Ladies and gentlemen, football is back! Well, kind of… sort of… Preseason football is back at least, and with that, we have some fresh stats to analyze. And thus, fantasy implications.
Preseason wins are no doubt irrelevant. Preseason scores are useless. Preseason stats are meaningless. The preseason itself? Actually pretty important — well, at least if you’re a fantasy football player.
If — for instance — Myles Gaskin finishes the preseason playing on 90% of the team’s first-string snaps, you can expect him to catapult up our rankings. If he plays on just 40% of the team’s first-string snaps, he’d surely plummet down our rankings. If Sam Darnold locks onto Robby Anderson, targeting him twice as much as D.J. Moore, that’s going to mean something to us and is going to impact our rankings.
Update: It appears, in Gaskin’s case (Week 1 at least), this may have been somewhat prophetic.
Don’t watch preseason football? Or, rather, didn’t track first-team snap counts by hand? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. That’s what this article is for.
Preseason: Week 2
Still worried about TE Dallas Goedert.
Quez Watkins > Jalen Reagor?
Big day for Mecole Hardman.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire ankle injury.
Rondale Moore again heavily involved.
Chase Edmonds might make me look foolish.
I’m still very high on Logan Thomas and Antonio Gibson.
Justin Fields: the next Konami Code superstar?
Corey Davis target-hog.
Better usage from Myles Gaskin, but still not great.
Michael Carter’s stock down.
Najee Harris: high-end bell cow.
TE by committee in Dallas?
Bridgewater outdueled Lock.
Terrace Marshall looks awesome.
Garoppolo and Lance were up-and-down again.
Philadelphia vs. New England
QB Jalen Hurts sat out with an illness.
Of a potential 6 snaps with the first-string offense, WR Quez Watkins led the receivers in snaps (6), followed by DeVonta Smith (4), J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (2), and then Jalen Reagor (1). Obviously, Arcega-Whiteside isn’t going to play over Reagor in the regular season, but I also don’t know that Reagor is going to be on the field in 2WR sets. He should be the starting slot wide receiver in 3WR sets, but it’s very possible Watkins will be relegating him to the bench in 2WR sets. Watkins, meanwhile, has become an excellent late-round pick in best ball leagues.
DeVonta Smith ended his day with two catches on 4 targets for 19 yards. Both plays were pretty sexy [1, 2]. Dallas Goedert played on 4 of 6 snaps with the first-string offense, while Zach Ertz and Richard Rodgers both played 3 snaps. Last week Ertz out-snapped Goedert with the first-string offense 7 to 5 (out of 10). Obviously, this is extremely discouraging. Last year, when both players were healthy, Ertz ran a route on 72% of the team’s dropbacks, well above Goedert’s 47%. So long as Ertz remains with the team, I’d say Goedert’s looking like a potential bust if you’ve been drafting him at his typical ADP-range (TE7-9). Miles Sanders played on 4 of 6 snaps with the first-string offense. Jordan Howard saw 2 snaps and Kenneth Gainwell saw 1.
Gainwell ended his day with 21 rushing yards on 5 carries and 3 catches for 23 yards on 3 targets.
Of a potential 17 snaps with the first-string offense, Jakobi Meyers led the wide receivers with 15, followed by Nelson Agholor (14), Kendrick Bourne (10), and then N’Keal Harry (7).
Meyers is clearly a starting WR for the Patriots, even in 2WR sets, alongside Agholor. He ended his day catching 3 of 3 targets for 56 yards and a score. Agholor wasn’t targeted. Meyers might be my single highest-owned wide receiver this year, for reasons outlined here.
Cam Newton was sharp in Week 2, completing 8 of 9 throws for 103 yards with a touchdown. Through two preseason games, and on 15 total throws, James White has been Cam's favorite receiver. He's been targeted 6 times, followed by Jakobi Meyers (4), and then Sony Michel (2) and Jonnu Smith (2).
Mac Jones was equally as sharp, going 13 of 19 for 146 yards over four possessions. Of those six incompletions, there were three drops and a spike. Through seven total drives this preseason, Jones has led the Patriots to a touchdown in three, a field goal in two, with two drives ending in punts (and no turnovers).
