AFC Recap: Week 3 Preseason Musings
AFC Recap: Week 3 Preseason Musings
Here we are back for the AFC recap of Week 3 of the NFL preseason. The Week 1 recaps are available by clicking on the conference links for both the AFC and NFC. Week 2 recaps for the AFC and the NFC are here as well.
There were a lot of big stories from Week 3, starting with retirement of Andrew Luck and the ACL tear of Lamar Miller. We will cover those in-depth as we move on. Teams will be broken down by division standings from last year, as usual. Let us get started with our fantasy-relevant news from Week 3 in the AFC.
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots edged the Carolina Panthers by a score of 10-3 on Thursday night in a game that featured just 99 total yards of offense for the Panthers. This marks the third straight week in this series that Jakobi Meyers has been mentioned. Meyers had another 7 catches for 74 yards on 12 targets. This guy will just not go away. While the receiving corps is deep in Foxborough, it is getting hard to ignore the UDFA from North Carolina State.
For the preseason, Meyers has 19 receptions for 225 yards and 2 touchdowns. The 6’2″, 203-pound receiver had a solid senior season with the Wolfpack. The numbers are even more impressive when you factor in he spent his first two years in college as a quarterback. The versatile Meyers snagged 92 balls in just 12 games, good for 7.67 catches a game.
The Miami Dolphins handled the Jacksonville Jaguars by a final of 22-7 on Thursday night. Kalen Ballage did nothing to separate himself from the resting Kenyan Drake. The Arizona State grad rushed 12 times for a paltry 17 yards, good for 1.4 yards per carry. Drake actually returned to practice on Monday, lessening Ballage’s appeal as the RB1 in South Beach.
Ballage is being over-drafted and has seen his ADP climb over three rounds in the past month. This is a true case of preseason hype gone wrong. Be smart and pass on this flavor of the week that has averaged just over three attempts his rookie season.
The Buffalo Bills snuck by the Detroit Lions by a final score of 24-20 on Friday night. It was interesting to see the backfield rotation in what is considered by many to be the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season. Frank Gore saw 8 carries for 57 yards, LeSean McCoy chipped in with 6 for 37 and rookie Devin Singletary received just one opportunity on the ground. This has a full blow committee feel to it this season. That is before factoring in T.J. Yeldon’s 3 carries for zero yards.
There may be some value in this backfield, but good luck figuring out which one of these four it will come from. Sean McDermott was not afraid to feed his RB1 in 2017, checking in with 287 attempts for the aforementioned McCoy. If there was just one running back in Orchard Park, this would be a simple choice. Given the age of the others and the fact that the Bills are likely not really in a “win now” position, the unknown in Singletary seems to be the best place to look for the upside.
New York Jets
Wrapping up the AFC East Week 3 recap, we had the New York Jets falling to the New Orleans Saints by a final of 28-13 on Saturday night in the Meadowlands. Ty Montgomery saw some steady usage in both the running and passing games for the Jets. There is talk that the former Green Bay Packer could see a fair amount of touches despite Le’Veon Bell’s presence in the Big Apple.
Reflecting back on the point per opportunity chart from FFStatistics, we see that the Stanford grad has been more efficient with his touches over the years than his backfield counterparts Bell and Bilal Powell.
The Baltimore Ravens easily took care of the Philadelphia Eagles by a final of 26-15 on Thursday night. Marquise Brown quietly made his preseason debut and caught all 3 of his targets for 17 yards and rushed 1 time for -4 yards. The involvement in the rushing game could be an indicator of a couple of things. First, it is a sign that he may be close to one hundred percent healthy. Second, it shows the Ravens may be committed to getting the ball in the hands of the speedy playmaker in a variety of ways.
Regardless of the small yardage totals, it was good to see “Hollywood” back on the field playing meaningful snaps. Despite finally returning to live game action, Brown has seen his ADP dip to a record low.
The Pittsburgh Steelers upended the Tennessee Titans by a final of 18-6 on Sunday. Similar to Jakobi Meyers above, it is getting hard to ignore James Washington. The second-year wideout caught yet another touchdown. This one was for 41 yards and came from Mason Rudolph instead of Josh Dobbs. If Washington can carry over his hot start to the preseason over into September, then he will be a steal at an ADP of WR44 and 106.8 overall.
Let us not forget that the duo played together all four years (three full seasons) at Oklahoma State. If Ben Roethlisberger gets injured or decides this is his last season in the NFL, this could be a solid combo for years to come in the Steel City. The playmaking wideout averaged 20.27 yards per catch in his three full seasons with Rudolph at the helm. Washington also averaged 11 touchdowns a season over those three years.
The Cleveland Browns were narrowly beaten by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a final of 13-12 on Friday night. It was a disappointing performance from Baker Mayfield and what is supposed to be a high octane offense. The starters played most of the first half and Mayfield found himself completing just 10 of 26 passes for 72 yards and an interception.
Looking at the weekly metric plot from FFStatistics, we can see that the highly ranked fantasy quarterback did have some struggles last season and was up and down most of the season. The upside obviously is there, but do not be surprised if the outspoken quarterback drops a clunker or two for you throughout the season, potentially costing you a victory at some point.
Closing out the AFC Week 3 recap, we had the Cincinnati Bengals being edged by the New York Giants with a final of 25-23 on Thursday night. The surprise of the night was Rodney Anderson snagging 4 catches for 51 yards on 4 targets. Maybe this should not be so surprising though. During Anderson’s sophomore year at Oklahoma, he averaged 16.5 yards per catch on 17 catches and added in 5 touchdowns for good measures. The Bengals backfield was broken down in-depth here back in May.
