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The Rookie Report: Preseason Week 1 – Part 1

For many fantasy football players, the preseason is what gets them back into football. The long offseason is finally over and they get to see a few snaps of their old and new favorite players. The hype begins to build for the new season. As dynasty owners, this is one of the most crucial times of the year because rookie drafts are likely over, and the evaluation process begins. How a player looks in preseason can be an indication as to what to expect going forward. More importantly, when they play can tell you where they are on the depth chart. This is important to learn how to evaluate a players role heading into the season and how much you can expect them to contribute.

I watch a lot of football and figured I would do my best to summarize as many rookies as I could with some brief notes and highlights for those who actually have a life and can’t watch all of the games. The reason is that box scores can be very misleading and they won’t give you a sense of what actually happened or if a player just crushed in the 4th quarter against third stringers. This is not just high draft picks but I try to touch on some lesser known guys to keep an eye on in case they continue to have good games. I decided to break this down into two parts, here is part one of “The Rookie Report” for preseason week 1, enjoy.

Cleveland Browns @ New York Giants

The battle of the #1 and #2 pick for the very first game a preseason certainly did not disappoint. Saquon Barkley showed what made him the 2nd overall pick in the 2018 draft right out of the gate with a patient approach, shiftiness in the hole and burst of speed on his way to a 39 yard run on his first ever carry. He looked every bit the star everyone expects him to be on that one play. He’s the starter and everyone knows that so expect a little more next week and maybe a little razzle-dazzle to boost his fantasy stock.
4 car for 43 yards and no targets

Baker Mayfield entered the game in the second quarter and played most of the 2nd and 3rd quarters logging a lot of time and looked impressive in his NFL debut. He converted twice on third down scrambling for the first and was able to convert with 2 touchdowns. The first, on a beautiful touch pass to David Njoku in the back of the endzone and another to Antonio Callaway on a slant and long run. He was poised and showed great pocket awareness. His arm was on full display and he didn’t look rattled at all by the moment. I could say a lot more, but the kid looks legit and the Browns and their fans should be happy to have him.
11/20, 212 yards 2 TDs, 3 car, 13 yards

Antonio Callaway definitely looked the part and its really unfortunate this guy can’t stay out of trouble. He was heavily targeted by Mayfield and they connected on a slant with a perfectly placed ball and a fantastic catch and run from Callaway 54 yards for a touchdown and a very nice toe-tap sideline catch. He can run all the routes, really looked great for his first action. Off the field will always be a question but the kid can BALL and gave us a glimpse which is encouraging with everything going on around him. It’s also worth noting Hue Jackson admitted to playing him a lot as punishment for his most recent actions getting pulled over.
3 rec, 87 yards, 1 TD on 7 targets

Nick Chubb had a less inspiring performance in his first preseason game. The Browns weren’t able to open much for any of the running backs. Chubb did flash his playmaking ability on his lone target of the day, on a Texas route out of the backfield for 12 yards. Another point of note is a key block he made coming across the face of Baker Mayfield to stick the defender which all coaching staffs love to see out of their rookie RBs. Other than that it was discouraging but so was the entire browns run offense.
15 car, 11 yards. 1 rec, 12 yards on 1 target

Kyle Lauletta came from a smaller school, University of Richmond. Lauletta’s success is built on his high football IQ and more specifically touch. He doesn’t have the biggest arm but I was quite impressed with how he looked in the second half. Especially with the current backup Davis Webb stinking it up ahead of him Lauletta could definitely earn the backup quarterback role in New York. Look for Lauletta to build off his first NFL action and maybe grab hold of the Giants backup quarterback job this preseason. Superflex players need to watch this guy closely.
6/9 48 yards

Robert Martin is a UDFA running back out of Rutgers who is 5’11 210lbs and looked impressive late in the game. He was decisive and had a couple of nice flashes that could potentially land him on the roster. Obviously, he’s absolutely buried on the depth chart but a guy to take note of since he showed well.
5 car/35 yards, 2 rec/12 yards on 5 targets

 

Carolina Panthers @ Buffalo Bills

DJ Moore, the combine FREAK in 2018 had a very nice day against the Bills defense. A couple of catches, in particular, were a nice comeback route where he really got on the toes of the CB and cut it back quickly to the ball for a catch and a shallow cross where he juked one guy out of his shoes and broke a couple of tackles, making his way to a first down. This guy is going to be damn good and make plays all season. Look for more from Moore throughout the preseason.
4 rec, 75 yards on 6 targets

