Week 2 of the 2013 preseason has come and gone in the NFL, and with it we have a new batch of targets, touches and throws to examine.
Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns
3 targets—3 receptions, 42 yards, 2 touchdowns vs. Detroit Lions
One of the offseasons’s biggest sleepers can no longer be considered such.
Jordan Cameron no long has Ben Watson to contend with, making him the starting tight end in a revitalized Cleveland offense. Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner have doused the offense in kerosene and lit the match, at least if the first two preseason games are any indication. Outside Brandon Weeden, no player has been a bigger beneficiary than Cameron, who is the latest in former basketball players to invade the fantasy realm.
David Gettis, WR, Carolina Panthers
9 targets—5 receptions, 82 yards @ Eagles
The Panthers have a bit of a logjam at receiver behind Steve Smith developing. Brandon LaFell figures to be the No. 2 guy, but David Gettis is making some noise thus far in the preseason.
His 82-yard outing marks the second consecutive week the fourth-year pro has led the team in receiving. It might not mean much in the end—Gettis is more fighting for a roster spot than a starting gig—but he could become a deep sleeper if he keeps this up.
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Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots
7 targets—6 receptions, 71 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Buccaneers
Tom Brady and the Patriots were simply balefire during the relatively brief time the starters were in on offense. Danny Amendola showed us all just how much Brady will miss Wes Welker—nil.
At the pace Amendola piled up statistics, he would catch 384 passes for 4,544 yards and 64 touchdowns. That’s probably not going to happen, but it’s a good bet Amendola will surpass 100 catches if he can stay healthy. Therein lies the rub, however.
In a development that should surprise nobody, Amendola was actually injured in the game—he got whacked in the head on his final reception. Hopefully he will be fine, but it is this sort of inevitability—whether it is more superstition than reality or not—that mitigates Amendola’s value. He will put up big totals on a per-game basis, the question is whether he can get through more than half a season’s worth of games at full health.
Zach Sudfeld, TE, New England Patriots
4 targets—2 receptions, 32 yards, 1 touchdown; 2-point conversion
The hype continues to build for Zach Sudfeld, who has been lights out during training camp in his attempt to wear Rob Gronkowski’s massive shoes.
The Patriots might be in good hands with Sudfeld, whether or not Gronkowski misses any time during the regular season. Aaron Hernandez had some serious fantasy value as New England’s no. 2 tight end, after all.
Sudfeld is certainly worth a late-round look in all formats, but if his average draft position skyrockets, the relative value will dry up.
Nick Toon, WR, New Orleans Saints
2 targets—1 receptions, 56 yards vs. Raiders
Kenny Stills, WR, New Orleans Saints
4 targets—4 receptions, 64 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Raiders
The Saints need to fill a need at No. 3 receiver. Joe Morgan is out for the season, and Devery Henderson isn’t coming through that door.
Alright, Henderson might be coming through that door after being cut by the Redskins, but is he really that guy anymore? There is more upside already on the roster in the form of rookie Kenny Stills and second-year man Nick Toon.
The latter missed his rookie season with an injury, so he is a bit of an unknown. Stills is a rookie, also an unknown commodity. Given whoever wins the No. 3 job will be the fifth-best receiving option, you wouldn’t be drafting anything more than a boom-or-bust player who is likely to bust most weeks. Be wary.
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers
9 touches—9 carries, 45 yards @ Bears
Would you look at that? Ryan Mathews has made it through not one, but two weeks of preseason action unscathed.
Mathews once again looked pretty good in game action against a tough Bears defense, carrying the ball nine times for an average of 5.0 yards per carry. Is he returning to his rookie form? If he is, then you are getting a top-10 back in the fifth round or later.
Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions
13 touches—8 rushes, 15 yards; 5 receptions, 44 yards @ Browns
The Lions haven’t exactly had a good preseason on offense, but we might have caught a glimpse into just how valuable Reggie Bush will be in the fantasy realm last week.
His five-reception night on a limited workload was Marshall Faulk-esque, though expecting that kind of production on a regular basis would be going overboard. Bush hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations since coming into the league.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
11 touches—8 carries, 47 yards, 1 touchdown; 3 receptions, 16 yards vs. Panthers
If “ankles broken” was a fantasy statistic, LeSean McCoy might lead the league in that department.
Shady was simply sizzling against the Panthers. His scintillating scamper through the Carolina defense was the highlight of the Thursday night slate of games, a 28-yard run where he looked like a human joystick. Whoever is at quarterback—Michael Vick looks to be the man at this point—will have McCoy to utilize as a cheat code.
