by Will Overton
In week two of the preseason we saw a couple of second year quarterbacks looking like they’re ready to take a step forward. We also saw some rookie quarterbacks struggle in the way they inevitably will at more than just one point in their first season.
Along with the QB’s we had some running back competitions heating up or in some cases we may have witnessed some competitions just beginning. All of that and more in this roundup of the weekend’s preseason action:
1. Christian Ponder – QB, Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings need a big season from their second year quarterback and they had to like what they saw from him this past weekend. He was taking on one of the league’s worst secondary’s from last season, but still a 10 – 13 night is pretty good with 136 yards and a TD. One big thing is going to be whether or not Ponder will have more weapons. Percy Harvin is a number one wideout in my mind, but a young QB needs more help than that. Kyle Rudolph seems to be developing into a nice TE option, and Ponder seemed to be clicking with Jerome Simpson who was targeted five times and had three catches the other night. If Simpson and Rudolph emerge and Harvin stays healthy Ponder will have the weapons to take a big step forward. There are just a lot of if’s involved there.
2. Blaine Gabbert – QB, Jacksonville Jaguars: Much like Ponder, Blaine Gabbert looked much improved this weekend. Gabbert was 13 – 16 for 112 yards and a pair of TD passes. One of those TD passes was to Justin Blackmon who ended up with 4 catches in total. I’ve got my concerns about Gabbert and Blackmon, but this was certainly encouraging. Gabbert has better weapons this season which will help, but he has to be better at hitting them as his 50% completion rate isn’t going to cut it in fantasy leagues. I’d rather have Ponder between the two second year QB’s, but Gabbert may be worth a flier in deep leagues, just not much outside of that.
More Quick Hits
- Another big preseason outing from Matt Ryan who was 18 – 21 for 174 yards and 1 TD. With what might be the best receiving tandem in football Ryan could be in for a big year. Currently he’s going #11 among QB’s in drafts, might not be a bad guy to grab if you pass on the top options.
- It looked like there might be a nice little connection coming together with Brandon Weeden and Greg Little in Cleveland. Little was targeted five times and ended up with four catches and 45 yards. Starting with Little was Josh Gordon who was also targeted five time, though ended up with just two receptions.
- The Dolphins gave the starting gig to Ryan Tannehill this last week and he was pretty mediocre with the job going 11 – 23 for 100 yards. This didn’t help him much in terms of winning the starting job, but Matt Moore who came in after Tannehill was 5 – 15, so he didn’t really get hurt either.
- Something to watch is the running back situation in Detroit. Jahvid Best is going to be starting the season on the PUP list it appears and Mikel LeShoure is going to be suspended, and is still a health question. That leaves Kevin Smith and Keiland Williams as holdovers from last season, but there are a couple new guys in town making waves. Stephfon Green had a 76 yard TD run late in this game. Joique Bell who had 89 yards in the first week had 5 carries and 35 yards along with 3 catches and 44 yards. Whoever makes this team has a chance at fantasy value in deep leagues.
- It was good to see Ryan Williams on the field this weekend as he carried the ball five times for 25 yards and scored a TD. After missing all of last season he might be brought back slowly by the Cardinals, but he should have value as a complement back to Beanie Wells this season.
- Any Matt Forte fans or fantasy owners out there worried after seeing Michael Bush score two goal line TD’s in the first quarter this weekend? I’m not too worked up about it because Forte is too good to keep off the field, but Bush will end up hawking a few TD’s this season, especially in short yardage spots.
- A healthy Sam Bradford looks a lot better than the 25th best fantasy QB. Bradford was 6 – 9 with 102 yards and a couple TD’s against the Chiefs. Bradford spread the ball around while on the field throwing TD’s to Lance Kendricks and Danny Amendola.
- It’s still not clear how serious the knee injury to Brandon Jacobs is, but if it is serious it ups the value of Kendall Hunter who carried the ball six times for 46 yards. The 49ers are looking to use Frank Gore a little less and Hunter could be in line for a lot of those extra carries with Jacobs out of the way.
- I don’t think the talk of a QB competition in Seattle is anything but a smoke screen right now, but if Russell Wilson keeps doing what he’s doing it might become serious. Wilson was 10 – 17 for 155 yards and 2 TD’s one week after throwing for one TD and running for another one. There’s even some talk that Wilson starts the next game.
- The competition for the Cowboys third WR job is wide open right now and Cole Beasley may have taken a step up in the contest. Laurent Robinson proved last year that there can be fantasy value for a third receiver there. Beasley was targeted nine times in this week’s game and had 7 catches and 104 yards. Beasley only caught one pass from Tony Romo, but he should see more time with the first team next week one would think.
- With Isaac Redman not playing Jonathan Dwyer got the bulk of the Steelers carries last night and looked good getting them ending the night with 43 yards on 8 carries. Dwyer is not the fastest back, but he’s big and he’s skilled and the fact that Redman is hurt and missing time is only helping his chances. Redman will likely be featured back on week one, but Dwyer could work his way towards a near 50/50 split and the majority of goal line carries.
- Andrew Luck was clearly not as good as he was in week one, throwing a couple of picks this week against a tough Steelers defense. The nine targets to Reggie Wayne was encouraging though as Wayne should still have more value than he is getting credit for. Also noteworthy is that T.Y. Hilton was targeted six times, mostly by Luck which is a positive sign for a guy who could be a real sleeper this year.