Philadelphia 27, Cleveland 10
Coming off a short week very few Eagles starters stayed in the game past the opening two series.
With Michael Vick and Mike Kafka still hobbled by injury it was rookie quarterback Nick Foles getting the nod once again in Philly. He would throw an early interception, but atone for his mistake finding Brent Celek for a seven yard touchdown and again locating Deon Lewis for a second touchdown on consecutive drives. Foles has been proficient in two preseason starts with quick, accurate passes over the middle while hitting his intermediate and deep targets with regularity.
LeSean McCoy only played the opening two series with little production. He was replaced by Deon Lewis,who saw the majority of action at tailback for the Eagles, putting together a very mediocre outing. Lewis should be viewed as nothing more than McCoy's handcuff.
The Eagles were able to completely disrupt the Browns offense with unrelenting pressure.
Cleveland rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden began the game with a strong opening drive, immediately halted by a forced fumble. After that Weeden was relatively ineffective and later replaced by Colt McCoy. I'll say this, McCoy is a competitor having greater control of the offense while marching the Browns down the field in the late 3rd quarter for the only touchdown drive. Cleveland may have given up on McCoy to early.
Just when we thought Greg Little was the man, it was Josh Gordon's turn totaling three reception for 50 yards including a deep pass down the left sideline. In fact, Coach Shurmur mentioned Gordon by name during his half-time interview. History has proven lesser known wide receivers who lead their team in targets have emerged as viable fantasy starters. My money is on Gordon.
Montario Hardesty continues to garner first team carries and goal line work in the prolonged absence of Trent Richardson. In this game Hardesty found very little running room as the Eagles were swarming to the football. Hardesty would also put the ball on the turf which is never endearing to the coaching staff. Brandon Jackson came in for relief and played better finding some running room, also picking up a critical 3rd and 1.
A brief applause for the return of Mohammad Massaquoi. He's one tough SOB after suffering another violent shot to the helmet two weeks ago.
Atlanta 23, Miami 6
This game only provided confirmation of our current knowledge;
1) Julio Jones has passed Roddy White as the Falcons most potent wide receiver threat.
2) Matt Ryan is going to finish the season inside the top six in fantasy scoring.
3) Michael Turner is a straight-line runner who has lost a step while being hindered by age. Turner will be sharing time with Jaquizz Rodgers, who is likely to become the more prolific running back
New Dolphins starter Ryan Tannehill is showing a small amount of progress but still making bad rookie mistakes. In his defense, he is greatly hindered by a complete lack of wide receiver talent.
Davone Bess achieved six targets pulling down four and gaining 59 yards. Although still not draftable, Bess is the Fins wide receiver most likely to emerge as the leader in targets by seasons end and should remain on our watch list.
Running back Reggie Bush played sparingly as Miami is surely saving their best player for the regular season. He continues to impress, but the lack of team talent will hinder his 2012 fantasy production. Bush makes good use of a 5th round pick.
New England 28, Tampa Bay 30
Despite all the starters in this game (minus Wes Welker) the Patriots were uncharacteristically slow as the 1st team offense was only able to muster one good drive. New England's offense is severely hindered by a suspect offensive line as Tom Brady was subjected to a number of big hits. I'm sure Belichick will solve this problem before Week 1.
Stevan Ridley was the lone bright spot for the Pats 1st team offense. After being bottled up early, Ridley found his stride consuming yards in big chunks adding a short yardage touchdown in the early 2nd quarter (love those running backs who are able to convert goal line touchdowns). Shane Vereen was rather ordinary. Despite New England's long history of a RBBC, Ridley's risk/reward is worthy of an 8th round pick.
With LeGarrette Blount still ailing it was Doug Martin's turn to take first team carries. Martin managed 53 yards on 13 carries grinding out a consistent four yards at a time. On the plus side, Martin took a goal line carry punching in a 1-yard touchdown. Blount later entered the game tacking on 22 yards. Martin's ADP in the late 3rd round is a reach, but could pay off.
In a run first offensive system the Bucs' passing game is becoming scary. Vincent Jackson finally showed up with a very quite three receptions for 49 yards. Perhaps Freeman just needs more time to get comfortable with his new weapons.
We should recognize the loss of right guard Davin Joseph. A mauling lineman, Joseph will cause a downgrade to the projected fantasy value of all Bucs players.