McCoy is going to have a great year. If you have the top pick in your draft, it wouldn’t be crazy to take him.
Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos
13 touches—13 carries, 34 yards, 1 fumble @Seahawks
Montee Ball, RB, Denver Broncos
7 touches—6 carries, 28 yards; 1 reception, -1 yards @ Seahawks
The battle for Denver’s starting gig at running back is ongoing, but it was almost a race to the bottom against the Seahawks for Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball.
Hillman got the better of Ball in terms of playing time, but his pair of fumbles—including one in the end zone—and general ineffectiveness were not good looks for the second-year back. Ball didn’t have much better luck in pass-blocking, getting Peyton Manning crushed on a couple of occasions.
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins
6 touches—5 carries, 10 yards, 1 touchdown; 2 receptions, 3 yards @ Texans
Daniel Thomas, RB, Miami Dolphins
5 touches—4 carries, 20 yards; 1 reception, 27 yards @ Texans
This is a rather dismal line from a running back many are expecting to break out this season. But it is a sign of trouble?
Stats never lie, but Miller’s line belies the truth in this case. He was the victim of terrible offensive line play in multiple ways. The line was called for holding on his two biggest plays of the night, and it resembled Swiss cheese on most of his other touches.
He finally got into the end zone on his final carry, lest his stat line look exponentially worse. On the flip side, Daniel Thomas has actually looked halfway decent in the past two games. Could there be something to this whole timeshare thing?
Thomas hasn’t shown any upside thus far in his career, so it’s hard to believe he will actually keep his share of the work. But this could be a thorn in the side of Miller owners if it persists.
Brandon Weeden, QB, Cleveland Browns
12 throws—8 completion, 117 yards, 2 touchdowns
“He isn’t draftable unless you play in a two-quarterback league, but he could certainly be a serviceable bye-week fill-in if this wasn’t a fluke.” - Targets, Touches and Throws, Preseason Week 1
Well, last week wasn’t a fluke, if preseason performances are to be taken seriously. Weeden has looked sharper than a Cutco knife in his two preseason starts, sparking fantasy interest where there once was none.
Weeden is starting to garner some real attention, but he is still not worth a draft pick in a standard league. Until he proves it in the regular season—and others ahead of him falter—he is nothing more than a waiver wire pick. His preseason performances have been eye-catching, but beware the preseason hype.
Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
10 throws—9 completions, 105 yards, 1 interception; 3 carries, 20 yards vs. Panthers
Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
8 throws—6 completions, 53 yards, 1 interception; 2 carries, 13 yards, 1 touchdown vs. panthers
From a strictly fantasy football perspective, Nick Foles had a better night than Michael Vick. The second-year quarterback did well enough to elicit praise as a legitimate contender for the starting job in Philadelphia from the talking heads. But if that were the case, Vick wouldn’t have gotten the lion’s share of first-team snaps during the team’s next practice.
In reality, Foles played well, but Vick has played better. Foles’ interception in the end zone was far worse than Vick’s hail Mary pick at the end of the first half. He only scored that touchdown run after LeSean McCoy shaked and baked his way inside the 10-yard line.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Buffalo Bills
21 throws—13 completions, 111 yards, 1 interception; 1 carry, 7 yards vs. Vikings
EJ Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills
12 throws—10 completions, 92 yards, 1 touchdown; 1 carry, 1 yards vs. Vikings
Last week’s nice debut for EJ Manuel didn’t mean he had the job locked down. The Bills had to give Kevin Kolb a fair shot after all, right?
Well, now that the laughter has died down after Kolb’s miserable performance, it’s pretty clear who will be starting for the Bills this season. That previous sentence was written before Manuel had unexpected knee surgery the day after the game.
Still, Manuel is expected to be back by the beginning of the season. He has shown enough to be the starter when he gets healthy.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins
15 throws—10 completions, 141 yards, 1 touchdown; 2 carries, 11 yards @ Texans
There has been a bit of hand-wringing in South Florida with the shaky manner in which Ryan Tannehill has started games this preseason. Those hands should be fine after Tannehill’s performance against the Texans.
The second-year quarterback was sharp from the beginning, completing seven of his first eight passes for 82 yards and a touchdown, the lone incompletion being a dropped pass by Lamar Miller. More importantly, we saw some chemistry between Tannehill and Miami’s $60 million man, Mike Wallace. The duo hooked up on three receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown, all on one drive.
With each passing preseason game, Tannehill looks stronger. The offense is starting to gel, though Dustin Keller was lost for the season. There is such a glut at quarterback, however, that Tannehill is only viable in two-quarterback or deep leagues.