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NFL Week 3 Preseason Fantasy Football Takeaways

Matt Brandon Aug 29th 2:29 PM EDT.

In the third week of the NFL Preseason, a few teams actually let their starters log some valuable reps while other teams continued to play it safe and leave their star power on the bench. Week 3 of the preseason was the final opportunity that teams got to evaluate their personnel to cut the roster down to 53 spots by opening day. For players vying for roster spots, this was the final opportunity to shine. For bonafide veterans, this was more about establishing some chemistry. And for some, this was a chance to move up the depth chart and start turning heads. That’s exactly what Houston’s rookie running back, Dameon Pierce, did on the opening drive against the San Francisco 49ers. Let’s dissect each matchup and break down the biggest fantasy football takeaways from Week 3’s preseason action.

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Week 3 NFL Preseason Fantasy Football News & Notes

San Francisco 49ers at Houston Texans (0-17)

  • Dameon Pierce rushed six times for 37 yards and a touchdown on Houston’s opening drive, significantly increasing the hype on the already uber-talented rookie running back. Pierce is someone who I was targeting in almost every draft as an RB3 or potential flex option but his impressive performance against the Niners may have skyrocketed his ADP a bit too much for my liking. 
  • Fantasy owners may want to avoid San Francisco’s backfield. Elijah Mitchell got the night off as he will start Week 1 for the Niners but Trey Sermon, Jeff Wilson Jr., and rookie Tyrion Davis-Price all saw playing time in Week 3 of the preseason and may all get touches in the regular season. For that reason, Mitchell’s value has fallen and I’m avoiding him at all costs, especially considering his hamstring issues of the past.

Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs (10-17)

  • Rookie wideout Romeo Doubs suited up even though Aaron Rodgers, Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, Christian Watson, Aaron Jones, and AJ Dillon sat out of the final exhibition game before the regular season. The rookie did a solid job cementing his role as the WR4 in this offense by securing two of his three targets for 13 receiving yards and drawing a 15-yard facemask penalty. Doubs should see the field quite a lot in 2022 and could surpass one of the weaker wide receivers on Green Bay’s depth chart.
  • With Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerrick McKinnon on the sidelines, the Chiefs rolled out Ronald Jones and Isiah Pachenko in the backfield and each player performed admirably in the final week of the preseason. Ro-Jo accumulated 43 rushing yards on eight carries and caught his lone target for an additional four receiving yards. Pachenko turned 10 carries into 52 yards. He looked like the superior back and could be the RB3 in this offense. Fantasy owners shouldn’t be very attracted to this backfield as this has committee written all over it, especially given CEH’s injury history.

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Buffalo Bills at Carolina Panthers (0-17)

  • Devin Singletary and Zack Moss both remained on the sidelines so that rookie running back James Cook could start in Buffalo’s backfield. While Dynasty owners are in love with Cook’s potential to be a true three-down back, it’s clear that he’s third on the depth chart. Cook wasn’t even impressive with his small sample size, finishing with 14 total yards on four touches. For that reason, redraft fantasy owners may want to think twice before selecting Cook. It’s clear that Singletary will start Week 1 but it’s unclear how much he’ll be substituted and how much it will be Moss versus Cook.
  • The Panthers have the best chance at winning when Baker Mayfield is under center, not Sam Darnold. Mayfield completed 66.6% of his passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns. One touchdown went to Shi Smith, who is a deep-league sleeper some fantasy owners may want to keep an eye on. The other went to backup running back D’Onta Foreman, who will be extremely valuable in the event of a Christian McCaffrey injury. 

Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys (26-27)

  • Geno Smith started over Drew Lock yet again but only attempted six passes and completed three for 43 yards. However, Lock was much worse in relief, completing 13-of-24 pass attempts for 173 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. Lock finished with a 51.22 QBR. Smith should have cemented his role as the starter for Week 1. Smith will have D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett at his disposal as well as an arsenal of talented running backs including Rashaad Penny. Still, the Seahawks aren’t expected to have a ton of fantasy firepower and they should finish last in the NFC West.
  • Jalen Tolbert didn’t start the game for the Cowboys but he has been locked in as the Cowboys’ primary slot receiver all preseason. Tolbert’s role should be relatively secure since the rest of the Dallas wideouts line up on the outside such as CeeDee Lamb and Noah Brown, both of whom have sat out the entire preseason. Meanwhile, Michael Gallup has been out injured and has historically struggled to stay healthy. He’s another guy who won’t threaten Tolbert for snaps out of the slot. James Washington is competing with Tolbert for snaps but he’s been sidelined with an injury of his own and is unlikely to surpass Tolbert on the depth chart. Tolbert has run the most routes from the slot in the first half of each preseason game, which is definitely a sign of good things to come. Tolbert could be a PPR gem late in drafts. Don’t sleep on him with Dak Prescott tossing him the pigskin.

Los Angeles Chargers at New Orleans Saints (10-27)

  • Entering the preseason finale, Joshua Kelley was the frontrunner to be Austin Ekeler’s primary backup. The fourth-year running back cemented his case Friday night after decisive and explosive running resulted in 40 yards on six carries, including a phenomenal hurdle over an opposing defender. Kelley proved that he should see some action this coming regular season. Ekeler is still the man in Los Angeles but Ekeler owners may want to draft Kelley in the late rounds to cover a potential injury to their first-round selection.

  • Although Alvin Kamara saw his first work of the preseason, Mark Ingram overshadowed the superstar in the final tuneup game before the regular season begins. Ingram rushed the ball nine times for 34 yards and a touchdown. Ingram didn’t see any targets in the passing game but he could emerge as a touchdown vulture. Ingram is arguably more effective than Kamara in the red zone, which would result in fewer touchdowns for AK47. Kamara will have to prove that he’s the better red-zone runner if he wants to get the majority of the touches near the goal line.

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New England Patriots at Las Vegas Raiders (6-23)

  • Monitor the Jakobi Meyers injury situation. Meyers started and played each of New England’s first nine offensive snaps before exiting with an injury. He was seen in the blue medical tent and later riding the exercise bike. If Meyers is forced to miss time, DeVante Parker’s ADP will skyrocket and Kendrick Bourne would see a slight uptick in production.
  • Now that the Raiders have cut Kenyan Drake, it’s time to target Zamir White. White scored a touchdown in the Raiders’ victory over the Patriots and is the clear backup to Josh Jacobs. White could additionally see some work on obvious passing downs. He’s a decent late-round running back in PPR formats. If Jacobs goes down, White emerges into a potential top-20 running back in most fantasy leagues.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Atlanta Falcons (12-18)

  • The Jaguars used their final exhibition game to evaluate their backups so that coach Doug Pederson can cut the roster down from 80 to 53 spots. For that reason, we didn’t see any of Jacksonville’s starters against the Falcons. The Jags should be better in 2022 than in 2021 as Trevor Lawrence enters his sophomore campaign in Jacksonville.
  • Rookie running back Tyler Allgeier is making things more interesting in Atlanta’s backfield. The rookie churned out 15.8 fantasy points and found the end zone twice. Somehow, I think Allgeier will see plenty of snaps and cut into Cordarrelle Patterson’s playing time.

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Los Angeles Rams at Cincinnati Bengals (7-16)

  • The Los Angeles Rams benched all of their starters in this preseason rematch of Super Bowl 56. Not much can be said about the Rams’ inefficient offense that only produced seven points from guys who will mostly be cut from their final 53-man roster.
  • For the Bengals, Chris Evans may not have as much of a role as some experts anticipated. He only had five carries for 10 total rushing yards in the contest. The Bengals' rushing game was rough as they finished the night with 15 rushing attempts for 49 total rushing yards. Evans should slot in behind Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine on the depth chart.
  • Cincinnati’s backup quarterbacks both performed well in this game. Jake Browning went an impressive 19-of-24 for 173 yards and one touchdown. Brandon Allen completed 11-of-15 passes for 130 yards. With Burrow, Cincinnati's quarterbacks combined for 30-of-39 passing for 303 yards and one touchdown in their 16-7 victory over the Rams in their final preseason game of 2022. 

