Ladies and gentlemen, football is back! Well, kind of… sort of… Preseason football is back at least, and with that, we have some fresh stats to analyze. And thus, fantasy implications.
Preseason wins are no doubt irrelevant. Preseason scores are useless. Preseason stats are meaningless. The preseason itself? Actually pretty important — well, at least if you’re a fantasy football player.
If — for instance — Breece Hall finishes the preseason playing on 90% of the team’s first-string snaps, you can expect him to catapult up our rankings. If he plays on just 20% of the team’s first-string snaps, he’d surely plummet down our rankings. If Josh Allen locks onto Isaiah McKenzie, targeting him twice as much as Gabriel Davis, that’s going to mean something to us and is going to impact our rankings.
Don’t watch preseason football? Or, rather, didn’t track first-team snap counts by hand? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. That’s what this article is for.
Preseason Review Week 2
The Cardinals backfield behind James Conner will be messy if he misses time
Mike Davis is the Ravens #2 RB behind Dobbins
Daniel Jones looked sharp; Kenny Golladay was moving in slow motion
Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott are both going to kill Miles Sanders’ value (again)
Joshua Palmer is a grown man
Alec Pierce’s usage continues to be encouraging
Trey Sermon struggles
Travis Etienne keeps flashing explosiveness
Christian Kirk got peppered with targets
George Pickens is already a starter
Mitch Trubisky was fine; but Kenny Pickett shines
Treylon Burks remains quiet; Malik Willis has game-breaking rushing upside
Skyy Moore is the Chiefs WR4 (for now)
Brian Robinson is the “1A”; Antonio Gibson’s stock continues to tank
Isaiah McKenzie is a starter; James Cook is the #3 RB (for now)
All Gabe Davis does is score TDs
Albert Okwuegbunam has the worst vibes
Dameon Pierce is already the Texans RB1
Brevin Jordan is a full-time player
Justin Fields’ protection looked awful
Noah Fant might be a part-time player
Chicago Bears vs. Seattle Seahawks
Bears snaps with the starters pic.twitter.com/F11mQAOBPU— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) August 19, 2022
Justin Fields only played one series – and a 19-yarder to Cole Kmet set up a field goal – but the larger story is how bad the Bears offensive line looked. Fields was under siege as the Bears protection constantly crumbled around him. Fields was pressured on 4-of-7 dropbacks and the heat got there in a hurry, leaving him basically no time to throw. Fields had to settle for 5-of-7 for 39 yards.
This entire offensive line unit is a work in progress. Tevin Jenkins lost his job as a starting tackle and is getting a shot to play at right guard while the team fields trade offers for him. Meanwhile, Larry Borom and fifth round rookie Braxton Jones are Fields’ protection at tackle. Not great! (H/T @The_Reid for the note.)
David Montgomery didn’t play, so it was no surprise Khalil Herbert got all of the burn with the first-team. Herbert remains an excellent late-round target. The Bears third RB spot is still an open competition between Darrynton Evans and Trestan Ebner, who left with an ankle injury.
The Bears WR room is like a Final Destination movie. Byron Pringle, N’Keal Harry, David Moore, and Tajae Sharpe all didn’t play due to injuries. Chicago has got to make a move for wideout depth during camp cutdowns, but all of this is just set up for Darnell Mooney to have a massive role. For now, Velus Jones (4 first-team routes) remains behind Equanimeous St. Brown (8). Chicago used a bunch of 2-TE sets on Fields’ one and only drive with Cole Kmet leading the group in targets.
Seahawks 1st half snap counts. Note Metcalf, Lockett, Homer were playing 100% of snaps before leaving pic.twitter.com/CAklQfNMqS— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) August 19, 2022
Since Drew Lock (COVID) was out, Geno Smith was the Seahawks starter on Thursday night and he looked predictably mediocre. Outside of one (underthrown) 41-yard completion to Penny Hart where the Bears cornerback got cooked, Geno Smith went 9-of-17 for 71 yards and took 2 sacks. The Seahawks offense was painful to watch as they went 3-and-out on three of Smith’s 5 full first half drives. Smith left the game with a bruised knee, but HC Pete Caroll said he could have returned if necessary in the second half.
