Preseason Week 2 Recap: Immediate fantasy football takeaways from Saturday's games

Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (6) returns a kickoff in the first quarter of a pre-season game against the Denver Broncos at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

  The Buffalo Bills starting offense dominated the Denver Broncos‘ backups, including a long touchdown to Gabriel Davis.

• The Broncos Albert Okwuegbunam continues to play a ton with Denver's backups while most of the team's other starters rested.

Indianapolis Colts WR Alec Pierce is the only draftable player who played in the Detroit LionsColts matchup. 

Thursday and Friday‘s preseason recaps have you covered for all of the fantasy football takeaways you might have missed.

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Draft the Bills' wide receivers: Gabriel Davis scored four touchdowns in the Bills' last game, which led everyone to believe he’d start opposite Stefon Diggs. This became a safe assumption after the Bills opted to not re-sign Emmanuel Sanders. It was good to see that plan enacted, as Davis played 100% of Buffalo's offensive snaps with the starters.

Isaiah McKenzie‘s hype grew during training camp, as he appeared to be ahead of free agent addition Jamison Crowder. McKenzie played every snap in 11 personnel with the starters on the first drive. Crowder took over in the slot in the second drive, but mid-drive, McKenzie took over for Diggs on the outside. This likely means all four wide receivers will see significant playing time, and McKenzie could play on the outside at times. All three Bills starters should be drafted and could have big seasons. Crowder is still an OK late-round pick, as he could easily have standalone value if any of the three starters were hurt.

Draft Devin Singletary: Singletary took every snap for the Bills in the first quarter and only left the game when the offensive line did. The Bills could have easily rotated a back into the game on the second drive, similar to how they rotated Crowder in at wide receiver, but instead, it was all Singletary. Zack Moss was the first backup who came into the game, and rookie James Cook didn’t play until later. Singletary seems to have a clear hold on the starting job and could keep it the rest of the year, so his average draft position (ADP) should increase. The other backs can still be drafted but probably shouldn’t be started until Singletary’s hold on the starting job loosens. 

Drop O.J. Howard in dynasty leagues: The former first-round pick found some success early in his career but was held under 500 offensive snaps in the last two seasons combined, including just 25 receptions. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers opted not to re-sign him even with Rob Gronkowski‘s potential retirement. Buffalo took a shot on him with a one-year deal.

Dawson Knox missed this game after the tragic passing of his brother. Tight end Quintin Morris started instead of Howard and played in passing situations while Tommy Sweeney played in run situations. Therefore, Howard's spot on the regular season roster isn't secure. His best chance of playing significantly this season is if he’s on a new team.

Don’t draft Albert Okwuegbunam: The Broncos rested their top two running backs, top three wide receivers and most other starters — similar to last week. Okwuegbunam was once considered a sleeper due to his solid play on a small sample size the last two seasons. However, he’s not draftable this year unless it’s a deeper league. He not only played but was rotating in and out with Eric Saubert and Eric Tomlinson. He continued to play into the fourth quarter.

The third-year tight end could still play in passing situations during the regular season but is unlikely to play much on early downs. Once the rookie third-round pick Greg Dulcich is healthy, he could take some of  Okwuegbunam's snaps. The best case scenario for Okwuegbunam’s fantasy value is a trade.


Draft Alec Pierce: The 53rd overall pick from the 2022 draft was the Colts' third wide receiver last week while starters played. This week, Indianapolis rested some starters, including Michael Pittman. Pierce played Saturday and played in two-receiver sets, which is something he didn’t do last week with the starters. Parris Campbell was restricted to snaps in the slot in 11 personnel. This could mean Pierce has already surpassed Campbell for second on the depth chart on the side, making Pierce an every-down player. Any wide receiver drafted in the first two rounds deserves to be picked in fantasy drafts, and Pierce has a higher floor than most of the rookies.

