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Overreaction. Baseless observation. Meaningless football. We’re all familiar with the phrases most attach to the supposed vanilla action witnessed during the Preseason. However, underneath the surface there are meaningful performances logged. To help determine what’s important for fantasy purposes, Brad Evans will scribble his random musings throughout the weekend.
SATURDAY OBSERVATIONS – KC/CHI, HOU/LAR, TEN/PIT, SF/IND, BAL/MIA, ATL/JAX, NO/LAC
Andrew Luck looks sharp, builds investor confidence
• Nearly reduced to rubble Preseason Week 2 against Baltimore, Andrew Luck resembled the savvy, on-point fantasy gemstone from yesteryear versus San Francisco. Though the QB didn’t toss many balls beyond 15 yards, the passes he did hurl were precise, on time and zipped. His best throw was a tight window laser to T.Y. Hilton on a slant route, a pass that split two defenders. Overall, he finished 8-of-10 for 90 yards (9.0 ypa) and a touchdown. After his effort, investor confidence in Luck is destined to grow.
Questions about just how recuperated Luck is remain unanswered. Can he really return to top-10 prominence? It’s impossible to say. Without much of a ground attack, the pressure is on for the grizzled Civil War general to produce. The offensive line needs to meld, and quickly, but if he can continue to put mustard on intermediate throws, the odds of him penetrating the position’s QB1 ranks are decent. Keep in mind, his opportunistic running and Indy’s rancid defense raise the floor.
Bottom line, due to the position’s unprecedented depth and knowing the risks attached to the passer, his 116.1 ADP (QB11) is closer to his 2018 ceiling. Personally, sinking a pick in Philip Rivers, Matthew Stafford, Ben Roethlisberger around the same point in drafts is safer. The jury is still out on whether Luck can deliver passes beyond 20 yards consistently. Regardless, his Saturday performance offered an encouraging sign.
• In the same year “Alf” is scheduled to return to the small screen, Alfred Morris could return to fantasy relevance. In his San Francisco debut, the Dallas castoff drew the start and ripped a number of sizable gains weaving through traffic while gaining appreciable yards after contact. On seven carries he totaled a ridiculous 53 yards (7.6 ypc). Indy’s shoddy run D lent an assist, but the vet deserves credit. As stated before, he’s a perfect one-cut-and-go back who is very familiar with a Shanahan system. Recall his best years were with Mike Shanahan in Washington.
The 29-year-old quietly notched the fifth-best YAC/att average (3.30) among RBs with at least 50 attempts last year. Though prized free agent Jerick McKinnon is bound to lead the Niners in touches, whoever secures the No. 2 gig will have some fantasy visibility, possibly netting 10-12 touches per game. San Francisco’s excellent offensive line and generally healthy environment boost the profile. For now, Morris’ performance Saturday puts him in the thick of the RB2 competition with Matt Breida. Give him a look in challenging formats.
Quick Hitters: Ragtag. Permeable. Absent. Whatever word you choose to describe Kansas City’s first-string defense, it’s going to be incredibly generous. Eric Berry, nursing a sore heel, wasn’t in uniform, but Chicago backups dissected Chiefs starters in all facets. Though Berry and CB Kendall Fuller are dependable defenders, the rest of the unit is rather exploitable. It’s why Pro Football Focus ranked the KC’s secondary No. 28 and defensive line No. 31 entering the season. Que up Chargers, Steelers and Niners with supreme confidence Weeks 1-3. Not to be forgotten, Patrick Mahomes may eclipse 60,000 pass attempts given the likely negative game scripts. A perfect storm is gathering … Dion Lewis is going to obliterate his career-best 36 receptions in a season. For the second straight week, Tennessee’s Mighty Mouse thrived as Marcus Mariota’s check-down read. In his last three quarters of Preseason action, he’s grabbed five receptions for 46 yards. Injuries are always a worry with Lewis, but if he stays upright 60-plus catches are entirely plausible. … John Kelly is going to win people a fantasy title this season. Yes, it will take a irrecoverable injury to Todd Gurley for it to happen, but it’s quite possible. The rookie from Tennessee is one of the virtual game’s elite backups. Through three Preseason games he’s racked 197 rush yards, three touchdowns and caught all six of his targets for 18 yards. Stash him in deep leagues … Speaking as a staunch Kenyan Drake supporter, please, believe the local reports Frank Gore and moronically hyped rookie Kalen Ballage are viable threats. In Miami’s dress rehearsal against Baltimore, the unrivaled starter totaled 68 yards on five touches. Last year’s YAC/att pacesetter (4.3 in the category) and fantasy playoff hero is undervalued at his 35.9 ADP (RB19). … In other Miami news, Danny Amendola is going to crank out employable WR3 numbers in PPR leagues, until one of his tendons explodes. Targeted a team high four times, he grabbed two passes for 23 yards and a TD. He may not attract all 10.1 targets per game vacated by Jarvis Landry, but 75-plus catches is a foregone conclusion assuming he plays at least 13 games.
