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NFL Preseason Week 1 Review - Fantasy Impact


The first week of preseason games are in the books, and while the games don't mean anything, there is still information we can glean from them. You'll hear a lot of overreaction from other sites, but we're here to tell you what really matters this early in the exhibition season.

There are two things that really matter this early in the preseason: injuries and player roles. Ignore noise like big-splash plays, or long runs against third stringers, and look deeper to see how the coaching staff appears to view players in accordance with the depth chart.

In case you missed the games, we are here to give you a rundown on whose stock rose or fell.

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Injuries

Derrius Guice and Deon Cain Tear ACLs

Sad news for a couple of rookies as both Derrius Guice and Deon Cain tore their ACL’s in the first preseason game. For fantasy owners, Guice is a big blow as he had a 4th/5th round ADP and was expected to have a big role in this offense. He will likely be replaced by either Rob Kelley or Samaje Perine, though neither offer a whole lot. Chris Thompson is now a much safer pick as there was a threat Guice could impact his role in the passing game. He is the only one worth drafting in this backfield at the moment. Of course, Washington could always reach out to a veteran like DeMarco Murray or Alfred Morris, but until then Thompson is the guy to draft.

Cain was making quite a bit of noise in Colts camp, and considering there isn’t much at the wide receiver position outside of T.Y. Hilton, he had a chance to make an impact. Now the rookie will miss the entire year. His value now is nothing more than a hold in dynasty formats. We’ll have to keep on eye on how the Colts treat this receiver group through the rest of preseason, but Ryan Grant has a great opportunity to slot in as the number two.

Marlon Mack Suffers Hamstring Injury

Not surprisingly, Mack opened as the starter and handled all of the running back work before leaving with a hamstring injury. Mack was a player I was targeting in the middle rounds, and while he is currently listed as week to week, hamstrings can linger and impact a player’s productivity even after they return. Once he went out the Colts turned to Robert Turbin for the remainder of the starter snaps. Turbin is suspended the first four games but it’s obvious the Colts like him. He could put a wrench in this backfield once he returns. Rookie Nyheim Hines didn’t do a whole lot to impress when he got his chance. Jordan Wilkins, however, looked good and has an opportunity to impress coaches with Mack out. As of now, I am keeping my eye on Mack and if he looks ready for the season he is the only player I want, with Wilkins lurking.

George Kittle and Matt Breida Suffer Shoulder Injuries

The 49ers seemed snake bit from the go in their preseason opener, as first defensive tackle Solomon Thomas suffered a concussion, then in the span of a few plays both George Kittle and Matt Breida left with shoulder injuries. Luckily they do not appear serious but drafters should monitor the situation closely. A lot of people are expecting a breakout year from Kittle, and Breida was expected to have a sizeable role out of the backfield. Both are going relatively late in drafts, so if you draft early you should feel OK taking them. While Brieda’s injury may open the door for a player like Joe Williams, I think the 49ers like what Breida can do and his role is safe.

Isaiah Crowell Suffers Head Injury

Crowell suffered a concussion when he lowered his head (no penalty? Get some consistency NFL!) on his touchdown catch and run. Crowell is a popular sleeper pick, as he was last year, and many are predicting him to lead the backfield in touches. But those who watched closely noticed that it was Bilal Powell, not Crowell, who was getting the bulk of the starter snaps. Powell played the first 10 snaps with the starters before taking himself out for a breather. Crowell shouldn’t miss much time, and will probably see his ADP rise after the touchdown, but smart drafters would be better off passing on Crowell and getting Powell later.

 

Stock Up, Stock Down

These players saw their stock rise, or fall, based on how their role in the first preseason game. Of course, it is just the first preseason game so don't overreact, but there are certainly situations that we should pay close attention too.

Christian McCaffrey Stock Up, C.J. Anderson Stock Down

The Panthers ran 15 snaps with the first-team offense, and Christian McCaffrey played all 15 snaps. He even got the teams only goal-line carry. It appears that the Panthers are making this McCaffrey’s backfield, and Anderson isn’t even in the picture. Anderson was running with the third stringers, which is usually reserved for players who are on the cusp of not making the roster. McCaffery was already a second round pick so it is hard to see his ADP going up, but this now solidifies him as an elite fantasy asset in any format. As for Anderson, I was targeting him after he signed with the Panthers but now he is on my do not draft list at his current price.

