What Matters From the First Week of Preseason?

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What a weekend! Preseason Week 1 is behind us, and the takes are flying fast and furious. It can be difficult to differentiate between what matters and what doesn’t at this point in the year, especially when the fantasy football space is so saturated with information. Today, we’ll sort through the most actionable takeaways from this weekend’s games. Let’s get right to it.

South Beach Surprise

Myles Gaskin’s ADP is in Round 6 (or even earlier on some platforms), but Malcolm Brown got the start at running back in Miami’s first preseason game. Brown handled 16-of-23 snaps with the starters, while Gaskin picked up the remaining seven. It was a typical thunder-and-lightning split with Gaskin primarily playing in obvious passing situations, while Brown handled between-the-tackles work and goal-line work (the latter played every snap when the Dolphins were inside the five-yard line). Brown didn’t do much with his workload – he accumulated just eight yards on nine rushing attempts – but the usage signals he’ll be used more heavily than previously expected in the regular season.

On the bright side for Gaskin believers, NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe balked at the idea that Brown is the primary back.

Still, it doesn’t seem like the Dolphins were just resting Gaskin. The third-year back played deep into the second quarter after Miami took out their starters, which is even more of a signal that the coaching staff prefers Brown at the moment. The idea that they’re trying to keep him healthy doesn’t track when they put him in with the second team. Things could change over the next few weeks, but it doesn’t look like Gaskin has as much of a hold on this job as his ADP indicated.

It never seemed like this coaching staff was especially enamored with Gaskin; in fact, they were reportedly going to take Javonte Williams in the second round of the NFL Draft before Denver traded up to snipe them. Their decision to bring in Brown this offseason was just another signal that they didn’t want Gaskin to handle a three-down workload. Brown is nothing to write home about talent-wise and could lose his job as a result, but his usage on Saturday makes him an intriguing play in the double-digit rounds. Meanwhile, Gaskin’s ADP will rightfully drop.

Houston’s Running Back Battle

Presumed starter David Johnson took a backseat to Phillip Lindsay in Houston’s preseason opener. August depth charts are usually meaningless, but it was interesting when Johnson was listed as the third-string running back behind both Lindsay and Mark Ingram. Lindsay went on to out-snap Johnson 8-to-2 with the starters on Saturday night. All of Lindsay’s snaps came on first or second down, while Johnson came in for both third-and-short situations (one pass play, one run).

It’s a situation to monitor, although it’s fair to question how lucrative this backfield is going to be on the whole. If Deshaun Watson doesn’t play for the Texans this year, this is the worst offense in the league on paper. Still, someone has to get the touches – and that was Lindsay on Saturday with Johnson mainly playing in obvious passing situations.

Taysom vs. Jameis

Taysom Hill got the start in the Saints’ preseason opener and completed 8-of-12 passes for 81 yards, zero touchdowns, and one pick. Jameis Winston played in relief and recorded one touchdown and one interception with seven out of his 12 attempts finding the intended receiver. Hill had another turnover-worthy pass that a Ravens defender just couldn’t reel in. Neither player clearly separated from the other, but Winston probably had the better day. His interception wasn’t a great decision, but it bounced off the hands of WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey and deflected into the hands of a Baltimore player. There’s still a long way to go in this duel, and it’s hard to say with any confidence who will be under center for New Orleans in Week 1.

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Rookie QB Watch

We saw Mac Jones last Thursday, but the other four first-round quarterbacks debuted this weekend. Let’s recap them one at a time.

  • He took a few drives to get settled in, but Justin Fields ended with an admirable performance on Saturday. The Ohio State product completed 14-of-20 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown, plus he added 33 yards and another score on the ground. It was everything Bears fans were hoping for, and it’ll only add fuel to the fire for those who want the rookie to start Week 1. Matt Nagy and crew seem determined to give Andy Dalton a chance, but his leash will get shorter and shorter if Fields keeps playing as he did against Miami.

  • Trevor Lawrence got sacked and recovered his own fumble on his opening play from scrimmage, but he regained his footing after that and ended with a solid line. The first overall pick completed 6-of-9 passes for 71 yards and didn’t throw a touchdown or interception. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but he generally played mistake-free football in his debut.

  • The Jets went run-heavy in their first preseason game, but Zach Wilson played well when given the opportunity. Wilson targeted Corey Davis four times on the first drive before the veteran made way for backup pass-catchers. The numbers don’t show it, but Wilson had a few impressive throws on third down and under pressure. It was an encouraging opening act, especially since he’s reportedly had an up-and-down camp.

