The 2022 NFL preseason has come to an end, and there was much to take away from a fantasy perspective.
The 33rd Team’s fantasy staff looks at each Week 3 preseason game and breaks down the top takeaways.
Carolina Panthers vs. Buffalo Bills – Ryan Reynolds
Baker Mayfield was already named the opening day starter for the Panthers before this contest started. He played well here, completing 9-of-15 passes for 89 yards and 2 scores. Backup quarterback Sam Darnold is set to miss 4-6 weeks with an ankle injury suffered in this contest. Eric Mangini provides analysis on the Panthers quarterback situation and Baker Mayfield’s performance in this matchup.
Neither Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, nor Robby Anderson saw action in this matchup. Running back Chubba Hubbard, tight end Tommy Tremble, as well as wide receivers Rashard Higgins and Shi Smith all saw action with Mayfield. Smith went 3-32-1 on 4 targets while Hubbard saw 6 targets. Hubbard’s massive volume in the air indicates that he’ll take McCaffrey’s passing game role if McCaffrey misses any time. Running back D’Onta Foreman and wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. saw their limited opportunities with Sam Darnold.
The Bills sat their starters, but rookie James Cook saw the early run at running back. Duke Johnson then took over in Buffalo’s fourth drive.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Seattle Seahawks – Ryan Reynolds
Geno Smith got the starting nod here and was named the opening day starter by head coach Pete Carroll after the contest. Drew Lock saw the second round of action, completing 13-of-24 passes for 171 yards for a score and 3 interceptions.
Seattle had seven non-quarterbacks receive a carry, while 14 players had at least one target. Tyler Lockett was one of them, D.K. Metcalf was not. Veteran Travis Homer saw the first action at running back for Seattle, but both Penny Hart and DeeJay Dallas mixed in early. Dallas ran for 75 yards and a score on a team leading 13 carries, while catching both of his targets for 9 yards. Neither Rashaad Penny nor injured rookie Kenneth Walker saw any opportunities at running back.
Dallas did not play any of their starters, but rookie wide receiver Jalen Tolbert continues to see preseason action. Tolbert has been playing with backup quarterbacks, but his underwhelming and inefficient preseason continued as he caught 2-of-5 targets for 9 yards.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Washington Commanders – Ryan Reynolds
Both the Ravens and Commanders played reserves in this contest.
Two things stuck out for me from Baltimore’s end. The first is that after setting the world on fire last week rookie fourth rounder Isaiah Likely didn’t suit up for this contest. That’s a pretty interesting sign for his regular season prospects. The second was that newly acquired veteran wide receiver Demarcus Robinson went for 4-135-1 on 6 targets in his first action as a Raven. Baltimore’s wide receiver group is thin after Rashod Bateman, who isn’t a proven player yet himself. A veteran like Robinson could see significant run in this offense.
For Washington, No. 144 overall pick Sam Howell played the whole game. Howell threw for 280 yards and a touchdown while adding 62 yards on 8 carries. He also took five sacks and led his offense to 15 preseason points in a losing effort against backups.
Denver Broncos vs. Minnesota Vikings – Ryan Reynolds
This was another matchup played almost entirely by reserves, but it had some minor takeaways.
Broncos wide receiver K.J. Hamler saw some brief early run. That’s a positive because he appears ready to be a contributor early this season, which was still in doubt not too long ago. Denver is transitioning into a new coaching regime under Nathaniel Hackett with a new quarterback in Russell Wilson. Wilson’s offense will see its first game action on Monday Night Football in Seattle.
No. 169 overall pick Ty Chandler continued his strong preseason against Denver. The Vikings rookie running back ran for 44 yards on 5 carries while catching his lone target for a single yard. Starter Dalvin Cook and primary reserve Alexander Mattison are both proven talents, with Cook being among the best backs in the league. The path to a significant role is narrow for Chandler this season, but he’s certainly made an impression.
