Projection Reflections: Preseason Week 2 Adjustments - Footballguys

A look at the key projections changes after the second week of the preseason

Projection reflections

At Footballguys, we provide real-time projections all season long. Our first set goes live the day after the NFL draft, and sometimes the changes can get lost in the shuffle. Statistics are the engine behind many of our key features, but numbers are only valuable if there's context. This feature will take a look at the key projections adjustments each week of the preseason, with an eye toward providing context and significance to the numbers.

Included in this week's column:

  1. Andrew Luck gets another bump, this time into the elite tier
  2. Philip Rivers drops a few spots but remains a target
  3. Two popular QB2 moving in opposite directions
  4. Two other starting quarterbacks you care about more than I do
  5. Two changes on the quarterback depth chart
  6. Early round running backs in motion
  7. Peyton Barber is distancing himself from Ronald Jones II
  8. Chris Carson is winning the job, too, but it's transient
  9. Three unappealing backfields catalyzing
  10. The Vikings receivers are closer together than I thought
  11. Draft-worthy receivers in motion
  12. Two starting tight ends moving in the wrong direction
  13. Trey Burton ping-ponging back up the rankings
  14. Florida tight ends flip-flopping spots

Luck on the Rise

Rank
Player
Team
Gms
Cmps
Atts
Cmp%
Yds/Att
PaYds
PaTDs
INTs
Rush
RuYds
Yds/Ru
RuTDs
FumLost
FanPts
5-NEW
IND
15
345
550
62.7%
7.4
4,080
25
13
50
240
4.8
2
3
324
11-OLD
IND
15
320
510
62.7%
7.4
3,780
25
13
50
240
4.8
2
2
310

Last week, Andrew Luck got a bump along with Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson because their injury risked subsided. Luck gets another upgrade for two reasons:

  1. Luck is healthy -- Disregard the box score from the second preseason game and instead focus on Luck being an iron man throughout training camp, and his ability to take hits this week without a hitch
  2. Frank Reich likes to throw -- A more careful analysis of the Colts coaching tendencies showed I was too conservative projecting the team's passing attempts. Reich's offenses have averaged 600+ pass attempts. If Luck throws 600+ time (my new projection is for 550), he'll push for the No. 1 spot with Aaron Rodgers

Rolling Down the Rivers

Rank
Player
Team
Gms
Cmps
Atts
Cmp%
Yds/Att
PaYds
PaTDs
INTs
Rush
RuYds
Yds/Ru
RuTDs
FumLost
FanPts
11-New
LAC
16
369
580
63.6%
7.5
4,350
28
14
25
50
2.0
0
4
317
7-Old
LAC
16
371
590
62.9%
7.5
4,450
28
14
25
50
2.0
0
4
322

Philip Rivers is one of my favorite quarterbacks. He's been undervalued for almost his entire career. He's been a top-10 fantasy quarterback eight times, including three of the last five years. Yet he routinely gets treated as a QB2 on draft day. As you'll note, my projections only changed by a few points -- knocking 10 attempts and 100 yards from his totals -- but in a tight tier, it was enough to drop him from QB7 to QB11. The good news is Rivers' average draft position has never approached QB7, so he's still well worth targeting at or slightly ahead of his expected draft spot.

QB2s Moving In Different Directions

Rank
Player
Team
Gms
Cmps
Atts
Cmp%
Yds/Att
PaYds
PaTDs
INTs
Rush
RuYds
Yds/Ru
RuTDs
FumLost
FanPts
17
TEN
14
298
480
62.1%
7.0
3,380
22
15
60
310
5.2
3
5
286
19
KC
16
336
530
63.4%
7.3
3,895
23
16
55
190
3.5
2
4
298

Mahomes is far and away the more buzzed about player this year because fantasy managers like unproven potential. We haven't seen Patrick Mahomes II struggle yet, but history tells us he probably will. Mariota was awful last year, and that can't be ignored, which is why he's still a mid-tier QB2. But his circumstances did warrant an upgrade.

  • Marcus Mariota moved from QB20 to QB17 on the back of slight increases across his passing stats. The upgrade is largely driven by increased enthusiasm for receivers Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor.
  • Patrick Mahomes II falls from QB15 to QB19, mainly on a reduction of his rushing statistics. I was already lower on Mahomes than most, and this move signifies he should be passed over in nearly every draft.

