As part of the premium content package, we’ll be reviewing each week of the preseason and sharing our observations, thoughts and analysis all the way up until the regular season. As you know, the preseason may seem meaningless to the novice fantasy football player, but it’s essential for the dynasty league owner. After all, this is where we unearth sleepers, see the future stars and make long-term evaluations for our precious roster.
Let’s go through the week and the relevant events.
Robert Griffin III looked as advertised in his debut. You can tell the ball just screams when he snaps his wrist. He’s off to a great start. Rookie drafters who took Griffin with an early first round pick have to feel great about how he looked. The preseason is a fickle thing and I’ve accepted something over the years – you can’t tell for sure if a player is going to be great based solely on their preseason performances, but you can sure can tell if they’re going to be terrible. I’m confident Griffin won’t be the latest first round bust.
In other news, Evan Royster started for the Redskins, but he looks as ordinary as a back can look. It seems the Redskins are just not sold on Roy Helu at the moment, but it’s hard to see what they’re liking so much in Royster. Regardless, Royster started and played exclusively with the first team this week. Pierre Garcon was great with 58 yards and touchdown, showing the rumored rapport that he and Griffin have had in practice was no fluke. Kirk Cousins didn’t look too good and he’s going to need a lot of reps over the years to develop. Unfortunately, he’s likely not going to get too many with the first team any time soon.
Nothing too shocking from the Bills this week. After all, the Bills scored only six points all game against Washington. The second receiver battle is on and TJ Graham really does look like he’s in the mix for serious playing time.
Bobby Rainey rushed ten times for 29 yards and caught three passes for 28 yards and a touchdown. Anthony Allen has been unimpressive and Bernard Pierce is nicked up, so keep your eyes on Rainey here over the next two weeks as he’s starting to impress.
I joked about not being surprised if Julio Jones scored this week in my Thursday preseason preview and he made me look like a genius with 109 yards, six catches and a touchdown in one quarter. Jones is poised for a monster season and you could very well see a top tier of Calvin Johnson, AJ Green and Jones here shortly. The Falcons offense could be scary good this year.
The offense sputtered pretty well for the Saints this week, but the preseason player of note continues to be Travaris Cadet, who is pushing to make the 53 man roster at running back. He’s not worth an add right now, but he is worth watching for the time being. Somebody has to step up in the receiving corps to help out Marques Colston and company, and nobody seems to be separating at the moment.
Stevan Ridley had a strong game for the Pats with 40 yards on just eight carries, playing with the starters. Don’t count out Shane Vereen, though – he had 64 yards of his own on 11 carries. We were excited to see Brandon Bolden play, but he had just 23 yards on eight carries. Brandon Lloyd was shut out, but it’s not a big concern. Ryan Mallett seems to be taking steps back instead of forward.
Isaac Redman wasn’t impressive at all, posting just 14 yards on five carries. It’s no time to be too concerned, but he needs to show better to avoid this becoming a giant committee situation. The Steelers may be hard pressed not to use Chris Rainey – he looks pretty explosive and had a 57 yard receiving touchdown.
The Eagles survived a scare when Michael Vick avoided serious injury after banging his thumb on a helmet. Bryce Brown (49 yards on five touches) and Nick Foles (144 passing yards and two scores), both looked solid in their debuts. Demaris Johnson is making a serious case for making the team and four catches for 85 yards with a score certainly didn’t hurt his cause.
The Packers simply aren’t going to be able to keep Randall Cobb off the field. The same may not be said for James Starks, who struggled in the game and is now dealing with turf toe. Cedric Benson has been signed to come in and add some veteran stability to the running back corps.
Antonio Gates looks healthy and that’s trouble for the rest of the league or anyone who plays against him in a dynasty league contest. Ryan Mathews was hurt (again) and it could spell trouble. Keep a close eye on the runners this next week and see if anyone can separate themselves if Mathews can’t make it back by the opener. Vincent Brown had a solid game and the Chargers are going to need him this season.
The stat line didn’t look good (44 yards and an interception), but Peyton Manning is going to be just fine. He showed some good velocity and total command of the offense. It was nice to see Knowshon Moreno healthy, but it’s hard to imagine that lasts for very long – he’s still in an uphill battle to make the roster.