  • Trey Lance made waves early with an 80-yard touchdown to Trent Sherfield, but the rookie also threw a pair of turnover-worthy balls near the end of the first half. Still, he wasn’t helped by his receivers, as his first three incompletions were all drops. It wasn’t a perfect half, but Lance flashed the sky-high upside that has enamored fantasy drafters all summer long. The third overall pick is an immediate fantasy starter once he gets the job.

Quick Hitters

  • All 11 of CeeDee Lamb’s snaps came on the outside. Meanwhile, Michael Gallup was in the slot on six out of his 10 snaps. It’s a role reversal from how the Cowboys deployed their wideouts last year, although not an unexpected one. Lamb likely needs that versatility to reach his ceiling, while Gallup should be able to carve out a solid role for himself inside.

  • Rondale Moore dazzled in limited snaps on Friday, recording three catches on four targets and adding two more touches as a runner. Moore is a perfect fit in the Cardinals’ offense as Kliff Kingsbury’s Swiss Army knife.

  • You don’t want to overreact to one preseason splash play, but KJ Hamler had a strong prospect profile too. Hamler had a 25% Dominator Rating as a 19.4-year-old at Penn State before crossing the arbitrary 30% breakout threshold in the following season with a 32% DR. His ADP is going to jump after he had an 80-yard touchdown, but he’s one of the more intriguing WR dart throws.

  • The 49ers rested Raheem Mostert in their first preseason game, leaving Trey Sermon to start in his place. While the third-rounder didn’t do much with his touches, San Francisco used him in all situations, and it’s encouraging to see he’s running ahead of Wayne Gallman. Mostert will be the lead back to open the season, but Sermon should get some work right away.

  • Denzel Mims played on the kickoff coverage team against the Giants. Five Jets wideouts – Corey Davis, Keelan Cole, Jamison Crowder, Vyncint Smith, and Jeff Smith – recorded a snap before Mims got in the game. Elijah Moore didn’t play due to a quad injury he suffered last week in practice. Mims’ usage reflected the reports we’ve seen out of New York all offseason. He’s undraftable in all but the deepest of formats.

  • Giovani Bernard had a pair of third-down receptions, one of which came from the arm of Tom Brady. All offseason, the buzz has been that the Buccaneers brought Bernard in to solve their pass-catching issues at the running back position. That materialized on Saturday, as the former Bengal came in for both third-and-long snaps with the starters. Bernard is an intriguing late-round back in PPR, while you shouldn’t expect as much receiving production from Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette this season.

  • John Brown played with the backups in the Raiders’ first preseason game, while Las Vegas’ top-three wideouts – Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, and Hunter Renfrow – got the night off. The reports out of camp have hinted Brown is the odd man out in the starting rotation. It’s possible the Raiders just want to get Brown acclimated with the system since he’s a newcomer, but the fact that he played when those three guys didn’t is discouraging nevertheless.

  • Parris Campbell is another guy who played with the backups. The Colts may have just wanted him to get his feet wet after missing almost all of last season. His usage over the next few weeks will be telling.

  • Demarcus Robinson ran ahead of Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle. Robinson played on all four of Patrick Mahomes’ snaps, while Hardman played only in 3WR sets (two snaps). The Chiefs had at least three wideouts on the field 81% of the time last year, so Hardman should still play plenty if that really is his role. I also don’t want to draw too much from a four-snap sample, but whoever emerges as the Chiefs’ WR2 could be fantasy-relevant, so it’s a situation worth monitoring.

  • With Tevin Coleman out, Ty Johnson started at running back for the Jets and out-snapped fourth-round rookie Michael Carter. Johnson also played all four third-down snaps, although Carter had one third-down snap nullified by penalty and ran a route on multiple occasions, including one play where he lined up out wide. It’s unclear whether this is veteran deference or a more meaningful change of role, but Carter has been running ahead of Johnson at training camp. It’s something to keep an eye on.

  • Terrace Marshall was an every-snap player with D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson resting for the Panthers. Marshall lined up all over the place but mostly played in the slot in 3WR sets. It’s a positive sign to see Carolina using him all over the field, although he’ll mostly play inside with Moore and Anderson occupying the outside spots.

Soruce: https://sports.yahoo.com/matters-first-week-preseason-080904588.html?src=rss

By Malvi

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