Two Guys You Care About More Than I Do

Rank
Player
Team
Gms
Cmps
Atts
Cmp%
Yds/Att
PaYds
PaTDs
INTs
Rush
RuYds
Yds/Ru
RuTDs
FumLost
FanPts
26
OAK
16
332
540
61.5%
6.9
3,750
24
13
25
80
3.2
0
4
275
28
CHI
16
320
515
62.1%
6.9
3,550
20
15
50
190
3.8
2
4
270

Neither of these quarterbacks is high enough in my projections to matter in anything but 2-QB or Superflex leagues, but chances are you care about one (or both) a lot more.

  • Derek Carr's career numbers argue for better projections. I've been reluctant because the Jon Gruden experiment is the epitome of high risk. But I was too low on Carr, and may still be because Gruden is going to call the plays, not offensive coordinator Greg Olson. If Olson is handed the play calls, expect terrible results.
  • Mitchell Trubisky wasn't awful as a rookie starter, but the consensus view is he was hamstrung by the lack of supporting cast and a conservative coaching staff. While head coach Matt Nagy is an intriguing hire and the supporting cast is much improved, the evidence of progress isn't there yet.

Shuffling the Deck Chairs, Buffalo Edition

Rank
Player
Team
Gms
Cmps
Atts
Cmp%
Yds/Att
PaYds
PaTDs
INTs
Rush
RuYds
Yds/Ru
RuTDs
FumLost
FanPts
30
BUF
13
240
415
57.8%
6.6
2,750
15
15
35
125
3.6
1
2
199
41
BUF
4
68
111
61.3%
5.9
650
3
2
2
5
2.5
0
0
43
58
BUF
0
0
0
0.0%
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

This is arguably one of the least fantasy-relevant quarterback situations in the league, but Josh Allen does have dynasty relevance, and Bills fans hope Allen become redraft worthy in a season or two.

  • Josh Allen looks good enough in the preseason to get a shot early. If I were putting money down, I would bet on Allen starting Week 1, but for now, we're raising his projection to 13 games.
  • Nathan Peterman was the odd man out in my projections until AJ McCarron hurt his collarbone. Now he's my bet for the guy who replaces Allen if he struggles.
  • AJ McCarron was initially diagnosed with a broken collarbone but a second opinion says otherwise. Either way, his chance at starting for the Bills takes a nose dive.

Shuffling the Deck Chairs, Denver Edition

Rank
Player
Team
Gms
Cmps
Atts
Cmp%
Yds/Att
PaYds
PaTDs
INTs
Rush
RuYds
Yds/Ru
RuTDs
FumLost
FanPts
27
DEN
15
328
527
62.2%
6.9
3,630
21
12
40
115
2.9
1
3
268
39
DEN
1
13
33
39.4%
5.9
195
1
1
3
10
3.3
1
0
20
57
Paxton Lynch
DEN
0
0
0
0.0%
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

Why am I calling out a swap of one backup for another? Because I also am highly skeptical of Case Keenum. I think there's a high likelihood Keenum turns back into a pumpkin this year after his fairy godmother turned him into a carriage with the Vikings. If I'm right, Chad Kelly's ascension to the No. 2 role could make him the savvy waiver wire pickup who saves your season, particularly in Superflex and 2-QB leagues.

Early-Round Running backs in Motion

Rank
Player
Team
Gms
Rush
RuYds
Yds/Ru
RuTDs
FumLost
Tgts
Recs
Cth%
ReYds
Yds/Re
ReTDs
FanPts
5
ARI
16
240
975
4.1
8
2
105
69
66%
690
10.0
3
300
14
CIN
16
215
840
3.9
7
2
55
40
73%
355
8.9
2
212
15
MIA
16
200
880
4.4
6
2
65
44
68%
345
7.8
1
207
18
TEN
16
230
1,000
4.3
9
2
30
22
73%
180
8.2
1
198
20
DEN
16
215
925
4.3
6
2
45
33
73%
270
8.2
1
193
  • David Johnson hasn't moved in my rankings, but I wanted to call out my projection tweaks because they signify a further distancing of Johnson from the top three of Le'Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, and Ezekiel Elliott. I had Johnson's catch rate far too high; his career mark is 66% which is lower than you might have expected because Johnson -- unlike most running backs -- runs a full route tree. I also slightly increased his rushing totals, but it's still an overall net reduction.
  • Joe Mixon gets another slight increase after last week's wholesale reset. The extra rushing touchdown is enough to move him from 15th to 14th.
  • Kenyan Drake showed last year he can handle 20 carries, but the coaches seemed reluctant to give him that workload until injuries forced their hand. I've taken ten carries and four receptions off Drake's projection, which is enough to drop him a few spots into the middle of the RB2 group.
  • Derrick Henry looks great and gets a slight bump in carries and an additional rushing touchdown.
  • Royce Freeman is the truth. In a crowded rookie class, Freeman is the only one that's looked the part this entire summer. He's jumped into the RB2 tier and could move higher in next week's update depending on how the other players in the tier shake out.

