Nick Fairley: My eating habits have 'gotten in the way'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who's now on the second string, said his eating habits "have gotten in the way" the past couple weeks, reports the team's website. Fairley said he weighs 315 pounds and wants to play at 305.
Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace was known as a "waste of money" last year after receiving $30 million guaranteed in free agency. According to CBS Sports Senior NFL Columnist Pete Prisco, Wallace is ready to prove his worth in Year 2 in Miami.
"Grinding is what he is doing more of now," Prisco wrote. "He stays after practice to work on the JUGS machine. He has added five pounds of muscle to get stronger, yet says he hasn't dropped any of his speed.
"The route running is better, more precise," Prisco added. "The adjustment of being on a new team, playing with new players, is also behind him."
Wallace will move around the formation and run more than go routes under new coordinator Bill Lazor. "This offense gives me the chance to run every single route in the route tree," Wallace said. "I get to move around. I like the speed of the offense."
Report: Geno Smith will start Week 1 barring injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
As expected, the Jets will go with Geno Smith as their starting quarterback in the regular-season opener, reports ESPN.com. An injury is the only thing that would change the team's plans and enable Michael Vick to start, the website.
Smith will start his third preseason game Friday against the Giants. In the first two games, Smith went 14 of 19 for 131 yards with an interception while adding a rushing touchdown.
Buccaneers cornerback Alterraun Verner took part in full team drills Tuesday, a significant step in his return from a tweaked hamstring. The team hopes he can play Saturday against the Dolphins but is more concerned with getting him ready for the Sept. 7 regular-season opener.
"It's definitely progressing," Verner told the team's website.
Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel struggled with calling plays and protection in Monday's game against the Redskins, reports NFL.com. Coming from a spread offense in college, Manziel has encountered a steep learning curve, the report said.
That was a factor in Cleveland picking Brian Hoyer as its Week 1 starter.
Ravens receiver Torrey Smith "anticipates a versatile role that incorporates his ability to run deep routes as well as short to intermediate patterns," reports the Baltimore Sun. Smith is the all-time franchise leader with 37 grabs of 25-plus yards.
"It's always a little bit of everything," Smith said. "I think that even since I've been here it's not like they have been sending me on 'nine' routes every play. It's definitely built, as you can tell, timing-wise, and trying to get you the ball and let you work in space, which I love because I can get the ball quick. It's a lot of room, and I feel like I can trust my speed to create some big plays."
Maybe the biggest complaint we've received this summer is that our mock drafts, while informative, are not realistic. Take one look at our Draft Averages and you'll see three quarterbacks going within the first 13 picks and nine in the Top 60 overall. That, some of you say, is more realistic.
This past weekend I was in Pittsburgh as part of a Fantasy Football event with 93.7 The Fan, the town's best sports talk station. As part of the event, we held a 12-team three-WR standard draft with 12 people who don't write about Fantasy sports for a living. I found the draft results interesting and thought I'd share them with you guys (and please forgive the handwriting, it's not mine ... not that mine is any good).
Some takeaways from this draft:
- Two quarterbacks in the first two rounds -- one in Round 1, one in Round 2. Again, is this realistic? Maybe it is, maybe it's not. You know your league better than me.
But what about eight quarterbacks through the first five rounds? That seems more realistic to "normal" drafts, not like ours where the majority of passers slip into Round 6 and beyond.
- Matt Forte, Doug Martin and Reggie Bush slide, Chris Johnson, Joique Bell and Rashad Jennings rise. Can I explain it? No. That's part of the fun variables of a draft with your pals -- they'll take who they like for the reasons they believe in.
- Doug Baldwin in Round 5. I can't ... I just can't.
- Ben Roethlisberger before Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, Tony Romo and Jay Cutler. Le'Veon Bell before Montee Ball and DeMarco Murray. Markus Wheaton ahead of Kendall Wright and Emmanuel Sanders. Heath Miller before Zach Ertz. Steelers DST in Round 12. Can ya tell this draft was done with mostly Steelers fans in Pittsburgh?!
Remember that location counts for your drafts.
- Teams taking two DSTs. I'd rather spend one of those roster spots on a sleeper.
- But most of all, owners tend to gravitate toward players they know already and not necessarily the new names, or at least names that don't have as much buzz. Those who are prepared and recognize some sleepers will benefit.
Any other thoughts on this draft? Post them below.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was pressured -- sacked, hit or hurried -- an NFL-high 290 times last year. No other quarterback was pressured even 250 times.
