The second week of the 2022 NFL preseason has come to a close. Members of The 33rd Team’s fantasy staff take a look at some of the fantasy football takeaways from Week 2.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Chicago Bears – Nic Bodiford
Seattle’s offensive line had its ups and downs, while Chicago’s just stayed perpetually down. Seahawks rookie left tackle, Charles Cross, repeatedly asserted himself in pass protection but was called for three false starts along the way. On the whole, Seattle’s offensive trench unit played much better than expected through the first two weeks of the preseason. Geno Smith’s chances of staying upright are trending in the right direction, as are the fantasy stocks of wide receivers D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Chicago’s offensive line was also abysmal. Justin Fields was under pressure on three of his eight dropbacks, while Trevor Siemian faced pressure on five of his 16, per TruMedia.com.
With Fields under center, Chicago featured the play-action passing game, where he linked up with tight end Cole Kmet for a pair of double-digit receiving gains. It appears as though head coach Matt Eberflus plans on utilizing Kmet as a top three passing game option in 2022, but the trapdoor floor scenario remains in play. If the offensive line continues to look this bad, Eberflus could call it quits on that plan and ask Kmet to stay in-line as an extra blocker. Chase Kmet’s ceiling but be wary of his floor.
Both Seattle and Chicago’s running back situations are murky. Bears backup running back Khalil Herbert ran with the first-team offense in place of David Montgomery who was said to be out with an unknown injury. It is possible the Bears are playing coy about a contract related “hold-in” with Montgomery. This is a situation to monitor. Pass-catching specialist Trestan Ebner also saw a surprising amount of carries up the middle with the second-team.
On the Seattle side, pass catching back Travis Homer got work in the run game and played very well. It’s possible Homer carves out a larger role for himself with Rashaad Penny and Kenneth Walker out for the time being.
New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers – Nic Bodiford
Running back battles for both the Panthers and Patriots rage on. Carolina was intent on establishing the rumbler, D’Onta Foreman, but many of his gains went for just a few yards up the middle. Chuba Hubbard got time on the field during the Panthers’ second drive and rotated the duo thereafter. Christian McCaffrey drafters should be rooting for one of these men to separate, and McCaffrey’s unholy snap share (while maintaining his gaudy touch share) needs to come down a bit. Consider Foreman the favorite, but things are not as clear as they seemed.
The Patriots gave Damien Harris the first drive, but Harris whiffed on a pass protection chip block, which led directly to quarterback Mac Jones being sacked by Carolina linebacker Julian Stanford. Harris was not targeted. Rhamondre Stevenson was subbed in for the second series and was given a similar workload – two carries to Harris’ three – but Stevenson did see a target. Stevenson also took reps in pass protection but did not encounter any blitzers.
Ty Montgomery was given a pair of first-team reps and finished with a touchdown, but he did not run particularly well and only received one target. Montgomery will be a breather-back factor, but this is a two-horse race between Harris and Stevenson and the most significant event from this contest was Harris’ failed pass block. Stevenson, meanwhile, has drawn praise from Belichick for his pass protection development as of late.
New England scaled back their deep ball rate this week, which coincided with training camp star, rookie wide receiver Tyquan Thornton injuring his collarbone in-game and Kristian Wilkerson suffering a concussion in practice this week. Thornton is expected to miss 6-10 weeks, depending on the rehabilitation route the team opts for, which means the field-stretcher role is now up for grabs. Nelson Agholor is likely the favorite for the role but it is worth noting that second-year wide receiver Tre Nixon has repeatedly made plays in the intermediate-to-deep areas of the field over the last two weeks.
Minnesota Vikings vs. San Francisco 49ers – Nic Bodiford
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan displayed intelligent aggression early in this one, going for it on two fourth-downs in the first-quarter. The offense failed to convert, which may have led to Shanahan calling the number of punter Mitch Wishkowski four times after that. Regardless, it was great seeing Shanahan trust his guys by giving them more chances to succeed.
San Fran’s running back usage remains as enticing as it is jumbled. Trey Sermon has been making waves in training camp but suffered some sort of foot/ankle injury late last week. His leading the backfield in first-quarter snaps was a surprise, but his efficiency – 1.6 yards per carry – was bad. Sermon received two targets on eight routes run, per TruMedia.com. Third-year back JaMycal Hasty played a team-high 14 snaps on third-down but earned just two targets on 11 third-down routes. Rookie Tyrion Davis-Price was worked into the rotation towards the end of the first quarter, while fellow rookie Jordan Mason entered the game in the third.
