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 — Myles Gaskin 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 40% of the team’s first-string snaps, he’d surely plummet down our rankings. If Sam Darnold locks onto Robby Anderson, targeting him twice as much as D.J. Moore, that’s going to mean something to us and is going to impact our rankings.
Update: It appears, in Gaskin’s case, this was somewhat prophetic.
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: Week 1
Antonio Gibson a bell cow?
Time to panic on Dallas Goedert?
Time to panic on Myles Gaskin!
Rondale Moore was a busy man.
Concern over Travis Etienne?
Trey Lance looked great.
Encouraging signs from Terrace Marshall.
New England vs. Washington
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw eight times, targeting Terry McLaurin three times, Antonio Gibson and Adam Humphries both twice each, and Logan Thomas once. McLaurin caught two of his three targets (7.7 aDOT) for 25 yards.
Thomas played on 14 of 14 snaps with the first-team offense. 4 of his 8 routes came lined up as a WR. Thomas' lone target came deep (traveling 22 yards in the air), and he caught it, for a gain of 24 yards. (Thomas ranked fifth among all TEs in deep targets last year with 12, though only five of those targets were deemed catchable by PFF.)
Antonio Gibson was no doubt a bell cow in his first game of the preseason, playing on 11 of 14 snaps (79%) with the first-string offense. And Washington kept him busy on those 11 snaps, totaling five carries and three targets. Last season Gibson ranked second-best in fantasy points per snap (0.51), sandwiched in between Alvin Kamara (0.57) and Nick Chubb (0.51), but played on just 46% of the team's snaps in games healthy. Obviously, this represents a massive jump in usage — which is exactly what we’ve been expecting, and what we needed to see to justify our lofty expectations.
Cam Newton threw six times, targeting James White three times, Jonnu Smith twice (0.0 aDOT), and Jakobi Meyers once. Newton averaged a 0.7 aDOT on those throws.
With Hunter Henry banged up, Jonnu Smith played on all 12 of the team’s first-string snaps. Matt LaCosse, serving as the TE2, played on 4 of 12 snaps with the first-string offense. 4 of Smith’s 7 routes came when lined up as a WR. Don’t sleep on Smith in PPR and TE Premium leagues, playing the sort of Aaron Hernandez-role in this offense. In 2011, Hernandez averaged 15.5 FPG and was on-pace for 129 targets.
With Nelson Agholor still banged up, Meyers and N’Keal Harry played on all 12 of the team’s first string snaps.
Damien Harris played on 8 of the team’s 12 first-string snaps. James White was on the field for the missing (four) snaps. Sony Michel managed just 26 yards on 6 carries with the second-string offense. Given this usage, and with Rex Burkhead now in Houston (though there’s a chance he gets cut and brought back to New England), I’m expecting New England’s backfield to look a lot like it did in 2016. That year, LeGarrette Blount handled 73% of the team’s carries out of the backfield, while White handled 68% of the targets out of the backfield. On this 14-win team, Blount ranked ninth in fantasy points scored (14.7 FPG) and White ranked 26th (10.1 FPG). Obviously, the overall offensive environment in New England isn’t anywhere near as attractive now as it was back then, but there’s some value here. Both are excellent selections in best ball leagues, and great options in DFS (Harris when New England is heavily favored, White if the Patriots are underdogs) but less so in start/sit leagues, due to a lack of week-to-week consistency.
It’s looking like the Harris show in New England, but rookie Rhamondre Stevenson might be breathing down his neck sooner or later. At the very least, this was a major statement game for the Round 4 pick. On just 10 carries, Stevenson scored twice and totaled 127 yards (12.7 YPC). He’s still just a rookie, and HC Bill Belichick has been notoriously slow to start his rookies, but this was highly encouraging at the very least. And, remember, this was a player we liked quite a bit coming out.
With the second-string offense, Mac Jones completed 13 of 19 passes for 78 yards (no touchdowns, no interceptions) while taking one sack. He averaged an aDOT of 7.1 on those throws.
Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh
Jalen Hurts went 3/7 for 54 yards, while adding four yards rushing on one carry. He targeted Zach Ertz three times, and Dallas Goedert, Jalen Reagor, and Quez Watkins once each. Ertz and Reagor each had a drop — Hurts was overall sharp.
