Fantasy: Takeaways from Thursday's preseason games

Get ready for your season with theScore’s 2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit.

Every game night during the preseason, theScore gets you caught up on the most important fantasy performances from around the league.

One Cook in the kitchen

The Vikings used a second-round pick on Dalvin Cook, and it’s becoming clear that they plan to get the most out of their investment.

Cook had the ball in his hands on four of the first five plays Thursday night, and finished his debut preseason game with 43 yards on nine touches, inflicting most of his damage as a pass-catcher. Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon, who were held out of the game, are watching Cook firmly establish himself as the lead back.

Cook didn’t appear particularly explosive, but it seems like he’ll see plenty of volume as a rookie, making him an intriguing pick in the fourth round.

Please stay healthy, Sammy

The Bills may not have picked up his fifth-year option, but they’re giving Sammy Watkins a chance to earn it. Watkins looked the part of a No. 1 receiver as he caught four passes for 39 yards, including three straight to open the game. If he stays healthy, Watkins could be a top-five fantasy receiver. He’s a player worth taking a chance on in 2017.

Buffalo avoided catastrophe as Tyrod Taylor briefly left the game with what appeared to be a leg injury, but returned, allowing fans to exhale. Taylor and Watkins will be an interesting stack in redraft and daily fantasy.

Jonathan Williams looked outstanding, taking advantage of big holes and getting downfield for several long runs, but suffered a hamstring injury in the process. He averaged an absurd 9.8 yards per carry on four carries and will certainly be the backup to LeSean McCoy. Williams is an excellent high-upside running back to stash on your bench, as long as the injury doesn’t sideline him for an extended period.

Dropping the ball?

Ty Montgomery has been anointed the Packers’ lead back and is trying to prove he’s capable of fulfilling all the duties that come along with that role. Fumbling early in the first preseason game of the year did not help his cause.

The former receiver served up zero yards on three carries to go with the aforementioned fumble, while adding one reception for 8 yards. At the moment, Montgomery has a fairly strong hold on the starting job, but rookie Jamaal Williams could cut into his touches if Montgomery fails to impress in August.

Williams didn’t blow anyone away with his four-carry, 14-yard night, but he’s distancing himself from teammate Aaron Jones in the battle for the No. 2 spot. Jones gained no yards on his three touches.

Montgomery remains a risky selection in the fourth round, while Williams has a lot of upside as a late-round pick who could carve out a role early with his steady all-round play.

Wentz flying high

The sophomore jinx can be real, as defensive coordinators take advantage of getting an entire offseason to scheme against you. Carson Wentz is hoping to avoid that, and a near-perfect performance against a Packers defense that got a ton of pressure on him was a good place to start. Wentz completed all four of his passes for 56 yards and a score, looking the part of a second-year quarterback ready to take the next step.

Wentz’s chemistry with Jordan Matthews was on full display too. The veteran receiver hauled in three passes and reminded everyone he’s still the top option in the Eagles’ receiving corps until someone takes it away from him. It’s still the preseason, but Matthews’ fantasy decline may have been slightly overstated.

The offseason and early-camp buzz around Nelson Agholor was put on trial Thursday night, and the verdict was the same as it’s been the last two seasons: Agholor struggles to make plays when the lights come on. He rushed once for minus-1 yard and dropped a potential two-point conversion. Unless Matthews gets traded, Agholor is still off the fantasy radar.

Instant Impressions

  • Leonard Fournette found the end zone in his first preseason action for the Jaguars despite not getting the start, which went to veteran Chris Ivory. Fournette rushed nine times for 31 yards and showed a willingness to grind out yards when needed. The rookie is going to be a quality back for the Jaguars and for fantasy owners who draft him in Year 1. For anyone wondering about Jacksonville’s plan to run the ball more, Doug Marrone’s crew rushed 37 times and threw the ball 18 times in the game.
  • Samaje Perine‘s chances of unseating Rob Kelley as the Redskins’ starter took another hit Thursday when the rookie put the ball on the ground. The fumble was recovered by the Redskins, but the coaching staff won’t care about that. Kelley has a firmer grasp on the job than many of us realized in the offseason.
  • Saints back Alvin Kamara had a solid showing in his preseason debut, rushing for 35 yards on just four carries thanks to a 22-yard run. Oddly enough, though Kamara’s biggest contributions as a rookie are expected to come as a receiver, he didn’t see a single target in the game.
  • The only reason Mitchell Trubisky didn’t get his own section above is because it’s highly doubtful he becomes a fantasy factor this season. But in his first live NFL action, the rookie threw for 166 yards and a touchdown, while rushing three times for 38 yards, and generally had command of the offense. The same can’t be said for starter Mike Glennon, who tossed a pick-6.

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