2011 Fantasy Football: Preseason Fantasy Stock - Week 3
With preseason underway, there will be updates daily to this 2011 Fantasy Football Preseason Stock page. Games will be added as I watch them. Adjustments will be made on my 2011 Fantasy Football Rankings accordingly. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.
2011 Fantasy Football Preseason Stock - Week 3
Jets at Giants
Shonn Greene, RB, Jets
Shonn Greene didn't play in Week 2, but started against the Giants on Monday night. He rushed for 42 yards on 11 carries, and was even targeted three times. Greene is not going to play on third down anytime soon, but it's nice to see him somewhat involved in the passing game.
Plaxico Burress, WR, Jets
I think the Jets should reconsider this whole Plaxico Burress experiment. Burress was targeted a team-high four times against the Giants, yet he couldn't pull in a single reception. He doesn't look anything close to the dominant receiver of a couple of years ago. The announcers noticed this as well, stating that Burress didn't have his "legs under him" quite yet. Considering that he's 34, it's likely that he never will.
Eli Manning, QB, Giants
Did Eli Manning really call himself a top-five quarterback? Did he forget to add the zero at the end? Because based on the way he's played this preseason, he's barely in the top 50. Manning looked like he raided Derek Anderson's liquor cabinet prior to playing against the Jets. He threw for 200 yards, but went 15-of-30 and heaved two ugly picks. He seldom went through his progressions, he made poor decisions (the second pick was into double coverage), and he constantly overthrew his wideouts. On one occasion, he completely missed a wide-open Mario Manningham, who blew by two Jets defensive backs for what could have been an 85-yard touchdown.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants
Brandon Jacobs picked up where he left off last week, rumbling for 51 yards on 10 carries. He looks great, and at this point, it'll be shocking if he doesn't get at least a 40-60 split with Ahmad Bradshaw.
Mario Manningham, WR, Giants
Mario Manningham saw a team-high nine targets against the Jets. He caught only three balls for 36 yards, but that had more to do with Eli Manning's struggles. Manning missed a wide-open Manningham for an 85-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Manningham is showing that last season's strong finish wasn't a fluke; he's a strong WR2.
Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys
I'm sure all of you are anticipating a Felix Jones update because I have him ranked higher than just about anyone. Jones was great yet again at Minnesota, rushing for 20 yards and a touchdown on five carries in about one-and-a-half quarters of action. He was also targeted four times, catching three balls for 18 receiving yards. Jones looks like a completely different running back than what we've saw the past couple of years. His new bulk gives him good power - he was on the field at the goal line - and he still has his speed and quickness. He's a must-have in all fantasy leagues.
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys
One other stud I want to talk about is Dez Bryant. The second-year wideout saw a whopping nine targets come his way against the Vikings (one in the end zone), and he managed five receptions for 67 yards in one half of work. Miles Austin-Jones didn't play - he was out with a hamstring - but Tony Romo made an effort to feed the ball to Bryant, who really looks like he could break out this season. Try to get him on your team as well. With Austin-Jones dealing with the always-frustrating hamstring, Bryant could be Dallas' top producer at the position in 2011.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings (PPR)
Some good and bad regarding Adrian Peterson. The All-Pro back looked as strong and spry as ever against the Cowboys, juking defenders, running with power and showing off his great speed. He gained 81 yards on 14 carries. However, he was not on the field in third-down situations or in the two-minute drill just prior to halftime. Lorenzo Booker took over that role. It's a concern for Peterson's PPR status.
Bernard Berrian, WR, Vikings
Where did this come from? Bernard Berrian tied the team lead with five targets against Dallas, including a 49-yard touchdown bomb from Donovan McNabb. Don't get too excited though; Berrian hauled in just two of the five balls thrown to him for 64 yards, proving once again that he's an inefficient receiver. I wouldn't spend a fantasy draft pick on him, but monitor him as a possible waiver-wire addition.
