The 2015 NFL preseason continues on Thursday Night Football, with two games gracing the schedule and one even being featured on ESPN. The actual NFL season is exactly three weeks away, but for now NFL fans will continue to build their anticipation for the regular season, as well as fantasy football drafts. Tonight, much like week one, we will see starters get minimal action and guys trying to survive another week on the roster. This is still a good chance to look at rookies and younger players who are worth a deep consideration come draft day. For all of the top players and situations to monitor, let’s take a closer look at tonight’s preseason action:
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Detroit Lions @ Washington Redskins
Quarterbacks – Obviously Matthew Stafford is the secured QB in Detroit and could see at least a full quarter of work tonight. Kellen Moore will most likely get the bulk of the clean up work as he tries to remain the Lions number two QB.
The Redskins will be hoping Robert Griffin III can build off his performance last week and continue to earn the trust of the organization. Kirk Cousins will continue to work with the Redskins unit and get a lot of work tonight, as well.
Running Backs – The emergence of rookie running back Ameer Abdullah was on full display in the Lions preseason opener, however the Lions tailback to watch tonight will be Zach Zenner. Zenner generated 56 yards on 14 touches last week, and is expected to get a solid allotment of work tonight with Joique Bell still recovering from some pain in his knee and achilles.
Alfred Morris will start the season as the Redskins primary back but rookie Matt Jones is pushing for playing time and a role in the offense come week one. Jones and Chris Thompson will see the bulk of the work for the Redskins tonight.
Wide Receiver + Tight Ends – The Lions are secure with Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, who will receive a majority of the balls from Matt Stafford this year. Corey Fuller is the Lions WR to watch out for the rest of the preseason as he appears to have the upperhand as the Lions number three wideout. Fuller may be worth a late round flier in this offensive scheme the Lions use.
The Redskins are also pretty set at wideout with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon getting the majority of the targets. Andre Roberts has potential to be a fine WR3 for the Redskins but has yet to be productive since his 2012 season in Arizona.
As far as tight ends go in this matchup Eric Ebron of the Lions is a player to look out for in the coming weeks and Jordan Reed will most likely be the week one starter for the Redskins.
Buffalo Bills @ Cleveland Browns
Quarterbacks – The Buffalo Bills QB situation is a full blown mess, the fact Tyrod Taylor could be the week one starter is enough to scare fantasy owners off of the explosive Sammy Watkins come draft day. Matt Cassel should win the starting job for the Bills but as of now, no one has a clear indication on the likely winner of this QB battle. Taylor and Cassel should both receive at least a quarter of action tonight, if not more.
The Browns also have a little quarterback competition going on as well. Second year player Johnny Manziel will try fighting all preseason for starting duties over Josh McCown. Manziel and McCown should both get ample opportunity to battle this out until week one.
Running Backs – Unfortunately the Bills have a whole group of backs dealing with injuries right now, leaving the door open for Bryce Brown to get a lot of work tonight. The good news for Buffalo fans is LeSean McCoy is expected to be on the field in week one.
The Browns appear to have a major log jam at tailback with Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson, and Terrance West all trying to carve out a role come week one. It would appear all backs will get a significant look the rest of the preseason, although Johnson is probably still out due to injuries.
Wide Receivers + Tight Ends – Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, and Percy Harvin give the Bills a very respectable WR core, the only problem will be getting the ball to them. If the Bills can find consistent QB play, this trio of wideouts has some serious potential to rack up fantasy points weekly.
The Browns on the other hand don’t have as much firepower at wideout and will be without Dwayne Bowe tonight due to a hamstring injury. Brian Hartline has been consistent throughout his NFL career and could lead the Browns in receiving yards this year but it won’t be flashy if that scenario unfolds. The Browns WR Andrew Hawkins is the most explosive with big play potential and should get a lot of action this year. Taylor Gabriel and Travis Benjamin are Cleveland’s best big play threats in the passing game, and will also be worth monitoring.
Charles Clay will man the tight end position for the Bills and could be a viable option if the QB play becomes consistent during the season. E.J Bibbs is the guy to watch out for in Cleveland to earn a roster spot and get reps this season for the Browns. He could push current starter Rob Housler, who thus far has failed to impress.