Investing In The Barber Shop

Rank
Player
Team
Gms
Rush
RuYds
Yds/Ru
RuTDs
FumLost
Tgts
Recs
Cth%
ReYds
Yds/Re
ReTDs
FanPts
38
TB
16
160
640
4.0
5
1
36
24
67%
180
7.5
1
141
53
TB
16
150
625
4.2
4
1
20
13
65%
105
8.1
0
109

It's impossible to feel good about rookie Ronald Jones entering the heart of fantasy draft season. Beat writers, who lean toward being overly optimistic, haven't had a good thing to say about Jones. He's struggled as a pass blocker and a receiver. Meanwhile, Peyton Barber has passed every test. He's been sharp in practice. He's been the best player on the field in the Buccaneers preseason games. At this point, it makes no sense to not draft Barber several rounds ahead of Jones.

Carson Is Winning the Job, For Now

Rank
Player
Team
Gms
Rush
RuYds
Yds/Ru
RuTDs
FumLost
Tgts
Recs
Cth%
ReYds
Yds/Re
ReTDs
FanPts
25
SEA
15
190
770
4.1
6
-
40
30
75%
240
8.0
1
173
39
SEA
15
140
530
3.8
4
3
42
28
67%
220
7.9
2
136

Penny has been hobbled for the last few weeks and is reportedly 236 pounds, which would be 16 pounds heavier than he weighed at the Combine. If that's true, he's going to need some time to live up to his status as a first-round pick. Meanwhile, Carson has answered the call with a healthy, productive camp. But don't lose sight of the bigger picture. When you're in the fantasy playoffs and pushing for a title, Penny is still more likely to be the leader of the pack. Invest in the best player for the full season, not for the first few games.

  • Rashaad Penny has had a forgettable training camp, and that means expectations for the first few games of the season needed a haircut.
  • Chris Carson gains where Penny loses. I've increased his carries, yards, targets, receptions, and receiving yards.

Is Their A Colt Worth Lassoing?

Rank
Player
Team
Gms
Rush
RuYds
Yds/Ru
RuTDs
FumLost
Tgts
Recs
Cth%
ReYds
Yds/Re
ReTDs
FanPts
48
IND
14
125
490
3.9
3
1
40
26
65%
225
8.7
1
121
54
IND
16
90
390
4.3
2
3
40
28
70%
200
7.1
2
108
63
IND
16
110
480
4.4
3
-
15
9
60%
80
8.9
0
83

The Colts running back situation is hard to decipher. Marlon Mack has his supporters; I'm not one of them. Nyheim Hines is the higher draft pick than fellow rookie Jordan Wilkins, but beat writers have made it clear he's working mainly as a third-down receiving specialist. Which leaves Wilkins, an under-the-radar runner with a good leg drive and patience.

  • Marlon Mack is banged up, as he was last year. With the Colts adding two rookies and giving one of them (Wilkins) first-team carries, Mack is not someone to target.
  • Nyheim Hines is blazing fast, and well-suited to catching passes in obvious passing situations. It doesn't look like the coaches see him as someone in the mix for carries.
  • Jordan Wilkins remains a long shot, which is why he's still projected third of this trio. But he's the one worth taking a late-round lottery ticket on because he could be as good, or better, than Mack.

The Patriots Shuffle Continues

Rank
Player
Team
Gms
Rush
RuYds
Yds/Ru
RuTDs
FumLost
Tgts
Recs
Cth%
ReYds
Yds/Re
ReTDs
FanPts
26
NE
15
135
545
4.0
6
1
50
38
76%
320
8.4
2
172
37
NE
16
85
335
3.9
3
0
55
42
76%
350
8.3
3
147
41
NE
14
130
540
4.2
3
1
40
30
75%
260
8.7
1
133
75
Jeremy Hill
NE
16
60
245
4.1
2
1
5
3
60%
20
6.7
0
41
95
Mike Gillislee
NE
16
30
110
3.7
1
1
3
2
67%
10
5.0
0
19

With each passing week, the Patriots backfield is more of a conundrum. Last week we bumped Rex Burkhead much higher and Sony Michel much lower. This week, after Burkhead suffered an injury scare, and James White reminded the world how dynamic he is when he gets the opportunity, I've bumped White up and Burkhead down a few spots.

