NFL 2018 Preseason Week 3 Fantasy Football Notebook

by Dennis Sosic
NFL 2018 Preseason Week 3 Fantasy Football Notebook

Hello Fantasy friends and foes. Welcome back to the Fantasy Six Pack Fantasy Football Notebook.

It was dress rehearsal time in Week 3 of the NFL Preseason. This is when most NFL teams give their starters the most playing time. Honestly, do we really need a preseason? Well, that discussion will be for another date or time.

I reviewed the games and came up with the highlights of Week 3. What are the main storylines for Week 3? Who is winning the biggest position battles? Which players suffered injuries? Who are the winners and the losers of Week 3 of the 2018 NFL Preseason? Find out the answers to those questions and a whole lot more in the 2018 NFL 2018 Preseason Week 3 Fantasy Football Notebook.

NFL 2018 Preseason Week 3 Fantasy Football Notebook

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Who is winning the key position battles after Week 3?

Buffalo Bills - Quarterback

What a mess!  Believe it or not, their best option might be Nathan Peterman. His stats look great, 33 of 41 for 431 yards and three touchdowns, but those were a result of facing second and third-string defenders. A.J. McCarron, who suffered a shoulder injury last week in Cleveland, did not play, and it’s not clear on his status for Week 1. Rookie Josh Allen has had his moments but he has to break free in this race. It will be hard to watch Buffalo Bills football this season.

Dallas Cowboys - Wide Receiver

The Cowboys need to find someone for Dak Prescott to throw to after the retirement of former Hall of Famer tight end Jason Witten and the release of Dez Bryant.

The Cowboys brought in former Jaguars receiver Allen Hurns to help fill Bryant's shoes. He is the only receiver on the their roster with a previous 1,000-yard season. Hurns is fast and can be a good for a big play now and again, but he is not a special receiver. Third-round pick Michael Gallup has some big highlights this preseason and looks like he is on his way to being the No.1 receiver that the Cowboys need.

Prescott will depend on Cole Beasley and newly acquired Tavon Austin as his safety net options. Beasley was Prescott's favorite option last season. Austin is more of a gadget-type of player who can cause wrinkles to the offense and opposing defenses.

Look out for the breakout of Michael Gallup as we enter the second half of the season.

Denver Broncos - Running Back

Royce Freeman, Broncos third-round pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, has been one of the biggest stars of the preseason. In three preseason games, he has rushed for 84 yards and three touchdowns with a dazzling 5.6 yards per carry. He showcased big-play ability with two of his touchdowns on runs of over 20 yards.

However, Devontae Booker still sits ahead of him on the depth chart. Booker's play has been uninspiring with only nine carries for 33 yards. Freeman outplayed him in all three preseason games. Despite this, Booker remains the starter, but look for Freeman to take over in no time. Fantasy owners should draft Freeman as the Broncos' featured back. A great pick in the fourth round.

Jacksonville Jaguars - Wide Receiver

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Marqise Lee, the most-tenured member of the Jaguars' receiving corps, sustained an injury to his left knee after a hit in the Jaguars' Preseason Week 3 contest. Lee is out for the 2018 season on injured reserve.

The Jags had high expectations for Lee this season. He caught 56 passes for 702 yards and three touchdowns last season and tasked with being the leader of a young receiver group.

Second-year receivers Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole showed tons of promise last season and need to take their play to an even higher level. Westbrook will look to grow upon his playoff performance last season when he caught seven passes for 85 yards. Cole led the Jags in receiving yards (748) and was second in receptions (42) last season. Former Colt Donte Moncrief has yet to stay healthy enough in the NFL to show what we can do as a starter. There is also rookie DJ Chark, who has been impressive this camp and will look to utilize his 6'3" frame to battle for jump balls in the red zone.

Each of the remaining receivers has the opportunity to establish themselves this season. While there is really no star receiver here, there is talent and fantasy owners should take note in the later rounds.

New York Jets - Quarterback

The Jets' quarterback competition is a three-way race with no clear front-runner. Incumbent Josh McCown has been the steady influence and as always the fallback option.

Bridgewater, out of football for almost two seasons due to injuries, played like a starter and should probably be the Jets starting quarterback in Week 1. However, the rookie Sam Darnold seems to have locked down the starting role. His command and decision-making seem to have won over the Jets coaching staff. Fantasy owners are hoping McCown wins the job to help elevate the fantasy stats of all of the offensive weapons. Otherwise, it's a downgrade for each weapon.

Seattle Seahawks - Running Back

Chris Carson was a sleeper pick last season and was off to a nice start, but he missed the final 12 games. In a somewhat surprising move, the Seahawks selected running back Rashaad Penny in the first round. Penny has good speed and size and an outstanding college career. Unfortunately, he required surgery on a broken finger - cutting short his time in camp.

Since the start of training camp, Carson has been on top of the team's depth chart. He will start Week 1 and try to hold off Penny from overtaking. It is just a matter of when, not if, Penny becomes the Seahawks' featured back.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Running Back

The preseason stock of Peyton Barber cannot soar much higher. Following the 2018 NFL Draft, his stock plummetted due to the Bucs selecting Ronald Jones. The Bucs believed that Jones would be their featured back for the foreseeable future.

