The 2022 preseason is officially underway! As was the case last
season, it’s a three-game slate, and while some teams take
a cautious approach to the preseason as a whole, others need to
put their younger players into game action early and often for the
sake of continuity and evaluation. That allows us to pick up on
a few things…or even ten things.
1. Upside on Lance? A Lot
This has a bit of a dťjŗ vu feel to it as Trey Lance
began the preseason in 2021 with a long TD pass in his first game.
He then went on to play sparingly. But, this isnít 2021
and Lance isnít likely to play sparingly this season. He
connected on a 76-yard bomb to Danny Gray on the second series
of the first quarter and was sharp overall completing 80% of his
passes. For a variety of reasons, preseason is typically a check-down
festival so when a QB comes out slinging, itís noteworthy.
Lance may still have games where he struggles mightily with the
elite defenses and defensive coordinators in the league. But,
aside from those match-ups, he looks the part of a poor manís
Josh Allen and can score fantasy points quickly and in variety
of ways. Target him on draft day and assuming you can pair him
with a steady hand like Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, or Kirk Cousins
during those bad match-up weeks, and your return on investment
could be substantial.
2. There Could be Value Beyond Diggs & Davis
Itís not too often that we pay close attention to an NFL
teamís projected WR3 as there just arenít enough targets
to go around via 80-90% of the offenses in the league. An exception
would be a team like Buffalo with such a fierce and dynamic offensive
attack. In Week 1 of the preseason, several of Buffaloís
candidates for the eventual WR3 spot were featured and they did
not disappoint. Khalil Shakir and Isaiah Hodgins combined for
14 receptions, 169 yards, and a TD (Shakir). It has been assumed
all off-season that the addition of Jamison Crowder would account
for Buffaloís WR3 numbers, but Crowder has battled some
nagging health issues over training camp and thereís no
guarantee that the Bills will keep him in a prominent role with
such youthful production in tow. Yes, itís the preseason.
And yes, Shakir and Hodgins didnít produce against elite
defensive corners. But, they wonít be facing elite corners
anyway if they do play during the regular season due to Diggs
and Davis taking precedent. The situation is worth keeping an
3. Romeo, Where Art Thou? Right Here, Right Now
The satellite radio talking heads have been ablaze about Romeo Doubs for weeks now, but this past weekend, we got to see what
he could do in actual game action for the Packers. Well, he did
nothing to curb the enthusiasm thatís out there on his behalf.
In the first quarter of the game vs. the 49ers, Jordan Love found
him for a 33-yard score - one of his three catches on the day.
As noted previously, WR3s are hardly locked in for many teams
at this point, and in Green Bayís case, WR2 on the team
may not be a lock either. In deeper leagues, Doubs is a must draft
at this point and even in leagues that only draft 14-16 players,
he is most definitely worth a late-round flier. Rookies can make
an impact in fantasy football - especially when the guy throwing
them the ball is coming off back-to-back MVP seasons. Get on the
4. Not a Great Place for a Rookie RB, butÖ
If your goal as a running back was to make a splash for fantasy
purposes as a rookie (it isnít), landing with the Houston
Texans might put a damper on such aspirations. After all, Houston
is rebuilding in nearly every facet of the team including quarterback
which means defending safeties can cheat up and stop the run when
facing the Texans. All that said, it was an impressive debut in
Week 1 of the preseason for rookie Dameon Pierce out of Florida.
Pierce looked sharp and decisive in averaging nearly ten yards
a carry on 5 totes. He didnít catch a pass, but was only
targeted once. His usage there will be something to monitor in
next weekendís game. At 218 pounds, Pierce has the capacity
to be a three-down back. At this point, he should be drafted well
ahead of Marlon Mack, particularly on the heels of such a positive
5. Rookie QBs Turning Heads with their Legs
This yearís rookie crop of quarterbacks was not highly regarded
from both a fantasy and real-world perspective, but this past
weekend we did see what a couple of them might be capable of if
given starterís opportunities. Desmond Ridder got to play
extensively in the Falconsí game vs. Detroit and while he
did complete less than half of his passes, he ran for an impressive
59 yards and log two passing TDs. As a fantasy prospect, Ridder
could become a solid backup at the quarterback position the moment
he begins getting starts this season (assuming that he does).