Damien Harris led the backfield in snaps with the first-string offense (8), followed by White (5), and then Michel (4). Harris ended his day with 14 rushing yards and a score on six carries.
Michel could be a legitimate issue for White, possibly in the Rex Burkhead role. New England beat writers had been hyping Michel up as a pass-catcher all offseason, and it was hard to believe, but he was heavily targeted in this game and looked absolutely excellent. He ended his day with 34 yards on 7 carries, but added 4 catches for 37 yards (on 4 targets) through the air.
Rookie RB Rhamondre Stevenson was again excellent. Through five quarters of work, he totals 25 carries for 193 yards and four touchdowns, while adding one catch for 8 yards as a receiver. However, he did fumble at the end of this game, which means, despite everything else, he’s going to be in Bill Belichick’s doghouse.
Arizona vs. Kansas City
Of a potential 9 snaps with the first-team offense, Rondale Moore and Christian Kirk led the wide receivers in snaps with 9, followed by A.J. Green (8), KeeSean Johnson (1), and A.J. Richardson (1). D’Andre Hopkins (rest) did not play. Moore was heavily involved once again. On 21 routes, Moore caught 3 of 5 targets for 15 yards, while also adding 9 yards on 1 carry from the ground. Last week (11 routes), Moore caught 3 of 4 targets for 23 yards, while also gaining 16 yards on 2 carries. Continue to bump him up your rankings. Here’s what I said last week:
It looks like Moore is exactly who we thought he would be — an immediate impact player who is going to be featured in this offense.
Kliff Kingsbury told reporters in May: “We’re going to use him in as many ways as we can… Rondale’s able to do a bunch of different things. Whether it’s hand him the ball from the backfield, toss it to him on the sweep, go outside and run a fade route, he does it all. The return game is really impressive as well. So, we’re gonna move him around and make sure he gets his fair share of touches.”
Moore is a phenomenal talent, and a likely Week 1 contributor with PPR cheat-code upside. He’s a highly attractive value at current ADP (WR61, Round 13).
Chase Edmonds played on 7 of 9 snaps with the first-team offense. James Conner played on 3 of 9 snaps. Next week will be big, but I’m open to being dead wrong on Edmonds and bumping him way up my rankings. Based on Kingsbury’s comments in late April, I fully expected this to be a gross committee backfield with Conner dominating early-down snaps. But this sort of usage would indicate I was very wrong.
Of a potential 32 snaps with the first-team offense, Mecole Hardman led the wide receivers in snaps with 29, Demarcus Robinson (26), Byron Pringle (20), and Marcus Kemp (5). Tyreek Hill did not play (hamstring). Travis Kelce played on 26 of 32 snaps with the first-team offense but only saw one target.
Patrick Mahomes attempted 18 passes, throwing most often to Hardman (6), Robinson (4), Pringle (3), and then FB Michael Burton (2). Hardman saw five targets on the first drive of the game, but still wasn’t very productive with Mahomes under center, catching just 2 of those 6 targets for 19 yards. With Henne under center, he caught both of his two targets for 20 yards and a score, making this ridiculous catch in the end zone. And Hardman was even better than his number might imply — I saw him get open on a number of routes.
Hardman should at least be a starter in 3WR sets, if not also 2WR sets. Though, I don’t expect him to be featured like this in games if Hill is active. To me, it seemed as though they were trying him out in the Hill-role, to get an extended look at him should Hill miss time in the regular season. (After all, I believe this was partly why he was drafted — in April of 2019 there was speculation Hill might be suspended for all of the 2019 season.) Still, Hardman carries high draft capital, hyper efficiency, and elite athleticism. And there could be immense value in Hardman as the No. 3 receiver in one of the most-potent offenses in football. For sure, Hardman’s stock is pointing up.
Last week, Clyde Edwards-Helaire played on the first 10 snaps of the game, and then took the rest of the night off. This week, Edwards-Helaire played on the first five snaps of the game, and then took the rest of the night off … but this time with an ankle injury. We’ll have to wait and see how serious this is. Bump up Darrel Williams in the meantime, who seems the heavy favorite to be the team’s RB2.