Both men ran with authority, routinely breaking tackles en route to chunk gains. Davis-Price produced a highlight reel 14-yarder in which he shed an ankle grab before burying a would-be downhill tackler. Davis-Price also would have had a touchdown plunge on another carry, if quarterback Brock Purdy had not fumbled the handoff on Minnesota’s one-yard line. Mason had two runs in which he broke four tackles or more. The first went for 18 yards. The second went for 10. Fantasy managers should be taking shots on all four backs. The latter two offer the most upside from a talent standpoint.
Minnesota running back Ty Chandler is playing very well. Alexander Mattison has been entrenched as the No. 2 running back for three years now, but Chandler is challenging him for it. Minnesota called Chandler’s number for the first touch in the green zone, and he responded by finding the end zone from two yards out. This is a battle to watch in preseason Week 3.
Buffalo Bills vs. Denver Broncos – Nic Bodiford
The Buffalo Bills’ passing game trio of Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis is already in midseason form.
Davis looks noticeably bulked up, now playing at 227-pounds, but the added weight did not slow him down at all. Allen and Davis punctuated the Bills’ first drive with a 28-yard touchdown strike in which Allen evaded pressure before finding Davis streaking horizontally through the end zone, tailed by a cornerback and safety who were too late to influence the outcome of the play. Slot receiver Isaiah McKenzie also seems to have put a safe distance between he and Jamison Crowder for the starting role.
Buffalo running back Devin Singletary got the start and ran well, his day highlighted by a pair of long chain movers. Zack Moss was the first back off the bench but it was rookie James Cook who stole the show, making his debut on Buffalo’s third drive. Cook displayed an ability to maintain balance vs. contact that was unmatched by any back, on either team. Cook’s burst creates an optical experience that can only be described as the slowing of time around him.
With 8:55-minutes left in the second quarter, Cook put both talents on display during a 23-yard gain. Cook took the handoff and headed northwest, hula-hooping a diving defender off of his hips before being tandem tackled at the Buffalo 45-yard line. Cook also showed an authoritative chip blocking ability before releasing on a number of delayed routes. Singletary is likely to remain a rush-centric factor but Cook’s passing game chops are on a different level. Expect compact rookie Raheem Blackshear to push Moss for relief rushing work.
Of the Broncos pass catchers, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam played into the fourth quarter. Rookie wide receiver/return man Montrell Washington also made splash plays early. To Okwuegbunam’s credit, his final play of the game was a 26-yard reception. That said, the fact he’s playing well past the rest of the starters is not a good sign. Rookie tight end Greg Dulcich was held out with an apparent hamstring injury. One has to wonder if head coach Nathaniel Hackett already has a favorite that he is trying to protect.
As for Washington, the rookie looked great in the return game and had his number called on on the third and seventh plays from scrimmage. He caught both of the targets he was given on Denver’s opening drive and totaled an impressive 25 yards on them. Washington could push Kendall Hinton for the No. 4 wide receiver role and maybe even work his way into K.J Hamler’s rear view.
Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints – Nic Bodiford
Rookie wide receivers on both the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers asserted themselves as their respective units’ top dogs over the weekend. The Saints’ Chris Olave was called upon in a 3rd-and-long situation, at the tail-end of the first quarter, and later hooked up with quarterback Ian Book for a red zone touchdown, while New Orleans was executing their two-minute drill.
Likewise, Packers’ training camp sensation, Romeo Doubs, was quarterback Jordan Love’s first read from the New Orleans five-yard line. Doubs handily won the jump ball for the touchdown over his defender. The burgeoning pair have veterans Michael Thomas (NO) and Allen Lazard (GB) to compete with. However, the two youngsters are making the case to be their respective squads’ alphas.
New Orleans was without their preseason Week 1 running back starter, Dwayne Washington (unknown injury), and Tony Jones Jr. seized the moment. The second-year back totaled 19 rushing yards on four carries and went three-of-three for 20 more yards in the passing game. Head coach Dennis Allen gave rookie Abram Smith every opportunity to succeed but his night was perhaps best encapsulated by his second carry of the game, where Smith had an open lane off of the right tackle but Smith slipped and fell as he rounded the corner.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Washington Commanders – Nic Bodiford
Kansas City’s passing game featured a few noteworthy trends. Free agent signee wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling was targeted five times by quarterback Patrick Mahomes. However, he was able to corral just two of them. Rookie wide receiver Skyy Moore was given a deep end zone target and played three fewer snaps than Valdes-Scantling. The latter data point is perhaps a slight vote of confidence in Moore’s favor.
