Week 3 of the preseason is one of the busiest weeks on the NFL calendar. If you missed one night of action, there's a good chance you're far behind on the news cycle. No worries. That's what we're here for. I'll use this space to round up all of the weekend's happenings. Starters played extensive snaps, as they tuned themselves for the regular season, so there's plenty of useful info.
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It was a weekend chock full of big news, but the biggest news of all has to be the Rams losing Sam Bradford for the season with a re-torn left ACL. St. Louis squared off with Cleveland on Saturday night. LT Jake Long was beat on the edge by DL Armonty Bryant, who didn't even lay that big of a hit on the quarterback. Bradford's surgically-repaired knee simply gave out. Bradford, 27 in November, will enter 2015 having missed 31 of 80 possible games in his career. Due a hearty salary next year and the Rams already strapped for cap space, there's a good chance he's played his last snap for the Rams.
The Rams will turn to Shaun Hill at quarterback. He's long been viewed as one of the better backups in the league, but hasn't started a game since 2010. Just as they did last season with Kellen Clemens at quarterback, the Rams are going to pound the ball on the ground. Zac Stacy averaged over 22 carries per game over the season's final two-plus months as a rookie. OC Brian Schottenheimer is going to lean on Stacy and impressive No. 2 RB Benny Cunningham. Stacy is a value pick at his early-third-round ADP. He's an every-down workhorse who also gets the goal-line looks. Don't overreact to Cunningham starting over Stacy on Saturday. The Rams simply like both backs and wanted Cunningham to get some work behind the starting offensive line. Stacy has done nothing to lose his starting job.
In other injury news, Wes Welker suffered a concussion on Saturday when Texans second-year S D.J. Swearinger lowered his shoulder and lit up Welker on a catch over the middle. It's Welker's third concussion since Week 1 of last season, while his second one last year cost him multiple weeks. He also has a lengthy history of head injuries. It's a real concern for Welker and the Broncos. The Denver Post is cautiously optimistic that Welker will be ready Week 1, but we're skeptical. We're simply staying away from him and letting other owners draft Welker in fantasy. If he's to miss time, Emmanuel Sanders would move into the slot, while veteran Andre Caldwell and rookie Cody Latimer compete for snaps on the outside in three-wide sets. Sanders' price is far too rich for our blood, especially after he popped off for a 5-128-2 line Saturday. Latimer, on the other hand, is worth a late-round flier as one of the top "handcuffs."
Already coming off extensive offseason ankle surgery, Cam Newton has now been diagnosed with a fractured rib. While the Panthers expect Newton to play Week 1, the injuries are an increasing concern for Newton's mobility and rushing potential. He's taken a number of big hits over the past couple years and certainly isn't afraid of contact. OC Mike Shula may scale back on the designed QB runs early on and lean more on Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert near the goal line. Newton remains a value pick at his seventh-to-eighth-round ADP.
Following injuries to rookie Charles Sims and second-year RB Mike James, coach Lovie Smith called Doug Martin his "bell cow." In Saturday's final tuneup for the regular season, Martin received 14 touches before halftime and played an every-down role out of the Tampa backfield. Playing all three downs, catching passes, and seeing goal-line work is fantasy gold for a running back. Martin is pure robbery at his third-round ADP. The Bucs' offensive line being able to open holes consistently is the only real question mark. OC Jeff Tedford wants to run the ball.
Andre Ellington played 26-of-29 first-team snaps in Sundays tuneup against the Bengals. He's being used as a workhorse just as coach Bruce Arians said he would. … Carlos Hyde is averaging 5.87 YPC on 15 totes this preseason. He's arguably the top backup running back to own in fantasy with Frank Gore being 31 years old and on the downside of his career. … Titans rookie QB Zach Mettenberger leads the league in passing yards (504) this preseason. He's averaging 9.9 YPA and has been extremely efficient. It wouldn't be a shock at all to see Mettenberger make starts this season. … Travis Kelce has 10 grabs for 185 yards and two scores this preseason. He's still behind Anthony Fasano on the depth chart, but should continue to close the gap. Kelce has a Rob Gronkowskian skill set. … Trent Richardson is averaging 2.55 YPC on 20 preseason carries. … Julio Jones looks like his old self. He popped off for a 52-yard touchdown Saturday. … Coach Tom Coughlin talked up Rueben Randle following a 2-41-1 receiving line Friday. … Marshawn Lynch scored a 7-yard TD in his preseason debut Friday. … Eddie Lacy continues to look dominant. He's a locked-in top-five fantasy back.
Depth Chart Quick Slants
With BenJarvus Green-Ellis sidelined, rookie Jeremy Hill worked with the first-team offense Sunday night. He played 10 snaps to Giovani Bernard's 27 in the first half against Arizona. Expect Hill to emerge as the 1B to Bernard's 1A. … Rookie Tom Savage led the game-winning TD drive Saturday night and is nipping at the heels of Case Keenum for the Texans' backup QB job. … Rams third-year WR Brian Quick is having the "best camp of his career." He's locked into a starting job. … After Knowshon Moreno impressed in his preseason debut over the weekend, the Dolphins refused to name a starting running back. We still consider Lamar Miller the favorite. … The Browns remain committed to Brian Hoyer as their starting QB. In other quarterback news, the Jaguars and Jets officially named Chad Henne and Geno Smith their respective starters. … Bishop Sankey continued to work with the backups over the weekend. Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster haven been running with the starters. Sankey should eventually rise to the top.
Injury Quick Slants
Bernard Pierce was knocked from Saturday's preseason game with a concussion. Pierce said he's "fine," and the Ravens expect him to be ready Week 1. If not, Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro would handle running back duties. … Rams LCB Trumaine Johnson will miss 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL. … Montee Ball (appendectomy) played two series Saturday. He's ready to roll for Week 1. … Kenny Stills aggravated his quad injury against the Colts. … Packers NT B.J. Raji is out for the season with a torn biceps.