2018 Preseason: Week 1 Takeaways

2018 Preseason: Week 1 Takeaways

NFL Football. Preseason. 16 Games. Three days. Plenty of plays were made and new names were made known. Let’s break it all down game by game:


Panthers – Bills

  • D.J. Moore, WR – He looked every bit the part of a WR2 while leading the team in targets, receptions, and yards. Moore flashed good football I.Q. on an underthrown pass as well his open-field ability on a crossing route later in the game. Going near the 9th Round in half-point PPR leagues as WR48, Moore is looking like a great late-round value.
  • Backfield – With both Christian McCaffery and C.J. Anderson each seeing their share of snaps, equal carries, a goal-line touchdown, and their respective share of targets and receptions this has the looks of a split backfield early on. McCaffrey clearly offers more versatility, but Anderson is also fresh off his first 1,000-yard season. With a new offensive coordinator in Norv Turner and an already beat-up offensive live, the Carolina backfield is already looking cloudy regarding a high-end fantasy running back in 2018. McCaffrey’s current ADP in .5 PPR as a late 2nd Round pick at RB12 is getting harder to justify.
  • Josh Allen, QB – The tape shows it all, both good and bad. First, the good: Allen showed off his elite arm strength on multiple occasions, including a 14-yard strike through two defenders to Ray-Ray McCloud. The bad: he displayed some poor accuracy and awareness at times – the same concerns surrounding him prior to the draft. To be fair, Allen was subject to poor offensive line play at times which led to a few of his missteps. All three Bills QBs did play, with still no clear front-runner after Thursday’s game.
  • Bills WRs – Kelvin Benjamin looked healthy in catching and scoring a touchdown pass from Nathan Peterman. With new-addition Corey Coleman not in uniform, their next best receiver was rookie Ray-Ray McCloud with three receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown. Buffalo’s QB play will be heavily tied to their receiving group’s success in 2018, and vice versa.
  • Backfield – With LeSean McCoy’s status for Week 1 still up in the air, expected beneficiary Chris Ivory only received one carry in the game in favor of seven and five carries for Marcus Murphy and Keith Ford respectively. Murphy looked especially suited to push Ivory as the fill-in for any absence of LeSean McCoy after averaged 5.0 YPC and catches all four of his targets for 40 yards. With nothing definite yet, perhaps the Bills have some confidence that McCoy is on track to be available to start the season despite his legal troubles.

    Bears – Bengals

    • Javon Wims, WR – After a 7-catch, 89-yard outing last week, Wims saw just three targets while catching two for just six yards against the Bengals. Continuing to put his size and playmaking upside to use is the best bet for Wims to ensure he earns a roster spot in Chicago.
    • Offense – The Bears played their new-look offense on their first two possessions to open the game, but after eight plays and only four total yards, the jury is still out on how improved this offense truly is. Fans looking for true flashes from the likes of Kevin White, Anthony Miller, and Trey Burton will have to wait a bit longer.
    • Wide Receivers – After a couple seasons of trying to find suitable partners for A.J. Green, it looks like the Bengals have finally accrued enough potential weapons to make it happen. With a healthy 2017 first-rounder John Ross, more experienced Josh Malone and Tyler Boyd, and rookie Auden Tate, the Bengals are equipped with enough talent to field a more dynamic passing game in 2018.
    • Joe Mixon/O-Line – With the Bengals addressing 2017’s 28th ranked offensive line and RB Joe Mixon fine-tuning his level of play this offseason, both showed improvement as Cincy’s starting offense was able to put together two 60-plus yard touchdown drives to start the game. One coming on an Andy Dalton strike to Tyler Boyd and another being a catch-and-run from Mixon. If the Bengals offense takes a step forwards as a whole, Mixon can easily live up to his current 3rd Round ADP.


    Buccaneers – Dolphins

    Tampa Bay
    • Ronald Jones, RB – Coming out of USC, Jones was deemed to have all of the necessary tools to be an NFL running back except being a valuable receiving asset. Against Miami, he bobbled and dropped his only target on a crossing route. However, Jones did display nice vision and agility on a goal-line touchdown run in the game. With the only competition for Jones to lead the backfield being Peyton Barber, Jones will need to show this other dimension to his game or his ceiling in fantasy for 2018 will likely be nothing more than an RB2.
    • Kalen Ballage, RB – Ballage saw 10 carries for 37 yards in the game while also catching 3-of-5 targets for 23 yards. The glaring blemish on Ballage’s debut being his attempt to hurdle a defender which resulting in Ballage kneeing the ball out for a fumble. Not bad for the rookie, but Ballage has some work to do before giving the Miami coaching staff decisions to make.
    • Pass Catchers – Not much to see here in a game where the Dolphins played four quarterbacks. Rookie tight end Mike Gesicki caught none of his two targets in the game. Albert Wilson’s first outing as a Dolphin did see him playing on the outside across from Kenny Stills. This WR group has the looks of a weekly headache in predicting the pecking order already with Danny Amendola, Stills, and Wilson all seeing equal target totals in the game and was without DeVante Parker in uniform.