Alshon Jeffery made his debut and led the Bears with four catches for 35 yards. The Bears look dreadful without Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, who didn’t play – if either misses time, this team is in real trouble.
New York Jets
This just in – the Jets still can’t move the ball very well. Neither Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow were overly impressive and it’s obvious the Jets need some help at receiver. Meanwhile, it looks like Bilal Powell may have passed Joe McKnight for the right to backup the underwhelming Shonn Greene.
The only real battle for the Bengals is for the wide receiver spot opposite AJ Green. Nobody really separated themselves this week and the race is still wide open. Whoever wins that job is going to have some value. Stay tuned.
Brandon Weeden’s box score (3-for-9 with an INT) doesn’t look good, but it’s a little deceiving. While he was nowhere near great, he still looked like he was in control of the offense. Mohamed Massaquoi had yet another concussion and you just have to hope he thinks about hanging it up at this point – it’s getting scary. Montario Hardesty made it through the game without getting hurt and that’s a victory in itself.
Joique Bell stepped up with 89 yards on 16 carries. With all the question marks surrounding the Lions and their running backs, that’s worth noting. Kellen Moore doesn’t look like he belongs anywhere near an NFL roster.
New York Giants
David Wilson didn’t disappoint with 43 yards on seven carries and a 48 yard kickoff return. He looks the part and will begin pushing for time behind Ahmad Bradshaw here soon. Rueben Randle caught a garbage time touchdown and has a ways to go to work his way up the depth chart. Patience will be key with him.
Blaine Gabbert looked great on his first possession, but unfortunately had to go in for another one. He’s still looking extremely uncomfortable under pressure and that’s a bad sign in year two. Rashad Jennings was solid with 56 yards on 12 carries. There was a Mike Thomas sighting as he posted 89 yards on four catches – excuse me if I don’t run to the wire to pick him up.
LeGarrette Blount surprisingly started for Tampa and played pretty well with 30 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Doug Martin made his debut and wasn’t bad himself with 21 yards and a score on seven carries as well. While Martin owners are surely hoping he’s going to be the bellcow for the Bucs this year, it’s looking more and more like the demise of Blount has been greatly exaggerated – he’s still going to be a factor, likely as the “2” in a “1-2 punch” with Martin.
The surprising news that David Garrard had knee surgery that’s going to sideline him for two to four weeks opens the door for Matt Moore or Ryan Tannehill to start in week one of the regular season. Tannehill was solid in week one of the preseason, completing 67% of his throws (14-for-21) for 167 yards and a touchdown. The Dolphins will likely roll with Moore and save Tannehill in fear that starting him will stunt his development, but he’s still very much in the mix. The receiving corps will be the crew to watch over the next couple of weeks now that Chad Johnson has been released.
The quarterback “battle” between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton continues and the team looks like they’ll simply pick the one who seems like he has a lesser chance of losing all the coaches their jobs. Simply put, Kolb has been brutal and Skelton has been average at best. Congratulations John! Meanwhile, we’re still waiting to see Ryan Williams on the field again and nobody has stepped up across from Larry Fitzgerald thus far.
Speaking of players we wanted to see again, Jamaal Charles returned to action with 23 yards on four touches. It was great to see him on the field and he still looked explosive – that’s a great sign for the Chiefs and the dynasty owners of Charles. Cyrus Gray may replace Peyton Hillis on the roster as soon as next year if he develops and he had nice debut with 65 yards and a score on 15 carries. Brady Quinn still has trouble hitting a barn.
The owners of Toby Gerhart have to feel good after seeing him rumble for 31 yards on just five carries. Adrian Peterson will be eased in slowly, even if he has been taken off the PUP list. Christian Ponder didn’t do anything special, but neither did any other quarterback on the roster, so that’s a win for him – there’s no doubt he’ll be under center in week one. The receiving corps is a mess with Greg Childs out for the year. Nobody made much of an impression in week one as there wasn’t a receiver on the roster who caught more than two passes.
This just in – Colin Kaepernick is an athlete. He’s still developing, but there are only a handful of quarterbacks who could take off and run for a 78 yard touchdown. He’s of no threat to Alex Smith, but Josh Johnson’s stock is slipping. The receiving corps is already full, but it may end being a surprise if Chris Owusu doesn’t make things interesting during final cuts.