Washington vs. Cincinnati
Of a potential 23 snaps with the first-string offense, Terry McLaurin led the wide receivers in snaps (18), followed by Dyami Brown (12), Cam Sims (11), Adam Humphries (8), and then Dax Milne (4). TE Logan Thomas played on 23 of 23 snaps with the first-string offense, pass-blocking on only one of 14 pass plays. This is excellent. It’s exactly what we wanted, and exactly what we expected. On 13 pass attempts, Humphries was Ryan Fitzpatrick’s most-targeted receiver with three targets, while Thomas, Antonio Gibson, Brown, and McLaurin all saw two targets each.
Gibson played on 13 of the team’s first 19 snaps (68%) and then was done for the day. J.D. McKissic played on 4 of those snaps (all on third down) and Jaret Patterson saw 2 snaps. On 24 total snaps this preseason, Gibson has seen 12 carries and 5 targets.
This isn’t a great stat, but… Washington averaged 65.7 snaps per game last year. Assume Gibson gets 68% of that, and he’s averaging 44.7 snaps per game. Assume his preseason usage carries over into the regular season, and we’d be looking at 22.3 carries and 9.3 targets per game. That’s not far off what Gibson saw in his last healthy game last year — 20 carries, 7 targets, 36.6 fantasy points. For perspective, 22.3 carries and 9.3 targets per game would be worth 28.6 weighted opportunity points per game, which would have led the position by a landslide last year (42% better than the next-closest running back). Of course, that’s a little unrealistic. I’m mostly just placating my confirmation biases here, but yeah.
In my mind, McKissic’s third down role isn’t something to worry about. Running backs get the bulk of their targets on early downs, and beat writers don’t think Gibson will come off the field when the team is running their hurry up offense. The worth of that role to Gibson isn’t really worth more than about 1.0 FPG.
UDFA rookie Jaret Patterson was excellent, posting lines of 16-71-1 and 3-3-25-0. He's your Gibson-handcuff, though McKissic would also see more work in games he sat out.
Of a potential 11 snaps with the first-team offense, Tee Higgins led the wide receivers in snaps with 10, followed by Ja’Marr Chase (9), Tyler Boyd (9), Auden Tate (2), and Stanley Morgan Jr. (1). Chase saw 3 targets and registered 3 drops. Yeah, that’s not good. But, still, I don’t really care. Drops aren’t at all sticky, and Chase had no problem with drops in college. QB Joe Burrow doesn’t seem to care either.
TE C.J. Uzomah out-snapped Drew Sample 8 to 5 (out of 11).
Joe Mixon played on the first five snaps of the game, turning 3 carries into 12 yards, and then took the rest of the night off.
Chicago vs. Buffalo
Chicago benched the majority of their starters, so there’s not a lot of takeaways here.
On 11 of 11 snaps with the “first-team” offense, Damien Williams saw 5 carries and 2 targets gaining a total of 10 yards.
This was another encouraging performance for Justin Fields. Most notable to me was his 46 yards rushing. Throughout much of the offseason, I’ve greatly preferred Trey Lance to Fields, but they’re now much closer in my rankings. Although Lance was the more productive runner in college, Fields wasn’t very far behind. He averaged 10.2 rushing FPG and 64.6 rushing YPG in 2020. He also profiles as (no hyperbole) one of the most-athletic quarterbacks of all-time, ranking top-5 (since 2000) in forty-yard-dash and Speed Score. He could be a league-winner. At the very least, he’s another very-attractive late-round target at the QB position. And another reason why I’m recommending our subscribers to wait at the QB position.
Buffalo benched all of their starters, so there’s really not anything of note here.
Of a potential 33 snaps with the “first-string” offense, Devin Singletary earned the start and out-snapped Zack Moss 21 to 12. This isn’t very meaningful to me, however, as Moss was probably limited, coming back from injury.
TE Dawson Knox played on 22 of 33 snaps (67%) with the “first-string” offense. He played on 58% of the team’s snaps last year.
Green Bay vs. New York Jets
Green Bay didn’t play any of their starters, so there isn’t really much of note here.
A.J. Dillon looked excellent, and was again involved in the passing game. He went 4-28-0 on the ground and 2-2-12-0 through the air. RB3 Kylin Hill looked fantastic as well, posting lines of 7-29-1 and 2-2-11. It’s early yet, but fantasy drafters could be underestimating the chances that this is a gross 3-way (rather than just a gross 2-way) RBBC backfield.
