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Kirk Hollis | Archive | Email  
Staff Writer

Ten Things We Learned From Preseason Week 1

The astute fantasy football manager neither overreacts nor disregards what takes place on the field during the month of August. That is my only preface as we move into a quick review of what is most fantasy-relevant from this past Thursday through Sunday night. Week 1 of the preseason is often just a light appetizer in terms of actual minutes played by relevant fantasy performers; nevertheless, there were some things I noticed…

DeMarco Murray

A sign of things to come: The Titans ran the ball 33 times while attempting just 20 passes against SD.

1. The Broncos looked good on both sides of the ball.

Cody Latimer caught 7 passes for 82 yards and Mark Sanchez staked his claim on the starting job by completing 10-of-13 passes for nearly a century of yards. Latimer’s emergence is probably not just a one-time thing as the Broncos lack a TE presence and will thus be targeting receivers in the slot this year. Latimer is worth a late-round flier. Defense was also noted in the opening sentence and even though it’s preseason, a shut-out is a shut-out. Denver’s D is going to make life miserable for many skill position players just as they did for Cam Newton back in February. You might want to start planning to sit Newton in Week 1 if you’re an owner.

2. Act One of the new-look Tennessee Titans was a success.

The Titans, as you know, went out and traded for DeMarco Murray this off-season and then selected Derrick Henry as their running back of the future early on day two of the NFL Draft. Combined with Bishop Sankey (don’t get excited about him) and Antonio Andrews, the Titans’ RBs netted a whopping 288 yards on the ground vs. San Diego. Is that a sign of things to come? In terms of results, it’s too early to say. It’s safe to assume that Tennessee is going to make every effort this year to run, run, and run some more.

3. If your first initial is “A” and your last name is “Robinson”, you might be a Week 1 preseason stand-out.

First things first, Allen Robinson of the Jacksonville Jaguars caught 3 passes for 80 yards on just two series this weekend, signifying that his rapport with QB Blake Bortles is set to pick up right where it left off. Robinson belongs in the same tier as Dez Bryant and A.J. Green on draft day and might even be a safer pick than DeAndre Hopkins given that Houston’s passing offense is currently in a state of flux. Elsewhere, Aldrick Robinson went wild for the Atlanta Falcons to the tune of 118 yards receiving on three lengthy catches. Julio Jones will be top dog in Atlanta this season of course, but Aldrick could be a significant asset to keep in mind for Jones owners. He would fulfill the “stretch the field” role should Julio miss time.

4. The Baltimore backfield remains a mess with little fantasy football clarity.

All three of the backs not named Forsett contributed over the weekend with Terrance West running for 2 TDs, Kenneth Dixon putting up the best YPC of the group, and Javorius Allen taking a screen pass to the house from 19 yards out. Of all the positional situations in the league, the Ravens’ backfield might be the most difficult to predict. The good news is that all three backs were effective and with limited talent present at wide receiver, this is going to be a running team. Perhaps a RB pecking order will become clear as camp rolls on.

5. There were some encouraging signs from this season’s rookie crop of receivers.

We’re never going to see a year like 2014 for rookie wide receivers, but Both Michael Thomas (New Orleans) and Laquon Treadwell (Minnesota) caught four passes apiece and demonstrated their abilities to be impact players in their first season. With Thomas emerging, Coby Fleener now onboard, and Willie Snead maturing, the Saints offense is shaping up to be a thing of beauty for fantasy owners. I like both rookies to exceed their current draft positions, particularly Thomas (WR54, 11th Rd) as he’s in a much better passing offense.

6. Speaking of young receivers, it might be time to cool the jets on Sammie Coates.

With Markus Wheaton (quad) battling injuries since training camp opened, Coates’ ADP has been on the rise in anticipation of him becoming Antonio Brown’s right-hand-man once fall rolls around. But, Coates fumbled the ball twice on Friday night, losing one. Coaches typically take note of stuff like that. So should you.

7. Did you catch the play of young Dak Prescott for Dallas against St. Louis?

Prescott was very sharp and that sharpness included a scoring strike to Dez Bryant in addition to another TD pass to Terrance Williams. With Tony Romo’s brittle health on the minds of all Dez Bryant owners, it was nice to see that the offense may not collapse this time if Romo does go down. In the same game, on the opposite side of the ball, rookie Jared Goff struggled, completing less than half his passes and tossing an interception to boot. Goff appears to be a ways off from being ready to primetime and as such, should not be on anyone’s redraft radar. He’s dynasty material only.

8. Carries converted into touchdowns inside the five-yard-line are one of the biggest things to watch for in preseason games.

Teams are looking for their go-to goal line guy in August and a couple of positive signs this weekend came in the form of Ryan Mathews punching it in for Philadelphia and Chris Ivory getting across the goal line for Jacksonville. Anyone who owned T.J. Yeldon last season can tell you how frustrating it was to watch Yeldon score only two rushing TDs despite numerous opportunities. Ivory’s TD cements him as the main option for the Jags inside the 5-yard line, as we’ve anticipated since he was acquired this off-season. As for Mathews, imagine what he could do with 16 games and goal line duties. The 16 games part is the biggest issue holding him back. For now, let’s just say his red zone score was “encouraging”.

9. When the cat is away, the mice will play. Or so they say.

Such is the case right now with Christine Michael, getting work in Seattle with Thomas Rawls being brought along slowly due to injury. Reports out of training camp have suggested for weeks now that the light bulb has finally brightened and this weekend, he averaged more than six yards a pop on 7 carries, including several impressive runs against the Chiefs first-team defense. We’ve seen this before from Michael, but we’re going to observe his remaining preseason closely as Rawls won’t be handed the job unconditionally when he does return. Stay tuned.

10. This week’s Zach Zenner award.

This award goes to a player you never heard until they bust loose in a preseason game in August. This week’s winner is George Atkinson, running back of the Oakland Raiders. Atkinson only touched the ball five times Friday night, but he made the most of it with 97 yards and 2 TDs. Latavius Murray and DeAndre Washington remain the RBs to target for those drafting this upcoming weekend, but Atkinson’s performance is something to tuck away in the deep recesses of the mind for now.

Week Two normally brings the more prominent fantasy stars to the forefront. Let’s hope that doesn’t mean an increase in notable injuries. Whatever the case, we’ll be here to tell you about next Monday in our review of preseason action, Week 2. Until then…

Draft Buddy