Preseason Bottom Line: August 14


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Preseason Bottom Line: August 14


Justin Fields, QB, Bears vs. Dolphins (Spread: Bears -3.5 | O/U: 36.0)


Trey Lance, QB, 49ers vs. Chiefs (Spread: 49ers -1.5 | O/U: 39.0)

With so many teams on the Saturday slate, we really don’t need to get cute with our QB selection. And if we also want to pair some actual talent along with a full half of football — perhaps even more snaps for Justin Fields, these kids are the choice cuts. Fields has been playing out of his mind during the last few days of camp, especially when they joined Miami for a joint practice. Unsurprisingly, Trey Lance doesn’t appear to be quite as far along as Fields, but his powerful right arm and strong legs scream upside whenever he’s set to see the field.

The Bottom Line: In dedicated cash lineups, you simply must have either Fields or Lance rostered. If you choose to look elsewhere, don’t say I didn’t warn you. We’ve dealt with some brutal QB play during the first three preseason games. That’ll definitely change on Saturday.

Kyle Lauletta, QB, Browns at Jaguars (Spread: Browns -2.5 | O/U: 37.0)

You can guarantee that the two rookies above will be the chalk QB plays on Saturday. Since being selected by the Giants in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, Kyle Lauletta has lingered on the practice squads of the Eagles and Falcons before landing with the Browns. Baker Mayfield will not play. Case Keenum will start against the Jaguars, but he’s been on fire throughout training camp. It’s nearly a lock Keenum plays no later than the first series of the second quarter. And that is the only reason you see Lauletta’s name featured among the QBs. Guess how many QBs are on the Cleveland roster?

The Bottom Line: In comical fashion, Lauletta has failed to complete a pass in five regular season attempts, one INT. However, he did play quite well for NYG during the 2019 preseason — 453 passing yards, 4 TDs-to-0 INTs. And, in the game where he was provided with similar time to his expected workload this weekend (4th preseason game), he passed for 247 yards and a pair of TDs. It’ll be very difficult for Lauletta to secure a spot on the 53-man roster, but he’ll face a talent-challenged Houston defense that will compete with Detroit as the worst in the land.


Jordan Love, QB, Packers vs. Texans (Spread: Packers -3 | O/U: 35.0)

Easton Stick, QB, Chargers at Rams (Spread: Chargers -3 | O/U: 32.5)

Bryce Perkins, QB, Rams vs. Chargers (Spread: Chargers -3 | O/U: 32.5)

Running Backs

Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Buccaneers vs. Bengals (Spread: Buccaneers -6 | O/U: 33.5)

Just when it seemed the Buccaneers envisioned a significant 2021 role for Ke’Shawn Vaughn, they re-signed Leonard Fournette and added free agent Gio Bernard. Before you lose all dynasty patience in the 76th-overall pick of the 2020 draft, remind yourself that the Bucs only extended one-year offers to Fournette and Bernard. And the three backs ahead of him on the depth chart are unlikely to play more than a handful of snaps. The two behind Vaughn, C.J. Prosise and Troymaine Pope, are simply journeyman camp bodies that stand zero chance of making the 53-man roster.

The Bottom Line: Without a 2020 preseason to aid his adjustment to the speed of the NFL, Vaughn was thrust directly into the fire last season. This will be his opportunity to show the Buccaneers’ staff what he can do with more than a couple touches. He’ll be gifted a perfect opportunity against a Bengals’ run defense that permitted the fourth-most rushing YPG (148.0) and second-highest YPC (5.1) last season.

Royce Freeman, Broncos at Vikings (Spread: Broncos -2.5 | O/U: 34.5)

Royce Freeman never became the NFL force some envisioned after scoring 64 TDs for the Oregon Ducks. First it was Phillip Lindsay who stood in his way, then it was Melvin Gordon III, and his current-season outlook only deteriorated. He was not only instantly leapfrogged by ‘21 second-rounder Javonte Williams, he dropped to fourth on the depth chart when free agent acquisition Mike Boone outperformed him in OTAs and camp. However, Boone was carted off the practice field recently due to a thigh injury and will miss four to six weeks. Freeman was already set for a decent workload on Saturday, Boone’s injury also provides him with an excellent opportunity to regain the third spot in the pecking order.

The Bottom Line: It’s all about them TDs. Freeman didn’t do much in the ‘19 preseason when he was in line for a co-starring role. But he scored a TD in each of his three preseason games during his ‘18 rookie season. If he has the luxury of playing alongside Teddy Bridgewater, we may even get a couple targets from Mr. Checkdown out of the deal.

