Preseason Week 4; The Takeaway

Preseason Week 4; The Takeaway


Atlanta 14, Jacksonville 24


Jaquizz Rodgers is one of a handful of players who has risen from the ashes to have serious fantasy relevance. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars Rodgers took first team reps including a 5 yard touchdown run around the edge while breaking down the safety. Rodgers is a must handcuff to the fading Michael Turner, but also worth a late round flier even if you don’t land Turner.


One of a number of teams who opened the game with their first string offense on the field, while playing into the second quarter.  It’s worth recognizing that Blaine Gabbert spread the ball around to multiple players, but targeted heavily both Mike Thomas and Justin Blackmon. Blackmon is the receiver to own.

Rashad Jennings had a tough go with 11 carries for a meager 34 yards. With Maurice Jones-Drew’s prolonged absence, Jennings has serious value after being named the week one starter, and beyond. Jalen Parmele filled in for Jennings ripping of a few big runs adding a 14 yard touchdown.


Detroit 38, Buffalo 32


The Lions wanted to put their newest running back on full display giving Mikel Leshoure 15 carries.  Leshoure found it tough running only able to muster 43 yards but did mange a short yardage touchdown after a Bills turnover down near the goal line.

I shouldn’t need to inform you that Stafford and Calvin Johnson are really good, but I can’t help myself. The two connected for a 24 yard touchdown on the Lions opening drive.  The Bills had excellent coverage on the play with two defenders blanketing Johnson.  But that didn’t stop Stafford from throwing the pass, nor did they stop Calvin from catching the pass. Owners of both players should be store for another outstanding season.


CJ Spiller kick started the Bills opening drive running between the tackles while gaining big yardage. Spiller also put on display the same elusive running style that landed him as a first round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Make sure handcuff Spiller to Fred Jackson.

Ryan Fitzpatrick and Steve Johnson finally got on the same page connecting for a back of the endzone touchdown on a fade pattern. Johnson is being drafted as a high end WR3, which is excellent value.


Kansas city 3, Green Bay 24


The Chiefs offense came out of the gate running, running and running some more. Peyton Hillis continues to take the first carry of the game, then giving way to Jamal Charles. Hillis nearly doubled Charles yards per carry in the game as the KC backfield is certainly headed for a 50-50 time share. Hillis is the better value because he is a much later selection. My only concern with both players is the continued presence of 3rd stringer Shaun Droughn running with the first team offense. It is hard enough getting solid fantasy production in a two-headed RBBC as Droughn only adds to the confusion.


Oddly the Packers opened this game with all their starters on the field as Rodgers threw a terrible interception negated by a Chiefs penalty. Over the three preseason games we have noticed the Packers offense has been inconsistent, but I’m not worried.

We should note that Cedric Benson took all the first team carries but also left the game once the starters were pulled.  This is a clear indication the Packers view Benson as the lead ball carrier entering the new season.


Tampa Bay 3, Washington 30


The Bucs are one of a handful of teams who started their entire third string offense. I couldn’t find one single tidbit of useful information to relay.


Last week we witnessed Alfred Morris put together an impressive 107 yard performance against the Colts defense. In typical Shannahan fashion, this week it was running back Evan Royster starting for the Skins.  Royster performed well including 44 yards and a short yardage plunge for a touchdown.  Soon after Roy Helu Jr entered the game.  Helu also ran with speed and conviction tearing through Tampa’s third string defense for 90 yards and 2 touchdowns.  At this point no Skins running back should be trusted, in typical Shanahan fashion.


 New York Jets 10, Philadelphia 28


What do you know, the Jets finally punched in an offensive touchdown. Unfortunately it was New York’s third quarterback Greg McElroy engineering the team’s lone preseason scoring drive.

This game was further proof that neither Joe McKnight nor Bilal Powell has separated himself from Shonn Greene. Now ensured 15 plus touches per game, Greene should be viewed as a very low end RB2.


Yet another of those teams who sat every draftable fantasy player. Nick Foles journey to become the Eagles second string quarterback was solidified after another solid performance thus providing reassurance to those who draft DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.  Chris Polk also took hold of this opportunity and likely locked down the 3rd string running back role after 14 carries for 61 yards


Miami 13, Dallas 30


Miami’s newest quarterback Ryan Tannehill opened the game under center, but only played the opening two series with mediocre production. No member of the Miami passing game is worthy of owning.

