The third game of the preseason most closely resembles the real thing. It’s the NFL’s dress rehearsal, if you will. We should all have a better idea of how teams are shaping up for fantasy purposes with the regular season now right around the corner. Let’s go over what we learned from the most important preseason week, position by position.
Note: All player ADPs, unless mentioned otherwise, are courtesy of 4for4’s Multi-Site ADP Tool.
Nick Foles has lost that MVP magic: Maybe not forever, but for now he’s not playing like a quarterback just removed from winning the Super Bowl. In Thursday night’s 5-0 loss to the Browns, Foles threw two interceptions, took three sacks and a safety, and was stripped for a fumble. With Carson Wentz still recovering from his torn ACL, Foles is likely to start the season under center for the Eagles. Based on what we’ve seen thus far, he shouldn’t be more than a late-round flier.
Tyrod Taylor injured his pinky, but is okay: Taylor dislocated the pinky on his non-throwing hand midway through the first quarter, but returned to the game. Both he and rookie Baker Mayfield appear ready for the regular season, and while both are deserving starters, only one of them can be out there. It’s Taylor’s job for now, with Mayfield set to absorb all he can from the veteran quarterback.
The Jets’ job is Sam Darnold’s to lose: Darnold played most of the Jets’ third preseason game, going 8-for-16 with 86 yards and a touchdown, and that looks to have earned him the starting gig. Of course, nothing is official yet, but given the amount of work he’s had with the starters, it appears he’s the guy. For fantasy purposes, Darnold still has some work to do, so he’s simply a late-round depth player for now.
Cam Newton gave himself a shiner, but he’s fine: Newton had a decent outing, going 11-for-17 for 142 yards, with three drives resulting in field goals to put Carolina ahead 9-3 at the half. During the first quarter, he scrambled out of the pocket and was upended after a headfirst dive, causing him to land on his head. Newton was evaluated for a concussion and returned to the game, escaping with just a black eye. He’s cleared to play in Week 1.
Adrian Peterson is not quite ready to be put out to pasture: Peterson finally got his wish to play in the preseason, but is it sustainable? The 33-year-old carried the ball 11 times for 56 yards, even touching the ball on seven consecutive plays on one Washington possession. With the team’s backfield a triage unit, Peterson may have done just enough to earn the starting job for Week 1 in Arizona. Revenge game, anyone? I’m not buying, at least not yet. Of note, according to FantasyInsiders best-ball ADP data, Peterson’s ADP has shot up 15 slots since Wednesday to the 13th round. It will most likely soar as the week goes on.
Peyton Barber continues to impress: Barber dominated the Buccaneers' opening drive of their third game, totaling five touches for 34 yards and a touchdown before spending most of the contest on the sidelines. He’s earned the starting gig in Bay and is one of the summer’s largest risers in ADP. Now a 12th-rounder, Barber is a solid RB3 option in both PPR and standard formats.
There’s no RB controversy in Miami: So far, Kenyan Drake is proving to be the most rousing guy in the Dolphins' offense, busting out a 30-yard run along with a 36-yard catch in Saturday’s game with the Ravens. He’s currently the 17th RB off draft boards, with an ADP in the third round.
Austin Ekeler could be more than a handcuff: Sure, Melvin Gordon was not in attendance due to a family matter, but Ekeler held his own as the starting back. He ran the ball six times for 50 yards, including a 21-yard rip, and added three receptions for 13 yards. Ekeler’s ADP has risen about 15 spots over the past few weeks, coming off the board in the late-teen rounds.
Emmanuel Sanders was a one-man show: Sanders proved again on Friday why he could go down as one of this year’s biggest bargains. The ninth-year wideout was responsible for all of the Broncos’ 75 yards on their second scoring drive, catching passes for 15 and 33 yards, plus a 27-yard end around he took to the house. Right now, Sanders' value is among the league’s best, leaving draft boards in the seventh round. He seems rejuvenated with Case Keenum under center and could potentially sneak into WR1 territory this season.
Who’s the guy in New England? With Julian Edelman suspended for the first four games, the fantasy community collectively decided that Chris Hogan would assume the role of Tom Brady’s main squeeze. On Friday night, the future Hall-of-Famer connected with Phillip Dorsett four times for 36 yards, and threw one pass each to Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson. With Brady, it’s always whoever has the hot hand, so it will be interesting to see who he favors come Week 1.
Danny Amendola scored the first TD for Miami starters: The former Patriot juked past two defensive backs for a 16-yard touchdown from Ryan Tannehill. It was the first score from a Dolphins starter this preseason in 10 possessions. With a dirt-cheap ADP hovering in the 15th round, Amendola is worthy of a bench stash in the event he emerges as a legit weapon for Tannehill in this cloudy offense.
The Jags are down a WR: Jacksonville wideout Marqise Lee was carted off the field with a serious leg injury, opening the fantasy door for Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook and Donte Moncrief. All three guys should see a spike in ADP, with Cole most likely getting the largest jump.
Gronk lives: Patriot fans and Rob Gronkowski owners can breathe a little easier, as New England’s massive tight end finally took the field for two series in his 2018 preseason debut. He was only targeted once , but he was out there playing real football. Gronk continues to be one of the premier tight ends in the league, so draft away.
Rookie Hayden Hurst will undergo foot surgery: Baltimore’s top draft pick has a stress fracture in his foot and is expected to be on the shelf for about a month. Rookies at the position are dicey fantasy prospects, and this news certainly doesn’t help. There are many other viable late options, making Hurst waiver-wire fodder to start the season.
Tyler Eifert played live football and left unscathed: The oft-injured Bengals tight end made his 2018 debut on Sunday, catching one of his three targets for 11 yards. Eifert is returning from back surgery and was limited to just two games last season. He’s currently an 11th-rounder, which does mitigate some of the risk associated with a player with his injury history. He’s a high-reward play, as well, given his status as one of Andy Dalton’s most trusted pass-catchers in the red zone. If you do grab him, make sure you leave your draft with another tight end.