Fantasy: Biggest takeaways from Week 2 of NFL preseason
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*If anything noteworthy happens in the Monday night matchup between the Falcons and Jets, we'll add it below.
Bills' offense is scary, Singletary starts
If you're the type of fantasy player who only wants to invest in high-scoring offenses, the Bills gave you more than enough reason this week to put them at the top of your list.
Buffalo found the end zone on each of its first six series in a win over the Broncos - starting with a six-play, 70-yard drive orchestrated by Josh Allen, who connected on all three of his passes for 45 yards and a score.
Gabriel Davis was on the receiving end of that touchdown and finished his day with two catches for 47 yards. Stefon Diggs (2-33-0) and Isaiah McKenzie (1-10-0) also got in on the action during the brief appearance by the starters. All three warrant strong consideration at their respective ADPs.
In the backfield, meanwhile, it was the Devin Singletary show early. The 24-year-old was on the field for all 10 of the first-team offense's plays, according to Pro Football Focus' Nathan Jahnke. Singletary racked up 43 yards from scrimmage on five touches in that span, including an 18-yard scamper.
The arrival of second-rounder James Cook has put a dent in Singletary's fantasy value, causing people to forget that the veteran averaged the fifth-most fantasy points among all running backs over the final five games of the 2021 season.
The rookie also looked good against the Broncos with 50 yards on five touches of his own, though he played behind both Singletary and Zack Moss.
If Singletary maintains this kind of hold on the starting job, he'll be a value at his current ADP of RB36 in the ninth round - the same round in which Cook is being drafted. Both players are worth gambling on in that range.
RB depth-chart changes
With so many updates coming out of the second week of preseason games, we'll quickly recap some of the more notable changes to backfields around the league.
Robinson taking over in Washington - We covered Antonio Gibson's fumbling issues in last week's preseason roundup. Since then, Gibson has sometimes found himself practicing with the backup units and on special teams. That trend continued in Washington's second preseason outing, during which third-round rookie Brian Robinson got the start. Robinson currently deserves to be the first Commanders running back selected in fantasy drafts, but he could be limited to an early-down role; Washington's backfield is shaping up to be a committee with passing-down specialist J.D. McKissic also in the mix.
Chiefs heading toward RBBC? - Clyde Edwards-Helaire remains the starter in Kansas City, but he split snaps evenly this week with rookie Isiah Pacheco and veteran Jerick McKinnon. That could become a frustrating scenario if it continues into the regular season. Fortunately, their affordable ADPs make each of the Chiefs' backs fairly low-risk investments - with CEH going at the Round 7-8 turn while Pacheco and McKinnon are late-round targets. It also appears Ronald Jones' best chance at fantasy relevance this year is to get cut and sign with a new squad.
Clarity in the Raiders' backfield - Josh Jacobs and Ameer Abdullah sat out Vegas' second exhibition contest, making it seem as though their roles are set as the early-down and passing-down backs, respectively. Rookie Zamir White will push to be the third man in a potential committee or, at worst, Jacobs' immediate backup; the Raiders are expected to release veteran Kenyan Drake, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Jacobs comes with far more volatility this year in Josh McDaniels' system, capping his upside. Managers are better off throwing a late-round dart at White or even Abdullah in PPR formats.
Pierce already a starter? - After an impressive performance in his preseason debut, fourth-round rookie Dameon Pierce was held out of the Texans' second game. That positions him to be Houston's opening-day starter, with Marlon Mack and Rex Burkhead likely working in on obvious passing downs. The news has driven Pierce's ADP up dramatically to inside the top 100. He's still worth targeting in that range, but be wary if he continues to climb. The Texans face the fourth-toughest RB fantasy schedule and could be trailing more often than not.
49ers' crowded backfield - It's still unclear what San Francisco's RB depth chart will look like come Week 1. The 49ers are holding starter Elijah Mitchell out of the preseason due to a hamstring injury, and veteran backup Jeff Wilson hasn't played yet, either. In their absence, rookie Tyrion Davis-Price has performed well as a powerful straight-line runner who can complement Mitchell. The real battle, from our perspective, will come down to 2021 third-round pick Trey Sermon, this year's UDFA standout Jordan Mason, and third-year runner JaMycal Hasty. Mason deserves the nod based on the results so far, but we've been burned trying to predict Kyle Shanahan's running back plans before.
