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Fantasy football takeaways from preseason Week 1

NFL Fantasy

We finally have some fantasy football to talk about as Week 1 of the NFL preseason schedule is in the books. The rookie quarterbacks stole the show, and I think we can say with confidence that they’re all on their way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame — especially Trey Lance, who broke Twitter when he connected on an 80-yard strike. 

Lance’s 5-for-14 for 128 yards didn’t blow anyone away, and he didn’t make the cut when it comes to positive and negative fantasy takeaways from Week 1 of the preseason. With that said, he pushed the ball down the field, he showed promise and I counted four drops. I also counted two near interceptions. I know I’ve seen enough to make him the Week 1 starter but there was another rookie drafted after him, who had a much better showing. 

Below, you’ll see a few of my fantasy football takeaways from Week 1 of the NFL preseason. It’s easy to overreact at this time of the year and even more so this season than last as we didn’t have any preseason games to take in. Below are several names who I think the fantasy community will move up and down their ranks based on Week 1. Some of it is nothing and some of it we should keep an eye on throughout the preseason. 

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The players who impressed for fantasy football in Week 1

These players could see their fantasy football stocks rise after their Week 1 preseason performances.

Justin Fields could see a fantasy football bump

The biggest takeaway for me in Week 1 of the preseason was the play of the rookie quarterbacks, led by Justin Fields. It’s only one game, and it came against a team full of backups, but Fields’ upside was on full display, especially on the opening drive of the third quarter, which was capped off by an eight-yard rushing touchdown. Fields finished 14-for-20 for 142 yards. He had a passing touchdown as well, and he ran for 33 yards on five carries. 

Fields concluded his first taste of the NFL by saying, “It was actually kinda slow to me” when discussing the speed of the game. Let’s see if he can continue to back up the talk, but he not only sounds confident, he also looked confident on the field. Let’s also see if he can make a believer out of Matt Nagy, who said Andy Dalton is still his starting QB for Week 1. Don’t tell that to the fantasy football community, though, as Fields continues to climb up draft boards. Per the FTN Fantasy ADP tool, he’s getting drafted as the 17th QB with an ADP of 139 in NFFC drafts in the month of August. He also moved to +190 on DraftKings Sportsbook to take the first snap for Chicago this season, compared to 5-1 before his preseason game.

Marvin Jones might be the Jags receiver you want in fantasy 

Marvin Jones has been one of the biggest steals in summer drafts, but you can bet his ADP will be on the rise after a promising debut with Jacksonville and Trevor Lawrence. Jones was targeted four times and finished with 52 yards on three catches. As I discussed Monday on All In Football with Jake Ciely, Jones is a terrific value in drafts — even if you move him up your ranks, it’s likely you still have him too low. Jones finished as WR17 in 0.5 PPR last season, and he’s scored nine touchdowns in three of his past four seasons. He’s always been relied on in the red zone and I expect that to carry over with Lawrence under center. 

Of note, Urban Meyer is likely going to be an absolute headache. Laviska Shenault operated out of the slot with 11 personnel, and Laquon Treadwell played over Shenault with 12 personnel. It could be nothing, but Treadwell has been impressive in camp. Bottom line, Jones is a lot cheaper and could easily finish with the most fantasy points among the three. Also of note, James Robinson, Travis Etienne and Carlos Hyde all received work with the first-team offense and Hyde was used in the passing game. In other words, this backfield is shaping up to potentially be a mess. 

Terrace Marshall showed fantasy football flash in Week 1

I think we all knew Terrace Marshall could ball, but he had a very positive first game with the Panthers. D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson were sidelined, but Marshall came away with five targets (two in the red zone), and he had a 60-yard grab. The rookie finished with 88 yards on three catches and played all over the field, which is something he did at LSU as well. 

Rondale Moore is a fantasy football sleeper 

Rondale Moore may be fourth on the depth chart, but he flashed upside when the Cardinals gave him the ball, which was part of the game plan when he was on the field. Moore caught three of his four targets for 23 yards and had 16 yards on two carries. It may take an injury to Christian Kirk or A.J. Green to untap Moore’s potential, but it may also just take a couple weeks before he turns into Kyler Murray’s second-favorite target. He’s an unbelievably strong dynasty target and has the potential to be a league-winner in redraft leagues. 

