5 Preseason Week 2 Story Lines to Watch

New York Jets Quarterbacks

I knew the Jets would have an interesting quarterback battle; but I had no idea just how close it would be. Preseason Week 1 featured both Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater standing out, in their own ways. Darnold stole the show, going 13-18 (72%) for 96 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown pass was impressive, and he looked very poised for a 19-year-old; praise he’s been consistently given from his teammates throughout training camp.

Then, there’s Bridgewater-the forgotten former first round pick that looked healthy and stealthy last week. Bridgewater went 7-8 (87.5%) for 85 yards and a touchdown. Bridgewater looked confident, throwing the ball twice as far, on average, then Darnold with an average of 10.6 yards per completion, compared to Darnold’s 5.3

Now it’s time to add McCown into the equation against Washington on Thursday night. I’m very excited to see how he performs, now that he’s essentially the odd (old) man out. There’re other quarterback battles going on throughout the NFL world, but this one is by far my favorite.

Oakland Raiders Running Backs

This is a headline I’ve seen little discussion about, but I’m keying into it after the emergence of the 6’2” 247-pound undrafted free agent Chris Warren III. He showed the ability to run over guys in between the tackles (and in between the baseline), and bounce to the outside with surprising athleticism for a back of his size. In total the former Longhorn rushed for 86 yards on 13 carries (6.6 yards/carry) and got the lion share of the carries against Detroit.

Marshawn Lynch also flashed last week, showing impressive burst from the 11th year veteran that reminded us of his glory days in Seattle. Lynch’s long touchdown run, however, was called back because of a holding call on rookie tackle Kolton Miller. That ended up being Lynch’s only carry-so if you’re looking at a box score, Lynch never played. Another irrelevant player last week was the Muscle Hamster (Doug Martin). With veterans expected to play more this week, I’m interested to see how Martin’s carries compare to Lynch’s and if Gruden is going to attempt to split carries between Martin, Lynch, and possibly Warren III moving into the season.

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The Battle of the Draft Picks (Bills vs Browns)

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I can’t wait to watch the Bills play the Browns this week! The two will face off on Friday night and I’m mildly ashamed to say I’ll be watching very intently. I’ve written off the Bills from having any fantasy value, but last week changed that…just a little. Kelvin Benjamin showed us some signs of the player we’ve been waiting for. The 6’5” 240-pound 27-year-old caught all 4 of his targets for 59 yards and a touchdown. Benjamin outplayed his box score and looked dominant against his former team, Carolina, highlighted by a sideline catch from a panicked Peterman where he fully extended his large frame and acrobatically dragged his toes to stay in bounds.

The Bills quarterbacks had oddly similar stat lines in Week 1, with Josh Allen coming out perhaps the worst stat wise. The rookie touted for his big arm still looked good without shorts but completed just 47% of his 19 attempts and missed some deep throws he’s known for making. Allen, however, threw no interceptions and 1 touchdown along with 116 yards in his first taste of NFL game action. It’s important to evaluate his development, much more than his stats. Peterman and McCarron threw for 10 passes with similar results: Peterman had 9 completions for 119 yards and a touchdown and McCarron had 7 completions for 116 yards, let’s see if either one stands out in Week 2.

There’s a lot to discuss when it comes to the Hard Knocks stars but I’ll focus on the running backs. Chubb looked completely unimpressive in his first NFL showing; rushing for just 11 yards on 15 carries. Cleveland couldn’t do anything however, with Dayes and Hillard combining for 21 yards on 11 carries. We’d be lucky to see more than 5-10 carries from Johnson and Hyde this week so I’d expect Chubb to get another chance to prove he deserves significant volume in this crowded backfield.

Dallas Wideouts

One of the largest fantasy mysteries this off-season is which wide receiver, if any, from Dallas is worth a spot on fantasy rosters. I’ve been adamant that the wideout to own is Michael Gallup and he flashed a little in week 1 with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Prescott. That one catch, however, was his only reception, from 3 targets. Murdock, McKay, and Austin all had 3 targets as well; and they all caught 2 of those targets for roughly the same yardage as Gallup.

Hurns caught 1 of his 2 targets for 13 yards, Terrance Williams caught 1 for 7 yards and Beasley was nowhere to be found. So, in summary, we no just about as little as we did before last week. Dallas takes on Cincinnati Saturday night and it’s time to start forming trends-I’ll be closely watching which wideout is getting volume, that will be the key to fantasy upside in a Dak Prescott led offense.

49ers Running Backs…Okay, just McNichols

Pure chaos is probably the most accurate description for the 49ers depth chart right now. That chaos is highlighted by injury scares for McKinnon and Breida, the two 49er lead backs will likely miss the entirety of the preseason, but are expected to return by regular season Week 1.

What if they aren’t back though? That leaves a lot of opportunity and the hype is going right to McNichols, who is taking the majority of first team reps this week. The 2nd year man out of Boise State saw no playing time last season but has been touted by his fantasy truthers for his athletic ability and rushed for 15 yards and a touchdown on 3 attempts in Week 1. I’d expect McNichols’ volume to bump up to 8-10 carries this week and I’m excited to see if he gets worked into the passing game. San Francisco also has the 24-year-old Joe Williams; who rushed for 27 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries in Week 1-he should see significant volume in Week 2 as well. Alfred Morris was also signed by the 49ers this week, but is a longshot to make the 53 man roster ahead of McNichols or Williams.

About Matt Hicks

Matt’s writing at Top2 is focused on dynasty fantasy football. He loves blending his experience writing research in the field of education with fantasy football stats. Matt currently lives in Baltimore, MD and graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. You can follow Matt on Twitter: @Top2Matt

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