Ertz played on 7 of the team’s 10 first-string snaps, while Dallas Goedert played on 5 of 10. Both ran five routes in total. Goedert gained 34 yards on his lone target (which traveled 14 yards through the air). While Ertz caught two of three targets (one drop) for 20 yards. Last year, when both players were healthy, Ertz ran a route on 72% of the team’s dropbacks, well above Goedert’s 47%. I think this means one of two things: 1) Ertz is a tremendous value and it’s time to panic on Goedert. 2) The Eagles are just trying to get a better look at Ertz before deciding whether or not to release him or are featuring him now solely to help his trade value before moving him.
With DeVonta Smith out, Travis Fulgham led all wide receivers in snaps with the first-team (10 of 10). Watkins and Reagor, meanwhile, both played on 8 of 10 snaps.
Quez Watkins stole the show on Thursday night. He was just centimeters away from a 97-yard score from Hurts early in the game (on a 37-yard throw). And then made up for it later on, taking a short throw (-4 yards through the air) from Joe Flacco 79 yards to the house.
On 12 routes, Reagor caught two of three targets for 20 yards. Fulgham wasn’t targeted on any of his 15 routes.
Miles Sanders did not play (coach’s decision), and in his absence, RBs Jordan Howard and Boston Scott both saw 5 snaps each with the first-string offense.
Ben Roethlisberger sat out in this contest. With Mason Rudolph under center, Diontae Johnson played on 17 of the team’s 17 first-string snaps, just ahead of JuJu Smith-Schuster (15) and Chase Claypool (14).
On 9 throws, Rudolph targeted Johnson (11.7 aDOT) and Smith-Schuster (6.0 aDOT) three times, Najee Harris twice, and Eric Ebron once. Chase Claypool, after a big performance in the Hall of Fame Game, went untargeted. Johnson caught all three of his targets for 41 yards. Smith-Schuster caught all three of his targets for 22 yards.
Ebron played on 14 of the team’s 17 first-string snaps, ahead of Pat Freiermuth’s 7.
Harris played on 12 of the team’s 17 first-string snaps (71%), while Anthony McFarland was on the field for the missing (five) snaps. Harris saw two carries and two targets on those 12 snaps. McFarland continued to play with the second-string offense, and ended his day with 41 yards and a score on 9 carries and one target.
Detroit vs. Buffalo
On 9 throws, Jared Goff targeted WR Tyrell Williams four times (12.8 aDOT), WR Amon-Ra St. Brown twice (6.0 aDOT), and TE Darren Fells, WR Kalif Raymond, and FB Jason Cabinda all once each. Williams caught two of those four targets for 30 yards. St. Brown caught both of his targets for 12 yards.
With Breshad Perriman out (I’m not sure why), Williams and Raymond played on 20 of 22 snaps. St. Brown wasn’t on the field in 2WR sets, playing on just 11 of the team’s first-team snaps. So, temper expectations for St. Brown as just a part-time player. But bump Williams up your rankings as the team’s likely WR1. He’s basically free in drafts (ADP: WR85, Round 21), but should see plenty of targets -- the Lions aren’t favored to win a single game this year and, as a consequence of that, will be forced to throw early and often. D’Andre Swift is “nursing an injury” and so HC Dan Campbell wanted to be conservative with him. In his absence, Jamaal Williams was on the field for all of the team’s 22 first-string snaps. He ended his day with 15 rushing yards on 9 carries (1.7 YPC) and 0 targets. This might not mean anything, but it might also point towards bell cow-upside for either running back if the other were to suffer an injury.
T.J. Hockenson sat out, and Darren Fells played on 21 of 22 snaps with the first-string offense. He ran a route on 12 of the team’s 13 dropbacks.
With Buffalo resting just about all of their starters, there’s not really anything of note here.
Dawson Knox played on 11 of 11 snaps with the first-string offense. But he played on just 58% of the team’s snaps last year. I’d expect his snap share to drop next week if Josh Allen and the wide receivers are back on the field. Devin Singletary played on 8 of 11 snaps with the first-string offense, but, with Zack Moss out (injury), that’s not at all meaningful. Matt Breida played on Singletary’s missing 3 snaps.
Atlanta vs. Tennessee
Atlanta didn’t play any of their starters, nor many of their second-string fantasy-eligible options, so there’s really absolutely nothing of note here.
With Tennessee sitting just about all of their starters, there’s not much to glean from what we saw from them in this contest.
