With seven preseason games played and no shortage of news from around the league, this Saturday was jam packed with NFL happenings. If you’re looking for analysis of all today’s important takeaways, look no further. Let’s jump right into today’s notable games:
Kansas City Chiefs: In what was likely his final game of the preseason, second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed 18-of-24 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown. Last year’s tenth overall pick, Mahomes has looked very solid this preseason. Mahomes finishes the preseason with 367 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown bomb to Tyreek Hill which showcased the QB’s big-arm, big-play ability. Hill racked up 80 yards in each of the last two games and seems a favorite target of Mahomes’, especially downfield. On the other hand, big-name free agency acquisition Sammy Watkins had another troubling performance, bringing in only 1-of-4 targets for 15 yards. Watkins appears third in line for targets behind Hill and Travis Kelce, but nevertheless retains his big-play upside paired with Mahomes.
Jacksonville Jaguars: This game’s most important development involves an unfortunate injury to No. 1 wide receiver Marqise Lee, who appeared to suffer a serious left knee injury. Lee is the team’s most experienced wideout, who led the team in receptions in 2017 and is by far the best blocker in the wide receiver room. If Lee were to miss any time it would mean a bump in targets for second-year players Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook, along with former Colts receiver Donte Moncrief. Blake Bortles looked inconsistent against the Falcons, though that’s anything but a recent development for the fifth-year quarterback – who completed 17-of-23 passes for 204 yards and two interceptions in just over two quarters of action. The box score tells a concerning story, but neither of the picks were particularly egregious. Star running back Leonard Fournette looked the part, gaining 57 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, and remains a top option in all fantasy formats.
Baltimore Ravens: Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson had his strongest preseason showing yet this Saturday against the Dolphins, completing 7-of-10 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. Jackson finally showed his touted scrambling ability, adding 39 yards on the ground – including a 19-yard TD run. The preseason has made clear that Jackson isn’t quite NFL ready, but today’s performance showcased the hybrid skill set that warranted the Ravens’ selection of the first-rounder. Starting QB Joe Flacco sat out the game but has looked like a rekindled player in limited starts thus far. Surrounded by much improved passing weapons, Flacco will likely fend of Jackson for the 2018 season – but as the rookie better acclimates to the speed of the NFL, he could prove too electrifying for the Ravens to simply sit.
Chicago Bears: Entering his fourth year in the NFL, wide receiver Kevin White finally reeled in his first touchdown. While the Bears rested their starters, the 2015 seventh-overall pick caught two passes for 33 yards and scored his touchdown against cornerback Orlando Scandrick. Following three seasons derailed by injury, White will open the season behind Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Trey Burton for targets, but should get some opportunities on 4-receiver sets.
Miami Dolphins: Following a season lost to an ACL injury, quarterback Ryan Tannehill showed flashes of his career-best 2016 form, completing 11-of-16 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Tannehill connected with free agency acquisition Danny Amendola to find the end zone for the first time this preseason. Starting running back Kenyan Drake continued a strong preseason performance, running for 32 yards on only four carries – most of which came on an electric 30-yard breakaway run. Veteran Frank Gore looked less impressive in his preseason debut, losing two yards on his only carry and gaining a single yard with his one reception – nonetheless, Gore will likely eat in to some of Drake’s carries. Miami showed flashes of an offence that could be much improved on last year’s Jay- Cutler-led team.
Indianapolis Colts: Over the course of the preseason, quarterback Andrew Luck’s return to the football field has looked encouraging. Luck completed 20-of-32 passes for 204 yards, one TD and one INT over the course of his preseason starts. Good for a 83.1 passer rating, Luck also add 27 yards on the ground over the course of four runs. Those numbers are sold, though not exceptional, but perhaps most important of all Luck has taken multiple hard hits, some involving his previously-injured shoulder – and gotten back up after each of them. A 15-yard touchdown to tight end Eric Ebron showcased Luck’s ability to dice through defenses, and the 28-year-old’s arm strength looked, if not fully returned, encouraging.
Cleveland Browns: Though the Browns did not see the field for a preseason game today, the team nonetheless released information relevant to fantasy: wideout Josh Gordon has been activated from the NFI list and is finally cleared to resume practicing and all other team-activities – including games. Gordon participated in the team walkthrough Saturday, but a tweaked hamstring kept the 27-year-old from fully participating. If Gordon returns to the field he’ll line up opposite wide receiver Jarvis Landry, making Cleveland one of the most offensively-loaded teams in the league – at least, on paper.