- Scott Engel, ESPN Fantasy Games
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Here's a fantasy-style review of the second week of preseason games:
Bears 27, Colts 24: After looking good against Houston, Rex Grossman fumbled three times, losing one, and threw an interception against the Colts Monday. He scored on a 1-yard run, but that didn't help take the negative focus off his mistakes. Grossman will be the same erratic, up-and-down performer he was in 2007. He simply can't be trusted as a fantasy player. Cedric Benson rushed for only 24 yards on 10 carries, and wasn't able to find much running room. He's been impressive in camp but still has a lot to prove in game action. Adrian Peterson scored on a 1-yard run and is the natural handcuff to Benson. Bernard Berrian caught four passes for 49 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown. He is ready for the season as a solid No. 2 fantasy receiver. Joseph Addai rushed for 24 yards on seven carries and scored on a 4-yard run. He is fully worthy of the early first-round picks being used on him in many leagues. Undrafted free agent Clifton Dawson rushed for 27 yards on five carries and could push DeDe Dorsey for the backup job to Addai. Dorsey rushed for only 8 yards on five carries, but he did catch four passes for 42 yards. Dorsey has rushed for only 23 yards on 11 carries during the preseason.
Giants 13, Ravens 12: Eli Manning was sharp against a tough defense, completing 10 of 13 attempts for 114 yards and a touchdown. His performance was encouraging, but consistency over the full schedule is still a major concern. Brandon Jacobs rushed for 23 yards on six carries, and has yet to truly seize the starting job, even though Reuben Droughns was held to 11 yards on six carries. Amani Toomer caught one pass for 15 yards in his first action since November 2006. His presence can only help Manning, because defenses will still respect Toomer. Mark Clayton suffered an ankle injury, but the Baltimore Sun reported X-rays revealed no breaks. Willis McGahee rushed for only 6 yards on three carries behind an offensive line that was missing Jonathan Ogden (toe). McGahee will be up and down during the first half of the season as the rest of the line works into form. The unit is promising, but needs more time to work together.
49ers 26, Raiders 21: Daunte Culpepper strengthened his bid to win the starting job by completing 6 of 8 attempts for 75 yards and two touchdowns, while also taking off for a 13-yard run. Culpepper also fumbled twice, which continues to be an issue. If he gets the job, he'll be a decent fantasy backup. LaMont Jordan returned from a back injury and rushed for 67 yards on eight carries. He'll be a great value pick if he can build on that momentum. Jordan also caught one pass for 19 yards. Adimchinobe Echemandu totaled 41 yards from scrimmage on five touches and remains a dark horse running back to watch. Alex Smith completed 8 of 12 attempts for 106 yards and a score, looking good again. He's shaping up to be at least a top fantasy reserve in 2007. Maurice Hicks rushed for only 9 yards on three carries and Michael Robinson rushed for 8 yards on four carries. Rookie Thomas Clayton rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and could push for playing time as Frank Gore's backup. Ashley Lelie caught four passes for 57 yards and a score, but he still isn't running with the first-team offense.
Steelers 12, Redskins 10: Willie Parker ran for 4 yards on four carries in his preseason debut. Fantasy owners of Parker shouldn't be concerned, because it was simply good to see him back in action and both teams were playing with patchwork offensive lines. Ladell Betts was held to just 12 yards on six carries, but should perform better during the season. Santonio Holmes caught two passes for 51 yards, and his value continues to rise. He's ready for a breakthrough campaign. Jason Campbell suffered a scary-looking injury that turned out to be only a bruised left knee, and he is expected to be ready for the regular season. Chris Cooley caught five passes for 60 yards and is poised for another good season.
Chargers 30, Rams 13: Vincent Jackson caught a 5-yard touchdown pass, only raising his appeal as a sleeper pick for 2007. Darren Sproles returned a punt 81 yards for a score and can add another dimension to the San Diego defense/special teams unit this season. Torry Holt caught four passes (half of Marc Bulger's completions) for 26 yards. Bulger targeted Holt six times and will continue to rely heavily on his longtime No. 1 receiver despite his new additions. Drew Bennett caught a 34-yard pass from backup Gus Frerotte. He's a good late-rounder who will be a downfield and red-zone weapon.
Packers 48, Seahawks 13: Shaun Alexander rushed for only 3 yards on three carries, but Seattle was playing without both of its starting offensive tackles and rested quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Nate Burleson caught a 55-yard pass. D.J. Hackett caught two passes for 12 yards, and while he remains ahead of Burleson on the depth chart, he doesn't have much room for error. Burleson is healthy and looking good and could push for more playing time if Hackett falters. Brandon Jackson rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries and is tightening his grip on the starting running back job. Packers rookie James Jones caught two touchdown passes and appears to have taken the third receiver job. He could soon threaten the playing time of starter Greg Jennings, who has yet to catch a pass in two preseason games.
Cowboys 31, Broncos 20: Travis Henry scared his fantasy owners with a bruised knee, but he is expected to be ready for the regular season. Henry also fumbled, a problem which led to his downfall earlier in his career in Buffalo and a problem Mike Shanahan doesn't have much patience for. Henry remains a fine pick late in the first round, but be wary of any more health or fumbling issues. Mike Bell is expected to miss two weeks with a hip injury, so Cecil Sapp will see a lot of work during the remainder of the preseason and is worth watching in case of more injury problems. Marion Barber III rushed for two scores and is headed for another productive season as a regular touchdown threat, but Julius Jones also ran for 31 yards on nine carries and scored on a 4-yard run. Jones, in a contract year, is determined to prove himself this season and is going to have some good games of his own, even if Barber continues to play well.
