NFL Preseason Risers & Fallers (2022 Fantasy Football)
With one week of NFL preseason action in the bag, it’s time to toss cold water or fuel on the preseason hype flames. Our fantasy analysts 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. These are our NFL Preseason Risers and Fallers.
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NFL Preseason Risers
Isiah Pacheco (RB – KC): ECR 253 | RB72
- Rookie RB Isiah Pacheco entered the game ahead of veteran RBs Ronald Jones and Jerick McKinnon.
- 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.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR – KC): ECR 76 | WR33
- Skyy Moore may indeed be a star in the making, and the old axiom “follow the money” might lead us to Marquez Valdes-Scantling‘s doorstep, but the first week of the preseason suggested that JuJu Smith-Schuster is the Kansas City WR to target. Chiefs starting QB Patrick Mahomes played 11 snaps against the Bears on Saturday, and Smith-Schuster was the only receiver on the field for all 11 of those snaps. MVS played nine of those snaps, Mecole Hardman played four of them, and Moore didn’t play a single snap with Mahomes. This isn’t an ironclad guide to the target pecking order for the Chiefs’ receivers, but I consider it a strong hint that JuJu is the best bet to lead the team in targets.
George Pickens (WR – PIT): ECR 152 | WR60
- There’s mounting evidence that George Pickens is going to be a star. The reports from training camp have been glowing, and then Pickens had a beautiful toe-tap TD catch in the corner of the end zone Saturday against the Seahawks. We’re also finding out that Pickens is a rather intense competitor. It’s getting to the point where I’ll feel bad if I don’t leave a draft with Pickens on my roster.
George Pickens picking up right where he left off pic.twitter.com/oEfkPAiJ4K
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 14, 2022
Trestan Ebner (RB – CHI): ECR 409 | RB112
- There were Trestan Ebner truthers in my ear even before training camps opened. Now I see why those people are so enthusiastic. Ebner looked terrific against the Chiefs on Saturday, carrying six times for 31 yards and also catching a 12-yard TD pass. An undrafted free agent, Ebner looks like a near-lock to make the Bears’ roster and has a chance to turn the David Montgomery show into an ensemble affair with Montgomery and Khalil Herbert.
- Ebner 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.
All of Trestan Ebner’s touches NFL Preseason Week 1. pic.twitter.com/dbuKCpQdzy
— Zareh Kantzabedian (@ZKantzFF) August 15, 2022
Jahan Dotson (WR – WAS): ECR 155 | WR62
- Jahan Dotson has a sexy game — 4.43 speed that shows up in games, crisp route-running, a knack for winning 50-50 balls in the air — and the Commanders are clearly smitten with him. They drafted him in the middle of the first round, earlier than a lot of the mocks had him going, and Dotson was on the field for all 22 of starting QB Carson Wentz‘s snaps vs. the Panthers on Saturday. The rookie has been going late in best-ball drafts and could be a nice flier in redraft leagues.
Dameon Pierce (RB – HOU): ECR 112 | RB41
- 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.
Marlon Mack got the starting nod.
3 attempts for 6 yards.
Dameon Pierce came in the 2nd qtr.
Rushed for 49 yards on 5 carries (9.8 ypc)
Won’t be long for the rookie to take over early-down duties.
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) August 16, 2022
Travis Etienne Jr. (RB – JAC): ECR 39 | RB20
- 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.
- Etienne had a combined 12 carries and targets on his 22 snaps.
Marcus Mariota (QB – ATL): ECR 257 | QB30
- 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.
Wan’Dale Robinson (WR – NYG): ECR 204 | WR77
- 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).
NFL Preseason Fallers
Skyy Moore (WR – KC): ECR 120 | WR49
- 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.
Adam Trautman (TE – NO): ECR 256 | TE29
- Preseason Week 1 was not encouraging for Adam Trautman truthers — and I happen to be one of them. When the Saints’ starters were on the field, the third-year TE played fewer snaps and ran fewer routes than Juwan Johnson. Not good.
- 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).
Tyrion Davis-Price (RB – SF): ECR 228 | RB65
- Second-year RB Trey Sermon played ahead of rookie RB Tyrion Davis-Price and was on the field for all 11 first-team snaps with QB Trey Lance.
Antonio Gibson (RB – WAS): ECR 54 | RB25
- Rookie RB Brian Robinson played more first-team snaps (11) than veteran RB Antonio Gibson (5), who fumbled and then played with the backups.
- 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.
Isaiah Spiller (RB – LAC): ECR 135 | RB49
- 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.
Mike Gesicki (TE – MIA): ECR 125 | TE14
- 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.
Treylon Burks (WR – TEN): ECR 111 | WR45
- 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.
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