WR Josh Reynolds played on just one snap (of a potential 10) with the first-string offense, which was very weird. Wide receivers Nick Westbook-Ikhine (10 snaps), Marcus Johnson (9), and Chester Rogers (5) all out-snapped him. Round 4 rookie WR Dez Fitzpatrick didn't see the field until the second half.
TE Anthony Firkser played on just 2 of the team’s 10 first-string snaps, which was also very weird. Tight ends Luke Stocker (5 snaps) and Tommy Hudson (4) both out-snapped him. I don’t know what to make of this, truthfully. This might not mean anything, or it could be a sign that Firkser isn’t likely to see an expanded role this year — which was always my expectation anyway.
With Derrick Henry out, RB Darrynton Evans played on 8 of the team’s 10 first-string snaps. He turned 4 carries into 26 yards and 1 target into a gain of 2 yards, before leaving with a knee injury. Jeremy McNichols was on the field for the 2 snaps Evans sat out. Evans isn’t particularly high on my radar outside of best ball and dynasty leagues, but he does have decent handcuff-upside as Tennessee’s clear RB2. And there’s a chance he sees an expanded role in the passing game this year, where Henry comes off the field on obvious passing downs… with the major caveat that he needs to be healthy. Obviously, the knee is now a concern, and hamstring problems cost him 10 games last season.
Dallas vs. Arizona
Dak Prescott (shoulder) and Amari Cooper (ankle) sat out. CeeDee Lamb played on 12 of 12 snaps with the first-string offense. Last season 93% of his targets came from the slot, but he lined up outside on all of his routes in this contest. Michael Gallup played on 11 snaps, with 7 of those coming from the slot. I don’t know how much this means for season-long fantasy purposes (as opposed to DFS purposes), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this trend continue into the season.
Gallup caught two of three targets for 23 yards. Lamb failed to haul in his lone target on the day. With TE Dalton Schultz out (ankle), Blake Jarwin played on 10 of 12 snaps, and failed to haul in his only target.
With Ezekiel Elliott out, Tony Pollard played on 6 of 12 snaps. He gained 13 yards on 4 carries.
Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins sat out in this contest (coach’s decision). After the first two drives of the game, we saw KeeSean Johnson lead the wide receivers, playing on 17 of 18 snaps. Rondale Moore played on 16 of 18, with 14 of those snaps coming from the slot. He played on at least one snap in a 2WR set. Christian Kirk was on the field for all of Arizona’s first 9 snaps (all outside), before retiring for the rest of the contest.
Kirk caught his lone target for a gain of 34 yards. Johnson caught one of two targets for 15 yards. More importantly…
Rondale Moore was a busy man on Friday night. He caught 3 of 4 targets for 23 yards, while also gaining 16 yards on 2 carries. It looks like Moore is exactly who we thought he would be — an immediate impact player who is going to be featured in this offense.
Kingsbury told reporters in May: “We’re going to use him in as many ways as we can… Rondale’s able to do a bunch of different things. Whether it’s hand him the ball from the backfield, toss it to him on the sweep, go outside and run a fade route, he does it all. The return game is really impressive as well. So, we’re gonna move him around and make sure he gets his fair share of touches.”
Moore is a phenomenal talent, and a likely Week 1 contributor with PPR cheat-code upside. He’s a highly attractive value at current ADP (WR61, Round 13). With James Conner out (COVID), Chase Edmonds played on all of Arizona’s first 13 snaps of the game. He sat out the rest of the contest. On those 13 snaps, he turned 3 carries into 10 yards and 1 target into 10 yards. I’m expecting a fairly even committee between Conner and Edmonds when both are healthy, but this might hint at bell-cow upside if the oft-injured Conner were to miss time in the regular season. In the one game Kenyan Drake missed last year, Edmonds saw 25 carries and 3 targets while playing on 96% of the team’s snaps.
Chicago vs. Miami
Of a potential 7 snaps with the first-team offense, Damiere Byrd led the wide receivers in snaps (7), followed by Javon Wims (5), Darnell Mooney (4), and then Rodney Adams (2). Allen Robinson (hamstring) did not play. Cole Kmet played on 7 of 7 first-team snaps. Jimmy Graham was on the field for 2 snaps, and Jesse James just 1. Kmet played on 87% of the team's snaps over his final six games last year, averaging 5.5 targets and 6.9 FPG.
On 4 throws, Andy Dalton targeted Kmet twice, Darnell Mooney once, and Rodney Adams once. He ended the day 2/4 with 18 yards (no touchdowns, no interceptions).