John Kelly, Browns at Jaguars (Spread: Browns -2.5 | O/U: 37.0)

Outside of Vaughn, I am expecting that John Kelly will get some of the most significant run among RBs on the slate. Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and D'Ernest Johnson (special teams) have nothing to prove during the preseason. Sixth-round rookie Demetric Felton — who I also like in this game, has been spending the majority of his practice time recently at WR. And the only other RB on Cleveland’s roster is ‘21 UDFA Corey Taylor.

The Bottom Line: I don’t have any sexy screenshot Tweets to support this one. It’s a simple case of elegance in elimination. Urban Meyer should be provided with absolute patience during his painstaking rebuild of the Jacksonville roster. To the benefit of Kelly working behind some of the nastiest O-line depth in the NFL, steamrolling the Jags' déclassé run defense should not be a problem.

Elijah Mitchell, 49ers vs. Chiefs (Spread: 49ers -1.5 | O/U: 39.0)

*Lombardi meant 200 not 220

It’s unlikely that Elijah Mitchell has much of an opportunity to emerge this season behind Trey Sermon — yes, I’m listing him first — Raheem Mostert, Wayne Gallman II, and JaMycal Hasty. That said, Mostert, Gallman, and Jeffrey Wilson are each set to hit free agency in the offseason. And Mitchell is unlikely to get many snaps, if any, when Lance is in the game. However, he will be on the field when both Nate Sudfeld and Josh Rosen are at QB. With Mitchell turning heads with his receiving chops and combined with his 4.35-speed, he should see enough touches to draw our attention.

I normally disregard the Vegas preseason totals. Nobody knows how long individuals will be on the field, nor do we have a complete report of the injuries. But I am giving a bit of weight to the 39 implied points in this one. The Chiefs have reported that they are using a one-quarter rotation for their first-, second-, third-, and fourth-stringers. I have zero faith that HC Andy Reid will continue to play his starting offense when San Francisco removes its starters. So, I will not have any exposure to the KC big-hitters. But I am expecting the 49ers to score plenty of points.

The Bottom Line: I believe the Niners didn’t actually intend to draft another RB when they selected Mitchell in the sixth round of the most recent draft. They already secured their guy when they spent a third-rounder on Sermon. But, when Mitchell fell into their laps at the 194th pick, they couldn’t pass him up. Unless the RB core succumbs to a sequence of injuries, Mitchell will see minimal time during the season. His time to shine will be over the team’s three preseason games.


Nate McCrary, Ravens vs. Saints (Spread: Ravens -2.5 | O/U: 36.5)

Kylin Hill, Packers vs. Texans (Spread: Packers -3 | O/U: 35.0)

B.J. Emmons, Raiders vs. Seahawks (Spread: Raiders -1.5 | O/U: 37.0)

Stevie Scott III, Saints at Ravens (Spread: Ravens -2.5 | O/U: 36.5)

Otis Anderson, Rams vs. Chargers (Spread: Chargers -3 | O/U: 32.5)

Wide Receivers

Collin Johnson, WR, Jaguars vs. Browns (Spread: Browns -2.5 | O/U: 37.0)

Despite dealing with a WR core consisting of the “Jr.s:” — D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault, and Marvin Jones, Collin Johnson — has made consistent headlines surrounding his tremendous camp. Chark will miss Saturday’s game while recovering from hand surgery. Even if the starters play extended snaps, Johnson will have an opportunity to not only play with the No. 1’s, he should play with both Trevor Lawrence and Gardner Minshew II.

The Bottom Line: Just don’t expect Urban Meyer to release any information on his intended rotation. Everything outside of eyewitness beat reports from camp has been cryptic on the Jaguars. Even the unofficial depth chart lists journeymen Phillip Dorsett and Laquon Treadwell ahead of Johnson. As one of Lawrence’s favorite targets, you can wager good money on Johnson making the 53-man roster ahead of those two.

Trinity Benson, WR, Broncos at Vikings (Spread: Broncos -2.5 | O/U: 34.5)

One of the common themes of training camps and preseason games across the league are the individuals from small schools with dreams of earning an NFL Roster spot. One of those is Trinity Benson out of East Central (Oklahoma). Benson has taken full advantage of the previous absences of Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, and K.J. Hamler to emerge as a serious threat for Denver. HC Vic Fangio may have no other choice but to keep seven WRs on the roster if Benson keeps throwing down explosive plays. And he’s converted multiple of those into TDs.

The Bottom Line: Benson doesn’t pack the name recognition of his star-studded teammates, but he possesses 4.44-speed, 40.5-inch vertical jump, and hunger to make the roster. It seems the Vikings were ill-prepared for the electric speed of the Broncos’ WRs during their recent joint practice. Minnesota corners struggling to defend speed is all I need to hear to be convinced of exposure to Benson.

