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Sat Aug 10th 2019

20 Lessons From Preseason Week One

Players on the rise

It's important not to read too much into preseason games given that you never know what coaches are looking for and trying to accomplish in these games.  If you watch carefully, however, you can take away several things that affect players' dynasty values.  I just finished watching all of last weekend's preseason games, and here are 20 things I took away that change player values in my rankings.  This week I need to adjust these players' rankings accordingly!

1. I should have reached to draft Preston Williams in rookie drafts.

  • I had Williams ranked higher than literally everyone else in the dynasty community.  He was my #43 ranked WR (the middle of the 4th round).  I thought I could get him in the 5th since no one else was high on him.  That is, except for the sharp manager in several of my leagues (Dave Mugge) who reached to draft him ahead of me in all three of our leagues.  I wish I was the one who reached for him.  He was a monster in his first preseason game.  By the time the season starts, he has to become a starting WR in Miami.  He's just that good.  I have one more rookie draft in my Freek League, but now the cat is out of the bag and others will be targeting him too.

2. James Washington is better than Donte Moncrief.

  • The training camp buzz was that Moncrief had secured the WR2 spot opposite Juju.  That may well be for now, given that Juju and Moncrief saw no action in the first preseason game, but Washington did and he took advantage of the time on the field.  It could be that he's not a great practice player, but when the lights come on he can play.  Washington was awesome on Friday night and will surely beat out Moncrief to be the WR2 in Pittsburg.

3.  Nick Chubb can catch.

  • Cleveland came out with their first team pretending to run the 2-minute offense.  Chubb started the drive and had one nifty catch.  Sure, it's just one catch and Hillard came in for the rest of the series and caught several balls.  Still, the trade of Duke Johnson and this nice play should put to rest the thought that Chubb cannot be involved in the passing game.  Hillard likely will be the 2-minute drill RB, but Chubb can manage screen passes and such throughout a game and I believe he will be primed to do so this next year.  I say he'll catch 35 or more passes this year.

4. Miami will be a split backfield even though Drake is better than Ballage.

  • It seems clear that Drake and Ballage will both be used about equally, but perhaps in different ways.  Drake should lead the backfield, and I believe he's better at creating explosive plays, but that's because he often dances in the backfield while looking for the big play.  Ballage can make big plays too, but he's more of a thumper which means he will be trusted more on short-yardage and goalline situations.  Thus, this backfield is a mess without any RB1 value but will likely have many weeks of RB2 value if you can guess on the right week.  I'd favor Drake given that Miami is likely to be playing from behind a lot this year.

5. Denver will be a split backfield with both Lindsay and Freeman providing value.

  • Both Lindsay and Freeman looked great.  I think Lindsay should be valued a little higher because of his use in the passing game, especially after hearing of the injury to Theo Riddick.  Freeman will be better on the goalline though and will be mixed into the passing game more this year too.  Their value, for me, is as close as can be with Lindsay ranked as my RB#26 and Freeman as my RB#27.

6. I should have picked up Jakobi Meyers last week, but now it's too late.

  • I heard the training camp blurbs, but could not bring myself to believe it since he was not even ranked in my rookie rankings which run 75 players deep.  Others in my leagues bought the hype and bought Jakobi before I could.  I missed it.  Jakobi looked awesome in preseason game one.  He was a major focus of the offense, being targeted 8 times, grabbing 6 passes, and scoring 2 TDs.  He's not only going to make the team, but he could also be a starter week #1, especially with N'Keal Harry's injuries.

7. Kyler Murray will be fine.

  • He only played one series, but it was fun to watch.  He's hyper-accurate and did not seem overwhelmed by the moment.  The plays were pretty vanilla, but he showed enough to make me realize he will be fine.  He's not going to be a bust, at least while he's the Kingsbury offense.

8. The Chargers will be fine with Ekeler and Jackson if Gordon does not return.

  • Ekeler looked awesome apart from the fumble.  I have some concerns about his ability to stay healthy if used too much, but if they mix he and Jackson they should be fine if Gordon does not come back.  Ekeler is the more explosive big-play back, but Jackson is the tougher more trustworthy short-yardage back.  Ekeler will have more receptions and yards this year, but Jackson will have more touchdowns.  Jackson is far more sturdy, having one of the heaviest college workloads ever.  If Ekeler gets hurt, Jackson will be an RB1 on the Charger's offense.  Without and injury, Ekeler would be in the RB2 range while Jackson would be in the RB3 range.

9. DK Metcalf will get targets.

  • He only had one catch, but early you could tell how Seattle intended to target and use DK.  He's going to excel on go routes, curl routes, and quick out routes.  He'll pop more in the preseason games he plays with Russell Wilson.  They have an idea about what they want to do with him even if it is limited to a few simple routes.  He's going to have every opportunity early to pass or fail.  I think he'll pass.