Daniel Thomas, RB, Dolphins
If you haven't been paying attention to the Miami running back situation, don't draft Daniel Thomas. Thomas didn't even see the field until the middle of the second quarter of the Tampa game and even lost a goal-line carry to Reggie Bush later in the period. Thomas did have a nice, 9-yard run after halftime, but was stuffed on a 3rd-and-1 on the next play. Tony Sparano has reportedly lost confidence in Thomas, so it doesn't make much sense to pick him unless he drops to you very, very late in your draft.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Dolphins
Brandon Marshall caught two balls for 90 yards and a touchdown at Tampa Bay. Marshall completely abused some Bucs corner named E.J. Biggers throughout the first half. He beat Biggers on a 60-yard touchdown on the opening drive and then drew a pass interference penalty on him in the second quarter. He also drew the same infraction later on Myron Lewis. Marshall is a stud receiver, but if you draft him, you'll have to deal with Chad Henne's frustrating inconsistency.
Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers
As surprising as it was to see Chad Henne light it up, it was equally shocking to see Josh Freeman struggle against Miami. Freeman went 12-of-23 for 149 yards, but that doesn't tell the whole story. He easily could have tossed two interceptions; the first was dropped by safety Yeremiah Bell on the opening drive. The second nearly occurred in the second quarter when Freeman tried to force the ball into LeGarrette Blount in between two defenders. Freeman threw only six picks last year, but he's going to have many more if he doesn't improve his decision-making.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers
LeGarrette Blount struggled to find running room (5-10) against Miami, but he led the Buccaneers in receiving yardage with 62 off three receptions (most of which came on a 52-yard burst). Blount was targeted four times, which is huge. He's not going to be the third-down back or anything, but Josh Freeman appears comfortable using Blount as part of the passing attack. It's a strong possibility that Blount will catch 20 balls in 2011.
Kellen Winslow Jr., TE, Buccaneers
Kellen Winslow Jr. was leading the Buccaneers in targets (4) when he left the Miami game with an ankle injury. It's reportedly not serious, so Winslow deserves a stock up. He's finally healthy, so he figures to be a big part of Tampa's offense.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints
I'd say this was a far cry from two weeks ago. Drew Brees really struggled against the 49ers in the preseason opener, but he was in mid-season form at Oakland. In just three drives, Brees went 15-of-23 for 189 yards, as he completely abused Raiders rookie corner DeMarcus Van Dyke. He was unstoppable despite missing reliable slot receiver Lance Moore. The only reason Brees didn't throw a touchdown was because Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas each scored on the ground on the first two possessions. The Saints managed a field goal on the third.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints
Jimmy Graham received nine targets from Drew Brees in just three drives against the Raiders, catching five balls for 73 yards. He won't normally receive this many targets per possession (Lance Moore was out), but he's a stud. Drew Brees toyed with the Oakland defense, moving his talented tight end around and creating mismatches. Graham could easily finish as a top-three tight end this year. Make sure you get him in your fantasy draft because he's being selected too late.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
I never thought I'd ever see a veteran starting quarterback attempt 42 passes in any preseason game, let alone in just one half of action. Matt Ryan did just that, going 22-of-42 for 220 yards, one touchdown and an interception prior to halftime at Pittsburgh. His stats could have been much better. He launched a beautiful 52-yard touchdown bomb to Julio Jones, but the rookie wideout had the ball bounce right out of his arms. Another potential score was nullified because of a Tony Gonzalez pass interference penalty. Ryan also had an uncharacteristic drop by Roddy White; the ball hit the All-Pro wideout right in the face mask.
Roddy White, WR, Falcons
Roddy White wasn't a big part of the offense in the first two weeks of the preseason, so it was somewhat of a relief to see him receive 11 targets against the Steelers. White caught eight of those 11 attempts for 101 yards and a touchdown. He remains a late first-round pick in PPR leagues.
