Week 3 of the preseason has come and gone, so I’m here to give you one last recap. If you haven’t checked out the recaps for Week 1 and Week 2, give them a read. This week we finally got to see starters in extended action, so there are plenty of takeaways. Still, you should remember that these are meaningless games played against vanilla defenses, so don’t overreact too much. Instead, read this article to get a film breakdown and gain a few nuggets from this week’s notable performances. Here’s my take on who stood out, who slipped up, and who has sleeper potential.
These are fantasy relevant players who looked good this week. Most of them had limited playing time, but they all showed something that should wash away your concerns.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
After a couple inefficient performances in the first two preseason games, Gordon finally put together some good film, finishing with eight carries for 36 yards and a touchdown in two drives against the Rams. None of Gordon’s runs were flashy, but he showed excellent patience and made some nice hesitation moves to find the hole and gain extra yards. He capped off his day with a 2-yard touchdown run, when he followed some good blocks and broke a single arm tackle to make it across the goal line. With a career 3.7 yards per carry, Gordon has never been the most efficient runner, but he showed good instincts, looks healthy, and figures to be the workhorse in the Chargers’ offense. You should feel good about drafting him as your RB1.
Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins
Ajayi looked strong in about one quarter of play against Philadelphia, carrying the ball nine times for 53 yards and two touchdowns. About half of his yardage came on his first run, when he made a nice jump cut to find a hole up the middle, extended a stiff-arm on Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby, and stayed on his feet after being tripped by safety Malcolm Jenkins. The play should’ve been 15 yards or less, but Ajayi kept trucking ahead to gain 26 yards. On another impressive run, Ajayi made a good cut inside, where linebacker Najee Goode attempted a shoulder tackle but bounced right off of him, allowing him to gain 15 yards. Ajayi did get a little lucky with his two 2-yard touchdowns (both goal-line opportunities were set up by big plays), but he still looks like the dominant freight train that we saw last season. His injury history and offensive line still make him a little risky, but you should feel confident in Ajayi’s ability.
Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
In one half of play against Dallas, Cooper caught four passes for 78 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown. The touchdown occurred on a 3rd-and-9 play, when Cooper beat the zone coverage down the sideline with the help of a good pump fake by Derek Carr. Earlier in the game, Cooper also converted a 3rd-and-8, when he squeezed through two defenders on a slant for 11 yards. With two 1,000-yard seasons in his first two years, Cooper is one of the safest receiver options in the early rounds of fantasy drafts. His chemistry with Carr is only growing, which means that he could take another step forward this year.
Ty Montgomery, RB, Green Bay Packers
After playing poorly in the first preseason game and missing the second game with a lower leg injury, Montgomery returned to action in solid form. In three drives against Denver, he carried the ball three times for 31 yards and a touchdown, adding a 3-yard reception along the way. On his first run, Montgomery waited a moment for a hole to develop on the right side of the line, then he burst through it, breaking two arm tackles before dragging two more defenders for a 25-yard gain. On his second run, he ran into a lot of traffic, but he and the Green Bay offensive line were able to push the pile forward for 4 yards. On his third run, he got the handoff from the shotgun at the 2-yard line and snuck through an opening to get the ball across the goal line. Despite being a converted wide receiver, Montgomery looked like a legitimate running back. He’s also likely to find plenty of running room with Aaron Rodgers keeping defenses honest, and his pass-catching ability makes him a strong pick in point per reception leagues. I’m not sure if Montgomery will be able to hold up under a full-season workload, but he looks up to the challenge if he can stay healthy.
Rob Kelley, RB, Washington Redskins
After horrendous performances in the first two preseason games, Kelley and his offensive line looked much better against Cincinnati. Kelley finished with 10 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown, and his offensive line actually gave him somewhere to run, particularly on a 21-yard gain that resulted from a gaping hole. Kelley himself did a good job churning his legs on several runs, and he performed a nice spin move to make a defender miss on a 6-yard gain. On a 1-yard touchdown run, left guard Shawn Lauvao (who struggled last week) gave Kelley a good block, which allowed him to squeeze into the end zone. Meanwhile, rookie running back Samaje Perine gained just 5 yards on five carries, which means that Kelley’s starting job is probably safe for now. Kelley may not be a high-upside pick, but if Washington’s offensive line can continue to run block like this, he’ll be a solid high-floor FLEX.