Rashaad Penny (rest) and Ken Walker (hernia) both didn’t play, so Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas were Seattle’s “starters” while former-Chief Darwin Thompson was the backup. All three had nice gains of 15+ yards.
D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett played 3 snaps apiece with Smith, then were put on ice.
The only thing that was somewhat interesting for our projections on the Seahawks side was that Noah Fant played the entire first half. Perhaps they just wanted to get an extra look at him? Or, is there a trend here? Fant and Colby Parkinson split first-team snaps last week and Will Dissly was a larger part of the rotation this week. Dissly rested last week. If Fant isn’t going to be a full-time player and is going to lose work to Dissly and/or Parkinson, then he is left with no upside attached to the worst QB situation in the NFL.
New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers
Patriots snaps with the starters. Most of the rotation was by drive though, so for some players it was who got to play when the drives lasted longer. pic.twitter.com/uyMFs7KKrV— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) August 20, 2022
The Patriots first-team offense looked sluggish on Friday night as Mac Jones and their starters went 3-and-out on their first two drives. On their third and final drive, they finally got it going and a beautiful 45-yard dime from Jones to Nelson Agholor on the sideline set up a TD plunge by Ty Montgomery a few plays later.
On that note, I wouldn’t put any stock in the Patriots RB rotation. They had a set plan and rotated their guys based on drive – Damien Harris took the first drive and the fourth; Rhamondre Stevenson took the second and fifth drives; and Ty Montgomery took the third and sixth drive.
Kendrick Bourne (possible disciplinary reasons?) and Hunter Henry (rest) didn’t play, leaving DeVante Parker and Jakobi Meyers as the main starters. Nelson Agholor came on the field in 3-WR sets while the rookie Tyquan Thornton earned some significant snaps before exiting the game with a shoulder injury. Agholor is apparently having a great camp and his big play on Friday night likely further solidified him on the 53-man roster.
The Patriots are legitimately 5 deep at WR and all five are going to mix in with some sort of rotation. Based on the current depth chart, Parker is the #1, Meyers is #2, Agholor and Bourne are #3A and #3B, and Thornton is #5. I wouldn’t mess with it in re-draft start/sit leagues, but this entire offense makes for a great stack to fill out your depth in best-ball.
The Panthers rested all of the guys we care about for fantasy, so the only thing we learned about them on Friday night is that their #2 RB spot is still a competition. Chuba Hubbard (11 snaps) and D’Onta Foreman (8) split “first-team” reps. If Christian McCaffrey misses time , it’ll be some sort of rotation with Foreman on early-downs and Hubbard mixing in. There isn’t a direct handcuff to CMC (yet). Don’t draft either one of them.
New Orleans Saints vs. Green Bay Packers
The Saints didn’t play any of their Week 1 starters besides Chris Olave on Friday night. Olave was a prolific touchdown scorer at Ohio State and found his way into the endzone for his first NFL TD during the Saints 2-minute drill at the end of the first half. Olave got open between two defenders near the pylon and Ian Book squeezed in a nice throw.
Also, New Orleans legitimately has a 4-man (!!) rotation at tight end. Nick Vannett and Adam Trautman were mainly blockers while Juwan Johnson and Taysom Hill were the primary receivers. Gross.
The Packers rested 30 of their 85 guys on their roster on Friday night, so we naturally didn’t learn much!
Romeo Doubs is going to enter the season as their #4 receiver, but all he does is ball out. Doubs had a nice catch on the sideline from Love in the first quarter and had a Dez Bryant-esque TD over a poor Saints CB.
That won’t do anything to slow down his ADP – which is already a rocket ship.
Allen Lazard is locked in as the #1, but veterans Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins are Doubs’ main competition for snaps in Week 1. You’re playing the long game with Doubs if you draft him, but he will force his way onto the field and earn Aaron Rodgers’ trust quickly with this type of play.
Christian Watson (knee) and Robert Tonyan (knee) both warmed up prior to the game, but didn’t play. Watson’s knee injury has left him far behind and he will have a lot of work to do to get on the field early this season.
