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The Rookie Report: Preseason week 3

Guys we are finally here, it’s the highly (maybe not so much) anticipated dress rehearsal for many teams where we finally see extended playing time of the first team guys. Where they are deployed? How often, and most importantly where does the ball go? This is the week where we find out the most information about where we could expect targets, carries, etc, to go for all of our favorite players and whether or not they are going to meet expectations this season.

As always, I am here to guide you through the wretched wasteland that is the NFL and highlight the workload for high priced rookies and sleeper guys who are getting good run even if the opportunity in the season may not be there. At the end of the day the for a lot of these guys preseason is a job interview, if you look good, other teams are going to notice and may come calling if some of our favorite sleepers get cut. That’s why it’s important to keep as many players in mind as possible so you can constantly turn over the bottom of your roster with guys you believe can make an impact to benefit your team.

That’s why in dynasty it’s so crucial to follow these situations because if you didn’t, you might walk into the season thinking Ronald Jones II is going to be a starting running back just because of draft capital. Unfortunately, that’s not always how it works and unlikely candidates have the chance to come out of nowhere. Luckily, I will do my best to provide a guide for what to expect of each player outlined below and what I would do based on their situation.

Philadelphia Eagles vs Cleveland Browns

Baker Mayfield played in limited action in the first half only due to a minor hand injury to Tyrod Taylor and wasn’t able to do much in the limited snaps. He played for a good portion of the 2nd half looking good despite a lot of pressure from the Eagles. He made a couple of really tough throws and looked really good sliding and moving in the pocket when he felt pressure. Baker, unfortunately, throws a red zone interception and the Browns weren’t able to convert much else. He seems to be a decent amount behind Tyrod at this point. The offensive line played pretty awful for Baker and the first team played much better, so we may not see the best baker can look until he can play with the best players. Overall, I was impressed with what I saw, he didn’t try to do too much and minimized the mental errors.
8/12, 76 yards, INT. 3 car, 10 yards.

Nick Chubb saw some limited action with the 1st team to give Carlos Hyde a break in the first half then saw the majority of the snaps in the second half. He was able to find holes and run effectively with the 1st team but when running with the 2nd offense things really closed up and the Eagles dominated the line of scrimmage. Chubb flashed his vision and power always fighting for extra yardage even when there was nothing there. I would expect Chubb to get a few touches every week, similarly to what happened in the first half.
14 car, 46 yards.

Josh Adams is one of the many running backs trying to make the final 53. The UDFA out of Notre Dame had another good showing in the 3rd week of preseason. From what I’ve seen thus far in limited action I feel he will certainly make his way on to another roster if he is cut. I think he could be a great insurance policy for Jay Ajayi but the Eagles already have 2 RBs nearly guaranteed to make the roster in Clement and Sproles so Adams is still a longshot. The guy is a smart runner and the big thing I have noticed is very few negative plays. Always keeps his legs churning and fights for positive yardage. He also showed his ability to catch the football a little bit in the flats which some may not expect for a guy his size. He’s a big body that can really pound it, I think Adams will be a factor somewhere, even if it’s not on the Eagles.
4 car, 33 yards. 2 rec, -1 yards on 3 targets.

Dallas Goedert had a slightly disappointing showing against the Browns. He did start in two tight end sets and saw a lot of snaps throughout the entire game. He just didn’t take advantage of all of his opportunities. There was a couple of passes he could have caught but he couldn’t bring them in. There was one that was uncatchable but the rest could have been made which is why I felt slightly disappointed. The Eagles were missing a lot of weapons and looked really bad throughout the game. Hopefully, they can right the ship for the opener against the Falcons but in the case of Goedert, he left a little bit left on the field compared to previous weeks.
2 rec, 26 yards on 5 targets.