Scott plays over Gainwell - While we still view Kenneth Gainwell as the back to roster behind Miles Sanders in Philadelphia, it's worth noting Boston Scott played a full drive before his sophomore teammate rotated in for a full drive of his own this week. None of the Eagles' backs project to be a workhorse, and with Sanders still out with a hamstring injury, Philadelphia could add reinforcements with a late signing or even a trade. Either way, we need to monitor the situation - this offense should be one of the NFL's more dangerous units in 2022.
Perine holding off Evans - Entering the offseason, there was hope that Chris Evans would supplant Samaje Perine as a more explosive backup option behind Joe Mixon. That hasn't happened so far. The Bengals rested Perine this week while Evans played, but the latter didn't have much of an impact with 10 yards from scrimmage on eight touches. There's still time for Evans to make a move during the season, but it looks like Perine is the backup to roster in Cincinnati for now.
Kelley well ahead of Spiller - If playing behind Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree wasn't bad enough, rookie Isaiah Spiller is now week-to-week with an ankle injury. That solidifies Kelley as the Chargers' No. 2 back for the time being, though his value is capped by the likelihood of a committee if Austin Ekeler gets hurt.
Snell still Steelers' No. 2 RB - The report by Dale Lolley of DK Pittsburgh Sports suggesting UDFA Jaylen Warren had seized the second-string job in the Steelers' backfield turned out to be premature. Benny Snell played first this week and got most of the snaps with starters. While Snell is clearly a limited back, Warren and Anthony McFarland Jr. might not be the answer, either. Pittsburgh has already brought in some veterans for tryouts, and it wouldn't be surprising to see the team sign someone else to back up Najee Harris.
Rookie receiver updates
Pickens a locked-in starter - George Pickens may not have made another highlight-reel catch this week, but he did play the second-most snaps among Steelers receivers - behind Diontae Johnson but ahead of teammate Chase Claypool. We've ranked Pickens above Claypool for a few weeks now and project him to be the better fantasy asset in 2022 and beyond.
Dotson deserves more love - Jahan Dotson isn't getting the same fantasy buzz as some of his rookie counterparts on this list - despite many Commanders beat writers singing his praises all offseason. Here's what we know: Dotson is a first-round pick who is a guaranteed starter in Washington and has consistently flashed his playmaking ability in practice. He had two catches for 23 yards in this week's preseason game, and there's plenty more where that came from. His 12th-round ADP of WR63 is difficult to understand at this point. Take the discount.
Burks still proving himself - While some first-rounders aren't getting enough hype for their efforts, others have a long way to go before becoming trusted fantasy options. Treylon Burks has been slowly working his way up the Titans' depth chart after reportedly showing up to OTAs out of shape. Through two preseason outings, he has just one catch for four yards and has made appearances in the fourth quarter of both games. If you want to blame it on tough love for a rookie, consider fifth-round slot receiver Kyle Philips, who's getting time with Tennessee's starters. Don't give up on Burks yet, but understand his fantasy contributions might not come in the opening month of the season. In the meantime, players like Robert Woods and Austin Hooper should be moving up draft boards.
Doubs can't stop scoring - Another week, another touchdown for Romeo Doubs. He's now up to six catches for 69 yards and two scores in two preseason contests with Green Bay. His impressive performances have raised the bar, according to Aaron Rodgers. "The standard for him is not going to be maybe the standard for a normal rookie that we've had here in the past," Rodgers told reporters this week. "He's going to be expected to play based on his performance in camp." Before vaulting him up your fantasy depth chart, just know the Packers will likely spread the ball around more this year, utilizing veterans Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, and Randall Cobb, as well as second-round rookie Christian Watson once he's up to speed.
