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Pat Fitzmaurice’s NFL Preseason Week 1 Takeaways (2022 Fantasy Football)

Aug 16, 2022

Yes, it’s just one week of the preseason, with the starters from most teams playing no more than a dozen snaps or so, but the exhibition games yielded some intriguing clues for fantasy managers to examine. Here are some of the things that I found significant from the first full week of the preseason …

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Pat Fitzmaurice’s NFL Preseason Week 1 Takeaways

This isn’t a game-related takeaway, but Tom Brady‘s prolonged absence from Buccaneers training camp might be more significant than anything that happened on the field last week. The party line from Buccaneers HQ is that Brady’s two-week absence (!) to attend to a “personal matter” was pre-planned. Really? And yet the Bucs chose not to mention it to the media in advance to preempt a wildfire of speculation about his status for 2022? Hmm. It’s possible that everything is just as the team says it is, and Brady returns next week as reported. But would it be shocking if the 45-year-old QB reconsidered his decision to come out of retirement and simply chose not to return — especially after TE Rob Gronkowski retired, and a knee injury to center Ryan Jensen further destabilized an already-weakened offensive line? If I had a fantasy draft this weekend (and I do), I would shy away from RB Leonard Fournette; WRs Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage and Julio Jones; and certainly Brady himself.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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