8/08 NFL Preseason Week 1 Notes
There weren’t a ton of noteworthy things from Friday’s and Saturday’s NFL preseason action, but we did get to see a lot of rookies play substantial minutes. We’ll primarily focus on those guys with some other notes sprinkled in between.
Miami 10 at Atlanta 16
Pretty standard stuff in this one. Matt Ryan and Ryan Tannehill combined for a perfect 13-of-13.
While Steve Jackson is resting his hamstring, Rookie Devonta Freeman looked good at RB averaging five yards per carry. He has particularly good vision. Jake Matthews struggled a bit, although I thought the holding call on Antone Smith’s potential 76-yard TD run was a ticky-tack call. Matt Ryan constantly went to Roddy White on his drive. Julio Jones looked fine, but didn’t record a catch.
The only thing worth of any real substance is that the Dolphins ran quite a bit of read-option passes (QBs were not running). Tannehill flourished with the short crossing routes being able to read the linebackers early on. This will be something to keep an eye on as the preseason progresses.
Buffalo 20 at Carolina 18
E.J. Manuel looked much better in his second preseason game, but more importantly, the Bills offensive line did a much better job. That also extended into the running game, but Fred Jackson was stuffed on 4th-and-inches inside the 5. The Bills RB situation is still in the air, but C.J. Spiller should still get a majority of the carries.
Rookie Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods looked solid. Watkins ran a lot of shorter routes and was targeted on three-step drops. I bring this up in a PPR sense that he won’t be just a deep threat. Mike Williams caught a deep ball on his one target for 28 yards. Keep an eye on the Bills. Most may not realize this, but they ran the third-most plays per game last season.
No Cam Netwon, DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart for the Panthers. However, the rookie Kelvin Bejamin made a spectacular TD grab for his one reception. He is listed as the No. 1 receiver on the Panthers’ depth chart. He’s one of the most underrated players fantasy wise coming into the season. Remember, no Darrelle Revis for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers anymore. Panthers play them week 1.
Tampa Bay 10 at Jacksonville 16
A rocky start for Josh McCown. His pick-six was a lazy throw off his back foot, and his fumble was partially resulted by poor pocket presence. The first-string OL still looks iffy. Just overall not a good night from the Buccs, and we didn’t learn much.
The Jaguars are another story. They played a solid game all around. However, many of their starters didn’t suit up.
Every QB looked great. Even though there are rumors that Blake Bortles might sit this year, I think he’s the man for the job. His mobility, arm strength, accuracy and ability to read defenses is NFL ready (not because of what happened in one preseason game, but in college too). Many Jaguars players are undervalued for Week 1 since we don’t know who will be the starters at a lot of positions. Bortles is one of them, and given that the Jaguars will likely be playing from behind against the Eagles Week 1, all the more reason to use him as a sneaky play.
No Toby Gerhart. Not a lot of running game for the Jaguars, but Denard Robinson did record a 23-yard TD. Wide receiver wise, no Marquise Lee (rest), Cecil Shorts (hamstring), Allen Robinson (hamstring), Ace Sanders (suspension) or Tandon Doss. Other than Mike Brown, no one of notice played in this one. But with Bortles’ ability to spread the wealth and move in the pocket, you have to like what you saw from him.
Oakland 6 at Minnesota 10
Let the QB carousel in Oakland begin. Matt Schaub was terrible. He was off target and not on the same page at times with his offense. Derek Carr looked great. His INT was not his fault (full back bobbled it into the air). Matt McGloin was solid as well.
Darren McFadden busted his one run for 24 yards, and Maurice Jones-Drew and two carries for five yards. We’re going to look for any signs of one back looking better than the other, but nothing so far. A total of 17 Oakland players were targeted and James Jones didn’t play, so clearly the WR picture is still unclear.
A lot of uncertainty with this team.
The Vikings QB picture told a different story. Matt Cassel got the start, went 5-of-6 and looked sharp all around. Teddy Bridgewater looked okay at best, and did fumble inside the red zone. I will give him that the Vikings depth on the OL was pretty poor. It was the same story for Christian Ponder. Cassel certainly increased chis chances at being the starter.
No Adrian Petersen as expected, but Cordell Patterson was used in the intermediate passing game. With no real improvements at WR coming into this season, I’m expecting good numbers from him and Kyle Rudolph.
Philadelphia 28 at Chicago 34
Quite a few things to note with the Eagles.
Nick Foles threw two picks, and both were certainly on him. Watching Mark Sanchez run read option was really bizarre, but he did it effectively, even if it was against the second-unit Bears. He led his team to TDs on two of his three drives. Matt Barkley was up-and-down while G.J. Kinne was efficient. Still, we know Foles is the starter.
LeSean McCoy only touched the ball once, which is no surprise. Darren Sproles got three touches, but somewhat surprisingly wasn’t used in the passing game. I’m not going to look too much into this, but if Sproles isn’t used in a similar way when he was with the Saints, his value certainly takes a big hit.
The WRs of the Eagles might be the most undervalued both in daily fantasy and regular fantasy. Jeremy Maclin caught a pass and looked 100% after missing last season. Riley Cooper missed this game. Zach Ertz caught four balls for 60 yards. Yes, those are three of the primary targets. However, keep an eye on rookie Jordan Matthews. This is a guy that fits perfectly in Chip Kelly’s system. He can play outside or in the slot. He has outstanding speed, but also good size and strength. I think the Eagles got a steal here, and he did catch four passes and had seven targets.
All four of the Bears QBs looked fantastic. Give them credit, but I do think this is partially due to the weak Eagles pass defense from top-to-bottom. Although, the Eagles stuffed the Bears on the ground. Basically, the Bears OL was great in pass protection, but couldn’t get a push in the run game.
Brandon Marshall picked up right where he left off with a sick one-handed catch. He caught five balls. Alshon Jeffery caught his one target for 16 yards. The one question about the Bears passing game though has been at TE. Zach Miller came over from the Jaguars and he hauled in six catches for 68 yards and two TDs. With Martellus Bennett not playing after his body slamming of rookie Kyle Fuller, Miller certainly took advantage. Watch how the TEs are used the rest of the way.
New Orleans 26 at St. Louis 24
Drew Brees didn’t play, which isn’t surprising. But there are two guys that stood out – Mark Ingram and Brandin Cooks.
Pierre Thomas didn’t suit up and with no Sproles, Ingram got eight carries for 83 yards and a TD. He showed off some of the speed we were accustomed to seeing at Alabama while still running with great power. With Thomas out, I wouldn’t go too crazy over this, but a healthy Ingram is dangerous. As for Cooks, the rookie caught five balls for 53 yards and a TD. The Saints are looking for another target besides Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston. Cooks is another guy who could really flourish in the Saints’ system, who was one of the best WRs in all of college football last season.
For the Rams, Sam Bradford and Kenny Britt didn’t play, but it did’t matter – the Rams offense looked terrific for the most part. Tre Mason did rack up 15 carries. He does have good speed, but he’s going to need his OL and WRs to block well if he’s going to hit a home run. He showed good vision, but he struggles to break tackles or get extra yardage. There’s been a lot of talk if Zac Stacy really will be the go-to guy, but I really do believe he’s the best overall back by far and it isn’t close. Nothing of note as far as the WRs or TEs go.View all posts by Nick Juskewycz