  • Rex Burkhead falls back into the middle of the RB3 tier as I knocked off ten carries and two touchdowns. His injury history is impossible to ignore, but when he plays, he'll be dynamic.
  • James White moves up to 37th and ahead of Michel thanks to ten more carries and two more touchdowns.
  • Sony Michel, Jeremy Hill, and Mike Gillislee remain stable.

We Told You Washington Was In Trouble Without Guice, AKA, The Adrian Peterson Experiment

Rank
Player
Team
Gms
Rush
RuYds
Yds/Ru
RuTDs
FumLost
Tgts
Recs
Cth%
ReYds
Yds/Re
ReTDs
FanPts
30
WAS
15
60
220
3.7
1
1
75
57
76%
520
9.1
4
160
62
WAS
14
150
525
3.5
3
1
15
9
60%
60
8.9
0
85
66
WAS
15
90
325
3.6
2
1
20
16
80%
140
7.0
1
80
75
WAS
16
55
215
3.9
2
1
16
8
50%
55
6.9
0
46
N/A
WAS
0
0
0
-
0
0
0
0
-
0
-
0
0

A week after losing Derrius Guice to a torn ACL, Washington's running back stable was decimated. Samaje Perine hurt his ankle, although it's not considered serious. Martez Carter, who led the team in carries and yards in the last preseason game, was released after a season-ending injury. Byron Marshall suffered a potentially season-ending injury. And Chris Thompson remains "80%" by his own diagnosis. Which explains why Jay Gruden welcomed Adrian Peterson into the fold after a workout on Monday. I wrote a detailed piece on why you should avoid Peterson on draft day, but suffice to say his further presence clouds an already unattractive situation.

  • Chris Thompson's outlook remains unchanged with Peterson's signing.
  • Adrian Peterson has made a career of defying the odds and may be the starter. But don't fall into the trap as anything but a last-round flier.
  • Samaje Perine is a ping pong ball. From breakout rookie a year ago to bust to backup to potential post-hype sleeper, and now he's back to irrelevant. There's a chance Peterson doesn't make the 53-man roster, but assuming he does Perine falls out of the Top 50.
  • Rob Kelley is technically the starter, per Jay Gruden, even after Peterson's signing. I'm not buying it. He's the least interesting of an uninspiring group.

Tightening the Spread

Rank
Player
Team
Gms
Tgts
Recs
Cth%
RecYds
Yds/Re
ReTDs
FanPts
9
MIN
16
130
87
66.9%
1,215
14.0
6
246
16
MIN
14
105
70
66.7%
945
13.5
7
209

This isn't about preferring Stefon Diggs to Adam Thielen. In fact, I strongly favor Adam Thielen as I detailed earlier in the summer. But the Vikings rewarded Diggs with a monstrous extension and with a new quarterback in town, we have to be at least open to the possibility he'll close the gap on Thielen.

  • Adam Thielen is still a top-10 fantasy receiver, the only change here is shifting one touchdown over to Diggs.
  • Stefon Diggs moves up from 20th to 16th, by gaining a touchdown catch.