Houston Texans vs. L.A. Rams
Texans 1st half snap counts pic.twitter.com/cYpKU74psL— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) August 20, 2022
The biggest storyline so far this week is that Dameon Pierce is already getting starter treatment. He didn’t play on Friday night while Marlon Mack and Rex Burkhead split the first-team reps. Pierce’s quick ascension to starter status almost never happens with fourth round rookies. They protected their guy and didn’t even play him.
Pierce was a Yards Created standout and has apparently already done enough to earn the coaches trust. He’s their locked-in Week 1 starter and his ADP is set to explode next week. You’re going to have to be aggressive to get him, but I would take him as early as Round 9 as a RB3 or RB4.
Brandin Cooks also got veteran starter treatment, so it was all Nico Collins in the first-half with Davis Mills. The Texans offense looked awful until their 2-minute drill at the end of the first half. Mills and Collins capped off the drive with a jump ball TD.
We got further confirmation that Brevin Jordan is a full-time player now. He’s firmly on the re-draft radar if you want to totally punt tight end with two late-round options and he was already one of my favorite targets in best-ball.
Confirmation that Brevin Jordan is a full-time player on Friday night.— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) August 20, 2022
He ran a route on 16 of Davis Mills’ 17 dropbacks.
Jordan was @ScottBarrettDFB’s #2 TE in the 2021 class behind Kyle Pitts and just ahead of Pat Freiermuth.
As always, the Rams rested their guys. Lance McCutcheon continued to show out, though, and he has dropped 5/87/2 and 5/96 in their two preseason games so far. With Van Jefferson (knee) still sidelined, McCutcheon is going to make the 53-man roster.
Denver Broncos vs. Buffalo Bills
Denver rested all of their key starters on Saturday afternoon as Josh Johnson started the game and played the first half while Brett Rypien played in the second half. Johnson (8-of-16 for 70 yards) struggled while Rypien had to cut it loose in garbage time as the Broncos got stomped. Rypien ended 22-of-26 with 191 yards and 1 TD.
The only fantasy development on Denver’s side from this game is that Albert Okwuegbunam’s usage continues to be concerning.
He played well into the fourth quarter of a blowout game with the Broncos fourth-stringers, suggesting he’s still far from earning a role in the offense. Even though rookie TE Greg Dulcich (hamstring) didn’t play against the Bills, HC Nathaniel Hackett is going to go with a TE-by-committee and isn’t yet sold on Okwuegbunam. Albert O has been on our overvalued list for all of August.
Josh Allen started the game and played one dominant drive, ending in a vintage Allen-type touchdown on a scramble drill to Gabe Davis:
Davis is what Mike Williams is to the Chargers – a full-time deep threat with an aggressive QB willing to pull the trigger on tight window, 50-50 balls. Davis was one of 23 WRs with 10 or more end-zone targets last year and he was largely a part-time player. He has the upside to finish top-10 in EZ targets as a full-time player now.
Dawson Knox (personal) didn’t play, but Stefon Diggs (6 snaps), Gabriel Davis (6), and Isaiah McKenzie (5) were the only Bills WRs to register a first-team snap. Jamison Crowder came on with the second team, confirming McKenzie as a starter.
Devin Singletary also took every first-team snap, then Zack Moss came on as the primary backup, and James Cook was the third man in rotation.
Moss’ involvement is a surprise, but it’s very real. Moss and Cook split first-team snaps last week and Cook was the #3 in rotation this week. That doesn’t mean it will stay that way, especially if Cook keeps ripping off big gains like he did against Denver.
All of James Cooks’ touches.— Zareh Kantzabedian (@ZKantzFF) August 21, 2022
Preseason Week 3. pic.twitter.com/QBmG7EhUJw
Detroit Lions vs. Indianapolis Colts
The Lions rested all of their key guys this week – so we learned nothing here. If you care, it seems like Craig Reynolds is their #3 back.
Indianapolis rested the key guys we care about for fantasy, but rookie Alec Pierce’s usage continues to be encouraging. After playing with the first-team last week, Pierce was a starter in 2-WR sets this week and ran more routes (8) than Parris Campbell (6). Pierce is already a starter alongside Michael Pittman. Ideally, the Colts will play Pittman at X, Pierce at flanker, and Campbell in the slot.
Pierce and Campbell both remain phenomenal values in best-ball, especially as a part of Colts stacks.