10. Zay Jones is the WR1 in Buffalo.

  • Josh Allen has eyes for Zay Jones.  John Brown will be fine, but I believe Jones should be drafted ahead of Brown.  I listened to an interview with Josh Allen earlier this summer and you could tell there was a real connection with Jones.  He was targeted quickly in this first preseason game, and I believe that's what will happen all season.  This may sound crazy, but I believe Zay Jones will be this year's Tyler Boyd - a third-year breakout, especially if Allen can improve as a passer.

11. Nyheim Hines is only a passing-downs back.

  • The Colts tried to run Hines out as the starter and he did not look the part.  I believe he's best suited to continue as the passing downs back in Indianapolis.  The moves that Indianapolis made this offseason show that they are searching for a true back-up to Marlon Mack (picking up Spencer Ware, Jonathan Williams, and now D'onta Foreman).  Hines has good value in PPR leagues, but that's the limit of his dynasty impact.

12. Devin Singletary is better than I thought.

  • I was lower on Singletary than a lot of other analysts.  I had him ranked as the #29 rookie after landing in Buffalo.  He looked pretty good though.  He was the same shifty runner between the tackles and he was involved early in the passing game.  I think Buffalo may be giving him more time this preseason to see if they can cut one of their other many RBs.  I would not be surprised if they do.  I need to rank Singletary higher.

13. Buffalo's defense is underrated.

  • Last year I picked up Buffalo at the end of the season in several leagues because they have so much defensive talent and a great defensive-minded head coach in Sean McDermott.  They were all over Indianapolis in preseason game #1.  I mention it here because I bet the Buffalo defense may be on the waiver wire in most leagues.  If so, go get them.

14. Rudolph, Bridgewater, and Gilbert are worth holding in superflex leagues.

  • If you're in a deep superflex league, these guys are worth picking up.  They all looked comfortable in their offenses and played great.  Rudolph and Bridgewater have QBs in front of them that are nearing retirement.  Gilbert, of course, does not in Cleveland behind Mayfield, but he could be worth a hold for teams that have Mayfield.

15. The Kansas City backfield will be RBBC.

  • This pains me to say given that I have so many shares of Damien Williams and Carlos Hyde, but Darwin Thompson has already proven himself a near equal (and younger) competitor.  Andy Reid as confirmed that they intend to be an RBBC after calling Williams the clear starter for the last few months.  This backfield is going to be a mess unless there is an injury or Darwin can blow these guys away in the preseason.

16. Green Bay WRs that get cut will still hold their dynasty value.

  • Allen Lazard, Derrius Shepherd, Jake Kumerow, J'Mon Moore, and Equanimeous St. Brown may be behind Adams, Valdez-Scantling, and Allison, but they are great players.  Neither of them dominated in preseason week one, but they all showed special skills (even if St. Brown just recovered a fumble for  TD on special teams).  I suspect Kumerow will stay with Green Bay while 2 of the other 3 are cut or held on the practice squad.  Keep an eye on them because they are good bottom-of-the-roster players to hold onto in deep leagues.

17. The Atlanta RB2 race is a mess.

  • If you've followed me for very long, you know I am low on Devonta Freeman.  I used to love him and owned him in several leagues but I sold all my stock last season, fearing he's going to be continually injured.  As a result, I've been investing a lot in Qadree Ollison because I also do not believe in Ito Smith.  Well, Brian Hill has entered the fray and established himself as a possible top back up.  This backfield will be a mess for those of us hoping to hold the backup and capitalize on an injury to Freeman and those trying to handcuff Freeman.  They've all looked good and are being used so far in their preseason games.  I just don't know which of them looks the best.  Right now I say Brian Hill.

18. Tannehill is better than Mariota.

  • Poor Mariota.  His value has fallen so far over the last two years.  Tannehill's great play against the #2 defense in a preseason game is not definitive, but it should raise some questions.  There is a reason why Tennessee signed Tannehill in free agency.  Buy Tannehill in 2-QB leagues.

19. I was wrong on Jalen Hurd.

  • Kyle Shanahan is hilarious.  He likes to trade up to get guys he wants like Pettis and Samuel the last two years.  He also will reach like crazy for "his guys" like he did with Joe Williams last year and Jalen Hurd this year.  I usually buy into Shanahan's intuition, but this time I did not.  Well, I may have been wrong because Hurd played a ton of snaps and scored 2 TDs on his 3 catches.  Trent Taylor was injured too, so Hurd is going to have every opportunity to be Shanahan's multifaceted player. 

20.  Rashard Higgins is the WR3 in Cleveland.

  • I was also wrong on Antonio Callaway.  I held onto him in hopes that he could be a great WR3 in the up-and-coming Cleveland offense, but Higgins has reportedly been better throughout camp and he certainly was in their preseason game.  I was higher on Callaway because of his opportunity given that OBJ (unlike Jarvis Landry) is often injured.  For the same reason, I now favor Higgins.  Callaway's 4-game suspension has made this even more clear.  Callaway will likely be on my cut list once my dynasty rsoters get cut back before week #1.


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