NFL Preseason Betting, Fantasy Football Takeaways from All Seven Saturday Games
Aug 18, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Taywan Taylor (13) celebrates with Tennessee Titans cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (25) after a touchdown reception during the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
- Saturday night featured seven Week 2 preseason games across the NFL.
- The Cowboys suffered a potentially huge blow when Zack Martin left the game with a leg injury.
- 2017's Mr. Irrelevant, Chad Kelly, was impressive in his snaps as the Broncos' backup quarterback.
Ian Hartitz and Ryan Collinsworth take a look at key takeaways for each team that played Saturday.
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Jacksonville Jaguars 14, Minnesota Vikings 10
- Closing Spread: Vikings -3.5
- Closing Over/Under: 40.5
T.J. Yeldon caught five passes for 73 receiving yards, but Leonard Fournette ultimately stayed in on six straight third downs during the first half. An enhanced receiving role would be a fantasy-friendly boost to Fournette’s incumbent role as the team’s early-down and goal-line back.
It would behoove the Jaguars and fantasy investors to feed Fournette as many touches as he can handle; there aren’t many backs in the league who are better with the ball in their hands.
Slimmed-down Leonard Fournette vs. 39-year old Terence Newman pic.twitter.com/jBFaf59geZ
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) August 18, 2018
The Vikings’ first-half performance consisted of zero third-down conversions on six attempts and just 67 total yards of offense. Kirk Cousins managed 12 passing yards on eight attempts, while Latavius Murray fumbled twice on six rushes.
The good news is the offense’s poor performance occurred during a meaningless exhibition game. The bad news is the team’s already injury-riddled offensive line will now have to also survive injuries to guards Josh Andrews (ankle) and Cedrick Lang (leg).
Los Angeles Rams 19, Oakland Raiders 15
- Closing Spread: Raiders -1
- Closing Over/Under: 39
Jon Gruden elected to sit nearly the entire first-team offense. This helped undrafted rookie running back Chris Warren continue to impress, as he now has 196 rushing yards through two preseason games. EJ Manuel and Connor Cook rotated at quarterback, with the latter further solidifying his stranglehold on the team’s backup quarterback position.
Los Angeles Rams
Sean McVay rested most of the team’s starters for the second straight week. Sixth-rounder John Kelly looked the part of a Todd Gurley fantasy handcuff, earning the bulk of the rushing carries and nearly all of the red-zone work. Overall, Kelly posted a Steven Jackson-esque stat line with 56 yards on 18 rushes and one touchdown.
Cincinnati Bengals 21, Dallas Cowboys 13
- Closing Spread: Cowboys -2.5
- Closing Over/Under: 41.5
The Bengals’ offensive line had difficulty corralling the Cowboys’ pass rush, resulting in frequent pressure for Andy Dalton. The good news is John Ross flashed his elite speed on a nice 29-yard catch, and last year’s No. 9 overall pick also showed off red-zone ability with a two-point conversion. Ross’ game-breaking 4.22-second speed should theoretically help open things up for A.J. Green.
Dak Prescott and the first-team offense were efficient, as the third-year quarterback finished 10-for-15 for 86 yards and a touchdown. The bad news is all-world guard Zack Martin left the game and reportedly hyperextended his knee.
The Cowboys are optimistic Sunday’s MRI will verify their belief that the injury isn’t of the season-ending variety, but any prolonged absence from Martin would be a huge blow to the offense — and especially Ezekiel Elliott’s fantasy stock.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30, Tennessee Titans 14
- Closing Spread: Titans -3
- Closing Over/Under: 42
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ryan Fitzpatrick went just 5-for-13 for 46 yards in the Buccaneers’ first two drives. Jameis Winston brought the Tampa Bay offense alive soon after, finishing 13-for-18 for 226 yards and two touchdowns.
Winston demonstrated chemistry with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin, further proving he deserves plenty of season-long consideration following the conclusion of his three-game suspension.
With Rishard Matthews still sidelined, Taywan Taylor owned this game for the Titans. He started with an electric 47-yard score on a wide receiver screen and later scored a second touchdown in the red zone.
Taylor’s line (four catches, 95 yards, two touchdowns) was a reminder of just how explosive the second-year receiver can be, and he’s certainly in play on DraftKings in Week 1 at just $3,600 against the Dolphins.
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Houston Texans 16, San Francisco 49ers 13
- Closing Spread: Texans -3
- Closing Over/Under: 43
San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo looked fantastic, going 10-for-12 for 136 yards with a touchdown and an interception that came on a tipped ball that should’ve been caught. Nonetheless, an entire offseason with Kyle Shanahan has seemingly only made Jimmy GQ an even more-polished quarterback.
Garoppolo continued to show strong chemistry with Marquise Goodwin, as the former track star pulled in three passes for 61 yards in the 49ers’ first two drives.
Deshaun Watson targeted Bruce Ellington five times during the opening drive, and the fifth-year receiver finished with four receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown.
We already know the Texans’ offense will be dynamic with Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and company, and more pristine performances from Ellington will only help him find a way onto the field in three-wide sets.
Chicago Bears 24, Denver Broncos 23
- Closing Spread: Broncos -2.5
- Closing Over/Under: 43.5
Former second-round tight end Adam Shaheen was carted to the locker room with an ankle injury, and the extent of the damage is presently unknown. Offseason addition Trey Burton quickly picked up the slack, converting four first-half targets into 45 yards and a touchdown.
Burton’s ability to line up in the slot enables him to share the field with Shaheen, who is a more traditional in-line tight end. Still, potentially one less mouth to feed in a mostly unproven Bears offense will only help decipher Mitch Trubisky’s pecking order at tight end and receiver.
It’s Chad Kelly’s world, we’re all just living in it. 2017’s Mr. Irrelevant completed 7 of 9 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown during his first action as the Broncos’ No. 2 quarterback.
“Swag” Kelly is responsible for all three of the offense’s preseason touchdown passes, and he’s quickly provided a spark to a unit that’s largely been in disarray since Peyton Manning retired.
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) August 19, 2018
Los Angeles Chargers 24, Seattle Seahawks 14
- Closing Spread: Chargers -2.5
- Closing Over/Under: 40
New offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has routinely stressed his desire to return the Seahawks to their days as a run-first offense, but Russell Wilson had other ideas Saturday night.
2017’s fantasy QB1 completed 13 of 21 first-half attempts for 193 yards, good for 9.2 yards per attempt. Wilson completed passes stretching 52, 45 and 29 yards, indicating his flair for the big play hasn’t gone anywhere in the team’s new-look offense.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers’ offense is full of red-zone opportunity, as Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates combined for 34 targets inside the 10-yard line over the past two seasons. It makes sense that they’d turn to 6-foot-4, 218-pound receiver Mike Williams to make plays when spacing is cramped.
Mike Williams is going to be a BEAST in the red zone pic.twitter.com/RLGN3pcE7o
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) August 19, 2018
The No. 7 overall pick in the 2017 draft demonstrated the type of high-level contested-catch ability that is expected to earn him a spot alongside Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams in the offense’s three-wide receiver sets.