Julio Jones, WR, Falcons
Julio Jones was showcased in his preseason debut, but wasn't a big part of the offense in Week 2. Well, he picked up where he left off in the opener, getting a whopping 10 targets from Matt Ryan in one half of action at Pittsburgh. Jones hauled in five receptions for 59 yards, but inexcusably let a ball go right through his hands on what could have been a 52-yard touchdown bomb in the second quarter.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons
Tony Gonzalez saw eight targets in a half of action at Pittsburgh, but caught four balls for only 26 yards. Two incompletions were the result of Gonzalez being unable to get off the ground. I'm not kidding when I say this, but he may have a 2-inch vertical leap right now. It just didn't look like he could jump at all. He's also having trouble separating; he needed to shove off a defender in the end zone to catch a touchdown. He was whistled for an offensive pass interference penalty.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger threw nearly a third as many times as Matt Ryan in the preseason Week 3 contest, but finished with almost as many passing yards. Big Ben went 11-of-16 for 214 yards and two touchdowns, thanks to two separate deep bombs to Antonio Brown. With Brown and Emmanuel Sanders emerging, Roethlisberger has more weapons than ever. He could finish as a top-six fantasy quarterback this year.
Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers
Yeah, so, I don't think Mike Wallace is getting his 2,000 receiving yards this year. How about 1,000 receiving yards? Wallace caught no passes against Atlanta. He's been targeted just four times this preseason, which has to be a major concern if you plan on drafting him late in your second round.
Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers
The Steelers color analyst on second-year wideout Antonio Brown: "If you don't love this kid, and if you don't think he's going to be a superstar in this league, then you don't know football." Brown definitely flashed that superstar potential against the Falcons, catching four of his five targets for a whopping 137 yards and two touchdowns. He showed off his incredible speed during his first score when running away defenders after catching a deep pass in the middle of the field. He was also used on an end-around in the opening quarter. He gained only one yard, but it's a bonus that he's being used in this capacity. Brown is now one of my favorite late-round sleepers.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears
Matt Forte rushed for 74 yards on 17 carries at Tennessee, but that's not why I'm giving him a stock up. Forte, not Marion Barber, received a pair of carries inside the 5-yard line on the second drive of the game, converting one for a touchdown. When the Bears brought in Barber, many assumed he'd get the goal-line work. Apparently, that's not the case.
Earl Bennett, WR, Bears
I'm now fully convinced that Earl Bennett is the receiver you want to own in Chicago's offense. Bennett leads the Bears in targets in each of the past two weeks; his six targets at Tennessee gives him 11 in the past couple of games. And unlike some other receivers (cough, Roy Williams), Bennett is actually converting these targets; he snagged five passes for 69 yards from Cutler in two-and-a-half quarters of action. He would later haul in a 20-yard grab from Caleb Hanie.
Roy Williams, WR, Bears
Roy Williams saw four targets against the Titans. He converted two of them for 33 yards. However, he was responsible for an interception when the ball went right through his hands on the first drive of the game. Williams is a bum, and if he continues to cost his team, he'll be benched in favor of Johnny Knox.
Sidney Rice, WR, Seahawks
Despite seeing a team-high six targets, Sidney Rice caught just two passes for 11 yards in three quarters of action at Denver. Expect much more of the same from the overpaid one-year wonder. Avoid him at all cost in fantasy drafts.
Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos
Rookie tight end Julius Thomas led the Broncos with 70 receiving yards off four receptions against the Seahawks. Orton targeted him thrice, while the other look came from Tim Tebow. Thomas is an extremely athletic player whose role will grow as the season progresses. He's someone to watch out for in 2012.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers
The good news for Ryan Mathews is that he ran he ball extremely well at Arizona, totaling 69 yards on 10 carries. His big gainer was a 48-yarder in the third quarter in which he made a nice cut and showed great burst through the hole. The bad news, aside from his first-quarter fumble, was that he wasn't targeted a single time by Philip Rivers. Mathews is a non-factor in the passing attack with Mike Tolbert getting all the third-down (and goal-line) work.
Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers
Malcom Floyd led San Diego in targets with nine at Arizona. He turned those targets into five catches for 52 yards and a score. Floyd is going to be inconsistent as the tertiary option behind Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates, but he's a solid, mid-round fantasy wideout.