New York Jets vs. New York Giants – Ryan Reynolds
Giants backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor was carted off the field after taking a big hit against the Jets. With Taylor’s status in doubt, Davis Webb has an increased chance of making the opening day roster. Webb went 30-of-38 for 202 yards and a score, finishing off a strong preseason. Webb spent the last three years in Buffalo with new Giants head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen.
Daniel Jones, Kadarius Toney, and Saquon Barkley didn’t see any action, but veteran wide receiver Kenny Golladay and rookie Wan’Dale Robinson saw some limited work. All-in-all six non-quarterbacks saw a rushing attempt for New York while 16 Giants saw a target. Undrafted rookie tight end Austin Allen caught all four of his targets for 40 yards and a score, while Daniel Bellinger caught all three of his for 37 yards.
The Jets side of things was far more interesting. Michael Carter saw the first action at running back while rookie Breece Hall also mixed in during the first series. Neither back was productive in limited usage, but Carter lost a fumble. The Jets backfield looks to be shaping up as a true timeshare entering the season.
Veteran Joe Flacco got the start completing 7-of-12 passes for 76 yards with a pick six on his fourth and final drive. Mike White took over from there, going 13-of-17 for 170 yards and 2 scores overall. Chris Streveler finished for the Jets at quarterback, completing 10-of-13 passes for 96 yards and 2 scores.
The starting group of Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, Garrett Wilson, C.J. Uzomah, and Tyler Conklin all saw limited, early action. Fourth receiver Braxton Berrios caught both of his targets for 36 yards and a score. Berrios is among the best fourth receiver options in the league. Jeff Smith caught all three of his targets for 41 yards and a score. But it was Denzel Mims who had the biggest day going 7-102-1 on a team leading 8 targets. If Mims makes the final cut he will be little more than a depth piece in this deep and talented Jets receiver group. That’s likely a big reason why Mims recently requested a trade.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers – Wolbransky
Neither team featured too many relevant names. Aside from a Jordan Love interception thrown into triple coverage during the final seconds of the first half, the Packers quarterback had a decent showing.
Rookie wide receiver Romeo Doubs saw targets on 30% of his routes run, the highest of any Green Bay wide receiver. He and WR Juwann Winfree were both pulled after 17 snaps. 2nd-year wide receiver Amari Rodgers totaled 56 yards on 7 touches – three rushes and four receptions. The Packers are likely to get Rodgers involved after a slow rookie season.
Last week, the 33rd team writer Nic Bodiford touted “training camp hero” Isaiah Pacheco for having a do-it-all skillset. That same skillset was on display in the Chiefs’ preseason finale. Through three preseason weeks, Pacheco leads all team running backs in receiving and rushing yards, thanks to his 52-yard day against the Packers. He still has a long way to fantasy relevance but has certainly continued to be a name to watch.
Houston Texans vs. San Francisco 49ers – Wolbransky
The highlight of this game is rookie Dameon Pierce’s 6-rush, 37-yard opening drive for a touchdown. Other plays on the opening drive included Davis Mills going 2-4 for 29 yards while taking a sack, as well as a Rex Burkhead 2-yard rush. Pierce solidified himself as the RB1 on this offense and was pulled swiftly after. Marlon Mack and Rex Burkhead both stayed in the game. Aside from an impressive 24-yard rush from Mack, neither RB flashed the way Pierce did.
If Davis Mills plays the way he played in 2021, the Texans could be a name to watch. With their strong O-line and key players like Brandin Cooks, Dameon Pierce, Nico Collins and Brevin Jordan, this offense may surprise many football fans.
Elijah Mitchell has sat out this preseason with a hamstring injury. Although Trey Sermon saw 6 rushes with starter Trey Lance, Jeff Wilson Jr. took all of the running work on the first two drives. Although he saw the most rushes, Sermon did not impress. Wilson Jr. averaged 5.33 yards per carry, and rumors have it Sermon is on the roster bubble. The pecking order in this backfield looks to be something like Mitchell, Wilson Jr., and rookie Tyron Davis-Price.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Wolbransky
The preseason finale for the Buccaneers saw Tom Brady’s first preseason action. The GOAT finished 6-of-8 for 44 yards. Personally, I’m moving Julio Jones up my draft board. Although he only had 9 snaps, his lone Tom Brady target saw 16 air yards and 4 yards after the catch. Jones saw the same number of routes as Mike Evans, who did not corral his sole target.