Andrew Luck Stock Up

Luck played 19 snaps in the Colts preseason opener, going 6/9 for 64 yards. He even got up and smiled after taking a big hit from Marcus Peters. Quenton Nelson has been an absolute beast on this offensive line and that should only help Luck. Appearing completely healthy, we have to treat Luck like a top-5 fantasy quarterback once again. Still being overlooked, Luck could end up being one of the best values on draft day.

Chris Carson Stock Up, Rashaad Penny Stock Down

Pete Carroll had been saying the Carson was earning the starting role, and that proved to be the point for the team’s first preseason game. Carson played seven of 12 snaps with the starters and even got a 4th and 1 carry. While Carson does not appear to be clearly running away with this backfield, he seems to be earning a bigger role than expected. Carson is now a must draft with his late-round ADP, though that will surely rise. As for Penny he will have value, and his role could always increase, but the risk seems to be higher at the moment.

Alex Collins, Javorius Allen Stocks Up

Drafters continue to sleep on Collins and Allen, but that is likely to change as the preseason goes on. Collins and Allen did not play in the first preseason game, a pretty strong indication they are viewed as the starters (none of the Ravens starters played). Collins looks like an absolute steal in the 4th or 5th round of fantasy drafts, while Allen continues to be practically free.

Tyrod Taylor, Baker Mayfield Stocks Up

Taylor started for the Browns, like Hue Jackson has said he would, and looked great going 5/5 for 99 yards and a touchdown. After Taylor left, number one overall pick Mayfield came in and also looked great. Taylor should open the season as the starter and should hold the role for most of the year, but Mayfield’s talent can’t be ignored for long and he is the future. Mayfield may not offer much in redraft, but his dynasty stock is way, way up. Taylor, meanwhile, could prove to be a solid QB2 in Superflex and two quarterback leagues.

Michael Gallup Stock Up

Sure, there was the highlight 20-yard touchdown catch for the rookie Gallup playing in his first NFL game. But what was even more encouraging was the fact that he played eight of the nine snaps with Dak Prescott and the starters. Gallup could have an immediate impact on a team with a very thin wide receiver group. It will be interesting to see how he progresses throughout preseason but as of now he is worth a late-round pick.

Peyton Barber Stock Up, Ronald Jones II Stock Down

When the Buccaneers used a second-round pick on Ronald Jones, many people were perplexed. Jones did not profile as a workhorse back and now it seems the Buccaneers have realized that. On the 14 snaps the starters played, Jones played just one while Barber played 13. To make matters worse for the rookie, head coach Dirk Koetter said after the game “I thought Ronald was pretty average...I think he was maybe pushing a little bit. I thought he lined up too deep in the backfield a couple times.” Not a ringing endorsement. Jones is a fifth or sixth rounder while Barber is practically free. Skip Jones and grab Barber with one of your last picks instead.

Marqise Lee and Kelvin Benjamin Stock Up

I lumped Lee and Benjamin together because they have similar ADPs and are in similar situations. Both are the clear number one receivers on low-volume passing offenses who are being drafted in the 9th or 10th rounds typically. Lee played on 14 of the Jaguars 15 starter snaps and in all sorts of formations. The next closest receiver, Dede Westbrook, played just nine snaps. Benjamin, meanwhile, led the Bills with four catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. While the offenses of both limit their upsides somewhat, both should see plenty of volume and make for great values at their current price.

Jeremy Hill Stock Up, Mike Gillislee Stock Down

Not only did Jeremy Hill look good running the football in the Patriots preseason opener, but he was excellent in blitz pickup. In the competition for the “power back” Hill appears to have the leg up on Gilislee at this point. Hill also played eight special teams snaps, which may give him the edge should the Patriots decide to cut one. Hill is certainly worth a late-round dart throw at this point.

Albert Wilson Stock Down

Wilson was a popular sleeper amongst many experts entering training camp, but the train seems to have derailed. The Dolphins starters played 11 snaps in the first preseason game, and Wilson was in on exactly zero of them. Devante Parker and Kenny Stills each played 11, while Danny Amendola played nine. While it's rumored that he'll line up in various places around the field, possibly even at running back, it appears Wilson has little to no true role in this offense and drafters should look elsewhere in the late rounds.

 

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