Justin Fields was sharp in relief going 14/20 for 142 yards with a score through the air. On the ground, Fields added another score, running 5 times for 33 yards. Although Trey Lance was the more productive runner in college, Fields was no slouch in that regard. He averaged 10.2 rushing FPG and 64.6 rushing YPG in 2020. He also profiles as (no hyperbole) one of the most-athletic quarterbacks of all-time, ranking top-5 (since 2000) in forty-yard-dash and Speed Score.
David Montgomery played on one snap, earning a handoff, and then limped off the field. Damien Williams was on the field for the final 6 snaps with the first-string offense.
Of a potential 23 snaps with the first-team offense, Jaylen Waddle (19) and Mack Hollins (19) led the wide receivers in snaps, followed by Jakeem Grant (14), Robert Foster (2), and Isaiah Ford (1).
On 10 throws, Tua Tagovailoa targeted Adam Sheehan three times, Mike Gesicki twice, Mack Hollins twice, and Myles Gaskin, Malcolm Brown, and Durham Smythe once each. (Zero targets for Waddle.) Tagovailoa ended his day 8/11 with 99 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception.
Sheehan played on 15 of 23 snaps. Gesicki played on 6 of 23 snaps. Gesicki caught both of his targets (14.5 aDOT) for 56 yards. Sheehan caught one of his three targets (10.0 aDOT) for two yards. Gesicki played on 62% of Miami's snaps last year, and ran a route on 73% of the team's dropbacks. I wouldn't overreact to his usage today, but I also wouldn't expect much more than what we saw from him last year.
However, I’d be careful not to underreact to the usage we saw from Miami’s running backs. Malcolm Brown played on 16 of 23 snaps with the first-string offense, while Myles Gaskin played on the other 7 snaps, and then continued to play with the second-string offense. Brown ended his day gaining 8 yards on 9 carries (0.88 YPC), because of course he did. Gaskin totaled 19 yards on 4 carries and caught 1 of 2 targets for 3 yards. Salvon Ahmed came onto the field in the second quarter and played until the third. He gained 40 yards on 6 carries and caught both of his targets for 31 yards and a score. Yeah, so, this was always my concern with Gaskin. I even sort of predicted this in the introduction of this article. Beat writers had been glowing about Gaskin all camp and hinting that he’d have the same bell cow-like role he had last year. But his usage Saturday night points towards a frustrating 3-way committee. And HC Brian Flores’ comments were even more concerning. He’s since plummeted in my rankings.
Minnesota vs. Denver
The Vikings didn’t play any of their starters, so there’s nothing of note here.
Though, UDFA rookie RB Asim Rose maybe should be on your radar in super-deep dynasty leagues. He played on 8 of 20 snaps with the “first-string” offense. He ended his day with lines of 25-100-0 and 2-1-18-0.
Of 17 snaps with the first-team offense, Jerry Jeudy led the wide receivers in snaps (15), followed by KJ Hamler (13), Tyrie Cleveland (6), Kendall Hinton (1), and Trinity Benson (1). Noah Fant played a limited role (8 snaps), too. Courtland Sutton (knee) did not play.
Drew Lock was sharp, going 5/7 for 151 yards and 2 scores. He targeted Jerry Jeudy three times, KJ Hamler twice, and Trinity Benson once. Hamler caught both of his targets, including an 80-yard TD bomb where Hamler got behind the defense. Jeudy caught one of three targets (17.7 aDOT) for 33 yards.
Teddy Bridgewater was also sharp, with the second-string offense, going 7/8 for 74 yards and a score.
Fant played on all 8 of the team’s first 8 snaps then took the rest of the night off.
With both Melvin Gordon (rest) and Mike Boone (quad) out, Javonte Williams played on 10 of 17 snaps with the first-string offense. He gained 29 yards on 5 carries and didn’t see a target. Williams looked decisive and explosive on his carries and had a nice tackle-breaking TD run called back due to holding. Royce Freeman played on the other 7 snaps, and ended his day with lines of 5-33-0 and 2-2-14-0.
Tampa Bay vs. Cincinnati
Nothing really of note here.
Tom Brady threw just two passes in this contest, targeting Antonio Brown and Giovani Bernard once each.
Of a potential 6 snaps with the first-string offense, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin saw 6 snaps and Antonio Brown saw 4, coming off the field in 2WR sets. Rob Gronkowski out-snapped O.J. Howard 6 to 2.