New York Jets
Rookie QB Zach Wilson again looked sharp, and if preseason action is any indication, like the most NFL-ready rookie QB. Through two games, Wilson has completed 15 of 20 passes for 191 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and 0 sacks.
Corey Davis is far and away his favorite receiver, at least with Elijah Moore (quad) still out. Wilson has targeted him on 10 of his 20 total pass attempts (50% target share). More impressively, somehow, Davis has 10 targets on just 13 total routes this preseason. He’s been productive with that good volume too, catching 6 for 88 yards.
TE Chris Herndon out-snapped Tyler Kroft with the first-string offense (11 to 9), but Kroft has been the far more productive player this preseason. He’s caught 3 of 4 targets for 49 yards and two scores. On nearly twice as many routes run, Herndon has just two catches for 14 yards.
Bad news for Michael Carter truthers. He played on 0 of 19 snaps with the first-string offense, coming onto the field only after Wilson’s day was done. Instead, the team opted to go with a two-headed committee — 10 snaps for Tevin Coleman, 9 snaps for Ty Johnson with the first-team offense. I’m definitely moving Carter down my board, but it’s notable he looked like the most capable back when on the field. He ended his day with 52 rushing yards on 10 carries and -1 receiving yard on 1 target. So, maybe it’s only a matter of “when”, and not “if”, with Carter.
Miami vs. Atlanta
Tua Tagovailoa looked awesome, completing 16 of 23 passes for 183 yards and a score. Now fully healthy, 21 months removed from hip surgery, playing alongside a top WR trio, look for a massive bounceback season from him. Though, due to a lack of rushing upside, he’s still not high on our radar for fantasy.
On 31 total throws, his favorite targets this preseason have been: Mack Hollins (7), Myles Gaskin (5), Mike Gesicki (4), Adam Shaheen (4), and Jaylen Waddle (4).
Mike Gesicki played on 20 of 37 snaps with the first-string offense (54%). He played on 62% of the team’s snaps last year.
Myles Gaskin led the backfield in snaps through the team’s first two drives, playing on 15 of a potential 22 snaps (68%). Though, in total, he was credited with 19 of 37 snaps with the first-team offense (51%). Salvon Ahmed played on 13 snaps, Malcolm Brown played on 5.
Gaskin ended his day with 27 rushing yards and a score on 6 carries. Through the air, he caught all 4 of his targets for 44 yards and a score. Obviously, this was a far more encouraging day from him than what we saw in Week 1. Gaskin is almost definitely the best back on the roster and should lead the backfield in usage, but it still looks to me to be a frustrating three-way committee for fantasy.
Atlanta benched just about every fantasy-relevant player so there’s nothing really of note here. Well, except for the fact that Qadree Ollison is the likely RB2, as Atlanta beat writers have suggested all offseason. He played on 18 of 24 snaps with the “first-string” offense.
Pittsburgh vs. Detroit
Ben Roethlisberger looked sharp on Saturday night, completing 8 of 10 targets for 137 yards and 2 scores (0 interceptions, 0 sacks). Remember, he had surgery in 2019 to reattach three torn flexor tendons in his throwing elbow. He likely wasn’t at full strength last year, and this probably contributed to — among other things — a career-low 8.1 aDOT.
On 10 throws, Roethlisberger’s favorite receiver was Najee Harris (3) and then Pat Freiermuth and James Washington with two targets each. Harris caught two of those three targets for a whopping 53 yards. Freiermuth caught both targets from Ben for 19 yards and two scores. Diontae Johnson caught his lone target for 43 yards. Eric Ebron ended his day with 4 catches on 6 targets for 59 yards, but the bulk of that production came with Mason Rudolph under center. Note that Chase Claypool (shoulder) did not play.
Eric Ebron out-snapped Freiermuth 9 to 4 with the first-string offense (out of a potential 16 snaps).
Najee Harris played on 15 of 16 snaps with the first string offense. On 25 total snaps this preseason, Harris totals 82 yards on 6 carries and 5 targets. That’s peak Le’Veon Bell-type usage. MontyBurnsExcellent.gif. Oh, and remember that offensive line we’ve been so worried about? They’ve allowed just 2 sacks this preseason, and came into the week with PFF’s highest run blocking grade.