Josh Allen is the most polarizing player in recent memory and after watching all of his snaps he looked quite good. Looked good in the pocket, had a couple of very nice scrambles avoiding the rush. On his first play chucked it deep just out of bounds. Overall, I was impressed by his ability and the moment didn’t seem too big for him. He missed Robert Foster once deep and then threw another nice deep pass that foster didn’t adjust to very well. It wasn’t a perfect performance by any means but he certainly impressed. He was a high draft pick and so far, seems to be making strides to live up to the price the Bills paid to get him.
9/19, 116 yards, TD. 3 car, 39 yards

Ray-Ray McCloud out of WRU, or better known as Wide Receiver University in Clemson, South Carolina was a bit of a disappointment in his final year at Clemson not taking a step up with the departure of Mike Williams. Drafted in the 6th round by the Bills is nothing spectacular but with the Bills limited receiving options, he figures to have a chance at working into a significant role. Josh Allen looked his way in the second half for some short and intermediate throws, one of which was a bullet for a touchdown. If they can build chemistry that may get McCloud on the field if he has the trust of their future quarterback.
3 rec, 50 yards, 1TD on 4 targets. 1 car, 8 yards

Chicago Bears @ Cincinnati Bengals

Anthony Miller has been getting glowing reports out of camp but wasn’t very involved in the first preseason game. Even with Allen Robinson and out of action he only saw 2 targets. His only catch was on a screen where he couldn’t slip the corner. He ran with the 1st and 2nd team in the first half. Every team approaches preseason a little differently and like Barkley, Miller may have a significant role in the offense and the bears didn’t want to have him out there as much. Hopefully, we can see a little more from Miller in week 2.
1 rec, -2 yards, on 2 targets.

Mark Walton, RB out of Miami is currently buried behind the likes of Giovanni Bernard and Joe Mixon on the depth chart. As a scat back deep in the rotation he likely won’t have any fantasy relevance this season unless there is an injury. He looked okay between the tackles but didn’t have any flashes. If he hopes to do anything he will need to show really well as his ceiling is essentially the guy ahead of him on the depth chart in Giovanni Bernard.
7 car, 13 yards.

Ryan Nall the undrafted RB from Oregon State. In all likelihood could win the job as Jordan Howard’s backup. It was very nice to see a good performance from a guy who had an uninspiring combine. He doesn’t have a lot of flash to his game but is a good runner between the tackles. He has good power to muscle through contact. He had one really big run and even showed a little bit in the passing game. We will see if he can take a step forward and make the roster for the bears as Howard’s backup.
9 car, 95 yards, 1 rec, 9 yards on 1 target.

Auden Tate was someone who really fell throughout the draft process both for dynasty owners and NFL GMs, not even getting drafted despite showing in college he is a serious red zone threat. In his first preseason game, he showed just that by scoring the game-winning touchdown and using his big frame to catch a pass despite poor separation. He had a couple push off penalties and will need to improve on separating without fouling. He still looked alright despite only receiving a few targets.
1 rec, 33 yards, TD, on 2 targets.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Miami Dolphins

Kalen Ballage, the 4th round pick for the Miami Dolphins was involved early and often in the first half. Getting action with the 1st and 2nd team he was strong and made nice moves outside as a runner. Had some trouble when there weren’t clear holes for him to run through. As a receiver, he looked great and made a few plays through the air. He figures to be more of a playmaker through the air and showed his receiving ability that should get him on the field early. He will just need to improve his pass protection like many rookie RBs. Had a bad fumble while trying to hurdle a guy in the open field.
10 car, 37 yards. 3 rec, 23 yards on 5 targets.

Ronald Jones II, the 2nd rounder for the Buccaneers had an adequate performance. He dropped an easy pass close to the line of scrimmage. It’s not the end of the world, but not good with all the reports of him struggling also coming into the game. He’s decisive, one cut and go ability we saw in college was there just with limited success. He also had some negative plays that really hurt his stat line. Looking for a little more for the high draft pick in the subsequent games as he struggled to get through the hole.
8 car, 9 yards, TD. 0 rec, on 1 target

Mike Gesicki, was on the field with the 1st team offense which is a great sign heading into the year. Even if he has little impact in terms of production in his rookie year it is great for his development early on to be running with the 1’s. He was targeted twice in the red zone, which is where I would expect him to be a favorite of Tannehill’s but they were off the mark so he ended the game with a rather lackluster stat line. Hope to see a little more from him in the next couple weeks as the 1st team gets more action.
0 rec, on 2 targets

