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The New Reality No.90: Preseason Week 2 Notes

Notes from Week 2 of the NFL Preseason

Here are the most notable takeaways from Week 2 of the NFL Preseason:

In general, there was plenty of shakeup to the pecking order of playing time in the NFL. The critical week is Week 3, so the first two weeks have been a preamble. 

Quarterbacks

Chad Henne and Brandon Allen are both pickups in QB-premium formats. The bottom is falling out quickly with Blake Bortles. Henne can at least run the offense and Allen is the longer-range option if Jacksonville is evaluating later in the season.

While refinement is needed, Patrick Mahomes is sure fun to watch. He has sneaky athleticism and a power arm to deliver from any platform. His pressure on Alex Smith has fueled Smith to push the ball downfield more than previous seasons as well - either way, this is a good sign for Kansas City's passing game.

Jared Goff has looked like a different quarterback than the 2016 version. It is amazing what better protection, an offensive system reboot, and improved weapons will do for a quarterback. On a side note, Cooper Kupp looks like his security blanket on critical passing downs.

Paxton Lynch got the start for Denver but struggles with basic progressions, pocket presence, and accuracy on a number of snaps. It is early to give up on a first-round quarterback, but Lynch remains in the developmental phase by his early 2017 reps.

Running Backs

Javorius Allen is one of my favorite running back stashes into the season. He has good size to run inside and quality hands in the passing game. Allen represents a handcuff to Terrance West on early downs or Danny Woodhead as a receiver if either should miss time with an injury.

Joe Banyard has been 'just a guy' as the RB3 in Buffalo. Do not be surprised if they are in the market for a back after 53-man roster cutdowns.

Charcandrick West put up a huge stat line in Week 2, but he was buried late in the game (RB4) for Kansas City as C.J. Spiller saw plenty of snaps as the RB3. 

Marlon Mack flashed this week, his debut, but was clearly behind Frank Gore and Robert Turbin. If Mack sees elevated opportunity in Week 3 (over Turbin at times), it will highlight the advancement up the ranks. Mack had quality runs exhibiting lateral explosion and burst. However, Mack's ball security was suspect (as it was in college) and I did not notate pass protection opportunities, a key element for running backs to see significant time on the field.

Rod Smith accrued production late in the Dallas game, but I would not bother picking him up outside the deepest of RB-premium formats. Smith is the RB4 and there is a small window to advance up the ranks when/if Ezekiel Elliott is out.

With Ty Montgomery out, Jamaal Williams saw exclusive work with the Green Bay first team. He did little, but the primary backup job appears his as Aaron Jones and Devante Mays were firmly behind him for snaps.

Samaje Perine shifted down to clear backup status to Rob Kelley in Washington in Week 2 but looked much improved on tape. Perine showed burst and power, with quality footwork, with the second team as Kelley was the clear lead back early in the game.

Rex Burkhead was the lead back of choice with the Patriots first team as Mike Gillislee was out in Week 2. Burkhead showed well as a two-way back in the mold of Danny Woodhead from years ago in New England. Burkhead has little appeal in fantasy circles but flashed enough to be the best value proposition compared to Gillislee and James White's price points.

D'Onta Foreman downshifted to playing late in the game (behind Tyler Ervin and Alfred Blue as the RB4 for Houston), but flashed multiple 'wow' plays, including two receptions of note. Foreman's receiving acumen was a question mark with minimal usage in college, but his combination of size, movement, and receiving ability points to a quality upside if elevated on the depth chart later on. A side note from the Houston game is Lamar Miller looked pedestrian - continuing the theme from 2016 - without a sense of urgency on his early-game touches.

Tarik Cohen got the start with Jordan Howard out for Chicago this week. While undersized and limited from a true workhorse role, Cohen has looked the part in terms of athleticism and a two-way skill set thus far. Cohen appears to be separating himself from Ka'Deem Carey and Benny Cunningham as the RB2 in Chicago.

With Devontae Booker out in Week 2, De'Angelo Henderson was the No.2 back behind C.J. Anderson. Henderson has a compact and thick frame with underrated balance and movement. While on the roster fringe back in May, Henderson looks like a lock for the 53-man roster at this juncture.

Joe Williams did not see an expansion of opportunity in Week 2. Instead, Williams was the RB4 into the game for the 49ers, behind Carlos Hyde, Tim Hightower, and Kapri Bibbs. Week 3 will be a critical game for pecking order clarity of this depth chart behind Hyde.

James Conner made his NFL debut for Pittsburgh. He saw extended time and had a sluggish start with a drop and making too many moves in the run game for his power running style. Conner added another drop in the second half but ran with far more success. He has quality lateral agility for a back of his size.

Alvin Kamara was the flash player from the Saints-Chargers game this week. His easy acceleration offers upside, especially if Mark Ingram II or Adrian Peterson were to miss time. On a particular play, Kamara was deployed on play-action to the flat for an easy third down conversion. Sean Payton is going to have fun with his new offensive toy. On an ancillary note, Daniel Lasco struggled in pass protection and did not look comfortable as an interior runner. With Kamara's addition, Lasco may be the odd man out for the Saints 53-man roster.

Wide Receivers

Week 1 darling Kenny Golladay was quiet in Week 2 but did see more time with the 1st team. The quick sell window is likely more closed than a week ago, but I did see Golladay go in the 1st round of a rookie draft late in the week nonetheless. If able to get a future 1st in some fashion, I would exit on Golladay before the season.

Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole have both played well down the depth chart for Jacksonville. Westbrook dominated most of a quarter in Week 2.

Kasen Williams did it again in Week 2, this time with the first team Seattle offense. While his stock is MUCH lower than Kenny Golladay, he is the hot name of the week. Williams was on nearly every waiver wire and with Jermaine Kearse's roster spot not a lock and Paul Richardson Jr and Tyler Lockett dinged up often, Williams is a good upside option in deeper formats.

Is Phillip Dorsett's roster spot in jeopardy? It may be a little exaggerated, but Dorsett is at least the WR4 on the roster and could be lower to start the regular season. Dorsett is on thin ice based on the offseason and first two weeks of the preseason.

Green Bay is loaded at wide receiver (what else is new?), but two receivers to track if they are cut are Jeff Janis and Max McCaffrey. Both have played well later in the first two weeks of the preseason and have practice squad (or 53-man roster) potential with another team if cut.

Tight Ends

The Baltimore tight end group looks as murky as ever. Ben Watson had a cameo 1st team appearance early in the game, but Nick Boyle saw plenty of time and Maxx Williams had the most flashes of the group. Boyle has the lowest fantasy upside.

Do not forget MarQueis Gray as a deep tight end stash where applicable. Julius Thomas is creaky and Gray has seen plenty of snaps through 2 weeks.

Nick O'Leary is worth a shot in deep tight end leagues (like Gray). I have yet to see much athleticism from Logan Thomas behind Charles Clay.

Bucky Hodges looked good late in Week 2. He was used only as a receiver detached from the formation, which is his best case to be viable. The depth chart is blocked, but if the receiver corps lacks depth, there is potential situational usage this year for Hodges to flash in a best case.

Jonnu Smith played much better in Week 2 of the preseason, showing well as a Delanie Walker-type clone. Smith is in the upper echelon of tight ends with make-you-miss appeal after the catch. While Smith is unlikely to see much playing time as a rookie, he has starter potential in 2018 and beyond.