Daniel Thomas took the start at running back carrying the ball 5 times for 31 yards. Most of his production came on one good run, otherwise averaging 3 yards a carry. Thomas is only merits a roster spot as a Reggie Bush handcuff, at best.


Identical to the Bucs, not a single fantasy worthy player took the field for the Cowboys. Nothing to see here, move along.


New Orleans 6, Tennesee 10


It should be no surprise that the Saints placed their first string players firmly on the bench.  What we did witness was the continued presence of running backs Travaris Cadet and Chris Ivory.  Trade rumors have surrounded Ivory, but it was Cadet taking a majority of the Saints carries with moderate production including a lost fumble. Ivory only faired just slightly better. I would argue the Saints have the best set of runningbacks in the league top to bottom.


Jake Locker’s stellar performance continued, playing much better than his 81 yards would suggest. Locker stands tall in the pocket and doesn’t look to run until the play breaks down, but when he does his legs make him a potent threat for big gains and rushing touchdowns. He is a mid QB2 with spot start potential.

Titans backup running back position remains a mystery as Javon Ringer took only 6 carries before giving way to Darious Reynaud and Jamie Harper.  The confusion comes in the midst of solid running from Reynaud and Harper. If preseason is an indicator, Reynaud should pass Rigner to emerge as the Chris Johnson handcuff. However, the Titans depth suggest otherwise.


New England 3, New York Giants 6


Yet another team with no first or second string players present. As the score indicates, absolutely nothing we can detract from this game to aid our fantasy teams.


Unlike many of the veteran teams, the Giants threw out nearly their entire starting unit, playing into the 2nd quarter. I suspect the Giants wanted to utilize this game to get Hakeem Nicks back into the flow of football as Manning hooked up with both he and Cruz for one reception before calling it quits.

Last week running back David Wilson carried the ball 5 times for 49 yards.  This week it was a paltry 5 carries for 13 yards. This is still Bradshaw’s job when he returns as Wilson only has upside as a handcuff, or should Bradshaw succumb to injury.


Cincinnati 16, Indianapolis 20


Andy Dalton and AJ Green played one series connecting on a short yardage play. Dalton was later hit in the hand and walked to the sidelines trying to shake off the pain. Reports have surfaced that he will be good-to-go for week 1.

Cedric Peerman and Brian Leonard once again filled in for the injured BenJarvis Green-Ellis.  Peerman looks to be the more prototypical running back, but that could a repercussion of Leonard wearing the big number 40. Let’s just hope the “Law Firm” is back on the field week one.


Donald Brown was the primary ball carrier for the Colts on the opening possession but quickly gave way to Vick Ballard.  A strong downhill runner Ballard added two long runs negated by penalties away from the play. Ballard looks to have passed the injured Delone Carter as the primary handcuff to Brown, and a strong indication of a devloping RBBC.


Baltimore 17, St. Louis 31


Displaying excellent power and speed Bernard Pierce has officially become the Ray Rice handcuff. Don’t sleep on this guy if you own Rice as Pierce is worthy of a roster spot to secure your stud.


The Rams are one of the few teams who played their entire starting lineup well into the 2nd quarter. That included Steven Jackson who is a man amongst boys against the Chiefs second string defense tearing off big runs.

Backup running back Daryl Richardson has displayed a similar downhill running style to S-Jax with excellent hands out of the backfield. Even the great Marshall Faulk was raving about Richardson on the broadcast. His performance must have lit a fire under Isaiah Pead because instead of dancing in the backfield, Pead finally ran with toughness and determination. I was starting to believe that Richardson had ripped away the backup role from Pead, but now I’m confused. Week one of the regular season will tell us more.

Sam Bradford has been puzzling this preseason. A solid game in week 2 against KC, a poor game week 3 against Dallas and now another solid performance this week including 3 touchdown passes. Steve Smith and Danny Amendola remains the primary beneficiary of Bradford’s targets as offseason sleeper Brian Quick has fallen out of the picture, for now.


Carolina 16, Pittsburgh 17


In an attempt to earn a job third string running back Tyron Poole took advantage of his playing time running with explosion and power. He obviously has zero fantasy value, but fun to watch.

Every year we witness a handful of kickers rise from obscurity to fantasy stardom. This year’s candidate will be Justin Medlock who pushed out the veteran Olindo Mare. Not yet draftable, however should Medlock start the season hot an opportunistic fantasy owner would make the quick switch.


