NFL fantasy football notebook: Recapping the weekend games

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With nine preseason games played over the weekend, here's a recap of some of the highlights and what it fantasy impact it could have.

» Neither Tim Tebow nor Mark Sanchez were very special for the New York Jets on Friday, combining to complete 8-of-14 passes for 48 yards and an interception. For good measure, we'll add Greg McElroy to the list as well. He was better than the other two, but at 4-of-6 for 49 yards, he didn't exactly set the night on fire. The Jets' QB situation is a mess. Avoid it if you can...

» Some of the passing game woes can be traced to Gang Green missing receiver Santonio Holmes (ribs). When Joe McKnight and Patrick Turner are your leading receivers, it's going to be a tough day. Then again, considering Holmes' decline in recent seasons, it's hard to envision him making an enormous difference when he returns...

» Just so it doesn't look like I'm picking on the passing game, the Jets didn't do much on the ground, either. Tebow was the team's leading rusher, going for 34 yards on four carries. Shonn Greene gained just 11 yards on five attempts. Not a good start for a guy harboring big expectations this season...

» The first preseason game was a painful one for the Cincinnati Bengals. The team lost four starters, including three in the first quarter. The biggest loss is left guard Travelle Wharton, who is now expected to miss the season with a knee injury. Clint Boling will likely take over. Keep an eye out to see if and it affects the Bengals offense...

» Of equal concern is the health of linebacker Rey Maualuga, safety Taylor Mays and defensive end Carlos Dunlap. Maualuga should return to practice this week. Mays took a hit to the head, but the Bengals weren't ready to call it a concussion. Dunlap, however, will most likely miss the remainder of the preseason and could miss the regular season opener. Statistically the Bengals were a top-10 defense last season, a feat that will be tough to repeat without all of their pieces intact...

» On the field, Cincy's offense was underwhelming. A.J. Green was shutout after dropping a short touchdown pass from Andy Dalton. Running back Cedric Peerman was one of the few bright spots, rushing for 30 yards and touchdown on seven carries. He could push BenJarvus Green-Ellis for more touches...

» Brandon Weeden was named the Cleveland Browns' starting quarterback last week, but didn't do much to back it up Friday night, completing just 3-of-9 passes for 62 yards and a pick. For what it's worth, the rookie did look comfortable in the pocket, but we'll need a few more of those passes to hit their mark before recommending him as anything other than a very late round draft-and-follow...

» One guy who did impress was receiver Travis Benjamin. The speedy rookie hauled in a 34-yard pass from Weeden in the first quarter and snagged a 12-yard reception from Colt McCoy later in the period. The Browns desperately need speed in their receiving corps and with a big-armed quarterback like Weeden slinging it, Benjamin is worth paying attention to in the preseason...

» With the Detroit Lions trying to find some consistent answers at running back, the ground game was in heavy rotation Friday. Keiland Williams was the most impressive of the backs, picking up 71 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. He'll push Kevin Smith as the team's starter. Joique Bell could also pick up a few more touches after his 16-carry, 89-yard game. Then again, when Mikel Leshoure and Jahvid Best finally return, this could all go haywire...

» Matthew Stafford never found a real rhythm in his three series, although he did connect with Calvin Johnson twice for 36 yards. Move along, nothing to see here...

» David Wilson made a splash at running back for the New York Giants Friday night, rushing for 43 yards on Friday night. Physically, he's almost a clone of Ahmad Bradshaw and had some Bradshaw-like moments, gaining all of his yards on two carries. He probably won't be more than New York's third running back, but considering how Tom Coughlin has rotated his backs in the past, he could be worth a look in deep leagues...

» David Carr threw a pair of touchdown passes and moved the offense well during his five series. Don't get excited. Eli Manning has yet to miss a game since becoming the Giants' full-time starter in 2005, so Carr's value right now is nearly nil -- regardless of how well he plays...

» Martellus Bennett is angling for a productive season as the Giants' tight end. His three catches for 21 yards and a TD are a nice start. With Jake Ballard now in New England, the position is open. Bennett has been less-than-special as a pass catcher in his first four seasons in the NFL and hasn't caught a touchdown since his rookie season in 2008. Manning likes to get his tight ends involved, so Bennett has late round sleeper potential...

» Last week, I wrote that Blaine Gabbertwas outplayingChad Henne in the battle for the Jacksonville Jaguars starting quarterback job. Gabbert continued that trend Friday night, if only marginally. The former Mizzou star led a touchdown drive on the team's first possession, but did next to nothing afterwards. Henne led a scoring drive on his final series, but did very little before that. Nothing has changed to convince us that this QB battle will have any real fantasy impact...

