Preseason Week 2 Notes
New England Patriots at Philadelphia Eagles
Patriots QB Cam Newton got the start for the 2nd straight preseason game and was sharp. He finished 8 of 9 for 103 yards and a TD to WR Jakobi Meyers in 3 series. QB Mac Jones played the next 4 possessions, completing 13 of 19 passes for 146 yards, 0 TDs and 0 INTs. The rookie earned a strong 93.2 passing grade from Pro Football Focus. Newton finished with a solid 85.5 grade.
Patriots RB snaps with Newton and the 1st-team offense:
Damien Harris - 8
James White - 5
Sony Michel - 4
Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson stuffed the stat sheet for the 2nd straight game, carrying 15 times for 66 yards and 2 scores. But he once again got 0 snaps with the starters -- and he also lost a fumble. The rookie still has work to do to be a fantasy factor this year.
Jakobi Meyers led Patriots WRs with 15 snaps (out of 17) with Newton and the 1st-team offense. WR Nelson Agholor was next with 14 snaps. Both guys ran a pass route on all 9 of Newton’s drop back. They look like New England’s top 2 WRs heading into Week 1.
Eagles QB Jalen Hurts was a late scratch with abdominal pain, but “starting” QB Joe Flacco played the entire 1st half (30 snaps).
Eagles WR snaps with Flacco
Quez Watkins - 30 (25 in the slot)
DeVonta Smith - 26 (0 slot)
Jalen Reagor - 22 (2 slot)
Multiple Eagles beat writers said after this game that they expect Smith, Watkins and Reagor to be the top 3 WRs to open the season. It looks like it’ll primarily be Smith and Reagor on the outside, with Smith in the slot.
Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes played 32 snaps in this one. He was a bit sluggish, completing 10 of 18 passes for 78 yards, 0 TDs and 1 INT. No worries, though. It's Patrick Mahomes.
Chiefs WR snaps with Mahomes:
Mecole Hardman - 29
Demarcus Robinson - 26
Byron Pringle - 20
Marcus Kemp - 5
Mecole Hardman finished with a 4-39-1 line -- but 2 of his catches and the TD came from QB Chad Henne. Hardman caught just 2 of 6 targets from Mahomes. And before you get excited about the snap count, note that Tyreek Hill was out. We know the Chiefs view Hardman as a Hill handcuff. But it remains unclear just how much playing time he’ll get alongside Hill. Hardman played only in 3-WR sets in the 1st preseason game.
Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire played the first 5 snaps before suffering what HC Andy Reid called a “slight” ankle sprain. Stay tuned to Shark Bites for updates on the injury. In limited action this preseason, Edwards-Helaire has looked like Kansas City’s feature back.
Chiefs RB Darrel Williams played every snap on the 1st series after Edwards-Helaire exited. Williams then entered the concussion protocol. But, once cleared, he looks like the handcuff to CEH.
Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and the 1st-team offense had three 3-and-outs before calling it a night. "I don't think it's miscommunication as much as it's getting on the same page getting out there, live bullets, time on task,” HC Kliff Kingsbury said afterward.
Snap counts on Murray’s 9 snaps …
Chase Edmonds - 7
James Conner - 3
WR snaps (DeAndre Hopkins was held out):
Rondale Moore - 9
Christian Kirk - 9
A.J. Green - 8
KeeSean Johnson - 1
Rondale Moore has now played 44 of 47 preseason snaps (94%) in the slot. Christian Kirk has played 14 of 16 (88%) on the outside. It sure looks like Moore is Arizona’s starting slot receiver, leaving Kirk and A.J. Green to battle for the other spot in 3-WR sets.
Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Football Team
The big story for the Bengals in this one was WR Ja’Marr Chase’s 3 drops. The rookie has also reportedly struggled with drops in camp. He seems to be shaking off some (or a lot) of rust after opting out of the 2020 season. His hands weren’t a problem at LSU, though, so we’re not overly concerned.
Chase did play 9 of 11 snaps with the 1st-team offense. He’s now played 15 of 17 snaps (88%) with the starters through 2 preseason games. WR Tee Higgins has played 16 of 17 (94%) and WR Tyler Boyd 13 of 17 (76%).
Washington’s RB usage was similar this week to what we saw in the opener. RB Antonio Gibson played 13 of 23 snaps (57%) with the 1st-team offense. But he was pulled for RB J.D. McKissic in obvious passing situations. Per NBC Sports’ John Daigle, Gibson has played just 1 of 9 3rd downs through 2 preseason games; McKissic has played 7. Gibson has racked up 5 targets on 24 preseason snaps, so Washington is clearly scheming him the ball in the passing game. But he’ll need to take over that 3rd-down role in order to hit his ceiling this season.
