2023 Week 2 Preseason Winners & Losers

Getting into the swing of things now for the 2023 preseason, with Week 2 now finished. Following up from last week, I’m back to look at some winners and losers heading into the regular season.

2023 Week 2 Preseason Winners

Kenny Pickett (QB, PIT)

After a mediocre rookie season in terms of fantasy production, Kenny Pickett has his doubters (me included). Can he take that year two leap and cement himself as a solid fantasy QB going forward? If the first two preseason games are anything to go by, the answer to that could be a resounding yes. 3 Drives, 3 TDs is a great way of sticking one to the doubters and entering the season red hot. 9 out of 11 passes completed, 2 passing TDs, and a passer rating of 149.1. Pickett’s stock is well and truly on the rise.

Kendre Miller (RB, NO)

Turns out Kendre Miller’s knee is ok. I didn’t expect to see much of Miller during the offseason, and for him to be slowly worked into the offense. The fact that Miller was taking meaningful snaps and looked ok was a massive positive. It wasn’t easy for production on the ground. As he only churned out 23 yards. But he ran in a score to give him plenty of confidence going forward. With Kamara out to start the season, and Miller looking like a decent pass-catching option.

Damien Pierce (RB, HOU)

The Texans are making it very clear that Dameon Pierce is the starting running back. With Devin Singletary nothing more than a backup at this point. Pierce, rested in week 1, was given 14 straight snaps with the starters before Singletary came in with the backups as the Texans fell 28-3 against the Dolphins. It remains to be seen what the ceiling is for Pierce on this offense. With a rookie QB CJ Stroud, he could see a decent amount of volume to take the pressure off Stroud’s arm.

D’Andre Swift (RB, PHI)

Last week’s loser to this week’s big winner and he didn’t even suit up for the game. It was a bigger message as possible with the other 3 competing RBs on the roster all fighting for snaps against the Cleveland Browns. Swift being rested with the starters signals Nick Sirianni’s intent to have him as the starting RB with Rashaad Penny and Kenny Gainwell seemingly mixing it up for snaps behind him. Swift’s talent on a top 5 offense is a potentially juicy combination and one to get excited about but I don’t think he will be anywhere near a workhorse back and I can see peaks and troughs where he will smash one week and then the next Hurts runs in all the TDs.

Tyjae Spears (RB, TEN)

Tyjae Spears has been electric to start his NFL career and the dominance continued in week 2 v the Vikings. 89 yards on the ground throughout the 2 contests on just 13 carries (6.85 YPC) plus a couple of receptions. Spears is helping put to bed any concerns over the medicals surrounding his ACL (or lack of) and looks to have secured the backup role to Derrick Henry at the very least. His explosiveness could earn him meaningful snaps alongside Henry behind the Titans o-line that’s been looking good throughout the preseason.

Michael Wilson (WR, ARI)

One of my favourite rookie WRs to take late on in this year’s rookie drafts, Michael Wilson, looks to have carved out an early role on the Cardinals offense. Playing with Colt McCoy on 3 drives this week, Wilson saw the most WR snaps for the Cardinals (14) and joint high routes run. For now at least the Stanford product looks locked in to 2 WR sets alongside veteran Marquise Brown.

Chigoziem Okonkwo (TE, TEN)

Chig Okonkwo’s stock is heading in the right direction following week 2’s preseason performance v the Vikings. The Titans clearly love their second-year TE and trust him in 11 personnel sets. Okonkwo was on the field for 11 snaps in week 2, running 6 routes and seeing 2 targets. At 2.83 Yards per route run, Chig lead the league for TEs in his rookie season and the question mark seemed to be surrounding his role now DeAndre Hopkins is in town. Hopefully, this is a sign that his usage will remain high entering the season, and given his ADP I’m fully back in!

2023 Week 2 Preseason Losers

Bryce Young & Panthers Offense

It’s not been an easy start to life in the NFL for the No.1 overall pick from the 2023 class Bryce Young. It’s not been a good start for Young. He has failed to put up any points through 2 games. What is worse, Young has looked incredibly reserved and shaky at times behind an offensive line that hasn’t blocked at all well. Young will have to start opening up and taking chances if he is to get a tune out of this offense. Chuba Hubbard picking up another ankle injury, his fourth of his career. Add that to Miles Sanders who likely will not feature throughout the preseason because of a groin issue. An underwhelming start and one to monitor into week 3 where Young should see more of an opportunity to display his skillset and kickstart this offense into life!

Najee Harris (RB, PIT)

Najee Harris certainly has the backing of OC Matt Canada, with Canada coming out once again to confirm unequivocally that Harris is the lead RB. The Steelers though seem to mask their desire to make Harris a workhorse RB. He has been splitting reps almost perfectly with Jaylen Warren who came in and blasted off a 62-yard TD run. For context, Najee Harris’ longest run in his 2-year career so far is 37 yards. I think the Steelers are committed to Najee Harris right now, but to remain a workhorse back then he needs to up his efficiency numbers otherwise I can see Jaylen Warren at least start seeing 30%+ opportunities in the near future.

D’Onta Foreman (RB, CHI)

Khalil Herbert looked fantastic in week 1 of the preseason. This week he was rested along with the starters with D’onta Foreman running with the backups. There is a clear indication that Khalil Herbert is the starter and Foreman as a backup. His 3 carrier for 12 yards was eclipsed by rookie Roschon Johnson’s 8 touches for 43 yards. Foreman has work to do to hold off Roschon Johnson for the RB2 role.

Quick-Hitting Losers

Jacoby Brissett – Through no fault of his own, he ends up a big loser this week. Sam Howell was officially named the starter and then looked great against the Ravens tossing 2 TDs and registering a passer rating of 123.4. There’s still a fair chance to see Brissett suit up as the QB1 this season but Howell would need to stink in the early part of the regular season.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire & Deneric Prince – Both RBs trying to make the most of their opportunity while Isiah Pacheco is on the sidelines, neither took advantage. CEH committing errors including a hold on what would be a nice gain, and Prince being outplayed by the impressive La’Mical Perine.

Zonovan Knight – Firmly on the roster bubble even with an ok performance over the weekend. New signing Dalvin Cook looks adds elite talent to the running back group that will feature Breece Hall when back fully healthy. With Michael Carter rested, and along with it probably a roster lock, it leaves Knight fighting with impressive Israel Abanikanda for perhaps a final roster place.

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Image Credit: Orlando Ramirez – USA TODAY Sports