Ja’Marcus Bradley, WR, Browns vs. Jaguars (Spread: Browns -2.5 | O/U: 37.0)

The only evidence I have in support of rostering Ja’Marcus Bradley Saturday night are multiple articles from the The Athletic (here and here) essentially stating that he will see a ton of snaps this preseason.

The Bottom Line: If you are about to do some Twitter searching, I’ll save you the trouble. The only relevant, reliable mentions I could track down through the Twitterverse are a TD grab from Baker Mayfield and a splash play from Case Keenum. If we trust the reports from The Athletic, Bradley has the potential to put up difference-making numbers.

Jauan Jennings, 49ers vs. Chiefs (Spread: 49ers -1.5 | O/U: 39.0)

The first screenshot is important. None of the projected starters on offense will get in our way after one series of play. The second-stringers, including Jauan Jennings, will be on the field with Trey Lance the rest of the first half. Jennings and Jalen Hurd have been locked in a battle for the right to join Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk in three-wide sets. And, as the second screenshot suggests, Jennings appears to be out in front of Hurd. That’s significant since Lance and Jennings have established a frequent connection over the last week.

The Bottom Line: Attempting to pinpoint a stack on Thursday's slate did not quite go as planned. Lance-Jennings could be worthy of our time/investment.

Kawaan Baker, Saints at Ravens (Spread: Ravens -2.5 | O/U: 36.5)

As you might have been able to guess, I’m trying my best to provide at least one bit of evidence in support of each of my recommended plays. But I am not claiming to know anything first-hand about actual snap numbers. Nobody knows this stuff. Not even the beat writers who have direct access to the coaches. Some of what I’ve read predicts that Marquez Callaway will play the most snaps on Saturday. I’m drawing the line there. From all reports, Callaway has easily been the Saints’ best WR in camp. With Michael Thomas set to miss multiple games, I just do not have the imagination to conjure a scenario where putting the health of your go-to wideout on the line in a meaningless scrimmage.

The Bottom Line: The other New Orleans WR that popped during my research was Easop Winston Jr. We know we’ll see some of Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston. Then Ian Book — a near-lock for the 53-man — will split the remainder of snaps with Trevor Siemian. One of Baker or E. Winston is going to do well. We just need to decide on which.


Javon Wims, WR, Bears vs. Dolphins (Spread: Bears -3.5 | O/U: 36.0)

Easop Winston, WR, Saints at Ravens (Spread: Ravens -2.5 | O/U: 36.5)

Jaylon Moore, WR, Ravens vs. Saints (Spread: Ravens -2.5 | O/U: 36.5)

Joe Reed, WR, Chargers at Rams (Spread: Chargers -3 | O/U: 32.5)

Juwann Winfree, WR, Packers vs. Texans (Spread: Packers -3 | O/U: 35.0)

Tight Ends

Adam Shaheen, TE, Dolphins at Bears (Spread: Bears -3.5 | O/U: 36.0)

With 20 teams on the Saturday slate, we have a crap-ton of additional TE options than the Thursday or Friday slate offered. So… much… better. I spent too much of my time looking at everything I could find on every single TE rostered on the six teams playing Friday night. It was not a solid investment of my time. Mike Gesicki is obviously the guy in South Beach. But Adam Shaheen has put together a string of solid practices, including catching a TD pass during the Dolphins-Bears joint practice. And rookie TE Hunter Long is out with an injury.

The Bottom Line: Not only do I like Shaheen against a Chicago defense that hemorrhaged FPG to opposing TEs last season, it’s also a — dare I type it — revenge game. He’ll face off against the team that drafted him in the second round and traded him away for a seventh-rounder three years later. To drive my point home, he threw down some fisticuffs with Khalil Mack in the shared practice.

Juwan Johnson, TE, Saints at Ravens (Spread: Ravens -2.5 | O/U: 36.5)

Another TE with a training camp hot streak: Juwan Johnson. The converted WR is quickly establishing himself as a threat toward securing the TE2-3 role.

The Bottom Line: As with all preseason TE plays, if we get five points, rejoice in the victory. You’ll find multiple alternatives below.


Stephen Carlson, TE, Browns at Jaguars (Spread: Browns -2.5 | O/U: 37.0)

Jesper Horsted, TE, Bears vs. Dolphins (Spread: Bears -3.5 | O/U: 36.0)

Cole Hikutini, TE, Giants vs. Jets (Spread: Jets -2 | O/U: 35.0)

Brycen Hopkins, TE, Rams vs. Chargers (Spread: Chargers -3 | O/U: 32.5)

With a dedicated focus on studying game film and a faithful commitment to metrics & analytics, Huber’s specialties include DFS (college and NFL), Devy & Dynasty formats, and second-to-none fantasy analysis of high school prospects.