Detroit benched nearly all of their fantasy-relevant players, so there’s not really anything of note here, other than the fact that Breshad Perriman (21 of 22 snaps) and Quintez Cephus (21) played over Amon-Ra St. Brown (11) with the first-team offense.
Tampa Bay vs. Tennessee
Tampa Bay benched nearly all of their fantasy-relevant players, so there isn’t really anything of note here outside of the fact that they did play Giovani Bernard but limited him to a low-value 3rd down-only role. He shouldn’t be high on our fantasy radar.
Tennessee benched nearly all of their fantasy-relevant players, so there isn’t really anything of note here outside of the fact that they played Anthony Firkser and only in a part-time (mostly 3rd down-only) role. He shouldn’t be as high on our fantasy radar as ADP seems to imply.
Dallas vs. Houston
Of a potential 16 snaps with the first-string offense, CeeDee Lamb led the wide receivers (15), followed by Amari Cooper (13), Michael Gallup (11), and then Cedrick Wilson (2). So, we shouldn’t ever expect Lamb to come off the field. He’s now a starter in 2WR sets, with Gallup coming off the field. Lamb mostly played in the slot in their 11-personnel (3WR) sets.
Of a potential 16 snaps with the first-team offense, Dalton Schultz out-snapped Blake Jarwin 12 to 10. But Jarwin ran 5 routes to Schultz’s 4. Based on this usage, expect Dallas to play 12 personnel far more frequently, possibly to Gallup’s detriment. From a fantasy perspective, I don’t expect either TE to match what Schultz put up last year. With both tight ends involved, they’ll be cannibalizing each other from a fantasy perspective.
Of a potential 13 snaps with the first-string offense, Brandin Cooks led the receivers with 13, followed by Chris Conley (11), Keke Coutee (4), and then Alex Erickson (3). Anthony Miller (shoulder) did not play.
Tyrod Taylor threw 5 times (0 runs), completing 2 of 5 for 10 yards. On 5 total routes, Cooks comprised 3 of those targets, both completions, and all 10 yards.
Mark Ingram led the backfield in snaps with the first-team offense with 6 (of a potential 13 snaps), followed by Phillip Lindsay (4), and then David Johnson (3). And, well, lmaoooo. Yeah, this backfield is a mess.
Minnesota vs. Indianapolis
Minnesota had most of their key starters on the bench, and Kirk Cousins only attempted 7 passes, so there aren’t many takeaways here.
Adam Thielen limped off the field Saturday night, after playing on 4 snaps. He’s reportedly dealing with a thigh bruise, but it “isn’t serious” per HC Mike Zimmer.
Irv Smith Jr. played on 15 of 15 snaps with the first-string offense. He played on just 64% of the team’s snaps last year, but Tyler Conklin (ankle) sat out, so I don’t think this is too noteworthy.
Indianapolis didn’t play very many of their starters, so there’s not much of note here.
Parris Campbell was out-snapped 12 to 21 by Michael Pittman Jr. and 12 to 20 by Zach Pascal, again coming off the field in 2WR sets. Bump him down your rankings if you haven’t already.
With some key starters out, Indianapolis went tight end by committee and running back by committee, as they did last year. TEs Mo Alie-Cox and Farrod Green played on 13 and 12 snaps respectively, out of a potential 21. Nyheim Hines out-snapped Marlon Mack 11 to 10, out of a potential 21 with the first-team offense.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Las Vegas
Los Angeles played none of their starters, so there’s not really anything of note here. Although Xavier Jones (19 of 37) and Jake Funk (18 of 37) split snaps with the “first-team” offense. Like last season, there might not be a reliable RB2 on this team.
Funk gained 37 yards on 6 carries (0 targets). Jones gained 29 yards on 7 carries, while catching his lone target for 10 yards.
Tutu Atwell caught 5 of 9 targets for 31 yards, while also losing 2yards on 1 carry.
Las Vegas sat out every player even remotely on our radar. Nothing of note here.
Seattle vs. Denver
Seattle benched all of their starters, so there’s not much of note here.
RB Rashaad Penny, in his first game back, earned the start, playing as many snaps (15 of 28) as Alex Collins with the “first-team” offense. Penny gained 8 rushing yards on 5 carries and 6 receiving yards on 2 targets. Collins gained 20 rushing yards on 7 carries and 17 receiving yards on 2 targets.
