Preseason results are meaningless, but the process is trustworthy - meaning the usage of players during these games. Teams show their cards. Coaches want to see what their starters can do together and where they're at. So, when you see a guy playing all of the snaps with the first team, that's a coach telling you who he envisions starting right now. I.E. - if Ronald Jones was the starting running back in Tampa Bay, why would you not have him taking the reps with the first team? Why would Peyton Barber be playing 90% of those snaps? It gives you a sneak peek into who the coach sees as starters. It finally starts wiping away a lot of the noise we hear throughout the summer.
I'm going to be wrong on a bunch of things, the only thing I can do is to adjust to what I see on the field, and analyze in a completely unbias manner. So that's what I'm here to do today, for better or worse.
Christian McCaffrey played on all 15 snaps with the first time of the Carolina Panthers - including a carry on the 2 for a tuddy - not C.J. Anderson - played into 4th quarter with 3rd string OFF. (FantasyGuru.com - Graham Barfield)
Ronald Jones did not play well. He scored a tug, but had just 9 yards and 8 carries. Played with the first team offense on just one snap. Peyton Barber, who people have been saying has a legitimate shot to be the starter here played on 13-of-14 snaps with the starting offense. As was also said, Jones' strong point is not catching the ball - the one play he ran with the starters was a dump off pass to him which he dropped. Looks like Jones is behind Barber on the depth chart and people need to start drafting accordingly. Right now, Jones is currently the 59th pick overall, RB25 while Barber is RB63 coming after pick 200. Barber is a bigger back, 5'11 - 225 build like a horse and they used him and trusted like so down the stretch last year - over their last 5 games Barber touched the ball 90 times, or 18/game - he caught multiple passes in 4-of-5 games and if they don't see Jones as the pass-catcher, and there are reports that Charles Sims, who people would suspect of being the pass-catcher, that could be Barber's job along with a lot more work. A team that's expected to trail a lot, this could be super valuable. Barber needs to start being looked at around where Jones is currently being taken.
So, this one hurts, but the numbers don't lie. Michael Gallup impressed in his debut - although I think that might be more of a box score thing. He caught 1-of-3 targets, that being a 30-yard touchdown. Watch the replay and he doesn't actually create any separation, it was just bad defense, the CB is with him the whole time and thought Gallup stopped then Gallup gets over the top - so I'm not at all impressed by that touchdown. The two things that you do have to take away from it are that Gallup played on 8-of-9 of the Cowboys starter snaps AND, even though Gallup had no separation from the CB, Dak had enough trust to chuck it up and let MG make the play. He was used all over the field too, which is encouraging - which is how I imagined it playing out for Allen Hurns, who played on 6-of-9 start snaps - he's dealt with a groin injury which can absolutely move you down the depth chart, missing time during training camp with a new team. Hurns is someone that you guys know I loved, but i have to be realistic and if the injury moves him down the depth chart and makes him miss out on being the WR that moves around, then that's it.
Straight from Graham's article - "The Titans' first-team offense ran nine plays with Marcus Mariota under center in their preseason opener, and Derrick Henry/Dion Lewis' shared usage didn't surprise a bit. Henry out-snapped Lewis 6 to 3, but Lewis played on two third-down opportunities and the duo split red-zone snaps (2 to 2)." Shouldn't be a surprise here - both guys are going to split work. Will likely both end up as top-30, or 24 fantasy RBs, but going to be very hard to predict on a WoW basis. I will probably, like I have been, stay away unless they fall to a great value.
Andrew Luck looked good, a few quick notes from Matthew Betz, a DR. that works with the fantasy footballers:
Andrew Luck threw 9 passes. 1 traveled more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage. The average depth of target: 3.7 yards - Ben Baldwin (@benbbaldwin). He'd finish going 6-for-9 and 69 passing yards - good to see regardless.
D.J. Moore looked awesome, and he's definitely the pass-catcher I want in this offense if I'm looking at either him or Devin Funchess - caught 4-of-6 for 75 yards.
A few running backs that looked great:
- Kerryon Johnson (DET) - 7/34 and 4/33 - taking all snaps with starters in practice now. Also got called back on a 57-yard run.
- Marshawn Lynch (OAK) - I'm sure y'all saw the highlight of Lynch running down the sideline looking like a yong beast mode - a 60-yard TD run called back. But that's the type of shit you look for in preszn. You'd have no idea about that by looking at the stat sheet, however, it shows Lynch still has plenty of burst to beat defenders. Unfortunately, Martin came in immediately afterwards:
- Royce Freeman (DEN) - Carried the ball 4 times for 38 yards and a touchdown and outplayed Booker, who actually got the start but definitely wouldn't look too much into that. Whoever plays better will win that role throughout the preszn.
- John Kelly (LAR) - a guy that a lot of people liked pre-draft, fell to the 7th round, unfortunately, and won't get any time behind Gurley really, but is the clear handcuff here - he ran the ball 13 times for 77 yards, and caught 2 passes for 14 yards - he dropped in the draft because of his combine results, but he reminds me a lot of a Kareem Hunt, who won't kill you with speed/size metrics but uses all of the intangibles, vision, balance, cuts, to win - he has monster upside if something happens to Gurley.
- Andrew Luck threw 9 passes. 1 traveled more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage. The average depth of target: 3.7 yards. Sticking with the Colts, Marlon Mack ran with the 1s, but left with a hamstring injury, which isn't good. The initial reports say he'll miss a few weeks. With Nyheim Hines doing almost nothing, the Colts have rookie Jordan Wilkins, Robert Turbin & Christine Michael - Turbin is out 4 games sspn, Wilkins is definitely my favorite pick in the backfield right now based on his RB59 price tag. He'll have a legitimate shot to win the starting job if he can perform well in camp and the next few preszn games.
Some Cleveland Browns notes:
David Njoku balled, catching 2-of-3 targets for 46 yards, both going for touchdowns. Before we go nuts, it was against the Giants - they gave up the 2nd most FPs to the TE position in 2017, they are a team to attack at TE. I'd still be weary, Josh Gordon wasn't on the field, Antonio Callaway (7-3-87-1) will have a good role it's looking like - what I think the takeaway from this game is that Tyrod could wind up being an excellent streamer in 2018. He went 5-for-5, 98 yards and a score and obviously adds that rushing upside. A usage stat to take away here was Carlos Hyde. He played in just 3 snaps, the first three and was taken out - that's what teams do with their starters and most valuable players in the first game of the preseason, it looks like Nick Chubb is pretty far behind Hyde right now and Hyde might be a decent pick at his current ADP (100, RB39).
Chris Carson vs. Rashaad Penny battle continues:
I watched all of their touches, both guys looked good IMO, but that goes to show... it's not Penny's backfield. It just isn't.
The Packers WR group had an interesting night. All 3 rookies WRs were involved, J'Mon Moore had 7 targets as did Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but he converted those into 5-101-1, while Moore just 3-27. ESB caught 4-of-6 for 61 yards. A lot of time we see this more explosive WRs in the preseason have big games, and I think it's probably because opposing teams don't have game plans for them, or even know the skillset that well of guys that were 5th or 6th round draft picks, so when you're a 5th rounder, that runs 4.37 speed like MVS, it's no surprise when he blows up for a big game. We see tons of big games that eventually amount to nothing. Moore had been taking first-team snaps at practice with Cobb out, but we'll likely get a better picture of the receiving core here over the next two preszn games.
Last thing is Alex Collins, he looked good, but snaps were split with Buck Allen 6-6 with Flacco under center. Allen got all 3 third downs - while Collins had more touches and was in when they were at the 6-yard line, they still seem to like Allen as the pass-catcher there.