» With Maurice Jones-Drew still holding out, the focus of the running game turned to Rashad Jennings. Jennings, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, acquitted himself well with 56 yards on 12 carries. If he's the starter in Week 1, he'll have some value, but it will be quite limited. Guys returning from knee injuries usually need a full season under their belt before they regain their old form. It also helps to have some semblance of a running game in the first place. Neither of those things will happen for Jennings in Jacksonville...

» Both Mike Thomas and Brian Robiskie are fighting for roster spots and it showed Friday night. Thomas had four catches for 89 yards while Robiskie pulled in seven balls for 72 yards and a touchdown. A couple more performances like that will solidify their spot on the roster, but unless the quarterback situation gets better in a hurry, neither is worth spending a draft pick on...

» Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Tiquan Underwood opened some eyes with his three catches for 76 yards -- including a fantastic play on a deep ball in double coverage. Underwood has never had a true opportunity to show his skills as a wideout. His most productive season was 2010 when he caught eight passes for 111 yards with the Jaguars. The Bucs could use someone to line up opposite Mike Williams, especially with Arrelious Benn out for the next month with a sprained MCL. At the moment, Underwood is worth a free agent pickup, but he could creep onto some late round draft boards if he continues to play well...

» LeGarrette Blount was effective in limited duty, rushing for 30 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. But Doug Martin wasn't too far behind. The rookie from Boise State ran seven times for 21 yards and a score. Last year, Blount was a surpreme fantasy football frustater. If Martin's in the mix, 2012 could bring more of the same...

» With David Garrard on the shelf, the fight for the Miami Dolphins starting QB job kicked in to high gear. Give Ryan Tannehill the inside track after throwing for 167 yards and a touchdown. Next up for the rookie will be taking snaps with and against first-teamers...

» Regardless of who's under center, they won't have many weapons to throw to -- especially after Chad Johnson's dismissal. The team's leading receivers Friday night were Roberto Wallace and Julius Pruitt, who combined to catch as many NFL passes as I did last season. This is a unit you can ignore on draft day...

» Kevin Kolb (ribs) did play for the Arizona Cardinals on Friday night, but produced just 21 yards on 1-of-5 passing. The good news for him is that he didn't lose any ground to John Skelton in the team's QB race. Skelton was 3-of-6 for 35 yards and a pick. The bad news for fantasy football owners is that Larry Fitzgerald's value will continue to flag until one of these guys gets it together...

» Both Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams are slated to practice this week, but in their absence, William Powell played well. The second-year running back ripped off a 67-yard run the first time he touched the ball and finished the night with 92 yards and a touchdown. At best he's battling with Alfonso Smith to be Arizona's No. 3 RB, but with the injury histories of Wells and Williams, he could find his way onto the field...

» After a season to forget in Cleveland, Peyton Hillis is trying to rebound with the Kansas City Chiefs. Friday was a good start, thanks to his 41-yard effort. Look for him to back up Jamaal Charles, but with the incumbent starter still working back after knee surgery, Hillis could see quite a bit of action this year. If Hills continues to look strong in the preseason, consider him a No. 3 RB option...

» Matt Cassel was quite efficient in the two series he played, completing 5-of-6 passes for 67 yards and leading two scoring drives. More importantly, he got through the game healthy. If tight end Tony Moeaki can stay on the field and if Dwayne Bowe ever gets back on the field, Cassel has strong value as a second-tier QB option...

» Dexter McCluster showed that he can be a playmaker, catching three passes for 45 yards. Now if only the Chiefs could find a role for him. With his speed and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, McCluster could be a matchup problem for a lot of defenses. He's a name to keep in your back pocket for the late rounds of the drafts ... if the Chiefs every figure out how exactly to use him...

» The Minnesota Vikings played without Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin Friday night. So give Christian Ponder a little credit for driving the first team for a pair of field goals against one of the NFL's stingiest defenses. Things should get a little easier when Ponder gets his two best playmakers back, but that doesn't mean you should consider targeting the second year QB...

» Toby Gerhart showed that he's capable of holding his own in Peterson's absence. He ran the ball five times for 31 yards, keeping a lock on his spot as Minnesota's No. 2 running back. Gerhart is firmly behind AP on the depth chart, but can be a productive option in the event Peterson goes down again...

» The San Francisco 49ers backfield might be as deep as anyone in the NFL. That's great news if you're Jim Harbaugh, not so much if you're a fantasy football owner. It could be tough discerning who gets the meaningful carries between Frank Gore, Brandon Jacobs, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James. On Friday, Jacobs and Hunter both ran well. Anthony Dixon added 46 yards on 12 carries, but right now, he's the odd man out in a loaded RB corps...