FRIDAY OBSERVATIONS – NYG/NYJ, DEN/WAS, NE/CAR, SEA/MIN, DET/TB, GB/OAK
Adrian Peterson not done after all?
• In a victory for septuagenarians everywhere,Peterson, signed just days ago, tossed aside the Metamucil and proved to doubters, this writer included, he isn’t completely cooked. On 11 carries, the legendary back exhibited solid acceleration and break-tackle ability totaling 56 yards against Denver first stringers. It was more or less a one-game audition for the future Hall of Famer, a test he passed with flying colors.
With only plodders Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine to overtake, Peterson is one more strong performance away from sewing up early down work, at least initially. It’s important to remember he averaged a dreadful 2.3 yards after contact per attempt (RB54) and forced a missed tackle 13.5 percent of the time with New Orleans and Arizona in 2017. Still behind what should be a surplus run-blocking line, he could yield at least FLEX-worthy lines to begin the season. The brand name and situation will push his price and continued reservations are warranted, but if there from Round 10 on, he’s worth clicking the “draft” button for.
• All-Mancrush member, Royce Freeman, extended his TD streak to three games and solidified his position as presumed feature back for Denver. He, alongside undrafted rookie Phillip Lindsay, outplayed Devontae Booker working with the first team. His best run of the night was a 24-yard TD sprint in which the rookie bolted through a wide line gap, broke a pair of open-field tackles and galloped into the end zone.
Despite the youngster’s consistent delivery this Preseason, the $64,000 question remains: Will stubborn Vance Joseph finally come to his senses? Freeman, evidenced by his 4.0-plus yards after contact per attempt this month, is the chain-moving, arm-tackle busting Clydesdale this franchise sorely wants. His dynamite marks in yards after contact (5.0 per attempt) and tackles avoided (0.33) speak volumes. Freeman’s thick build, durability, power and versatility is exactly what Bill Musgrave needs to execute his ground-heavy system.
• The dagger continues to plunge deeper for Ronald Jones. Peyton Barber is the unrivaled starter in Tampa. On the Bucs’ opening TD drive, a series in which the underrated veteran showcased excellent between-the-tackles explosiveness, sharp vision and plus power, he tallied 34 yards with a score on five carries. His performance only validated his RB14 standing in yards created per carry last season. The man can impressively generate yardage on his own.
At this juncture, the near 20-pick ADP disparity between Barber and the rookie in drafts conducted over the past week needs to flip, and rapidly. There’s no competition. Week 1 against New Orleans, Barber is on track to secure upwards of 15-20 touches. Bank on it. He’s officially moving inside my RB top-30.
Quick Hitters: Carolina coaches are determined to transform Christian McCaffrey into an every-down RB. In two quarters of action, the second-year back touched the rock 12 times, accumulating 48 yards. The CMC Football Factory churned out inefficient numbers (e.g. RB52 in yards created per carry) last year, but with Ron Rivera and Norv Turner forcing carries, he’s a high-end Round 2 selection for obvious reasons. The Panthers line, battered by injuries, however remains a concern … Rodney Dangerfield All-Star Emmanuel Sanders did his best Tyreek Hill impersonation. Not only did he contribute measurable production via the air (4-61-0), the wideout also slice and diced his way on a 27-yard rushing score. After a downtrodden 2017, he’s in line to rebound in a major way. Case Keenum’s competency is light years ahead of what the Broncos employed at QB last fall. His profit potential is significant at his 73.2 (WR33) ADP … Elsewhere in Denver WR news, Courtland Sutton (186.6 ADP, WR68) is a beast in the making. His beautiful high-point reception against Josh Norman showcased his immense upside. Given his measurements (6-foot-3, 218 pounds), athletic profile (84th SPARQ percentile) and starting gig in three-WR sets, he’s sure to slide into owner starting lineups at some point this year. Sticking to my guns, he leads the Broncos in TD receptions this year. … Chris Carson (85.0 ADP, RB38) continued his assault on the starting Seattle RB job with another quality effort. On nine touches he totaled 46 and a TD. His forward lean, aggressive running style, evasiveness in space (6.8 evaded tackles per game in ’17) and reliable hands easily has him glued to the RB1 position. However, Rashaad Penny continues to lurk. The rookie may return for the ‘Hawks’ Preseason finale. A slow start for Carson at Den and at Chi could path the way to a full-blown 50-50 committee. It’s wise not to overpay.
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