Teddy Bridgewater earned the start and was excellent, completing 9 of 11 throws for 105 yards and a score (0 interceptions, 0 sacks), including this impressive hookup with Jerry Jeudy. Through 4 total drives this preseason, Bridgewater has led his team to three touchdowns and one field goal. In total, he’s 16 of 19 for 179 yards and 2 touchdowns (141.0 passer rating).
Drew Lock, meanwhile, was far less impressive in relief, completing 9 of 14 for 80 yards (0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 2 sacks). I imagine Bridgewater is currently leading this QB competition, which means Jeudy’s stock is up and Courtland Sutton’s stock is slightly down.
Noah Fant played on 21 of 26 snaps with the first-team offense (81%). That’s about in line with his snap-share last year when healthy (76%).
RB Javonte Williams played on only 15 of 26 snaps with the first-team offense. Royce Freeman played on the missing 11 snaps. Melvin Gordon and Mike Boone were both out. Although I believe strongly in Williams’ talent, this isn’t the most encouraging. Williams is being drafted 30 picks above Gordon, and may already be the superior talent, but I firmly expect Williams to play behind Gordon in a committee for a good part of the season. That said, if he takes over the backfield by the fantasy postseason, he could still return positive value at his ADP.
Baltimore vs. Carolina
Lamar Jackson (rest), Marquise Brown (hamstring), Rashod Bateman (core), Sammy Watkins (undisclosed), and Mark Andrews (rest) all did not play — so the Ravens offense was left with a skeleton squad. Tyler Huntley started at QB while Devin Duvernay and James Proche were the top two WRs.
The only thing of note for Baltimore in this game is that J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards split snaps with the first team offense. Dobbins played 8 snaps while Edwards played 10, but it didn’t seem like there was any rhyme or reason for the rotation. Dobbins got the start and played the first two snaps, then Edwards came in for 3 plays, and then Dobbins got back on the field for 3 consecutive plays.
We got our first look at Sam Darnold in a Panthers uniform this weekend, and it didn’t last long! Darnold entered the game after a Tyler Huntley INT and had a short field to work with. He played just 7 snaps and attempted two passes. His lone completion was an 18-yarder on a comeback to Robby Anderson.
While DJ Moore (back) got the night off, Anderson and rookie Terrace Marshall got the start.
Marshall looked fantastic again, catching all 3 of his targets from backup Will Grier for 50 yards. So across two preseason games, Marshall has turned his 6 total receptions into a monster 138 yards. Marshall’s big highlight of the day was a 36-yarder on 3rd and 8 where he smoked the cornerback and made a nice grab up the sideline.
New York Giants vs. Cleveland
New York Giants
The Giants rested Daniel Jones and all of their starters again. So, the only thing we learned is that Devontae Booker operated as the main runner ahead of Corey Clement again. Booker played the first 16 snaps with the “first-team” offense and didn’t play another snap beyond the first quarter. Meanwhile, Clement didn’t enter the game until the second quarter and played into the fourth.
So, over two preseason contests, Booker has out-snapped Clement by a 27 to 1 margin in the first quarter of games. He’s the handcuff to Saquon Barkley.
The Browns rested all of their starters again, so there is nothing of note here.
San Francisco vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Once again, Jimmy Garoppolo got the start and he played the entire first quarter while Trey Lance entered the game on the first drive of the second quarter.
Garoppolo completed just 3-of-6 passes for 15 yards and threw a pick. He missed high badly on two passes, one of which clanged off of Brandon Aiyuk’s hands and was intercepted by rookie Asante Samuel. Garoppolo’s night ended after one sluggish 15-play drive.
Trey Lance came in on the second drive of the game, which ended in a punt. Lance’s third drive ended in yet another deflected interception, this time off of the hands of Mohamed Sanu. The pass was thrown a bit high and had a ton of zip on it, so Sanu didn’t have time to adjust. Lance’s fourth drive wasn’t much better and the 49ers went 3 and out.
Lance’s fifth drive was much better. He commanded a two-minute drill that ended in a quick dart TD to Mohamed Sanu and Lance would have had a nice 2-point conversion on a scramble, but it was negated by a penalty.