Most expected Atlanta's offensive line to be much better this year. The Falcons signed guard Jon Asamoah, drafted Jake Matthews at No. 6 overall to play right tackle, replaced center Peter Konz with Joe Hawley, and reinstalled Sam Baker at left tackle following his knee surgery.
While Baker is nothing more than serviceable, the moves enabled Atlanta to bench Lamar Holmes. Now Baker is out for the year with a torn patella tendon. The Falcons reacted this week by moving Matthews to left tackle and reinserting Holmes at right tackle.
How bad is Holmes? The numbers are staggering. Playing 13 games at left tackle and three at right tackle last year, he allowed 76 combined hurries, hits and sacks, second-most in the league. He committed 12 penalties, tied for second-most. Pro Football Focus rated him 75th among 76 offensive tackles. Only Arizona's Bradley Sowell was worse.
Before Baker's injury, Holmes was "somewhat on the [roster] bubble," per ESPN.com. Perhaps new offensive line coach Mike Tice can rebuild Holmes' confidence.
Training camp is over and we're a couple weeks into the preseason. Some rookies have looked great while others have left a lot to be desired. With that in mind, here's an updated Top 55 rank list for dynasty league owners ... with this important caveat: Need is an important factor in dynasty drafts -- please adjust these rankings based on what you need for your roster over the next 2-3 years.
Sankey should end up being the Titans' top running back this year and feasibly for the next five or six seasons. It's hard to not put Watkins second on the list but Cooks' quarterback is better and the short-term return on Cooks should be greater than that of Watkins. Sammy needs a better passer. Hyde might end up stealing some good work away from Frank Gore this year and take over as the main back next year, making him a potential stud by 2015. Evans and Benjamin are good consolation prizes as capable receivers in the early part of Round 1.
West should eventually settle in as the better back for the Browns but it won't happen so soon. Furthermore he doesn't quite have the long-term security as Hyde seems to have. But he's still a great first-round pick. I'm sold on Bortles and believe he'll eventually be a Fantasy legend once the Jaguars surround him with healthy receivers and an even better offensive line. Matthews also has a bright career trajectory so long as Chip Kelly stays with the Eagles. Ebron could take a while -- maybe a year -- to become a great Fantasy tight end. Freeman could end up fending off other running backs from a dominant workload in Atlanta. And Bridgewater should be a solid quarterback for the Vikings eventually.
13. Odell Beckham, WR, Giants 14. Andre Williams, RB, Giants 15. Marqise Lee, WR, Jaguars 16. Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals 17. James White, RB, Patriots
These four should contribute at some point this season, making them not just short-term helpers but long-term value plays. I really like Beckham's long-term future and Williams' short-term outlook. The problem for Hill is whether or not he'll eventually be "the guy" for the Bengals. White could end up having the same issue in New England but at least one of the guys blocking him (Stevan Ridley) is set to hit free agency in 2015.
I've been outspoken about my fears for Cam Newton this season: New receiving corps he hasn't meshed with, coming off of ankle surgery, offensive line issues and a track record of declining rushing numbers for Fantasy. But the addition of Kelvin Benjamin is forcing me to re-evaluate Newton.
In the Panthers' preseason game vs. the Chiefs, Benjamin was routinely blowing past defensive backs and getting open deep. Newton targeted him on one such deep pass but overthrew him -- proof positive that their rhythm is a work in progress. He body-caught another target for a 24-yard gain that eventually led to a Panthers touchdown, but again he got open. It's his size-speed combination that had the Panthers drooling during the draft process and Benjamin has put it on display in the preseason.
Newton, on the other hand, was clunky when (successfully) avoiding pressure in the pocket. Just didn't look healthy. As of now, Newton's ADP is at 84.49, the end of Round 7 in a 12-team league. I still wouldn't take him that high but I am warming up to the idea of pairing Newton with another quarterback you're not totally sold on and aiming for one of them to be your guy for most of the year. It's because of Benjamin, who looks the part of a deep threat receiver that opposing defenses have to account for. I have no problem taking Benjamin with a pick at his current ADP of 120.68 (Round 10 in a 12-team league).
Sunday's two preseason games were definitely interesting, but for varying degrees. We had four playoff teams with Denver at San Francisco and Kansas City at Carolina.
The Broncos spoiled the NFL debut of the 49ers new stadium with a 34-0 victory. And Cam Newton came back from his offseason ankle surgery to knock off the rust against the Chiefs in a 28-16 win.
Here's what matters to you ...
Peyton Manning is ready to go. He was 12 of 14 passing for 102 yards and a touchdown, which was a 17-yard pass to Julius Thomas. Manning is the No. 1 quarterback on Draft Day, but let him fall to the end of Round 1 at the earliest. His Average Draft Position at No. 5 overall in standard leagues is too high.