Chris Wells, RB, Cardinals
I've written this every single week this preseason: Chris Wells looks really good. He's running with great power and solid speed for a back his size. He's also breaking tackles; early on, he impressively wrestled away a defender in the backfield on what seemed like a sure loss and turned it into a good gain. On another positive note, he saw three targets, though he dropped an easy screen pass in the third quarter.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
It's no surprise that Kevin Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald already have a strong rapport, given that the two worked out together on multiple occasions this offseason. Fitzgerald turned his five targets into three catches for 105 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown against the Chargers.
Arian Foster, RB, Texans
The big news coming out of the San Francisco contest was the hamstring injury to the consensus No. 1 fantasy player. Arian Foster, who ran for 38 yards on eight carries, clutched his left hamstring after a 9-yard burst. This was the same malady that plagued him in training camp, so it's a concern. He could be ready for the season opener, but soft-tissue injuries tend to linger, so Foster may not be 100 percent for a while. I'm going to drop him to No. 3 overall on my 2011 Fantasy Football Top 150 Cheat Sheet.
Ben Tate, RB, Texans
In the wake of Arian Foster's injured hamstring, make sure you pick up Ben Tate if you have Foster on your fantasy squad. Tate rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries.
Jacoby Jones, WR, Texans
Jacoby Jones caught just one pass for 11 yards versus the 49ers. He now has five targets the entire preseason. Look elsewhere for a late-round sleeper.
Owen Daniels, TE, Texans
Owen Daniels paced the team in targets at San Francisco with eight, catching six balls for 57 yards and a touchdown. Now completely healthy, Daniels is poised for a huge season.
Alex Smith, QB, 49ers
Alex Smith barely played against Houston, finishing 2-of-6 for 17 yards and an interception (he was hit as he threw the pick). Jim Harbaugh rotated Smith and Colin Kaepernick (6-16, 52 yds, 1 INT) in the first half, and neither had much of a chance behind shoddy protection, marking the second time in three games that the 49ers haven't had an answer for the opposing team's pass rush. As one of the guys in San Francisco's broadcast said, "The 49ers have no chance on offense right now."
Mike Thomas, WR, Jaguars
Mike Thomas caught five of the six passes thrown to him for 40 yards at Buffalo, with the sole exception being a poor David Garrard misfire on what should have been a 48-yard touchdown. Thomas is a very good PPR flex option.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills
Ryan Fitzpatrick amazingly had his first incompletion at the 2:01 mark of the second quarter against the Jaguars, finishing 11-of-12 for 165 yards and two touchdowns in one half of action. He had numerous impressive throws, including a 52-yard scoring bomb to Steve Johnson and a great, 30-yard deep touch pass to Fred Jackson. Now in his second year in Buffalo, Fitzpatrick is a solid QB2 with an easy 2011 schedule.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills
C.J. Spiller had just four carries, most of which came at the end of the first half. He was definitely more electric than Jackson, bursting for a pair of 7-yard gains on the team's fourth drive. The Bills spent such a high pick on Spiller, so common sense would suggest that he'll be a bigger part of the offense this year. Still though, Chan Gailey's overuse of Fred Jackson in this contest is a concern.
Steve Johnson, WR, Bills
Steve Johnson had another strong preseason performance, catching all four of his targets for 76 yards and a touchdown. Johnson is pretty underrated by regular fantasy players, so you can probably land him at a great bargain price in the late fourth, or early fifth round.
Chad Ochocinco, WR, Patriots
Chad Ochocinco took a major step backward at Detroit. Tom Brady targeted him only once in slightly more than a half of action, yet Ochocinco didn't come up with a single reception. His lone target from Brady resulted in an interception. Ochocinco continued to play with Brian Hoyer, but dropped a pass in the middle of the third quarter.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
Rob Gronkowski saw just two targets and caught only one ball against the Lions. Gronkowski will continue to serve as a red-zone weapon, but Aaron Hernandez will continue to steal receptions.