Those rushing numbers after all, suggest that will be fantasy
relevant. The other rookie QB this past weekend that ran with
authority was Malik Willis of the Titans. Willisís carries
included both a 7-yard scamper for a score and a longer run of
17 yards. Itís doubtful that Willis gets much meaningful
playing time this season, but his dynasty stock is definitely
up after only one preseason game. He has the look of a dynamic
playmaker who could take the reins in Tennessee as soon as 2023
if Tannehill were to regress this season.
6. Pickens Reincarnate
For those whose fantasy football roots date back twenty years
or more, there are fond memories of Bengals WR, Carl Pickens,
who was a top-five option for several years at his position. This
season, a new wide receiver named Pickens (George) has entered
the scene and camp reviews had been glowing coming into weekend
play. As with Romeo Doubs, camp reports do not always translate
to on-field production and thus you wait for game action to begin
banging the drum more vigorously. That said, Pickens (much like
Doubs) debuted with a touchdown receiving and three overall grabs.
After a promising rookie season, Chase Claypool disappointed last
year and it would not be a surprise given what weíve observed
so far if Pickens surpasses him on the depth chart early in the
season. Unlike Doubs, George doesnít have an established
superstar throwing him the ball, so expectations should be tempered
7. Welcome Back to The Field, Travis!
His on-field production wasnít noteworthy, but the first
weekend of the preseason did feature the return of Travis Etienne.
In a game that was dominated, headlines-wise, by the return of
DeShaun Watson, Etienne logged ten touches, gaining 33 yards in
the process. Travis is being drafted at present as RB21-24 despite
the fact that James Robinson has been able to return to practice
much sooner than many expected. I think Etienne is a risk given
Robinsonís presence, but his ability to get on the field
and stay on the field this past Friday was encouraging given the
severity of last seasonís injury. Hereís hoping weíll
get a few more looks at what he can do in the two games to come
so that draft-day decisions can be made with a little more confidence.
8. Welcome Back to the Frying Pan, JustinÖ
The statistics will suggest that Justin
Fields didnít do anything particularly poorly vs. the Chiefs
on Saturday, but anyone who watched the game saw Bears quarterbacks
running for their life. In limited action, Fields was sacked twice
and pressured on every drop-back and even when the Chiefs reserves
took the field, additional pressure was consistent throughout
the game. All in all, despite running the ball far more than they
threw it, the Bears surrendered five sacks and demonstrated their
relative weakness in the trenches on the offensive side of the
ball. Further, injuries to WRs Byron
Pringle and NíKeal Harry have reduced the weapons for Fields
MooneyÖand crickets. It could be an ugly year in Chicago and
the optics from this past weekendís actions scream caution in
relying on Fields for fantasy productionÖand possibly David
Montgomery too. Smells like a mess to me.
9. Hurts so Good
Putting in a sharp performance in the first game action of the
season isnít earth-shattering, but it canít be faked, either.
As such, what Jalen
Hurts accomplished right out of the gate on Friday night did
nothing to hurt his draft status/stock and likely even improved
it a bit. Hurts was a perfect 6-for-6 on the night, and accounted
for 80 yards and a crisp TD strike to TE Dallas
Goedert. I know many question Hurtsí viability as a decade-long
starter in the NFL given some of the limitations of his game,
but there is no denying what the eye test suggested vs. the Jets.
This is a guy whoís had a full offseason to get on the same page
as the crew around him and could be in for a top-5 fantasy season.
On the flip side, Jets QB Zach
Wilson was injured again and will likely be out for 2-4 weeks
as his meniscus heals. Wilsonís absence shouldnít lead to a major
downgrade in his ranking or those around him, but it could lead
to a slower start in September for the Jets offensively as they
look to play catch up in terms of chemistry and timing.
10. Better Late Than Never?
should be back mid-way through fantasy footballís regular season
and will team with Marquise
Brown to form a fairly formidable duo for Kyler
Murray to hurl passes at. In the meantime, though, the assumption
has been that Rondale
Moore will fill in the gaps until Hopkins returns with perhaps
a sprinkle of re-signed A.J.
Green also thrown in. The forgotten man in the equation is
fourth-year WR Andy
Isabella, who has been the subject of trade rumors this summer
and was presumed out of step with any of the Cardinalsí plans.
Isabella led Arizona this past weekend in terms of both receptions
and receiving yards (4-57) and hauled in a 36-yard pass in the
process - all on seven targets. Thereís still a decent chance
Isabella isnít on the Cardinalsí final 53-man roster for various
reasons, but he has gone from invisible to visible again and that
makes him someone to keep in mind as the rest of August plays
We will present a recap of Preseason Week 2 one week from todayÖ
same time and place.