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Fantasy Football Today

Friday night preseason review

By Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer

Kelvin Benjamin scored a touchdown Friday in his first NFL action. (USATSI)
Kelvin Benjamin scored a touchdown Friday in his first NFL action. (USATSI)

Friday's preseason action featured six games, including the debut of two high-profile rookie quarterbacks in Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater. We also got to see Jeremy Maclin's return to the field, Kelvin Benjamin's first touchdown and a perfect night from Matt Ryan and Ryan Tannehill in their head-to-head matchup.

With that in mind, let's get to the games with some relevant Fantasy options.

Falcons 16, Dolphins 10

Ryan didn't have Julio Jones, who was resting, but he still went 7-of-7 passing for 53 yards. Roddy White was his top target with four catches for 27 yards on four targets. Both guys are great values this year based on their Average Draft Position.

Steven Jackson didn't play in this game as he's out all preseason with a hamstring injury, and Jacquizz Rodgers got the start and scored a touchdown with seven carries for 20 yards. The running back we wanted to see, rookie Devonta Freeman, was third in this game behind Rodgers and Antone Smith. He did well with 10 carries for 50 yards and one catch for 57 yards. Freeman has struggled in training camp, and even though he did his damage against Miami's backups, this still shows what he's capable of. We're not giving up yet.

The Dolphins didn't have Knowshon Moreno (knee) or Mike Wallace (hamstring), but Tannehill was still 6-of-6 passing for 62 yards and a touchdown. He connected with Brandon Gibson for a 6-yard score, and Gibson was the starting slot receiver in his comeback from last year's knee injury. Tannehill should be on your radar in deeper leagues or two-quarterback formats.

Lamar Miller started at running back and had four carries for 11 yards and two catches for 8 yards. It will be interesting to see how he's used when Moreno is healthy, but Miller is a solid No. 3 running back option now with a mid-round pick.

Bills 20, Panthers 18

Sammy Watkins had his first catch in preseason action after failing to make a grab in the Hall of Fame game last week against the Giants. He finished with three catches for 21 yards on four targets. We like Watkins as a borderline No. 3 receiver with a pick in Round 8 or 9.

C.J. Spiller ran well with three carries for 22 yards and one catch for 3 yards, and we hope he can stay healthy and rebound from last year's disappointing injury-filled campaign. Spiller is still the best rusher for the Bills ahead of Fred Jackson, and he's worth drafting in Round 3. Jackson had five carries for 10 yards and one catch for minus-3 yards.

The Panthers rested Cam Newton (ankle), but Benjamin still made his presence felt with a 29-yard touchdown catch from Derek Anderson. He had two targets in the game, but it was clear he's already the No. 1 receiver in Carolina. He's well worth a late-round pick in all leagues.

Bears 34, Eagles 28

Maclin was back on the field after last year's torn ACL, and he had one catch for 15 yards on one target. As long as he can stay healthy, Maclin is a borderline No. 2 receiver as the No. 1 option in Chip Kelly's offense.

Darren Sproles made his Eagles debut, and he had three carries for 11 yards but no targets in the passing game. He's only worth a late-round pick in standard leagues, but his value is obviously higher in PPR formats.

Nick Foles was a little off with two interceptions, which matched his total from all of last year, but he still completed 6-of-9 passes for 44 yards. He didn't have Riley Cooper (foot) for this game, but Foles remains a low-end No. 1 quarterback worth a mid- to late-round pick.

Zach Ertz showed off his play-making ability with four catches for 60 yards, and he did well with Foles and backup Mark Sanchez. We like Ertz as a No. 1 tight end this season worth a mid- to late-round pick.

Matthew Tucker got an extended look with Chris Polk out but suffered a hamstring injury. The extent is unknown, but Tucker made his presence felt before leaving with eight carries for 40 yards and two touchdowns and one catch for 15 yards. Even if he's healthy, Tucker has minimal Fantasy value behind LeSean McCoy, Sproles and Polk. Ignore him in all leagues.

