The preseason is incredibly critical in dynasty leagues. After all, this is the first glimpse most of us have in regards to seeing our prized current or future rookie draft picks. It’s also the first chance we have to view many veteran players battle it out for certain positions or even a valuable roster spot in fantasy or reality. With about half of the preseason games completed in week one, it’s time to spin around the league and note some of the important performances and their impact in dynasty leagues.
Panthers 27, Texans 17
Deshaun Watson was impressive for the Texans and Tom Savage really wasn’t. While Watson isn’t putting too much heat on Savage yet, it’s obvious he has ability that can eventually translate to the NFL. On the night, Watson completed 15-of-25 passes for 179 yards and also rushed for 24 yards and one score. D’Onta Foreman rushed for 76 yards, including a 41-yard scamper. However, he really does look lost in the passing game and that could really dim his upside in PPR leagues. It’s notable that Alfred Blue clearly played ahead of Foreman and looks to currently be the backup to Lamar Miller at this juncture.
For the Panthers, all eyes were on Christian McCaffrey and rightfully so. McCaffrey was solid (not spectacular) in his debut. All in all, he rushed for 33 yards on seven carries. The takeaway from the game was both good and bad for McCaffrey. The reality is Jonathan Stewart is going to be given meaningful carries and cap some of McCaffrey’s short-term upside. On the plus side, it’s obvious the Panthers are confident in McCaffrey as a ball carrier and pass catcher, which helps as he looks destined to be mixed in early and often with Stewart and the first unit. Kelvin Benjamin was solid for the Panthers with two catches, 40 receiving yards and a touchdown. Benjamin is likely being a little overlooked and he looked as healthy as ever this week.
Dolphins 23, Falcons 20
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Devonta Freeman and his new contract ran for just three yards on a single carry but also caught 15 yard touchdown pass as he looked like he was in mid-season form. The Falcons offense really didn’t do much on the night and there wasn’t a ton to take from this side. In fact, a robust 13 different players caught a pass on the night and none of them had more than 43 total receiving yards.
The notable performance from the Dolphins was from Damien Williams. While he only rushed for 18 yards on six carries, he was clearly playing ahead of dynasty sleeper darling Kenyan Drake. While this backup position battle is far from over, it’s notable Williams was the primary option with Jay Ajayi sitting out. Jay Cutler was unable to play this week so we’ll have to wait and see how he looks next week as well. Meanwhile, former Washington Husky and Ole Miss Rebel Damore’ea Stringfellow had two catches for 116 yards and a touchdown, including a 99-yarder. While he’s not worth adding in dynasty leagues, his name is one to file away and keep on your deep watch list. It wasn’t long ago when he was a highly regarded prospect.
Vikings 17, Bills 10
The biggest news from this game actually came before it started when we learned Laquon Treadwell was sitting out due to a minor injury he suffered in a fight during practice. After a terrible rookie season, this was the last thing his owners wanted to hear. Michael Floyd caught two passes for 20 yards and took advantage of the opportunity given to him by Treadwell’s poor decision making. With Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen already squarely ahead of him, Treadwell can ill afford to have Floyd surpass him on this depth chart. On the plus side, Dalvin Cook rushed for 13 yards on five carries and added 30 yards on four catches. Cook is quickly taking hold of the top spot on the Minnesota depth chart and it’s looking more unlikely by the day that Latavius Murray (or anyone else) can do anything about it.
The Bills were led by the 39 receiving yards of Sammy Watkins who looked explosive as ever. If he can stay healthy, the Tyrod Taylor / Sammy Watkins connection will be one of the most underrated in all of fantasy football. Jonathan Williams looked solid at running back with 39 yards on just four carries as well. Williams looks like one of the best handcuffs in dynasty leagues right now and could have serious value if LeSean McCoy was to miss any time.
Jaguars 31, Patriots 24
Leonard Fournette made his long anticipated debut and didn’t disappoint, rushing for 31 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Fournette is powerful, explosive and simply looks the part with the pads on. The other starters for Jacksonville played pretty sparingly and the only other real highlights were Corey Grant’s 120 rushing yards (including a 79-yard touchdown) and Dede Westbrook’s 42-yard touchdown reception. Westbrook has quietly and a good camp but finds himself buried on the depth chart.
For the Patriots, Jimmy Garoppolo played a ton and finished the night completing 22-of-28 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns. Garoppolo doesn’t really wow you with anything he does but he has a solid understanding of the offense and rarely makes terrible mistakes. It’s almost as if he’s been well-coached. Dion Lewis looked like the back of choice for the Pats in their opener but that could change by the time you’re done reading this article.