Wide receiver Justin Watson, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer, looked great on his three Mahomes-targets, securing two of them for an impressive 53 yards. Though Valdes-Scantling was ostensibly signed to operate as the team’s primary field-stretcher, fantasy managers ought not to forget that there were high hopes for Watson before he was drafted into Tampa Bay’s crowded wide receiver room.
Rookie running back Isaih Pacheco worked in as both a rusher and receiver. The training camp hero was deployed behind lead back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and pass catching specialist Jerick McKinnon. The latter man looked great with the ball in his hands. Pacheco still carries the highest do-it-all skillset and fantasy ceiling. That said, he has a ways to go before he finds weekly fantasy relevance.
Washington seems to have made the changing of the running back-guard official. While Antonio Gibson was the first Commander to touch the football, he did so as a kick returner. Rookie rusher Brian Robinson then took the first running back snap of the day. Though Gibson played well against the reserves later on, Robinson ran very well against Kansas City’s defensive starters. This is Robinson’s job to lose.
Houston Texans vs. Los Angeles Rams – Ben Wolbransky
Houston touted out much of the starting offense with two notable exceptions: Brandin Cooks and Dameon Pierce. Cooks is locked and loaded as the team’s WR1, and the same could be said about rookie Dameon Pierce. Marlon Mack played 14 snaps with the starters rotating with Rex Burkhead. Burkhead saw most of the passing-down work while Mack likely filled the Dameon Pierce role.
Davis Mills looked awesome. His first few drives were nothing spectacular, but he made the most of his 2-minute drill staying poised in the pocket and delivering perfect strikes to Phillip Dorsett (for 32 yards) and Nico Collins (18-yard touchdown). I’ve openly touted my love for Davis Mills previously, but Collins is looking like the bonafide No. 2 in this offense. He’s a sure-fire stud to beat his ADP and could be a DFS sleeper. Nico is a must-draft where available.
The Rams hardly dressed any wide receivers. None of Kupp, Robinson, Van Jefferson, Skowronek, or Atwell saw a single snap this game. The offensive personnel looked nothing like what we can expect come September. Still, Lance McCutcheon caught another 6 targets after 6 in Week 1 for 96 yards, the third most of any WR in Week 2 of the preseason. McCutcheon is not a name to watch with this crowded Rams receiver room. The Rams did not put any of their best players on the field this week.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – Ben Wolbransky
The Steelers had another game-winning drive. I left the word impressive out, as Mason Rudolph was anything but. Rudolph saw the most snaps of any Steelers QB, but was easily the least impressive. Rudolph’s 81% completion percentage does look impressive. However, his average depth of target (ADOT) was a measly 4.71 (which ranked 50th of the 60 QBs to play through Saturday). Admittedly, Pickett had the same ADOT, but was far more poised.
Pickett went 6-of-7 with his only incompletion being a spike. Mitch Trubisky on the other hand didn’t have a great stat line but was incredibly mobile outside the pocket. Trubisky faced 6 pressures, compared to Rudolph’s 3 and Pickett’s 2 per TruMedia. The highlight (or lowlight) of this game was how bad the Steelers offensive line looked.
George Pickens was a stand-out in Week 1 and played with the starters on 17 of 18 plays per PFF. Pickens can be expected to be a Week 1 starter. Pickens finished the night without any eye-popping catches, but he’s still worth a look in your fantasy leagues.
Laviska Shenault was the Jaguars WR1 last season, but he didn’t start playing until the end of the 4th quarter. I had some suspicions that Shenault may still be featured in this offense. That said, Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Marvin Jones Jr. all saw more plays with the ones. Kirk saw an astonishing 8 targets. Meanwhile, Travis Etienne started the game and can be expected to stay in that role until James Robinson comes back. At that point, it will likely be a running back by the committee.