    Browns – Giants

    • Quarterbacks – Oh boy, here comes the hype. People will cite Mayfield’s touchdown strike to David Njoku at the back of the end zone and his scrambles for first downs as the signals to give him the keys to Cleveland’s offense – while forgetting that the Browns signed Tyrod Taylor to a $17 million-dollar deal for 2018. If you are looking for a rookie quarterback to start Week 1, it won’t be for the Browns. Tyrod still has appeal late in drafts for owners looking to get Jameis Winston or Carson Wentz at a discount.
    • WR Depth Chart – The top target leaders for the Browns were as advertised, but in reverse order with rookie Antonio Callaway leading the team in targets and yards. Jarvis Landry also saw some time outside of the slot with his first reception being a 32-yard strike from Tyrod Taylor. Pure evidence that consistent quarterback play does make a difference, David Njoku looked primed for a huge leap in 2018 with two touchdown grabs in the game. With Josh Gordon still set to return at some point, the best bet for sure targets looks to be Njoku. He is currently a great value at his 12th Round ADP as TE13.
    • Nick Chubb, RB – Poor o-line play, poor play-calling. Chubb displayed the same bruising style he played with in college as most of his 11 yards were self-produced by breaking tackles. He also caught his only target for 12 yards. As of right now, Chubb is still a 2-down back worth a late round flier at best. This still Carlos Hyde’s backfield for now.
    New York Giants
    • Saquon Barkley, RB – Took his first carry for 39 yards, and his other three went for four yards total. Only a very small sample, so take it with a grain of salt, but Barkley displayed very quick feet and solid vision. Unfortunately, the biggest knock on Barkley (if any) coming out of Penn State was his tendency to get stopped for losses when he wasn’t breaking out for huge gains and that is what showed on his other three carries. Clear speed and quickness, but not a lot of raw power/north-south in his runs in the game. Again, small sample size and early observations. With level of QB and O-line play also in the picture, Barkley is likely to struggle with efficiency at times in 2018, but he looks to be in line for the volume to at least buoy his Top 10 RB upside.
    • Receivers – While no one really flashed, it was good to see Sterling Shepard back on the field healthy. Roger Lewis and Russell Shepard will likely be the ones fighting for scraps after OBJ, Barkley, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard for targets.


    Steelers – Eagles

    • James Washington, WR – Being drafted to fill the role vacated by Martavis Bryant, Washington was able to flash some of his play-making ability on a 35-yard leaping grab near the sideline. Part of an ideal situation with the Steelers, Washington has a chance to carve out a role in the offense, but it remains to be seen what kinds of fantasy value that role will hold.
    • Dallas Goedert, TE – Rookie tight end Dallas Goedert caught four passes for 66 yards and a touchdown, showig off his fit at filling Trey Burton’s role from 2017. Goedert could carve out some appeal as a TE2 if the Eagles spread their targets around like last year.
    • Backfield – With four different RBs getting carries and targets, Jay Ajayi’s hold as THE lead back in Philly might not be as fantasy friendly as originally thought. With more Corey Clement in 2018, the return of Darren Sproles, and a solid debut from rookie Josh Adams, the Eagles very well could mimic last year’s backfield which saw three backs get 70-plus carries. Right now, Ajayi’s ADP of RB20 is about right but an RB1 ceiling might not be as likely of a finish.