All three running backs each saw two snaps. It’s still too early to conclude that this is the sort of usage we should expect in the regular season, but I do think we’ll see a three-way committee in 2021.
QB Joe Burrow didn’t play.
Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase were on the field for all six of the team’s first-string snaps, while Tyler Boyd saw only 4 snaps, coming off the field in 2WR sets. All three ended their day with exactly one catch.
Joe Mixon played on the first four snaps of the game and then took the rest of the night off.
C.J. Uzomah out-snapped Drew Sample 5 to 3 with the first-string offense.
New York Giants vs. New York Jets
New York Giants
The only potential starter who saw playing time was Darius Slayton. He played on 13 of 18 snaps with the “first-string” offense and caught 1 of 3 targets for 8 yards. Daniel Jones (rest) and Saquon Barkley (knee) both sat.
Devontae Booker out-snapped Corey Clement 11 to 7 with the first-string offense. Clement gained 32 yards on 6 carries. Booker gained 12 yards on 3 carries. Neither saw a target.
New York Jets
Of a potential 22 snaps with the first-string offense, Keelan Cole led the wide receivers in snaps (21), followed by Vyncint Smith (13), Jamison Crowder (9), Corey Davis (9), and Jeff Smith (1). Elijah Moore sat out with a quad injury he sustained earlier in the week.
Zach Wilson ended his day 6/9 for 127 yards (no touchdowns, no interceptions). He targeted Corey Davis 4 times (44%), yielding 2 completions for 18 yards.
Tyler Kroft led the tight ends in snaps with the first-string offense (14). Ryan Griffin, Trevon Wesco, and Chris Herndon were all at 7 snaps each.
With Tevin Coleman (rest) out, Ty Johnson out-snapped Michael Carter 13 to 9 with the first-string offense. Johnson received all of the third-down snaps with the first-string offense. Carter turned 7 carries into 22 yards and one target into a gain of 9. Johnson turned 9 carries into 33 yards and 2 catches into 2 completions for 7 yards.
Carter leads New York’s RBs in ADP (RB29), well ahead of Coleman (RB57) and Johnson (114). So, this isn’t ideal, but it’s still way too early to panic. For what it’s worth, New York Jets beat writers have continually reported that “Carter has worked entirely with the 1s since OTAs started.”
Jacksonville vs. Cleveland
Of a potential 15 snaps with the first-team offense, Marvin Jones (13) and Collin Johnson (13) led the wide receivers in snaps, followed by Laviska Shenault (9) and Laquon Treadwell (4). Shenault came off the field in 2WR sets. DJ Chark (finger) didn’t play.
QB Trevor Lawrence earned the start and was sharp in his debut, ending his day 6/9 for 71 yards (no touchdowns, no interceptions). On 9 throws, Lawrence targeted Marvin Jones four times (13.3 aDOT), Laviska Shenault three times (1.0 aDOT), and TE Chris Manhertz and RB Carlos Hyde both once each. Shenault caught 2 of his 3 targets for 14 yards. Jones caught 3 of his 4 targets for 52 yards.
Marvin Jones feels like one of the most boring picks you can make in fantasy drafts, but he’s a terrific value, and, I think, the odds he ends up as Jacksonville’s WR1 are much better than current ADP implies. He’s the WR54 by ADP, well behind Chark (WR34) and Shenault (WR39).
Of a potential 15 snaps with the first-team offense, James Robinson led the backfield (7), followed by Travis Etienne (5), and then Carlos Hyde (3). Robinson gained 13 yards on 3 carries (no targets). Etienne gained 2 yards on 1 carry, and his one target fell incomplete. Hyde gained 4 yards on 2 carries, and failed to haul in his lone target on the day. We can take this one of two ways:
1) This is fairly alarming, and points towards a gross three-way RBBC moving forward. With Etienne, we were hoping for Percy Harvin or Curtis Samuel-type usage, or, better yet, a full-on bell cow workload by the end of the season. The Harvin / Samuel-role should be a very productive one for fantasy, even without much rushing volume. But Samuel also dominated snaps in comparison to the running backs at Ohio State, while that surely wasn’t the case for Etienne Saturday night.
2) It’s still very early. And Etienne is just a rookie, so it’s not uncommon to see some veteran deference in the first preseason game of the offseason. And maybe HC Urban Meyer is playing things a little close to the chest, not wanting to give too much away with his offense.
Let’s wait and see.
