With the second week of the preseason in the books, we’re one week closer to the start of the regular season. If you’re looking for a quick refresher from last weekend, I’ve compiled notes from every game. Joe and I do the site’s rankings together, and I pay special attention to the wide receivers and tight ends.I decided to compile the biggest risers and fallers at those positions from the second week of preseason action.
Josh Gordon (RISER, ranking WR33) and N’Keal Harry (FALLER, WR66) — The NFL gave Gordon the go-ahead to return to the Patriots just two weeks after applying for reinstatement. The Patriots placed him on the NFI list on Sunday as he works to get back into game shape before he starts to practice again. The Patriots desperately need some receiving help heading into the year with the receiving depth chart wide open behind slot WR Julian Edelman and RB James White wide open now that Rob Gronkowski is retired. Gordon should step right back into his vertical threat role. He posted 40/720/3 receiving (18.0 YPR) on 69 targets last season and he led the Patriots in average depth of target (14.4 yards). I would have him higher but it’s been six years since he was able to play a full season
Emmanuel Sanders (RISER, WR54) and DaeSean Hamilton (FALLER, WR58) — I’m still extremely skeptical about a 32-year-old receiver being an impact receiver just eight months removed from a torn Achilles, but I’m extremely impressed by what Sanders has accomplished so far in August. He returned to game action in the second preseason game and he showed he still has plenty of speed. He picked up 19 yards on a carry and he ran past his defender for a 45-yard reception, which was called back on a holding call. I’m still skeptical about Sanders’ legs holding up for the entire season at his age, so I’ll probably be lower on him than most, but I had to move him up a bit — and knock Hamilton down a few notches — based on his performance through the middle of August.
Antonio Brown (FALLER, WR11) and Tyrell Williams (RISER, WR50) — The Antonio Brown circus continues in Oakland as he’s set to file another grievance against the NFL over his helmet. AB has been in and out of camp throughout the process and Raiders GM Mike Mayock voiced his frustration over the weekend saying that Brown is either “all in or all out.” Brown is missing out on valuable practice time with his new QB Derek Carr and I have no choice but to knock him down a few more pegs. Meanwhile, Tyrell is building a rapport with Carr and he had another strong preseason performance with a 27-yard catch along the sideline. AB is clearly volatile to do just about anything at this point, which would leave Tyrell as the top receiving option here.
James Washington (RISER, WR43) — Washington lit up again in his second preseason game, hauling in four of his five targets for 78 yards while #2 WR Donte Moncrief fumbled against the Chiefs. I do have to take Washington’s performances with a grain of salt as his production has come against backups. He still clearly looks like the explosive player he was at Oklahoma State before his rough rookie season. The bad news is that the Steelers didn’t play him with the starting offense as he saw just one snap with the first-team offense (per Graham Barfield). Per PFF, the Steelers have played JuJu Smith-Schuster exclusively on the outside in the preseason so far, which is why the likes of Ryan Switzer and Eli Rogers saw more snaps than Washington. We’ve yet to see Ben Roethlisberger play this preseason so I’m not overly concerned just yet. If Washington continues to stay on the bench when Big Ben is on the field this week, then I’ll have no choice but to pull back on Washington a bit. It would also be a strange decision by the Steelers as he clearly looks like the most dynamic WR option they have outside of JuJu.
Cole Beasley (RISER, WR73) — Beasley played just 13 snaps in the second preseason game but second-year QB Josh Allen targeted him five times, with the pair connecting four times for 44 yards. Allen already referred to Beasley as his safety valve already this summer, which is good news for Beasley’s PPR standing this season. It’s also bad news for Allen’s owners since Allen is more likely to check it down to Beasley this year after tucking it and running so much at the end of last season.
KeeSean Johnson (RISER, WR83) and Andy Isabella (FALLER, WR90) — Isabella did have a 59-yard touchdown in the second preseason game. Unfortunately, the score came in the fourth quarter and the second-round pick didn’t see an offensive snap until the second half. Johnson appears to be firmly ahead of Isabella heading into the final two weeks of the preseason as he was the only rookie WR to play with the starters last week. Fellow rookie WR Hakeem Butler could land on the IR with a hand injury but it shouldn’t really change the Cardinals WR depth chart too much. I should note that HC Kliff Kingsbury has been rotating and tinkering with his receivers playing with Kyler Murray, including Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald, so it wouldn’t be shocking if he throws a curveball this week with his WR rotations in their dress rehearsal game.
Delanie Walker (RISER, ranking TE10) — I’m not going to go over the top on a pair of catches for 26 yards and a TD in the second preseason game, but it’s certainly worth noting that Marcus Mariota played much better this week with his favorite receiver back on the field for the first time since Week 1 of last season. Walker beat Patriots CB Obi Melifonwu with a post route to the back of the end zone from 11 yards away. Walker has a lot more competition for targets this season — primarily from slot WR Adam Humphries — but Mariota has never been shy about throwing to Walker.
Darren Waller (RISER, TE19) — I noted the Antonio Brown drama in the wide receivers section of this article, and Waller is another player who would benefit if AB is slow out of the gates or if he misses game action. Waller is fully recovered from his shoulder sprain, and he should’ve had a touchdown in the second preseason game but backup QB Mike Glennon badly misfired on a goal-line target
Will Dissly (RISER, TE31) — Dissly saw his first action since rupturing his patellar tendon back in September 2018. He’s trending toward being the team’s opening day starter and he could factor into this passing attack considering how thin their receiving corps is entering the season. ESPN’s Brady Henderson also tabbed Dissly Seattle’s MVP in camp, noting that he’s surprisingly been the one healthy tight end with Ed Dickson (knee) and Jacob Hollister (groin) missing time.
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