Washington Commanders at Baltimore Ravens (15-17)

  • Since the Ravens lost Marquise Brown this offseason, they are looking for depth at receiver where they can get it. Demarcus Robinson erupted in this preseason game for four catches, 135 receiving yards, and a 67-yard touchdown catch. Back in Kansas City, Robinson was a talented receiver who simply didn’t get many snaps. After his performance against the Commanders, expect the Ravens to bring him on board for this season as they look to surround Lamar Jackson with additional route runners. 
  • TE Isaiah Likely has continued to perform well this preseason to the extent that he didn’t play in the Ravens’ final preseason game. While Mark Andrews will undeniably be their top tight end and perhaps the best player at his position in 2022, Isaiah Likely has continued to impress the Ravens’ coaching staff and will likely be the team’s second-best option at tight end in 2022. This means he will make the 53-man roster and see some plays in every game this season. Likely should have a meaningful role in Baltimore’s offense in 2022 and could be a significant red-zone threat.
  • RB Jarret Patterson had a huge game both rushing and receiving. He finished the game with 11 carries for 47 rushing yards and four catches for 45 receiving yards. Patterson could play a role in Washington’s messy backfield. Antonio Gibson has seen his stock plummet due to an abysmal preseason and the Commanders seem to like Brian Robinson, the rookie they selected in this year’s draft. This could be a four-man running-back-by-committee featuring Gibson, Robinson, Patterson, and J.D. McKissic.

Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns (21-20)

  • Justin Fields had a great game against the Cleveland Browns after struggling there as a rookie. Fields threw three touchdown passes in the first half of the game (producing all of Chicago’s touchdown scores), going 14-of-16 on the night for 156 yards. He looked comfortable against a team that sacked him nine times when they met last season. Fields’ performance should be highly encouraging to fantasy owners considering selecting him in this year’s draft. We could be e looking at a breakout season from the second-year quarterback.
  • For the Browns, Jacoby Brissett went 13-of-23 for 109 yards and one interception. This should be considered a mediocre outing for Brisset who was without both his running backs, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Still, Brissett will start over Josh Rosen until at least December this 2022 season. Deshaun Watson will step onto the field in Week 13 after serving his 11-game suspension.

Philadelphia Eagles at Miami Dolphins (10-48)

  • Miami opted to play most of their starters for some time in this game including Tua Tagovailoa, Tyreek Hill, and Raheem Mostert. Tua looked really sharp going six-of-seven for 121 yards and one touchdown, finishing the game with a perfect QBR. Tyreek Hill had two catches for 64 yards while Mostert had two carries for 29 yards. Miami’s top receiver in this game was River Cracraft who had four catches for 54 receiving yards and one touchdown.
  • Eagles second-year running back Kenneth Gainwell’s lack of production in this game is noteworthy. He was held to two carries and a net of zero rushing yards. This could affect his standing among Philly’s backfield and potentially push him below Boston Scott on the depth chart. Miles Sanders is already slated to start but Scott and Gainwell are competing for that backup role. Gainwell will likely start the season as the third running back on the depth chart but he has much more upside than Scott and should surpass him by the midway point of the season. Don’t expect Gainwell to outproduce Sanders though.

Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans (23-26)

  • Andy Isabella had a huge game for the Cardinals, catching five passes for 115 yards. Isabella may have officially earned his spot on Arizona’s 53-man roster once the season begins. In addition, former Wake Forest WR Greg Dortch caught six passes for 64 yards and scored a touchdown, which automatically increases his chances of making the roster. Still, the Cardinals have depth at receiver featuring Marquise Brown and DeAndre Hopkins at the forefront. Still, because Hopkins will miss the first few weeks of the regular season as he serves his suspension for PED usage, the Cardinals could insert Isabella and Dortch into the lineup at least for the first few weeks of the regular season. Both could have limited fantasy value in the first few weeks of the regular season if they share the field with A.J. Green" data-toggle="modal" data-target="#player-pop-up" href="/nfl_player_news/A.J._Green/">A.J. Green and Marquise Brown but not Hopkins. 
  • The Titans did not start Ryan Tannehill which gave Malik Willis significant playing time in the last preseason game of the year. After his performance, Willis looks like the real deal once Tannehill calls it quits. Willis was effective with his legs and his arm, finishing the night 15-of-23 with 131 passing yards, one touchdown pass, and one interception. He also had four carries for 79 rushing yards (19.75 yards per carry).

