Week 3 of the NFL preseason is now underway as the stars that will lead teams to fantasy glory are getting one final tune-up before the regular season finally arrives. Let’s check-in on preseason developments from Thursday night and other NFL news in Friday’s Daily Dose.
Dolphins at Eagles
After completing three of six passes in his Miami debut, Jay Cutler returned to the field in a Dolphins uniform on Thursday night and racked up 105 passing yards and a score on eight attempts. As he did in Week 2 of the preseason, Cutty locked-on to DeVante Parker as the two hooked up twice for 78 yards. Cutler dubbed Parker “a faster Alshon” last week and while we have yet to Parker display the dominating skills that Alshon Jeffery showed when healthy in Chicago, Cutler’s sometimes reckless determination to force-feed his favorite target will play heavily in Parker’s favor. Over the last three seasons, Jeffery saw more than nine targets per game while Cutler was under center, and Parker certainly has the ability to thrive with a more adventurous quarterback shoveling him targets. Parker currently carries a 7th/8th round ADP and is the type of player that could cost a pick in the top two rounds next summer.
Speaking of Alshon Jeffery, Jay Cutler’s former teammate caught two passes for 35 yards and a score in this game. Jeffery is a certified playmaker and will flirt with WR1 numbers all season as long as he stays off crutches. Zach Ertz also flashed in this game, catching all three of his targets for 44 yards. Jordan Matthews’ departure will leave the middle of the field to the Eagles’ tight end, and don’t forget that Ertz saw 11 or more targets in four of his last seven games in 2016. Hopefully Carson Wentz targets Ertz on the field as much as I’m targeting him in fantasy drafts this month.
The Philadelphia backfield is also beginning to take shape, with Darren Sproles’ DNP carrying as much weight as any on-field performance. Sproles will likely lead the squad in snaps and has valuable PPR appeal for the upcoming season even though he was playing with Pogs in middle school when some of his teammates were born. For early-down work, LeGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood split carries with the Philadelphia first team on Thursday night. Blount is fresh off a ridiculous season in New England, but will find the end zone far more elusive with the Eagles. I’d give Smallwood a chance in the later rounds of drafts rather than risk Blount being used in limited fashion this season.
Panthers at Jaguars
The Jacksonville quarterback saga continued on Thursday night, as both Chad Henne and Blake Bortles extended their competition to see who will spend the season chucking footballs at Allen Robinson’s feet. Henne got the start in this contest and completed eight of 14 passes for 73 yards in a rather mediocre effort. Bortles had the luxury of competing against Carolina’s backups, and went 12/16 for 125 yards with one touchdown and one interception. While Bortles turned in a slightly better stat line, head coach Doug Marrone would not name a starter after the game, so the Jaguar’s quarterback competition will rage on into Week 4 of the NFL preseason. Whoever gets thrown into the starting role will likely be devoured by the Houston defense in Week 1.
On the Carolina side of the ball, Cam Newton was a cool 2/2 passing for 21 yards, including a touchdown strike to his pal Kelvin Benjamin. Newton’s other pass went to shifty rookie Christian McCaffrey, who looked solid once again while handling the rock. The rub with Carolina running backs has always been, and will continue to be, a lack of touchdown upside with a bruising quarterback the size of a doorway pounding touchdowns in at the goal line. However, McCaffrey makes the minds of fantasy footballers daydream of Week 16 championships, as the youngster simply drips with talent and upside. I won’t fault you for dropping a third-round pick on McCaffery, but things will need to go nearly perfectly for that price to pay off.
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Luck To Miss Regular Season Action?
ESPN’s Mike Clay hosted ESPN Colts reporter Mike Wells on Sirius XM on Thursday, and Wells gave some interesting insight on the status of Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck. Wells said that the “odds are against Andrew Luck playing Week 1”, as the star signal caller continues to heal after shoulder surgery. This puts the fantasy draft stock of every Colts player in sketchy territory, as the Week 1 starter in Indy could very well be Scott Tolzien or Stephen Morris. With the Colts offense heading toward train-wreck status, fantasy drafters would be wise to give players like T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Jack Doyle a significant downgrade as fantasy points will be hard to come by with Luck’s arm in a sling. As for Luck himself, his redraft stock will plummet as the regular season marches closer, and blowing anything better than a double-digit round pick on a quarterback with a bad shoulder should be considered extremely risky at this juncture. It’s not all bad news though…drafters can circle the Los Angeles Rams D/ST on their cheat sheets, as they host the Colts in Week 1 and will feast on the Indianapolis offense with Luck out.
Studly rookie receiver Corey Davis (hamstring) will be re-evaluated on Sunday as his fantasy draft price slowly creeps into enticing discount territory. … Seattle speedster Tyler Lockett (leg) will not play on Friday, along with Seahawks running backs Thomas Rawls (ankle) and C.J. Prosise (groin). Lockett is best left undrafted in most fantasy leagues at this point, while Rawls and Prosise should each contribute to the Seattle backfield in 2017. If Prosise can stay on the field, his role will likely be the most predictable of the Seattle backs this season. … Latavius Murray (ankle) will finally make his Minnesota debut on Sunday as he tries to prevent rookie Dalvin Cook from taking every last carry in the Minnesota backfield like the Grinch robbing Whoville. … The Chicago Tribune believes that rookie Tarik Cohen has a legit shot to see the second-most carries in Chicago behind Jordan Howard. The Bears don’t have many eye-popping options behind Howard, so Cohen could indeed be the handcuff in this situation, although drafting a handcuff in a lackluster offense isn’t a great bet in fantasyland.
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