Avoid the Colts' tight ends in most leagues: Mo Alie-Cox was among the starters who didn’t play. It was good to see that Indianapolis values him as a starter, but that likely won’t stop the Colts from using a three-man rotation at the position. The team lost Andrew Ogletree to an ACL tear, which will cost the sixth-round pick his season. This allowed third-round rookie Jelani Woods to move up the depth chart and play a lot of snaps with Kylen Granson Saturday. The three healthy tight ends will all have some good games throughout the season, but it will be impossible to predict which tight end does it on any given week.

Ignore the Lions' snap counts: Detroit rested its top two running backs, top three wide receivers and top tight end in this game. Luckily, the starters played last week to give us some sense of how they would have been used. Craig Reynolds was the only draftable player who could potentially be worth stashing on your fantasy roster. He played very well late last season while the other backs dealt with injuries, and he appears to be the clear leader for the third running back spot. If D’Andre Swift or Jamaal Williams suffers an injury at some point this season, Reynolds should play a ton of snaps.


Draft Brian Robinson: The rookie third-round pick started while Antonio Gibson rotated in. Robinson out-snapped Gibson on early downs two to one. Gibson received all of the third-down snaps with the first team, but that was only because J.D. McKissic was out with an injury. Gibson continued to play with the second-team offense for the second straight week. This backfield will likely be a three-man committee all season, making it a headache for fantasy managers. Gibson’s ADP should continue to fall while Robinson’s should increase.

The Chiefs are also a three-man committee: Isiah Pacheco made headlines last week after playing with Kansas City's first-team offense. He continued to get snaps with the first team Saturday. The Chiefs' first team offense ran more plays this week, giving us a better idea of how the backfield will be managed. Jerick McKinnon is still part of the Chiefs' plan, as he consistently played on third down while staying in for additional early snaps. None of Kansas City's three backs, including Clyde Edwards-Helaire, is likely to play more than 50% of the team's offensive snaps consistently, making it very difficult to trust any on a consistent basis. Ronald Jones remains unlikely to make the roster after another game buried on the depth chart.

Move Skyy Moore down the fantasy rankings: Moore remains fifth on the Chiefs wide receiver depth chart and is closer to sixth than fourth. Kansas City didn’t have two of its top three receivers Saturday due to injury, and both Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Justin Watson played ahead of Moore in two-receiver sets. Watson had a big day with 53 yards from two receptions, whereas Moore was held without a catch. It was also concerning that the Chiefs ran a few three-receiver sets with the starters where Daurice Fountain played instead of Moore.

Moore will still probably play once the regular season hits, but it will likely be limited to under 50% of the Chiefs' offensive snaps unless his play improves. It’s also time to start drafting Watson in late rounds, as he could end up being a starter in three-receiver sets.

Don’t draft Travis Kelce in the first round: Kelce will be 33 years old in less than two months, and Kansas City is getting ready for it. The Chiefs rotated Kelce out more often during the second half of last season, and that trend has continued in the preseason, as the team's backup tight ends are showing that plan could be sustainable. Blake Bell caught a touchdown in the Chiefs' first game last week. Joe Fortson caught both touchdowns from Patrick Mahomes this week while Noah Gray caught a 30-yard pass.

Kelce will still be one of the best fantasy tight ends this season, but the decrease in playing time will chip away from his targets, catches and touchdowns enough to no longer make him a first-round value like past seasons.

Draft Jahan Dotson: Dotson was a clear starter for Washington for the second straight week, and he caught his only target for 12 yards. Any first-round rookie who is already a starter needs to be drafted, but Dotson is still being overlooked.


Draft Dontrell Hilliard late: Hilliard rested in the Titans' first preseason game, making it pretty clear he had a role in the offense. This week, he played the first drive before his night was done. His expected role is a third-down back, but oddly, fullback Tory Carter was taking the third-down snaps. Hilliard is unlikely to have much fantasy value if Derrick Henry is healthy, but he could have significant value if Henry gets hurt.

Fourth-round rookie Hassan Haskins was the next man up, unlike the first preseason week, but it wasn't long before undrafted rookie Julius Chestnut also received playing time. Both rookies should be faded in redraft.

