by Will Overton
The final week of preseason does two things. It decides who gets cut and who stays and it sorts out the back end of depth charts while the starters take it easy on the sidelines. At first glance it may not look like there’s a lot of fantasy knowledge to be gained, but there is still some. And there is a lot for those in deep leagues who dig deeper into the depth charts to find value.
Here are some quick hits from week four of the NFL’s preseason:
1. Washington Redskins Running Backs: Most teams were treating the final preseason game as an audition for their final roster spots. The Redskins were apparently auditioning for a starting running back as Roy Helu and Evan Royster combined for 25 carries in their game against the Bucs. Two days later Tim Hightower, the favorite to be the Redskins starter, was cut. Helu was the most impressive with 15 carries and 90 along with a pair of TD’s. Royster was solid as well though with 44 yards on 10 carries and a TD of his own. I don’t know who will be named starter, but no matter who it is chances are playing time will be split pretty even initially. If I had to have just one it’d be Helu, but both will likely have fantasy value.
2. Cincinnati Bengals Wide Receivers: It looks like the competition for the Bengals second starting wide receiver spot opposite of A.J. Green is wide open as it gets. And it may not even matter who wins it initially because multiple guys should be given a chance to impress. The favorite for the job is Brandon Tate who played very little in this week’s game and was only targeted once. The Bengals two rookies both had impressive games. Marvin Jones caught 4 passes for 39 yards and a TD while Mohammed Sanu caught 8 balls for 80 yards. Both of these rookies should be in the mix until someone pulls away. All of them are worth a flier at least in deep leagues until we learn more.
More Quick Hits
- The Dolphins gave an extended look to Lamar Miller, their 4th round pick this year, in the last preseason game. Miller ran the ball 17 times for 60 yards with a TD. Miller has big play ability, but he also has size. If Daniel Thomas can’t put it together early on as the backup to Reggie Bush, Miller could steal his job away.
- With Justin Blackmon and Laurent Robinson in town the Jaguars number one receiver from last year, Mike Thomas, has become an afterthought. Thomas did catch 4 passes for 37 yards in the Jags game against the Falcons however. Thomas is 5’8 and built to be a slot receiver, not a number one. This year he returns to the slot where he belongs and he could have hidden value if Blaine Gabbert can take a step forward this year.
- I wouldn’t add him yet, but I would keep an eye on Joique Bell who has made the Lions roster. While Mikel Leshoure is out with his suspension Bell is one of the backups to injury prone Kevin Smith which means he could be seeing the field. And even with Leshoure back Bell could have some value as he is the only back on the team who has demonstrated pass catching ability and could be a third down back. He caught five passes for 53 yards in the Lions last preseason game.
- In a surprise move the Saints kept Travaris Cadet on their 53 man roster after his final preseason game where he ran the ball 15 times for 57 yards and caught 8 passes for 44 yards. Chances are Cadet won’t get much playing time, but the Saints kept him for a reason, and you never know with New Orleans who will carry the ball.
- While most starting QB’s and some backups barely played this last week the Rams opted to get Sam Bradford some extra snaps and he looked good going 11 – 16 for 175 yards and 3 TD’s. The former number one pick could take a nice step forward in his third season.
- It’ll be Isaac Redman starting for Pittsburgh, but I fully expect Jonathan Dwyer to get a few carries and could still be the main guy on the goal line for the Steelers. Dwyer carried the ball 13 times against the Panthers on Thursday for 63 yards.
- With Ben Tate and Arian Foster on the bench Justin Forsett got his chance to earn a spot by carrying the ball 13 times for 114 yards and 2 TD’s. Forsett avoided being cut, but even still, he only has value of something happens to Foster or Tate.
- The 49ers top draft pick A.J. Jenkins got a chance to shine with starters out and he had 4 catches for 59 yards and a TD. The 49ers have a lot of receivers on the team, many who are ahead of Jenkins, but the 49ers selected him as high as they did for a reason. At some point I expect him to get a chance to earn his way up the depth chart.
- Battling for the backup running back job in Denver Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno both looked good. Hillman had 14 rushes for 68 yards and likely locked himself in as backup running back. Moreno had 49 yards on 7 carries and did enough to keep his spot on the team. Hillman could have value because he may turn into a third down back, Moreno has a long way to go to regain fantasy value.