    Saints – Jaguars

    New Orleans          
    • Tre’Quan Smith, WR – With the Saints already having their top two WRs in Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn, their 3rd receiver spot is up for grabs with Tre’Quan Smith catching four passes for 48 yards while leading the Saints in targets. While it is not Smith’s job yet, he does have a leg up on Michael Floyd, who is trying to make the roster and Cameron Meredith, who is still being treated cautiously coming off last preseason’s knee injury. Smith could be worth a late-round flier in the case that he steals some work from Ted Ginn as the Saints resident deep threat.
    • Playcalling – Still just preseason, but the Saints look to be sticking with their run-first approach as their run-pass split was 34-23. With the addition of Shane Vereen, Mark Ingram could be in line to lose more work once he comes back from suspension. Still one of the less safe RBs going in the first round, Alvin Kamara’s floor could be stabilizing a bit.
    • Wide Receivers – With Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns now both in Chicago and Dallas respectively, the rest of the young Jaguars pass-catchers on the roster are now presented with some opportunity. Jacksonville is expected to stick with a run-heavy approach on offense, but there should still be room for a receiver or two who can carve out fantasy value. While it is possible none of them produce any higher than low-end WR2 value, Marqise Lee, Dede Westbrook, and Keelan Cole are all going in the 11th Round or later with Donte Moncrief and D.J. Chark going undrafted.


    Redskins – Patriots

    • Backfield – As of this writing, rookie Derrius Guice has been confirmed to have a torn ACL and is out for the season. This leaves 2017 roster holdovers Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley as the ones in line for lead-back duty to mix in with Chris Thompson once he returns from injury. Prior to Guice’s injury, Samaje Perine was going in the 13th Round so look for his ADP of RB59 to get cut in half before Week 1.
    New England
    • Backfield – With Sony Michel out for some time with a knee injury, Jeremy Hill outplayed Mike Gillislee in a battle for the RB3 spot. We have seen this before with New England. Outside of James White and Rex Burkhead, the workload split begins to split. Michel’s knee injury certainly added more intrigue to this backfield.
    • Wide Receivers – With Julian Edelman due back in Week 5, the Patriots have been looking to solidify their receiver group all off-season going through a mix of signings, trades, and cuts. At least until Week 5, the Patriots will be rolling with a combo of Eric Decker, Kenny Britt, and Philip Dorsett, and Cordarrelle Patterson to backup Chris Hogan. Will all four unlikely to make the roster, this battle might go up until Week 1.


    Rams – Ravens

    Los Angeles Rams
    • Overall, not much to see other than rookie RB John Kelley looking to be solid competition for Malcolm Brown as Todd Gurley’s backup after picking up 77 yards on 13 carries with two catches for 14 yards.
    • Lamar Jackson, QB – Jackson was in action again, this time scoring his first rushing touchdown. With good but not great play through two games, Jackson is still some distance away from unseating Joe Flacco as the starting quarterback in Baltimore.
    • Breshad Perriman, WR – Another game under the belt of Perriman is a good sign as he caught three passes for 71 yards, with one going for a 32-yard touchdown. With Perriman’s competition for the third receiver spot in Willie Snead, he has a chance to carve a decent role in the offense if he can stay on the field. Currently going undrafted, Perriman could be worth a late-round flier if he can solidify his role on the depth chart.
    • Tight Ends – Not much for the group of TEs in Baltimore outside of Hayden Hurst’s one catch for 12 yards. Hurst is currently being drafted at TE23, well worth drafting in a TE friendly offense.


    Titans – Packers

    • Not much to see for the Titans. Neither Tajae Sharp or Taywan Taylor flashed enough to distinguish either as the clear WR3. As far as the backfield, we will have to wait for a better game script to see how the split between Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry will break down.
    Green Bay
    • WR Depth Chart – After one game, the leader of Green Bay’s pack of rookie WRs is Marquez Valdes-Scantling with five receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown. He was followed by Equanimeous St. Brown with four catches for 61 yards, and J’Mon Moore with three catches for 27 yards. The leader of the trio will still need to beat out incumbent WR3 Geronimo Allison and training camp maven Jake Kumerow. Whoever wins the WR3 job could be worth a late round pick in deeper leagues.


    Texans – Chiefs

    • RB Depth Chart – Playing behind 2017’s worst offensive line, neither Lamar Miller or Alfred Blue had much room to work in limited time. Going as RB22, Miller could return value despite poor o-line play if he can secure close to a full workload.
    Kansas City
    • Patrick Mahomes, QB – Playing with the first team offense, Mahomes only threw seven passes. Overall a mediocre performance as he at times displayed great pocket presence and driven throws, but also had moments of slow recognition and decision making. The telling factor for Mahomes will likely be from volume against first team NFL defense. His current ADP of QB16 provides a little room for growth as a first time NFL starter.