Carolina Panthers vs New England Patriots

DJ Moore again didn’t do much of anything. He played mostly in the 2nd half and had one red zone target from Cam in the 1st half that was heavy coverage and he wasn’t able to bring it in. Moore is way down the pecking order in targets and while I think he’s more talented than Curtis Samuel and Torrey Smith he’s not ahead of them right now which is concerning for his 2018 outlook. I still love the guy for the long term but it’s almost impossible to say what he’s going to be this year. It doesn’t seem like you will be able to expect much to open the year. If he makes an early impact it may be a surprise based off what we’ve seen from him thus far. With more time learning the offense Moore should have his day at some point this year, it’s just a matter of when.
3 targets.

Vikings vs Seahawks

Mike Boone had the chance to earn the RB3 role for the Vikings and unfortunately wasn’t able to put together a good performance. Due to the absence of Roc Thomas, he saw all of the rushing work in the 2nd half against the Seahawks and couldn’t find many holes for big gains. The offensive line didn’t have their best day ahead of him but he had his chances and wasn’t able to get much with his opportunity. It appears as though this battle will continue into week 4 where hopefully Roc will be able to play and the Vikings can make their decision. While it may not seem like a big deal both could have some value if anything happens to the guys ahead of them. We just aren’t sure who it’s going to be to make the roster, my bet is probably on Boone, even though I think Roc is more talented and will be a better asset to the offense.
9 car, 26 yards. 4 rec, 13 yards on 6 targets.

Denver Broncos vs Washington Redskins

Royce Freeman put together another great game this week against the Redskins getting reps with the 1st team. The big thing is he is always moving forward, always keeps those legs moving for positive gains. This is the gap between him and Booker, he won’t take as many negative plays even when it’s a broken play because he can make guys miss and has the power to finish off guys. He should be the week 1 starter based off this preseason, it’s really just whether or not the Broncos are willing to do that so early on. His day was capped off by a 20-yard run that he took up the middle and broke 3 arm tackles and stomped his way into the end zone.
5 car, 26 yards, TD.

Phillip Lindsey saw reps all over the field again working with all the offenses. He was in with the 1st team and converted a first down catching a pass out of the backfield. He was putting some work out of the slot because he’s a good route runner and linebackers can’t hold him. He started at running back in the 2nd half and saw did well running inside as the primary back. Lindsey will certainly find his way on the roster and get some work out on third downs this year. An interesting talent to keep an eye on this year who has looked really good in preseason. He may get some work in the 4th preseason game.
5 car, 31 yards. 1 rec, 18 yards on 1 target.

Courtland Sutton was getting 1st team reps ahead of DeShaun Hamilton this week and looked really good coming back on a crossing route to make a nice play for a first down. Later in the half, he made a fantastic sideline catch high pointing the ball showing off his athleticism getting up so high Josh Norman was completely helpless but to wait for him to come back down. Sutton really flashed compared to his counterpart and this should solidify his place on the depth chart as the third option behind Sanders and Thomas. A sneaky sleeper, he has been impressive in camp and he will see how much of an initial impact he can make this year. He should be given a decent shot.
3 rec, 45 yards on 3 targets.

DaeSaun Hamilton ran mostly with the 2nd team and made a few nice plays but didn’t make any notable plays. A rather disappointing showing for someone who is such a polished route runner that he could see early playing time. He seems to be firmly behind Sutton until he shows us he’s ready to ball out. May have to wait a little longer than I expected but I still love him long term.
2 rec, 18 yards on 3 targets.

Detroit Lions vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brandon Powell played with the 2nd team offense, commanding the short and intermediate routes. The Lions got him the ball in space and he made plays whenever he had even an inch of room. To top it off he returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown. It’s hard to say if he has guaranteed his spot. I like to think so but you never know with such a crowded group of receivers. Powell has led the Lions in targets for every preseason game and it may not mean much but I’m intrigued to see if he stays with the Lions or gets picked up by another team that could be looking for some help in the slot.
6 rec, 45 yards on 6 targets.

