Another exciting week of preseason is in the books, and as we look forward to seeing more of the starters next week lets take a look at what happened in this week’s action.
Carolina Panthers- My best friend’s league drafted before the preseason this year. His league is a keeper league that allows up to three keepers, and one of his was Kelvin Benjamin. On Wednesday, during a joint practice with the Miami Dolphins the number one wide receiver for the Panthers went down during a route. It was non-contact related, but Panthers fans around the country heard the impact of Benjamin hitting the ground. After Benjamin was sent back to Charlotte for an MRI everyone’s worst fears were realized. Benjamin is still the number one wide receiver for the Panthers, but he will be sitting this season out with a torn ACL. Greg Olson’s fantasy value will be even higher now that he is the only true number one receiver on the team, and rookie Devin Funchess is certainly worth a look now in later rounds. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Funchess getting some snaps with the first team in this week's matchup against the Patriots.
Another report out of Carolina is coming from the bottom of the depth chart as undrafted running back Brandon Wegher scores twice more in his second preseason game after scoring the game-winner in the first. While he probably won't see any significant playing time if he makes the 53 man roster, it's important to note that last season the Panthers had three running backs injured at one point.
New Orleans Saints- New England head coach Bill Belichick had some praise for second-year wide receiver Brandin Cooks. After Cooks scorched the Patriots secondary on plays for 45 and 36 yards during their Sunday matchup Belichick was happy to not be in the NFC South. "I’m glad we don’t have to face them twice a year he’s not in our division," said Belichick. "He’s a really good player." It looks like all the work that Cooks has been putting in during the offseason is paying off. Bill Belichick doesn’t throw compliments around very often.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jameis Winston’s stat line versus the Bengals was 8 of 13 for 90 yards and one rushing touchdown. Winston showed off his arm strength, poise in the pocket, and he added in another rushing touchdown as a cherry on top. He would have had more yards but one completion was called back due to a penalty, and a receiver dropped another.
Mike Evans left Monday night's preseason game against the Bengals with a hamstring injury. The injury is not believed to be serious, and it appears he was pulled as a precaution.
New England Patriots- The Patriots signed Reggie Wayne to a one-year contract on Monday. The former Colt receiver will add a veteran presence on the depth chart, and with Brandon LaFell expected to start the season on the PUP list, it makes sense. Wayne probably won't be winning games for fantasy owners anytime soon, but if you are in a pinch due to injuries and drafting before the end of preseason than he might be someone to pay attention to.
New York Giants- The Giants are dealing with significant injuries to several positions on their roster, but none as significant as the injured Victor Cruz. The Giants receiver has been dealing with a calf injury that has kept him sidelined for the majority of the preseason. It is still preseason, so coaches are careful with the wide receiver, but head coach Tom Coughlin has expressed some concern that Victor Cruz might not be ready to play this week.
Washington Redskins- Robert Griffin III suffered a concussion in Sundays game against the Lions. As far as progress from last season goes it looks like more of the same in Washington. Griffins footwork and technique leaves much to be desired. And the fact the coach Gruden left his injury prone quarterback in the game getting pummeled behind an O-line that was performing terribly means that not much has changed from last year. Griffin’s fantasy stock is practically non-existent.
Philadelphia Eagles- Sam Bradford made his preseason debut Saturday against in a 40-17 win against the Ravens. Bradford spent the offseason recovering from his second career ACL injury, and everyone in the Eagles organization has been itching to see him on the field in game action. Bradford only played in one series and threw 3 –for-5 for a total of 35 yards. The drive went a total of 84 yards and resulted in a touchdown. It’s obvious that the Eagles wanted to keep Bradford’s field time limited in his first game back, but the glimpse that we saw of him looked good.
Kansas City Chiefs- Quarterback Alex Smith threw his first touchdown to a wide receiver in 2 years during their preseason matchup against the Seahawks. The receiver was the newly acquired Jeremy Maclin. This probably says more about Maclin’s fantasy value than it does Alex Smiths. In fact, I would say the only problem with Maclin’s fantasy outlook is, well, Alex Smith.
Denver Broncos- Fantasy owners have certainly been paying attention to the Broncos this offseason. There is a new head coach in town and the word on the street is he likes to run the ball. Head coach Gary Kubiak’s run heavy style might be just the answer to helping rest the aging Peyton Manning’s arm this season, and there are a couple of good running backs on the Broncos roster. CJ Anderson is being drafted fairly high in most mock drafts I have done, but it's Ronnie Hillman, who is making all the noise this preseason. Hillman has carried the ball 16 times for 120 yards at 7.5 yards per carry. Kubiak believes that Hillman should get more reps, and there aren’t too many that can argue with that logic. The backfield that looked like a one man show a month ago seems to be looking more like a duet.
San Francisco 49ers- Wide receiver Jerome Simpson has been dealt a six-game suspension for marijuana possession, reckless driving, and having an open container in the vehicle last season while a member of the Viking’s. The 49ers acquired Simpson with the understanding that there could be potential disciplinary actions taken against him.
Former Australian rugby player Jared Hayne is continuing to give coaches a reason to keep him after taking advantage of some punt return opportunities in Sunday night's game against the Cowboys. He returned punts for 27, 34, and 23 yards while also leading the team in rushing with 54 yards on eight carries. He may not be ready to start in the regular season, but he certainly is making it hard to cut him. That’s all anyone could ask from someone who has never played the game, and this season it looks like he might get his chance to make an NFL team. Don’t believe me? Here’s three videos to back me up.
Seattle Seahawks- Tyler Lockett showed his return skills last week, and this week he led the team in receiving with 47 yards. Lockett is quickly becoming someone worth paying attention to in fantasy this season.
Green Bay Packers- Star wide receiver Jordy Nelson is out for the season after suffering a "severe" ACL injury during the preseason matchup against the Steelers. Remember my friend that drafted Kelvin Benjamin? Well, he also drafted Jordy Nelson, and now it’s as if he gave away his first two draft picks. Never draft before the preseason is over. Randall Cobb’s fantasy value has spiked significantly as he will be Aaron Rodgers go-to receiver this season. Another receiver to think about picking up is Devante Adams. Adams is the player that head Coach McCarthy called the "MVP" of training camp. On paper, Adams has all of the skills and measurable necessary to step up and contribute in the Packers explosive passing attack.