Preseason Week 3 Fantasy Recap
With the third week of preseason now in the books, many of the training camp battles have played themselves out. Forget clarity, we’ve got some straight-out answers on how things will play out for a number of teams heading into the 2013 season.
Here is what we know now and what we think we know in our final installment of training camp battles and preseason recaps:
In Philadelphia, to no one’s surprise, Michael Vick was named the starter in Philadelphia over Nick Foles. Vick has looked reasonably comfortable running Chip Kelly’s no-huddle offense, and while he shouldn't be relied upon for a 16 game season, Vick should be a solid option when starting.
In Buffalo, with E.J. Manuel sidelined for the preseason, the job was Kevin Kolb’s. Notice I used the past tense there. Kolb suffered a severe concussion – one the team fears could be career-ending – and with Manuel sidelined, the Bills signed Matt Leinart and made a trade with Detroit for Thaddeus Lewis. However, undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel appears to be the favorite to start Week 1 if Manuel isn't ready. The Patriots defense looks like a great play for Week 1.
In New York, perhaps the only QB situation worse than the one across the state in Buffalo still hasn’t sorted itself out. Perhaps Rex Ryan is looking to answer none of the above to his quarterback quandary. Rookie Geno Smith started and played the first three quarters against the Giants. But he threw three interceptions and made a colossal mistake by accidentally stepping out of the end zone for a safety. Mark Sanchez entered in the fourth quarter and left the game with a shoulder injury. He is considered day-to-day at this point, so Ryan’s plan of letting one of the two get hurt to make the decision for him was foiled. The bet here is that Ryan goes with Sanchez until things go south, or until Sanchez plays his way out of the lineup. But neither is worth fantasy consideration.
In Green Bay, Mike McCarthy named Dujuan Harris the starter at running back last week and Harris promptly went out and suffered a knee injury. All those who had already taken Eddie Lacy in their early drafts breathed a sigh of relief. He’ll now be the starter and is the most talented back on the roster.
In Denver, with Ronnie Hillman fumbling and Montee Ball looking so-so, the team is looking at going with Knowshon Moreno as its starting running back. But this could really be more of a committee situation. Moreno isn’t all that explosive as a runner, but he is the team’s best pass protector at running back, something that is important with Peyton Manning in the pocket. Don’t go crazy and bump Moreno way up your rankings, but he is worth late-round consideration. Do bump Hillman and Ball down a bit.
In San Francisco, with Kendall Hunter looking like he’s recovered from his season-ending Achilles’ tendon injury of last season, he’s assumed the No. 2 spot behind Frank Gore again, bumping LaMichael James to No. 3.
In Pittsburgh, LeVeon Bell’s mid-foot sprain has opened the door for Isaac Redman to take over the starting spot. The team really doesn’t trust Jonathan Dwyer, and though Redman has been a little banged up with a pinched nerve in his shoulder, he’s still ahead of Dwyer on the depth chart. In fact, if Felix Jones, picked up last week in a trade with Philadelphia, shows anything this week in the team’s fourth preseason game, Dwyer might not make the final roster. Bell, by the way, should return sometime in late September or early October. He’ll assume the starting role soon after he does.
In Miami, Lamar Miller gained 35 yards on eight carries last week, compared to three yards on seven carries for Daniel Thomas. Miller has also looked better in practices, so we can assume he holds onto the starting role, but Thomas will see some time as well. Don’t look at Miller as more than a No. 3 fantasy back with Thomas as an end-of-the roster guy.
In St. Louis, Daryl Richardson has been named the starting running back, which isn’t all that surprising considering the untested competition. He should see plenty of touches this year since we all know how much Jeff Fisher likes to run the ball. Look at him as a low-tier No. 2 back. Meanwhile, it’s Tayvon Austin and Chris Givens at the top of the depth chart at wide receiver. Both have plenty of speed to spare. Austin will be more of a hot name on draft day, but don’t forget about Givens, who could be a nice sleeper this season. He has a nice rapport with Sam Bradford.
In New England, the Kenbrell Thompkins was the star of the team’s training camp, and that’s carried over into the preseason games. He was targeted 12 times last week against the Lions. That’s Brandon Marshall-type stuff. Thompkins caught eight of those passes, including six for 93 yards from Tom Brady. The sleeper status is coming off of him.
In Oakland, an elbow injury has sidelined Matt Flynn, giving Terrelle Pryor all of the first-team reps in practice and a start in the final preseason game. Pryor outplayed Flynn against the Bears last week and head coach Dennis Allen declared the competition between the two still open. The injury to Flynn would seem to have settled that.
In Cincinnati, it didn’t begin as a training camp battle, but rookie Giovanni Bernard has looked better than Benjarvus Green-Ellis in the team’s preseason game. He might be a better fit in the team’s offense as a receiver as well. The Law Firm might continue to be listed as the starter, but look for Bernard to steal more playing time away from him and be the team’s top fantasy back.