It was backup running back Jonathan Dwyer’s day to shine in the Steelers backfield.  Dwyer is a nimble runner for a big man, but also capable of lowering the boom and grinding out tough yardage.  He should be rostered in every league and must handcuff should you land Isaac Redman.

Emmanuel Sanders is having a solid preseason adding a great over the shoulder catch for a touchdown after splitting two defenders. Sanders only has value should Mike Wallace falter.

On a side note; backup running back Chris Rainey had two long kick returns for touchdowns called back due to penalties. It’s worth noting for two reasons; 1) Antonio Brown may be relieved of kick return duties further increasing his skyrocketing value, and 2) the increased value of the Pittsburgh’s DST with a potent return game.


Minnesota 24, Houston 28


I came away from this game thinking “Matt Asiata looks to have locked down the 3rd string run job in Minnesota bruising his way to 43 yards on seven carries”. Evidently the Vikings had other plans moving the power running back to their practice squad.


Without Percy Harvin and Jerome Simpson in the lineup it was Devin Aromashadu having himself a nice game. Aromashadu would only have limited value in the absence of Simpson and Harvin.


You know it’s going to be a good season for the Houston run game when Justin Forsett rips a 52 yard scamper on the very first run play.  Forsett capped the drive with a 4 yard score and finished the day with 13 carries for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns. Arian Foster owners must be drooling right now.


Chicago 28, Cleveland 20


Yet another team that did not have a single fantasy worthy player on the field. Dane Sanzenbacher made a sick one handed catch for a touchdown with a defender draped all over him. It made for a nice ESPN highlight.


I’m convinced that whoever leads the Browns receiving core in targets will emerge as a viable fantasy WR3.  That player was Josh Gordon once again. Although Greg Little is gaining a majority of attention in the media, in three of the four preseason games it was Gordon becoming the featured wide receiver. My money is on Gordon (literally because I drafted him).

Montario Hardesty remains the starting tailback for the Browns and later replaced by Brandon Jackson. Jackson looked good, but was helped by missed tackles and good offensive line play opening up nice holes in the Bears third string defensive line. Many reports have Hardesty losing touches to Jackson, but I don’t see it.


San Diego 3, San Francisco 36


It’s never a good sign when a veteran team’s entire first string offense is on the field week four of the preseason, but the Chargers have struggled mightily. . San Diego should have picked apart the 9ers second string defense, but instead it was Phillip Rivers throwing a terrible interception. Newcomer Robert Meachem has yet to grab hold of the #1 wide receiver position. Other than Antonio Gates, I’m avoiding all Charger’s players this season.

Ronnie Brown will likely enter the regular season as the Chargers “feature” running back. He is merely a handcuff holding the position until Ryan Mathews returns.


It was Kendall Hunter starting in the 49ers backfield once again, but it was Anthony Dixon scoring a short yardage touchdown. Both Dixon and Hunter had another solid performance only adding to the confusion of the fantasy value of the 49ers running game.

The development of Colin Kaepernick is leaps and bounds better from preseason game one to game four after putting up 158 yards and two touchdowns. We must recognize the coverage was from the Chargers second string defense was less than ordinary.


Oakland 3, Seattle 21


The confusion of who will back up injury prone Darren McFadden didn’t get any easier as both Taiwan Jones and Mike Goodson split opening carries. Both have different running styles and are serviceable if Run DMC misses action. However, we should anticipate an RBBC in the event of a DMC injury.


There is no doubt about it, Robert Turbin is the Hawks primary backup and a must handcuff should Marshawn Lynch land on your fantasy team. A strong back, Turbin gets downhill in a hurry powering out tough yardage.

Don’t sleep on the Seattle defense as even the second and third string unit is dominant while flying to the football completely shutting down the Raiders offensive attack.


Denver 16, Arizona 13


Knowshon Moreno gets the start for the Broncos having a solid performance gaining 49 yards on 7 carries. Moreno is not a favorite of John Elway and will be buried on the depth chart at the fourth running back position.

How can it be that Rod Smith’s number 80 is not retired in Denver? That is a damn travesty.


How about Beanie Wells taking seven carries for 35 yards? This would indicate that Ryan Williams is the projected starter entering the season, but also could be the Cardinals getting Wells some touches after a prolonged absence during the preseason. Consider this situation an RBBC until further notice.

About Eric Hartvigson