Week 3 of the Preseason is in the books. As we get into the final week of games, we are getting a better idea of where players stand. Here is what I saw this weekend and whose stock is moving up (and down) in my rankings.
James Conner (RB) – Pittsburgh Steelers
So, about this potential RBBC in Pittsburgh: Conner played all 14 snaps with the first-team offense against the Chiefs, the only Steelers regular to do so. He wasn’t asked to do much, but he did make a nifty catch between-the-legs:
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) August 18, 2019
Then, against the Titans, he had 5 carries for 41 yards including a 20-yard scamper in the first quarter where he put Adoree Jackson on skates:
— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) August 26, 2019
The fact that Conner has been bubble wrapped for much of camp is a good thing for his fantasy stock. While the Steelers are comfortable with Jaylen Samuels as a backup and occasional rotational back, it is becoming increasingly clear that Conner will get at least a 70-75% market share of the touches.
Keep in mind that Conner was on pace for over 330 touches and 1800 yards last year prior to getting hurt in Week 13. Just 24, Conner is a strong 2nd Round investment who has a legitimate chance at cracking the top-5 at the position.
Jarrett Stidham (QB) – New England
Stidham was a 6th Round pick for the Patriots last spring (where have we heard that before?) and thus far he has impressed with both his accuracy and his mobility. Last week against the Titans, Stidham directed a 99-yard drive that ended with a beautiful back shoulder touchdown pass to Damoun Patterson:
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) August 18, 2019
That throw is uncoverable and Stidham has made some big strides since the end of his junior season. He finished the night 14-19 for 193 yards, following up a strong first outing against Detroit where he threw for 179 yards.
Stidham has also made some plays with legs in the preseason, giving the Patriots an added twist they haven’t had in the Brady era:
Jarrett Stidham scrambles for the first on third-and-11. Tom Brady applauds. pic.twitter.com/tIXaM1xCtD
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) August 18, 2019
Stidham has virtually no chance at legitimate playing time unless Brady gets hurt, but he is an interesting stash who is likely free in all formats.
Justice Hill (RB) – Baltimore Ravens
This sums up Justice Hill:
#Ravens RB Justice Hill forced 9 missed tackles on 12 touches this week vs GB. Mark Ingram hasn’t forced 9 missed tackles in a full game in nearly 5 years.
— Pat Thorman (@Pat_Thorman) August 19, 2019
The 4th Round pic out of Oklahoma State has been elusive and shown tremendous vision through the first two weeks. He is patient at the LOS but the wiggle in his game is obvious. Against the Packers he had a number of impressive runs that really popped:
Justice Hill was making dudes miss all game Thursday night 👀 pic.twitter.com/eL5vvXC9fh
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) August 16, 2019
Mark Ingram will likely be in line for the majority of the carries in Baltimore this year, especially inside the 20, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that Hill will be a factor. Savvy owners have likely long since scooped him up but if he is available, stop reading this and go pick him up.
Tony Pollard (RB) – Dallas Cowboys/Darwin Thompson (RB) – Kansas City Chiefs
I discussed both Pollard and Thompson last week, as did Steve Perkins. The stock on both of these backs continues to skyrocket, almost to the point where I would advise you to be wary of investing too much capital in either one. Pollard is looking more and more like he will have a role in the offense regardless of Zeke Elliott. He, once again, only ran with the 1st Team against the Rams and had five carries for 42 yards and a score:
— NFL (@NFL) August 18, 2019
We are about a week away from Pollard being a 2nd Round pick in some higher stakes drafts. Hold him for now as he is the ultimate lottery ticket.
As for Thompson, Andy Reid heaped praise on him and he held up in pass protection against Pittsburgh:
RB Darwin Thompson folds Steelers Lb blitz like cheap card table.
This is what I am here for…I know he can run. pic.twitter.com/b7Jv390Z6N
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) August 18, 2019
He is getting 1st Team reps in practice and it is becoming more clear that he will be the Damien Williams (speaking of, Williams has looked tremendous since getting back) handcuff. He is far from a well-kept secret at this point so the price might be prohibitive. Still, if I were a Williams owner I would be doing my due diligence here and I wouldn’t be leaving a draft without him.
Duke Johnson, Jr. (RB) – Houston Texans
Lamar Miller’s torn ACL opens the door for Johnson to get 20 touches per game with all the passing down work he can handle. I am a little skeptical he will hold up as a feature back but there are a lot of positives as the Texans should be one of the better offenses in football. The thing about Johnson is that he dynamic with the ball in his hands:
Pump 200+ single-season touches for Duke Johnson Jr. directly into my veins.
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) August 25, 2019
Let’s say he does get 200+ touches – He would enter the mid-range RB2 conversation and would become a league winner. The buy-low window here is closed, but hopefully you listened to Tyler Ghee’s pod on him a few weeks ago and got him.
Jimmy Garappolo (QB) – San Francisco 49ers
By most accounts Garappolo has been terrible in camp. From throwing five interceptions in a practice to his dreadful performance last week, things haven’t gone well for the former Eastern Illinois product.
Jimmy Garoppolo has thrown nine picks thru 12 days of camp. Nick Mullens has thrown one.
— Grant Cohn (@grantcohn) August 14, 2019
Despite Kyle Shanahan and a sneaky good receiving corps, Garappolo has yet to show much improvement through three weeks of camp. Coming off the torn ACL he suffered early last year, it could be simply a matter of timing and rhythm for a quarterback who hasn’t had much of it. I wasn’t overly high on Garappolo coming into this season so I have zero shares myself but the prudent move would be to try and bundle together a couple players you aren’t in love with and try to upgrade somewhere else.
Denver Broncos Running Backs
Vic Fangio has played the musical running backs game as the Week 2 snap share hasn’t provided much clarity on the division of labor between the three:
Joe Flacco and the Broncos first team offense played 17 snaps
Phillip Lindsay – 7 snaps
Royce Freeman – 7 snaps
Devontae Booker – 3 snaps (all 3rd down)
— Matt Gajewski (@Matt_Gajewski) August 20, 2019
As a Lindsay owner, I can only say this is frustrating but not totally unexpected. It seems like some sort of committee was forming way back in OTAs and with Lindsay being hurt, it opened to door for Freeman and Booker to get carries. This seems like a situation that may not get much clarity and we could be looking at a “hot hand” situation. I am avoiding all three in redraft for now but holding in dynasty.
Colts Skill Players
Following Andrew Luck’s stunning retirement, the Colts are left with Jacoby Brissett to run the offense. It goes without saying but everyone takes a hit here: T.Y. Hilton, Marlon Mack, Eric Ebron, and even Parris Campbell.
I wasn’t drafting Hilton because he has too much boom/bust potential and his road splits are scary but his dynasty appeal may never be lower. He will be 30 in November and with the massive downgrade at quarterback what might have been a career year could end up being a struggle to get to 1,000 yards.
Campbell may actually end up being ok as Brissett likes to check down and throw to the short routes. Despite the fact he went from being in a prime landing spot to one that is far less rosy, I will still be doing a price check this week in an effort to buy low.
Thanks for reading – you can find me on Twitter @JasonKamlowsky to talk about anything with fantasy football or baseball. Also be sure to follow @F3Pod and @IDPGuys and check out the content on theffranchise.com and idpguys.org for everything fantasy football related.