NFL Preseason Week 3 Recap: Fantasy Football Impact and Analysis
We are officially in the prime drafting period for fantasy football leagues. Clear starters most likely won’t see much of the field in Week 4 of the preseason, as it’s the final shot for players on the bubble to prove they deserve a spot on 53-man rosters.
Here’s a position-by-position look at the fantasy impact of Week 3 of the preseason as we head down the final stretch towards the regular-season kickoff.
Note: All player ADPs are from 4for4’s Multi-site ADP tool.
Jay Cutler’s triumphant return: In his first game back from his “broadcasting career”, Cutler looked surprisingly efficient. In slightly more than one quarter of play, the former Bears quarterback threw for 105 yards and a score, including a 72-yard rope to Davante Parker. While you may not be interested in drafting Cutler as your fantasy QB, this game should give Parker a jump in ADP, as his obvious chemistry with Cutler shows real potential.
Matthew Stafford remains a rock: He may not be sexy under center, but Stafford has finished the past two seasons in the top 10 and is on track for another productive year. The Lions quarterback was on point (15-22, 190 yards, 2 TDs), especially on the final drive of the first half. He threw to four different receivers, culminating in a 23-yard TD strike to Marvin Jones. Stafford's current ADP is QB14, which is a tad low in my opinion.
No pink slip for Blake Bortles, at least not this week: It seems that Bortles has been named the starter once again in Jacksonville, but he didn’t exactly do much to earn it. The decision seems to be more about what Chad Henne wasn’t able to show on the field. Henne played the entire first half, completing 8-of-14 passes for 73 yards, taking several sacks while releasing the ball a beat slow. Back to Bortles it is. Drafters: enjoy your garbage time production, because it’s coming.
Scott Tolzien played his way to a starting role if Andrew Luck’s sidelined for Week 1: Fighting off Stephen Morris for most of training camp, it seems that Tolzien’s performance Saturday night was solid enough to earn the start if Luck’s surgically repaired shoulder is a no-go for the season opener. Seventh-year quarterback Tolzien completed 7-of-10 passes for 123 yards against the Steelers first-team defense, leading two long scoring drives.
It looks like Jamal Charles has done enough to make the final roster: We finally got a chance to see the former Chiefs running back in a Denver uniform, and he showed us that he’s not quite ready for the pasture. Charles (4-27 rushing, 2-15 receiving) showcased his vintage explosiveness, and for now, is being undervalued as RB50. Broncos’ starter C.J. Anderson had a mixed bag of a game, but did rip off a 16-yard TD run in the first quarter.
Ty Montgomery’s three carries for 31 yards included a 25-yard run and a TD: Did Montgomery validate his elevated ADP of RB17? The jury’s still out on that, but I’m cautiously optimistic that in PPR formats he’ll be worth the late-fourth-round price tag. Rookie Aaron Jones looks like he may assume some of the third-down back duties for Green Bay after a productive 6-43 line.
After finally earning the feature-back title, Spencer Ware is out in 2017 due to a knee injury: Ware’s right knee will keep him off the field this season, so rookie Kareem Hunt should get the nod, along with a swift jolt to his current RB39 ADP. Hunt is a solid pass-catching option out of the backfield and should also get most of the carries. Charcandrick West and C.J. Spiller should see some work in relief of Hunt and could make for nice late-round fliers in deeper leagues.
Eddie Lacy and rookie Chris Carson shared carries with Seattle’s first team offense: Lacy‘s first carry went for 11 yards as he bounced off two tackles, showing his signature physical style of running. Carson rushed eight times for 46 yards and caught two balls for another 44 yards. Carson most likely earned a spot on the Seahawks roster, but it will take an injury to Thomas Rawls or C.J Prosise to really give him a shot at a meaningful role this season.
Not so breaking news: In the event you were hiking the Appalachian Trail or at the top of Machu Picchu and missed the news, Julian Edelman suffered a season ending ACL injury in the first quarter of Friday night’s game versus the Lions. With the Patriots, you never know how the targets will fall, but Chris Hogan’s rise in production was immediate (4-70-2). Danny Amendola has made his money in the slot before and could be called upon again. Other offensive weapons like Brandin Cooks, Dion Lewis, and James White could also snag some of the targets that are now up for grabs.
John Brown: What quad injury? Brown led the Cardinals in receiving versus Atlanta in the third preseason game, posting 49 yards and 2 TDs. In the week leading up to this game, Brown's quad was a concern and his ADP had dipped 23 spots, from the early-ninth to the late-tenth round. Brown appears healthy and ready to contribute as the Arizona's No. 2 receiver behind Larry Fitzgerald.
Cameron Meredith became a member of the season ending knee injury club, too on Sunday: Carts were busy this weekend in the NFL, as there were a plethora of bad injuries around the league. It’s unclear who will get the majority of Meredith’s targets, but his injury puts both Kevin White (ADP WR62) and Kendall Wright on the fantasy radar in Chicago.
Kyle Shanahan + Marquise Goodwin could be a good thing: After injuries kept Goodwin off the field in Buffalo, a fresh start in San Francisco may be just what he needs. The former track Olympian caught a 46-yard TD strike from Brian Hoyer, a hopeful indication that Shanahan intends to speed up the 49ers offense this season. Goodwin’s current ADP is WR98—as in free if you want to roll the dice on him in 2017.
Denver’s tight end situation is as murky as it’s been for the entire offseason: Virgil Green got the first-team reps and caught two balls for 30 yards, while A.J. Derby went 1-for-6, and Jeff Heuerman failed to catch his lone target. It appears Green will be the starter, but he is in the mix primarily for his blocking ability. I’d steer clear of Broncos tight ends until rookie Jake Butt is cleared to play, which could coincide with the fantasy playoffs.
Jason Witten won’t let a little thing called age stop him: The 15th-year tight end led the Cowboys in receiving Saturday night, hauling in 6 receptions for 74 yards, including a 10-yard TD against the Raiders defense. Witten’s current ADP is hovering around the 11th round as the TE14. The 35-year old consistently produces year after year, and makes a really nice value play TE again this season.
Jordan Reed’s toe appears to be ready for action: Drafting Reed always comes with a certain risk, as the Washington tight end is as talented as he is injury-prone. Reed's placement on the PUP list for a sprained left toe during training camp was a bit of a surprise, but Reed was active for their third preseason tilt against the Bengals. After a month on the sideline, the fifth-year tight end had two catches for 12 yards—just enough for us to see that he is indeed healthy and worth his TE3 ADP.
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