Mo Alie-Cox didn’t play on Saturday, suggesting he’s a locked-in starter (no surprise). Kylen Granson and Jelani Woods worked as the Colts first-team co-starters with Alie-Cox resting.
Washington Commanders vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Well, it’s happening. Brian Robinson has already taken the “1A” role in this backfield.
Robinson started the game and out-snapped Antonio Gibson by a 11 to 8 margin with Carson Wentz and the first-team offense. With J.D. McKissic out with an injury, Gibson primarily played on passing downs while Robinson handled the early-down and short yardage work.
Robinson ended up with 11 snaps on 1st and 2nd downs with the first-team while Gibson had just five early-down snaps.
Robinson has displayed what made him one of my favorite backs in this weaker rookie class. He’s got quick feet for a back of his size and excellent vision, making him a far better inside runner than Gibson. It’s been three years and Gibson simply hasn’t gotten better. Robinson processes much faster and doesn’t allow himself to get lost in a play as often as Gibson does.
Robinson has carried the ball 14 times for 57 yards and 1 TD this preseason while Gibson has turned his six carries into 6 yards.
Gibson’s ADP has already tanked over the last week and will continue to sink like a stone thrown in a lake.
Here were the final snap counts with Washington’s first team offense:
Commanders snaps with the starters pic.twitter.com/IUUPL0eGUT— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) August 20, 2022
It’s only preseason, etc. But Patrick Mahomes has been on fire. He’s ready for Week 1.
Across three drives this preseason, Mahomes has gone 18-of-26 for 222 yards and thrown 3 TDs all while throwing to a full-blown rotation at receiver while Travis Kelce has wisely been used sparingly.
These were the Chiefs WR/TE snap counts on Mahomes’ two drives on Saturday – (note JuJu Smith-Schuster rested):
Justin Watson (18 routes)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (17)
Skyy Moore (11)
Noah Gray (9)
Joe Forston (8)
Travis Kelce (7)
Josh Gordon (4)
Daurice Fountain (2)
Spare me your freak out over Kelce’s first-team usage, by the way. He’s going to be 33-years-old this year and is in his fifth season with Mahomes. He doesn’t need the preseason reps.
I am a little concerned that Justin Watson ran ahead of Skyy Moore on Saturday, but you aren’t drafting Moore for his role in Week 1. You’re drafting him for his ceiling by Week 10. For now, Moore is the Chiefs #4 wideout.
At running back, Clyde Edwards-Helaire started the game and played on 8-of-13 snaps on the first drive of the game. Jerick McKinnon was the next RB in rotation (4 snaps on first drive) followed by Isiah Pacheco (1 snap on first drive).
CEH didn’t return to the game after that first drive. His Week 1 role looks strong.
Pacheco took the second drive with Mahomes, playing on 9-of-12 snaps while McKinnon got 3 snaps.
Meanwhile, Ronald Jones didn’t get onto the field until the third quarter and he didn’t get a single carry. RIP.
The Chiefs RB rotation is CEH (clear RB1) > Pacheco (2A) > McKinnon (2B) > Jones (maybe cut?).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Tennessee Titans
It was great to see Leonard Fournette on Saturday night looking svelte. He played on the Bucs’ first three drives and was the focal point, turning his seven touches into 26 scrimmage yards. To my eye, Fournette had the same amount of burst as usual.
Fournette didn’t become League Winner Lenny until Week 15 of 2020. From that point on, he’s been Tampa’s bell-cow back with extraordinary success in fantasy. In his 22 bell-cow starts, Fournette is averaging 18.9 fantasy points per game – which would have made Fournette the RB5 in 2020 and RB4 in 2021.
Rachaad White was the next Bucs’ RB in rotation, which is a great sign considering he was running with the fourth-stringers in his preseason debut last week. Gio Bernard didn’t play Saturday night.
White had a 15-yard gain called back due to holding – so his 6/19 rushing line could have looked better – but he fumbled on a broken play where Kyle Trask just flicked him the ball. White was fighting hard for extra yards when the ball was punched out by a Titan defender. It was great to see the coaches go back to White on the ensuing drive, so he likely isn’t in the doghouse for a relatively small mistake.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn has seemingly slipped to fourth on the depth chart based on this week’s usage, but he ripped off a few nice explosive runs too. He finished with 10 carries for 54 yards.
Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage, Breshad Perriman, and Cyril Grayson all didn’t play Saturday night. Tyler Johnson, Scottie Miller, and Jaelon Darden are fighting for the final few roster spots on the Bucs’ WR depth chart.
After a slow start, Malik Willis got the Titans offense going in the second quarter, leading the Titans lone 3 scoring drives. Something will have had to have gone massively wrong for Willis to make starts this year, but his upside for our game has been on full display this preseason. Across his four quarters of work, Willis has rushed for 10/80/1.
Accuracy and timing remain a concern – Willis has got to learn to throw with more touch over the middle of the field – but he is legitimately a game-breaking runner. He’s got a gift of making defenders miss in tight areas that very few possess.
With all of the Titans main contributors resting, my eyes were on Treylon Burks all night. However, he was quiet again. These were the Titans WR/TE snap counts on Malik Willis’ eight drives:
Kyle Phillips (14 routes)
Treylon Burks (12)
Dez Fitzpatrick (11)
Racey McMath (10)
Cody Hollister (9)
Burks continued to play with Logan Woodside and the third-stringers well into the second-half and ended his night with 1 reception for 3 yards on three targets.
This isn’t anything like Ja’Marr Chase’s “bad” preseason last year. Burks has simply been a non-factor.
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Miami Dolphins
The Raiders rested Derek Carr, Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller, Mack Hollins, Josh Jacobs, and Ameer Abdullah on Saturday night. Abdullah getting starter treatment means he’s already locked down the passing-down role in this offense. He is one of the best last round picks in best-ball right now, especially on full-PPR sites like NFFC, Drafters, and DraftKings.
After the team cut Demarcus Robinson earlier this week, they signaled that Mack Hollins, Keelan Cole, and Tyron Johnson are roster locks as their #3-5 receivers. Cole and Johnson were the Raiders primary receivers with the first-team while Hollins got the night off.
Right now, the Raiders WR depth chart is Adams > Renfrow > Hollins > Cole > Johnson. I’ll bet Cole and Hollins end up splitting snaps while Johnson works in as the shot-play receiver.
Tua Tagovailoa played two drives on Saturday night in his preseason debut, but he did so without his top two wideouts as Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle both rested.
Almost all of Tua’s throws were short and in the flat, but it was good to see him out there. Here’s a supercut of all of his dropbacks if you’re into it:
We also got our first glimpse of Chase Edmonds as he played on 10-of-13 snaps with Tua. Raheem Mostert (rest) didn’t play, so Sony Michel (3 first-team snaps) was the second back in rotation.
Edmonds had a couple of nice third-down receptions to keep drives going, but he gained only three yards on his 3 carries.
Interestingly, Mike Gesicki continued to play well after Tua and the first-team offense went off the field. Gesicki played the entire second quarter and played on all three drives without Tua.
So far this preseason, we’ve seen Gesicki in a slightly different role. He’s blocking as an in-line tight end way more, but is still largely a slot receiver on passing downs. On his 24 pass routes this preseason, Gesicki has lined up in the slot 58% of the time – which is a tick down from last year. He’s someone I’ve been fading all summer.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings
The 49ers RB rotation behind Elijah Mitchell (hamstring) and Jeff Wilson (rest) remains an open competition. Trey Sermon got the first crack on Saturday night, earning 10 snaps on the first three drives of the game while JaMycal Hasty got 3 snaps and Tyrion Davis-Price played 1 snap.
Sermon didn’t do anything to inspire confidence, though. He finished with five carries for 8 yards.
While Sermon struggled, Tyrion Davis-Price showed fantastic vision and contact balance while Jordan Mason showed some burst. Both Davis-Price and Mason play at a different (much faster) tempo than Sermon.
With all of their key players resting, we learned nothing about the Vikings for fantasy purposes on Saturday night. Alexander Mattison got the start, played one drive, and then was put on ice. Kene Nwangwu and Ty Chandler are continuing to battle it out for the #3 role.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Steelers first half snaps. George Pickens 👀👀👀 pic.twitter.com/xGLzU4pIgR— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) August 21, 2022
George Pickens didn’t have any highlight reel plays this week – much to the chagrin of my DFS lineups – but his usage was amazing. Not only is he locked in as a starter, but he ran more routes (17) than Chase Claypool (10). Pickens also mixed in with Diontae Johnson as a starter in the Steelers 2-WR sets. Wheels up.