The running backs were of interest for Fantasy owners, and Ronnie Hillman started again with Montee Ball (appendectomy) out. Hillman had four carries for 19 yards and one catch for 6 yards on two targets. He's a late-round flier in all leagues, even when Ball is healthy.
C.J. Anderson got some work with the starting group, but he was second behind Hillman. Anderson had nine carries for 29 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 11 yards on two targets. Anderson would only be worth drafting if Ball remains out and Hillman gets hurt.
The good news for all Fantasy owners is Ball could return to practice this week. He's worth drafting in Round 1 in all formats.
Rookie receiver Cody Latimer won't make much of an impact this season barring an injury to Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker or Emmanuel Sanders, but he showed off his big-play ability with a 33-yard touchdown catch from Brock Osweiler.
For the 49ers, it was a long day, and this was not how they hoped to open Levi's Stadium. Good thing it was just the preseason.
Colin Kaepernick was just 5-of-9 passing for 39 yards but don't be concerned. He's still a Top 10 Fantasy quarterback this year worth drafting with a mid-round pick.
Michael Crabtree made his preseason debut after sitting out with a hamstring injury in the preseason opener against Baltimore. He had no catches on just one target, but he remains a low-end No. 1 receiver worth drafting in Round 4.
Frank Gore also made his preseason debut, and he had two carries for 12 yards. Gore remains a No. 2 running back worth drafting in Round 5, but make sure you handcuff him with Carlos Hyde, who is a sleeper on his own.
Hyde came in after Gore and had four carries for 11 yards and one catch for 9 yards. Hyde is worth drafting in Round 9.
There were three things to take away from the Chiefs, who were without Jamaal Charles (foot). Charles is expected to be fine, so don't panic.
1) If Charles were to miss time, Knile Davis would flirt with Top 10 running back status. He'd get plenty of work, and in Andy Reid's offense he'd shine. Davis had nine carries for 30 yards and three catches for 26 yards. He's an easy choice with a late-round pick, especially if you draft Charles.
2) Travis Kelce better be on your radar. He had his second touchdown in as many games, and he finished with four catches for 63 yards and a touchdown, which was a 43-yard play from backup Aaron Murray. Kelce is still technically behind Anthony Fasano on the depth chart, but consider Kelce with a late-round pick in all leagues. He's definitely on the rise.
3) Dwayne Bowe was a favorite target for Alex Smith. He had five catches for 62 yards on six targets. Bowe will miss the season opener after being suspended, but he could still be in line for a rebound season. He's worth a late-round pick as a No. 4 or 5 receiver in all leagues.
The Panthers got Newton back, and he looked shaky at times, as did his offensive line. He finished 4-of-9 passing for 65 yards and was sacked twice. He also missed Kelvin Benjamin on a wide-open throw down the left side, which might have resulted in a touchdown.
The best news is Newton came out of the game without any issues, and he remains a low-end No. 1/high-end No. 2 quarterback in all leagues. He's worth drafting with a pick after Round 9, but don't consider him the same guy as last year with the changes at offensive line and receiver.
Benjamin did nothing to hurt his stock. He only had two catches for 41 yards, but he led the Panthers in targets with four. Greg Olsen (calf) was out, but Benjamin could be Newton's best weapon this year.
DeAngelo Williams started at running back and finished with three carries for 9 yards and one catch for 5 yards. He's a low-upside reserve running back with a mid-round pick.
But Jonathan Stewart showed what he's capable of when healthy, which is always a risk. Playing behind Williams, Stewart had four carries for 26 yards and two touchdowns. His first run was 17 yards, and both touchdowns came from inside the 3-yard line.
The Panthers will use Williams, Stewart and Mike Tolbert, which hurts all three, but Stewart is worth drafting with a late-round flier in deeper leagues.
Let's hope the Steelers keep calling LeGarrette Blount a "co-starter." We can't hear Mike Tomlin talk enough about both running backs "getting their share" and each bringing a "lead dog mentality."
Le'Veon Bell's ADP is starting to fall. It's at 18 on Sunday. Thanks to Tomlin, it should drop into the late second round this week -- terrific news for Bell's value.
Pittsburgh is going to the no-huddle, shotgun offense this year. A lot. The Steelers scored out of the no-huddle on their first two drives Saturday night against the Bills. Those drives took 11 snaps; Bell played the first eight.
