Fantasy Football: Sam Darnold, Sony Michel excel in preseason Week 3 - Sports Illustrated

Sam Darnold, Sony Michel Strengthen Fantasy Stock in Week 3 of Preseason

We recap the all-important Week 3 of preseason from a fantasy perspective, including Andrew Luck's sudden retirement, Cam Newton's foot injury and much more. 
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The third week of the preseason tends to be the dress rehearsal with starters playing anywhere from the first half to three quarters. Many teams decided to sit starters or limit their snaps and take a cautious approach to avoid injuries. Here are the key takeaways from the preseason games last week.

Bears 27, Colts 17

• The retirement of QB Andrew Luck was the biggest story of the weekend and stunning. Check out the ramifications from Shawn Childs. Jacoby Brissett takes over as the quarterback, and he was the QB for the Colts two years ago when Luck was out for the season. The offense is better now because of a very good offensive line, and Frank Reich is a better coach than Chuck Pagano. Brissett is likely available in a lot of superflex leagues and should be added where two quarterbacks can start. 

• Colts WR Deon Cain looked good, catching three of four passes for 74 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown. Cain's value will depend on Brissett's performance.

• The Bears didn't play most of their starters.

Patriots 10, Panthers 3

• Cam Newton left this with a foot sprain. It doesn't appear to be serious, and the team is optimistic he can play in Week 1. The Panthers QB was working on the side at practice on Monday and is no longer wearing a walking boot. 

• Sony Michel looked excellent. The Patriots RB has a history of knee injuries and had a scope in the offseason. There are reports he's catching the ball more, and the Patriots will run a lot with Michel getting a lot of goal-line touches. Michel had 10 carries for 36 yards but had two runs called back due to penalties. Michel has a low floor on weeks he doesn't get the volume in PPR formats because he doesn't catch enough passes. He had seven receptions on 11 targets last season in 13 games. 

• Jakobi Meyers has been the talk of Patriots camp and had seven catches for 74 yards. He did have some miscommunication with Tom Brady and had a penalty that nullified a run by Michel. The return of Josh Gordon hurts Meyers. 

Redskins 19, Falcons 7

• Derrius Guice made his preseason debut, and the Redskins gave him work. The RB missed last season with a torn ACL and had three additional surgeries due to an infection. He had an impressive stiff arm on a run and had 11 carries for 44 yards and caught a screen pass. Guice has significant upside, but the Redskins' offensive line is weak, and Adrian Peterson will get touches. Chris Thompson is the third-down back, so there's competition for touches. 

• Many thought Jordan Reed was a value in the double-digit rounds, and others avoided due to injuries. The Redskins TE suffered a concussion and is in the protocol. It's his seventh concussion and has to consider his future. Coach Jay Gruden expects Reed to be ready for Week 1.

• Falcons RB Devonta Freeman showed acceleration to the outside on a run. It's all about staying healthy for Freeman, who is in line to get a lot of touches in a successful offense. He has been going in the third round of drafts. Ito Smith appears to be the No. 2 behind Freeman after two productive weeks. Smith had five carries for 23 yards with a touchdown and a nine-yard catch. Brian Hill and Qadree Ollison are vying to be the No. 3 back. 

• Case Keenum will start at QB Week 1 for the Redskins. He played the first half, going 9-of-14 for 101 yards and lost a fumble that led to a Falcons touchdown.

Dolphins 22, Jaguars 7

• Leonard Fournette had seven carries for 27 yards and caught two of three targets for 18 yards. The volume will be there for the Jaguars running back, and he's a rare three-down back falling to the third round. One of the reasons is the injury history. Fournette said he changed his diet and eliminated some bad influences in his life. 

• The Jaguars aren't a team littered with fantasy assets. One of the receivers I would draft is Dede Westbrook. Quarterback Nick Foles had 10 pass attempts and looked for Westbrook on seven. Westbrook had four catches for 29 yards with a touchdown and can often be drafted as a WR4. Target him in drafts. 

• Jaguars receiver D.J. Chark suffered a concussion, putting his Week 1 status in question.

• The Dolphins' offensive line looks awful. This is an offense to invest in lightly. Running back Kalen Ballage had 12 carries for 17 yards and two catches for minus-two yards. 

• Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki has had a rough camp, but he caught all three targets for 59 yards. Keep an eye on him. He could become fantasy relevant.

• Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick went 12-of-18 for 126 yards with a touchdown, and Josh Rosen went 5-for-7 for 59 yards for the Dolphins. 

Ravens 26, Eagles 15

• One of the impressive Ravens this preseason is rookie Miles Boykin. I have been drafting him late to stash on the bench to see if he can carve out a role in the offense. He had a 44-yard catch. Ravens rookie wideout Marquise Brown made his preseason debut. He had a Lisfranc injury before the draft and just began to practice. He had three catches for 17 yards and could become fantasy relevant.

