Week 2 of the preseason is in the books, which means it’s time for another recap. Since most fantasy-relevant players played limited snaps against vanilla defenses, it’s important to avoid overreacting to good or bad performances. But if you watch the film closely, preseason play can raise red flags for certain players while lowering red flags for others. Here’s my take on who stood out, who slipped up, and who has sleeper potential.
These are mid-to-high draft picks who looked good this week. Most of them didn’t have huge stats since they had limited playing time, but they all showed something that should make you take notice.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
McCaffrey had a phenomenal game against the Dolphins, carrying the ball five times for 92 yards and a touchdown, while also catching four passes for 28 yards. His most impressive play came on second-and-1, when he ran through Robert Quinn’s arm tackle in the backfield, maintained his balance, found a big hole up the middle, got to the edge, and outran safeties Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald to score a 71-yard TD. He also looked good on an 18-yard catch-and-run on an angle route, and his between-the-tackles rushing was equally effective. The biggest story might be the offensive line, which — despite losing Andrew Norwell to free agency and Daryl Williams to an MCL tear and dislocated patella — created some gaping holes for the second-year back. C.J. Anderson also had a nice game, but he didn’t touch the ball until Carolina’s fifth drive. At this point, McCaffrey looks like he can handle the ball on all three downs, making him a good choice in PPR formats.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Goodwin looked good against the Texans, catching all three of his targets for 61 yards. All three of his catches occurred on third down, illustrating his role as one of Jimmy Garoppolo’s go-to options. His first reception happened on third-and-7, when he beat cornerback Kevin Johnson on a go route and caught the ball in stride for a 40-yard gain. His second catch gained 8 yards on a third-and-9 slant route, and Goodwin held on through contact as cornerback Dee Virgin made a quick tackle (the 49ers would convert the fourth-and-1 play). For his third catch, Goodwin beat cornerback Johnson Bademosi on an out route, grabbing a 13-yard reception on third-and-7. Garoppolo, for his part, looked much sharper than last week, and a lot of it was because of his rapport with Goodwin. Goodwin looks like a WR3 with WR2 upside, and he should probably be ranked ahead of teammate Pierre Garcon at this point.
Carlos Hyde, RB, Cleveland Browns
Hyde had a productive day against the Bills, carrying the ball nine times for 64 yards and a touchdown (and also losing 5 yards on a swing pass that fooled no one). On his best run, Hyde couldn’t find anything up the middle, so he bounced it outside, stiff-armed safety Jordan Poyer to the ground, and got to the edge to gain 26 yards. His touchdown run was also excellent, as he cut to the outside and beat cornerback Tre’Davious White to the pylon for a 4-yard score. Despite having to bounce some of his runs to the perimeter, he did find some running room up the middle, especially on a 19-yard gain when he ran through a big hole and broke Micah Hyde’s arm tackle. In general, he looked powerful and decisive. Nick Chubb also had a good game after a poor Week 1 showing, but he mostly played with the second and third teams, suggesting that Hyde will be the early-down starter. This backfield will still be a committee, but Hyde could provide solid value in the mid-to-late rounds.
Trey Burton, TE, Chicago Bears
Burton was Mitchell Trubisky’s favorite target against the Broncos, catching four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown. On his first catch, he caught a screen pass, made a move to elude defensive end Derek Wolfe, and burst forward for 9 yards. On his second catch, he was split out wide and gained 19 yards on a slant. On his third catch, he gained 10 yards on an out route, holding on through cornerback Isaac Yiadom’s tackle. And on his fourth catch, he went in motion to the left (pre-snap) but ran his route to the right, easily catching the 7-yard TD pass in the flat. Burton looked like a natural receiver, although a lot of credit should also be given to Matt Nagy’s play designs. If we learned anything from this game, it’s that Nagy plans on getting the ball to Burton often, making him a valuable mid-round pick if you’re looking beyond the first two tiers of the tight end position.