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Early Preseason Takeaways for Every NFL Team (2022 Fantasy Football)

Aug 17, 2022


 

With one week of NFL preseason action in the bag, it’s time to toss cold water or fuel on the preseason hype flames. Andrew Erickson and I went through all 32 NFL teams combing through snap counts and production to share usage nuggets that should influence (at least slightly) how we view various situations in fantasy football.

Break out your best mug and the magnifying glass. It’s time to read the tea leaves.

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Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

AFC

Baltimore Ravens

While I might not be the biggest Isaiah Likely fan in the world, he’s played well this preseason. Against the Titans, he played as many snaps as Josh Oliver (ten) while besting him in routes (six vs. four). With Charlie Kolar still sidelined, Likely could cement himself as Mark Andrews‘ direct backup if he keeps stacking good games in the preseason.

Buffalo Bills

Zack Moss got the start with James Cook working in. Devin Singletary did not play. Because Buffalo rested all their starters. He is the Bills RB1. And in that role last season over the final six weeks – he was a top-3 fantasy RB.

Isaiah McKenzie also did not play, signifying his status as the WR3 ahead of Jamison Crowder who did suit up in Week 1.

Cincinnati Bengals

Chris Evans had a big day, but unfortunately a lot of his stats came off the board due to penalties. It’s also concerning that he appears to still be No. 3 on the RB totem pole, with Samaje Perine getting the night off with starters on offense.

Cleveland Browns

Deshaun Watson dropped back 5 times in Week 1, and David Njoku ran a route on all dropbacks. He’s looking at a full-time role in 2022 after finishing 25th in routes run in 2021. Buy the tight end breakout even with Jacoby Brissett under center.

Denver Broncos

Monitor Albert Okwuegbunam. He played against the Cowboys when the team held out the rest of their starting offense. It’s not time (yet) to jump ship on this athletic marvel, but it’s worth placing a pinkie finger on the Mile High pulse.

Houston Texans

While I’m enamored with Dameon Pierce, and he flashed once on the field in the second quarter, it’s worth noting he didn’t play a single snap with the starters. This could easily be another “make the rookie earn it” type of situation, but we should still be closely watching this situation through the preseason. Marlon Mack played on five of Davis Mills‘ seven snaps, with Dare Ogunbowale soaking up the other two.

Indianapolis Colts

In the quest to find Jonathan Taylor‘s handcuff, a winner may have emerged. Phillip Lindsay got the first RB reps after Nyheim Hines.

But more importantly, Michael Pittman Jr.‘s alpha usage rolled over from last season. He ran a route on 100% of Matt Ryan‘s dropacks.

Parris Campbell was right behind him at 90%… followed by Alec Pierce (81%) and Mo Alie-Cox (73%).

Alie-Cox might have the requisite usage to be a fantasy factor in 2021. At least to be a worthy late-round target.

Jacksonville Jaguars

James Robinson was out so Travis Etienne Jr. got the vast majority of usage with the first-team offense. Ran a route on 11-of-12 Trevor Lawrence dropbacks, played an 88% snap share, while seeing work on 3rd downs and touches in the red zone. 50% opportunity share – elite fantasy usage for a running back.

If Robinson isn’t 100% coming back from injury – or gets re-injured – ETN’s upside is through the roof as the Jags clear-cut RB1.

Evan Engram split time with fellow tight ends Chris Manhertz and Luke Farrell. Not ideal for a fantasy tight end because we want them owning all the snaps/routes.

Kansas City Chiefs

JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling ran all the routes with Patrick Mahomes with Mecole Hardman coming in when the team ran 11-personnel. Skyy Moore was the distant WR4 after playing with just the 2nd team. But the bigger news was Isiah Pacheco operating as the RB2 behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Ronald Jones came in after, but he sure looks to be on the roster bubble.

Las Vegas Raiders

Josh Jacobs was given the night off against the Vikings along with Ameer Abdullah. Rumors out of camp have stated that Abdullah is completing with Kenyan Drake for the passing down role. Abdullah sitting out this game means we should take note and move him up in our rankings while also sliding Drake down for the time being.