Lance played deep into the 3rd quarter and his best throw of the day came on a 16-yard score to Travis Benjamin where Lance looked off the safety, came back to the middle of field, and delivered a frozen rope.
Overall, Lance was up and down, but ended the day 8-of-14 for 102 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. His pocket mobility was on display, but it did feel like he was playing a bit too fast at times. Which isn’t unexpected, especially considering Lance basically did not play football in 2020.
HC Brandon Staley has followed the McVay Method and rested all of his starters this preseason. Easton Stick got the start and Jalen Guyton (35-of-36 snaps), Josh Palmer (22), and KJ Hill (21) were his top-3 wideouts.
Justin Jackson (groin) missed the game, so Joshua Kelley got the start and played the first 11 snaps with Stick and the “first-team.” The rookie Larry Rountree only played 10 snaps with the “starters” and then finished out the game by into the fourth quarter while Kelley rested after halftime. Rountree appears to be a distant fourth on the Chargers depth chart after playing well behind Jackson and Kelley last week as well.
New Orleans vs. Jacksonville
Jameis Winston significantly outdueled Taysom Hill in this contest, and is probably now the heavy favorite for starting duties, although HC Sean Payton declined to name a starting QB.
Winston went 9 of 10 for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns with the first-team offense (0 sacks). In relief, Hill completed 11 of 20 for 138 yards and 1 touchdown (2 sacks). For the second-straight game, Hill did not attempt to run. This was probably intentional, as Payton knows already what Hill brings on the ground. That should give him the edge over Winston if it were close, but it didn’t look at all close through the air on Monday night. Marquez Callaway again led the first-team wide receivers in snaps (16 of 16), and was again excellent. Through two games, and on just 23 routes, Callaway totals 8 catches, 165 yards, and 2 scores on 9 targets. His performance Monday night (5-5-104-2) probably boosts his ADP by two full rounds. And it’s warranted. Callaway — a Greg Cosell favorite — was already one of my favorite targets late in drafts, and I’m inclined to pay the forthcoming premium over the next few weeks… Earlier this week, I asked Saints beat writer Nick Underhill the following question. “Does Taysom Hill have a favorite target? If so, who? Does Jameis Winston have a favorite target? If so, who?” He responded, “Callaway and Callaway… There are no other choices.”
TE Adam Trautman was carted off the field on Monday Night. He’s scheduled to undergo an MRI on his foot on Tuesday. Per Adam Schefter, initial x-rays were negative, but Trautman was still experiencing mild pain. Not good. Bump down Trautman and bump up Juwan Johnson for now.
Running backs Latavius Murray and Tony Jones Jr. both played on 8 of 16 snaps with the first-string offense. Through two preseason games, Jones has posted lines of 12-106-1 (8.8 YPC) and 8-6-42-0. Murray, meanwhile, has been far less impressive 9-12-0 (1.3 YPC) and 4-3-15-0.
Apparently, in Payton’s eyes, Jones is currently the No. 2 running back on the roster, ahead of Murray. Even if this is probably B.S. — Payton just trying to light a fire under Murray’s ass — Jones shouldn’t be going undrafted in leagues. In fact, I suspect I’ll have near-100% exposure to Jones throughout the remainder of my drafts.
Jacksonville struggled mightily in the contest. And though Trevor Lawrence didn’t look great, he didn’t look as out of his depths as the team’s coaching staff.
Marvin Jones led the wide receivers in snaps with the first-team offense (17 out of 18), followed by Phillip Dorsett (16), Laviska Shenault (13), Collin Johnson (2), and Laquon Treadwell (1). DJ Chark did not play.
On just 12 routes, Jones caught 4 of 5 targets for 41 yards. Last week, on 11 routes, he caught 3 of 4 targets for 52 yards. As I said last week, the odds he winds up as the team’s WR1 are far better than current ADP implies… Shenault seems likely to come off the field in 2WR sets…
The big news: RB Travis Etienne — after sitting out the team’s first two drives — suffered a mid-foot sprain Monday night . Per Adam Schefter, this injury is expected to sideline him indefinitely. According to Ian Rapoport, it’s a Lisfranc sprain, which is significant. Obviously, this is massive for James Robinson. How massive? I’m not yet sure. We’ll have our projections updated some time on Tuesday.