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The players whose fantasy football stocks fell in preseason Week 1

These players could see their fantasy football fortunes take a dip after their Week 1 preseason performances.

Myles Gaskin didn’t look like the clear RB1 in Miami in Week 1

Apart from the rookie QBs stealing the show, I believe Malcolm Brown running with the first-team offense in Miami received the most attention on Twitter over the weekend. Brown was brought in this offseason, and reports suggested he would get first- and second-down reps with the Dolphins and that’s exactly what he got in his first preseason game. Brown led Miami backs in snaps with the starters and carried the ball nine times. He only finished with seven yards due to poor offensive line play, but he picked up those carries the same way he picked up the early-down work with the Rams to start last season. Keep in mind, he lost his job with the Rams after displaying minimal upside. 

Brown may very well get the early-down work and a majority of the goal-line opportunities, which is valuable, but let’s not forget Myles Gaskin wasn’t expected to be involved last season either, and he ended up taking over — Miami started the 2020 season thinking they would roll with Jordan Howard and Matt Breida. Gaskin played with the second team over the weekend and was mostly limited to a third-down role. I think it’s fair to expect fewer targets for Gaskin with the addition of Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller, and his carry total may be on the decline as well, but he has the highest ceiling in Miami’s backfield. He was never a top-25 back for me, but I wouldn’t let him fall outside the top 30, and I’d check in on whoever owns him in dynasty formats. 

David Johnson might be the No. 2 back in Houston

There’s not much to say here other than the fact Phillip Lindsay ran with the first team offense and David Johnson took a third-down role. Mark Ingram, who is listed as RB1 on the unofficial depth chart, wasn’t active, which makes this backfield even more crowded when the season begins. 

Don’t sell too hard on Michael Carter after Week 1

If you’ve been following my work here or on Mean Streets, you know I’m in on Michael Carter. I like the talent, and I like the offensive line. I’m still in on Michael Carter. I just didn’t love the usage in Week 1 of the preseason. The good thing is that it was just Week 1 of the preseason. Carter is only a rookie, and it was his first taste of the NFL, but this is someone who has seen an increase in his stock with each passing week. I didn’t enjoy seeing him split snaps with Ty Johnson, and I wasn’t pleased to see Johnson receive all the third-down work. Tevin Coleman wasn’t active and although I don’t care for the former 49er, he’ll be part of the offense. I expect Robert Saleh has some love for Coleman, who spent the past two seasons with San Francisco, practicing against the Saleh-led Niners defense. In July, Carter was getting drafted in the mid-30s at the RB position, per the FTN Fantasy ADP tool, but over the past two weeks, he’s moved inside the top 75 overall and inside the top 30 at RB.

Adam Trautman went targetless in preseason Week 1

I’m not jumping ship here because I was never really on, but I think we have to address Adam Trautman’s usage over the weekend. Yes, it’s just one week of the preseason, and he’s still a young tight end, learning the offense and we don’t know who the QB will be, but Trautman received zero targets in 15 snaps with Taysom Hill. He had zero snaps on third down, which all ended up as passing plays, and he pass-blocked on three of the nine passing plays he was in for. Jared Cook and Josh Hill are gone, Emmanuel Sanders is also out, and Michael Thomas is sidelined. The door is open for Trautman to take a big leap. With all of that said, there’s no need to reach. The door is also open for Marquez Callaway, who reeled in three of his four targets for 61 yards.

Dallas Goedert’s fantasy stock might be hurt by Zach Ertz

Dallas Goedert has been Jalen Hurts’ guy in camp and that carried over into the Eagles’ first preseason game. That’s kind of expected, though, with DeVonta Smith sidelined (who by the way returned to practice Monday). I still have Goedert as a top-10 TE and I like his skill set, but I’ve had to bump him down the ranks simply because Zach Ertz remains on the team. I was anticipating a trade or release by now, and that just doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen. Ertz struggled with a drop in the preseason game against the Steelers and he was dropping passes Monday in practice as well so we could see Goedert just completely take over, but for now I think Logan Thomas and Robert Tonyan are better targets. Goedert’s upside is capped as long as Ertz remains on the field. 

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