browns starting RB, carrying the ball seven times for 45 yards. More impressively, Hyde broke off runs of eight and 33 yards.)
Carlos Hyde goes around Jalen Mills for 33 yards pic.twitter.com/XujvzCOL2G
— TheRenderNFL (@TheRenderNFL) August 24, 2018
AFC East Preseason Takeaways
Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell
Before week three, my money was on Crowell being the running downs RB, while Powell worked on passing downs. However, during week three of the preseason, Powell broke off two runs of at least nine yards. On the other hand, Crowell wasn’t much of a factor in the running game but did have a 15-yard reception. My takeaway is Crowell is the RB you want in PPR, while Powell’s standard league value has risen.
NFC South Preseason Takeaways
Christian McCaffrey Takeaway Tidbit (McCaffrey showed he can be a workhorse, rattling off a six-yard run on Carolina’s first play on offense. In addition, McCaffrey had an 18-yard run, eight-yard run, and a five-yard run. More importantly, he ran well in between the tackles, posting 12 carries for 48 yards.)
Barber was able to fend off Ronald Jones for the Buccaneers starting RB job, carrying the ball five times for 34 yards. Breaking away from his competition with Jones, Barber was good, not great with two five-yard runs and a four-yard run. However, Barber was able to take a 14-yard run in for a touchdown. My takeaway is Barber will be a serviceable RB2, though his upside is limited.
?: CBS pic.twitter.com/bfRP8quKzj
— NFL (@NFL) August 25, 2018
Sneaky Waiver Wire Adds Before The Regular Season
As a point of reference, consider these players worth speculative adds. Simply, you’re picking them up to ride the end of your bench, while seeing if they can potentially turn into a serviceable contributor to your starting lineup in the future.
While the Redskins receiving corps was a mess last season and Jamison Crowder is locked in as Alex Smith’s top WR option, Paul Richardson is worth an add. He signed a mega deal in the offseason and was able to connect with Smith for two receptions for 31 yards. Obviously, that’s not enough to make me feel comfortable drafting and/or starting Richardson, but it could blossom.
While Melvin Gordon had the night off during week three of the preseason, Ekeler was steadily increasing his fantasy stock for 2018. Ekeler carried the ball six times for 50 yards while posting three receptions for 13 yards. Pete Prisco of CBS Sports said on the CBS Sports Fantasy Football Today Podcast that Phillip Rivers and the coaching staff love Ekeler.
In fact, Prisco said they envision a Danny Woodhead like role for him. I’m not saying Ekeler will be able to fill those shoes, but in four seasons with the Chargers Woodhead was a top 12 PPR RB twice, including a top-three finish in 2015. That’s worth a speculative add to me.
Julian Edelman is suspended the first four games of the season. Check. Chris Hogan will fill in the slot role while working on the outside. Check. Well, like we saw last season when Hogan and Cooks were both productive, the Patriots will produce another fantasy relevant WR alongside Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan, before Julian Edelman returns from suspension.
Dorsett recorded four receptions for 36 yards. While those numbers are pedestrian, it’s worth noting Tom Brady hooked up with Dorsett for a third-down completion on three of those four. Brady looking to Dorsett on third downs is a good sign for his fantasy stock. While I’m not ready to start him, I’d go as far as drafting him as a late-round flier and sticking him on the end of my bench in case he pops early in the season.
Gibson recorded two receptions for 28 yards during week three of the preseason. With the news that Alshon Jeffery will miss at least the first two games of the regular season, Gibson will opportunity alongside Mike Wallace on the outside early in the season to carve out a role.
If you have the roster spot, Gibson is someone you add before kickoff week one and if he doesn’t produce you simply waive him the following Tuesday.
While I have my doubts a rookie quarterback can sustain two fantasy relevant wide receivers, Enunwa was the Jets’ leading receiver in 2016 before missing all of 2017. Robby Anderson is the clear-cut one, but Enunwa will have a chance to put up good not great weeks of production, especially if the Jets find themselves playing from behind.
Enunwa recorded two receptions for 28 yards.
With preseason takeaways completed and a final draft rankings update coming, be on the lookout for week one rankings early next week.