With Cleveland resting just about all of their starters, there’s not really anything of note here.
Rashard Higgins led the wide receivers in snaps with the “first-team” offense. He played on 22 snaps of a potential 25, just ahead of Donovan Peoples-Jones (15), KhaDarel Hodge (11), and then Demetric Felton (8). Higgins caught 1 of 2 targets for 12 yards. Peoples-Jones caught 3 of 5 targets for 26 yards.
San Francisco vs. Kansas City
With the first-string offense, Jimmy Garoppolo went 3/3 for 26 yards.
Trey Lance went 5/14 with 128 yards and one touchdown (11.4 aDOT). He didn’t do anything on the ground. So, these numbers might not seem all that great, but there were four drops from his receivers. And he also made this ridiculous throw, which resulted in an 80-yard score. So, it’s unlikely the hype-train dies down anytime soon. Nor should it.
With the first-team offense, Brandon Aiyuk played on 12 of 12 snaps, while Deebo Samuel played on only 8. Trent Sherfield and Jauan Jennings played on 4 snaps a piece.
Raheem Mostert (rest) sat out, and in his absence, Trey Sermon out-snapped Wayne Gallman 10 to 2 with the first-string offense. Sermon gained 26 yards on 9 carries and hauled in both of his targets for 14 yards. Gallman ended his day lines of 9-26-0 and 1-1-4-0.
Patrick Mahomes played just 4 snaps, completing 1 of 2 pass attempts for 4 yards.
Of a potential 11 snaps with the first-string offense, Demarcus Robinson led the wide receivers in snaps (10), ahead of Tyreek Hill (8), Mecole Hardman (5), and Byron Pringle (4).
Clyde Edwards-Helaire played on the first 10 snaps of the game, including the first four with Mahomes, and then spent the rest of the day on the bench. On those 10 snaps, he gained 16 yards on 4 carries and caught his only target for a gain of 5 yards. I’d guess this was just typical preseason rotation work and that this doesn’t necessarily point towards a 100% snap share and a full-on bell cow workload in the regular season. Still, he is the clear starter and RB1. His usage next week should be more telling.
Las Vegas vs. Seattle
Las Vegas didn’t play any of their starters, so there’s nothing of note here.
Seattle didn’t play any of their starters, so there’s not many meaningful takeaways from this game.
Alex Collins did play over Deejay Dallas, so that’s probably indicative of who their RB3 is behind Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny. Collins played on all 14 snaps with the first-string offense, ending his day with 1 yard on 2 carries and 1 catch on 2 targets for 4 yards. Dallas had the more impressive performance, however, posting lines of 5-24-0 and 2-2-45-1.
Baltimore vs. New Orleans
The Ravens “first-team” offense was missing pretty much all of their starters. Lamar Jackson sat as he tries to get back to full speed coming off of the COVID list and missing the first few practices. Gus Edwards didn’t play because of a family matter while Marquise Brown sat while he tended to his tight hamstring. Rashod Bateman obviously missed and he’s set to miss 6-8 weeks coming off core muscle surgery. Mark Andrews and Sammy Watkins also got to rest.
Alvin Kamara (rest) and Tre’Quan Smith (undisclosed) both sat on Saturday, so the Saints “first-team” offense consisted of Taysom Hill as the starting QB, Marquez Callaway and Lil’Jordan Humphrey as the starting WRs, Latavius Murray at RB, and Adam Trautman at TE.
Hill played 20 snaps, of which Callaway was on the field for all 20 plays while Murray and Trautman were on the field for 15-of-20.
Hill looked sharp on the opening drive, hitting Marquez Callaway with accurate darts for a few chunk gains. Lil’Jordan Humphrey had a bad drop.
Hill’s second drive ended up abruptly on a bad interception. He had a wide open Ty Montgomery on a short 5-yard throw, but threw way wide of the mark as the ball careened past Montgomery and easily into the arms of the Ravens defender. Hill should have had another pick on his third drive as he was late on a deep comeback, allowing the CB to jump the route but the defender dropped the ball.
Callaway ended up with a 3/61 line with Hill while Adam Trautman wasn’t targeted.
Jameis Winston came in with the “second-team” and didn’t look too much better. He held the ball too long on two different plays on his first and second drive, the second of which resulted in a drive-ending sack. Winston’s third drive was much better, though. He went 5-for-5 in a tight two-minute drill that resulted in a nice TD strike. After that TD, the Saints got the ball back quickly after a turnover and Winston immediately gave it right back to the Ravens after he threw a deep ball that was tipped and picked off.