Many analysts expect 2022 to be a big year for Michael Pittman, who saw 3 targets and led wide receivers in target percentage with Matt Ryan at the helm. Ryan himself looked fine, going 5-of-7 for 59 yards. Phillip Lindsay took 7 rushes and scored one of the teams 3 rushing touchdowns. However, Nyheim Hines didn’t take a single snap, solidifying him as the likely handcuff to Jonathan Taylor.
Cleveland Browns vs. Chicago Bears – Wolbransky
The NFC North could very well be Justin Fields’ in the future if he continues to play how he did against Cleveland. Fields finished 14-of-16 for 156 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Bears second-year quarterback balled out. Fields showed poise in the pocket and dropped dimes when moving outside of it. Jacob Infante, a beat writer for Windy City Gridiron and editor for The 33rd Team, noted that Justin Fields on a bootleg is a cheat code. Infante also clarified that the Browns didn’t have Myles Garrett or Jadeveon Clowney.
Justin Fields’ final stat line from preseason Week 3:
• 156 passing yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
• 2 rushes for 11 yards
• 146.9 QBR
Talk about building momentum before the regular season. #Bears
— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) August 28, 2022
David Montgomery also showed some flashes in his first preseason action. Although Khalil Herbert has generated some buzz after he shined in October last season, he’s very clearly the number two running back in this offense.
For the Browns, keep your eye on RB Demetric Felton. Per PFF, Felton took 7 of his 11 snaps out of the slot. There’s a chance Felton could play receiver for the Browns come Week 1 with this crowded running back room. It would be an interesting case where you may be able to start a WR in your RB slot in your fantasy leagues. Browns Rookie RB Jerome Ford did not see any time on the field, perhaps solidifying his roster spot.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Detroit Lions – Wolbransky
It looks like the Steelers quarterback competition is coming to a close and the victor, for now, is Mitch Trubisky. There’s no denying Kenny Pickett will have his shot to be the long-term starter, but Trubisky has been in my opinion the more impressive of the two. Through three games in the preseason, Trubisky has averaged more air yards to his receivers per attempt than Pickett, but Pickett closed that gap in Week 3 having 9.3 yards as his average depth of the target to Trubisky’s 13.3.
The success of these quarterbacks depends entirely on the offensive line. The Steelers’ starting offensive line crumbled on nearly every play for Trubisky. By the time he stepped out, Pittsburgh allowed him to be sacked twice on 21 dropbacks. The Steelers’ offensive line saw the 3rd most yards from penalties in Week 3, including 2 false starts and 3 holding calls. It’s a concern for Najee Harris, who is expected to see a ton of volume in 2022 after leading the league in touches just a year ago. Najee saw 7 touches on 28 snaps.
For the Lions, starting quarterback Jared Goff did not start, but starting wide-receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown did. St. Brown totaled 34 yards on 3 receptions, the most of any Lions wide receivers, on the second-fewest routes ran. Running backs DeAndre Swift and Jamaal Williams both sat this one out too. The trio of Jermar Jefferson, Craig Reynolds and Justin Jefferson look to secure roster spots but all three looked impressive, averaging more than 4.5 yards per carry each.
New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Chargers – Nic Bodiford
The New Orleans Saints’ passing game was unstoppable against the Chargers. Quarterbacks Nos. 1 and 2, Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton, combined for a perfect nine-of-nine for 132 passing yards in the first-half. Both men earned NFL passer ratings of 118.8 overall and were especially sharp on play-action. Called at a rate of 33.33%, the run-fake pass plays averaged a blistering 18.25 yards per attempt. Slot receiver Jarvis Landry picked up a pair of Winston-first-downs, the second of which prevented a would-be sack as the veteran receiver worked his way to an easily accessible position for the pressured passer.
