Preseason Week 1 Fantasy Recap
With every team now with at least one preseason game in the books, we’ve begun to see some clarity in a number of the camp battles taking place across the league. But some situations still need to be fleshed out.
Here’s a look at what happened across the league in NFL Preseason Week 1:
In Philadelphia, it should come as no surprise that Michael Vick got the start at quarterback and looked good working against New England. He threw a 47-yard TD pass to DeSean Jackson working against the Patriots first-team defense. Nick Foles led a touchdown drive as well, but Vick started and looked better. Chip Kelly isn’t naming a starter, but Vick’s probably going to be the guy.
In New England, rookie Kenbrell Thompkins caught four passes for 23 yards from Tom Brady, while fellow rookie Aaron Dobson had two for 35 on eight targets. Dobson, a second-round draft pick, will be on everyone’s radar as the No. 2 target behind Danny Amendola, but Thompkins has also looked good in camp. At tight end, rookie Zach Sudfeld is an intriguing late-round flier. He’s developing a nice rapport with Brady as well.
In New York, Mark Sanchez started and completed 10 of 13 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. But he also had a Mark Sanchez-moment and threw a terrible interception on a screen. Geno Smith didn’t help his cause by getting hurt, but his ankle injury didn’t keep him out of practice Sunday. But Sanchez could hold the rookie off for now.
In Jacksonville, Blaine Gabbert didn’t do much with his chance to start. Though he completed 5 of 10 passes, they went for just 19 yards. He didn’t get much help, though, as two passes were dropped, including one that wound up as an interception. Chad Henne was much better, which isn’t surprising, going 8 for 11 for 87 yards. The Jaguars obviously wanted Gabbert, a former first-round pick, to win the job, but Henne might not give them a choice.
In Arizona, rookie Stepfan Taylor got plenty of work with Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams sidelined and gained 64 yards on 20 carries. Those aren’t great numbers, but realize that he spent a lot of time running behind backups as well. With the injury histories of Mendenhall and Williams, Taylor is looking like a sneaky late-round pick.
In Chicago, the Bears have been searching for a No. 2 receiver to pair with Brandon Marshall and even though rookie Marquess Wilson had a team-high five catches for 82 yards in the preseason opener, including a 58-yard catch to set up Chicago’s lone offensive touchdown, don’t add his name to the mix just yet. All of his receptions came in the second half. Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett didn’t do much to distinguish themselves in 2012. Jeffery has the pedigree and could emerge in his second season. Jeffery had one reception from Jay Cutler for 13 yards against Carolina in the preseason opener.
In New Orleans, Pierre Thomas has been nursing an ankle injury and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Mark Ingram has looked very good and could emerge as the team’s main runner paired with receiving option Darren Sproles. Meanwhile, with projected No. 3 receiver Joseph Morgan suffering a season-ending ACL injury, Steve Breaston was brought in to battle Nick Toon, Kenny Stills, Andy Tanner and Preston Parker for the No. 3 spot. In most offenses, that wouldn’t matter, but in this one, No. 3 can be valuable. Toon and Parker both had nice games against Kansas City working against backups, but Breaston wasn’t ready to play yet.
In Oakland, Matt Flynn was steady, if unspectacular, while Terrelle Pryor was sometimes spectacular, sometimes maddening. Flynn had an early fumble off of a blown protection, but then led a field goal drive that included a pair of third down conversions. Pryor made some plays with his running ability, then had a terrible interception in the end zone, throwing across his body. Flynn was 4 of 5 for 37 yards, while Pryor was 6 of 10 for 88. Pryor also added 31 yards on the ground, while Flynn scrambled once for four yards. The job is Flynn’s to lose and he did nothing to do so. It wouldn’t be surprising to see both quarterbacks used if Pryor continues to chew up chunks of yardage.
In San Diego, running back Ryan Matthews got the bulk of the work with the first team, but was spelled by Ronnie Brown on the opening drive. Rookie Keenan Allen had two receptions for 14 yards and is battling Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal for the starting job opposite Malcom Floyd now that Danario Alexander is out for the season. Royal got the start against Seattle, so the job is his, at least for now.
In Cincinnati, the Bengals are in need of a No. 2 receiver - what’s new - to pair with A.J. Green now that Andrew Hawkins is out at least half the season. Mohammed Sanu, Marvin Jones, Cobi Hamilton and Brandon Tate are the competitors and Jones didn’t play against the Falcons. Tate had two receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown - coming from backup Josh Johnson - while Sanu was shut out and Hamilton had one catch for minus-1 yard. Jones has been impressive in camp, though, so keep an eye on him.
In New York, David Wilson got five carries for 16 yards and Andre Brown four for 23 for the Giants against the Steelers. Perhaps more importantly, Wilson got all of the work with the first unit, even though he didn’t do much with it against a traditionally tough Pittsburgh run defense.
In Denver, Ronnie Hillman got the start at running back and took all of the first-team carries against San Francisco. Neither Hillman nor Montee Ball did much to distinguish themselves against the 49ers. It’s still apparently Hillman’s job to lose.
In Green Bay, head coach Mike McCarthy made the statement last week that he considers injured DuJuan Harris his starting running back. Thats all well and good in the coach-speak world, but the fact is that Eddie Lacy has continued to look the best according to all reports. Lacy, fellow rookie Johnathan Franklin, James Starks and Alex Green have all worked with the first-team offense at time in training camp but it is becoming apparent that Lacy will be the man – if his current hamstring issue isn’t a serious one.