Kerryon Johnson had a decent game but hasn’t done enough for me to say he has any shot of winning the job outright. He had a couple of nice runs with the 1st team and another decent gain out of shotgun when the second unit came on. He’s a tough runner and doesn’t go down easy as he’s shown all preseason. He just hasn’t looked like it’s his job. Week 4 may tell us how deep he is on the depth chart as it stands right now based on whether or not he plays at all. This is going to be an ugly backfield all year. I’m still not expecting anything considerable from Kerryon in year 1 and if it does happen it will likely be a mid-year promotion that is impossible to predict. So, buy a rough start if someone is willing to sell because next year it should be full speed ahead for Mr. Johnson.
4 car, 25 yards.

Ronald Jones II looked really bad again as a runner with some okay runs than some big negative plays. It’s going to take some time for him to learn how to run the right way and not do too much. On the bright side, he finally caught a pass when he was split out and burnt the linebacker covering him for a 30+ yard gain. Other than that, he’s been very disappointing and just doesn’t have the vision right now to see blocks develop and find the holes to run through.
6 car, 7 yards. 1 rec, 37 yards on 1 target.

New York Giants vs New York Jets

Sam Darnold is my new favorite rookie quarterback. I was a Josh Rosen guy coming in and Darnold has really impressed me because he just looks the readiest among the rookies and his team is arguably the worst. He started the entire first half and a bit into the 3rd and he was making good decisions and not limited his mistakes. His ball placement and touch have been really impressive this offseason. Darnold and Mayfield are in a tier of their own for sure and just have a much more impressive arm talent than the other rookie quarterbacks in this draft, as it stands right now. I can’t wait to watch him sling it as the starter in week 1.
8/16 86 yards, TD. 2 car, 13 yards.

Trenton Cannon was a guy I really liked in week 1 but was unfortunately sidelined with an injury for week 2. He started playing most of the Jets third preseason game and was able to find holes running between the tackles and looked fantastic in open space. It’s clear to see why the Jets would like to use him as their primary return man. Although Cannon is not the strongest guy out there he can routinely make guys miss and runs the ball effectively when given opportunities. If he does have a role this year it would likely be sparingly as a pass-catching option because so far he has excelled at that and showed it again this past week. I like Cannon as a deep stash with a lot of uncertainty for the Jets at running back, along with Crowell and Powell having some issues with injuries in the past.
5 car, 23 yards. 4 rec, 30 yards on 4 targets

Green Bay Packers vs. Oakland Raiders

J’Mon Moore finally had a good game and put his rough past behind him. While it was a heavily targeted game for him he really did look good when the ball was delivered well. There was a couple of errant throws that hurt his catch percentage if you didn’t watch the game but he made a couple of splash plays for chunk yards. Playing with the 2nd and 3rd teams this game Moore finally showed what made him a 3rd round pick. Valdes-Scantling and St. Brown played in similar roles but didn’t have the targets or the success with virtually uncatchable or tight coverage targets. Nothing clicked for either and it was Moore’s day in the spotlight. Look for the Packers to make their decision on the 3 rookie wideouts after week 4’s preseason game.
4 rec, 62 yards on 8 targets.

Chris Warren had another great performance for the raiders spelling Doug Martin after he got some work early in the game. He was able to score another touchdown this week on a nice run and has been one of the best-undrafted rookies this preseason, if not the best. It’s still a guess as to whether Warren will make the roster because of all the “talent” ahead of him. Jon Gruden is known to favor veterans, and so there may be too many bodies ahead of him. I will be looking to see where he lands after how well he has impressed this preseason.
15 car, 54 yards, TD. 1 rec, 7 yards on 2 targets.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Tennessee Titans

Jaylen Samuels didn’t see any action until the second half and while running with the 3rd team really showed out both in the running and receiving game. He caught a pass out of the flats from Mason Rudolph and was able to wiggle his way into the end zone, but it was unfortunately called back on a penalty. Samuels shouldn’t have a major impact on the Steelers this year but is so versatile I couldn’t see why they won’t find ways to use him. Great stash even with all the talent on the roster and could make an impact. I would expect a lot of Samuels is week 4.
11 car, 44 yards. 4 rec, 36 yards on 5 targets.