Ravens 23, Redskins 3
The fact the Redskins scored three points is borderline amazing as their offense looked completely putrid. Samaje Perine has gone from a mid-to-late second round pick in rookie drafts all the way up to a late first round selection in many drafts over the past few months. Sub-par camp reports highlighting his fumbling issues and his debut performance in this game will likely throw some cold water on his rising rookie draft ADP, though. On the night, Perine rushed for just 15 yards on six carries, fumbled once (he recovered it) and dropped a pass. Rob Kelley wasn’t much better with just two yards on three carries but Perine needed to clearly outplay him in July and August to take this job from him. Thus far, he simply hasn’t.
For the Ravens, the internal debate over signing (or not signing) Colin Kaepernick may start again after everyone had the displeasure of watching Ryan Mallett play football. Mallett was downright awful as he completed just 9-of-18 passing for only 58 yards. It’s going to be very bad for the Ravens if Joe Flacco isn’t 100%. On the plus side, Terrance West rushed for 23 yards and a touchdown on just five carries. West is a low priced option for contending teams who are looking for some nice short-term depth at the position. West may never be a star but he could be a nice, steady contributor in dynasty leagues this year. If Flacco is hurt and they have to turn to someone like Mallett, the Ravens would be wise to go from a team that passes the most in football to the team that runs the most. The newly retired Vince Wilfork would look better at quarterback. Yes, I said that.
Browns 20, Saints 14
Those drafting Alvin Kamara and hoping he sees the field early and often had to be happy with his Saints debut as he posted 35 yards on just four carries. Kamara looked explosive and should have a stranglehold on the pass catching back position for the Saints. Meanwhile, Tommylee Lewis made his case to make the team with ten (!) catches for 124 yards and a score. He’ll likely be as valuable as Tommy Lee Jones this year but his performance is noteworthy.
All eyes were on the Browns quarterback battle and nothing was really settled. In fact, it’s more cloudy. As expected, all the positive press we’ve been reading about the improvement of Brock Osweiler culminated in him going 6-for-14 for 42 yards and looking very much like “Texans Brock” from last season. Cody Kessler wasn’t much better as he completed 5-of-10 passes for 47 yards of his own. Meanwhile, DeShone Kizer started slowly and finished strong by completing 11-of-18 passing for 184 yards and a touchdown. Kizer has a long way to go but it’s hard to see Osweiler or Kessler holding him off for long. I’d expect Kizer to start seeing time against starting caliber players here soon. The Browns really have nothing to lose because the Jets are in the NFL.
Side note: DLF spell check likes to change Kamara to Tamara and Kizer to Kisser every time it’s typed. If this keeps happening, we’ll just deal with it and go with “Tammy” and “Sweet Lips” all season.
Broncos 24, Bears 17
The quarterback battle in Denver hasn’t been settled at all, though Trevor Siemian seems to have the upper hand. Neither he or Paxton Lynch put up stellar numbers but they didn’t turn the ball over, either. Young runner De’Angelo Henderson was impressive as he rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown on seven carries – he’s worth a shot off the dynasty waiver wire or late in a rookie draft.
There wasn’t really supposed to be a quarterback battle in Chicago but all bets are off now. Mike Glennon completed 2-of-8 passes for 20 yards and a touchdown..the problem is the touchdown was for Denver. Meanwhile, Mitchell Trubisky completed 18-of-25 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown for his own team. It wasn’t all great for Trubisky as he had a couple of passes batted down but he surprisingly looked the part and then some. If anything, he added a nice spark to the offense and looked like a pretty mobile athlete. Reports on Tarik Cohen have been great all off-season and his 39 yards on seven carries showed us a glimpse as to why as well. He’s another nice little dynasty preseason lottery ticket.
Packers 24, Eagles 9
Much has been made of the running back depth chart in Green Bay. Unfortunately, no player in Green had more than four carries on the night so nothing is settled. Ty Montgomery did leave the door open for some competition as he was able to gain as many yards as you and I did on five more carries than we had and also lost a fumble, which neither of us did. Go, us! Jamaal Williams looks like the second man up for the moment. DeAngelo Yancey had a nice night with 67 yards on three catches, too. He’s lost on the depth chart in Green Bay but would be worth a look if he’s cut and makes another team.
For the Eagles, they were led by two young receivers. Mack Hollins was our Eagles Summer Sleeper this year and he didn’t disappoint in his debut as he caught four passes for 64 yards and a touchdown from Carson Wentz. It’s notable Hollins was in with the first unit as it shows the camp reports on him aren’t just hyperbole and rhetoric (I think those words are accurate but I’ll use them anyway because they make me look like a better writer). The other young receiver who did damage was Bryce Treggs who had seven catches for 91 yards. The Eagles are loaded at receiver but dynasty owners need to remember their veterans are all on short-term deals. Can some of these young Eagles step up and be the future?
Those are just a few notable performances we’ve seen thus far. Eight games down and 56 to go!
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK
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