The preseason is halfway over, with one more meaningful week of exhibition games on the docket. The fantasy community learned a lot in Week 2 that should help shape how drafts and auctions unfold over the next few weeks. Let’s break it all down, position by position.
Note: All player ADPs mentioned are courtesy of 4for4’s Multi-Site ADP Tool.
Patrick Mahomes is going to connect on some deep balls: Overall, the Chiefs QB had an up-and-down performance, but he flashed his brilliance, delivering a dime to Tyreek Hill for a 69-yard touchdown. He showcased the ability to get the ball downfield with accuracy and strength, teasing the potential of his partnership with Hill. Mahomes finished 8-of-12 for 138 yards and looks appropriately priced as a mid-10th-round pick.
The Bills QB race is most likely down to two candidates: A.J. McCarron reportedly suffered a hairline fracture to his right collarbone during Friday night’s matchup with the Browns, leaving just Nathan Peterman and rookie Josh Allen to compete for the starting gig. Peterman has completed 17-of-20 passes for 231 yards, two touchdowns and an interception this preseason, while Allen’s is 18-of-32, for 176 yards and two scores. I’d stay away from this mess in single-QB leagues, but a dart throw at whichever one you prefer late in superflex leagues makes some sense.
The Jets are still without a clear starter at QB: Rookie Sam Darnold returned to earth this week, throwing a pick and getting sacked a few times on his way to a mediocre night, going 8-of-11 for 62 yards. It was the Teddy Bridgewater show, as he completed 10-of-15 passes for 127 yards, a TD and an interception in what continues to be an inspiring comeback story. Veteran journeyman Josh McCown didn’t play, giving the Jets as much time as possible to evaluate Darnold and Bridgewater. No matter what they decide, I’m keeping my distance in fantasy land.
Jameis Winston had quite a quarter: Coming in after Ryan Fitzpatrick kicked things off in the first, Winston threw for 226 yards with touchdowns to Chris Godwin and Justin Watson in the second quarter. Despite a three-game suspension, he could be a steal at his current 15th-round ADP.
Cleveland’s ground game is strong, but not crystal clear: After collectively rushing for just 50 yards on 33 carries in the team’s first preseason game, the Browns backfield shined in Week 2. Carlos Hyde posted 64 yards and a score on nine carries, and rookie Nick Chubb added another 53 yards and a touchdown of his own on 11 touches. Duke Johnson got four carries, but we know he’s going to make his mark as a receiver. This backfield remains one of the toughest to navigate.
Draft Christian McCaffrey: If only it were that easy. The guy can ball and will be used everywhere this season in Carolina’s offense. McCaffrey had 120 yards from scrimmage in the first half, which included a monster 71-yard touchdown run. He also added four catches for 28 yards. Ron Rivera and Norv Turner are on record as wanting to use McCaffrey as much as possible, and no matter what the exact number of touches per game ends up being, the fact that the coaches seem to love him is great news. Currently a mid-second-rounder, McCaffrey looks well worth the draft-day price.
Don’t forget about James White: New England’s backfield is a confusing place, and White seems to be the one we talk about the least. He reminded us what he can be last weekend, catching six balls for 61 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown, with another 31 yards on the ground. With knee injuries to both Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead, White could easily outperform his current 10th-round ADP, which is sure to climb in the coming weeks.
Royce Freeman is the guy in Denver’s backfield: The rookie technically split time with Devontae Booker, but overshadowed his teammate again, scoring his second preseason touchdown in as many games. Having said that, he picked up just 20 yards on six carries, so I wouldn’t go crazy and reach for the Oregon product just yet. Still, he’s certainly showing the potential of a solid RB2.
Learn the name Chris Warren: If you’re in a deep league or play in best-ball leagues, Raiders running back Chris Warren could be your guy. A week after posting 86 yards on 13 carries, the undrafted rookie rushed for 110 yards on 18 totes, including a three-yard touchdown run. He may give Jon Gruden no choice but to roster him and could provide sneaky fantasy value if given significant snaps.
Rookie Calvin Ridley is ready for primetime: Drafting first-year guys always has some risk, but Ridley looks like he belongs on an NFL field this season. He beat Kansas City corner David Amerson to snag a sweet 36-yard pass from Matt Ryan, then later connected with Matt Schaub for a score. At his current 12th-round ADP, the former Alabama receiver looks a nice value and could find himself on the WR2/3 border this year.
Mike Williams is the real deal: I’ve been touting Mike Williams over Tyrell Williams all offseason and he showed everyone why on Saturday night. He made an acrobatic grab for a 25-yard touchdown on a pass from Geno Smith, putting the Chargers up early in the game. Remember. he was the seventh overall pick in 2017, but was sidelined due to injury. Now healthy, he’s ready to show his stuff. Currently an 11th-round pick, Williams has legitimate WR2 upside, but at his price a WR3 season would still provide a huge return on investment.
Grab some Taywan Taylor if you haven’t already: The second-year Titan is about to shoot up draft boards after showcasing his insane quickness and yards-after-catch potential in Week 2 of the preseason. He finished with four catches for 95 yards and two scores, filling in admirably well for the injured Rishard Matthews. Taylor is currently free in both redraft and best-ball leagues, but that will be short lived, especially with Matthews out.
Buy all the Trey Burton: Four of Mitch Trubisky’s first five completions were to Burton, as Bears coach Matt Nagy showed what he learned from his time spent with Andy Reid. If this is a preview of what’s to come, I love what I see in Burton’s potential volume. Fellow tight end Adam Shaheen went down with an injured right ankle, which could mean even more work for Burton, at least in the early going. The former Eagle finished his short stint on the field with those four catches for 45 yards.
Ian Thomas could be a thing: With Greg Olsen a tad long on the tooth and coming off a broken foot, rookie Thomas could emerge as the next big thing in Carolina. His preseason highlight was a 27-yard touchdown catch from Cam Newton, and his athletic profile fits right in at the tight end position in the modern game. He’s still no more than a late-round flier in deep leagues, but he’s someone to monitor early in the season.