Mason Rudolph had a much better game this week showing more touch and a better feel for the offense. He was playing with the 3rd teamers so while it isn’t overly encouraging due to his competition it’s something to build off of into week 4. I wouldn’t expect anything from Rudolph this year but his long-term outlook could be fantastic if Big Roethlisberger were to retire early. He made nice plays with his legs and as mentioned threw a touchdown that was called back.
7/11, 65 yards. 2 car, 2 yards.

Los Angeles Rams vs Houston Texans

John Kelly is doing so well this preseason and he put on another show against the Texans defense this week. He played throughout the 2nd and 3rd quarter and showed really well in the receiving game again. Another play where he had a nice cut back getting outside and running for a first down. He has great instincts and it shows on nearly every play. His major highlight was when he took a draw up the middle on 3rd and goal from the 15-yard line and broke a number of tackles on his way to the end zone. Kelly is the ultimate handcuff and can really fill in if anything were to happen to Gurley during the year. I’m loving what I am seeing from him and if anyone wasn’t scared by the landing spot they definitely got themselves a great talent.
15 car, 64 yards, TD. 2 rec on 2 targets

Chicago Bears vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Javon Wims had a real breakout performance in week 3 of the preseason. Wims was getting open deep and often for a couple of big catches on route to his first 100-yard performance in the NFL and caught an amazing toe-tapping touchdown in the back of the end zone. Wims is likely a longshot to make the roster but after this performance, he may just find his way as a depth option for the bears. A possession specialist at Georgia, Wims can make plays in tight spaces and had the ability to play both in line and out of the slot. May not be long for the NFL but this is an impressive performance nonetheless.
4 rec, 114 yards, TD on 5 targets.

Atlanta Falcons vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Calvin Ridley was positively abysmal in this game. As a big fan of Ridley, I was really disappointed with what I saw over the weekend. He had two brutal drops where he was completely open and couldn’t seem to get things together. The only positive was his routes, he was routinely open from what I saw just for whatever reason when thrown too he couldn’t make a play to save his life. We may not see much more of Ridley as he may not play in preseason week 4.
1 rec, 12 yards on 4 targets.

San Francisco 49ers vs Indianapolis Colts

Dante Pettis was working exclusively with the 2nd team for week three of the preseason. He still has to work on his timing routes with his quarterbacks but has shown the ability to separate that made him a high draft pick this year. Pettis may have a larger role this week with all of the starters sitting. I hope to see something more from him if he is in fact given a larger workload. Pettis doesn’t get a lot of love from the dynasty community but in a Shanahan offense anything is possible, and he’s going to be used to maximize his potential.
1 rec, 8 yards on 2 targets.

Richie James is another receiver sleeper that could easily take over Trent Taylor’s job this season. James is an explosive playmaker that has the power to finish runs and the agility to make people miss in the open field. Nobody has ever questioned his talent that he showed all over the middle of the field catching passes and making plays on route to a respectable game statistically. I love his talent its really just whether or not he is able to stay healthy and take hit regularly in the NFL.
3 rec, 65 yards on 4 targets.

Jordan Wilkins looked like probably the best back for the colts in this game despite his horrible per carry average. The Colts couldn’t get anything going on the ground in this game and even with that being said Wilkins couldn’t break any big runs. He did have a couple of catches out of the backfield, one for a big gain but he was wide open. Hines looked positively awful as a runner and would need to vastly improve if he was going to become a significant piece as a runner and hasn’t shown much in the passing game either. Wilkins keeps it simple, runs north and south and while I still don’t view him as the lead option he looked the best in week 3.
14 car, 28 yards. 2 rec, 33 yards on 2 targets.