Making sense of the Titans' wide receivers: Robert Woods was the only notable wide receiver not to play for the Titans today. Tennessee used a four-person rotation for the first three drives. All four are fighting for the No. 2 spot and who gets to rotate in the most. Fifth-round rookie Kyle Philips was the one constant, as he would always play in three-receiver sets. The Titans use a lot of two tight end sets, so Philips probably won’t be a consistent fantasy contributor. He is still the most likely player from the group to see significant playing time this season.

Why Austin Hooper can succeed, unlike past Titans tight ends: The Titans' tight ends have had trouble finding fantasy success in past years because of the rotation the offense employs. Typically, a receiving tight end would play in 11 personnel, Geoff Swaim would play 21 personnel and Swaim and a third tight end would often be the pair in 12 personnel.

Tennessee signed Hooper to be the team's new receiving tight end. He has experience playing every down, and tonight he was the one with Swaim in 12 personnel. He should see more playing time than past receiving tight ends in Tennessee, which makes him worth a late-round draft pick.

Rachaad White is trending up: The third-round rookie was fourth on the Buccaneers' depth chart in their first preseason game. Giovani Bernard missed this game and Leonard Fournette started, but White was the second running back to see offensive snaps. Ke’Shawn Vaughn fell to fourth on the depth chart. This increases the chances White sees some noteworthy time this season.

Avoid the Buccaneers tight ends: Kyle Rudolph saw his first action as a Buccaneer tonight, including playing every snap with the first team. While it’s good to see he’s ahead of rookie Cade Otton, we don’t know how snaps will be distributed once Cameron Brate is also playing. The two tight ends might be fun plays in DFS, but it will be hard to trust either in redraft.


Draft Chase Edmonds: The free agent from Arizona started the game for Miami and took each of the first 10 snaps. Raheem Mostert didn’t play tonight, so it’s unclear exactly how snaps will be distributed between the two. Edmonds is at least guaranteed the passing-down snaps, which attaches some value to him. The fact that the Dolphins view Edmonds as a potential every-down player could be huge for his fantasy value. He is currently undervalued by his ADP and may be a top-15 back due to volume alone if he and Mostert split the early downs.

Avoid Mike Gesicki: Both Gesicki and Durham Smythe started the game. While they both played in two-tight end sets, they split snaps out of 11 personnel. Smythe took those snaps on first and second down, and Gesicki did so on third down. He continued to see playing time after the starters left the game. The vast majority of his snaps were at in-line tight end, unlike past seasons during which he mostly played in the slot. 

His situation of playing later in the game is more understandable than some other tight ends, as he’s basically undergoing a position change. Not playing in 11 personnel on early downs and the new competition for targets this year will make it much harder for him to be a consistent fantasy starter compared to past seasons.

Draft Zamir White, not Kenyan Drake: The Raiders rested early-down back Josh Jacobs and third-down back Ameer Abdullah similar to last week. Zamir White was the early-down back, and Kenyan Drake was the third-down back with the starters in this contest. Typically, backup early-down backs can see significant playing time, but a backup third-down back only plays when the starter is hurt. White also has the upside to earn more time as the year progresses.

Mack Hollins leads the Raiders' WR3 competition: The Raiders have consistently rested Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow this preseason, allowing for an open competition for the third spot. Hollins seemed to be the favorite for the third spot heading into tonight, and that is all but confirmed after he got the night off, too. He’s unlikely to have much fantasy value with how many targets the top two receivers and Darren Waller will command.


Monitor the 49ers' backup running back situation: The 49ers rested most of their starters. It’s pretty clear which players have fantasy value this season on the team, but the backup running back is a question mark. Jeff Wilson Jr. appeared to be in the lead for the job, but he hasn’t played in either preseason game. Wilson was excused for personal reasons and only recently returned to the team. The lack of recent practice could have contributed to him not playing rather than him being locked into the No. 2 spot.

Trey Sermon played early downs with JaMycal Hasty on third downs tonight. The third preseason game should be telling, but there is also plenty of time for the pecking order to change.

Ignore the Vikings' snap counts: The Vikings rested their top running back, top three wide receivers and top tight end. There is no competition for any of those spots. Alexander Mattison was the only active player worth drafting, as he’s one of the best handcuffs in the NFL. He played on the first drive and departed before the rest of the starters tonight.