Head coach Dennis Allen used the final preseason showing to confirm that rookie wide receiver Chris Olave has a starting role locked up. The former Buckeye stayed in on the first drive until he ripped off a now-routine chunk gain, before the Saints swaddled him in bubble wrap from there on out.
The backup running backs failed to steal the No. 2 job from veteran Mark Ingram, who backed up Alvin Kamara on the first-drive. The coaching staff has repeatedly given chances to the enticing dual threat rookie, Abram Smith, but Smith has only been able to get going as a pass catcher.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Michael Bandy did enough in preseason Weeks 1 and 2 for the Chargers to give Jalen Guyton a little more work this week, ostensibly to make Guyton prove that he deserved his non-guaranteed $965,000 one-year deal. Guyton responded and Bandy had his least explosive showing of the month. The Chargers have an excellent problem on their hands in trying to figure out which above-average No. 4 they should roll with.
With 2022 rookie running back Isaiah Spiller trainer-tabled due to an ankle injury, Joshua Kelley took the opportunity to hurdle lumbering Larry Rountree on the depth chart.
— NFL (@NFL) August 27, 2022
Both men receiving six carries in this one but Kelley took his for 40 yards whereas Rountree tallied just 12. Both Kelley and Rountree produced modest receiving totals, affirming that there is no active running back who can threaten Austin Ekeler’s passing game work.
Las Vegas Raiders vs. New England Patriots – Nic Bodiford
The New England Patriots dialed back their downfield passing a bit this week, which limited the opportunities of veteran Nelson Agholor and second-year man Tre Nixon. Jakobi Meyers remains the preferred late-round add that fantasy managers should eagerly make, with Tyquan Thornton out six-to-eight weeks (clavicle). DeVante Parker is the nominal No. 1 wide receiver but has been quiet thus far.
Las Vegas Raiders rookie running backs Zamir White and Brittain Brown led the way and worked well through contact. Brown has been a reliable dual threat. However, head coach Josh McDaniels has kept both Ameer Abudallah and Brandon Bolden – passing game/special teams specialists – on the sidelines through all three games. It’s a clear sign that Josh McDaniels has plans for them. As for Josh Jacobs, he’s also been held out but it seems far more like he is falling out of favor with the coaching staff than anything else. The backfield is jumbled for the time being.
The battle of the Patriots backs was, at least temporarily, whittled down to a one-man show. Banger back Damien Harris suffered an injury in practice that is not believed to be serious. This led to Rhamondre Stevenson getting the first series and Ty Montgomery was brought in for the second. Montgomery would not finish his drive though as he suffered an ankle injury, the severity of which is unknown. Montgomery was unable to walk off under his own power and eventually rode the cart to the locker room. Stevenson has the strongest dual threat profile but is already being drafted fairly early. If Harris’ ADP dips, it offers drafters a touchdown-based player to look at late.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Jacksonville Jaguars – Nic Bodiford
Atlanta Falcons rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder played the full game and kicked things off with an interception on a very bad throw. On the second drive, Ridder displayed the amnesia necessary at the quarterback position though, engineering a scoring drive from Atlanta’s own 25-yard line in which he completed five-of-five pass attempts. This included a first-read dart to fellow rookie, running back Tyler Allgeier.
Parsing snap data over the last three weeks, the Falcons’ wide receiver depth chart appears to be Drake London, Bryan Edwards, Olamide Zaccheaus, and KhaDarel Hodge. The running back situation is extremely murky behind Cordarrelle Patterson. Tyler Allgeier offers the most upside but it could be a heavy rotation behind Patterson.
Christian Kirk, Marvin Jones Jr., and Zay Jones are the starting wide receivers in Jacksonville. Kirk should be the top target-getter but Jones and quarterback Trevor Lawrence have developed a dynamite downfield connection. Wide receiver Tim Jones is a name to keep in mind for dynasty purposes.
