Preseason Week 3 Fantasy Football Game Recap: Buffalo Bills vs. Chicago Bears

2RM2APF Chicago Bears' Roschon Johnson (30) is tackled by Buffalo Bills' Travin Howard (45) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Dalton Kincaid’s initial role becomes clearer: We saw two drives of Kincaid and Dawson Knox and how the two tight ends will be utilized.

Roschon Johnson sees playing time with the starters: Johnson played on the Bears’ third down snaps over the first two drives, which could be his role in the regular season.

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Buffalo Bills @ Chicago Bears

Roschon Johnson becomes the third-down back: Johnson took both third-and-long snaps on the Bears’ first two drives.

  • Khalil Herbert took the first- and second-down snaps on both of those drives.
  • D’Onta Foreman took over on the Bears’ third drive, following the tradition of Chicago playing one back on the first two drives and another back on the third drive.
  • Both Herbert and Johnson returned to action later in the game even though some backups had already begun playing.
  • This included Herbert taking a second-and-19 as well as a third-and-16 on the third drive in addition to Roschon Johnson taking early down snaps on the fourth drive.
  • This means the roles for the running backs aren’t set in stone despite the clear trends in the first quarter.
  • Herbert is still the running back to target on this team, but it seems a little less likely he will fully take David Montgomery’s role now compared to last week considering Johnson’s playing time with the starters.

Cole Kmet finds competition from the other tight ends: Chicago used all three of their tight ends for the first time this preseason.

  • Kmet took 100% of snaps in 11 and 12 personnel but only took one of the three snaps in 21 personnel.
  • Marcedes Lewis made his Bears debut, taking two snaps away from Robert Tonyan in 12 personnel and taking the other two snaps out of 21 personnel.
  • Lewis is known for his run-blocking at this point of his career, so it’s unsurprising to see him take snaps out of that personnel grouping.
  • Kmet has taken 83% of the 21 personnel snaps last season, so the Lewis addition could lead to Kmet playing fewer offensive snaps this season.
  • He caught eight passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns last season out of 21 personnel. He was the only tight end last season with over 100 yards and multiple touchdowns in that personnel grouping.
  • Kmet is spending another season as a sleeper tight end who is among the top backup options in fantasy leagues, but this could hurt his upside.

Damien Harris makes his Bills’ debut: Harris missed the first two preseason games but gained some playing time with the starters.

  • James Cook took the first nine offensive snaps with the Bills with Harris taking over once they hit the red zone.
  • Harris took the next four snaps including a two-yard touchdown.
  • Cook similarly took the first six snaps on the second drive followed by Harris taking two.
  • This was at a point in the game where three of the Bills starters were taken out of the game, so it was a little surprising Cook was still playing.
  • Harris played on second-and-15 followed by third-and-15 on the second drive. Harris only took 13 snaps from those situations in his three years with the New England Patriots.
  • It wouldn’t be surprising if Cook sees the majority of the volume all season long, but Harris is brought in to close drives. This could be a problem for Cook's ability to score touchdowns. He might need to break a few long runs in order to get on the scoreboard.
  • Latavius Murray has been third on the depth chart but he likely earned a spot on the team and is the oldest halfback currently on a roster at 33 years old, so it’s unsurprising he didn’t play.

A peak into the Bills tight end rotation: This was the most extensive work Dawson Knox received all preseason giving us our best look at how he and Dalton Kindcaid could be used.

  • Knox played over the first two drives. He and Kincaid were on the field together for five plays. 
  • This included two plays with Kincaid out wide, one play with Kincaid in the slot, one play with Kincaid in line while Knox was in the slot, and just one play from a more traditional two-tight-end set.
  • The Bills took two snaps out of 21 personnel — one with Knox and one with Quintin Morris.
  • Knox took eight snaps out of 11 personnel compared to six for Kincaid. The difference is Buffalo passed the ball 100% of the time with Kincaid in 11 personnel, and 50% of the time with Knox.
  • This left Kincaid running a pass route on 10-of-15 pass plays and Knox on eight-of-15.
  • It’s at least possible for someone to be a top-10 fantasy tight end running a route on 66% of pass routes, but it’s difficult.
  • New Orleans Saints tight end Juwan Johnson ran a route on 69% of the Saints' pass plays last season and was TE8 in part thanks to his seven touchdowns, which ranked third among tight ends.
  • Kincaid can follow a similar route of catching a lot of touchdowns and being a headache for fantasy managers each week. In order for him to reach his potential, he will need to run more routes.
  • The rookie kept playing into the Bills' third drive at a point where Knox stopped playing.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Chase Claypool was the only notable Bear to miss this game with his hamstring injury, but he is expected to be back for Week 1.
  • It’s been clear Deonte Harty is the Bills' slot receiver in 11 personnel all preseason and that remained true this week, although Khalil Shakir was out with a rib injury for this game.

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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