Washington TE Logan Thomas played all 23 snaps with starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and ran a route on 13 of Fitzpatrick’s 14 drop backs (93%). Thomas is a strong bet for TE1 production with that type of usage.
Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears
QB Josh Allen and WRs Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley didn’t play for the Bills.
Bills RB Devin Singletary played all 10 snaps on the team’s 1st possession and out-snapped RB Zack Moss 21 to 12 with what amounted to the 1st-team offense. Singletary took 2 carries for 21 yards, highlighted by this impressive TD. Moss finished with 4 carries for 21 yards. It’s possible that Buffalo wanted to limit Moss’ snaps after he missed a few days with a hamstring injury in mid-August. But it’s also possible that Singletary opens the season as the lead back.
The Bears held RB David Montgomery, WR Allen Robinson and TE Cole Kmet out of this one. WR Darnell Mooney played just 2 snaps. So there are no usage takeaways here.
Bears QB Andy Dalton got the start and played the entire 1st half. He finished 11 of 17 for 146 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT -- but most of his damage came on a 73-yard score to WR Rodney Adams that was actually a tad underthrown. Outside of that, Dalton totaled just 73 yards on 4.6 yards per attempt.
Bears QB Justin Fields played the entire 2nd half, completing 9 of 19 passes for 80 yards, 0 TDs and 0 INTs. He made numerous plays with his legs, finishing with 46 yards on 4 carries. It’s clear to us who Chicago’s best option is at QB, but HC Matt Nagy said again after this game that Dalton will start Week 1.
New York Jets at Green Bay Packers
Jets QB Zach Wilson was sharp in this one. The rookie completed 9 of 11 passes for 128 yards and 2 TDs in slightly less than 1 half of action. Wilson was decisive, accurate and clearly has NFL-caliber arm strength.
Jets RB Michael Carter played 0 snaps with Zach Wilson and the 1st-team offense. RB Tevin Coleman got the start and played 10 of 19 snaps with Wilson. RB Ty Johnson played the other 9.
Jets WR Elijah Moore missed this game with his quad injury. But it was WR Jeff Smith -- not WR Keelan Cole -- that started alongside WRs Corey Davis and Jamison Crowder. Cole got 0 snaps with Wilson and is undraftable despite some early-summer buzz.
Corey Davis was targeted on 6 of Zach Wilson’s 11 throws in this one. He’s now hogged 50% of Wilson’s targets through 2 preseason games. Elijah Moore, of course, has missed both of those games. But Davis is looking like a strong volume bet at his relatively cheap ADP in fantasy drafts.
Don’t overrate Jets TE Tyler Kroft’s 2-TD game. Kroft (9) and TE Chris Herndon (11) split snaps with Zach Wilson. Kroft might be the Jets’ lead pass-catching TE this season, but he’s not an exciting fantasy option.
The Packers sat QB Aaron Rodgers, RB Aaron Jones and WRs Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb.
Baltimore Ravens at Carolina Panthers
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, WRs Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman and TE Mark Andrews did not play.
Ravens RB snaps with the 1st-team offense:
Gus Edwards - 10
J.K. Dobbins - 8
Gus Edwards carried 4 times for 28 yards; J.K. Dobbins 4 times for 8 yards. Neither was targeted in the passing game. Dobbins remains the better fantasy bet here -- but this is a reminder that Edwards will be heavily involved.
QB Sam Darnold made his Panthers debut in this one but played just 7 snaps. RB Christian McCaffrey and WR D.J. Moore did not play.
Panthers WR Terrace Marshall was on the field for all 7 of Darnold’s snaps and remained in the game into the 2nd quarter. The rookie was impressive again, hauling in all 3 of his targets for 50 yards. Highlight him as a priority late-round sleeper.
Panthers TE Ian Thomas out-snapped TE Dan Arnold 7 to 4 with the 1st-team offense. Thomas ran a route on both of Darnold’s drop backs, while Arnold was in a route for 1 of the 2. This remains a situation to avoid in fantasy.
Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins
The Falcons sat all their big names in this one.
Falcons RB Qadree Ollison dominated snaps with what amounted to the 1st-team offense, so it looks like he’s #2 on the depth chart.
Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa completed 16 of 23 passes for 183 yards, 1 TD and 0 INTs in 1 half of action. And that was despite WRs Will Fuller and DeVante Parker sitting out. Tua has now completed 71% of his passes and averaged 8.3 yards per attempt through 2 preseason games. He looks ready to take a 2nd-year leap.
