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AP Photo/Matt Ludtke
In Week 2 of the NFL preseason, pay attention to who’s on
the sideline in addition to the players who make the most of their
opportunities on the field. Sometimes, a team’s decision to sit contenders in a
position battle indicates that someone has already won the job.
The Carolina Panthers have a quarterback competition between Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold for the starting job. Last
week, the former played one series, and the latter had two drives. What does it
mean if neither took a snap Friday?
Among the active participants Friday, one rookie made
another preseason splash with a touchdown in consecutive weeks. He’ll continue to
rise on fantasy draft boards. Also, an undrafted rookie continued to impress in a push for a spot on his team’s final roster.
Let’s dig into the biggest takeaways from Friday’s
three exhibition games.
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Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Following a clunky possession, the New England Patriots put together a touchdown drive that included chunk gains on the ground and a deep pinpoint pass from quarterback Mac Jones to wide receiver Nelson Agholor for 45 yards.
Jones didn’t play in Week 1 of the preseason against the New York Giants, and he had a tough start Friday, with three incomplete passes and a sack over his team’s first two possessions, but the Patriots should feel encouraged by his big play to Agholor and a seven-yard scramble while in Carolina Panthers territory.
Furthermore, Ty Montgomery showcased himself well as a dual threat out of the backfield in the first half, recording a reception for five yards along with four carries for 13 yards and a touchdown.
The Patriots offense struggled at the beginning of training camp, and Jones expressed his frustrations to reporters. Last week, against Big Blue, New England accumulated 308 yards and scored 21 points in a loss.
With Jones showing off his arm and some mobility against the Panthers, the offense seems as though it’s headed in the right direction. New England didn’t even have starting tackles Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn in uniform. Moreover, Agholor could be the deep threat that we saw with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020, averaging 18.7 yards per catch. He averaged 12.8 yards per reception last year.
Following the departure of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who took over the Raiders’ head-coaching job, the Patriots will rely on senior advisor Matt Patricia and quarterbacks coach Joe Judge to call plays and elevate the offense with Jones entering his second campaign.
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Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
In the past, teams gave starters significant reps in the penultimate preseason game (the third of four contests) and designated that outing as the dress rehearsal for the regular season. Now, with only three exhibition games, some clubs will field first-stringers for an extended period this week.
The Carolina Panthers took a different approach. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that the team would play its second- and third-stringers Friday, but the Panthers also sat Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold against the Patriots.
With Mayfield and Darnold on the sidelines, head coach Matt Rhule has probably made up his mind about who’s going to start Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns.
According to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe and Joseph Person, Carolina will name Mayfield as the starter.
Last week, in a matchup with the Washington Commanders, Mayfield completed four of seven pass attempts for 45 yards and recovered a botched snap in the red zone. Darnold came in after him and completed two out of three passes for 16 yards and a touchdown.
Perhaps the coaching staff has seen enough during practices to make a firm decision between Mayfield and Darnold. If Carolina’s quarterback competition remained open, the two signal-callers would’ve probably taken the field Friday. We could hear an official announcement in the coming days.
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AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps
In consecutive weeks, Romeo Doubs has scored a touchdown—Green Bay Packers fans and fantasy football managers take note.
Last week, against the San Francisco 49ers, Doubs reached paydirt on a 33-yard reception, beating safety Tavarius Moore for a score on fourth down. He converted seven targets into three receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown in that game.
On Friday, against the New Orleans Saints, quarterback Jordan Love continued to target Doubs in the passing game, connecting with him on a four-yard pass for a score in the second quarter. On the first play of that drive, the rookie wideout hauled in his second 17-yard reception of the day, but tight end Tyler Davis’ holding penalty wiped out the play.
Doubs responded well to star quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ criticism of the young receivers. The group had some drop issues leading up to Friday’s game. Doubs dropped a well-placed ball from Rodgers during Tuesday’s session (h/t Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette).
Rodgers will likely have to deal with the ups and downs of his inexperienced wideouts, though Doubs seems most ready to contribute in 2022. Thus far, the rookie fourth-rounder has had the best offseason among Green Bay’s first-year receivers.
Christian Watson, a rookie second-rounder, spent significant time on the physically unable to perform list after knee surgery. On Friday, he went through warm-ups but didn’t suit up for the game. In two preseason contests, rookie seventh-rounder Samori Toure has caught three passes for 42 yards.
If you’re looking for a Packers rookie receiver to make plays right away, Doubs is definitely the guy.
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Stacy Revere/Getty Images
With the departure of star wide receiver Davante Adams this offseason, the Green Bay Packers could lean heavily on the ground game, which means a lot of touches for running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon.
As running back Kylin Hill continues to recover from a torn ACL on the physically unable to perform list, Green Bay should find a reliable third back in case Jones or Dillon miss time during the regular season. Thus far, undrafted rookie Tyler Goodson has made a strong case to secure a roster spot.
For consecutive weeks, Goodson led Green Bay’s running backs in rushing yards. On Friday, against the New Orleans Saints, he racked up 52 scrimmage yards, which included a 10-yard reception and a 15-yard run. The Iowa product averaged 4.2 yards per carry.
On the depth chart, Goodson will push third-year running back Patrick Taylor, who saw some action after Hill tore his ACL in October. Taylor recorded 11 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown against the Detroit Lions in the Packers’ 2021 season finale.
Despite Doubs’ impressive offseason, the Packers have some question marks at wide receiver with a relatively young group aside from 12th-year pro Randall Cobb and oft-injured ninth-year veteran Sammy Watkins. The third running back within this offense may have more value than it did in past seasons. Goodson has a chance to fill that role.
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AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
Here’s another fantasy football nugget. Nico Collins looks primed for a second-year leap as the No. 2 wide receiver in the Houston Texans offense.
Quarterback Davis Mills played through the first 30 minutes of Friday’s matchup with the Los Angeles Rams and had a solid connection with Collins, who hauled in four of his six targets for 48 yards and a touchdown before halftime.
Brandin Cooks will probably lead the Texans in most receiving categories for the upcoming campaign, but fantasy managers should take a look at Collins late in drafts. He has an average draft position of 14.12 (h/t Fantasy Football Calculator) and should be in line for a steady volume of targets on the perimeter opposite of Cooks.
Remember, the Texans placed rookie second-round wide receiver John Metchie III on the non-football injury list as he undergoes treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia. He’ll likely miss the 2022 season.
If Mills has a decent year throwing the ball, Collins can rack up solid receiving numbers after he hauled in 33 passes for 446 yards and a touchdown last year.
Maurice Moton covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.