Mitch Trubisky started and played pretty well, going 5-of-8 for 60 yards. Trubisky showed his mobility in the pocket a few times and dropped in a nice 25+ yard pass in the bucket to Chase Claypool. Trubisky’s three drives led to zero points.
Kenny Pickett continued to impress in his limited action as he commanded a crisp 2-minute drill to set up an 11-yard TD to Benny Snell at the end of the first half. I’ve been blown away by Pickett’s poise and presence in the pocket, regardless if there is pressure in his face or not. Whatever “it” is, Pickett has “it” right now. After leading the scoring drive, the Steelers staff had seen enough. Mason Rudolph played the entire second half.
The Steelers can call it a QB battle all they want, but if Pickett keeps up this momentum next week, he may be their Week 1 starter.
HC Doug Pederson stayed true to his word as the Jags’ starters played the entire first-half.
Trevor Lawrence looked fairly sharp, going 14-of-21 for 133 yards in his four full drives of work. Lawrence led the Jags’ to two field goals and showed a strong connection with both Marvin Jones (3/40) and Christian Kirk (5/54) in the first half.
In fact, Lawrence peppered Kirk with targets – feeding him eight looks on 21 attempts for a 38% target share. Kirk is going to be heavily involved this year and is an underrated WR4.
Travis Etienne played on 20-of-30 first-team snaps on the team’s first three drives before Snoop Conner mixed in heavily on the Jags’ fourth and final drive. To my eye, Etienne has shown flashes of the burst and explosiveness that was his calling card at Clemson. The Jaguars run blocking did him no favors against the Steelers, but Etienne ran hard and with decisiveness on Saturday night. He wasn’t trying to bounce runs and looked much better this week compared to last.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Dallas rested all of their key starters on Saturday night, but we got an extended look at rookie Jalen Tolbert in the game. Tolbert led the team in routes in the first two quarters and had a touchdown in his grasp in the back of the end zone, but couldn’t get his second foot down. As of right now, Tolbert is behind Noah Brown – who rested this weekend – on the Week 1 depth chart.
Los Angeles also rested their key starters, but we got further confirmation that their backfield is a mess behind Austin Ekeler. Rather, we got further confirmation that Isaiah Spiller has a lot of work to do to earn a role. For the second straight week, Isaiah Spiller worked as the fourth-string runner behind both Larry Rountree and Joshua Kelley.
Through the first two preseason games, these are the Chargers RB snap counts with the first-team offense:
Larry Rountree (20 snaps)
Joshua Kelley (20)
Isaiah Spiller (2)
Don’t draft any of these guys.
Josh Palmer was the lone bright spot for the Chargers offense on Saturday night as he balled out (3/75/1 on four targets).
Palmer showed he’s got that dawg in him with two totally different big plays – one was a deep shot down the sideline:
ayooooo joshua palmer @flowercitysown
And the other was a nice catch and run for a TD on a screen:
THE PALMER SHOW @flowercitysown
Palmer likely needs an injury in front of him to truly breakout, but he’s got the #3 WR role locked down. He’s going to be an underrated part of this offense
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cleveland Browns
The Eagles rested all of their key starters, but gave Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell a drive apiece to start the game with Gardner Minshew under center.
Scott got the start and carried the offense down the field, turning his 11 touches into 44 scrimmage yards and a TD.
All of Boston Scott’s touches.— Zareh Kantzabedian (@ZKantzFF) August 22, 2022
NFL Preseason Week 3 pic.twitter.com/h60HBWoafH
Then, Gainwell got the entire next drive and did the same thing! He had 11 carries, 46 yards, and 1 TD.
All Kenneth Gainwell touches.— Zareh Kantzabedian (@ZKantzFF) August 22, 2022
NFL Preseason Week 3. pic.twitter.com/EnfR0qBYZA
Both Scott and Gainwell were decisive and explosive on their touches and are going to be formidable competition for Miles Sanders, no matter which way you slice it. Sanders sat out on Sunday afternoon as the team is being extra precautious with his tweaked hamstring.
