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Don’t be that knucklehead who shouts loudly, “The Preseason is meaningless!!!” Every August, surprises crop up during exhibition play providing meaningful insight into a player’s true fantasy flame or lame potential. Below are my thoughts and observations from Week 2. Stick around throughout the weekend for updates.
Underrated QB Lamar Jackson booms for Baltimore
Disparaging fantasy biases immediately emerge when “Baltimore” and “offense” enter into a conversation. In the waning days of Joe Flacco’s starting existence in Charm City, the feelings were warranted. But evidenced Thursday night against the Packers, Greg Roman’s system is packed with electricity, starting with sophomore sensation Lamar Jackson.
Last year, the then rookie QB was a half-baked casserole. Operating in a stripped down offense, he often struggled as a passer, routinely tossing weak-armed wounded ducks. Porous outputs in multiple completion percentage categories (e.g. QB38 in adjusted cmp%) clearly showed he was a work in progress. Still, despite his inadequacies, he finished as a QB1 while a full-time starter, propelled by his steady rushing production.
However, if his efforts Thursday are a harbinger, the needle is pointing way up. Jackson was cool, comfortable and in command. In Roman’s inventive scheme, he made numerous crisp and accurate throws, finishing the night 6 of 10 for 58 yards. He also chipped in 14 rush yards. His most impressive play of the night occurred on what would’ve been a brilliant TD scamper, a scurry wiped out by a chop block call. Stepping up and taking off in the pocket he sprinted forward, slid through contact and leapt over a defender. Sick.
If his rapid development, which has been talked up throughout training camp, continues to advance, a top-eight finish is in the cards. At his 136.2 ADP (QB15), you’re pulling wool over the eyes of nonbelievers.
Quick hitters: Is Mark Ingram a forgotten man? It seems many are not talking about the former Saint. Maybe they should. On four carries, the rusher barrelled his way through Green Bay defenders, running with the force of a runaway beer truck. A YAC stud in New Orleans last year (3.20 YAC/att), he should consistently churn through defensive lines functioning behind a premium front. Close to 1200 total yards with 7-9 TDs isn’t reaching. He’s a nice value at RB22 (45.8 ADP) ... Mostly against backups, Miles Sanders showcased the wiggle, bounce, burst and cutting ability of a future fantasy star, tallying 31 yards on five carries. He predictably rotated with Jordan Howard, but the rookie, who Philly GM Howie Roseman felt was the complete package after taking him in Round 2 back in April, looked the part. Doug Pederson won’t feed him 15-plus times out of the gate, but let it simmer. Keep in mind the Eagles have quite possibly the best run-blocking line in pro football ... Mark it down, Robby Anderson, who was unstoppable during the fantasy playoffs last year (WR2 Weeks 14-16), is about to crack the position’s top-20. His chemistry with Sam Darnold appears unbreakable. Targeted three times, he snagged three passes for 32 yards working outside the numbers and underneath. At his 69.8 ADP (WR31), there are few mid-draft options with higher upside. ,.. Power, decisiveness, quick feet, strong cuts — rookie RB Josh Jacobs was terrific in brief action versus Arizona. On four carries he totaled 21 yards. Primed for a vigorous workload (280-300 touches), he’s a reliable RB2 target in the Round 3-4 range (42.3 ADP, RB20). ... People who are overreacting to Arizona’s sluggish performance against Chucky’s Raiders need to simmer. It’s extremely doubtful Kliff Kingsbury is showing even a single card in his hand. I’m still bullish on Kyler Murray and cohorts despite their struggles handling stiff blitzes. Raid the rack if options are discounted in your draft.
... Zeke who? With the in incumbent back from his self-imposed exile in Cabo, his backup plan, rookie Tony Pollard (153.9 ADP, RB55), ripped through Rams defenders a few thousand miles away in Honolulu. Described as “special” by Dak Prescott earlier in camp, the rusher exhibited tremendous vision, balance, power and versatility running with the ones. He finished with 51 yards and a score on six touches. Expectations are Elliott will apply pen to paper at some juncture, but if a stalemate occurs, Pollard would likely be an early-season sensation. Dallas opens with the Giants and Redskins ... Darrell Henderson (83.3 ADP, RB36) may be a tad bit overvalued. Against the Cowboys in sun-splashed Hawaii, the much hyped youngster continued to struggle adapting to Sean McVay’s zone scheme. He was highly active as a pass catcher (6-38-0), an area McVay feels the greenhorn can contribute in a Chris Thompson-like capacity, but it’s pretty clear he still has work to do. If Todd Gurley’s knee balloons at any point in September, Malcolm Brown (211.8, RB68) could earn more work than people believe. ... Josh Gordon’s reinstatement generated a buzz Saturday at the second-annual King’s Classic fantasy “expert” draft at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. Hearts were so aflutter, the troubled WR enticed a $13 winning bid in the PPR auction. Naturally, yours truly was the highest bidder. Jakobi Meyers continued his torrid Kembrell Thompson act versus Tennessee (6-6-82-0), but with N’Keal Harry battling injury, it’s pretty clear Gordon (73.5 ADP, WR32) will command a sizable target share starting Week 1 against Pittsburgh. Recall he was WR23 over a nine-game stretch in which he registered 78-plus percent of the snaps.