Fantasy: Takeaways from Saturday's preseason gamestheScore
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Every game night during the preseason, theScore gets you caught up on the most important fantasy performances from around the league.
Waiting in the wings
No one needs to be reminded how good Derrick Henry is ... but let's talk about it anyway. The Titans backup got the start Saturday with DeMarco Murray sitting out and immediately began punishing the Jets' defense.
Henry powered his way up the middle on several runs, racking up 29 yards on eight carries. The Titans even targeted him on a screen pass that didn't amount to much, but highlighted his underrated pass-catching skills. It's only a matter of time before he's a fantasy star, though it might not happen this year if Murray stays healthy all season.
Marcus Mariota saw his first action since a broken leg brought a premature end to his 2016 season. The Titans quarterback played two series, going 2-for-3 for 15 yards and adding a 6-yard run. He should have been picked off on his final play, but Buster Skrine was unable to come down with the ball. The good news is Mariota is back on the field and will be ready to go for Week 1.
Why risk it?
Technically, we're still in the first week of the preseason, even though the Cowboys and Cardinals are onto their second exhibition games of the year. It's still tough to understand why teams risk some of their biggest stars in meaningless games.
David Johnson played half of the Cardinals' opening drive, carrying the rock three times for 16 yards. Every time he touched the ball, fantasy owners held their collective breath in hopes one of the best players in the league didn't suffer a serious injury. Luckily, Johnson looked great and escaped unscathed.
Darren McFadden isn't the elite talent that Johnson is, but he's in position to start the first six games of the season if Ezekiel Elliott's suspension holds up. So why was the soon-to-be 30-year-old back still in the game well into the second quarter Saturday night? McFadden finished with 36 yards on seven touches and zero injuries. Thank the fantasy gods. He'll be an intriguing mid-round pick as a potential high-end RB2 if Elliott is sidelined.
Johnson didn't play the entire first drive with the Cardinals' starters, but they still managed to reach the end zone, with Carson Palmer finding Brittan Golden for a 12-yard score.
Palmer was steady, completing 4-of-8 passes for 39 yards and the touchdown during his lone series, but overthrew a wide-open Jaron Brown deep down the middle of the field midway through the drive.
It was still a positive outing for the 37-year-old quarterback, who continues to prove that the team's new approach limiting his reps in practice is definitely working. Palmer is an interesting upside QB2 in fantasy who has a chance to get back to QB1 production.
- Robby Anderson appears to have the inside track on the Jets' No. 1 receiver job after Quincy Enunwa was lost for the season. Anderson hauled in a 53-yard bomb as part of a three-catch, 71-yard evening. He's a sleeper in re-draft leagues who could return low-end WR3 value if he secures a spot atop the depth chart.
DeAndre Washington got the call for the Raiders ahead of Jalen Richard on Saturday, but both players saw five carries on the night. Washington looked like the better backup, but neither player made a real mark. This is a battle that should persist throughout the preseason and is one fantasy owners need to pay close attention to given Marshawn Lynch's age and the likelihood of him missing games at some point this season. Give the edge to Washington at the moment.
- Rico Gathers scored for the second straight preseason game while pulling down four passes for 47 yards. The Cowboys tight end has topped 100 yards through two exhibition games and has the look of a player who should be on the field on Sundays. He's worth a stash in dynasty leagues as a possible heir apparent to Jason Witten.
- Speaking of players who look like they should have at least part-time roles on their offense, Andre Ellington always looks dangerous when he gets the ball in space and it's surprising the Cardinals have never found a way to maximize his skills. Firmly behind David and Chris Johnson on the depth chart, Ellington's only path to playing time might be if he gets cut before the season.
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