Draft George Pickens: The Steelers used all of their starting wide receivers today, which included Pickens playing on 17 of 18 pass plays. He and Chase Claypool split playing time in two-receiver sets. Gunner Olszewski took over for Claypool in the last five minutes of the first half, which explains Claypool’s relatively low route count compared to the other receivers. It’s too early to confirm Pickens is ahead of Claypool, but it’s enough to be very excited about Pickens' usage this season. Now he just needs more targets.

Benny Snell remains the Steelers' handcuff: Najee Harris had the night off in Pittsburgh. Snell started the game and played each of the first 11 snaps. Jaylen Warren was the next back to see opportunities, followed shortly by Anthony McFarland. Snell returned for the two-minute drill. His job as the handcuff isn’t completely secure, but he is a clear favorite at this point.

Don’t worry too much about Travis Etienne: Etienne took all six snaps on the first drive, five of the first six snaps on the second drive and the first four snaps on the third drive. A big reason for Snoop Conner subbing in was their second and third drive lasted a combined 25 plays. The vast majority of running backs would be subbed out at least a little bit in those situations. Conner took the snaps in the red zone, but Etienne already played eight snaps on the drive. Had the drive been shorter, I would have expected Etienne to receive those snaps. Snoop Conner received the two-minute drill, which also likely had to do with Etienne seeing enough total snaps for the night. Wide receiver Marvin Jones was similarly taken out for that drive.

Once James Robinson is back, we could see a very different rotation. While Robinson is working back to 100%, I wouldn’t hesitate to start Etienne.

Draft Christian Kirk: The Jaguars had all of their receiving weapons at their disposal tonight, giving us a strong look at how the players will be used in the season. Kirk was targeted on eight of the 24 pass plays in the first half, which is a good sign he will be heavily involved this season. He and Marvin Jones both played over 80% of the pass plays on the first drive, with Zay Jones a clear third. Marvin can still have fantasy value as a red-zone threat, but Zay probably won’t see enough snaps or targets to be fantasy relevant unless the offense plays a lot better than in recent years.

The other wide receivers on the roster may have had large roles last year, but they were barely involved and shouldn’t be on fantasy radars. Laviska Shenault Jr. only started seeing playing time in the last four minutes after Marvin Jones Jr.’s day was done. He received zero snaps with the first team before that.


Avoid the Chargers' backup running backs: The Chargers rested their starters tonight, including Austin Ekeler. It's clear Los Angeles still doesn’t have a clear backup behind him.

Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree III rotated in and out over the first quarter —where Los Angeles kept the ball for over 12 minutes — while rookie Isaiah Spiller took over once the second quarter started. It’s likely all three backs would receive playing time if Ekeler gets hurt. One would need to emerge from the group to be worth drafting, and so far that hasn’t happened.

Consider Josh Palmer as a late-round flier: The Chargers' top two receivers didn’t play today, leaving Palmer and Jalen Guyton as the starters. The two competed for playing time last year and will continue to compete this season.

The former third-round pick is the favorite and has the most potential in fantasy football after an average rookie season. He was the most impressive part of the Chargers' offense with the first team tonight, bringing in three passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. It might be difficult for Palmer to have much fantasy value with the talent Los Angeles has on offense when the starters are playing, but he could be a potential fantasy starter if someone gets injured.

Ignore the Cowboys' snap counts: The Cowboys rested their starters and several key backups. They did this at wide receiver and tight end more out of necessity due to injuries. On the bright side, this allowed rookies such as Jalen Tolbert and Jake Ferguson to see extended playing time. On the downside, it’s harder to know how they will be used when more starters are healthy.

Table Notes
  • Snaps include plays called back due to penalties, including offensive holding or defensive pass interference. The other three stats have these plays removed.
  • Targets may differ from official NFL sources. The most likely discrepancy would be from a clear thrown-away pass, where the NFL may give the target to the nearest receiver, while this data will not.
  • Carries are only on designed plays. Quarterback scrambles won’t count for the total number of carries in the game.

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