For the Bears, Jay Cutler looked great with 9-of-13 passing for 85 yards and a touchdown. He connected with tight end Zach Miller on a beautiful 10-yard throw in the back of the end zone. I like Cutler better than Foles, and he's going later than Foles in the majority of leagues.

Miller finished with two touchdowns and six catches for 68 yards, but don't get excited about that now. He's still a reserve behind the suspended Martellus Bennett.

One thing of note for the Bears was Shaun Draughn was the No. 2 running back behind Matt Forte, ahead of rookie Ka'Deem Carey. We still expect Carey to be the handcuff to Forte, but this is a battle worth watching. Draughn had one carry for 2 yards and one catch for 10 yards, and Carey had 10 carries for 23 yards.

Vikings 10, Raiders 6

Matt Cassel started the game and finished 5-of-6 passing for 62 yards. Bridgewater made his debut and was 6-of-13 passing for 49 yards. Cassel has the edge for the starting job, but we still like Bridgewater as the better Fantasy option this season.

Adrian Peterson didn't play in this game, and Matt Asiata started ahead of rookie Jerick McKinnon. Asiata had three carries for 13 yards and a touchdown and one catch for 2 yards. McKinnon had 12 carries for 45 yards, but he's currently third on the depth chart. We anticipate Asiata and McKinnon would share touches if Peterson ever got hurt.

Cordarrelle Patterson was the No. 1 target for the Vikings with four. He finished with three catches for 38 yards and has the chance for a big season. He's worth drafting in Round 5 in all formats.

Maurice Jones-Drew started for the Raiders ahead of Darren McFadden and finished with two carries for 10 yards and two catches for 14 yards. McFadden had just one carry, but he got loose for 23 yards.

Jones-Drew is the running back to draft in Oakland, but he's only a flex candidate at best with a mid-round pick. He'll have to grind his way to being a quality Fantasy option, and we're not confident in his skills at this point in his career. McFadden is only worth a late-round flier.

Jaguars 16, Buccaneers 10

It's hard to gauge if the Jaguars defensive line is that good or the Bucs offensive line is that bad. It's probably somewhere in between. For the Bucs, the first-team offense struggled.

Doug Martin had three carries for 6 yards and one catch for 2 yards. He's still a borderline No. 1 Fantasy running back, but if the offensive line continues to struggle and the backfield remains crowded, Martin's stock will fall. Charles Sims showed off his receiving touch with three catches for 32 yards, and he added six carries for 13 yards. He's a definite late-round flier in PPR leagues.

Mike Evans went without a catch on two targets, and Josh McCown was 2 of 4 passing for 20 yards and an interception. This offense still needs work.

The Jaguars were without Toby Gerhart (hip), and Denard Robinson made some noise with a fourth-quarter touchdown with seven carries for 36 yards. We wouldn't consider Robinson in most re-draft leagues unless Gerhart had a serious injury.

Chad Henne started the game and was 4-of-7 passing for 30 yards, but Bortles was the better story. He looked good on 7-of-11 passing for 117 yards. We hope this continues so he could push Henne for the starting job this year.

Saints 26, Rams 24

Drew Brees (oblique) and Sam Bradford (rest, knee) didn't play in this game, so the running backs were the story. Although it was good to see rookie receiver Brandin Cooks catch five passes for 55 yards and a touchdown on eight targets, and we love Cooks as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver with a mid-round pick.

For the Saints, Mark Ingram started and had eight carries for 83 yards and a touchdown and one catch for 4 yards. He looked good, but we've been fooled before. Still, based on his ADP, he's well worth a late-round flier.

Khiry Robinson was second in line, and he also ran well with five carries for 23 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 16 yards. Robinson is going around Round 9, and Ingram might be the better bargain.

The Rams started Zac Stacy, and he had four carries for 22 yards. Anyone concerned about his role should calm down, and he's a solid pick in Round 2 in all formats. Tre Mason was third on the depth chart behind Stacy and Benny Cunningham, and he had 15 carries for 51 yards. Mason is only worth a late-round flier, and if Stacy got hurt then Mason would share touches with CUnningham, who had five carries for 24 yards against the Saints.

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