The battle between Keshawn Martin and Lestar Jean for healthy regular season snaps continues. After Martin seemingly took the lead last week, Jean led the Texans with two catches for 50 yards. The battle is still too close to call, but the gap may have been closed slightly. If Ben Tate ever gets his own gig in the right system, he could be a real monster.
The landscape of dynasty fantasy football changes almost by the minute, so it was comforting to see Derek Anderson is still terrible. Tauren Poole was a sleeper rookie on a lot of pre-draft boards, but he went to the worst place imaginable in Carolina. He responded well in week one with 26 yards and a touchdown. If he gets cut, make sure you monitor where he ends up – the Panthers may not be able to stash him on the practice squad.
The gap between Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck is getting closer by the day. While Locker wasn’t exceptional, Hasselbeck threw for just 45 yards and a pair of interceptions, though one was clearly not his fault. Kendall Wright had three catches for 47 yards in his debut – he looks the part. Chris Johnson is promising this year will be different, but he had a hard time getting things going. It’s early, so need to panic there.
The receivers and quarterbacks are the story in Seattle. At quarterback, Matt Flynn started and was pretty solid in his first outing as a Seahawk, going 11-for-13 for 71 yards and an interception. The yards per completion are nothing to write home about, but he looked poised. The real story at quarterback was Russell Wilson. He threw a brutal interception, but more than made up for it by completing 12 of his 16 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown. He also added 59 yards and a score on the ground. He played against second stringers, but he still looked the part. The battle between Flynn and Wilson could get interesting if Wilson continues to play this well. Braylon Edwards had a trademark jump ball touchdown reception from Wilson, but things will get tougher for him as Terrell Owens is expecting play next week. Robert Turbin looked fairly pedestrian, but again, it’s early.
Sam Bradford looked healthy and the Rams played it safe with him (not a bad idea for week one). He finished 7-for-9 for 57 yards. The Rams had no less than seven receivers who had at least 12 yards receiving, but not one with more than 25. What’s that old saying, again? If you think you have seven receivers, you may not have any? Isaiah Pead got some time and the results weren’t fantastic – he finished with 33 yards on ten carries and lost a fumble. Steven Jackson owners aren’t exactly losing sleep, but AGAIN, it’s early.
I DON’T CARE if it’s early – Andrew Luck looked phenomenal, completing 10 of his 16 passes for 188 yards and two scores. He even narrowly missed his third touchdown pass in four possessions as his receiver was stopped at the one yard line on a beautiful strike down the middle. It’s just one game, but Luck looked as advertised and it’s hard not to watch him and see the “it” factor. We’ve been wrong before on this site (admittedly on more than one occasion), but we caught a lot of heat over the past few months for ranking Luck as the top rookie on our board. While we’ve yet to see Trent Richardson on the field, we’re not about to back down after that performance. Much credit for that first score needs to be rightly given to Donald Brown who helped solidify his spot as the top back on the depth chart by taking a perfectly designed screen pass to the house on the first play from scrimmage – he needs a few more of those to keep the youngsters off his tail.
Dez Bryant caught a pass and wasn’t arrested for anything, nor did he say something stupid during the game – that’s a victory! Andre Holmes was productive in his quest to snag the all-important WR3 job, posting three catches for 40 yards. A few more solid performances could just get that done. The starters for Dallas were extremely limited, so there really isn’t too much to report on Dallas thus far. Week two could be different and it will be interesting to see if Bryant can actually take his “dominant” off-season to the field. We still have our doubts. Felix Jones was also underwhelming and DeMarco Murray may be a key to more than a few leagues this season.
We talked about watching Rod Streater on our weekend watch list and he delivered with six catches for 66 yards. He could get himself into the mix with continued improvement – the Raiders receiving corps is far from settled. Darren McFadden looked great in his return and tallied 38 yards on three touches before calling it a night. We’ll take the stats and the quick exit any time with McFadden. Carson Palmer threw a deep interception, but get used to it. It’s going to be feast or famine with this young and fast receiving corps this season.
Those are just a few of the observations we had from week one. How about you?