NFL fantasy football notebook: Cardinals QB race still muddy

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Week 3 of the NFL preseason kicked off with three games on Thursday night. Here's a recap of the action from a fantasy perspective.

[Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2012082353/2012/PRE3/cardinals@ti

tans#tab=analyze&menu=highlights)

» The Arizona Cardinals still have no idea who their starting quarterback should be in Week 1. Both Kevin Kolb and John Skelton were less than good Thursday night. Skelton threw for just 41 yards with an interception; Kolb was a tad better with 156 yards and a touchdown but a pair of horrible interceptions, including a pick six. The blame isn't totally on the QBs -- Arizona's offensive line has offered little protection -- but neither Skelton nor Kolb has done anything to inspire confidence...

» Larry Fitzgerald had five catches for 91 yards, most of them coming during Arizona's two-minute drill just before halftime -- the first team's most successful drive of the night. There aren't many NFL receivers who could flourish in such a QB quagmire, but Fitzgerald is one of the few who could make lemonade out of these lemons. His fantasy value isn't what it once was, but he's not completely to blame for that. He's still talented enough to be a No. 1 WR option...

» The numbers may not show it, but Ryan Williams showed flashes Thursday night, rushing three times for 15 yards. Beanie Wells also made his first preseason appearance and it was as you'd expect from a player just getting back on the field after a long layoff. It's hard to make any substantive pronouncements about Arizona's RB situation, but it looks like a timeshare could be imminent in the desert...

» Last week, Jake Locker didn't look worthy of the starter title he'd recently been given. Thursday, he bounced back with a quality performance, throwing for 134 yards and two TDs. Accuracy is still an issue for Locker, but the most encouraging thing was his ability to shake off a bad game and come back with a better one. If he can double up on quality outings, he'll have later round value as a No. 2 QB...

» While the Tennessee Titans wait to find out what Kenny Britt's status will be, rookie Kendall Wright is doing his best to earn more looks in the offense. Wright caught four balls for 44 yards and a touchdown. The Titans know he can be a playmaker, but the most encouraging thing I've seen is his willingness to [improve as a blocker](http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120816/SPORTS01/308160038/T

ennessee-Titans-Kendall-Wright-works-blocking). You don't get fantasy points for it, but on a team that will heavily feature the run, it's a good way for Wright to stay on the field...

[Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2012082351/2012/PRE3/packers@beng

als#tab=recap&menu=highlights)

» Now that's more like it. After a couple of subpar outings, Aaron Rodgers looked more like the guy we're used to seeing. His accuracy has been an issue this preseason, but Rodgers reminded us why he's so valuable by rushing for 52 yards and two scores. When we talk about mobile QBs, Rodgers sometimes gets overlooked, but he is a legitimate dual-threat. That's why he should be the first QB off the board...

» Don't look now, but the Green Bay Packers might have a running game. In his first action with the Pack, Cedric Benson broke out for 38 yards on just six carries. Green Bay isn't going to morph out of being a pass-heavy offense, but having a back that defenses honestly have to worry about will only make everyone better. Benson is currently coming of the board in the 14th round in many fantasy football drafts and if Thursday was an indication of what's to come, that's an absolute steal...

» The Greg Jennings-Jordy Nelson battle continues to be an interesting one. They've been neck-and-neck in production both throughout the preseason and again on Thursday. At this point, it's probably more accurate to refer to them as Nos. 1 and 1A instead of No. 1 and No. 2. Probably best to think that way about them on draft day as well...

» The Cincinnati Bengals didn't have BenJarvus Green-Ellis last night and, accordingly, they didn't have much of a running game. The Law Firm sat out a second straight game with a foot injury, leaving Brian Leonard to start in his place. The end result was Andy Dalton ending the night as the team's leading rusher. I have concerns about the Bengals running game. Green-Ellis is a nice option, but he's never had more than 229 carries in a season. Will he start to wear down if the Bengals can't fine more help for him? Look at him as a No. 2 option, but consider help for later in the year...

» It's been an up-and-down preseason for Andy Dalton. Thursday was a definite down. The Red Rocket connected on just 5-of-17 passes for 40 yards. Everyone always worries about the sophomore slump, but much of that talk centered around A.J. Green. Now it's time to start wondering if we weren't looking in the wrong place. With games against the Ravens and Browns to start the year, Dalton is primarily a matchup-based option...

» A.J. Green is locked in as the No. 1 WR, but Marvin Jones has been Cincy's preseason star. The rookie from Cal had two more catches Thursday, including a touchdown and is far and away the team's leading receiver with five receptions for 111 yards. So far, the battle for the Bengals No. 2 WR spot has mostly centered on Brandon Tate and Armon Binns, but Jones might have clawed his way into that discussion. He probably won't be drafted, but if he can find consistent targets, it's worth a waiver wire look...

» Rashad Jennings continues to make the most of his opportunity. He ran for 57 yards on 13 carries last night and has the ability to be a No. 1 RB option for the Jags. He's not yet a No. 1 for your fantasy football roster, but there is certainly potential as a matchup-based selection and he's proven that he can be solid handcuff when/if Maurice Jones-Drew ends his holdout...

» Justin Blackmon is closing in on the No. 1 WR spot thanks to another strong performance. While Blaine Gabbert has had trouble connecting with Laurent Robinson, there have been no problems getting the ball to the rookie. It's probably not fair to say Blackmon has sleeper appeal when so many people have their eyes on him, but there is definite later round value there -- especially in keeper leagues...

» Blaine Gabbert's third game wasn't nearly as good as his second, but it's becoming apparent that the former Mizzou Tiger has made some strides in his second season. He could improve even more once MJD gets back to work. Don't sleep, there is some potential in this Jaguars offense. Nonetheless, don't expect big fantasy production just yet. Gabbert's still waiver wire fodder, but he could be a name to keep in your back pocket for later in the year...

» Fly Ravens, fly. Baltimore has been slinging the ball quite a bit in the preseason and Thursday was no exception. Joe Flacco threw the ball 36 times in about two and a half quarters and the results were pretty good -- 266 yards and two touchdowns. I've written several times about the increased use of the no-huddle and Flacco's excitement about the change. Baltimore would be silly to go away from Ray Rice as the team's main weapon, but Flacco might be a fantasy football surprise this season. And in the 14th round, he's a flier with a ton of upside...

» Torrey Smith had a huge game with eight catches for 103 yards and is beginning to look like Flacco's go-to guy. The guys on NFL Fantasy LIVE debated his potential as a No. 1 fantasy receiver, declaring that he hasn't reached that plateau yet. Unless Baltimore decides to completely scrap the run, Smith is a No. 2 WR, but as a big play guy, his draft value should be on the rise...

Quick Outs

» Now that Michael Bush is logging carries for the Chicago Bears, fantasy football owners are understandably worried that he could cut into Matt Forte's production. Not if Mike Tice has his way. Chicago's new offensive coordinator says he wants both backs to surpass 1,000 yards this season. That's great news for the running backs, but will it come at the expense of the passing game? The Bears finally have a nice pitch-and-catch duo with Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, but Tice's insistence on emphasizing the run makes me nervous about the value of the Windy City aerial attack...

» Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller has been working on his pass protection skills -- something that should help him stay on the field a little more in 2012. Fred Jackson still figures to be the workhorse, but Spiller's value goes up if he's on the field in multiple passing downs...

» Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith is hobbled with a foot infection that will keep him out of Sunday's game against the Jets. There's currently no reason to believe he won't be ready for Week 1, but it's defintely something to keep your eye on...

Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

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