The second-year back blends smoothly into this offense. He’s slimmed down and looks quicker. He’s a natural receiver (45 catches in just 13 games last year). Blount, on the other hand, is a 250-pound hammer who can’t catch. He has three receptions the past two seasons. In two years at high-flying Oregon, he caught four passes.
When Pittsburgh gets a big lead and needs to kill the clock, Blount is the obvious choice. At the goal line, you can make a case for either (more on that later). But in the no-huddle, Bell fits and Blount is a mismatch.
Here's what we saw Saturday: Bell darting for a 6-yard run. Bell taking a 3rd-and-2 draw out of the shotgun for a first down. Bell splitting out wide and the defense following him.
Pittsburgh tried Blount as a receiver too; his pass route turned into an ugly incompletion. He ran three times for zero yards.
The Steelers handed Bell the starting job as a rookie -- he had no legitimate competition. This year they're trying to motivate him by constantly talking up Blount. In terms of touches, this split will be closer to 70-30 Bell than 50-50.
While even Bell expects Blount to get the nod in goal-line situations, Blount is not a superior short-yardage runner. Blount has gotten 19 carries inside the 5-yard line in his career and has scored seven times. Bell produced the exact same numbers last year: seven touchdowns on 19 carries inside the 5. Look for an even split at the goal line.
The Steelers turned around their 2013 season by going to an up-tempo, wide open offense. They're not going back to a plodding style. Count on 50-plus catches, 220-plus carries and great value from Bell at the back end of Round 2.
If you've targeted Sammy Watkins on Draft Day (or if you've already drafted him), hold your breath and cross your fingers.
Watkins, the rookie receiver the Bills traded a 2015 first-round pick to move up in the draft for, took a shot to the ribs from Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier (photographic evidence here) on the opening drive of the game and walked off the field. After getting checked on the sideline, Watkins walked to the locker room flanked by trainers and was done for the night.
Head coach Doug Marrone said after the game that Watkins had a rib contusion and didn't know if he had X-rays taken or not. More tests are in the rookie's future. NFL Network reported that Watkins will be "fine."
If so, the Bills dodged a real bullet because without him the offense is in trouble. To put it nicely, Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel was spotty against the Steelers as he completed 17 of 27 passes but averaged a meek 5.48 yards per pass attempt. Surely a player like Watkins would have pushed those numbers higher. Robert Woods replaced Watkins and led the team in receiving in the first half thanks to a nifty 30-yard catch-and-run.
Buffalo's run game wasn't much better. C.J. Spiller actually opened the game with a kick return and didn't get the first handful of snaps. Those went to Fred Jackson, who had 27 yards on six first-half carries. Spiller also had six carries but managed just 16 yards. Spiller didn't have any catches while Jackson had seven receptions for 28 yards. And for whatever it's worth, Spiller didn't play any more than three plays consecutively while Jackson had a few more snaps including those in the two-minute drill and inside the Steelers 10-yard line. One could assume their roles haven't changed from last season.
No one, in good conscience, can call Spiller a reliable pick in the third round of a Fantasy draft. There's just too much Jackson in the Bills game plan -- and justifiably so.
The story's way different on the other sideline as Ben Roethlisberger guided the Steelers on two straight scoring drives before stalling on a third. Roethlisberger and the team's no-huddle approach stole the show.
"I thought it was good," Roethlisberger said of the no-huddle offense. " ... It's about communicating with [offensive coordinator] Todd [Haley]. He's in my ear telling me different thoughts. That's how this thing should work. I thought we did a good job."
Roethlisberger checked out of a play on his second pass attempt, hitting Antonio Brown on a slant across the field. No Bills defender could wrap Brown up and he sped off 76 yards for a touchdown. The second drive lasted longer and ended with a 16-yard pass to Markus Wheaton in tight coverage in the back left corner of the end zone. Wheaton made a nice catch and kept his feet in bounds before falling to ensure the score. On the night Roethlisberger completed 8 of 11 passes for 128 yards (76 on the Brown play) for two scores. He wasn't sacked once.
Recognizing that Roethlisberger not only ran the no-huddle offense well last season but is also on top of it this season, it's probably not a mistake to call Big Ben a capable Fantasy starter who can be had with a late pick. If you draft any quarterback you have some concern over (Colin Kaepernick? Nick Foles? Tony Romo? Robert Griffin III? Jay Cutler?), Roethlisberger is a phenomenal choice as a backup. You could even get gutsy and take him as your starter with someone like Carson Palmer or Russell Wilson as a backup.
Antonio Brown remains a Top 10 Fantasy receiver. Markus Wheaton solidified his status as a late-round sleeper.