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Philadelphia Eagles

Mason Rudolph was a standout quarterback to Oklahoma State where he thrived passing to all levels and specifically had a great connection with his rookie teammate James Washington. He had a pretty good day throwing the ball, hanging in the pocket and taking hits while moving around to buy extra time. He did slightly miss Damon Patterson on a what would have been a deep touchdown but had a lot of nice throws throughout the second half. On a free play, due to offside, he threw up a jump ball for Washington and he came down with it showing his trust in his college teammate. I liked what I saw and hope he can build on it in week 2.
7/12, 101 yards

Jalen Samuels is currently the 4th running back in line for carries on the Steelers and really didn’t get a whole lot of work rushing or receiving in his first preseason game. His value lies in his versatility and will likely result in a lot of week to week variance. The only issue is the Steelers are unlikely to reveal their plans for him in the preseason. He played with the 1st team for select plays and caught a screen then ran the ball with the third team in the 4th quarter. I expect to see more from Samuels in subsequent weeks on some more screens and in the slot. Overall it was a lackluster performance but not a lot of opportunity for him this week.
6 car, 7 yards. 1 rec, 1 yard, on 1 target

Josh Adams, the big back out of Notre Dame had a really good game. Despite running with the 3rd team I really liked what I saw from him. Had success out of the shotgun and single back sets. My biggest take away is he didn’t have negative plays. He bounced outside and found a hole and always seemed to be gaining good yardage without any loss of yardage. It is an uphill climb for the UDFA in a crowded backfield but as the only bigger outside of Ajayi on the roster, he may have a shot. After running for 1400 yards and 9 touchdowns as a junior he should find his way on somebody’s roster and I will be keeping an eye on him especially if he lands in a better opportunity.
6 car, 30 yards. 2 rec, 11 yards on 2 targets.

Damoun Patterson made an absolutely spectacular touchdown catch at the end of the half. He saw action with the 2nd and 3rd offensive units as well and ended the game as the leading receiver for the game capped by his monster touchdown followed by a backflip for good measure. It may just be preseason but this guy is on my radar as a deep sleeper in case he can find a better situation or somehow work up to be 4th string. He was a frequent target of Rudolph and Dobbs as well running lots of different routes all over the field.
6 rec, 77 yards, TD on 10 targets.

James Washington is the 2017 Biletnikoff winner selected in the 2nd round of the 2018 NFL draft is expected to assume the Martavis Bryant role for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Washington ran with the second and third teams in his first NFL action. He looked good getting involved frequently making a spectacular contested catch on a jump ball from Rudolph deep down the field. He’s more than a deep ball guy as some may label him, but with the Antonio Brown and Juju ahead of him, it seems unlikely he can get much work in the middle of the field for his rookie year. He had 1 red zone target but it was overthrown on a fade route.
2 rec, 44 yards on 4 targets

Dallas Goedert is the studly tight end out of South Dakota State who looked every bit the part as the starting tight end in week 1 of preseason playing the entire first half. He showed he could go to town out of the slot and played well in line as well. He did have one brutal drop on a short in route. He was able to get wide open on a deceptive play action route and caught a touchdown pass early having a really good first game. Unfortunately, Zach Ertz is going to eat into his playing time but monitor his snap shares in the preseason for maybe some indication of what to expect going into the year.
4 rec, 66 yards, TD on 5 targets

Washington Redskins @ New England Patriots

Derrius Guice, consensus 1.02 in most drafts and likely the next big running back behind Barkley. He showed his power-speed combo on a few different plays. He can really put his foot in the ground and got downhill in a hurry. Unfortunately for us, that is all we will see of Guice this year after tearing his ACL while falling awkwardly in Thursday’s game. What we did see looked promising but it appears as though we will have to wait another year after the devastating blow to him and the Redskins for 2018.
6 car, 19 yards.

Braxton Berrios was a guy Patriots fans hoped to see a little more from in the second half. Berrios wasn’t given many looks as the Patriots look to sort out options above him on the depth chart. There was a lot of Dorsett and Decker in this one to help them learn the offense and get into game action. It looks like Berrios is quite buried on the depth chart at the moment and if we see anything it may only be in the 4th pre-season game.
1 rec, 3 yards on 1 target.