Los Angeles Chargers

Isaiah Spiller didn’t play with the second team against the Rams. Those snaps went to Joshua Kelley (nine) and Larry Rountree lll (seven). This isn’t to say that Spiller can’t fulfill the promise as Austin Ekeler‘s running mate, but he has work to do before Week 1. The team has seen plenty of Kelley and Rountree to know what they have in them, which prompted the team to draft Spiller, so for now, take this with a grain of salt.

Miami Dolphins

Mike McDaniel wasn’t lying. During Mike Gesicki‘s brief Week 1 preseason playing time, he was inline on 33.3% of his snaps which is a jump from last year (7.4% per PFF). Gesicki struggled as Adam Gase tried to pigeonhole him as an inline guy in his rookie season. While Gesicki could acclimate to the role better a second time around, it’s worth noting that we should probably bump him down slightly in our projections.

New England Patriots

Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris were held out of the last game, which won’t shock anyone, but Ty Montgomery also didn’t suit up. This falls in line with camp reports he’s expected to be or the current favorite to be the Patriots’ passing down back.

New York Jets

Zach Wilson suffered a bone bruise early and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. That means Joe Flacco might open the season as the starter. Elijah Moore‘s one game with Flacco at QB? (Week 11): 8-141-1 on nine targets.

Moore’s also playing an every-down role in the Jets offense. He played all the snaps with starters. Meanwhile, 1st-round pick Garrett Wilson…often came off the field in 3-WR sets in favor of Moore, Corey Davis, and Braxton Berrios.

Tyler Conklin also looks to be in the pass-catching TE role over C.J. Uzomah. He commanded 4 targets and ran more routes.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Anthony McFarland got significant run with the starters playing 14 of 16 snaps (per PFF), but don’t discount Jaylen Warren from taking this RB2 job from him. Warren has been receiving consistent camp buzz. The drumbeat is growing louder for the talented rookie who forced three missed tackles with 5.17 yards after contact per attempt on his six carries (per PFF).

Tennessee Titans

Treylon Burks has some work to do before Week 1. Tennessee rested Robert Woods and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine against the Ravens, but Burks got playing time. Burks only saw the field for 50% of the snaps with the team’s starters for this game. While it’s too early to break out the shovel and bury his fantasy outlook for this season with a roller coaster camp so far, we need to analyze and process every data point possible for the rookie.

Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

NFC

Arizona Cardinals

Greg Dortch is a name to keep tabs on throughout camp. Dortch might be listed as WR7 on the depth chart currently, but he made some waves in Week 1. Among 35 wide receivers that saw at least five targets in Week 1 action, Dortch ranked fourth in YAC per reception and 19th in yards per route run while running 96% of his routes from the slot (per PFF).

It also needs to be mentioned here that while Eno Benjamin was the first running back out the gate for the Cardinals this week, Darrel Williams being held out does also throw cold water on the “Benjamin is the RB2” takes. Still, mix in Williams to your best ball exposures.

Atlanta Falcons

Marcus Mariota looked sharp. In Mariota’s only series, he completed both passes for 36 yards while also adding 23 rushing yards on the ground (three carries). Mariota is a dirt cheap dual-threat quarterback to target at the end of best ball drafts. With Drake London and Kyle Pitts headlining the passing attack, this Falcons’ passing attack could be a ton of fun for fantasy this season. Double stacking Mariota right now is too easy in best ball.

Carolina Panthers

If you’re down on Christian McCaffrey, your handcuff target to draft just got murky. Chuba Hubbard and D’Onta Foreman both received six snaps with the starting offense, with Foreman edging Hubbard in routes five to three (per PFF). This is an avoid and monitor situation until we get more clarity as the preseason unfolds.

Chicago Bears

Yes, we’re going to talk about Trestan Ebner. The rookie flashed brightly in his first NFL action turning his six carries into 31 yards on the ground while breaking a 27-yard scamper. Ebner also snagged his only target for a 12-yard score. He remains a big upside final pick in redraft and best-ball leagues. Don’t draft a kicker or defense in your early redraft leagues. Draft Ebner.

Dallas Cowboys

The biggest takeaway here as Dallas rested their top guys is that if anything happened to Dak Prescott, this offense would be in big trouble. Andy Dalton might not have been great last year, but he was functional, and our fantasy assets retained some value. If Prescott were to miss any time, Cooper Rush or Ben DiNucci‘s quarterback play would be nightmare fuel. Of the 28 quarterbacks that logged 20 or more dropbacks this week, they finished 16th and 26th in PFF passing grades.