Aaron Hernandez, TE, Patriots
Aaron Hernandez is going to be a PPR starter this season. The second-year tight end hauled in five of his seven targets at Detroit, catching five balls for 46 yards.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions
Matthew Stafford was possessed against the Patriots. He went 12-of-14 for 200 yards and two touchdowns in just slightly less than a half of action. The kicker is that one of his incompletions was a dropped 15-yard score by Nate Burleson. Definitely make an attempt to get Stafford on your team. Yes, the injury concerns are there, but if he can stay healthy, you're getting a potential top-six fantasy quarterback in the seventh or eighth round.
Nate Burleson, WR, Lions
Get Nate Burleson on your team. Matthew Stafford has thrown to Burleson more times than anyone else this preseason; Burleson had two catches for 46 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots. He could have scored a second time, but dropped a 15-yard pass. The other Stafford-to-Burleson misfire was a drawn pass interference. He's one of my favorite slightly late-round sleepers.
Sam Bradford, QB, Rams
Sam Bradford went 9-of-16 for 95 yards, two touchdowns and an interception at Kansas City. He was on fire in the first quarter, completing his first eight attempts for 76 yards. but was just 1-of-8 after that. Bradford took several hits at the beginning of the second quarter and was never the same, as he was guilty of having happy feet in the pocket on occasion. His interception was the result of staring down rookie receiver Greg Salas. He was also nearly picked off a second time on an attempt to Danario Alexander in the 2-minute drill. There's no question that Bradford needs better receivers; having Sims-Walker as a No. 1 option is inexcusable. Bradford's going to take a bunch of coverage sacks this year.
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
Steven Jackson broke through for a 25-yard burst to open up the game against the Chiefs, and finished with 72 yards on 15 carries. Jackson ran with great power, but he doesn't have the quickness and elusiveness he once possessed. He really looks like a pass-catching version of Michael Turner. That's not necessarily a bad thing in general, but it is for Jackson, who is no longer an elite running back. Still, the opportunities will be there for him this year. He'll score more touchdowns in an improved offense.
Lance Kendricks, TE, Rams
Lance Kendricks tied for the team lead with three targets at Kansas City, catching two balls for 26 yards and a touchdown in a half of action. Sam Bradford loves throwing to Kendricks, so the rookie is a TE2 this year with PPR upside.
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs
Matt Cassel went 6-of-13 for 59 yards against the Rams, as the first-team offense was booed by the home crowd on several occasions. The poor numbers weren't really Cassel's fault - he was under pressure quite often - but it's a reminder that Kansas City's scoring attack will struggle mightily without Charlie Weis. People on ESPN and NFL.com cite Cassel as a solid QB2, but that's hardly the case. Cassel shouldn't be owned in any normal 12-team leagues.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs
Guess who received the first carry for the Chiefs against the Rams? Not Jamaal Charles; it was Dexter McCluster, who served as the third-down back in this contest. Charles had just two carries for four yards, though he had a 7-yard touchdown run nullified by a holding penalty. That's the good news, I guess. The bad news is that Todd Haley made an effort to feature McCluster out of the backfield, a trend that may continue in the regular season. Remember, Haley is in way over his head and lacks common sense. It would be shocking to me if Charles carried the ball more than 250 times this year.
James Starks, RB, Packers
James Starks shockingly led the Packers in targets with six at Indianapolis. Starks was the recipient of numerous screen passes, as he took five receptions for 38 yards. Once again, he was far more impressive than Ryan Grant (6 carries, 16 yards), whom he rotated possessions with. At this point, you have to be clinically insane not to believe that Starks won't at least have a 50-50 split with Grant. As the season progresses, expect Starks to shoulder more and more of the workload.
Donald Driver, WR, Packers
Aside from Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver has more targets in the past two weeks than any other Packer. Driver caught three balls for 38 yards at Indianapolis. He looks much healthier and spryer than he did last year, so he could be a solid flex option in PPR leagues.
Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers
There's no doubt that Jermichael Finley is completely healthy. Finley caught four of his five targets for 41 yards and a touchdown against the Colts. I had some concern with Finley coming off an injury, but that's no longer the case.
Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts
Reggie Wayne caught six balls for 105 yards and a touchdown in one half of action versus Green Bay. This was huge, as it proved that Wayne can still produce without Peyton Manning.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns
Peyton Hillis looked really good when he was on the field at Philadelphia. He was bulldozing defenders (6 carries, 18 yards) and catching passes (4 targets). He would have scored a touchdown if it weren't for a great play by Eagles strongside linebacker Jamar Chaney. However, Hillis is getting a stock down because Montario Hardesty played the entire second series and also had a strong showing. Based on the comments Cleveland's front office made this offseason, it's reasonable to expect Hillis and Hardesty to share the load, with the former holding something like a 60-40 or 65-35 advantage.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles
For the one person on this planet thinking that the Eagles are going to run a two-back system, LeSean McCoy had a whopping 16 touches or targets in the first half of the victory against Cleveland, compared to just three from Ronnie Brown. McCoy was in the backfield on a 4th-and-1 in the first quarter, which is a clear indication that he'll be the man on the goal line.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles
DeSean Jackson was targeted four times in the exhibition win over the Browns, but didn't catch a single pass in one full half of action. Jackson is incredibly overrated in fantasy leagues. He barely did anything following his concussion last year, and Philadelphia's offensive line will prevent its quarterback from finding him downfield.
Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals
Cedric Benson had a great performance in the preseason victory over Carolina. Playing in shape thanks to his 1-year contract, Benson rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. He also had one reception for 15 yards. Benson didn't suddenly turn into a stud - as evidenced by Bernard Scott's 63-yard output - but he's going to post RB2 numbers this year because of his offensive line's blocking ability. I never thought I'd say this, but Andre Smith (No. 6 overall pick int he 2009 NFL Draft) is in tremendous shape. The Bengals also opened up huge running lanes at Detroit, so this was no fluke.
Jermaine Gresham, TE, Bengals
Jermaine Gresham tied A.J. Green for the team lead in targets (5) in the win versus the Panthers. Gresham dropped a pass, but caught four balls for 49 yards. It's hard to like him in traditional and touchdown leagues, but he should be a decent TE2 in PPR formats because of Andy Dalton's current limitations.
Tim Hightower, RB, Redskins
Tim Hightower is legit. He continued to impress, rushing for 56 yards and a touchdown on just nine carries in the preseason loss at Baltimore. He has now put together great outings against the Steelers and Ravens. More importantly, Roy Helu didn't get a single touch in the first half, as it's clear that Mike Shanahan doesn't trust his pass-protection ability. Hightower, on the other hand, is an awesome backfield blocker, so he'll be on the field on most downs.
Santana Moss, WR, Redskins
With Rex Grossman pretty much solidifying the starting quarterback gig, Santana Moss deserves a stock up arrow. In just four drives, Grossman targeted Moss a whopping seven times in the preseason loss at Baltimore. Moss caught three balls for 51 yards and a touchdown, and nearly had a second score, but the ball popped out of his arms when he hit the ground in the end zone.
Ray Rice, RB, Ravens
We have confirmation - Ray Rice will be getting the goal-line carries this year. Rice received two attempts near the end zone at the beginning of the second quarter of the Washington game and converted one of them. This raises Rice's value considerably, and he should now be the favorite as the No. 1 overall pick in PPR leagues. Speaking of which, Rice tied for the team lead with six targets.
Lee Evans, WR, Ravens
I'm amazed by Lee Evans. Targeted five times in the preseason victory over Washington, Evans caught three balls for 60 yards. I don't know where his speed and explosion has been the past two years, but he clearly still has it. Joe Flacco looks much more comfortable throwing Evans' way than Boldin's, which is bizarre because Evans just recently joined the team.
Ed Dickson, TE, Ravens
Ed Dickson saw five targets in the exhibition win over the Redskins, catching three balls for 57 yards. While Dennis Pitta stood out in Week 1, it's now clear that Dickson is Joe Flacco's favorite tight end. I still wouldn't draft either though, as there are so many better options.