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts (10-27)

  • Tom Brady, Mike Evans, and Leonard Fournette all got some action in this preseason game but didn’t play after the first five minutes of the game. Still, Brady looked sharp and hit Julio Jones with a 20-yard dart before watching the rest of the game from the sideline alongside the rest of the Bucs' first-team offense. This could prove to be a pivotal moment for Jones. Jones needed that confidence booster if he’s going to have Flex value this fantasy football season as the WR3 in the Bucs’ offense. Brady should still serve as a low-end QB1 despite entering his age-45 season.
  • Matt Ryan got some reps for the Colts and went five-of-seven for 59 yards. Colts backup Nick Foles went three-of-five for 24 passing yards. 

Minnesota Vikings at Denver Broncos (13-23)

  • Both the Vikings and the Broncos rested all of their starters in the final preseason game of 2022. This means that Russell Wilson never got any snaps throughout the entire preseason. It will be interesting to see how he will perform with Javonte Williams in the backfield and Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy running routes. Broncos third-string quarterback and veteran Josh Johnson" data-toggle="modal" data-target="#player-pop-up" href="/nfl_player_news/Josh_Johnson/">Josh Johnson" data-toggle="modal" data-target="#player-pop-up" href="/nfl_player_news/Josh_Johnson/">Josh Johnson played well going 11-of-14 for 107 yards, throwing more efficiently than Denver’s backup, Bretty Rypien, who went 14-of-21 for 137 yards passing. Johnson and Rypien are competing for the primary backup role to Wilson.
  • Vikings backup signal-caller Sean Manion went 9-of-16 for 121 yards in the first half while Kellen Mond performed similarly in the second half, going 10-of-17 for 102 yards. 

New York Giants at New York Jets (27-31)

  • After requesting a trade, second-year wideout Denzel Mims went off in the Jets’ comeback victory over the Giants. Mims secured six receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown. Although he is fourth on the depth chart behind Corey Davis, Garrett Wilson, and Elijah Moore, Mims should earn himself some opportunities whether it’s in New York or elsewhere. The kid has legit talent and is worth a late-round dar,t throw, especially in BestBall formats.
  • The G-Men suffered a major blow when Tyrod Taylor went down with an injury. This makes Daniel Jones’ health that much more important now that Davis Webb could be backing up Danny Dimes. Alex Bachman continued to impress, catching all six of his targets for 27 yards. Darius Slayton and Kenny Golladay each suited up for this contest but neither one of them could come down with the three targets they were thrown. Jones is going to have to get on the same page as Golladay if the Giants have any chance in a tough NFC East division.

Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers (9-19)

  • Pittsburgh is one of the few franchises where there is a competition for who starts at quarterback. With Ben Roethlisberger out of the way, Mitch Turbisky, Kenny Pickett, and Mason Rudolph have been battling it out in camp. In the final preseason game, Trubisky had a great game, completing 15-of-19 pass attempts for 160 yards and one touchdown. Kenny Pickett then went 10-of-14 for 90 yards while Mason Rudolph only completed two of his four pass attempts for 29 yards in the contest. Trubisky is expected to start in Week 1 but Pickett has shown flashes of brilliance and could emerge as the starter if the Steelers struggle with Trubisky under center.

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  • For the Lions, backup quarterback David Blough had a decent game going 17-of-32 for 160 yards and one touchdown. Lions receivers including Amon-Ra St. Brown shared the field in the contest. St. Brown, Kenny Pimpleton, and Justin Jackson finished the game with at least 30+ receiving yards. St. Brown should have exponential value until Jameson Williams graces Lions fans with his presence on the field.

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Allen Robinson LAR WR -19.2
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Matt Gay LAR K -12.3
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Rondale Moore ARI WR -10.6
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Isaiah Likely BAL TE -8.7
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