Miami Dolphins vs. Las Vegas Raiders – Ben Wolbransky
Miami fans got their first look at Tua Tagovailoa this preseason but didn’t see him with his full arsenal of weapons with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle on the sidelines. Tua looked alright, going 6-for-8. Without his field-stretching WRs, though, his ADOT was one of the worst of the weekend (3.75). Two of Tua’s targets went to running back Chase Edmonds who looked shifty totaling 21 yards through the air. He’s without a doubt the team’s RB1a and can be drafted as such.
Mike Gesicki’s usage was concerning. He started the game, which is encouraging, but played far into the 2nd quarter. He plays tight end, but has historically been used in a traditional wide receiver role. McDaniel has been open sharing that he wants to see Gesicki more involved in the run/blocking game, but Gesicki had a few missed blocks (including one that led to a safety on Teddy Bridgewater) and wasn’t involved much with the offense. I won’t be drafting Gesicki confidently.
It’s encouraging that Raiders RB Josh Jacobs did not start for a second week; Las Vegas is confident in him as the RB1. Per TruMedia, Jacobs is top-4 in touches dating back to 2019; and he’s the only RB in the top 30 to not score a receiving touchdown. He’s someone I’m eyeing at ADP. At wide receiver, the Raiders have not much to report on. Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow both sat along tight end Darren Waller. There is not a ton of ambiguity in this offense for 2022.
Cleveland Browns vs. Philadelphia Eagles – Ben Wolbransky
After a perfect first preseason game, quarterback Jalen Hurts sat while Gardner Minshew got the start. Minshew shined, throwing for 142 yards on 17 attempts. Although Minshew finished without a passing touchdown, he led the Eagles to a score on two of his three drives. I’m in the camp that Minshew is a top backup option.
Boston Scott also secured the start, handling all the groundwork on the first drive while Kenneth Gainwell handled the work on the second drive; both scored a touchdown. Miles Sanders was absent due to an injury, but this backfield will be anyone’s guess. Gainwell was more impressive of the two, flashing his elusiveness and speed. Boston Scott, on the other hand, did not play past the first quarter. I want to believe Gainwell is the more valuable of the two, but Scott seems to have preferential treatment. Both RBs are worth a roster spot given Sanders’ injury.
After an abysmal first preseason game, Deshaun Watson sat while Joshua Dobbs got the start. The Browns look like the Browns of old, as I imagine they’ll be in quarterback hell again in 2022. Joshua Dobbs was alright, both Browns’ touchdowns came on the ground while Dobbs was on the field. Josh Rosen looked atrocious. Rosen had next to no pocket presence and finished 7 of 20. Fortunately for Cleveland, these quarterbacks are fighting for the 3rd string roster spot with Jacoby Brissett set to start with Watson out for the first 11 games.
Jerome Ford looked great in Week 1, and he continued to impress in Week 2. Ford saw 13 touches for 56 total yards. He’s a name to continue watching with Kareem Hunt potentially on the trade block. The Browns are a team that loves to run the ball; Cleveland rushed at the 6th-highest rate in the NFL last season and is currently top-10 in rushing rate in the 2022 preseason.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Detroit Lions – Ryan Reynolds
This was a contest played entirely by backups, which means that there were few fantasy relevant takeaways from this matchup.. But there were still a few.
When you talk about the Lions’ backfield, you talk about D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, and rightfully so. However, this running backs group has some quality depth behind Swift and Williams. With the first team offense sidelined, Craig Reynolds saw the first opportunities, with Jermar Jefferson also mixing in on the first drive with the “starters.” Former Chargers running back Justin Jackson rushed for 54 yards on 7 carries, but Jackson was the third Lions runner to see action.
With the Colts first-teamers out, veteran Philip Lindsay saw the first opportunities at running back. Lindsay has had an odd career, first reaching 1,000 rushing yards in each of his first two seasons in Denver. He split last season between the Texans and Dolphins, looking like a different player in the process. If Jonathan Taylor were to miss time this season, Lindsay is positioned to take on a significant amount of the early downs work for the Colts in that scenario.
Rookie wide receiver Alec Pierce is the most notable offensive player to see action in this contest. Pierce hauled in his lone target for 9 yards on the team’s first drive.