Additional note: Ryan Shazier is the real deal Holyfield. He had 11 total tackles and an interception for the Steelers, starting in the middle of their defense. He's the reason why the Steelers DST has a real shot to be very good this season (their early-season schedule is another reason).
Call it an off night for the Steelers run game Saturday against the Bills. Le'Veon Bell started and played the first eight snaps over two series for the Steelers but had just 11 yards on four carries and no catches. After getting three straight handoffs in the second series, Bell was replaced by LeGarrette Blount who played on eight straight snaps over two series himself but he actually did worse than Bell, totaling zero yards on three runs which included snaps with the second-team offense.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin insists their respective workloads haven't been determined yet and that Saturday's action was just a step in the process.
"We're trying to work both guys, but at the same time we want to get them enough extended action that we know them as fatigue sets in. Playing consecutive plays is a big part of that," Tomlin said. "Both guys are going to get their share but I want both guys to have the lead dog mentality, and in order to have that and do that you gotta see them for spurts of extended period of time. But don't read too much into it, we're just still growing and developing in terms of our division of labor. I like both guys, obviously, and both guys are going to be big components of why we're successful."
In a quick chat with CBSSports.com after the game, Bell said he's looking forward to learning from and sharing with Blount.
"He's going to keep me fresh, I'm going to keep him fresh," Bell said of Blount. "It's definitely important to stay fresh. Last year there were some runs I wasn't as fresh as I could have been. I could have maybe got more yards. LeGarrette, Dri [Archer], those guys are definitely going to help me out and I'm going to help them out as best as I can."
So does that mean Bell would be upset if the coaches gave Blount goal-line snaps?
"They probably will do that, that's probably what will happen," Bell said. "He's a big, strong guy, so when they put him in, he's in. We hopefully get that touchdown and I'm glad. I don't care."
Bell's comment is interesting because Blount isn't known for being the short-yardage/goal-line type. That doesn't mean he can't fit the role, of course. Blount's the bigger back of the two. Bell's versatility should put him ahead of Blount in terms of playing time, however. He's still rock solid as the kind of Fantasy running back you can confidently draft in Round 2, though pairing him with Blount and forming the Steelers backfield on your own roster is advised.
Tony Romo was back, Trent Richardson was bad and Sammy Watkins and Ray Rice were banged up. It was an interesting Saturday of preseason action.
Let's get to the games ...
Aaron Rodgers was in midseason form, going 11-of-13 passing for 128 yards and one touchdown, which was a 3-yard pass to Randall Cobb. Rodgers is my No. 2 quarterback behind Peyton Manning, and he's in line for a huge year.
Cobb caught all three of his targets and finished with three catches for 34 yards. He's a low-end No. 1 receiver worth drafting in Round 3.
Eddie Lacy looked great with five carries for 25 yards and two catches for 22 yards. He's an easy choice at No. 5 overall in standard leagues, and don't discount him in PPR formats. He's still a first-round pick in that scoring as well.
For the Rams, Sam Bradford made his first appearance since tearing his ACL last year. He finished 9-of-12 passing for 101 yards and a touchdown, which was an 11-yard pass to Lance Kendricks. His best throw was a 41-yard pass to Brian Quick. Bradford should be considered a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback with upside, and he's worth a late-round pick.
The Rams had two injuries Saturday with Isaiah Pead suffering a potential torn ACL, and Kenny Britt injured his shoulder. Britt, who had one catch for 5 yards on two targets, is expected to be fine and remains worthy of a late-round flier.
Pead was No. 3 on the depth chart behind Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham, and if he's out for the season that will help Tre Mason. But Mason had 12 carries for 30 yards and no catches on one target and has a long way to go before Fantasy owners in re-draft leagues can trust him.
Let's start with the good. Andrew Luck looks ready to go after he was 12-of-18 passing for 89 yards and a touchdown, which was a 5-yard throw to Griff Whalen. You'd like to see more than a 4.9 passing average, but we like the touchdown. And keep in mind he was without Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton, who were sitting out.
Hakeem Nicks also did well against his former team with five catches for 53 yards on five targets. Nicks could end up as a good value pick in the later rounds if he stays healthy.
Now, the bad, first for the Colts. Richardson had nine carries for 21 yards and one catch for 4 yards. This isn't good if you're expecting a Richardson rebound, and he needs a strong outing in Week 3 against New Orleans if Fantasy owners want to trust him as a No. 2 option in Round 5. The saving grace for Richardson is the Colts really have no one else to trust with Ahmad Bradshaw the only option.
The Giants would have gladly taken Richardson's 25 total yards because Eli Manning was 1-of-7 passing for 6 yards and looked lost. Andre Williams had his first down game with eight carries for 19 yards, and Rashad Jennings was held to seven carries for 17 yards.