The Browns rested all of their key guys, so we didn’t learn much here. RB D’Ernest Johnson got the start, played all but 2 snaps on the opening drive, and then rested. Rookie WR David Bell saw his first preseason action of his career on Sunday and was heavily involved with the “first-team” offense. Bell tied for the team lead in routes (16) with their starters and caught 3-of-4 targets for 46 yards.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. New York Giants
The Bengals rested everyone we care about for fantasy on Sunday, but we got confirmation who their RB2 is behind Joe Mixon. While all of their key starters rested, so did Samaje Perine. Chris Evans played and played on 10-of-13 snaps on their opening two drives, while their #4 RB Trayveon Williams played 3 snaps.
Perine is still the direct backup while Evans profiles as a change-of-pace, hurry-up back if Mixon were to miss time.
Daniel Jones and most of the Giants starters – besides Saquon Barkley and Kadarius Toney – played three drives on Sunday. Jones’ final stat line isn’t overly impressive (14-of-16, 116 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT) but the box score doesn’t do his play justice. Jones looked sharp and he should have gone 15-of-16 if Daniel Bellinger didn’t have a bad drop on a perfectly placed ball that clanged off his hands, bounced up in the air, and was picked off.
Not only was Jones in rhythm, the Giants offensive line kept him clean and opened up lanes in the run game. Granted, it was against the Bengals second-team defense but there was a methodical nature to the Giants play-calling which wasn’t there under Jason Garrett these last few years. I’m not sure what we’ll get from Jones this season, but Brian Daboll is already making his life easier.
Kenny Golladay led the WR group in snaps, but you would have never known he was even out there. What a nightmare.
Wan’Dale Robinson was the WR2 in rotation, but all 3 of his targets were at or near the line of scrimmage. He did run some deeper route progressions – and looked quick in and out of his breaks – but he wasn’t targeted on any of them.
Darius Slayton (undisclosed injury) didn’t play, so David Sills operated as the Giants #3 on Sunday and he looked better than Golladay. Sills was the Giants leading receiver on Jones’ three drives (3/46 on four targets).
Even though Daniel Bellinger had the bad drop, his usage was still promising as he ran a route on 12-of-17 pass plays with Jones on the field. Ricky Seals-Jones didn’t play due to an undisclosed injury, leaving the rookie Bellinger alone at the top of the depth chart come Week 1.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Arizona Cardinals
None of the Ravens we really care about for fantasy played on Sunday, but I was very curious to see what their RB rotation looked like.
Mike Davis was the starter and played on 12 of the first 16 snaps while Justice Hill mixed in way more on the third and fourth drives. As it stands right now, Davis is the Ravens #2 RB based on last night’s usage while Gus Edwards works back from his knee surgery. If J.K. Dobbins isn’t quite right early in the year, Davis is going to play way more than we want him to.
The rookie Tyler Badie didn’t get a single snap with Huntley and the first-team offense and he didn’t get on the field until the third quarter. Badie is a distance behind Davis and Hill on the depth chart it seems. He’s got a lot of catching up to do if he’s going to have any role early in the year. At the very least, Badie handled 12 carries and turned them into 34 yards and had a nice score through the air:
Huntley’s connection with Mark Andrews late last year must have partially inspired him force-feeding Isaiah Likely targets left and right in the first half on Sunday. Likely dropped 8/100/1 (!) on the Cardinals in one of the most dominant performances of this preseason so far.
The Ravens love to run 2- and 3-TE sets and Likely now gives them the option to have a threat opposite Andrews in those looks.
Much like the Ravens, the Cardinals RB2 spot is an open competition between Eno Benjamin and Darrel Williams. Last night, Benjamin got the start but played well into the second quarter while Williams played four snaps and got 1 carry on the first two drives and then was put on ice.
To me, this makes it seem like Williams is the guy they were “protecting” – but in all honesty, this will be some sort of rotation between Williams and Benjamin if James Conner were to miss time. Both guys are stash RB5’s and I give a slight lean towards Williams being the more valuable handcuff because he can handle goal-line work.