However, Barber was not having it. Through three preseason games, Barber has rushed for two touchdowns and has averaged over five yards per carry. While Jones is struggling quite a bit. In the last two preseason games, he had two yards rushing on four attempts. That's even worse than his nine yards on eight carries in his previous contest. With the regular season right around the corner, Barber is locked and loaded as the Bucs starting running back. Featured backs in the fourth round are hard to find.

Washington Redskins - Running Back

As we all know by now, rookie Darius Guice is out for the season after suffering a torn ACL during the Redskins' first preseason game. The only thing settled at the moment is that Chris Thompson will be the third-down/passing game back. Behind Thompson are Robert Kelly and Samaje Perine. Both had starts last season, both had injuries, and both missed several games. Neither stood out as backs who could take a featured role.

The Redskins decided to bring in former MVP Adrian Peterson, who looked like the team's best runner in an impressive preseason debut. He averaged 5.1 yards on 11 first-half carries. Peterson might actually be worth a late-round selection to ride him until he falls apart. When that happens is the question.

What were the notable injuries of NFL Preseason Week 3?

Marqise Lee, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

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Jaguars receiver Marqise Lee will miss the entire 2018 season due to a knee injury suffered in Saturday night’s preseason contest against the Falcons. In 2017, Lee caught 56 passes for 702 yards and three touchdowns.

With Lee now out for the season, the Jaguars will need to turn to a group of receivers led by Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole, second-round pick D.J. Chark, and Donte Moncrief. All are talented. However, none of them are standouts in their young careers. Is this where Dez Bryant signs? Stay tuned.

James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Rookie wideout James Washington left the Steelers' third preseason game when he hurt his abdominal muscle when he turned for the ball. Training personnel treated him and he did not return to the locker room.

Washington, who has seven catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns this preseason, believes that this was a minor injury. He said he will ready to go Week 1.

Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants

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Engram left Friday's night contest with a concussion. He is now in the league's concussion protocol. Engram is out for several days until they make the determination on his fitness to return.

Engram had an outstanding rookie season in 2017. With the Giants offense depleted with injuries, Engram shined with 64 catches for 722 yards and six touchdowns last season.

He looks to be a prime regression candidate as most of his stats were due to the lack of other offensive weapons. The Giants offense will welcome back Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and see the emergence of rookie dynamo running back Saquon Barkley.

Don't' expect anything close to last season's numbers for Engram. I would hesitate to draft him this season based on the previously mentioned regression. Plus, this is Engram's second concussion and the league protocol stiffens each time.

Hayden Hurst, TE, Baltimore Ravens

Ravens rookie tight end Hayden Hurst has a stress fracture in his foot and will undergo a procedure keeping him out for three to four weeks. Hurst has been impressive this camp and was a deep sleeper option at tight end going into drafts.

It looks like Hurst will miss the season opener at least and probably more. His full return is tenable. The Ravens need him back promptly with the likes of Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams trying to step in his spot. Hurst is only draftable in deeper leagues with opening IR spots on their roster.

Who were with Winners and Losers of NFL Preseason Week 3?

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Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets

The numbers show that Teddy Bridgewater outplayed Sam Darnold, but it looks like Darnold will start Week 1 as quarterback for the Jets.

One number that stands out is Darnold has taken 75 percent of the first-team reps in three games. His preseason passer rating is a mediocre 83.9, but he is accurate (64 percent completion rate) and mobile.

Darnold has the trust of the Jets staff but should fantasy owners trust him? I am concerned about Darnold and that offense for fake football. Darnold's longest completion is only 16 yards. That limits the offense tremendously. It makes me concerned about the wideouts, specifically Robbie Anderson. We might have to think of dropping him a few notches.

Peyton Barber, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Coach Dirk Koetter has already named Peyton Barber the Bucs starter after out-playing expected RB1 rookie Ronald Jones.

Jones struggled mightily this camp and Barber took advantage. Barber is a value target right now at his minimal risk double-digit round ADP.

Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins

There has been a recent buzz about how there might be a timeshare with Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore. I thought I was hearing things.

Drake is having a dynamic preseason. He rushed for 102 yards in three preseason games and averaged 6.8 yards per carry. Third-most of any NFL player with at least 15 carries.

It appears that Drake is picking up where he left off last season as he rushed for 444 yards during the final five weeks of the season, which led the NFL during that span. He was also responsible for the only three plays of 30 or more yards by a Dolphin starter.

Drake IS the starter and should be. While Gore will be sprinkled in here and there, look for Drake to earn RB2 numbers for fantasy owners.

Austin Ekeler, RB, San Diego Chargers

Ekeler was exceptional last season. He contributed 539 total yards on 74 carries with five touchdowns. He averaged seven yards per touch.

In Saturday's preseason action, Ekeler rushed six times for 50 yards and one touchdown while also grabbing three passes for 13 yards.