    Cowboys – 49ers

    • Michael Gallup, WR – The rookie only caught one pass in the game, but it was a 30-yard touchdown from Dak Prescott. Not a bad first impression. Currently a great value in drafts at WR56 in an offense that lost 220 targets in the offseason.
    San Francisco
    • Dante Pettis, WR – Pettis’s lone catch was a 53-yard bomb, but that was enough to flash some of his playmaking skills. Going undrafted right now, Pettis has a chance to settle in as the WR3 in 49ers offense that is heading into a full year with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback.
    • RB Depth Chart – With Jerick McKinnon suffering a knee strain, Joe Williams got his first taste of extended playing time before going on to score a goal line touchdown. The question with McKinnon has always been about durability, so it will be interesting to see how the backfield would function between Joe Williams and Matt Breida.


    Colts – Seahawks

    •  Andrew Luck, QB – In his first game action in since 2016, Luck was able to shake some rust off and take some hits. The one thing that was not fully displayed was his arm strength on downfield throws, which is something that will likely arise as the preseason goes one. Luck’s current ADP of QB9 shows the hype brought about by his return as he certainly has a chance to finish even higher in 2018.
    • RB Depth Chart – As expected, five different RBs were used against the Seahawks. None of the RBs really separated themselves as a clear front runner other than rookie Jordan Wilkins, mostly by default due to injuries to Marlon Mack and Robert Turbin. With Wilkins currently going after both Mack and fellow rookie Nyheim Hines at RB55, Wilkins is the clear value pick in the Colts backfield.
    • RB Depth Chart – One of the more intriguing training camp position battles, the trio of Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, and Mike Davis all saw carries, with J.D. McKissic getting most of the work in the passing game. Coach speak out of Seattle has Chris Carson as the RB1, but Penny is getting plenty of praise as well. This is an evolving wait-and-see backfield hierarchy.


    Falcons – Jets

    • Not much to see from the Falcons, as rookie Calvin Ridley caught his only target for a two-yard loss on a screen pass. Essentially drafted to provide more play-making depth, Ridley will need to show more over the course of the preseason before he warrants much redraft value.
    New York Jets
    • QB Depth Chart –We saw the trio of Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, and Sam Darnold all play in the game and all three played well. It would make the most sense for the Jets to trade Bridgewater and allow Darnold to learn from Josh McCown as the season goes on. Right now, it is anyone’s guess who starts Week 1.

      Lions – Raiders

      • RB Depth Chart – The buzz in Detroit’s backfield was always about Kerryon Johnson this offseason, and that will get even louder after this game against the Raiders. Outside of the addition of proven bruiser LeGarrette Blount, Johnson has the opportunity and versatility to take over Detroit’s running game. Currently being drafted at RB29, Johnson could already be ready to exceed his value even in a split-backfield at the start of the season.
      • Chris Warren, RB – A solid debut for the rookie with an 86-yard outing on only 13 carries. Warren could certainly piece together value if either Marshawn Lynch or Doug Martin proves washed up once the season starts.

        Vikings – Broncos

        • Laquon Treadwell, WR – Despite playing on 41 snaps in the game, Treadwell came away with just one reception for three yards. Already playing behind a trio of target hogs in Adam Thielin, Stefon Diggs, and Kyle Rudolph, barring an injury Treadwell will likely be fighting for targets regardless.
        • RB Depth Chart – One of the better two-back training camp battles, Royce Freeman outrushed Devontae Booker against the Vikings while also scoring on a 23-yard run. Booker was listed atop the first depth chart, but Freeman looks to be either right up there with him or setting himself up for a share of Denver’s carries. Freeman’s RB25 ADP is a bit assumptive at this point, with Booker’s RB49 ADP being the better value at this point. We have a few weeks to watch the backfield sort itself out into a pecking order.


        Chargers – Cardinals

        Los Angeles Chargers
        • Pass Catchers – A few takeaways from the receiving game as Mike Williams saw a good share of playing time and five targets. As a 2017 first round pick, Williams was hyped as a potential WR1B to Keenan Allen before a back injury derailed his rookie season. Currently going at WR49, a healthy Williams should be valuable red zone target for an offense in need of one.
        • Josh Rosen, QB – He played most of his time with the second-string offense, which showed through in an inefficient outing. Rosen true chance will come once he gets to play alongside the first team as he clearly the most talented passer on the roster. As of this writing, head coach Steve Wilks said that Rosen will indeed get some playing time with the first team in their next preseason game.
        • Pass Catchers – After Larry Fitzgerald, the hierarchy of pass catching options is filled with question marks. Rookie Christian Kirk is slowly moving up the depth chart, while new addition Brice Butler could look to fill the role opposite Fitz in Week 1. Either Kirk or Butler would be worth a flier assuming that the Cardinals choose to let whoever their quarterback is spread the ball around the offense.
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