» The Niners added to their receiving corps in the offseason, picking up Randy Moss and Mario Manningham to go along with Michael Crabtree and Ted Ginn. That quartet caught one pass for three yards, and it belonged to Crabtree -- who played in the first preseason game of his career. Those four guys will still be at the top of San Francisco's WR depth chart, but we'll need to see more before giving you a better idea of their fantasy football value...

» In his first game back since a foot injury ended his season, Matt Schaub was okay. But he will get some help back in the Houston Texans' second game with Andre Johnson expected to be back on the field. Fantasy football owners should have a better idea what to expect from Schaub then...

» Arian Foster had one carry that went for 11 yards and was capped with a fumble. It's not the way you'd like to see it go down, but there's no reason for concern. What was good to see was Ben Tate's seven carries for 38 yards. The second-year back is a legitimate handcuff to Foster and could see work on fantasy football rosters as a bye-week replacement or a flex player in deep leagues...

» In addition to veterans like Johnson and Kevin Walter, the Texans receiving corps has a slew of young players. Look for guys like Lestar Jean, Juaquin Iglesias and Keshawn Martin to battle throughout the preseason. Depending on where they land on the depth chart, they could have limited fantasy value...

» Cam Newton picked up where he left off, throwing for 17 yards and running for 16 more in limited action. Expect a dropoff in his numbers from last season, but he still rates as a top-tier QB option...

» As long as Newton does his thing, it doesn't bode well for the fantasy values of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Williams had four carries for 13 yards while Stewart caught one pass for 13 yards. Either one is likely to have a few big games this year, but predicting when it will happen is like trying to catch a fly with chopsticks...

» For the IDP set, linebacker Jordan Senn was productive on Saturday night, logging 10 tackles. Of course, Senn will be relegated to the bench once Jon Beason is healthy, but it does bode well for the production of both Beason and rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly...

» This is supposed to be the year that Tennessee Titans speedster Chris Johnson regains his old form. We're still waiting after his five-carry, eight-yard outburst on Saturday. With all the talk of a career rebound, The Artist Formerly Known as CJ2K had been rising in value. Let's put the brakes on that until he shows a little bit more...

» Matt Hasselbeck just keeps throwing picks like it's his job, which it's not. The veteran tossed two more interceptions Saturday and the gap between him and Jake Locker in the Titans' starting QB race seems to be closing. Locker has a lot of upside and if he earns the starting nod could be worth a late flyer, especially in dynasty leagues...

» Darius Reynaud is trying to make a name for himself as a do-everything guy. The third year player from West Virginia ran for a touchdown and returned a punt 85 yards for another score. He also caught a pass for a three-yard loss, but we won't hold that against him. Reynaud won't show up on draft boards this year, but if he can find a niche in the Titans offense, keep an eye out for him on the waiver wire...

» The Seattle Seahawks don't look any closer to having their QB situation settled. Both Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson played well Saturday, without Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin and Kellen Winslow in the lineup. Neither will be a full-time fantasy football starter, but either could provide reasonable matchup-based production...

» Braylon Edwards is hoping to rebound in a receiving corps looking for someone to assert himself. Edwards got off to a nice start with two catches for 51 yards, including a 39-yard TD. Recent history suggests Seattle has been the Bermuda Triangle of receivers, so pardon me if I'm not turning flips over Edwards' potential just yet...

» Sam Bradford had a steady preseason debut, throwing for 57 yards. He even connected twice with one of his new weapons, Steve Smith. It was mostly a collection of short and underneath throws, which could be the look of a St. Louis Rams offense that features a stable of slot-type receivers. After a rookie year that showed so much promise, Bradford projects as a No. 2 fantasy football quarterback...

» It was a good night for Steven Jackson, who gained 17 yards on four carries. Jackson turned 29 this summer and has been a workhorse for the past seven seasons. Don't be surprised if the Rams take it easy with him during the preseason. The one thing we know is that Jackson is always ready when it's time to go for real. He's still a quality fantasy option and that value can only go up if St. Louis can get its passing game togther...

» Andrew Luck threw a 63-yard touchdown on his first ever preseason pass, proving that playing in the NFL isn't that difficult. But seriously, Luck looked very good in his first game, throwing for 188 yards and two touchdowns. I'm not going to proclaim him the next Peyton Manning just yet, but it reinforces the idea that Luck is worth a look late in drafts, especially in keeper leagues...

» Luck's success will depend in part on the Indianapolis Colts having some kind of a running game. So far, there's no indication that it'll be better than last season's 26th-ranked outfit. Neither Donald Brown, Delone Carter nor Deji Karim showed much running the ball and there's little reason to consider this group on draft day...

Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

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