• Rookie RB Justice Hill had nine touches for 18 yards but has looked good in the preseason. Start thinking about him in the double-digit rounds. The Ravens will run the ball a lot and Hill will play a role in the passing game. 

• J.J. Arcega-Whiteside had a big game for the Eagles. The rookie WR had eight catches for 104 yards with a touchdown and ran some excellent routes. He picked up 35 yards on a fourth down to keep a drive going. He's behind several receivers and should only be drafted in leagues with 20 rounds or more. Keep an eye on him because if one of the receivers in front of him misses time, he will be a hot pickup.

Giants 25, Bengals 23

• Saquon Barkley didn't play, and Wayne Gallman ran with the first-team offense for the Giants. He had eight carries for 31 yards and caught a 10-yard pass and looks to be the handcuff to Barkley.

• Daniel Jones continued his impressive preseason going 9-of-11 for 141 yards. The Giants rookie QB has completed 83% percent of his passes and averaged 12.3 yards per attempt in the preseason. Eli Manning will start the season at QB, but if he struggles the calls will be loud for Jones.

• Bengals rookie RB Rodney Anderson is a name to monitor in deep formats. He had seven yards on eight carries and caught four passes for 51 yards.

• Undrafted rookie Damion Willis is expected to start at WR while A.J. Green is out. Willis had three catches for 55 yards with a touchdown on six targets.

Buccaneers 13, Browns 12

• The Browns barely played any starters, and Baker Mayfield didn't play well. He completed 38% of his passes for 72 yards and an interception. It doesn't mean anything since Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, David Njoku and Nick Chubb didn't play.  Kareem Hunt played and was quiet. Rashard Higgins had seven targets and is the third WR in the offense with Antonio Callaway suspended for the first four games. 

• Dare Ogunbowale is a deep sleeper. The Buccaneers' running game hasn't been good as Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones have underwhelmed. Ogunbowale has received some snaps with the first-team offense and has caught five passes for 73 yards in the preseason. He played 10 snaps with Jameis Winston, mostly in a hurry-up offense. Jones played 11 snaps, and Barber saw 10 with Winston. 

• Winston was 9-of-19 for 88 yards and was sacked five times. The Browns have one of the better defensive lines. Buccaneers backup QB Blaine Gabbert dislocated his shoulder.

Bills 24, Lions 20

• Lions starting center Frank Ragnow left this game with an ankle injury, and it doesn't appear to be serious. 

• Lions RB Kerryon Johnson played all five snaps on the opening possession and was out there for a third-down play.  

• Lions QB Matthew Stafford looked sharp, passing for 137 yards with a touchdown. Rookie TE T.J. Hockenson had three catches for 52 yards and is an upside backup tight end. 

• The Bills rotated running backs with Josh Allen in the game. LeSean McCoy played 14 snaps with Allen, Frank Gore had nine and Devin Singletary played one with Allen. McCoy had six carries for 37 yards, and Gore had eight carries for 57 yards. 

Cowboys 34, Texans 0

• The big story in this game was the torn ACL for RB Lamar Miller, who is out for the season. For now, Duke Johnson is the lead back. He's going to be drafted in rounds 5-7. Johnson hasn't been given a full workload in the NFL, but he's one of the best pass-catching running backs. The Texans will likely add a running back. Johnson still will play a big role. Damarea Crockett is the other Texans RB to consider in the final rounds of your draft.

• The Cowboys appear ready to make rookie Tony Pollard the feature RB if Ezekiel Elliot's holdout continues. Pollard has looked excellent and is rising up draft boards at a rapid rate. Pollard had six carries for 26 yards and caught two passes for 10 yards. He has 18 touches and 103 yards from scrimmage in the preseason.

• Michael Gallup is going to be an excellent fantasy value. He improved in the second half of his rookie season last year, and the Cowboys are expected to be more aggressive on offense. He had a 12-yard touchdown, and a 21-yard touchdown was taken off the board due to a penalty. Gallup will get a bigger boost in production if Amari Cooper's heel remains an issue. 

Vikings 20, Cardinals 9

• If you were hoping to land Vikings RB Dalvin Cook at a discount, those hopes were dashed when Cook broke off an 85-yard touchdown run. It was the first time he played in the preseason and showed he's ready to go. The Vikings want to be run-heavy, and Cook is primed for a big season. 

• Vikings QB Kirk Cousins struggled, going 3-for-13 for 35 yards. Cousins is a QB2 in an offense that plans to run the ball more.

• It was an inconsistent preseason from Cardinals rookie QB Kyler Murray. He went 14-for-21 for 137 yards, rushed for nine yards on four carries and didn't take a sack. He made some nice throws. The Cardinals didn't reveal much in the preseason, but they are expected to be fast-paced and often pass due to a terrible defense. For more on Murray, read here.