Hill ended his night going 8-of-12 for 81 yards (0 TD, 1 INT) while Jameis Winston went 7-of-12 for 96 yards (1 TD, 1 INT).
Green Bay vs. Houston
We didn’t learn anything about the Packers this week. Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, Davante Adams, Robert Tonyan, and Randall Cobb all sat. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard also did not play.
A.J. Dillon got the “start” and played the first 6 snaps on the opening drive, and got one carry and one target.
Tyrod Taylor got the start for Houston and played on just the opening drive, which lasted 10 plays. Taylor went 4-for-4 for 40 yards, hitting Chris Conley three times for 36 yards. Brandin Cooks (rest) did not play.
The big story of the night, though, was in the backfield. Philip Linday got the start and played on 8-of-10 snaps with Taylor while David Johnson only played 2 snaps, both of which were on third-downs. This confirms ESPN’s Sarah Bishop’s report from earlier in the week that Lindsay, not Johnson, was the “starter” and early-down back while D.J. is going to be the passing / third down back. Do not draft D.J.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Rams
HC Sean McVay rested all of his guys, which is par for the course here. McVay doesn’t believe in playing starters during the preseason.
It’s notable, though, that Xavier Jones has the lead as the Rams RB2 slot behind Darrell Henderson. Jones got the start and played on 9-of-14 first-team snaps while Jake Funk played five snaps.
Los Angeles Chargers
Like the Rams, the Chargers rested all of their key starters too. We’re tracking the team’s RB2 and WR3 battle, though.
Jaylen Guyton (25) was the first-team snap leader followed by Josh Palmer (17), K.J. Hill (14), and Tyron Johnson (10). It seems like it’s a two-man race between Guyton and the rookie Palmer to be the Chargers No. 3 wideout behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.
The Chargers No. 2 runner behind Austin Ekeler is an open competition between Joshua Kelley, Justin Jackson, and the rookie Larry Rountree. And based on Saturday night’s usage, Kelly (19-of-29 first-team snaps) and Jackson (10 snaps) are well ahead of Rountree. In fact, Rountree didn’t get into the game until the second-half.
Indianapolis vs. Carolina
Of a potential 16 snaps with the first-string offense, Michael Strachan led the wide receivers in snaps (16), followed by Dezmon Patmon (15), and Parris Campbell (10). Campbell saw one target and caught it, gaining 38 yards. It was an impressive play (which you can watch here), but the more important takeaway might be that Campbell isn’t yet a starter. Indianapolis sat out their starters, but Campbell played, so does that mean he’s second-string? I don’t think so — I think he’s the likely starting WR in 3WR sets, but will come off the field in 2WR sets — and at least one other beat writer seems to agree.
The hyper-athletic rookie WR Mike Strachan (91.3 SPORQ) impressed, catching 3 of 5 targets for 57 yards. He’s worthy of a roster spot in very deep dynasty leagues.
QB Sam Ehlinger went 10/15 with 155 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception through the air, leading the Colts to a comeback victory. Interestingly, he gained 35 yards on 7 carries (7.0 YPC) before QB kneels. He’s not very athletic but may still have sneaky Konami Code-upside — he averaged 63.7 rushing YPG in 2019 and 11.5 rushing FPG in 2018.
RB Marlon Mack played on 11 of 16 snaps with the “first-string” offense. Jordan Wilkins played on the other 5 snaps.
With QB Phillip Walker under center for the “first-string” offense, Terrace Marshall led the wide receivers in snaps (18), followed by Brandon Zylstra (15), David Moore (14), Omar Bayless (4), and then Shi Smith (2).
Marshall lined up all over the field (12 of his 16 routes came from the slot) and was heavily involved. He failed to haul in his two end zone targets, but caught his other three targets for 88 yards. That includes this impressive catch for a 60-yard gain. As the likely WR3 on this team, and, better yet, the likely slot WR, Marshall is no doubt a player to get very excited about for both dynasty- and redraft-purposes.
RBs Christian McCaffrey, Reggie Bonnafon, and Rodney Smith didn't play. So, rookie Chuba Hubbard played on 20 of 21 snaps with the first-string offense. He ended his day with 7 carries for 80 yards, and 1-catch and 2 yards on 4 targets. The bulk of his production came on this 59-yard run.