We still consider Jennings a flex option, and Williams is right behind him in standard leagues. But after two strong games for these running backs against the Bills and Steelers they got a reality check against the Colts.
Romo made his return from back surgery, and he played well. He was 4-of-5 passing for 80 yards and a touchdown, which was 31 yards to Dez Bryant. He looked just fine throwing that pass down the field.
As long as Romo is healthy, he'll challenge for a Top 5 slot as a Fantasy quarterback this year. You'll love if your draft Romo late.
Bryant had three catches for 59 yards and the touchdown on three targets, and DeMarco Murray had eight carries for 34 yards and one catch for 21 yards. He also lost a fumble, but Murray is set up for a big season. I like all the Cowboys main options for Fantasy owners because their defense will be so bad, meaning a lot of shootouts.
Rice suffered a shoulder injury, but X-rays were negative. Any knock on Rice is going to lower his value because he's already out for the first two games with his suspension. He finished with two carries for 21 yards before the injury.
Bernard Pierce, however, ran well with seven carries for 55 yards, including a 30-yard run. I like passing on Rice in Round 5 and waiting for Pierce in Round 10. The value is better and the production could be similar.
Andy Dalton showed why he was a Top 5 Fantasy quarterback last year with his performance against the Jets. Dalton was 8-of-8 passing for 144 yards and a touchdown, which was a beautiful throw to Mohamed sanu for 43 yards. Dalton is a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback this year, and take into account the Jets secondary will be terrible, but he can still be a starter in deeper leagues.
Sanu's value is on the rise with Marvin Jones (foot) out, and he finished with two catches for 56 yards on two targets. He's a good late-round target in all leagues. A.J. Green also had three catches for 69 yards.
The best news was Giovani Bernard scored on a 1-yard run, and we like that the Bengals left him in at the goal line. If that happens all year he'll be a potential Top 5 running back in all formats. He's an easy first-round choice if you're not opposed to drafting running backs early.
Jeremy Hill had three carries for 16 yards and two catches for 13 yards, but he suffered a shoulder injury. If he's healthy, he's definitely worth a late-round pick, but a significant injury will only make Bernard better and keep BenJarvus Green-Ellis relevant.
For the Jets, Chris Johnson ran well with 10 carries for 63 yards. He had two catches for 1 yard, and he lost a 2-yard touchdown to Bilal Powell. Chris Ivory (ribs) was out for the game, but this was a good sign for Johnson. He still has flex potential, especially given Ivory's injury history.
Eric Decker (quad) didn't play in this game, so it's hard to judge the Jets passing game. Geno Smith was 10-of-13 passing for 98 yards and an interception, but he had four carries for 20 yards and a touchdown. He's going to win the job even though Michael Vick was 5-of-9 passing for 70 yards and a touchdown and had two carries for 16 yards.
We didn't learn much from the Dolphins with Lamar Miller playing little and Knowshon Moreno still coming back from his knee injury. Miller had just three carries for 3 yards, and he caught two passes for 20 yards on two targets. Miller is a great pick around Round 6, and we hope he can hold off Moreno for passing-down work.
Ryan Tannehill was again sharp, going 9-of-14 passing for 110 yards. He's a nice sleeper in deeper leagues.
This was Doug Martin's first game since Charles Sims had ankle surgery, and he had six carries for 24 yards and one catch for 4 yards. He's a solid choice toward the end of Round 2 in all leagues.
Mike Evans had a nice game with two catches for 52 yards, which was highlighted by a 41-yard grab. He's a good mid- to late-round selection. And Vincent Jackson had one catch for a 7-yard touchdown.
The Texans were without Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, so it was hard to judge this offense. But if you're looking for the handcuff for Foster, both Jonathan Grimes and Alfred Blue made an impact.
Grimes was the better rusher with nine carries for 42 yards and three catches for 25 yards. He's the top choice to back up Foster. But Blue scored on a 1-yard dive, and he finished with six carries for 22 yards. We could see a scenario of Grimes and Blue sharing time if Foster were out.
The Falcons are waiting to find out the extent of left tackle Sam Baker's knee injury, but it doesn't sound good. On our Eye on Fantasy Football radio show Saturday night, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason LaCanfora said Baker might be out all season. That will hurt the entire Falcons offense.
Julio Jones saw his first action since last year's foot injury, and he had two catches for 20 yards on four targets. He's a Top 5 Fantasy receiver this year.
