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Fantasy Football Today

Johnny Manziel hijacks Saturday's preseason action

By Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer

Johnny Manziel could be an interesting Fantasy option this year. (USATSI)
Johnny Manziel could be an interesting Fantasy option this year. (USATSI)

Johnny Manziel was the center of attention for Saturday's preseason action, and he showed us all a glimpse of his potential Fantasy value in his first game action against the Lions. But he wasn't the only player of interest Saturday night.

We had four games to wrap up the first full week of preseason action, and we had some positive performances from Carson Palmer and Rashad Jennings, among others, while the Texans offense showed how bad it could be without Arian Foster and Andre Johnson.

To the action ...

Cardinals 32, Texans 0

First, the good. Palmer did nothing to hurt his sleeper status in this game, going 5-of-5 passing for 84 yards and a touchdown. Michael Floyd didn't play in this game, but Palmer hit Larry Fitzgerald for a 7-yard touchdown. We like Palmer as a high-upside No. 2 Fantasy quarterback with a late-round pick.

Rookie John Brown stepped up with Floyd out, and he had five catches for 87 yards on 10 targets. Brown will push Ted Ginn for the No. 3 role, and he's worth targeting in all dynasty leagues. He could creep into the conversation for re-draft leagues if he continues to shine in the preseason.

Andre Ellington did little in minimal playing time with two carries for 7 yards, and potential sleeper candidate Stepfan Taylor was a disappointment with nine carries for 9 yards. He needs to do more if Fantasy owners will be willing to trust him.

Speaking of bad, the Texans looked awful. Again, it's unfair to judge them without Foster and Johnson, who are nursing injuries, but they struggled most of the night. With Foster and Andre Brown out, Jonathan Grimes started and had 10 carries for 39 yards. He has minimal Fantasy value if he's third on the depth chart.

Titans 20, Packers 16

Titans rookie running back Bishop Sankey provided fodder for both sides of his Fantasy value argument. Those who think he's overhyped will point to him playing behind Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster, which is valid. Greene had four carries for 20 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown. And McCluster had three carries for 19 yards.

Sankey, playing with the reserves, managed 13 carries for just 37 yards but also had three catches for 38 yards and a touchdown from Charlie Whitehurst in the third quarter. It's not good that he can't beat out Greene, but let's see what happens by the third preseason game. We know Greene will handle short-yardage work, but Sankey should emerge as the starter. And if he can continue to show off his receiving skills that will only enhance his value. I'm still drafting him in Round 4.

Justin Hunter had a quiet night with one catch for 5 yards on two targets, and he wasn't in the starting lineup. But he saw first-team action and should still be considered a late-round flier in all leagues.

For the Packers, Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy and Jordy Nelson all sat out for this game, and James Starks took advantage of the opportunity with six carries for 49 yards and a touchdown. Every Lacy owner should draft Starks with a late-round pick, and he would be a must-start running back if Lacy ever missed time.

Giants 20, Steelers 16

One week after Andre Williams was the talk of the Hall of Fame game with his performance against the Bills, this time it was Jennings against the Steelers. He had five carries for 85 yards and a 73-yard touchdown.

Now, the touchdown run was impressive. Jennings showed surprising speed outrunning the defense, but the offensive line did a great job to open the hole.

If you take away that run, Jennings had four carries for 12 yards, so take that into consideration. But he showed that he's not giving up the job to Williams, and Jennings is worth drafting in Round 6 in all leagues.

As for Williams, he had a solid outing with seven carries for 35 yards. He will work at the goal line, which boosts his Fantasy value, as does Jennings' injury history. Williams is worth consideration with a pick in Round 8 in standard leagues and a late-round pick in PPR formats.

The Steelers got a nice performance from rookie running back Dri Archer, who had two carries for 9 yards and two catches for 50 yards, including a 46-yard grab. Archer, like John Brown, should only be drafted in dynasty leagues for now, but his re-draft value is on the rise.

Le'Veon Bell also looked good with three carries for 18 yards while LeGarrette Blount had three carries for 10 yards. We're not worried about Blount hurting Bell much this season, and Bell is worth drafting late in Round 1 or early in Round 2 in all leagues.

Lions 13, Browns 12

Two players for the Lions stood out on the opening drive. Joique Bell had a powerful run for 11 yards, and Golden Tate caught a 14-yard pass out of the slot.

It was the lone time each player touched the ball against the Browns, but they looked good for the eye ball test if you like each player as I do. I consider Bell a great pick in Round 4, and Tate is worth drafting in Round 6.

The Browns backfield was on display for Fantasy owners with Ben Tate and Terrance West. Tate started and had six carries for 25 yards. He regained his own fumble, but he looked better than West on Saturday. West had 10 carries for 22 yards, including a 10-yard run, and one catch for 8 yards.

Tate is worth drafting in Round 6, and West should still be drafted in Round 8 unless his preseason games continue to be mediocre.

OK, finally, let's take a look at Manziel. Brian Hoyer started and was 6-of-14 passing for 92 yards. Manziel played with the second team and was 7-of-11 passing for 63 yards and six carries for 27 yards.

We're still expecting Hoyer to start in Week 1, but Manziel is the better Fantasy option by far His running ability could help make him a Top 15 Fantasy quarterback depending on how much he plays.

It would help either quarterback if Josh Gordon's suspension is reduced, and Jordan Cameron (shoulder) was out for this game. If Manziel is named the starter then he's worth a late-round flier in all formats, and we hope he wins the job.

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