NFL Preseason Betting, Fantasy Football Takeaways from Saturday’s 7 Games
Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
- Saints receiver Tre’Quan Smith continued his strong preseason with four catches for 39 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers.
- Falcons running back Tevin Coleman had an excellent performance against the Jaguars, and he was used in the slot, further improving his fantasy value.
- Andrew Luck ended Week 3 on a positive note, completing 8 of 10 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Justin Bailey and Ryan Collinsworth look at key takeaways from Saturday.
Chicago Bears 27, Kansas City Chiefs 20
- Closing Spread: Chiefs -6.5
- Closing Over/Under: 43.5
Tyreek Hill caught all eight of his targets, putting together a solid 8-88 line. He has established himself as one of Patrick Mahomes’ favorite targets this preseason, and Hill demonstrated Saturday that he’s capable of being more than just a deep threat.
The Bears rested their starters in their third preseason game, leaving Kevin White (2-33-1) and Taylor Gabriel (1-10) to play the entire first half.
Overall, the Bears have an abundance of targets available and some uncertainty at wide receiver headed into the regular season, given White’s injury-plagued career thus far and Gabriel’s average of 3.8 targets per game throughout his career.
Los Angeles Rams 21, Houston Texans 20
- Closing Spread: Texans -3.5
- Closing Over/Under: 39.5
Will Fuller sat out after he tweaked his hamstring during practice. If Fuller were to miss any time during the regular season, that would be a slight boost to DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins’ production is comparable without Fuller, but his volume takes a hit:
- With Fuller (23 games): 16.6 points per game, 9.9 targets, 5.2 receptions, 74.5 yards, 0.65 touchdowns.
- Without Fuller (8 games): 15.8 points per game, 12.3 targets, 6.8 receptions, 75.5 yards, 0.25 touchdowns.
The Rams benched their offensive starters but allowed their first-team defense to get a crack at the Texans’ offense. They shut down Deshaun Watson, holding him to just 15 yards passing and forcing one interception.
The Rams’ defense was stout last season, holding opposing quarterbacks to a -1.96 DraftKings Plus/Minus average. It may be just as formidable this season with the additions of tackle Ndamukong Suh, along with cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib.
Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Tennessee Titans 6
- Closing Spread: Steelers -4
- Closing Over/Under: 43
Marcus Mariota struggled, completing 5 of 8 passes for 43 yards and an interception, with a couple of errant throws to Corey Davis. After a strong 2016 campaign, Mariota struggled in 2017, regressing in touchdown rate (5.8% to 2.9%), yards per attempt (7.6 to 7.1) and passing yards per game (228.4 to 215.5). The hiring of former Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur has the potential to induce positive results for Mariota.
Ben Roethlisberger played well, completing 11 of 18 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. He’ll be a lethal DFS stack when he’s at home, where he has historically dominated (per the FantasyLabs Trends tool, since 2014):
- Home: 26.20 DraftKings points per game, +6.92 Plus/Minus, 71.4% Consistency Rating.
- Away: 15.69 DraftKings points per game, -3.79 Plus/Minus, 31.3% Consistency Rating.
Indianapolis Colts 23, San Francisco 49ers 17
- Closing Spread: PK
- Closing Over/Under: 42.5
Jimmy Garoppolo’s 47.4% completion rate and 7.1 yards per attempt were overshadowed by five drops from his receivers, except for this dime:
Overall, he’s a solid late-round quarterback option (99 ADP) considering he averaged 260 passing yards per game with an 8.8 yards per attempt in his six games with the 49ers last season.
Alfred Morris was incredibly efficient, rushing for 84 yards on 17 carries (4.9 yards per carry), but he’s likely not worth a roster spot with Jerick McKinnon (knee) and Matt Breida (shoulder) expected back for Week 1.
Andrew Luck looked great, completing 8 of 10 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown. At one point, he nailed T.Y. Hilton with an absolute gem.
Hilton will benefit with Luck back with the team this season:
- With Luck (68 games): 15.14 points per game, 8.44 targets, 4.9 receptions, 76.93 yards, 0.41 touchdowns.
- Without Luck (26 games): 11.29 points per game, 7.04 targets, 3.77 receptions, 61.38 yards, 0.23 touchdowns.
Baltimore Ravens 27, Miami Dolphins 10
- Closing Spread: Dolphins -3
- Closing Over/Under: 41
Joe Flacco sat this one out, and Robert Griffin III earned the start. Griffin effectively managed the offense, avoided turnovers and made some big plays with his feet.
Lamar Jackson also played well, with 98 yards and a touchdown through the air and 39 yards and another score on the ground. While Jackson has garnered preseason hype, much of it is noise; he’s likely not a legitimate season-long option.
Interestingly, Javorius Allen did not see the field at all in this game. Kenneth Dixon had modest production (eight touches for 20 total yards). Alex Collins is still definitely the back to own in Baltimore.
Frank Gore was publicly vocal about seeing the field in this game and earned the start at running back. However, concerns about a Miami running back committee may be overblown, as the veteran Gore only rushed once for minus-two yards.
Meanwhile, Kenyan Drake had a 70 total-yard day with two 30-yard big plays. Kenny Stills was active for this game and was the Dolphins’ top-producing receiver. But that’s not saying much; Stills had just three receptions for 28 yards, and the Dolphins’ receiving pecking order is still to be decided.
Jacksonville Jaguars 17, Atlanta Falcons 6
- Closing Spread: Jaguars -4
- Closing Over/Under: 38
Tevin Coleman is the truth. He has impressed all preseason, and he looked great again in this game, rushing seven times for 38 yards and adding a reception for 10 yards.
Also of note, Coleman lined up in the slot more than once. If the Falcons deploy him as a receiver more this season, that would be awesome for his week-to-week fantasy value.
Somewhat concerning, Matt Ryan struggled (5-of-12 for 57 yards). Granted, it was against the Jaguars — and it is just the preseason — but you’d like to see better efficiency.
The Jaguars’ first team thoroughly outplayed the Falcons, despite Blake Bortles’ two bad interceptions. Leonard Fournette (10 rushes for 57 yards, 3 catches for 18 yards) is still a beast, but Corey Grant also showed out. Grant looked physical and explosive, totaling 71 total yards on 10 touches.
Donte Moncrief separated himself a bit in the crowded Jags receiving corps, posting a three reception, 62-yard line. WR Marqise Lee suffered a nasty knee injury and had to be carted off.
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New Orleans Saints 36, Los Angeles Chargers 7
- Closing Spread: Saints -1.5
- Closing Over/Under: 42.5
Tre’Quan Smith was productive again (4-39-1) and looks like he has earned a starting spot. Through three preseason games, he has hauled in 11 receptions (13 targets) for 147 yards and a touchdown. His primary competition for the starting role is new addition Cameron Meredith, but he hasn’t done anything to inspire confidence.
In two games of preseason action, he’s been targeted twice and has failed to record a reception. The Action Network Editor Chris Raybon is targeting Smith late in the draft this season, and you should, too.
Austin Ekeler played well in Melvin Gordon’s absence. Ekeler rushed six times for 50 yards and added three receptions for 13 yards. As Raybon has preached this offseason, Ekeler is more than a third-down back or a handcuff. He should be on your radar in season-long and DFS.
Mike Williams failed to take advantage of extra snaps with Tyrell Williams out; he only had one catch for 13 yards. Performances like this are why he’s one of our fantasy bust candidates this season.
Authors of this article include The Action Network’s own: Justin Bailey and Ryan Collinsworth.