We had five games Thursday night to kick off the second week of the NFL preseason. While there weren’t a ton of starters on the field, we did get a glimpse of a few key players, including one who plays quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals. Like always, the preseason gives us a unique opportunity to play the role of a fantasy football scout and get insights on what to expect from these players. So let’s take a look at five fantasy football takeaways from the Thursday night slate.
Pump the brakes on Kyler Murray
The second dress rehearsal didn’t quite go as planned for this year’s No. 1 overall draft pick. Murray struggled mightily against the Raiders, going just 3-of-8 for 12 yards through the air and taking a safety. Yikes. Of course, it’s just one bad outing in what amounted to only a few series, but it’s actually a good thing that we saw this out of Murray on Thursday night.
The fantasy community seemed to be running wild with the notion that Murray is simply going to hit the ground running and be an instant QB1. That’s certainly within his range of potential outcomes, but last night showed us that it’s likely that he’s going to experience some bumps in the road. If you draft Murray in your fantasy drafts, be prepared for that to happen. It’s wise to pair him up with a safer option like Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, or Kirk Cousins.
Miles Sanders flashes some upside
The rookie second-rounder showed well in the Eagles’ second preseason game with five carries for 31 yards, including a 16-yarder where he ran through an enormous hole thanks to his offensive line. That’s a rock-solid 6.2 yards per carry. While this is certainly a very small sample size, Sanders was much more efficient than his backfield mate Jordan Howard. The former Bears running back managed just 15 yards on four carries for a lackluster 3.8 yards per carry.
Heading into the heart of fantasy draft season, Sanders is the preferred Eagles running back. Expect a committee in September, especially on early downs. However, Howard’s inefficiency in this style of offense will ultimately be his fantasy undoing. If you draft Sanders, just be sure to be patient. He’s a good bet to pay dividends in the second half of the season.
Ty Montgomery looks to be locked in as Le’Veon Bell’s handcuff
As weird as it is to see a player with the number 88 running out of the backfield, that’s what we’re getting from Montgomery. The veteran running back got a lot of run early in Thursday night’s contest, with seven carries for 36 yards and a score. Solid numbers, no doubt, but the bigger takeaway is that Montgomery was clearly ahead of Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire, and the rest of the Jets backfield.
Bell hasn’t been the most durable back over the course of his career, and we really don’t know what we’re going to get from him after he sat out all of last season. If Bell went down with an injury, Montgomery has the look of a three-down replacement. He isn’t draft-worthy in regular-sized leagues, but he is a handcuff to keep in mind as we get into the season.
Adrian Peterson flashes vintage form
He’s one of the league’s elder statesmen at the running back position, but Peterson showed on Thursday night that he still has some gas left in the tank. Peterson tallied 31 yards on four carries, with most of that coming on his first carry. Peterson flashed some wiggle before the line of scrimmage and was able to get the second level quickly and pick up a big chunk of yards.
The veteran back is coming off a somewhat quiet 1,000-yard season in 2018, but no one expect him to be much of a factor this year. That said, Derrius Guice still isn’t cleared to play, and we aren’t sure when that’s going to happen. That means we could see Peterson as the lead back in the earlier part of the season. While he’s certainly a name-brand player in fantasy, Peterson’s lack of upside makes him an unappealing fantasy option.
Solid numbers from Justice Hill, but …
They came in the second half. The rookie running back had a nice showing in the Ravens’ second preseason contest with 49 yards and a score on 10 carries. It’s easy to see numbers like that and get encouraged, but the fact that he wasn’t out there early doesn’t bode especially well for Hill in the short term. At this point, Mark Ingram is locked in as the feature back, and Hill is just a deeper name to know for later in the season.