• David Johnson had nine carries for 34 yards and two catches for seven yards. There's talk Johnson will see a lot of screen passes this season.

• Cardinals rookie WR KeeSean Johnson has been one of the best receivers for the team in the preseason. He caught all seven targets for 85 yards, playing with the first and second teams. The sixth-round pick has caught 12 of his 17 targets for 137 yards. Second-round pick Andy Isabella has caught two of his six targets for 67 yards and a touchdown. 

Saints 28, Jets 13

• Jets QB Sam Darnold has looked excellent. He went 8-for-13 for 97 yards and a touchdown. He is 17-of-25 for 211 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the preseason. If you wait on a backup QB, Darnold is a good target with breakout potential.

• Robby Anderson caught two passes for 60 yards, including a 41-yard catch. The Jets WR is often drafted as a WR3 and will be targeted more on intermediate routes.

• Saints WR Michael Thomas caught two passes for 39 yards, including a 19-yard TD. He has one of the highest floors at wide receiver.

49ers 27, Chiefs 17

• All it takes is one game to change things. Jimmy Garoppolo threw five consecutive interceptions in one practice and looked awful in his preseason debut in the second week. The 49ers QB, coming off a torn ACL last season, bounced back, going 14-of-20 for 188 yards and a touchdown. He's a lower-end QB2.

• It hasn't been a great preseason for 49ers WR Dante Pettis. Coach Kyle Shanahan's comments on Pettis don't show much confidence in him. Pettis played into the fourth quarter and had three receptions for 36 yards. 

• There will be notable fantasy production from the 49ers backfield. Tevin Coleman will start and get the lion's share of the touches. He had nine carries for 19 yards and a two-yard catch in this game. Matt Breida will also be involved and is a good RB to target in the double-digit rounds. He had seven carries for 44 yards and two receptions for 31 yards with a touchdown.  

• Chiefs RB Damien Williams is one of the most divisive fantasy players. Some love him due to being in the explosive Chiefs offense, while others are concerned about a 27-year-old that hasn't received more than 50 carries in a season. Williams, who had three receptions for 74 yards, is the lead back going into the season and showed his skills with a 62-yard receiving touchdown. He is the lead back for now, and if you do draft him, getting RB Darwin Thompson later would be wise. Thompson and Darryl Williams saw snaps in the first two series.

• Rookie WR Mecole Hardman is a good stash late in drafts. The Chiefs speedy wideout caught three of his four targets for 40 yards. He has six catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns in the preseason. 

Seahawks 23, Chargers 15

• Tyler Lockett is in store for a big season. He was one of the most efficient wide receivers last season but only had 70 targets. The Seahawks WR will see a jump in targets this season with Doug Baldwin retired. Plus, D.K. Metcalf and David Moore are injured to begin the year. Lockett caught two passes for 50 yards. Jaron Brown is slated to open as the other starter at wide receiver.

• Chris Carson had three carries for 23 yards and has moved up draft boards, going as early as the third round with nothing but positive reports, including more involvement in the passing game.

• Austin Ekeler had a quiet game with four carries for 11 yards and two catches for 22 yards. Ekeler played more with the first-team than Justin Jackson. Both will get touches, and Ekeler will be heavily involved in the passing game while Melvin Gordon continues his holdout

Steelers 18, Titans 6

• Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster is going to be targeted heavily and has a shot to finish as the top overall receiver. He had five targets in one quarter, catching four for 36 yards and a touchdown.

• James Washington caught another touchdown and has had a big preseason, but he played two snaps with Ben Roethlisberger. Donte Moncrief played 19 with Roethlisberger. While Moncrief is ahead of Washington for now, both have fantasy value.

• The Titans' offense looked horrible, and QB Marcus Mariota didn't complete a pass.  

• Steelers RB James Conner was on the field for 15 snaps with the first-team offense. He's going to be a bargain as he has slipped to the second round in some recent drafts. Jaylen Samuels played three snaps with Roethlisberger.

Raiders 22, Packers 21

• This was a bizarre game here. It was in Winnipeg, and there were problems with the field. They played on an 80-yard field with no kickoffs. Almost all key players sat. 

• Raiders WR Keelan Doss caught four passes for 52 yards. The undrafted receiver out of UC Davis is someone to keep an eye on in deep leagues.

Rams 10, Broncos 6

• Darrell Henderson was going early in drafts with the concern over Todd Gurley's knee. The rookie RB has struggled in the preseason. He had 11 carries for 28 yards and has 57 yards on 23 carries (2.5 yards per rush).f

• The Broncos didn't play any relevant fantasy starters, and the Rams sat most of their key players.