Dallas Cowboys @ San Fransisco 49ers

Michael Gallup, my favorite to win the outside receiver job for the Cowboys had a nice day for his first preseason game. He was working with the 1st and 2nd team in the first half which is encouraging. His lone catch was a 30-yard touchdown down the sideline with a perfect throw from Dak Prescott. He was able to get really good separation on a few of his routes. He got underthrown on a go route where he had 5 yards of separation on the cornerback and was overthrown on a fade route in the end zone. Overall, I was quite impressed and can’t wait to see more from him going forward.
1 rec, 30 yards, TD on 3 targets.

Richie James, wide receiver out of Middle Tennessee State was all over the field in his first preseason game. He played the entire game, scored the game-winning touchdown on a nice slant route and showed what he can do in the short and intermediate game. He really flashed on some of his routes getting great separation and making tough catches in tight windows. Looked great in the open field and it seemed like he could get some looks even in his rookie year. A steal for the 49ers in the 6th round, I loved James in college because he was absolutely dynamite when he got the ball in space. He can hopefully carve out a role and build off this 1st preseason game.
4 rec, 46 yards, TD on 5 targets.

Dante Pettis worked mostly outside and on deep patterns. His lone catch was a big play for 50ish yards. He showed his ability to separate but some miscommunications and inaccurate throws led to a poor showing statistically despite 5 targets plus a couple of extra called back on flags. Pettis is a receiver who is hard to project with Garcon and Goodwin ahead of him on the depth chart. Likely not the WR3 to this point but getting 1st and 2nd team reps which is an encouraging sign for his potential to contribute.
1 rec, 53 yards, on 4 targets

Bo Scarborough, the late round selection out of Alabama assumed to be the teams 4th running back as insurance for Ezekiel Elliot in case of an injury showed what made him such a highly recruited player in high school. Running with the 2nd and 3rd team he had a couple of big runs showing his power and surprising speed to really beat up opponents late in the game and showed a great second effort on his touchdown run.
9 car, 33 yards, TD. 2 rec, 11 yards, on 2 targets

Indianapolis Colts @ Seattle Seahawks

Rashaad Penny, the second running back taken in the draft had a respectable debut. He had some flashes but also had some pretty disappointing plays as well. By now I’m sure most have seen his big wif in pass protection on twitter or elsewhere. This, of course, doesn’t tell the entire story but with poor blocking from his offensive line along with a pretty good performance from Chris Carson, most Penny owners likely didn’t feel great coming out of this game. He was playing with the 1st and 2nd team so I would expect more of the same going forward and maybe he can win the job but in there first battle the victory went to Carson.
8 car, 16 yards. 2 rec, 7 yards on 2 targets.

Jordan Wilkins the 5th round selection out of Ole Miss is an intriguing pick for many who believe he could potentially win the job as the starting running back. He was the last RB to check in late in the 4th quarter with the 3rd team offense. He looked great running inside for consistent positive yardage, fighting through the first contact to run out the clock on third down to convert a 1st late in the 4th quarter. He had a nice catch on the sideline as well and fought through contact for another 1st down. I was impressed but not entirely sure if he made enough of a case to move the needle. Christine Michael and Robert Turbin looked good as well. If Marlon Mack does miss significant time the RB1 spot will be more up for grabs and Wilkins may get a shot if he improves on his first performance both in camp and in game action.
6 car, 21 yards. 1 rec, 7 yards on 1 target.

Nyheim Hines is the shifty running back out of NC State. He had a sub-par performance. He got limited work all around. Worked mostly with the 3rd team in the second half, mostly in the third quarter, while Wilkins handled the 4th quarter. He struggled working inside but looked great on the edge and in space. He did have some struggles on a punt return, however, dropping one, misplaying another and barely catching it. He also was stripped on another punt but was luckily ruled down by contact before the ball came loose. Not an inspiring performance by any means especially in the return game. Hopefully, we can see more from him next week.
3 car, 7 yards.

Deon Cain was running with the 2nd and 3rd units and got a couple looks in the game with only 1 catch, most notable was just overthrown on a deep go route that would have been a touchdown. He was injured late in the game and after an MRI it was discovered that he tore his ACL. Absolutely devastating for a guy who had been getting a lot of hype at Colts camp. We will have to wait another year to see what he can do.
1 rec, 4 yards on 2 targets.

I hope you all enjoyed the insight and take a look at each of these guys for potential taxi stashes and continue to keep an eye on them going forward. Stay tuned for part 2 in the coming days where I’ll cover the rest of the matchups from preseason week 1. Let me know who your favorite rookies are and how you feel about them heading into week 2.


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