Preseason Game Cap: Rams at Browns
As I said with our first Game Cap, these are not comprehensive game reviews. Rather, Game Caps are a way for our readers to catch up on the key fantasy information that we find in each game. Yes, we watch them all. I'll be back with the Bengals and Falcons a little later on today.
Cleveland had some good moments on their first few drives with Greg Little getting the ball a few times and looking pretty solid--making one very nice play on a tipped ball. Little was also targeted twice on the goal line to no avail. Josh Gordon also had a few grabs while he was in there and he showed no visual signs of patella problems. He moved well and looks like he’ll be healthy when his 2-game suspension ends.
Without Trent Richardson or Montario Hardesty (hamstring) playing, we got a really nice look at our guy Dion Lewis, who took a solid step towards winning the backup job.
Here’s one of my old quotes on Lewis from his rookie year.
“We think Dion Lewis is a potential stud in his own right. He’d be our choice over Ronnie Brown (as a handcuff) at this point though both would see action in the event of an injury to (LeSean) McCoy.”
Lewis never got into the main scrum as an Eagle and was dealt to Cleveland where we expect very good things.
Lewis had a few nice runs, but made a bigger impact as a receiver with a few nice grabs, one of which went for six. It was on a nice out route on the goal line. As I've been saying, Lewis should be the best handcuff option for Richardson owners. Chris Ogbonnaya was used as a fullback and that could end up being his full-time role.
Brandon Jackson got a few carries too and looked more lively than we've seen him look in recent years both running it and catching it. He actually made a few people miss. He’s obviously healthy right now and is a solid fit for Norv Turner’s offense.
We also saw a few glimpses of our guy Miguel Maysonet, who, like Lewis, came over from Philadelphia, though Maysonet was obtained with a waiver claim. He looked ok though he jumped early on one play and was flagged. The Cleveland backfield is way deep.
Sleeper TE Jordan Cameron had his ups and downs in his quarter or so of action, but did have a nice catch-and-run down the sideline, where he flashed his speed and athleticism. Cameron is still a work in progress, but he has some solid upside in this offense. We like him at his current ADP, but we’d be grab a 2nd option to cover your tail just in case. There is a deep sea of legit upside tight ends available late in drafts.
Second year QB Brandon Weeden played the first quarter and change and was pretty solid for his first game action in a new offense. He went 9 for 12 with a touchdown and used most of his targets. We’re high on Weeden as a player, especially in the new offense. For what it’s worth, both of Cleveland’s backup QBs--Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer, looked good too.
Our guy Travis Benjamin showed off his speed and athleticism with a sweet punt return for a score. He was untouched on the play. Benjamin is an excellent example of why Cleveland is a sleeper as an offense. Benjamin is a serious talent. He could do T.Y. Hilton-like things if given the chance, but with guys like Gordon, Little and Bess ahead of him, he is fighting for time right now. Still, keep an eye on Benjamin. He could have legit value at some point if there are further suspensions or injuries in Cleveland.
On defense, it’s worth noting that 1st round DE/OLB Barkevious Mingo looked spry and fast. I see good things in this kid’s future and he’ll help the Browns a lot as a rookie. This is huge as the Browns secondary has some flaws.
The Rams came out throwing and targeted Daryl Richardson on the first two plays--both targets were check-downs. D-Rich caught the first and dropped the second. The next two plays also went to Richardson. First a carry for a few and then a well executed screen that picked up a nice chunk.
Richardson went in motion and lined up as an outside receiver on one play, which is worth noting. Richardson ran very hard, as usual. He did nothing to give up his spot atop the depth chart. He was the back St. Louis used in the red zone with the first team offense.
Isaiah Pead was the next back in. The Rams obviously wanted to get a look at all of their backs. Sadly, in this case, what they got a look at was a turnover, as Pead coughed it up on his first carry. Obviously not a good start for a talented guy playing catch up.
WR Chris Givens picked up where he left off in 2012--getting behind the defense for a long bomb from Sam Bradford who played better than his numbers indicate. Several of his incompletions were well thrown balls. He looked very good. Bradford also hooked up with Givens on a 3-yard score.
Tavon Austin played and was targeted once, but had no receptions or carries. I’d avoid putting much stock in that. The Rams are going to avoid tipping their hand with Tavon in preseason, I would think. Hopefully this negatively affects Austin’s ADP, because we like him if he slips into the 7th or 8th round because of his upside potential.
Rookie tailback Zac Stacy got some action with the backups in the 2-minute drill. He was targeted on his first two snaps catching the first and dropping the next, but he looked comfortable in the offense. The drop looked like rookie jitters as he tried to steal a look upfield and failed to watch the ball into his hands. He would have had a nice gain on the play too.
Stacy was the feature back to start the 2nd half and ran hard despite the lack of holes available. He’s quick feet were on display a few times and he was typically decisive with the ball in his hands. This kid is a legit NFL back and fantasy GMs would be unwise to count him out and over-invest in Daryl Richardson.
WR Brian Quick made a few nice catches and looked ready to play. His best grab of the night was taken way on a holding penalty, but Quick made a nice acrobatic grab in traffic. The Rams have really good depth at receiver. This a group to watch throughout the preseason. I’ll have a camp battle posted on this group soon. You’ll be able to find that here once it's posted.
Rookie WR Stedman Bailey got in before the half and made a beautiful grab that extended the drive and led to a 54-yard Greg Zuerlien FG as time expired in the first half. The kick looked like it would have been good from about 65 yards. GZ has a monster leg and kicks indoors.
Bailey made another sweet fingertip catch in the opening drive of the second half and looks like he can play right away.
The Rams are going to have trouble finding time for all their young receivers, because they all have game and that includes Austin Pettis. Obviously, this is all very positive for Sam Bradford, who is currently a steal in drafts. I expect his ADP to climb in the coming weeks.