Jaguars 31, Buccaneers 19: Jeff Garcia completed all six attempts and is looking comfortable in the Buccaneers' offense. He's a top fantasy reserve. Carnell Williams rushed for minus-1 yard on three carries, and has not inspired any confidence yet that he will improve this season. David Boston's 19-yard touchdown reception may have given him an edge in the race for the No. 2 receiver job over Maurice Stovall and Mark Clayton, who each caught one pass for 5 and 8 yards, respectively. Fred Taylor scored on a 2-yard run, which will lead to speculation about how he could get more short-yardage chances this season. Maurice Jones-Drew, however, caught a 39-yard pass and his value won't drop much, even if he loses a few goal-line chances in 2007.
Saints 27, Bengals 19: Drew Brees completed all six of his attempts and is looking like an elite fantasy quarterback again. Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush both scored on touchdown runs, and will continue to produce very well as a duo in 2007. Tab Perry was targeted eight times in the first half but caught only one pass for 7 yards. Perry isn't going to be a fantasy factor this season. The third receiver isn't an automatic producer in the Cincinnati offense. Chris Henry is more talented than most other third receivers and his replacements won't measure up.
Lions 23, Browns 20: Calvin Johnson did not catch a pass. Those who are high on him were reminded that he is still just a rookie, and even if has some good outings, there will be some silent weeks also. Tatum Bell rushed for 33 yards on six carries, and appears to have a solid grip on the starting job while Kevin Jones is out. T.J. Duckett's touchdown run came in the second half and there is no real firm evidence that he will be a "vulture" yet. Brady Quinn threw two touchdown passes, and while he is only a third-stringer right now, it shouldn't be much longer before he takes the starting job. Still, you should look for more proven players as a fantasy reserve quarterback.
Texans 33, Cardinals 20: Matt Schaub completed 9 of 12 attempts and ran for a 5-yard score. He looked comfortable but will have his troubles against better teams this season. Ahman Green rushed for 19 yards on six carries and won't be anything more than an adequate fantasy option with his new team. Jacoby Jones caught two passes for 32 yards, carried twice for 24 yards and scored on an 80-yard punt return. He is pushing for a starting job and looking like a great sleeper pick. Matt Leinart completed all seven of his attempts and threw a 5-yard touchdown pass. He will be a fine fantasy starter when the matchup is favorable.
Vikings 37, Jets 20: Adrian Peterson rushed for 70 yards on eight carries, including a 43-yard run. Peterson served notice that he is going to deliver some quality fantasy outings in his rookie year, even if he isn't consistent. Chester Taylor rushed for 16 yards on four carries, so he will still figure in the running back mix. Chad Pennington had two interceptions returned for scores. The Minnesota fantasy defense is going to be strong again this season, and Pennington isn't the most reliable fantasy reserve you can draft. Leon Washington rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries. He's tough for a 5-foot-8, 202-pound running back and will be a respectable replacement while Thomas Jones is out.
Titans 27, Patriots 24: Vince Young completed only 5 of 17 attempts, rushed for 9 yards on four carries and lost a fumble in his preseason debut. Still, it's too early to worry about his outlook for 2007. He faced a very aggressive defense after missing the exhibition opener. Chris Brown rushed for 67 yards on 10 carries and is on the verge of locking up the starting running back job. An injured LenDale White sat out and rookie Chris Henry rushed for 15 yards on eight carries. Wes Welker caught a 28-yard touchdown pass. He's a great sleeper pick, because Randy Moss and Donte' Stallworth are neither sure things nor possession receivers. Welker can become Tom Brady's most dependable target.
Eagles 27, Panthers 10: Jake Delhomme completed 9 of 18 attempts, was sacked three times and had an interception returned for a score. David Carr was 7-for-11 for 111 yards and will seriously threaten Delhomme's playing time this season. In his first action since November 2006, Donovan McNabb completed 6 of 9 attempts for 138 yards and provided his owners with a lot of reassurance that he can return to being a top fantasy starter this season. Tony Hunt scored on runs of 1 and 3 yards and is starting to look like a prime candidate to get goal-line carries this season. Owners of Brian Westbrook should have some concerns that he could lose a few touchdown chances. Westbrook scored four of his seven rushing touchdowns from 10 yards or less last season. Kevin Curtis caught two passes for 40 yards and appears ready to make the most of a starting opportunity.
Falcons 13, Bills 10: Falcons rookie Laurent Robinson caught four passes for 54 yards. Fantasy owners should continue to monitor his progress as a possible sleeper candidate. Bills rookie Trent Edwards completed 11 of 16 attempts for 101 yards and a score. He's looking sharp so far and is a great addition in dynasty leagues. Marshawn Lynch was held to 16 yards on five carries and has yet to impress in preseason play.
Dolphins 11, Chiefs 10: Trent Green completed 4 of 7 attempts for 41 yards and officially sewed up the starting quarterback job. He is a decent fantasy reserve pick for 2007. Ronnie Brown rushed for 57 yards on 13 carries, but Cam Cameron suggested Jesse Chatman could push him for playing time. Chatman rushed for only 19 yards on eight carries, so such talk could be used simply to motivate Brown. Brodie Croyle completed 6 of 11 attempts, one for a touchdown, but he also threw another baffling interception. He will be erratic and should not be drafted in yearly leagues. Chris Hannon caught Croyle's 21-yard scoring pass and is worth watching as a possible free-agent addition.
Scott Engel recaps the action from Week 2 of the preseason.