A week after Malcolm Brown led Dolphins RBs in 1st-team snaps, he was 3rd in line in this one.
RB snaps with Tagovailoa:
Myles Gaskin - 19
Salvon Ahmed - 13
Malcolm Brown - 5
RB pass routes with Tagovailoa:
Gaskin - 8
Ahmed - 8
Brown - 0
Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers
Lions WR Tyrell Williams didn’t play in this one. Breshad Perriman and Quintez Cephus operated as Detroit’s top 2 WRs, both playing 21 of 22 snaps with the 1st-team offense. Rookie WR Amon-Ra St. Brown only hit the field in 3-WR sets, playing 11 of 22 snaps. He’ll struggle for reliable fantasy value unless that usage changes.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger played 3 series, completing 8 of 10 passes for 137 yards, including 2 pinpoint lasers to TE Pat Freiermuth for scores. It was an encouraging showing from Big Ben.
In case you were still wondering whether Steelers RB Najee Harris will be a workhorse this season … he played 15 of Roethlisberger’s 16 snaps, only coming off the field for 1 play after a 46-yard catch and run. Harris has played 82% of the 1st-team snaps over the past 2 weeks.
Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth was on the receiving end of both of Roethlisberger’s TDs. Note, though, that the rookie played on just 4 of Roethlisberger’s 16 snaps and ran a route on only 3 of 10 drop backs. Both of those rates will need to come way up before we can consider Freiermuth a reliable fantasy option.
Tennessee Titans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Titans sat QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Derrick Henry and WRs A.J. Brown and Julio Jones.
The Bucs didn’t play any of their big names either, resting QB Tom Brady, RBs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones, WRs Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown and TE Rob Gronkowski.
Bucs TE O.J. Howard got significant action, playing 27 snaps and running 16 routes. He caught just 3 of 6 targets, though, and had 2 drops. He’s clearly still shaking off the rust after last October’s torn Achilles.
It was Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Gio Bernard as Tampa’s 1st-team backfield. Bernard played every 3rd down -- just like last week -- and was also on the field in the 2-minute offense. He appears locked in as the Bucs’ pass-catching back.
Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys
Texans RB snaps with starting QB Tyrod Taylor:
Mark Ingram - 6
Phillip Lindsay - 4
David Johnson - 3
Ingram and Lindsay split the early-down work, with Johnson playing on 3rd downs. RB Rex Burkhead played only with the 2nd-team offense.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott didn’t play, but Dallas’ top 3 WRs did. Snaps:
CeeDee Lamb - 15 (8 in the slot)
Amari Cooper - 13 (2 slot)
Michael Gallup - 11 (1 slot)
Expect to see similar usage when the real games start.
Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz out-snapped TE Blake Jarwin 12 to 10 with the 1st-team offense. But Jarwin ran 5 routes on 8 drop backs vs. Schultz’s 4. This is looking like a committee at least to open the season -- but Jarwin is the preferred fantasy option.
Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings
Both Colts QBs struggled. Sam Ehlinger got the start but completed 8 of 13 passes for 70 yards, 0 TDs and 2 INTs on 5 possessions. Jacob Eason played the final 8 possessions, finishing 16 of 27 for 132 yards, 0 TDs and 0 INTs. Luckily, it sounds like QB Carson Wentz is trending toward being ready for Week 1.
Colts WR T.Y. Hilton sat this one out. WR snaps with Ehlinger:
Michael Pittman - 21
Zach Pascal - 20
Parris Campbell - 12
Parris Campbell has only played in 3-WR sets through 2 preseason games. And he curiously played the majority of his snaps on the outside in this game. It was Zach Pascal in the slot when the Colts went 3 wide. So, at this point, it’s unclear who will be joining Michael Pittman and T.Y. Hilton in 3-WR sets come the regular season.
The Vikings didn’t play RB Dalvin Cook or WR Justin Jefferson. WR Adam Thielen left after just 4 snaps with a thigh bruise.
Vikings TE Irv Smith played all 15 of QB Kirk Cousins’ snaps and ran a route on 8 of 9 drop backs. That’s strong usage -- but it’s worth noting that TE Tyler Conklin was out with his hamstring injury.
Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Rams
The Raiders didn’t play any fantasy-relevant players.
The Rams also rested most of their notables.
Rams RB Jake Funk drew the start over RB Xavier Jones. Both guys carried 7 times, but Funk out-gained Jones 56 to 29. Funk is leading Jones in both Pro Football Focus rushing grade and Elusive Rating through 2 preseason games. It sure seems like there’s still a battle for the #2 spot on the Rams depth chart.
Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks
Both Broncos QBs played well. Teddy Bridgewater got the start, completing 9 of 11 passes for 105 yards and 1 TD, highlighted by a 35-yard completion to Jerry Jeudy to convert a 4th-and-5. Drew Lock then came on to go 9-of-14 for 80 yards on 3 drives that produced FGs. HC Vic Fangio has yet to name his Week 1 starter, but most of the Denver media expects it to be Bridgewater.
Broncos TE Noah Fant didn’t hit the stat sheet, but his usage was encouraging. He played 21 of 23 snaps (91%) with Bridgewater and ran a route on 8 of 11 drop backs (73%).
With RB Melvin Gordon out again, RB Javonte Williams got the start. Like last week, though, Williams rotated with RB Royce Freeman, who played the majority of 3rd downs. Williams also had a bad drop on a pass that would have converted a 3rd and 1. The rookie should open the season with a significant ball-carrying role but will likely lose passing-down work to Gordon.
The Seahawks sat QB Russell Wilson, RB Chris Carson and WRs D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny made his preseason debut, carrying 5 times for 8 yards. He rotated with RB Alex Collins, but a healthy Penny should emerge as Seattle’s clear-cut #2 RB.
New York Giants at Cleveland Browns
Both teams sat their big names in this one.
Giants RB Devontae Booker played all 16 snaps with starting QB Mike Glennon and then got the rest of the night off. RB Corey Clement then played 21 snaps the rest of the way. It looks like Booker will enter the season 2nd on the depth chart behind Saquon Barkley.
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Chargers
49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo got the start but played just 1 possession, finishing 3 of 6 for 15 yards and an INT that deflected off WR Brandon Aiyuk’s hands.
49ers QB Trey Lance played the next 6 possessions. The rookie got off to a slow start, completing just 1 of his first 6 passes with an INT. But he settled in, connecting on 7 of his final 8 throws and finishing with 102 yards and a pair of TDs. HC Kyle Shanahan said after the game that Garoppolo remains atop the depth chart, but he stopped short of naming Garoppolo the Week 1 starter.
The 49ers mixed and matched their WRs so that Garoppolo and Lance could play with different guys, so there are no takeaways from the playing time.
49ers RBs Raheem Mostert, Trey Sermon and Elijah Mitchell did not play. RB JaMycal Hasty played ahead of RB Wayne Gallman -- so Gallman appears to be in danger of getting cut.
QB Justin Herbert, RBs Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson, WRs Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and TEs Jared Cook and Donald Parham didn’t play for the Chargers.
Jalen Guyton, Josh Palmer and K.J. Hill operated as L.A.’s top 3 WRs with the 1st-team offense. That might mean Tyron Johnson is no longer in the mix for the #3 WR job.
Jacksonville Jaguars at New Orleans Saints
Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence played the entire 1st half, finishing 14 of 23 for 113 yards, 0 TDs and 0 INTs. He’s now completed 62.5% of his passes and averaged 5.8 yards per attempt through 2 preseason games. The rookie sits 22nd among 45 qualifiers in Pro Football Focus’ passing grades.
Even before hurting his foot, Jaguars RB Travis Etienne was 3rd in line for snaps. RB James Robinson got the start, and RB Carlos Hyde was next to hit the field. Then Etienne played 3 snaps before the injury.
Jaguars WR Laviska Shenault continued to play only in 3-WR sets. He was on the field for 24 of Lawrence’s 34 snaps (71%) and ran a route on 19 of 25 drop backs (76%). It’s a slight ding to his fantasy value.
Saints QB Jameis Winston got the start and took full advantage of the opportunity. He completed 9 of 10 passes for 123 yards and 2 TDs to WR Marquez Callaway across 3 possessions. QB Taysom Hill came on in relief, finishing 11-of-20 for 138 yards and a score. HC Sean Payton declined to name a starter after the game. But, at this point, it'd be a major surprise if Winston wasn't under center for the opener vs. the Packers.
Saints WR Marquez Callaway continued his strong August with a sensational outing in this one. He reeled in all 5 of his targets for 104 yards and 2 TDs -- the 1st a diving 43-yarder with 2 defenders draped all over him; the 2nd a 1-hander from 29 yards out. Callaway looks set to open the season as New Orleans’ #1 WR.
Saints RB Tony Jones got the start with RB Alvin Kamara sitting. Jones and RB Latavius Murray both played 8 snaps with QB Jameis Winston. HC Sean Payton reportedly told ESPN’s Steve Levy, "If you’re asking me today, my #2 RB is Tony Jones.”