Bell's time is coming - Following the news of Deshaun Watson's 11-game suspension, the Browns' passing attack isn't one fantasy managers are going out of their way to draft. Still, it's worth noting that third-round wideout David Bell returned after missing time with a foot injury and saw his first preseason action this week. The result was three receptions and 46 yards, but the bigger takeaway was the way he found the soft spots in the Eagles' zone. Now healthy, Bell should climb the depth chart and earn a starting role sooner rather than later.
Thornton out eight weeks - Some bad news: A collarbone injury has stifled rookie Tyquan Thornton's momentum and is expected to sideline him for the next two months. This does open up the Patriots' receiver depth chart somewhat, with DeVante Parker, Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne the top remaining options vying for targets.
Edmonds the man in Miami - If you've been following our offseason coverage, Chase Edmonds running as the Dolphins' clear lead back shouldn't be a shock. We highlighted him as a sleeper before his ADP rose, and we had to include him in our updated breakout column. He made his preseason debut with his new club this week and ran well ahead of the next-closest back Sony Michel, posting 24 yards from scrimmage on five touches. He continues to be an incredible value as the RB27 in the eighth round.
Kirk a volume hog? - Christian Kirk made his preseason debut for the Jaguars and promptly commanded eight targets, catching five of them for 54 yards. We don't want to overreact to a small sample in an exhibition game, but it's definitely possible Kirk will be a focal point in Jacksonville's offense given the financial commitment the team made to him. He'll be rising a few spots in our next rankings update.
Palmer shines before concussion protocol - Josh Palmer cranked out a three-catch, 75-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Cowboys this week but landed in concussion protocol. Still third on the Chargers' depth chart, Palmer has a path to spiked weeks playing with Justin Herbert. He's also one Mike Williams or Keenan Allen injury from being a weekly fantasy starter.
Collins could make an impact - Nico Collins is the unquestioned No. 2 receiver in Houston after a strong offseason. The 23-year-old carried that momentum into his first preseason game of the year, delivering a 4-48-1 stat line. If Davis Mills can give the Texans adequate quarterback play in 2022, Collins could be poised for a breakout campaign.
Bizarre usage for Albert O, Fant - While many of the players mentioned in this article are being highlighted for positive performances, we're discussing Albert Okwuegbunam and Noah Fant because we're not sure how their respective coaching staffs will deploy them in 2022. With most of the Broncos' starters sitting out, Albert O has played two weeks in a row. Combine that with the offseason buzz around rookie tight end Greg Dulcich, and there's cause for concern. Fant, meanwhile, has been splitting reps with teammate Will Dissly and played deeper into this week's preseason game than would be expected for a starter. We'll continue to monitor both players, but they'll be moving down the rankings in the meantime.
Likely impresses again - We're running out of positive things to say about Isaiah Likely. He followed up last week's four-catch, 44-yard outing with an eight-reception, 100-yard, one-touchdown line this week. The rookie is stuck behind an elite fantasy tight end in Mark Andrews, but the Ravens lack a proven No. 2 receiver and could give Likely more action this year as another playmaker in the passing game. Still, he seems like a better dynasty stash than a redraft option.
Pickett making a push - Despite some early reports that Kenny Pickett was struggling in practice, the Steelers rookie has performed well in two preseason appearances, completing 86% of his passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He's also added 12 yards with his legs. Both Pickett and projected Week 1 starter Mitch Trubisky offer a mobility that Ben Roethlisberger lacked late in his career. It'll be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Matt Canada incorporates it into the attack - and who the quarterbacks favor in the Steelers' loaded pass-catching corps.
Other preseason standouts who caught my eye this week - Eagles QB Gardner Minshew, Ravens QB Tyler Huntley, Dolphins QB Skylar Thompson, Cardinals RB Keaontay Ingram, 49ers WR Danny Gray, Chiefs WR Justin Watson, Buccaneers WR Tyler Johnson, Dolphins WR Erik Ezukanma, Rams WR Lance McCutcheon, Patriots WR Lil'Jordan Humphrey, Colts WR Michael Strachan, Cowboys TE Jake Ferguson.
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