Devonta Freeman ran better with five carries for 29 yards, but keep in mind Steven Jackson (hamstring) was still out for this game. Freeman is worth a pick in Round 8 or 9.
Hello, Kyle Rudolph. We already knew Rudolph was in line for a big season with the addition of offensive coordinator Norv Turner, but Rudolph looked great against the Cardinals. He had four catches for 89 yards and a touchdown on five targets, and he's a Top 10 option on Draft Day with huge potential. I love Rudolph with a mid- to late-round pick.
Matt Cassel essentially locked up the starting job with his performance tonight. He was 12-of-16 passing for 153 yards and a touchdown as the starter. Teddy Bridgewater will still get a chance to win the job, but he has a long way to go. Bridgewater will still start games this season whether or not Cassel wins the job now.
For the Cardinals, the story was about Andre Ellington's backup. Jonathan Dwyer got the nod over Stepfan Taylor, and that resulted in a goal-line score for Dwyer. He finished with five carries for 10 yards and the touchdown, and Taylor had eight carries for 17 yards.
Whoever wins this role is worth a late-round flier. Ellington, however, remains the running back to own in Arizona.
My colleague, Dave Richard, was at this game, and he plans to blog on what he saw, so stay tuned.
My quick take: Ben Roethlisberger, good. Antonio Brown, good. C.J. Spiller, bad. Fred Jackson, still relevant. Watkins, OK after hurting his ribs.
Friday night featured four preseason games, and there was plenty of relevant action for Fantasy owners. But two stories earlier in the day carried just as much weight.
The first was Charles Sims being ruled out for at least 12 weeks due to ankle surgery. That ruins a potential sleeper in Sims, especially in PPR leagues, and allows Doug Martin to see a boost in value. Martin is now a solid choice in Round 2 in all formats.
The other news item was Dwayne Bowe being suspended one game for violating the substance abuse policy. Along with the broken finger and last year's dismal season, Bowe continues to spiral in the wrong direction with his Fantasy value. He's only worth a late-round pick at this point heading into the season.
Now, on to the action ...
Stevan Ridley fumbled again, and he was immediately benched in the second quarter. The worst part was he was running well before the fumble with nine carries for 45 yards.
Ridley's saving grace is that rookie James White struggled in game action again with just 10 carries for 27 yards and one catch for 8 yards. White has apparently looked good in practice, but he has just 14 carries for 36 yards in two preseason games.
We'll find out if the coaching staff goes back to Ridley or gives White a longer look in the third preseason game against Carolina, but both running backs are trending in the wrong direction. Shane Vereen remains the best Patriots running back because of his receiving ability, and he had two catches for 21 yards against the Eagles.
Kenbrell Thompkins caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady and finished with three catches for 32 yards. Brandon LaFell also caught a touchdown, but his was from Jimmy Garoppolo, and he finished with two catches for 29 yards. Both receivers will likely take a backseat to Aaron Dobson (foot) once he's back on the field, and neither should be drafted in the majority of leagues.
For the Eagles, it was a much better showing this week than the first preseason game against the Bears. Nick Foles, who threw two interceptions against the Bears, was 8-of-10 passing against the Patriots for 81 yards and a touchdown, connecting with Zach Ertz for a 6-yard score in the second quarter. Foles remains a low-end No. 1 Fantasy quarterback this year.
Ertz continues to impress, and he finished with two catches for 26 yards and the touchdown. He now has six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown through two preseason games and looks like a breakout candidate and must-start tight end this year.
Jordan Matthews had a nice outing with nine catches for 104 yards on nine targets, but he spent plenty of time with the reserve groups. Still, Matthews looks like a nice late-round flier in all leagues, especially with Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) and Riley Cooper (foot) banged up.
Drew Brees (oblique) was out again, but that didn't slow down Jimmy Graham, who had five catches for 48 yards and two touchdowns. As long as Rob Gronkowski (knee) is less than 100 percent, Graham is well worth a first-round pick as early as No. 6 or 7 overall in all formats.
The Saints running backs had all three main options on the field this week after Pierre Thomas was out for the first preseason game against the Rams. Once again, Mark Ingram had the best game.
Thomas didn't get any carries, and Ingram (five carries for 19 yards) and Khiry Robinson (four carries for 11 yards and three catches for 2 yards) struggled running the ball. But Ingram actually had a 23-yard touchdown catch as he scored for the second week in a row. Thomas added three catches for 27 yards.
All three running backs are going to split time, and Thomas clearly has his role as the passing-downs back on a pass-first team, which makes him the best of the bunch. But Ingram will continue to see his Average Draft Position rise, and he's definitely worth a late-round flier. Robinson is also worth a late-round pick, and we'd love for one guy to emerge to avoid a potential headache all year.