He is obviously behind Melvin Gordon on the Chargers depth chart, but he has solid upside and Gordon owners should make Ekeler a priority selection to handcuff.

Carlos Hyde, RB, Cleveland Browns

The former Buckeye has 17 carries for 108 yards and a touchdown this preseason. He shined in a Browns offense who is still trying to find themselves as they added new pieces across their offensive lineup.

He finished with career highs in rushing touchdowns (8) and receptions (59) last season with the 49ers. I do not believe he will top either number this season with the number of weapons that the Browns have on offense (WAIT, did I just say that?).

It seems fairly obvious the Browns game plan. Run Hyde on typical running downs with rookie Nick Chubb sprinkled in while Duke Johnson works the passing downs. Hyde's durability might scare owners away since he has missed 14 games since 2014, but he is a nice running back to select after round six of your drafts.

John Kelly, RB, Los Angeles Rams

Do you believe in handcuffing your stud running backs? If so, I present to you Rams running back John Kelly. He will be the backup to all-world running back Todd Gurley.

Kelly was dominant in Week 3, scoring two touchdowns with 63 yards on 15 carries. If you draft Gurley, you must draft John Kelly.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington Redskins

Peterson looked good in his first performance in what seems forever. However, temper your expectations. He had a similar output last season when he emerged in Arizona and went off for two huge games than hit the wall.

I am approaching Peterson, in the same manner, this season. He will probably start with the Redskins in Week 1 and probably have a good start or two. Then SELL, SELL, SELL. Always sell high! With Peterson, it's a no-brainer.

Geronimo Allison, WR, Green Bay Packers

Geronimo Allison is locked in as the third wide receiver on the Packers. Opportunity and volume along with catching passes from Aaron Rodgers should make him a useful fantasy contributor.

He is one injury away from being fantasy gold.

Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The expectations surrounding Godwin have exploded with a strong final stretch of his rookie season which peaked in Week 17. He earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors with his seven catches for 111 yards and a touchdown.

The former Penn State wideout has already passed veteran DeSean Jackson on the team's depth chart. Look for Godwin to receive plenty of targets in a high-octane offense when Jameis Winston returns from his two-game suspension. Don't sleep on Chris Godwin.

John Ross, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

After John Ross broke the combine record with a 4.22 40-yard dash, big things were expected out of the Bengals’ 2017 first-round pick. Unfortunately, injuries derailed the start of his career and he appeared in just three games and didn't catch a single pass.

In NFL Preseason Week 3, Ross scored on a 57-yard bomb that showcased his big-play potential.

Considering the Bengals released Brandon LaFell, there is an opportunity for Ross to make an impact. Speed alone makes him an exciting player. He is definitely worth monitoring.

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos

Sanders has looked great this preseason. His speed and quickness are now very evident and back after having a down season in 2017. After dealing with an ankle injury most of all season, he is now completely healthy and proving it daily in practice.

This season, Sanders will have a new quarterback in Case Keenum. Keenum's accuracy will boost Sanders back into the difference maker that the Broncos offense was lacking last season. Fantasy owners, please don't forget about Emmanuel Sanders on draft day, you will regret it.

Tre'Quan Smith, WR, New Orleans Saints

The Saints third-round pick has been the talk of the Saints camp. He continues to keep making himself known through three preseason games. Smith paced the Saints by catching all four of his targets for 39 yards and a score.

Tre'Quan Smith has made an impact on this Saints offense and looks to have a real shot of starting opposite Michael Thomas in Week 1. SLEEPER ALERT!


Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Blake Bortles makes you wonder out there. The Jags have a championship-caliber defense but their quarterback seems to want to throw away wins continuously.

He threw two picks against the Falcons but it could have easily been five. Bortles looks competent at times then he unravels and game over. Not sure if the Jags can win the championship with Bortles as their quarterback. NO defense is THAT great!

Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

I guess Nick Foles only plays well in the playoffs and in the Super Bowl. Foles was awful against the Browns, throwing two interceptions and struggled throughout.

Maybe Foles has lost his magic but based on the latest news surrounding Carson Wentz, the Eagles may need Foles to find it immediately.

Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rookie running back Ronald Jones came into this season with a lot of hype. Fantasy owners were drooling over Jones as he was scheduled to be the featured back for the Buccaneers.

However, Jones has played miserably this preseason while Peyton Barber has moved to the top of the running back depth chart. Jones, despite scoring a touchdown in his preseason debut, has more carries than yards this preseason.

Jones has a long way to go to be fantasy relevant.

Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

Ridley has been up-and-down this preseason as you would expect from a rookie. He caught only one of four targets in the dress rehearsal game while dropping two passes.

Ridley is a boom-or-bust option for fantasy owners this season.

Before you go, find out the players who are the biggest ADP movers in the 2018 Fantasy Football ADP Movers. See where all of the players are ranked by the Fantasy Six Pack staff as you head into your fantasy drafts, 2018 Fantasy Football Rankings.

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1 comment

Tuesday, August 28, 2018 – Fantasy Football Links | August 28, 2018 - 12:04 pm

[…] looks back at the highlights from Week 3 of the preseason to help you get ready for your […]


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