Other Receivers In Motion

Rank
Player
Team
Gms
Tgts
Recs
Cth%
RecYds
Yds/Re
ReTDs
FanPts
26
TEN
16
102
64
62.7%
850
13.3
7
191
27
SF
16
99
61
61.6%
940
15.4
5
188
28
NE
16
100
59
59.0%
850
14.4
7
187
31
PHI
13
100
54
54.0%
750
13.9
6
165
32
CLE
15
105
56
53.3%
890
15.9
5
175
44
BAL
16
105
58
55.2%
785
13.5
4
162
46
DAL
16
87
55
63.2%
735
13.4
5
159
48
DAL
15
90
56
62.2%
730
13.0
4
153
52
DET
16
80
48
60.0%
695
14.5
5
149
53
ARI
16
90
55
61.1%
680
12.4
4
149
56
MIA
14
80
48
60.0%
650
13.5
4
137
67
CIN
16
65
37
56.9%
540
14.6
3
119
68
WAS
16
75
41
54.7%
585
14.3
3
118
83
TEN
16
57
31
54.4%
385
12.4
4
97
  • Corey Davis had a forgettable rookie season, but he's healthy, lining up inside and outside, and dominating.
  • I started off the preseason as Marquise Goodwin's biggest fan; he was 21st in my rankings. I then detailed why my enthusiasm needed a bit of tempering. Since then, every report indicates Goodwin is the No. 1, not Pierre Garcon. So Goodwin's projections get a bump higher across the board.
  • Chris Hogan gets an extra touchdown after re-examining the target distribution and his career touchdown rate.
  • Alshon Jeffery may start the season on the PUP list, which would mean six games missed.
  • Josh Gordon is creeping higher now that he's back with the team.
  • John Brown got a huge bump last week and goes even higher this week. He's been the toast of Ravens camp, far outproducing (and out-hyping) Michael Crabtree.
  • The Cowboys have a deep receiving corps, but I'm putting the chips all in on rookie Michael Gallup; I expect him to not only be the top producer in Dallas but to be viable in 12-team leagues.
  • Allen Hurns should still be productive, but he loses touches in favor of Gallup.
  • Kenny Golladay gets an extra five targets, enough to push him into WR5 territory.
  • Head coach Steve Wilks said Christian Kirk is distancing himself in the competition for the No. 2 job.
  • DeVante Parker is banged up and wasn't impressing beforehand. He could be an outright bust at this rate.
  • John Ross is the favorite to win the No. 2 job, but he's still mainly a deep threat and is more of a waiver-wire priority than a must-draft breakout candidate.
  • I still rank Josh Doctson below Paul Richardson Jr and Jamison Crowder, but he gains ten targets in my latest set of projections after a healthy week of practices.
  • Taywan Taylor isn't in the same category as Corey Davis, but he's run with the starters for most of the preseason, too, while Rishard Matthews rehabs.

Two Starting Tight Ends Taking Injury Hits

Rank
Player
Team
Gms
Tgts
Recs
Cth%
RecYds
Yds/Re
ReTDs
FanPts
8
TEN
14
94
60
64%
640
10.7
4
148
9
WAS
13
80
56
70%
600
10.7
5
146

I just upgraded Jordan Reed last week, but his injury history is too damning to go all the way in, whereas Delanie Walker -- usually a pillar of health -- is dealing with a toe injury and has missed a week of practices.

  • Jordan Reed has been healthier this preseason than he's been in years, but he's still the most injury prone player being drafted as a fantasy starter.
  • Delanie Walker is aging gracefully, but a toe injury has derailed his preseason, and meanwhile, Jonnu Smith, Corey Davis, and Taywan Taylor look fantastic.

Whiplash in the Windy City

Rank
Player
Team
Gms
Tgts
Recs
Cth%
RecYds
Yds/Re
ReTDs
FanPts
11
CHI
16
85
52
61%
600
11.5
4
136
40
CHI
13
40
23
58%
260
11.3
2
61

Last week, I downgraded Trey Burton because Adam Shaheen was equally talented and it looked like a committee potentially. Unfortunately, Shaheen is now out indefinitely and Burton is back into the TE1 mix because he'll be the starter with no viable competition for snaps.

Floridians Moving In Opposite Directions

Rank
Player
Team
Gms
Tgts
Recs
Cth%
RecYds
Yds/Re
ReTDs
FanPts
18
TB
16
65
42
65%
525
12.5
4
119
19
JAX
13
65
40
62%
440
11.0
4
108
  • O.J. Howard gets a ten target bump after closer scrutiny of the Buccaneers target distribution. He's still behind Cameron Brate in my projections but creeps into TE2 consideration.
  • Austin Seferian-Jenkins loses ground because I've lowered him from 15 to 13 games played. I hadn't given enough credit to Seferian-Jenkins' injury history.

Keep in mind projections are updated in real time. And as projections are updated, the impact immediately flows through the Footballguys tools including customized draft sheets and the Draft Dominator. My views are entirely my own, and other Footballguys have their own sets of projections, including David Dodds, Bob Henry, and Maurile Tremblay.

If you have any questions, you can reach me at Wood@Footballguys.com, or on Twitter: @fbgwood