Rookie running back Snoop Conner has not done enough to threaten the workloads of Travis Etienne and James Robinson.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Los Angeles Rams – Nic Bodiford
Veteran Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Mike Thomas is currently No. 4 on the depth chart. However, rookie Kedric Pryor is hot on his heels. Tight end Thaddeus Moss remains an exciting name but an unproductive player. Hayden Hurst’s job is safe.
Bengals running back Chris Evans made noise early in camp but head coach Zac Taylor told us what kind of company Samaje Perine is keeping by holding both Perine and Joe Mixon out of this one. Evans has the superior, dual threat skillset which makes him an acceptable buy-low but Perine is still in the No. 2 running back role.
Rams general manager Les Snead let the cat out of the bag, on-air in this one:
"It seems like Lance is doing his part to make it easy," says GM Les Snead on the broadcast as McCutcheon snares a tough grab, then, "Sean likes receivers, so it's OK to have as many as possible in that room."
— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) August 27, 2022
With Sunday’s game still left to be played, Rams rookie wide receiver Lance McCutcheon topped the NFL preseason receiving yards chart with 259 to his name, per TruMedia.com. McCutcheon’s two receiving touchdowns also tied for No. 1 in the NFL. The rookie out of Montana State looks an awful lot like Los Angeles’ primary X-receiver backup.
It was later reported by Gary Klein that rookie running back Kyren Williams, a passing game specialist, was held out because head coach Sean McVay regards Williams “as an integral part of the plan for the season”. Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson have been rehabilitating soft-tissue injuries. Henderson has reportedly rounded the corner in his recovery.
Miami Dolphins vs. Philadelphia Eagles – Nic Bodiford
With wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (right leg) on the shelf, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa got off to a hot start with 2022 trade acquisition, wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The duo connected on the first play from scrimmage for a 51-yard play-action bomb. They quickly followed that up with play-action gain for 13 yards. Both men could be in line for a big year.
Backup quarterback Skylar Thompson and wide receiver Erik Ezukanma look like long-term Dolphins but slot receiver Cedrick Wilson is still ahead of Ezukanma on the depth chart for now.
With Tagovailoa on the field, the Dolphins deployed their running backs as follows; Raheem Mostert, Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, then Sony Michel. It’s a timeshare behind Chase Edmonds.
Eagles slot receiver Quez Watkins sat on the bench, along with A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, indicating Watkins has fended off all challengers for the No. 3 wide receiver role.
The Eagles’ running back room remains a bit ambiguous. Miles Sanders was having a mediocre camp and a hamstring injury has sidelined him for quite some time. Boston Scott was held out of the game but Kenneth Gainwell, who had thus far been the apple of the coaching staff’s eye, ended up playing. Monitor Sanders’ status for Week 1.
Tennessee Titans vs. Arizona Cardinals – Nic Bodiford
The Tennessee Titans’ embattled rookie wide receiver, Treylon Burks, finally put together a productive outing. He caught three-of-three targets for 33 yards and a receiving touchdown. It was a much needed performance to end his up-and-down preseason.
Tennessee gave veteran Dontrell Hilliard the start and quickly cycled in rookie Hassan Haskins. The team was in scoring position following a long run by Malik Willis. However, Julius Chestnut was called upon to punch the ball in from three-yards out. It appears as though the order of deployment is how the depth chart currently sits, behind Derrick Henry. Chestnut still profiles as a better dual threat than Haskins though.
The Arizona Cardinals’ journeyman wide receiver, Greg Dortch, may have done enough to earn the No. 4 wide receiver role to start the year. Marquise Brown, Rondale Moore, and A.J. Green will start in three-wide receiver sets, but Green is awfully old and Dortch could force a rotation, while DeAndre Hopkins serves his six-game suspension.
Arizona has an embarrassment of riches at the running back position. Behind do-it-all starter James Conner, Arizona has capable backs in Darrel Williams, Eno Benjamin, and Keaontay Ingram. The rookie Ingram likely sits at No. 4 for the time being, but his profile offers the highest fantasy upside.