Colts second-year receiver Dezmon Patmon popped off for a 5-103-1 line on 6 targets. Patmon doesn’t have a clear path to playing time with the Colts starters, but he certainly helped his case in this one.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Tennessee Titans – Ryan Reynolds
Leonard Fournette played two series with starter Blaine Gabbert, and a third with Kyle Trask. Rookie Rachaad White was the next Buccaneers running back to see action against the Titans. White took over the rest of the first half, indicating he’s ahead of Ke’Shawn Vaughn on the depth chart. Vaughn had 10 second-half carries for 54 yards, out-producing White.
Kyle Trask struggled going 11-of-24 for 105 yards passing, an interception, and two fumbles while taking four sacks. Trask was taken at the end of the second round in the 2021 draft. To this point, though, he does not appear to be the future at the position for Tampa Bay.
Rookie running back Hassan Haskins led the Titans in carries with 12, rushing for 39 yards while catching both of his targets for 8 yards. However, it was veteran Dontrell HIlliard that saw the first action of the game for the Titans. I’ve been playing this situation as if Hilliard is Derrick Henry’s primary reserve, and nothing happened in this contest to change that stance.
Malik Willis was inconsistent in this contest, taking three sacks with a completion percentage below 50%. That said, Willis continued to flash his dual-threat ability, rushing for 42 yards on 5 carries. The Titans no doubt want Willis to focus on his development as a passer, but long-term, his dynamic athleticism is what makes him such an interesting prospect.
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Dallas Cowboys – Ryan Reynolds
The Chargers sat the majority of their first team offense, but Joshua Palmer went 3-75-1 on 4 targets with the de facto starters here. After a big game last week, Michael Bandy came back with an 8-69-1 showing on 9 targets against Dallas.
Los Angeles running back deployments looked similar this week with Joshua Kelley getting the start, while Larry Rountree III mixed in with the starters early. Rookie Isaiah Spiller also played with the starters, though his opportunities came third in the pecking order.
Dallas sat their starters, including veteran wide receiver Noah Brown. I mention Brown because rookie wideout Jalen Tolbert saw action, catching 2-of-4 targets for 25 yards. Expecting Tolbert to walk into opening day and be a factor is a big ask.
New York Giants vs. Cincinnati Bengals – Ryan Reynolds
Giants quarterback Daniel Jones played into the early second quarter, going 14-for-16 for 116 yards and a pick against the Bengals reserve defense. Wide receivers Kenny Golladay, rookie Wan’Dale Robinson, Collin Johnson, David Sills, and rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger saw the bulk of the action with Jones. This group’s performance didn’t exactly inspire confidence against Bengals reserves, and Golladay did not see a target.
Fifth overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux took on a low block and left with a knee injury. The Giants rookie EDGE rusher waived off the cart and walked off the field under his own power. The severity of the injury is currently unknown. We will update this section once more details emerge.
Chris Evans started at running back for the Bengals, but starter Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine did not see action. With Perine sitting, it’s difficult to determine where exactly Evans’ place is on the depth chart.
Cincinnati wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter was the most productive Bengal, catching all 7 of his targets for 91 yards.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Baltimore Ravens – Ryan Reynolds
Cardinals running back Darrel Williams didn’t play last week, but he did against the Ravens. Eno Benjamin still started against Baltimore, and Darrel Williams took the reins during Arizona’s second drive. Benjamin and Jonathan Ward mixed in at running back through the rest of the first half. Rookie Keaontay Ingram saw his seven opportunities in the second half. This matters because starter James Conner has missed multiple games in each of his five seasons as a pro.
As it stands now, if Conner were to miss time, I’d expect both Benjamin and Williams to see notable run. To this point Benjamin appears to be best positioned to see playing time regardless of Conners’ status.
Veteran Mike Davis got the start at running back, with Justice Hill mixing in on the first drive. Rookie Tyler Badie ran for 34 yards on 12 carries, while catching 2-of-3 targets for 5 yards and a score. All of Badie’s opportunities came in the second half. Based on these deployments, we can reasonably expect Davis and Hill to both see work if J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards miss opening day. If just Edwards misses the opener, Davis looks the best positioned to take on his role.
Tyler Huntley went 13-of-14 in the air for 129 yards and a score while adding 9 yards on 2 carries. Huntley was better than expected last season, and he’s turning into one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league.
Fourth-round rookie tight end Isaiah Likely has generated considerable buzz this August. He backed that up in a big way against Arizona, catching all 8 of his targets for 100 yards and a score. Likely isn’t going to supplant Mark Andrews at tight end, but it looks like Baltimore has another potential impact player on their hands.