Week 3 of the NFL preseason – the final dress rehearsal before the regular season – came and went. As expected, there were injuries, some bigger than others. And players impressed, while others were the opposite. Let’s try and break down the final preseason game for most regular starters and see if we can find who the real fantasy football performers will be in a couple weeks.
Down and… out?
First and foremost, the injury everyone already knows about: Tony Romo is out for the first half of the season due to a broken back. How much that impacts the rest of the Cowboys’ skill players remains to be seen.
Dak Prescott was great in the preseason, completing 39-of-50 passes for 454 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions to go with 53 yards on the ground and two more TDs. But again, it’s only the preseason.
There should be a little more worry for Dez Bryant backers, but the running game should be just fine with Ezekiel Elliott and the best offensive line in the league. The mobility of Prescott is also a boost to the offense, which could give the Cowboys’ offense more versatility than with Romo, at least running the ball.
As for Prescott, drafting him any higher than the 20th quarterback would be a mistake considering he may only play seven games.
Also on the injury front, Washington has a bit of a problem with its running backs. After Matt Jones suffered a sprained shoulder in the second preseason game, his backup Keith Marshall sprained his elbow in the most recent outing.
It’s already a question if Jones can handle a full workload and now his expected backup is down. At this point, Rob Kelley may be the late-round RB to target on the Redskins. He’s not fast, but can pass block and gives some power between the tackles. Chris Thompson will get attention as well, but he’s more of a third-down receiving back.
New QBs in charge
Trevor Siemian was named starting quarterback for the Broncos. What does that mean? Not much as we already knew Denver was going to have questions at quarterback all season. Siemian wasn’t overly great at the college level, nor was he in the preseason. Through three games, he’s 27-of-43 for 285 yards with one TD and two INTs.
This doesn’t change much regarding my thoughts on Denver’s wide receivers. The Broncos will try and run the ball a ton, whether it’s C.J. Anderson or Devontae Booker. I expect Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to have similar numbers, though. I would much rather take Sanders as the No. 30 WR than Thomas as the No. 16 WR.
As for Robert Griffin III, I actually think he is being underrated. There’s no reason for Prescott to be ranked higher than RG3, which has been the case for some. Yes, RG3 is injury-prone, but the upside is evident for him. The Browns could have one of the worst defenses in the league, which means RG3 will need to air it out plenty — something he’s somewhat decent at.
While Prescott has made the most noise for QBs, RG3 has chugged along going 18-of-30 for 282 yards, three TDs and an interception through three preseason games. For those deeper leagues or anyone that wants a high-upside backup, RG3 needs to be considered over the likes of Prescott, Joe Flacco, Alex Smith and Teddy Bridgewater.
Don’t forget about me
Russell Wilson is the consensus No. 3 QB, but he provides the best value and may be the safest of all the quarterbacks. He’s been dominant in the preseason, as expected; completing 24-of-38 passes for 303 yards, two TDs and an interception. Even with a bad offensive line, Wilson’s legs create everything and it doesn’t really matter who’s catching his passes. He can have success with anyone, so injuries aren’t an issue. But if Jimmy Graham comes around, that definitely won’t hurt.
A year after being one of the biggest busts, Eddie Lacy could be one of the bigger sleepers. Through the preseason, he’s already looking much better and quicker than a year ago and the Packers offense should be better overall with Jordy Nelson back. As expected, his Average Draft Position has gone up, but it could go higher and I’m beginning to like him more than Devonta Freeman.
A wide receiver who isn’t getting much attention is Kenny Stills. After doing nothing in his first season with the Dolphins (27 receptions), he looks like a much bigger part of the offense under new coach Adam Gase. His seven catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns suggest so as well. Going undrafted in most leagues, Stills needs to be around the No. 55 or No. 60 WR taken off the board.
Will Fuller also fits that mold, but he’s getting talked up plenty already and isn’t as much of a secret.
One wide receiver who is getting the hype, but seemingly is still underrated is Donte Moncrief, who’s at No. 28 in the FantasyPros consensus ADP. In the third preseason game, Moncrief caught six balls for 58 yards, five of them from Andrew Luck, who only played a quarter.
Why is anyone drafting Eric Decker or Kelvin Benjamin above Moncrief? It wouldn’t be all that surprising if Moncrief had more receptions than T.Y. Hilton this season.
Kyle Rudolph is one of those sneaky, wait-and-grab-a-tight-end-late options. In the last preseason game, he caught three balls for 56 yards and a touchdown and has been taking more downfield routes than we’ve seen the last couple years. If Bridgewater makes the expected leap in his third year, Rudolph will be one of the guys who benefits. I wouldn’t let him go undrafted.
Maybe older isn’t better
Matt Forte is a veteran, yet the Jets made him carry the ball 10 times in the third preseason game. Sure, that was his first action, but that’s not the best way to get him ready for a 16-game season. I’m bearish on Forte’s prospects this year, especially if they want to use him like they did Chris Ivory last season.
I’ve been high on Frank Gore throughout the offseason, but even with Luck on the field now, it may not matter.
The Colts’ offensive line is still brutal and they haven’t opened holes for any of the running backs. Their rushing stats through three preseason games aren’t pretty. Gore could be in for another tough season, even if Luck reverts back to his 2014 form.