Philadelphia 27, Cleveland 10
Coming off a short week very few Eagles starters stayed in the game past the opening two series.
With Michael Vick and Mike Kafka still hobbled by injury it was rookie quarterback Nick Foles getting the nod once again in Philly. He would throw an early interception, but atone for his mistake finding Brent Celek for a seven yard touchdown and again locating Deon Lewis for a second touchdown on consecutive drives. Foles has been proficient in two preseason starts with quick, accurate passes over the middle while hitting his intermediate and deep targets with regularity.
LeSean McCoy only played the opening two series with little production. He was replaced by Deon Lewis,who saw the majority of action at tailback for the Eagles, putting together a very mediocre outing. Lewis should be viewed as nothing more than McCoy’s handcuff.
The Eagles were able to completely disrupt the Browns offense with unrelenting pressure.
Cleveland rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden began the game with a strong opening drive, immediately halted by a forced fumble. After that Weeden was relatively ineffective and later replaced by Colt McCoy. I’ll say this, McCoy is a competitor having greater control of the offense while marching the Browns down the field in the late 3rd quarter for the only touchdown drive. Cleveland may have given up on McCoy to early.
Just when we thought Greg Little was the man, it was Josh Gordon’s turn totaling three reception for 50 yards including a deep pass down the left sideline. In fact, Coach Shurmur mentioned Gordon by name during his half-time interview. History has proven lesser known wide receivers who lead their team in targets have emerged as viable fantasy starters. My money is on Gordon.
Montario Hardesty continues to garner first team carries and goal line work in the prolonged absence of Trent Richardson. In this game Hardesty found very little running room as the Eagles were swarming to the football. Hardesty would also put the ball on the turf which is never endearing to the coaching staff. Brandon Jackson came in for relief and played better finding some running room, also picking up a critical 3rd and 1.
A brief applause for the return of Mohammad Massaquoi. He’s one tough SOB after suffering another violent shot to the helmet two weeks ago.
Atlanta 23, Miami 6
This game only provided confirmation of our current knowledge;
2) Matt Ryan is going to finish the season inside the top six in fantasy scoring.
3) Michael Turner is a straight-line runner who has lost a step while being hindered by age. Turner will be sharing time with Jaquizz Rodgers, who is likely to become the more prolific running back
New Dolphins starter Ryan Tannehill is showing a small amount of progress but still making bad rookie mistakes. In his defense, he is greatly hindered by a complete lack of wide receiver talent.
Davone Bess achieved six targets pulling down four and gaining 59 yards. Although still not draftable, Bess is the Fins wide receiver most likely to emerge as the leader in targets by seasons end and should remain on our watch list.
Running back Reggie Bush played sparingly as Miami is surely saving their best player for the regular season. He continues to impress, but the lack of team talent will hinder his 2012 fantasy production. Bush makes good use of a 5th round pick.
New England 28, Tampa Bay 30
Despite all the starters in this game (minus Wes Welker) the Patriots were uncharacteristically slow as the 1st team offense was only able to muster one good drive. New England’s offense is severely hindered by a suspect offensive line as Tom Brady was subjected to a number of big hits. I’m sure Belichick will solve this problem before Week 1.
Stevan Ridley was the lone bright spot for the Pats 1st team offense. After being bottled up early, Ridley found his stride consuming yards in big chunks adding a short yardage touchdown in the early 2nd quarter (love those running backs who are able to convert goal line touchdowns). Shane Vereen was rather ordinary. Despite New England’s long history of a RBBC, Ridley’s risk/reward is worthy of an 8th round pick.
With LeGarrette Blount still ailing it was Doug Martin’s turn to take first team carries. Martin managed 53 yards on 13 carries grinding out a consistent four yards at a time. On the plus side, Martin took a goal line carry punching in a 1-yard touchdown. Blount later entered the game tacking on 22 yards. Martin’s ADP in the late 3rd round is a reach, but could pay off.
In a run first offensive system the Bucs’ passing game is becoming scary. Vincent Jackson finally showed up with a very quite three receptions for 49 yards. Perhaps Freeman just needs more time to get comfortable with his new weapons.
We should recognize the loss of right guard Davin Joseph. A mauling lineman, Joseph will cause a downgrade to the projected fantasy value of all Bucs players.