NFL Preseason Week 1 Recap: Fantasy Football Impact and Analysis
Below is analysis of the position-by-position fantasy impact of Week 1 of the preseason. But first, a look at the blockbuster trades that landed Sammy Watkins with the Rams and Jordan Matthews with the Bills.
Note: All player ADPs are from 4for4's Multi-Site ADP tool.
How Trades Affect Value of Watkins, J-Matt, Tyrod
Sammy Watkins value does not change as much you would think: Sean McVay is an offensive genius who drastically improved Kirk Cousins, and the Bills were going to switch to more of a short-passing scheme that would curb Watkins' splash-play appeal anyway.
Jordan Matthews' target outlook increases in Buffalo, but efficiency could decline: Buffalo used the third-fewest 3+ wide receiver sets in 2016 and made fullback Patrick DiMarco the second-highest paid player at his position, Matthews is probably going to have to play on the outside a decent amount—where he has struggled:
#Bills projected staring WRs:
Jordan Mathews: 7.6 YPT in slot, 5.6 YPT outside in '16
Anquan Boldin: 7.3 YPT in slot, 3.6 YPT outside
— Chris Raybon (@ChrisRaybon) August 13, 2017
Matthews has a shot at fantasy WR3 value in PPR formats, but our WR projections suggest he's best viewed as a bench option in all formats.
The big loser in all of this is Tyrod Taylor: Taylor who averages 8.8 yards per attempt in his Bills career with Watkins; 6.3 without. Despite back-to-back top-eight fantasy QB finishes (top-11 in points per game), our QB projections rank Taylor outside the top 12.
DeShaun Watson looked good, but it may not mean much: Watson (15-25, 179 yards passing, 3-24, 1 TD rushing) made more plays than Tom Savage (9-11, 69 yards), but because of head coach Bill O’Brien’s complex scheme, Year 1 expectations have to be tempered even if Watson wins the starting job:
— Chris Raybon (@ChrisRaybon) August 10, 2017
Neither Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch distinguished himself: Siemian (6-7, 51 yards) started over Lynch (6-9, 42 yards) against Chicago. Combined with Lynch’s first-round draft pedigree, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy’s installation of a more shotgun-centric approach would seem to favor Lynch. Lynch’s passer rating last season (82.8) was better than Siemian’s in the shotgun (77.3), but Siemian’s (96.2) was better than Lynch’s (74.7) under center.
Trubisky inched toward Year 1 starts: Against backups, Trubisky (18-25, 166 yards, 1 TD) was a lot better than the starting Mike Glennon (2-8, 20 yards, 1 INT). At the very least, this raises the probability of Glennon not lasting the whole season as the starter. We already have Trubisky only two spots behind Glennon in our QB rankings.
DaShone Kizer took a positive first step toward claiming the Browns staring job: Albeit against third-stringers, DaShone Kizer (11-18, 184 yards, 1 TD) outshined Brock Osweiler (6-14, 42 yards) and Cody Kessler (5-10, 47 yards). We already have Kizer ranked ahead of the other two in our QB projections. Kessler was solid last season (92.3 rating), so either way, Kenny Britt's ADP outside the top 40 WRs is unwarranted given his top-30 finish last season with historically bad quarterback play.
Darren McFadden played Zeke's feature-back role with first-team offense: McFadden (6-28 rushing, 1-5 receiving) played all 19 snaps with the first-team. Assuming Ezekiel Elliott’s six- game ban doesn’t get reduced, McFadden would be a solid fantasy RB2 for the Cowboys’ first six games. Our value-based rankings place McFadden right around pick No. 100 in both standard and PPR formats.
Leonard Fournette took care of business in quest to be unquestioned workhorse: Chris Ivory (6-20 rushing, 1-5 receiving) got the nominal veteran “start,” but got outplayed by Leonard Fournette (9-31, 1 TD), who first checked in on the second drive. Nothing happened to suggest Fournette won’t soon overtake Ivory and be a workhorse.
Christian McCaffrey entered the game after Jonathan Stewart: It's promising that Carolina wanted to see what McCaffrey (7-33 rushing, 0-0 on 1 target) could do on the ground, but our standard-league RB rankings indicate he's being overvalued at his RB15 ADP.
