Fantasy Football Takeaways from Week 2 of the Preseason

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Week 2 of the NFL preseason is officially in the books! While we don’t want to overreact to what happened on the field in an exhibition game with some starters playing and some starters resting, it is important to take note of what happened and how players were used as this can be a signal of how coaches plan to allocate playing time, distribute touches, etc.

If you missed this weekend’s action, below are my 10 biggest takeaways from Week 2 of the NFL preseason. You can find my Week 1 Takeaways in this article.

1. James Cook‘s role looks legit.

James Cook‘s role in Week 2 of the preseason suggests he might be undervalued at his current RB31 ADP on Sleeper. Cook’s pass catching prowess is a clear strength of his, but when the team signed two-down hammers, Damien Harris and Latavius Murray in free agency, many fantasy gamers questioned Cook’s ability to lock up the goal line role. In Week 2, Cook handled all of the short down and distance snaps. It’s notable that Harris didn’t play due to a knee injury, and this is a small sample size, but if this usage continues in Week 3, Cook could be a smash at his 7th round ADP playing for one of the NFL’s most prolific offenses.

2. Kendre Miller is healthy.

Last week, Miller injured his knee in the first preseason game, and at the time of injury, it was described as a 2-week sprain, leaving Miller “questionable” for Week 1. Fast forward seven days, and Miller was not only active for this game, but he carried the ball 10 times and added three receptions and 36 yards through the air, including this awesome grab:

Miller played with a brace on his right knee, so perhaps he isn’t back to 100%, but he’s certainly getting close. It is notable that Alvin Kamara and Jamaal Williams were both inactive along with the rest of the starters, so Miller is clearly RB3 on the depth chart as of now, but the outlook for Miller looks much different than it did a week ago.

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3. Broncos Country…Let’s cry?

It’s only been two weeks of preseason football, so perhaps we shouldn’t overreact here, but the Broncos offense has been anemic thus far. Last year in what was an absolute train wreck of a season, the Broncos’ offense ranked 23rd in yards per play, 28th in EPA per play and dead last in points per game. Through two weeks of the preseason, the starters haven’t looked much better. Small sample alert! The starters have played five total drives through two games, which has resulted in 10 points and 3.2 yards per play. Obviously, we don’t want to overreact to five drives, but it’s hard to feel optimistic about this offense as a whole after what we’ve seen on the field. One big issue might be their offensive line, as indicated by Warren Sharp. Wilson’s 50% pressure rate and Jarrett Stidham‘s 49% pressure rate rank second and fourth-highest in the league thus far.

4. Javonte Williams returns to the field.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway out of Denver is that Javonte Williams will surely be ready for Week 1, barring an unexpected setback. Williams is recovering from a multi-ligament knee injury, adding some uncertainty to his outlook for 2023. Williams returned to his first game since the injury in Week 2 of the preseason, and he clearly played ahead of Samaje Perine in base sets. Per PFF, Williams played 12 snaps on first and second down compared to Perine’s five. However, Perine seems to have the lead for the “third down role,” playing six out of seven third-down snaps. Williams didn’t do much on the ground (three carries for 12 yards), but he did add four receptions for 18 yards on five targets. We’ll have to see how Williams’ knee response to game action, but the fact that he was on the field and active for this game indicates he’s trending in the right direction.

5. Kyle Pitts‘ usage is concerning.

The 2022 season for Kyle Pitts was a fantasy disaster when you consider ADP expectations. After having one of the best rookie TE seasons in NFL history, Pitts crashed back down to Earth in 2022 thanks to lackluster QB play, a run heavy scheme, and a Week 11 knee injury that ended his season early. Pitts didn’t play in Week 1 of the preseason, but in Week 2, Pitts was a part-time player with the first team offense. Per PFF, he played nine out of 17 snaps (53%) and ran a route on five of Desmond Ridder‘s 11 drop backs (45.5%). This usage is certainly a yellow flag for now, but it could turn into a red flag if we see a similar role for Pitts in Week 3 of the preseason. It is worth noting that Pitts was limited a little bit early on in training camp, so perhaps this part-time role is just part of his workload management has he recovers from MCL surgery, but his role in the offense needs to be monitored closely next week when the Falcons take on the Steelers.

