James White improved his draft stock with a stellar performance in the absence of Rex Burkhead, James Washington made Steelers fan comfortable trading away Martavis Bryant for a third-round pick with two touchdowns and Teddy Bridgewater made a case to be a real-life starting quarterback. Here’s another edition of preseason takeaways and what to look for this week!
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.
AFC East Preseason Takeaways
White spotlighted to fantasy owners the trust Tom Brady has in him during week two of the preseason. White showed improvement in his rushing ability, displaying a sound jump cut on his way to carrying the ball four times for 31 yards. In addition, White caught six receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown (See below).
— NFL (@NFL) August 16, 2018
My takeaway is that we’ve been overthinking the Patriots backfield this entire offseason. Yes, it took Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead getting hurt to see it, but White has played with Brady the most out of the RBs on the roster. At this point in his career, Brady allocates targets to guys he trusts: Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan, Julian Edelman and James White. Week three should confirm that James White is the Patriots RB you want in PPR leagues, while Burkhead is worth a draft in non-PPR leagues (barring health).
Going into the season, here’s my preference of New England RBs: James White, Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel, Jeremy Hill. This will be reflected in my next rankings update.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) August 17, 2018
AFC North Preseason Takeaways
Hyde carried the ball nine times for 64 yards and a touchdown, playing the majority of snaps while the Cleveland Browns’ first-team offense was on the field. Before the preseason, Hyde was ranked as RB20. Through two preseason games, Hyde has confirmed this ranking. My takeaway is that unless the Browns pull a 180 during week three of the preseason Hyde is the Browns RB to own in fantasy (Duke Johnson in 14-team + PPR leagues).
Carlos Hyde rushes it right for a Browns TD pic.twitter.com/fu1bZ89L3h
— TheRenderNFL (@TheRenderNFL) August 17, 2018
Hyde’s coming off a top-10 finish at this position a season ago, which was on the heels of his top-20 finish the year before that in 13 games. In Haley’s no-huddle offense, Hyde, who’s been able to keep rookie RB Nick Chubb delegated to the second-team offense and will assume the running-downs role, will have a chance to split receptions out of the backfield with Duke Johnson based on who’s in the game at any given time.
However, Johnson’s less likely to already be in the game when the offense goes into no-huddle, as running in between the tackles isn’t part of his game. And remember, the Browns coaching staff said they’re going to ride the hot hand when it comes to their RBs.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) June 22, 2018
Washington popped during week two of the preseason, recording five receptions for 114 yards and two touchdowns. His first was on a contested catch in the back of the end zone ( a la Martavis Bryant?).
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 17, 2018
For an encore, Washington went up to high point another reception for a TD.
Great adjustment by James Washington – Second TD for the rookie. pic.twitter.com/jIIpyH012W
— Brian E. Roach (SCU) #SHALIEVE (@CannonsDontThun) August 17, 2018
My takeaway is like JuJu Smith-Schuster during his rookie season, Washington should have solid stretches of production, but I don’t think Washington will be consistent enough to warrant weekly starting lineup consideration. Because we don’t know what weeks he’ll pop, I understand using a late round pick on him, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the waiver wire week three if he’s yet to produce.
AFC West Preseason Takeaways
Royce Freeman Takeaway Tidbit: (Freeman cleaned up his pass protection and seemed improved as a pass catcher week two, in addition to carrying the ball six times for 20 yards and a TD. He’ll crack my top 15 RBs in my next rankings update.)
The #Broncos could have a chance at getting a run game established this year. On this inside zone play, Ronald Leary (LG) gets his defender turned outward which lets Royce Freeman cut off his backside and finish the run perfectly for a TD. pic.twitter.com/zfOrAUqV9Z
— C&J Scouting (@c_jscouting) August 21, 2018
NFC South Preseason Takeaways
McCaffrey demonstrated his ability to run in between the tackles, suspending fantasy owners believe that he couldn’t and his 3.7 YPC on 117 carries as a rookie was a fluke. In fact, McCaffrey accelerated through the 2 hole for a 71-yard TD run. While I’m expecting regression on McCaffrey’s 80 receptions as a rookie (Greg Olsen will be back a for a full season and the team drafted D.J. Moore in the first round of the NFL Draft), his expected increase in rushing yards and TDs should offset that.
My takeaway is McCaffrey, if everything falls right, will have a chance to crack the top five at his position.
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 17, 2018
Ronald Jones Takeaway Tidbit: (Jones disappointed for a second straight week, carrying the ball four times for two yards, all but conceding the job to Peyton Barber. The only rookies I want shares of going into the season are Royce Freeman and Kerryon Johnson.)
NFC North Preseason Takeaways
Thielen wasn’t targeted by Kirk Cousins week one of the preseason. In addition, he didn’t record a reception on his targets during week two. Cousins, in three full seasons as the starter in Washington, produced a top-3o fantasy WR once (Pierre Garcon, 2016). On the other hand, Diggs recorded a touchdown reception from Kirk Cousins during week one of the preseason. Week three will be very telling for Thielen and his 2018 fantasy football outlook.
Things To Look For In Week Three Of The Preseason:
Can Corey Clement have a good outing and contend with Jay Ajayi to be the main back in the committee.
Will Adrian Peterson display he has enough gas in the tank for one more fantasy relevant season.
Royce Freeman should put the final touches on his three-week odyssey of becoming the Broncos bell-cow.
Isaiah Crowell has to put solid carries and receptions on tape to become the Jets three-down RB.
Greg Olsen getting involved in the offense, to any extent.
What Patriots WR will step up and claim a fantasy-relevant role?
Will Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph record a reception from Kirk Cousins?
Brandon Marshall must put receptions on tape to make the Seahawks final roster.
Can Kerryon Johnson overtake LeGarrette Blount?
Keelan Cole needs to play to hold off Dede Westbrook as Blake Bortles’ top target this season.
Was John Brown’s receiving touchdown last week a fluke?
Kenny Stills needs to establish himself as the top Miami target.