Brandin Cooks was quiet with one catch for 16 yards, and the Saints were without Marques Colston and Kenny Stills. That allowed Joe Morgan to show off his big-play ability with three catches for 108 yards on four targets. It's doubtful Morgan will get much work when Colston and Stills are healthy, but keep him on your radar should any of the Saints receivers miss any time during the season.
For the Titans, the story of the night might have been Shonn Greene leaving with a knee injury. We hope he's OK, and he ran well before going down with nine carries for 46 yards. But if Greene is forced to miss any time then rookie Bishop Sankey would benefit greatly.
Sankey, however, didn't do himself any favors when he lost a fumble. He finished with six carries for 31 yards, but he can't afford any mistakes as he's trying to push for the starting job. Keep an eye on Greene's status, but Sankey could be an easy pick in Round 3 or 4 if Greene is out for an extended period of time.
Justin Hunter was the star of the nigt with four catches for 111 yards and two touchdowns on five targets. He caught a 4-yard touchdown from Jake Locker and a 64-yard touchdown from backup Zach Mettenberger. Hunter's ADP will definitely rise, and we continue to tout him as a sleeper heading into the year. He should be on your radar as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver with major upside.
Locker looked good with 8-of-10 completions for 75 yards and a touchdown, and he's a potential No. 2 Fantasy quarterback in deeper leagues. Keep an eye on him during the season because if he remains healthy he has plenty of upside. Mettenberger also looked good with 20-of-25 passing for 269 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Charlie Whitehurst (hand) left this game, and Mettenberger could move up to No. 2 on the depth chart, which is an interesting position to monitor given Locker's injury history.
This was a one-sided game amongst the starters, but the Chargers played Philip Rivers for only one series and rested Ryan Mathews. Keenan Allen did score a 13-yard touchdown for his only catch, which is encouraging if you plan to target Allen in Round 4 in the majority of leagues.
The Seahawks rested Marshawn Lynch for this game, and Robert Turbin showed he might be the better backup over Christine Michael. Turbin started and had 12 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown and one catch for 5 yards. He had a 47-yard run for the bulk of his production and scored from 1-yard out in the first quarter.
Michael, meanwhile, had eight carries for 45 yards and one catch for 8 yards. Michael's first carry was actually a 9-yard run, but he fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the Seahawks. This is a problem for Michael, and he has to prove he can hold onto the ball if he wants carries during the season over Lynch and Turbin.
Turbin could end up as the better late-round flier over Michael based on what we've seen through two preseason games.
Russell Wilson looked great against the Chargers with 11-of-13 passing for 121 yards and four carries for 31 yards and two touchdowns. He scored on a 1-yard run and a 5-yard run, both in the second quarter. His second touchdown came after a touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin was called back when Baldwin couldn't get his second foot down in the end zone.
This game proved, in a small sample size, that Wilson can still be a viable starting option in all leagues, but he's better at home and indoors. In those venues, don't be afraid to start Wilson for your team.
Percy Harvin was also involved early with four catches for 31 yards. If he can stay healthy he'll finish as a Top 20 Fantasy receiver.
Matthew Stafford came out firing with 9-of-10 passing for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Not that there was any doubt Stafford was in line for a big season, but he looks ready to go and should be drafted after Peyton Manning, Brees and Aaron Rodgers as early as Round 4 in the majority of leagues.
One of Stafford's touchdowns went to Golden Tate (Kris Durham caught the other). Tate had three catches for 41 yards and a touchdown on three targets, and he's looking like a solid No. 2 Fantasy receiver heading into the season. He's a definite breakout candidate this year.
The running backs did little to help Fantasy owners in this game. Reggie Bush and Joique Bell both had three carries for 7 yards, and Bush added two catches for 2 yards. Bush had the first carry for the Lions if that matters, but we'd rather draft Bell first in standard leagues and Bush in PPR formats, although both should be considered Top 20 options in each format.
For the Raiders, Matt Schaub struggled, going 8-of-13 passing for 87 yards and an interception. He is now 11-of-20 passing for 108 yards through two games, and Derek Carr might start to get an extended look.
The running backs didn't have a great night. Maurice Jones-Drew started and had six carries for 12 yards and one catch for 22 yards, while Darren McFadden had eight carries for 27 yards and a touchdown. We still like Jones-Drew better with a mid-round pick, but if McFadden gets the goal-line work (he had three chances to punch it in from the 5-yard line) then his value will rise. Neither, however, should be considered a starting option.