San Diego 12, Minnesota 10
No Phillip Rivers, No Antonio Gates, No Ryan Mathews, minimal Robert Meachem and very little Malcom Floyd. Not much to detract from the Chargers performance.
Charlie Whitehurst started under center for the Super Chargers putting together an "OK" performance with all backup wide receivers.
The answer in the San Diego backfield may just be an RBBC, as every Chargers running back saw carries including Le'Ron McLain, Curtis Brinkley, Jackie Battle, Jacob Hester, Edwin Baker and Brown. Definitely a situation to avoid.
This was the worst of Christian Ponder's preseason games as he regressed slightly making typical rookie mistakes such as staring down Harvin leading to a Chargers' interception or hanging onto the football way to long resulting in a sack. This type of performance should be expected from time-to-time as Ponder has almost zero fantasy value.
With Jerome Simpson being held out in preparation for his suspension, it was Percy Harvin taking the deep ball. Ponder missed on his first attempt to Harvin but immediately returned connecting for a 40-yard gain. Harvin hasn't played much this preseason, thus flying under the fantasy radar and giving him decent pre-draft value in the 5th round.
Kyle Rudolph continues to be a player of intrigue working underneath and should emerge as the Vikings big red zone threat.
Still no Adrian Peterson, however he did state during an in-game interview that he will be ready for 20-plus carries come week one. I'm not buying it, as the Vikings won't be quick to rush him back into action. Also, Toby Gerhart is running like a Mack truck, hitting the defensive line with power, dragging multiple defenders for extra yardage. Lex Hilliard took second team carries, but fourth stringer Matt Asiata is the better backup.
Chicago 20, New York 17
Matt Forte found it tough running agains the Giants stiff front four picking up most of his 39 yards on a 24-yard scamper. Otherwise nine carries for 15 yards. He's overvalued in the 1st round so long as he is relinquishing goal line carries to Michael Bush.
Jay Cutler is making it a point to get Brandon Marshall the football going his direction continuously. This game was no different as seen by the 10 targets in which Marshall corralled five for 51 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown. Marshall is a beast.
Eli Manning had a decent performance finding multiple wide receivers including rookie Rueben Randle who received plenty of action with Hakeem Nicks still sidelined with a foot injury. Ramses Barden and Martellus Bennett also got involved, but it was Victor Cruz becoming who was old faithful moving the Giants down the field resulting in a Ramses Barden touchdown.
With Ahmad Bradshaw sidelined due to a hand injury it was David Wilson starting the game for the G-Men at tailback. Wilson was the Giants highlight reel shedding tacklers and picking 9.8 yards per carry. Oddly, Wilson was replaced by Andre Brown amidst a long drive by the Giants with most of the work coming as the product of Wilson's hard running. Andre Brown even managed a goal line carry just before half, adding a preseason touchdown to his resume. This could be another case of the old Earth, Wind and Fire, aka: RBBC.
Justin Tuck has the coolest facemask in all of football. If you haven't seen it do a quick Google search.
Houston 27, New Orleans 34
Houston quarterback Matt Schaub put together another solid performance marching his team straight down the field on the opening drive capped off by goal line touchdown from Ben Tate. Schaub then took the second drive for another quick touchdown. Schaub does have good value as a backup/low end QB1 with upside.
During the offseason many speculated that the fantasy value of Owen Daniels would be on the rise after the release of Joel Dreessen (myself included). This game would indicate our assumption was false as tight end Garrett Graham led the team in production with four receptions for 94 yards. Worth noting if Daniels was on your "sleeper" radar as an every week starter.
Arian Foster did not start the game, but was sprinkled in and later seen breezing into the end zone for a short yardage touchdown. I can only assume the Texans are saving their stud for the regular season. Taking a majority of the carries, backup Ben Tate is a monster, and a must handcuff to Foster.
Did anyone notice Andre Johnson getting up gingerly in the mid 2nd quarter after a good hit from the defensive back? I love me some "All Day Dre", but I won't draft him unless he falls to the early 4th round.
Oddly, Chris Ivory started in the NO backfield, but we continue to see an even mix of Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram (Darren Sproles still recovering from injury). If you don't know by now, we should expect the RBBC all season long as Sproles is the...