While healthy as a sophomore, Anderson showed some serious market share totals of receiving touchdowns. Do not sleep on him in dynasty or deeper leagues.
The Houston Texans suffered more than just an ugly loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night. They were beaten by a score of 34-0. They also lost their starting running back Lamar Miller for the season with a torn ACL. Fortunately, the Texans brought in Duke Johnson via trade just a week earlier.
Remember, Duke Johnson was the RB11 as recently as 2017. The opportunity just was not there for him last year in Cleveland. Looking at the point per opportunity chart, we see that when given the touches, Johnson actually does better with them then perennial studs Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley.
We have the two biggest stories of the weekend in the AFC back to back. From a fantasy perspective, the Lamar Miller ACL injury pales in comparison to the retirement of Andrew Luck. Be sure to check out Phil Caldwell’s coverage of the situation here. The loss of Luck obviously has everyone scrambling to figure out the impact of the Colts for fantasy purposes. Phil does a great job of breaking it down.
One thing seems to be certain, Jacoby Brissett should be better. He has more experience in the offense, Frank Reich is now the head coach, and the offensive line is better by leaps and bounds. Brissett’s 2017 was not without some promise. The former New England Patriot had several games above league average for fantasy points. Do not be afraid to draft him in SuperFlex leagues and he is worth a gamble in dynasty startups as well.
As referenced above, the Tennessee Titans lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers by a final of 18-6. Marcus Mariota played very little and was 0 for 3 in pass attempts with 0 yards and no rushing stats. Mariota continues to leave the door wide open for Ryan Tannehill to take the starting job. Tannehill was efficient yet again, going 6 for 9 for 62 yards.
This feels like a situation to avoid entirely in redraft leagues and honestly unless you are in SuperFlex leagues, neither of these players should be counted on to contribute to your fantasy team in 2019. On a positive note, Jeremy McNichols looked pretty good again on the ground. Maybe Derrick Henry’s stint on the sideline gives the former highly touted fantasy asset a shot at relevance. The former Boise State standout is eighth in the league in preseason rushing yardage with 100 yards on 23 carries, good for 4.3 yards per carry. It is easy to forget how good the soon to be third-year running back was in college.
Closing out the AFC South Week 3 recap, we revisit the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins. The Jaguars fell to 0-3 on the preseason with a 22-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Dede Westbrook was the lone bright spot for what has been a dismal offense all preseason long. Westbrook caught 4 of 7 targets for 29 yards and 1 touchdown.
Nick Foles saw his first action of the preseason and found the former Oklahoma Sooner for a 10-yard touchdown. A full breakdown of the offense can be found here. It was encouraging to see that Westbrook also saw 7 targets in the game. None of the other potential starting receivers in Duval County even came close to that number. Westbrook appears to be the favorite for targets and was it not for him being torpedoed by horrible quarterback play last year, he could have finished much better than the WR33. A look at the points per game last season shows just how sporadic he was.
Kansas City Chiefs
On Saturday night we had the Kansas City Chiefs falling to the San Francisco 49ers by a final of 27-17. Damien Williams truthers can rejoice as the oft-debated back caught a long touchdown pass and ended with 3 receptions for 74 yards and the score. Sadly, he only had 1 carry for 2 yards. We cannot be left to wonder how this backfield will shake out and it could be ugly trying to peg who will have what role in Andy Reid’s RB1 favorable offense. Reid clearly has a history of feeding his RB1. The problem is, Damien Williams has never carried more than 50 times in a season and that came late last year after the Kareem Hunt suspension.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers were upended by the Seattle Seahawks by a final of 23-15 on Saturday night. Melvin Gordon continues to hold out and it looks as though it will last into the season. We also have no new clarity on who will take the lead role between Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson, if either of them will.
Ekeler continues to see more targets in the passing game, so if forced to choose for PPR formats, he should be the one to lean towards. It has been beaten to death, but looking at the splits, we see that Ekeler had RB2 potential, even with Gordon playing. That is hard to ignore given the two-season sample size.
The Denver Broncos fell to 1-3 on the preseason with a 10-6 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night. This was actually the fourth game of the preseason for the Broncos and very few starters of note played a snap. There was no fantasy-relevant news coming from the Broncos in this one. It was good to see Jake Butt back on the field, even though he will likely be an afterthought with Noah Fant in town. A full review of the Broncos under Fangio can be found here. Speaking of Fant, here are some highlights to enjoy.
Wrapping up the AFC recap for Week 3, we have the Oakland Raiders edging the Green Bay Packers by a final of 22-21 on Thursday night. Much like the Broncos, very few starters played in this one. The days of Week 3 being a “dress rehearsal” seem to have gone by the wayside. It is hard to blame coaches when you see situations such as the Lamar Miller one pop up in the preseason.
The biggest news from Raiders camp this week was the release of Doug Martin. This may have just been strictly a financial move as Martin may be brought back after Week 1. It is noteworthy because it leaves Josh Jacobs squarely in line for lead-back duties in the bay. It is still hard to know what kind of usage to expect. Jon Gruden is the anti-Andy Reid when it comes to RB1 fantasy finishes.
This concludes the preseason AFC Week 3 recap article. Thank you for coming back for the fourth edition of the training camp fallout and preseason coverage series. This concludes the AFC preseason coverage for 2019. Next week there will be a special “do not draft” article from each conference instead of the weekly preseason recap. Stay tuned for the AFC on Monday and the NFC on Tuesday.
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