Detroit Lions

Jamaal Williams will remain relevant. Of the ten snaps the Lions starters played last week, Swift logged six and Williams four, each running two routes. I still love Swift’s outlook this season, but if the work is nearly 50/50, he’ll need to keep his high target per route run rate and gobble up the red zone work to hit big this season.

Green Bay Packers

The Romeo Doubs hype train has reached epic cruising speed. Doubs tossed more coal in the furnace in Week 1. He snagged three of his seven targets with 45 yards and a score. His 3.00 yards per route run ranked 11th (minimum five targets, per PFF). Before we get even further out over our skies with Doubs’ hype, understand that Christian Watson has returned to practice and will stake his claim in this passing attack. Before chasing his rising ADP up the board, let’s see if Watson can make some noise in camp. Watson can still easily be the starter in Week 1 opposite Lazard, so Doubs hype needs to pump the brakes.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams will rest everyone important all preseason, so the weekly takeaways will likely be more for dynasty league purposes or to further your preseason DFS degenerate ways. The camp buzz for Lance McCutcheon proved to be real. McCutcheon made the most of his 22 pass routes commanding six targets with 87 receiving yards and two scores. Bryce Perkins will get a heavy share of the playing time this preseason at quarterback. Their connection looks real. Follow the bromance and stack them in DFS if they both suit up in Week 2.

Minnesota Vikings

Kene Nwangwu put his athletic measurables to good use in Week 1. Nwangwu wasn’t the only Vikings back to flash, as Ty Chandler looked explosive as well (five carries, 50 rushing yards). The clear handcuff remains Alexander Mattison, though. Mattison played all eight snaps with the Vikings starters running three routes and toting the ball three times (per PFF).

New Orleans Saints

Adam Trautman is off the fantasy football radar. Juwan Johnson looks to have the upper hand for the Saints’ receiving tight end position. With the starters taking 15 snaps this week, Johnson led with ten snaps (Trautman eight) and seven routes (Trautman two).

New York Giants

Saquon Barkley is a bell cow and still a stud. We already knew that, but it had to be said. Let’s turn our attention to the passing attack. Wan’Dale Robinson and Daniel Bellinger are still going too late in best ball and early redraft leagues. With Kenny Golladay remaining a dust ball and Sterling Shepard still sidelined, Robinson, who played 13 of the 18 snaps with the starters, could be vital in the passing attack starting Week 1 of the regular season. At a position where we care about routes and snaps along with many other factors, Bellinger looks like the entrenched every down starter. He played 16 snaps while running nine routes (per PFF).

Philadelphia Eagles

Jalen Hurts hype won’t be slowing down from my mouth anytime soon. Hurts looked sharp as a razor in Week 1. He completed all six passes with a sterling 85.5 PFF passing grade. Hurts darkhorse MVP campaign is still on track. Let’s get freaky.

San Francisco 49ers

Speaking of mobile quarterback party bus material. Trey Lance made his case as “the breakout quarterback” to target in fantasy football more valid. Lance completed 80% of his passes for 92 yards while looking composed in the pocket. His ADP will continue to climb the closer we get to the regular season.

Seattle Seahawks

Geno Smith offered some hope for Seattle pass catchers. Smith finished Week 1 with the second-highest PFF passing grade (minimum ten dropbacks) and two big-time throws. The quarterback situation in Seattle might still be gag-inducing, but if Smith can at least operate at a league-average level, D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett could be values in fantasy football.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Gio Bernard is the handcuff to target right now. Bernard and not Rachaad White or Ke’Shawn Vaughn played all 13 snaps with the Buccaneers “starters” running five routes and handling seven carries (per PFF). While this could change the further we move along during the preseason, Bernard needs to be mixed into your late-round best ball targets right now.

Washington Commanders

Antonio Gibson remains a landmine in fantasy football. Gibson remained an early down only player coming off the field in third down situations, and Brian Robinson outshined him. Gibson fumbled on his second carry of the game and proceeded to watch Brian Robinson out snap him (11 vs. five), out carry him (six vs. two), and run more routes (five vs. two) than him with the starters. Robinson’s ADP will climb, and it deserves to. Draft him easily over Gibson in all formats.


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