Joe Mixon saw action on the first drive: Mixon (6-31 rushing, 1-11 receiving) got two snaps on the first drive after Jeremy Hill (7-26) started and already looked better than Hill. Mixon’s RB18 ADP may seem aggressive, but our projections already have Mixon slated for over 250 touches. Meanwhile, Hill's film was unimpressive last season.
Dalvin Cook played a feature-back role against Buffalo: We view the RB21 ADP of Cook (5-13 rushing, 4-30 receiving) as far. Cook's receiving production is encouraging because Latavius Murray’s perceived strengths over Cook right now are pass protection and short-yardage running.
Rob Kelley remained ahead of Samaje Perine: Kelley didn't do much, but played ahead of Perine (6-15, fumble), who got called out by head coach Jay Gruden after the game. Kelley (RB37) is only going three spots ahead of Perine (RB40), but until further notice the gap should be wider.
Dion Lewis may still be on the roster bubble: Lewis (7-32 rushing, 4-23 receiving) started and played extensively while Mike Gillislee (hamstring), James White, and Rex Burkhead sat—indicating Lewis' role in the New England backfield may not be sewn up.
Corey Grant’s continued emergence is making T.J. Yeldon expendable: Grant followed up his superb Week 17 performance (18-122-1 rushing, 2-15 receiving) with 8-120-1 rushing against New England. Grant played 156 special-teams snaps last season 2016; Yeldon played none. After whispers that he could be a surprise-cut candidate, Yeldon is too risky to invest a best-ball pick in right now.
Thomas Rawls started ahead of Eddie Lacy: Lacy (4-10) may be the bigger name, but it's entirely possible the Seattle coaching staff is fine with using him as depth after a season in which its backfield was decimated by injury. Rawls (2-5) is one season removed from leading the league in yards per carry (5.6), and posted a 27-161-1 rushing line as recently as eight months ago in the 2016 playoffs. After Lacy received no first-team reps, the value of Rawls and Lacy should more or less be considered equal—but Lacy's ADP is RB27 while Rawls' is RB49.
Kenny Golladay strengthened his case to start: A Golladay (3-52-2) emergence could mean that not as much will be required from Eric Ebron or Marvin Jones as initially thought, and that Golden Tate will play more in the slot. Ebron’s TE12 ADP is fair, but Jones’ ceiling keeps falling; his ADP outside the top 50 WRs is deserved. Tate's fantasy value has been unaffected no matter where he's lined up over the last two seasons. Golladay is making an early case for late-round flier status; the Lions rank 3+ wide receiver sets on 81 percent of their plays in 2016, third-most in the NFL.
Robby Anderson made plays as the No. 1: Anderson (3-71) is the Jets' No. 1 wideout by default after Quincy Enunwa's season-ending neck injury. He's reportedly had a rough camp, but bulked up and could be a sneaky pick. Our WR projections have Anderson right around 60 receptions.
Paul Richardson (shoulder) will be out a while: Richardson (2-30) was on track to play on all 3+ wide receiver sets, which the Seahawks used on 69 percent of their plays last season. If Richardson isn't back for Week 1, it gives a slight bump to Tyler Lockett's value. Russell Wilson would take a slight hit; he threw 1 touchdown and 4 interceptions while averaging just 5.5 yards per attempt to Kearse last season.
Bucs went with 2TE-heavy but O.J. Howard played block-first role: Howard (0-0, 1 target) wasn’t targeted until the second half despite playing 21 snaps in the first half. The good news is that Howard is likely to be on the field a lot in Week 1, but he and Cameron Brate may cannibalize each other's value. Howard and Brate are both overvalued at their respective ADPs—Howard more so—according to our TE projections.
Antonio Gates out-snapped Hunter Henry 9-7 with the first team: After Antonio Gates played on a higher percentage of snaps in Henry's first season (62.5%) than he did the season before (61.9%), Los Angeles continues to show no indication of phasing out Gates completely. But Henry's ADP is TE11; Gates' is TE20.
Note: This article has been updated to reflect Sunday night's Seahawks-Chargers game.
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