Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper (89) hauls in a catch in front of Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander (23).
- Eli Manning, Adrian Peterson and Christian McCaffrey were among the standouts of Friday's slate of preseason matchups.
- Although the games didn't count, Friday's action did produce several interesting betting and fantasy takeaways.
Justin Bailey, Ryan Collinsworth and Ian Hartitz look at key takeaways from Friday night.
New York Giants 22, New York Jets 16
- Closing Spread: Jets -2.5
- Closing Over/Under: 40.5
New York Giants
Eli Manning’s efficient night would’ve been even better if he hadn’t under-thrown Cody Latimer for what could’ve been a 60-yard touchdown. Still, Manning finished 17-of-23 for 188 yards (8.2 yards per attempt) without the services of either second-overall pick Saquon Barkley or all-world receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Sterling Shepard was targeted heavily by Manning, securing all seven of his targets for 78 yards. Still, Shepard has averaged 2.7 fewer targets per game and 3.0 fewer points per reception with OBJ on the field over the past two seasons, and former first-round tight end Evan Engram will also be involved.
New York Jets
Bilal Powell got the starting nod at running back for the second straight game and led the Jets with 10 carries. Isaiah Crowell failed to get much going in relief, gaining just six yards on four attempts.
Considering that the Jets’ expected win total is set at six games, Powell’s abilities in the passing game could also come in handy — he’s averaged 4.2 targets per game in his last three seasons. There isn’t much risk to drafting him at his current ADP (141.6).
Denver Broncos 29, Washington Redskins 17
- Closing Spread: Redskins -3
- Closing Over/Under: 42.5
Devontae Booker got the start, but fourth-rounder Royce Freeman continued to be the more effective back. The rookie should be the favorite to secure the No. 1 running back spot after three preseason games:
- Freeman: 15 carries, 84 rush yards, 5.6 YPC, 3 TDs, 1 rec, 6 rec yards
- Booker: 9 carries, 33 rush yards, 3.6 YPC, 1 rec, 10 rec yards.
Emmanuel Sanders continued to show great chemistry with Case Keenum, grabbing four passes for 61 yards on a team-high eight targets. The 31-year-old even chipped in a 27-yard touchdown run and appears primed to work as Keenum’s West Coast version of Adam Thielen.
Adrian Peterson didn’t appear to resemble the washed-up relic he’s often portrayed as on Twitter. The Redskins fed him early and often, giving the 33-year-old eight carries over the span of 12 plays at one point.
After Peterson’s strong showing (he finished with 56 yards), the veteran looks like the early-down favorite in the Redskins’ backfield ahead of Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine. Still, space back Chris Thompson will remain heavily involved on pass downs.
Carolina Panthers 25, New England Patriots 14
- Closing Spread: Patriots -2.5
- Closing Over/Under: 43.5
New England Patriots
Neither Jeremy Hill (nine rushes, 25 yards, 2.8 YPC) nor Mike Gillislee (10 rushes, 35 yards, 1 TD, 3.5 YPC) managed to separate themselves from the pack Friday night.
However, Hill hurt his ankle in the fourth quarter on a horse-collar tackle, potentially handing an early-season role to Gillislee as long as first-rounder Sony Michel (knee) remains sidelined.
Rex Burkhead remains the back to own in fantasy. The Athletic’s Jeff Howe stated the Patriots were being “overcautious” by not playing Burkhead, with plans to feature him during Julian Edelman’s suspension. Burkhead is a screaming DFS value on DraftKings for Week 1 at $4,200.
Most have laughed off coach Ron Rivera’s goal of getting Christian McCaffrey 25-30 touches per game, but there’s an off chance that he was serious. On the Panthers’ first drive, CMC had 10 touches along with a touchdown that was called back.
McCaffrey finished with 14 touches (12 carries, two receptions) and 64 all-purpose yards (48 rushing, 16 receiving). The presence of C.J. Anderson is almost irrelevant to CMC’s high-upside/high-floor fantasy value thanks to his unique usage as a receiver.
Minnesota Vikings 21, Seattle Seahawks 20
- Closing Spread: Vikings -3
- Closing Over/Under: 38
Chris Carson looked the part of Seattle’s lead back, rushing for 26 yards and a touchdown and hauling in two passes for 29 yards. Still, Rashaad Penny (finger) is expected to be ready for Week 1, so it’s difficult to project how either back will initially be used this season.
Thirty-four-year-old Brandon Marshall hauled in four receptions for 34 yards in the first half, often at the expense of stud corner Xavier Rhodes. The 6-foot-5, 232-pound receiver is currently fighting for a spot on the roster, but his performance this week inspires some confidence that he can replace Jimmy Graham, who led the NFL in red-zone targets (26) and touchdowns (10).
Dalvin Cook returned to the field for the first time since his tearing his ACL last October. Ultimately, the Vikings’ featured back played just four snaps, rushing twice for a single yard.
The passing game looked sharp, as Kirk Cousins went 17-of-28 for 182 yards in the first half. Cousins continued to demonstrate chemistry with Stefon Diggs (four catches, 51 yards). It remains to be seen whether Diggs or Adam Thielen emerges as Cousins’ No. 1 wide receiver.
Detroit Lions 33, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30
- Closing Spread: Buccaneers -2.5
- Closing Over/Under: 41
Despite Matthew Stafford’s strong showing (8-of-14 for 101 yards), the Lions’ offense was yet again out of sync and ineffective. Overall, Detroit gained just 118 total yards and scored a measly six points in the first half.
LeGarrette Blount earned the majority of the rushing volume for the second straight week, gaining 21 yards on seven rush attempts. The Lions’ backfield remains uncertain and volatile, as Blount (goal line), Theo Riddick (pass downs) and second-rounder Kerryon Johnson (all-purpose) figure to see regular snaps.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Peyton Barber continues to provide efficient production for the Bucs, rushing for 34 yards and a touchdown. Second-rounder Ronald Jones has struggled all preseason, so Barber looks like a lock as the Bucs’ No. 1 RB going into Week 1.
Still, Jones did flash his big-play potential by hauling in a 37-yard reception on a go route after lining up wide in the formation. If Jones can develop into a dynamic receiving threat this season, it may vault him back into fantasy RB2 consideration with pass-down back Charles Sims (knee) on the IR.
Oakland Raiders 13, Green Bay Packers 6
- Closing Spread: Raiders -5.5
- Closing Over/Under: 40
Green Bay Packers
The Packers rested the majority of their starters during their lethargic Friday night “slugfest” with the Raiders. The most pressing fantasy news to come out of the evening involved Ty Montgomery, who was forced out of the game early with a foot injury.
Jamaal Williams will have a chance to run away with the Packers’ featured-back role if Montgomery misses time, as Aaron Jones is suspended for the first two weeks for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Jon Gruden played Derek Carr and the starters for only one series, but it was certainly eventful. The fifth-year veteran hooked up with Amari Cooper for a 49-yard pass on the very first play of the game, perhaps signaling a breakout year is on the horizon for the Raiders’ immensely talented 24-year-old receiver.