Baltimore Ravens vs Miami Dolphins

Lamar Jackson had a much-improved game in week 3, showing off his touch on a couple of short throws and threw a beautiful pass for a touchdown. I hope to see him work on his footwork in week 4 as many of his snaps came out of shotgun where he is most familiar. He will need to work on his drops for timing routes and to improve as a passer. He showed off his rushing ability as well running through a couple of tacklers and stumbling his way to a touchdown. If he can build off this in week 4 that would be a good sign that he is improving through practice and things are starting to click for him as he takes strides to become the likely starting quarterback for the Ravens next season.
7/10, 98 yards, TD. 3 car, 39 yards, TD

Mike Gesicki finally caught his first pass in a Dolphins uniform working outside of all things and beating his man on a slant route where he was quite open for a catch and run. He was also overthrown once in the red zone and figures to see quite a bit of action in that area if the dolphins can ever manage to get there. Gesicki looks to be the team’s 1st string tight end, working all over the field, with respectable blocking skills, he should play a lot this year it’s just hard to know what type of workload to expect from him this season.
1 rec, 10 yards on 2 targets

Los Angeles Chargers vs New Orleans Saints

Boston Scott was working as the last running back on the depth chart playing sparingly in the 2nd half but had some really nice interior runs pinballing off defenders and finding positive yardage in tight spaces. He has a great center of gravity and it makes it really difficult to get him down on first contact. Unfortunately, he seems to be behind Jonathan Williams for rushing duties during the Ingram suspension, which isn’t ideal for his value going forward. He’s going to be a factor in the screen game and has seen time as a return man as well, that will likely keep him on the roster if he can’t get on the field as an RB.
6 car, 18 yards. 1 rec, 11 yards on 1 target

Tre’Quan Smith knows how to get open people. Every time he catches a ball you need to look and see how much space he has created by setting up defenders and is improving his routes. He made a couple of really nice catches for moderate gains in the middle of the field and was able to find a soft spot in the zone and caught a short touchdown pass to cap off his great performance. Smith has been playing a lot with the 3rd stringers and for whatever reason has yet to be promoted. It won’t be long until he is running routes next to Michael Thomas if Cameron Meredith is sidelined too long to start the year.
4 rec, 39 yards, TD on 4 targets.

Detrez Newsome had another good game serving as the primary backup to Austin Ekeler who started the game since Melvin Gordon sat out. He was able to find the end zone on a nice off tackle run with great blocking where he could maneuver his way to a touchdown. Newsome is a runner with the skills in the receiving game to make an impact. He is able to get skinny through the hole and showed his fight inside getting extra yardage. Justin Jackson will debut in week 4 after a hamstring injury and if he doesn’t show well Newsome may earn the role of the 3rd RB on the depth chart as he has looked serviceable so far in the preseason.
12 car, 34 yards, TD. 2 rec, 10 yards on 2 targets

Buffalo Bills vs Cincinnati Bengals

Josh Allen had a bad day in his first NFL start this week and in fairness to him, it wasn’t entirely his fault. He was playing against a pretty solid Bengals defense with limited weapons and no time to throw. There was some dropped passes and balls that Allen overthrew but when he did have time and was able to move around in the pocket he looked like a competent quarterback. There were a couple of plays where he showed off some great pocket presence evading the rush and stepping up without taking his eyes off the receivers and then delivering an accurate ball for a completion. With that, he was also getting sacked a lot and didn’t seem to know what to do at times when the pressure came. Every rookie quarterback is going to go through these trials and tribulations but Allen certainly took a beating this week. Hard to say if we will see more from him. With the injury to AJ McCarron, the Bills may elect to play a depth quarterback and allowing their top 2 options to rest heading into week 1.
6/12, 34 yards. 1 car, 3 yards

Arizona Cardinals vs Dallas Cowboys

Chase Edmonds started the game for the Cardinals with David Johnson sitting out and showed off his quickness in the hole and lateral agility that he was known for. He was making guys miss with ease and was really running wild once he got past the first level. He saw the holes well and was breaking through arm tackles with a couple of catches out of the backfield to bolster his performance. Chase will serve as David Johnsons primary backup and will likely get some work as a change of pace back. His explosiveness was really on display in this game and I hope to see some more of it in week 4 if the Cardinals elect to play him.
11 car, 55 yards. 2 rec, 8 yards on 2 targets.

Thanks for reading again this week. Due to the lack of relevance next week I will likely summarize the top 5-10 performances from the rookies and if they have a potential role. Week 4 of the preseason is typically only to sort out roster cuts when guys start moving teams it can make for interesting stash players for the end of your roster.

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