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6. De’Von Achane exits with a shoulder injury after playing with the backups.

Jeff Wilson and Myles Gaskin were inactive for this game, but Raheem Mostert got the first reps with the starters and even Salvon Ahmed saw some playing time with the ones before the backups came into the game. To make matters worse, Achane exited early with a shoulder injury, getting carted off the field in the third quarter. As of this writing, the specifics of the injury are unknown, so it’s certainly worth monitoring closely over the next few days. Regardless of the injury status, Achane’s early season outlook looks shaky as long as Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert are healthy. He’s obviously talented and could earn more of a role as the year progresses, but he continues to work exclusively with the backups and play on special teams, suggesting we may not get much from a fantasy perspective out of Achane early in the year.

7. Chris Evans looks like the Bengals’ third-down back.

If you tuned into the Dynasty Podcast this week, you knew this #NastyBoy was on our fantasy radar, but now it looks pretty clear that Evans has the third down role behind Joe Mixon. It is worth noting that Trayveon Williams has been out of training camp for the last two weeks with an ankle injury, but Evans looks to be ahead of rookie Chase Brown on the depth chart. Evans started over Brown in Week 2, playing eight out of 11 snaps with the starters compared to Chase Brown‘s three. Both backs played with the backups as well, so I’m not ready to crown Evans as RB2 quite yet, but it is notable that this article in The Athletic from Paul Dehner Jr. indicates that Evans is the leader in the clubhouse as it stands. Remember – Samaje Perine vacates 146 total opportunities from a year ago.

8. Dameon Pierce has bell cow potential in 2023.

The Texans didn’t have much (any) competition for touches last season as a rookie, so when the team signed Devin Singletary in free agency, fantasy players naturally thought this could turn into a split backfield. While that’s still in the range of outcomes over the course of the full season, Week 2’s usage indicates Pierce is headed for a massive workload this season. According to PFF, Pierce played all 14 snaps in two drives with the starters before giving way to Devin Singletary, who played the third drive with C.J. Stroud. Perhaps even more encouraging, Pierce logged a 58% route participation while also playing on two-thirds of the long down and distances per Dwain McFarland. After getting the starter treatment in Week 1 of the preseason as a healthy scratch then dominating the playing time for Houston in Week 2, this is Pierce’s backfield. Devin Singletary looks like nothing more than a change of pace option.

9. Najee Harris is the starter, but Jaylen Warren will be involved.

Najee got the start in Week 2, but it was Jaylen Warren who stole the show after ripping off a 62-yard TD run on his first touch of the game. Of course, box score watching can get you in trouble this time of year, but it’s the playing time that is the real takeaway here. Now, we need to be mindful that Week 2 didn’t give us much of a sample size (seven snaps) with the starters on the field. Najee played five snaps to Warren’s two, but this is the second week in a row that we saw Warren sub in on third down in an obvious passing situation then stay on the field for the following first and 10. Per Nathan Jahnke of PFF, Warren played only 23% of first-and-10s last season, and that number is up to 33.3% with the starters over the Steelers’ first two preseason games.

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10. John Metchie‘s playing time looks questionable at best.

Metchie missed all of his rookie season recovering from Leukemia, so the fact that he’s even out there is worth celebrating. However, from a fantasy perspective, Metchie looks like he’s on the outside looking in for playing time. The Texans starters played 17 snaps with C.J. Stroud. It was Robert Woods, Nico Collins and Noah Brown out there as the top three options. Metchie only played three snaps with the ones while Tank Dell missed this game due to pre-game tightness. If you’re investing in one of these Texans WRs for fantasy, Metchie looks like a thin bet based on his lack of playing time. His Week 3 playing time is worth monitoring closely.

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