Amongst the seasoned veterans tuning up for the regular season and young bucks looking to make a name there’s bound to be a glimpse of what we can see once the games start to count, or a bustout performance from a player previously buried on the depth chart. With that in mind, here’s a rundown of the more notable performances from the third weekend of exhibition games and what they might mean for fantasy owners.
Terrelle Pryor 7-9-93-1 passing, 4-37-1 rushing vs. Bears – Matt Flynn has done nothing this preseason to suggest he deserves the starting QB gig in Oakland, and Pryor’s performance earned him at minimum a start in the final exhibition game and a shot at stealing Flynn’s job. His mobility and athleticism are a necessity behind Oakland’s Veldheer-less offensive line; they might also allow him to help fantasy teams with both arm and feet.
Kenbrell Thompkins 8-116 vs. Lions – Danny Amendola didn’t play for the Patriots, leaving Tom Brady to test drive his remaining receivers. While Julian Edelman (3-18) played more snaps it was Thompkins and Aaron Dobson (4-50) who were more productive. Going forward expect Thompkins to serve as New England’s WR2, though it’s been a role with limited fantasy upside the past few seasons.
Ben Tate 11-74-1 vs. Saints – Early drafters who spent a high first-round pick on Arian Foster are still waiting to see their guy; meanwhile, Tate looked more than capable of handling Houston’s feature-back carries if necessary. You can also view Tate’s performance as an audition for his impending free agency this offseason.
Justin Blackmon 4-50-1 vs. Eagles – Assuming the Jags don’t go Rex Ryan on the bit and play regulars in the final fake game, Blackmon’s performance will have to tide you over for the month he’ll miss while suspended. It was a strong enough showing to reinforce that decision to stash Blackmon on your fantasy bench, or plant the seed to make a run at him later on should the Blackmon owner in your league struggle out of the gate.
Ryan Mathews 14-57-1 vs. Cardinals – Mathews’ fantasy stock has taken a beating this preseason; something about underachieving and failing to stay healthy. He managed to hold up for 14 carries in Week Three of the preseason, and looked pretty good doing so, which may drive him back into the low end of starting-back status during any drafts held during Fantasy Football Week in America.
Quinton Patton 4-35-1, Marlon Moore 3-32 vs. Vikings – You asked for Niners wide receivers to step up into the void created by Michael Crabtree’s injury; Patton and Moore delivered the most productive performances of that group to date. More importantly, each caught all but one of their balls from Colin Kaepernick during his short stint. In other words, Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin may just have some help.
David Wilson 5-92-1 rushing, 2-0 receiving – So what if Wilson shares carries with Andre Brown (7-17)? So what if he gained a total of eight yards the other six times he touched the ball? Wilson is a home-run hitter pure and simple, and his 84-yard touchdown sprint on the Giants’ first play from scrimmage reinforces that notion.
Roy Helu 13-70 rushing, 1-21 receiving – Injuries kept Helu from pushing for Washington’s starting gig last year. Now he’s healthy enough to give the Skins a change of pace option as well as a dynamic pass-catcher out of the backfield. No need for Alfred Morris owners to worry, though; it’s not like Mike Shanahan has a track record of switching his primary ball carrier on a whim.
Joseph Randle 16-66 vs. Bengals – The Cowboys have been itching to give Randle the backup job, and with Lance Dunbar dinged and Randle running like he did against Cincy that becomes a whole lot more justifiable. DeMarco Murray (12-51, 2-14-1 receiving) needs a handcuff, and at this juncture that handcuff is Randle.
Andre Johnson 7-131 vs. Saints – Maybe Andre was slipping down the fantasy draft board, so let his Week Three performance serve as a reminder that he still can play. And if Arian Foster is nicked, forcing the Texans to become a bit more of a passing team, Johnson may just have one more elite season left in the tank before turning the reins over to DeAndre Hopkins.